Using up bits

I'm working my way through my stash of Koigu KPPPM and Colinette Jitterbug; it's mainly oddments with the odd single skein here and there. So far there have been several crochet blankets,


a hat and a pair of almost-finished-just-need-thumbs fingerless mittens


and there's still some yarn left. I'm convinced it's breeding...

In the same photo as the mittens are the start of Keiran Foley's Shetland Ruffles (rav link) in two colours of Malabrigo Sock (Dewberry and Solis) and a shawl for Steph in some of my hand dyed sock yarn. 

Knitting and food

I think I've finally managed to get Wingspan out of my system after knitting another in Silk Garden in blues/greens/purples. The Silk Garden was out of stash and I started knitting this pattern with it; after my usual bout of Knitter's Denial (I knew I couldn't live with the way the eyelets were placed as the shawl got bigger), I frogged it. Hence another Wingspan...

After fiddling around with the Silk Moon Crescent Shawlette pattern and rewriting the last three eyelet rows, I had another go.


The yarn's another Noro one, Aya, which is a cotton/silk/wool mix that feels lovely and soft. I'll post pattern mods when I've blocked it and added it to my Ravelry projects.

OK, that's the knitting out of the way; on to food. I bought a pressure cooker a couple of weeks ago and I'm surprised how different it is from the scary Prestige Hi-Dome I used in the Seventies. This one's as whisper-quiet and efficient as you'd expect from a piece of kit made in Switzerland.


So far I've made stock and cooked batches of beans and chick peas for the freezer. I'm surprised how good pressure-cooked chick peas taste compared to tinned ones.


Finally, a loaf of wholemeal bread straight out of the oven. I haven't baked bread for, oh, about 20 years and I'd forgotten how easy it is. This loaf's a slightly weird shape along the sides because I baked it in a silicon loaf tin which stretched; next time I'll either make rolls or get hold of a metal tin. Hope the bread tastes as good as it smells!

April's favourite pattern


It's Wingspan, a free pattern on Ravelry, and it uses just one ball of sock yarn. I knitted this one in the Lory colourway of Jawoll Magic Degrade for a friend's birthday and I've nearly finished another for myself in the Mallard colourway of the same yarn. There's enough going on with the short row shaping to hold your interest in spite of all those rows of garter stitch...



I want to knit a Color Affection (Ravelry link) so, as you do, I had a hunt through my stash but couldn't find three skeins of yarn that were the same weight and went well together. Out with the dyepot at that point; the centre skein is handpainted and the other two are kettle dyed. The base yarn is BFL Superwash Sock.


The colours do look good together in real life and I was all set to wind the skeins and cast on. Then it occured to me that three shades of grey would look even nicer and I dyed more skeins of the same base yarn.


Now I can't decide which combination I like best. Such is one of life's little trials...


Flossie, channeling Rhett Butler, thinks that frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

Nearly done

I'm nearly done with a batch of blocking; mainly gift knitting/crochet that needs to go in the mail but this is for me. It's the Amberwell Shawl (Rav link) knitted in Hand Maiden Sea Silk, colourway Ebony, that's been sitting in a heap since I cast it off in July. The colour doesn't look very exciting in the photo but it's lovely and subtle in real life.


It's now blocking *drumroll* and should be dry by tomorrow. More photos to follow.

A good day


We had a good day at Craftaganza yesterday. The other stallholders were friendly, there were masses of people looking round (some buying), the weather was kind and lots of friends came along to see us. Notable mentions go to Penny and twins for banana muffins and to Jamie for very welcome cups of tea at the end of the day.

Isn't it always the way?

After looking through the stash, I didn't have any yarn in the right weight/right colour to solve yesterday's denial problem. I have, er, quite a substantial stash but none of it would do so a quick trip down the road to my LYS, Cocoon, who had the perfect yarn.

Cast on yesterday and it's coming along nicely. Again, no pics until after Christmas!

Busy, busy, busy

Brighton Craft Guerrilla will be at Craftaganza's Christmas Market at Fabrica on December 10 and I'm busy dyeing, stitching and crocheting all manner of stuff for the stall. The venue's nice and central and we're looking forward to plenty of visitors wandering round and (hopefully) buying! I'll post more details nearer the date.


This is the latest batch of sock yarn ready to be skeined and labelled; I'd better go do just that...

Now, where was I?

The last few months have sped past. I'm reminded of that Douglas Adams quote I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by. 

There have been several deadlines at Wibbo Towers, albeit self-imposed ones. The first one was to make a wedding present for Steph and Benn - a ripple stitch crochet blanket.




Then there was a shawl from Steph to wear at her wedding. She chose the Misty Blossom Stole pattern (ravelry link) and wanted a bright red semi-solid yarn to match one of the flower colours in her dress.






