Not Monday

As you can tell, this isn’t Monday. There are 2 reasons for a lack of blog post yesterday, the big one being that I can’t get anything done when the husband is in the house – he causes too many distractions and last night he was waving SPECTRE in my face and I couldn’t refuse the call of Bond. James Bond.
The second reason is perhaps the most important one. I was in shock. Complete and utter shock.
As you may or may not know, I’m a little bit OCD when it comes to my stash. I have a beautifully colour coordinated spreadsheet which I’m rather proud of.

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I’ve had this since 2012 and I love it. I update it every Monday (be it adding new yarn or removing a ball that I’ve knitted up) and keep track of the weekly totals.
This week the total is 65.5 miles, which while particularly scary is actually less than a few weeks ago when it was hitting 70 miles.
So why was I in shock? Well the above snapshot is actually just the yarn that lives in the living room, and it’s nearly 10 miles on its own. In 2017 I only knitted about 10 miles, so it could take me all year to knit up just what I can see!!!
But, all is not lost! I’ve been making excellent use of my Ravelry queue – I’ve been matching yarn to patterns for a few weeks now and have enough queued to keep me going for a while. There’s a mixture of cowls, socks, shawls and mitts in there, so plenty of variety.

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I’m also desperately clinging to the Cold Sheep this year. I go through this routine every January where I decide I’m not buying yarn again until I’ve used up a good portion of what I already have. Then by about May I’ve caved and bought a whole load to make up for the lack of buying… but this year I’m determined to get the stash down to a decent level. I’ve already sold a lot of sock yarn I know I won’t use, and I’ll continue to clear out the unloveds as I go along.
There are 3 hurdles that may stop me in my tracks this year:
First up is Woollinn – this takes place in Dublin in May and, although I’m exhibiting there, the temptation to buy some fabulous yarn will be a bit too much, so I’m bringing moral support with me.
Next is Yarn Folk – this is the second year of this festival in Whitehead, and again I’m exhibiting at this one. It’s going to be bigger and better than last years, and while I was restrained last August, I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to repeat that performance!
Lastly, the annual Dublin trip in November – while my purchases have steadily decreased over the years from 50/60 skeins to 10 or less, I’ll still end up buying yarn I don’t know what to do with!
So, if I can behave myself during these 3 festivals, then I reckon I’ll be ok.
Does anyone else have the same issue as me, or am I along in my struggle?
How do you organise your stash?

Do you match yarn to patterns? I’d really love to know!

 

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A Very Pink Shawl

My daughter is at an age where she’s beginning to appreciate handmade things, so when she asked for a shawl to wear, to make her feel like ‘a princess’, I was delighted to oblige.

A favourite designer of mine, Susanna IC on Ravelry, had just begun a Mystery Knit-a-Long (MKAL). (If you haven’t done one yet, do it! They’re so fun!) It was the perfect opportunity to knit another amazing lace design, and when a friend brought me this skein of Skein Queen, I knew I had also found my yarn:

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It took me ages to knit of course. Knitting a lacy bead-riddled shawl isn’t easy with small kids running around all the time (i.e., no personal time or space), and very little time to knit, period. (Also, there’s the small matter of where I got lost in the clues of the MKAL and just kept knitting, even though I knit 30+ rows past where I could have cast off for the size I chose. Oh well. I’m glad I kept knitting. But I digress.)

Luckily, she loves it.

 

Even the cat seemed vaguely impressed (as much as a cat can, of course).

 

I highly recommend any of Susanna’s patterns on Ravelry. They’re well-written, easily customisable, gorgeous, and she’s always happy to help through her Ravelry group.

 

Happy knitting!

I had the best intentions…

I wanted to blog on time.

I wanted to have lots to say.

I wanted to have lots of pictures.

But, alas, I’m blogging late, and I have nothing to say. So I’ll make this short.

I spent the holidays with my family, as one does. Most of the time, I was crafting. What was I crafting? Toys. The first one I finished was a cat, just in time to give it to my wee cousin for Christmas. Then I went on to a lion, and finally, a golden labrador. The patterns are all part of Edward’s Menagerie. Check it out, they’re great.

I had yarn for anther one with me, but after making three of these in the span of, like, five days, I’d had it, so I moved on to a knitting project (a WIP which still remains unfinished…), but behold the fruits of my labour:

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Yes, it IS a cat. Shut up.

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BFF’s

Happy New Year everyone!!!

Planning Next Year’s Crafting

It’s that time of year again, when the calendars flip over and we all have the best intentions of using this shiny new time to be the best person we can be.

The Holiday Crafting is over and we declare “this is the year I will only create for myself”, or “I will only use my stash this year.”

So it falls to me, the resident planner, to tell you how I am planning to craft in the new year.

First of all I go and take a good hard look at my WIPs, and the items I have in my queue.

So I’ll do a WIP round up for you.

Currently in progress I have:

Apart from the Mini Mania which is my stash busting project for scraps and stuff, I should have these completed before the season’s change.

Then we get on the the queue, or what I like to call my list of potentials.

