Feb FOs

I didn’t get as much done this month as I’d hoped. I did do a lot of PhD work which is probably a large part of why, especially as the combined return to typing a lot, sitting in a hard chair and knitting has given me a pain in my right forearm and elbow which I am worried might be the start of RSI. I have cut back a bit on the knitting (not as much as I probably should, but cutting back is hard!) in the hopes that it will ease up but I think I also need to return to doing some yoga to loosen everything up as my neck and shoulders are paying big time for the return to full days of computer work.

I am making good progress on things though so the FOs will keep on coming, especially as I’ve cast on some things for KALs which have end dates and I’d like to have something to show for taking part.

First up this month were my Pebbles socks which I knit one at a time on two circulars to get to grips with the method. I enjoy the two circulars but have moved on to two at a time on them which is even better, and I found that I also enjoy magic loop, which I’d always assumed I’d hate because of all the cord but I’m finding it great, again I’m doing two at a time. Anyway, the socks
Pebble Socks

The yarn is Maizy in Springtime and I used 2.25mm needles with 64 stitches and a Fish Lips Kiss heel. I bought this sock pattern as part of a collection. Had I bought the pattern on its own I would have been really annoyed at the cost as basically all I used was the pattern repeat. For beginners who are looking to learn about socks it’s probably a great pattern, and in the collection it works out really cheaply and the pattern repeats for the other 3 pairs are a little more involved.

Next up I finished off my Granito jumper. This was one of those that I liked the look of the one on the pattern so much that I found yarn in a similar colour! I used Drops Loves You 6 which is a recycled cotton sport weight (who besides Cricketers does sport in a jumper?). I like this yarn a lot and got lots for different projects as it’s about 80p a ball (no that’s not my typing gone mad, it really is mega cheap). I got another sweater’s worth of this shade too.

GranitoGranitoGranitoGranito

As you can see the yarn has a bit of texture to it which makes it a little more interesting than flatter yarns. This is after a trip through the washing machine as I figured it was going to be washed that way and I wanted to see if it would even out the gauge a bit better than soaking does (it did a little bit). The top is knit back and forth in an interesting and novel manner and you can tell that my gauge is very different for back and forth knitting than it is for in the round. On another project that swaps to back and forth after knitting in the round I have gone down .5mm in needle size and it seems to really help so I will bear that in mind for other patterns as swapping back and forth seems to be a thing in patterns at the moment.

I love the pockets, they’re nice and big so your phone doesn’t fall out when you move about. I have a pair of jeans that frustratingly have fake front pockets so pockets in the jumper is great with those! I also remembered, finally, that I have shorter arms than most patterns assume and knit less length so they fit perfectly. It was actually really lucky that I didn’t want the sleeves any longer as I went right down to the very end of the yarn on this. I was so worried I tried to buy more but couldn’t find the dyelot. In the end I weighed the yarn that was left and split it in two after doing all the other finishing so I knew how much I had for each sleeve and I had just enough.

I really like this jumper, it’s comfortable and plain but not completely boring. I am trying to remember that useful garments are as necessary as bright statement knits and this jumper will get worn to death, at which point I’ll probably just knit another one!

I also finished off another pair of socks, these were two at a time on two circulars. 2.5mm needles with 60 stitches and a Fish Lips Kiss heel using Vegan Yarn’s sock yarn, which is a cotton elastic mix, in the Ponyo self striping colourway.

Pastel Stripe Socks

I’d never seen self striping vegan sock yarn before which is why I bought this one that isn’t my usual colours (although saying that it’s not far off the Pebbles socks!). I’m not convinced about this yarn. It’s a bit too elastic for my liking, I don’t know how well it would take a pattern. I was hoping it would be like Panda Cotton but it’s more like a thinner version of Cascade Fixation. I have another skein in my stash so I’ll try to do something more interesting with that and see how it turns out but I’m not enamoured (which is fine as I could bankrupt myself on their other yarns so one less type to buy is good!).

I still have a ton of socks on the needles, far too many shawls and I cast on a jumper for Piggle with some yarn I found when I was sorting out the stash. I’m doing the Flax jumper and I have enough with a ball of contrast yarn that I bought to do a version for Jim too so that will clear out that yarn.

I’m going to be attending the Edinburgh Yarn Festival on the Saturday (I’ll be standing in line as being me I made the final decision right after they sold out of the pre-sale tickets). Give me a shout if you’re also attending as it’d be nice to say hello to people. I’m basically going for the people as looking at the vendor list there probably won’t be a lot of vegan yarn there (famous last words?!?) so I’ll be blogger and podcaster spotting!

