Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Just One WIP

I am usually a polywipamous crafter with loads of things on the go. Not this week. With a lot to get done before a trip away, and the children off school (including the '3rd child' also known as my mother) I've been focusing on just one wip - Whippoorwill. I really hope to get this finished by the weekend so that I can move on to some of the new projects I have planned, so despite needing to carry it in a huge bag, it's been my 'take-along' project this week.

This work-in-progress shot, hopefully the last, was taken at the gym while waiting for the kids to finish one of their activities today - seriously, half of West Sussex must have seen this thing in the last few days in various places - it's quite hard to miss. 
WIP: Whippoorwill

There are just a few rows to go. It's a shame they are around 500 sts each - and also a shame that I knit a few too many rows* while chatting at the farm park this morning, or it would almost be time to cast off.

There has been reading too, quite a bit actually - I finished a book, but I'm going to save that for another post. There's no time now... there are rows to knit (and clothes to iron and pack, but I'm trying to forget about those.)

*In case you are wondering, the extra rows are staying.
Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Spinning Show & Tell: Lazy Kate Version Two

I just love gathering ideas from here, there and everywhere and then putting them together into something else. I've already shown you my 'toilet roll Lazy Kate', and that worked fine with some limitations (mentioned in the original post), but the combination of that with the drinking straws I showed you in another post (which came from Must Stash) has resulted in an even better DIY Lazy Kate, which is now ready to ply Hannah's alpaca/BFL from last week.

Spinning Show & Tell: DIY Lazy Kate v2 - new and improved.

To make your own, you will need:
  • A spindle with a thin shaft
  • Long knitting needles - mine are 35mm needles which came from Red Heart yarns
  • A basket with holes in, which will accommodate the needles
  • Drinking straws which fit over the shaft of your spindle (for at least a few cms)
When the singles are spun, simply pop the straw over the end of the spindle shaft and then gently wiggle the straw up and underneath the cop. If the shaft is tapered and the straw doesn't fit the entire length of the shaft, you can wiggle the cop down over the straw instead (I've done both, and it's easier the first way but not difficult either way). Repeat with the second 'half'* of the fibre.

With both sets of singles on the straws, insert a knitting needle through the hole in the basket, then through the straw and then through the other side of the basket. Repeat with the other needle/straw. Ta-dah, you're ready to ply! 

Unfortunately the mini-skein of yarn I plied on it isn't dry or photographed yet (the summer weather has gone!) so I'll save that for another day.  These singles have been resting since I spun them on Sunday and are now ready to be plied - I can't wait. I'll be away next Tuesday but there will be a guest spinning post along with the usual linky, so keep your eyes peeled and happy spinning!
*I forgot to weigh my fibre and had to guesstimate, hence they are not equal halves!
Monday, 29 July 2013

Year of Projects: Fuzzy

Year of Projects: handspun hexipuffs
The much anticipated Saturday "crafternoon" didn't go quite to plan when emails, Netflix and various lists for our holiday had me sidetracked, but I did manage some handspun hexipuffs, a couple of rows on Whippoorwill (which is less than a dozen rows from completion) and a little project which used up a small quantity of my early handspun yarn as well as an old Pesto jar. It was knit on 3.5mm and 4mm needles in the round. (Cast on with 30 sts and the smallest needles, increasing to 32 sts and the 4mm needles at the wider point of the jar.) It should probably have a third row of yarn overs, but I like it anyway and... ALL of these things counts towards my Year of Projects!

If you want to join with in the 3rd YoP, the information and links can be found here and it runs until June 30th 2014 so you have LOADS of time to catch up! 

Friday, 26 July 2013

FO Friday: Kids' stuff

The children have been busy, so it's time to showcase some of their finished objects. For the end of term they both made polymer clay necklaces for their teachers. The beads were simple balls, some plain and some marbled as well as Little Miss wanting to make some with "flowers" in - sadly these didn't quite turn out like the beads we had pinned on Pinterest, but considering she's 4 I think she did a great job, with minimal input from me. (I made the holes and put them in and out of the oven, but the kids did the rest.) Two of My Boy's teachers were wearing theirs when I collected him on the last day of term, so he was very happy! 
FO Friday - kids' stuff!
The other FO is this lovely papier maché stag head from Homecrafts. More help was needed with this, especially for the antlers which were fiddly for small hands but Little Miss had a great time ripping up the paper and sticking it on with PVA glue.  I'm not sure where (or how) it will be mounted, but fancy it as an addition to the Cwtch - it may not have been entirely co-incidental that she had paper in the right colours *wink*. 

