Sunday, 23 January 2022

Knitting Class

 I took part in my first ever Zoom knitting class yesterday organised by Tangled Yarn. The class was an explanation and practice of the colourwork techniques in the Scout shawl by the designer Florence Spurling.

I don't know if you've come across the Scout shawl but it looks like a patchwork of fairisle blocks and its knitted flat, not in the round and steeked which is more common for fairisle.

We started off with the basics of intarsia, followed by stranded colourwork (which turns out not to be too tricky worked on the wrong side).

We then moved onto combining the two techniques into a swatch for the shawl. This is where the fun began - six balls of yarn with the need to twist them (intarsia) at the beginning of each new block. One of the main challenges seems to be keeping the yarns untangled.

Only a small sample but I think I've got the hang of the technique. I feel more confident with starting the Scout shawl. I need to decide on my yarn colours and then find a suitable quiet period in which to start as this will take concentration and yarn tangling skills!

Sunday, 16 January 2022

What about the KALs?

 I posted last Autumn that I was going to join in with Joji Locatelli's Fall KAL and also with Stephen West's Mystery KAL. Joji's had a six week window in which to complete a Joji designed item; the MKAL was being released over 4 weeks but with no completion deadline.

So how did I do?

Well both items have been finished, but not until last week.

As I was knitting a Susurrus sweater, by Joji, for my mum for Xmas I decided to make that my entry for the Joji KAL.

 I was able to give my mum the sweater to open on Xmas day (without a waistband as we needed to check it for length) but I was nowhere near the KAL deadline.

The MKAL took second place to the sweater, for obvious reasons, but that was finished apart from the blocking, on 6 Jan and even though the Mystery aspect makes me nervous I love the finished item...but I am definitely not taking part in the 2022 MKAL, too many other things I want to knit.

And I still have the KAL bug as I am now taking part in the Yarniacs Self Indulgent KAL - more about that soon.

Thursday, 6 January 2022

2021 Plan - The Outcome

I think that the main outcome of my 2021 plan is that I shouldn't plan my makes (or at least not as many of them) as I get distracted by new and shinys or the need to make a gift.

The list as of end of June:

1 Aran squares x 3 (WIP) 
2 Xmas Stars (WIP) 
3 Wedding quilt (WIP) 
4 Jessa trousers
Grace 2/ Marguerite 
Lovenote sweater (WIP) 
7 Jonie
8 Xmas mini
9 Socks x 7 (WIP) 
10 Jessa shorts
11 Snowflake quilt
12 Billie dress
13 Billie top
14 Hitofude
15 Bird quilt 
16 Cross stitch bookmark (MIA) 
17 Rainbow quilt (WIP) 
18 Xmas Lucy's Terrace
19 Cat quilt 
20 Jumping dots
21 Bag

All I can add from June is that the Jessa trousers are cut out and a different cat quilt is now planned.

I finished a Jonie dress...

...and some socks...

(two and a half pairs if anyone's counting!).

But I did make plenty not on my list...

...and another Susurrus sweater and several toiles for pyjamas.

All in all I'm happy with what I've made and I'm pretty certain I'm just going freestyle in 2022!

Saturday, 2 October 2021

All the KALs

 It seems the Autumn is the season of knitalong and it also appears that I am being the ultimate joiner this year.

It all started with Joji Locatelli's Fall KAL, the aim of which is to knit any of Joji's patterns in six weeks (it has been 3 months in previous years) and if you were really ambitious you could sign up for more that one pattern.

This coincided nicely with my plan to knit a Susurrus Sweater for my mum for Xmas, a little extra incentive to get it started is no bad thing.

The photo shows my progress after one week, I suspect I won't have a finished object by the end of the KAL but I'll be on the way and I'm not knitting this sweater purely for the chance of winning prizes.

With the sweater planned there was no way I was going to sign up for Stephen West's Shawlography Mystery KAL but it would be interesting to follow the Ravelry forum and it couldn't hurt watching his intro video...

And then I had chosen my perfect yarn set (which can't be captured accurately by my phone camera it would appear). Looking forward to the first clue being released next Friday.

