Not just socks

IMG_4179This is a sock that I made for my son. It’s beginning to look a wee bit tired and old now (but on the other hand – still fresher than I look first thing…. ha ha bloody ha) but it’s proof, if it were needed, that knitting isn’t just about making something to wear.

I bought the yarn in Seattle here in this fabulous wool shop just a quick stroll from  Pike Place market: we’d landed a few hours before and we were horribly jet-lagged but already in love with this Pacific North West City. We’d had a bowl of chips and a beer in a bar that looked out over Puget Sound, marvelled at the market and the busy to-ing and fro-ing going on all around us. Then we browsed the yarn and I selected a single skein and needles for the train journey north to Vancouver the next day.

I don’t know the name of the yarn, it’s colour, batch or composition but its deep blues and greens and touch of purple seemed to reflect the palette of the countryside, and I knew my son would love it. He was waiting to meet us in Canada and he loves his handmade socks. We rolled slowly north on the train and I knitted away on the socks and inch by inch, mile by mile they were made and handed over in due course. My son was spending 6 months in Vancouver and we’d treated ourselves to a holiday there to see him and spend a little time in the PNW. God, we loved it – great food, cities, scenery, friendly Canadians and Americans, a chilled out vibe and yarn shops everywhere.

So I look at this slightly shaggy sock with its thin sole and strangely twisted heel and I don’t see a sad old woolly thing I see, well, this……



Finished the second of my Carbeth sweaters today – this one featured a wee bit of colour work but otherwise was more or less the same as the first (the sleeves are a bit longer so they roll up). I love it but tbh, I’m so ready to move on from Winter knitting at the moment – I’ve been finding myself looking for 4 ply /fingering patterns and thinking a bit about lace knitting again. Cline, since you ask, is now on permanent hold until next winter starts knocking on the door. This is for two reasons: I’m still not sure that I love it, and I can’t be bothered frogging it and two: even if I was seized with enthusiasm for it by the time it will be nearing the finishing line, I’m pretty sure it will be too warm to wear it anyway. Although its the UK and there’s an argument that most days here can be sweater days.

I also finished a pair of socks – woo hoo! Well, of course, you might say, don’t you knit socks like all the time? Well, what with being seized with an urge to knit sweaters and a big case of sewing bug, these socks just didn’t really ‘do it’ for me (sensible blue stripes, textured pattern, for my significant other and his biggish feet). I made the first way back in November and then just knitted a few rows here and there when stuck for something to do. This is not a good idea with sock production: you forget how many stitches you cast on, what you made you decide to fiddle with the heel (and how you did it) and well, it becomes a classic case of second sock syndrome.

But I finished (with grim determination) and decided to take a break from socks for a while. On the basis of this decision I gave away a good chunk of my stash of sock yarns (not the interesting ones, just a few doublers from my shop collection) and then …. well, this sock appeared on my horizon and I was smitten. So I dug out some  yarn, finished the cuff in double-quick-timeand then well, either I’m a dummy or the pattern is awkward. Either way up, I should have stuck to my no-socks plan. I’m now on my 5th attempt. Sigh.

I am also knitting a shawl with another couple of bits from my stash and again, its really not dinging my bell. It’s weird how sometimes you can’t stop finding things to knit…and sometimes you can’t find anything that sticks.

Anyway some pictures of the Carbeth…..

…the last picture shows how much of the grey yarn I had left over. I wanted the body to be the same length as the first Carbeth I knitted and the sleeves to be a smidge longer too – with less yarn, much less. I thought that using the purple would help and I was right, but I didn’t leave myself a great deal of wiggle room!

(NO) Jacket required

So Joanne how is #nobuyzone going? Well it’s funny you should ask because, friends,  just this week I have fallen from grace. I spent money on both clothes and yarn. Forgive me knitters for I have sinned

In my defence I tried very hard not to buy clothes and the yarn was a sort of consequence of feeling a bit sorry for myself.

It went off like this: I had an everyday-wear jacket. Weatherproof, stylish (after a fashion, and if you like orange) it had been a good and faithful servant, when *somehow it got covered in black ink across the middle of body at the front. This ink proved pretty sticky stuff and after a wash remained as indelible as before. But the wash had removed the weatherproofing very effectively. Goddammit. The ink was not ignorable (especially for someone who admits to being a neat-freak) so I tried to cover it up with a bit of embroidery. Which worked (I guess) but left me with a not water-proof, florally decorated (and I suspect slightly shrunk) jacket. I tried to like it, but I’m just not in to flower power (and against being wet – definitely not: not in Winter, not in Britain).

Admitting the inevitable, I then went out to buy a replacement winter casual jacket. I went to several outdoors shops and found nada, nowt, not a sausage – nothing. If they fitted around my apple-shaped middle the arms were too long. If the arms and shoulders fitted, I couldn’t fasten it. My dearest one suggested that I might be ok if I wore a jacket without a jumper. This was probably true but as well as being dry in Winter I also prefer (call me an irrational fool if you like) to remain warm too. I went home discouraged, new-jacketless and clutching a bottle of re-proofing potion.

