Friday 30 November 2018

My calendar-free advent

Since March, I have seen adverts for indie-dyed advent calendars all over Instagram and Facebook. I love yarn (you might have noticed) and have been tempted by several of these delights, each one containing 24 surprise mini skeins that can be opened one day at a time in the run up to Christmas, but have resisted. I have had a yarn advent calendar for the past two years (two years ago I had three - one acrylic one from Paintbox Yarns, an Opal sock yarn one, and one made from mini skeins from my stash; last year's was an advent calendar swap, so I had twenty-four 5 g minis from a friend, and she had the same from me), and while I really enjoyed the excitement of opening the advent calendar every day and seeing what yarn I had, I wasn't enamoured with actually using the yarn.

The first year I had a yarn advent calendar, I had grand plans to add two squares to my sock yarn blanket every day. I did manage to add a few squares, but two squares a day resulted in not much time to knit anything else, and I got a bit bored of knitting garter stitch. I never did make a plan for what to do with the Paintbox Yarns advent calendar, and the balls are now live in a Kilner jar to make a lovely ornament in my living room (it’s the jar of mini balls I use for my Yarnometer photos). And last year I did knit a whole pair of socks over the course of advent using the minis from the calendar, but I only used a yarn from a few of the days as I don’t like the look of scrappy socks all that much, so used a neutral yarn to tie all the yarns together, which meant I only used about a third of the yarn, and the remaining balls are still living in a bag.

December isn’t a month in which I have a huge amount of free leisure time, with present shopping, festive food to be made (making mince pies with my kids is always a highlight of the festive period), school activities, socialising and generally enjoying the season, and I find setting myself the challenge of using all the yarn from an advent calendar to be an added stress I can do without. So this year I am doing something different, and over the course of December will be knitting a special project just for me, the Soul Warmer

I bought the kit for the Soul Warmer cowl while I was at Edinburgh Yarn Festival in March with the intention of knitting it over advent. The yarn for it (bought from Martin’s Lab, just this once I’m using the exact yarn used in the pattern) is lovely, and the pattern only requires 438 m of fingering weight yarn, which feels doable for a finished project that I will love and wear. I’m really looking forward to getting started tomorrow!

How do you feel about yarn advent calendars and scrap yarn projects? Do you have a special project to work on over the festive period?

Wishing you a peaceful advent, happy knitting.

Thursday 29 November 2018

#showoffyourwoollysocks: Days 16-23

Since the start of November, I've been hosting the #showoffyourwoollysocks hashtag on Instagram as part of Wovember. Here's what I've shared on Days 16 to 23. You can find Days 1 to 7 here, and Days 8 to 15 here.

Day sixteen: Today's pair is knitted from a Regia yarn in one of the Arne and Carlos ranges. The yarn isn't from the Pairfect range, but I still found it really easy to make a matching pair. These socks were knitted from the toe-up with a heel flap and gusset and I love wearing them as they're nice and sturdy and fit really well.

Day seventeen: This is a pair of socks knitted in Knit Picks Felici. The yarn is gorgeous and soft, but I tend not to wear these that much as the pastel stripes look grubby really quickly. These socks have an afterthought heel.

Day eighteen: I think these might be my very favourite socks. They're knitted in the Mind the Gap colourway from Trailing Clouds with heels, toes and cuffs in West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply. I made the stripe sequence go in one direction for the first sock and the opposite direction for the second to maximise the amount of yarn I used without risking a pair of socks offset by just one or two stripes. I used a Fish Lips Kiss heel and knitted these from the cuff-down.

Day nineteen: This was my first pair of socks. The fit isn't perfect, and I had to knit three socks to get a pair, but they represent the beginning of my sock knitting, and I'm proud that they are still wearable. They're knitted cuff-down with a heel flap and gusset and are knitted in West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply in the Blue Tit colourway.

Day 20: Today's socks aren't worn often as they're the sample for my Siren Song pattern. The yarn is a beautiful semi-solid from Phileas Yarns and the colour is amazing, if impossible to photograph well!

Day 21: This slightly strange-looking pair of socks were an early attempt at a short-row heel. They're knitted from the toe-up in some yarn that I dyed using Kool Aid. As knitted, the yarn makes it look as though my toes have had a nasty accident, and the socks are both too big and the legs too short, so overall, not all that successful!

Day 22: I cast this pair of socks on last November, knitted the first one quite quickly, and finally knitted the second one this summer. The yarn is a festive yarn from Unbelievawool that I think is called Jolly Holiday. These socks will have several outings over the course of December.

Day 23: Another pair of stripey socks! These are knitted in a self-striping yarn from Rosie's Moments that I picked up at Yarndale a few years ago. I hadn't worn them in ages as I thought they were a tiny bit too long, but actually they were fine when I wore them last week, so they shall be removed from the fixing pile!