And finally, and technically not in the Autumn so I do have some breathing space, there the Yarniacs Podcast Self Indulgent Knitalong which starts 21 Dec. I haven't got photos oh my yarn but I know I'm going to knit the Flying Foxtails Wrap by Stephen West in a beautiful silk mix yarn from North Shire Yarns, in a colourway called Victoria, with a grey bushed alpaca silk from Drops - feels like a very self indulgent mix.

Looks like I've got my big knitting items planned till post Xmas! 

Saturday, 21 August 2021

FNSI - August

 Being off work meant I was able to spend a little more time on my FNSI projects, and I worked on a few.

Firstly I cast off my Bubbles and Brioche shawl designed by Stephen West.

I knitted the coloured stripes of this using leftover sock yarn from other projects and some cheap balls of black and white sock yarn. I wanted to try out brioche knitting (the vertical black and white striped sections). I really enjoyed it and have already planned to knit another West Knits brioche project, once I've completed some gift knitting. I'm also toying with making a bubble cardigan, but that is still very much in the just thinking about it stage.

I moved on to piecing some QSTs into strips, these are slowly becoming a cushion cover. Unusually for me I didn't overthink the 'random' placement of the blocks and I'm pleased with the look and how quick it was to pretty much just lay them out.

The main aim of the evening was to get the quilting done on my current baby quilt. Underestimating the time required and my machine having a fall out with the thread I used meant that I didn't achieve as much as I hoped (I've done a little more today) but I think it's looking good. 

If you want to see what everyone else hot up to during FNSI pop over to Wendy's blog - Sugarlane Designs

Saturday, 17 July 2021

July FNSI - All the colours!

 I am actually in the process of making a quilt for the first time in ages (possibly a year), so as the intended recipient has been born I thought it would be an ideal thing to continue with this FNSI (my new baby quilts are always a little late!).

I started off with a pile of blocks

Which required the odd correction as I added to them

Which eventually became pinwheel the majority of which I sewed into rows and I even managed to sew somd of the row together. 

I was fairly close to finishing this part of the quilt, which will have borders added, but as the night wore on the concept of nesting the seams became more and more tricky for me to achieve, so I decided to come back to it another day. The pattern is the Pinwheel Pindot Quilt which is a free pattern from the Fat Quarter Shop's website. 

I semm to have a few very colourful projects on the go at the moment and to fill the time before bed I picked up my newest and currently most addictive one. 

This is the Bubbles and Brioche Shawl by Stephen West which I am mostly using leftovers from other projects to knit. 

If you want to find out what everyone else got up to during this month's FNSI visit Wendy's blog Sugarlane Designs to find links to everyone else's blogs. 

Friday, 16 July 2021

Revisiting Baking

Due to exceptionally popular demand I have baked the Bakewell Blondies from Jane's Patisserie again and this time I've managed to remember to take a photo of the finished object. I first made these for my birthday in April but I only took a photo of the batter in the pan. 

And, just to confirm, these are as delicious as the first time round. This is definitely going to become a TnT baking recipe for me. 

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

Mid Year Plan Update

 In January I set myself an optimistic 21 in 21 type of list, although I was completely aware that completing them all was nearly impossible. It seems a good time to have a review of my progress against the list.

The list:

1 Aran squares x 3 (WIP) 

2 Xmas Stars (WIP) 

3 Wedding quilt (WIP) 

4 Jessa trousers

5 Grace 2/ Marguerite 

6 Lovenote sweater (WIP) 

7 Jonie

8 Xmas mini

9 Socks x 7 (WIP) 

10 Jessa shorts

11 Snowflake quilt

12 Billie dress

13 Billie top

14 Hitofude

15 Bird quilt 

16 Cross stitch bookmark (MIA) 

17 Rainbow quilt (WIP) 

18 Xmas Lucy's Terrace

19 Cat quilt 

20 Jumping dots

21 Bag

So that's 3 items complete:

The Joni dress and the Jessa trousers are in different states of partial completion:

And I've completed two pairs of socks with another two on the needles:

Considering how weird life is still I think I've made pretty good progress and I couldn't resist making one or two things that weren on the list and there are more planned:

It's likely my next list update won't be until late December.