The potion did not work and I remained discouraged. I accept that I have a large middle, but I’m not that freakish and to prove it I had a jacket that fitted. I look around me and see many other women with – ahem – a wee bit of extra insulation, all wearing jackets. They must’ve bought them SOMEWHERE…. This sort of shopping should make you hate manufacturers/designers and their very narrow ideas of what constitutes  the ideal female form, but it doesn’t, it makes you hate yourself.

I took the ‘kids’ (my two grown up sons) out shopping, and still glum, I cheered myself up with a yarn purchase. Four balls of WYS sock in an ashy rose colour to make this (or possibly this) reduced by a third. It felt good and it felt right – at the time, and then not so much later on when I squirrelled the yarn away.

And then strolling through town after a miserable conversation with my doctor (mile high cholesterol, and fatty liver were the highlights) I spied a jacket, waterproof, nearly identical to my old one and in a tasteful green.

Reader, I bought it.

*my son queried my story about how the ink had appeared. Honestly, as yarn is my witness ,it was not a ploy to buy a jacket. I loved that orange coat.

another WIP

Just popped by to say that yes I have started another Carbeth sweater and if you fancy following my progress on Instagram I’m joatvillagewoolly.

Having a lack a true sweater quantities of – well, anything – in my stash I had a brainwave… colour work. Do the ribs in one shade, a transitional band of fair isle, and then another colour (and repeat on the sleeves). The neck may be grey or it may be purple – it depends on how acute the ‘yarn chicken’ gets!

Here’s some pictures – the yarn is the same as the last one – Rico’s Alpaca dream – and  it’s still wonderful to knit with. I’ve got tension/gauge with 7mm/6mm needles. fullsizeoutput_1587fullsizeoutput_1586

let it snow, let it snow…let it snow


It’s a snow day outside – so a good day (in my view) for sitting, knitting and thinking. A couple of things came up on my Instagram feed and blogs about finding your style.

I don’t know a single woman who can take a compliment – if you say to someone who is immaculately made up, beautifully dressed and perfectly coiffured, they’ll pay their stomach and assure you that they’re bloated/pounds heavier than they should be or something equally mad. Or they assure you that the outfit was cheap or the equivalent of ‘this old thing’. We women are pretty good at being nice to everyone – except ourselves.

How about this – everyone in the family is ready for a night out, you’re still standing in your pants and bra in a room that looks like its been burgled trying to find something to wear. You have loads of clothes and not a single thing you feel happy to go out in.

I remember seeing some slogan somewhere which was a mixture of angry and sad: “a woman’s place is in the wrong” and certainly our attitudes to our bodies suggest that is very much the case despite efforts to promote body positivity. But I guess that the fashion and beauty industries (worth billions and billions) are geared at that feeling that if you had the right dress/skin/hips you could finally feel happy.

Maybe dressmaking and knitting could throw a wee spanner in the works: think about it, your new clothes come without a size label and are made to fit you, they’re unique so no-one can do that “who wears it better” calculation, and to be honest they are kind of ‘outside’ fashion too. Some sewing and knitting patterns reflect current trends (primarily from the mainstream brands), but many indy designs are simply classic shapes, or simply wearable styles. And in knitting a touch of traditional is valued over the swift fashion.

The more I wear my own me-made clothes, the more comfortable I feel about my own style: I am classic apple and short and there are no designers making clothes for my shape anywhere in the world. Except me. And the more I diverge from fashion, the more I suspect that it’s a bit of a con anyway. Yarn Harlot was talking a little bit about this and said this

“It’s taken me getting this old to suspect that when I leave a room, people do not discuss my neckline choices in a way that’s going to have any actual impact on my life.”

…and for ‘neckline’ I suspect you could most probably substitute any other part of your body that you’re currently pre-occupied with. You care – but other people really really don’t because they see the whole package, and if you’re happy, smiling, kind and friendly, warm and stylish, frankly who gives a flying feck about a muffin top or flat chest?

Meanwhile: Finished objects/works in progress – this has not changed overmuch. Cline is still in her bag waiting for a decision on her fate…the socks are still unfinished and the blanket is still ongoing. Because I simply can’t sit and not knit I dug out some rather nice Adriafil aran from my stash and started this. There may have to be some yarn chicken as I have 4 balls and I really need five. But if it has to be frogged at least I has something to knit…. which is the main thing…..isn’t it?

IMG_4102Note that my new favourite sweater Carbeth is now a ‘thing’ – head over to Mason Dixon knitting to hear about it. Mine is a joy to wear: I made it considerably longer in the body/shorter in the sleeves than the original but raced to the finish line in just over a week. I love it. There may be more (yeah, ‘may’….. I’m already thinking about ditching the green in favour of another one…)