Tuesday, 31 December 2013

2013 Review

As many other bloggers are doing at the moment, this blog post will focus on the past year and look to the next year. 

This year has been a good year for me. I've continued to grow as a knitter, making my first cardigans, casting on an adult size cardigan, making some beautifully fitting socks and knitting some lovely lace. While they are not big projects, each one has given me more confidence in my abilities and has left me with great satisfaction. I've also started knitting a beaded (my first beads!!) shawl - more to come on that in the new year. 

I've learnt more about spinning and fiber too. I've spun two skeins that have both given me enough yardage to make a shawl from - something I'm overjoyed about! My spinning is also more consistent and while it's not perfect, I'm perfectly happy with it. 

Here are the projects that I am most proud of from the last year.
Left hand column from top: Gravitate shawl, Low Tide Cardigan
Middle column from top: Nunoco Iridescent Puddle, Fish Lips Kiss Heel vanilla socks, Inglenook Fibers Parrot Tulip  
Right hand column from top: Magrathea shawl, Fish Lips Kiss Heel vanilla socks. 

Looking forward to the next year I already have some projects in mind that I am keen to complete. I have cast on a beaded shawl - my first project using beads, I have swatched for another cardigan and hope to cast on in the next few days. I want to spin the other Iridescent Puddle batt I have in my stash and knit something from those two skeins.  I'm sure that along the way I will think of many other things I want to do, but they are my big projects for the foreseeable future. 

A smaller goal I have is to try spinning from the lock as I have some pygora locks on the way! I haven't tried this type of spinning before but I'm really looking forward to it. Perhaps I will start thinking about spinning for a cardigan at some point too...!

That's it for the year, I look forward to blogging in the new year and will hopefully have some progress pictures to show you soon! I'd love to hear about your favourite projects from 2013 or what you have planned for 2014. 

Happy New Year! 

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Friday, 20 December 2013

FO Friday #3

It's been a few weeks since I've had anything finished and been able to blog on a Friday. 

It's the holidays though so there is no stopping me! I've been knitting like a maniac to get this shawl finished so I can block it ready to gift on Christmas Day. It's finally off the needles and I'm so relieved! 

The pattern is Gravitate by KallioKnits. It's really well written, very simple to follow and knit. Great for those times when you want something fairly mindless...just watch those double yarn over rows! 

The yarn is Fyberspates Rural Charm in the Plum colourway. It's a delight to work with and lovely and soft. The silk gives it a really lovely sheen and I hope that the BFL will minimise pilling. This is it pre-blocking and I hope it grows.  

That's all I'll show you for today. I hope you're enjoying the festive season. I will be spending tomorrow making some pastry for mince pies! 
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Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Time to Rest

After a hectic term, it is now the Christmas holidays! I have time to knit and spin and blog and rest! Hooray! I apologise for my absence but things have been crazy!

I have been knitting and spinning but will only show a few things today and save the rest for over the holidays. The main thing I have been working on is the Gravitate shawl. It's coming along well and I'm now on the penultimate section. I really like how the double yarn overs look dropped and can't wait to see what this shawl looks like blocked. The pattern is so clear and exceptionally easy to follow. 

The other thing that I have been trying to finish is some spinning. My Inglenook Fibers Parrot Tulip has been hibernating for some time. I really enjoyed this batt at first but after a while I found it really difficult to spin as it's not a smooth batt. The last part took me months to spin but I'm pleased to say it's finished and I love the end product.
The colours are wonderful and they work beautifully together. This is also some of the more consistent spinning I've done and I'm surprised at how evenly it plied up, considering I navajo plied it. It's 435 yards, which I'm thrilled with. I can't decide what it will become but I'm tempted to knit a shawl from it. What do you think it should be?

Shortly after calculating the yardage for this, I realised that I must have calculated the yardage for my Nunoco Iridescent Puddle yarn incorrectly. I went back and double checked the calculation and it turned out that I hadn't doubled it to compensate for only measuring half the length of the skein. So that's actually 472 yards - my best spinning yet. 

Recently I bought my first craftsy.com class - Spinning Dyed Fibers by Felicia Lo. I've been hankering after it for quite some time and the price was too good to pass up. I watched all of it in one weekend and it was so immensely interesting that I was disappointed when it finished. There is definitely a lot of information in there that I will use again in the future. Which craftsy.com classes do you like? 