Now too keep my on track, as I’ve mentioned before I give myself due dates for when things should be finished. For example the hat I am knitting is for my father who loves to SCUBA dive, and needs to be gifted when I see him in the summer. So I have a completion due date of August 1st.

To keep these in my mind not only do I use my Ravelry queue, but I also use my paper planner. By using the awesome stickers I get from SymposiPress I track how long a project has been in progress, and get to reward myself with a sticker when it is done.

Cowl Planner Stickers

Aren’t these AWESOME?

So what are you doing next year? Do you have a system in place to track your progress, and do you have any big goals you are hoping to create?

Jingle all the way….

Afternoon tea 5

It’s that time of year, the Stitch and Bitch Christmas swap.  We opted for a grand afternoon tea at Titanic again but decided to just do an ornament swap rather than the grander (an infinitely more stressful) ‘big’ swap of last year. As a result, we all arrived calm and relaxed and ready to party. Anja even came dressed as a celestial being.

The afternoon started out quietly as we tucked into lots of beautiful food, including some with flowers.  Afternoon tea 3

Soon however the conversation began to flow.  As usual the chat soon strayed from the wholesome topics of quilting and knitting.  We got busy creating back stories for other tea goers and even the Jazz band, you wouldn’t believe what goes on behind the scenes! At the next table Margaret was having a ‘big’ birthday and we all joined in the singing – several times. We  got out our craft projects and stitched away much to the bemusement of the rest of the guests.

Afternoon tea 2

Then it was time for the swap – we decided on a rather bizarre pass to the third person on the left system.  Everyone soon dug into their parcels and the room was filled with oohhhhs and ahhhs of delight. I was thrilled with my glass bauble of loveliness from Emma.  By far, however, the ornament which garnered the most discussion was Jaele’s creation which was gifted to Pamela.

It was a charming stroll through Jaele’s romantic past through the medium of body parts and yarn. She has promised to make us all pencil toppers of a similar design to use at Middle Management meetings. I can’t wait for the new school term!

Eventually the afternoon began to wind down, but not before Nikki and Anja had worked their charm on the waitress and got even more food.

So from, Nikki, Sharon, Anja, Emma, Jaele, Helen, Pamela and Me – Have a very Merry Crafty Christmas and a new year willed with yarn, hexi’s and hugs.

 

Christmas

If, like me, everything is running late this month then you’re not alone!

Notice how its Wednesday and blog day is Monday – yup, my week has started in a spectacular fashion.

The last few weeks have been a blur of craft fairs, Continental market shifts, work and dyeing –  it’s a lot to juggle and since I’m not at home very much the Christmas knitting has fallen by the wayside (sorry bro, you’ll get your socks in January 2018)

So I’ve decided that a no pressure knitting December is in order. I’ve located all the wips and am slowly working through them all in turn:

1.       Garter Hat  just needs a pompom

2.       Opal socks –  need to finish the 2nd one

3.       Other opal socks – need to start the 2nd one

4.       Hand dyed socks –  again, the 2nd needs started

5.       Beetle hoodie  need to rip back the arm shaping and make the body longer

There are a few long term projects in there too, mainly consisting of blankets in one form or another.

Once I’ve tackled at least some of these wips, I’m casting on a new thing! But this is where I need your help.

I need you to comment with your choice and these are the options:

 1.       Hundred Acre Wood shawl in some lovely Rosies Moments yarn

2.       Spiral cowl in Woolpaca.

4.        Gothic Lace Cowl in something I’ll find,lol

5.  or The Summer Shawl in some lovely lovely Secret Stash Merino Silk

So which gets your vote? I’m hoping to have a wee sneaky cast on on Christmas Day if you care to join me!  I’m trying to work down the “living room stash” at the minute so the yarn that lives in there is first on the hit list!

Say It In Stitches

For the last few years or so, I’ve been finding the need for alternative forms of expression through the fibre arts. And as the Christmas season descends upon us, I’ve been finding myself drawn more and more to the patient and meditative art of embroidery.

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Yep, this is what it’s come to. It’s surprisingly relaxing and strangely cathartic. And I’m not the only one who thinks so, because these are one of my top sellers. Turns out people are willing to pay for my expletives. Which really just brings joy to my heart. What more could you ask for? I’ve even made tiny versions that you can wear. Nikki carries them in stock via Secret Stash, and I’m always happy to fulfill a commission should you want something more specific.

 

Here’s another recent commission I finished, and I think it sums things up pretty well:

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So that’s what I’ve been up to. Happy stitching, and have a wonderful New Year!

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I’ve done it again…

By which I mean, “bought way more yarn in one fell swoop than is sane”… Then again, we’re all mad here, are we not?

So, Dublin Knitting and Stitching Show is well over by now, and of course, we were there.

While some decided to only make it a day trip, Nikki, Sharon, and myself, took the bus down to Dublin on Thursday night. Fresh and awake (sort of) on Friday morning, we headed to Winnie’s Craft Cafe for breakfast, and to kick off the shopping extravaganza.

