Saturday, 20 September 2014

6th Blogging Anniversary

Exactly 6 years ago today I made my first blog post on the joys of knitting available online. It's so long ago the photo embedded in the blog post is lost! The earliest photo I can find is this one:


Over the last 6 years I have shared triumphs and disaster with accompanying (hopefully) photographic evidence. My photography has improved significantly over the years with the help of online tutorials and online friends. My blog layout has changed several times and this desire to create a lovely home online kept pushing me to learn more about websites. Following tutorials blindly has made me understand some of the basics, which helped improve the appearance of things.

I've made wonderful friends and challenged myself repeatedly.  As the online world changed I took to different forms of social media, moving from Twitter and Facebook to Flickr and Instagram as I learnt about these different forms of connection and my technology caught up.


I started to design because someone saw a bag I made and asked for the pattern.


I didn't have one because I just made it up. I said I could give her the chart but nothing else. She was happy with that but it made me think about the possibility of other people actually being interested in what came out of my head. Very slowly since then I've added extra patterns to my shop on Ravelry.

As time went by I started a Ravelry Group and then after a while I discovered sewing as I started to line my knitted, crocheted or felted bags.


As my love of sewing increased I managed to join a quilting class.


This is the only quilt I've managed to finish to date. As I got a more sick I found it a struggle to sit up at the sewing machine and in fact I struggled to even get out of bed. I discovered podcasts as something to listen to or watch on my laptop in bed. My blogging fell off as I found it hard to take photos. I discovered support spindling by watching the podcasts and my spinning career took off. Being able to spin laying back was a wondrous thing and I fell in love with it.


You will have noticed my obsession with spinning over the last couple of years, I think ;-) After watching and listening to podcasts I decided to start my own, at first in audio format and more recently video. I also started to change my medication levels and I could get out of bed again. I tried to pick up my blogging. Sadly with the advent of social media it seems fewer and fewer people comment on the blog. Most of the connections I experience are on Instagram or Twitter or over on the Ravelry Group. I miss my blogging friends and try to leave comments on their blogs whenever I can, but it seems that because of the change in feed readers available it's now just slightly annoying to leave comments, so people don't.

I know you are still reading my blog, which is part of why I continue, but this online record is much more for me than you. It's wonderful to look back at my journey and to force myself to really think about each project and what it taught me.

To celebrate this blogging birthday I have decided to offer a 25% discount on all my patterns for this weekend only, the code will stop working at Midnight UK time on Monday 22nd September 2014 . The code is STBB6, which you should input in the cart where it says discount code.

Thank you for sharing my blogging journey, I wonder if I'll still be here in another 6 years!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Lovely Post

I got some lovely post yesterday. It arrived with things I didn't have to pay for, which is always nice, but the things that came were also very lovely.

The first thing I got was from Nadia at Abso-Knitting-Lutely. She had a give away for a braid of Malabrigo Nube in the Arco Iris colourway - and I won! I was really happy about this because when Nube first came out I bought two braids in the - yes you've guessed it - Arco Iris colourway!

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So I have this braid to add to my two existing ones. I should be able to spin a decent yardage.


The second photo is probably more accurate, but they are still different dye lots, so I shall have to be careful. I bought this colour because I made a Brickless in Malabrigo Rastita in this colourway. The yarn is a DK weight singles yarn in the same merino as the Nube.


I bought the fibre intending to make a hat and mitts to match the shawl, but now I have three braids I'm beginning to re-think what I should make.  I don't know whether to stick to my intention of trying to spin my first singles yarn, or whether to try something different.  Any ideas of how to spin this gorgeous fibre are very gratefully received.

The second parcel I received was a complete surprise, as I wasn't told it was coming. It gave me quite a giggle. For those who don't listen to my podcast, you are probably unaware that I recently decided to try doing a video version to try and cut down on the amount of time it took to edit and prepare. It worked out really well and I subsequently did another, and will probably continue in this format. If you are interested, it is available on YouTube, iTunes and on the website under the Podcast button at the top of the page. Anyway, in the first episode I shared some fibre that I bought from Fondant Fibre.

A: Organic Merino Silk & Baby Llama (Beach Huts) B: Silk Hankies (One Tequila, Two Tequila...) C: Polwarth & Mulberry Silk

When I shared these purchases with the podcast I said that none of these colourways are typical of my choices and that often Deb creates colours that I usually hate but absolutely adore in the way she does them.

So you can almost guess my reaction when I opened my package and saw the colourway label before unwrapping the contents. The name was Not Chrissy's Colours. I laughed out loud before I cooed over the contents.

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They are made up of my favourite Polwarth, Falkland, Silk and Bamboo. Aren't they pretty and really NOT my colours!  I started straight away.