I'll be hosting the hashtag until the end of November (tomorrow), and I'd love for you to join in - keep on using the hashtag after the end of the month every time you want to show off some socks you're proud of. Full details can be found here, or just go to Instagram and post whatever woolly socks you're wearing today! Remember to use the hashtag!

Thursday 22 November 2018

Yarnometer: September 2018

September was fairly quiet knitting-wise as I was having to juggle a new baby, but I did manage an impromptu trip to Yarndale.

Projects finished
A rainbow Baby Puerperium
I loved this project so much! Everything about it was a joy. I started it before our baby arrived, and knitted the sleeve and the neckband very, very slowly once she was here!

Socks for the Yarndale sock line
I technically missed the deadline to get these to Winwich Mum for the Yarndale Sock Line, but she kindly let me send them to her a few days late.

The ins and outs of yarn
Yarn in

  • 400 g of yarn for a stocking for the new baby
  • 250 g of yarn for a couple of pairs of Peeky Catsocks
  • 200 g from my third Knit Crate,* plus an extra 300 g as I like the yarn so much
  • 1000 g of Drops Karisma from Yarndale to make a long cardigan
  • 120 g of mini skeins from River Knits at Yarndale to use in a Buccaneer Shawl

Yarn out

  • 65 g for the Baby Puerperium
  • 81 g for the Yarndale socks

Yarn in: 2270 g
Yarn out or used: 146 g
Total: 2142 g

Year to date
Yarn in: 24 527 g
Yarn out: 12 363 g
Yarn used: 5264 g
Total: 6900 g

* Affiliate link. You'll get $10 off your first crate, and I'll get $10 towards a future purchase. I am not associated with Knit Crate, but really like their products.

Friday 16 November 2018

#showoffyourwoollysocks: Days 8-15

Since the start of November, I've been hosting the #showoffyourwoollysocks hashtag on Instagram as part of Wovember. Here's what I've shared for days 8-15. You can find days 1-7 here.

Day eight: These are the socks I knitted from last year's advent calendar swap. I alternated the sock yarn scraps with a neutral (West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply in Milk Bottle) to make them a bit more controlled, and I love them!

Day nine: I call these my Wimbledon socks, partly because of the colours (purple and green are the official colours of Wimbledon), and I knitted them over the course of Wimbledon in 2016. The yarn was a festive colourway from Mothy and the Squid, and is a 100% merino high twist yarn. I don't usually knit socks from yarn that doesn't include nylon (nylon adds strength to the yarn), but these are wearing surprisingly well. The socks have directional toes, which I love as they really improve the fit on my rather directional toes!

Day ten: These socks are the samples for my Lynda socks. They're knitted from the toe-up in West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply (it's a favourite), in the colourway Butterscotch. The socks are lovely and bright, but I did feel a bit like I had duck feet for the whole day!

Day eleven: A pair of fabulously autumnal socks for day eleven. These are knitted in Paintbox Yarns Socks* in the colourway Summer Vacation. These socks make me think of the Doctor Who scarf, and I love them so much!**

Day twelve: These pretty socks are in a Regia Arne and Carlos colourway. These aren't one of the Pairfect yarns, but I love how closely I managed to get the socks to match (I find this easier when knitting the socks from the toe-up, which I did here). These are one of my favourite pairs of socks.

Day thirteen: Another design sample, these were the sample for my Amy socks. I love the ripple pattern on these. This is yet another pair of socks knitted in West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply.

Day fourteen: These fabulously sparkly socks are knitted in an Opal yarn. The yarn is the sparkliest that I have ever knitted with and I can't help smiling when I wear these socks. The colours make me think of licorice allsorts, and these socks are firm favourites. I knitted the socks with an afterthought heel as I got carried away and knitted way past the point where I wanted to put the heel in!

Day fifteen: This cheery red pair of socks are one of my earliest attempts at socks. They were definitely my first pair of toe-up socks. The fit isn't the best (the feet are fine, but the legs are too short, so are baggy round my rather skinny ankles). These socks are knitted in long-since discontinued Araucania Ranco.

I'll be hosting the hashtag until the end of November, and there's still plenty of time to join in. Full details can be found here, or just go to Instagram and post whatever woolly socks you're wearing today! Remember to use the hashtag!

* Affiliate link.

** Yarn was supplied for review purposes by Paintbox Yarns. All opinions are my own.

Thursday 15 November 2018

Yarnometer: August 2018

In August we greeted our beautiful new daughter. I did a bit of knitting, finsihed up one last commission and destashed a lot of yarn!

