I’ve been re-listening to some old Acquisitions Inq D&D podcasts this week. The stuff when Wil Wheaton guests is comedy gold.
In related news I may have purchased myself some dice from Q-workshop’s Valentine offer 😳
Progress on Anna Karenina is slow. It’s looking like I’ll need a really short read in March.
This next week appears hellish: back to the nursery routine, family visiting, a trip to the GP, and the prospect of several hours without power while our fuse board gets changed, all while parenting solo. On the bright side, my copy of Laine #4 will be arriving this week, and the first instalment from Ysolda’s Shawl Club is due to be sent out, so if I make it to the weekend I can reward myself by retreating to a duvet cocoon with my goodies. 😁
I’ve skipped this update for the past couple of weeks, and my only excuse is that the Technician is now in that silly season where all concept of a working week goes out the window and I never know what day it is.
Startitis, and a Few Things I’ve Finished
I’ve been suffering from startitis all through January and into February. My ideal is to have three WIPs at any one time: the travel project (small enough to knit while out and about), the tv knitting (a bigger project in stocking stitch or a memorable pattern repeat), and something a little tricky (any project that demands I keep a close eye on the pattern and have minimal distractions). Somehow I’ve had 5 WIPs for most of the past month, and it’s started to feel a little pressuring.
I decided to concentrate on Threipmuir (since I want to wear it), but stopped between stages to complete smaller projects like my Blacker PodKAL legwarmers and my Wool Exploration swatch – using little victories to motivate me for all that stocking stitch in fingering weight yarn. This weekend I’m knitting a little on my Dave socks while I work on finishing and blocking the pile of finished objects I already have.
The next step is to review my queue of planned projects, and prioritise, by deciding which are things I need in my wardrobe and really want to knit. I think the Lanes cardigan from Laine #1 is pretty high up on both counts. But that will need to wait until I’ve finished another of my current WIPs.
Putting Pen to Paper
I’ve been struggling to regain my writing mojo over the past few months (not helped by the distractions of illness, study, Christmas…). I have my projects set up in Scrivener so that I can sync them to the app on my phone via Dropbox. In theory, this means I can jot down notes, get some writing done while out and about, or revise earlier work, when I have the time – all very efficient since I don’t have a desk/study space at the moment. In practice, I find a blank screen far more paralysing than a blank page, so it just hasn’t been working. With that in mind I’ve accepted that I capture my thoughts quicker working with pen and paper, and that I will need to type up what I’m working on – which meant convincing myself that it’s an opportunity for another revision, rather than a dull chore that’s slowing me down – and bought a couple of packs of exercise books. My plan was to write 350 words a day this year, so hopefully this will get me back on track. I’ll let you know how it goes.
From the Mailbag
It’s been all about the knitting technique books this week, but I also picked up some yarn in the Countess’ sale as the Technician has requested his own hi-vis hat.
Odds and Sods
Most of my February knitting time has been to Audible accompaniment – Andrew Roberts’ Napoleon the Great. I don’t consider myself a fan of military history, but I’ve been gripped by the retelling of his battles; even knowing the outcome of Austerlitz, or the retreat from Moscow, it made for tense listening.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was one of my favourite games of 2012. It doesn’t have the emotional pull of a Dragon Age, because interaction with NPCs is minimal, but the size of the world and depth of the lore is impressive. It’s also a good one for playing in small doses, which I’m currently doing.
The Tiny Tyrant has had me watching Trolls. It’s not as awful as I thought it would be; I may have purchased a song from the soundtrack. 😳
Half-term week means I will mostly be entertaining the Tiny Tyrant, with knitting, gaming, and anything else squished into the few hours between her bedtime and mine. We do get to go to the library though.
I know. It’s a marketing gimmick. But it seemed appropriate as we spent the first part of the week being ill, and then the boiler stopped working. Also it snowed. A lot.
