Carbeth

The Carbeth Sweater and Cardigan is becoming widely known in the knitting community as a quick knit. It’s a straightforward project in bulky weight yarn (the original uses dk doubled) and there’s even been a Kal called #bangoutacarbeth on social media.

So being a kind of quick hit knitter I thought I’d have a go, over confidently expecting me to finish it in five days, the ‘typical’ time taken by those fast knitters on Ravelry (there’s one knitter who reports having taken a mere two days, I can’t imagine what kind of epic, non eating, non sleeping, non anything else at all, kind of marathon that must have been).

Ho hum.

Arrogant, moi?

All good plans and that…

What I didn’t account for is my sloppy attitude towards counting. It’s sort of necessary when knitting a garment and not something to approach with a devil may care attitude. I apparently didn’t get that particular memo.

Carbeth is knit from the bottom up, casting on all the stitches for the fronts and back at once, then knitting with no shaping until you reach the arms. At this point you divide for said arms and the rest of the body; from this point onward the magic happens. The defining feature of Carbeth is the decreases that run to a point in the middle of the back and front. Obviously, you need the same number of stitches on both sides to be able to do this. I was knitting, and knitting, with quite a bit of effort as 6.5mm needles are monsters, when I realised I had significantly more stitches on once side compared to the other. Cue major knitter melt down.

Once my adult had returned, I was able to frog and restart from the arm holes this time with the correct amount of stitches on either side. Funnily enough it worked really well.

However it meant I lost about two days knitting time and, ahem, another two days in teenage rage.

Then, and purely down to my decision making, I ran out of yarn just as I was about to start the icord bind off. I’d added a couple of extra inches to the body length (turns out this was a good decision for once) so, of course, didn’t have enough to finish. So after ordering more yarn and a few more days postie stalking I finally reached the finish line ten days after casting on. Not bad but certainly nothing to feel comfortably smug about either.

My buttons are from An Caitin Beag, bought at EYF, they’re clever as you get to sew the little hearts in yarn from your project, so cute.

I’m pleased, it fits, and goes with much of my wardrobe and isn’t super heavy, despite being a real yarn eater, or overly warm. The icord bind off along the ribbing at the front looks fab and is another of those clever Kate Davies touches that elevates her designs. Oh and I added a pocket, I like pockets and it means I have somewhere to store my ever present tissue.

So the knitting ego has been restored to its rightful size and I have a lovely new garment to forever remind me to always, always COUNT!

Knit a bit

Hello and welcome to the new followers; WordPress must have noticed the lack of activity here so promoted my page or something as there’s been a recent flurry of new support. So a big failte gu Weaving Heart and thank you for encouraging me to get writing again.

Despite the silence, all has been busy with my annual Edinburgh Yarn Fest trip and lots of projects on the needles and hooks. Spring is yet to arrive in Helmsdale, it’s been chilly cold and windy although we do have a few brave daffodils appearing.

I think I enjoyed EYF more than ever this time, they’ve vastly improved the set up and rearranged the stalls so there weren’t any packed aisles and the seating area was also increased (although you still had to fight to find somewhere to sit down). My friend and I were militarily focussed on our shopping lists and way more organised about purchases, so I didn’t walk away with a bag full of random pretties (just one!) but actual projects to keep me going throughout the year. There have been so many stash shots on Instagram so I’m not going to show you but you’ll see them emerging no doubt over the next few months.

My absolute favs though are this super cute brooch from Stitch Birdie, immaculately stitched and each is individual. My friend rehomed one too and there was a discussion about us knitting fair isle sweaters that match our brooches. Watch this space.

there was also a silver crochet hook (yes actual silver) by Lyn Roberts Design that just fell into my bag

I’m slightly scared of it, or rather of losing it. Crochet hooks have a tendency to disappear in our house, I have no idea how many 4mm hooks have gone into hiding so I’m determined that this one won’t meet the same fate. Ideally I think I need special hook pocketses in all my clothes…that should do the trick.

