Rainy Days and Mondays

Yesterday was apparently Blue Monday. It’s not something I subscribe to, although two people I spoke to said they’d felt a bit more down than usual. I’m not sure that simply being the third Monday of the year is enough to qualify in this particular decade – there are plenty of other things going on.

It’s raining here in North Wales today. No surprise there, but it’s due to keep on raining for the next couple of days, after which we get a couple of days of sleet! Thank you, Storm Christopher. I am so glad we live up a very big hill – I would rather get snowed in than flooded any day. Despite the rain, or maybe even because of it, it is the perfect time to be knitting hats and cowls.

About a year ago, when I was doing stalls at the local pop-up shop, one of the people browsing said that I should do hats and cowls to match my stranded mitt designs and that is what I am currently working on. It was so lovely to return to charts I knew and ‘play’ with them, trying out different variations and seeing what I liked most. It’s ‘only’ taken me a year to respond to that feedback, but I get there in the end.

The cowl to go with Heart in my Hands Mitts is done. I just need to make sure I’m 100% happy with a couple of design decisions and then it will be published. The hat is not far behind. The cowl will be in one size (or maybe two), the hat in three, and there will be more maths involved in getting the sizing just right for the hat, hence why I did the cowl first! What do you think?

Heart in my Hands Mitts and Cowl

If you have subscribed to my newsletter via the sign-up on the website, you will know that there is a special 15% subscriber-only discount running until the end of January on ALL my products in the payhip shop (everything on the website links to this). This covers not only digital downloads of patterns, but also all the wooden treats and knitting kits too! What a bargain! I know I mentioned last week there would be a discount code in the newsletter, but if you sign up before the end of the month, that discount could be yours as well.

Llanberis Mystery Knit-along is going well. It feels weird that it will be over so soon though – the third and final part is being released on Friday. People are posting their progress on Facebook and Instagram, and saying that they are enjoying the pattern. That’s one of the things I like best about social media – you can see what people make with your designs and get instant feedback.

Even a bit of negative feedback can be useful – certainly more so than radio silence. I had an email a couple of weeks ago from someone who didn’t like the layout of one of my patterns. Initially, I was offended and a bit hurt, but after I’d got over myself (and had a sleep) I looked at it again and thought about what I could do to improve things. This is the Beanstalk Throw I wrote about last week and shows how even negative feedback can help you develop – as long as there isn’t too much of it!

I made the marmalade last Wednesday. It’s gorgeous, though it did take six hours – partly because I had forgotten that though my mum’s fast hob ring is front left, mine is back right, so if I want a fast boil I need to remember whose kitchen I am in! Fortunately I managed to move the preserving pan without burning myself. It’s a therapeutic process in some ways, whilst leaving you totally wiped out in others, albeit with the added bonus of about a year’s worth of marmalade.

13 lbs of Marmalade cooling in their jars

Yesterday I had some fun with my spinning wheel. I haven’t done any of the exercises in Katie Weston’s Spinning with a Purpose course for a while, so I had a go at making slubs and also some consistently thicker yarn than my ‘standard’ instinctive spinning tends to produce. I don’t know whether it’s a tension thing or if I just want to scrape every last bit of value out of the fibre I have, but I have tended towards the finer fingering-weight and lace-weight end of things. This was a challenge. I loved it. I’m also ridiculously pleased with the slubby yarn I made, despite the fact there’s only about two metres of it and I’m unlikely to ever be able to knit with it. I just want to admire it and pet it! WPI stands for ‘wraps per inch’, as in how many times yarn of that thickness can be wrapped around a piece of card or wood an inch wide. The gap at the top of the WPI tool in the photos is an inch wide (and the massive slub almost fills it!). The numbers under the horizontal lines show how wide a strand of yarn would be if it were 4/6/8 etc wraps per inch.

Slubby Yarn hung round spinning wheel
Massive slub on WPI tool
Skein of Bulky yarn on WPI tool
Single strand of Bulky yarn on WPI tool
Skein of DK/Worsted weight yarn on WPI tool
Two strands of DK/Worsted weight yarn on WPI tool

Speaking of challenges and learning new stuff – Craftucation will be going live in less than four weeks!!!! (Yes, I know four exclamation marks are a lot, but I think this warrants it). I will be jumping around and shouting about this more and more as February 15th comes around. If there is a new craft you are interested in learning, that will be the place to go. Not all the course will be up at the very start, but it will grow and there will be some wonderful opportunities to learn new skills.

Keep going – you can do it. And keep knitting. And stay warm. K x

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