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Resolutions 2018

Happy New Year my lovelies. I hope you all had a wonderfully woolly time over the holidays.

In my usual style I’m well behind all those organised people who published their blog posts about their New Year’s Resolutions (or lack of them) before the new year actually started, and here I am, over a week into the New Year and only just getting down to it. But after being so successful with keeping my resolutions for 2017 (see here), I wanted to continue with resolutions in 2018 that left me with an equally positive feeling.


Last summer, whilst on the beach, watching the children make their millionth sandcastle of the holiday, I idly wondered if there were any knitting podcasts I could listen too, so I did a quick search on my phone and, to my delight I found there were indeed plenty. So in I dived. And what an interesting experience it was. I was really surprised to see so many video podcasts – I hadn’t really realised such a thing existed; this is partly due to my technological incompetence but also partly to do with the fact that, living in the wilds of the countryside, we have such slow and ponderous internet service and lack of mobile phone signal that we can’t actually watch much downloadable content without a maddening amount of buffering and the “whoops something has gone wrong” notification of doom appearing at all too frequent intervals. This will hopefully change at some point in the next few months as a Gigaclear are currently digging up all the roads, installing high speed broadband across our little corner of West Berkshire, but in the meantime, I’ve basically had to content myself to audio podcasts, which are easier to download.

A particular favourite of mine is the KnitBritish podcast by Louise Scollay. Listening to her podcast has made me realise I’ve been very undiscerning in my yarn buying. I’m a sucker for colour. I’m also a sucker for silk and soft squishy Merino, and the bounce of Blue Faced Leicester, but it had never occurred to me before, I knew very little about the provenance of my yarn, save for the hand-dyer who dyed it. Through Louise’s podcast I’ve come to understand it is possible to buy wool and know not only the breed of sheep whose fleece comprise the wool but also where the sheep live and even, possibly, the name of the shepherdess. 


I’ve been a big supporter of locally grown food for many many years, shopping through veg box delivery schemes, at farmers markets and, since, moving to the country, at farm shops. We eat seasonally and try very hard not to buy products grown outside the UK. I do sometimes look wistfully at things like out of season asparagus in the supermarket but not buying it all year round makes the times we do have it extra special. I also shop locally as much as possible for other things; my garden is stocked almost exclusively with plants bought in local independent nurseries and my kitchen came from a small local company. I do primarily because of the money multiplier. Money spent in the local economy is spent many times over because independent locally-owned businesses recirculate a far greater percentage of revenue locally compared to national and multinational businesses. Going local creates more local wealth and jobs.

So, why wasn’t I doing this with my yarn buying? I don’t know. I don’t have any explanation for it. Possibly I’ve been high on yarn fumes. But no more. This year, when I buy yarn, I will only buy British Yarn. Yarn grown, or milled and dyed in Britain. I will be majoring on provenance. And if I can know the name of the Shepherdess, and the sheep, all the better. 

As Louise says #lovelocalwool

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Knitting monogamy

At the start of this year I resolved to finish all the things (see here). So, I figured that as this year was nearly over I should formally review where I’d ended up. My finishing all the things wasn’t solely focused on my crafting but also extended to the housework and chores. 

As I sit here there are two baskets full of clean but unfolded laundry sat in the living room and the vacuum is sat next to the couch instead of back in the cupboard under the stairs, where it belongs. So, in this regard, my resolution has not been entirely successful. And I’m not even going to think about my yarn and fabric stashes.


However, I did spend a small eternity finishing all my knitting and crochet wips, and since then, I’ve been a more or less monogamous knitter. To anyone who knows me, this thought would be startling enough but, the real revelation for me is how much I like the one project at a time approach. I’ve written before about the phases I would go though during the life of a project (here if you haven’t read this before) and it nearly always ended up with me loathing the item and moving on to something else, leaving the unfinished item sulkily looking at me from the wip basket, sometimes for months. Then I’d have to summon colossal amounts of will and set aside long periods of time in the purgatory of finishing all the wips. This is a fairly dispiriting cycle, especially for an activity I undertake voluntarily. 

