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.

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… 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

 

Sunday Crafts update

Here is my plan for today. Every Sunday I choose a maximum of six projects to work on for the day and work on them in rotation, either in one-hour blocks or for the length of whatever podcast I’m watching on YouTube, because Sunday is also the day when I binge watch podcasts and Sewing Quarter. I start at the bottom left corner and go round in a clockwise direction. If I finish something I can replace it with another project. I’ll go into each project in more detail below but so far today we have:

The PPS shawl – by Louise Tilbrook
Three snood orders to pack up ready to post
My current book – Lady Audley’s Secret
A black snood
A marker to remind me to do my embroidery coursework
Shell Cottage socks – by Curious Handmade

I actually cast on this shawl when I was on holiday in Crete in June, then I came home and neglected it a bit. I am the sort of person that has a million projects on the go all at once which means slow progress on pretty much everything but there’s no deadline on enjoying yourself is there? Who cares if it takes forever.

I’m using my gorgeous little bird yarn bowl from Little Wren designs – who sells on Etsy and she has these in several colours. The colour has not come out brilliantly well in this picture – this is a really cute sandy yellow in real life.

Here is my progress so far, as you can see I’ve finished the first set of stripes and things are looking pretty good so far. I’ve started the shaping for the main single colour part of the shawl and that’s coming along nicely though I’ve realised I have made my usual mistake of doing slightly too tight yarn overs for the increases but thankfully it hasn’t ruined the shape and a bit of blocking will sort it out if need be.

This is a great pattern and really enjoyable to knit.

Here’s a close up of the yarn – the stripes are a mini set from Manos del Uruguay, they’re the silk blend Fino and I bought mine from Interknit Café at a local monthly artisan market but she also sells online and had several other colours when I bought mine but she was expecting them to sell out fairly quickly

The main colour was a silk blend from Once Upon a Time Skeins who sadly has stopped dying to sell but I believe she still has a few skeins on Etsy of other colours and fibres. Her colours are beautiful, this one is a gorgeous eau de nil lightly flecked with blue, yellow and pink.

I’m using my Knitpro Zings, I mainly like them because of the colours – I find the join between the needle and the cable can be a bit harsh but this metallic lime green goes so well with my colour 2 stripe that I don’t care.

I love this stitch marker, I bought a set of these from Wild & Woolly in London, which is currently my favourite bricks and mortar shop. The owner is such a nice woman, though I’ve only managed to visit a couple of times myself to be honest. These stitch markers were part of a multi coloured set that are all stamped with different stitch abbreviations so that you know what it is you’re supposed to be doing when you get to them. Brilliant.

Not much to say here except that the postage and packing element of an order takes a fair bit of time in itself, but once these are all labelled up and in my bag to take to the post office tomorrow I’ll replace these with another craft project.

These poly bags are plastic so not ideal but they are recycled. I did use brown paper for a while but I was really worried that one day a customer would cut right through the snood when they cut open the package. I want to find an economic degradable version of these poly bags but if I can’t I’ll move back to brown paper and swallow my fear.

Next up is my current read. I’d never heard of this author before buying this book. This is utterly gripping, it’s a Victorian ‘sensation’ novel. It might even be THE Victorian sensation novel, it was hugely popular in it’s day and would make a brilliant tv serial drama. Lady Audley is not all she at first seems to be, there’s not much mystery here in that you pretty much know what she’s up to from quite early on but its the way her secrets are gradually unravelled that makes it so completely gripping. I’d say this is one of the best books I’ve read this year out of the 25 I’ve read so far.

I read 50 pages a day so when I’ve hit that target I can replace the book with a craft project.

A black snood. Always there is a black snood on my hook. This particular hook is my much beloved Lyn Roberts silver hook, bought at Yarnporium 2018. It never leaves the house but it is the only hook I will use to make snoods when I am at home. I LOVE it. I do like making black snoods but I also like a bit of variety in my life so I probably don’t make anywhere near as many of them as I should. Plus I’ve scaled down dramatically the number of snoods I’m making this year so that I can get on with my embroidery coursework.

Speaking of which – this I my placemarker to remind me to actually get on and do some of my embroidery coursework.

I feel like I am quite behind with it but I only have one and a bit modules to complete. I think I’ll be able to finish this current module by the early part of October but I’m still worried that I won’t have time to complete the one after that in time for the end of the course, which I think is November. I need to check that really but I’m scared of the answer.

I’m plotting out a counted stitch chart today which I’ve made harder by having the wrong sort of graph paper.

Last but far from least are my Shell Cottage socks. These were the first pair of socks in this year’s Curious Handmade Sock Society. I haven’t finished a pair yet and I think we’re on the fourth pattern release now. That’s alright.