I was really pleased with how this turned out (as was Steph!) - I knitted it exactly to pattern apart from substituting a narrow picot edge for the original lace edging.

Where are they now?

Write about the fate of a past knitting project. Whether it be something that you crocheted or knitted for yourself or to give to another person. An item that lives with you or something you sent off to charity.

Many years ago (sometime during the 80s) I crocheted a huge bedspread in hexagon motifs using Rowan's Lightweight DK. The yarn came in an enormous range of colours and in 25g/70m skeins. I couldn't afford to buy all the yarn at once, so I used to pick up a fivers-worth at a time from Reis Wools in Holborn. I had no colour plan in my head and because the hexagons were joined together as I worked, I couldn't make any changes once they were in place. The small inner voice of doubt in my head should have warned me, but I ignored it and pressed on. And on. And on. Until the bedspread was finished and I'd worked several rows of edging round it. At that point, trying it out on the bed made me realise with horror that I absolutely hated the colours. All that hideous yellow! What on earth had I been thinking of?



So I folded up the bedspread and put it away, firmly out of sight, where it stayed for the best part of fifteen years. Then it occured to me that I could unpick the whole thing and re-use the yarn. That way madness lies; I soon abandoned the unpicking, (don't faint) cut the bedspread into four and ran the pieces through my washing machine a couple of times. I ended up with nice thick felt and the colours didn't look too bad because they'd faded slightly in the wash and each hexagon had shrunk to about half its original size.

Two thicknesses made a comfy seat pad for my studio chair



and some is in use as a cat perch handy rug to take down to the beach. 


Tidy mind, tidy stitches

How do you keep your yarn wrangling organised?

I keep my yarn stash in the bedroom, stacked up in three towers of Really Useful Boxes (84 litre size) guarded by Fearsome Miss Flossie. There's more yarn under the bed, this time in 50 litre boxes. Each box contains similar types of yarn (sock, lace etc) and each has its own Excel spreadsheet on the computer (I know, I know - anal). This system works really well, apart from the obvious flaw when the box you want to get into is located in the tower below a sleeping cat.


Needles, hooks and boxes of other knitting/crocheting essentials live on a cheapo kitchen trolley with wheels so I can move it close to where I'm sitting.


Current knitting/crochet projects lurk in the living room. Some are in an old china washing bowl (strategically placed to deter FMF from sleeping right in the middle of the single-bed-disguised-as-a-sofa)


and some are, er, just strewn across the table. These are projects that need finishing soon and can't be ignored any longer.


Books I use often, beads and buttons are housed on shelves over my computer; large books and printed-out patterns in files are in my bedroom bookcases.

Tour over, folks :o)


Skill + 1UP

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.

It's been a curate's egg sort of year. I learnt and used some new techniques but these were balanced out by a lot of frogging of projects that I wasn't totally convinced about. If I'm not enjoying knitting/crocheting something, or I don't think it'll fit/suit me, then I frog it.


I discovered, practised and perfected working a belly button start (brilliant) and got halfway through a circular shawl in laceweight before I had an attack of it-looks-too-much-like-a-doily and frogged it. However, learning something new is never wasted and I'll use the technique again next time I knit a square shawl. I like square shawls, they don't look like doilies ;o)



I knitted a shawl pattern that had a section of lace-on-both-sides patterning across the border section. The finished shawl looks really pretty but confirmed my previous opinion that I don't enjoy working this type of lace stitches even in an easy-to-handle yarn like Koigu; I much prefer purling wrong-side rows.


I designed and knitted a pair of mittens that actually fitted me properly (small hands, short fingers) and wrote the pattern up rather than leaving it in scrappy note form (this is a major step for me).



I learnt much more this year about dyeing yarn from Ravelry forums, a friend who dyes fabric and through trial-and-error. I'm much more confident now about dyeing the colours/effects that I want and getting a dyebath to exhaust. 


In the next year, I plan to get better acquainted with Japanese crochet patterns. I have books, yarn and hooks, so no excuses! 


A tale of two yarns

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.

I love knitting/crocheting with almost any squishy extra-fine merino yarn but my absolute favourite is the now-sadly-discontinued Jaeger Extra Fine Merino DK. EFM is lovely to work with; it shows off textured stitches beautifully and never, ever pills in wear. I have a small hoard left - mainly in my favourite colours of purple, blackberry, grey. I can't quite bring myself to use any of the hoarded yarn yet but the anticipation of doing so is very enjoyable!

Top of the list in my Devil's Spawn category of yarns to avoid is Rowan Kidsilk Haze, narrowly beating any yarn containing bamboo (bamboo is slimy stuff; handling it makes me shudder with that chalk-on-a-blackboard feeling). I seem to be the only knitter on the planet who hates Kidsilk Haze. It's itchy to wear, horrible to work with and an absolute bugger to frog if you've made a mistake. Oh, and for what you get, it's ridiculously expensive.