90) Cold snap!

It seems everyone in the Northern hemisphere is having cold, cold weather right now.  In the UK, we have had record lows, and snow, snow, snow!!

Except where I live, in East Anglia.  It’s been cold, for sure, but barely any snow to speak of yet.  I love the snow, so I have tried to entice it here with a new hat:

This is the simplest of simple patterns.  Knit up in my own ‘Wiggle’ yarn, on 12mm needles, it’s also incredibly fast; I finished it in an afternoon of not-exactly-continuous knitting.

I’ll be writing the pattern up later this week and offering it as a free download.  And, with any luck, there’ll be a shop update, too!

89) Welcome!

Welcome to the new Yarnscape blog, and the new home of Yarninmypocket!

I’m still moving in around here; boxes to unpack, decorating to be done.  You know how it is.  But all my old posts are here, and the pages, too (though they’re currently harder to find).  C’mon in, grab a cup of tea, and say hi!

87b) Giveaway results – congrats @knitcowboy!

This week’s winner is Christopher Bahls, aka @knitcowboy!

Again, I wish I had loads of copies to give away here; but sadly, no.  But!  I do have other book for Saturday Giveaway – perhaps next time?!

88) Do you know what this means?

Do you know what this means?


OK, how about this?


Yes.  On Sunday evening, I finished the actual knitting of the Peacock shawl, over a week early.  Last night, I cast off most (at least three quarters!) of the edge using a fiddly and time-consuming crochet method.  (Actually, the method itself is simple and elegant.  A larger problem, for me, is the awkwardness of handling a crochet hook and ‘live’ knitting at the same time.  It feels very awkward!)

Tonight, I should finish the cast off.  Then, it’s just the blocking to go!

Also tonight: the results of last Saturday’s Giveaway – comment here to enter!

87) Saturday giveaway: Jaeger handknits for men (JB28)

The second in my Saturday Giveaway series! (Perhaps this will be a fortnightly thing…)

ENTRIES NOW CLOSED – Please come back next Saturday (or perhaps the one after) for round 3!

This is a randomly-drawn blog contest.  To enter, leave a comment on THIS post.  (If you’re not interested in winning the book but still wish to comment, feel free to say so!)  I will select a winner by means of a super-sekrit process, and announce the result by Tuesday night at the latest.  This draw is open to readers from all over the world, so please, join in!

What is today’s giveaway?
Today, I’m giving away a single copy of Jaeger Handknits pattern booklet, JB28:

I bought this book from my LYS a few years ago, and I’ve browsed it a few times, but it’s not ever really been used.  It’s in bookstore-shelf condition – pretty mint.

What is it?
This softback book contains 16 knitting patterns for men’s sweaters.  The designs, all by Rowan star Martin Storey, range from the simple and classic to the slightly odd.  part from that, there’s not a lot to say – it’s a pattern booklet from the Rowan stables, you know what to expect.  (Also, Rav link here).

What do I like best?
This book contains some classic men’s sweater and cardigan patterns.  My fave is probably ‘Bowie’, pictured above, but I’m also quite taken with the ‘Jethro’ cardigan (a sweater version is also included):

As a whole, the patterns in this book make great use of texture, and some man-appropriate colour, too.  I particularly like the use of purl lines instead of the extra yarn colour in this take on the classic Argyle:


All the patterns in this book use DK or 4-ply weight yarns, which (in my experience) is great for knitting for men – the ones in my life don’t seem interested in chunky sweaters.

What do I like least?

Personal taste, I know.  There’s also a V-neck sleeveless sweater with an intarsia Union Jack on it.I’ll spare you the photo.

Also, one of the cabled patterns in the book is just a wee bit too intricate and fussy for most men, I think:

Why am I giving this book away?
I’ve realised that these designs are not much use to the men in my life.  Even in 4 ply, most of these designs are too heavy for my other half.  Also, he’s six foot two, with long arms; I think he’ll be getting machine knit sweaters from now on.

86) Retreat into knitting

I've had a very lazy weekend.