This project bag is from Flying Tiger when they did their £2 sale earlier this year. Nice isn’t it?

Its a good roomy bag, plenty of room for your socks, pattern, yarn and notions. There are a couple of pockets inside and some of those ring things to feed yarn through which I never use.

See how I’ve artfully draped my yarn across the repeat where I knitted an extra row. Actually I think I did that on another repeat a bit closer to the cuff. See also how little I care.

So here we are, warts and all.

I think I like the Curious Handmade patterns best of all because she literally writes out everything row by row, and you get a percentage in the right margin to let you know how far along you are. Its simply brilliant.

I’m knitting these on my Addi Crasy Trios which are my favourite needles for socks and the yarn is West Yorkshire Spinners Signature sock. Good old WYS, you can’t go wrong really can you and they have the best solids.

So that’s it for today. I’m happy to report it’s absolutely piddling down outside so I’m staying in and enjoying myself with a ton of coffee and toast. I hope you’re loving your day too. x

Today I’m making… a snood and a scarf

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It’s been far too long since I’ve updated this blog. I really want to make more of an effort with this rather than just spending time on Instagram, don’t get me wrong, I do love a bit of Insta but I feel like the time is right to move back to blogging.

I’ve been on holiday since my last update, 9 nights in Crete which was really lovely but I think I’ve fallen out of love with flying. I used to really enjoy the whole airport experience but this year I just found the whole thing really stressful and just not worth it.  So we’re thinking of staying in the UK next year and maybe driving up to Yorkshire. I’m all for it.

Right so lets get on to what I’m actually making today.  Usually on a Sunday I have about six projects on the go at once and I flit between them all during the day but today I’ve only picked two things to work on and hopefully I’ll make some decent progress for a change.

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First up is a lipstick bright red snood.  I finished a large one in this colour this morning and have updated my Etsy shop with it, so if you want a large red snood I have one ready to post to you.  This one is going to be a medium, and then I’ll make a small.  Not sure I’ll get both done today, I have some housework to do too and I have this delicious Portuguese tart to eat (only 50p in Asda!).  I’m in love with this shade of red, it’s a blue red so very easy to wear, I’m a redhead and I can wear this shade.  You’ll also see in this picture my perfect and much loved solid silver crochet hook from Lynn Roberts Design and I’m sure I mention it all the time but it’s just the most joyous thing to work with. It feels really special and is a joy to work with.  When I’m at home its the only hook I use, I don’t tend to take it outside because I’d be really upset if I lost it.

Anyway, I’m making a bit of an effort to put some snoods back in my Etsy shop, I’ve had to put them on the back burner for most of this year because I’m doing a City & Guilds in hand embroidery and I need to concentrate on that really so I’m only adding stock I have in hand rather than listing everything and making snoods to order, which I what I normally do but means I’m constantly making them and I fell way behind with my coursework.  I think I’m back on track now but my snoods are thin on the ground to say the least.

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Next up is my fisherman’s rib scarf.  This will eventually go in my Etsy shop but it will be a long time in the making.  I can’t quite remember where I got this yarn, I’m pretty sure it was passed to me, it might have been my mum’s but I don’t think she ever bought grey.  It doesn’t really matter does it?  It’s an acrylic 4ply so that means it is pretty practical for a scarf because its easy to wash and won’t felt from rubbing against your clothes.  Its SO squishy and soft and the shade of grey itself is such a nice pearly grey, with almost a pink tone to it.  I just realised this Sunday is all acrylic.  Now I’m not much of a yarn snob, I just use what I like and I do like hand dyed natural fibres but if I see acrylic and like it I’m having it.  A lot of my acrylic yarn has been gifted to me when another knitter has died or has a destash and it’s better to knit with it then send it to landfill.  However you feel about yarn content, this is a lovely yarn and I have two huge balls of it.  Let’s just take a moment to have a little smirk at my two huge balls.

As I said, this is fisherman’s rib which has the look of brioche but none of the faff.  I have seen several people online assert that brioche and fisherman’s rib are the same thing, they’re not. They’re really not, fisherman’s rib just looks like brioche and has the same squish factor. It feels amazing.  I have actually pulled back about three inches this afternoon because there was a row where I slipped a stitch with the yarn in the wrong place and I had been thinking it didn’t really matter because it was in a pretty good place for me to sew on a label to cover it up anyway, but then thinking about it that mistake draws my eye so much that I’ve been putting off working on the scarf so I thought, sod it, just rip it back and reknit. Of course I could have just dropped that stitch and picked it up correctly all the way up but I like knitting, so more knitting is good, right? I’m going to put a stitch marker in to see how much progress I make on this today.  How many inches do you think I’ll recover? Its 4ply knitted on 4mm needles.