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!

More Knitting Than Sewing

You do one thing for ages and ages and then suddenly you change what you’re doing and something else becomes the habit or obsession of that period. For about 2/3 of the chemo I read and read and read, which meant that only plain knitting that could be done without looking at what was happening. Then, probably with the Olympics when I swapped the books for the tv, I suddenly began knitting all the time and watching tv programmes. So, a lot fewer books have been read the last two months or so, but a lot of tv has been consumed and thus, I have knits to show you!

Courtesy of the Olympics I finished off my second Vitamin D cardigan. I used the same yarn, Freedom Gorgeous, as the first version as I love the drape of the bamboo/acrylic mix. I wear this cardigan all the time in the blue so I’m hoping to get some use from this one, plus introduce a new colour into my wardrobe as I’m not much of a purple person.

VitaminDVitamin D

This is probably the only pattern I don’t mind knitting short rows on as they make sense and you can put them down and pick them up. The construction of this has you do the yoke, then the sleeves and then finish the rest, I was at half of the first sleeve when the Olympics started and cast off near the end so that was good progress! I had less yarn than last time and I thought I had accounted for that by shortening the sleeves a bit, but it seems that I didn’t leave enough or my gauge was different this time as I only managed to pick up, knit a row and then cast off around the front edges at the end rather than knitting the required amount of rows. No one will notice I’m sure as it’s neatly finished and looks fine, but it was a little puzzling! There is also a single yo missing on one of the fronts as obviously an exciting event was occurring when I was supposed to be putting it in, but I was far enough along not to want to go back and fix it!

Next up is the very popular Campside shawl. This was one that I cast on, put down and then suddenly picked up again and wouldn’t stop on until it was done. I think I was watching Arrow and the first season of The Flash when I knit this. I enjoyed Arrow so much that when I finished the 4 series available online I started from the beginning again until series 5 was out on DVD!

Campside ShawlCampside Shawl

This was an easy knit and I used a 4 ply cotton rather than a DK to make it a little lighter. The yarn is Drops Safran which is a lovely soft cotton, I’m using it for another shawl at the moment and will definitely buy more for future 4 ply patterns.

Although I like the shawl there is something about the pattern design that bothers me. I don’t know if it was avoidable or not, but when you move from one spacing of yos to the next you end up with some right under others rather than spaced nicely. It just offends my eyes when I see it for some reason. Hopefully I will forget about it with time and wear it without being annoyed about it! I checked lots of pictures on Ravelry to make sure I wasn’t going wrong with my counting, but sure enough every version has the holes like that.

Next up was my second Simple Tee by Churchmouse Yarns. I cast this on right after finishing the tunic version using the same yarn, Drops Belle, and then it sat until Series 5 of Arrow and Series 2 of The Flash came out during which I finished it off!

Simple TeeSimple Tee

This jumper is exactly what I wanted it to be, plain and navy blue, easy to throw on over things and a simple contrast to my brightly coloured shirts and t-shirts. I love the yarn and I love the jumper pattern. I’m half considering buying more of the yarn in another colour for a third version in the future!

Finally, we have the first of the Prison Break knits. I’ve just started series 4 (yes, I know I’m 10 years behind the times but it took The Flash to make me fall for Wentworth Miller!) and have been working on a few different things whilst watching it, at the moment another huge simple shawl has really stuck and I’m powering through it. I knit these Dashing Mits in two sittings really, they’re very easy. I had to go down several needle sizes and I cut the length of the cuff from 24 to 9 rows as I didn’t want them to go right up my arms (and wouldn’t have had enough yarn anyway).
Dashing MitsDashing Mits

This yarn is Drops Paris (I am loving Drops yarn at the moment in case you can’t tell!). I have another 2 pairs of fingerless mits planned as it gets chilly in the house during the day but I need my fingers to type!

So, that’s that for now. There is still plenty on the needles as I’m casting on about as fast as I finish, although I am trying to get the older projects done and I really need to work on the jumper I started for Jim as he’ll grow out of it this winter if I don’t hurry. Shawls still seem to be the order of the day, I have two on the needles right now and plenty more planned. Maybe I’m starting to feel the chill as the weather changes!