Well, not really; I ran the regular 5k on Saturday, then followed it up by spending a few hours behind a friend's stall at the craft fair I thought I was going to be attending myself.  But after that, it was lazy all the way.

I regularly overwhelm myself with huge bursts of inspiration and enthusiasm, and almost always set myself up for failure by way of a huge list of lofty goals.  Case in point: I didn't manage to get a Saturday Giveaway post up this weekend.  [Thus falls my new 'tradition' (though I will be carrying on with it.  Just not this week).  Indeed, I haven't even mailed Robocass her parcel yet (sorry!) – though it will be heading out tomorrow.]

When the current giant plan proves itself unmaintainable, I almost always go into hermit-mode for a few days.  And so it was for Saturday evening, and pretty much all of Sunday.  No phone calls, no internet browsing, just quiet.  And, this time, knitting.

The upside is that I have passed several big milestones on my Peacock shawl!  I have now:

  • knit over 20,000 stitches since October 28, when I started this metrics-based madness;
  • moved onto the final chart in the pattern!
  • not only caught up with my goals, but overtaken them:

Yes.  I am now 2 days ahead of schedule.

85) Shawlwatch continues

For those UK-based readers who are fans of ‘Autumnwatch’, I’d love to be able to present this blog post in the style of a conversation between Bill Oddie, Kate Humble and Simon King.  Sadly, my attempts at conversational caricature have proved somewhat feeble, and besides, I’m supposed to be working right now, so please feel free to imagine an exchange of dubious wit, good natured teasing and enthusiasm about the deer rut.

The important news, though, is that the shawl progress has picked up a bit since last week’s feeble showing:

As always, the vertical red line represents ‘today’.

A slow start early in the week can be attributed to the fact that I thought I was going to be attending a craft fair this Saturday.  Sadly, or perhaps fortunately, that has fallen through, and for the rest of the week, I’ve been performing more-or-less parallel to the target line.  (Last night’s poor showing is due to a sudden and desperate need to clean out the fridge.  It’s best not to ask.)

Clearly, though, I have a lot of ground to make up before the early-December deadline.  Can I catch up by this time next week?  Will there be an actual progress photo?  (All my efforts this week are of the ‘blue ramen blob’ variety).  Stay tuned to find out!

84) And the winner is…

Robocass!! – who was commenter number 2 of those who actually wanted to be in the draw. (Thanks go to random.org for being my selection mechanism on this occasion.) Congratulations; I'll be emailing you right away to ask for your postal address.

In the meantime, if you're not Robocass, don't despair; I've got plenty more books and other goodies to review and give away.  This has been so much fun; I'm definitely going to do it again.  Thank you all for your lovely comments – I've had a blast!

I'd also like to thank Dot for commenting to say that Tekapo yarns *are* available in the UK.  I'm sorry if anyone thought I meant that they weren't available at all; that wasn't my intent.  I just haven't, personally, seen them!

I'll be listing another Saturday giveaway this week – though I haven't decided what.  Yet!!



83) Saturday Giveaway: Weaving for Knitters

Welcome to what I hope will be the first in a series of Saturday Giveaway posts!

ENTRIES NOW CLOSED – Please come back next Saturday for round 2!

In a recent round of redecoration, I realised that I have more books than I can store.  Also, I have some books that I am no longer going to use, or (in one or two cases) are duplicates.  I'm planning to do a quick, honest review of each in turn, and pass them on to new homes.  [Note: These are not paid reviews. No-one has asked me to do this, or sent me free copies for review.  I just thought it would be a fun way to redistribute some of my excess acquisitions!]

To enter, leave a comment on THIS post.  (If you're not interested in winning the book but still wish to comment, feel free to say so!)  I will select a winner by means of a super-sekrit process, and announce the result by Tuesday night at the latest.  This draw is open to readers from all over the world, so please, join in!

What is today's giveaway?
Today, I'm giving away a single copy of The Ashford Book of Weaving for Knitters:


My copy of this book was bought several years ago, but it is in as-new, unmarked condition, and would be perfect as a gift.

