Finished objects….!

With a view to starting a project – or rather the project – on my ‘mature student’ course, I have been rattling through my works in progress, gradually turning them into finished items. So at this point I have two knitting and two crochet WIPs. I’m even knitting Cline again!

img_4767.jpgSo Kermit the scarf is now finished and blocked (and it’s rather pretty if I do say so myself), I remade the sleeves on my Cranberry Gose to put it back into circulation, banged out a Lillian,

….and I’ve frogged the Purbeck (maybe for now). Which will leave me with the Cline and one sock. The socks (there is a pair) are the self designed toe-up lace sock which have taken some time to come to fruition. I have re-knitted them about 4 times so far in order to correct some issues with the heel and cuff but now they are pretty much refined, so all I have to do is finish the second and write the pattern.

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..still not a pair…

I’m emphasising ‘all’ here because everyone knows that the second sock is often the hardest thing in the world to finish: the novelty has evaporated and the love is gone. But one sock is not functional (except at Christmas) so you grit your teeth and grind it out. So there’s that, and then there’s writing the pattern. 

I’ve done two (cuff down vanilla and also lace) but once you’ve written a vanilla sock you can just cut and paste, and  then after you’ve written out the lace, you’re done. (Writing the vanilla sock pattern took a week, making the chart for the lace and written instructions took about the same). This time, I have to write out another total sock pattern, including a short row heel, make a chart for the lace and write it out too. This will take a while. (massive understatement alert)

Sometimes I think about time and knitting. A sweater is a big project and takes weeks to finish, socks  and shawls take thousands of stitches and hours. Writing a pattern is a painstaking process too. So I can see why hand dyeing is so popular in the knitting world. You take a blank, dye it, cook it and bob’s your uncle. Sure, there’s skill and talent in combining colours, but the process itself is quick and satisfying. How do I know: I’ve done it.

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pumpkin lace-weight dyed by me!

I can also see why hand dyeing is a popular retail option. Dyes cost next to nothing per make, the blanks can be had fairly cheaply so you can be looking at a really good markup. If that’s your bag. Do I sound a little jaundiced? Well maybe a little.

Anyway moving on…..

Sorry

Sorry to anyone who turned up here looking for new …well, anything. I’ve been getting to grips with my new student life (the commute being not the least of it – did you know that it’s dark at 6.30am these days… me neither.) and in consquence more or less everything else has had to go on the back burner: eating sensibly, tidying up, getting some sort of exercise. So crafting, sewing and blogging have been casualties of the chaos.

But I am still knitting of course – just failing to finish anything! Project wise, I have a lace sock that still needs its second, my Kermit shawl (it needs a better name) is still ongoing, there’s a shawl, half sweater and a crochet wrap that are not being ‘progressed’ at the moment either.

However I did manage to drag a pair of vanilla socks over the line and short of something to do I raided my yarn stash, came up with a couple of likely balls of aran and this happened. Lillian is the perfect cardigan for the negligent knitter – it’s top down, mostly stocking stitch and, as its knitted in aran yarn, comes together pretty quickly. I can knit while watching TV (even absorbing TV) and simply make stitch after stitch and turn off my restless brain. I choose something top down because I have a limited amount of yarn and want to maximise every little bit. This way I can avoid ending up with three balls of leftover DK (yes I’m looking at you Cranberry Gose …although, technically, it’s not finished yet…there’s a sleeve issue.)

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the full stash

While you’re here I have favour to ask. I have a stash  and I wonder if anyone is as, ahem, ‘fortunate’ as me to have a similar sized or more, cough, generous? If you do, can you post a photo to me at villagewoolly@gmail.com or hop over to Instagram and post a picture with the hashtag #mybigwoolstash. I have a project in mind for my university course that might – and it’s a big might at this stage – be about knitting wool/yarn stashes. I’m going to thank you in advance for your help. 

Any hoo, I hope to be back at some point with some proper yarn chat, in the meantime, may the knit be with you.

 

stuff is happening

(Call yourself a blogger? Do you even remember what a keyboard looks like?) 

Apologies for (yet more) radio silence – this happened though….

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I’m nearly the oldest student in my group and certainly the one who felt most like a rabbit caught in the headlights of an oncoming HGV. After enrolment and a day of full-on information I felt like my head would explode. Like, literally – bytes of data and brain tissue all over the place.

Anyhoo – I’m feeling  a touch more sanguine this week (although that could be the new medication that I’m taking for the back pain…sigh. Me and my body are going to have to have a talk at some point about team work. I went out there and had major maintenance and repair on my knee, lost weight because of my cholesterol and – gulp – enlarged liver, eased myself off pain killers and bought a fit-bit, and f**k me, my back goes. Guys, give me a break). All as I have to do now is study, meet deadlines, work with people half my age (who struggle with the idea, let alone the practice of turning up on time) produce a body of work and write something coherent about it. No problemo.