I have some sewing to show you too at some point, although I’ve slowed right down on that too as I’ve been starting to relocate my sewing room and listing tons of things in my Etsy shop so that I can fit into the smaller space I’m going into. I have tons of sewing projects planned, but I need to start working on my PhD again really so I can get back into it before I return after Christmas so progress might be slow. It’s another change and I know my sewing mojo ebbs and flows, at the moment I’m just interested in other ways of making things but the sewing enthusiasm will come back in time, it always does.

Oh, and I saw the surgeon last week, she answered some questions I’d been pondering and was very nice to me when I blubbed on her (it’s easier to think about cancer than to talk about cancer I find). I have a date for my stoma reversal of 8th November. There is a small chance that it could be earlier but I have a CT scan to go to at the end of October so it probably won’t move, plus they need to make sure my platelets are playing along with it all and everything else in the blood work has stabilised after the chemo. I can’t wait to have this done, I accept that the stoma was necessary and could have been a life saver as it allowed everything else time to heal. It was also a sanity saver during chemo as having to sit on the toilet rather than just getting up every few hours in the night to empty the bag would have driven me to the brink. However, my body is changing shape now I’m doing a bit of exercise again and have stopped eating everything in sight like I was at the end of the chemo and things within the stoma have also moved about meaning that I’ve had a horrid couple of months as I talked about earlier where it’s been horrid and leaky. I’m grateful I had it but I’m ready to be done with it now for sure!

Waiting It Out

So, I’m done with chemo. I made it through the seventh cycle right to the end but it took its toll on me and I only made it through 9 days of the final cycle before the side effects (in particular my hands which were in a lots of pain and basically unusable for a few days) got so bad that I had to stop. A week later and I’m still cycling through random side effects; upset stomach, sore eyes, extreme tiredness, insomnia, lack of appetite, skin falling off my hands, all joyful things.All I can do it wait for it to leave my body and then get through the stoma reversal operation. After that I can really start to try and put myself and my life back together again. I met with the surgeon and she is hoping that I will be recovered enough by October to have the operation and, as it has a shorter recovery period, that I should be able to go back to University in December. So it’ll be an entire year that I had to take out of my life for cancer, hopefully that will be the end of it but who knows, one day a time I guess with fingers crossed.

What is hard at this point is that basically now that treatment is over I’ve been left on my own. I don’t have any more appointments until I see the surgeon again next month. There’s no real advice at all beyond ‘do the usual things to stay healthy’ about how to avoid the cancer coming back. I wish there was more preventative research and knowledge about cancer, so many people are getting it now and so many of us outside the ‘normal’ range for the type we have. Basically I’m on my own trying to figure out what I can do to make myself as healthy as possible, I have made a start buying a juicer, thinking about how to finally get the weight off (the only risk factor for cancer I had, beyond having smoked, was being overweight) and how to get fit. I can’t see a nutritionalist on the NHS as there aren’t enough of them to get an appointment and they don’t generally understand a vegan diet anyway. So I’m basically trying to figure this out on my own, what I should eat what I shouldn’t eat, how to get fit again from being more unfit than I was last time around. I’m reading (sticking to sources like Kris Carr and real Drs rather than random Google junk), thinking, planning and trying, hopefully it will all be enough.

Anyway, less of the depressing, annoying stuff and more of the making! I haven’t sewn much recently as I haven’t had the energy and my knitting has slowed down, but I do have a good number of makes to share.

First up Messaline by Bristol Ivy. This is a nice boxy jumper with 3/4 sleeves and cables down the front. I’m trying to make garments that will be useful in my wardrobe rather than lots of bright colourful things that don’t go with anything else, thus I decided to make this is black cotton, using up some of my Rowan 4ply Cotton collection that I guard since it was discontinued. For some reason there is a stripe across the back of this jumper even though I used all the same dyelot. I don’t care enough to rip it out and do it again so I will trust that no one will really notice, especially after a few washes.

MessalineMessalineMessaline

These aren’t hard cables, but in black cotton with counting involved and a big chart it became too much for my brain to deal with during chemo and over the winter so I stalled halfway up the front. When I eventually got into it it was done quite fast and I’m really happy with it. It’s a great pattern, well thought out with lots of nice details, I may make another in the future if I can find a thicker yarn that gets gauge.

