Hello friends! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Welcome to 2021 and here’s hoping that it’s a great year for everyone. Many have been wishing 2020 away because of Covid but I know that it will take more than a date to fix the problem and I think it will take some time in 2021 for things to get better. I have had a quiet transition into the new year. The family stayed until early this week and I enjoyed my quality time with the big kids and the little kids. The little kids melt my heart! We enjoyed some more deck meals but not as much as we would have liked. The weather has been very wet and there was only one day that you could actually call summer. Evie helped remove all the ornaments from the Christmas tree and we had a little fun with the tree skirt before it was packed away. I was in bed by 11.30 on new year’s eve and didn’t hang around to see the fireworks on the TV, choosing instead to rest up. I’ve had a lot of washing to get through since everyone left and the weather hasn’t been the best. I try to avoid using the dryer if I can help it. The Christmas stockings made for colourful laundry!
Zoe from the Ewe Sew You podcast suggested a live stream for an Oracle shawl cast on party for our IVKN group while going from 2020 to 2021 where she is in the UK. (More about the cast on later.) She also asked if anyone would like to be a guest on the live stream and I thought it would be a bit of fun to try out some vlogging. We started at 10 pm UK time which was 9 am my time so it was perfect for me. We had a great time, with some other members of IVKN joining in on chat while we were live. This was Zoe’s first time using the StreamYard platform and there was a little hiccup when she tried to switch the camera to the live broadcast of the London fireworks. That totally crashed her computer and I had to muddle on by myself for several minutes. It was a little awkward as I was only a guest but I had to keep chatting for those watching. Finally, Zoe managed to get back on and I no longer felt like the imposter who had hijacked the vlog! I’m not sure if I’ll ever do any YouTube videos but it was a good experience. Maybe I will give it a try one day. The photo is during the set up of the stream.
It’s really all about the knitting this week! The weather and general lethargy has made it my go to crafting. First up, I finished off the stripes on my 25 stripe sock yarn. As I mentioned last week, the socks are long enough to make into two so I kept knitting through the last stripes that were actually meant for heels and cuffs. Being longer, I ended up with a couple of longer stripes though they won’t be noticeable, particularly because they’ll be inside the shoe. I also ended up with one extra long stripe as when I wound off my skein for dyeing, I finished at 24 and had to add another one for 25. I kitchenered the toe but I haven’t sewn the ends in yet because I’ll do that when they are separated so that I can get to the inside. These socks are now going to wait until I meet up with Mary and her socks and we’ll afterthought separate them and add the cuffs. Then the heels.
I managed to finish the Cabled Baby blanket on new year’s eve. I knew it wouldn’t take long once I picked up the second side’s stitches. It’s very squishy and stretched out easily enough for blocking and I hope that it will keep its blocked shape when it’s dry. I had spun the blanket in the machine so it wasn’t very wet when I blocked it out so I’m thinking I may wet it again when it’s dry, before I remove the pins. I thought the stitches my improve where I dropped down to fix a cable that was the wrong way but the stitches still don’t look great. I think it will be unnoticeable when it’s being used.
I have made some progress on the Shell Cottage socks. I had stalled when trying to work out how to the do the gusset and heel flap backwards but I worked out the gusset easily enough. I have also found a free pattern via the Little Big Knits podcast that does the gusset and heel flap from toe up. She’s used it and it is just what I want – its’ the Toe Up Socks with a Difference by Wendy D Johnson. I won’t be doing too much on this for this month as I have some commitments now. Maybe a little bit here and there.
New Cast On #1: Yesterday I cast on another baby blanket. This time I’m doing the Lieselotte shawl by Beatrice Perron Dahlin. This came up in my blanket search but it’s actually a triangular shawl. As this pattern was the one chosen by Erin, I decided to go ahead with it and make it the full square. That was easy enough as I’ve done one like that previously – the Twinkle Twinkle Baby blanket by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade. That pattern included an eyelet each four rows and I just ignored that. To cast on in the round, I used the Emily Ocker’s Circular Cast On YouTube video by KnitFreedom. It’s a really easy process, though I remember it took me a few goes last time; this time I had no problem. I followed the pattern for the Twinkle Twinkle blanket for the first seven rows then I realised that the Lieselotte had a different method for the side borders of each quadrant. The Lieselotte uses Left and Right Lifted increases (LLI and LRI) on each side of three stitches so I moved into that pattern though I wasn’t very happy with the result. I found the sides of the three stitches to be messy with that type of increase and noticed that on the projects on Ravelry too. Instead, I am now doing Knit Front & Back (kfb) and it’s a lot nicer. So now I do kfb on the stitch before the three and kfb on the third stitch. The kfb adds a purl stitch as the increased stitch, therefore I’m getting that on each side of the three stitches. It was a bit of a confusing cast on but now I’m able to just knit easily. The premise of the square is that you need to increase at each end of each quadrant in every second round and I was finding that it was getting more confusing to know which round I was on as the stitches increased so now I have a red globe stitch marker (shown on the first picture) which I put on at the beginning of round when I’m increasing then I take it off for the next round. I think that will be better than making a mark on a piece of paper or even clicking a counter on KnitCompanion. I’ll see how that works. I am enjoying this and I just want to keep knitting. I have scheduled at least an hour on this each day. When I have more than one project that need to be finished, I like to set a daily amount so that I can get through them.
