Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds & (Week)ends #27

Mostly photos this week. Enjoy.

Out and About

Beecraigs Country Park

Cuckoo spit!

Costorphine Hill

Scottish Modern Art Gallery

Butterfly World

New Hopetoun Art Garden

From the Mailbag

Easyknits Nerd Sock Club 3: Gameboy Edition

Odds and Sods

  • A Buffy reboot has been announced. 😑
  • I’ve been creating new bullet journals for faith journaling, and writing this week. I’m hoping to give you a peek when I finish.
  • Caitlin Hunter has just released a gorgeous tee pattern and I’m totally cheating on my current WIPs with it.

Upcoming

Busy week ahead: building work, birthday party, blog posts to write, things to knit. 😅
Take care, and don’t let Monday get you down.

Advertisements
Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds & (Week)ends #26

Heatwave

This is not a complaint about the hot weather. I love hot weather; I spend most of my time complaining about being too cold. This is a complaint about how ill-equipped the UK is to deal with this kind of heat: there isn’t enough shade, all the buildings are too hot (tile your floors, people!), and I don’t live close enough to a decent beach. Grump.

It’s too hot to write a proper post this evening, so I’ll keep the rest of this short.

From the Mailbag

My final #titsoutcollective parcels arrived this week. I had a pattern picked out for the Gamercrafting sock yarn, but as soon as I saw it next to the Giddy Aunt Yarns mohair I knew they needed to be paired, so I’m revising my plans on what do do with my haul. I got a lovely surprise with my Rusty Ferret order: last month I managed to snap my star-shaped gauge ruler by shutting it in a drawer, which made me very sad – not only was it one of the goodies from my first Rusty Ferret yarn club box, but I use it all the time – and Leona, the dyer behind Rusty Ferret yarns, very kindly made and sent me a new one.

Another arrival was this beautiful book, ordered after reading a wonderful review through Brainpickings.

Odds and sods

  • Spotted a lot of cuckoo spit while out for a walk in the woods; and learned that it’s also known as frog spit (which actually makes more sense as it’s a hiding place for froghopper larvae).
  • I’ve been quiet on the knitting front as I’ve been test knitting a pattern over the past week. I’ll share a pic or two once I know it’s ok to do so.
  • On the fundraising front, I recently discovered the Flower Power Fund, which is raising money for Marie Curie in collaboration with indie dyers. There are a number of ways to contribute, beyond buying indie dyed yarn, so definitely check this out and get involved if you can.

Upcoming

It looks like our Glasgow trip will happen this week. Hopefully this cooler weather I keep being promised will show up, and I’ll have the energy to write the blog post about my Gallery trip that I meant to do last Friday. And many more things besides 😅

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

Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds & (Week)ends #24

Tits Everywhere

So today I got to do the equivalent of a supermarket dash, as Countess Ablaze and a coterie of makers launched the Tits Out Collective: yarn, patterns, notions and more, inspired by the Countess’ iconic limited edition colourway ‘If I want exposure, I’ll get my tits out’. Each dyer/designer/maker chose a charity to donate some of the proceeds to. If you want the full story on how this came about, check out the Countess Ablaze site for her blog post, and a gallery linking you to all 287 individuals and businesses involved.

If you’re wondering how on Earth one chooses what, out of 287 possibilities, to buy, let me fill you in on my approach. First I decided to stick to UK businesses (this isn’t some patriotic thing, I just have a limited budget and I’d rather spend it on wool than postage), then I looked at the charities being supported (I’m sure they’re all meaningful to the person who chose them, but aligning my purchases with causes I care about made sense), and finally I looked at what yarn bases were on offer so that I ended up with yarn that would play well with my current stash (in the case of patterns I chose ones that I felt I would actually knit).

