In the Bag(s)

I finally managed my first sewing for the year, and it became a tad obsessive. As I seem to be a bit fixated with my knitting right now the sewing was all about the knitting! I wanted some new project bags. The last time I made some (barring the sock sack marathon pre-Christmas) I made plain tote bags and they’re all getting a bit boring and tatty now so I wanted something better and brighter. I had a look at a very long thread on Ravelry about home sewn project bags and the pattern that came up over and over again was a paid one on Craftsy called Sock Sack in Three Sizes by Ramona Rose. There are free patterns in this style, including the zipped centre pouch which is an addition to this pattern included at the end, but they are all a single size and I wanted something that would fit a jumper or cardigan in without having to do the math myself, so I paid my money and away I went.

I started off with two of the small two at a time sock bags. They have a little flap on each side that holds the yarn in place so it doesn’t get twisted, which meant hand sewing some snaps on which I didn’t enjoy. I don’t really need any more sock bags, but having just started my first two at a time socks and having issues with yarn management I figured I practice the bag by making the small ones. Also, I used up some of the fabric I just bought and got more FQs out of my fabric stash so that was a bonus!
Sock SackSock SackI love these batik prints and I always seem to buy purple ones which is odd as I don’t really buy purple in anything else. I also love Grunge, what doesn’t it go with? I’m getting to the end of what I bought and will probably have enough projects with it once it’s done!

This leaf print had to be cut this direction as otherwise I couldn’t get the inner pocket cut but I don’t mind. The inner is Oakshot which I bought ages and ages ago, I have about 10 FQs of the stuff and I never seem to use it so I thought what the hell and drug it out. It’s pretty thin but just the right shade for this.
Sock SackSock SackAlong with the small bags I made the largest size which is called the Sweater Sack. It uses two half yards (the small ones take 2 FQs). Again with the Grunge inner and I finally used one of my cassette half yards (I have the other colourway too) and found a neon zip for the inside!
Sweater SackSweater SackI have to say on completing this I was a little disappointed with the size. I had hoped it would be bigger and I didn’t think it would fit a sweater, it seemed more like a large shawl or kids jumper size. However, I have managed to put all the yarn for my next cast on in one of these along with the needles and the pattern and it fits really well so they are deceptively big.

Being me, I finished these and cut some more and went back in the next day to begin making them! Two more large-sized bags using up fabrics from the stash that have been hanging around forever and a day.
Sweater SackSweater SackGrunge in blue for a change!
Sweater SackSweater SackSo, getting the most out of the pattern and using up stash fabric I cut out another two and lined up fabric for another 3 after that! I am rather obsessive, I know, but when you’re in the mood to sew something useful you might as well go with it… It’s also using up cord and zips and snaps and whatnot from my stash which is good. I did buy the black ribbon stuff and 4 metres of interfacing for these (and some white cord/ribbon) in the 50% off sale but the rest I already owned. The bag pattern doesn’t call for interfacing but I wanted the bags to have a little bit of shape and also to prevent needles from poking through so I interfaced the outside fabric on all but one bag (and wish I’d done that one). I ran out of interfacing right at the last bag so had to use a different one from my bag of random interfacing.

Another sweater sized bag using a print I’ve loved for ages, it’s nice to see it in a big piece rather than cutting it up for quilt blocks.Sweater Sack Sweater Sack

Then I kind of got into doing two at a time socks on magic loop, and I have some socks on the needles that I’m working on concurrently so there were two balls of yarn floating around, so I made another 2 of the sock sacks.
Sock SackSock Sack The outside FQ was from the closing down sale of the other fabric shop (which is opening up in a different location that isn’t as easy for me to get to, they apparently didn’t like being retired or so their flyer said) and more Oakshot on the inside.
Sock SackSock Sack

No idea where this Japanese fabric came from and I’ve not taken a picture of it showing the little pink cat which is the cutest bit, but again more Oakshot on the inside. I’m apparently done being precious over how much is cost and will chop into it all the time!

Yeah, so then I did another sweater sized sack using some Japanese cotton that I got the last time I went to the Knitting and Stitching show at Harrogate (3 years ago maybe?). I have one more half metre piece of this cotton and a matching Oakshot half metre, not sure what I’ll use those for yet.

Sweater SackSweater Sack Still with me and my obsessive sewing?!?

I wondered what the shawl sack size was actually like. I hadn’t thought I’d want it, figuring that they could just go in the sweater sack size as a bag being too big was better than too small. Then I put one in and it kind of floated about as the bag was much too big for it. So, you know what happened next…
Shawl SackShawl Sack

You didn’t really think one would be enough did you?
Shawl BagShawl Bag

I realised I had an uneven number of sweater sacks. If you’ve been here for any length of time you know I’m not a fan of uneven numbers if I’m making collections of things (unless it’s 5, I like the number 5). Yes, I realise how odd I sound, but after 44 years of living with my brain it’s easier just to go with it and make a few more, plus they were fun and easy and using up stash.

This fabric my parents bought from a place that made fabric (really descriptive I know) when they were on holiday a few years back. As it’s a thick fabric I didn’t interface it and I wish I had as it’s really really floppy. But there you go, it’s done and I used the fabric finally.
Sweater BagSweater BagFor some reason I bought a half yard of this bike fabric in 3 colourways. I don’t like riding a bike… It must have been on mega sale is all I can think.

I discovered when I turned this bag right side out that I’d missed a chunk of the drawstring piece out when I sewed it so I had to turn it inside out again and re-sew it. I discovered at that point that I had only been sewing up one side of the turning hole on each bag. For some reason it never occurred to me that if I was leaving a gap at the bottom that it would be at both sides of the zipped pouch and not just one. The final few bags I sewed one side down with the machine so there was only a hole on one side and the earlier bags are making their way slowly into the sewing room to have their second hole sewn shut.

So, at this point, if you’ve been counting, I have 8 sweater sacks, 4 socks sacks and 2 shawl sacks. You can guess what comes next, especially once you know that somehow I have ended up with 4 shawls on the needles at the moment…
Shawl SackShawl SackStill haven’t run out of grey grunge but I’m getting there…

Shawl SackShawl Sack

In case you’re wondering about the different sizes here are 3 randomly selected bags to show you.
Knitting Sacks - all 3 sizes

The sweater sack there has 17 50g balls of yarn, about 4 pairs of circular needles and a pattern in it.

That’s 16 bags using up 14m of fabric in 19 days. As you can see I began to use whatever random cord or ribbon I had in my stash for the final bags as I’d used up all the white and black I bought. I think I’m done with this pattern, at least for now, no promises, but I’ve had my money’s worth from it. I do have a few other patterns I want to try though just because I can and they look useful. There’s a rectangular boxy bag that would be nice for smaller projects like hats and mits so I’ve got fabric out for two of those. Hopefully that won’t be quite such a slippery slope though and I will stop at that number! I think I have two other bags cut out from before my sewing room move too, I will have to find those and sew them together!

Now I’m going to go and knit some of the projects that are in the bags, I have some knitted FOs to show you but I’d like to get at least 2, if not 3 things off the needles this month, we shall see.

