Wednesday, 10 February 2016

The Big Weigh In

Well I finally plucked up the courage - and energy, to weigh up my entire yarn stash.  I'm following Linda's example (from Linda's Crafty Corner) and facing up to the truth - I'm also very curious to find out the actual numbers.

I've mostly been very good and haven't bought any yarn since my mad binge at Yarndale last year.  So I've been working my way through the stash, but it does seem never ending.  By weighing the stash, I felt that I could monitor the stash to see how quickly (or slowly) the stash goes down.

My stash is spread over five rooms; the study, the living room, the dining room, the storeroom and the small bedroom.  So first of all I gathered everything together in the living room.


I started with the smallest stash first, the one from the study (this is destined to become my craft room later in the year).


This box contains (very old) bits and pieces of novelty yarns and leftovers of chunky and lace weights.

This weighed in at 1155g.

Next the yarn currently residing in the living room.


This mostly is in bags and baskets and is the projects I'm working on at the moment.  There's 2 shawls, 2 cardigans and a granny square bag in the making.

The unworked yarn weighed in at 1949g.

Next, the dining room stash.


The hamper contains my Aran weight leftovers - I don't have any unused Aran in the stash.  There's a box of crochet threads and another of 4 ply leftovers.

This little lot weighed in at 3492g.

The storeroom stash next.


This is made up of my supply of 4 ply cottons, more crochet thread, yarn that has been frogged from old cardigans and sweaters, a large ball of purple Aran given to me recently from Grace from her leftovers and a bag of Stylecraft Special DK from a recent order.

This stash weighed in at 3945g.

Finally, the yarn stored in the small bedroom.


This is my serious stuff.  It's mostly acrylic DK with my stash of Jamieson and Smith wool, my sock yarn stash and the remaining Yarndale stash waiting to be used.

This weighed in at a healthy 7739g.

So the grand total of all the unworked yarn in my home at the moment is 18280g or 18.28kg.

That seems like quite a lot, but hang on a minute - what exactly is the definition of stash?

A significant proportion of the yarn I have is made up of leftovers, bits and pieces (and believe me, there's a fair bit of it that is just small pieces).  Many of these bits have been around for years and years, waiting to come in useful, but they are never going to be used in anything significant.  So I reckon, you can't count these as stash.

My Stylecraft Special DK and Bonus DK consists of a range of colours that I can dip into whenever I want.  I regard these as essential supplies, and as such they are topped up on a regular basis.  They are therefore 'stock' rather than stash.

The same can be said for my range of colours in the Jamieson and Smith wool (essential for Fair Isle knitting), my crochet thread (some of which is so old it belonged to my Grandmother) and my 4 ply cottons.

Then I don't think it's realistic to count frogged yarn as stash.  It has, after all been already knitted once.

So the actual, actual stash consists of sock yarn, the Yarndale purchases and the 4 ply I bought especially to make Eve's cardigan for her birthday.  This amounts to just over 2000g.  That's virtually next to nothing - I'm yarn impoverished!

I feel it's imperative I remedy this situation as soon as possible with a healthy injection of new yarn.  Don't you agree?

Monday, 8 February 2016

My Cardigan of Many Colours

I've been so excited about sharing my finished cardigan with you.  It has now been soaked and blocked and is ready to wear.

And here it is....



I love it.  The fit is just right and the colours work well together.

I actually used 26 different colours, mostly Rowan Fine Tweed with a couple of bits of Rowan Scottish Tweed thrown in.  I followed a Fair Isle chart from a Debbie Bliss sweater pattern, but used my own measurements to create the cardigan.

It has been knitted using bits and pieces leftover from old projects - and some of it was literally just bits.  Here was my starting point.


And here's the stash now.


I reckon I have used about 360g of yarn, so a significant reduction in the stash.

And here are all the ends that had to be sewn in!  Thankfully I was very disciplined and did this as I went along.  I couldn't face leaving it to the end.


Knitting up the cardigan, I remembered how much I love the Rowan Fine Tweed.  Although my stash of this particular yarn is now considerably depleted, I know I will be buying more in the future.  Once it's been soaked it is lovely and soft and the tweedy colours are gorgeous.

You can see full details of all the colours used on my Ravelry page, here.

Having de-stashed this yarn, I decided that I would be brave and weigh my entire stash this week, just to see the extent of the damage.  I should really have done this last week because Grace came to stay at the weekend and brought me 11 balls of Stylecraft Special DK that she'd ordered on my behalf.  If she had kept it at her flat I could have got away without including this in the weigh in!  Never mind, it'll all get used eventually - but eventually is probably a very long way away!

Saturday, 6 February 2016

How Did That Get There?

A conversation -

Husband - what's that plant that's growing in the garden, I thought at first it was a starfish? (He isn't very knowledgeable about plants).

Me - what plant?

Husband - the one growing on the back lawn.

Me - that'll be a weed.

Husband - the one growing in the grass - the orange one.