Saturday, 29 May 2021

Reduce, re-use, recycle

There's rightly been a lot of talk about the sustainability of clothing and the amount of clothes that get into landfill.

It's something I'm aware of, trying to be a bit more focused as to what I buy, getting full use out of items and trying to work out the best was to recycle rather than bin old items. Over the last few days however I have tried to do more than carefully buy and dispose of items.

Firstly my lovely pair of black dungarees have faded to a less that lovely grey colour. As they are still in excellent condition otherwise I decided to try redying them black.

It may sound a little odd but I was surprised by how black they became (and that the washing machine didn't become black).

Encouraged by thus first success I decided to move on to my next planned clothing renovation.

I like lightweight sweatshirts from a particular clothing brand and was going to buy myself another, when I remember a sweater dress from the same brand that I don't weat because it's too clingy.

A bit of work with the scissors and my sewing machine...

... and my dress is now a sweater, which incidentally go with my dungarees (and also benefitted from being ironed!).

I'm not sure that I will be able to rework all items that no longer fit or suit me but it's definitely got me thinking about what is possible. 

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Baking - Part 3 - Party Time

 My recent baking phase is starting to feel less like a phase and more like a habit (all be it one that may be a little limited due to the impact on waistbands recently!).

In April I celebrated a birthday ending with a zero, due to the pandemic going out to celebrate or having friends round wasn't really an option so we decided to mark the actual day with an afternoon tea which I decided to mostly make myself. Luckily the recipes chosen either tasted better if left for or few days, or could withstand not being eaten on the day of baking so I didn't have a mad session baking immediately before the tea. 

I decided that the tea would include savoury scones, malt loaf and bakewell blondies.

First up in the baking schedule was the malt loaf. I've never made this before and haven't even eaten it that frequently. A recipe was selected, Nigel Slater's from the Guardian if you're interested, the malt extract was tracked down (a much nicer extract than the yeast variety to my mind and should also allow me to make bagels using it) and we were off.

Barring a slight oven temperature error all seemed to go well. 

Next up bakewell blondies from Jane's Patisserie website, rapidly becoming my go to for tasty and interesting cakes.

Having made Jane's Biscoff Blondies (you should give them a try) previously this recipe was easy enough, just wish Id bought better quality jam and taken a photo of the finished items. Because there is only two of us I made half the recipe quantity and baked it in a 2lb loaf tin. 

The recipe for the cheese and thyme scones, from the National Trust 50 Scone Recipes book, suggested they were best from the oven so they were cooked on my birthday.

And the finished effect...

We added some sausage rolls and a wedge of Baron Bigod cheese, in the background, which goes well with malt loaf. And as it was my birthday our accompanying beverage was French cider. 

All very tasty and enough made so that we could enjoy the bakes over the weekend. 

Saturday, 17 April 2021

April FNSI - Project hopping

 I seem to be on a roll both with FNSIs and with writing blog posts this month!

FNSI came around at a perfect time for me this month, plenty of crafty things planned and underway.

First task of the evening was to cut out out the fabric for my dress, which was achieved.

After a fairly late dinner, I had a a choice to make whether to start sewing the dress together or to practice my free motion quilting before my class on Saturday afternoon.

The free motion quilting won and I watched the instructional videos and started working on my feathers.

Not too bad and nothing a bit more practice won't improve. I've enjoyed this course (although could definitely have practiced more) it's all been online over 4 weeks and we've covered petals, leaves, spirals, flowers (which you can see to the left of the feathers) and feathers. If it had been a face to face course it would have all been squeezed into one 6 hour day and I probably wouldn't have been able to attend as it would have taken place somewhere more than two hours away from my home. For anyone who is interested the course was run by The Crafty Nomad

As it was now getting quite late and I find myself not able to concentrate on sewing if I'm tired I swapped onto knitting. I've decided that it would be a good idea to knit at least 4 Xmas presents this year, luckily if also decided to start on them early in the year.