Move It All About

So I’ve mentioned that we moved half the house about in order for Piggle and Jim to finally have their own bedrooms. They’ve been sharing a room since Piggle came home from the hospital so that’s 9.5 years now, and sitting at home for a year looking at how things were allocated made me realise that my having 3 rooms to myself (office, sewing room and bedroom) while they shared one bedroom wasn’t all that fair and didn’t make much sense. So we slowly started shifting things about. It was like one of those games with the squares where you have to move them about in the right order to make the picture. Every single room in the house barring the kitchen and downstairs bathroom had something moved out or in to it and often in order to move that thing three other things would have had to be moved first. A lot has gone to the charity shop a lot has been thrown away. I will finish decluttering at some point but there was/is a lot of clutter to work through.

Just after Christmas we finally got it all finished, except for a piece of furniture to house half my yarn stash. I think it’s really amazing that we managed to move so much about and only needed to buy one piece of furniture. Everything else either stayed in its previous job or took on a new role. The chest of drawers in my sewing room that held my patterns was Piggle’s chest of drawers in the last house and has gone back to that role now. The green striped fabric drawers that I bought to hold Jim’s nappies over 13 years ago held my yarn for a long time and is now toy storage in Piggle’s room. Chairs have moved here and there, my FQ holding book-case from the sewing room now holds the few novels I decided to keep on the upstairs landing. As I said, it took a lot of moving to and fro but it also took a lot of planning, I had a master sheet of paper that we kept referring to that said what was going where and what we needed! I did buy Piggle a desk and chair for his room, it isn’t something he technically needed as he still does his homework at the kitchen table, but he wanted it for his new room and I figured we weren’t spending money on anything else for him (except little things like curtain fabric, a desk lamp and a rug) so why not.

So, my new sewing room is my old office. It wasn’t a great place to work all day every day as it has no window and a strip light (also amusingly to begin with and less so as time went on, it is under the bathroom of the house next door, they used to be one house in the past, so you would often get to listen to people having a wee), it’s also pretty cold. I found myself working at the kitchen table a lot and I have a desk (antique one with a fold down front that belonged to my Grandfather) in the living room too. Plus I can sit on the sofa and read or write on the computer, so once I’d figured out where to put all the paper and the office furniture we were away. I think it is probably just a little bigger than my sewing room in the last house. I have different storage now, and this new room has a lot of built-in storage which made things easier. Anyway, I will show you around!

This is the view from the doorway. You literally can’t get a full shot of any of the walls besides this one as the room is too small! There is just enough floor space to pull out my chair really, but the door hits it when it’s out. Cosy…

Sewing RoomSo that’s all my fabric, the boxes hold fabric for specific quilts and the baskets on the floor are what’s for sale in my Etsy shop.

This is my sewing table to the right of the door. It has my machine, my overlocker and those boxes hold things like machine needles, overlocker parts that I don’t know how to use, labels, magnetic snaps etc.
Sewing RoomThis is over the desk, see lots of storage built in!

Sewing RoomThere are knitting books, sewing books, pdf patterns (I must put away those ones on top, lazy me) and regular patterns. Yes, from an entire chest of drawers full of printed sewing patterns to two baskets of the ones I will actually use, serious decluttering… Behind the baskets on the top shelf is batting still in the package and the basket behind the pdf patterns has odds and ends like my ball winder and swift.

Funny story about the books, I thinned my sewing library a lot, I had a ton of vintage books that I just never looked at. Postage is silly so I didn’t want to list them in my shop and the big local secondhand book shop didn’t want them. They were sitting in the porch looking sad for ages and then I finally gave them to one of the District Nurses who came to change my dressings as she’s very into knitting and sewing. Don’t think she was expecting that when she called but she was very happy to have them!

This is moving round to the left of the sewing table.

Sewing RoomThat cupboard has folders, my Big Shot cutter and one side is full of FQs and half yards of quilting fabric. On top is bits of leftover batting. The square baskets hold things like zips, ribbon, elastic etc. The white box has traced off patterns, I thinned it out by getting rid of all the Ottobre ones (I sold the magazines) and things the boys had grown out of, eventually I think I won’t need it any more. Those white boxes were my original pattern storage way back in Liverpool, I started off with a few and eventually had a towering stack of them! There are two sewing machines stashed down there along with the hard case for the one on the table and the baskets on top hold my quilting fabric scraps. You can’t see but in the back corner are two clear plastic storage boxes with largish scraps (for pocket linings and facings) and two wicker baskets with quilts in progress in them. The pillows need to be mended, Piggle’s curtain fabric is glaring at me there and the owl fabric is for something I’m not sure I’m going to make now so I need to put it away.

And moving to the other side of the fabric stash, this is the opposite wall from the sewing table.

Sewing RoomPoor dressform shoved in the corner. I need to mend those pyjama bottoms and take that shawl upstairs. This house has a stupid amount of hooks, I mean really stupid. There is about three times this many in the hallway outside this room and the downstairs bathroom has a long run too. I guess farmers have a lot to hang up! There was no wall space to hang up my sewing pictures to they’re just balanced there. There are hooks on the back of the door too where I’ve hung a bag of interfacing and my to be donated scraps bag.

The bags have old knitting projects that I’m working my way through. I must finish that cross stitch sampler, it’s been on November for about 3 years now… The hanging baskets have more bags and my starch, the bottom one has my EPP papers in it too.

This is what’s under the table! Two thread racks and a wheelie storage unit (was in my old house sewing room, became Piggle’s bedside table, now back in the sewing room). The things stuffed in the bottom of the unit are cut out projects waiting to be finished/started. To the right is my quilting table for my machine and my button box. To the right are cutting mats and quilting rulers

Sewing RoomSo, as I said, there wasn’t enough room for my yarn to go in the new sewing room. My landlord and landlady kindly moved my glass fronted cabinet down the stairs for me and I started looking about for a cabinet to house the big blue Ikea bag of yarn sitting in my hallway. The closest antique place (secondhand furniture is really hard to find when you live in the middle of nowhere so antique centres tend to be the only choice) was refurbishing so there wasn’t a lot there last time we went. They re-opened earlier this week so I popped over yesterday and found just the kind of thing I was looking for at not a bad price. It’s one of those 60’s/70’s bits of furniture that’s designed to look older and it’s a book-case so the shelves are sturdy when you’re shoving yarn in it.

This is the view along my hallway, stairs on the left. The stuff at the end of the hall is my sister’s from when she was staying with us so it’ll move out at some point, I had nowhere else to store it!
Knitting StorageAnd this is the view taken from the stairs, hard to get a shot in a narrow space!
Knitting StorageThis tall glass cabinet I bought for the kitchen of my last house as it didn’t have very many cupboards. This house has a ton of cupboards so it was repurposed and I love seeing the yarn in it. The yarn on top is some bulky acrylic that I’m supposed to be crocheting into animal head cushions (for about 4 years now) and some aran weight acrylic that I decided earlier will be sweaters for the boys at some point.
Knitting StorageThe top shelf is shawl yarn, next shelf down is sock yarn and below that is sweater or shawl (in balls rather than skeins) quantities. I bought a load of organza bags from Ebay to put my yarn in as I find the plastic bags annoying and slippy. It looks so much nicer this way and they stay put better so I’m glad I did. I actually ran out just before the end and thought I’d order more, then I realised that I’m supposed to be cutting down on yarn so I will stick with the number I have and once I get the stash down to that level try not to exceed it again!

