So Long Radio Silence

I’ve been quiet for a couple of months, I know this, and to be fair there’s been a good reason for the lack of posting – namely the fact that we moved house. But first some background on this…

For the last 10 years (seriously 10? How did that happen) I’ve been living in Glasgow, I moved up there to do a Masters, then a PhD. After a couple of years I met J. We dated and moved in together. A couple of years on, he got a job, and started commuting to work. Good so far? Well, yes and no – job good, commute not so much – as the job was on the other side of the country in Edinburgh. So for the last few years he’s made the commute (about 3 hours minimum per day) from Monday to Friday, back and forth each day. We’d talked about shifting location on numerous occasions, but thanks to my part time work in Glasgow, it was financially sensible to stay in the West.

Until last year…

Things changed, as I made the decision to leave the part time work I was doing and take some time to work out what I wanted to do. I was working in academia and realised that while I like the research – history, archaeology, objects, reading and all the stories and theories that swirl around from these, I was not as happy with the path I’d found myself on which was working more in the education side of things. I had good students – both undergraduate and mature – but these were starting to get lost in the crowd, I was becoming increasingly frustrated with the attitudes and lack of interest offered by what appeared to the majority. At the start of the last academic year I taught, J noted that I was angry and worked up about the students and the classes and I hadn’t actually started teaching at that point.

So I made the decision to walk away, the hours offered were becoming fewer and more unreliable, with less guarantee that courses would be running. With that kind of insecurity, it isn’t worth the stress. On top of that the amount of preparation and administration for what was effectively (at some points) a 2 hour a week job – the prep was around a day to a day and half – just simply isn’t feasible.

To add to this (and perhaps explain some of my reasoning) I realised in the March of 2012 that I was suffering with depression once again. Despite being in that situation before I failed to see the signs that I was wandering along that downhill slope again. It was only when a friend was discussing the fact that she feared she had depression that I realised that I was in that hole as well. Talking things over I suspect I had the depression, or at least the preliminary stages back at the start of the previous term when I was angry at the world. I honestly believe that the only reason I didn’t become aware of the problems during that semester was due to the hours I was working then – I don’t think I had time to notice!

I’ve spent a year so far working out what is going on in my head, working part time for friends, pottering about with yarn and guinea pigs. It’s helped but there is still further to go. My internal joke is that I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up!

Anyway, to get back to the main point, without the ties to Glasgow being as strong, the time came to rethink the big ‘where we live’ question. So we did. That was on Feburary 25th. By March 6th we’d found a flat we liked, by the 15th we had the lease signed, got keys on the 25th and were all moved in by April 7th. You cannot say we were’t efficient. There are still a couple of loose ends to tie up in Glasgow but for the most part everything is done. The fact that it is Edinburgh out of the window now is taking some getting used to!

So why all the detail? Because of this post from Katie at Hilltop Cloud. Sometimes others can say what we want to say far more eloquently…

Writer’s Block… Only with Knitting

For some strange reason I finished off the end of 2012, and to a lesser extent the start of 2013, on a knitting buzz. Several items were finished – some large, some small (I haven’t blogged about most of these yet). Ideas for designs have been brewing in my head. I’ve agreed to do a test-knit of a cosy cowl for a friend. My stash is organised. I have sorted my favourites, my queue and my pattern library on Ravelry. I’ve thought about patterns I’d like to knit with handspun – and subsequently which fibres in my stash would work for which projects, what weight I should aim for and the required yardages. Sounds good doesn’t it?

Except…

I haven’t knitted anything since Sunday. I haven’t been able to focus. I want to knit. I want to spin. I just don’t know where to start.