Project-wise I have my usual unmanageable number of Wips, yarn shopping has done nothing for my butterfly mind and I want to cast on. All. The. Things. I’m a good way into achieving this. I did have a finished object this week, my first major amigurumi hook; meet Granny Apple, my new ‘assistant’. She was a quick, but slightly tedious, make. There was a lot of single crocheting involved but she makes me smile a lot too.

I made her in Nurturing Fibres Eco Fusion which is lovely to work with and is a blend of cotton and bamboo. You can find the free pattern here, it’s very well written and very straightforward.

I’ve started an epic fair isle, as soon as I saw the pattern I knew I needed to make it.

It’s Strathendrick by Kate Davies and I’m making it in the suggested yarn, Milarrochy Tweed, which is stunning. I wasn’t sure at first, it’s a single ply blend of wool and mohair but the colours are complex and the mohair adds a little sheen that’s unusual in fair isle type yarns. I decided to make it in just the two colours, I think blocking will develop the contrast but there isn’t a huge difference in value between the them. I like the subtlety of it and the rusty orange colour I’m using for the ribbing and sleeves is beyond stunning.

I have also just cast on for another Kate Davies knit, a Carbeth Cardigan, in the hope that, unlike the Strathendrick, it will be a quick make. I’m adding a pocket, which had the extra effect of encouraging me to knit a gauge square for once as I can use it to make that.

The main colour is a mid blue but I like the idea of having a contrasting colour for the inside of the pocket that only I’ll know about (oh wait…). Again I’m using the suggested yarn, I do love to be able to use locally sourced wool. My credit card hasn’t been so happy however…oh well.

There are a few more projects kicking around but if I blog about them it’s harder for me to deny their existence so I’m staying silent on those for the time being.

Right that’s a brief and rather overdue update, see you all sooner.

Yarn therapy

It’s been a pretty busy few days here what with trips to the dentist and Inverness as well as a whole heap of other stuff going on.

As always, my crocheting and knitting makes everything easier to manage; there been a lot of discussion recently about how therapeutic they are and I can certainly attest to that. Whether it’s filling the boring hours of car journeys, distracting myself while sitting in the dentist’s waiting room or giving me something to focus on during an especially stressful day I can guarantee that playing with yarn makes it better.

My current WIP, a crocheted poncho in alpaca

I first started knitting and crocheting about 10 years ago when I was working in mental health. One of the main things I enjoyed was seeing tangible results because after spending the day delivering talking therapy, it was hard to know if I’d said the right things, kept quiet when it was needed and generally supported clients in the right direction. So being able to whip up a hat over the weekend made me feel as though I’d actually achieved something.

Nowadays the thought of living with a chronic illness without the distraction of yarn is difficult to imagine. I belong to a few online support groups and frequently come across fellow sufferers really struggling with feeling useless, I’m very fortunate to not feel this way as all I have to do is look around our house to see the results of my crafting and there is the odd item living in other people’s homes too.

There’s also how knitting, crocheting, spinning and weaving adds to my identity. I’m not merely someone with M.E. and I can do stuff that doesn’t cause me to crash (much!). I have a set of skills I can share and nothing brings me more joy than seeing someone to whom I was also to pass on some knowledge to develop a similar passion for fibre.

Ok so this has been a pretty reflective post; I often do something called a gratitude list and something fibre related always features in my top five.

Last week I had a couple of days when, during a flare, I wasn’t able to do much due to pain in my hand. It really brought home, as these things inevitably do, what a huge part of my life all this has become. Fortunately it didn’t last very long and I’m back with my numerous Wips, projects and the usual cursing because I can’t find the right needles/cable needle/stitch markers!

I hope your crafts bring you as much joy. Go well.

Sorting out my life

We had a yarn room tidy up this week, Mr Weaving Heart came across some shelving that works really well for storage of said yarn so it motivated me to sort everything out. Our back room now looks fabulous and is my favourite room in the house because it’s so bright and cheerful with everything within reach.

This makes me a very happy yarner!

You might spot the edge of a Sophie’s Garden at the bottom, this is my new stool made from a kit I was given for Christmas; this is also something I love. It’s a kit you can buy from Wool Warehouse and was a very simple make, the instructions are online via Look at What I Made and they include photos, tutorials and everything you might need if you’re a crochet novice.