So this is the new cabinet
Yarn StorageIt’s just got sweater/shawl quantities of yarn in it bagged up in the amounts required for the project that it’s earmarked for. The big gap on left of the top shelf is to hold this
YarnThat’s all my leftovers which are full balls or multiple balls that are enough for a small project. I just chucked them all in that drawer so they need a way to be held nicely. I saw some nice baskets in TK Maxx so I’m going to take the measurements next time I go and see if one will fit. If not then Tesco have plastic storage baskets that aren’t too ugly so I’ll just get one of those.

And this is the top of the new cabinet.
Knitting StorageI watched a YouTube video the other day that was just under 40 minutes of a knitter talking about how she organised her needles. I watched it purely because I couldn’t believe it could take 40 minutes to do that, but it did because she had so damnmany of them. Also The Yarn Hoarder talked about needle storage on her latest podcast and she has an amazing amount of needles. I don’t need to bore you with a podcast or video, that is my needle storage. Every pair I own that aren’t in a project are there. Straights in the jug (idea stolen from Amy of Knitty about 12 years ago), the red lidded box (ex Body Shop present also about 12 years ago) holds all my dpns and the basket on top of that has all my circulars and crochet hooks (I will need a larger basket for those soon but it will still fit right there). That’s it, tour done!

The tins hold stitch markers, stitch holders and cable needles. The basket to the right has empty project bags (yes, I do have some!), a few patterns that I’ve printed off and a row counter. The basket was my Grandma’s and she used to carry it to the shops when I was a child, we were spoiled if she let us carry it for a bit. My Mother was just going to throw it away so I claimed it. It’s a little bashed from age and for a few years it’s lived in my car full of hats and gloves, but it’s moved up in the world into the house again and I love seeing it there!

I’m really happy that it’s all organised and sorted. The yarn is nice to look at and hopefully seeing it like this will make me want to use it up more than when it was hidden away. The sewing room is easy to work in and I’ve only almost killed myself once when I stepped off the chair onto one of the Etsy baskets and nearly fell over, but I’m not the most co-ordinated of people at the best of times… The sewing room is right beside the kitchen so I can pop in an do two seams whilst dinner is cooking. I do have to have the ironing board in the kitchen but I guess that means I get up and move about more and it’s closer than where I had to have it in the old house.

So, that’s my long-winded tour of a small space! I have been knitting and sewing so there will be things to show at some point soon.

January Finishitis Strikes

Usually I feel the need to finish all the things towards the end of the year and have a massive push from late October onwards to try and get things done, I guess so I could include them in my end of year round up. Last year I didn’t feel that and merrily carried on knitting on a ton of projects and casting on with abandon. Then the New Year hit and suddenly it felt like too much on the needles and I wanted to start new things but didn’t feel comfortable doing so (apparently unless it’s socks or shawls that is) until I got a load of things done.

So I’ve been plugging away at knitting projects and not allowing myself to cast on for all the new cardigans and jumpers I have wanted to. It feels nice to see some things done and I’m excited to finish off a few more. Only the fact that my stash is all over the place having been moved out of the now-not-sewing-room and not organised at all (I need another cabinet for it and haven’t found one yet) and that I will have to swatch which I always find annoying.

The New Year came with me having a horrible cold and spending the whole time the boys were with their Dad on the sofa. I had ordered yarn for a Cosy Colourblock Shawl from Wool Warehouse having seen it on the Tea and Possibilities podcast. I’d hoped that the yarn would arrive before we left to go to Brighton as it would have been great train knitting but sadly it didn’t come. As soon as we got home I cast it on and during those days I was attached to the sofa watching Peaky Blinders (I’m going to have to watch it a third time as the first time I was doing chemo and this second time I was ill so I’m sure I’ve missed half the plot) and finishing the shawl.

Cozy Colourblock ShawlCozy Colourblock ShawlCozy Colourblock Shawl

I actually used the yarn called for in the pattern which is very unlike me. It’s a cotton acrylic mix by Scheepjes called Stone Washed XL. You obviously pick the colours you like to go together. The only change I made was to do a few more rows of the black and yellow stripes before swapping to the grey as I didn’t see the point in having leftovers when I’d bought it specifically for the shawl. I used Hiya Hiya Sharps in 6.5mm for this and they are bloody sharp, I poked a hole in my finger using them. I’m not a fan though as I don’t like the cords very much so I won’t be buying more. This yarn did work better with metal needles than wooden though.

I like this shawl a lot, however it’s very very big and thick. Mine has nowhere near the drape shown in the photographs. I don’t think I have particularly tight gauge so I’m not sure why it turned out the way it did. I’m not certain it would block out to anything larger or drapier either so I’ve not bothered trying. It can feel a little suffocating when it’s wrapped around your neck but it is very warm and I’ve enjoyed wearing it so far.

Next off the needles were my first socks using 9 inch circulars. I used Wendy Happy in Aquarius and 68 stitches for these on 2.25mm. I got the hang of the small circulars in the end and I actually prefer the 2.25 over the 2.5s, I think because there are more stitches so they move around easier, although that doesn’t make much sense as the socks should be the same size. Anyway, I do like this bamboo acrylic mix sock yarn. I don’t know if they make it anymore, I have one more ball of this colourway and another colourway left in my stash though so I’m ok for a little bit.
Happy Socks Aquarius

My brain is having a hard time adjusting to the not buying things. As I wasn’t buying yarn I moved onto needles and now have a good selection of ChiaoGoo circulars to work with… I then went on to buying loose tea. I got a lovely little teapot when we were in Brighton and visited Bluebird Tea, then Jim and I shopped their Boxing Day sale online too. I’ve since ordered from two other companies (Birdhouse and Rosie Lea are good shops) and now have a counter full of bags of different flavours and types of tea. I’m alternating between all of them during the day now I’m back to my PhD work and really enjoying them, but it wasn’t really useful for the not buying things to move from one obsession to another. I’ve also bought a lot of cheap secondhand dvds to watch whilst knitting and the things I want to see at the moment aren’t available on Netflix or Prime.

Then I got reading the Harry Potter knit along thread in the Inside Number 23 podcast group on Ravelry and got all excited about joining in. I slipped and bought four balls of yarn (from Wool Warehouse) along with the needles for a Ravenclaw scarf… I also bought some really long Zing straights for my next scrap yarn blanket. I guess 4 balls isn’t too bad and I will be making the other things on my Harry Potter list from stash yarn as they’re mostly small projects, but it wasn’t a great start to the planned abstinence. Then I was swatching as incentive to finish something else (I don’t like swatching but knowing that I’ve done it and am all ready to cast on for something new can often light a fire and get me knitting faster on an old project!) and upon getting guage looked at what size I was planning to knit. It appears that ordering yarn whilst suffering from a head cold isn’t a great idea as for two sweaters I’d ordered yarn for the size corresponding to my bust size and hadn’t allowed for any ease. Of course Wool Warehouse was out of all the dyelots that I needed but I did manage to find the same dyelot for one sweater at Purple Sheep Yarns and bought another 3 balls. I will keep checking WW in case they get more of the same dyelots in the other colours I need for the second sweater but I think it may have to be tighter than envisioned. Then it carried on going downhill yarn wise, a shawl pattern new on Ravelry using a yarn I’d never seen before so I got that and having had a stressful week with the PhD I had filled and emptied a cart at Vegan Yarns so many times I thought they might block my ISP so I did my allowed order from them.

