Monday, April 29, 2013

Knitting & Crochet Blog Week 2013: A Reflection

Well, I did it! I blogged every day of Knitting & Crochet Week, and even though it was a really busy week at work (let's be honest, when isn't it?), the schedule function was my friend. And although I may not be able to keep up this kind of intensity, I do feel tha it has rejuvenated the blog somewhat. Thanks Eskimimi, and I'm looking forward to next year's already!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

4KCBWDAY7: Looking Forward

One year from now, when the 5th Knitting & Crochet Blog Week rolls around, where do you hope your crafting will have taken you to? What new skills, projects and experiences do you hope you might have conquered or tried?

I would dearly love my crafting to have taken me to a specific house just outside Barmouth, where there are outbuildings galore and room for a couple of alpaca, but without winning the lottery, those dreams are beyond my reach at present.

In terms of techniques, I would like to make a fair isle vest that requires a steek. I would also like to learn dressmaking, but I'm not prepared to invest time in either of those activities until I have finished losing weight and my body shape has settled. Therefore the single biggest thing I would like to achieve craft-wise over the next year is to spin enough yarn from raw sheep fleece to make a garment. I've done loud and chunky with the Rainbow Liesl; now it's time for something more refined. 

Saturday, April 27, 2013

4KCBWDAY6: A Tool To Covet

Today's task:
Write about your favourite knitting or crochet (or spinning, etc) tool. It can either be a tool directly involved in your craft (knitting needles or crochet hook) or something that makes your craft more pleasurable – be it a special lamp, or stitch markers.
Ooh, this is a good one! I always equate coveting things with sheer indulgence - after all, I am in the lucky position of having disposable income so if I would like a tool, I usually buy it when I want or need it, or if it's little bigger, ask for it for birthday or Christmas. There are a number of things that make my craftwork pleasurable though.

I love well-made project bags, so one of NicsKnots' bags is a pleasure to have. I knit from skeins a lot, and increasingly from handspun, so my yarn swift and ball winder are invaluable. However there is one thing that I really do covet, purely because they are a thing of beauty and a joy to use:

Ebony needles. They are warm to the touch, they have just the right amount of grip and they look gooooorgeous. They also seem to be a gazillion times the price of bamboo, which is why I only one one set of ebony DPNs. When I have pretty much every size of DPN that I need in bamboo, replacing them all with ebony is a dream that will have to wait until I win the lottery.

Friday, April 26, 2013

4KCBWDAY5: Do Something Different

Some of you will recognise my voice... but this is something different as I've never actually linked this, the original Tales From The Plain blog to the Yarns From The Plain one here.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

4KCBWDAY4: Colour Review

Today's brief:

What are your favourite colours for knitted or crocheted projects. Have a think about what colours you seem to favour when yarn shopping and crafting.

I love green and purple. I always have. I know I went through a period a few years ago when I bought at least two sweater quantities of green yarn and one of purple within a very short period of time. (What? A lot of it was Noro Cash Iroha on a silly "discontinued in the UK" price. No, don't be silly, of course I've not knit it up yet...) Even though I had my colours done 18 months ago I'm not great at referring back to the swatches and checking. If I see the pretty, I just buy it. And guess what's on my wheel at the moment? Yep - purple BFL I dyed myself on the Traddy and a green merino/silk blend on the Joy.

Only after writing this part of your post should you then actually look to see what colours you have used in your projects. Make a quick tally of what colours you have used in your projects over the past year and compare it to the colours you have written about. Compare this, in turn, to the colours that are most dominant in your yarn stash – do they correlate?

Looking at my projects from last year though, it's hard to see that reflected in items for me. So many of my projects in 2012 were Woolsack cushions that there was a lot of natural sheep colours, mainly in these cushions (some of which were collaborations):

Some cushions had green in them :

Did you see, the first of these had a purple stripe too.

For me I made a Rainbow coloured Liesl..


... a red Damson shawl...

.. a light blue crochet cardigan......

....a blue and green Colour Affection...

