Life With Yarn

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Since the last post, I managed to spend a few hours in the spare room/craft room (the room is split into half yarn related goodies and half my husband’s retro game collection). Firstly, the photos:

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From the top, the first shot is my desk, which last week was piled high with post bags and carrier bags full of yarn – unsorted, just thrown on there. Now it holds my books on top and box that contains buttons and various sewing threads. In the space underneath, that large box now holds all my sock yarn along with some sweater quantities of fingering weight yarn. The two bags on top also contain yarn – sport weight in the yellow bag and heavy lace in the other bag. The books are books I want to sell.

The second photo is of my needle storage. No more just chucking them on shoe boxes for me! I now know where everything is. I have a handful of straight needles in the red case which I’ve kept as a ‘just in case’ fall back. I can’t remember the last time I used a straight knitting needle – it’s all circs or dpns these days. My small dpns are kept in the purple needle roll and the larger ones are in the shoe box but I rarely, if ever, use these large sizes. Where I’ve still got the packaging for the needles, I’ve kept them in that so I know what it is and the size without having to find my needle gauge.

The final photo is my drawer storage. Previously, this had held 2 drawers of laceweight and 3 drawers of fingering weight. Now, however, the laceweight yarn takes up 4 drawers (the green and white ones) and the red drawer is full of fingering weight – the yarn that isn’t suitable for socks. Nothing is packed too tightly any more. 

I also organised the blue box I used for yarn, which I didn’t photograph this time round, and that is full of my DK and worsted/aran/heavier weight yarn.

I also spent some time going through my Ravelry stash pages marking where everything is stored and making sure I have photos for everything.  

What did I learn from this? Firstly, my yarn was organised, it’s just that I hadn’t bothered to keep that organisation going. Right now, there is not much space for new yarn unless it’s sock yarn. This isn’t great considering Woolfest is in 10 days time and I have a nice amount saved in order to help small businesses. I clearly need to get knitting quicker.

Secondly, I have so much lovely yarn! This shouldn’t be a surprise to me, I bought the yarn after all, so it should be a stash that I love. But I am terrible at using my stash. Partly this is because I’ve got rather into tops and cardigans this year which has necessitated buying more yarn because I don’t have enough of any one colour/yarn to make a top. But I have some lovely skeins that I have earmarked for projects on Ravelry and they have just dropped off my radar. 

After spending some time tidying and admiring my yarn, I had an overwhelming urge to cast on all the things at once. Given that I have 5 WIPs at the moment (a small number by many standards but big enough for me to feel that none of them are progressing because I can’t work on them enough to get anywhere) and 2 more skeins wound and ready to cast on, casting on more would be crazy. But it’s so lovely, and it’s just sat there unused right now.

In other stash-related news, I’m also taking part in the Knit Girllls Stash Dash with the goal of knitting 5k of yarn by August 7th. I’m at 840.8m at the moment, which is pretty low but I have 2 pairs of socks and a laceweight cardigan currently on the needles which will add around 1600m to my total. You can also use WIPs started before Stash Dash so if I can face threading more beads and finish my Shipwreck shawl, that will also help.

This summer is all about the stash. I have a stash; it’s an ever increasing one, despite how much knitting I can get done each month, and I feel no guilt over this. I earn the money, our family does not go without whilst I revel in fabulous yarns, and better yarn than excessive alcohol, chocolate or anything else. I used to have a book buying habit but that has decreased as my stash has increased. I still buy books, I just don’t go out of my way to find them any more.

But I have a stash and it lives in our spare room. I regularly add new yarns to my Ravelry page and I mostly remember to get a photo of the yarn so I can upload it. I love having my stash listed on Ravelry – it helps me remember what I have and remember to use it. I regularly browse my stash online and imagine the possibilities for my yarn.

However, whilst it might be neatly organised online, in real life, it looks a lot more chaotic:

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This is the current state of my stash. I have some organisation – the Trofast from Ikea stores my fingering and lace weight yarns and the blue box in the first photo stores the rest. However, I am very, very guilty of photographing the yarn and then just putting it into the spare room rather than putting it away properly so I now have piles and piles of bags and parcels containing yarn and I don’t know where anything really is any more.