I need to stop now, maybe the ‘NO NEW YARN’ panic will lessen. Hopefully my brain will adapt soon to not buying things all the time. I didn’t think it would be that hard but I guess when saying no spending to my subconscious freaks it out a little and stress also plays a big part in my buying things and I’ve had plenty of that this month. Perhaps when I get more projects done and can start new things besides socks I won’t feel like I’m missing out. I have sorted my stash and put it into organza bags (another buy ‘instead’ of buying yarn) and it looks so neat and pretty now that I want to use it all which is good.

We went to a local antique place to try and find the cabinet for the part of my yarn stash that is currently sitting in a big blue Ikea bag in the hall. They didn’t have anything but I did end up buying a cabinet for the larder/storage/junk room instead. Then we went on to a second shop which it turned out had moved, but the fabric shop next door to it was having a 50% off closing down sale, sigh. I did very well and only got 3m of fabric but I did pick up a few notions (cutest cat buttons ever!) and lots of interfacing. Again, not a great start to the no buying plan, but 50% off….

I’m also not feeling the need to sew clothes right now. I organised my wardrobe and got rid of a load more stuff plus bought new hangers (buying again…) which has made it all neater. It turns out I have more than enough clothes and really don’t need to make any more until I wear out a good number of things. So if I’m not sewing I don’t need to buy fabric for sewing, that’s the idea anyway, we’ll see how many other sales I run into when I’m not expecting it.

Back to the FOs, next up was Jim’s jumper that I started in April in order to have it done in time for winter, yeah… This is an example of how rubbish needles can make a project horrid to work on. I had some blunt Clover bamboo circulars and it took and age to get halfway up the body. Using ChiaoGoo metal circulars I whipped through the rest of the body in not time and the cables were much easier. The pattern is called Umberto and I used Woolcraft Nuvo which is an acrylic yarn that I got from Kemps. I made the largest chest size and then just knit the length Jim needed as he’s a bit taller than the largest size. This is great yarn for kids jumpers and I have some red for Piggle’s next one.

Umberto

I thought I was pretty much done when I finished the body, then I measured Jim’s arms and realised that they’re now actually longer than mine so the sleeves weren’t going to be as fast as I’d hoped. I got it done though, and he likes it, plus it’s still cold enough for him to need a jumper so win!

I had been working on the Churchmouse Yarns Easy Folded Poncho for what felt like forever. It is a very simple pretty dull knit of long rows of stocking stitch. It felt like it took forever, and then when I pinned it out to block it I realised why as it was huge!

Easy Folded PonchoI made this to wear in the house during the day over whatever else I have on. It gets cold here and I can’t afford (and don’t want) to have the heat on all day, so another layer is great. I had started making this from a different yarn but realised that it didn’t have enough drape so I found this Sublime Yarns Soya Cotton in my stash and used it up. It’s a lovely yarn and I am very happy with the finished garment, and it might make it outside the house sometimes in the Spring!

I finished off another pair of socks, these are Lana Grossa Solo Cotone Print in Capri 6607. I did these on 2.5mm 9″ circulars and I’m really happy with them. I really like this yarn.

Lana Grossa Solo Cotone Print

In August 2011 I started crocheting my second sock yarn blanket. Basically whenever I finish off a shawl or socks I chucked the leftover yarn into a bag and then every now and again I crocheted it (in the order I completed things) into a blanket.

Sock Yarn Blanket 2Sock Yarn Blanket 2Sock Yarn Blanket 2 Sock Yarn Blanket 2

The pattern for this one was the Granny Blanket which is a free Bernat pattern. I used a 3.5mm hook for it. The only bit I don’t like is the big yellow bit in the middle, which funnily enough is the bit Jim commented that he liked a lot thus this blanket is now living in his room! I have cast on for my next blanket already, this time it’s a knit one on 3.5mm needles. I cast on 360 stitches so I am sure I won’t be working on it that often! I know these things take forever though and I prefer scrap projects where I can use up all the yarn. The Cosy Memories blankets are nice but I’d have to do multiple squares of each colour which would mean little balls hanging around for years until I got to a bit where I could add another square and then there still might be more left. I know it would frustrate me in the end so I will stick to my stripes, be they knit or crocheted!

I saw the Diaemus Shawl on The Grocery Girls podcast a while back and liked the look of it. I decided to pair together some Vegan Yarns Bellatrix in Soot Sprites (which is now my favourite tonal colour and I have ordered more of it so I always have it!) and Wolf Girl which is a very pale tonal grey. The Bellatrix is a 100% bamboo yarn which is very soft and has wonderful drape so it was great for this project. There are a lot of short rows in this which for once didn’t bother me all that much. I think it was because they seemed easier to spot in this project, or maybe I’m finally getting better at them, who knows!

Diaemus ShawlDiaemus ShawlDiaemus ShawlDiaemus ShawlDiaemus ShawlDiaemus Shawl

This shawl has the oddest construction and I really didn’t get what was happening a lot of the time, I just followed the instructions and it all worked out! I was running low on the grey and knew I wanted a good number of stripes at the end of that plain section so I did slightly fewer short rows than the pattern called for which worked out fine. I’ve got a few more shawls by this designer in my queue and I am looking forward to trying them. The odd construction means that it looks different every time you wrap it around your neck which is really interesting!

And finally, the Color Field shawl which is one I saw on the Make Things Club Podcast (not that I’m easily influenced or anything). I used Vegan Yarns worsted on this. I kept thinking it was the softest cotton I’d ever worked with and then noticed, when I went back to see if there were any other colours I wanted to buy, that it’s actually a cotton bamboo mix so that would explain it! I used the colourways Koi and Wolf Girl again, although this Wolf Girl is a lot lighter than the Bellatrix version. I knit this shawl in 13 days, worsted weight shawls go fast! It was my reward at the end of the day shawl, I’d sit and knit a few rows before bed.
Colour Field ShawlColour Field ShawlColour Field Shawl

I finished the bind off with about 2 yards of the Koi colour left. It was the most fun I’ve had playing yarn chicken as I have another skein of it in my stash so it didn’t really matter if I ran out or not! I had about 60 odd yards of the grey left which will go with the other skein of that I have into another shawl. I entered this and the Diaemus shawl into the Legacy Knitz Podcast Cold Shoulder KAL, just because I could.

So, that’s it for January. Not to bad, but I did also cast on quite a few pairs of socks and in the last two days I’ve cast on another two shawls (one for a knit along with the Stringing It Together podcast)… I will keep plugging away at the sweaters though, I just have the neckband and sleeves of one to get done, although I think I might run out of yarn. After that it’s half a short sleeve jumper to go and then I can cast on something new, we’ll see if I manage to make myself wait!

