I was going away overnight to a hotel located within a casino. I don’t do casino things (I was only staying there due to the location) I needed something to occupy myself and I hadn’t been sleeping properly so I wanted a really mindless knitting pattern. I think I searched Ravelry for like an hour or two trying to find the perfect pattern which had the combination of simpleness and yarn in my stash. I finally found the Calypso shawl which I came across last year.
I used a cake of yarn I won in a knit along last year held by Wool Gathering Australia. The challenge was trying new knitting or crochet skills. I was so excited to win this yarn as it is my colours blues and blacks. I wanted a one skein project and this was perfect for it. The yarn cake was so soft and squishy. It is a 4ply merino in the colour Midnight.
This is a really easy pattern to follow and is super quick to do too, I finished this in about 2 weeks. The pattern tells you how many sections to do to form the shawl and how to extend it you have extra yarn. I followed the pattern until I ran low of yarn which was in the extra section. To bind off I used the stretchy bind off that the pattern mentions. You are end up adding an extra yarn over as you bind off, it is much stretchy than other bind off methods I have used so I will be doing it again.
The only difference to the pattern I did was something I read on Ravelry that another knitter had done. Instead of doing a yarn over at the start of my increase rows I did a K1FB in the first stitch. It gave me a much neater finish then the yarn over did. Before I blocking it looked kind of tiny. You can see from the photo how much yarn I had left after I bound off, I may have been able to sneak in an extra row but I didn’t want to fall short.
I am not sure if there is such thing as over blocking but I blocked the life out of this. Blocking made it grow! For the first time I used my knit blocker pins. They are basically a plastic clip that has a series of pins attached, they are much easier to use than regular pins. I used 2 full boxes on this shawl and the 4 blocking mats I had too.
I am yet to wear this as I only finished blocking it last week. I have played around with it a little to see how it will sit around my neck. I brought the shawl pin at the craft show last month so I might use that on this. I am really liking this shawl, it was mindless fun knitting. After I finished it I was little lost and almost wanted to cast on another one.
April and May seemed to be major sewing months for me but June hit and I think I only stitched one item. I spent most of the month knitting.
I started a big project of a cape mid May and spent nearly 4 weeks knitting like crazy on that. It is a very simple pattern and very mindless knitting. I was using yarn I had in my stash and was feeling great about it. I then think I spent too much knitting of it as I did start to get board with it. I put it down for a weekend when I went away and after that only knitted on it every few days just doing a row or so. If I keep going on it I can get it finished this winter but I don’t want knit something I am not enjoying and not want to wear it at the end because I am sick of looking at it.
I cast on a new shawl to take as my travel project for the weekend away I did. It was a mindless knit but really enjoyable. I then spent about a week knitting it and it just seemed to grow. This one I should be able to finish in the next couple of weeks or so. I am just going to knit until I run out of yarn. Again it was yarn from my stash.
One of my favourite yarn shops Skein Sisters had an Instagram challenge week where each day you showed a photo of what Works In Progress (WIPs) you had. It was actually fun going through my house seeing what projects I had on the go. I am actually surprised that I don’t have that many. With knitting and crochet you have to use tools like needles and hooks which I don’t have that many of so I guess it isn’t as easy for me to have so many half finished projects like I do with sewing as it is easy to put a half sewn garment aside and start the next one. The challenge has given me motivation to finish a few projects particularly when I can see what little I have to do on them. Other projects I just need to sit when I have had enough sleep and concentrate on them for example some socks I have started and already had to redo them once because I messed them up.
I balled up some yarn for another project but I have to wait until my shawl is finished as I don’t have another set of the needle tips I need for it. The yarn is so pretty but the pattern is new to me and a little daunting. I am sure if I take my time with it I will be ok. I purchased this yarn recently after seeing it on Instagram, it was love at first sight!
I am hoping to get back to my sewing as confession I am behind on my gift making but with bad sleep patterns for most of June I really did enjoy the mindless knitting that I was doing.
I just realised that I haven’t blogged about this completed beanie which I finished at the start of April.
After my first unsuccessful attempt at this Barley beanie by Tin Can Knits I ripped it back and tried again. On my first attempt I was using the wrong size needles and it was huge. 2nd time around I switched to 3mm needles for the ribbing and 3.5mm for the main body. The change in needle size really made a difference and the fit is much better. Confession I did stuff up the front decorative pattern a bit. When I was doing the decreases I kind of stopped the pattern half way so instead of the decorative detail decreasing all the way across it is only on half the panel section. Let’s just call it a design feature! It is still wearable and Mr StitchNSew happens to be wearing it right now. The yarn I used was a ball of Katia Azteca I purchased last year. To be honest I probably won’t work with this yarn again. It is lovely yarn but the yarn does nothing for me, I can’t explain why. I do have some leftover which I might use for charity but most likely it will be taken to my knitting guild meeting for someone to use. I have now experienced working with it so and as a result we have a wearable beanie so it wasn’t a total waste.