Me - we haven't got any orange plants growing in the grass, we only have weeds.

Husband - there's definitely an orange plant growing in the grass, the shape of a starfish.

Me - I'll go and have a look myself!

And what do you know, it is a starfish!!!!


We only live two minutes walk away from the beach, but I'm sure it would take a starfish a lot longer to walk the distance.

Presumably a seagull has lost his tasty snack.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Embroidery Squares - the next instalment

I'm getting back on schedule with my embroidery squares.  I seem to be racing through them now - but it's quite a punishing schedule.

Since I last showed you the squares, I have completed another twelve.  Because there are so many, I've condensed them into three collages, so that we're not here all day!


These first four squares (starting in the top left hand corner and working clockwise) represent cross stitch (I actually did some chicken scratch embroidery because I wasn't in the mood for ordinary cross stitch); patchwork; lace and seaside (I love this one).


These second set of squares represent kite; lines (drawn thread work is always fun to do); felt and winter.


The final four squares represent beads; sunshine; butterfly and layers.  The butterfly square is probably my favourite, it's an orange tip butterfly.

Making the mini collages gives an idea of how the squares might look once they've all been joined together.  But that's a long way off, I'm just concentrating on getting them done for now.

I've got another two planned for this afternoon and I'm quite excited by how they will look.  Twenty five squares have already been completed so by the end of today I should be half way through this project.  I'm enjoying it so much, embroidery is a lovely relaxing activity for a blustery February afternoon.

I hope you have an enjoyable and relaxed weekend.  Bye for now.

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

London

Thank you all for your lovely wishes for my weekend in London with Eve.  It really was the most perfect weekend and just what I needed to revive my lagging spirits.

I had a lovely walk from Euston Station through to Aldgate, where Eve lives (not far from the Gherkin).

 Can you see the Gherkin in the distance?


St Paul's


The Bank of England

The 'Walkie Talkie' Building in the distance

Getting nearer to the Gherkin.

I love the contrast between all the styles of architecture.  The church in front of the Gherkin, in the picture above, apparently dates from the sixteenth century.

On Saturday we explored Old Spitalfields Market (my favourite) and then on to Covent Garden.

At Covent Garden, we had an "interesting" encounter with a street entertainer!


Can you see the juggler?  I think he's spotted us!

I got pulled out the audience and had to dance while he juggled!  I reckon my dancing was probably more entertaining than his juggling.



Then Eve was pulled out to assist in one of his juggling stunts.


We felt rather traumatized after that so had to go for tea and cake to revive us.


We finished off the afternoon with a visit to the National Portrait Gallery - always very interesting.

The evening was very relaxing, watching A Royal Night Out on Netflix and drinking wine with Eve's two flatmates.


We had a lazy Sunday morning, then went for a pub lunch before I caught the tube back to Euston.

It was a wonderful weekend, we had so much fun.  I didn't get to Brick Lane for a curry - maybe on my next visit we can fit that in.

The train journeys each way went smoothly, although they were very long.  On the plus side, it gave me plenty of time to make progress on the two cardigans I have started knitting.

The back of the Olivia cardigan

The ribbing all done on the Fair Isle cardigan for Eve

So I'm feeling refreshed, revitalised and full of energy, it's a new month and I'm ready to meet it head on.

Friday, 29 January 2016

Off on an Adventure

Thank you for all of your lovely comments recently.  It's so good to build up happy virtual friendships with you.

I've been busy making plans and enjoying myself in the process.  The Fair Isle leftovers cardigan will not be finished this month, but it will be completed next week.  The Fair Isle part of the knitting is all done, there's just the neck band and button bands to be picked up and knitted.  So not much more to do.  But instead of stressing myself about that, I've distracted myself by picking colours to crochet squares to make into another bag, like the one I completed last year.


A lovely rainbow of colours to brighten any grey day.  This bag is going to be a vibrant mix of all the colours.  I'm using the same motif as last time, as it produces a lovely dense square.  It's called Rosie Posie Grannies Square and it's by Sandra Paul.   I've made a start and completed a square!


I've also cast on for a plain grey cardigan for myself using my Olivia pattern.

My Kate cardigan (below) is a favourite with Eve.


Whenever she's home, she borrows it from me, so she's asked for a cardigan of her own, using exactly the same colours.  I've now also cast on for that.

But the biggest and most exciting planning I've been doing is for a trip to London to see Eve.  By the time you read this I should be on the train down, knitting away.

I've got a few hours in London before Eve gets home from work, so I'm planning on walking from Euston to Eve's flat in Aldgate (about 3 miles) and taking in some of the sights on the way.  With Google maps I've got a route worked out, with a scheduled stop for tea and cake on the way!

As for the rest of the weekend, well it will just be wonderful to see Eve and spend time with her, but I'm sure we can fit in a visit or two to the amazing markets down there.

I hope you all have a lovely weekend and I look forward to telling you all about my trip when I get back.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

January



January is coming to an end, and it's been a funny sort of month.  Usually I find January a month of hope and optimism - a time to dream and plan.  This year, it's felt tired and directionless - maybe it's the influence of the weather, it's another wet and very windy day here.