But, now, with one item at a time, this just doesn’t happen. Not only does the unfinished item not end up sulking in the wip basket but I’m not even feeling the dissatisfied thoughts that used to lead to me falling out with them. The thrill of finishing an item is still there but without the negativity that used to precede it. This means, for just about the first time in my knitting life, I am enjoying the process of the knitting as much as the production of the finished garment. And, because I’m enjoying the process, I’m finishing many more items, in a glorious virtuous circle of yarn.


So if you’ve ever felt overwhelmed by your wip basket, I can heartily recommend ditching it and getting your monogamy on. 

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Luscious Loop

Let me tell you about my recent visit to Loop…

It’s 12 years since Loop first opened so a visit was long overdue. I really can’t believe I hade’t made the trip before but a combination of work and babies had kept me too busy to make the pilgrimage. But all that changed when, a couple of weeks ago, on a bit of a whim, I decided to fill in some time before meeting a friend in London, with a trip to Loop.


Loop sits in a quiet street full of quirky and interesting shops, in Camden Passage just off the busy A1 in London, a short walk from Angel tube station. The shop front is gloriously colourful and yet oozes sophistication. You enter through a door so narrow that you wonder for a moment if this is actually the way in. Then you see a note telling you to “push door hard”, and it crosses your mind you may have fallen down a rabbit hole but, you do as you are told, the door flies open, and you are in.

Now, I’d long known from conversations with other knitters that Loop is a very special yarn store. But I hadn’t realised quite how special. It is, quite simply, the best yarn store I have ever been inside, and by quite a big margin. The moment you enter, you are aware you are in a place apart from the rest. In most yarn stores you will find lots of commercial yarn and when you visit yarn stores as often as I do, that can all start to feel a bit samey. But Loop has a huge amount of hand dyed yarn on display and only a very little commercial yarn (and only then at the luxury end of the market). Well, you know what a sucker I am for handdyed, and there was just so much fabulous yarn, I lost myself for some time just squishing and stroking it all before finally gathering some focus.



The store is laid out on two floors with a stock room above (and maybe below but i forgot to ask). On the ground floor is lace and sock weight yarn, and on the first floor is dk, aran and heavier weights. The store will have only one or two skeins of each yarn in each colour way on display, but don’t let that worry you as they have “sweater quantities” in the stock room. I really really wanted to see inside the stock room.

So, I’d gone to Loop with the half formed idea of buying yarn for a new sweater for myself – Whitehorse by Caitlin Hunter of @boylandknitworks. I’d been on the look out for a special yarn for a while but nothing had quite hit the spot. I needed a dk weight for the sweater so after a bit more drifting about squeezing the sock and lace weight, I headed upstairs.


Upstairs, there is a lovely Ercol day bed (I don’t think I’ve mentioned I have a minor obsession with 1960s Ercol furniture) just begging to be sat on and a similarly special Ercol table, on which sat lovely knitting books. And lots more yarn. Also upstairs was a fabulously knowledgeable lady called Jane who, I realised when I got home, is @probablyjane, someone I’ve long admired over on Instagram. I was really sad that I didnt get to tell her how much I loved her fun feed so I’m going to mention it here in the hope she might one day see it.


So, Jane helped me focus my search.  It was really helpful to have someone so knowledgeable about each dyer and base. I did eventually settle on some yarn for my sweater and Jane scooted off upstairs to the store room to look for 4 more skeins in the same dyelot. This left me a few more minutes to squeeze and stroke all the luciousness and flick through a few books before I realised the time, and had to pay and depart. I bought 5 gorgeous skeins of Blue Faced Leicester light DK in the Lila colourway from The Uncommon Thread (@theuncommonthread), a dyer from Brighton who I hadn’t come across before and the most gentle book called Making Winter by Emma Mitchell (check out her beautiful instagram feed @silverpebble2) which has been my bedtime reading every evening since.


So, Loop, I love you. I can’t wait to visit again.

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Finishing All The Things

I’ve been quiet on here. But I’ve also been busy. Really busy. Finishing all the things. It’s the middle of April and I’m still keeping up with my New Year’s Resolutions. This is unheard of. I never, and I really do mean never, manage to successfully keep a new leaf turned over. In common with almost everyone else who has ever made a New Year’s Resolution, I’m usually waivering by mid January and, by mid February, I have completely forgotten I ever resolved to do anything. But not this year. If WordPress did emoticons, this would be a smug smiley face.

