Christmas cast-on day 6

We made it – day 6, and the final day of my cast-on adventure!

I’ve really enjoyed starting some small projects that have been hanging around in my stash for quite some time, I’m a big fan of knitting ‘out and about’ so these will be perfect for taking to coffee shops (and also perfect for TV knitting!).

No cast-on adventure though would be complete without some crochet so it’s only right and proper that day 6 is a crochet pattern and of course, it has to be something from Toft!

I’m a huge fan of the Edward’s Menagerie collection and have a few already sitting up around the flat. My youngest niece (20 months) loves playing with them and after a visit there’s usually a collection of cuddly critters scattered around the living room.

So today we’re starting to hook up Winston the Aardvark. Winston looks like a studious animal so will have top billing on our work desk at home – I think I’m going to try and find some modelling wire and make him a pair of glasses!

I didn’t get too much crafting time today, but have managed to do his body and head already! The Ed’s kits really are quick to whip up and Winston is being made entirely from my stash of Toft wool so it’s even better that I get to use up some wool I already have!

I don’t think he’ll take long to finish, perhaps he’ll be my first #FO (finished object) of 2020…

And that’s it for now. My cast-ons are done and it’s time to get working on some projects. I’ve got some big knits planned for the next few months and I’m finally making some things for me – more on that in a future blog!

Until next time, happy crafting.

Christmas cast-on day 5

My final knitted cast-on and it’s another pair of mittens using more wool from the Countess!

I’m a visual learner and much prefer to see someone demonstrate a technique if I’ve not done it before. I’m also quite happy getting lost down a YouTube hole watching different videos/podcasts/tutorials. My go-to knitting help on YouTube is the brilliant Very Pink Knits and after seeing a tutorial video for the Knock Knock Convertible Mitts I added it to my queue.

The mittens are very similar to making socks (at least to begin with) and have the option of a cover/pouch that comes over the fingers – my current plan is to do the optional cover but we’ll see when I finish the main part of the mitten…

The yarn for this project was the first Brexshit special colourway from Countess Ablaze and I picked this skein up whilst at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival earlier in the year. It’s a fingering weight yarn on the Lady Persephone base which is made from a Bluefaced Leicester/Nylon mix. This soft and squishy yarn for socks is going to make the perfect pair of mittens!

As directed in the pattern when I wound the skein into a cake I split it into two smaller 50g cakes which will mean I know I won’t run out on the 2nd mitten!

When they’re done I’m going to have a matching mitten and cowl combo (see day two’s blog!), both in Countess yarn and whilst different bases, they have the flash of fluorescent colours which attracted me to the yarn.

I didn’t get much knitting time on this project but I’ve cast-on and knit the cuff, and then started the main body. I’ve got a few more inches to go before starting to think about the thumb shaping.

Tomorrow is a crochet project and my final ‘cast-on’ so until then, Happy Crafting.

Christmas cast-on day 4

After yesterday’s coloured adventure I decided to continue the rainbow theme today with these awesome mittens from Ysolda.

Ysolda describes the idea behind the pattern…

Receiving them might be a welcome acknowledgement of their own identity (do be sensitive about outing someone at a family gathering though!), or perhaps you know someone in a position like healthcare or teaching where wearing them will be a subtle way to signal that everyone is welcome.”

I was lucky to visit the Edinburgh Yarn Festival at the start of the year where I met Ysolda on her stand and the subtle rainbow design on these Joy mittens to show my own identity as a gay man, as well as a public show of support for others meant these were an instant purchase!

But after reading the pattern and realising the mittens include both intarsia and double knitting I will confess to being a little put-off and they sat in my stash until now… I needn’t have worried as just following the pattern one row at a time meant I knew exactly what to do. The pattern is really well written and also has a diagram to help with the double knitting section.

In a first for me there’s a provisional cast-on to start which then becomes a folded brim, I was really chuffed when I got this step completed!