I've tried to simply my knitting projects, disciplining myself to concentrate on the one immediately in front of me.  This month it has been my Fair Isle cardigan using leftovers.  I set myself the task of completing it by the end of the month, certainly possible but I'm growing weary of working of it.  It's certainly looking colourful though isn't it.


My embroidery squares are coming along nicely.  I've completed 21 now, but I'm setting myself a punishing schedule, of 4 /5 squares a week.  Again, I've reached a point where enthusiasm has left me.

I need a new project, a new diversion, an adventure, something to liven me up, get the blood pumping.

Picture from Oprah.com

So this afternoon, I'm NOT going to carry on with the Fair Isle knitting, or embroider another square, as I had planned.  Instead, I'm going to give myself an energy boost and dream up a new adventure.

Before then, I've got to brave the elements as I have a dentist appointment, BUT when I get back home!  The sky's the limit, I'm going to dream BIG!

I hope you all have more energy than me, and if you have any to spare, please send it my way.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Mini Sock Yarn Sweaters

Following on from my previous post, I'm pleased to say that the knitting pattern for my mini sock yarn sweaters has now been published on Ravelry. As with all my patterns, it is free for everyone.  


You can download the pattern direct from Ravelry and save it to your library.

You can also download the PDF without using Ravelry, HERE.

And I'm including the full pattern instructions in this post, below.

I hope that you find the pattern fun to make.  I'd love to see your finished objects on Ravelry.


Enjoy the pattern.

Mini Sweaters
These decorative sweaters are worked in one piece, top down.


You will need –
Approximately 5g of sock yarn
A set of 2.5 mm double pointed needles
A stitch marker to indicate the beginning of the round
A small amount of waste yarn to temporarily hold stitches

Abbreviations used -
st(s) – stitch(es)
DPN – double pointed needles
k – knit
p – purl
p2tog – purl two sts together
m1 – make one st by picking up the loop between the two sts and knitting into the back of it
inc – increase
RH – right hand

Instructions
Cast on 28 sts with 2.5 mm DPNs, join for knitting in the round.
Round 1: knit all sts
Round 2: purl all sts
Round 3: [inc round] (k1, m1, k7, m1, k1, m1, k5, m1) x 2. (36 sts)
Rounds 4 & 5: knit
Round 6: [inc round] (k1, m1, k9, m1, k1, m1, k7, m1) x 2. (44 sts)
Rounds 7 & 8: knit
Round 9: [inc round] (k1, m1, k11, m1, k1, m1, k9, m1)x 2. (52 sts)
Round 10: knit

Split for body and sleeves
Round 11: k15 (for the back of the sweater), cast on 4 sts, place the next 11 sts from RH needle onto waste yarn (first sleeve), k15 (for front of sweater), cast on 4 sts, place remaining 11 sts from RH needle onto waste yarn )for second sleeve).  (38 live sts for body, 2 x 11 sts on waste yarn for sleeves)
Redistribute the sts evenly over your needles.
Rounds 12 & 13: knit
Rounds 14: [inc round] k16, m1, k19, m1, k3. (40 sts)
Rounds 15 – 24: knit
Round 25 – 27: (k1, p1) to end.
Cast off in rib.

Sleeves
Place the 11 sts from the waste yarn onto 2.5mm DPNs and pick up 4 sts from underarms, distribute evenly over the needles ready to knit in the round.
Knit 15 rounds.
Round 16: (k1, p1) x 6, k1, p2tog. (14 sts)
Round 17: (k1, p1) to end.
Cast off in rib.
Repeat for other sleeve.

Tidy all loose ends. 



Friday, 22 January 2016

Mini Balls of Yarn, Mini Sweaters and Mini Squares

Over the Advent period, my daughter Grace surprised me with random gifts of Opal mini balls of sock yarn.  It was a lovely treat.  I received five mini balls in total.


Aren't they just gorgeous and colourful.  Each ball is 10g each - just perfect for knitting up mini sweaters to add to the ones I've made previously.



With the leftovers I crocheted some mini squares.  I also raided my other sock yarn scraps and made them into squares.

Colours aren't showing up accurately -
but you get the idea.

I now have a total of 50 squares which I will add to as and when I have some leftovers.  Eventually I will sew them all together to make a colourful blanket.  It'll be a nice reminder of all the socks I've made over the coming years.  No rush for this though - it's definitely a long term project.

Now that I have enough mini sweaters, they are pegged up as bunting, and looking very jolly.





As with the squares, I will continue to make them, as they are a fun and quick project that is a useful way to use up and show off the leftover yarn.

I've written up the pattern for the mini sweaters and I'll publish it very shortly, once I've checked and finalised it.

I'm planning a weekend of Fair Isle knitting to try and get as much done as possible.  I hope you all have a good weekend and are able to find time to do something fun and relaxing.