Sunday, 26 February 2017

Sock Wash and Sort Out

Perhaps the best thing to do to ease back into everyday life after being ill for over a week is to give your knitted socks a wash. Even though I am not fond of washing my socks by hand, it is something that needs to be done - and I will forever be grateful for the existence of no-rinse wool wash. Please tell me I am not the only one who doesn't look forward to this! Anyway, I've finally washed all the socks that have been waiting for over two weeks so now my collection is complete again and ready to be worn. 

Having had a look at my big bag of socks, there are quite a few that are no longer in the best shape and some don't fit anymore. It's probably time to unravel them and knit new ones. I am finding it hard to do that, though, because a lot of work went into each pair. But then why hold on to a pair that doesn't fit and will only lie about in the bag, never to be worn again?

Some of the yarns are too nice to just be thrown away. I am also very fond of some patterns and might reknit those despite never knitting the same thing twice. It's a shame that some of my favourites  especially have shrunk a bit in the wash!

What do you do with old knitted socks? Do they end up in the bin or do you try to salvage the yarn? How frequently do you have a sort out?

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Wool Tribe 2017 Is Here

If you are one of the lucky ones going to the Edinburgh Yarn Festival  (EYF) on the 10th and 11th March this year, I envy you! It was a great event last year and I thoroughly enjoyed it. This year I won't be able to make it - due to my upcoming wedding, I need to save up as much holiday as I can. So a few days in Edinburgh are not on the cards this time, but I am sure I will go again one day.

Like last year, there is a new Wool Tribe companion magazine for EYF, full of specially selected patterns and other information about Edinburgh, woolly crafts, and the festival itself. At the back of the issue you'll find a floor plan and list of vendors, which is extremely helpful if, like me, you like to plan which stalls to hit first. My motto: Efficiency is key! AKA: Just be German.

I have to say that I prefer the first issue of Wool Tribe: Both the aesthetic as well as the patterns were far more appealling to me and the articles in it were more up my alley than this year. I am a little disappointed, but I wanted this magazine nonetheless because it is a part of EYF and I enjoyed it so much before. This year, by the way, there is even a crochet pattern in Wool Tribe, but as I don't like crochet, it isn't for me either.

The magazine contains patterns from Donna Smith, Renee Callahan, Francesca Hughes, Clare Devine, Jane Crowfoot, and Amanda B Collins. As knitters you will have come across at least some of them so you can be sure the patterns are well written and you may be familiar with their styles.

My favourite pattern is the Belsyde Shawl pictured above. I am not convinced by the zigzag along the body, but still. The colour choice is great and I very much like the YO pattern along the short edge as well. Besides, you can never really go wrong with a shawl, can you?

In Wool Tribe you will also find another trail guiding you through a part of Edinburgh. Last year's craft, coffee and cake trail was a great success, but this year's trail will lead you to new areas, encompassing  Holyrood Park and Arthur's Seat. This trail was chosen to offer you a wonderful view of the area and its landmarks. At the end you will be rewarded with a visit to Scotland's oldest pub, the 14th century Sheep Heid Inn

This year there are articles again that I look forward to reading in a quiet moment. However, there is one about machine knitting that I am not (yet) in the mood to read because I really don't like the idea of machine knitting. I apologise for not being able to give you any details about the articles, but I haven't yet managed to bring myself to read the articles yet. This shows you just how different my overall impression of this year's issue is, actually. Last year I couldn't wait to get stuck in and read it from cover to cover. This time it's taking a while for me to be drawn in.

That's not to say that it isn't up to scratch. This issue simply doesn't contain things I like and this was bound to happen at some point. We all like different things and not everything can be featured in a single magazine. So don't let me put you off! If you like the patterns, go for it. If you are a fan of EYF as I am, definitely get your hands on a copy if you can. I for my part am really looking forward to the third issue in 2018 and I will absolutely buy it again.

The magazine comes with a Ravelry download code so you can add it to your library and have the patterns handy and ready to print whenever you need them. You can buy the latest issue of Wool Tribe right here on the EYF website where you can also see all the featured patterns.

Sunday, 5 February 2017

PussyHats Galore

Please excuse my silence over the past week. With so many crazy things happening in the world right now, I was not in the mood for blogging even though I do have things to tell you about. I am a little late now in showing you my tiny bit of craftivism, but I am sure it will still be needed in the future.

