Today I’m making… The Eren jumper

Good morning. Here we are again at Sunday and a nice long day of knitting ahead. It absolutely tipped down with rain here all day yesterday so that would have been a perfect day to make some progress with this jumper but I had a few things I needed to go to the next town along for so I spent the day getting drenched in between getting a hair cut, shopping (boring household things) and going to the post office.

So today the skies are clear and I’m staying indoors with YouTube, podcasts, Jewellery Maker and Sewing Quarter for company. Lovely. I’ll probably nip out to Costa later for a black forest hot chocolate but I really like a nice day in so I’m not that bothered if I don’t.

So here we are with today’s main project – the Eren jumper that I’m making for The Mister. I only have a female stand so please excuse the breastiness. Let me tell you, putting this on the stand still on the needles was not my best move. Getting it on was not easy and getting it off was worse. Even though I was careful I pinged the end caps off my needles and about 15 stitches came off. Thankfully alpaca yarn isn’t eager to unravel itself but it was a hairy moment.

Not that I’m not capable of picking up dropped stitches but I’d rather not. The yarn is locally produced at the fabulous Pennybridge Farm, they get it spun locally somewhere and sell the yarn in their farm shop. I bought five skeins and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that will be enough because I the chances of getting the exact same shade again are pretty low I would have thought. I’ll see where I am when I’ve finished the body before doing the rib, if I have to get another skein I’ll do the ribbing and neck in with that.

I would say the spinning of this yarn is generally excellent but there are the odd nubbly sections which we’re choosing to see as enhancing the natural beauty of the yarn, but best to let you know if that sort of thing bothers you. It is the softest most beautiful yarn and the colour is such a beautiful blend of pale faun. I’d happily knit with this again and again.

Can you see here the the colours? There’s a biscuitty beige, a taupe an almost yellow tone and also an underlying greyness that looks much more pronounced in this photo that in reality. Its beautiful. I cannot stress enough how enjoyable this is to knit with and the handle is a delight. We’re both in love with it.

I think they sell it for £14 a skein or 5 for £60 which is a very good price for alpaca. Its all undyed with very high welfare conditions.

This is the rear view, its going to have raglan sleeves and I’m pretty sure the neck will sit much higher than this, its just rolled a bit. Excuse the rumples, I’m using quite a small project bag to store it because it squishes up really small but it won’t fit in there much longer, certainly not when I get started on the sleeves. I estimate I have another 13 rows on the body to go, that will mean it will sit about hip length on The Mister.

There’s my Little Wren yarn bowl. That was also nearly a casualty of putting this jumper on the stand. At the point where the end cap pinged off I also nearly knocked the yarn bowl off its perch which would have been the end of that because we have hard floors and that’ how the last one went. Though you can buy kintsugi kits on Etsy and if I’d thought of it I would have got one to repair the last yarn bowl. That’s definitely what I’d do if I broke this one. I’m not going to break this one. I’m not.

Between bouts of knitting I’m reading this excellent book. A woman at work lent it to me, she said she couldn’t put it down and even thought about booking a day’s holiday to finish reading it. I can absolutely see why. Its so gripping. I’m going to buy The Mister a copy, he doesn’t get a lot of time to read so he’d need to have it for too long really and to be honest, it’s such a good book I feel bad for denying the author the royalties.

I can’t really tell you too much about it without giving any spoilers but basically this absolutely lovely guy has his world turned upside down on a spur of the moment decision. I said to my friend the other day that I know it’s not real, but I’m really worried about this guy. He’s such a nice person and I want things to be alright for him but I don’t think they will be.

As usual I’m limiting myself to 50 pages a day but I can completely see how you’d want to read the whole thing in one sitting, the descriptions are so evocative I can really see the characters, they seem so real its excruciating. I really think you should buy this book.

Today I’m making… Christmas angels

Every year the local churches distribute hundreds of these little angels around town, they just appear overnight each with a positive message attached about Christmas, they call it the Fleet Angels project. Its a lovely sight, they’re literally everywhere – on shop window sills, hanging off trees and buses, dangling from railings… you might even find one hanging on your front door. I’m not a Christian but I do have a fair amount of scrap yarn that I accumulate throughout the year from my Gin Poodles and such like so I like to contribute the odd angel as and when I can. This year I have only made two, this one being the second, but there’s plenty of time to make more.