Projects finished
Wonder Woman wrap
I had no intention of finishing this in August. I'd cast it on as a relatively easy project I could work on with a new baby. But I found the project completely addictive and knitted and knitted until suddenly I was at the end. I only actually darned in the ends a couple of weeks ago, and it still needs blocking, but I'm really looking forward to wearing this over the coming months.

A toddler jumper
One final commission before I went on maternity leave.

Silver and lilac hat for the new baby
A last-minute baby knit before my daughter arrived. I knitted this in Paintbox Yarns Baby DK* and made this hat in a single evening.

Baby Puerperium
Once I'd knitted the hat I decided I had enough time to knit a matching cardigan, so whipped up a Baby Puerperium. I loved having the matching set ready for when our baby finally made an appearance!

The ins and outs of yarn
Yarn in
  • 100 g of self-striping yarn from Buttoned up and Pinned Down with a 20 g contrast skein. This is going to make the most amazing socks!
  • 800 g of yarn for a cushion cover
  • 200 g of yarn in my first Knit Crate** subscription
  • 200 g of yarn in my second Knit Crate subscription (which came free with the first subscription)

Yarn out
  • 2421 g to eBay. Yarn that I wasn't going to use and leftovers from other projects
  • 920 g of yarn to my Mum
  • 1100 g of odd balls to Knit for Peace
  • 250 g of yarn returned as I'd ordered too much for a project
  • 220 g of leftovers sent to the recipient of a jumper

  • 161 g: Wonder Woman wrap
  • 192 g: Tiger jumper
  • 12 g: Silver and lilac hat
  • 52 g: Baby Puerperium

Yarn in: 1320 g
Yarn out or used: 5328 g
Total: -4008 g

Year to date
Yarn in: 22 257 g
Yarn out: 12 363 g
Yarn used: 5118 g
Total: 4776 g

A frankly astonishing amount of yarn went out this month. Apparently I was in full nesting mode!

* Affiliate link.

** Affiliate link. You'll get $10 off your first crate, and I'll get $10 towards a future purchase. I am not associated with Knit Crate, but really like their products.

Tuesday 13 November 2018

Operation FO

In the past week, I have finished two long-standing WIPs (works in progress). One is a secret, but I can share the other: socks for the Marie Curie sock quest. The socks will be going to a patient at a Marie Curie centre over the Christmas period.* I chose to knit UK size 12 socks as the organiser, Sarah, said that they don't usually get many socks in the bigger sizes. There were times when these socks felt never-ending, but over the past week, I've made a proper effort to get them off the needles, and the feeling of finishing something is lovely!

I considered immediately casting on a new pair of socks - I have some Christmas sock yarn I am itching to cast on - but rather than immediately rushing to my stash to locate the yarn, I have made the decision to work on some WIPs instead.** 

My current WIP list is as follows:
While it would be unrealistic to say I am going to finish these before casting on anything new, I think I can make a decent dent in the WIP pile before the end of the month if I focus on these projects rather than starting lots of new ones. I'll report back at the end of the month and let you know how I'm getting on. Wouldn't it be lovely if I had the decorations and the blanket done and I was on the yoke of the sweater (after all, aren't sleeves just larger versions of socks?)?

Do you have a pile of WIPs that could do with some work, or are you a one-project-at-a-time person?
My Festive Cheer KAL is running in my Ravelry group*** and on Instagram until the end of November, If you have festive knitting that you're working on, whether it's decorations or gifts, it would be lovely if you could join in the fun. Full details can be found here.

* Details of Marie Curie sock quest 2018 can be found here.

** Obviously my sock needles won't be empty for too long. Socks are such a lovely portable project, and are great for knitting while watching TV or while reading.
*** You need to be signed in to Ravelry for this link to work. Membership is free.

Thursday 8 November 2018

#showoffyourwoollysocks: Days 1-7

Over the past week, I've been hosting the #showoffyourwoollysocks hashtag on Instagram as part of Wovember. Here's what I've shared over the first seven days.

Day one: These were knitted using a merino/nylon sock yarn from Cuddlebums. The yarn is variegated, but has pooled as stripes, which I love. I only had a sock set for these (50g of MC, 20g of CC), so I knitted them from the toe-up and made both socks at the same time to maximise yarn usage. I used a Fish Lips Kiss heel to avoid disrupting the pooling.

Day two: Festive socks knitted in West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply in Holly Berry (MC) and Cherry Drop (CC). These were knitted from the toe-up with a heel flap and gusset, which is my favourite sock-knitting technique. The socks are a little bigger than my usual because I accidentally knitted them on 2.25mm needles, not my usual 2mm.

Day three: Lovely bluey striped socks in Knit Picks Felici, a super-soft merino/nylon blend. This colourway is called Captain Nemo, and I knitted these from the toe-up with an afterthought heel. I was a bit Heath Robinson when I knitted these as I didn't have scissors or a needle to hand, so improvised the Kitchener stitch with a fork...

