New Year’s Resolutions

Yeah I know, they’re a bit tragic but I’m doing it anyway.

  1. Read at least 34 books this year.  Easy peasy, I’m on Goodreads so I’ve set myself a reading challenge.  Click here to see how I’m doing.  Right now I’m doing fantastically well, I have read no books yet this year and I’m apparently bang on target.
  2. Lose 20kgs.  Thought I’d chuck in the traditional fat bum challenge.  Though my bum isn’t actually that fat I have spotted a bit of thigh bulge today that has to be got rid of immediately if not sooner.  Then once I’ve lost 20kgs I’ll still want to lose another 10.  Then perhaps another 5.  We’ll see. I work for a law firm and the cakeage is immense and I loathe exercising so this one is a bit challenging. I also hate exercise clothes and seriously object to any heel lower than a kitten heel.  Keep thinking about taking up running but I also very much dislike outdoorsiness. And running.
  3. Do more embroidery.  I very rarely sew. Its the one thing I absolutely love doing and yet I hardly ever do it because I used to hand sew for a living and now I don’t and it may sound pathetic but its quite emotional for me and I’m a bit frightened I’ve lost all my skills. So much as I’ve amassed a huge quantity of yarn and patterns and stuff I’m going to scale back the knitting and crochet (except for snoods and Gin Poodles of course) and get back into embroidery.  I had a small test piece framed a few years ago and the framers asked me if I’d like to make more for them to sell.  So I might not be a complete ham-fisted duffer.
  4. Stop buying mass-produced junk.  You know that ‘make it, don’t buy it’ idea floating around at Christmas? Well I’m going to stop buying things from major chains and only buy handmade wherever possible.  I’ve had my last clothes shopping spree in 2016 so from now on I’m going to make my own clothes, at least they’ll fit properly and I won’t bump into anyone else wearing the same thing. I can try out embroidery on my own cuffs and that too can’t I? I’ve got a sewing machine up in the loft and I expect that is where it will stay because I don’t really like sewing machines.  Hand made clothes last longer because they’re better and every stitch is beautiful. I’m not expecting anyone else to agree or even see the simple beauty of a white cotton tacking stitch or go into ecstasy over a button hole, but your loss and all that.
  5. New Etsy shop. Once I’ve got my fingers back to being able to pick up with a needle a single thread in any fabric without looking I’ll be able to produce work worth selling. These are not going to sit well with super kitsch knitted poodle bottle cosies or even lovely vintage style hair accessories so they’ll need their own space.

Five resolutions are enough.

6. Oh but hang on. Food. Must stop eating things that make me ill, like fried things, fatty things, dairy, and eggs.  A doctor told me years ago that the odd sensation of my throat going all thick and gagging for hours after eating isn’t really normal and should be avoided. Spose he might have a point.

7. Bugger it I’ve thought of another.  I have a half brother somewhere.  Not even sure what his name is but I should find him in case he’s the head of membership of a major ballet company or something and can get me a hefty discount.

 

Today I’m making…. Toe-up socks

I think I started knitting these toe-up socks earlier this year, the yarn is a mega cheapy from Tiger and to be honest the colour is lovely but lets just say I expect they will be hard wearing fellers and leave it at that.  The colour is lovely, a raspberry toed purple but I wouldn’t buy this yarn again.

Other projects distracted me for a while when the pattern asked for a 2.5mm short circular needle and I took an age to get around to buying one.  Mind you I don’t think it’s entirely necessary to use a circular I reckon I could have carried on with my carbon dpns quite happily though the circular does mean you can try them on as you go so that’s a bonus but I prefer the dpn’s.

 

 

I’ve never got on with the magic loop method either, I find it a bit of a faff so I think for me socks and circs don’t go.

So here we are working the heel and the finish line in sight so to speak.  If only I liked this yarn more, I’d feel more motivated to crack on with them.

I’m not that motivated to finish this book either, it looked good from the blurb on the back, its a collection of articles published by a writer who died young when he was swept out to sea whilst torturing fish.  Anyway turns out he was massively into dance culture and football which to me just means YOB. I’ve set myself a low target of reading 26 books this year and I’m already one book behind schedule and this bloke isn’t helping. Dunno about Bliss to be Alive, more like bliss to get to the end. Still it was a freebie from my days working at DK so can’t complain too much.

Why don’t I just rip these socks and make some with the huge stash of beautiful handspun hand dyed yarn I’ve bought from I Knit London and just squirreled away? I think there must be something wrong with me sometimes but then again these were supposed to be just a trial pair to see if I got on with a toe-up sock and I can take the fancy stuff with me to Westcliffe when I go back for a week at the end of July.

Oh didn’t I mention that before? I’ve only booked myself in for a whole week at the Westcliffe Knitting Hotel in Blackpool the last week of July.  Can’t bloody wait.

 

 

A pair of sparkly snoods

Things have gone a little quiet over the Easter weekend for me on Etsy orders so it gives me a chance to let you see the progression of an order I have just posted off to America.