As some of you might know, I started decluttering my house last year and this has continued apace, with car loads of excess stuff going to charity and, lately, the disappearance of several large pieces of furniture deemed no longer necessary. If you have less stuff, you need less cupboards to put it in,  and I also want to minimise the chances of excess stuff accumulating in all those cupboards again. There is still some way to go on organising our remaining things and there are still areas I need to declutter like my children’s art projects (having previously kept every paper they’d ever made a mark on, in ordered document files, in the manner of librarian or, person with crazy hoarding tendencies) and my craft supplies (there is just so much ranging over so many crafts, its a bit difficult to know where to begin), but the house is, finally starting to feel less crazy and we actually have some space.


I’ve made some changes to the organisational aspects of our home too. The biggest improvement here has been in the way we do laundry now. Previously everyone put their laundry in one giant mountain, requiring herculean efforts to reduce it back down to the point that the lid on the basket would shut. Only once had I ever seen the bottom of the laundry basket and that was the day I bought it. Since then, it’s been in permanent crisis. It also meant I never felt I was getting anywhere, despite all the effort, which was dispiriting, and made me loath laundry and often clean laundry would remain unsorted and unfolding in heaps all over the house because I just couldn’t face it any more. This did not improve the overwhelming feeling of clutter at home. And because it sat around for ages in heaps, it got badly crumpled and then needed ironing.

Now, each member of the family has their own laundry basket in their bedroom and only their items go in their basket. I have a separate basket in the utility room for whites and another for delicates. When someone’s laundry basket is full, I remove the whites and delicates (these go in the whites and delicates baskets, obviously), and wash the remaining clothes. Then the clothes go from the washer into the dryer (or, if the weather is nice, onto the line), then are folded from the dryer back into the basket, which then goes upstairs, clothes are put away and the basket is then ready to be refilled. Clearly we aren’t wearing any less clothes but an entire level of sorting has been stripped out of the system, and I get to feel like I’m actually winning because  of the frequently empty laundry baskets. I wash the whites and delicates once a week, and these do still need sorting but it’s not such a massive job because the whites are mostly my husband’s and the delicates are mostly mine. 


I’ve also made progress with finishing my woolly wips. Lately I have finished my Cuddlebums 2016 shawl club (now a fab poncho), a sockhead hat in a lovely Devon Sun Yarns rainbow, and my temperature wrap. This is my most “handmade by me” item ever as I dyed the yarn for it, in my kitchen, after much instruction from Daisy of Devon Sun Yarns. To read more about the dyeing, see here. This was knited in brioche and was a long knit but very quick in the finishing as I left a long end on each colour change and it took almost no time to turn them into a fringe. I’m going to remember this for future projects.



But I do have a confession to make. I have taken a slight detour from finishing my existing wips, by casting on a Colour Affection shawl. This isn’t strictly within my resolution BUT, the wips I still have to finish each only have very small amounts left to do. And we were away for a week on holiday and I needed something that would take time to make, without taking up huge amounts of space in the suitcase. I’ve wanted to make a Colour Affection shawl for the longest time after seeing Daisy’s one and pestering her to dye me some yarn so i could make a more or less identical one myself. I’ve had this yarn in my stash for at least a year so it seemed crazy not to take advantage of a big chunk of time and get knitting. I’ll show you some pictures of this in my next post. In the meantime, I’m off to test the new laundry system with the mountain of holiday laundry.

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Love it Hate it Love it

 

Whilst I have been labouring on my many unfinished wips, I’ve been thinking about why so many have been consigned to the bottom of the wip basket and, have concluded that it’s more than just the delight of casting on with new yarn.


This story will be pretty familiar to anyone who is a crafter but to my non crafting friends, this might come as a bit of a surprise and you’d be forgiven for wondering why I put myself through this all the time.