I tried casting on the test-knit cowl last night. My first choice of yarn had insufficient yardage. So I frogged it. Tried casting it on today using two shades of that yarn, no luck as the colours just didn’t mesh with the pattern / garter stitch. More frogging. I’m wondering what to use instead. I have three other alternatives. Two of which I have in mind for other projects, one which is completely free but will need to be either dyed beforehand or overdyed when finished. I know fine well that I’ll knit it with the ‘free’ one, but I’ll have to go and find it and wind it up before I can start knitting, and at the end it’ll have to be dyed… and that just seems terribly pro-active (despite the yarn only being in the room next door, the needles at my feet along with any other supplies I need and the dyeing stuff all in the kitchen).

The same can be said for blogging, I have a pile of posts / post ideas that I need to just write and publish. And yet again – I’m staring a computer screen thinking that it seems like something which can wait a little longer.

Procrastination – I have it down to a fine art.

So with the aim of getting out of this procrastinating fug, I’m off to go and knit something else. Just to get back into the swing of things…

Plotting 2013: Colours of Shetland

I received Kate Davies’ new book Colours of Shetland (signed too!) as a gift this year. And I’ve spent some time pondering what to make out of it. Until I realised that pondering was pointless as I wanted to knit everything. This is very unusual for me, as normally there are patterns in a knitting book which don’t appeal, so to find ten patterns I liked in a single volume is rather fortuitous.

But what to knit them in? All the patterns called for the ever-lovely Jamieson & Smiths Jumper weight, which I do adore. Only the quantities needed would cause much pain to my bank account. So the logical thing was to consider what I had in my stash to start with and work from there. As it happened I already had a few balls of J&S yarn which can be saved for these projects, plus some Cashmere to replace the Angora that two of the patterns call for. Other than that my stash yarns were rather deficient. However a solution did come to mind.

Namely my new spinning wheel. Since I seem to spin a fingering weight yarn as a default, why not spin some of the yarns needed for these projects?

Northmavine Hap

I picked up these silk bricks at the Glasgow School of  Yarn and was planning on knitting them up as one project, so I think they’ll work  well for this hap. The pattern calls for four shades striped together, but I’ll just stick with the two. I’ll use the Jumper weight for the gray sections though, I think the contrast in textures will work well.

Northmavine Hoody

As I said before, I have some Cashmere to use for the pocket linings but no real options in my stash for the rest of it. I think this may be the one pattern I knit as written.

Puffin Mantle

I’m pairing this with some cream Shetland Supreme I have left over from another project. At the moment, I’m not sure whether to split the braid up into the different colours and spin each one up separately. There should be enough shades to match the stripes in the original. Alternatively I may spin and knit it up  as a long colour transition. Decisions, decisions!

Puffin Sweater

Another GSoY purchase, I’ve split the braids into their separate colours (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple) and will stripe them in the yoke following the pattern instructions. I actually have most of this spun already – just the purple left to do. I’ll use J&S for the body and sleeves, unless the Rowan Cashsoft in the John Lewis sale gets reduced further – in which case I may substitute that.

Scatness Tam

Apart from this small (20g or so) batt of Shetland fibre, I’ll use the proper colours in the J&S yarn for this project. I’m hoping that there will be enough leftovers from the Tunic skeins to complete this one and I already have a spare 25g ball of the Cream shade to use for this.

Scatness Tunic

More brown fibre to spin! As I said with the tam, I’ll use the colours as written – I have one ball each of red and orange – so I’ll need to pick up two more of those (1 of each shade), the rest will need to be ordered.

Stevenson Gauntlets / Stevenson Sweater

I’ve seen this spun up and it produces a lovely warm, slightly heather blue-purple shade. I’m planning on using this for the blue stripes,  pairing it with a cream and a rich purple for both the sweater and the gauntlets.

Ursula Cardigan / Ursula Mittens

I liked this pattern but not the original colour choices, so am planning on replacing the cream background shade with a pale gray. The stripes of colour will be these two fibres plus a to-be-purchased dark fuschia shade.

Colours of Shetland image from here

Plotting 2013: Knits for 2013 and Beyond

Continuing on from Resolutions 2013 – #1 was planning ahead but this ties in several other categories as well (I could repeat them all but that would be… well… repetitive – needless to say, many are covered).

