Life With Yarn

Archive for the ‘2012’ Category

The nights are drawing in and the wind is blowing, which makes it perfect knitting weather. I’m not sure, being in the UK, if there is ever not perfect knitting weather – certainly our summers don’t get so hot that I can’t knit – but the change in the air definitely means autumn is settling in and winter will not be long in arriving. We’re now past the start of term, routines are established in the house again and things are calm – my daughters’ birthdays are both gone and we’re not quite at the hustle and bustle of the start of Christmas, although it’s definitely on my mind right now.

And, as always, the needles have been clicking madly. I’ve worked on a couple of commissions:

and have another pair of booties to finish up over the weekend. I’ve also been working on finishing a shawl for myself and some Christmas gifts. I also still have pattern writing and a couple of swatches to work through in the next couple of weeks for a magazine submission. There definitely doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day! I totally admire full-time designers – I love the design process but when it comes to actually typing the pattern up, I am not nearly disciplined enough and easily distracted. I do wonder though, if they have to just knit for themselves or friends/family? I keep living in hope that once the youngest starts at preschool next September, and school the year after (eek!), if that will mean I can get more stuff done. I’d like to think so but somehow, I doubt it!


I love September. It’s so much more the start of new things, for me, than January 1st ever will be. There’s that back to school feeling and a need to buy stationery – which I’ve so far resisted but only because I am so busy right now that wandering aimlessly round Paperchase going ‘Oh, pretty, must have’ is a disappointingly low priority right now.

But it is a new term, a new start and my eldest has gone back to school and celebrated her 6th birthday in the last week. Now her birthday is out of the way, I can officially starting thinking about Christmas. I know I’ve said in at least my last 2 posts that I’m starting the Christmas knitting but, to be honest, I’ve failed miserably at starting it. I made one quick gift a couple of months ago and I have (finally) finished this:

It’s a Christmas stocking for my youngest. My mum made me and my siblings one when we were little and so I’ve taken my stocking and written a pattern from it (she made it up as she went) and added a new picture to it. This is the one pattern I currently have for sale of Ravelry as well. So now both girls have stockings for Father Christmas to fill with goodies in December.

So the intention to start the gift knitting has definitely been there – I’ve balled up the yarn for my sister’s cardigan and I’ve cast on and knit one leg of a giraffe toy for the youngest (my first ever attempt at toy knitting as well). But then things went a bit out the window. I’ve completed a couple of baby shoe commissions, have a 3rd lined up and am also halfway through a pair of baffies/slippers for another friend and probably have a couple of baby blankets to do as well. This is just as I was beginning to think that the commission knitting was maybe something I’d do later and I was going to focus on some new designs first. I have a pair of gloves designed and knitted, just need to write that pattern up and see about getting it tested. I also need to consider whether to add the baby blanket pattern that I made for my nephew. I want to but there’s a couple of kinks in it – not least being I knit mine in discontinued yarn so I need to see how it would turn out in other yarns. At some point I also want to revisit the skirt that I made for my eldest and see if I can make a couple of changes to it to improve it.

In the meantime, I shall enjoy the last whirl of summer before the autumnal weather arrives.

So the Ravellenics are over and how did I do? I listed 5 projects to complete over the 16 days – 2 shawls, dye some yarn, frog a cardigan and complete a work in progress. I think we can call it a 50% success rate. I completed one shawl, the lovely Monica by the Fickleknitter

I also managed to frog a cardigan I made last summer – the pattern is lovely but the yarn is, I feel, too thick (DK instead of 4ply) and jjust not suited to the pattern. I intend to reknit the pattern in a lighter yarn at some point, although I have no idea what I’ll do with the reclaimed yarn yet.

I dyed the yarn for my sister’s Christmas present. This was lots of fun, I really enjoyed doing it and will definitely be dyeing more of my own yarn for my use. I dyed 5 skeins in total – the first 2 I did in the same pot because I thought there’d be enough room but unfortunately, there wasn’t and so the yarn has some undyed patches on it:

It’s all a learning curve, right? Anyway, I have some nice blue or purple dye to overdye it with at some point which I’ll then use for socks. So after that, I tried again with 3 more skeins, separately this time and these are the results:

Much better and my sister likes the colour so I need to get started on knitting with it in the next month.

The wip was picked up again and since the end of the games, I’ve worked on it some more. It remains unfinished but it is out and being slowly worked on, so it wasn’t a total washout. It needs to be finished by December 24th this year – whilst Eloise was only 16mths last year and not really into Christmas, at 28mths this year, I think she will be and as she likes having everything the same as her big sister, the stocking needs to be finished. The final shawl I planned to knit was completed after the games ended and looks fab:

This was my first time adding beads using a crochet hook (as demonstrated by the talented YarnAddict at Woolfest this year). It was so straightforward, no more hours of threading beads onto yarn for me any more!