Demi Pants These are my second pair of Tessuti Demi Pants. I was sure the whole time I was making these that they were black, turns out that when you get them in good daylight they’re actually dark grey! It’s some sort of synthetic I have had in the stash for ages from Abakhan that sort of looks like linen. I made the largest size this time and did the crotch seam at quarter of an inch to give them a tiny bit more pulling up room. Once the stoma is gone and I can work on reduing the belly they will fit really well. I love these trousers. They’re so comfortable and sort of fun to wear if that doesn’t sound too odd. I do wish they weren’t so distinctive so I could make loads more pairs, I will make more of these in the future I’m sure but I think 2 pairs is enough for now!

Next up was a Plum blouse using the version with no shoulder seams and some fabric from Boyes which I thought was cotton lawn but now think has some synthetic in it. I cut the neck at a smaller size as I’m getting really tired of huge wide necklines (I won’t bore you with that rant again) but I think I’ll go down another size or two next time as it’s still a bit too wide.
Plum Blouse It’s got nice floaty sleeves which were a bit of a pain to hem, think fabric, hot iron, foggy brain, I had to rip the first one out and try again.PlumPlum So, another simple blouse pattern for floaty fabrics.

To go with it another baseball skirt using some thickish olive cotton from Abakhan.
Baseball Skirt

I have a final version of this skirt cut out from the remainder of the grey fabric I used for the Demi Pants which I must sew up soon. They’re really comfortable and go with all my bright shirts so having a range of colours will be nice, although the weather hasn’t been warm enough for skirts and I’ve been mainly living in pyjamas and sweatpants…

I finally make the Akita blouse from Seamwork magazine. I don’t know if it’s me or the larger sizes of their patterns but I’ve not had a lot of luck with Seamwork patterns. I actually have about 8 credits with them for patterns but they’ve not released anything that I’m interested in making.

Akita

Anyway, this didn’t fit well, the neckline was huge huge huge and I really didn’t like it so I gave it to my sister who says it’s comfortable.
Akita

I’ve got a few more Seamwork patterns yet to try so I can only hope that they’ll be better than the 2 I’ve not liked at all.

I finally finished my Heaven and Space shawl by Martina Behm.
Heaven and Space

Again, this wasn’t a hard knit, it just required counting which was hard at times and it become a little tedious and repetitive, but I pushed through and am very happy with it.Heaven and SpaceHeaven and Space

The yarn is bamboo from Yarntopia Treasures in the November colourway, so very soft, it’ll be great when the weather cools.

I’m tired and not providing very interesting commentary of my makes so I will carry on with the rest of them at a later time…

Starting and Finishing

The other week I got startitis and began madly swatching, buying patterns and re-assigning stash yarn to different patterns where I’d fallen out of love with what I’d originally planned. It all began with the casual thought 2 Sunday’s ago of ‘I’ll just clean up my Ravely queue while I’m having breakfast’. Now, that sounds like a smallish job, but I use my Ravely queue to dump every pattern I like in, that way when I am looking for something to go with a yarn I can search the queue rather than searching all of Ravelry which is a big dark hole that can take days to emerge from. When I began clearing it up I had 25 pages and when I was done I was down to 20. It appears that I am over round yoke cardigans, and I have so many free sock patterns in my queue that I don’t need to pay for any for a good long while.

This clearing up also uncovered several patterns that went with the Drops yarns that I have recently discovered via an Ebay seller called Knitted Home. Paris is a lovely soft aran weight cotton (hard to find) and there is a 4 ply cotton called Safran. I’d originally bought some Drops Belle from this seller which you’ll see knit up below and looked at what else she had when I went back to buy more of the Belle (a linen, cotton, viscose mix). The Paris and Safran are really good value for money and while I was sorting the queue I found 8 patterns I could use them for, so it was a rather expensive morning, although most of the things are shawls, hats or fingerless gloves so not as expensive as it could have been! You can tell what kind of summer we’re having so far by the fact that I want to knit those things and also bought yarn for a blanket…

Anyway, after casting on for a few new things I got that feeling that there were too many things on the needles. So along came the finishitis and I’ve been going back and forth between older projects and newer ones ever since trying to get things done whilst still enjoying the new knits. I put two projects on hiatus, one because I’m bored with it and don’t know if I actually like it or will wear it, and the other because it’s a cable/moss stitch pattern that isn’t charted and my brain can’t keep track of the instructions at the moment.

So, for the finishing up, this is my second Easy by Martina Behm using some naturally black bamboo with beads that I got from Etsy a while back (the yarn came beaded, I didn’t buy the components individually). It’s a bit darker than the photo and the beads are a nice turquoisy blue.