If you’ve turned up here to see some knitting action, well, it’s disappointment all round. I finished the Cranberry Gose sweater but realised that the neckline was too shallow for a standard round neck, so had to re-knit it as the polo neck it was intended to be. I’m ok with it and it’s cosy, but I kinda wish I had given it a provisional cast on so I could lengthen it if need be (and I have a ton of the yarn left over so that would have been very do-able) and i wonder if the sleeves were a. a good thing? and b. could have been longer? As I’m having difficulties getting knitting projects over the line and I’ve got a lot on my plate at the moment (see above) my main feeling is that I need to stick a fork in it and call it done.  I did manage to finish a pair of socks and I’ve nearly got another pair off the needles, and the pair that I’m ‘designing’ is getting close to being ready for the second sock experience (which is always a learning curve, especially when you ‘misplace’ your knitting note-book!) so that’s something.

So in conclusion, stuff is happening, not so much of the knitting, and I must try harder. Thank you for reading.

I’m back!

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Home from a slow wander around the north east of England and the north of Scotland in Vanda. I got virtually no knitting done to speak of and hardly managed to finish a book. Where did the time go? I watched a lot of waves, saw a lot of swifts and swallows, ate some very good food, had a few medicinal drams and hung out with my best friend and lover (and luckily, husband) – and felt myself relaxing to the tips of my idle fingers.

I was back for a whole week when i developed a horrible pain in my back – seems to be a touch of spinal arthritis – and I’m now hurting and disabled again. Which, friends, was not supposed to be part of the script. My knee is absolutely fine by the way (of course).

I have a university degree starting in a couple of weeks that requires me to cast off the last 30 or so years and get back to ‘studenting’ again. It won’t be easy if I have to do it with back pain, and it won’t be joyful if I have to manage my discomfort. I guess I’ll survive? I have to say that I am kinda fed up of having to work around pain.

Deep breath. Deep cleansing breath. 

So I’ve not been doing too much knitting but I have been sewing (even with someone slowly inserting a size 14/US size 0 knitting needle into my back just below my shoulder blade). I made another Mandy boat tee in this seasons favourite shade of yellow, I embroidered a simple design on a red version (largely, I confess, to cover up a stubborn grease stain. I’m sure that Coco Chanel had similar design priorities). And I made some black linen dungarees  (I think I mentioned that I was returning to student life  – apparently so is my wardrobe). The latter are the Marilla Walker Roberts pattern and I’m very fond of them but they are impossible to photograph so….

IMG_4559And I made a big project/tote/shopping bag. I think its going to be gifted to the person who gave me the fabric as she is very much a fan of the portable knitting project (I prefer to do my knitting in front of the TV). 

While mooching about the house and trying to stay mobile (I seem to set like concrete if I sit for too long) I thought that I might start a new project (as you do). I grabbed some yarn from my stash (while pushing a whole heap of project bags to one side). This morning I had second thoughts about the pattern (this scarf/wrap): it’s gorgeous and so is the yarn but size 7mm needles are not too comfy for me right now and I might have enough scarfs and shawls already/on the needles. While putting the pattern away and frogging the knitting, I thought to myself ‘how many projects do I have?’ – my suspicion was too many, so I counted them up. Eleven. yup, that’s way too many. So I grabbed a notebook, and a pen and recorded the embarrassing details – and I am going to institute a one in one out rule until I am back on planet reasonable.  Sigh.

 

I dare you!

Kick around on instagram for a while and you realise that there is an ‘right way’ to do things: pattern weights rather than pins, rotary cutters not scissors, mattress stitch for your knits (don’t even think about back stitching the very few seams that you have – that’s if you still knit your sweaters in pieces – and duh, why aren’t you knitting them top/down in the round…).

Sometimes it feels like your whole life is directed by a bunch of rules.  Fashion and beauty can be fun and playful, but they can also be restrictive and tiring. Don’t wear jeans if you’re over 50, baggy clothes make you look fat, heels and low cut tops – are you kidding me! No make-up selfies were a big thing recently implying that make-up was a given and ‘normal’ women didn’t leave the house without a full face of slap.

You can’t be too thin or too fit, but don’t get all muscular, cos people hate that too. I don’t think I need to labour the horrors of fat-shaming that larger women have to face on a day to day basis.

Women are at the sharp end of so many cultural conventions: newspapers have headlines that suggest that anyone bottle-feeding or going out to work (or conversely indulgently staying at home with their baby on their breast) are somehow at fault. Their kids will suffer somewhere down the line. Allegedly.