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Sorry for the poor quality photo, it was an Instagram snap last night.  By the way if you are on Instagram, come and follow me so I can follow you back, as I am addicted to this form of social media. 

Spinning long draw from Deb's punis is always such a dream. It's so easy to draft these punis and once again I cannot say enough good things about the preparation and how easy and pleasurable it is to spin them. I am spinning without plan for the pure pleasure of it, as my other two spinning projects require a little more thought and control.

I can't decide yet whether the laugh, or the pleasure from spinning, I got I made me happier. Maybe it was a wonderful combination of the two! I do love it when the postman brings parcels!

Friday, 12 September 2014

Mayura Shawl in Wollmeise Pure

Mayura 08

Mayura by CrystalRose is an unusual shawl that I loved knitting, despite a few hiccups. It's so different from the usual semi-circular shawls that are available and I knew it would look great with the yarn I had. The yarn I had was Wollmeise Pure in the colours, Turkis (the blue) and Sanguinella (the dark orange).  Oh, how I love this yarn. It's soft and bouncy and beautifully colourful. It's a sock weight yarn in 100% superwash merino and each skein is 150g, 525m in length. They are very generous skeins.

© Matt Lord, from the pattern by CrystalRose

I had originally decided to add these two skeins to one I already had in stash, and make up a stole in three colours. Then I saw the above photo for this pattern and knew it was too much of a coincidence to pass over the match in colour choice.

The pattern is written to be either knit with the main colour being done in either stocking stitch or garter stitch. I love garter stitch shawls so that made the decision for me.  I really liked the the shape of the start of this top down shawl, with the nice curve to sit around the back of the neck.

Mayura 05

I would like to say that you should watch out for the colours the pattern assigned to the main colour and the contrast colour. The contrast colour is the one that actually uses the most amount of yarn, in this case the Sanguinella (orange).  I ended up going wrong by mixing up the colours I should have been knitting and had to rip back around 12 rows, which frustrated me a little.

The pattern uses mitred squares to add to the chevron shaping and to perform increases in a very clever way. I really like the shape it gives the stripes of colour.

Mayura 07

When knitting the mitred squares, I decided to change the way I picked up the edges to attach the squares to the body of the shawl. You pick up one of the bottom edges on the right side and the other bottom edge on the wrong side of the shawl. In the pattern you pick up and knit on both sides of the shawl, instead I picked up and knit on the right side and picked up and purled on the wrong side. This meant both the ridges of picked up stitches were on the wrong side of the fabric. The front of the shawl looks like the photo below.

Mayura 04

You can see what the picked up stitches ridges look like on the wrong side of the shawl, below. I'm glad that I kept the appearance of the edges of the mitred squares balanced and hidden.

Mayura 03

The way the shawl is structured meant that there were sections that were mindless knitting, livened up by the chevrons and the colour changes. This is interspersed by the interesting sections of the mitred squares. It was a great shawl for reading whilst knitting for long sections and then it was thinking knitting for a time. It made for a nice balanced knit.

Mayura 01

The bind off is crocheted. I would recommend removing the stitch markers on the row before the bind off.  As it was not specified on the pattern what size crochet hook to use, I decided to use a 3mm hook. Using this size, I was struggling to get the hook into the stitches on the needle, so I swapped out the needle tip to a 2.75mm. For information, I used a 3.5mm needle to knit the pattern, which was the one recommended.

Mayura 02

Now this is blocked, I can say with confidence, if I ever cast on a project that uses a chained bind off, someone remind me that blocking it nearly killed me. It took a gazillion pins and far too long hunched over the blocking boards. Not fun, but it had to be finished once started. It was worth all the effort though because it made the shawl look great, now it is blocked properly.

Mayura 09

There were several errors in this pattern that I had to tell the designer about and there were a few places where there could have been clearer instructions. I think this was because it was a complicated concept and there have been so few people who have knitted this so far. I think I was the first person other than the designer and the test knitters to make this shawl. I think in the future I might try to avoid patterns with so few finished projects, because I prefer someone else find out all the errors, before I have to.

Still, I can't help but be really happy with the finished shawl. It hits me right where I want, just below my elbows so I'm kept nicely wrapped up. With a shawl pin, it's almost a poncho! It gives a nice level of coverage, being sock weight knit in garter stitch. It's light, but has a little more warmth than a stocking stitch shawl. I think it will be perfect for cooler weather and for wearing indoors in Winter as an extra layer instead of a cardigan.

Despite the errors, this shawl can't help but make me smile, with it's lovely yarn, vivid colours and fun design. But I'm still never using a crochet bind off EVER again!

PS writing this post has made me want more Wollmeise, so I have just been to buy some more to replace the yarn I've just used. That's really not helping me use all my stash up!

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