They only take about an hour to make because they’re only about three or four inches tall. This one is made from yarn left over from Gin Poodles and the gold wings are made from a tiny bit of metallic gold thread I had for making snoods a long time ago. I could really do with some other skin tone colours but I don’t have anything even remotely suitable in my scraps at the moment. I have seen some made using bright colours for the faces, but that’s not my thing really. Last year I sewed hair onto mine but that’s a lot of work and if I’m honest they looked terrible, they also look dreadful if you try to embroider a face on them. Somehow they’re just nice with no features.

I’ll be dropping this one off at the collection point (Living Stones book shop on Fleet Road) on Tuesday morning because I have an appointment at the dentists and I can pass by there on my way to the station and I’ll appreciate having something nice to do after the dentists I expect.

The tension is pretty rough isn’t it? I don’t care, it’s not important for it to be neat, it’s going to sit in a box in the back of a shop for a couple of months anyway. They have a blessing ceremony at one of the churches in December, its quite sweet, they take them all along to a special service and put them out on tables and the vicar blesses them.

Then over the next few days the local area’s Facebook group is full of pictures of them on display or from people that have found one and taken it home. You’re totally supposed to take them home, they’re not really yarn bombing, they’re intended for people to take them home and read the message and I suppose encourage people to attend church.

Planning ahead

Me and The Mister are hoping to move house in the not too distant future. We’ve lived in our lovely flat for about 10 years now and have been really happy here but we’ve been daydreaming about living closer to the coast for a few years now and, fingers crossed, it looks like we might be able to do it. We’re not going to be actually on the coast because that would make his commute to work a bit too long but we’ll be close enough.

We haven’t put the flat on the market yet, but its on our minds all the time so we’re often talking about things we will do ahead of getting the estate agents round. Top of the list was a fresh coat of paint which The Mister has done by himself (I’m worse than useless at decorating) and it’s made a lot of difference. I’m gradually having a good clear out of clothes, shoes and all sorts of bits and bobs. Today I have made a start tidying up my yarn stash which is enormous and I make no apology for that. Every time a customer requested a custom colour of snood I bought a cone of that colour and now I have every colour imaginable but the cones take up a lot of room.

So I’ve bought a set of these fabulous metal cases from Amazon. They are gorgeous. They’re a lovely soft grey with shiny metal clasps and because they’re metal they’ll be moth proof so I can store natural fibres in them pretty confidently too.

I think this is going to take a decent amount of time to do but I’ve made a start by winding my black cotton and black acrylic because they’re my most popular snood colours.

Here’s some cakes of black cotton, that reel was SO heavy so winding the yarn into cakes means they’ll be much easier to carry around with me to make snoods on the go. I’m enjoying winding the yarn so much that I think I will buy more of these cases and then I’ll be able to get rid of the wicker cabinet that my acrylic yarn currently lives in.

This is a small part of my snood yarn collection. The yarn winder is only a cheapy but it does the job and its a really satisfying thing to do. It does take time though and I can only really do this at the weekend because I commute to London for work so I get home too late to do this in the evening really. Which brings me to the other forward planning reason for doing this.

When we move I will leave my job in London and look for an office job locally, possibly a part time job but certainly something that means I don’t have to commute for three and a half hours a day. I’m also going to have a home studio in the garden, you know the sort of thing, basically a fancy shed with good lighting that I can store my stash in and use for my embroidery workshop. These trunks will be brilliant for that and it means in a way I’ve already started packing. They look so much smarter than that wicker unit that I’ve secretly always hated.

Its such a rainy day here that the light is a bit off and the trunks look quite blue-grey in the photo but they’re not, they’re that perfect grey that looks so calm and classic. I’m so in love with them. I want to paint my nails that colour too.

I tell you the other thing that’s going to happen after we move, I’ll be able to have a cat and I cannot wait. I’m spending all my lunch breaks looking at houses and rescue cats.

Rainy day reading

It’s raining again today so I’m having a lovely day indoors all snuggled up with lots of coffee, crafts, coursework and reading.


I’m only on page 58 of this book so this is in no way a full review, I’m terrible at book reviews anyway. This book was a recommendation from The Mister who heard William Sampson being interviewed on the radio – The Jeremy Vine show – and said he was really interesting. He read it on holiday years ago and loved it, it’s one of his all-time favourite books.

Basically, this guy is working in Saudi Arabia and gets arrested suspected of terrorism but it’s all a complete fabrication, bombs have gone off but the authorities tactics are that they’re not too bothered about investigating the crime, it’s more about finding a person to blame and then make up evidence to suit and get confessions using torture. It’s terrifying stuff.