Enter the Must Stash Podcast which I’ve recently discovered and love watching. June is entitled Flash Your Stash and we are organising our stash however we need to. For some this means getting it put into Ravelry, for others, such as myself, it’s organising the storage.

So here are my goals for Flash Your Stash:

1 – Re-organise the storage and note on the stash page where everything is so I can find it. 
2 – Photo the few remaining skeins that aren’t already done and get them onto Ravelry. 
3 – Be properly ruthless with what I have and see if there’s anything that can be sold. 
4 – Needle storage. They are basically thrown in a shoe box right now and I can never find anything. I need a better system.

I hope to blog about this over the next month as I spend some time rediscovering the stash and wrangling it into a much better storage system.

 

In the meantime, these are some of the finished objects from the last couple of months:

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On the needles

New year, new projects. I’ve cast on a couple of new things since the beginning of the month. First up, my Lavender socks. The pattern is taken from Stephanie Van Der Linden’s Around the world in knitted socks book which I got back in 2012 and these are being knitted in Ripples Craft British Falkland Merino & Nylon sock yarn in the lavender colourway (appropriately!) I’ve finished one sock already but they’re now taking a back seat while I try and get some other things finished.

Second up are the Tideland mitts which I’m making for a friend who was admiring my fingerless mitts last month. I’m knitting these in more Ripples Craft yarn, BFL superwash this time in the ice cream colourway, which is a cream/undyed colour. First mitt is already completed and the second one should be done later today.

I’m also still working on my Shipwreck shawl – I’m now onto the beaded section so spent some time one afternoon threading beads onto yarn which is, to be honest, mind numbing but it does look better on the shawl rather than using the crochet hook method to add the beads. I’ve only done a couple of rounds as they’re now 500+ stitches per round so it takes a while. But it is fairly mindless knitting so it’s great for when my brain is fried.

Finally, I have two other projects on the needles that I can’t share pics of – a sample baby blanket for Anniken Allis and a fairly straightfoward jumper with some cabling that I’m working for another knitter, Anna. These are both paid pieces of work so as deadlines approach, they are obviously getting most of my time. This means my selfish knitting that I had planned (a Posh Yarn sweater and possibly a shawl) are on the backburner for another week or so.

Off the needles

Nothing yet, but hopefully it won’t be long. I do however, have a couple of photos of my Mereweather vest from after Christmas:

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I’m really happy with this, although at the moment, the yarn is a little itchy so I’ve been mostly wearing it over long sleeved tops. I’m hoping it’ll soften up with a few washes.

It just fell into my bag

My Posh Yarn arrived from the end of December, which was part of my Strictly sweepstake winnings:

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I also treated myself to some skeins from the Fyberspates New Year sale. This is some Scrumptious DK which is a merino/silk blend. The colour is a bit more golden than the pic shows:

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I also got some sock yarn; one in a pale greyish colour and the second is a variegated and was from the lucky dip section:

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And finally, this gorgeous silk lace which was also from the Lucky dip section:

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I have no plans for any of the Fyberspates yarns yet beyond definitely socks with the sock yarn and possibly fingerless gloves for the DK weight. I am loving fingerless mitts at the moment because I dislike driving in full gloves but always get cold hands whilst the car warms up.

For next week, there will be a lot of sock yarn, some of which was bought with the remaining sweepstake money.

Where’s my bookmark?

I’ve started a readalong this year for Anthony Powell’s A Dance to the Music of Time. It’s 12 books in total, although so far I have the first 6 in 2 volumes of three. I plan to read one book each month so finished A Question of Upbringing last week. I’m not sure yet – it was ok but didn’t grab my attention so it’s probably a good job I’m doing the readalong with Heavenali as that will keep me going. Right now, I’m reading Pat Barker’s Border Crossing which I’m finding more engaging – although part of that could be because it’s set in Newcastle and I love reading books set in places I know very well.

