Sunday, 2 August 2015

I'm back!

It's been a while since I blogged last but I'm feeling in the mood to start it up again! How are you? It's been busy around here. It's the summer holidays and my mum came to visit me for 2 weeks. We had a fantastic time in Jakarta, doing some touristy things such as going to the Jakarta National Museum and Taman Safari Park. We had a wonderful time in Bali also and visited an Elephant Safari Park. My mum's favourite animals are elephants so this really made her trip. We rode an elephant and got to feed them too. All the elephants have been rescued and according to our mahout (who was from Sumatra and witnessed how elephants are used for logging etc) the elephants are much happier here and far better cared for than in their previous homes.

After she had gone I had a week at home to do nothing but knit, spin and a little crochet (more on that later though...). This was followed by a relaxing and revitalising week in Bali with my husband. After I got back from Bali I completed a 2 day chocolatier course! I can't tell you how fantastic this was. It was extremely tiring as I learnt so many new things and worked hard to make the chocolates but it was an experience I'm unlikely to forget! Hopefully you don't mind me not going into too much detail...we'd be here for a while if I did!

My main project is my second Custom Fit cardigan. The yarn is from Life in the Long Grass in the colour way Splash in their gorgeous silk/merino blend.  You should absolutely check out their colour ways! So far I've completed the back and the sleeves. I'm about 1/3 - 1/2 way through the cardigan fronts and knitting these 2 at a time.

My next WIP is a sock yarn scrap blanket! Never before have I felt the urge to knit one of these things. My view was that they'd take waaay too long and be a great deal of hassle. However I've been seeing a few on the podcasts I watch and felt inspired. Blankets made of squares just weren't doing it for me though so I cast on the Beryl Blanket. These little hexagons are a bunch of fun to knit although somewhat fiddly. I'm not going to list all of the yarns I've used unless you're really interested.


Since the Never Ending Cardigan I'm not sure I've actually finished any knitting...I took a break from it for a while as I wasn't feeling the love but the holidays have given me the boost I needed to pick my needles up again. Spinning took a hit for a while too but during the TdF I was determined to get a longstanding WIP finished.

This project was started in February of last wasn't the easiest of spins which is probably why it hibernated for a while. With some determination (that lead to sore hands) I finished spinning and plied it up before my husband and I went to Bali. I got about 499 metres of a 2 ply. It's stunning and I'm very much looking forward to knitting it up! The fibre was from Ixchel Bunny and is the Magic Bunny Top. It's a blend of 60% merino, 25% firestar, 10% cashmere and 5% angora. It's not the softest yarn ever, which I attribute to the firestar, but it's fine for next to skin wear.

As I mentioned above I've been teaching myself to crochet. My efforts have not culminated in a great deal yet so I won't post pictures yet. My brother and his partner are expecting a baby this month and I've started crocheting them the Classic Baby Blanket. I'm using some King Cole Merino Blend in the Kingfisher colourway. So far it seems to be coming out OK but I'm not holding my breath!

I hope you've had a good few months and will check in here. I love to read any comments you have to share so if you have anything to say, please do!

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Sunday, 22 February 2015

Things I Learned When Knitting the Never Ending Cardigan

The journey of the Never Ending Cardigan has been quite a long one. I started it back in March May 2014 and finished on Friday. Having spent Thursday morning completing the button band and casting off, I planned to spend the rest of the day sewing on buttons and weaving in ends. I was immediately concerned that it wouldn't get finished when we booked last minute flights (we left for the airport an hour after buying them) to Singapore to see friends. Quickly I threaded some yarn through where I'd put pins in for the buttons and packed it to take with me. It got a bit of attention at the airport and then on Friday I finished it.

While I have enjoyed knitting the NEC I am incredibly glad to have it finished. It hasn't been a hardship working with this beautiful yarn though and I'm sure wearing the cardigan will be an absolute pleasure. It's been an incredibly interesting knit; ironic since it's all stockinette stitch with a little ribbing chucked in there for fun. It's my first adult sized fitted garment though and I've learned a lot while knitting it.