What happens is awful but my first impressions are that these people all opened themselves to arrest. The people that have got in serious trouble are not from Saudi Arabia, they’re mainly Europeans and Americans who have chosen to live and work in a country that has very strict rules about behaviour, most obviously alcohol is illegal but also there are very strict rules about modesty and interaction between men and women. The author says most of the people he knew had gone to live and work there to dodge taxes, so to my mind these are people with a pretty dodgy moral footing to start with. We pay our taxes so that we can support a kind society. If you dodge your taxes you’re sticking two fingers up to social care, education, justice etc etc. Back to the book. These people then thought that it was ok for them to brew their own alcohol and even open illegal bars and clubs selling booze because they’re ‘ex pats’ so expect the police to turn a blind eye.

It’s not ok. It’s massively disrespectful. You can’t pitch up in another country and pick and choose which laws you think are appropriate. Sure campaign for change, absolutely highlight injustice but the arrogance of going to a ‘dry’ country and then engaging in a piss-up was always going to end in tears. Especially when you suspect the police and security to be corrupt and brutal. It’s a dangerous gamble to take for some crappy home brew.

So things start to go wrong. Someone has let off bombs and has injured some people so the police start raiding homes and arresting people when they find alcohol on the premises. I think terrible things are about to happen to this man and his friends and of course it shouldn’t have happened and their treatment is a disgrace to Saudi Arabia, but so far I don’t like these people.

I’m not confident that I’ll read this to the end, if the descriptions of torture are too graphic for me I’ll stop reading. The Mister wants to read this again so it’s a keeper but not something I would have chosen to read.

Sunday’s crafts – 6th October

Another nice long Sunday of crafts this weekend, because I’m doubly blessed with a rainy day and engineering works on the trains. I went to the next town along yesterday to watch Judy at the pictures. I’d really like to see it again but its only on for less than a week. I’m telling you that is the best film I’ve seen this year, its so sad but Renee Zellweger is incredible and the ending… my god if you’re not in tears at the end you’re a stone. I’ve also decided I want Judy’s last hair cut. So we’ll see how well taking a picture of Judy Garland into the hairdresser goes…

Anyway, that’s yesterday. I’ve been fairly productive this weekend.

Two large snoods listed in my Etsy shop and another off in the post,

I’ve been neglecting my Etsy shop quite a lot this year because I’m supposed to be concentrating on my City & Guilds in Hand Embroidery but I’ve managed to be behind with that all year too. Another rod to beat myself with.

So here is today’s entertainment. I always start at bottom left and work my way round clockwise. I’ve done one full round of these today already which is pretty good going for me, because I’m typing this at about half two and I’ve been up town to do a bit of boring shopping. I’m wandering off track.

First is the Eren jumper that I’m making for The Mister out of pure local alpaca yarn. It comes from Pennybridge Farm which is about a 15 minute drive away from where I live. The yarn is beautiful, its so soft and has a lovely halo without being at all prickly. I think its going to get even softer with washing. I can honestly say this is one of the nicest yarns I’ve ever knitted with.

I don’t know how well you can see it in this picture but the yarn has very slight tonal variations that don’t show in the garment but you do notice as you knit with it. Its just delightful, there are just once in a while little slightly darker patches in the blend, only for a stitch or two. Beautiful.

Maybe you can see it better here. Its definitely going to benefit from a blocking when it’s done because my tension changes from knitting in rows to where you knit the body in the round.

I’m really enjoying knitting this, this is the first garment I’ve made for him so I really want to make a good job of it.

Next is my current read. It’s been a while since I read F but that doesn’t really matter with these books. To be honest I think it’s better to leave a bit of a gap in between them or they’d get a bit samey. That’s not to say they’re not great books, they are. I’m loving this and I’m rationing myself to my usual 50 pages a day or I’d have this finished in a day or two. Its such an easy read and perfect for commuting or when you’ve only got time to read a few pages. A lot happens and there’s not much quiet time for Kinsey.

Here’s my cross stitch sample for my City & Guilds in hand embroidery, my own design. I’m really not a fan of counted thread embroidery so this is a right pain in the bum for me. I’m just not into all that counting and repeating the same stitch over and over. Oh and yes, I do know I shouldn’t leave my needle like that. I’m a low level rebel.

I am more than a bit worried I’m not going to complete this course in the time given.

Here’s a source of self-inflicted pain. I signed up to the Joji Locatelli sweater KAL because I’ve wanted to make the v-neck boxy forever (feels like) and so here it is. Or isn’t because I’m about to frog this for the second time. I’ve stuffed up the short rows and I want to switch from wraps and turns to German short rows. I’ve seen loads of pictures of people that have finished theirs and I’m starting again from scratch and haven’t made it to the shoulder ribbing yet.