I can't show too much in case the recipients are reading  but the yarn is Coop Knits Socks Yeah DK and the pattern is by Andrea Mowry. I'm finding this an enjoyable (and fairly quick) knit thanks to all being in knit stitch and no more than 2 colours per row. It's looking likely that I'll achieve at least one knitted Xmas present this year!

If you want to see what everyone else got up to this Friday pop over to the sign up page over at Wendy's blog  Sugarlane Designs.

Thursday, 15 April 2021

Baking Part 2 - Easter Items

 After my recent bread success I felt I was on a yeasted baking roll and wanted to widen my repertoire, with Easter approaching hot cross buns seemed to fit the bill nicely (and conveniently my newly trusty Paul Hollywood book had a suitable recipe. Easter weekend was also the date suggested by a friend for a virtual bake off of a Jane's Patisserie recipe, given the time of year Creme Egg stuffed cookies were settled on.

Hot cross buns seem to require quite a bit of proving and as I didn't fancy getting up suprr early on Saturday to make them i decided to risk a rise in the fridge overnight and bake them for Saturday breakfast.

Still learning the nuances of a new oven, so they came out a little darker than I expected.

But once split and buttered they were fine, slightly chewier than a shop bought hot cross bun but definitely nicer and worth making myself.

The creme egg stuffed cookies?

Yum! Soft cookie dough wrapped round slightly melted creme eggs. I expected them to be epically sweet as the creme egg I'd sampled prior to baking had been almost too sweet for me but I found them delicious slightly warm and oozy (I had a cold cookie a day later and it did seem sweeter so the recommendation from Jane's Patisserie to warm the cookies slightly in a microwave before eating is a very good one). I now want to try out some of the other stuffed cookie recipes available at (not an ad just a very pleased, slightly over chocolated baker who wants to share a good recipe site).

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

A Very Productive Day

 Last Sunday was one of those lovely days when you have no real chores or DIY tasks planned (Saturday was a whole different case). So as I sat sipping my tea I decided that I should really have a look at some of the crafty chores I'd been putting off.

Having finished my crochet wrap (more of that in another post) I was left with a few ends to sew in.

In reality my end sewing in pile looked exactly like the photo above. A wrap and a shawl that can't be blocked until the (surprisingly low number of) ends are sewn in and a pair of socks that will be able to go in the sock drawer. Miracle of miracles the ends were sewn in well before midday so I was inspired to look at what else needed a little bit of work to keep it progressing.

Next candidate for my attention was my temperature project which was languishing around late March. I have to admit this didn't get as far as Friday (last date for which reliable temperature figures were available) but it did move on a little and this is definitely a project which benefits from little and often.

I then worked my second mitten to the start of the thumb gusset, only a handful of rows were ended but this now means that the mitten knitting is back to a relatively low attention section which means it's ideal for listen in work calls, or gripping tv episodes.

This ideal day of crafting was then interrupted by my going for a run. Sunday is generally the day I try and go for my longest run of the week, it's not always a happy experience but I always feel great afterwards. To fit in with the success of the rest of my Sunday I'm pleased to say that my run was very enjoyable, i made my route up as I ran and got quite a way around the town,  and I managed slightly further than I hoped to go and didn't feel completely worn out by it. To cap it all off the weather decided to remain almost perfect for a run while I was out (random snow showers have been a feature of our weather over the last week).

Usually this would signal the end of any chance of Sunday productivity but my partner took part in a online quiz after dinner so I had some more time to myself which I put to use pressing the fabrics for my next two planned sewing projects.

It's recommended that you was fabrics before using them for garment sewing but what no one ever mentions is that after washing you have to refold the fabric and press it ready for the cutting out. I had hoped to progress onto cutting out some of the top fabric but achy muscles after my run persuaded me otherwise.

And as the online quiz developed into an epically long session I had just enough time before bed to cast on for my first Xmas present of the year.

I don't think I've ever achieved so much during a lazy Sunday afternoon before!