After Winnie’s, we moved on to This is Knit, finally making The Constant Knitter our last stop. For yarn shopping that is. Because we could, obviously, not skip “The Rolling Donut”. Otherwise, what else would we have for dessert after the Domino’s Pizza we ordered into the hotel without blinking an eye? (Let’s not discuss how many times we had to call Domino’s because they sent our Dinner to the wrong hotel…)

Anyways, here’s my own personal haul for that first day:

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Doesn’t seem to bad, right?

I will admit, I was quite proud of myself for sticking to the self-imposed rule of one skein of yarn max per shop. (Shut up, mini’s don’t count!!!)

And then the actual show happened. Let’s just leave it there. You know, while I still have a shred of dignity.

All I’m gonna say is, I didn’t take much of the cash I had saved back home with me…

Something else I did again: I cast on yet another blanket…

New Toys

You may remember in my last post, I mentioned that I was reawakening my very rusty sewing skills.

You see, my Nana taught me to sew when I was a young thing, for a school project. Where I made a stuffed animal of my own design. I learned to sew on her own machine. The one that is the same model as the one pictured here:

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Singer Sewing Machine 99k-13 (made in 1922)

A couple of years later, I had fallen in love with Japanese Culture and a kind lady was willing to teach me to sew my own Yukata, (a casual cotton based robe for informal wear), but I had to use my own machine to make it.

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Yukata Image from Wikipedia

So I asked my Nana to help. She couldn’t sew anymore, as arthritis had claimed her dexterity, but she gifted me her own sewing machine, fully serviced and working fine.
“Always go with Singer machine Sharon. They keep their needle sizes consistent no matter which generation of machine you have.” She told me as she re-taught me to thread the shuttle bobbin and to follow lines on a piece of paper on the machine. Working on my pressure on the unique knee lever.

Now, this wonderful antique machine was wired for the North American electrical system, which I didn’t wish to trust to the UK’s higher amperage, so I entrusted it to my best friend for safe keeping when I moved here.

With my new found interest in sewing again, and an attempt to remember some of the skills my Nana taught me I have sought out a more modern machine.

My new toy arrived and I am so happy to share it with you!

Needless to say this one has a few more bells and whistles than my old 99k, but the system is the same and like my Nana said:

“Always go with Singer machine Sharon. They keep their needle sizes consistent no matter which generation of machine you have.”

So pardon me while I wrap this up and go warm up my new toy.

Watch this space, I may make myself a new Yukata to fit my more adult frame.

Sometimes less is more….

As crafters we are always pushing ourselves to try new things and improve our skills – I refer you to my earlier post featuring the infamous  ‘Flax’.  This is a good thing, it keeps us sharp and enables us to make knitting, crotchet etc a lifelong passion.

However sometimes a brave new world, is exactly what we DON’T need. Along with everyone else in the world, I lead a very busy life and knitting and crochet is very much my therapy.  But recently it has felt more like a chore, adding to my stress rather than relieving it. My pal in Munich is about to produce twins a number of weeks early and we wanted to be able to send two of the crochet octopi – octopuses – octopod – 8 tentacled sea creatures – to greet their arrival. As befits our friendship, Munich pal sent ‘Patricia’ (that’s me) brand yarn from Germany, then their Irish Auntie (also me) would crochet said amphibians and return them to Germany in time for the birth. Unfortunately due to a rare lapse in German efficiency the yarn pitched up in New Zealand, a long way from North Belfast. Cue a dash to the LYS and a few days of frantic hooking with imploring messages sent to the expectant mother to ‘keep her legs crossed’.  Dear reader, they arrived in time!

Running parallel to this particular crisis was the fact that I had committed to making a beautiful but intricate cross stitch from Bothy Threads, for the wedding of my good friend at work. Naturally this coincided perfectly with an attack of tendonitis in my stitching arm. I was having nightmares about having to crash the wedding to come up with an ‘objection’ in order to buy more time, alternatively I could have bought a toaster. I will be forever grateful for Hurricane Ophelia who provided two sneaky days off work when I had the chance to sew like a demon. Once again, after a late night steaming and framing session the present arrived in time.

Both these tasks left me feeling rather jaded.  I decided something soothing was in order. A couple of years ago I looked on enviously as Sharon made the ‘ Movie Night Cocoon’ cardigan. It just looked soooooooo relaxing.  I was thrilled when, in a swap a few months later, she presented with a cocoon of my own.  This lovely, cosy, straightforward cardigan  seemed to be the perfect ‘gateway’ project back to knitting heaven. And it was……

I had the perfect yarn, a lovely chunky green and brown mix (originally destined for a jumper for Nikki’s husband Glenn), I had won it in the last WWKIP day ballot. I also had the perfect recipient. Rosa is the wonderful lady who looks after my family ( a basically runs my life), she was having a glum time of her own and I thought she would love a cosy hug.

So, after only four days leisurely hooking, two seams and and a final flurry of single crochets for the cuffs the ‘Yarn Hug’ was complete and very well received. No stress, no late night panic, no mainlining anti-inflamatories in order to keep my arm moving. Sometime we just need a gentle, wooly reminder about why we are knitters.

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