This will be October’s GinPoodle. I haven’t cast it on yet. All I’ve done for this so far today is choose the yarn. I have a lot of donated acrylic to get through, I know it’s plastic and therefore bad but its better to knit what I have than let it go to landfill. I want to stop buying acrylic yarn in the future so one day the GinPoodles will be all natural but I don’t think that will happen for quite some time. In the meantime here is the current line up –

That’s all from me, I’ve got a massive stack of ironing to get though, a full laundry basket to wash and I want to move house this year so I need to clear out my wardrobe and cupboard and tidy up thing like my yarn stash because right now this place looks like it’s full of my stuff and I need to get it all out of sight. Its not a task I enjoy but I’ll feel 10lbs lighter when I’ve done it.

Today I’m Making… Mini Mania Scarf

The weather today is fantastic. It’s absolutely tipping down so I’m staying in and knitting all day long.  It’s 9am as I’m writing this, I’ve been up for four hours and there’s no sign of it stopping. Once I’ve finished this and done a lovely facepack its just me, fibre, coffee and The Grocery Girls all the way.  

This is a perfect day to put some inches on my Mini Mania scarf – this is a free pattern on Ravelry by Sarah Core and it makes a huge linen stitch scarf.  Well, mine is huge. There are smaller options. I went for the Epic size which means my rows are 600 stitches long. You definitely need a clear Sunday to work on this.  

Sorry I have to interrupt this to say me and Alexa have very different ideas about what is Rockabilly music, I wouldn’t call boring Bob Dylan rockabilly, I think me and Alexa need to have words.   

Here it is so far, its really heavy and a bit too big for the cable I’m making it on but that doesn’t seem to affect anything negatively so far. I probably should change the needle – I am getting a little bit worried about the cable snapping with the weight as it gets bigger.

I’m knitting this on KnitPro Symfonie needles, using two shades of trusty West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 ply as the background colour and my 2018 advent yarn from I Knit or Dye (sadly no longer dying since the London shop closed though if anyone hears of Gerard starting again please let me know, I miss his yarn SO much). The WYS grey is no. 129 and the cream is no.10.

This is a really fun way to do an a yarn advent, the colours are wound into a gobstopper ball and then completely covered over with crepe paper and every layer is different. You don’t get much yarn in each stripe, I think its only about 5g a day but that’s plenty for this project.

I cast on with the light grey, because grey goes with everything doesn’t it? I knit a random number of rows in the solid colour and then every now and then I knit with a colour from the advent stripe. I only add one colour a day so I could potentially have quite large bands of the solid colours but as the rows are so long that hasn’t happened so far.

I carried on with the grey until I’d used up pretty much 50g and then I switched to the cream, I’ll probably use about 50g of the cream before moving back to the grey but I am toying with the idea of using all 100g of the cream because its so pretty. I don’t really care if I run out of the advent yarn because I can keep this going so long as there are scraps in my stash or I can look out for some 5g minis. I’m going to add a fringe a the end, if I feel like it but I want to think about that before deciding. You’re supposed to use the ends when you join in a new colour for a fringe but I’m using Russian join to get as much of the colours in as I can.

The first picture below is to show how much knitting I’ve done on this since the last time I showed this scarf. It’s not much is it? I’m going to move the marker up now so that the next time you see this you’ll see how slowly it grows, I’m not saying that to put you off one because if you like knitting the idea of doing a ton of knitting is a good thing, right? I just don’t want anyone to get the impression that they can cast this on as a weekend project. This is obviously nearly a year old now, even though I haven’t knit on it exclusively I’m still surprised at how long its taking me to make much progress with it.

Today I’m Making… alpaca jumper, a scarf and some hearts

img_3142In my usual way, I start at the bottom left and work my way around clockwise. So, here’s what we are looking at in this picture:
  1. An alpaca sweater
  2.  Placemarker for things I have to do today
  3. Placemarker for my embroidery coursework
  4. A reminder to write this blog
  5. Crochet heart bunting
  6. Fisherman’s rib scarf

That’s a cup of black coffee in my ‘I’d rather be knitting’ mug.  I used to have that mug at work but then they banned individuality so I had to bring it home where I’m always knitting so it makes no sense here.  