I could tell you what I ordered, but I’d rather tell you that I was able to support 11 charities today: Addaction, Alfred Kennedy Trust, Alliance for Choice, Bliss, Cornwall Air Ambulance, Dogs for Good, Insight Counselling, Rape Crisis England, Refuge, Women’s Aid, and Womencentre. I’ve also discovered a whole host of new independent dyers. If you’re really curious about my purchases keep an eye out for mailbag updates over the next month. Better than that, please browse the gallery (here’s that link again) and support this awesome movement.

Finished Objects

On the topic of wool, I though I’d spotlight a few things I’ve finished over the past month or so.

La Vie Est Belle (Dieppe) Cowl

In May I felt the need to knit something simple and bright. I already had some DK yarn caked, so I whipped up this cowl. Unfortunately, I didn’t like the shape when I came to wear it (the downside of a pattern that requires seaming is that you can’t try it on as you go), so it’s sitting in the gift pile waiting to be loved by someone else.

Lanes Cardigan

It took me exactly 3 months to knit this (including a long stretch when it was sleeveless, and another stretch when I couldn’t quite face picking up all those stitches for the collar). This is another knit that I’m not 100% happy with. The yarn is beautiful and I can tell it’s only going to get softer and lovelier to wear, but the sleeves need to be shortened, and I don’t feel that the shawl collar suits me. If it were one thing I might try to fix it, but I’m wondering if the best solution might not be to frog the whole thing, and knit something I will actually wear – I suspect a Strange Brew yoked sweater would be wonderful, and provide an opportunity to use up leftovers from my Wool Explorations.

Maytham Shawl

I fully expected to be gifting this shawl, as I couldn’t see myself wearing a lace half-pi shawl (even in the colours ‘Eat the Rich’ and ‘Fight for your right to party’ on Countess Ablaze Tia Merino), which I was fine with because I enjoyed knitting it so much. Then I blocked it, and, oh my…, it was like being cuddled by butterflies. So I think I’ll be keeping that one. ☺️

From the Mailbag

Also for a charity initiative, I picked up some yarn from Gamercrafting this week. It’s sort of hilarious because it’s Harry Potter-themed and, as you may know, I’m a heathen when it comes to the Potterverse (or whatever the fandom calls it). I once took some online quiz that sorted me into Ravenclaw, so I think I’m ok to own this. 😂 Also check out the cool sticker. And my first Belgariad book arrived – luckily it was Book 1 so I was able to get started right away.

Odds and Sods

  • The Tiny Tyrant and I have been playing an RPG for kids called Amazing Tales. Which would be more fun for me if she didn’t insist on naming all her PCs Cinderella. 😑
  • Potato Update: one of my plants has flowered. So in a month or so I can go digging for spuddy treasure. Fingers crossed.
  • We bought a new hoover. He’s kind of a hit:

Upcoming

Six weeks of summer holidays! 😰 In which I will also attempt to read some books, write some words, and knit some things….

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

Knitting · Year of Socks

Year of Socks: June

Work in Progress

So I got a little carefree in May, and didn’t cast on my Antirrhinum socks til the end of the month. The pattern is by Rachel Coopey, taken from A Year of Techniques, and uses her Socks Yeah! yarn in 2 colours. I opted to use a lavender shade called Kunzite for the MC, and Malachite as the contrast – a combination which actually reminds me of lavender plants. I’d forgotten how much I enjoyed this yarn back when I made my Dave socks at the start of the year. It has a pleasing toughness, handles smoothly with no splitting, and the colours knit up to a subtle semi-solid shade. The pattern itself is clearly laid out, with the option of charts or written instruction for the lace. It is, or should be, an easy pattern to memorise, but I have gone astray a few times through inattention (in my defense, I insisted on continuing to knit these through a horrendous cold). I also set them aside to knit the Maytham shawl, so my tension ended up a bit iffy and the second sock came out a touch looser – which taught me that patterned socks are less forgiving of that sort of thing.

Finished Object

I have mixed feelings about this one. The pattern is interesting, and one I’ll be comfortable wearing (and have I mentioned how much I love Socks Yeah!?), but I can see all the little mistakes, so it will take me a while not to put them on with a tinge of disappointment.