Almost every project I undertake goes as follows:

  • Buying the yarn or getting yarn in the post “Ooh lovely lovely yarn. Squeeeee. So excited, must cast on”
  • Upon casting on “Oh my goodness this is so amazing, I’m so in love with this”
  • About 1/3 of the way through “So so loving this. Whoo hoooo. Must knit/crochet faster”
  • About 1/2 way through “Hmmm. Is this going to look alright? Is it going to fit? Maybe I should have made something else with this yarn? Hmmm. I’m not sure I even like the yarn any more”
  • About 2/3 of the way through “Ugh. This is awful. I hate it. Why did I ever think this would work? What a colossal waste of time. I can barely bring myself to finish” and, if I’m feeling particularly grim, it’s at this stage that things get relegated to the bottom of the wip basket, never to be seen again (or at least only seen again when I can’t get any more unfinished projects in the wip basket and, like now, have a purge).
  • On completion “I love love love it.”

I know, I know. And let’s not forget, I do this to myself voluntarily.

The plus side of this behaviour is that, once I can bring myself to restart the wip, I’m nearly always pretty quickly into the gratification of completion. So, hurrah for finishing wips is what I say. Here is the latest one I’ve finished – my yarn eating crochet flower rainbow blanket.

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Border design


I’m still beavering away on The Blanket Of Doom. However, in the meantime, I’ve been asked a few times about stitches I used on the border on the second of my Cuddlebums Shades Blankets (see here for the Tada! on this). Here is how I did it…

Uk terms.

Round 1. A round of trebles.  To start I chained 3. In each square corner space I made 2 trebles, a treble in the join square and then 2 trebles in the next corner space. At the corners of the blanket I made 5 trebles in the corner space

Round 2. The crab stitch row. This is a row of double crochet but made backwards. This is a bit peculiar the first time you try it but its pretty easy one you get going. There is a good ‘how to’ here. To start I chained 1. In the corner space, I made 3 crab stitches. 
Round 3 Another round of trebles but made in the trebles from Round 1 rather than Round 2. This means the crab stitch from round 2 sits up. To start I chained 3. In the corner space I made 5 trebles.

Round 4. A round of half trebles. To start I chained 2. In the corner space I made 3 half trebles.

Round 5. The bobble row. This took a bit of thinking about. I ended up making 4 trebles then a bobble which is 5 trebles together. There is a good ‘how to’ here albeit it using 3 trebles rather than 5. I used 4 trebles as my ‘spacer’ because it allowed me to pop a bobble neatly in each corner and at the join line of each of the squares and have them neatly spaced between but how many trebles you have in between each bobble would depend on how you wanted to arrange them. For me it was trial and error. To start I chained 3. In the corners, I made a treble, the bobble stitch, and then another treble.

Round 6. As round 4

Round 7. The scallop round. To start I did a slip stitch around until I reached the half treble stitch from round 6 which sat on top of the bobble stitch from 5. Then I chained 3 and made 6 trebles in the 4th stitch from my hook. Then I skipped 4 and made 7 trebles in the next stitch (again above the bobble stitch). This skip 4, 7 trebles in the next stitch forms the pattern. At the corners I did 9 trebles in the corner stitch.


There was also a bit of fudging sometimes to get the numbers to work. For some odd reason I didn’t have the same number of stitches on all 4 sides of my blanket – yep, slap dash work on my part – but there was no way I was going back to sort that out, so in a few places I only made 3 trebles instead of 4  on row 5 which then meant I had to remember and only skip 3 instead of 4 stitches on row 7, and I’m a bobble short on each side at the corners. There was also a fair amount of frogging. I frogged a whole round of trebles because I decided they weren’t working, which was a difficult decision to take given each round was taking such a long time. 

With hindsight, I would have worked out my stitch counts before I got started but, hey ho, you live and learn, and what is life without whimsy.

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Cuddlebums 2015 Shades Blanket Club finally finished

Yes! This is just about the first time ever that I’ve made a resolution and stuck to it for more than about a week. If you havent caught up on my resolutions you can read about them here.

It’s so gratifying when you decide to do something and then actually do it until it is done. I really don’t know why I don’t do it more often? Actually, I do, but that not the subject of this post. This post is to revel in the joy that I actually finished something. And a big something at that.


When I signed up to the blanket club at the start of 2015, I had lots of good intententions to prioritise this project. I would make the squares each month when the yarn came in, above all other projects. That lasted until about March, and then things started to slip a little further each month until we got to the end of the club and I realised I wasn’t even close to being half way through making all the squares. This was a blow because I had hoped to present my children with a blanket each for Christmas that year. The realisation dawned that if it was going to be a Christmas present, it would have to be Christmas 2016. You can see how these things get away from themselves!


