Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Skill + 1UP :: 2KCBWDAY2 ::

Look back over your last year of projects and compare where you are in terms of skill and knowledge of your craft to this time last year. Have you learned any new skills or forms of knitting/crochet (can you crochet cable stitches now where you didn’t even know such things existed last year? Have you recently put a foot in the tiled world of entrelac? Had you even picked up a pair of needles or crochet hook this time last year?

I generally choose my knits based wholly on how much I want the finished item. I tend to not give much thought to what skills or techniques are involved in a project, deciding instead whether I have the patience or time to dedicate to something, so I’m really not sure what skills I’ve picked up over the past year. Looking at my Ravelry project page, the last year seems to have seen quite a few pairs of socks, including my first finished pair of toe up socks

so I can rate that as one new skill learnt!

In fact, now that I think about it, there was also my super stretchy sock cuff revelation


which turned out to be more a revisiting of a standard long tail cast on, but with a cunningly different name. This has now been usurped by the twisted German (also known as the Old Norwegian) cast on, a long tail variant which has even more stretch and (I think) a neater edge. Love! Even this has been improved fairly recently by the realisation that instead of having to guesstimate how much tail to leave, only to have to rip out the cast on and grudgingly start again when the tail is inevitably infuriatingly long or a few stitches too short, I can cast on with two separate ends. What a lightbulb moment! It’s amazingly satisfying to use the centre pull end and the free outer end and cast on, smug in the knowledge that I will always have just the right amount of yarn for my cast on. It’s even worth the extra ends to weave in, and considering how much I hate finishing, that’s some achievement!

My project page also reminds me of my first hand-felted project, the French Press Slippers.

I’ve hand made little felt balls before, but I had no idea that hand-felting an entire project would be such hard work! Even though I loved the end result, it’s going to be a long time before I decide to felt anything other than little balls for a while!

And lastly, there is the still lingering double knit hat.

This was my first venture into double knitting, and although the process had me a little bamboozled at first once I got stuck in it was pretty straight forward. I’m quite ashamed to say that it’s still on the needles, and three months on it hasn’t really progressed much from this photo!

Well, that’s a lot more skills than I thought. Who knows what new tricks I’ll unwittingly learn this year!

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Monday, March 28, 2011

Dyed & Plied, A Tale of Two Yarns :: 2KCBWDAY1 ::

Part of any fibre enthusiast’s hobby is an appreciation of yarn. Choose two yarns that you have either used, are in your stash or which you yearn after and capture what it is you love or loathe about them.Banner

What better way to break my blogging abstinence (holiday, followed by new job means that I haven’t quite managed to fit much knitting and blogging into my new routine!) than Knitting and Crochet Blog Week.

My tale begins with the dyed:


This hank of 4-ply Bluefaced Leicester is destined to be a birthday Ishbel for the Boy’s sister. I’ve had it in mind to knit her a shawl for a while now, but after gifting Holden to their mum for her birthday she proclaimed how much she would love one for her birthday. Whilst I’m a little sad that it’s not going to be a surprise any more, at least I know that it’s something she wants!

Anyway, back to the yarn. The Boy tactfully managed to find out that she’d love a shawl that was a dirty lilac colour but definitely not too purple, and proudly relayed his good work back to me. I was a little perplexed as to what exactly a dirty lilac was, but luckily my Google-fu was on form that day, although I still wasn’t sure how to stop it from being too purple. In the end I just decided to dive right in and see what happened.


It’s been a while since I did any dyeing, and this is the first time I’ve dyed to order. My usual dyeing “technique” is to have a vague idea of an end colour and then throw colours in the pot until I’m happy, so it was a little stressful to try and dye to something quite specific but it was still a lot of fun. I added things a little ad hoc, a bit of this and a little of that, and just played around with it. I wish I’d kept a few notes on what colours I’d used, because I think this is a lovely colour and I’d love to try reproducing it for myself some day. Perhaps it’s a little too purple for L, but I did try to grey it out slightly and I think the result is wonderfully fresh colour which reminds me of Parma Violets, perfect for spring.

It’s come out as a subtle semi-solid, which is my favourite kind of yarn. I’m not too big on variegated yarns, and solids can sometimes be a little too plain, but there can be so much depth in a semi-solid. I can’t wait to see how this knits up!

Onto the next yarn, and a bit of a cheat since it not strictly plied!

I’ve obsessing over spinning some silk for the past couple of months when I remembered that I had some silk noil lurking in my stash.


I carded some vanilla noil with some turquoise, added a dash of petrol blue and a generous helping of waste silk strands.


I’m still very much a novice at fibre preparation so I’ve no idea whether I was doing it properly, but I ended up with some pretty rolags. I love how the brilliant white of the silk waste contrasts against the pillowy cloud soft noil. It has such a dreamy quality to it.


I did start spinning this up, but I think I’ve spoilt it (plus the photos are terrible because they were taken at night!). 


I’ve spun it pretty thin, and although it’s still kind of pretty and still soft, nowhere near as wiry as it looks… it still looks wiry. I knew when I carded the fibre that it was going to be a textured neppy yarn, which is something I usually shy away from in favour of smoother yarns, but I can’t help feeling that I’ve made an incredible mess of this. I know that silk can take a lot of twist, but I think that I’ve overdone it slightly so I’m hoping that a lot of this comes out when I ply.


To be honest I wish I’d spun this a lot thicker with a little twist to preserve all that poufy loftiness that I loved so much in the unspun fibre. Or even just drafted it to a thin pencil roving and knit it up like that. But that’s what happens when I rush headlong into a project without thinking things through, and these are lessons learned for next time. And it’s still a pretty yarn, even if it’s not as pretty as I’d planned.

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Friday, March 11, 2011

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2011


The fabulous Eskimimi has arranged the second Knitting and Crochet blog week.

It was a huge success last year, and I was so disappointed that I couldn’t take part because of exams, so I’m so excited to be able to join in this time.

Everyone is welcome, and if you want to find out more pop on over to The Blog Hub on Ravelry, or check out this blog post where Eskimimi fills you in on what it’s all about, how you can take part and a veritable smorgasbord of other info and tips.

5468769531_f2d1c1a523_o  Enjoy!

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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Grey lace


Yup, another SolidSocks mystery sock!


I’m about halfway through Clue 2 at the moment, and loving it. It’s super squishy and stretchy lace that isn’t too holey, and they just generally feel incredibly cosy. Which is great seeing as it’s still so cold at the moment.


At the moment I’m knitting these two at a time from both ends of the yarn cake, and I have somehow managed to get the most irritating tangle in my yarn, which is holding me up slightly as I keep having to untwist and free my yarn ends. It looks like a relatively simple tangle to undo, but because I’m knitting these two at a time on one long needle it’s proving impossible. Every time I’ve tried to fix it, I’ve ended up with a knot, which is Much Worse. The only way to fix it would be to cut the yarn, but for some reason I’m inexplicably reluctant to do that, even though I usually jump at the chance to do a Russian join. So instead I’m going to try and whizz my way through the rest of the ball and cut only at the end when I absolutely have to.P1080679

At any rate, my yarn seems to be scrabbling to escape from the confines of the yarn cake. I told Graeme that I thought it looked like a pretty grey flower, but he just looked at me funny and said it was more like an acorn.

I still think it looks like a flower, but maybe I’m just weird!

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Tuesday, March 08, 2011



There is something indescribably satisfying and cosy about a nice big squishy pile of freshly washed hand knit wool socks.

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