Neighbo(u)rhood Sheep Society 2018
On Saturday I had the chance to go into Edinburgh to collect my first NSS parcel from Ginger Twist Studio. Continuing the theme of the week, I managed to slip on the ice, mix-up the opening times and arrive early, and then all my homeward transport was delayed. On the bright side I got to sample the great coffee, and bacon rolls, at the Happy Bean Café, and my parcel was totally worth the journey. The first instalment is a skein of a New Leaf Yarns blend of alpaca, bfl, and Lincoln longwool, dyed a gorgeous blue-gray toned purple, intended for Clare Devine’s Blairdenon sock pattern. I’ve yet to decide whether I cast on right away, or try a simpler sock pattern before attempting Blairdenon with this precious skein.
Odds and Sods
While out and about on Saturday I picked up the Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children trilogy on a 3 for 2 offer. I’ll spare you the saga of acquiring them – nothing has gone smoothly this week – but will say that they’re very readable. I’ve finished the trilogy already.
I may have given in to the Blue Monday feeling and made a few purchases from Countess Ablaze’s Absolute B*llocks update. I should be able to show you the results of my trip to 1993 next week.
I succumbed to peer pressure and did my Year of Colour on instagram. It’s a lot more neutral than I anticipated:
This looks set to be a fairly normal week, which probably means it will be anything but. Sigh.
I’m feeling exhausted today as I’ve been parenting solo on a busy, busy week, so this post will be short and sweet, and probably not proofread.
It’s always a little daunting to go to an event on your own, so I’m pleased to report I had a really great time. It was nice to meet some local knitters, there were great info sessions with Blacker Yarns (a lot of discussion around the ethics of wool), and New Leaf Yarns (their origin story, and a meet-and-greet with their range of yarns), prizes, cake, a chance to buy yarn, and lots of coffee and knitting. I’d cast on my Blacker PodKAL project (Stephen West’s Dustland Legwarmers in the Splosh colourway of Brushwork) on the bus, and by the time I got home I had 2/3 of a legwarmer. Not bad. I couldn’t resist a skein of New Leaf Yarns Alpaca/BFL/Teeswater blend, and then couldn’t resist casting on a Rattan shawl. I think my other WIPs are going to languish a bit this week. All in all, a fun day, and a real privilege to be able to celebrate 100 episodes of KnitBritish with Louise.
From the Mailbag
It was pretentious book week:
Odds and Sods
The Tyrant Tyrant referred to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery as “the statue shop with lots of stairs” and I giggle every time I think about it (obvs I’m very proud that she’s asked to go there again).
I’ve been made to watch a lot of Trollhunters this week. It’s good enough that I may have to rewatch it in my own time.
I’m reading Shirley, and it is doing nothing to dispel my feeling that Charlotte was the dullest and most overrated of the Brontës.
I have a tutorial next weekend, so I need to get my head down and study. I expect to make good progress with my Rattan shawl, and may feel the need to talk to you about socks. I make no promises.
I was hoping to talk a bit about the annual Turner exhibition at the National Gallery of Scotland, but the bus was running early today, and for once I was running to time, not absurdly early, so I missed it. January is shaping up to get busy from this next week, so I doubt I’ll get to the exhibition now, but I definitely recommend taking the opportunity to see some of Turner’s lesser known, and beautifully preserved, works if you can get into Edinburgh. Take a look at the National Galleries website for more info and to learn about the bequest that made it all possible.
WIPs and FOs
Q2 Good Intentions: I’m knitting a row or two each day just to keep it in hand, and expect to do a longer burst once I finish my other sweater.
Threipmuir: I’ve been knitting this while watching TV and, inevitably, made a mistake. Except that I can’t figure out where – I’ve knitted the round correctly, but I’m a stitch short. I don’t seem to have dropped one in this round, so I wonder if I’ve missed an increase on the previous round. I’ve set it aside til TT starts back at nursery so that I can examine it in daylight, and without interruption. I have almost finished the colourwork, after which it’ll be a much quicker knit, so I’m not too frustrated over losing a couple of days.
