Despite the cold mornings over the past couple of days, spring is really here. The daffodils are looking wonderful. We went a bit mad on bulbs last year (we got ours from Scamps in Cornwall) and there are 10 or so different varieties in flower at the moment, of all shades, shapes and sizes. One is so frilly and multi-layered, it almost doesn’t look like a daffodil at all!
The rhubarb is coming up a treat too, and I think I will be making rhubarb and ginger jam again very soon. I last made it on 6th April 2021 – and I noted on the jam labels that it had been snowing that day. Hopefully we won’t get any more snow this year – last month’s was quite enough for a while.
I’m managing to gradually wake my sourdough starter (Audrey 2) up, though she is still very sluggish. It’s taking about 24 hours for it to nearly double in size and it should be a lot quicker than that. I think it is time to consult one of my “Sourdough Whisperer” books by Elaine Boddy. She is an absolute whizz with sourdough, has a very no-nonsense approach, and has advice on almost any possible scenario from getting a happy active starter, to trouble-shooting loaves that haven’t turned out as expected.
On the yarn-based side of things I’ve been quite busy as ever. The adult cardigan has been delivered to its destination and the pattern emailed. No pics allowed yet – it’ll be published in July. The child’s cardigan (next commission) has a healthy looking spreadsheet and I cast that one on last night. Again, no pics – that one will be published in August.
In a couple of weeks I will be giving a workshop on Finishing Techniques. This is the one workshop that involves a lot of knitting prep, as I like to give the knitters the blocked swatches they will be working with. The first time I ran this workshop knitters were asked to bring their own blocked swatches and they were…quite varied. Some people did not know how to block, so hadn’t. That’s fair enough – that’s all part of finishing. It is far easier to seam something once it’s been blocked (as long as it’s done properly!).
So, now knitters are given two swatches and then the one remaining swatch that hasn’t been blocked is given a wet block there and then to show them how easy it is – and what to avoid doing. They will have squares of two colours, pick up stitches along one of them (in a third colour) to knit a shaped flap with a buttonhole, and then seam the two squares together to make a small purse. There are a lot of skills involved in this – picking up stitches, directional decreases (choosing and positioning them well), different types of buttonholes, working mattress stitch seams down the side of a knitted piece and on a cast-on edge, weaving in yarn ends. And how to block.
There are a couple of places left on this workshop (18th April, 6.30-9pm, £35 at Yarn O’clock in Mold), and if you’d like to brush up on your finishing techniques contact Anne at the shop (01352 218082) to book a place.
Pikachu – the crochet kit I bought after Christmas – is coming on well. He has a body/head, two stripes and a double thickness tail. I’ll be making the feet later today, which just leaves the ears and arms. You never know – it might even be complete by next week!
The first sleeve of my Umbriel sweater was sailing along. Until today when I tried it on. You may remember I said that I’d picked up extra stitches than stated in the pattern as I need generously sized sleeves. It turns out I’d overdone it. As I was working the short rows there were a couple of points on around the armhole where it was looking a bit ‘pleated’, but I thought it would be ok once on and my arm would smooth the fabric out. Once I transferred the stitches to a long needle so I could try it on I realised just how unlikely that would be!
So, dear reader, I frogged the sleeve worked so far (‘frog’ as in ‘rip it, rip it’) and I’m back to square one. The moral of this tale is to listen to nagging doubts – it won’t always block out – and try on as you go when you can. I’m so glad I hadn’t completed the first sleeve before trying it on. Frogging your knitting is almost as much an act of faith as knitting it in the first place. You’re saying ‘I can do this differently, better’. Also, although some people will look at you pulling out what to them look like several evenings worth of perfectly good knitted stitches, if you know that you won’t wear it as it is, there’s no point in leaving it as it is. It’s quite liberating actually.
Good points I noted when I tried it on: the sweater does have a wonderfully soft and warm fabric, I was right to shorten the length as much as I did, and the body fits beautifully – even over a t-shirt and woollen dress.
This is the armhole after the sleeve was frogged. Ready to go again!
I’ve got my ticket for Wonderwool Wales (which is less than three weeks away now!) and then before you know it I’ll be exhibiting at Buxton Wool Gathering (May 7-8) and Wool @J13 (May 13-14). Full details and links for how to buy tickets for these are on the “Where I’ll Be” page and I’ll be writing more about upcoming shows in the next week or two.
I hope you have a good week, and are able to do some stuff you enjoy. Take care one and all, K x