Things I learned:

- That swatching is really important. I don't swatch for many things but it certainly paid off for this!
- I will gladly use the CustomFit recipe maker again. I struggled with some of the terms but that's because in this instance I was pretty much a beginner knitter! The Ravelry group are so helpful and I always got answers to my questions and the help I needed.
- I don't mind seaming that much.
- I hate blocking. Alright...I didn't learn that from the just confirmed it! I went into complete meltdown as the fronts looked far too big and I couldn't shape them properly and I thought the whole thing was a waste of my knitting time....
- My husband hates blocking too. At least when I do it!
- I am sometimes quite irrational. (See my hatred of blocking).
- Where is important to mark off in a pattern so row counting is easier.
- I need more lobster claw stitch markers to mark certain points in the knitting.
- That you count decreases not from where the two stitches overlap but the stitch that joins obvious when you think about it!
- Finally that I should knit more cardigans!

Project details:
Pattern from CustomFit
Yarn: InkedYarn in the Katharine base. A 55% SW BFL/45% silk blend
Buttons: 6 mother of pearl, 3/4 inch
More details can be found on my Ravelry project page.

Overall I'm really pleased with it and think it fits quite well. There is a little too much fabric near the armholes but this doesn't seem uncommon with the CustomFit design and there are ways to fix it. The buttons are really pretty however I didn't use any grosgrain ribbon and I am slightly concerned that the buttons will pull on the button band, although seeing as I rarely button cardigans up it may be OK.

I have the yarn on the way for a second CustomFit Cardigan and hope to begin swatching soon! I'd love your feedback my first adult cardigan! Is there anything I should consider changing for next time?

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Sunday, 15 February 2015

Midmonth Update

I hope you're all having a great February! Normally I wouldn't bore you with details of the weather but we've had some fierce storms over the last few weeks! I'm not scared of thunder or lightening and I really enjoy watching storms but we've had some claps of thunder here so loud that it feels like the house is shaking! The car alarm has gone off a few times because of thunder too! Rain has been extremely heavy and some parts of Jakarta have experienced flooding; luckily not where we are though! This has all meant long nights knitting! 

1. Complete the left front of my cardigan (cast on today) I have finished the left front, re-knit most of the right front and as of today started seaming!

2. Decide what to do with the socks and shawlette that are currently on the needles (more on that later) I ripped out the socks and will probably knit a pair 2AAT using the magic loop method. 
3. Spin for at least 15 minutes every couple of days I've been very bad with the spinning as I've been really focussed on my cardigan. 
4. Figure out a plan of action for a baby blanket I need to knit I've not given this much thought...yet! As I'm not going home until Christmas I'm not too concerned about time. 

That's it for now. Next time I hope to show you a mostly completed cardigan and share some plotting I'm doing for my next projects. Have a great week! 

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Friday, 6 February 2015

What a Knitiot!

As I was in the car this morning I was knitting blissfully away on the left front of my cardigan. I stopped just at the point where I am due to do the bust increases and had a quick scan of the pattern to make sure I knew what was coming up. Then a thought occurred to me. Had I done the bust increases in the right front? If not that would account for the 5 missing stitches that I had to fudge....note to self to check for much needed bust increases.

So I got home and had a quick check of the right front and sure enough it looks like I missed the bust increases....I'm not sure how but I must not have read that part of the pattern! I'm glad now that I know where I lost those 5 stitches as I was racking my brains trying to work it out....

Luckily I had it in my mind that I may have to reknit the right front anyway. I may well rip down to the first decrease as it's not so neat so I suppose that's my silver lining.

I hope you all have a lovely crafty weekend lined up! 

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Sunday, 1 February 2015

February Goals

As January was a good month for knitting and spinning (at least by my standards) I am keen to keep this up this month. These goals really do seem to help keep me accountable for my crafting and ensure that I get on with my projects - or at the very least think about them.

