Friday, 30 September 2016

Octobering

What is it about October that fires up the creative communities to start a celebration?
The fact that summer is over?  A new term begins?
That it is not actually the Holiday Season... but there is a hint of spice in the air?

Whatever it is, I am definitely up for it this year!

I am planning to take part in two seasonal escapades:  Inktober and Socktober.


Inktober is a drawing challenge.  Each day for the month of October, there is a prompt to inspire you to get out your ink and draw.

It is wonderfully meditative to sit by the window and just... draw.


Socktober is a favourite knitterly play on words.
Knit socks in October?
Absolutely, yes!
Several podcasters are organising sockish knitalongs for the month.
I have not yet pledged allegiance to any of them, but no doubt I will feel compelled to throw my socks in the ring of at least one Ravelry Group, once I decide which patterns I am going to knit.

I was lucky enough to win a prize in the Summer of Socks Knitalong, organised by Psychoknitter, Rae:  a gorgeous pineapple pyramid project bag and NEON stitchmarkers made by Little Grey Girl and fabulous Prosecco Sock yarn from Ginger Twist Studio.
So lovely!

If that is not an incentive to knit more socks, I don't know what is.


I just finished knitting a really fun pair, combining colourwork with self-striping yarn.

These are in the Longing For Gotland Pattern by Kammebornia.


The colourwork was knit using lime and coral oddments from the stash, with violet heels, cuffs and toes using West Yorkshire Spinners' (WYS) yarn in Blackcurrant Bomb.
The stripes are WYS Passion Fruit Cooler.

This was the first time I had used WYS and I found it softer than Regia or Opal.  I do wonder if I should have used smaller needles, as they feel a bit floppy and might stretch out in wear?

Whatever.
I love them and that's what matters!

Thursday, 22 September 2016

A Tale of Two Yarns

Once upon a time, I decided to splash out and purchased the yarn recommended in the pattern, to knit a cardigan.
It is a lovely pattern.
It is a beautiful, naturally-dyed merino wool from Spain.

I bought the 3 skeins required for sizes 1 or 2 and set about knitting size 2.
I reached the end of skein 1 at the point where the garment is divided for body and sleeves, top down.


"Curious," I thought, "I wouldn't have expected to change skein so soon if I am knitting a garment with long sleeves."
With alarm bells ringing quietly but insistently in the back of my head, I kept knitting.


I knitted faster.
Because as we all know, the faster you knit, the more likely you are to have enough yarn.
Right?

I thought I might just about reach the end of the body with skein 2.
But I didn't.

I have knitted 25cm past the underarm and have 7cm still to go before the ribbing.
Skein 3 is starting to feel soft in the middle.


There is no way I am going to have enough yarn to knit full-length sleeves.
Remember - this is one-of-a-kind naturally hand-dyed yarn from Spain.  I can't just scoop up another skein from Lidl with my weekly shop.
I couldn't understand it.
My gauge and tension were spot on.

So I looked a little more closely at the designer's photo of the yarn she used, on Ravelry.


It doesn't look like the same base...

I followed a link on Ravelry and discovered an online shop in Spain which sells the single-coloured yarn.  It looks exactly like the yarn in the picture above.

Another scout through Ravelry, and another knitter shows a picture of her ball band:

Oh look:  50g equals 125 metres

I bought mine directly from the dyer.
My label says: 100g equals 200 metres.
It is not the same base.

So I don't have enough yarn.


Bugger.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Style Crisis (Averted)

I have been here before.
With autumn whistling through my letterbox, and the jangling of empty hangers in my wardrobe, I was struck down by an attack of Seasonal Wardrobe Disorder.

Here's the thing:  I have changed shape.  I am eating less and moving more.
I am a Jazzercise addict, bay-bee!
Oh how FL would laugh if he could see me in my trainers and racer-back top!
I have lost a couple of inches from bust and hip, while my waist seems to measure the same.
Maybe I am turning into a boy.