Fractal spinning is something I've wanted to try for a while as I love the way the yarn looks, however I'm not so sure I like the knitted items. A while back I received a Phat Fiber box with lots of delicious samples in it. One of these is perfect for fractal spinning. I will finish spinning and knit up a sample to show you soon. The picture shows the second half of the fiber divided into 3. 

That's all for now - I will be back soon though.
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Sunday, 24 November 2013

Perfect Weather for Knitting

The time has arrived in Suzhou where snuggling up with a hot chocolate and some knitting is the perfect evening activity - although in my book that's OK in summer too! Today has been cold, grey and damp so you'll have to make do with indoor photos taken in rubbish light. Sorry about that! 

Remember that little lacy something I was working on from this blog post? Well that didn't last long! It was going to be a Sacha shawl but my brain wasn't coping with the lace. It's something I have knit before but I'm just too busy/tired to set aside the time needed for it. So I frogged this gorgeous yarn for what seemed like the umpteenth time and started accepting that I might never find a perfect pattern for it. Until I stumbled upon Gravitate by KallioKnits. It's easy, simple and I think quite elegant. This is destined for a very good friend of mine and I hope she likes it as much as I think I'm going to! 

Gravitate Shawl, Fyberspates Rural Charm 
My socks have seen a little daylight although not much since I last posted. It's enough to see how the stripes will knit up and I like them very much. 

Fish Lips Kiss Heel sock, Fishknits Yarn
Over the last month I've been challenging myself to spin a 4oz batt before the 30th November. I've completed the first 50g. While I've started the second 50g, I doubt I will have time to complete it. It's looking lovely so far though. The batt is Hummingbird by Nunoco. Don't you love the sparkles in it?!  
Hummingbird Batt, Nunoco
My Vertex cardigan is coming along. I have joined the fronts to the back and have knit about an inch and a half more. Thankfully, the rolling of the stockinette stitch hides my glaring error. Despite having stitch markers to mark the edges, I'm still going through periods where I'm knitting stockinette stitch and not garter stitch. Quite frankly, I can't be bothered to rip back the 5 or 6 rows to fix it, and while I realise I could also try and drop down the stitches to fix them, I'm reluctant to, as the yarn isn't the easiest to work with. So I'm living with it as a design feature. I think this will be a cute cardigan when it's done but I'm not massively enjoying the knitting of it. 

Vertex Cardigan, King Cole Merino Blend 4 ply
I hope you've had a productive fiber filled week. Until soon! 

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Sunday, 10 November 2013

What's in the bag?

Just in time, I discovered that Nicsknots is running a blogging competition to see what's in everyone's project bags! A little late to the game, I thought I'd write a quick post about my project bag. 

The project bag was custom made for me by Grace of Grace's Cases. She makes fabulous things to a high standard and is a delight to work with. I have one of her needle cases too and it's brilliant! The fabric (which is more muted in real life) was from Spoonflower, which is an absolute time suck so be warned!! What you can't see, is that the bag is reversible and has some lovely owls embroidered on to a coordinating orange fabric. 

In my bag was this:

As you can see I have a pair of socks that I am working on. The gorgeous yarn is from Fishknits Yarn. It's a spilled milk colourway so there were only a few skeins of it. The stripes are so much fun and I'm really enjoying my first self striping yarn. 

The other project is my Vertex Cardigan that I started a little while back. I have completed the back and started the right front but ran into a problem. My row gauge is off, so the right front was knitting up longer than the back. I ripped out a few rows of the back and extended the length of it. I hope this will solve the problem now. 

As you may be able to tell I haven't done the best job of picking up stitches on the shoulder seam. The yarn (King Cole Merino Blend 4ply) made it difficult and I think I would have preferred to knit the fronts separately and then seam them afterwards. Hopefully the left front will be neater though. 

I would love for you to leave me a comment telling me what you can fit in your project bag. Also, if you have a few minutes, check out the blogs that have taken part in the competition. You can find the links in the blog post on Nicsknots. 

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Sunday, 3 November 2013

All Skeined Up

I spent my Saturday morning skeining up my gorgeous Iridescent Puddle yarn. It took a while and I had to splice a few ends together to join the separate balls, but it was worth it. The resulting yarn is stunning. I love how the colours blend from the green to the pink.