Goals for this month:

1. Complete the left front of my cardigan (cast on today)
2. Decide what to do with the socks and shawlette that are currently on the needles (more on that later)
3. Spin for at least 15 minutes every couple of days 
4. Figure out a plan of action for a baby blanket I need to knit 

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Saturday, 31 January 2015

Monthly Goals Update

Has January whizzed by for everybody else like it has for me!? It's been a good start to 2015 and I hope it continues this way. Having taken a rather long break from doing any kind of exercise this month I decided to start again and not really because it's January either. How long I will keep this up for I don't know but I would really love exercise to be a regular part of my life again. 

At the moment I am flitting between spinning and knitting; trying to do each evenly so I make progress in my projects. Last week I picked up an old spinning WIP that's been sitting unloved since March last year. Back in February 2014 I started spinning some Ixchelbunny Magic Bunny Top in the Aurora colourway. Since discovering that I much prefer to spin combed top from fauxlags I decided to dig out the remaining top and start spinning it again. I realise it's probably going to look slightly different to the first batch I spun but I'm fine with that. Fauxlags are making it an awful lot easier to spin as the sparkle can be a little bit tricky. 

Finish Rivoli shawl - I'm less than 10 rows away from the bind off so this is achievable! As you know this was accomplished at the beginning of the month. 

Pick up my cardigan and knit on it! Stop procrastinating and get on with it! I've finished knitting the right front! 

Half way through I had a little panic that the numbers in the pattern were wrong. Lots of people reassured me that the Custom Fit patterns are very reliable so I was going to push on through when I realised that somewhere, somehow I had missed out 5 stitches! I think it must have happened at cast on as I can't see how else it could have. Instead of ripping out all the knitting I'd done I just increased to the right number of stitches and am now hoping that it's not so noticeable of that it doesn't change the fit drastically. 

Spin for at least 15 minutes every couple of days. I would say I've done this for most of the month...some weeks more than others but I don't think I'm far off. 

So a pretty successful January in terms of my goals. Who knows what I could do in February? How was the start to your 2015? Full of fibery goodness I hope! 

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Sunday, 25 January 2015

My First Beaded Shawl!

As I said a little while ago I've finished and blocked my Rivoli Shawl. My husband just got round to taking photos as we're having quite a clear sky day here. It's lost some of it's shape as it was blocked a few weeks ago but it's still beautiful and I couldn't be any happier with it. It will definitely need blocking before I go away again but I don't mind that too much.

You may have noticed that it's not as deep as the pattern example and the main reason for that is that I didn't swatch! I never swatch for shawls as I'm happy to rip out if the fabric isn't what I want and am generally not bothered if it comes out a little smaller or bigger than the pattern example, as long as it's still wearable. I only used 496 metres of yarn and the pattern recommends having 700 metres available to use.  

If I were to knit this pattern again I would use a different blend. The fiber is Lotus Yarns Forest Dew, which is a blend of 36% angora, 30% merino, 26% tencel and 8% cashmere. While I love the finished shawl it does give it a different look to the merino/silk blend that the designer used. It's more soft, fluffy and not as polished looking. When I do get to wear this in December I am sure that I will greatly appreciate the fluffiness of it! 

The beads are great as they weigh the shawl down a bit and I'm hoping they will help to hold it in place when I do wear it.  Using the Fleegle Beader made the beading a huge amount easier than using floss to transfer the beads and I'm extremely happy I had it. In the future I'm sure I will make some more beaded projects although, I have no plans to at the moment. 

What have you finished recently that you can't wait to wear!? 

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Monday, 19 January 2015

Spindle Success

Recently a lot of my energy has gone into spinning or thinking about it at the very least. Over the last few months I have lost a bit of love for spindling and have been craving a wheel. A wheel may be on the horizon in the next few months but that doesn't mean I will quit spindling. It's important to me that I continue using the equipment I have as I would feel that it would be wasted and fine tools don't deserve that.