 

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A  couple of weeks ago me and The Mister went to Pennybridge Farm for one of their two hour alpaca experience days.  It was without a doubt one of the nicest days out we have ever had.  The people so obviously care deeply for the alpacas and love what they’re doing.  I never knew alpacas would be such gentle and friendly animals. We both fell a bit in love with them.  I’d really like to go back and do it again next year. I’ll pop a picture below of the gorgeous yearling that we got to walk and feed.

They have a great little gift shop, and in that gift shop they sell huge bags of fleece for spinners but they also get the fleece spun into yarn to sell in the shop.  It was pretty reasonable too at £14 a skein.  They had a deal – 5 skeins for £60 so I snapped that right up in this gorgeous light biscuit tone.  Its funny because it doesn’t feel like anything much in the skein but once you start knitting with it, it is the softest most beautiful yarn.  I would quite happily knit with nothing but this forever more, its that nice.  Really.

I offered to make The Mister a jumper, not really expecting him to be that interested because he sure as hell never wears the socks I’ve knitted for him in the past.  But to my delight he jumped at the idea.  We spent a bit of happy time on Ravelry choosing the pattern. He favours a close fitting jumper so he went for the Eren by Marianne Munier which comes in a nice wide choice of sizes and the profits from sales of this pattern are donated to a cancer research charity, which I only just noticed. Its knitted top-down in the round and so far it’s easy enough to follow. The pattern is translated from French to English and I think so far they’ve made a good job of that.  You may think I’m mad but I’m really looking forward to getting past the arms so that I can do a ton of plain knitting in the round.  I love that, it’s pretty much a meditation.

img_3119So this is Aniken – he likes to randomly trot for a few seconds when you’re walking him. He’s also a bit too fond of willow, they give you some willow to feed to them but Aniken has absolutely no qualms about walking up to another alpaca and stealing the willow right out of their mouth.  How he gets away with it I don’t know, I mean, he is very beautiful but so are the others so he can’t just be trading on his good looks.  

Bizarrely one of my favourite people at work went here too not so long ago and when I showed her the pictures we’d taken it turned out they’d walked Aniken too.  There are 87 alpacas living at Pennybridge Farm so that’s a pretty big happy coincidence I think. 

Next up are three placemarkers for things I really need to do today, they are generally housework type things or other little tasks that I really need to get done today.

That’s what the first one is anyway.  The second is for my City & Guilds hand embroidery coursework. I caved in and nipped up town to buy the right size graph paper after spending an age struggling with the teeny tiny version I was using.  So now I’m actually making progress with my cross stitch sample and I think I’ll be able to finish that over this weekend and at least make a bit of a start on the second piece. At least I’ll have time to watch some YouTube demonstrations on drawn thread embroidery which is not something I’ve done before, it’s never really appealed to me but I’m happy to be converted.  

The third one is to remind me to actually write this blog, so here we are.  I really need to make more effort to blog, I like to read other people’s craft blogs and even if no-one but me ever read these, it’s interesting to me to see what I’ve been doing back over time.   

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Next up we have these cute little crochet hearts.  There are a ton of free patterns online to crochet heart motifs, I used the one from the Planet June blog.  Nice and easy to follow and you can scale it up easily just by changing yarn and hook size.  I’m using up scraps for mine, this the leftover yarn from a feather and fan scarf I made last year that’s shades of pink and lavender going into grey. Its quite fuzzy and sparkly so I hope I have enough left to make a good few of these.  They live in a little pineapple block printed cotton laundry bag from Flying Tiger.

The picture above is from my Instagram feed. I was rereading Alice in Wonderland last week, I’ve finished it now and I did enjoy it but I did not particularly enjoy the amount of stares I got from my fellow commuters reading this on the train. I know it’s ridiculous of me but I like to think of my commute as a quiet and private space and I don’t like people leaning over me to look at my book. I suppose it is quite unusual to see adults reading books with pictures in public, but still, sod off!  

img_3147Last is my fisherman’s rib scarf which I’m knitting using inherited acrylic yarn.  You might remember I completely frogged this and started again after I made a weird see through section that I couldn’t fix.  I’ve made this version on smaller needles so it’s lost a bit of its pleasing squishiness, I didn’t intend to make it on smaller needles, I thought I was using the same ones as before to be honest.  And that is why you’re supposed to make proper project notes in Ravelry isn’t it? I still like it, it’s still squishy and it looks neater in this smaller gauge but it has lost some pleasing squish.  I think when I’ve finished this I’m going to add some contrast tiny tassels along the edges. I fancy something neon. Maybe bright bright pink or green. Or both. Sod it, why not both?

Right that coffee you see at the bottom is not going to drink itself.  I’m off. x