Today I counted my yardage and while it is the most I've gotten from any skein I would have still liked there to be more. It measures about 249 yards. Perhaps I should wait until I've spun the other batt before deciding on a project so I can really make the most out of these colours. 

The fiber was from Nunuco on etsy. I would highly recommend taking a look at their shop. The batt was a delight to spin. It drafted very easily and was really well prepared. Handily they come in pairs of 50g batts so a 2 ply is very easily done. Prices and shipping are very reasonable and they process orders quickly.

I have my next spinning project all lined up but that can wait for now.

Have a fantastically fibery week everyone! 

P.S I've joined Instagram. Are you on there? I'm knitiot if you want to check me out. I haven't posted much on there yet. 

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Friday, 1 November 2013

FO Friday #2

As I said last week my aim this week was to finish my Nunoco batt. Well this week I did! I finished the spinning on about Tuesday and then spent the last few evenings plying. It's in quite a few different balls as I had to play around to get the colours to match up better in some places but I really like the consistency of it and how the colours have blended. I need to re-skein, wash and measure it yet though so have no real information to tell you about it. It's so soft and really squishy and overall I'm thrilled with how it's come out. I will post a much better finished picture soon. 

That's it from me this evening. I will probably be back with another post over the weekend though. I'd love to hear what you finished this week!

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Sunday, 27 October 2013

Winner Announced!

I hope you've all had a great week. I didn't post any FO's on Friday as I have none. I have been knitting and spinning this week though. 

As I said last week I started my Vertex Cardigan. It's going much better than my first attempt and I'm pleased with how it's coming out. I have also knitted a bigger size than previously as I think I was being a touch optimistic before and don't want lots of negative ease. The first part of the back is finished and today I will pick up stitches for the right front. The yarn, King Cole Merino Blend 4 ply isn't as soft as I'd like but it does soften up after a wash so I'm sure it will be fine to wear. 

My Fishknits yarn has been calling to me since I finished my stripy socks. The yarn is really lovely to knit with and the colours are fabulous. There are no photos as I've only just completed the toe, so will wait until I've got a bit more of the foot done before I show you. The shop is definitely worth checking out and there is a lovely Ravelry group to join too, with a KAL running at the moment. 

My nunoco batt is still being spun on and I am keen to finish it. It seems to be taking me a really long time though. The colour is lovely and I've only got a few grams left to spin of the first batt. Perhaps you'll see some plied yarn next week if I can get my act together!  

As I said a few weeks ago, I have a copy of Ply magazine to give away. Alison Manning you are the winner so please get in touch with me using the feedback button on the left hand side of the page. Don't forget to leave me a way to get in touch with you! 

That's about it for this week. I hope to have more progress to show you all next week! I'd love for you to leave a comment and tell me what you have been working on this week. 

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Saturday, 19 October 2013

The Socks of Happiness

I finished my Fish Lips Kiss Heel socks tonight and I am thrilled  with them! They are just so much fun that I actually squealed with delight when I put them on and saw how they looked as a complete pair. The heel looks so neat and was very easy to knit. I highly recommend the pattern to anyone wanting to try a new heel. 

I used the magic knot technique to join my yarn to create the stripes and although it has worked out fine I probably wouldn't choose to do this again as it really was a hassle. I will also think about knitting a longer cuff for my following socks, so far they seem to stay up fine though. I used twisted 1x1 rib and really like the way it looks on the colour change. 

Self striping socks are definitely next on my list to knit but do I go plain vanilla or patterned? If patterned, what patterns work well with self striping? I would love to hear your suggestions. 

In other news I have cast on another attempt at the Vertex Cardigan by Carol Feller as I received a 500g cone of yarn earlier this week. My swatch came out at the exact stitch gauge so fingers crossed it will work up OK! I am knitting it out of King Cole Merino Blend 4 Ply in the kingfisher colourway. The colour is beautiful and I've been wanting to add more colour to my wardrobe for a while. Wish my luck! It will be my first adult sized garment. 

