Meditating on friends and gratitude…

Ok, so this is a little embarrassing and exciting in equal measure. This week I launched a kickstarter to see if I could raise funds to get the book project underway. The plan was that this weekend’s blog would be a chance to spread the word and nudge a little more interest. However, I completely underestimated the response I would get, so here I am already in a position to confirm that we have hit the minimum target I needed to get the book printed! I am so overwhelmed and buoyed by the support I have had. The kickstarter stays open for more backers until 10th Feb, when it closes and the work begins in earnest. So there is still a chance to support the project and get a copy of the book as soon as it’s printed (ahead of its official launch in May) if anyone is interested in getting involved.

The cover image for this week’s blog is an extreme close up of the shawl I designed for the Christmas shawl club, known as the Friendship Meditation Shawl. The reason for this is linked to the beading. I love crochet because it is the closest I get to meditation and I also love a bit of beading, as you know. At the end of the year it’s worth taking stock of all that you have to be grateful for, and my friends are a big part of that. So every bead is a prompt to think of a person or memory that means something to you. And this is a shawl that just grows and grows, so you can keep going and make it huge! I love the grey silk one I made using some elegance yarn that Sam dyed, but I am planning a bigger one using the yarn that Lollipop Guild Yarns put in their End of Year box. It’s loud and proud and I just need to get some beads to go with it. I love the colours in this.

I am starting to plan new shawls for this year’s shawl club that will start again soon (we plan the first box for March). I have some themes in mind but I would love to hear from you if you have an idea you would like us to explore. Last year we were really impressed by the response to the unicorn themed box. The unicorn rainbow wrap I designed to go with it is a mini-skein project, pictured here using an ombré set in blue, but for the box we went with our interpretation of a unicorn rainbow, so bright pink, orange, turquoise, blue and green. But I have to say that I love the colour blend in this one.

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Re-emerging from the abyss

So, as you have noticed, things have been very quiet on the blog front.  July is, for me, traditionally a month of stress – it is when all the work deadlines for the day job come into conflict, with an added topping this year of trying to get end of year gifts made for the very special women who have helped to look after my little one.  In September she starts school, and so this summer is going to be extra emotional.  Everything I have made doesn’t seem to be enough, or good enough, to recognise what they have done for us as a family.  I said goodbye to the first of my daughter’s current nursery teachers this week.  The only thing I could think to give her was the very first Thank You Shawl I ever made, as it was in her favourite colours, and it was huge.  I hope that every time she puts it on, she feels hugged.

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So this week should be the beginning of the end of the crazy season, assuming I can get all my work done on time.  One more week and then it is Fibre East (oh my, I cannot wait), which signals the beginning of the end.

Shawl Club continues a-pace, and one of the things I can finally show you is Shawl Number 3, otherwise known as the ‘Forget Me Never’ Shawl.

Two pictures of it – the first one shows it unblocked – highly textured and cosy.  The second shows it blocked (and shows nicely how much blocking can make a project grow.  It is called Forget Me Never, because Sam and I agreed on a pretty forget-me-not colour way for the yarn.  The pictured shawl shows the very subtle first dye of this.  We subsequently decided to ramp up the colour contrasts, so the final yarn colour is a stronger blue, with purple and green accents.

I need to update my archive with this and the previous shawl, but that is a job for the summer months.  I also hope to get some designing done too, so I can launch a new collection of items ready for September, when we all start looking around for ideas for Christmas present makes.  It may not be a very big collection, but it will be exciting for me.  This is all baby steps.  I am still only 3 months into this experiment, and so far it has exceeded my expectations.  I just need to keep all the plates spinning.

And of course, because I don’t know when enough is enough, I asked Phyllis from Rosebuds and Rainbows if she has a DK sock pattern, to help me with my stash busting.  She sent it over – a new pattern for testing – and I used a very special neon yarn by Dye Candy, called ‘Blacklight’, to try it out. As you can see, it makes a very nice (and super quick) winter sock.  Merino cashmere mix.  A treat for the toes.

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The pattern is now up on Ravelry as the ‘Easy Peezy Socks‘.  I am already on my second pair, which I hope to finish to give as a gift to my daughter’s key worker, along with this lazy waves shawlette, which I made on retreat last year.

