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…

April week 15

The curse of the garter stitch returns

Week 15 – 8th to 14th April

    Projects cast-on = 0
    Projects finished = 0
    Days knit = 7
    Hours knitting = 22 hours

Nothing new was started this week and sadly nothing has been finished either… but I’ve made great progress on my new scarf AND I’ve done another week of knitting 7 days running so I’m feeling really great!

Diagonal Drift

I’ve continued to be addicted to the Diagonal Drift scarf this week and have once again turned to monogamous knitting to make progress. Similar to the baby blanket from a few weeks ago it’s actually been really relaxing to churn out row after row of knit stitch, it’s also perfect for TV knitting which is good as we’ve been on a Game of Thrones catch up!

This is a really simple pattern as there are only two pattern sections, one has the short rows and one is a straight section.

The short rows have been worked as German Short Rows which is definitely my new preferred way to do these, they’re so neat and there’s no awkward wraps to pick up.

Look how cool they are those diagonal stripes are!

The scarf/shawl curve has really started to show and I’m now on the final section which is a mighty 43 repeats so approximately 172 rows! This is going to take some time but is in my plan to finish this week especially with a BH weekend coming up.

The edging detail is really pretty too as you can see here.

Overall this has been a great project to work on and I think it’s the start of a Stephen West addiction…

And finally…

Like any good knitter before I’ve finished one project of course I’m lining up my next one – and yes you guessed it, it’s another Stephen West design! Hopefully I’ll have cast it on for the next blog but I picked the wool up from Ammonite Yarns this week – any ideas as to which design this will be?

Until next week, happy crafting!

April week 14

Staycation = perfect for crafting!

Week 14 – 1st to 7th April

    Projects cast-on = 2
    Projects finished = 1
    Days knit = 7
    Hours knitting = 28 hours

Two new projects started this week and one finished too! It’s been a great week of rest at home which has led to lots of knitting and crochet!

Meet Bridget

With the baby blanket finished a few weeks ago I wanted to crochet something from the Toft Ed’s Menagerie, as our friends are having a wild animal themed nursery I chose to make Bridget the elephant.

To give more of an impact in the nursery I chose to make this toy in Aran wool instead of DK weight. I’m so pleased with how she turned out and crocheting with a size 5mm hook instead of the usual 3mm meant it whipped up really quickly and is so much easier to work as the stitches are larger.

As both Bridget and the blanket are a gift, Mark suggested making her a little scarf to match them together so using some leftover wool and size 3mm needles I knitted a little scarf – and I think she looks perfect!

Diagonal Drift scarf

My second project this week is the Stephen West diagonal drift scarf where I picked up the wool whilst at the Edinburgh Yarn Festival a few weeks ago. The wool is from Stephen’s new self-titled range – West Wool – and Mark chose the colours for our version.

Once again the pattern calls for ‘turns’ in the work so I’m using my new favourite German Short Rows and as you can see from the pictures, the way the pattern changes direction is great.

I’m totally addicted to this project as it’s simple to remember the sequence and the wool is lovely to work with. I cast this on, on Friday, and I’m about half way through already! Whilst I’m back to work next week I really hope I can plan to finish this week!

And finally

My ‘and finally’ this week is a shout out to my lovely crochet teacher and friend Gaëlle. I met Gaëlle a year ago at Ammonite Yarns where I’d booked myself onto a crochet course after many failed YouTube attempts to teach myself – and without sounding corny, I was hooked!

Gaëlle drops into the weekly craft nights each Tuesday at Ammonite when she’s not teaching and it’s been great to keep in touch and share my crochet progress.

Well this week I was knitting away when a notification popped up on my phone for Twitter and Instagram, Gaëlle had written the most lovely post about me! Why would someone write about little old me? Gaëlle used me as her ‘follow friday’ this week to share my blog and journey with her followers about my blog, my planning and my (very organised) Ravelry page.

I want to give a public thanks to Gaëlle for reading my blog each week, for being so patient and a genuinely lovely person – being able to share my progress with just one person has made it all worthwhile!

Check out Gaëlle’s website and sign up to her newsletter if you’re into crochet, it’s a great monthly read.

Until next week, happy crafting.

March week 13

What a difference a week makes with a bit of focus and direction!

Three finished projects this week – yes that’s right, three!

Week 13 – 25th to 31st March

    Projects cast-on = 1
    Projects finished = 3
    Days knit = 6
    Hours knitting = 13 hours

Three official ‘finished objects’ all blocked and sewn up ready for their recipients. I’ve now got a week off work and we’re planning a ‘staycation’ which involves lots of rest and lots of knitting!