I’ll take this picture by picture and explain what is going on. The first picture is the yarn I use to make the sparkly snoods, the cone on the right is super fine metallic blue lurex which I crochet in with the usual blue yarn.  The lurex is a funny thing, it is really quite strong but feels very delicate as if it would snap at any moment.  In the background of this pic you can see some of my snood making yarn, that wicker unit is crammed to bursting with the rest of my snood yarn and a small amount of Gin Poodle yarn also on the coffee table are a couple of books I’ve read and haven’t decided what to do with yet, a train timetable and a book and map that I intend to make paper flowers from.

Next pic is the snoods nearly finished, the silver one is pretty much done apart from adding the elastic, the ribbon bow and sewing in a label, the sparkly blue one  isn’t quite finished, I’m putting a neat edge along the hair band here.

Next up is the book I am struggling to get anywhere with (The Last September by Elizabeth Bowen) which I’m reading in between making things.  I just can’t get into it, I don’t like any of the characters and don’t really care what happens to them. I’m a quarter of the way through it so surely by now I should care a bit? I’ve set myself a modest target of reading 26 books this year and I’m already three books behind schedule. Ms Bowen is not not helping. Sometimes I just give up on a book I’m this apathetic about but this is a book I picked up through Bookcrossing so I feel like I owe it to its previous owner to let them know what happens to it so I’ll slog on.

The last two pictures are the snoods pretty much ready to go sitting on my bony knees – all I’ve got to do now is wrap them up in tissue paper and add some complimentary sparkly hair grips to the vintage postcard and send them off.  The postcard is just over 100 years old, I bought a job lot of them and while they last I’ll use them as my notepaper or hairgrip holders in all my orders.  This one shows Gertie Gitana who was a music hall actress also known as The Staffordshire Cinderella.  This one was written on and posted, nothing exciting though, just some bloke Dave asking after his mate Jim and saying he’ll be home soon because they expect to be sent off to France soon.  I wonder if he was a soldier in the First World War but he doesn’t say so expressly. If they are blank I usually write a message on the back but if they’ve been used I like to keep them as they are and just pop one in the package as a nice surprise. Not that it will be much of a surprise if the customer reads this post before the package arrives.

 

 

Today I’m Making – Gin Poodles

I have an Etsy shop called GinPoodle its where I sell all the things I make, and seeing as it is called GinPoodle the one thing I definitely have in stock in abundance at all times is of course… well actually I haven’t had any Gin Poodles in stock for a while now.

I don’t know who that happened really other than I’m quite often crocheting 1940s style hair snoods but its not really an excuse is it? So yesterday I decided to pull myself together and get at least one finished and up for sale by the end of the day.

The actual knitting part is fairly quick to do, its making the pom-poms that takes the time. I used to use a traditional pair of discs but that takes forever so now I’m a massive fan of Clover pom-pom makers, they really take the pain out of making them, I can whip one up in no time. I do still need 10 for every Gin Poodle though so its still a hill to climb. I did buy a Multipom but I didn’t really like it, I found the pom-poms come out looking quite cubic at this size, I expect its better for smaller ones.  SAM_2493

Then there are the eyes, nose and ribbon to sort out, until those are on I’ll admit the poodles do not look their cheeky best. That wicker storage unit in the background holds all my snood making yarn.  Yep, there’s a lot of it isn’t there? I’m not ashamed to say every one of those drawers is groaning with yarn and that’s not my entire stash.

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So here it is finished and listed for sale with a very bright peachy orange ribbon. SAM_2501

One Gin Poodle is very far from what I would call fully stocked so here are the beginnings of the next one, though I’m not sure I have enough of this flecked cream yarn so the body colour may well change.  I’ve signed up to do a makers market at the local carnival in the summer so I really need to concentrate on building up some stock for that rather than making things reactively or more accurately, randomly.

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I’ve been very behind with my reading too, I have a very reasonable set it yourself reading challenge on Goodreads – my goal is only to read 26 books this year, which is only one book a fortnight so that should be easily do-able but here I am five books behind schedule and it’s only March. In between bouts of frantic poodle knitting and watching Tipping Point I’m reading as much as I can.  Despite this book being a Daily Mail recommendation its actually pretty good – its about a woman who was put in a mental health institution 60 years ago by her family and then basically just left there and never spoken of again, so when the hospital is marked for closure her granddaughter hears about her for the first time as her only surviving relative.  Its a good read but pretty chilling to think this sort of thing really did happen.

Today I’m Making – Hitchhiker shawlette #3

Today is my day off and I have promised myself I will finish three things today, the first is wash and iron my uniform for the rest of the week, which I’ve half completed i.e. I haven’t switched on the iron yet. No rush eh?  The other two things I have to finish are the book I’ve been reading for far too long  – Donna Tartt’s The Secret History and my Hitchhiker shawlette.  I’ve made two in the past, one in the same yarn but a different colour (black, white and grey) and one in I Knit London’s incredible hand-dyed Pool Party yarn.