As I said last week I cheated on my socks with a lacy shawl. I've not knit much more than 2 repeats of the first chart though. There are only 8 rows in each repeat and I have less than 60 stitches on my needle so very little progress has been made on it!! It's the pattern Sacha by Vanessa Smith which I've knit before. The lace is quite a challenge in that there isn't really an obvious pattern so you need to concentrate on it and that doesn't happen for me during the school week. I'm using Fyberspates Rural Charm in the plum colourway. This will eventually be a gift for a very good friend. As I've mentioned on the blog before, the yarn is amazing to knit with and definitely worth checking out.  

That's it for this week. Remember to check out the giveaway if you haven't already! 

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Friday, 18 October 2013

FO Friday #1

I thought I would give FO Friday a try for a little while to see how it goes.  

I'm going to start with my Barley hat that I knit a couple of weeks ago and have only just got round to photographing. 

As I said in a previous post it was a great knit, easy to follow and it looks great! I did fudge the decreases a bit in the seed stitch section but was too lazy to go back and fix them as no one will notice! 

I'll be back over the weekend with more knitting and spinning to show you!

P.S Don't forget to enter the giveaway! 

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Sunday, 13 October 2013

A Little Lace Relief

Dear stripy pink and yellow socks,

Your fabulous colours make me so happy and I am so looking forward to wearing you when the weather is cooler. I am tickled by your colour changes and you fit so wonderfully. 

For now though, I'm sorry to say but I'm bored of you. I need a change. It's not you, it's me. I thought that endless miles of stockinette that alternated pink and yellow could keep me amused for hours and hours. I was wrong. I'm cheating on you with a flirty lace shawl. This isn't the end, I will be back. But for now, I need a little lace relief. 


P.S Don't forget to enter the giveaway!

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Saturday, 12 October 2013

A Giveaway!

So this week I ended up with a copy of Ply magazine that was meant to get to me when the summer issue was sent out and never did. A replacement was sent so now I have a spare copy of issue one of Ply magazine that I am giving away on here! 

It's a fantastic magazine with a wealth of information on spinning. The first issue takes the theme of 'firsts' and runs with it, focusing on advice for first time spinners, tips on buying your first wheel and fleece and much more! 

If you want to win a copy of this magazine all you have to do is be a follower of my blog (great if you are already!). Make sure that if you follow me on bloglovin that you are a visible follower so that I can see you, if not you won't be entered to win. I will generate a random winner on the 27th October. Be sure to check back then to see if you have won! The competition is open to everyone! 

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Monday, 7 October 2013

Finished Object!

I finished my Belgian Waffle Boomerang earlier this week and got around to photographing it earlier this week. The pattern was very clear and easy to knit but it did get a little repetitive after a while. I like the finished object and as it's knit from Fyberspates Faery Wings it will be very cozy to wear. 

In other crafting news I have completed the heel of my socks and thought the Fish Lips Kiss Heel pattern was excellent. The heels fit perfectly, look so neat and were very easy to knit. I highly recommend buying the pattern if you haven't got it already. Don't these socks make you so happy?!

Wanting some (almost) instant gratification I cast on the Barley hat by Tin Can Knits. I knit twisted rib instead of regular though and moss stitch instead of garter. It was quick and I finished it in a few days, photos to come when it stops raining! I really like the way it fits and the pattern is very simple. It's great for some mindless knitting or if you are a beginner knitter! 

I received an incredibly generous gift from a friend. It's approximately 1kg of gorgeous, soft 60%/40% alpaca/wool blend lace weight yarn. I have no idea what the yardage is but I expect it's a lot! Half is an oaty colour and the other half is a soft grey colour. I am going to swatch for Bonny but with the yarn held doubled. Perhaps I'll experiment again (with my swatch first) with dyeing when I have finished the knitting! What are your favourite lace weight patterns? 

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Friday, 4 October 2013

A Book Review

Had you told me 5 years ago (before I learned to spin or knit) that one day I'd read a book about fleece and enjoy it I probably would have laughed in your face. Oh how that has changed! I don't own many knitting or spinning books as space is at a premium but I can see that there are some books that will change this.

The Field Guide to Fleece by Deborah Robson is one of those books. From the moment I picked up the book I was so intrigued to learn more about the 100 sheep breeds that are covered in the book. Although I won't have the opportunity to make it to any fiber festivals in the near future I still think this book will be useful as I explore different breeds through spinning.