Don’t look too closely 😓

It’s possible that I’ll come back to this pattern, but I suspect with a feeling of wanting to conquer it, rather than because I really loved knitting it.

Next Project

The initial plan was to move on to the second, Guardians of the Galaxy-inspired, installment from the Nerd Sock Club. Some postal mishaps meant that the yarn only just reached me, and I’m struggling to choose a pattern – I want to do it justice, but I also feel like I just want an easy knit. I may use the leftover Kunzite and Malachite to whip up a quick pair of Dave socks. Or I could raid my stash and The Knitter magazine back catalogue of sock patterns to take part in the Perth Festival of Yarn KAL.

Socks away!

Knitting

Good Intentions Club Q3 Update

A Learning Experience

“What happened to that Q2 sweater?” I hear you ask. I could make all sorts of jokes about where good intentions may lead us, but the simple answer is that once I began I found that I didn’t like the yarn, and I wasn’t that interested in the pattern. I persisted for a while, continually letting myself be distracted by smarter patterns and tastier yarns, before admitting that I wasn’t going to finish a sweater I didn’t want to wear, in wool I didn’t like. I frogged it, donated the wool, and started another pair of socks. Hopefully, what I’ll take from this is the ability to recognise a project that just isn’t working, and move on. Life’s too short to knit things I don’t love.

A Bit of a Dither

After bailing out of the Q2 knit, I struggled to choose a Q3 project. I wanted to pick something that I knew I would finish, and ideally a short project. I find that a quick project, easily completed, can give me the motivation to keep going on a different, longer, more intricate project. I spent some time looking at shawl patterns, but settled on the Johanna Capelet, because I wanted to gift it to my mum, whose birthday was approaching and could act as a deadline.

The Johanna Capelet

Last year I started the capelet, ripped it back 2 or 3 times to fix mistakes, and then frogged the whole thing in a fit of pique.

This time I started from the assumption that I was going to screw up: I made a point of using lifelines, and counted stitches after every row of lace. I had to rip back to a lifeline once, but otherwise it was smooth sailing.

I was really happy with the final result (I forgot to take a picture after blocking), and my mum loved her birthday present. Particularly pleasing, was the realisation of how much my knitting has improved over the past year.

Momentum

With that ‘win’ under my belt less than a month into Q3, I decided to fit in a few more good intentions. I mentioned in one of my previous posts that I’m trying to use up yarn that I’d already wound, so I started there. An orphan skein of Fyberspates Vivacious 4ply became a Worth The Fuss shawl (one of Louise Tilbrook’s relaxing one-skein garter shawl patterns). With that done, and a novel blocking solution discovered, I moved on to another of last year’s abandoned projects: the Morning Pages shawl (also Louise Tilbrook).

Since the plan was to wear it while I write my morning pages, I’d decided the second attempt called for a drapier, squooshier yarn, and bought up all the (now discontinued) Rowan Fine Art Aran in colourway Conga that I could find, with a skein of the semi-solid Squirrel for my contrast. This was another knit that showed me how I’ve gained in skill and confidence over the past year. I did have to fudge the edging a little though as I didn’t have quite enough of the Squirrel, and didn’t feel I could justify buying another skein for the sake of a few rows.

My final project was the Antirrhinum socks from A Year of Techniques, which I originally planned to make for the KAL when the pattern came out, also last year. I won’t go into detail here, as there’s a Year of Socks post coming on that front, but it turned out to be one of those ‘good enough’ FOs.

It’s very satisfying to have four projects off the list, and I feel I’ve built some nice momentum going in to Q4. I have several more sock pattern/yarn combos which could count as good intentions, though I may try to get one of the many sweaters I have lined up done instead. Decisions, decisions….