Anyway, it became my travel project. For a period of about 9 months, I took a ball of the yarn with me everywhere I went and diligently made squares. Actually this made the making very easy. It took me between 15 and 20 minutes to make one square and I got between 9 and 10 squares from a ball, so I spent all the odd 1/2 hours waiting while my children played at various soft plays, theme parks and beaches, making the squares. It was the ideal portable project.

Then I finished the squares and the project quickly became extremely non portable. But I was on a roll and I quickly (well, relatively quickly!) assembled the first blanket. This is it!


And finally, I’ve finished the second. I’m going to let the (many!) photos speak for themselves.








I can wait to put them on the children’s beds.

Next up, The Blanket Of Doom. I kid you not!

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Starting the finishing

So, having made a resolution to finish my wips, and declared it publically, I do actually need to get on with it the daunting task. So, what’s been stopping me? Well, apart for the obvious distractions of children not yet back at school and the apocalyptic state of the house post Christmas, it’s actually not as straight forward as it might seem. Do I go for the nearly there, quick to finish wips? Or would it be better to knuckle down with the longer task of finishing a blanket?

Obviously, the easy wins of the quick to finish wips, results in the best headlines. I can just hear me saying “ooh, I’ve finished 15 wips and it’s only January 5th”. But, I know myself and no sooner are these words fading into the ether than the thought “Gosh I’ve done so well, surely I deserve a reward?” will pop into my head and I’ll be wrestling with the idea that a little cast on couldn’t hurt. And once I’m there, I’m never going to pick up an unfinished blanket wip with the idea that it will ever be completed.

So, blanket wips first then. Actually this is not such a terrible prospect, as last year, I gave away all the barely started blanket wips I had (there were several), and ripped out another couple I wasn’t feeling the love for, so all I really have is a couple of gorgeous blankets in Cuddlebums yarn which are crying out to be finished.  Also, at this time of year, it’s nice to sit under a blanket while you knit or crochet. 

So, here I am, enjoying the last of the twinkling Christmas lights and the peace of the house now the children have finally returned to school, catching up on a backlog of TV and, making progress on my shades blanket club from 2015. It’s the second of two blankets I’m making from this club (one for each twin), so I know what I’m getting and I’m just as excited about it as I was when I opened the first box of yarn two years ago. I’m arranging the squares a little differently on the second one compared with the first. Partly this is due to having slightly fewer squares but also I just wanted to try something different. And there will be a need to identify which blanket is which, speedily (and often) in order to resolve conflicts about who has who’s blanket.

Here is a progress shot. I think, maybe a week of focused effort and it might be finished.

And here are some pictures of the first blanket. Aren’t they just wonderfully sunny in a dull damp January?




So, that’s it for me, so far. Some of you said you might join me in the finishing wips resolution. How are you all getting on?

XXX

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New year, new… concept of completed?

I spent most of 2016 feeling that things were out of control. Primarily this was down to events in the wider world; the political shocks in the UK and the US, terrorism, war and the desperate situation of millions of refugees. None of these are things I have any real ability to influence so in the words of Reinhold Niebuhr, I’ve been seeking the grace to accept with serenity these things that cannot be changed (while continuing to shout at the news and rant at my husband each and every time I read a newspaper). But in the same vein, I have been looking for the courage to change the things which should be changed. And for this, I have to address the  mess and chaos at home. 

Since their birth in 2010, I have used my twins as a convenient excuse to explain away the general untidiness of my home. I am too busy looking after them to tidy and children are mostly mess makers. This was very much true when they were babies, and mess and chaos of the toddler years nearly finished me off, but it’s not so much the case now. Even so,  the house remains a mess. Kinder visitors to my home have described it as “lived in”. Even as I type these words I am cringing in the knowledge I’ve generally spent at least an entire day clearing up before their visit, and that “lived in” is the best I can hope for even after pulling out all the stops.