Easy EasyThis pattern really does live up to its name, it’s just back and forth garter stitch and even the second half where you change the direction of the knitting isn’t hard work and is easy to pick up and put down. Can always use a black shawl for the winter and it’ll be nice to have a smaller one that the pashmina I usually grab.

Next up is the jumper I made with the Drops Belle. The colourway is Diesel and the pattern is Church Mouse Yarns Simple Tee, and again it lives up to the name.
Churchmouse Yarns Simple Tee Churchmouse Yarns Simple Tee

Churchmouse Yarns Simple TeeYou basically just go back and forth with a few lifted increases for the sleeves and slipped stitched edging on the sleeves and bottom slits. This is pretty huge but it hangs really nicely and I’m pleased with how it came out. So much so that I’m about to cast on for the shorter version with sleeves using the same yarn but in Navy Blue. I’m going to go down a size for the shorter one as it doesn’t have the length to stop it being sacklike, it’s a nice well written pattern though and I made this whilst binge watching the tv show Fringe from start to finish. I did need an extra ball of yarn on top of what the pattern called for but luckily the seller still had the colourway so all was fine!

Next up were socks that have been on the needles since October, which is stupid as they’re plain round and round socks so not hard at all. I had been making these on the train to University and whilst working in the library there so they kind of got lost when I stopped going. Anyway, a few days work and the final (half) season of Haven and they’re all done.
Plain Striped Socks

On a telly note, has anyone watched The Americans? I have been trying with it and it was interesting to begin with but around episode 11 of the first series I got really bored with it. I think it was the fact that large portions of the plot appeared to just be people having sex, which would explain why the Cold War went on so long I guess. Does it get better? Should I carry on? Was anyone else confused by a Welshman as a Russian pretending to be an American? Is it odd to want the Russians to succeed as the FBI are horrid (although it’s fun to see John-Boy again, my family loved The Waltons way back when)? I’ve seen lots of people raving about it so I’m wondering if it’s just me, like with Orphan Black which I made it 2 and a half episodes into and then abandoned whilst everyone else seemed to love it. Anyway, I’m watching a lot of tv right now trying to stay off my feet, any suggestions that aren’t period dramas and don’t revolve around people being horrible to each other? I’m waiting for this series of Vikings to finish being broadcast so I can binge watch it start to finish and my sister and I are limping through Sons of Anarchy which began brilliantly but has gone downhill since they killed my favourite character in series 4 and everyone became backstabbing liars…

In the real world, Piggle turns 9 tomorrow and I’ve bought him a 7″ Kindle Fire as his present. I decided to make him a case as he’s not getting much else with the price of that. I got him to pick out fabric and for some reason he thought I was making him pyjamas from 2 fat quarters, I guess that’s what I usually ask him to pick fabric for! Anyway, he has a great eye for colour and print as I’d have not put these together at all but they look great. Plus I found a zig zag button in my button box for it. Piggle is a big fan of all things pink so it wasn’t any surprise that he went for that colour stack of fabrics.
Kindle Case Kindle CaseThe pattern is an e-reader sleeve one I got from Etsy a long time ago and luckily the 7″ Kindle is the same size as one of the older Kindles so I didn’t have to do any math and cut my own pattern. Jim will want his own Kindle too for Christmas now so I’ve already pulled out the fabric to do him a case while I’ve got the pattern out.

So, in my knitting basket now I have Messaline by Bristol Ivy, I have 29 rows left of this and I’ve blocked the sleeves and back so it should be done soon as long as I make myself sew it together and pick up the neck rather than abandoning it! I’m making 2 large shawls, both in cotton but in totally different colours, one is shocking pink and the other is mustard, Plus one is stocking stitch and the other lace and garter stitch so it’s good variety. I’m enjoying the knitting on both of those. I’m still working on the Heaven and Earth shawl here and there, some days counting to variations of 10 is too much for me but it’s getting on. I’ve got a linen cardigan on the go too, Brise by Hannah Fettig. It’s going to be really light weight and see through and it’s an incredibly bright neon yellow that I love. I’m also going to cast on for that Simple Tee I mentioned earlier soon, and try not to go too mad with casting on more and more, although the fact that I find swatching really dull does hold me back a bit luckily! All my projects are on Ravelry and my username there is Anna, not feeling into hunting down links for everything today, sorry!