Hope you all had a good January and here’s to February (the month I hate the most) going by quickly and painlessly!

Last Makes of 2016

Final bits and pieces that I’ve not blogged about yet just to have it all recorded!

I made two final sock sacks for my sister for Christmas at her request. Again these were stash fabrics, but I did have to buy zips and found a really reasonably priced bundle of about 25 zips on Ebay that will keep me going for a while (I ordered 12″ zips as you can cut them down but can’t make them longer!).

Sock SackSock SackNext up I made a sack. I knew from the pattern (it’s a Butterick but I don’t know the number as I chucked it in the pile to get rid of when I finished this project) that it was going to be a bit shapeless, and actually I wanted it to be a bit big and loose. What I forget when I make things like this is that I’m not 5 inches taller and angular so on me garments this shape aren’t all that flattering.
Butterick ? TunicThe fabric was from Fabricland in Brighton a few years back and I love it so I will wear it, probably under cardigans or under dungarees or my dungaree dresses but I need to think about these styles more in the future before committing fabric to them unless I want to look rounder than I already am.

I bought Jim a Kindle for Christmas so of course he had to have a case to go with it. I picked out these fabrics ages ago for him but didn’t get around to making it until right before Christmas!
Kindle CaseKindle CaseHe was happy with it so it was a win, it’s a little wonky but I can live with it.

I made a Guerrier shawl using some Yarntopia Treasures Egyptian Cotton in Honeysuckle. This was supposed to be a tank top but I realised I’d never wear it so found something else to do with the yarn. I have some left over that I intend to make fingerless mittens with, it’s in a bag with the needles and pattern I just need to cast on.
Guerrier ShawlGuerrier ShawlGuerrier ShawlI love this yarn, the colours are fabulous and it was lovely to work with, but I didn’t really enjoy this pattern. I found the staggered rib hard to get my head around for some reason and it made those sections really drag. You can see I’ve not blocked it which is because I was a bit fed up with it by the time I finished. Also, even though I went up a needle size I still only used just under 700 yards, whereas the pattern says I’d need 880-900 yards, I can’t figure that out at all unless it’s based on buying full skeins but not using all of one… Anyway, it’s done and I will wear it once I am done being annoyed with it, I may even block it, who knows!

Over Christmas I finished my Mercury socks and I’m really happy with them. The yarn is Bamboo Cotton sock from Yarntopia Treasures again in the colourway Freebird. The colours are lighter than in this photo, I would post the picture of the skein when I bought it but the colours are off in that too!
Mercury Socks I am really happy with these. I did a Fish Lips Kiss heel on them and my standard toe. I started the FLK heel an inch above the heel as I said in my sock post, I still don’t know if I like it or not but I’ll see how it wears. I am really happy with the fit on these so I will definitely be carrying on with casting on less stitches for my socks. I got past the heel of one of my plain socks as well and started a shawl and made some progress on that, 8 hours on trains gives you some knitting time!

I had hoped to get at least one more thing off the needles and some sewing done but I’m greeting the new year with a bad cold so those plans were dashed…

Hilariously my brain seems to think that I might run out of yarn while I am avoiding purchasing more for my stash. So, in the last 2 days of 2016, knowing that I wasn’t buying yarn from today, I bought yarn for 6 jumpers/cardigans. Of course I’m going to have time and be in need of that many more garments on top of all the others I already have yarn for… Oh well, it’ll get used at some point and it was all on sale at good prices, it’s just funny how the mind works sometimes!

Happy 2017 crafting to you all!

2016 Round Up

2016 has been a pretty bad year all around, hopefully it won’t let the door hit it on the ass on the way out.

I did get to make quite a bit this year though, I would have rather not had the time to do all the making, or at least not had the time for the reasons that I did, but I think I made the most of it and have had quite a bit to show for it, so much so that I had to order more coat hangers today!

So, the figures for 2016 are as so:

I read 102 books this year, which is pretty good, although quite a few below the 155 I read last year. I read non-stop until around July which was towards the end of chemo and then my brain stopped being able to keep track of even the most simple of plots. That was when I started to watch Netflix and Prime and knit a lot more. I’ve recently begun to try and read again, irritatingly I had a succession of books that I didn’t like or want to finish so I have now had the pleasure of deleting those off my Kindle and I’m looking forward to reading things that I actually enjoy in the new year!

Knitting I made 27 things, which is just over double the 13 of last year, they were:

  • 12 shawls, it has been the year of the shawl and I currently have another 4 on the needles, I’m not sure why I’ve been making so many but I’m not stopping for a while according to my Ravelry queue
  • 2 jumpers
  • 6 pairs of socks
  • 4 cardigans
  • 1 pair of fingerless mittens
  • 2 hats

Not a bad collection at all. Of course I have a ton on the needles as my attention span was even worse than usual so I will hopefully have a big finish up of things in the new year as I’ve been looking through my Ravelry queue and I’m very excited about what’s there waiting to be made. Along with the 4 shawls mentioned above I am also working on 6 pairs of socks, 4 jumpers, a blanket, a cardigan and a poncho, so lots to keep me busy for sure!

Sewing has been all go or no go as in the blog post called just that. I’ve either lived in the sewing room making things non-stop or I’ve had no interest at all and haven’t set foot in there for ages. My book of what I’ve made says 64 projects, but I know that’s actually less than I made as for things like the boys’ pyjamas and the sock sacks I entered the projects I batch made in one entry rather than singly. Last year I made 27 things so that’s rather a large jump! My fabric in and fabric out were a very large number that I won’t share and are about even which isn’t really a good thing. As I said in an earlier post I’m going to not buy fabric for a while and try and get the stash a little bit more under control in 2017. The FO number breaks down as:

  • 8 dresses
  • 5 skirts
  • 16 t-shirts
  • 2 jumpsuits
  • 1 pair of dungarees
  • 10 pairs of pyjamas
  • 12 shirts/blouses
  • 3 pairs of trousers
  • 2 Kindle cases
  • 2 bags
  • 10 sock sacks
  • 1 dressing gown
  • Hexy MF Quilt

That’s a total of 73 things! I still have a pile of garments cut out and a head full of things I want to make. I worked shortly on a Pinterest board to try and find pictures for the kind of style I have in my head at the moment. Luckily it’s based around some patterns that I already own (plus one I bought when I saw it on Pinterest as it was exactly what I wanted). It won’t be an all at once change as obviously I still have plenty of clothes to wear that I do like and don’t want to get rid of and I will have less sewing time next year, but I do have the basis of a plan in mind and I’m looking forward to sewing towards it.

Sewing and knitting goals for 2017 (along with the stash goals) are

  • to make things that fit with the plan I’m forming
  • not to make things just because I can – I didn’t really need 5 Montlake t-shirts, they were just easy and I had jersey in the stash…
  • to make basic alternations to patterns if they need them, I’m lazy when it comes to this but moving the bust dart isn’t hard and doesn’t take long so I should be doing it
  • to knit projects that fit with other clothes I own and with the plan, I’m guilty of knitting many a thing that I don’t actually wear just because it was fun and the colour was pretty, no more wasting yarn this way!
  • to try and make more quilts, I’ve got so many either on the go or sitting there with all the fabric waiting, I want to get them out of the sewing room and in use.
  • to finish the cross stitch year stitch sampler that for 3 or more years now has been stalled at November…

I hope you all had productive and fun knitting, sewing and crafting experiences in 2016 and here’s to many more for us all in 2017! Thanks for following along and leaving comments. I know blogging is pretty old school these days but I still enjoy the recording of what I’ve done in this manner so I’ll keep going for as long as that is true.