I’ve also had a week away this month in Windermere with my husband and two girls. The weather wasn’t great all the time but we had a few lovely days out dodging the showers. Whilst there, I worked on 3 different projects: another shawl (which I would have finished but I ran out of yarn just before the end. Luckily I seem to have tracked down some more so it should be finished next month); a scarf for me for winter in a lovely orange/yellow colour – perfect for brightening up those long winter days; and my sock yarn blanket which is a continual WIP and perfect car knitting.

I also heard back about my submitted design to the magazine. It wasn’t chosen this time, but it was my first time ever doing a submission so I’m not too upset about that. I have since reworked it slightly and am currently halfway through test knitting it myself. Hopefully I can complete that next week when school & my childminder restart and get the pattern up soon after.

In the meantime, I have a couple of new ideas swirling round my head, partially inspired by our holiday in the Lakes, and I have a large amount of knitting to do for Christmas gifts. Somehow, I have yet again failed to be more organised and start earlier. Expect sore hands and not much sleep by mid December.

So it is another WIP Wednesday. There’s not actually a lot on the needles right now, I am working on a shawl by YarnAddict, Anniken Allis which is one of my Ravellenic Games projects. So far, as part of the Ravellenic Games, I’ve completed this shawl byMichelle Miller, the Fickleknitter:


I still need to complete Eloise’s Christmas stocking and dye some wool, but there’s still a few more days to go. At least the weather is good so I should be able to dye the wool today or tomorrow and get it dried.

I’ve also been busy with other things. I posted my nephew’s present, so can now post a pic here. I made this blanket:

I’ve also submitted a proposal for my first magazine design. This is more nerve wracking than I thought it would be but also quite exciting. I will hear, one way or the other, by the end of the month and if it doesn’t get accepted, will probably release the pattern anyway. This is the first time I’ve designed something without it being for family or friends, the first time I’ve not been meeting a need for a particular item. It comes on the back of a little disappointment with the skirt I made for Zoe. I’ve tried and failed to get it test knit on Ravelry so for now it is going on the back burner. I don’t feel happy releasing a pattern that has not been knit at least once in every size and, to be honest, I was never quite 100% happy with it myself. I plan to redesign it slightly and then try again, but it’ll be in a couple of months now as the start of August also signals, to me at least, time to get on with present knitting. I have my list, I now need to get started. Hopefully this level of forward planning will mean I am not still knitting crazily on Christmas Eve, with sore hands, and my husband should get his knitted gift on Christmas Day, rather than always being the one who has to wait until a couple of days later. That’s the plan anyway, but we shall see if it actually happens!

So last night saw the start of the Olympic Games in London. There’s a definite buzz about the country at the moment and I am very much looking forward to going to the one event we have tickets for – the men’s football quarterfinal at St James’ Park up here in Newcastle next Saturday. Not only do I get to go to an actual Olympic event but I also get to see lots of my family, so it’s all good.

Of course, if you’re a member of Ravelry, you can’t help but also know that the opening ceremony last night also heralded the start of the Ravellenic Games, where knitters, crocheters, spinners, dyers & weavers challenge themselves to complete projects whilst watching the Olympics. This is the first time I’ve taken part and have enjoyed planning the projects for it. I shall be starting my first project later today – I would have cast on last night but I still have one small bit of my nephew’s present to complete so I wanted to make sure that was done first so it wouldn’t get neglected for the new projects. No photos of the present yet because it’s not quite finished, but I also don’t want to spoil the surprise for my brother and sister-in-law, so photos will follow when they have it.

As for my Ravellenic projects? They involve 2 shawls, completing Eloise’s Christmas stocking (which I started last November), frogging a cardigan where the yarn doesn’t really suit the style, and dyeing the yarn for the Christmas present of one of my sisters. That feels like quite a lot in 2 weeks, but the frogging and dyeing shouldn’t take a massive amount of time (she says, hopefully).

I do have photos of some other recently finished projects. Firstly, an Elizabeth cardigan by Georgie Hallam



I also managed to find the time and space to block Rock Island by Jared Flood:

I love how both have turned out, especially Rock Island, I am looking forward to wearing that – albeit carefully, I don’t really want to have to wash it and block it again on a regular basis.

Once the Olympics are over, I can start thinking about what knitting to take on holiday (as big a task as deciding which books to pack in this house!) and start that Christmas gift knitting as well.

Last Friday, my brother and sister-in-law made me an aunt for the first time. I have 2 children of my own, but being an aunt is still quite exciting – a new baby to cuddle and welcome into the family but I don’t lose any more sleep (because I already get precious little with my own children). Of course, new baby also means new knitting, so even though I was half way through Rock Island and almost finished a cardigan for my eldest, I still had the overwhelming urge to cast on something else.