What is it?
This softback book contains 25 scarf projects, suitable for a beginning weaver using a rigid heddle loom, such as the Ashford Knitter's Loom.  It was written as a companion to the knitter's loom, and is designed to inspire knitters to use the yarns they already know (and possibly own!) in weaving.

The book is squarely aimed at knitters who want to have a go with a loom: the projects use knitting yarns, and are presented in a 'recipe' style format that will be familiar to people who are used to following a knitting pattern.  All the patterns use plain (tabby) weave, which is exactly what a rigid heddle produces (unless you use two heddles, of course!).

The patterns range from the slightly crazy to the rather elegant.  Because the weave structure is the same for all the scarves, the yarns themselves are the focus of each design.

What do I like best?
This book does a great job of showing how some very different knitting yarns can be used in weaving, and would definitely be inspiring to a new weaver!  From full-on colour to texture-only (I think the white-on-white scarf, demonstrating a subtle use of eyelash yarn in the warp is my favourite in the book), there is probably a style to suit everyone here.

Various different ways to design around a yarn are introduced, including warp stripes, weft stripes, some colour-and-weave effects and using self-patterning sock yarn to create it's own 'faux ikat' effect.

Finishing and fringing techniques are also covered in the beginning of the book, as well as useful information on topics like warping with two colours, how to fix a broken warp thread, and weaving with a sticky warp.  I'm particularly delighted these last two are included, as these are both things that could have a new weaver with no teacher or mentor crying tears of frustration and cutting a perfectly good project off the loom.

What do I like least?
I always feel slightly awkward when a book promotes a brand heavily, and that's definitely the case here.  The book doesn't make it clear enough, in my mind, that any rigid heddle loom could be used to weave these designs, and it also promotes Ashford's own Tekapo yarn (which I've never seen in a shop outside New Zealand) very strongly.

It's also a shame that no warping instructions are given with this book.  However, the loom does come with its own how-to instructions, and other looms are subtly different, so maybe that's not a big flaw. 

It would have been nice to have one or two scarves which used a technique other than plain weave throughout.  Pickup would have been an ideal choice to include, with its potential for placing a pattern or a name on the end of a scarf.

Finally, a lot of the designs in the book have a 'young and funky' feel.  That's a great audience to be aiming at for new knitters, but a bit more elegance and restraint would be welcome too, I feel.

Why am I giving this book away?
I am confident enough in my weaving design skills not to need this book any more.  It teaches more about combining yarns than about weaving itself, and I love the thought of it going to a new home where it can make a novice knitter's eyes light up at all that lovely potential.

82) Tipping point

I'm at work, and I'm really struggling to be productive.  I'm tired, which never helps, but more significantly, I realise I'm coming to some sort of tipping point regarding my professional life.  For around ten years, I've been trying to do the responsible, corporate thing. Trying to find a job where I fit in, where I feel capable and competent and challenged and engaged, and I simply haven't found a niche that is me-shaped.  Whenever I hear about people keen to return to their work after having a child, it just boggles me.

It's not that I have a Bad Job – far from it.  It's just that, beyond my general wish to do good, professional work and not let anyone down, I'm totally indifferent to it.  I do not, in the vernacular, give a crap.  I am not interested in my 'career'; I do not want to advance my prospects.  I don't want to 'graduate' into management.

But the big problem here is that the world is full of things about which I really do care, about which I am truly passionate.

If I had no driving passions, no wish to do anything else in particular, I'd be happy enough to plug away at my desk for 37.5 hours per week, collect my pay cheque and relax for the rest of my waking hours.  Unfortunately, that's not me.  I cannot be that person; I am starting to realise that I cannot be happy pretending to be that person.

I'm hoping to agree part-time hours with my employer in the near future.  I'd ideally like to go down to three days per week, but I think they are likely to hold out for four.  I really don't know if that will make enough of a difference to me.


One final note:  I do, honestly, realise just how lucky I am to be able to even contemplate voluntary part-time working in our current economy.

Please, no comments encouraging me to 'be happy with what I have' or 'look on the bright side'.  Believe me, if it were that easy, I would already be there.

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