Garter Ripple Squish

I’m formally claiming the Garter Ripple Squish blanket as a finished object this week as the ends have finally been sewn in. Plus it’s a great excuse to share another photo of those lovely ripples. The new arrival isn’t due until early May but we’re seeing our friends in a few weeks time so I’m glad it’s done.

Maya‘ cardigan

Another project I’ve previously shared was this lovely cardigan from West Yorkshire Spinners with a little fair isle motif. Its now been blocked and had some wooden buttons added and I’m so happy with the finish. I made this project in West Yorkshire Spinners Croft which is 100% British, 100% wool and very squishy. Best of all it’s machine washable which is probably needed as it’s for #niece1 who is only 4!

Spotlight‘ jumper

This is my first project knit ‘in the round’ which means you start at the bottom on a circular needle and work up in a tube. The benefit of this technique is that there’s no setting in sleeves or sewing the fronts and backs together, I can see how this speeds up the overall project and it’s also given me a nicer finish!

The jumper was made using Rowan Pure Wool Worsted which means it’s 100% wool so nice and warm, but it’s also machine washable which will be perfect for a baby!

This pattern is from Tin Can Knits and I’ve already got my eye on a couple of other projects both for myself and the nieces. I thought this would take me a long time to knit the fair isle motif in the round so I made aged 18-24 months… niece 2 is 12 months in a few weeks so she’s definitely got some growing room in this!

Morag is going to join my menagerie…

Fresh from my EYF inspiration last week I cracked on with Morag and have made good progress this week… starting to take shape Morag now has a body, head and a leg and should be finished this week I hope.

And finally!

With a week off I’m planning lots of knitting and I’m going to make a start on the Stephen West ‘diagonal drift’ project that I brought the wool for last week in Edinburgh. I’m putting it in the blog this week to hold myself to account…

Watch this space… until next week, happy crafting!

March week 11 and 12

Life got in the way… I missed a week of blogging…

I was out all day last Sunday so had planned to blog on Monday, but then that became Tuesday, which became Wednesday… (you get the picture!) so sit back and read this weeks bumper edition!

Week 11 – 11th to 17th March

    Projects cast-on = 0
    Projects finished = 0
    Days knit = 3
    Hours knitting = 5 hours

Week 12 – 18th to 24th March

    Projects cast-on = 0
    Projects finished = 1
    Days knit = 5
    Hours knitting = 11 hours

So all in all it’s not been the most productive two weeks. I had so much on at work and home knitting and crochet dropped down the to-do list. That’s going to be corrected this week as I’m currently writing this blog in Edinburgh having visited the Edinburgh Yarn Festival (EYF) yesterday, I’m massively motivated to get cracking on with some projects this week!

Meet Geraldine (and Kerry, Morag and Dougal)

I finished Geraldine last week and introduced her to my menagerie. Geraldine is a level 1 skill pattern and whipped up really quickly, the vibrant yellow is really lovely!

One of my favourite bits at the EYF was visiting the Toft stand which was so buzzy! This year Toft created a new giant animal as an exclusive for EYF, and it was the perfect photo opportunity to get a selfie with Dougal! If you’ve read previous blogs you’ll know I’m a massive fan of the brand and the Edwards Menagerie collection, so being able to meet founder Kerry Lord yesterday (who is the loveliest person you could hope to chat with!) was a bonus for me.

My haul of goodies obviously had to include some Toft and I’m really pleased to have got my hands on a kit for both Dougie and last years exclusive Morag! I’m really looking forward to introducing them to my collection!

Tin Can knit’s jumper

Back to my knitting I made great progress last week on my Tin Can Knits Spotlight jumper by finishing the coloured yolk. I’ve just got the arm holes to graft together then it needs to be blocked to smooth out some of the lumps and bumps.

I still need to work on my tension when doing fair isle but practice makes perfect so they say and I’ll definitely make another one of these, it’s such a quick knit!

The rest of my EYF haul

I had a great time at the yarn festival and you can tell why (and how) it gets it’s name as the premier yarn show. There were also so many amazing knits being worn by visitors it was difficult sometimes not to stare at people! We saw Stephen West (of Stephen & Penelope fame) who is as quirky in real like as he comes across on Instagram. Mark was taken with a scarf/shawl that had just been designed and released for the show so of course we brought some of Stephen’s yummy new yarn West Wool in ‘Tandem’. Mark chose the colours and I think this is going to be my next knitting project to cast on.