I am sure you heard about the Women's March on Washington that took place the day after the US president's inauguration. I hear it was the largest march of its kind in history and it did not confine itself to Washington or even the US. There were marches all over the world, even here in the UK. The closest one to me was in London. While I didn't march personally, I knew this was big and important. So I decided to show my solidarity with these women (and men) who marched that day, picked pink yarn from my stash and started knitting my own PussyHat as they marched and I followed them on Twitter and the news.

PussyHats are a symbol of resistance, of rights for women. They are a reaction to Trump's policies and his disgusting claim that if you're famous, you can "grab them by the pussy" and they'll let you, "you can do anything." You will have seen images of the march and the sea of pink PussyHats. It was truly a sight to behold.

So on that day I knitted from late morning till evening, but had to stop shortly before I could finish the final bit of ribbing. When I finally sewed the seams and wove in the ends, it was too late for the march, of course, but that didn't stop me from wearing the hat at work the following week. 

It was a great success with colleagues who are  involved in politics and follow current developments both at home and abroad. My Spanish colleague took this photo of me to share with her friends.

Interestingly, this hat pattern has now been adapted for a different cause altogether, though one closer to home. Some crafty EU-nationals living in the UK are preparing to protest against the treatment of us as bargaining chips in this Brexit... fiasco, for lack of a better word. They plan to wear a blue hat with yellow stars that reflects the EU flag. I think that is a great idea! (You can also find a classic beanie knitting pattern to go with the cause here.)

If you are an EU-national in the UK, by the way, and want to stay up-to-date with developments as they pertain to our status here post-Brexit, feel free to join the3million on Facebook or follow them on Twitter. We cannot rely on politicians doing the right thing. We must make sure we are heard.

And this is probably as political a post as I am ever going to write on this blog. At least I hope there won't be a need for any more.

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Patons Everyday Moments: The Creative Collection

Once I started to knit, my likes and dislikes changed. I used to hate the look of cabling - until I started a pair of socks with little cables in it. I still enjoy them now and think cabling is wonderfully versatile. My experience with tweed has been similar. Before I became a knitter, I disliked the tweed look and didn't understand why so many people loved it. It looked too rugged to me and, as far as I could tell from my limited experience, it didn't even feel nice. Yet once I encountered all sorts of yarn over the years, I began to yearn for some tweed, too. Now I finally have a hand-dyed hank of tweed sock yarn in my stash that a friend made especially for me and I am trying to think of something nice to knit it into. I think it is fair to assume it will be socks, but I haven't settled on a pattern yet.

Patons Everyday Moments: The Creative Collection (sent to me for review by Laughing Hens) is a small collection of 8 patterns using Patons Tweed Style yarn. This yarn consists of 50% pure wool and 50% acrylic and comes in 14 different colours. If tweed is your thing, have a look at this pattern collection and something just might catch your eye.

Among the 8 options, you will find 2 hat and cowl sets (one for him and one for her), a poncho for her, a coat for her and a jacket for him, and 3 pullovers.  They all look very cosy and just right for the kind of weather we are having right now. Due to the thickness of the yarn there isn't any lace in this collection, but you have interesting cabling and straightforward stocking stitch. 

I can well imagine knitting one of the jumpers or the jacket for Mark, actually, though there are no patterns I would knit for myself - I'm just picky like that. Though I have to say the lady's pullover with cabling does interest me because it reminds me of the Icon Dress and Traveller Tunic. I have been tempted by the latter especially.

The instructions are laid out clearly and are mainly written. There are some charts for cables as well as diagrams to help with shaping and blocking. The measurements for individual parts of the garments are listed in a table for all sizes so you always know how your finished piece should measure up. (Also great for any modifications you may need to make.) At the beginning of the pattern, you find all necessary tools and materials, basic stitches, sizing and tension information, and abbreviations so you can prepare for what you're getting yourself into.

Have you used a Patons pattern before? How did you get on with it? And is there anything you're tempted by in this particular collection? Let me know!

