Snowdrop

The first snowdrop is in flower in the garden! It’s called Gabriel and is one of the earliest, always flowering before Christmas. Seeing these always lifts me – they are so delicate and yet so very resilient. I couldn’t understand how they survived the frost and snow until Mum told me that they contain their very own version of anti-freeze.

Why are booster jabs like buses? You wait for ages for one and then two turn up at once! On Sunday evening I received a text message giving me an appointment date in January for my booster. Then, yesterday evening I got another text offering an opportunity to book one sooner if I wanted to, by clicking on the link. So, my booster jab will be happening this afternoon! Don’t worry, the whole text message thing isn’t dodgy – I’ve had all my notifications from NHSWales this way.

This has made me replan today a little, just in case I feel a bit ropey later on, but that is a benefit of being self-employed; I can organise my time to suit, which makes me very lucky indeed.

The knitted baubles are in the post, as are two wooden coasters that were ordered last night. If you are thinking of ordering a kit or anything else that needs to be posted for Christmas please do so by the end of this week (17th December). The lady at the post office thought I should sell the baubles (I’d need to develop my own base pattern to do that, but that is fine), although I’m not sure people would pay for the time/skill involved. Would you purchase one of these? If so, what would you be willing to pay? Answers in the comments please!

My sock knitting is on schedule as I finished one yesterday and started the second. I should get some more done later while I wait for my jab.

I’ve also made progress with two of my Fasten Off Yarn-a-Long pattern purchases! Gridlock Mitts by Karen Butler is now into the main colourwork (that was during Only Connect last night).

Water Dragon Wrap/Shawl by Red and the Wolf Designs is skipping along. I began with 140 sts and currently have 340 sts on the needle. The increasing will continue for a while yet and that will mean the rows get slower, but it’s great telly knitting!

The first deadline project that was due at the end of November has now had its first tech edit and has come back to me to be checked. This is where I get to see if I can remember how to use ‘track changes’ in Word…

My other secret deadline project (so no pics) is also coming on, though I haven’t touched it for a couple of days while I’ve been knitting other things – I’m still totally in love with the yarn though and plan to knit a lot of it in the next few days!

And… I’ve been swatching for another design and I’m really quite excited by how it’s working out. The submission deadline for this one is early next year and I’m keeping everything crossed that they want it. ๐Ÿคž

It’s getting a bit scary again out there with Covid-19, so please take care and do the things you know will keep you and your loved ones as safe as possible. K x

Good with my Hands

Somehow, despite being away from home for three days during the past week, I have managed to do quite a lot of knitting! I’ve finished two projects, started another and worked on yet three more (two of which I can’t show you). As part of the Fasten Off Yarn-a-Long I’ve bought four patterns (supporting other designers and because these patterns are awesome!) and matched them all up with yarn from the stash (yay!).

The main image for today’s post is one of my project bags from The Knitting Goddess. Yes, it’s a bit cheeky; yes, I like it!

Treble clef baubles:

Woodstock:

Sock! (Heel flap completed, heel turn is next):

Gridlock Mitts by Karen Butler (one of my pattern purchases as part of Fasten Off Yarn-a-Long):

As I got to the end of the cuff on these I realised that I had reversed the Main Colour and Contrast Colour stitches. I ‘fixed’ it by fiddling the set up round before the main colourwork chart began by moving the start of the thumb gusset to the first two sts of the round instead of the last two, as I could see from the photos that the edging of the thumb gusset was supposed to grow organically from one column of ribbing in the same colour. If I hadn’t worked those extra two stitches, the thumb gusset would have been sitting awkwardly on top of a column of differently coloured stitches.

Do you remember that last week I told you all about the Fasten Off Yarn-a-Long and that there would be games? One of these is bingo and I’ve just been filling in my bingo card – it’s looking good! A column completed already and two rows nearly done!

Yesterday we had BT Openreach here to upgrade our broadband. I hadn’t quite appreciated that it would involve the engineer scaling the nearest telephone pole and actually putting new cable from there to our house, but it did. He drilled holes where he had to and persevered through phone calls and lots of trial and error when the broadband didn’t seem to want to work at all after all that effort. Three hours of work and we now have super speedy fibre broadband and a… digital phone…?!?! That last bit threw me a little – I didn’t realise that our old phone simply wouldn’t work any more as the old copper wires were gone and the new ‘wires’ are made of glass. The new phone is nice, though I’m not sure about the Alexa feature – and I’ve chosen not to enable that yet.

