VKL was mighty swell

I’m sure all of us have those bucket list trips that we would love to do. Mine for the last few years has been Vogue Knitting Live in New York. I love cities and knitting so this event seemed a match made in heaven to me. So with the help of my new travel guru (Naomi from Thomas Cook) we plotted the perfect route , found a hotel close to the venue and that’s how I found myself on a bus on a cold January day heading for Dublin airport .
After a long trip I checked into a hotel across the road from the Marriott which was the venue for the weekend.
On Thursday at five I joined the the excited group waiting to get our passes for our packages then the theatre group met to go and see Come From Away a musical based on the passengers grounded after 9/11 .

Friday saw VKL really get underway with classes and lectures taking place. I went to Top ten tips for a good fit which was full of useful advice to make sweaters that feel comfortable to wear and which  are flattering with Deborah Newton.n
Next was joining the queue for the opening of the market place for the first time. The doors opened and there was a mad dash mostly to Stephen and Penelope’s and Steven B booths. People arms filled with skeins but I was overcome by yarny choice and couldn’t decide what to buy. I eventually bought  two skeins and a project bag.IMG_1926

Saturday morning was my Steeks class with Julia Farwell Clay. This was a great class where we learnt two types of crochet steek and after knitting a button band , twenty women took a deep breath and the began to cut their knitting ! All was good and we left ready to tackle bigger projects.
Then it was back to the market place for more shopping . This time I got some very discounted knit picks Felici and a souvenir skein of Primrose yarn called Little shadow . I had wanted a sweaters quantity so that was the next thing on my list. After that I was ready to go out for fresh air and lunch before meeting a friend and having time to knit and relax. The general consensus was that it was less manic than last year.
Sunday morning saw me join the queue to have my measurements taken at the Fit booth I was there for an hour so had some chat time with lots of people . This was a much more relaxed day for me and I was able to see the art exhibits on the 7th floor and visit the stage for some talks and the famous yarn toss .IMG_1878

 

 

 


VKL was fun and I met knitters from all over the world. In fact on Friday night I had dinner with a girl from Australia and a lady originally from Peru . Saturday was a night with the ” Same time next year girls ” and we spent the evening in an Irish bar with very enthusiastic American football fans .

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Come on along…….

I’m not much of a joiner – actually that’s not strictly true.  I’m a great joiner – whenever a new idea or outing is suggested my hand is first in the air and my deposit is first to be handed in. But when it comes to actually going / doing / joining, I tend to wimp out and stay at home in my jammies.  To date I have paid over £120 for various work social events that I signed up to and bottled out.  sometimes I even get as far as cleaning my teeth and doing my tan.

This is fascinating Patsy, I hear you cry, but what does it have to do with yarn? Well……. one of the great pleasures of being a ‘Yarn Person’ is the prospect of an ‘along’ – knit along, crochet along, needlefelt along…. Ravelry is filled with various alongs as are the magazines and websites. Most of my stitching friends have taken part in one, and some people are really dedicated. From my observations I have noticed that there are several categories of people who ‘along’.

  1. The Early Adapters – they are very clever, they try out techniques and designers long before the rest of us and get to say things like, ‘I knew Stephen West before he was famous’
  2. The Watchers – these canny maidens observe how others are getting on and watch the boards carefully for advice and suggestions – they always have a beautifully finished garment
  3. The Alpha Knitters – they knit up all the clues in all the colours and are known to be online at midnight to start stitching as soon as the new information becomes available – we are all secretly very jealous of their talent and their energy.
  4. The Frank Sinatras (they do it their way) – these knitters take the original pattern more as a suggestion – altering, yarn, colourway, size etc. They complete an amazing garment, though it often bears no real resemblance to the original.

What kind of an ‘alonger’ am I? Well actually none of these. I have subscribes to two alongs in the past. The yarn and a fully year of crochet now subscriptions are currently sitting in my living room – it is a very big pile and someday may become a double granny square bedspread. The other is the beautiful Hygge kit from Scheepies.  It is really intimidating and occupies a place of reverence in ‘knitting corner’. Periodically I take it out and just sigh.

So, are ‘alongs’ a no go area for this particular stitcher – it would seem not. Our knitting group has decided that in February we are all going to knit the same shawl. I have been reassured that it is ‘really straigtforward’. However this did come from an Early Adapter and a Frank Sinatra so I’m reserving judgement! It will all be very chilled with everyone working at their own pace. I have some beautiful yarn from Secret Stash to use.

So watch out for future blog posts when I will reveal if I have finished my very first ‘along’ or retired to my room with a garter stitch scarf.

Px

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!

 

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…

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