Fallen for another hobby

Cardmaking
After resisting avoiding card making for years and years, I suddenly got the urge to make cards this week. Must be another example of my repressed 'girliness' coming out – you know, playing with stickers and posh paper and glitter and stuff. I bought an unreasonable amount of supplies – partly because the arts shop was having a sale on cardmaking stuff, I have to admit.

There are a lot of materials and techniques I want to try – I'm going to list them here so I don't forget. I haven't *quite* bought all the supplies for these techniques in one go!!

  • Tool Embossing
  • Blending chalks
  • Mulberry paper
  • Heat/powder embossing
  • Embossing pens
  • Stickers!
  • Freehand drawing
  • 'Glass paint' cards
  • Die-cutting/punching
  • Stamping (maybe!)

Goatfluff

Spinning
I can now happily report that my spinning wheel is working better than it has for years!! Although I am no longer as proficient a spinner as I was aged 15… I was spinning the most amazing fine, even singles back then… I took the thing apart, dusted, polished and oiled it, washed the drive band and re-assembled it this week. It's a double drive wheel, and I was having difficulty getting the uptake rate as swift as I'd like. I think the maintenance has helped enormously!

Today, I've spun some singles and plied some of 2 bobbins worth to make about 100 metres of 2 ply yarn:

which is currently having a bath to set the twist and will be dried under tension later. I'm very pleased with myself. Fingers included for scale:

I've had some interesting problems with overspinning the yarn (see previous comments about yarn uptake by the wheel!) and it's not very consistent. I've also done very little plying in the past. See all the squigglies in the hank straight off the bobbin:

I have so much more of this roving it's just scary:

I'll have to weigh this skein when it's dry and see how it compares to the rest of the fluff. One of the reasons I've decided to ply what I had on those two bobbins is that my spinning is very different now to what it was then; in addition, the roving has compacted rather and is much harder to draft and spin now than it used to be. I might ply up the rest of this (which should give me enough to make a lacey neckerchief at the least) and then try spinning the rest of it at a different thickness.

Nolympian


I don't want anyone to think I'm against the Olympics, or a spoilsport, but I'm pulling out of the big knitting event.

There are several reasons; the main one being that I'm just not enjoying it. Knitting is supposed to be a relaxing hobby for me, and this deadline is, for some reason, not inspiring me.

I can't knit with my selected yarn (Noro Iro) for prolonged periods; it makes my hands hurt. I've knit with Kureyon and Silk Garden in the past, and had no problems, but this seems to have no 'give' in it.

I've ended up designing my own garment for this yarn, and I'm excited about it, but it's not going to be plain sailing. I might have enough yarn; I might not. I don't want to knit my heart out and my hands off, just to run out of yarn. It's also an unusual construction, and might need a few re-works before it works. I don't want to settle for a sub-par piece just to get it done in time.

Additionally, I set my own knitting plans for this year way back in January. They don't have hard deadlines, and they're open to change, and I'm happy with that. So my Olympic project is on hold, I'm going back to my Ice Maiden and I'll pick this one up later. When the muse hits me.

Profisheroles

Picture the scene: you're on a training day at work, and there will be lunch provided. You know the standard drill: sandwiches, mini-quiches, fruit, cakey things; sweet and savoury foods provided all at the same time. There is a plate of choux pastry balls piled up; ooooh, profiteroles!!

Except they're stuffed with some sort of smoked fish mixture. I know that our catering people have done some strange things occasionally; until now, I think the weirdness-record was held by couscous sandwiches. But they're usually pretty good at labelling stuff for vegetarians etc; but these, on top of being very, very unexpected were totally unlabelled. I'm just glad they were discovered by a meat eater without a serious fish allergy.