I’ve listened to a lot of audiobooks this week as well – Terry Pratchett’s Snuff accompanied me on my long car drive and over the past couple of days I’ve been listening to The Midnight Library by Matt Haig. I wasn’t sure about this one to start with, but the more I listened the more I got into it and I was very pleased with the ending. I do like an ending that brings things together and feels satisfying.

Audrey2 has been been behaving very well recently and you can see how well she’s doing in the photo below (the jar behind the loaf). I started a loaf yesterday that was baked at midday today and looks gorgeous:

And now I’m going to go and make some sourdough banana bread. This will have two benefits – we have a couple of elderly bananas in the kitchen somehow, and Sue and I both fancied cake yesterday and there wasn’t any. There will be soon.

Stay safe, keep knitting and do what makes you happy! K x

Silent Night

Last Sunday was Advent Sunday, so we put the Christmas tree up and decorated it. It took a little bit longer this year (maybe we’re a bit older?), but it was good.

A couple of hours after we had finished, the power went out. Storm Arwen did most of her damage on Friday night in our area, so we were surprised to get a power cut on late Sunday afternoon. It wasn’t the tree – we checked and the whole street and most of the town was in darkness.

It’s not until something as ‘invisible’ as electricity goes that you realise how much you rely on it. The heating went off as the boiler itself is powered by electricity. All the lights, except one USB chargeable lamp, went out. We couldn’t make a cup of tea.

So we scrabbled about in the dark to find the small candlesticks and the taper candles and lit three of those. Once it got chilly we lit the gas fire (ignition is battery powered and it had its service less than a week ago!). Carrying the candles into the kitchen to make a quick stove top casserole, we discovered the ignition on the hob is run off the mains, so back to the matches to get that on. We lit the candelabra with the multi-coloured candles that has been on the dining table in the kitchen unused for ages. Going to the bathroom meant taking one of the candles with us.

But it was so quiet. We sat and did a crossword by candlelight and talked. The constant hum of electrical equipment that is always on the edge of our awareness had stopped and it was peaceful.

A free standing Christmas decoration of a plaster sheep, with a rug over its back, with a cat sleeping on the rug and a small red bird sitting on the cat, stands on a base that is inscribed with the text "Sleep in Heavenly Fleece" is on the mantlepiece. Behind it part of a red and white glass clock and a small china Santa can be seen.

The power cut only lasted two and a half hours for us – barely anything compared to the four days some people in Wales have endured. But it made us stop, reflect and be grateful for the many things we still did have and were able to do (even without electricity for a little while). When the power came back on (as we sat down to eat and just in time for the Strictly results show) we were glad, but there’s something in that still quietness we had imposed on us that I don’t want to lose.

Today sees the start of the Fasten Off Yarn-a-Long for 2021 which runs until the end of the year. The discount code (valid from 9pm tonight EST until 11.59pm 6th December EST) is FO2021 and gives the same 25% discount for all patterns (well over 2000) from all the designers who are involved – that’s 101 of us. My page for the event is here.

In knitting progress, I’m back on track with the socks – the first leg is finished and I’ve started the heel flap.

A stripy sock in progress is shown on maroon fabric. The beginnings of the heel flap in blue show at the top of the work. Part of a hand is visible holding the sock flat.

I emailed my pattern with four days to spare before the deadline. I’m almost halfway through the sample for my second secret knitting and last night I knitted a bauble. I used the blank chart at the back of Arne & Carlos’ 55 Christmas Balls to Knit book to create a treble clef design and I’m quite pleased with it. I’ll be making two as Christmas gifts. It’s been a couple of years since I last made one of these baubles and I’m glad I still have the book to refer to for the shaping.

A hand knitted stranded Christmas bauble lies on maroon fabric. The background is cream with two bright red treble clefs showing. The bauble has not yet been stuffed and finished.