Isn’t it cute? I’ve had another kit finish too, again a kit from Wool Warehouse, this time an Attic24 one for a jolly chunky bag; I had visions of me using it at the Edinburgh Yarn Fest to fill with lovelies but I think it’s a little too easily dipped – not that there will be lots of pick pockets there but you can never be too careful…

All this colour really helps my mental health, I can get low, especially at this time of year, and being surrounded by yarn and brightness is super soothing.

Ok, so finally, I have my new crochet square blocker to show off; another make by Mr Weaving Heart, it’s just right for blocking all the squares I discovered hiding behind the sofa when we did the sort out. Now I have to get over my complete resistance to attaching them all together. I hate this bit, I love granny square blankets but the thought of either sewing or crocheting all those squares leave me cold. Even with the fantasy of how gorgeous it will look when complete, which usually works to force me though the toughest project, fails utterly in this situation.

2017 into 2018

It been a while…we went away for a couple of weeks over Christmas and I’m still recovering. The world down south is so fast, noisy and busy! Everything that used to appeal to me, like the shops and places to eat out now hold no such joy, I just find the choice stressful.

We didn’t visit England for those kind of things though, we visited family and it was lovely to catch up with some relatives we haven’t seen for quite a while. It’s good to be home and I’ve been enjoying the peace and quiet as well as our comfy bed.

At the beginning of 2017 I started a Beekeepers Quilt, made from lots of little hexipuffs, the plan was to make one a day for the whole year. I lasted until June when somehow my focus wavered and the project got hidden away in my pile of shame with all the other unfinished WIPs. So come 2018 and I unearthed the bag full of puffs and had a wee play with them. They’re so cute, I began to sew some together and it was lovely to remember where the yarn came from for each one.

So my plan is to gradually assemble the blanket – I have enough for a small one – then decide if I want to add some more or just leave it as a little one.

To be honest, I’m not sure where it will live once finished; usually blankets are thrown over the sofas here but we have two furry and often slightly muddy dogs who love to snuggle up in them. This blanket won’t be washable, well not easily anyway, plus some of the yarns aren’t that robust so it’s a bit of a quandary. I suspect this is one of the reasons I got a bit un-enamoured with it.

Right onto some other projects: This year I’m making a temperature rug; there’s no pattern as I’m just crocheting a row of single crochet every day in a colour corresponding with the daily temperature outside.

You can see that ‘cloud’ is missing, it’s currently attached to the blanket as it was a chilly 0 degrees today. I’m using good old Stylecraft Special, but Aran weight with a 4mm hook to make a slightly denser, thicker fabric that will hopefully be suitably rug-like.

I don’t think we’ll be seeing anything other than blues for a while yet.

Before I go, I’d like to briefly show you the cushion cover I’ve just finished. Last year I thought it would be fun to participate in a fibre Advent Calender, I found one by Siobhan Crafts so had an exciting little package to open every day. The fibre was gorgeous, it had a pink theme and was a mix of mini-batts, locks, rolags and pencil roving. I spun each day onto two bobbins and plied them last week.

The package for the 24th contained a very cute orifice hook with a little sheep on the end as well as some other goodies. It was very good value as a heap of work must have gone into the dyeing and fibre prep., I think I paid around £28 for what turned out to be well over 200g as well as some other bits and pieces. I’d really recommend next years if you’re a spinner.

Attic24 is currently running a CAL (crochet along) in a kind of feather and fans pattern and I thought it’d would be perfect for my yarn as the stripes would show off the different colours in my skein. I’m super pleased with my little cushion, I had just enough yarn and it goes super well with the bright colours in our back room.

Being adult (!!)

Despite being well into my middle age, I’m still not very good at adulting. I’m too impulsive and needful of instant gratification for starters. I’m now older than my Mum was when my memories of her begin and she always seemed so grown up. Maybe it’s a perception thing, you know, judging others’ outsides by my insides. I have no idea if she still felt 18 that time at Christmas when we had my nan, aunt, uncle and cousin to stay where everything was super organised and ran perfectly to plan. I can’t begin to think how to manage a holiday on that scale, including matching bed sheets and towels for everyone!