Anyway. This meant that I spent New Year’s Eve reorganising my Queue on Ravelry. I know, the excitement but A. I’m not one for NYE normally, and B. I was ill. Which meant I was tucked up in bed early. So organising knitting patterns and stash while Flash Gordon was about as exciting as it was going to get.

Irrespective of these facts, I found it extremely useful to evaluate exactly what I had; in terms of stash, pre-bought / free patterns and design ideas.

The result, a neatly organised (and colour coded) pile of A4 paper detailing stash and appropriate patterns or design ideas. Those with patterns have all been queued on Ravelry which should make things easier when working out what I have got left in the stash without possible knitting patterns. Those yarns for my own designs have been listed in the handwritten notes – which at this moment in time are somewhere in my sofa fort (I’ll find them later – and store them somewhere safer).

Some patterns I’ll need to buy, some projects will need additional yarn bought, some will handspun yarn spun specifically to the weight / yardage required. The plan is there. There is no way it all be done in 2013, or 2014 for that matter (or beyond that to be honest). At least I have the right intention.

——————

I’ll post more on the 2013 plotting later… mainly concerning one newly published volume of knitting patterns and a pile of handspun…

12 Twelves in 2012

I had grand plans last year as I mentioned in my Resolutions 2013 post. These were the aims…

  1. 12 Sweaters, Cardigans, Tops
  2. 12 Socks (6 pairs)
  3. 12 Mittens, Gloves (6 Pairs)
  4. 12 WIPs or Queue Items
  5. 12 Favourites
  6. 12 Scarves, Cowls, Shawls
  7. 12 Hexipuffs per month (12 x 12)
  8. 12 Techniques (New and Previously Used)
  9. 12 Seasonal Decorations
  10. 12 Wildcards
  11. 12,000 Yards Knitted
  12. 12 Months Keeping my Knitting Stuff Organised

And with hindsight, probably a tad excessive. Maybe I was aware of this at the time, as I did add this postscript:

I’m planning on having a fair bit of overlap between the various categories, means I can tick off more early on!

Nevertheless the start of 2013 seemed like a good excuse to actually assess what I did last year in terms of these knitting goals.

So, here goes…

1. 12 Sweaters, Cardigans, Tops

  1. January Morning
  2. Blaithin
  3. Viisi Päivä

Only three in the end. I am hoping to get more garments knitted this year, so maybe I will improve on this total in 2013. 

2. 12 Socks, Slippers (6 pairs / 12 individual socks or slippers)

  1. Vanilja 
  2. Double-Layer Slippers
  3. Circle Socks
  4. Maeva
  5. Longitudinal
  6. Pink Elephants!
  7. Skew

14 individual socks and slippers knitted, seven pairs. Am pretty impressed with this, 3 of the pairs were gifts and have been well-appreciated. Plus I finally got the Socks of Shame (Skew) finished!

3. 12 Mittens, Gloves (6 pairs/12 individual gloves or mittens)

  1. Twelfth Night Mittens 
  2. Wanderlust

I need more mittens. 

4. 12 WIPs or Queue Items (Started or Queued Pre-January 1st, 2012)

  1. January Morning (Started December 2011)
  2. Twelfth Night Mittens (Started December 2011)
  3. Sharktooth (Started December 2011)
  4. Arroway (Queued)
  5. Oeste (Queued)
  6. Vulpix (Queued)
  7. Cumulonimbus (Queued)
  8. Honeycomb Quilt (Started December 2011)
  9. Skew (Started June 2011)
  10. Kimono Wrap (Started January 2011) – Still ongoing

Hmm… I cannot really remember what else was on my queue back at the start of last year. So this category will just have to be left as is. I did get all but one of the items started pre-2012 completed though. So that is good. Fingers crossed that the Kimono Wrap will finally get done in 2013. 

5. 12 Favourites

I started listing these, then twigged that pretty much everything I’d knitted this year had been on my favourites list at some point. I think I can safely say I met this target. 