I have loads of things in the works and almost a whole day of crafting (on my own!) planned for tomorrow. I'll show you more next week. Have a lovely weekend and remember to check out the other FOs at Tami's
Thursday, 25 July 2013

Pick A Boo! Week 4: Onto the lace (at last)

Pick A Boo! Week 4
It's taken me so long to get this post up, there isn't much light left for photos but I am delighted to be on the lace section (at last!). It's a shame it took me until the school holidays to get there on a knit that should have been finished in a few days (see yesterday's post for more on that!) but thankfully the lace is straightforward so it won't be long until I can cast on another!

There are so many gorgeous shawls (some finished, some in progress) on the Ravelry group, you may like to pop over to visit if you haven't already. Lots of people are onto their second shawl already, but there's another month if you would still like to join in, and for those who are already blogging along, here's the linky. Come back tomorrow for some FOs! 

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Strategies for Summer Knitting


If you don't have (or have never had) children, you may wonder why the "strategies" of the title are required. Let me explain. Six weeks of keeping two kids (who don't always often get along) entertained and adequately safe/hydrated/fed, not to mention HAPPY can be quite a challenge. If you happen to be a person whose default setting is "tightly wound" (as mine is) then it is vital to seize every opportunity to do the things that help achieve a state of calm and balance at such times - it makes it all much more enjoyable for everyone involved. In my case, this means fitting in some knitting or spinning wherever possible - we have lots of activities and trips planned and I have a feeling I may need it!

Here are some of the strategies I will be employing this summer:
  • Having several projects on the go at any time, including at least one which is "TV" knitting - by which I mean it takes no concentration at all - makes it possible to knit in the midst of chaos and make minimal mistakes, regardless of interruption. Suitable projects include anything plain which is knit in the round, simple socks (in colourful yarns), armwarmers/legwarmers, simple hats and cowls, many of the patterns by Martina Behm (especially Nuvem - huge, all stocking stitch, knit in the round with only a few increases every second row).
  • Complicated projects (fancy lacework, thin slippery yarn on big slippery needles etc) will be kept to the period officially known as "after bedtime". I have learned the hard way that failure to do so may  result in 'froject' status. Particular caution should be exercised on the occasions where "after bedtime" is interchangeable with "wine o'clock" - rendering this particular strategy null and void.  
  • Having a simple project / drop spindle and fibre in my handbag at ALL times. You never know when you'll get time to craft, especially if like me, you have slightly older children who are able to play independently with minimum supervision as long as they are within sight, or if you have a baby/toddler who may fall asleep while out and about. I wasn't a scout but I still like to be prepared. 
  • Should a 'simple' project get to a more complicated point (eg shaping, heel turns, anything involving maths), I plan to put it aside until "after bedtime" and work on something else - if necessary, I might cast on a few different pairs of socks to ensure they are at different stages and something is suitable for pick-up-put-down-knitting at all times. 
  • Two of my current WIPs are at the stage where there are some rows with lots of pattern repeats and I'm taking no chances. Dragonfly Wings for example, which is a simple enough lace pattern, now has a stitch marker at the start/end of each repeat - just in case. It's not something that I'd normally do, but in times like these I'm not taking any chances. Whippoorwill needed a 'pattern row' yesterday so I left it until bedtime and now I have several rows of plain sailing before any concentration is required. 
  • If all else fails, a spindle will be my salvation - total portability and there are no rows to finish.  I can spin while waiting for the kettle to boil or the oven to warm up.  I can spin at the park and on picnics, It's almost the ultimate summer holiday project.... if it weren't for sweaty hands and the possibility of felting. 
What will you be working on over the summer? Do you have any strategies of your own?
Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Spinning Show & Tell: From animal to spindle