 

I know, everyone makes Martina Behm’s Hitchhiker  but its such a great pattern, so simple and enjoyable to knit and it lends itself so perfectly to variegated yarns.  The yarn is a James C Brett called Moonlight Sonata, I don’t think they make it anymore, its a bit fuzzy and has silver lurex thread running through it, they say it is a DK but it is much closer to a 4 ply.  Its a shame if they don’t make it anymore because it is lovely to work with.

 

I love my Knit Pro needles too, I resisted buying them for such a long time because I really don’t get on with bamboo needles and I thought they would be the same but now I’ve got some I don’t want to use anything else, they’re an absolute delight.

Now I’m near the end I have to think about the bind off method, I’ve had a look though my Cast On, Bind Off book, which I can’t recommend enough but in the end with the small amount of yarn I have left and not wanting to spoil the design by adding fussiness I’m going to use a standard bind off to give a neat straight edge.

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Happily I should finish my book today too, I’ve only got the epilogue left.  Its a great read if you haven’t read it I do recommend it, I used to read a book a month but now that I don’t commute into London anymore this is the only book I’ve read so far this year I think which is a bit shocking for me.  The story is really gripping, I’m not giving anything away that isn’t revealed on the first page if I tell you its about a group of students that murder one of their friends, how they cover it up as an accident and the psychological damage it does to them and those around them.  Fantastic book.

I haven’t left the house yet today and as it has just started raining it doesn’t look like I’ll be wandering far from the sofa yet.

Knitting a Chain on Christmas Eve

Its Christmas Eve and I have three days off to complete four orders so best not hit the Baileys as hard as I do usually at this time of year. I’m not having a big Christmas so having a good few things to make is ideal to fill up the time.  Its not that I don’t like Christmas, I really do and I’d love to have a big family Christmas but (don’t bring out any violins) but I’ve never had one of those and its never going to happen so here I am surrounded by yarn but no tinsel.

Anyway, one of the things I’ve been asked to make is a black version of my knitted chain scarf. Click here for an example in my Etsy shop. Goodness knows why I haven’t made a black one before because if I say so myself its coming along brilliantly.   

If you take a close look at this first picture you’ll see in the background my ‘to-do’ list notebook.  I love a good to-do list and I have a lot of things I should be getting on with, there are just under 300 items on my list which I think is verging on the out of control end of things.

I’ve tried knitting the links using the magic loop method and I just don’t get on with it, I don’t mind dpns too much and the fantastically loud metallic clattering sound they make when I drop them on my faux wood floor must surely make my downstairs neighbour sing with joy.

I bought a rotatinimageg yarn stick thing at Unravel this year, its hand-turned oak and cost about £28 I think; it’s quite a nice thing in itself  but not really necessary and the feller that made it used some sort of bearings in a roller contraption to make it turn so that’s quite noisy too especially if I stand it on the floor. I should have bought a yarn bowl like I intended but the wooden stick chap was nice and we got chatting and one handspun mitten kit turned into another and there I was with a spinning yarn stick/kitchen roll holder thing to lug home.  You can see it a bit here and in the final pic.

When I started knitting this scarf I was reading Daphne du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn, I haven’t read one of her’s before and I did really enjoy it, I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so ‘Forever Amber’ so that was a nice surprise, I thought I was in for some kind of Wuthering Heights slog. My copy is really tatty and yellowed with age so I can’t donate it to a charity shop, if anyone fancies reading it leave me a message here and I’m happy to post it to you. I’m now reading Dude Where’s my Country by Michael Moore and I’ve remembered about 100 pages too late that I can’t stand Michael Moore.

This is my lovely ladybird row counter, that I wear on a cord around my neck.  Its perfect for knitting while you commute and many is the time I’ve caught some city type giving me a bit of a funny look as I march across London Bridge with this still bouncing off my chest. It is quite big.  Again it is fairly noisy so apologies to everyone else on the train that thinks I’m cracking my knuckles every couple of minutes. Nice though isn’t it? I like a ladybird, though I did a stint as a PA at Ladybird books and that was not a positive experience. I’ve also worked with a woman that was terrified of ladybirds – that’s got to be a pretty unusual phobia hasn’t it? Anyway, my row counter was a freebie from one of those magazine subscription stands at the Knitting and Stitching show at Olympia this year.  I was nearly tempted to sign up for a subscription on the strength of the gift but thankfully remembered in time that I never actually read the magazines when they arrive and quite often can’t even be bothered to open the wrapping.  Have a closer look at the last picture below and you’ll see the mini mountain of magazines and boring paperwork I have yet to find any interest in.

So here we are with the current state of play, its just under a 1.5m long now so there’s still a fair way to go before it’s ready to list on Etsy for my customer but I think I can get it finished before the post office reopens on Tuesday.

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