6. 12 Scarves, Cowls, Shawls

  1. Sharktooth
  2. Arroway
  3. Oeste
  4. Vulpix
  5. Cumulonimbus
  6. Rockefeller
  7. Spectra
  8. Flightless 1.0
  9. Hemlock Ring
  10. Slip Stitch Cowl
  11. Shipwreck Shawl – Still ongoing

Two observations. 1. I knit fewer of these items than expected, and 2. I seem to have an obsession with Stephen West patterns. 

7. 12 Hexipuffs per month (12 months of 12 hexipuffs)

  • 230 Hexipuffs knitted between December 2011 and February 2012

As I suspected, I knew I’d go overboard with one of the categories. I just didn’t anticipate that it would be this one. Aim was for 144 hexipuffs over the year. I managed 230 in 3 months. Oops. 

8. 12 New Techniques

  1. Magic Loop
  2. Afterthought Heel
  3. I-Cord Bind Off
  4. Two at a Time Socks – Top Down
  5. Two at a Time Socks – Toe Up
  6. Steeking
  7. Steek Sandwich
  8. Cables without a Cable Needle
  9. Spinning with a Drop Spindle
  10. Spinning with a Wheel
  11. Kitchener Stitch / Grafting
  12. Crochet
  13. Tunisian Crochet
  14. Pattern Designing

Lots of new things! 

9. 12 Seasonal Decorations

  1. 26 Korknisse
  2. 3 Baubles
  3. 1 Festive Wreath

Total = 30 Decorations

All Christmas decorations, but to be honest that is the only time of year I have decorations up so that works. 

10. 12 Wildcards

  1. Sheepheid
  2. Mucklemuff
  3. Honeycomb Quilt
  4. Kentigern Blanket
  5. Phone Case
  6. Ripley
  7. Snapdragon Tam
  8. Encircle
  9. Bath Scrubbie
  10. Waffle Knit Scrubbie
  11. Boxy Scrubbie #2
  12. Boxy Scrubbie #3
  13. Snawheid

Unsurprisingly, I went over in this category. But I always was easily sidetracked. 

11. 12,000 Yards Knitted

Based on the project pages on Ravelry with yardage totals, I easily cleared the 16,500 yard mark. But this does not take into account all those projects which used scrap or non-stashed yarn – like the decorations or the Honeycomb Quilt. I think the quilt alone would take the total over the 20k mark. 

12. 12 Months Keeping my Knitting Stuff Organised

Partially succeeded. Some months were messier than others. But I have no excuses(!) now that the office is organised better and I have space for things. I’ll spend some time this month getting everything sorted after the chaos I’ve created over the Christmas break. I appeared to have established a knitting nest (or fort – depending on your viewpoint) of papers, books, laptop, coffee cups, tissues, blankets, and knitting and spinning supplies at one end of the sofa. 

——————

Maybe I did better at this than I thought…

Resolutions 2013

I’m not one for making resolutions, or to be more honest I like the idea of them, just not the actual practice of carrying them out. Last January I posted on one of the stash down forums on Ravelry which was discussing the idea of 12 12’s in 2012.

These were the aims:

  1. 12 Sweaters, Cardigans, Tops
  2. 12 Socks (6 pairs)
  3. 12 Mittens, Gloves (6 Pairs)
  4. 12 WIPs or Queue Items
  5. 12 Favourites
  6. 12 Scarves, Cowls, Shawls
  7. 12 Hexipuffs per month (12 x 12)
  8. 12 Techniques (New and Previously Used)
  9. 12 Seasonal Decorations
  10. 12 Wildcards
  11. 12,000 Yards Knitted
  12. 12 Months Keeping my Knitting Stuff Organised

I think I can safely say that all of these probably didn’t happen. I need to actually review what I knitted last year and match it up to the list – I’ll post on that later. But really – it won’t have happened. Some categories will be complete, others will be half done, some will not be done at all and others will probably have been forgotten. Although with my memory for these things, I may surprise myself.

