Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Blasts from the Past.

My knitting over the past couple of weeks has consisted of reviving old projects. I generally reckon to be a monogamous knitter, finishing a project before moving on to another but sometimes things get too frustrating or (dare I say it) tedious for complete fidelity knitting wise.

Do you remember this project from a while ago? The yarn is my handspun yak and silk dyed by Mandacrafts. Originally I was was a little over ambitious and chose a shawl that I liked but that was a bit beyond my fledgling lace knitting skills so I frogged it and began an easier project based on the leaf pattern which I blogged about here. I started to think that I must be completely useless and that perhaps lace knitting was just not for me as in every pattern row I knitted I found myself short of a stitch. As the fault was consistent I thought that perhaps I was making a rookie error somewhere so I undid it all and took the book and yarn along to my lovely friend Dawn for help. Dawn is an amazing person with a deep knowledge of all things fibre related. She is a shearer, spinner, knitter, weaver and designer and is very generous with her time and expertise. So we sat together and each cast on and began to knit to try to identify where it was all going wrong. Thanks to her experienced eye she was able to notice the error in the chart and correct it for me. Such a relief to know that I was following the instructions properly but that the chart had been either written or printed incorrectly. So now my project is growing and I am enjoying the knitting of it at last.

Earlier in the year I got bored of knitting the same old socks so I put these aside and only rediscovered them last week. They are currently fulfilling the role of my 'I don't want to think much' knitting.

This week's book is 'How to Know Higher Worlds' by Rudolf Steiner. This is our new study group text now that we have worked our way through 'The Philosophy of Freedom'.  'How to Know Higher Worlds' is a wonderful book where Steiner outlines the inner work necessary to allow us to develop our capacities to their utmost. Here is a little taste:

"Therefore we must begin our inner schooling by bringing devotion into our thought life. We must guard against disrespectful, disparaging, and criticizing thoughts. We must try to practice reverence and devotion in our thinking at all times."

It is a while since I acknowledged the existence of an outside life here at Misty Cottage. To be honest not an awful lot is going on out there in all this rain. Soon we will be getting weaners again which is always exciting and I am on the look out for some Khaki Campbell ducks for the garden and a couple more Aylesburys. The weather, although wet, has been incredibly mild which means that there are signs of spring in the garden.

One thing that  am pleased about is the fact that we are still eating out of the garden, parsnips, schorzenera (I have no idea how to spell that!), carrots, sprouts, kale and savoy cabbages with purple sprouting just beginning to sprout. 

We have done the seed order, which is like placing an order for Spring and we have got tomatoes sown. There is loads to do out there but I am a fair weather gardener and don't like to be out there in the wind and rain.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016


This week I am being quite experimental. I have been developing a yarn, over the last few months, that I would like to sell and although I have knitted scarves with it before, this week I am trialing a very simple shawl pattern. My thinking is that if I can create a yarn that is not too labour intensive to spin and that is intrinsically beautiful then beginner knitters can use it to knit something very simple - just garter stitch - and have something that will be unique and beautiful to wear. More experienced knitters will know exactly what to do with it anyway no doubt.

As you can see from the photo I am dipping into Kari Chapin's The Handmade Marketplace again this week. I do like this book, it is so accessible and makes everything seem so possible which is exactly what I am after at the moment.

Another experiment this week has been with a bit of weaving. I have used my peg loom to weave yarn that I spun from uncarded recycled sari silk and plyed with a silver metallic thread. I have to admit to being a little disappointed with the yarn in the end. I like the look of it but the metallic thread is just not strong enough I don't think. I am really searching for a thread that is strong and quite sparkly or vibrant and fine enough to thread small beads on. If you know of any that you have had success with then please do let me know. Once I have settled on a make that I really like I would like to be able to get it on cones if such a thing is possible - again if you have any tips or experiences I would love to hear them.

Anyway I decided to weave with this yarn using a strong crochet cotton as the warp and I will make myself a little bag with it to see how it wears before spinning any more of it. This means that I now have two bags ready to put together as I have not finished this one yet.

A major experiment for this week that I am sharing with everyone is that of seeing what it is like to live on a planet without David Bowie - I don't like it one bit and I don't think I want to get used to it either. My daughter, who is 13, has been playing the Hunky Dory album pretty much non stop on her MP3 player since she heard the news. I think these are her favourite lyrics -

And if you ever have to go to school
Remember how they messed up
this old fool
Don't pick fights with the bullies
or the cads
'Cause I'm not much cop at punching other people's Dads
And if the homework brings you down
Then we'll throw it on the fire
And take the car downtown

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

New Year, Same Me.

I love the New Year, that feeling of possibility and fresh start. In fact I love it so much that a few years ago I made a decision (one may even call it a Resolution) not to make any more New Year Resolutions. I think it is probably the only Resolution I have ever managed to keep. I do understand that when we have something about ourselves or our lives that we want to change, particularly if it is a difficult habit to break or new habit to begin, it is helpful to consciously begin at a specific point and for many people New Year is helpful in that way. Personally though and this is very personal to me, I spent many years dreading and detesting New Year as each one just marked the end of a year through which I had not been able to live the life I knew I needed to live and the beginning of another one very likely to pan out the same.

However, things do change and wonderful things do happen to quite ordinary people sometimes and so fourteen years ago I got to have a wonderful New Year and every one since then has been equally blessed, so why would I spoil it by setting myself up to fail at something? I am by no means perfect - not by a long chalk and there are many things I would like to change about myself and my life but I refuse to tarnish the freshness of a New Year with thoughts of my inadequacies so I will not be starting a diet, giving up anything or trying to add anything to my routine, I am just looking forward to 2016 and all it has to offer me and all I have to offer it!

I had a break from computery things over Christmas so now would probably be the moment to say, HUZZAH, I finished the gift knitting in time! Just. Midnight on Christmas Eve found me weaving in ends so I could wrap things.

On my needles today is nothing more technical than a swatch. A while back I spun some yak and after plying it I had a bit left on one of my bobbins so I tried plying it with a gold metallic thread. I think it looked lovely in the skein but I wanted to check how it knits before making the yarn intentionally. I think I like it so when my highly anticipated New Year fibre order arrives containing some more dehaired Yak, I think I will make some more yarn like this.

I began reading The Misremembered Man the other day but I have not got far enough into it to say much yet. As usual I am not finding much time to read these days - if only I could read and knit or spin! I am still listening to Diana Gabaldon's  A Breath of Snow and Ashes from the Outlander series. I didn't listen while the children were at home for the holiday but now that term has begun again I can get back into it. It is amazingly long which makes it fantastic value for an Audible credit.

In other craft news, I had a commission for a Journal for Christmas, the photo is not brilliant but I think the Journal turned out nicely and my lovely customer was happy

I am really looking forward to getting back to productivity over the next week or two. It seems too long since I was able to focus on making and my shop.

As usual I am joining in with Ginny over at the Yarn Along and with Frontier Dreams for the Craft Along.