For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb
Psalm 139:13

Monday, 1 February 2016

it's a gift: knitted

Here they are – the last of the 2015 Christmas knits! 

I made four super-chunky hats for various family members and this might just be the easiest, quickest hat pattern EVER. It's the Casie Hat by Robyn Devine – a perfect basic design that you can put your own spin on. I improvised some colours and worked extra length on a couple of the hats for bonus slouch. I didn't have the needles (or expertise) to do a three needle bind off, so I sort magic looped/ fudged the top of the hats. A pompom can hide a multitude of sins. 

Incidentally, the hat with the pompom was for my sister, who requested a slouchy beanie "like something Jake Gyllenhaal might wear!" Erm. Not sure what he'd make of it, but the sis seemed pleased nonetheless. Have you ever had any weird knitting requests? 

This is Cowl a la Mode, made for the other Mother-in-Law (there are two!). Straightforward and speedy, but with enough texture and stitch changes going on to keep things interesting. I used Stylecraft Alpaca Tweed Chunky for this, and while I wasn't crazy abut the acrylicy (yep, that's a word now - phrase coined) feel of it, it gave fairly good stitch definition to this make and was quite cosy. I have some lovely memories of knitting this during our trip to Paris in September *sighs wistfully*. All in all, a fab free pattern by Ellen that I'd definitely recommend for gift knitting as it's so quick, simple and fun to knit. 

Monday, 25 January 2016

Selfish Sweater KAL Miette update

I've been knitting and knitting and knitting and now Miette has started to look like an actual thing! My Selfish Sweater KAL 2016 project is still on the needles, of course, but the sleeve bits are waiting patiently on their waste yarn, the bust shaping is done and the stitch markers are off. It's brilliant that I can try it on as I work as well, though Mr P is none too impressed with the related trying-on capering, which obviously involves much silly whooping and excitement. Well, it is my first garment after all. 

I did have a hiccup earlier on in the pattern when my stitch count mysteriously went a bit squiggly, but the incomparable Faye did some sums and got me back on the straight and narrow.     

The achievability and simplicity of the project are what I've really been enjoying, as well as how quickly it's been growing. If I'd known garments could be this straightforward, I'd have knitted one long before now! So far the yarn has been behaving, too - smooth and not splitty at all. I've just started on the fourth ball.  

I must confess I am a bit apprehensive about the neckband and buttonbands that are to follow. I've only ever done these once and that was on a baby cardi. But this is how we learn, right? Gotta get stuck in there and give it a go. Having said that, please do share any neckband/buttonband wisdom!

What are you working on at the mo? 
Doing any special makes for yourself now we're into the new year?

Also, I LOVE these socks. For real. 

Monday, 18 January 2016

it's a gift: crochet

Now that all the stitches have been stitched and the gifts gifted, I can share my Christmas makes with you! About time, right? These are the crochet makes, then there are some knitty ones to follow, too. 

Cashmere mitts for mum, with unintentional foldy-down bit. I used Lotus Yarns 100% Cashmere (ooh, so fancy!) and a fab free pattern by HanJan Crochet. I'd use this pattern again and the yarn was very luxurious, but the poor stitch definition and dark colour made it a bit tricky and the stitches don't shine as well as they could. I always seem to have a problem with making two things the same, so ended up folding down the top of these to disguise their wonky-ness. It's all part of the handmade charm, you see.  

The standout winner of this year's crochet gifts was definitely the Your Mileage May Vary shawl. 
It's a Joanne Scrace design from The Shawl Project: Book One. I made it for Mr P's mum and chose it because it's one of the more scarf-like makes in the collection. Plus that edging

The yarn is Patons 100% Cotton 4ply. To be honest, I wasn't sure about this colour until the whole thing was finished. I actually plumped for this one because it was the only 100g ball of 4ply in my stash in an okay shade. As I worked with it, I was really impressed with the quality and think the colour is a good match for the final FO. 

Get a load of that gorgeous edging though! The design was so satisfying to hook and to be honest, the real work lies in the blocking. I used absolutely every pin I own to give this a stern blocking, but boy did it pay off. I was really reluctant to give this away in the end, as it came out so divine, but Mother-in-Law #1 LOVED it so it was all totally worth it. 

Yep, I made a crochet hexie dingly-dangler – a dreamcatcher/wallhangingy type thing. Complete with twig (so rustic right now). This was for an arty friend who doesn't do yarny stuff. I thought she needed something colourful and bit too cool for school. 

It was another simple, speedy but fun-to-hook project. The pattern's from Simply Crochet issue 34 and I used some Cascade Ultra Pima from my stash. I want one now, too! 

How did your handmade gifts go down this year? What did you make? 

Monday, 11 January 2016

Comparison and what comes next

I wonder what our blogs would look like if we stopped comparing ourselves to others? 

I read Truly Myrtle's amazingly honest post on comparison last week and it really got the old grey matter churning. I've been blogging slowly and quietly for quite a long time, but in the last couple of years, as blogs have become way more professional looking with stunning design and photography and what seems like exhaustive scheduling, I often feel like I'm lagging behind. Like a little sardine lost in a school of shiny dolphins. 

It's so reassuring to know that I'm not the only one who sometimes falls foul of the comparison blues, and there seems to be a lot of openness and discussion around this topic at the moment. In the last year, I've really come to value honesty in blogs and have tried to be more honest in my own sharing here. I reckon it's helpful for the reader and prompts more genuine interactions. Expertly styled photography and glorious designs are amazing and they can inspire and challenge us, but I think it's the truth in the writing that really counts and helps counteract those glossy, almost unattainable views that we sometimes see. And of course it's good to remember that every blog post and Instagram pic is just one aspect that an individual has carefully curated and chosen to share, not a whole, accurate picture.