I’ve also cast on another design-in-progress of mine as I’ve decided to knit a sample in my size as I finish the write up of the pattern – partly to check the numbers and pattern writing and partly to get a new jumper! Unfortunately this is another thing I can’t show you yet, but I can show you the yarn I’m using. It’s Fleece by West Yorkshire Spinners, a really smooth DK yarn in Bluefaced Leicester wool – I’ve done the ribbing of the back so far and it’s working up beautifully. The colour is called Bramble.

A skein of deep purple yarn lies diagonally on a pale gold carpet. The text on the white ball band says "West Yorkshire Spinners/ Fleece/ 100% British Wool/ Bluefaced Leicester/ DK".

The really tricky decision for today will be which of these projects do I take with me to my mum’s for the next few days? Actually, I think I know the answer to that – all of them.

Take care, have a look at the Fasten Off Yarn-a-Long (it’s for crocheters as well as knitters), wear your mask and stay safe out there. K x

Slow Down

I managed to log myself out of my own website about half an hour ago and have only just managed to get back in. First world problems, I know, but it was frustrating – and there are exciting things I want to tell you about!

(You know when you end up swearing at the computer and have five tabs open that all purport to help you change your password, but just seem to send you round in circles, that you probably need to take five minutes to breathe!)

Anyway…

As you can see from the main pic, the sourdough is going well – lunch was delayed until this one was cool enough to cut! But on to the knitting stuff…

The Fasten Off YAL logo, a black globe/ball of thread with one crochet hook and one knitting needle poking through it at angles. At the bottom right a black curved line with a frayed edge like an end of yarn moves away from the ball.

Have you heard about Fasten Off Yarn-a-long 2021? It’s a month-long community event for both knitters and crocheters that takes place completely off Ravelry (which as we know has many accessibility issues on its website and many people struggle to use it since its redesign). You can get involved on Instagram, Twitter and Discord and there will be games and prizes up for grabs.

There are over 80 independent designers participating, of whom I am one, and the first part of the YAL involves a great big pattern sale!! Designers decide which of their paid patterns to include in the event and they get a 25% discount during the period of the sale which runs from 30th November to 6th December.

I’ve decided to include ALL of my paid patterns that I have the rights to (even the collections); so that’s everything except Nevern Throw, Of Night and Light (I get the rights back in January for these two) and Soft Syncopated Brioche Scarf (which is free anyway). All my patterns are on Payhip, Lovecrafts and Ravelry.

As Fasten Off Yarn-a-long is intended to be inclusive and accessible, only patterns that are available somewhere other than Ravelry will be included. Unfortunately, Lovecrafts doesn’t offer designers the option of adding a discount code, so the code (which I’ll post next week) will be valid only in my Payhip store, but it’s a great opportunity to bag a fab discount!

What else has been going on? Well, I’ve finished the pattern for next week’s deadline. Hurrah! I’ll probably only check it over another five times before I convince myself it’s ready to email. It looks great and I’m really excited about it and I can’t believe I have to wait until June to show you!! Why is the deadline so far ahead of publication? This company (in the US) does their own sample knitting as well as the tech editing and photography, so they need to allow time for their test knitters to make the items as well as all the other steps in the process. Being in the US I am truly grateful they have this system as I would be very nervous of posting a finished sample all the way over the Atlantic. All I need to send them is the pattern and other associated files.

My other secret project is growing too – this one WILL be posted off, but it’s staying in the UK and the deadline isn’t until April. It’s nearly a quarter complete though and I am very happy with how the stitch patterns are behaving in this yarn.

A hat in progress lies on a light gold coloured carpet. The hat is a sideways knit beret in shades of pink, purple and white like raspberry ripple.

My hat (above) also grew by another panel over the weekend, as we had a big adventure in Manchester. My lovely wife has a poem out in a new book called ‘Queer Writing for a Brave New World’, published by Out On The Page and there was an event for contributors at The Modernist, followed by drinks at No.1 Canal Street. All of which was very good and also very good knitting time for me ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿงถ! It was strange being in a big city again – something we haven’t done since before Covid and I was glad we worked out a route from the car park to the shop via the roads parallel to the main streets, so we avoided as much of the crowds as we could. By the way, if you like poetry, photography and other writing, there’s a launch on Zoom tomorrow evening!.