Not feelin’ the love

Knitting
Today is cast-on day in the knitting olympics. I've been looking forwards to this for so long that it's very frustrating to find that I'm not too happy about it now. I had decided to design my own zip-up hoodie with a cable running round it in a yarn I already had. Sadly, after extensive swatching, I've decided that the yarn does not suit the pattern I had in mind. I've thought about the possible modifications to the design to make it work, and I'm not enamoured of them. And I've failed to find a pattern that I think suits the yarn and is a challenge and uses about the right amount of the selected yarn (because I only have so much). I could pick a different yarn, but I'm quite committed to my Noro, thanks.

I wanted to knit something for myself, because a lot of the people I'd knit for read this blog, and I like giving people surprises.

I wanted a technical challenge, rather than a "how on earth can I knit so much without neglecting my work/family/friends/home" challenge. Obviously, though, there's no point knitting a highly technical piece that's about 20 cm square.

I have so much that I want to knit, I don't want to spend time (even 16 days!) doing something I'm not really fired up about.

There's no point getting all wound up about this; knitting is a hobby, after all! But I want to succeed at this challenge!!

New quality inspector

Knitting
It's almost impossible to put anything soft and warm on the floor (the laminate in particular, but carpet, too) without Kita wandering over to have a look, sniff and, if possible, sit, lie or stand on it. This applies to Yoga mats, mattresses, fabric being cut out, mohair lace shawls being blocked (eeeek!) and knitting being photographed. Here she can be seen inspecting the two finished sleeves of my Ice Maiden sweater:


I love the hourglass shaping of these sleeves. I've added about 10 extra rows to the cuff of each sleeve because I like the 'roll' cuff. I won't be blocking that out! The original pattern has a body with no waist shaping in at all, which seems a shame with such shapely sleeves:


This example is actually knitted in Rowanspun Chunky, which doesn't seem to drape as softly as Polar, but the model is sitting down in the Polar photo! I think the body would look 'blocky' in any yarn, though. So I'm going to borrow the shaping from another Polar sweater in the same magazine, 'Ski':


I'm not going to keep the crochet edging, either, and will probably allow a roll hem on the lower edge, too.

Is this still an Ice Maiden? Or has it been around the block enough times to be an Ice Hussy?

January officially over; roll on February

Knitting
My January knitting project is finally complete; I cast off and blocked it yesterday, and fringed it today. I like it a lot more than I did whilst I was knitting it; it's very light and warm, and I think it will get a fair bit of use. A4 pattern included in following pictures for scale; I didn't think I blocked it that much bigger, but it seems to have expanded a lot!

Fresh off the needles:

Blocked and fringed:

So now, on to February. The project here is a Rowan Polar sweater, Ice Maiden. I have a sleeve already finished, and it's a quick knit. Onwards!!

Huge disappointment

Dancing
I'm booked in on a 2-day workshop with Hossam and Serena Ramzy this weekend. It's in Biggleswade, Bedfordshire, which means it's about an hour's drive from here. It's particularly appropriate that my first big solo driving expedition should be to a dance workshop, since it's dance workshops that inspired me to get back to learning driving again. Serena, and especially Hossam, are both very famous, and supposedly their workshops are great fun and very worthwhile. I haven't danced really at all since the shingles, and I've been looking forwards to it enormously.

And I'm ill. Lethargic and achy all over; my feet ache, my knees ache, my thighs ache, my lower back aches, and even my fingers ache. I improve greatly with paracetamol, but the idea of dancing for several hours still isn't that appealing. I feel like I'm going to have a really bad cold or a 'flu, but it hasn't quite landed yet.

I don't think I'll be going.

State of the Knitting

Knitting
The 12-month knitting plan/schedule that I drew up for myself is already looking threatened! It's already the 1st of February, and I haven't finished my January project. Eeeek! Added to which, I seem to be committed to two projects in February; my scheduled sweater, and my Olympic challenge. The scheduled sweater should at least be quick; it's in Rowan Polar, and pleasingly chunky to work with. I need to write the Olympic pattern, though.

My January project (the Triple Mohair shawl) is approaching completion; I'm more than halfway through the edging, and had hoped to get it blocking last night, but it was not to be. I should finish it by or at the weekend. No photos yet – either of the shawl or my haircut! – but there will be soon, I promise.

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