After the brim is finished on straight needles you join in the round and then the double knitting starts in earnest! It was a bit fiddly to get going as I had lots of different ends on the go but after a few rounds I was underway. Again I’m really pleased and the double knitting looks great with the rainbow on the outside and grey on the inside. It’s not perfect but for my first attempt I’m happy with any small design features.

I’ve finished the cuff so now it’s over to some plain stocking stitch and adding the rainbow colours into the pattern whilst also adding in the thumb.

There are no rainbows on my next pattern but there are pops of colour again so until tomorrow, happy crafting.

Christmas cast-on day 3

Today is all about colour.

Mark (my boyfriend, for new readers!) is an enabler of my hobby and regularly encourages me to buy wool… best of all he often sends me links to patterns he’s seen and asks me to make them for him (he’s a keeper!).

Mark is also great when it comes to birthdays and Christmas as he hunts around for wooly gifts and this Christmas he brought me a skein of this awesome wool from Kralalien Colourful Creative. I’d seen the wool mentioned in a YouTube vlog from the lovely Angela and we went to buy the yarn a few weeks ago at one of my LYS, Yarn n Yarns in Penarth.

Check out those colours!

Angela had a pair of socks knit up in the shop using this yarn and the pops of colour against the grey background really jumped out at me. I’ve got a kit for some mittens (tomorrows project!) and this yarn will be the perfect accompaniment for a matching hat.

Whilst in the shop buying the wool Angela recommended a simple hat pattern for me to look at which uses fingering weight yarn which I downloaded and away we go. The Sockhead Slouch Hat pattern by Kelly McClure is a free pattern and has many options to help you customise the fit.

It’s been a productive day where I finished the ribbing and started on the stocking stitch, another pattern which is just rounds of knit stitch but again the perfect portable project for out and about knitting. I’ve taken a bit of inspiration from Carolien’s sock pattern and every time the coloured sections of the yarn come up I’m purling them which is giving me a bit of texture.

I’ve enjoyed today’s project so much I don’t really want to stop and cast-on something new. But the rainbow theme continues tomorrow, although this time it’s a bit more tricky… watch this space!

Until then, happy crafting.

Christmas cast-on day 2

It happened again…

Lovely pattern, gorgeous yarn – not a good match together!

My day 2 cast-on was the Coffee Break cowl by Louise Tilbrook which has a lovely texture effect. The yarn I chose is a Grande Merino DK weight from Countess Ablaze in the BoJo’s Brexshit Bonanza colourway. The blue base is so vibrant and the pops of colour drew my attention when I was buying it.

So I’m on the 2nd round of the pattern and I’m not feeling the vibe. The variegated yarn is muddied through the pattern – I can’t believe it’s happened two days running!

Right – PLAN B!

Stocking stitch! Yes, stocking stitch is the saviour for all yarn in my eyes… I want this yarn to be a cowl and I have a similar colourway that’s lined up later in the week for matching mittens. To add a bit of interest I decided to do an infinity cowl, a simple design that I’ll twist before joining the ends together.

The yarn looks so different in simple stocking stitch than in the patterned version – and I’ve got more solid colour yarn in my stash which means another stash busting project for the New Year as I really want to make the Coffee Break cowl.

I’m really pleased I stopped when I did and whilst I’ve got rounds and rounds of knit stitch to go, I think it’s going to look great when it’s finished.

So onto day 3 and I’m über excited about this cast-on! More tomorrow.

Happy crafting!

Christmas cast-on day 1

Well my Christmas cast-on party has started and it’s with mixed results on day 1!

First up on my needles was planned to be the Mindfulness Cowl by Louise Tilbrook, but a few inches into the pattern and I’ve decided the wool I chose isn’t right for the pattern.

The wool is by the awesome Countess Ablaze, it’s the Space Cadet super bulky which is 90% merino and 10% stellina. The colourway is called ‘Sexy Times’ and it jumped out at me on a trip to the Countess’s studio in January when I was in Manchester to watch the musical Wicked – the perfect colour for the show!

So… the pattern looks like a series of clusters and in the Space Cadet just looked too muddy, you couldn’t see the definition of the stitch due to the changing colours.