So this year I’m considering things a little differently. Less limitations, more flexibility and no categories.

So for 2013:

  1. Plan ahead
  2. Knit from stash where possible – Although I’m allowing additional purchases if necessary to the project, or if something else specific shows up, i.e. where I see something I *have* to knit and just buy the yarn for that.
  3. Get the stash (yarn and fibre) down to a comfortable level – I have no idea what that level is, just that I’m not there at the moment.
  4. Try and knit from patterns already purchased (or free!) – My Ravelry library is extensive, and I’ve been lucky with the free pattern codes this holiday, I have no excuse.
  5. Spin more – Far easier now I have the wheel. 
  6. Knit with the handspun from resolution #5 – Should be made easier if I have an idea of what I’m knitting and what is needed – see #4.
  7. Try and design more patterns – I have many ideas, I just need to get on with it. 
  8. Try and actually publish my own patterns – see notes accompanying #7.
  9. Stay organised – in terms of stash, equipments, notes etc – Should be straightforward, my office is better organsing and I like sorting things. 
  10. Try and take better photographs – More on this later.
  11. Keep blogging – Speaks for itself really…

I think this should work; I’m already working on #1…

DSCN8244

Office Organisation – Day 1

Well there is definitely an improvement, and quite a bit of horror.

That is between 6-7 hours of work to get it to that state (and what you cannot see in this picture is the double bed full of stuff which still needs sorting). The real horror comes from the seven and half black bags of rubbish and recycling (and the dead printer) which had to be removed. Why on earth do I keep so much?

Taking the positive from this: I’m now seven and half bags of stuff lighter, the printer is relocated, the desk is organised, my sewing machine fits on my desk and the area under the bed which is usable* now has space to store my fibre and yarn stash.

So looking at the list I drew up yesterday…

  1. To have a desk I can actually use. Done 20/11. It will be revised a bit over the next week or so, but it is useable!
  2. To have all my stationery and knitting / sewing bits and pieces sortedIn progress 20/11.
  3. To have my sewing machine set up somewhere I can actually use it. Done!
  4. To have a comfy sitting area on the bed (I’m anticipating lots of sewn and knitted cushions – I just need to actually make them).
  5. All my books, both academic and knitting organised.
  6. To get all the duplicate papers and articles removed.
  7. To make sure everything I can digitize is digitized.
  8. To get all my yarn and fibre stash neatly stored in this room.
  9. To clear the debacle which is under the desk… and the bed… and the chair. Pretty much the entire floor area. The bed and desk are done 20/11!

Quite a few things can be crossed off, which makes me happy.

Tomorrow the yarn stash gets sorted, and I start tackling the debris on the bed.

*Rather than the vast majority of the space under the bed which is being used to store all those random and peculiar items deemed necessary and appropriate for a ‘furnished’ apartment to have, but which have no earthly use other than taking up space. 

Bracing Myself

Tomorrow, the plan is to start organising my office (a.k.a. the spare bedroom, store cupboard, general dumping ground… you get the picture). The whole room needs gutting. And there is much to throw out and recycle – things need to go. On one level I’m dreading it, but I cannot wait to get a room I can actually use properly.

Ideally I’d like…

  1. To have a desk I can actually use.
  2. To have all my stationery and knitting / sewing bits and pieces sorted.
  3. To have my sewing machine set up somewhere I can actually use it.
  4. To have a comfy sitting area on the bed (I’m anticipating lots of sewn and knitted cushions – I just need to actually make them).
  5. All my books, both academic and knitting organised.
  6. To get all the duplicate papers and articles removed.
  7. To make sure everything I can digitize is digitized.
  8. To get all my yarn and fibre stash neatly stored in this room.
  9. To clear the debacle which is under the desk… and the bed… and the chair. Pretty much the entire floor area.

That is it for starters… so just a little work to do.