One for the Books: Time off from Threipmuir means that I’m finishing my Strickplaner cover today. It’s been a fascinating little masterclass in using decreases and increases to create structure, and I’ll be excited to see it in use.
From the Mailbag
I’ve had a few parcels of yarn this week (some one-off colours from Old Maiden Aunt, and some more yarn in Easyknits toxic-spill colourway for an idea that’s brewing), and some final Christmas books that I need to fit in around my Reading Challenge.
Odds and Sods
I stayed up far too late last night watching series 2 of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. It was a little easier to figure out the ending this time, though I’m not sure if that’s down to my familiarity with the storytelling of the show, or the fact that it’s a linear story this time.
I just tried Taylor’s of Harrogate Rare Blossom Ethiopia coffee and it’s delicious. Also Fairtrade certified.
I’ve managed to get back to my 06:00 morning starts, having abandoned them at the height of the plague month because my body needed all the sleep. Pleased to say it didn’t feel like a struggle to get back into the habit.
The Tiny Tyrant goes back to nursery this week, so I will need to allow for her being exhausted. This is also the week when I need to ease back into my study routine. On Saturday it’s the KnitBritish 100th episode ‘drink; eat; chat; knit’ or #KB100DECK for which I am very excited, and the Blacker PodKAL cast on is the same day, so I expect to start at least one new knit this week.
As you’ve probably guessed, I succumbed to illness, and deadlines, and Christmas craziness, and let the blogging lapse. I decided I’d finish off the year with a little look back at some of the things I’ve enjoyed.
I’m proud of having pushed myself to learn new techniques in 2017, and very aware that I’ve been lucky enough to benefit from some clear and expert patterns.
Books, Books, Books
I’ve read 127 books in 2017, though I’m speed-reading Sapiens (because it’s due back in a couple of days) so I might just sneak another in.
According to Audible, I also accumulated a respectable number of minutes on audiobooks in 2017:
Total minutes are likely to go up in 2018, as the KnitBritish podcast is going monthly, and I’m all caught up on past episodes, so will have more time for audiobooks.
So far as the Reading Challenge goes, I read a total of 56 diverse books – which works out at slightly more than 1 book by a BAME/female/LGBT/non-Western author (or some combination of those categories) a week. This was just short of 50% of the total number of books I read, and covered both fiction and non-fiction. Particular highlights were Roshani Chokshi’s folklore-inspired Fantasy novels, N.K. Jemisin’s Broken Earth series (which I need to finish in 2018), David Olusoga’s Black and British, and the fabulous Hidden Figures by Margot Lee Shetterly.
Out and About
It would be easy to focus on how much time I spent being ill this year, but I also got to do some fun things, read some great books, play fun games, and drink a lot of coffee.
Odds and Sods
I made it to the cinema for the first time in 3 years to see Thor: Ragnarok. I’m now counting down the days til I can download it, and then watch it over and over til I explode from laughing.
I finally got the sewing machine out and made some new floor cushion covers. It took 2 hours to sew 8 seams, and I had to fight the machine the whole way. Fun times.
Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency was my favourite show this year, and I’m torn between excitement for the new series in Jan, and disappointment that it’s supposedly the last one.
I have big knitting plans for 2018: a year of socks, garment knitting, the Good Intentions Club, and the Darning Masterclass at EYF. I’m also signed up to a couple of different yarn and pattern clubs. My 2017 Reading Challenge was good, but a little vague, so I’m simplifying things for 2018 (details to follow), in the hope of also demolishing my ever-increasing TBR pile. All of which I expect to share with you on here.
This week I segued seamlessly from flu to chest infection, along with the rest of the household. Every time I get annoyed about the number of different medications I’m taking, I remind myself that I’m lucky enough to get free healthcare/prescriptions; it helps to keep perspective. Hopefully the nursery germ warfare will die down in the new year.