I was enjoying the pattern and have some other chunky wool in my stash in a solid colour which will really show off the pattern. So that’s a stash busting project planned for 2020.

Back to this festive project and the more I looked at the wool yesterday the more I decided a really simple pattern structure would show off the great colours – et voila!

I’ve made a good start and have cast-on 43 stitches with a provisional cast-on and I’m working in 2×2 rib. This is still going to be a cowl and when I get to the desired length I’ll graft the stitches together to make it seamless. I’ve already got two cowls in this wool and it’s gloriously squishy and warm to wear!

Looking at the two projects side by side I’m really happy that I stopped when I did as I think the rib shows off the Countess’s awesome dyeing!

Hope you’re all managing to get some crafting done in this weird bit between Christmas and New Year. Next up on my cast-on journey is the Coffee Break cowl!

Christmas cast-ons

Last year I cast on a small project for ‘me’ on Christmas Eve, I’m not one for mounds of yarn being turned into Christmas gifts, but I’d been working on a few projects for others last year so it was nice to make something just for me.

I planned the same for this year but am taking it one step further for 2019. Inspired by the lovely Angela who does a “12 cast-ons of Christmas” I’m going to cast on 5 knitting projects and hook up a crochet project too giving me 5 Christmas cast-ons (I’m sticking with cast-on despite having a crochet project involved, it’s better alliteration!)

So my festive goals are…

Cwtch me cowl using Countess Ablaze Spaceman chunky

Coffee break cowl using Countess Ablaze Brexshit DK

Knock Knock convertible mittens using Countess Ablaze Brexshit fingering weight

Rainbow ‘Joy’ mittens using a kit from Ysolda

Sockhead Slouch Hat using Creative Colourful sock yarn

Winston the Aardvark from Ed’s Menagerie using Toft wool from my stash

I also want to work on my Flax sweater and I want to swatch for another Bubble sweater to decide on my colour choices.

I cast on yesterday for the Cwtch me cowl and I’ll do a short blog post on my progress as I get started. Now the big day is out of the way I’ve got a restful week planned with Mark to watch TV, eat too much food, and cast on some simple projects just for me!

And best of all, it’s pretty much all wool that’s been in my stash for quite a while so I can polish my halo and feel all good about using all this lovely yarn!

Whatever you’re up to, happy crafting. Right I’m off… project #1 here we go!

I’m back…

I’ve neglected this blog (again!) but haven’t neglected the knitting or crocheting.

My last post I lost my way… but I won’t feel guilty was in June and in the lead up to that I found it difficult to regularly blog. I wasn’t in a routine and in trying to track my progress I ended up getting more distracted by my blog than I was enjoying it.

So we’re trying again – 3rd time lucky and all that – and this time it’s definitely ‘no pressure’ writing to chart my progress through crafting.

My blog was started as I wanted to make more items in 2019 than I did in 2018 and I thought a weekly blog to hold myself to account would be a good addition. I planned to track my crafting hours and see progress as I ticked things off towards my target. But in reality all it did was make me cranky as I’d forget how many times I had knit on a certain day, I didn’t have time to write the blog as it took me away from knitting etc etc.

I’ve recently discovered a love of crafting podcasts though and the more relaxed format that I can watch as I knit really inspired me. As an extrovert I’m not shy in front of a camera so maybe that will be a channel I explore in 2020, but for now I’m going to aim to write regular blogs to share what I’ve been up to.

So for now, thanks for reading as I dust off my writing brain after many months off. I’ve got an end of year blog in plan to summarise where I got to – and reader you’ll be pleased to know that the ’31 project target’ is in my sights!

I mentioned a couple of podcasts that I’ve gotten into recently so go and check out Calon Yarns, Yarn n Yarns and Wet Coast Wools on YouTube – this is an unsponsored blog to share some great channels with you! Let me know of any other channels you’re into!

Regular readers will know my love of coffee and finding new places to knit and I’ve recently discovered Stag coffee in Cardiff, the perfectly chilled place for a few hours writing or knitting!

Until next time, happy crafting.