Saturday, 14 January 2017

Yarn to Dye For

Rooster merino yarn introduced by Absoknittinglutely

A quick scan of my blog will show you that it has been lacking posts about dyeing recently. It's been a while since I played with my dyes and I have been itching to give it a go again. I have been especially tempted ever since Laughing Hens sent me this gorgeous hank of undyed superwash merino. Just look at the photos: it's sooo squishy! I don't think I have ever dyed such luscious yarn before, so I look forward to seeing how it will take to dyeing.

I can't stop touching it. Before I choose a colour, I will have to make up my mind about what to knit this wool into. It is too nice for socks and as it is pure merino, it wouldn't hold up very well to being worn on my feet. This 4-ply would make a great hat or even gloves. It's a good thing I have been thinking of knitting new gloves lately, especially now that we have had a few very chilly days over here. If you have any other ideas, let me know! For your information, I have 400 meters of this yarn, so that is very decent.

I am tempted to dye this differently from the way I usually work. Maybe I'll first knit something and then dye it. I would love to just partially dye the fingertips of gloves, for instance, or the top of a hat. So many possibilities! Also so much potential for disaster, but that makes it particularly exciting. I remember an attempt at speckle dyeing going very wrong... If I feel brave enough to give it another go, I would like to pre-dye the yarn in a lighter shade first and then try speckle dyeing over it in a second round. One day I might actually get a hang of this!

What kind of dyeing technique to you like in the yarns you buy or dye yourself? Do you have particular colours you return to again and again or do you like to be as diverse as possible? I've noticed I tend to stick to the same colours and really need to branch out a little. Perhaps this lovely yarn will be something completely different! I shall report once it's done, of course.

Friday, 6 January 2017

#Craftblogclub Secret Santa 2016: Part 2

You have already seen what I made for my #craftblogclub Secret Santa swap partner, so now it is time to reveal what I have received.

When the package arrived before Christmas, it was a bit of a mystery. The address was German, but I knew it was from my Secret Santa. I thought I was the only German person taking part in #craftblogclub on Twitter, so I couldn't think of who this would be. It threw me because of my own connection to Germany, too. 

When I opened the handmade card that came with the package, it was even more mysterious. It began in German and then continued in English with an apology for the bad German grammar. It wasn't bad at all so I thought it was a native speaker at first. And then it finally dawned on me that I had spoken to a lady who lived in Germany, but was originally from the UK. Mystery solved! I quite enjoyed that conundrum, I have to say. Thank you, Rosie B from Craftbotic!

Rosie filled the package with all manner of handcrafted Christmas decorations that went on our tree straight away, I especially liked the yarn ball baubles, holly and clay reindeer. The gifts reminded me of how I always say I will make my own decorations one day and yet I never do... Rosie has used such a variety of techniques to make her gifts to me and I love it. 

And this is why I love Secret Santa. It can go a bit wrong sometimes, but usually the surprises are great fun and the excitement that comes with it is the best part of it. You do your best to find something your partner will like, but you can never be sure until they receive it and say something about it. You receive a gift as well and learn something about your Secret Santa, their preferences and skills, too. It's a lovely thing and I have enjoyed being part of 2016's #craftblogclub Secret Santa once again.

What are your experiences with Secret Santa? Do you love it or loathe it? What was the best gift you ever received from your swap partner - or has it ever gone wrong? Let me know in the comments.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

A Woolly Engagement - With Photos!

A woolly knitting engagement k2tog

I'm not sure what happened this year, but it has seemed like the shortest year of my life. It has probably also been the worst year for a lot of people for various reasons and while we look forward to 2016 coming to an end, many of us are very likely worried about 2017.

The only good thing, it seems, to have come out of this year for me is our engagement. After 9 years, Mark and I are fairly sure that we like each other so we are making it official now and getting married next year. 

Wool and engagement ring

The proposal was not at all how I expected it (and I didn't know it was going to happen then and there), but it was better! We were on holiday at the seaside in Torquay, out in a garden, all by ourselves. Mark was so nervous that I had to put the ring on my finger myself because he was afraid he'd drop it. And of course I said yes, as if there was ever any doubt.

And being a knitter, of course our engagement photos had to have a woolly theme. After all, what encapsulates the love between two people better than k2tog? May life knit us together for many more years to come till our yarn is cut short.

Engagement ring photo
(Photography: John Barwood)