Basket of Socks

img_0370So all those sock sacks that I made a few weeks back were for a reason! I mentioned that I’d been watching knitting podcasts and several of those involved a lot of sock knitting which influenced me to cast on with abandon and try out new techniques and some new to me yarns and yarn from deep in my stash.

I feel that yarn podcasts could be really enabling if you are susceptible to that kind of influence. They can be very consumerist and often involve a lot of ‘look what I bought’ which, if said podcast becomes popular, turns into ‘look what other well-known podcasters gave me’. Add to that segments on what they’ve bought recently and often the podcasters sitting in front of their stashes showing off their yarn and it can all be a bit much.

I’ve watched a ton of different podcasts now, I think it really depends on the viewer’s personality as to whether they will ‘click’ with what they’re seeing. The podcaster could be knitting everything I am and sharing really great information, but if I don’t feel comfortable listening to their voice or like the way they have shot their video then I just can’t go on. I’ve found a lot of very popular podcasters just rub me the wrong way and I don’t get why they’re popular, but that’s life really, not everyone appeals to everyone else! Podcasts I have been enjoying are The Grocery Girls, I love their relationship and their attitude. It can be a little cliquey at times but they are generally fun to watch. I like Legacy Knitz which is a mother and daughter podcast, again it’s a nice relationship to watch and there’s a lot of advice and information shared as they talk about their projects. I like watching Yarngasm and am safe from the temptation of the yarn she dyes as there’s nothing vegan available, which is a good thing as her colours are lovely. I enjoyed a few episodes of Hue Loco, again pretty yarn that I won’t be buying and some nice projects. I’ve watched a couple of Fairy Little podcasts and there are some nice things to see. I’ve also enjoyed the Yarn Hoarder episodes, she has a nice personality, her stash does make me quake with fear sometimes though and I’m glad it’s not mine!

My favourite podcast though to date is 10,000 Stitches which is done by a woman called Andi. I watched a random episode and then went back and started right from the beginning (episodes are weekly but less than an hour so it didn’t take that long!). Her podcasts cover her WIPS, FOs, knit alongs and some general yarn/knitting chat and then she spends some time on ‘chit chat’ telling you about her week and what she’s been up to which makes it a lot more personal than most podcasts I’ve seen. Andi set herself the challenge this year to knit 50 pairs of socks. Not just plain socks though, she had different challenges like lace, cables, ribbing and colourwork to break up the year. Something I really enjoy about this podcast is the transparency of what she’s spending and why she is or isn’t working on something. As I’ve mentioned, the consumerism displayed in podcasts can be a bit much, so to have someone explicitly say how much they spent (she set herself a budget for the challenge and keeps a tight yarn budget anyway), what they’re planning to buy from a sale and how much that will cost etc is refreshing and open and something I’ve not seen on any other podcast to date. Also, other podcasts will show something cast on and then you’ll never see it again, whereas Andi will say what’s happening to her projects, and generally she’s very decisive and will rip rather than let something hibernate. I’m definitely not a monogamous knitter like she is and I enjoy having a lot of projects on the go, but the differences between how we work was one of the interesting things to me and I watched her podcasts like a tv series cheering her on and looking forward so seeing how she was doing, I’m a little sad that I’m up to date now and have to wait for new podcasts to come out!

Anyway, watching these things did influence me to go out and buy some new sock yarn and also to cast on for quite a few pairs of socks, so this is what is on my sock needles at the moment.
img_0366These are my first socks on 9 inch circular needles. I have tried both Hiya Hiya and ChiaoGoo needles and my hands seem to prefer the ChiaoGoos. I might sell the Hiya Hiyas (in my post surgery stupor I ordered HH needles by mistake wondering why the cords were blue and not red, obviously reading was too hard for me….) as they just don’t fit my hands as well. The tiny needles are actually a tiny bit shorter than the ChiaoGoo needles which makes a difference. These socks are with Wendy Happy in the Aquarius colourway. I cast on 68 stitches and then just went round and round and round. I used a Fish Lips Kiss heel (new to me, I learnt about it from the podcasts along with the fact that 9 inch circulars existed).

Something discussed on The Grocery Girls was that they were playing about with stitch counts on their socks to figure out which fit their feet best. It is such a simple thing but was an ‘aha’ moment for me. Generally I have gone with whatever the pattern says and I’ve knit a lot of socks that are quite baggy or just don’t quite work for my feet. I go back and forth between being a process and finished object knitter, and socks I think it’s generally been more about the process, just enjoying the knit without thinking too much about how it will turn out. I don’t know why I hadn’t thought about changing things or using less stitches, I think I just went with what the pattern said should fit my feet. Usually I would have done 72 stitches when I use 2.25mm needles, 68 is a much better fit, I’m trying some 64 stitch socks as well to see if that works on this needle size. It’s funny how we get stuck in a rut even if what we’re doing isn’t working that well!

Just a quick note on needles, if you’re looking for ChiaoGoo needles I’ve found that Purlescence are the best UK source. I always comparison shop online and I’ve never found the needles cheaper elsewhere. When I got my 9 inch circulars they had a big sale on and I got 2 pairs with postage for less than the price of a single pair. They’re having free postage until the end of December. They’re not paying me to advertise for them, I’m just impressed with their prices and service, my third order is on the way from them right now!

Next up are in the new to me yarn by Lana Grossa called Solo Cotone. I ordered this direct from Germany and it came really fast. I tried 2 balls in each of the 3 print styles and it seems to be really nice yarn. As per the last post this yarn is on my allowed list for next year and I’ll definitely be getting some plain colours as I’ve been wanting to knit plain coloured socks for a while, there are so many patterns in my queue that look good in solids.

img_0362

These are 60 stitches on 2.5mm 9 inch circulars. In order to get my hands used to the needles I’ve been doing a stripe a day on each of the 9 inch circular socks. I find I get a cramp in my right hand after a little bit and I’m hoping that if I keep working with the needles daily my muscle memory will improve and my hand will stop complaining. Again this is a Fish Lips Kiss heel (the pattern is on Ravelry) and these fit really nicely, I finished the first sock this morning and cast on right away for the second.

These Mercury Socks are directly influenced by the Yarngasm podcast as Kristen (or is it Kirsten?) knit a pair and then cast on for a second pair right away. I’m using Yarntopia Treasures Bamboo Cotton sock yarn (discontinued I believe, I got a custom order of about 12 colourways a few years back and am still working my way through it) in the Mercury colourway. It’s not showing well in this photo, it’s much prettier in real life.

img_0365

These are on 2.25mm dpns, this set are a bit long and getting bendy now and I broke one of them the other day so they’re probably not long for this life! I ignored the heel instructions and did a Fish Lips Kiss heel here too. This time around as there was patterning in the sock I followed the instructions to knit an inch of plain above the heel. I’m not sure whether I like it or not, I can see why it’s a good idea as it will stop the pattern rubbing your heel in your shoes but it looks kind of odd. I will see how these wear and make up my mind whether to carry on doing it or not at a later date. The first one of these is done as I have just started the second as you can see.