... and twowoven möbius cowls in neutral (one for me, one for my Mum. So mtchy-matchy!).


Not exactly overflowing with green and purple, then....

Well, what about this year? Surely I've worked on some green and purple this year?


 A tiny bit....

And although I haven't updated my Ravelry stash for a while, a quick look at what is listed on Ravelry, a glance at my stash and a quick mental tally of the Lenpur Linen and bags of yarn I bought at the Fibre & Clay closing down sale, I have fairly equal amounts of green, purple, red, and natural sheep colours, way ahead of any other colour family. Most interesting....

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

4KCBWDAY3: Infographics

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week 2013 Day 3: Infographics.  Errr....

Infographics sounds like a made up word to me, but I've decided that many words in these tech-savvy  social media days sound made up to me. Ho hum.

Anyway, today's task is to include an infographic into the blogpost - a way to combine both text and graphics to convey information to the reader. Well, with a brief like that I should revert back to my science and engineering background to present some well-researched and peer-reviewed data about the state of my knitting.

Yeah, right.

Instead, you have this purely anecdotal piece of bad science, as observed by my husband as I approach a work-related deadline.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

4KCBWDAY2: A Mascot Project

Day 2's blog entry is an examination of what determines my project choice. It is a project that embodies my House or Mascot.the thing is though, I don't have a familiar process for choosing projects. Currently I'm obsessed with both the Adrift cardigan by Stolen Stitches and a now discontinued yarn, Sirene by the Natural Dye Studio. After finishing an Adrift in Sirene:


I cast on a second Adrift (in another yarn) within 24 hours and also scoured the UK for any remaining skeins of Sirene to make other lace weight cardigans. Guess what I'll be working on next? I'm dreaming about acres of that Sirene fabric, baby....

But other times, I might cast on with no forethought AT ALL. Someone suggests something, and I jump right in. Straight upstairs, into the stash and BOOM. Oh look, another WIP.

But back to the Mascot idea. What project would I select?

Hmmm... bees...

Well I know somewhere I have some yellow and black self-striping sock yarn, so that might be a starting point...

But wouldn't it be more fun to knit some bees?

Here's one pattern on Ravelry...
Photo © MalevolentPanda

This one is a little more anthropomorphised...

Photo ©Eteri Khodonashvili

Or I could branch out into some mitts...

Photo ©sibyline

...or a baby hat...

Photo ©Lena Swan
See... so many cute possibilities...

But I'm not really in the mood for cutesy-cutesy (although another cousin has just announced a new arrival for November...). I think I'm more in the mood for something for me.

How about Honeycomb?

Photo ©sneakysquirrel
The honeycomb pattern comes from the cabling, and it's been in my Ravelry queue for AAAAAAGES.

And it's useful.

And I could make it from handspun.

But not in black and yellow stripes.  

Monday, April 22, 2013

4KCBWDAY1: The House Cup

Today marks the start of this year's Knitting and Crochet Blog Week. I've never taken part before, but I thought it might not be a bad way to rejuvinate my blogging. which is A Good Thing.
So Eskimimi, whose brainchild this is, sets the topics for everyone who is taking part to discuss on each day of the week. Today's topic is the House Cup. In a bit of a Harry Potter stylee, bloggers need to assign themselves to one of the four Houses Eskimimi detailed. Me? I belong with the bees:

The House of Bee: Bees are busy and industrious, but can flit from one interesting project to the next as bright and shiny things capture their interest.

So why The House of Bee? Well, as I become more proficient I realise that I can be quite industrious with my craft. However, although I do craft busily, I don't always seem to have the product output that one might expect. Why? Well, I am always captivated by the shiny, but it's the flitting that is really apt. I don't even have all my current partly worked on knitting projects detailed on Ravelry. It's not just flitting about from one knitting project to another, either; I flit from craft to craft - knitting (sometimes crochet), spinning, weaving, patchwork... Even as I write this I'm trying to work out whether the next lot of craft time ought to be spent knitting my next Adrift cardigan, sewing in a zip to a baby jacket, carding some fleece I washed over the weekend, spinning some more of a merino/silk blend so I can have the smaller spinning wheel free to spin said washed fleece once carded or finishing sewing some patchwork blocks. But it is the knitting that draws me back time and time again, simply because the repetitive action is soothing and meditative. A little like the lazy hum of the bees in the garden on a lazy summer day.