This week I've done a little spinning from one of the gorgeous batts I showed you last week. This one is 50% BFL which my friend Hannah dyed herself, and 50% Alpaca which is from Oscar, one of the animals owned by Hannah's mum. There's something lovely about knowing a little about the background of your fibre, don't you think?*
Spinning Show & Tell
It's spinning up really nicely on the Dawning Dreams spindle which is a pleasure to use. I've tried rolling the spindle on my leg this week - I usually flick it. Rolling it is fine but it feels less controlled and as it's going faster, doesn't feel quite as relaxing so it'll probably stay an ocasional thing. Are you a roller or a flicker?

Hopefully this batt be finished and plied before next week and a few other things are also in production:
  • Last Wednesday I showed a drinking straw holding some singles, waiting for the rest to be spun. A couple of my spindles have shafts which are thin enough to slide a straw onto - a trick I picked up from the Must Stash girls. Then it's just a case of carefully sliding the cop onto the straw. Using my "DIY Lazy Kate" I can slip the knitting needles into the straw and hey presto, it's ready to ply. 
  • The remainder of my year-old 'starter set' fibre has finally been spun, plied and is waiting to be washed and mini-skeined. I'll save that for next week. 
As usual, there is a Mister Linky below for you to add your spinning/fibre posts. I'm really enjoying the blogs that have been participating so far, and hope that more people will join us over time. Please help to spread the word by linking your readers back to the other posts.

*If you want to try some of the raw fleece, or handcarded batts from these cuties, you can email Hannah for details as she is currently taking custom orders.
Monday, 22 July 2013

The things that did & didn't happen

My Boy's birthday weekend.
My Boy's birthday weekend.
Things that happened this weekend: 
  • My Boy turned seven on Friday!!!!!!!
  • In all the excitement, and heat (it's officially a "heatwave" here) he was unwell after school and went to bed without so much as a slice of birthday cake.
  • On Saturday, he recovered in time for the "Birthday Picnic" we'd planned, followed by swimming in a lake (with my sister).
  • Little Miss fell and cut her knee, scuppering her plans to join them. 
  • On Sunday we had another fun-filled fresh-air day which included a visit to Fishers Farm, a swingball tournament (of sorts - we were all terrible!), water play, and lots of laughter. 
  • Little Miss got to wear the Clothkits hat I made two years ago - it finally fits her - she also loved having a captive audience (of parents, aunties and Nan) for her shenanigans. 
  • She finished off the day by being very sick.  
My Boy's birthday weekend.
Things that didn't happen:
  • The deer isn't finished. I'd planned to get it done on Friday and post my FO pictures along with the teacher gift that Little Miss made. Neither happened when the lad was unwell.   
  • I'd just changed needles to start the lace section of Dragonfly Wings (for the Pick A Boo! Kal) when Little Miss called out to me from her bed. It's starting to feel like this "quick knit" is doomed - a fortnight of RSI and then a sick child - it should only have taken a few days.  
  • When I eventually wrote this post, I didn't get to show you the best pictures which involve a complete lack of (the children's) clothing, a hose/garden sprinkler, and lots of running around but it's safe to say the boy had an absolutely smashing birthday weekend. 
  • There hasn't been a hosepipe-ban. Yet. It's just a shame we're on a water meter.
My Boy's birthday weekend.
Thursday, 18 July 2013

Pick A Boo! Week 3

My complete lack of knitting on this project in the last week hasn't once stopped me from considering casting on another shawl. This Fyberspates silk laceweight is so pretty and I'm wondering which Boo Knits pattern might suit it. Which Boo Knits pattern would you cast on with it? 
Pick A Boo! KAL week 3
So that's my Dragonfly Wings so far - I thought I'd show you the way that the simple bar increases look in the middle section - I hope they will look pretty and completely intentional (they weren't, in my haste, there was a lack of attention) when it's finished and blocked. 