On episode three of Blogtacular's podcast (it's pretty rad), there was a brilliant interview with Fran Stone of Fall for DIY. She made a 2016 prediction for a return to a slower form of blogging, favouring quality of content over click-baiting and frequency, with perhaps longer, more thoughtful posts, and seeking a faithful readership. Honestly, this was music to my ears. Blogging isn't my full time job (quite clearly!). I only started sharing in this wee space because I started reading other blogs and love to tell stories, see what other crafters are making and share my own creations. But I've often considered stopping altogether as the more blogs I was reading, the more inadequate I felt. So many frustrations arose -  unless you blog for a living, literally who is able to blog everyday? (If this is you, tell me all your secrets!). How much can I really improve my photography with a point and shoot and zero knowledge? How can I improve my blog design without any software, digital design skills or budget? Argh!

It's so silly, of course, because none of that matters at all. I was only having these frustrations because I was comparing myself to others, not because I was unhappy with what I was sharing. I only need to share what I want, when I want, how I want and be content with it. There are no rules. Maybe it's a case of dance like nobody's watching, blog like nobody's reading? I'd love to know your thoughts on this and how you combat the comparison blues.  

Friday, 1 January 2016

Hello 2016!

Happy new year everybody! Our Christmas was busy; filled with family visits, an inordinate amount of meat, cheese and candles and blustery walks. Glad we were able to get to church on Christmas morning as it's so easy to be dazzled by the sparkliness of the season. I hope you had a special time celebrating with your nearest and dearest. As always at this time of year, in those funny in-between days after family have gone and before I head back to work, I try to reflect a bit over the year just gone. 

2015, you were a handful.

Firsts: hosting Christmas Day, Jane Austen Festival Promenade, dog walk, Airbnb trip, Bristol Balloon Fiesta, leg wax, bundt cake, published crochet patterns, IKEA trip, knitted shawl, visit to Cornwall, hair dye, sambuca shot (not wise), buying furniture, trouble sleeping, FaceTime, sloe gin sipping, successful pancakes, tablecloths, gym workout, makealong, attempt at quilting, seeing reindeer. 

There were job interviews, beautiful weddings, tears, prayers, job worries, trips to the zoo, laughter, serious illnesses, one horrendous stomach bug, many, many train journeys, dance classes, puppies, baking, zero trips to the hairdresser and a promotion. We did a big, scary home move, settled into a new city (still working on it), said goodbye to our commutes, made time for family and friends and watched loads of netflix. I worked hard, made stuff and was late a lot.

My highlights were swimming in the sea, catching up with old friends and spending time exploring Paris with Mr P. We were blessed. 

Looking back on the goals I set last year, I didn't manage to knit a pair of socks (though I did turn a heel!) or miraculously become a morning person, but I did try to write more honestly and be kinder to my body. I joined a yoga class, carried on running a bit and ate my greens.

In 2016, God willing, I hope to make more time for the important things, keep running and yoga-ing, finish two garments, give thanks, design a blanket, fall back in love with writing, be braver and make a difference.

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Selfish Sweater KAL 2016

My startitis knows no bounds.

 The Christmas gifts aren't even finished yet (as evidenced above) and I'm already getting giddy about my January projects. And I'm not even talking about finishing WIPs. I was all set to get cracking with the orange crochet top, you see, until I read Andi's blog post about this year's Selfish Sweater KAL! The idea is to make something just for you after knitting all those Christmas gifts (ahem), and there are discounts on loads of her lovely sweater patterns. I immediately knew I wanted to join in. 

I've been an Untangling Knots reader for ages and have coveted Andi's gorgeous cropped cardigan designs for just as long. What better time to finally get going with a favourite that's been in my Ravelry queue forever? Plus, the yarn I wanted to use was on sale and I already had a ball handy for swatching. Perfect. Just need to get me a circular needle and I'm good to go. Come Boxing Day, I'll be casting on Miette. Details on Rav here. Have you made any stitchy plans for January yet? 

I couldn't wait - yarn is ordered and swatching has begun!

Tuesday, 1 December 2015

A Christmas making update

December the first - the countdown to Christmas can now begin in earnest! I managed to get my hands on an Advent candle again this year and am looking forward to lighting it this evening - a bit of brightness and a sound reminder to guide us through the next couple of weeks as the calendar fills up and we're rushing about. 

Things have been following the standard formula here of work, making, chores and checking in with family and friends, although everything feels like it's speeding up as we hurtle towards the end of the year. What's that all about? I've got a bunch of Christmas makes piled up now, all at various stages of completion, and plenty more still to do. Right now I have mixed feelings about the whole debacle of setting yourself ambitious Christmas making goals, although it does come from a place of love. My method of managing it all this year has been to make sure no-one knows they're getting handmade gubbins unless they requested something, then I'll just keep making until I run out of time and anything extra is a bonus. I've been logging some of my progress on Ravelry here. I think Kat Goldin addressed this perfectly in her blog post last week. 

These pics are cheeky sneak peeks of some of the kinda-but-not-quite finished Christmas projects (thanks for the idea, Sigrid!). Plus there's that pair of bootees I forgot to take a picture of. The lovely Miss P took some snaps for me - et voila!

So here's to a bit more merry making and hopefully a peaceful break to see out the year.
How are your festive makes coming along?

Thanks for the lovely pic, Miss P!

Some finished Christmas makes, waiting to be blocked and have ends woven in!

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