Sunday, April 21, 2013

Crafty update

Well, a slight misnomer, really, but I realised that because I haven't blogged much over here, those non-knitters amongst my readers (prossibly only one hardy one left, and then only if I'm lucky!) might not have realised that my yarn obsession has over the last 3 years really branched out. I now spin...

...and even use the handspun to knit.

I also weave...

(This blue and brown piece was jointly woven by the children in my class last year, to make a Woolsack cushion, which was last year's obsession).
Sometimes I combine even more skills - this is part of a cushion I knitted from Falkland fibre (yellow and blue) or Gotland fibre (green) I dyed and then spun myself.

But don't worry. I still have an ironing pile the size of Mont Blanc. That's not changed.

Monday, April 15, 2013

24 years

This time last year I expressed a hope that the truth would one day be known. This year it feels like a huge step has been made on that journey.
RIP All 96 of you, including Sarah.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week

So, 22nd April sees the fourth Knitting and Crochet Blog week, where bloggers post on specific topics everyday for a week. I think I have worked out how to post to a schedule, which would allow me to write posts in advance and then have them go up on the correct day, so I'm going to give it a go! More details can be found at Eskimimi's blog.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

An Interesting Week

A and I have just come back from a week in Devon, staying at the delightful Honeysuckle Hideaway just outside Cullompton. It took us 5 years, but we got back finally (ok, that's a small fib because I took my parents there for a couple of days last summer, but we stayed in Rose Retreat, the larger cottage). It was lovely to be there again, looking at the sheep, although the weather was pretty lousy - cold, windy and a fair bit of rain. However, never in my wildest dreams did I expect to be sharing my holiday with Margaret Thatcher. At times it seemed like we talked of nothing else.

To give a little background, A and I have differing political views. I'm a wishy-washy liberal, with splinters in my bum and a crick in my neck (too much sitting on the fence and seeing things from both sides) that generally feels a country with a welfare service and the NHS is A Good Thing. The joke about A, on the other hand, was that if you cut him in half, ToryBoy was written through him like a stick of Blackpool Rock. I believe in social housing and community; he believes in capitalism. However we are both clearly Thatcher's children - we were 9 when she came to power, 20 when she was forced to resign. Love her or loathe her, you couldn't ignore the way she influenced our political views as we grew up. I am not a fan of many of her policies and her treatment of some northern cities in the 80s was nothing short of appalling (remember, I've lived in the North West now longer than I ever lived in Oxfordshire), but I find myself at the end of this week feeling very uncomfortable about some of the things that have been said and the way some people have behaved.

Thatcher was a divisive politician, of that there is no doubt, and although there were moments of financial strain in our working class household as I grew up, our lives weren't turned upside down like those of mining communities up and down the country. However some elements of the British public seem to have decided that the implementation of these, and other, hard line policies give them the right to ignore the fact that she was a person with a family who are left behind. Let me put this into perspective - this week, a frail 87 year old woman, who suffered a number of strokes and quite possibly wasn't aware of much of the outside world any more, died. Whether you supported her policies or thought her the worst thing to happen to Britain ever, she was still someone's mother, someone's granny. Ding, dong the witch is dead?  Really? From where I'm standing, that reaction looks insensitive at best and vituperative at worst.

I can't help wondering what the reaction would have been had we been marking the passing of a former Prime Minister who had introduced exactly the same policies, made the same polarising decisions and won three General Elections but was male, not female. Would the vitriol still be flowing? I don't know the answer to that but there's a tiny little voice that can't be silenced that says "No". And that both saddens and worries me, because looking at the young men (who let's be honest are barely old enough to have been born whilst Thatcher was in Number10) dancing in the streets this week, I wonder how they would cope with a woman in power now.