And with this gorgeous photo I shall finish for today.

Stay warm, stay safe and keep knitting. K x

Raspberry Beret

Much knitting progress has happened this week and I can actually share some of it with you today!

I am really enjoying my Get Garter Beret from Woolly Wormhead and I am now two thirds complete on it, having worked four of the six panels. It’s a sideways knit beret that’s also on the bias and the crown shaping is achieved with short row shaping. When I had done two panels I was convinced it was never going to be big enough, but with four completed I am a lot more confident. The yarn, Neps and Tatties from Ewe & Ply in ‘Raisin Girl’ is fantastic and I really like the little ‘neps’ in cream and brown that randomly poke out of the surface of the knitting.

Sue has been asking for a Woodstock (Snoopy’s pal) from the kit that came with Knit Now Issue 133. Last night I knitted all the pieces, which took just over half an hour. I think it’s going to take longer than that to assemble! It doesn’t look much like Woodstock at the moment, just seven small, scrappy bits of knitting… Hopefully by next week I’ll have something more bird shaped to show you.

The baking is continuing and my loaves are getting quite consistent now which is very encouraging! I think the problem previously was a combination of too much water and over-proving the dough. I’ve even managed to use up most of the jar of discard I accumulated while getting Audrey2 up to full strength; this week we’ve had vegan sourdough banana bread and seeded sourdough crackers, both of which have been lovely. I haven’t taken any photos of them though.

On the ‘secret knitting’ front, I have finished the first item!! Half of it has been blocked and the other half is currently taking up residence on the lounge floor. It took me an hour and a quarter to pin out this morning. The trickiest part was in working out what measurements to pin it to. I know the final measurements I want, but I also knew that this particular project would ‘relax’ after being unpinned, so I needed to block it larger than I wanted it to end up. Adding 10% to the width seems to have done the trick.

On Sunday I cast on for the second secret project. I’d done two rows when it occurred to me that as I’d not used this yarn before (and the ball band says it whitens and fluffs up after washing and blocking) it would be a good idea to do a couple of swatches to make sure the needle size I’d originally intended to use would work with this yarn. I tried the intended size and a couple of sizes larger in case any ‘fluffiness’ obscured the design. Both actually looked good, although the original needle size gave the main fabric more stability, so I’ve stuck with it and now I’ve done a couple of inches of the main project. It’s going to be gorgeous though I say it myself.

Do you remember I said that this yarn had been spun ‘in the grease’ and smelt wonderfully sheepy? Having lanolin still in the fibres has already had a good effect on my hands and some of the splits are healing – hurray! I’m looking forward to getting really stuck into this project and also hoping to try out some more of their yarns in the future. I’m also looking forward to being able to show you what I’ve been doing – but it will be another seven months before I can do that!

At least five of the roses are still in flower and the fuchsias are looking very blousy! It’s weird how warm it still is a lot of the time (sometimes it seems warmer outside than in!), and the birds are really enjoying themselves in the bushes, pecking little creatures from the stems. Various parts of the garden still need tidying up before the winter, like doing the last mow and cutting down the crocosmia, and I’m hoping the weather continues to hold until after I’ve met my first deadline which is just under two weeks away.

That’s all from me today. Stay safe and do more of what makes you happy. K x

What a difference a ply makes!

I’m not sure I will ever get over the thrill of seeing fluffy fibre turn into actual, knit-able yarn. Or the fact that I seem to be able to achieve this magic trick myself now.

This afternoon I balled up the yarn I finished spinning last week, using my ball winder and swift (wonderful time- and wrist-saving inventions!). This was not because I intend to use it imminently, but because I wanted to get a better idea of the colour changes, especially in the larger skein. That’s the fractal spun one.

Two skeins of handspun yarn lie on a wooden desk. The one in the upper part of the image is much larger than the other. They are spun from the same fibre and are a mix of yellow, green, maroon and purple/blue. The upper skein is 2-ply and mostly has different colours in each strand. The lower skein is 3-ply and mostly has the same colour in all strands.