These are the Jigsaw Socks using the second and last skein of Whimzy Pinzy Panda Cotton I have in the Bastille colourway.

img_0363They are on 2.5mm needles. I really love the way this colourway is working with the pattern. However, although it’s really really easy, it is one of those patterns where you have to count every single row so it’s not a mindless knit which means I’ve not picked them up as much as the other socks. I will finish them at some point though, not sure whether I’ll do the pattern called for heel or substitute, I’ve got a few inches to go before I need to decide.

I wanted to try a second print of the Lana Grossa yarn and had cast on for a pair using a different print but it totally obscured the pattern I was knitting so I ripped those out and cast on with another colourway using the Blether pattern.

img_0364This is a really simple and fast pattern on 2.5mm dpns. Again with the Fish Lips Kiss heel, but without the extra inch before starting it. I’m enjoying these so hopefully they won’t take long to make!

Next are the Vokuhila Socks which the description says is the German work for mullet, the patterning is different on the front to the back! I thought these would be a great pattern to try out making socks on two circulars.

img_0368I’m using ChiaoGoo 24″ circulars for these and Maizy yarn in the Springtime colourway. I’m running out of Maizy and I think it’s been discontinued which is sad as it is a nice yarn and I always find it amusing to make socks out of corn. I’m finding managing the cords quite a pain at the moment but considering how little I’ve knit using this technique that isn’t surprising. Dpns made me cry to start with so I know there is a learning curve with a new technique and I will plod on. My only concern is that the pattern on the front isn’t really showing up all that well and it’s a bit of pain to knit it if it’s not going to be visible. I will do another repeat and then see how I feel.

And finally, my newest socks on the needles, the Lemino Socks which I cast on for this afternoon. I’m further with them now than this photo having finished the cuff.

img_0361I’m using Mothy and the Squid vegan sock yarn in Nature Will Reclaim. It’s 100% cotton so I’m not sure how well these socks will wear, but it’s a great colour so I want to give it a go. These are 64 stitches on 2.25mm needles.

A note on patterns, I generally use free patterns for the socks I make. There are so many free ones available that I would rather spend my pattern money on shawl and jumper/cardigan patterns and I do buy plenty of those so pattern designers are still getting my cash on a regular basis. If there is something really special and like nothing else I’ve seen then I would pay for it, but at the moment there are 231 free sock patterns in my Ravelry queue, so I think I’m good for a while.

I did have one more sock on the needles but when I pulled it out of the bag I found that a load of stitches had come off. As it wasn’t showing the pattern very well in the yarn I’d chosen and I was finding it a pain to work on so it was just sitting there, I ripped it out. I’ve got 3 more empty sock sacks in the basket so I’m not making any promises that more socks won’t be cast on for, I’m enjoying the variety at the moment. At some point I might find it too much and have to make a huge effort to get them all finished, but hey, at least I’ll have loads of great socks!

Finishing Up Catching Up

Right, lets finish this off then!

These two are in the wrong order because I made Stella’s Hat when I had yarn left over from the scarf below! It’s Drops Paris which is an aran weight cotton and apparently the colour is just called green which isn’t very exciting. Anyway, this is a free pattern and it was really easy to make, I began it in the hospital so it really must be easy! I used 4.5mm needles rather than the 5mm called for as I didn’t want it to be too baggy, cotton doesn’t have any recovery and I didn’t want a floppy hat. I really like it, it’s comfortable and goes over my ears and keeps my head quite warm, plus it used up a small amount of yarn that would have just floated about in my stash forever otherwise.
Stella's Hat

The green Paris was bought to make this Laetiporus Scarf which had been in my Ravelry queue for ages. It’s a simple lace and garter repeat with sections of the garter having short rows to create a kind of ruffle. This thing is way long, we’re talking about 80 inches. I used smaller needles as I didn’t have a pair of 6mm needles  and it’s plenty floppy and long, so long that I stopped knitting with above used 2 balls of yarn left and I’d only bought what was called for, not sure what was up with that.

Anyway, I enjoyed this knit a lot and did repeats here and there all the time until it was done, it took me exactly a month so it’s not a slow knit! The first picture is more the right shade of green. I’ve not blocked it and I’m not sure I will. I don’t know how well it would hold a block with the length of it pulling it down, plus I don’t have anywhere I can block an 80 inch knit so I’ll live with it the way it is!
Laetiporus ScarfLaetiporus Scarf

The Ramona Cardigan was another quick (for me) knit, taking only two months start to finish. I used Drops Bomull Lin in the grey blue colour. It’s a cotton linen mix in an aran weight and it’s quite rough to work with and rather splitty.  The cardigan is knit top down and the ribbed collar and button bands are added at the end. I found the 5.5mm needles a little hard on the hands or else I probably would have finished this faster.

I wanted a plain grey cardigan that I could throw on over my bright tops and dresses that I always seem to make and I think I achieved that. I got the buttons from Textile Garden who have an amazing selection and are cheap as far as buttons go. I bought two sets of 8 as I wasn’t sure exactly which size or look I was going for and it cost less than a single set of 8, including the postage, than everywhere else I looked so I will be shopping there again for sure. The lines across the back in the middle photo are because I ‘blocked’ it on the drying rack! After it was done I threw it in the washing machine on the delicate cycle to try and get the linen to relax and soften a bit, which it did. The stitches also evened out really nicely which I was happy about as the sleeves are knit in the round and normally there is a huge difference between my back and forth and in the round knitting.

I ordered the yarn for this while I was doing chemo, which apparently had a really bad effect on my math skills as I ended up with three and a half extra balls, not because the pattern didn’t use as much as called for, it used pretty much exactly what was called for, but because I messed up my order. I have no idea what to do with that yarn, it’s not soft enough for a scarf or shawl so there’s £9 of yarn sitting there, sigh…
Ramona CardiganRamona CardiganRamona Cardigan

This is the third and final Sunny Top, for now! Another sweater knit from Fabworks Online, this one is a slubby french terry which was a pain to work with as the edges rolled but I got there in the end. Again it was all done on my overlocker with just the hems on the sewing machine. You can see on the second picture (sort of) how the slubs stand out from the fabric. It looks more orange in these pictures than in real life, once again I’m really happy with this top and I can’t wait to wear it!
Sunny Top 3 Sunny Top Fabric

Continuing the crappy picture parade that is this post, these are my full length Demi Pants that I made ages ago. I was wearing a pair of the shorter ones I made with boots and I thought to myself that they would be perfect for winter if they were just 4 inches longer. Then I remembered that I’d made the damn things so I got out the pattern and some fabric and made a pair four inches longer!

