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.

sundae flat

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.

sundae swirl

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!

Fibre East 2016

Well Fibre East didn’t disappoint.  Last year we had fantastic weather and a brilliant day, and this year was the same.  I took a small gang with me – three of my best yarn friends – and we had a great time fondling yarn and chatting to the stall holders.  I got to help out very briefly on the Unbelievawool stand, and I was so pleased to chat to Nicola from Fleabubs, Sue Stratford from the Knitting Hut, Lisa from For the Love of Yarn and Phyllis from Rosebuds and Rainbows. I also managed to get some yarn from some new folk, and chatted to Lola from Third Vault Yarns for ages whilst I dithered over 2 skeins of the most beautiful DK merino / silk mix I had seen (I resisted – my stash is out of control as you know – but I will be ordering it online at some point I am pretty sure).

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So on my shopping list this year was a new shawl pin, some more ‘manly’ coloured sock yarn (ready for Christmas presents) and some red yarn, as I love deep dark reds but have very few in my stash.  As you can see from the picture above, I overachieved this year so I was pretty pleased with my haul.  The picture at the top of the blog post shows part of the most amazing Art Blank from Fleabubs – too fabulous to resist.

Verity from Truly Hooked was there but I was a bit too shy to chat to her this time, but her new sock book was on proud display.  When I got home my own copy of it, that I had pre-ordered, was waiting for me and it looks fantastic.  I have already picked which pair I want to try first, and so I will have to pack it in my holiday bag, along with a nice skein of sock yarn.

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Talking of socks, in the car to and from Fibre East (and at the show too, if I am honest) I was knitting another pair of Easy Peezy socks, but this time using up some yarn that I dyed myself at the Devon Sun Yarns retreat I went to last November.  I learned how to heather yarn, and the result was this purple and grey mix.  So I thought it might look pretty in a pattern like this and sure enough it does.  I don’t think any of the yarn dyers are in any danger from me, but I am a little bit proud of them, even though the light in here doesn’t quite show off the colours.  What do you think?

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On being odd…

Today is ‘Knit in Public’ day.  For me this is everyday.  I have no shame.  However, I thought it was a good day to discuss my technique, as even though many of us who crochet are called ‘knitters’ by the uninitiated, I get accused of knitting much more frequently than most, because of my technique, as you will discover.

I am odd.  You probably know this by now.  After all, you don’t come up with the idea of calling yourself a knackered psycho without being a bit on the strange side.  But genuinely, I am one of those strange people who “doesn’t crochet properly”.

I don’t care.  I wish to make a stand.

I have never had anyone look at any of my finished makes and say “But you haven’t done that right…”  It is only when someone who knows how to do it properly watches me crocheting that they pull a face and comment.  Here is my story.

I am clumsy.  Very clumsy.  I am right handed and have very good fine motor skills, but problems with gross motor skills and coordination.  And balance. When I was younger I longed to be able to crochet things, and I tried to follow lots of book tutorials. They talked about ‘the right way to hold your yarn’ and two (yes, only two) ways to hold your hook.  Crochet magazines still do this.  Below is an extract from a very old pattern book I have in my stash.  I can’t help feeling that the title of this section is misleading – if you read the description and look at the ‘helpful’ drawing, it is small wonder I stuck to knitting…

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It all felt very unnatural, I couldn’t get it to work for me, and time after time I gave up.  I finally learned to crochet at the age of 40, after a work colleague sat and showed me what to do.  Not ‘how to hold my yarn’ or ‘how to hold my hook’, but what I needed to achieve.  I naturally picked up my yarn and hook as if to knit, and that felt natural.  I got it.  I haven’t stopped since.  Yes, it looks like I am knitting rather than crocheting but hey, people think that’s what I am doing anyway.

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When I knit and crochet, I also do something that I know panics people who watch me – I let go of my hook or the needle in my right hand when I wrap my yarn.  This is because I am so right hand dominant that I have to use my right hand to wrap my yarn around my hook.  This feels right to me and I don’t drop the hook or stitches, it all just balances nicely as long as I am pinching the stitch with my left hand.  It does mean that I can’t use hooks with customised handles, like the beautiful Fleabubs ones (except for my beading hook), as there is so much weight in those handles that they do clatter to the floor when I let go.  But I use KnitPro hooks, and these are lightweight enough to sit nicely in my work without dropping.  All is well.  No-one dies, and I get a nice shawl or jumper out of it.