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On the needles

I’m always struck with a bit of an overwhelming urge to start each year afresh, or as close to afresh as I can make it. Once Christmas gifts are out of the way, I start to feel selfish with my knitting, wanting to cast on all the things for me, but quite often, I spend the time working on projects that I put down in early December and would like to get finished. Because of this, I only really have two things on the needles as the year ends: my Sock Yarn Blanket which I’ve not worked on at all this month because of gift knitting and my Shipwreck shawl which is what I’m currently working on, making slow but steady progress. For the shawl, I’m on the final lace work section (section six) before I begin what will no doubt seem neverending k2tog, yarnover section, although hopefully the beading will help make it seem slightly quicker.

Off the needles

I finished all my gifts in time for Christmas – firstly, Zoe’s socks:

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She loves these – and her slippers – and can be seen wearing them every morning when she gets out of bed, and sometimes even in bed if her feet are very cold. This is a stark contrast to Eloise, who likes the idea of the socks and slippers but has so far only worn them on Christmas Day morning.

I also finished Duncan’s socks:

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These have also been a success.

I can also now show a quick pic of my Owls jumper by Kate Davies as it has now found it’s new home at my sister’s house:

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Also off the needles, but not yet photographed is my Mereweather vest by Sharon Boswell. I worked on this over Christmas, in Posh Yarn Harriet DK, which was lovely and soft to work with. I was initially disappointed with the top, partly because of my own mistake (I think) – I made the straps far too long and it meant that the vest didn’t fit me properly across the bust. Once I fixed the straps and got it fitting properly, I decided to add some more length to it. To do this, I could have just picked up stitches along the cast on edge at the bottom and carried on working down but I worried that if I wasn’t perfect with this, the line created would be quite visible. Consequently, I decided to unpick the cast on (which took a good 2/3 hours) and then knit down. This means that to the non-knitter or  a not-too-close knitter, it looks like it was knit in one piece. I can see where the join is if I look up close but it’s fine. It also means it’s wearable now and shall be getting an outing soon.

It just fell into my bag

I got lucky this year and won the Strictly Sweepstake for the 2nd time in 3 years in a group on Ravelry, which has meant a fair chunk of money being sent my way for spending on yarn. So far, I’ve spent about two thirds of it – firstly on a 3 month subscription to  YarnAddict’s Lace Lovers Yarn club and secondly on some Posh Yarn that will be arriving next week.

However, before Christmas, I picked up a bit of extra work and so treated myself to a couple of things – at some point, I may admit that I have a yarn addiction, but don’t expect that any time soon 😉

First up, YarnAddict Anniken Allis has stopped producing hand dyed yarn and so was selling off her remaining stock, so I bought some Merino Plus sock yarn:

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I also bought some undyed wool/silk 4ply yarn from her, not sure about plans for this yet.

I then got worried about the amount of yarn I needed for Duncan’s socks so bought an extra skein of the Exmoor Blueface – which it turns out I didn’t need, but will come in handy for more socks for him, or me. But with that, I also picked up:

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which is Malabrigo sock yarn, a sweater’s quantity.

I also managed to bag some Twisted Limone self striping sock yarn in her update:

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I’ve heard a couple of podcasters rave about this recently and I’m looking forward to trying it out and maybe one day being quick enough to get some of her 7-stripe rainbow sock yarn.

Finally, this was actually ordered and paid for back in the beginning of December, but only arrived just before Christmas: some sock yarn and some lace yarn from Fibernymph Dye Works, run by another podcast (90% Knitting) that I love.

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No firm plans yet for either of them, but when has that ever stopped me buying?

What I’m stalking/end of year review

It’s the end of another year and I’m enjoying spending time on Ravelry looking at my queue, stash and new patterns and trying to think about what I want to knit in 2014. This year, I wanted to learn how to double knit and I’ve still not managed to find the time to do that, so I really should make that a target of 2014. I’m also planning a 12 sweaters/tops in 12 months, seeing as I’ve been stashing sweater quantities of yarn for a good while now.

