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.

 

Doing it for the kids…

Its been a while since my last post.  It has been super hectic at knackeredpsycho HQ, such that I had to take a bit of bed rest at one point to catch up on sleep!  The day job is crazy busy until the end of July, and so my precious hooky time is being sidelined at the moment.  And my obsession with knitting socks as a way of destashing has also meant that the time I have had has been spent with the pointy sticks rather than my hooks.  But come August I plan to bury myself in yarn and work up all the designs I have been scribbling down on bits of paper.  I have some plans for a little set of children’s items which I will share with you as they develop.  All my shawl club bits I have had to keep under wraps, but I am looking forward to sharing some more of my projects with you as they develop.

The other things that are keeping me busy include the need for me to make a special blanket for my daughter’s nursery as a thank you before she leaves this summer, and to make lots of cute baby things as one of my friends is expecting her first baby and its a good excuse to produce lots of very quick makes.  The added bonus is that these makes have to be in a practical yarn, and so I get to use up some of my nicer acrylic yarn as part of Project Destash.

I cannot show you my friend’s gifts as she reads this blog (!), but I thought I would show you some of my favourite baby and small child makes from the last year.  Firstly, I love to make blankets, and these are firm favourites.  This was my first star blanket, which used baby soft merino DK and was for a newborn.  When I had my daughter most of the blankets I was given were too large to tuck around her in her car seat.  This one is the perfect size.  It used up yarn left over from a Peppa Pig jumper I had knitted for my daughter, which is why the colours are a little unusual, but putting them in this order really made each colour pop and I loved the final effect!

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My go-to cot blanket is a shrunk down version of an Attic 24 cosy stripe blanket.  If you begin with a starting chain of 120 it comes up the perfect width.  For baby versions I prefer to use a neutral on the ‘plain’ rows and a variegated yarn in the granny treble rows, like this one I made using left over Ice Yarn:

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At Christmas I was asked to make an owl themed blanket for a friend’s sister-in-law.  I used The Hat and I’s pattern for this one, and added the lettering using the Moogly Alphabet patterns.

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Clothes are always fun for little people.  Last year we were stuck in a traffic jam and I made this circular cardigan for my daughter in the time I was trapped in the car (we missed our ferry to Ireland, so I had extra hooky time).  The yarn was King Cole Riot, but my little one found it a bit too scratchy to wear, so I would make it in a cotton or bamboo for her next time.  But this was so quick and easy to make and I loved the final effect.  The pattern was a free one from Drops yarn, found on Ravelry, but there are lots of similar ones out there too.

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In terms of hats, I like this, the Little Sister hat, without the flower.  This one is worked in some left over merino sock yarn from Fleabubs (the Scientist was the colourway).  It can look girly but in this yarn I think it works for a newborn of either gender.

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You can see that I like to use strong colours with little people – something that will hide the messes but that make a really nice statement piece.  I am toying with making a very special little set in honour of my friend’s baby, and as soon as I have done it I will share it with you here as a free pattern.  I just need to put the socks down long enough to make it!

 

Beaded Arches Shawlette

OK, so I am very excited to be able to reveal Shawl 2 from the Shawl Club collaboration with Unbelieva-wool.  This is the Beaded Arches Shawlette, so named because of its beading and arches (I lack imagination).

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The yarn is a pretty special merino / nylon / yak base, dyed in reds and plums in a colourway called ‘Loving You’.

So, the story behind this one is that shortly after we agreed to do Shawl Club, Sam said that she really liked the idea of a long, thin crescent shaped shawl. So did I, but boy, that is a hard shape to nail without making the pattern so involved that your head explodes from tracking where to place the increases.  One of my rules of pattern design is that ideally it should be something that is mainly simple and meditative to do once the pattern is set, with the occasional bit of complexity.  So I tried to find a way of coming up with the shape, without the headache.

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This was what I managed to come up with.  It is a complete cheat, as the shape is achieved through cunning use of blocking.

I also wanted to incorporate beading because, as you know, I like a touch of beadwork in a shawl and it suited this particular shawl well.  In trying to get the shape right, I made loads of these shawls, and I have to say I have fallen in love with them as I wear them as scarves, like this:

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But here are some early contenders I am also very fond of…

These are using a vibrant grad from Dye Candy, and the one below is using a silk mix yarn (also from Dye Candy) entitled ‘Scream Queen’, without the beads.

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I have more but I will spare you here, although you may see them crop up on Instagram from time to time.  So there you have it: a cheeky cheat.  Forgive me, but it does work!

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…

Living for the weekend…

Don’t get me wrong, this week hasn’t been a ‘bad’ week, but it has been tiring and at times quite emotional.  The light at the end of the tunnel has been the prospect of a delayed birthday treat – one of my friends had a significant birthday and our birthdays are a few days apart so we decided we would plan a little yarn escape in London.  She is much more familiar than I am with the big yarn stores – I have ventured into Loop with her before but she tells me there are other places where yarnheads are welcome and this weekend she is taking me on a guided tour.

Now, before you say ‘what about your yarn ban?’, it is still in place.  I am restricting myself to taking a limited amount of cash (which will not go far in London!), and I am mainly looking for interesting patterns and maybe that very special skein of yarn. But its really going to be about spending time with one of my best friends and having the time and space to concentrate on making stuff in the evenings.  Something to re-balance the head and heart as the madness of work starts to spiral once again.