The thing is, I’ve never felt grown up, whatever that feels like. I’ve had friends who manage to achieve it, from the immaculate house, to well-managed finances and yearly holidays in adult only hotels as well as the patient maturity where they don’t allow their emotions to get the better of them. Ever. Needless to say, we’re no longer friends.

I’m still a hormone riddled, insecure, messy and disorganised teenager at heart. I’m a little older in somethings; I flounce less, sulk even less (not difficult as I think I spent from 12 to 17 in one continuous sulk) and, whilst I don’t actually do it myself (Mr Weaving Heart is the designated packer), my bags are packed at least two hours before departure these days.

Knitting, crochet etc is very good at teaching me to adult. It requires patience and persistence. I remember my Dad noting on the first occasion I proudly presented a finished object that it was the first occasion I’d actually stuck with something. Not a great achievement at the grand old age of 36.

One of the ultimate tests of fibre grown up-ness is making a garment from fleece to finish. It requires a fairly large quantity of spinning all the same fibre, knitting of said yarn into something wearable. Now for someone with the attention span of a gnat, it can be a tough call. However, I’m well on my way to completing a Comfort Fade Cardi with a handspun fade sweater pack from Hilltop Cloud.

I think the main reason for my success is that the spinning kind of snook up in me; I worked my way through the five braids almost without noticing while I was engrossed in my Lilliana blanket (I’ve just realised I haven’t blogged about finishing this! You can take a look at it by clicking in the link) so that was painless. As for the knitting, it’s been super quick as I started it less that a week ago and I’ve nearly finished the first sleeve so will hopefully have it this weekend.

So although it’s a big project, it hasn’t required any real maturity of sticking with something. As for that quality, well, we’re coming to the end of the year when I’ll be reflecting on my progress with the goals I set myself at the beginning of 2017, including my hexipuff blanket project. Hum. All I can say is don’t hold your breath.

Alpaca!

Warning: this post contains photos of a shocking quality, this blog takes no responsibility for these, I completely blame my cr***y phone camera and deny it had anything to do with poor lighting choices, shaky hands and lack of patience. Please continue at your own risk.

I stumbled upon a lovely yarny-type place last week. We made an impromptu visit to Aberdeen that involved passing by Auld Mill Alpacas, a small holding near Elgin.

It’s a wee gem buried in the Moray countryside with a fairly large herd ( flock?) of alpacas living with various chickens, dogs and a couple of humans too. Carol and John have run it for about six years and breed alpaca for sale as well as running a small on-site and online shop.

We were warmly welcomed and ushered in for a cuppa; Carol has heard of Weaving Heart and we exchanged weaving stories and traded tips. They make handwoven scarves and throws with yarn spun from the alpaca fleece. The range of natural colours is beautiful and they try and ensure that everything is labelled with the name of the alpaca the fleece came from.

Finally I had a wander round the shop, in a shepherd’s hut; it’s perfect with a great selection of yarn, fibre and handmade goodies.

Needless to say I managed to acquire a few additions to my stash while I was there. Something I really liked and I think is unusual was some mill-spun core spun yarn. I’ve never seen non handspun yarn like this and I took a large bump home with plans to use it as weft in a rug. In the photo below it’s on the bottom row in the middle, isn’t it gorgeous? I’d be quite happy just cuddling it all day.

If this all sounds like I’m pushing you to visit, if you get chance, go! I was very pleasantly surprised and the alpacas were beautiful in their elegantly haughty ballet dancer way.

Right health update: bleurgh, life can be truly awful with ME sometimes. It’s not often I moan (??) (maybe I should leave you to decide that) but I just a little fed up with really really wanting to do stuff (like weave) and just can’t. It’s a bit rubbish getting up in the morning only to have to lie down, wait for the drugs to kick in and then see if I can manage to actually sit up so I can crochet a little. It’s tough. I do maintain a positive outlook, I am super fortunate to have a safe, warm home and wonderful people in my life but jeez it gets tedious. That is all. Speaking of crochet, I have been hooking a bit (and running out of Netflix to watch too, nightmare), here’s a little selection.