And how did I do this year? I completed a total of 42 projects, ranging from bunting and mug hugs for school fairs to sweaters for myself and others. In total, I’ve knit 16,202.7 metres over 12 months. However, I have increased my stash from 65,256.5 metres on January 1st 2013 to 102,012.4m today. I have to be honest, numbers like that mean nothing to me, so I worked out the length in miles. On January 1st, my stash, laid down, would cover 40.54 miles; today it covers 62.46 miles. That’s a good long way! I really need to get cracking with the sweater knitting!

I’m really happy with this year though: I’ve designed a couple of new patterns, and had pattern sales which is always exciting; I now do sample knitting for one my favourite designers so I basically get paid to knit designs that I know I’ll love; and I’ve sold a few hand knitted items as well.

So, apart from wanting to knit some sweaters/tops in 2014, what else do I want? I have a few design ideas noodling around in my head which I’d really like to get down on paper, and I won’t lie, more pattern sales would be brilliant. I’m realistic enough to know that, right now in life, I don’t have the time to do anything close to full time designing, so I’m happy with a few designs a year and a modest amount of sales. I’d also like to really keep this blog going and post regularly – I think a new diary might be called for to plan out my time! (Did I mention I’m a sucker for new stationery in January?!)

I hope you all had a lovely festive season, whatever you celebrated, and that 2014 sees dreams come true for you.

On the needles

Gift knitting is still the big thing for this month. Right now, I’m down to two pairs of socks left to do – another pair of the Dainty Anklets by Wendy B Johnson for Zoe, again in the Rico Superba yarn I used for Eloise’s socks. I’m also working on Milo socks by Cookie A from her book Sock Innovation, which is a book that I really like (and should review at some point). These are both going slowly right now but that’s more because I’m trying to juggle knitting them and not knit them in front of Zoe & Duncan respectively. As I work for a lot of the time Zoe is at school, this is not as easy as I had hoped it would be.

I also cast on the Mereweather vest by Sharon Boswell in Posh Yarn Harriet DK, which is 100% wool and I have the You couldn’t possibly know colourway which is a dark blue. I had originally planned for this yarn to be made into the Tink Tank but looking at that pattern, it seems to work best in a cotton/cotton mix yarn so I’ve got something else in mind for that. I cast this on simply to have something fairly easy to work on when both Zoe & Duncan are around and I can’t gift knit.

Off the needles

I’ve got a number of gifts on and off the needles this week including the Seamless Salomas:

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I know, they don’t look like slippers – which I think is why I like them, they are unusual. But once on, they look like this:

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They have a bit more stretch in them but this is me wearing the slippers for Duncan so they don’t need to stretch as much for my feet. I like them, but I discovered, whilst knitting them, that I am most definitely a process knitter not a product knitter – I like to knit this to learn the process and understand how they go together but I’m really not all that fussed about making a number of the same thing. This is the first time I’ve made the same thing over and over in quick succession and I’m just thankful I did Eloise’s last because they were super quick and it meant I couldn’t dwell too long on having to knit the same thing again.

I also finished Eloise’s socks:

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You almost wouldn’t believe they came from the same ball of yarn because of the difference in stripes, but they did. I must admit, I’m not ever really precious about having identical socks when it comes to self striping yarn – I don’t really have the patience to wind the ball on to find the same pattern repeat and start again. The Superb seems quite randomly striped anyway so I don’t think I could have done it for both pairs if I’d really wanted too. I like them and as the girls probably will only wear them in bed or around the house, I don’t think either of them will mind the randomness of the colours.

New design

I released a new pattern this week as well, my Starry Socks are now available to buy on Ravelry.

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They’re a great way to learn cables without a cable needle and my testers said they were fun and quick to knit.

It just fell into my basket

Like I said last week, I had a slight accident at Posh Yarns and this week, 9 new skeins arrived in the post. Now, they are gorgeous and I’m not sorry, but I really am going to have to start knitting in my sleep or something to get through some of these. First up, Caitlin Aran in After That, Quiet Affection:

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Followed by Sylvia lace in The Ayes Have It:

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And finally, some Marianne DK in Without A Stain On Her Character

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No firm plans for the DK yet, but the lace and aran are already earmarked for projects next year.