Last weekend I set out to try to improve my spinning and sat down with YouTube and Ravelry. I started a thread in Ravelry talking about spinning combed top supported. A few people chimed in to the conversation with really helpful and insightful comments. Some people also gave some advice; one of those pieces of advice being use fauxlags.

In the past I have attempted to make fauxlags but, I messed them up and didn't try again as I didn't think it was the way for me. Having more experience with fibre in general meant that this round was successful. Below is a collage showing how I make them.

I pull off about a staples length of fibre, fluff it out a bit. Then I use some PVC pipe to roll the fibre into a fauxlag and push it off. So far they've worked really well; they're not too tight or too loose.

The fibre I used was Woolgatherings polwarth/silk blend from the Fancy Pants club April 2014. It's been on my spindle for a while but I was finding it frustrating to draft. After I had made the fauxlags I found it much easier to spin! It drafts so easily and quite evenly. I've added to my spindle quite a lot the last week and am really enjoying spinning. Fauxlags may well be my go to for spinning combed tops.

Here's hoping that my spindling continues in the same manner! What prep do you like to spin most?

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Sunday, 18 January 2015

Midmonth Update

The last week has mainly been about spinning. I have done a little knitting but not much. I will write an update of my spinning progress soon as that's another post. This is an update of my goals for January though.

Finish Rivoli shawl - I'm less than 10 rows away from the bind off so this is achievable! Done!!! I need to get my husband to take a picture of it in all it's glory. It really is stunning and worth showing off.

Pick up my cardigan and knit on it! Stop procrastinating and get on with it! I finished the decrease section I was on and am currently reading ahead in the pattern to the neck and armhole shaping. I think I understand so should be able to pick it up and carry on soon enough. 
Spin for at least 15 minutes every couple of days. I will update more thoroughly on my spinning progress soon but I have been spinning at least this and more some days.

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Friday, 16 January 2015

Analysis Paralysis

(I wrote this post on about the 10th January, however it sat in my drafts for one reason or another. I will write an update on my spindling shortly, as I've made some progress, but wanted to post this anyway.)

Spinning has been on my mind a lot of late. I'm obsessing over looking into buying a wheel at the moment and I've finally got an invite to the Southern Cross Fibre club! I asked to be on the waiting list in August 2012 and got the invite just a few days ago. Of course I'm signing up as I know David's fibre is gorgeous and I really like a lot of the club colour ways I've seen. 

The other reason it's on my mind though is that I'm trying to enjoy spindling again. As I said in this post I'm finding it frustrating. I hadn't really worked out why at this point though. It was definitely something to do with the stop start motion and winding on and so on but I wonder if it's more than that. On Thursday I dug around in my stash for some samples from the Phat Fibre box I got quite some time ago. A beautiful violet batt from Luthvarian Fiber Arts jumped out at me, begging to be spun. It's a blend of corriedale (which actually I've never enjoyed spinning), merino, silk, bamboo and firestar. The colour is called Wild Violets and you can see a picture of the batts here.

To try to understand where my frustration in spindling lies I decided to go and watch as many YouTube videos on support spindling that I could find, beginners or not. Although I had done this when I started but I  found some different ones. Normally I sit with my support spinning bowl to my right, I use my right hand to flick the spindle and my left to draft the fiber. A lot of the videos started with the spinner having their spindle bowl in their laps; I had never found this comfortable but thought I'd try it to see if it helped get me out of my funk.

Digging out my Spanish Peacock pocket Russian spindle I tried starting with my bowl in front of me. At first I found that it hurt my shoulder so I adjusted the way I was drafting to try to make it more comfortable. After a while it occurred to me that perhaps I just prefer spinning batts on my spindles. Could this be it? Is it easier to spin top on a wheel than on a spindle? What are your thoughts on this? I feel having both hands on the fibre might help control it better but am I wrong in this?

