Mending

So, I’m home again after the wonderful weekend that was Edinburgh Yarn Festival. What can I say? It was just awesome! A weekend of where I met so many new and lovely people, completely by chance, but also missed out on talking to so many others who I know were there.

There is just too much to fit into one blog post, so I’m going to do it in order. On Saturday morning, I took a class on Visible Mending with Tom of Holland. Tom was lovely, and the class was really interesting. We covered Swiss Darning (or duplicate stitch as I know it) and stocking darning (which I had never done properly before). Turns out that darning is a lovely therapeutic pass time, slow and rhythmical and immensely satisfying. He had some lovely tools with him, and I am now officially on the look out for nice darning needles, some old books on needlework, a darning mushroom and one of Lancashire’s smallest looms.

Inspired to mend.

The bottom patch is trying out swiss darning – using fair isle patterning and different yarn weights. The other two are stocking darns. The brown is my first attempt; I stretched the fabric too much and so it was a bit saggy. In the orange mend I was trying to make the hole square as a feature, but I didn’t quite get it exactly how I meant to.

So today, when I needed to calm my overstimulated mind it seemed like the perfect thing to try. In my mending pile was the Cobblestone jumper I made for Francis just over 6 years ago (in those few weeks just before Owen was born). He’s worn it a lot, and one elbow had worn right through. My aim in this repair was to make it subtle and sympathetic, though not entirely invisible. I didn’t have any of the yarn left over, but I did have some 4-ply natural shetland yarn from Blacker that was a similar shade.

To repair the actual hole (which was only 1 row high and a few stitches wide) I did a small swiss darn on the outside, using one strand of the yarn.

Inspired to mend.

To reinforce the whole area, I did a much larger swiss darn on the inside of the sleeve. Because the colours are similar, this bit is more or less invisible from the outside of the jumper.

Inspired to mend.

Which all in all has resulted in a visible (though very subtle) mend and a jumper back in action. I was pleased how the approach worked. Using the thinner yarn means that the re-enforced area isn’t too thick, and where it was doubled in the centre it balances with the original fabric in a very pleasing way.

Inspired to mend.

Oh, the excitement…..

There are only 2 more sleeps until I go to Edinburgh for the yarn fest.

I am so excited, I’m bouncing off the walls. First up there is some serious uninterrupted knitting time on the train down (and back). Then I have a free afternoon in Edinburgh in which to wander round and check out some fabric shops.

In preparation for Saturday, I’ve marked up a map with all the stalls I particularly want to see, and made a shopping list for all the things that I want. I’m going to be very good and try to only buy one skein of a few yarns to try. This means I can squish and feel and swatch, but then do the actual shopping when I come to make a project. There are so so many amazing yarn there, but I’m going to be making a beeline for DyeforYarn, Easyknits, Old Maiden Aunt, Jamiesons, and Midwinter Yarns…..

I’m also going to treat myself to a subscription to Pom Pom Quarterly, some more Chiaogoo needles from Purlesence, some more T-pins from somewhere, a copy of Knitsonik, and check out the information on Shetland Wool Week.

And then the classes. I’ve booked myself into three – though now I am a little bit worried about how I am going to have enough time to shop in-between. I’m going to be darning with Tom of Holland, manipulating stitch patterns with Ysolda and advancing my brioche with Nancy Marchant.

So I’ve printed out my bumf, got my train tickets and put loads of numbers into my phone so that I can meet up with people when I’m there.

Can it be Friday now please?

Nearly?

In between the ongoing family drama and carrying on with normal life, there has been some knitting. I’ve been making a real effort to just do a couple of lines here and there, and it has been paying off.

Nearly there

I have decided to do another 10 rows and then try it on before starting the ribbing. Which is very very nearly there. It is also devilishly hard to take a photo of it now, there are bust darts in there (big ones) and so it just won’t lie down flat and look pretty. But it will fit.

I did have half a thought about trying to finish it in time for visiting Edinburgh Yarn Festival, but I’m letting that thought right out of the window. It will be nearly done, but I’m not taking anything that big with me.