I did manage to hold back on a proper cast on for a couple of days whilst I swatched a new idea and finished the cardigan. I then had to buy some more yarn (any excuse, some may say) so that I could make what I wanted for my new nephew. I’m knitting a blanket for him, and will show a little pic:


This is going to be the centre square of the blanket, with a border going around the outside. I’ve been trying out a couple of ideas for a modular type construction – I really hate sewing things up, so I try to do as little as possible. I think I’ve got it figured out now and will be starting on the rest of the blanket tonight. It’s knit in Rowan Calmer, which I love as a yarn – cotton and acrylic mix and just so, so soft. I used the same yarn (but in a dark purple) to knit a dress to wear to my brother’s wedding last summer. It’s a real shame it’s been discontinued and I find hard to resist buying it when I see it somewhere.

I’ve also finished my Rock Island shawl, I need to block that this weekend. It’s lovely even in its unblocked state, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how great it looks with the lace opened up. I’ve also made a start on my first pair of baffies – pink and white candy stripes. These are slippers made by a friend’s gran and very popular among one group of friends. I’m following a loose pattern to see how they look but will probably try and adapt it somewhat to be more sock-like in construction, which will also mean less sewing up (did I mention how much I hate sewing up?)

School holidays start tomorrow and I have a non-knitting work project that started (slowly) this week and which will be building up in the next few week. Not great timing, but there we go. I’ve also started a lace shawl design online class with Miriam Felton through Craftsy. I don’t know if I’ll get much time to progress through the class in the next few weeks, but what I’ve done so far has been really interesting and I’ve been flipping through my stitch dictionaries to get some ideas for stitches.

So this weekend was Woolfest in Cumbria – two days of yarny sheepy goodness. After some negotiations with my husband, I managed to spend the day there on Saturday. This was the first time I’ve done any big wool-related gathering and to say I was excited in the few days before it was putting it mildly.

I set off on Saturday morning from Newcastle to drive across the country to Cockermouth. On the way, it occured to me a couple of times that this was possibly a sign that my yarn addiction was serious, considering there were flood warnings in place in some parts of Cumbria and Cockermouth has been known to flood previously in quite a devastating way. But onwards I went, driving through the rain and arriving at Woolfest as it opened.

I was like a kid in a candy store. I grabbed a programme and started wandering round. I’d been advised that going round once making notes was the best thing to do and I’m glad I did but it was just completely overwhelming. After months of not being able to buy everything I wanted, I had quite a generous budget from my savings. I didn’t want to blow it all in the first 30 minutes – which I could quite easily have done. So I wandered, marking on the programme the stalls I definitely wanted to return to and then had a sit down to recover. I’m the same in bookshops, by the way, if I have some money to spend on books, I wander round for ages completely overwhelmed by the choice of it all. When I think about it, it’s no wonder my eldest has a terrible time choosing between two or more things she likes, I am the same.

It took a while to start buying, but once I did, boy did I have fun! This is my haul:


Among this lot is some gorgeous 100% silk lace, 2 different sock yarns & some dark red lace from Ripples Crafts – the red lace is for a cardigan for me and the grey sock yarn is for socks for the husband. There’s some lovely silky camel lace and more sock yarn from YarnAddict, more lace and sock from Artisan Yarns, sock and some mini skeins from Laal Bear, some gorgeously coloured sock yarn from Easy Knits and, finally, some undyed sock yarn from Bluefaced. This last is going to be my first attempt at dying my own yarn, I picked up a starter kit from DT Craft & Design and plan to have a go in the next couple of weeks – watch this space! Not pictured are a couple of patterns from YarnAddict and a copy of Barbara Walker’s 2nd Treasury of Knitting Patterns.

But it wasn’t just all about boosting the economy and supporting indie dyers. I also learned a few things along the way. I had an informative chat with Debbie from DT Craft & Design about dying and the best way to achieve the result I wanted, I watched a demo from Anni of YarnAddict about adding beads to knitting a crochet hook (looked so much simpler than threading them onto the wool beforehand!) and saw someone using a drop spindle which looked really interesting and definitely something to look into in the future. There were some spinning wheels for sale (a bit out of my budget) but I’m not sure I have time to start spinning large amounts of fibre.

So, all in all, a very good day. I met some great people, everyone was really friendly, and I enjoyed being able to wander the stalls without anyone nagging at me or complaining they were bored. The biggest problem I have now is that the socks I was knitting before I went to Woolfest (the ones that need to be completed by June 30th for my 26 pairs in 52 weeks challenge), well, they seem quite plain by comparison. I can’t wait to get working with the new yarns and make some beautiful things from them. Oh, and of course, I’m already saving for next year!

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