Almost Done with Hats
I did get bored and make a cowl, but, after completing 12 hats in November I still have a few more to go: another for me, as I’ve been wanting a Bousta Beanie, and 2 that are part of Christmas gift sets. I’m seriously feeling the need to cast on a sweater now, but before I get to that I should probably address my lack of mittens. It’s cold out there!
Love My Local Library
This month I’ve been borrowing ebooks through my library app. It’s not great for ‘vintage’ books, but can be a handy way to get hold of new releases that I want to read but not necessarily own. Recent loans have included The Mighty Dead: Why Homer Matters (not the most convincing argument, but some interesting passages), In Cold Blood (gripping), The Peripheral (one of my favourite novels, which I was too ill and tired to go and retrieve from storage), and, currently, Landmarks (I’m only on Chapter 3, and I realise I probably will buy it). The flurry of ebooks has boosted my total reads, and I’m comfortably over my Goodreads 2017 Reading Challenge total, which is a nice feeling.
From the Mailbag
I picked up some single breed yarns during Blacker Yarns’ Wovember sale so that I can take part in the KnitBritish Wool Exploration reviews.
Odds and Sods
I had convincing proof of Lettlopi’s water-repellent properties the other day, and am now daydreaming/planning to knit all my outerwear in the stuff.
You should definitely check out #theelementbookchallenge on instagram again this month. I’m enjoying that it’s undated as it makes it easier to participate.
My local Tesco sells 2 kinds of muffin tin and no mince pie tins. Do people not make their own mince pies anymore?
The plague weeks have knocked me back on everything except getting Christmas gifts organised, so this week’s focus will be putting my assignment to bed, then the easy win of getting all the gifts sent off. Hopefully that will build some momentum for the rest of the task list.
This will probably be a short round-up, as I spent most of the week trying not to cough my lungs up, and then not sleeping because of the same. Not until the end of the week did it occur to me that the latest cold virus might just be interacting with my very mild (mild like I haven’t needed an inhaler since 2015) asthma. Luckily, I realised before the weekend, and even more luckily, I managed to get an appointment, and a prescription. We are all sleeping much better, but I still feel like I lost a week. And I lost my voice this weekend so I missed D&D too ☹️
The Mad Hatter Continues Her Work
My hat total is now at 11, so production has slowed, compared to last week. I did get some of them blocked though, and one of them went to its forever home. I lost some time to an error on the MKAL hat, which meant I had to rip back and start over on this week’s clue, but I’ll be caught up by the time the final clue releases on Wednesday. I think I may gift the first attempt, and make myself another in due course, as I’m not sure I like the colour of the wool I used. I am starting to get bored of hats now, so I may start to alternate them with other knits for the rest of the month.
From the Mailbag
It was a particularly sheepy yarn week this week, and I’m looking forward to trying these out.
We also got a Hotel Chocolat catalogue and TT has gone through it in detail pointing out all the sweeties she would like… I hope she’s not too disappointed to find I’ve ignored her come Christmas Day.
Odds & Sods
I’ve been working through Lisa Jacob’s Your Best Year 2018 (Life Edition) over the weekend. It’s refreshing to start planning for the next year while there’s still time to settle unfinished business in 2017. Unexpected bonus for me: her breakdown of goals to quarterly, monthly, and weekly tasks fits neatly with the layout of my Strickplaner.
Knit British will be doing Wool Exploration in 2018 – a chance for listeners to get involved in reviewing single breed wools. January’s breed is North Ronaldsay, and, conveniently, I’ve just bought some 😏
I desperately need to get my beets pickled as they’re taking up a lot of cupboard space, and I need to start drafting my next TMA this week. There will be some hat knitting, perhaps a cowl, and I want to swatch for The Weekender too.
It occurs to me that I’ve done very little other than make hats this week (covered in detail here), but I am closing in on finishing 8 hats in 7 days, so I’m not too unhappy with that.
