Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds & (Week)ends #22

After an hour spent dealing with interruptions while putting the first version of this post together, I then managed to delete it while fighting with a photo that wouldn’t upload. It’s the end of the Easter holidays, and I’m still trying to shift a cold I’ve had since just after EYF. Here are some photos. See you next week.

 

 

Take care, and don’t let Monday get you down.

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Knitting · Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds & Week(ends) #21

The Edinburgh Yarn Festival Edition

The Marketplace

 

This year I made a plan for which stands to visit, and what to buy, and I’m pleased to say I largely stuck to it, so I have projects lined up for most of my purchases. The impulse buys: a fabulous skein of DyeNinja’s new High Merino Twist Aran in her Embers colourway, and Rusty Ferret’s blue-purple Space Muffin on her Doll base (she had me at “space”), would suit any number of patterns I own. I had a slightly panicked moment at the Martin’s Lab stand where my bank, confused by a sudden large payment in Polish Zloty, declined the transaction, and blocked my card. Luckily I had a back-up, but who knew I’d need to inform my bank I was going to my local Yarn Festival?!

Beyond the lovely yarns on offer, it was wonderful to spend time with my tribe: I had so many fun moments with fellow knitters, complimenting each other on knitwear, sharing advice on colour choices and potential patterns; and it was such a pleasure to meet so many of the dyers who I interact with on social media, and express my admiration (generally in an incoherent, slightly starstruck way, but I think they got it 😳).

The Darning Masterclass

In the afternoon I attended Tom van Deijnen’s Darning Masterclass. He covered both Swiss Darning, for reinforcement and embellishments, and Sock Darning, used when holes have already formed. My many years of embroidery experience meant that, once I understood how the stitching interacted with the knitted fabric, everything fell into place for me. I’m now eyeing up all fabrics I come into contact with as prospective mending projects. Tom also ran an Advanced Darning Masterclass this year, so I hope that he’ll be back next year as I’d like to learn more.

 

From the mailbag

My new knitting notebook arrived this week (and can be spotted above in my darning pics), and I dealt with my EYF fomo by setting up a section specially for my day at the festival.

Odds and Sods

  • I finished Anna Karenina. Finally!
  • The Darning Masterclass was held at the Water of Leith Conservation Centre. I had a few minutes to look around and will definitely be taking the Tiny Tyrant for a visit.
  • The Truly Myrtle Spring Shawl Autumn Wrap Up KAL cast-on was yesterday (the 17th). I cast my Windsinger on while travelling in to EYF. I’m using Old Maiden Aunt merino cashmere nylon 4ply in colours Cold Sheep and Pretty Floral Bonnet. img_8998The deadline is the 17th May, and you’ll find some beautiful WIPs under #springshawlautumnwrapupkal on social media.

Upcoming

We have a busy week ahead, including a day trip to Amble. I think there may be a Neighbo(u)rhood Sheep Society parcel to collect this week as well, because I spotted a new NSS pattern on Ravelry. And I want to make a push on my Lanes cardigan, as I’d quite like to wear it.

Take care, and don’t let Monday get you down.

Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds & Week(ends) #20

Cooking on a Bootstrap During Snowmaggeddon

The sudden influx of rewards from projects I’ve backed continued this week with the long-anticipated arrival of Cooking on a Bootstrap from Jack Monroe. It proved to be good timing, as we were then struck by the ‘beast from the east’ snow storm.

While not technically snowed in, in practice, since the buses stopped running along our road, the Technician is working away, and the supermarket is too far for TT to walk there and back even in good weather, we were snowed in. Being unable to get out for supplies encouraged my creativity to make the most of what I found in my cupboard, ably assisted by my newly-arrived cookbook.

Exploration and Reflection

As mentioned a while back, I’m taking part in the KnitBritish Wool Exploration. I submitted my first review, on Gotland wool, in February, and I’m partway through my explorations of Ryeland and Jacob, guided by Louise’s excellent template for notes, which you can find on her blog. I am finding that the number of swatches and pieces of A4 are becoming unwieldy, so decided to use a sketchbook to collate the information.

I chose a sketchbook as the paper will be sturdy enough for me to attach the swatch to the relevant page, and the spiral binding should mean that it copes better with multiple inserts. While the first part will be dedicated to the KnitBritish breed swatches, I’m going to use the rest to start noting down my own impressions of particular breeds and brands.

Tangentially, I started reading Folk Fashion today (a book from my Christmas haul), which is making me realise that I rarely reflect on my making in any structured way – there’s a lot of “ooh, pretty I want to knit (with) that”, but less attention on whether it’s an item I need, or uses what I already have. It can sometimes feel like I’ve shifted focus from high-street consumerism to independent supplier consumerism, and I feel like I need to slow down and unpack that a bit. It seems that the Wool Exploration is part of that thought process too. A topic I may return to if I come to any conclusions worth sharing.

From the Mailbag

For obvious reasons it’s been a slow post week, but my Read The Year book for March made it to me, along with the aforementioned cookbook.