In shawl club news, I have finally decided on the design for Shawl #5 and I am really pleased with it, both as a pattern and an item.  So I may play around with ideas for the final shawl in my first series of shawl club this weekend.  I think I want to go with something really special and unusual, so London will work as a bit of a research trip to inspire me, I hope.  Otherwise it will be all about the stash busting.  I wonder if I should set myself a challenge of how many KGs of yarn I can get through before the autumn?

On the topic of stash busting, I am also going to learn to knit brioche – I am going to make a massive brioche wrap this summer so that it is done in time for the colder months, and it should use up some of my DK stash, including some random scraps from leftover projects. Using up scrap ends of yarn makes me feel faintly frugal and virtuous (I am neither of these things) so it has to be something to be embraced.

I will try to keep you updated on my London exploits via my Instagram feed.  Come and follow us – it could get both fluffy and messy all at the same time.

A new addiction…

They say the first step to dealing with an addiction is to realise that you have a problem.  Well, my name is Knackered Psycho, and I am a yarn addict.  Last weekend I came back from Wonderwool and in trying to put my stash away I realised that I have a bit of a yarn habit.  My yarn pets may be beautifully stored, but if they were real pets the RSPCA would be round my house by now (after a tip off from my postman), trying to persuade me to rehome them and give them a better life than existing in the cramped conditions they currently endure in my stash drawers.  No officer, I am sure I can learn to look after them better.  They are part of my family.  We cannot be parted.

So recently I decided to do the decent thing and cancel all but one of my yarn clubs (I am partway through a blanket club and I cannot stand the thought of an unfinished WIP).  This was a painful process but the right decision for now.  The new challenge is to improve the living conditions of my yarn by going on an extended making binge. As I stared into the heaving mass that is my drawer of sock yarn (usually reserved for shawls), I decided the time had come to crack open that Slouchy Slox pattern from Rosebuds and Rainbows, and see if I could nail some sock knitting.  A grabbed skein of ‘Get back in the kitchen’ (oh the irony), by Dye Candy (merino and cashmere), and got stuck in.  It took my about 2-3 days to nail the work of art pictured above.  I am beyond proud, and it fits perfectly and is the most comfortable sock I have ever put on my tired toes.  I am now so unused to knitting that my fingers were a bit tender after I finished this one, so I gave myself a day off before casting on the second sock.  I want to get the second one done so I can wear them, and then crack on with some more. I can see a new obsession creeping on.  I already have a friend who almost exclusively knits socks, and I can see how it can get addictive.  In fact, as soon as I have finished this post I will be upstairs, PJs on, getting on with sock 2.  Check me out, with my rock ‘n roll lifestyle…

Shawl-wise I am experimenting with some different ideas, but I am not entirely happy with how they are working out.  I have two more shawls to design for shawl club before I can start to work up some of my other projects, and I know I want them to be dramatic, but the one I have been fiddling with today looks less impressive in real life than it did in my head.  I have an idea re how to adjust it to make it work, but I think I need to sleep on it for now.  Besides, I can’t think straight when my feet are cold…

Wonderful Wonderwool

Well, this weekend just past I was able to go to Wonderwool in Wales.  One of my work friends decided about a week ago that she needed a yarn fix and had saved up her pennies, and so I felt it was rude not to go with her.  It was also a chance to see my thank you shawl and the bobble wrap displayed in all their glory on the Unbelieva-wool stand, and I was very proud to see them there in amongst the other wonderful shawls.

Wonderwool was brilliant.  We went on Sunday, and we were thrilled to find that it was busy but not too crowded, and that plenty of space had been allocated to the stalls so that you could see what goodies they had, and chat with the stall holders.  Everyone was so nice, and we felt very welcome.  There were plenty of places to sit and take refreshments (Knitting and Stitch Show, please take note) and lots to see.  And the sun shone! We had the best time.

Something very strange happened to me at Wonderwool.  I found myself drawn to knitting projects.  Knitting.  Pointy sticks and all that.  And not just any knitting but knitted shawls.  I bought the kit to make the Lulworth shawl pattern in purples and greys (it is beyond beautiful), and the yarn and pattern for the Festival Shawl by Caerthan Wrack using the grey and wine red DK pictured above.  And a pattern for knitted ‘slox‘ by Rosebuds and Rainbows which was just what I was looking for.  But the sudden urge to knit shawls has taken me by surprise.  I learned to knit many years ago, so I can do it, but I am so impatient and clumsy that I limit myself to small and simple projects.  I just just about do intarsia work, but even that is far from perfect.  The idea of knitting shawls has always sent shivers down my spine.  But these shawls were special, and perhaps I have OD-ed on crocheted shawls with all the shawl club activity!  So I am looking forward to getting stuck into them as a special project, but I need to keep up with my crochet work at the same time.  Happily, work is motivating me to do a lot of yarn related activity at the moment (i.e. it is horrible and stressful) and so I am whizzing through projects.

So, I treated myself to a Doctor Who project bag for my new knitting projects (Welsh memorabilia).  And on the way out we sort of fell in love with the 25g mini skeins of DK dyed by Moonlight yarns in the nicest shade of soft purple/grey I have seen in a long time.  Happily my companion had already spent all her cash by the time we spotted them, so they had to come home with me.  Watch this space for their reappearance in a project near you soon!