I took my spindle in the car with me on Friday morning and happily spun away on the batt until I arrived at work. After work was finished, and I was waiting for a friend, I picked up the spindle and spun for a few minutes...Saturday I took it in a taxi and got a little more done and then Saturday afternoon I finished and plied the batt. Overall I'm not sure what it was that made that experience much more enjoyable than my spindling of late....
  • Was it the batt? I definitely found it easier than spinning top; perhaps because I wasn't so worried about it drafting out evenly across the top? 
  • Was it the spindle? It's a lovely spindle but it's a Russian like many other of my spindles and all are from reputable makers so I'm not sure. I also don't think it's the length of the spindle. 
  • Was it the new bowl position? I need to try this out on my other spindles to know for sure. 
  • Was it the wool? Corriedale has a long staple and maybe that's part of it. The polwarth/silk top I'm spinning is easy to draft but the top is difficult to manage as when I was splitting it in half I pulled one of the halves apart in some places.

Whatever the reason I really enjoyed this spinning and am going to keep trying to overcome my frustrations with my other spindles. I would love to hear what fibre preparations you prefer spinning and why.

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Friday, 2 January 2015

FO Friday #7

I did it! As I have the house to myself for 3 blissful days I sat down for a few hours this morning and finished my Rivoli shawl! When I cast on this pattern on 30th Dec 2013 I knew it would take me most of the year (if not longer) to complete and I was fine with that. It has been an incredibly satisfying knit and, while it's by no means perfect, it is glorious and I'm really pleased with it.

The pattern looks more complicated than it is and was fairly easy to knit. Admittedly I rarely did more than about 4 rows in one go as I did have to concentrate carefully on adding the beads and the lace pattern. The short rows seemed to take forever however, I was grateful to be casting off only 254 stitches instead of the 334 that I started with.

The yarn (Lotus Yarns Forest Dew Fingering Weight) is as soft as you would expect from a blend of 36% Angora, 30% Merino, 26% Tencel and 8% Cashmere. It was easy to knit with, if a little slippery at times and incredibly warm. There is a bit of a halo from the angora but not enough to obscure the lace or be too irritating if you don't like that sort of thing. My main worry is the strength of the yarn but as the shawl really won't get a great deal of wear it shouldn't be an issue. The beads add a little glimmer, a bit of weight and I also really like how they feel too.

I was nervous about the blocking of it as I've never blocked an angora blend but it seemed to wet block OK; I really won't know until I take it off the mat though. It's so difficult to get a good picture of it; hopefully my lovely husband will take a much better photo when he is back! 

I feel really good for finishing this and hope that the rest of the year continues in the same way! Have you finished any of your languishing projects from last year or perhaps cast on something new for 2015?

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Thursday, 1 January 2015


Many bloggers are currently setting their goals for 2015 after reflecting on 2014 but I'm not going to set any long term goals for 2015 as I doubt I will stick to them. If I'm being really honest 2014 was a disappointing year for knitting and spinning. I only got a handful of projects completed and I think part of the reason is that I have so many on the go and need to dedicate more time to getting them done! My knitting and spinning mojo has definitely faded and I hope it comes back soon.

Spinning is massively frustrating for me at the moment and I feel like I'm losing any coordination I had. It doesn't help that I'm not practicing often enough (because of said frustration) so what little time I do spend spinning I don't enjoy. The stop start nature of support spindling and winding on is making me yearn for a wheel; this year may well see me buy one. If I do it will be a Lendrum DT.

I will continue trying to set monthly goals for myself but need to make more of an effort to pick up a project most evenings! This month I think I'm only going to set a few goals to see if that helps me get my mojo back. 

Finish Rivoli shawl - I'm less than 10 rows away from the bind off so this is achievable!
Pick up my cardigan and knit on it! Stop procrastinating and get on with it!
Spin for at least 15 minutes every couple of days.

That's it for me. What are your goals or resolutions for this year or month?

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