Odds and Sods

  • Libby Johnson of the Truly Myrtle blog and podcast is running an Autumn/Spring Shawl KAL between 17th March – 17th May. I shall be taking part as I’ve wanted to make her Windsinger shawl for a while.
  • Craftsy has been offering unlimited access this weekend, so I’m taking the opportunity to audit a few courses that I’d marked as favourites.
  • If you missed out on the Kickstarter of Cooking on a Bootstrap, Jack Monroe has announced that a revised version is being released via a traditional publisher too.

Upcoming

The worst of the snow is over, and thawing fast, but they’re predicting rain from tomorrow so I expect to get damp when heading out in search of supplies. Nursery is due to re-open tomorrow – a relief because the Tiny Tyrant and I are sick of the sight of each other. My main plans for the week are to knit, and start plotting what I want to do and see at EYF.

Take care, and don’t let Monday get you down.

Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds & (Week)ends #19

The Fruits of Crowdfunding

I’ve generally had a good experience with supporting crowdfunded books and games, and this week 2 longstanding pledges arrived:

The Lady and the Tiger, from Jellybean Games, is loosely inspired by Frank R. Stockton’s short story, and includes 5 games, ranging from a solitaire game to 2-6 player options, all using the same components. I’ve only played Hoard, the solitaire game, so far – it’s been a solo parenting week – but I’m looking forward to working my way through the others. And I must just mention that Tania’s artwork is divine. The ladies and tigers are so unique and distinctive that I find myself imagining their backstories as I play – I probably shouldn’t do that when I come to play the pair, and group games though.

My other ‘reward’ was The Secret History of Mac Gaming, which I backed on Unbound. We had Macs at home when I was growing up so any gaming that couldn’t be done on various iterations of Gameboy was done on the Mac. In the ’90s that meant not getting to play the games my console-blessed friends were playing, but it has left me with a lifelong love of the Civilisation series (Civ II was the best; I will accept no debate on this). Timescales on Unbound are typically longer than other types of crowdfunding, but both books I’ve backed have been worth the wait.

From the Mailbag

As anticipated, my copy of Laine #4, and the Ysolda shawl club yarn arrived this week. The latter is the most smooshable blend of Corriedale and Zwartbles, spun specially for the club by John Arbon Textiles (which amused me as I’ve just started my Lanes cardigan in some of their Exmoor Zwartbles blend). My Valentines dice from Q-Workshop also arrived, so I’m well supplied with red D20s.

Odds and Sods

  • Easyknits’ new website is up and running, and as part of the relaunch they’ve announced a new Nerd Sock Club, which will include a skein of sock yarn and a pin, themed around a nerdy topic, sent out bi-monthly. Naturally, I signed up.
  • I’ve been enjoying Reedsy’s bite-sized writing emails over coffee this past week. I’ve finished Kristen Kiefer’s How to Plot a Novel Using the 3-Act Story Structure, which I thoroughly recommend, and have moved on to How to Start Writing a Book. Can you tell my writing motivation is low right now? 🙂
  • We’re trialling the monthly ToucanBox as the Tiny Tyrant is blazing through the fortnightly craft boxes when they arrive. The Grande box includes 2 crafts, a book, and a list of activity ideas around a theme (adventure, most recently). The books we’ve had have been excellent, and ToucanBox are generous with the craft supplies. If you’d like to try a free Petite box, click here.

Upcoming

It doesn’t seem possible that we’re at the end of February already. I expect to finish my first ‘Year of Socks’ socks in the next day or so, and cast on the next pair before March arrives – all of which I’ll devote a post to during the week. I suspect that I also have a school shoes trip to Clark’s in my immediate future. Oh, joy.

Take care, and don’t let Monday get you down.

Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds & (Week)ends #18

My week in pictures

It’s been a slow week 😐

Odds and Sods

  • 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.

Upcoming

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. 😁

Take care, and don’t let Monday get you down. 

Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds and (Week)ends #17

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. 😳

Upcoming

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.

Take care, and don’t let Monday get you down.

Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds & (Week)ends #16

Blue Monday Lasted All Week

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:

Upcoming

This looks set to be a fairly normal week, which probably means it will be anything but. Sigh.

Take care, and don’t let Monday get you down.

Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds and (Week)ends #15

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.

#KB100DECK

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.

Upcoming

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.

Take care, and don’t let Monday get you down.

Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds & (Week)ends #14

No ‘Turner in January’ For Me

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.

Upcoming

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.

Take care, and don’t let Monday get you down.

Polymath Enthusiasms · Reading Challenge

Odds & (Week)ends #13

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.

Knitting

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.

Clockwise from top left: Studies in Ice (Beatrice Perron Dahlen), accessories from The Simple Collection (Tin Can Knits), Selfoss slippers (Anne Curry), Bousta Beanie (Gudrun Johnston for Shetland Wool Week), Hitchhiker (Martina Behm), Cirro (Woolly Wormhead).

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.

I think Goodreads were a little premature with their roundup.

According to Audible, I also accumulated a respectable number of minutes on audiobooks in 2017:

I have no idea what the deal is with Thursdays.

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.

A little taste of the books I’ve read, loved, borrowed, hated, purchased, and loaned out this year.

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.

Six of the nine experiences pictured involved leaving the house 👍

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.

Upcoming

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.

Take care, and I’ll see you on the other side.