How does fractal spinning work? Well, you take a braid of fibre and split it lengthways, keeping the two pieces as equal as possible. One of those lengths will be spun as it is, with no further splitting. But then you take the other piece and split that in half, and then take one of those pieces and split that in half as well! All these splits take place lengthways down the fibre, so each division gives you a narrower piece of fibre, but they are all the same length and hopefully all have all of the colour changes. This gives you one piece that is 1/2 the width, one that is 1/4 and two that are 1/8.

On one bobbin you spin the widest piece, the half. One the other bobbin you spin the other pieces; I did both smallest pieces first followed by the 1/4 width one. After spinning these as singles they are ready to be plied together. Because there is less fibre of each colour at a time (thinner, remember?) on the 1/4 and 1/8 width bobbin the colours here will change more rapidly. This means that when you ply them together you get the colour changes happening on both strands of yarn, but at different rates, giving a very dramatic result! Shown below is the bobbin with rapid colour changes which I spun first, with the remaining fibre draped around the flyer. The Southdown fibre (that’s the sheep breed) was hand-dyed by Katie Weston of Hilltop Cloud and was a delight to work with.

A bobbin with singles on it shown horizontally and still on the wheel surrounded by the remaining unspun fibre. The yarn and fibre is in blocks of maroon, yellow, purple, rust and mossy green.

Of course, my initial split of my fibre wasn’t exact and I ended up with quite a bit of the single ply yarn with the longer colour changes left over. I decided to try chain plying this to create a 3-ply yarn (thicker than the 2-ply fractal) that changed colour very gradually. To chain ply you make a big loop and pull a strand of yarn through it, creating a new loop through which you pull a strand of yarn – it’s a bit like a giant crochet chain, which is being twisted as it goes onto the spinning wheel. Because it’s all coming off the same bobbin there are some places where one strand of the three is a slightly different colour (that would be the strand pulled through the loop) and it gives a fabulous graduated effect. Also, a really nice plump yarn! Next time I do some chain plying I will make a little video as I think that would make my explanation clearer.

I didn’t initially sit down to write a whole post about spinning today, but it seems I have. There has also been lots of knitting on one of my ‘secret’ projects this week, which of course I can’t show you or tell you much about, other than that I have started the final piece of it and completed the numbers for the pattern. I promise to have also knitted something else by next week that I *can* show you!

The yarn arrived for my other commission piece (aka secret project 2) last week as well. It’s been spun in the grease and smells wonderfully sheepy! I’m really looking forward to getting started with that, but again it will something that I can’t share with you until next June and that feels like a very long way away at the moment!

Audrey2 is behaving well and I got a beautiful loaf on Friday – I’m hoping for a repeat performance later on today.

A malted sourdough boule sits on greaseproof paper. In the background is an earthenware salt pot.

And I even spent an hour in the garden this morning, clearing the vegetable patch of weeds and spent plants!

That’s all from me for today. Stay safe and I hope you are able to do some things that make you happy this week. K x

Autumn Leaves

I’m sitting at my Mum’s dining table looking out at her garden in all its autumnal glory. There was a frost on the lawn this morning and it was jolly cold outside, but there is now a brilliant blue sky and a brisk walk through the town warmed me right up!

A total contrast from the weather as I left Wales yesterday morning – torrential rain and strong gusts of wind meant that my raincoat got very wet even going from the front door to the car!

I’ve finished the back of my deadline knitting garment and cast on another section last night. I am now wondering about the selvedge stitches though and so the new section was cast off this morning… I will block it when I get home to see if my slip stitch edge adds stability as I’d hoped, or just stops the pattern opening up properly! (Can’t show you pics, sorry!)

And this is why I always bring more than one knitting project with me when I go anywhere. If something crops up that means I need to press pause on one, then I’m not left knit-less. So, my Woolly Wormhead Get Garter Beret will be getting some action later.

Yesterday, I sent out my monthly newsletter to my lovely website subscribers and it contained a brand new exclusive discount code for them to use in my Payhip store. 15% off all my hat, mitts and cowl knitting patterns from now until the end of the year! If you’re not yet a subscriber, but think you like the sound of that, sign up by the end of the week and I will make sure you get the November newsletter too. There’ll be a reminder of it in the December newsletter as well.