Martyn

I lost my way… but I won’t feel guilty

I started writing a blog as a way to track my progress and hold myself to account (to myself!)

But it’s been 6 weeks since my last blog and I’ve ended up feeling guilty for not writing – that can’t be right, can it? I don’t have a huge following on here (get your tiny violins out!) but by documenting my progress on a Sunday I was able to see what I’d done each week, and with my aim to knit a little every day I could see how my projects were developing.

One missed week became two, became three… of course I’ve still been crafting and I’ve made good progress and finished some items too. The absence of a weekly tracker though has slowed my progress, I don’t feel that I’ve been as productive over the last month compared to others.

So, I’m back.

I’m writing, I’m blogging, I’m crafting.

Will I blog my progress once a week? Hopefully! Will I stress if I don’t? I’ll try not to!

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how we make ourselves feel guilty and any techniques you have to combat that internal voice….

In the meantime, here’s a little project I finished recently – a Moose for Bog Moose! More on that in a future blog!

It’s been three weeks since my last blog…

…but I’ve still been knitting!

Week 16 – 15th to 21st April

    Projects cast-on = 0
    Projects finished = 0
    Days knit = 3
    Hours knitting = 6 hours

Week 17 – 22nd to 28th April

    Projects cast-on = 1
    Projects finished = 1
    Days knit = 5
    Hours knitting = hours

Week 18 – 29th to 5th May

    Projects cast-on = 0
    Projects finished = 0
    Days knit = 7
    Hours knitting = 21 hours

Despite not blogging about my progress I continued to monitor my weekly stats as each blog was written in draft but not posted! Life got in the way, lots (and lots) of work and Bank Holiday fun with friends and family.

Diagonal Drift

Over the last three weeks I finished my Diagonal Drift scarf and to say I’m chuffed with it is an understatement!

It was such a great pattern to work on I’d be happy to make another. Week 16 into week 17 saw me continue into garter stitch hell with all those pesky knit stitches but look at the results!

After finishing the final panel I then had to tackle an I-cord bind off which was a first for me but it gives a great finish. The scarf needs a little blocking to smooth out the panels which I’ll get to over the next few weeks.

The biggest challenge with this project will now be learning how to wear it… not sure I’ve cracked it yet……

The Bubble Sweater!

Buoyed by the success of finishing the scarf I quickly cast on my next project which is another Stephen West design – his Bubble Sweater. Mark chose the pattern and chose the colours, I’m making this in West Yorkshire Spinners new wool ‘Colour Lab‘. Colour Lab is 100% wool and British which tick two boxes for me as a knitter, it’s really squishy and is knitting up well.

It’s fair to say this is one of my most challenging projects to date and I started with gusto – a twisted rib which gets folded over to make a double thick collar.

It was a little fiddly knitting a live stitch with a stitch from the cast-on edge but the finished result is great.

The next step on the pattern is the bubble stitch itself which is an odd thing for a knitter to do – drop a stitch off the needle and unravel it! Bravery was needed but I did it and it started out looking great…. until I realised I’d made a mistake…. how did that happen?!

The design has two different coloured bubbles which should sit either side of each other but in this photo I’ve tried to show the error. The top photo shows the top of each bubble almost in-line with each other, whereas the bottom picture shows it correctly aligned.

After spending most of Saturday and Sunday working on this I was gutted dear reader… I went to bed and left the jumper in the naughty corner.

Monday and Tuesday saw me patiently ripping the whole thing back to the collar and then it hit me – LIFELINES! I thread the stitches from the first row onto some scrap yarn using a tapestry needle which secured it all up and I was finally back to beginning of the body.

I’ve no idea what I did on the first attempt but after cracking on with it and giving it a second go it’s now looking perfect! When I spotted my error I was at the same spot I’m at now, so whilst I lost a week by ripping back and doing it again, I’m glad I did so it looks as it should!

Well that’s it for this week, I’m ploughing on with the jumper and will hopefully split for the sleeves today, then it’s knit all the way to the bottom!

Happy crafting…