In chemo news. I made it through the 60% dose to the end of the two weeks but the skin fell off the bottom of my feet and they wouldn’t let me start the next course until they had recovered as they worry about infection. I had 3 weeks off between courses (of course I was just starting to feel human again when I began with the 6th course!). I was all ready to go and pick up my pills when I got a call from the Oncology Nurse saying that they couldn’t give them to me as my platelets were too low and I’d have to go and see the Professor to see what to do. So that added another half week on the end of the break. The Professor looked at my platelet counts on a graph and surmised that the anomaly was the fact that they’ve been so high for a while, usually they hover right around what they are now, 77, rather than in the 90s and low 100s which is where they have been. He over rode the system to allow me the medicine and off I went again. I’m actually doing ok on this one so far and don’t feel as bad as I have on past courses, whether that will last I don’t know and as the skin is starting to go on my feet again I’m not sure how long it’ll be before I get to start course 7. It’s frustrating to have to wait and wait to start something you don’t really want to do. It kind of feels like I’m going to be doing chemo for the rest of my life, apparently it will end some day though I’m told. I have an appointment with my surgeon on Wednesday to talk about reversing the stoma, although that will have to wait until after my body recovers from the chemo so it won’t be for a few months at least.

Anyway, I’m plodding along, making and doing, listing things in the Etsy shop (although no one is buying yet, maybe soon) and trying to finish off things that have been sitting around for too long. I have 2 quilts, some cross stitch, some knitting and getting up to date on my crochet sock yarn blanket on my list so we’ll see what happens with those. I’m trying to make the most of the time I have to do these things as once the chemo does end and the operation is over I will have to get back to the PhD and build back up to fully living my life again (I miss yoga and running a lot) and digging my house out of the dirty dark hole it’s sunk into while I’ve been too tired to deal with more than making sure we have clean clothes, clean dishes, food to eat and hoovering occasionally… Seems silly to let this opportunity to make stuff all the time pass really.

I’ve got another recently made pair of Tessuti clown pants which are impossible to photograph unless you’re wearing them to show you and I’m working on a shirt plus there might be more done knitting soon so I’ll be back with that soonish!

Fitting Issues

I’m having issues not just with fitting things in, but with actually making things that fit at the moment. The last two sewing projects I’ve made I can’t wear, which is a little frustrating to say the least. I will keep them both and put them in the suitcase of hopefully this will fit one day and carry on sewing, next up is a t-shirt which should fit, I mean it’s stretchy for goodness sake, but I’m still a little worried that it’ll be another waste of the sewing time I have during the school holiday.

Right after school ended the boys went to their Dad’s for a week, I wrote a sewing list and then realised that not only was I totally knackered and in need of some rest before they came back, but also I am not a sewing machine who can work 24/7, so the list has become for the entire summer rather than just one week, and even in that time period it’s probably too much!

I powered through some small projects to begin with. I bought a voice recorder for my PhD fieldwork as it would be silly to drive back and forth to University to borrow one over and over again, the recorder cost about as much as two journeys so it was worth it. Of course, I like everything to have a case, so I pulled out some scraps and the case pattern that I’ve used several times before and in about half an hour start to finish I now have a case that makes me happy to see in my bag.

Recorder PouchRecorder Pouch
Recorder PouchYes, the fabric is sideways, but I love the fabric and can live with it!

I was still in the mood for something quick and easy so I pulled out the Sock Sack pattern, fabric and zip that I’d put together a few months back and sewed it up. Like my first version I lined the sack so that all the seams were hidden (and it just looks prettier that way). I love these sock sacks and am going to have to be careful that I don’t end up with a whole heap of them like I did with the Japanese bags I made many moons back. Sock SackSock SackWhilst watching all three series of Vikings available on Amazon Prime (I love Ragnar and Co., can’t wait for the next series!) I worked on the Hexy MF quilt that has been hanging around forever and a day. I finished connecting all the flowers together into one piece (except for 6 that will be scattered top and bottom) and earlier on Piggle and I pinned it onto the backing (which is the front, front backing, backing of the quilt top???). Now I have to appliqué around the whole thing, that shouldn’t take long right?!?

I also finished off Piggle’s Ziggy Jumper and I’m really happy with the way it came out.

ZiggyThe photo isn’t odd, it is a long thin jumper for a long thin boy! I used Woolcraft Nuvo DK from Kemps, it took 2.5 balls which means this jumper cost about £4! It’s a really soft acrylic that knit up really evenly and nicely. We’ll see how it washes but if it goes well I’ll definitely buy another colour way or two for more jumpers for the boys. I did find myself trying to pick out the flecks like they shouldn’t be there, took a while to convince my brain they were ok but I got there in the end. I did the body length for an 8 year old and the sleeve length for a 9 year old as he has monkey arms and always grows out of the sleeves of things first. It’s a good fit, not too huge but with a few inches of growth in it and he’s happy with it so it’s a winner.  