Why am I not sewing?  Because the styles I used to rely upon are no longer my friends.
Too close-fitting and I look as angular as a coat hanger.
Too loose and I look like my clothes are wearing me.
Skirts now slither downwards to sit on my hip bones.  Trousers sag and bag.

So this weekend I hit the High Street.
After all my worthy words about only buying ethical brands?  Yup.
I needed to try things on, to find out what suits me now that I am older and leaner.
I gave myself an hour.  I knew I would not have the stamina for any longer.
I wandered in and out of several shops and saw nothing of interest.

And then I went into Zara.
Ethics went out of the window.
I was actually excited by the clothes - oh my goodness!
It all looked so fresh and new after years of avoiding the mainstream.
Years of the same few mail order booklets showing me the same clothes in a slightly different colour palette, year after year.
No wonder the catalogues ended up in the recycling bin!

Interesting...!
It helped that they were blasting out the beats.
But every which way I turned, I saw actual Fashion.
70's looks, grunge a-plenty (oh lord:  an episode of "My So Called Life" was right there in front of me!), oversized sweaters, prints, textures, colours...!

To be layered over the leggings and under the shirt, apparently.  I didn't buy it! 
So I took a deep breath and scooped up the things that called to me and almost ran into the changing room.
Clever lighting and tilted mirrors - I looked great as I was!
And they were playing my song.  That always helps.
Ha!

Imagine this in blood red...
The scarlet crushed velvet slip dress was predictably hilarious.  Young people's chests are several inches higher than mine.
So that came off pretty sharpish.

Cropped, pinstripe, turn-ups, narrow

But the narrow cropped tailored trousers?
Oh my word, those had to come home with me.

The back pleat
And the weird Japanese reconstructed-looking mannish shirt, with the collar spun round on its axis and buttoned down the shoulder?
With a big pleat at the centre back?
Hell yeah!

The shoulder / neck
Of course there was a moment where I thought "I suppose I could make that...?"

But it gave me a cold hard knot of anxiety to even contemplate hunting out a similar pattern, getting the fit right, and sourcing suitable fabric.


So I bought them:  the shirt and the trousers.
Not only that, but I wore them to work today, to a big scary Important People meeting.
And even though I was conscious of my exposed neck, it didn't frighten me.
I felt... empowered, actually.

I got my hair cut too :)
Much easier to look after in between exercise classes!

Thursday, 1 September 2016

The Last Week of Summer


Oh look - it is September!

It has been a beautiful summer.
Not just because there have been a few warm days, even in Aberdeenshire, but because I have been able to apply myself to the To Do List without feeling oppressed.  Or depressed.

Last week, I had a week at home to continue the sorting and the sifting, the clearance and the cleaning.  But it was also a week to develop new habits.

I tried out two very different exercise classes, and found one which promises fun with friendly people.  I went back again this week.

I put up a whiteboard... and used it.
I renewed the bathroom sealant (never again!) and struck that off the To Do List at last.
I didn't forget to buy bin bags and I remembered to eat the cauliflower before it turned to mush in the bottom of the fridge.  Woo hoo!

The Council cleared the garage:  three trips with a flat bed truck.
I filled the car boot with another load of Stuff for the tip and took it there.
And three bags full went to the charity shop.


I listened to an audio book: "The Strays" by Emily Bitto.

I made real progress on my knitting, my spinning and my cross stitching.

I put aside FL's prejudice against expensive magazines and bought a copy of Flow, in English.
And followed it up with the French edition, to get my brain back in gear.
And also the Flow Sketchbook, which is like having a self-guided art class on my kitchen table:  one step beyond colouring.  A little artistic challenge to ponder while I drink my coffee.


I went to a concert, all by myself.
I took my knitting for company and ignored the whispers from the silver-haired couples who made up the rest of the audience.
And then an artist set up her easel in the aisle next to me - ha!  That trumps knitting for odd behaviour in a public place!


I am not sure what it adds to the experience to record it here, but here it is.