I call these my stealth pyjamas because I made them out of brushed cotton twill from Fabworks Online, it’s not an obviously brushed cotton looking fabric but it feels like you’re getting away with wearing pyjamas outside the house! The second picture shows the texture of the fabric, it’s really nice stuff and last time I looked it was still in stock for about £4 a metre, I stocked up on a ton a while back and am looking forward to using it for something else, it’s soft and warm but not too thick so you could do a dress or a top from it for sure.
Long Demi PantsDemi Pants FabricThese are the socks I was waiting to take a picture of so I could finish catching up, the colour is all wrong, see the picture of the skein of yarn for the correct shades. This pattern was the Easy Peasy Socks, which lives up to its name and is a free pattern on Ravelry. I have been trying out knitting podcasts (I have things to say about knitting podcasts but it will have to wait to be said, this post is long enough) and heard about the Fish Lips Kiss heel for the first time ever, apparently it’s been a thing in the sock knitting world for about a year. The pattern is £1.20 or so (it’s $1 but the VAT gets added to that) via Ravelry and is a huge pattern that tells you how to make a cardboard foot that shows you where to put the heel in your socks etc. I skipped all that, why make things too easy for myself guessing is more fun, and went right to the heel instructions. What it is is a short row heel without wrapping and turing, so there aren’t any holes or stitches to pick up etc (although I need to work on my final row as the heel I did today does have small gap). It makes a really neat easy heel, I’ve done four of them now and I can do it without reading the instructions any more and it works. Of course I now realise I didn’t get a picture of the heels of these socks to show you, but it’s neat and it fits nicely, trust me!

I am also playing about with the number of stitches that I use for my socks. I’ve spent 10 years just doing what the pattern says and sometimes my socks fit and sometimes they don’t, it was what it was. A podcaster gave me an ‘oh’ moment when they said they were trying to find the right number of stitches on different needle sizes so their socks always fit, I don’t think it had actually occurred to me to do that before, I’d gone down a needle size and if things were still too baggy just tried another pattern. Anyway, one day I will have socks that fit well, these aren’t too bad at all!

UntitledWhimzy Pinzy Sock Yarn

These socks were a lesson in why you should knit your yarn instead of just stashing it away because it’s special or too nice to use. They are possibly the prettiest socks that I have knit, I love the way the colours work and the fact that there is no striping or pooling, it’s a true variegated yarn. I stashed this yarn in September 2012, the dyer is no longer doing yarn so now that I know I love it I only have one more skein in my stash (well, actually I cast it on last week) and then that’s it. Had I tried it out back then I could have gotten more pretty yarn before they stopped doing it…

Which leads nicely from my finished makes, which are finally up to date, into another matter.
I’ve been thinking about my yarn and fabric stashes of late, probably because of having to move them as I move my sewing room into the tiny office so my younger son can have his own bedroom. I have a lot, lots and lots a lot. I bought many things this year, as I said it became kind of a fuck you to cancer, of course I will live long enough to use all this. Now is feeling like the time to try and use a lot of it, there’s some great stuff in there and it’s getting buried by new great stuff.

So, I have decided to try not buy for a while. It’s not a diet as I don’t like diets, it’s just abstaining from spending money I don’t need to spend on things I don’t need to own because I own plenty of them already. I’m feeling the ‘too much stuff’ weight again and I’m running out of things I can get rid of really without my kids throwing a fit or getting rid of things I really like just for the sake of it. I’ve done the books and my clothes and half the kitchen bits (I have antique stuff I’d like to get rid of but don’t want to give away, however I don’t know where to dispose of it so it’s still sitting there…) and now I am still looking for things to cull, so this seems like a good area to work on.

For fabric/sewing I am just going to try not to buy any for as long as I can. There’s no such thing as a small fabric order for me, I try and get the free postage so we’re talking usually about 12m minimum and that’s just silly when you consider how much I own and how my sewing time will shrink again once I get back to the PhD. So, I’m going to unfollow fabric shops on social media and to try not to fall into any fabric buying holes for as long as I can. I don’t expect to make the whole year, but I should be able to do at least half without needing to buy more than thread and notions. I also need to try not to buy too many patterns, they are just so easy to pick up here and there and next thing you know you’re drowning in paper and have spent £50. I’m not ruling patterns out totally as I need things to use the fabric for, but I bought the ones I’d had on my list for a while during the post Thanksgiving sales and I have a ton I’ve not used yet so I’m set for a bit. I’m happy that I didn’t buy the sale patterns the week before the sales like I usually do as I saved a fair bit of cash! Fair enough the only reason I didn’t buy them was that I was feeling awful and not sewing, it was still a good saving! I have all the fabric I need for a good number of quilts so I will hopefully have to buy some batting during the year as I’d like to finish a few of those.

For yarn there are going to be some exceptions to the not buying anything rule. I know I will want to buy certain things so I am setting out what I am making exceptions for from the start. I want to spread these buys out a bit so I have something to look forward to rather than doing them all before March and then sulking!

  1. I recently discovered that Lana Grossa do a cotton sock yarn and I’m very excited about it. I bought 6 balls to try it out and it’s really nice. I didn’t see the solids when I placed my order so I want some of those, I also want more of the prints. So an order (probably quite a large order, especially if they have a sale any time) with them will happen.
  2. I really like the colourways that the dyer Mothy and the Squid on Etsy does and she does a cotton sock yarn. I have asked her if she’ll do some of her colourways on that base for me and she’s agreed so I will buy those whenever she has completed them.
  3. I also discovered Vegan Yarn in Cananda who do a vegan sock yarn. There isn’t much in stock right now so the order I placed with them post Thanksgiving in their sale was for shawl yarn. When they get a good selection of the sock yarn in again I will be ordering some of that to try (and maybe some more shawl yarn as it’s lovely) and it’s the Panda Cotton base which I really love and they had a self striping which I’ve never seen in vegan sock yarn before. Again, I’ll wait for a sale, although they don’t seem to have too many of those.
  4. Finally, I bought a ton of patterns in the sales for very reasonable prices. I am going to allow myself one order, probably of Drops yarn if I can find a fit, from one of my usual sellers but only for patterns I already own. I have yarn lined up for a page and half of my Ravelry queue plus plenty that doesn’t have a project assigned so I don’t need to be buying lots for no reason, but if I’ve spent the money on the pattern I’d like to use it. Again, sales will be a big influence on this purchasing.

I stocked up on needles during the sales so I’m fine of those, I might need to buy buttons for things but beyond that I shouldn’t need any other knitting stuff. I will be buying the patterns required to use up stash yarn assigned to them but other patterns I will only buy if they are reduced by 30% or more which is my usual rule for buying patterns with no yarn in mind.

We shall see how that goes, I’m sure I’ve tried before not to buy yarn and fabric, I’ve been keeping a running tally for years on how much fabric comes in vs how much goes out and usually manage by just a few yards or metres to use more than a buy but that’s not really helped the stash reduce that much! I shall keep you appraised on how it goes.

Phew, I literally have not finished making anything else, so it’s all brand new projects from here on out! I have two Christmas gifts to make and all the stuff I cut out before the operation to sew up, hopefully I can make a dent on that this weekend. There is tons of knitting going on, but there isn’t much near completion yet, I’m working on too many things at the same time again, but enjoying it immensely so I’m not worried about it yet, I’ll get finishitis again soon enough!