I haven’t talked about my Craftucation courses in a while, and that’s probably because I’m feeling guilty that I still haven’t finished my ‘Introduction to Lace Knitting’ course. My hands are still in a right state and certainly not ‘camera-ready’, but I have every intention of getting it done in the next couple of months. Any encouragement gratefully received!

That’s all from me for today – I’m going to go and make some lunch happen.

Stay safe, keep knitting and doing what makes you happy, K x

Better late than never

Ok, own up; who actually noticed I didn’t publish a blog post yesterday? Answers in the comments please!

It was our return journey from Kent yesterday and, at the weekend, while we were still at home, I wondered whether I should draft a post in advance. Then I thought, “No, it’ll be fine, I’ll just write it when we get home”. Well, that plan didn’t work. We got home at 6.30pm (having left at noon), unpacked, I made dinner, read and signed a contract (missing the first 10 minutes of Bake Off while doing so) and then? I just didn’t have the spoons left to do it.

It was a good trip to Kent. We were visiting my lovely wife’s family – only the second time I’ve been there since Xmas 2019 and only the third for Sue – and we had a great time. My niece had made a birthday cake for me – it was gorgeous and I am absolutely going to investigate the non-dairy alternative to condensed milk that she used. On Monday we had a long walk to the sea front, up the pier and then along the harbour arm with my sister-in-law. There was brilliant sunshine, a fabulous rainbow, a carousel ride for Sue and Katie (I couldn’t have decently got on the horses in my long dress, and I don’t think side saddle would have worked) and a detour through the park.

And then? The heavens opened. There had been a little rain/drizzle prior to that, but it went full biblical downpour. Katie had a coat with a hood and I borrowed her umbrella and Sue had a neckband that she put over her hair, but, to be honest, none of it did much good. We got thoroughly drenched. So much so that the only solution was a shower to warm up and a complete change of clothing. I am eternally grateful to my lovely mother-in-law that she washed and dried our wet clothes for us that evening as otherwise we would have had no clean things for the following day.

While we were away I did a fair bit of knitting. The majority of it I can’t show you for quite a while yet. One lot of commission yarn I was waiting for last week arrived last Wednesday and I got cracking, only to change my mind about six inches in about the placement of the stitch patterns. I left the original version on the needles, went back to my spreadsheet, copied the sheet and played with the numbers again. Then cast on for the new version. Once I’d done the same amount for both versions so the comparison was fair, I was so glad I had listened to my misgivings and paused. The new version is so much better – and so that was the majority of what I worked on in Kent and in the car. I’m getting better at knitting on rumbly concrete motorways!

The other project I took with me was a new type of knitting project for me – a sideways knit hat by Woolly Wormhead. I’m definitely enjoying the process of seeing how the structure develops and I can’t wait to see how the whole thing looks when finished. The variegated yarn is playing nicely with the short rows too. It’s going to be a beret style hat, but it looks nothing like it at the moment! The yarn is Neps and Tatties in ‘Raisin Girl’ by Ewe & Ply. There’s a knitalong running on her Facebook group (and on Ravelry) at the moment for sideways knit garter stitch hats – it’s definitely worth a look as there are a huge number of exciting designs and ways of constructing a hat that I’d never imagined.

A sideway knit garter stitch hat in progress is lying on a wooden desk. The ball of yarn can just be seen in the top right corner. The yarn is in variegated shades of pink, purple and white, like raspberry ripple ice cream and there are tufty news in cream and black on the surface of the fabric.

The other creative thing I had a rethink and restart on last week was my embroidery. I was finding it hard to keep track and, though I knew I had gone ‘out’ (wrong) by a stitch or two in some colours that I’d done, I couldn’t quite work out which they were. This meant that I was finding it hard to trust the stitches that were in place when it came to using them to position new sections. So, I began again, this time with a more thoroughly prepped piece of fabric. Again, it was worth it, as my progress has been quicker and easier since. It probably also helps that I reprinted the chart (again!) so it is larger AND with colours on the squares as well as symbols so it is easier to follow. It does take up 16 pages now instead of 9, but hey. It’ll be worth it.

