Nidhogg Shawl

Shawl 5 of Shawl Club came out about a week ago, and it is the Nidhogg Shawl.  It got its name from a conversation with Hutch of Dye Candy, who commented that an early prototype looked like a dragon’s wing.

img_1259

There is already a well known Dragon’s wing pattern on Ravelry so I needed a new name.  With a bit of googling I came across the Nidhogg, a Norse dragon who apparently gnawed on the bodies of horrible people.  For some reason that appealed to me (can’t think why…!).

img_1218-2

Anyway, Sam dyed two colourways for this shawl – a green and black one, and a purple / red and black one, which sadly I don’t have to show you.  I love this shawl – it is really adaptable to different tensions and styles.  It also suits being made in softer colours and can be worn as a shallow scarf rather than a large shawl.  Its all in the tension, the amount of yarn, and how much you want to block it.  I love the texture it has, and it is a relatively straightforward repeat.  It is just an asymmetric triangle, so you increase on one side only to get the shape.  You can also add a thicker stripe down one edge with the border yarn, or leave the border off altogether.

img_1219-2

Neglect!

Hello folks.  I hope you are all still out there!

Where do I start?  The last two weeks have steamrollered me.  Work has rapidly picked up pace and I have become a glassy-eyed work drone.  Get up, get washed, get child up, dressed and out the door to school, go to work, attend back-to-back meetings (each one generating actions that I am unable to act on because I have another meeting to go to), run from work to car in blind panic, collect child and attempt to be semi-functional parent (or when possible stay late in attempt to be semi-functional work colleague), feed child, put child to bed, make a cuppa, stare at WIP bag, knit two rows of a sock, give up, go to bed.  And repeat.

Child says “Mummy, tomorrow try to sneak out from your meeting a leeettle bit earlier.”

Sigh.

Today I am frozen with guilt.  I have a chapter to write which should take me a month and needs to take me about four hours, as that is all I have available to me.  I am being kind to myself in the hope that the muse will find me if I can relax a bit.  Writer’s guilt stops me from picking up my hook to crack on with things I need to do.  But tomorrow we will see Grandpa, and that will be OK.  I will get some time to hook in the car.  I have been asked by Sam to see if I can come up with a pattern for something other than a shawl for a nice change and I am enjoying the challenge of it.  That will be my treat at the end of all this.  Plus there is a yarn sale online tonight, and I plan to treat myself there too. Not a big splurge.  Just a skein for a specific project I am hoping to knit as the nights draw in.

So, I need a bit of time to reset the head.  I feel I have nothing to show for my labours at work this month so I am going to invest more time making.  Yes, it’s time I don’t have, but it is time I can at least share with the small person.  I can make things for her.  Show her that I love her.

In other news, my great, yarn cataloguing friend, has her baby last weekend and he is beautiful.  Just perfect. It reminds me of when my one was small.  I was learning to crochet at the time and I would spend the quiet hours of nursing and holding her trying to make granny squares.  I feel like I have come a long way, but I often wish I had those quiet, child-cuddling and crocheting hours back.

Taking Refuge in Tea

Well, today has been one of those landmark days that I have been trying not to think about.  My small person had her last day at nursery today.  They had a little party planned so we parents all packed them off this morning with cake and other sources of sugar, deposited them at the nursery door, and ran before anyone could get too emotional or before the nursery staff realised how much sugar the children were due to consume and tried to call us all back. I was kind.  I put booze in the teachers’ goody bags to get them through it.

While I have been on leave I have taken to nipping to Toft once a week for a brew and some crochet time, and my friend has started to join me. Toft is pretty local to me so it is a nice place to go and hang out and they don’t look at you strangely if you get out a hook and start crocheting as that, after all, is what they are all about.  Today I headed there to distract myself from the events of the day, and indulge in my other daily ritual / obsession – tea drinking.  I take tea drinking to Olympic levels, and have to regulate my intake.  Most of it is driven by the ritual of doing something comforting, and so tea and yarn go hand-in-hand for me.  Plus a cheeky cake. Nom nom.  They do a fine brew and chew at Toft.  Plus you get to say hello to their adorable alpacas and fondle yarn.

IMG_1138

Toft Studio is a barn conversion with a cafe at one end, a workshop space at the other, and lots of yarn and other knitting and hooking goodies in the middle. It has the most peaceful atmosphere and the friendliest staff working there.  You feel welcome there, and welcome to linger.  I don’t make many toys, although I do have a copy of Edward’s Menagerie, but I have made one of the Toft shawls.  It was in a fine alpaca and silk mix yarn (which was a so-and-so to frog when you needed to fix a mistake), worked on a tiny 2.5mm hook, but the finished scarf looks amazing (much better than these pictures would suggest) and it is one of my favourite makes, even though it was one of my early projects and therefore full of mistakes.

