Feeling mellow

It’s all calming down a little now.  The show went well, the new job is working out ok and today the sun is shining.  This week I have been down the posh end of London for a work meeting, and the train was half empty and on time.  I even got a little bit of hooky done on the train.  My blood pressure has returned to normal levels and I have been headache free for four weeks.  A cynical person might point out the link between this and changing jobs, but I couldn’t possible comment.

When I feel this relaxed I find it easier to come up with ideas for things to make.  I fiddle with yarn and stitches just to see what they could look like.  I sketch out ideas in my notebooks in grubby biro and draw little stitch diagrams so I can remember my thought processes.  Not all of them look the way I think they should when I start to make them, but then I frog and  let them evolve into something more interesting. I like to see where the yarn and my mood takes me.

So I’m feeling pretty productive at the moment.  I’m enjoying the challenge of shawl club and I keep thinking of other things I want to make too.  I need to make time to develop it all but I know I will.  There isn’t a rush, there isn’t a deadline.  Pass me my tea… 

Wool@J13 

What can I say.  As you all know this was my first (and potentially my last) yarn show on my own. I did all my prep, was as organised as I could be, and had wonderful support.  But it doesn’t stop you being a tiny bit terrified.  You can never tell how you will be received, either by the public who come or fellow (and more established) stall holders.

It turns out that I needn’t have worried.  For a first outing Wool@J13 was a huge success – lots of people came (and the ones who promised on Facebook that they would really did materialise into actual human beings – yes, I’m taking about you, Manda), the sun shone for most of the time, and everyone was lovely. I was fortunate to be stood next to Sonic Knits, and two nicer people than Fiona and Gina could not be found.  The ever supportive Sue Stratford was there too, along with the ladies from Kindred Creations who kept and eye on us newbies and kept us going with hugs and much appreciated advice.  Sue won the prize for best stall in show, and I was so proud! I just wish I had got a picture to show you how amazing it was! 


I had my wing woman with me, my bestie, who stopped me from flapping and generally was a calming influence and provider of teas.  She also ensured that we sat up for Eurovision and a cheeky glass of Buck Fizz on Saturday night…


I got to finally meet Jo and and Jodie, who were wonderfully daft and really brightened my already sunny day.  And my yarn friends came out in force too.  Ingrid was full of energy all weekend, and made us all feel like we were old friends.  

The thing that really set this show apart for me was the festival feel of it – beer stall and street food, park and animals for the children and non yarn lovers, plus live music, including that provided by a man in a kilt.  I mean, what’s not to like…

So I already have ideas about how to make it better for next year, and I hope to squeeze in a few more shows before the end of the year.  But Wool@J13 will forever hold a special place in my heart.  It has made me brave. 

Dopamine Wrap

The second shawl in the current season of Shawl Club is the Dopamine Wrap.  I fancied doing something very different in shape, and I liked the idea of working with hexagons and piecing them together into something pretty.  The idea of working a dopamine molecule in as a motif was something that I really liked.  If I am honest, I like the plain version of the shawl so much, that I want to make it again without the motif, as the pattern of the shawl once blocked is so pretty it really doesn’t need much embellishment and the hexagons are very quick to make.  I hope you like it as much as I do!

Sundae Shawl

So I can finally show you the first shawl of Shawl Club Season 2 -the Sundae Shawl.

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As you know, I am pretty rubbish at coming up with names for my shawls.  This one is called the Sundae Shawl because it looks like one of those wafers that you stick in your ice cream when you are having a treat.  And it also looks great in ice-cream colours. The yarn I used here is by Fleabubs.

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It works really well with bamboo / merino mixes, although any yarn would work well with it.  Plus it is one of those patterns where it will keep on growing if you have the yarn and follow the pattern of the rows, but the examples shown are post blocking and used just 400m of yarn.

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It looks pretty great in grads too.  This one is by Hooking Marvelous and it reminds me of a sunrise or sunset.

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My next shawl will be revealed fairly soon as I did a special one-off pattern for one of the collaboration yarn boxes produced by Unbelievawool, Truly Hooked and Dye Candy.  It uses three different skeins of yarn and is a bit of a departure for me but I am quite pleased with how it has come out!

Shawl Club – Season 2

So I am now in full on crafting mode again after a little bit of a sabbatical.  Shawl Club Season 2 (“the sequel, just when you thought it was safe to go back into your stash…) has just launched over on the Unbelieva-wool page.  As I type, Shawl 1 is on the floor and on my mannequin, and I am pleased with the pattern as it is one of those easy to do and relatively easy to remember patterns.

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Last season I tried to vary the style and shape of the patterns so that there was something for everyone (the patterns are all available on my Ravelry store if you want to review them). It is quite a challenge to come up with a one skein shawl, especially those that will work with shorter as well as longer length skeins.  The firm favourites last time were the Thank You Shawl and the Shieldmaiden Shawl, but I also have a soft spot for the beaded arches shawlette – more of a scarf than a shawl but there is something special about that beading and it seems to be a popular shawl for gifting.