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I also wrap my yarn around my hook ‘wrong’.  I have made a video of me crocheting trebles (or doubles, if you prefer US terminology), and if you watch it you will see I wrap my yarn ‘front to back’, then ‘back to front’, then ‘front to back’ again twice.  I am consistent in doing this and I am complemented on my stitch definition.  But again I have been told by people who watch me that I wrap my yarn wrong, and that it fundamentally changes the look of the stitch.  I am sure that if you compared my stitches to someone who wraps the yarn consistently in one direction you will see a small difference.  But not enough to make anyone care, I don’t think.  It works for me, and when I am not trying to film myself I can get a good turn of speed crocheting like this.

So the purpose of this post is to encourage people who crochet or knit differently to enjoy their quirks rather than worry about them.  I lost years of crochet time because I tried to conform and concluded that I couldn’t crochet.  But I know there are others who have developed their own techniques just as I have.  For me, its about the finished product.  However you can achieve it, go for it. And however odd your technique, you will always have a fan in me!

 

Stop the world…

I am exhausted. Again. I am also going through one of those phases where nothing seems to be going to plan on any front.  I am not particularly prone to melancholy, but when life gets this overwhelming, I just want to hit rock bottom and stay there. It’s not quite a matter of feeling sorry for myself, more just a strong sense of being sorry – of wanting to apologise to everyone and everything for all that I have failed to do.  The only thing I find I can do is to take myself away from everything, and focus on the stitch-by-stitch repetition of making something for someone. It is a bit like making a peace offering, but it is more to do with making peace with myself than with trying to please someone else.  After all, when I feel like this, I don’t feel like I can really please anyone anyway.  This is more about reminding myself that I am actually capable of something positive.

So it is a little bit ironic, or appropriate (depending on your viewpoint), that I recently received a Well Being yarn box from Fleabubs, and a skein of yarn from Lollipop Guild Yarns called ‘Dance your cares away’.  They were the last of my yarn clubs before I cancelled them, and they are beautiful. I want to make them into beautiful things, and they inspire me. I just wish I had more time to work with them.

On a more positive note, shawl number 2 should arrive with shawl clubbers this week.  I have been so delighted with the reaction to the Thank You Shawl that I am a little bit nervous about whether the next one will go down as well.  That said, I love it and I have made several versions of it that I wear a lot, so I know it works, but whether it is quite what people are expecting…I just don’t know.  I really hope it proves to be popular. I will put a post up about it when the reveal time comes to tell you a bit about its development.

I will try to get another post up this weekend but I am preparing for a work trip that currently has me numb with fear.  I might have to cake one of these beauties to come with me and keep me company on my travels.  They will give me the peace I need to think clearly and push through this next bit of stuff. A bit of yarn meditation is in order…

Tired, but not of yarn…

So, about an hour ago I hit ‘the wall’.  The week has caught up with me and I can barely keep my eyes open, and I feel exhausted.  After I have done this post, I will retire to my bed with a cup of tea and a blanket and try to get some rest.  And yet my head can do that magical thing with ‘work’ that small children can do with food.  Just as a child can complain of being not hungry but is ravenous for desert, my head might want to sleep and stop thinking about the day job, but somehow it also wants me to sit and write up the pattern to the retro granny square ripple blanket.  My crochet habit is clearly deepening, and I need a fix of something yarny before I head for bed.

I could, of course, spend some time fondling my latest yarn pets.  This week has been a bit of a treat on the postal front – my YarnMama purchases have arrived over a number of days, interspersed with yarn boxes that I ordered a while back but which arrived in the same week. So its been a bit like Christmas around here, with my daughter helping me to open the parcels and making appropriate ‘ooh’ and ‘ahh’ noises, and stealing any additional chocolate treats that might have been popped into the packages.  At 4 years old she already has all the yarn lingo down pat, best illustrated by: “Mummy, I can’t find XXX, can we look in your stash for it?”

The picture above is of my YarnMama haul from the amazing FleabubsByLala.  One of the constant sources of sadness to me is that I cannot use her beautiful hooks; the way I crochet means that I tend to drop hooks which have weighted handles. But her yarn is very special and I can indulge in that.  These skeins are almost too pretty to cake, and even my daughter gave a “Wow, THEY are beautiful!” when she opened the packet.  So these were able to comfort me as I put some of my stash up for sale last night to help to pay for the garage bill I earned the other day.  And the spaces created in my stash were filled by this new loveliness, that will be turned into something very special.  But I don’t think I will have the energy to cake them tonight.  I might have to squidge them one more time before I go upstairs though…