The untidiness at home is not helped by my personality – I have long known that I am a serial starter of new things and not a completer finisher. It’s like a switch goes off in my head when I’ve 80% completed a project and suddenly it’s lying unfinished and forgotten, and I’m off onto the next thing. Sometimes this is circumstantial, like when I think I’ve got enough time to finish something before the start of the school holiday and a child gets ill and the school holidays start in a rush several days earlier than expected. But mostly I just do it to myself; by simply getting bored and starting something new or generally getting distracted. How often have I thought “ooh I’ll just cast on to see how the yarn works in the pattern” only to find myself several inches down the leg of the second sock, trying not to dwell on the wip I abandoned for this one, but also thinking “I wonder if that poncho pattern would work in that new yarn I bought last week”, before caving and casting on the poncho.

But I’ve been finding this behaviour increasingly frustrating. There have been plenty of occasions this year when I’ve wanted to get involved in a KAL but have taken a look at the wip pile and realised I just can’t justify it. Then when I see all the finished pieces others have produced, I feel sad because, now the KAL is finished there is virtual chance I’ll ever get to make the item.


Also, this behaviour means a lot of unfinished stuff lying around cluttering up the place. This never used to bother me, but earlier this year, tiring of the mess, I resolved to Konmari my house (this is a way of tidying that asks you to consider every item in your house and ask yourself whether it sparks joy). This started straightforwardly enough. I deposited car loads of clothes, shoes, ornaments, toys, baby equipment and books at our local charity shops and donated still more to the jumble. I dragged long forgotten boxes from cupboards and threw out endless phone charges and other electrical paraphernalia. I Ebayed chairs and tables and cupboards and decided that the country cottage look we had going on just wasn’t for me, and I was going to go where my heart lead towards the simplicity of scandi living with a mid century twist, irrespective of the fact we actually live in a country cottage. 

But none of this made any real difference to the levels of clutter in my home. In fact, and it seems ridiculous to say it, but all this tidying actually made things worse as I often neglected the day to day stuff (like filing the enormous amounts of paperwork we continuously accumulate). And so, I’ve been forced to confront the true reason for our perpetually messy home. And it’s me. Or more specifically my inability to finish anything. I can’t even finish the tidying!


So I’ve been analysing this aspect of my craziness and I’ve come to the conclusion that I usually think I’ve finished a task several steps before it is actually complete. The laundry is a good example of this. It should be obvious when the laundry is complete – when the dry clothes are folded and neatly put away in the drawer. However, sometimes my head will tick off this item on my mental to do list, when I’ve merely folded the clothes but not yet put them away, so they languish for ages, usually in a basket on the stairs or the spare room. Sometimes my head does this at the point where I drag the clothes out of the tumble dryer and put them in a basket. When this happens the basket usually ends up in the living room, and often, I’ll need the basket to gather more dirty laundry so I will empty the clean (still unfolded) laundry onto the couch where the children will spend a couple of days sitting on it, and using it as cushions and blankets, before it occurs to me I’ll need to fold it (and, by now, iron it or sometimes even wash it again) and get it upstairs into the drawers. If it were just the laundry, I could probably live with it. But it manifests itself in the way I’ll cast off and block a shawl but won’t ever get around to sewing the two ends of yarn in. Or that I’ll vacuum but not put the vacuum cleaner away afterwards. Or that I’ll load the dishwasher but take days to get around to the handwash items. And, in countless other ways.  I’m not proud of this behaviour. I’m just putting it out there, (partly in the hope that I’m not the only one. Please tell me I’m not the only one!?).

So for 2017, I’m resolving to fully finish tasks. All tasks. This might take a while as there are almost 46 years worth of unfinished tasks to get too. But, specifically, I’m going to finish all my yarny projects, and then I’m going to use up my stash. Yes, you heard me say it, I’m going to USE UP MY STASH. I may also be opening an Etsy shop to sell some of the yarn I’ve dyed myself but which I’ll never get around to using. The using up of my stash also means not adding to it, so I’m cancelling my yarn clubs (sob!) and will not be buying new yarn at yarn shops or shows (how? how?). In tandem, with this I’m going to do the same thing with my fabric stash. 


I’m also only going to work on one wip at a time, and am not going to start the next thing until I have finished the first, and that includes sewing in the ends. This will be quite a challenge for me as I do always flit from one thing to another. But earlier this month, I gave myself a test. I knitted a pair of mittens from start to finish without picking up another project. They were an easy knit, just stocking stitch, in DK yarn so they didn’t take forever, but I enjoyed the focus and felt huge satisfaction in completing a project, so hopefully more of that feeling will spur me on.