I seem to have bought quite a few patterns online in the last six month, I’ve got a stack of printed PDFs that need sticking together and using. Maybe when I’m not able to sew buying sewing things makes me feel like I’m doing something! All the PDF patterns are on my to do list but I decided to try the Bettine Dress from Tilly and the Buttons first. I’ve never made one of her patterns before as they aren’t really my style and I don’t think they would suit my body type, but I’m still looking for that perfect dress pattern and had high hopes for this. Bettine Dress

I added two inches to the bodice length and I’m glad that I did as it *just* hits me on my waist, there’s none of the blousey goings on that the pattern shows in the picture and I’m really short waisted, so if you have larger boobs to fit into the dress I’d bear that in mind. The pattern is well drafted and went together quickly, there are some nice details and I love the big pockets.

Bettine DressThe fabric is from Abakhan so it’s another 7 year oldish piece. I have enough left for a Scout so I may make that soon as I’ll not be wearing this dress this summer as sadly it doesn’t fit me. The bust just fits, despite the pattern claiming that it was going to be 2 inches larger than my bust, and the waist and hips are too tight on me. Should it ever fit it is a high contender for the uniform dress I’m looking for I think, but until then it’s into the suitcase with it.

Next up was the Aida Top which I’d bought the pattern for ages ago. I used a piece of the vintage fabric from the local sale. Again, like the last piece I used, it stinks of old lady house when being ironed and it’s another synthetic that looks like cotton, although it has a slight sheen to it. Aida Top Aida Top

That back collar isn’t fabulous, but it would be covered with hair. Some serious french seaming went into this, the collar was sewn many times what with two lots of french seams and under stitching. This is the second project that doesn’t fit me though, I’m not too gutted about it actually as I think this crosses the line from ‘vintage looking’ to ‘granny cleaning smock’, it’s a very narrow line and I feel like I walk the edge of it a lot when it comes to using vintage fabric or patterns. I didn’t make buttonholes as it wasn’t worth the swearing with this fabric and I knew by that point that I wasn’t going to be wearing it (maybe ever) so the buttons are just sewn through both layers. We’ll see how I feel about it should it ever fit or if it goes right to the charity shop (although I’ll have to change the buttons if it does as those are vintage from my Granny or Great Aunt’s collections that I inherited).

Anyway, as I said, it’s a t-shirt up next using the Cake Riff pattern, hopefully that will be wearable this summer. My list has about another 10 projects on it, maybe more (and two of those are quilts, I dream big!), so hopefully I will be back to show you more finished things soon. I still haven’t blocked the other jumper I finished a few weeks back so I must get that done sometime too.

Hope it’s not raining everywhere, and if it is that you’re getting to take advantage of the sewing time!

Rounding Up 2014

So, here we are again, another year gone and time to see how the crafting went. I had some grand plans, and a lot of that never even got started. I’m finding that when I do have time over a weekend or in the evening that I’d much rather sit and knit than go upstairs and sew, and that sometimes I just need to sit and not do anything more strenuous than reading a book. But, I still managed to get quite a bit done and I’m not giving up on the list of things I want to do, I just need to realise that they’re going to take longer than anticipated.

The last sewing project of the year was a dog cushion for my nephew. He liked mine when they visited, so I made him a sort of i-spy version with lots of pictures on it.

002001Sadly my sister was really ill over Christmas so she, her husband and the nephew didn’t get to come as planned (my Aunt was also ill so I cooked for 6 rather than 10) so he’s not seen it yet, but I hope he likes it.

I took the boys to their Dad for a week and came home thinking that I would try to finish off Jim’s jumper. 4 days and 2.5 series of Glee later I think the sofa has the permanent shape of my bum and I got 3 projects off the needles!

First, Jim’s jumper which was a Rico Design pattern using King Cole Big Value Aran. Jim picked both the pattern and the yarn for this on his own so I’m hoping he likes the finished thing! I added a little length to the body for him as I want it to last longer than the last jumper I made him.

005006This wasn’t a hard knit at all, lots of cables but pretty easy to keep track of and in aran it knit up fast. I am still a little annoyed by the fact that the cables aren’t mirrored and if I use this pattern for Piggle in the future I will change that about it. The back is cabled as well in cast you’re wondering, no easy pieces to this!