Polymath Enthusiasms

Odds & (Week)ends #23

And we’re back…

The final assignment is in, we’ve got over our various colds (mostly), it’s starting to feel like summer, and my brain is up to writing a regular update again. I hope.

Except we’re not?

Other than essay writing, May was mostly spent knitting and reading. Since the knitting was mostly Good Intentions related, I want to dedicate a whole post to that. And as my Read The Year post for May is overdue, I’ll cover the books I want to talk about there, rather than repeat myself.

The Shawl Society Season III

Ok, a little talk about knitting, as the Shawl Society isn’t a Good Intention – more of an impulsive decision. Helen of the Curious Handmade podcast has been running themed shawl societies for a couple of years now, in which participants buy the ebook, patterns unseen, and knit through the shawls as they’re released. This year’s theme was irresistible: The Secret Garden, and so I jumped aboard, hoping to learn a few new techniques, use up some of my more impulsive yarn purchases, and end up with some lovely shawls, either to keep or gift. The first pattern, Maytham, is wonderful – simple, but interesting, and hard to put down. It helps that I’m using some Countess Ablaze Tia Merino. I also love Helen’s pattern layout, which makes it so easy to keep track of where you are.

From the Mailbag

I couldn’t resist picking up a secondhand copy of The Secret Garden to read while I work through the Shawl Society patterns.

Odds and Sods

  • Royal Mail appears to have lost my second Nerd Sock Club instalment, so while that’s getting sorted I’ve cast on a Lamina Wrap. The plan is to use Sock Club remnants and some Wickedlets mini-skeins to gradually knit the wrap over the year.
  • My potato plants are coming up beautifully, but it’s occurred to me that I don’t actually know how you know when to harvest potatoes. Time to Google?!
  • With the TMA out of the way I’m planning on looking at some Craftsy sewing classes and getting the sewing machine out. No doubt much swearing will ensue. 😐

Upcoming

I’m working my way through 14 Days to a Solid Writing Habit (well, my notes from it) again over the next couple of weeks, as it originally coincided with my assignment and I’d like to actually do all of the exercises and, you know, build a habit. I will probably spend every spare moment working on my shawl, but I’d like to get my socks finished this week too. No pressure! 😬

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

Knitting · Year of Socks

Year of Socks: Still April

Work in Progress

I got the Double-stripe socks cast on as a travel knitting project for my birthday day out, expecting to then put them aside, and concentrate on my other WIPs. But I fell out with my other WIPs, so I ended up knitting these almost monogamously, and finished them in the space of a week. The yarn is a fairly standard 75% merino/25% nylon sock weight, which was pleasant to knit with. What makes it so special is the way it’s been dyed. The main yarn has been layered with black, blue and purple which create a wonderful effect somewhere between speckled and variegated. As you knit, the yarn ranges through black, grey, aubergine, purple, teal, lilac, sky blue and white. The pop colour has a similar effect, meandering through red, coral, fuchsia, pale pink, and primrose. The two skeins look beautiful together. The pattern is a simple one, mostly twisted rib, with a heel flap and turn, and definitely a good choice for showcasing this special yarn.

Finished Object

I made the medium size, and find it a little tight to squeeze my foot into as the twisted rib has less stretch than regular rib, though they are comfortable enough once they’re on. If I make these again I’ll increase the stitch count for a slightly looser fit. I’ll also make the cuff longer. Overall, I’m happy with how these turned out: they really fit my perception of Jessica Jones, and I’m looking forward to wearing them on days when I need to feel like a badass superhero.

Next Project

This time last year I was still relatively new to knitting, and wound skeins into balls as soon as I got them, whether I planned to knit them or not. I’ve since learned that doing the latter puts unnecessary stress on the yarn, and decided that a simple way to choose my next few projects would be to use the yarns sat ready to knit first. Which in sock terms meant some Coopknits Socks Yeah! in Kunzite and Malachite that I wound last summer. I’d planned to knit the Antirrhinum socks from A Year of Techniques anyway, albeit in different colours, so this is kind of a no-brainer. I’ve got my project bag set up, but I’ll wait till I’ve wrangled those other WIPs into submission before I cast on.