 

On the needles

Christmas knitting is really getting going here this week. I cast on some socks for Eloise using the Dainty Anklets from Wendy B Johnson – I’m omitting the knitted on picot edging though. Both girls have been wearing socks to bed the last few nights so these will be for them to wear in bed. I’m using Rico Design Superba Poems which is in rainbow stripes (except green, don’t know why). I’m not being precious with the stripes, so Eloise’s first sock runs purple, orange, yellow, blue, purple whereas her second sock is so far pink, purple, pink so they don’t looked matched but she won’t care in the slightest. The yarn is ok, it reminds me of Noro Kureyon sock with the long repeats and the yarn is a little uneven at times with some rather thin bits. I know Noro can be quite divisive – it has big fans because of the colours but plenty of people who swear to never use it because of the bits in it and the thick/thin nature of the yarn. I quite like Noro – I love the colours and I love how it softens up with washing. The main problem I have with the Rico Superba is the splitting – it’s a single ply and is not tightly spun in places which means it’s splitting on me quite often. 

The pattern, on the other hand, is lovely – as Wendy B Johnson’s patterns are – plus with them being for Eloise, they are knitting up superquick. I’ve completed 1 sock and just turned the heel on the second so that’ll be finished in the next day or so.

I also cast on some Seamless Saloma slippers by Megan Williams (of the Stockinette Zombies podcast) in Cascade 220 in black for Duncan as part of his Christmas present. This is a great free pattern on Ravelry and what I love is that the finished object looks not like a slipper at all – you’ll see next week, as these are flying off the needles as well (handily because I don’t get a lot of knitting time when Duncan isn’t around at the moment).

Final new cast on of the week are some Barbie clothes for Zoe for Christmas. So far, just a skirt, but I’ve got patterns for a couple of dresses, tops and trousers as well so hopefully Barbie will have a better wardrobe come December 25th.

I still have Shipwreck on the needles but I doubt it’ll get much love before Christmas now.

Off the needles

My Austin hoodie is finally finished (well, apart from the ends being woven in). No pics just in case my sister is reading, but you can click on the link and see a couple of shots. They’re not great because the sweater is blocking and I can’t model it because it won’t fit me. The pattern was a little unclear at times but I do like it and I would make it again – although would probably make some more mods, including some sort of fastening. I used some undyed merino/silk blend that I bought on Ebay, so nothing named, but I loved it – I’ve have 2 skeins left and will probably get some more and dye up for a top for me. What I loved was how the yarn plumped up nicely when blocked so the whole thing looked more substantial. I did manage to finish it in time for the end of November and the end of NaKniSweMo – I definitely would still be knitting on it without that motivation

It just fell into my bag

It has been a bad week for my debit card this week, but I’d prefer to think of it as supporting small businesses. From Violet Green I picked up some Exmoor Bluefaced sock yarn for some socks for Duncan for Christmas which is a kind of grey/brown colour, quite paler than I expected – which is always the problem with yarn shopping online, the colour may not be quite the same on your monitor as it really is. Even this photo makes it look more grey than it is, but I could not get the colour right in any shot I took.

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As I was ordering from Violet Green, I also added some sock yarn for me in a lovely blue colour and some undyed sock yarn as well.

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I also picked up some sock yarn from Ring a Rosie a couple of weeks ago which I managed to photograph this week:

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I also had a major accident at the Posh Yarn update this weekend but as they’ve not arrived yet, they really can’t be counted in this week’s post. That was, however, my last spend before Christmas now – I have lots of gift knitting to finish and a sample due later this month – I’m currently waiting for the yarn to arrive – and lots of sweater quantities to be getting on with in the meantime.

Where’s my bookmark?