The book begins by talking about why we love wool. It's really interesting and talks about the different types of fleece that sheep produce, how fleece can change dependent on the environment and what to do if you think you might be allergic to wool. It also talks about what you can learn from the fiber itself and goes into crimp, fiber length, micron count etc. 

Each breed that is talked about in the book is accompanied by pictures of the sheep and a picture of the locks. The pictures are very clear, and the locks photographed show the crimp, colour and length of that particular fleece. The information provided in each chapter is easy to read, concise and useful. Some breeds contain tips on how to spin the fiber too. I particularly like that it gives suggestions on how to use the different breeds in your knitting as well as how it takes dyes. 

A table is included for each breed giving you quickly accessible information about the origin of the breed, fleece weights, staple length, fiber diameters and natural colours. On each page is a space for you to make your own notes if you should take this to a festival or auction.

Overall the book is beautifully set out, a great size and I'm sure it will be incredibly useful to those spinners that are interested in learning more about the different breeds out there or who are thinking about buying a fleece and would like a bit of help choosing the right breed. 

I hope you've found this review useful, please let me know in the comments or by sending me some feedback by clicking on the feedback button on the left hand side of the page. 

Thanks for reading!

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Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Liebster Award

As you may have guessed I have been given the Liebster award from the lovely Kathleen at Gothy and her Crafty Stuff. The Liebster Award was designed for bloggers to give to other bloggers to help promote their blogs, find out about the people behind them and gain more readers. Sopphey has written about it in much more detail here.

So my questions set by Kathleen are these:

  • How long have you been blogging?
Since August of this year. 
  • What made you decide to join the blogging community? 
I have become more and more obsessed with knitting and spinning. I don't know many knitters or spinners where I live so thought this would be a good way for me to say all the things I have to say about it. 
  • Who is your inspiration?
I really admire all those who've managed to turn their love of fiber and yarn into a career. I would love to be able to do that but it's not on the cards for the foreseeable future. 
  • What craft tool could you never live without?
My knitting needles or spindles! 
  • What's the next skill you want to learn?
I've been tempted to learn how to weave but there isn't room for a loom. I like the idea of learning how to use a potters wheel too although again space is an issue there too. I like to learn skills where I can use my hands in a way that doesn't involve drawing, as I can't draw for toffee, so who knows where that will take me?!
  • What's your favourite item you have made to date?
I love the Girasole I knitted for my youngest niece when she was born. Unfortunately I have no decent pictures of it finished. It's also the most complex piece I've knit so I was very proud of it. I did modify the edging though as time was pretty short. 

I'm giving the Liebster Award to: 

and these are my questions for you lovely bloggers:

When and why did you start blogging?
How did you learn to knit?
What is your favourite yarn?
What is your best (or worst) FO?
Where is the strangest place you've ever knit? 
What skill will you learn next?

Have a great day! 

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Sunday, 29 September 2013

Change is coming

The weather has been rather changeable recently - going from lovely sunny days to grey, overcast rainy days. It's definitely cooling down here now and it's making me want to cast on a hat. My problem is which one? I love lacy hats but when I'm zipping along on my e-bike they are just not that warm! So something textured and slouchy is what I'm after. I was thinking of casting on Barley by Tin Can Knits as despite being really simple I love the look of it. My other option is Mont Royal by tshep as the detail of the twisted stitches is gorgeous. Perhaps I'll knit both! What are you planning on knitting for the weather where you are?

I am still knitting away on my Belgian Waffle shawl but I am now on the final third!! Hopefully this week I will finish it (as I have a week off work!!) but really need to try to knit monogamously on it to do that...the thought makes me cringe but I want it off the needles and I'm sure you're bored of seeing it on the right there! 

Finally I can show you the pair of socks I have recently cast on, Rhubarb and Custard. Originally my plan was to knit them with a diamond up the front but I didn't like it so I ripped that part out. Now I am going for my first pair of stripy socks instead. The first join was fine but then I got fancy and decided to use the magic knot join...that had to be ripped out. Then the third join was funky so that had to be ripped out. At the moment they seem to be going OK but I'm not holding my breath!  

Finally I got some Nunoco off my Twindle so that I could free it up to finish off the first of my Iridescent Puddle batts. This is so wonderful to look at and the colours are prefect in my opinion! 