We’re trialling an organic fruit and veg box this month, which at this time of year includes an excess of beetroot and apples. I now have all the ingredients to pickle the beets, so will tackle that in the Tiny Tyrant’s absence one day this week. I’ve already had a go at drying apples (single layer on a baking sheet in the bottom of the oven for a couple of hours at 100°C). The first batch turned into crisps, which are delicious, but I’m going to play with the temperature and slice thickness because I’d love some dried apple on hand for muesli and/or baking.
From the Mailbag
Another yarn week, as I snagged deals, and picked up a few odd skeins for future projects.
I’m stashing as much Wendy Ramsdale DK as I can, as it’s been discontinued, and I love the range of colours (and the fact that it’s Yorkshire sourced and spun).
Odds and Sods
The Vendor List for EYF2018 has been released and I’m very excited as pretty much all of my favourite indie dyers will be there.
The Tiny Tyrant was caught stuffing her face with tiny marshmallows today: which is to say she can now open packets, and nothing in the world will be safe from her.
I picked up Andrea Mowry’s new sweater (The Weekender), and shawl (Hoarfrost) patterns, and got her new hat pattern (Tincture) for free. I think the deal is probably over now, but all 3 patterns are giving me startitis, and well worth your time and money.
I am fighting off yet another cold virus, but determined to get those beets in vinegar this week. I also expect to get bored of hats sometime around Wednesday, and cast on something utterly ridiculous. Or the Weekender, with some of the Ramsdale I’ve accumulated. 🤔
There’s been significant activity on the knitting front since last we spoke. I’ve now completed both the Ruschia Hat, and the Wood Warbler Cowl.
I finished the Ruschia Hat as part of the AYOT KAL, which was particularly satisfying, and I feel like it’s a pattern I’d like to perfect, so I’ll be knitting a few more of those. I also finished my Good Intentions Q1 Project. You’ll note that it looks nothing like a lacework cape. I tried, reader, I really did, but that yarn did not want to be lace. While browsing Ravelry in desperation, I noticed a shawl knitted in Janome with a similar zigzag edge to the Hitchhiker shawl: the rest is history. I’ve had some lovely compliments in the Good Intentions chat forum, so it was definitely a good change. On the unfinished front, having seen pics of the finished Speckle and Pop shawl, I realised I still didn’t have the tension right so I frogged it again. It’s hibernating at the moment; I want to give it my full attention, but my brain is full of Christmas ideas right now. I hope to come back to it in December or perhaps the New Year.
I decided to use the clocks changing as a way to jumpstart a new routine. I am not a morning person, but I’ve found that I’m too tired to do much after a full day of Tyrant-wrangling. I do know that I function best with a consistent sleep pattern, so I’ve shifted this for a 06:00 start. This allows me to do my morning pages, and some work, before everyone else is up for the day. So far I’ve found that I’m less distracted and tired for the rest of the day, as I’ve come around at my own pace (it takes a while 😂). We’ll see how it goes.
From the Mailbag
Yes, there was yarn.
But also the cutest little teapot. I’m finding tea meditation to be a helpful self-care activity when I’m especially anxious, and dunking a teabag in a mug rather detracts from the solemnity of it all.
Odds and Ends
I’ve decided that November is ‘hat month’, as I feel the need to complete a series of simple knits (well, quick ones anyway). Coincidentally, Louise Tilbrooke is hosting a Hats for Humans KAL this month – do check it out if you’d like to knit useful hats for a charity.
I spent an instructive hour or so playing the Assassins Festival crossover on FFXV. I never got on with the controls for AC, but it’s kind of fun with FFXV’s controls and mechanics. Not as fun as actual FFXV so I think a replay may be in order.
Unit 4 of my OU module kicks off this week, so I will be getting back into my study routine. I’ll probably be taking part in the #wovemberinstachallenge and #theelementbookchallenge over on instagram, and I expect to share a little more about my ‘hat month’ with you here.