So, here’s to a tidy (tidier?) house and mind, in 2017.

Eep!

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YARNDALE 2016

I wanted to tell you all about my trip to Yarndale last weekend. 

I’ve wanted to go to Yarndale ever since it started up in 2013 but it’s a big journey from where I live so would always involve over night stays and my children are still quite small so it was never really a possibility. But when Daisy from Devon Sun Yarns suggested I might like to join her there to launch my book of knitted hat patterns “Wool and Woods”, I jumped at the chance.

wool and woods
Well, it was everything I’d ever dreamed it would be and much more. I travelled up with my lovely friend Sara from Hailstone Heritage on Friday, arriving in good time to pop along to Cooper’s Cafe, above which sits the studio of Lucy from Attic 24. Attic 24 has a special place in my heart as when I first started to crochet I bought a Stylecraft Special blanket pack from Wool Warehouse and made Lucy’s Coast Ripple blanket, which still sits proudly on my son’s bed. As you will know, I’ve moved on a long way since then but, nevertheless, it was interesting to see Lucy’s studio and to see all the many things I’ve read about on her blog over the years, for myself.

Attic 24 Pegs
So, after a cup of tea and a scone, we struck out along the wonderful Yarn Walk through the park to the Auction Mart where Yarndale is held. When we arrived, everywhere was activity with exhibitors unloading their wares and setting up their stands, and the organisers busy setting out wooly sheep and hanging socks and bunting. We met up with Daisy and soon joined in the bustle, unloading her displays and yarn. And I also got the thrill of seeing my printed pattern book for the first time (you can buy it as part of a kit wth Daisy’s yarn here). Then 9pm came and the Mart went quiet as it closed until the morning. So, after a trip to the supermarket we drove to the sweet house Daisy had hired for the weekend, ate a quick supper and retired, eager for the next day.

Yarndale 1Yarndale 2Yarndale 3

Sara and I walked to the show again the next day (Daisy having left early to finish setting up her stand), this time along the canal and, again, along the Yarn Walk. We arrived at the show only about an hour after it had started, but were surprised to find it already very busy, and, to our further surprise, it remained so for the rest of the show, only really quietening down for the final hour or so of Sunday. 

Yarndale 4Yarndale 5
It was fabulous to have two days available to look over the show. It’s a big show but I had time to visit almost every stand, squished untold quantities of yarn, marvelled at the very large size of some of the socks on the Sock Line (some of you are incrediby dedicated sock knitters!), tried my hand at extreme knitting and crochet courtesy of Woolly Mahoosive, perused patterns, snuggled in garment samples, tried on shawls, had a lesson from XXX in the action required to turn a spinning wheel (it’s all in the ankle – not lifting your foot up is key), petted the sheep, alpacas and the most gorgeously soft angora bunny (like stroking a cloud), and generally got untold inspiration from all the kind and patient stall holders I chatted with. It was wonderful to be so immersed in yarn for so long.

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I also purchased! Although I was very restrained for me; two pattern books by Marie Wallin full of beautiful designs that involve both knitting and crochet, two gorgeous grey skeins of  Gleam, a Merino Silk sock mix which Daisy dyed at my request, 8 mini skeins from The Knitting Goddess, who I had never met before but, I’m already sure she will become a favourite of mine, and a tea towel from Tilly Flop, because I have orange highlights in my kitchen and am always on the look out for orange tea towel, but this one is doubly special as it is knitting related.

Yarndale Haul
Why so restrained? Well it was nothing to do with all the glories at the show. In different circumstances, I would have bought masses.  I think something in me has shifted over the summer because I’ve been dyeing so much of my own yarn. I have an enormous stash now and so, rather than just buying with impunity like I’ve always done (I’m not really one for budgeting), I searched for the things that really spoke to me. 

Sadly, it will probably be some years before I attend Yarndale again. The journey times are just too great whilst my children are so young and I do miss them terribly when I’m away from them. When they are older I’ll go again, travelling up on the Friday, going to the show on Saturday, before driving home on Sunday. But for now, I’ll just have to be content with those two glorious days. Yarndale 2016, you were just amazing!