I’ve not had a lot of time for reading recently – I’m edging into slightly panicked Christmas mode now – but recently, I’ve read Buffy & Philosophy: Fear & trembling in Sunnydale which is a collection of essays examining Buffy the Vampire Slayer in terms of philosophy. It was a really interesting read, but made me want to sit down with some episodes and watch them again. Right now I’m reading Letters from London by Julian Barnes which is a collection of 15 essays he wrote for New Yorker magazine between 1990 and 1995. Many of them have a political focus and as it’s a time when I wasn’t all that interested in politics (or anything beyond music and my own life, I was 13 – 18 when they were written), it’s been an educational read for me.

On the needles

I’m getting to the end of my Austin Hoodie – just a few more increases on the hood before the short rows and grafting. It’ll need another block before it’s finished properly, but it is looking good. I’ve made some intentional mods – I haven’t done the ribbed cuff but instead did the woven stitch on the cuff which I really like. There are also unintentional mods where I thought the pattern meant one thing but actually it didn’t – so on the back ribbing section, I’ve done the garter stitch edging around the armholes because the pattern started by saying to do that one one side but not the other, so I at least made them even but I’m not sure it was really necessary. 

I also cast on a new project this week – the Shipwreck Shawl by Knitting Harpy. This has been in my Ravelry queue for a long time and after finishing my Mandala back in October, and tracking down the perfect yarn (at Woolfest) and beads, I am now ready to start it. I’m not planning on this being a quick knit. The first bit is – I’m into section 5 of 7 which sounds impressive but I’ve really only done 28 rounds so far and the final section is massive. But the final section also involves stringing beads onto yarn (will probably take a couple of days at least) and endless knit 2 together, yarn over to create the netting – this isn’t tricky but I know it will be mind numbing.

Off the needles

First up, something I finished a couple of weeks ago now – my Aniron

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This is a not great pic, but it is a pic of me in the top. I really love how it’s turned out and will be wearing it a fair bit I imagine.

This week I also finished knitting my Foundling Mitts by Julia Temiseva:

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These are fab, I’ve been wearing them loads already – for early morning typing, driving, etc. Actually, this blog has meant they were completely finished straight away – the knitting was easy enough but the bottom of the cuffs are buttoned and the button fastening calls for a crocheted loop. I don’t do crochet – I can just about manage a basic chain but the last time I had to crochet on an edge was for a dress I made for Zoe – the Beatrice dress. I struggled with the crochet so much that I did one bit and then put it aside and when it picked it up 18 months later it, of course, didn’t fit Zoe at all. I ended up doing a quick garter stitch edging and then sold it. So for me to manage to cast off the mitts, sew on a button and do the crochet chain in one evening is quite an accomplishment. I don’t know why I struggle with crochet so much, it may be that I need to sit down and just get on with learning it but, to be honest, there’s so much that I want to knit, that I really don’t see where the time would come from right now – I’d much rather be knitting. This, by the way, is also why my spinning is so slow – I want to learn how to spin lovely yarn but I also want to knit all the things.

Stalking

I’m still really on a sweater/top/cardigan kick – the Austin hoodie will be my 3rd clothing FO since the start of October. This makes me wonder if I could complete 12 in 12 months. If I continue like this, I could however there is also a good chance that once the warm weather returns, I could well never want to knit another sweater. But, for now, I’m going to try it – I want to make the Tink Tank next but what I really need to do is gift knits for my family. My girls want bed socks and I usually also knit my husband socks. In addition, on the (very long) list Zoe wrote to Santa, she included Barbie clothes, so I thought I could knit a few. I usually knit gifts for others (little things rather than requested jumpers/cardigans, etc) but I don’t think I’ll be doing that this year.

Christmas planning

Christmas is pretty much sneaking up on me, as much as a fixed date that is known can sneak up on someone. I keep thinking it’s ages away and then someone reminds that it’s not – a month today and it’ll be in full swing. We still need to buy lots of gifts, or even just have an idea for some people, so that will be on our to-do list next weekend when payday arrives. Our tree will go up next Sunday – I love spending a couple of hours doing this as a family. We don’t have a co-ordinated tree; our decorations are haphazard, randomly coloured and some are homemade (some by me, some by my girls) and I truly love this. Our first Christmas card arrived as I am writing this so it really isn’t long until I can legitimately put the Christmas cds in the car and play them constantly.

 


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