And on the subject of next weekend, I am feeling a bit like a 5 year old a week before christmas. I can’t believe that I’m going on Friday – that’s only five more sleeps. And then a weekend full of all the things I like the most. First a quality 3.5hrs knitting time on the train down, then I have factored in some time to go to some fabric shops in the afternoon. Then an evening of relaxing (knitting) and then classes and yarn and shopping and friends and meeting new people and a party and then another knit on the train all the way home on Sunday. I can’t believe it is quite so soon. Bounce bounce bounce.

Some Progress

In between swatching for new things and writing proposals (neither of which make for exciting blogging), I’ve been knitting away at my Beyond the Wild Wood….

It’s now in that stage of knitting where no matter how much knitting I do, it never seems to get any bigger. But the pile of balls of wool is getting smaller, and so I will finish it soon.

This was the state of play a couple of weeks ago…

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This was a couple of days ago – I’ve done another half a ball of body since then…

Progress?

I made a few modifications. It seems that I’m incapable of not altering a pattern, even though half the point of knitting this was to try out someone else’s design. I decided that I wanted slimmer sleeves than written, so I recalculated the decrease rate. I think the sleeves may be a bit long, but I will wait until it’s properly finished before I make a proper judgement on that. I couldn’t get the tension right on the ribbing in the pattern, so working in twisted rib instead. My rough plan is to knit the body until I have one ball of yarn left, and then start the ribbing at the bottom. Which should leave me with enough to do the big wide collar.

I’m also trying not to be frustrated about my lack of progress at knitting this. Life seems to be getting in the way somewhat, and between half term, visitors and family drama quiet evenings spent knitting by the fire have been few and far between. And there is no sign of that changing for a couple of months yet…..

Inspired

Ooooh, I don’t know where to start! I am going to attempt to corral some of those thoughts that are running round my head, and focus on one thing for this blog post.

I’m going through one of those (lovely) phases of feeling inspired about everything. My weekend away was the start of it, and it seems that since then things just seem to be falling into place one after the other.

Completely by chance, the ever lovely Robynn posted about making a Hap Cardigan in the Stash Heap Challenge group in Ravelry. Which lead me to joining the group and reading all the threads and getting excited to sort out my stash. I’m having the same worrying thoughts about sorting out all my clothes, and about purging my house of stuff and………

So I went to the drawer and pulled out the Scottish Tweed Aran. This post I wanted to mostly talk about that project. I approached it in a very different way to my normal method. First off, I pulled out some needles and knit a swatch in stocking stitch. Just to get a feel for the gauge and the fabric, and it turned out that actually I rather liked it. Perfect for a tough and warm and sensible cardigan.

Then I went onto ravelry and used the advanced search to look for patterns that had that gauge. I discounted a lot of them as not being right for the sturdy wool, and a lot of them for being too fancy, but I thought that Beyond the Wild Wood fit my criteria. So I bought the pattern. The whole process was so much more interesting that trying to beat a certain yarn into a certain gauge to make a particular pattern. The added bonus is that I get to try out the ziggurat construction, knit a pattern by someone I admire and just experiment a bit.

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Next I took a careful look at the sizes and got Francis to do some measuring, and decided (based on my cross back measurement) to cast on for a size 42. Using the ‘helpful table’ in the pattern, I worked the neck increases for a size 44 and the sleeve/body increases for a size 46 and this gave me the size I wanted at bust level. The ‘helpful table’ is a work of pure genius from Åsa, and makes mixing the sizes up like this far easier than in any other pattern I’ve seen.

The photo shows the state of play as of two days ago – I’ve worked about an inch below the armhole divide, taken it off the needles and given it a proper block to check the fit (which was lovely). I’m going to knit the sleeves next and then see how much yarn I have left before I decide what to do with the body.

Running away

Yes, just over two weeks in and I’m running away. Or rather, going away for a quiet weekend with a couple of girlfriends along the coast a bit. I can’t wait – it’s come round a lot quicker than I might have imagined it would, we’re going to walk a bit, chill out, eat nice food and just enjoy a whole uninterrupted conversation for the first time in ages. I just hope there’s not too much more snow, otherwise the drive might be a bit interesting.

I have a massive list of things that I haven’t done in time for going away, but I have packed some knitting. One of my aims this year is to knit a few patterns by other people. I have stash I love, that for some reason or other is not suitable for designing with, so I’m going to search out interesting patterns to make with it. Explore new stitch patterns, see what I like about other designers writing, make a few more clothes to wear.