You can see it on my Ravelry page.
A Stash of One’s Own by Clara Parkes is a book that I will admit from the start if it wasn’t for seeing a few people on Instagram reading this book I would never have found it let alone been drawn to pick up and read. I was totally a book lemming on this one and in this instance I am glad that I was.
When I first saw this book in people’s photos I thought it is just another yarn fictional romance novel. I have read a few like that but I lose interest quick in them as I can’t really read fictional stories (except Harry Potter) Don’t judge this book by the illustration on the front, read the words in the title, do a google search, go hold a copy in local store and you will see it is a book of short non fictional stories or essays from various people sharing their account of what their “stash” is and what it means to them. On the back it lists the 22 people who have contributed stories to the book. I don’t know many “famous” knitting names so there was only 2 that I recognised from the list but you don’t need to know who these people are to read their stories. It is the stories and not the persons themselves that makes this book wonderful.
Each story is about 6-10 pages long (some shorter, some longer) It is fascinating reading everyone’s stories. Not everyone thinks of their stash in the same way. Some people are really emotional about their stash, some aren’t. Some people have really organised stashes, some have yarn stashed in the bathroom. Before I had even finished reading the Foreward I was already drawn into this book knowing once I had finished it there was no way I would be passing it on, this book is staying in my book stash. I am glad I didn’t actually borrow this book from a friend like I was considering when I was trying to decide if I needed to buy it or not. I haven’t even finished this book yet but I can already relate to little bits here and there from different stories after just reading a few. It is really comforting to read things and think you are not alone with the way you are dealing with things whether it be emotions or storage. The stories are the perfect length to read the book in small bites. If you wanted to you could sit down and read this in a day, I would say it would be a very emotional day so maybe have the tissues handy particularly if you find yourself relating to a lot of the more in depth parts of the human psyche. Unfortunately I don’t have any dedicated reading time at the moment so I have been reading 2-3 stories a day than putting the book down for a day or so and going back to it for another short read when I can. For me this works perfect as in this short periods I am reading I can really take the words in and reflect on aspects of my own life that relate. Don’t just think it is all depressing stories you will laugh so much as well. My favourite sentence so far “If Barbie and My Little Pony dropped acid” I would never have imagined I would ever read those words!
Even though this book is centered around yarn stashes anyone who has any form of craft or hobby stash can relate to this book. Each time the term yarn is used insert your preferred craft term and it is just as relatable. When you get home, close the door and look around at your stuff and how you deal with it you discover from this book you are not alone. In this book real people with real stories share their experiences with their stash. I have always enjoyed reading autobiographies and have always believed that everyone has a story to tell they just need the opportunity to tell it.
On June 9 was the annual event of World Wide Knit In Public Day. Now I can’t tell you the origins of how it started, who even thought of the idea or how long it has been going on for but for the last few years I have celebrated it in one form or another. This year I took part in an event with my NSW Knitters Guild Group held at Blacktown library.
We had a lovely turn out of people. Between our group and some other people who regularly knit at the library we had about 30 people in total who were knitting and crocheting and one guy even making metal jewelry. For about 3 hours we all chatted, ate food (you can eat in a library!) drank coffee and got a little bit of work done on our projects. Some people were making gifts, some making charity items, I was working on shawl/poncho that I haven’t blogged about yet. I ran into an old acquaintance and for the first time ever sat and knitted with her. It was really fun day. Even if you didn’t know all the people there you could easily walk up and chat to anyone as we are yarn people you have that bond in common.
Over the last few months many of us contributed to a display of flags that was hung around a pole just beside where we were sitting. Even my dodgy little Welsh flag was up there proudly. The display looked great, everyone did such an amazing job. To be honest I am not a fan of yarn bombing but this looked really good.
Now if you are like me public knitting is not just something that happens one day a year. If I know I have to wait anywhere I will always take some sort of yarn project with me, even if I go to the pub for a few hours for lunch I take my knitting. Confession in the past I have organised my knitting project before calling an ambulance for Mr StitchNSew (it wasn’t a life threatening emergency) If I know I have to sit I want to keep myself occupied. Recently whilst we were away we went to go and take photos of the sunrise so I took my knitting as I knew I had about 30 minutes to kill. I sat by the Opera House knitting and watching the sunrise. It was a beautiful way to spend the morning.