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This time I have learned a lot from what I felt worked well last time and this time I also want to keep with some easy makes with the occasional challenging element from time to time (but not too often).  I am trying to vary the shapes again, but it seems that you like it when I play with textures and lacework as much as I do, so expect me to revisit those themes again.  I also have an idea for some colour work shawls, and as ever Sam and I are keen to use as many luxury bases as we can.

I hope you enjoy Season 2, and if you haven’t tried it before consider giving it a try.  As ever, I am always here to help if you need me!

New Year’s Intentions

Ok, so I don’t really have the resolve for resolutions, but I do have lots of honest intentions.

  1.  Once the January Sales are done, no more yarn buying for the rest of the year.
  2. Reduce the stash by at least 50%.

Yes, that is right, I am going on complete stash lockdown at the end of this month and the plan is to see if I can truly stashbust.  I have a plan to knit lots of socks, both for me and for presents, and I have recently discovered the joy of knitting hats with Aran wool (so fast, and I can get two hats out of a single skein which is a bonus).  Exhibit A – the hat I knitted in a few hours one evening, using Dye Candy yarn and a pattern from the Toft Quarterly Magazine.

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I also need to help to raise funds for my daughter’s school, so lots of making is required there.  That will give me the chance to clear out all my acrylic yarn too, so that will be satisfying to see that go down.

3.  Blog more frequently and more regularly.

This year work has got in the way. I have been too tired to think in the evening, let alone type.  This is going to change.  My working pattern has to change in pretty fundamental ways because how I am working right now is not sustainable.  And I feel that I keep losing momentum every time work pulls me away from this part of what I do.  To achieve this I have to start taking better care of myself.  That one is easier said than done, but tonight I am going with an early bath, blog and then some knitting to motivate myself a bit.  If I can get two or three blogs out during the week, with a longer one at the weekend I think that might be good.  Perhaps introduce some features.  One of my friends has voted for ‘Squish of the Week’ – a random delve into my stash to show off different yarn types and dyers.

4.  Write more patterns.

Ok, so Shawl Club is going into Season 2 in March, but I feel the need to do a wider range of patterns than just shawls.  A mixture of quick makes and more extended projects.  I might even venture into one or two knitting patterns if I am feeling very brave, but that might be a step too far for me.

5. Do a yarn show.

Ok, so this one terrifies me.  Sue talked me into this one.  At the moment I don’t know which show, and it will probably only be one day, and I need to do my sums properly re how to make it work for me.  I love the idea of it, I am just worried that it might be a bit too soon for me, and there would be a huge amount of work required to get my stall elements ready in time. So I am not sure if I can pull this one off, but I am certainly going to look seriously at it.  I just need to sit here and feel a bit sick at the thought of it for a while.

6. Do a book.

Now, I write for a living, so the idea of writing a book doesn’t daunt me, but I haven’t self- produced the whole thing before, so that would be the challenge.  I have two book concepts in my head – one requires more work than the other – but I think I could get the book thing to work with a bit of peer support and some planned leave from work.

So there you go – six of the best.  Let’s see how many I can tick off.  Can I do it?  Should I do it?  Hmm. Let’s see…

Winter’s Comfort

After a busy Christmas I am finally back at the blog.  So much has happened since I was last typing this that it is hard to know where to start.  I guess that the most important thing is that I finally managed to get the Winter’s Comfort shawlette up in time for the final shawl club of the year.  I am quite pleased with this – it looks simple but has some nice textures and touches, and a few festive beads thrown in too.  I am grateful to one of my fantastic team of testers for the photographs, as I didn’t have time to bead my own version before sending it out for test.  The yarn included as part of shawl club is the most amazing luxury base in a beautiful rich colour, but as I know there are folk who subscribe to shawl club from abroad I won’t say more than that for fear of ruining the surprise.  It is designed to be a shallow scarf type of shawl, as I know so many people who like to wear their shawl that way and dislike deep, traditionally shaped triangular shawls as a result.  I hope that this version will be really wearable and useable all year around.

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I treated myself to a couple of Christmas yarn boxes this year, one from Unbelieva-wool and the other from Dye Candy.  Both were, as I hope you can see, stunning, and Dye Candy introduced me to a new base of baby alpaca, silk and cashmere (swoon). I cannot describe to you how soft this combination is.  I just need to find the right project for it.

In the Christmas makes department this year I have focussed on making socks, and so far they have been well received.  I say so far, because my parents are ill at the moment and have banned me for seeing them until they improve, so they haven’t received their socks yet.  I plan to gatecrash in the new year whether they want me to or not.  Both have chest infections which sound horrific but also so bad they are very conscious of not wanting to pass them on to other people.  Noble, but terrifying for me.

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I am having a little break from shawl club this winter so that I can experiment a bit and come up with some new designs for the Spring.  I also need to crack on with some of my other plans for the new year.  At the moment I am resting to make sure I am ready to go for broke.  I want to see what I can achieve with this now. About this time last year I started this blog.  At the time I had no idea quite what the year would hold.   I never dreamt I would get so far so quickly.  So although it has been a modest start, it has happened much faster than I thought it would.  And I am learning so much on the way.