Day four: Soft and squishy socks knitted in Devbbie Bliss Rialto Luxury Sock. I love the colours in these, but hated knitted them. The yarn dyed my fingers blue while I was knitting them, and they leaked loads of dye when washed for the first few times. I love matching socks, but couldn't get this yarn to match at all. I worked the socks from the toe-up, and used a Fleegle heel, as you don't need to know row gauge for that heel type, and reading rhe row gauge from the knitting was hard!

Day five: Lovely socks in West Yorkshire Spinners Siganture 4 ply in Blue Raspberry (MC) and Rum Paradise (CC). I was so smug when I realised you could knit the rainbow as the contrast rather than as the main colour, and I adore the finihsed socks, they're just so cheerful!

Day six: This is the inverse of Day five's socks. I knitted both pairs using Susan B. Anderson's Smooth Operator pattern.

Day seven: Another pair of socks made from yarn dyed by Cuddlebums. I think this was the first pair of socks I knitted using variegated hand-dyed yarn, and I love the crazy pooling. The yarn is a Donegal Nep sock yarn and has worn really well. The pattern is Zigzagular socks, but modified to be knitted from the toe-up with a heel flap and gusset. Also, I love socks with a stitch pattern up one side of the foot, but they are a pain to photograph!

I'll be hosting the hashtag until the end of November, and there's still plenty of time to join in. Full details can be found here, or just go to Instagram and post whatever woolly socks you're wearing today! Remember to use the hashtag!

Wednesday 7 November 2018

Yarn Along: Tiny windows

It's the first Wednesday of November, so today is Yarn Along day (on time for once!).

The knitting I've done since my daughter arrived has been done in tiny windows: a row or two in a waiting room; a few rows during a feed; the odd slightly longer period in the evenings when she sleeps (those are a little few and far between at the minute!). And I'm actually starting to see progress on a few things.

The big breakthrough in the past week is that I have suddenly worked out how to do intarsia round a feeding baby, and have actually finished a multi-coloured project apart from a little bit of finishing. I can't share that project at the minute, but will be able to soon. My new-found intarsia skills do bode well for getting the blankets for my nieces finished* - they were meant to be new-baby presents (the girls arrived in the summer), but have been reassigned as Christmas presents. If I get my act together they might actually be ready for Christmas Day!

I've also seen good progress on my Marie Curie socks. I'm knitting these for the Marie Curie Sock Quest 2018 being organised by Sarah Holmes. These socks will be a gift for a patient in a Marie Curie centre over Christmas.** I chose to knit size 12 socks as Sarah said that most people knit smaller socks. These socks have 80 sts per round, so are rather slower than my usual 64 st socks! I am determined to get these finished on time.

My Vinterskov sweater has been growing too. I'm still on the body as each round takes ages (220 sts per round), but it's definitely getting bigger. I have decided on the contrast colour for the yoke: the main colour is Purple Heather and the contrast colour will be Lavender. I've gone for a pale purple as I thought a cream or white would be too stark and I couldn't find a shade of grey I liked. Hopefully I'll be on the sleeves by the time I write again.

I've been really enjoying the #showoffyourwoollysocks challenge on Instagram (I'll post the summary for days 1-7 on the blog tomorrow), and it's been inspiring me to cast on some more socks! I have resisted so far as I'd really like the satisfaction of completing something. I do have a lot of Christmas sock yarn though, and would love to have a new pair of festive socks ready for Christmas...

And what have I been reading recently?

I was reading this collection of excerpts from celebrity teenage diaries last time I wrote, but moved to something else while I was travelling last month. I’m not totally sure I’ll get back to reading it in full, as I did find some of the chapters a bit boring. I might dip back in and read the chapters written by the celebrities I’m more interested in, then return the book to the library!

I’d seen a few recommendations for this book on social media, and chose it to read while I was away last month. The book (based on a true story) tells the story of Lale, a prisoner in Auschwitz, and his improbable survival. The key question in this book is ‘how far would you go to ensure your own survival?’ As most of the story is set in Auschwitz, it is harrowing in many places, but also filled with an optimism provided by the main characters, Lale and Gita, who become lovers while in the concentration camp. I’d definitely recommend this.

I fancied reading this having enjoyed books by both authors, but am no quite yet far enough through it to tell you what I think. So far the plot can be summarised as follows: For many years, no boys have been born, until one day Eve arrives and finally there is hope for the human race.

That's all for now. What are you working on this month? Are you all about the festive knits, gift knitting, or making something lovely for yourself? Whatever it is, tell me all about it in the comments below.

Linking up with Ginny for Yarn Along.

**They also count for the Festive Cheer KAL!