A piece of cream coloured linen with tiny diagonal tent stitch in patches of black down the centre of the fabric. There are two pale blue thread running vertically and horizontally marking out the centre points and thin black threads of running stitch between every twenty threads of the fabric from the centre outwards.

What have you been up to this week? I hope some of it has been fun.

Take care, stay safe and keep wearing a mask! K x

The Hills are Alive

My plan to weave in a section of yarn ends on my advent sweater (Serenity by Joji Locatelli) each day worked a treat. I seriously underestimated how many there were; I’d forgotten that as I had worked each colour from the top over the back and each side of the front, several colours had six ends not two. It turned out that there were over 80 in total! However, I did a sleeve’s worth and so on and the ends were soon completed. It is such a gorgeous sweater to wear and the yarn is so very soft.

We took this picture on Sunday, during what we call our ‘country walk’. We are so lucky that we can get onto lanes like this within a kilometre or so of our front door. The main pic of today’s post is the view of Moel Famau, to the left of where we were standing.

A woman wearing a hand-knit sweater and a linen dress stands with her back to the camera and her hands in her pockets in a country lane. It is a sunny day and the jewel colours of the sweater almost glow.

Last week I asked you to keep your fingers crossed for me regarding a submission I’d sent, that I was due to hear back about by Friday. Well, it worked! I had an acceptance email on Wednesday morning!! Since then, I’ve been grading the pattern (10 sizes for this one) and starting to write it up and I am now waiting eagerly for the yarn to arrive in the post.

Can you believe that my flowers from last week are still going strong? The yellow roses have opened up and become all frilly on the edges and the deep red carnations are a lovely contrast.

My Fiery Dragon Skin Cowl is done and very cosy in my hand-spun yarn. I still have to pinch myself a bit that I only started learning to spin this time last year and I am making yarn I can use when knitting up my own designs. That disbelief is going to get to a whole new level once I have finished a project with yarn from Doris, isn’t it?!

A hand-knit cowl in hand-spun shades of blue, green and greeny-gold wool is on a mannequin covered with black fabric. A cream wall is reflected in the mirrored door behind.

In the meantime, here is my current spinning, some Southdown fibre, from Hilltop Cloud. The two bobbins are intended to have stripes of different sizes as I am attempted fractal spinning; you split the fibre lengthways, then one half lengthways again and then one of those lengthways again. The horizontal finished bobbin contains the singles spun from the fibre that was split more often and the bobbin still on the wheel is being spun with the other half of the fibre, so there are much longer stretches of colour.

A close-up of a bobbin in progress on the spinning wheel, with the other bobbin balanced horizontally above it to show the contrast. The wheel treadles and rest of the background are out of focus.

As I’m waiting for yarn to arrive for two commissions at the moment, I decided to cast on something small in the mean time. I posted about this sock on social media the other day and I’m pleased with how it’s coming along. It did take me a while to adapt to using the KnitPro single 25cm long circular needle, especially trying to work out which hand the shorter needle tip felt best in, but it’s feeling more natural now. That’s a 2mm needle in the pic with 80 stitches per round. I did once have 2mm bamboo needles, but they did not last very long. Sue likes her socks knit to a tight gauge – it makes them last better – and bamboo just snapped in my hands. The stripy yarn is fabulous isn’t it? This is Zandra’s Rainbow, one of the Zandra Rhodes colourways on their Signature 4-ply yarn for West Yorkshire Spinners.

A brightly coloured stripy sock in progress sits on a wooden desk in front of its ball of yarn. The yarn is pink, yellow, dark blue, maroon, scarlet and olive green.

I have spent several hours on the embroidery so far. You can see progress from last week, but no sense of the image yet. But this is only working from the central page of nine…

A close-up image of a very small scale embroidery in progress. The fabric is a cream coloured linen with black, dark brown, grey and green threads. Bright red threads mark the central lines of the design.

There has been slightly less baking than I would have liked recently, but Audrey2 is waking up again after a short time in the fridge. Hopefully I will be making another loaf in the next couple of days. I was feeling more than a bit off-colour yesterday, so there was definitely no baking, or much activity at all!