When I see people knitting and crocheting in public I have to resist the urge to run up to them and ask them what they are making. I have to control my craft craziness as that might just be a bit too weird for them. I personally don’t have a problem when people come up and approach me to talk yarn, I will happily chat to anyone who is interested.
Early last year I purchased a heap of cottons from Bendigo Woollen mills when they released a limited edition range of colours called cotton crush. I brought 2 of every colour and every more of the blue. I was going to make an awesome blanket which I started in July and knitted it for a couple of weeks maybe a month or so and put it down to work on other projects and I never got back to it.
Roll forward maybe 8-9 months later when I picked it up one day to work on it and realized I didn’t like it at all. I don’t know what changed. I think it was partly due to Bendigo earlier this year releasing a different range of limited colours in the cotton crush range and I liked them better. When I went to work on my blanket it again I just didn’t like it. The blanket had become like this dark shadow sitting in a project bag in the corner of the loungeroom. I’d see it when I moved things and would feel a sense of guilt as I wasn’t knitting it. My thought was ok just keep working on it until it reaches a certain size and be done with it but I just couldn’t bring myself to knit it. In the end I decided that was enough I am not working on something I am not enjoying. Before I started another knitting project I decided to rid myself of the dark shadow and bind it off, I was even about 1/3 way through a colour block and I pulled it back to the previous colour as I just couldn’t knit it anymore. Knitting is meant to be fun not something that is causing you stress every time you see it.
All my ends are knotted and my original thought was I will weave in the ends to finish it off. I haven’t even done that and I am not going to. I have knotted the ends a couple of times and every so often I sit there and do another knot in them. They are a very lame version of a fringe. Surprisingly I am actually using the blanket so it is not a total waste. It sits on the back of my chair and I can put it over my shoulders if I need to. I don’t love this blanket but I don’t necessarily hate it either, it is just a functional item in the loungeroom. If I wash it and it falls apart I am not going to be worried at all.
I still have about 1½ balls of each colour left. I will use them in different projects maybe team up a couple together and use them that way. I will have to start looking at DK shawls in Ravelry. At worse I have years and years of dishcloth yarn. This is good yarn that there is nothing wrong with it is just as a collection together I have fallen out of love with.
It is good to be rid of the dark knitting shadow. I started my new knitting project and am nearly halfway through it and it is actually a large project but I am really enjoying it.
Do you ever see a design or pattern and instantly know who it is perfect for? Last year I came across the Meandering Paws patterns by Amy B Stitched. They are a series of crochet patterns with the key design of a set of paw prints. There are a number of patterns in the series now including scarves, beanie and mug cozy.
To learn the initial design I made a dishcloth which was one block repeat of the scarf pattern. These are always easy to practice on and an item that I can never have too many of. It was like doing a tension square when you are knitting. The pattern is easy to follow written in US terms with the only unusual element of the cross stitch in the centre of the paw, once you get the hang of it you will find it simple to do.
Thinking of my friends lifestyle I decide the blanket would be the best pattern to make her. The original blanket pattern is done in multicoloured stripes but the benefit of making gifts yourself is that you get to select which colours you want to make it in so I chose 2 shades of Stylecraft Special DK in purple tones Violet and Wisteria. I wanted a low fuss blanket that could easily be thrown into the wash without thinking so that is why I used this yarn, it is really soft too.
I crocheted mine a little different to the pattern. I chained 180 stitches (plus 2 extra) and used a 4mm hook. The original pattern has 3 paws to be a repeat of the pattern like I did in the dishcloth. The way I wanted to do even colour blocks this would have looked messy. By doing a repeat of the first 8 rows of the pattern I could line 2 paws up per colour block. I like the look of it, it doesn’t look cluttered if that makes sense. There is a bit of counting in this but really only in your set up row for each paw. Once you get that initial row in which has the gap in the base of the paw you then really don’t have to count because as you do the pattern you learn where you are meant to be in each section so for example if you are not one stitch off from where you need to do a chain 1 skip then you have made mistake somewhere. I did have to frog it back a few times the biggest was about half a colour block. Doing the 8 row repeat meant you learnt the pattern quickly.
For the border or edge I opted for something simple. I did one row of trebles half the blanket is light purple the other half in dark. It was a short edge and a long edge in one colour so at 2 opposite corners you can see the 2 shades. As I started my colour blocks in a light colour I ended in it a dark colour. On the border I did the opposite so the border frames it. I started this August 2017 and finished March 2018. A lot of tv crochet. It was very relaxing to do and once I finished it I missed it. I wasn’t sure how much yarn I needed so I purchased 6 in each colour. I used a 5 and a bit of each colour. The finished blanket measures 48″ x 72″ so it is a nice lounge blanket.
It is fitting that I write about this blanket today as it is the recipient’s birthday and she has received her gift.