New Cast On #2: There were a few of my friends on the International Virtual Knit Nights zoom group who indicated that they wanted to start the Oracle shawl by Voolenvine and someone suggested an informal KAL. Since I’ve had the pattern for the Half Moon Oracle shawl in my library for the last couple of years, I decided to jump onto the bandwagon. The Half Moon version is just half of the Oracle shawl. I would like to do the full version but I can’t imagine using the shawl doubled, therefore I had purchased the half version. This semi circular shawl is my favourite shawl style so it was a no brainer. I then had to stash dive to find the yarn I wanted to use. I looked at many versions but then I found some leftovers that I love, some teal Wren and Ollie sock yarn in the Seven Seas colourway from my Zweig sweater and some Mad Tosh Merino Light one of a kind colourway from my Tuileries sweater, and thought they would be perfect together. Then it remained to find one more yarn to go with it. I found a skein of KnitPicks Hawthorne fingering in the Aquatic Speckle colourway that I’d never liked and thought it was time to overdye it and use it. More on the dyeing later in the blog. The final decision was then to work out which order I should use the yarn. I went through all the variations with three skeins and settled on the caramel as A, the dark teal as B and the overdyed yarn as C. I think C is the one that stands out the least and, being bright, I thought that might be the best option.
New Cast On #3: Yep, I know! Mad, really but I said I would so I will. Susan Distel is a member of the Ozzie Fibreholics group that I belong to on Facebook and she was asking for test knitters for a cowl that she has named The Long Squishy Tube cowl. It’s in worsted weight with 5.0mm and 5.5mm needles so would be a quick easy knit, especially if you didn’t have anything else on the needles. Anyway, I volunteered and found some leftover KnitPicks Tweed yarn that I used for my Nightshift shawl by Andrea Mowry. This doesn’t need to be finished until the end of January so I reckon I’ll be able to do it. I’ve scheduled half an hour each day on this one and will see how that goes.
I have carried on a new year’s day tradition that was passed down by my mother and that is to wear something new on the 1st of January. The premise for this is that you will have new clothes for the rest of the year, or something like that. I always have something new, even it if it’s only a new pair of knickers but this time I had nothing! So, what do I do? I spent a relaxing new year’s eve putting together a simple top by The Assembly Line. The pattern is free and is actually for pyjamas but I’d been thinking about doing a drapey top from the top on the pattern for a while. So I did. I used a remnant of poly crepe that I’d picked up from Spotlight recently. It was a very quick and easy project and it’s great. For the next one, and I do think I will do another, I will go down a size as the medium is a bit too drapey. And I also intend to make some pjs out from the pattern too. You can see that I’m wearing this top in the photo near the beginning of the blog, during the live stream on new year’s day.
I enjoyed a small dyeing session this week too. I mentioned earlier that I needed a third yarn for the Half Moon Oracle cast on and this is what I used. The first two photos were taken of the same skein of yarn within minutes and within a metre. It shows how different the colours show in pictures. The first was on my sofa lounge in the studio and the second on a pine blanket box in front of the sofa. Anyway, the colour was something between the two, hence the reason for taking it in different places, as I couldn’t get it right. I used Landscape Ice for the new colour and it turned out great. I did have to do another dye dip as I had tied the ends too tightly onto the skein, leaving undyed sections. It came out tonal as I had intended and I’m really happy with the result.
Yesterday, I attended a painting workshop with my friend Annette. She had wanted to do the Frida Kahlo class and, though it wasn’t exactly what I would have chosen, I joined in with her. Turns out I thoroughly enjoyed it. There are lots of the sip and paint classes popping up everywhere at the moment. This one is Pinot and Picasso and is in Nowra, a half hour drive from where we live. We took some wine and nibbles and had a wonderful afternoon. There were 16 in the class and it was amazing how different everyone’s painting turned out, though all very similar. The photo with only two paintings alone in it were those of the teacher. The one above was what we were working on and the bottom one was what she did during the class. There is a heap of variation between the two. And you can see mine and Annette’s are similar but different also. I am now booked in for another class doing Cleopatra after my friend Carol said she was doing it and asked if I wanted to, along with Mary and maybe other friends too. I don’t want to do too many of these classes but the two portraits might look good together.
A visit to Spotlight for some shirring elastic this week ended up with some more fabric. With another baby coming along this month, I bought some more muslin. Erin had asked if there were solid colours available and when I saw the rust, grey and mustard below, I sent a picture and they were approved. I found a blue muslin remnant which would be good as a gift and I also purchased some bubble crepe for a Charlie caftan beach dress. The 40% sale made all this a good price. The photo was taken while I was in the queue as it was long and slow!
This week I finished watching The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix, which I thoroughly enjoyed, and then I moved onto The Crown. It’s interesting to see their interpretation of what the royals actually did in private, but I’ve heard that this latest season has been categorised as more fiction than fact for this very reason. Still, it is entertaining.
There’s not too much happening this week, aside from a catch up breakfast and a remedial massage tomorrow, then a chiropractor appointment on Friday. My back has been really bad for the last couple of weeks and I’m hoping it will improve. Things are a starting to lock down in the urban areas of Sydney and Wollongong due to more Covid clusters so I’m not sure what travel to either of these will be like. I’ll have to see whether I can lock in babysitting with Evie but I may hold off until the following week and see how things pan out. Until next week, I hope your year has started strong and you are all keeping well with lots of opportunities for your creative pleasures!