That’s all from me for today. I hope you all stay safe, stay well and do what makes you happy. K x

Yellow Roses

Do you like my roses and carnations? They were a gift from my lovely wife to celebrate the launch of “Of Night and Light” in Knit Now last week. After all the excitement of the magazine release last Thursday, I have been getting on with some new projects and returning to some not so new ones.

My advent sweater is dry so now I have the ends to weave in – approximately 50 of them! I might take a similar approach to the one I used to use for writing school reports; decide when I want it finished by, work out how many I need to do each day and get that day’s ‘portion’ done in the morning while the light is good in the front room. If I take next Wednesday as my deadline, then if I do about 7 each day it will be ready – that doesn’t sound half so intimidating as 50!

When I finished spinning my Merino d’Arles, dyed by Anne Murray, back in March, I knew what pattern I wanted to use it for. My Fiery Dragon Skin Cowl seemed ideal for the colours of the yarn and the fact it is very textural meant that irregularities in the yarn wouldn’t matter so much. It’s coming along really well and I am so pleased with the effect. It’s slightly thicker than the yarn I designed the pattern for originally (Painted Desert by Knitting Fever), but that’s ok. It’ll be a little warmer. This is the first time I’ve used my hand-spun yarn for a knitting project, as opposed to a swatch and it’s so satisfying.

A textural knitted cowl in progress lies on a wooden desk against a closed laptop. It is in shades of blue, green and grey-gold with a tucked slip stitch pattern. The yarn is hand-spun.

Another new project is the embroidery of Mum’s photo – I’ve actually started it! It doesn’t look like much yet and it will take a good while before the picture takes shape, but it has at least begun. The embroidery hoop is helping enormously as is the re-printed chart. The first one had 70 x 100 squares per page (4 pages) and it was just too small to keep track of with 40+ different symbols. Now the chart has 50 x 75 squares per page (9 pages) and I can actually see the symbols without them swimming about. Thumb for scale!

Cream linen fabric with red running stitches to mark the centre lines is held in a wooden embroidery hoop. There is a sprinkling of tiny dark green, brown and grey stitches on the fabric. A thumb is placed on the fabric to highlight how small the stitches are in comparison.

There are a LOT of colours involved too. I love the fact that I can use this box mum finished making recently (after starting it well over 10 years ago) to store them in:

An open dark blue fabric covered box is shown from above with a lot of skeins of embroidery thread propped inside. They are in shades of green, brown, grey and neutrals. The box is octagonal in shape and is leaning against a laptop.

The sweater design I’ve been working on for a while now has completed Back and Front sections, all written up. The sleeves have been charted with all the shaping and I’ve started writing them up. I redid the front of the round neckline with my coloured pens and graph paper and now I’m really happy with how the nine different sizes relate to each other as well as all having a pleasing curve. The really tricky part was working out the most logical way to write it out – that was yesterday’s task and fortunately was a success!

Glancing out of the window I see it is raining. Again. I’m so glad I had a walk before lunch, but it does put me off doing much in the veg patch today. Maybe it’ll be dry again later in the week. One of our tomatoes has ripened – I can see it from here! So, it was worth tying them up to get some sunlight. I think I should probably get them in soon and finish ripening them on the window sill.

Audrey2 (my sourdough starter) is getting all grown up now. I’ve made three good loaves with her (after one dodgy one and some flat-as-pancake rolls) and she’s doubling in size and then some when fed. Not wishing to be caught out with fruit flies again like I was with Audrey I have dried some starter and the shards are now safely in a jam jar should they ever be needed. When I read about drying out sourdough starter and seeing that it would take 2-3 days I thought it must be a typo since any starter left on a spoon or spatula goes rock solid so quickly, but no. It really took 3 days. Hurrah for a silicone rolling mat and pop up food cover that could be moved around as necessary.

Do you remember I said I was going to plan a new workshop last week? Well, it’s done! Great project, loads of skills and if I can complete it in one hour (taking my time and not rushing), then knitters taking the workshop will be able to complete it in two and a half. More details coming soon. It’s also given me a really rather fab idea for a kit to launch next year…!

That’s all from me for today. Stay safe and do what makes you happy, Kx

P.S. Keep your fingers crossed for me on Friday – that’s when I find out about the latest design I submitted!

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