10991046_10152578134326604_5746779311580260006_n

Anyway, back to today. I managed to finish the new version of the Christmas shawl (minus edging) and get that on the blocking wires before I headed out for my cuppa.  So I was bathed in an air of mild smugness that only comes from finally nailing something that was on the to do list. Fruit crumble shortbread was in order. With tea. I think this habit of going there once a week is one I am going to try to maintain when I am back at work.  It has been good for my soul.

IMG_1136

I have test shawls to make for the pattern photos, but other than that I feel on top of my ‘must do’ commitments.  The problem I now have is that I am itching to either make something totally new so I can challenge myself a bit, or something that is just as a treat for me (i.e. socks in one of the special yarns I have been keeping for just such an occasion).  I am not sure which way I will wobble. I probably just need to find the right thing in my masses of books and patterns. And a brew will probably help too.

The Yarn Emporium

This week has been strangely productive.  I am not used to this. I confess that on Day 1 of being at home on leave I wandered around the house, too afraid to settle down with a hook in case I discovered I was hallucinating.  I eventually stopped pacing the house and settled down in my yarn room for a bit of a tidy up, a yarn squidge, and to have a think about some project ideas I had been playing with. Tuesday saw two of my yarn friends dropping by to invade my yarn room.  Now, to put this into perspective, my yarn room is my office with a big 4×4 Ikea unit in the corner which contains all my yarn, books, sewing machine (I have a dinky one) and other yarn paraphernalia. But I do have quite a bit yarn stash – about 50% shop bought commercial yarn and 50% hand-dyed loveliness.  I was in denial about how much yarn I had because it was all tidied away, but this also meant that I had lost track of what I had.

IMG_1035

So my lovely friend, who is now on maternity leave, offered to come and catalogue my stash into my Ravelry account.  She has recently done it for her own stash and has slight OCD compulsions and so enjoys this.  She also just wanted a chance to squish my yarns and be nosy, but I don’t mind as other people’s stashes are always interesting. Our system was that she typed in the yarn details into my computer and the yarn was then ferried to me (initially by a small child) in another room with good light where I took pictures.  After about 6 hours we had managed to get through most of the hand-dyed and all of the commercial cotton yarn, but I still have other yarn to add in.  The best bit was when she emptied one of my bins of hand-dyed yarn on the floor and just launched herself, baby belly and all, into the middle of it.  I couldn’t get to my camera fast enough, but let’s just say her expression said it all. This was the aftermath.

IMG_1038

When you have had your yarn catalogued, there is no getting away from just how much yarn you own.  Its even worse when you know it only represents half your stash.  I don’t have a stash, I have a yarn emporium.  I toyed with the idea of a de-stash, but to be honest now that I knit socks there isn’t a skein of yarn that I can’t think of a project I could use it for.  So I have decided that I really, really need to go hard on the yarn ban until I can empty at least one of these bins.  I am not sure what a respectable stash size is, but I am pretty sure I am not respectable.  I am a yarn harlot.

The best thing about it, however, is that I have a fantastic range of yarns to use when I am designing something.  For example, I decided to elevate this example of a Dye Candy OOAK baby camel and silk yarn from a yarn pet (it is sooo soft) to project yarn.  This has been a revelation to me – it moves and behaves completely differently to a standard merino sock yarn and its a pleasure to work with. My friends have suggested a new blog feature entitled ‘squish of the week’.  I may yet initiate this.

IMG_1043

So now I am busy hooking up prototypes for new shawls.  I have Shawls 6 and 7 on the hook, and the concept for Shawl 8 is on the sketchbook and is next to be played with.  This is so much fun.  And I haven’t even got onto the non-shawl projects yet!  Time to go squidge some more yarn…

Beating Heart Wrap

So the other thing I was working on whilst I was away last week was a quick final test of the Beating Heart Wrap.  This is shawl number 4 of shawl club and I designed it a while back using yarn from Unbelievawool and Jo.Knit.Sew that I had in my stash.  I am not normally a pink person but I love the way that the pink contrasts with the black and white variegated yarn.  The spike stitch reminds me of an EEG trace and so that is how the wrap got its name. The shawl pin is a Knit Pro one which works well with the colours I used.  The  shape is a bit unconventional but when it is folded over is creates a nice shape around the shoulders.

To make it practical for shawl club, I needed to change the colours to 3 x 50g skeins.  Sam sent the new colours to me a while ago, but they arrived during a particularly crazy time.  Then time caught up with me and I realised that I needed to get the new colour way version done immediately.  So the long drive to the south coast and the first day or so of the holiday was spent hooking up the shawl club version, which also showed off the alternative ending of a button to secure it, rather than a shawl pin.  Personally I still feel a shawl pin gives you more flexibility about how to wear this, but the button is often more practical, and is certainly less expensive.

IMG_0935

So the shawl club colours give the wrap a very different look – sugar sweet candy colours with a glittery handmade button from the amazing Cross Crafts which matched the yarn perfectly.  If you fancy making this yourself, you can find the pattern here.