I’m 56 this year and quite frankly I’ve had enough – I am fed up of dancing to someone else’s tune all the time. I’m going to keep as fit as I can but I don’t give a stuff about my ‘abs’, my kids (who were bottle fed, and saw me being a stay at home and working mum’) are all grown up and they’ve turned out fine. I am going to prioritise comfortable clothes (and I’ll make them myself) with flat shoes that I can walk in and forgo makeup for the 30th consecutive year.

I will use scissors and pins when I sew, back stitch my sweaters (which will almost certainly be raglan sleeved and knit in pieces).  I will keep on doing the things that make me happy and that I’m happy to do. I dare you to do the same.

Things I’m knitting and sewing: I’ve finished a pair of socks, I’m still plugging away at Cranberry Gose (I took it to the Peak District with me last week and knit under the camper van awning as the sun beat down…. and I discovered that I’d stuffed up the instructions, but without any stress at all, reckoned I could call the resulting error a design feature)… I also started a shawl (Tales from the Isle of Purbeck) in a gorgeous wool. cashmere mix but sternly reminded myself that the Cranberry needed to be finished before I knitted another row of lace. I am meekly complying.

Summertime

What does a knitter do when it’s too sunny to knit? 

All my knitting projects (bar one – socks. I’m never not knitting socks. Ever) are stalled at the moment while the weather in the UK remains oddly mediterranean. Every time I pick up a project I put it down almost immediately: that woolly goodness that I usually relish is really not doing it for me at the moment. I would sew but my sewing space is a south facing conservatory (blindingly bright and very, very hot). It’s also my art space, but to be honest I think that the practicalities are secondary to the simple truth that this weather sucks the enthusiasm right out of you. (note: if you’re un-used to it. British people have one of these spells every 20 years and have no chance to acclimatise!)

Having finished my latest crochet blanket I’ve been looking for a new project that is weather appropriate and not a blanket. I came across these squares on Ravelry and thought that a wrap/shawl fashioned from this yarn might be a good in-betweeny until I can start another blanket (I know, I know…you can have too many blankets but I can’t help myself). I’ve made 4 so far and I think its going to be a big square. The yarn lends itself to drapiness and when washed, relaxes even more. Having said all that, I’ve not picked up a hook in a week. Sigh.

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I’ve a little embroidery project on the go which is giving proving to be much more engaging: here’s a sneak preview…

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….I don’t know how it will turn out  and I’ve had some issues with this sort of work in the past so don’t be at all surprised if you don’t see it again!

In exciting news, I will be a student again come September. I’ve been accepted by Huddersfield University to do a Masters Degree in Fashion Textile Practices. I’ll tell you more about that nearer enrolment but it’s an exciting opportunity to expand my craft.

Finished objects and works in progress..

Hello from Project Sitting-on-my-ass-and-trying-not-to-climb-the-walls..

It’s nearly the end of the um, 5th?, week and I am at that awkward stage where I’m not really broken anymore, but not quite fixed either. I have started hopping around without my crutch from time to time and on one occasion actually left it...somewhere and had to hunt for it.  But I am still not walking with that self-assured, unthinkingly fluid, casual elegance that other walkers throw in my face when I’m limping around the block. No, of course they don’t mean to do it…yes, I know I’m being paranoid, and yes, I will buck up.

Now I’m off the major pain-killers I’m actually able to finish stuff off: this Rainbow Relay scarf flew off the needles and was a joy to knit. The colours are lovely and the construction of the scarf is faintly addictive (classic ‘just one more row’ territory). I can’t block it right now(kneeling is not part of my skill set at the moment) but I know it’s going to be even better after a good wet-block. (The minis are from the Knitting Goddess but the grey yarn was band-less. I know it was a silk/wool mixture and probably bought in Portland Oregon. But the rest is a mystery. I’m sorry)

The UK is currently enjoying a hot summer (and our football team scored 6 goals in the World Cup…neither of these things make any sense) so scarfs and shawls are investments in the future at the moment,  as is my other finished project – the sanity blanket. This stash-busting, round-and-round crochet project kept me going pre- and post-op when I needed something soothing (pre…) and mindless (post). I think it has a touch of Mexicana about it which is currently all the rage, darlings. I tried to use up every scrap of yarn – hence the flowers – and the yarn in question was a ‘special’ DK that was never going to be used for a serious project.

Also completed: vanilla man socks in WYS Bullfinch – still my favourite colour combo in this range.

Ongoing: Cranberry Gose sweater – is stalled at the moment as woolly garments just seem so low priority, but I’m cranking out socks. These blue ones require a touch of neon, and this Regia darning and reinforcement thread has been in my stash for a while. I’m also playing around with some rather gorgeous Countess Ablaze yarn and some Kid Mohair I stashed from the shop… I don’t know where this is going yet…but I like it!