So this weekend I will be casting on Beyond the Wild Wood by the lovely Asa Tricosa, using some Rowan Scottish Tweed Aran. This wool is lovely and rugged, as well as being a totally gorgeous shade of purple, and will make a lovely warm winter cardigan. I have no idea how long it is going to take me to finish, as there will be samples to knit in the mean time. But this weekend I should be able to do a fair bit…..

Cherish

Today finally feels like it’s a new year.

The Owen is back in school, my Francis is back at work and I am enjoying the peace and quiet. Even the cat is making the most of it by having a long sleep on the chair next to me.

The holidays mostly passed us by in a haze of coughing, as we took it in turns to get a really horrid cold. Between naps, we still managed to have a couple of days skiing, a couple of walks in the snow and even a bike ride. I finally finished knitting samples for a magazine submission and have those all blocked and sent off and the patterns emailed away.

So I’m sitting here ruminating on my plans for the coming year, while drinking my third cup of tea.

I don’t want to set myself too many specific goals for the year ahead, but I do want to aim towards something. There is a rather lovely thread on one of the Ravelry discussion boards where people are picking a word to signify their intentions.

I’m going to have a very different word from last year:

Cherish

- to hold or treat as dear; feel love for: (to remind me that over the coming year me and Francis need to make more effort to do things together without Owen)

- to care for tenderly; nurture: (myself! To remember that I can say no if I don’t want to do things, that I need to feed myself well and exercise regularly, and keep myself stimulated but not overworked)

So with that in mind, I’m going to have another cup of tea and then sit down and do some knitting. I’d call that the perfect way to de-stress after a rather exhausting holiday.

New from Old

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One of my missions for the next few weeks is to make a serious dent in the ‘mending and alterations’ pile of clothes. This should result in more wearable clothes in the wardrobe, and also clear a nice big space in my crafting room.

Last weeks project was jeans. Now that I am at home more, I have noticed a distinct lack of jeans in my wardrobe. Two of my favourite pairs were in the mending pile, and I totally failed to find any that fit as well when I was shopping. On closer inspection, one pair was mendable, and the other pair was so worn that I would have been mending the mend on the mend. So I sacrificed them and used the fabric to patch the less worn pair.

Before I did the mending, I traced the pattern onto some swedish tracing paper, and recreated them in some lovely purple denim. I then followed this tutorial for the instructions on how to construct the fly. It was much easier than I thought it would be, and I’m pretty pleased with the results, and will be making more.

But best of all, I have the perfect yarn to make a jumper (or cardigan) to go with them.

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That is some Jill Draper Makes Stuff Mohonk, in colour way Rusty, which is a lovely slightly dirty yellow, with distinct hints of green and rusty red. A very generous gift from a visiting knitter.

GAL 2014 – big knitting party!

GAL2014 Collage

Today is the start of a massive independent designer event on Ravelry – the Indie Design Gift-A-Long.

There are 293 designers taking part (of which I am one!), all offering 25% off a selection of their patterns for the next week. Then there’s a massive knit-a-long, with loads of prizes and lots of games to play.

Here’s a summary of the stats:

gal stats

And a link to follow if you want any of my patterns at a discount!

GAL2014 Collage

The number of patterns available is rather eye watering – but if you want to check out my favourites I’ve made a handy pinterest board.

Come and join in – it’ll be a blast!

And one for Laura too

The companion piece to Ruth’s shawl is Laura’s leaves.

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It’s the same construction, the same size, but a very different design. The lace pattern is inspired by falling leaves, worked on a garter stitch background for some textural contrast.

I made Laura’s shawl from fingering weight yarn, as the weather in Britain is not predictable in September, so it needed to be nice and warm. Then another for myself out of heavy lace weight.

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Laura’s Leaves – £4.00

Size:
Finished shawl measures 228cm / 89.75in across by 60cm / 23.5in deep.

Yarn:
Mellifera BFL Twist Sock, 100g = 366m / 400yds, 2 skeins.
Posh Yarn Kirsten Heavy Lace, 100g = 503m / 500yds, 2 skeins.
Or substitute with 650m / 710yds lace or fingering weight yarn. I would recommend choosing yarn that will block well and show the texture contrast between stocking stitch and garter stitch..

Techniques:
Tab cast on, reading charts, lace knitting.