I also met the famous Countess and couldn’t resist asking for a selfie! I brought a skein of her new show yarn ‘Brexshit’ which is going to become some fingerless gloves for me!

So that’s it, it’s been a crazy few weeks of slow progress but I’m excited about what’s to come next… until next time, happy crafting!

March week 10

A new cast on, nothing finished!

After the success of week 9 being the first week where I knit/crochet for 7 days, sadly it’s back down to 6 days this week……

Week 10 – 4th to 10th March

    Projects cast-on = 1
    Projects finished = 0
    Days knit = 6
    Hours knitting = 18 hours

2019 objective – a knitted yolk!

One of my objectives for 2019 is to make a jumper with a knitted yolk. There are so many lovely patterns I want to make I added it to my challenge list, and this week I cast a project on! I’m going to make a jumper for #niece2 as it’s easier to learn a new technique on a smaller project before I start an adult piece.

I’ve seen lots of fellow knitters regularly rave about Tin Can Knits and their wonderful patterns, well I saw a pattern and decided #niece2 would look lovely in it. So I’ve made great progress this week with their Spotlight jumper.

Knitting in the round may be my new favourite way to create a jumper – yes ok the DPNs are a bit fiddly to start off with just 13 stitches but making a continuous tube with no seaming definitely seems the way to go.

I started this on Tuesday at Ammonite Yarns knit/crochet club and I’ve worked on nothing else all week!

I read ahead on the pattern on Tuesday night and realised in horror that I needed to do a Wrap & Turn (W&T) for some short rows… it’s a shame I wasn’t blogging last year when I attempted W&T on a sock heel and swore I’d never do it again… Ruth is one of the owners at Ammonite Yarns and joked that there is no such thing as the knitting police and that I don’t need to W&T and could use German Short Rows instead – no one will tell me off!

Jenny (the other owner) then gave me a quick demo of the technique and look readers… short row shaping using the German Short a row technique!

This further proves for me the value of a bricks and mortar yarn shop, I didn’t ask for help we were just chatting over a coffee about what I was working on, and hearing me aghast at the W&T technique they offered up advice to a novice knitter which made my life so much easier!

So by the end of Sunday night I’ve successfully joined the sleeves to the main body and I’m ready to start the coloured yolk! Watch this space for progress next week…

Until next time, happy crafting!

February and March Week 9

I’ve done it!

Another week has past and I’ve finally done it… week 9 of 2019 and I’ve crafted everyday!

I’ve had a week at home with no work travel and despite a pretty crazy week I’ve made sure I found at least 30 minutes each day for a little crafting. Let’s see if I can carry it on for another week…

Week 9 – 25th Feb to 3rd March

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

By knitting or crocheting a little each day I’ve made some great progress this week! It just goes to show that when you put some time aside you can get a lot done!

Oswald the owl

The front is done… I set myself a target to finish the front of the cushion this week and I cast him off on Friday. I’m pleased with how he’s turned out, however I’m not sure what’s happened with my tension as he’s taller than he is wider.

I’ve always been a knitter who knits “just right” I’m neither too loose (creating bigger sized projects) nor too tight (creating smaller sized projects). Having worked on fairisle pieces in the past my tension has been exact so I can only put this down to the combination of fairisle and intarsia techniques being used together. Ultimately Oswald is a cushion so it won’t matter that the finished size is bigger than the pattern says (unlike a jumper where incorrect tension can result in the finished object being too big or small to wear!) but I will need to bear the size difference in mind when it comes to creating the back piece, as that will need to be slightly longer to ensure it matches. I also need to think about the filling nas the project was meant to be 46x46cm but now I’ll need to find a cushion centre that takes a 52cm cover – I might stuff it with filling rather than an actual cushion but more on that in future weeks!

Of course blocking will help to even it all out and hopefully I’ll find time to pin him out this week.

It feels great to have a project finished that I can actually talk about, rather than just update you on my weekly progress.

Geraldine the duck

The other project I’ve worked on this week has been to continue with Geraldine. With Oswald reaching a critical conclusion early in the week I took Geraldine to my weekly knit/crochet club as well as working on her for a little train crochet to and from London as I had a weekend away.

All the crochet is finished now, she just needs to be sewn up to bring her to life and Geraldine will join my menagerie in time for next week’s blog.

Until next time… happy crafting!