On my Glindle is the remaining fiber of the first batt of my Ingelenook Fibers Parrot Tulip. Those little green nups make me so very happy. 

That's about it from me today. I will be back later this week giving you my review of The Field Guide to Fleece. So far I think it's brilliant! 

Friday, 20 September 2013

Blog Hop Part 2

The Blog Hub Blog Hop has come to an end. The idea behind it was to finish as many WIPs as possible.

I set out to finish my shawl, a pair of socks and some spinning. I finished the socks but the shawl and spinning remain WIPs to be complete. 

I was clearly being a bit ambitious with my WIPs but I'm pleased with how the socks came out and the others will get finished soon enough.

Check out how the others did:

Thursday, 19 September 2013

A Holiday

Today it is Mid Autumn Festival despite the fact that it's 29 degrees outside. Due to the holiday I have a day off of school! Hooray! 

It's come at a wonderful time as I have been anxiously awaiting two rather fabulous parcels. They took 3 weeks to get from the USA to me so by this point I was getting a little impatient. They arrived yesterday which was a great relief as I think if they'd arrived today and I hadn't been able to get them it would have tipped me over the edge and I'd have turned into a raving lunatic! 

Before I tell you about the packages though I have a confession to make. I'm a virgin. Yes, that is what I said. A self striping sock yarn virgin! The horror! I felt the urge to remedy this situation a few weeks ago though and then yesterday I received a lovely skein of self striping sock yarn, from a new to me indie dyer - FishKnits. The colour way is Spilled Milk number 6, Fat Tuesday, as the striping pattern was a (brilliant, I'm sure) mistake. The yarn has teal blue, deep purple, deep turquoise and true red. It will stripe but not as originally intended. I cannot wait to cast on and see how it knits up!  

Also in the post I received two new Cherry wood spindles. One is a beautiful glindle from Bristlecone and the other is a phang made by his wife. Both are stunning and have gorgeous pyrography on them.

The glindle has 5 bats in flight which symbolise the 5 virtues of  longevity, wealth, health, love of virtue and a peaceful death. The focal is a Chinese lantern and is a beautiful creamy lemon yellow with 'ghostish whisps'. The true beauty of the focal is so difficult to capture.

The phang has fabulous tiger stripes and a tiger tail along with the Chinese character for Tiger on the front. It's beautifully shaped and spins very well. Alongside these two spindles I received a scoop made from Avocado wood. I adore it's rustic exterior against the smooth centre dip. It will definitely be my go to spinning bowl. 

As for projects I am still knitting the shawl but have now cast on my new socks. I won't show them to you today as I haven't even finished the toes yet! I'm off to do that now so have a great day! 

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Progress is Being Made

The Blog Hub Blog Hop is on Wednesday has now been extended to Friday and I have been working mainly on those projects. 

Good news - I finished the socks!! I have washed them and am waiting to give them to the recipient so I can take a photo of her wearing them...if she'll let me! 

Unfortunately I am still only about half way through my Belgian Waffle Shawl. I thought it'd be much quicker than it is turning out to be. Although I will continue to work on it I doubt I'll get it done by Wednesday. 

I am still spinning the nunoco batt and have got about an ounce on my spindle. That will come off soon and I will start the next ounce. 

Today though, I decided to ply the 2 ounces of Inglenook Fibers that I spun up over summer. I couldn't get the peacock feathers to ply into it so will knit those in when I knit with the yarn. It's currently drying in the sunshine so I have no idea of the yardage yet. Overall I think it came out OK. The second ounce is much more consistently spun and finer than the first ounce. 

I'm not that fond of the dark blue skein which is just as well as I have it earmarked for a project for someone who does like blue. The bottom skein is more my colours but I'm not in love with it so I'll probably destash the remaining fiber to someone who will give it the love and attention it deserves. It is really very soft though and I'm sure I'll enjoy knitting with it. 

Now I can start the next pair of socks using the Fish Lips Kiss Heel. The socks are going to be pink and yellow, have contrasting heel and toes in opposite colours and will most likely have a diamond pattern on the front of the foot and up the leg. I can't wait!! 

I will definitely use the 2 at a time, toe up method again as it was such a relief to have them both finished at the same time!

What projects have you been working on?