Socks away!

Knitting · Year of Socks

Year of Socks: April

Work in Progress

I had this mad idea that I would rush these and get them finished in March, but, between other WIPs and being ill, my BOB socks proceeded in fits and starts, mostly on bus and car journeys (socks are such a good travel project). This is a great pattern: simple, straightforward, but with options and suggestions that allow you to customise it a little. The short row heel instructions are easy to follow, and I think this might be my favourite kind of heel – I can knit it as I go, and don’t have to pick up stitches. I knit the first sock with bamboo circulars, and did struggle to pick up the wraps with the blunter tips, so I moved to metal sharps for the second socks, which made life much easier, and I think will be my sock needles of choice going forward.

Finished Object

Though you can’t tell from the photo, the second sock ended up noticeably bigger than the other – a pointed lesson in why not to change needle type partway through a project. I’m not going to reknit, however, because the socks are for me, both of them fit, and you can’t really tell once they’re on.

I enjoyed working with the Squirm Sock. It’s an 80/20 blend of merino and nylon, and I was surprised by how much softer that ratio was compared to 75/25 blends of sock weight I’ve used before. I adore this colourway, and am plotting what I might make with a sweater quantity of it.

Next Project

The plan was to knit my A Year of TechniquesAntirrhinum socks next, as I’ve had the yarn sat waiting for ages, but I was seduced away by the arrival of the first Nerd Sock Club parcel from easyknits. The theme was Jessica Jones:

I’ve chosen a pattern called Double Stripe Socks, which calls for 2 colours. I’m excited to get started on these, but have learned my lesson and won’t try to predict when I’ll finish 😂

Socks away!

Year of Socks

Year of Socks: March

Work in Progress

My second project was Katya Frankel’s Brixham sock pattern, which I snagged from an old copy of The Knitter magazine, designed in Eden Cottage Yarns Oakworth DK. I had the specified yarn in the Lichen colourway, and I used magic loop for the first sock, as I didn’t have small circulars in the right size, but caved and ordered them in time to knit sock two as I just find it a smoother and quicker method. Being DK, they sped along nicely, and I turned my full attention to sock two in the week running up to EYF, so that I could wear them to the festival (which turned out to be an excellent plan as it snowed on us). The cuff transitions from rib to a gansey-inspired knit and purl pattern, which I wasn’t too sure about, but looks great when the socks are worn. The pattern calls for a traditional turned heel (my first experience of that), and was clear enough that I didn’t feel the need to resort to my copy of A Year of Techniques. I stuffed up the slipped stitch heel flap on the first one, somehow, and I’m not picking up the stitches as neatly as I’d like when turning the heel, but I think I’ve done quite well for a first attempt.

The Oakworth DK was dreamy to knit with, and I really loved the luminosity of this particular green. This yarn has been in short supply on the Eden Cottage Yarns online shop, and hasn’t featured in an update for a while, so I did speak to Victoria at EYF to ask if it had been discontinued. I was assured that it is on the list to dye again, but they have a wide range of bases, and dye in small batches, so it can take time to get around them all. Certainly a yarn I’ll be keeping an eye out for in future updates from them.

Finished Object

The Brixham socks are a good fit, in terms of length and heel, but I dislike the pointed toe. I think when I knit these again (I do have another cheeky skein of Oakworth tucked away 😄), I’ll decrease at the sides and then graft the toe as I did with last month’s Dave Socks.

Next Project

I picked up a gorgeous skein of Undercover Otter‘s Squirm Sock at EYF, colourway Pieces, and will be casting on Louise Tilbrook’s BOB socks with it. The pattern uses the wrap and turn method for the heel, and is well suited to speckled colourways, so I’m looking forward to the result. I may even finish these before the end of March 😱

Socks away!

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.