Next up was Spacegirl which has been sitting around waiting for sleeves for far too long. I knit the body whilst doing my research reading but the sleeves were too fiddly on dpns and keeping track of rows to do without a little attention so it’s got chucked to one side! I used SMC cotton time for this from Kemps which is a lovely yarn to knit with, although I think it’s going to pill quite a bit which is annoying.

004003I don’t know what happened at the bottom of the V, but I’m going to put a stitch in there to hold it together better because it’s annoying me to look at it. I’m happy with the way this came out and I’m looking forward to wearing it. It’s plain but not too plain and the cotton has nice weight to it.

Finally, I got the Conferva Villosa socks done. There were some errata with this pattern, the website does list one for the heel which I didn’t know before I’d finished both socks, but I had a few other annoying problems along the way. I’m still puzzled as well as to why there was a left and a right sock as it’s not a pattern that needs to be mirrored in any way and I sort of wish I’d knit the left one twice as I prefer the way the toe looks on it, but you live and learn (looking at that photo I’m wearing the left sock on my right foot, but as I don’t know my left from right without thinking about it that’s not a surprise really).

007Next up in the Curiosity Cabinet Challenge is a hat which I’m looking forward to as I haven’t done one in years!

You’d think my list of things on the needles would have shrunk after these finishes, but actually they have just been quickly replaced with projects that were waiting to be cast on, which is fine as I don’t have what feels like too much going on with my knitting at the moment and I’m happy to start the things that have been waiting. I have one more ‘old’ project to finish that just needs one sleeve and a zip so I will hopefully get that done soon too, only the start of it requires much attention so I might try to get that at least started tomorrow.

So, stats for the year.

I bought 75 y/m of fabric this year which isn’t too bad. I had that huge 19 y/m haul from the local sale and also bought some quilt backs, but I had three months where I bought nothing. I sewed 67.5 y/m, not a huge amount for me but not too shabby. It breaks down to:

3 Bags

2 Christmas Stockings

2 Dresses

1 Coat

8 T-shirts (for me and Piggle)

5 Cushions

7 Pairs of kids’ pjs

1 Curtain

1 Shirt

3 Quilts

Goals for next year are to buy less as I really don’t need it and to finish the quilts that are in progress as well as a couple of the ones I have all the fabric for, that should keep me busy! I have a list of clothing sewing and some cool new 70s patterns I bought recently so I hope to get more of the fabric off the shelves an into my wardrobe next year.

I don’t keep track of the amount of yarn I buy or use, I still have the goal of eliminating the yarn drawers and having it all in one cabinet, I will get there if I try not to buy too much in Kemps sale area and keep finishing off things! This year I knit:

4 Shawls

3 Pairs of socks

4 Jumpers

3 Cardigans

3 Dishcloths

Not bad, not great, but not bad. I’ve actually run out of places to store my hand knits despite giving a big bag of ones I never wore or didn’t like to charity so a slight slowing down isn’t a tragedy (I have 2 drawers just for hand knit socks!).

Running – in my first year of tracking I ran 233.55 miles this year. I was hoping to do 250 when I saw that I’d gone over 200 but the weather and lack of motivation put an end to those plans. My running goals for next year are to get up to 10k and take part in a few races. I will need to work on my strength and general fitness to manage it, as well as finding some running shoes that don’t put my right foot to sleep after 1.5 miles. I am planning how to manage this and hoping that I can stay motivated and injury free (and fall over less than I did this year).

Looking at how many books I read this year it’s not really a surprise that my knitting and sewing were down. I think I set a new record finishing 126 books! I read a fair amount of urban fantasy rubbish and YA series, but also some heavier and more interesting things. I wasn’t all that certain about buying a Kindle but I have to say that I’m a total convert now and don’t go anywhere without it.

There have been some ups and downs this year, we said goodbye to my Grandmother at 101 years old and my Uncle far too early. I’ve had some academic ups and downs as well as health ups and downs. But, we moved somewhere we love, we’re happy, pretty much healthy and still here ready to keep on moving forward, at the end of the day that’s still pretty damn good.

So, that was 2014. I hope you had a great Christmas, have a lovely New Year celebration whatever you chose to do (I’m going to carry on with Glee I think and maybe crack open some wine later on). Thank you for reading my blog this year and I look forward to sharing what I do with you in 2015!