IMG_0934

Newborn ‘Scraps’ Hat

As promised, I have written up the instructions for making the little newborn hat that I made for my friend’s baby from the scraps left over from the baby blanket I made for her.  The yarn I used was Sirdar Snuggly DK in cream and one of the Snuggly ‘Crofter’ colourways.  Any super soft baby yarn will do and you only need small amounts. I used a 4mm hook.

IMG_0847

UK crochet terms are used throughout.

Row 1. Using the main colour yarn (in this case cream) make an adjustable loop, chain 3 (counts as 1TB here and elsewhere in the pattern) and then 11TB into centre of loop.  Slip stitch into top of Ch3.  Pull tail to close the loop. (12 stitches)

IMG_0828

Row 2. Chain 3, TB, then *TB between the stitch you have just trebled into and the next one along, then TB into that next stitch**.  Repeat from * to ** 10 more times so that you have 24 stitches (including the Ch3), and then slip stitch into the top of the Ch3 to close the circle.

IMG_0829

Row 3. Chain 3, TB, then TB between the stitch you have just trebled into and the next one along. *2TB, then TB between the last stitch you have just trebled into and the next one along**.  Repeat from * to ** to the end of the circle so that you have 36 stitches (including the Ch3), and then slip stitch into the top of the Ch3 to close the circle.

IMG_0831

Row 4. Chain 3, 2TB, then TB between the stitch you have just trebled into and the next one along. *3TB, then TB between the last stitch you have just trebled into and the next one along**.  Repeat from * to ** to the end of the circle so that you have 48 stitches (including the Ch3), and then slip stitch into the top of the Ch3 to close the circle.

Row 5. Chain 3, 3TB, then TB between the stitch you have just trebled into and the next one along. *4TB, then TB between the last stitch you have just trebled into and the next one along**.  Repeat from * to ** to the end of the circle so that you have 60 stitches (including the Ch3), and then slip stitch into the top of the Ch3 to close the circle.

 

These five rows (rounds) form the top of the hat.  We next start to shape the sides.

Row 6. Chain 3, then 59 TB. Slip stitch into the top of the Ch3 to close the circle.

Row 7. Repeat Row 6.

IMG_0845

Row 8.  Change to contrast colour. Chain 1 and 60DC. Slip stitch into the first DC to close the circle.

Row 9. Change to main colour. Repeat Row 6.

Row 10. Repeat Row 6.

IMG_0846

Row 11. Change to contrast colour.  Repeat Row 6.

Row 12. Change to main colour. Repeat Row 6.

Row 13. Repeat Row 6.

Now onto the final row, which gives the picot edging.

Row 14.  Change to contrast colour. Chain 1. *2 DC, (DC, Ch2, DC) into next stitch**. Repeat from * to ** all the way around.  Slip stitch into the first DC to close the circle.

Sew in ends.

IMG_0847

To make the hat bigger, carry on increasing the size of the circle by 12 stitches each round, following the pattern indicated by the first five rows.  Then when the crown is large enough, carry on with extending the sides to the desired length by TB into each stitch around without increasing, again, following the pattern set above, before finishing with the picot row.

Special Days

I’m starting to get excited for the summer now!  I have just submitted the last big piece of work I had to get done before the end of July, and it is just tidying up loose ends at the day job next week. Today has also be special because I have said goodbye to two colleagues – one is going to a new job, and other – the person who taught me how to crochet and therefore is responsible for you reading this – is going off on maternity leave very soon.  So we threw a surprise party for both of them today.  My yarny friend got a box of baby things, including the cosy blanket you have seen me making on instagram, and a little matching hat of my own creation.  I am really pleased with how they both came out, and I even blocked the blanket, which I normally never do.  I will pop the hat pattern up here over the weekend for those of you who fancy making it.  It is a great little project for using up the left over yarn from a blanket make!

IMG_0788

I also wanted to get my friend a special something from me to celebrate our yarny relationship.  So I asked Helen from Bare Threads to make up a bespoke yarn box.  I told her a bit about my friend and she came up with this – all so beautiful, all handmade, all ethically sourced.  I cannot recommend Helen to you highly enough.  Her yarns are exceptional and at the moment her yarns tend to sell out before they get onto Etsy, so it is worth contacting her directly if you want to get your hands on her goodies.  Oh dear.  That sounds a bit wrong doesn’t it.  Sorry Helen.

Anyway, the final reason to be cheerful today is that it is ONE SLEEP UNTIL FIBRE EAST.  See me doing the happy, happy dance of yarn joy!  The yarn ban is temporarily lifted and I get to take three of my best friend to fondle some fine wares.  I will get to see some yarn contacts / friends there too, so I am very excited.

So, expect lots of yarn porn shots on my instagram feed this weekend and hopefully at least one, if not two, blog posts as I get overexcited and giddy.