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I am not sure if either the socks or the shawlette will hit the mark, but here’s hoping.

The featured yarn at the top of this post illustrates how I feel – a bit of colour is creeping back into the darkness and not before time.  The yarn is called (perhaps appropriately enough given how crabby I have been on occasion this month) “Kill the Witch”, and it is by  Lollipop Guild Yarns.

Anyway, lots more to follow soon, including some new free patterns, the end of the retro blanket pattern (you thought I had forgotten, didn’t you?), and some more videos as you seemed to enjoy my first foray into video making.  I may even speak in the next one, who knows…!

Colour me happy…

So this has been a very odd week.  Big events in the real world that have implications for my day job, my colleagues and my friends.  A real sense of devastation, and disquiet for what is to come and what has already started to happen.  It turns out that I live in a very different country to the one that I thought I did at the beginning of the week.

So here I am, in my yarn room, trying to come up with something to write and resisting the temptation to curl up in my chair with my yarn pets all around me, gently rocking to some suitably maudlin music.  On Friday I broke my yarn ban and bought some skeins to raise my spirits. Fibre East – the yarn show that I was planning to refresh my stash at – was too far away.  I needed some solace to come this week.

What has been interesting is that I have become more obsessed than before with trying to finish off projects.  My latest set of socks are on the blockers, a test shawl for shawl club is blocking on mats on the floor, and I have three blanket projects that I am determined to finish before I start another project.  And yet the desire to start something new that will cheer me up is overwhelming.

I dive into the yarn drawers then, to seek inspiration.  I find the yarn pictured at the top of this post, the ‘colour me happy’ skein from Pollyorange that is almost too perfect to use.  More rummaging, this time to find this skein of Bluefaced Leicester and Silk yarn by Lollipop Guild Yarns.

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It is another skein I am keeping to make something very special for myself.  For now I just wanted to remind myself of what it looked and felt like.  I turned over the tag to see what the name of the yarn was. ‘Premonitions’.  How appropriate.

I will stick to the plan – finish those blankets, get shawl 6 nailed, continue to stashbust. I need to focus on what makes me happy, and hang onto the fantasy of one day being able to concentrate on this properly.  Who knows, I may need the second career option a bit sooner than I had originally anticipated.

 

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…

A one-skein make…

So this weekend I promised my Instagram followers that I would put up some instructions on how to make this very pretty, and very simple scarf / cowl, which uses up one skein of sock or DK weight yarn, depending on what you have in your stash and how long you want it to be.  I have made it quite a lot, and I am making it again at the moment which has given me the chance to take some pictures as I go so you can see how I made it.  This picture above is a version I made in a Lollipop Guild sock yarn (merino).  I have also made it in sock weight merino / bamboo mix, and it is lovely and soft and cosy for a lightweight scarf (see below).

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The yarn in this picture was from Jo.Knit.Sew, who makes cracking yarns and the colour pooling on this project was the best I have seen, forming a spontaneous zig zag pattern!

At the moment I am making it with a merino / silk mix yarn, again from Lollipop Guild Yarns (called Snow Angel if you want the colour way!).

So, this is how to make it…

If you are working with sock, use a 4mm hook.  If you are using DK I would suggest a 5mm hook, but you might want to play around with it until you get the texture and drape you want, as I tend not to block these scarves.

Chain 34.  (If you want to adjust the width, either add or subtract in multiples of 3 to this number).

Row 1. Treble (UK Term), into the 4th chain from hook, chain 2, and double crochet (UK Term) into the same space.  *Skip 2 chains, then treble twice into the next stitch, chain 2, and then double crochet once into the same stitch**.  Repeat from * to ** to end of chain.  Turn.

Row 2. Chain 3, treble into the chain 2 space in the row below, chain 2 and then double crochet into the same chain 2 space of the shell in the row below…  

*Treble into the next chain 2 space twice, chain 2, then double crochet once into the same space**.  Repeat from * to ** to end.

Then you just repeat this last row (I have put the row in bold to make it clear which row I mean) over and over until the scarf is the length you want. You will end up with a really pretty scalloped edge to the length of the work.

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It is your choice whether to leave it as a scarf or sew the short ends together to make a cowl-type scarf.  Sew in your ends and admire your work!

Let me know how you get on.