In advance of tomorrow's birthday, my to-do list is as long as my arm, so I won't tell you about the many beautiful shawls already on Instagram and the Ravelry Group, or about the second shawls many people are casting on for the knitalong. Instead I'll invite you to visit the group and any links that appear in the box below. If you haven't cast on yet, there is plenty of time as the knitalong continues until the end of August. You can find all the details here. Hopefully I'll have some more progress to show you next Thursday!
Wednesday, 17 July 2013

A rainbow, some antlers, a drinking straw and the humans

Yes, the title is a little unusual for a WIPs & Books update, but you will see that it's perfectly apt considering the things I've been working on this week ...
Whippoorwill (Kauni EQ Rainbow), spinning & a decoupage deer head
Whippoorwill - it's no longer a "froject" and now has two eyelet rows and some wavy bits - hooray! I love this yarn and the simple-yet-effective pattern so much and my level of motivation is very high, which is a shame, as I have had very little time to knit it and each row takes a while now that there are almost 500 stitches. Luckily it's far too warm to wear it - it's too warm to KNIT it, really - so having patience is far easier than it might otherwise be. 

Little Miss and I have almost finished decoupaging a papier maché deer head from Homecrafts (you may remember we did a couple of little reindeer at Christmas, although I can't find an FO anywhere!)  I'll be sure to show it to you on Friday... if I can decide where to put it! 

Each Tuesday I host Spinning Show & Tell (my own updates and a link to add your spinning posts) and so it doesn't often get mentioned on Wednesdays but also pictured are the singles I spun last night, safely stored on a drinking straw ready to ply in a few days.

Tonight is our monthly book club and I'll get to discover what everyone thought of The Humans by Matt Haig. This book was first recommended by my friend Karen, who wrote a very poignant review on her blog. I really loved it too, and despite sounding quite ridiculous (an alien being is sent to kill a Cambridge mathematician who has solved an 'unsolvable' equation which will cause a leap in human development they are not ready for) found it to be very thought-provoking, touching and quite unputdownable.  This is a typical example of the alien viewpoint, after being arrested for nakedness:
Humans, as a rule, don't like mad people unless they are good at painting, and only then once they are dead. But the definition of mad, on Earth, seems to be very unclear and inconsistent. What is perfectly sane in one ear turns out to be insane in another. The earliest humans walked around naked with no problem. Certain humans, in humid rain forests, mainly, still do so. So, we must conclude that madness is sometimes a question of time, and sometimes a question of postcode.  
I have added so many highlights to this book, I'll be coming back to re-read the snippets that particularly appealed for a long time yet.  I have more books to tell you about but will leave those for another day. Tomorrow it's the Pick A Boo! Knitalong, and in the meantime you can visit Tami and Ginny for more WIPs and books. 
Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Spinning Show & Tell: Not much to show!

After last week's post, I took almost a whole week off from spinning (and knitting) so there's not much to show you today, other than some lovely things which I am trying out this week. The first is a beautiful drop spindle from Dawning Dreams. I have had a little play with it so far and it's beautiful - it weighs 25g and has a lovely feeling to it, not to mention being very pretty! 

Secondly a super-soft parcel of alpaca batts arrived from Hannah of 'the hen house' - you may remember Hannah from this post. She is one of the people who inspired me to start knitting and spinning (her handspun Pogona is one of my most coveted knits) and is now producing fibre (and selling raw fleece) from her mum's alpacas, so I can't wait to give these a try. Hannah is currently working on custom orders, so her shop isn't stocked, but you can contact her for more information or if you would like some fibre to be custom dyed.  

Well that's it from me - short and sweet this week, but here's the linky to other spinning posts, and I'll be back with some knitting and a few different books tomorrow. 

Monday, 15 July 2013

Motherhood: On growing up

Yesterday My Boy and a small group of his closest friends had an early birthday celebration - Go-Karting. They had a lot of fun, trying to avoid stuffed animals in a game called "road kill" (perfectly targeted to 7 year old boys!) and playing "cops and robbers" in flashing helmets/masks. The finale was a grand prix, which he (naturally!) won to much cheering from the others.

Friday will not only be her brother's birthday, but also the last day of Little Miss' time at pre-school. She has been busy making a thank you gift for her 'teacher' today - you can see it on Friday.

As for me, I'm still feeling uncertain about what the next few months (years?) will bring. I've said before that this feels like a time of real change. In the book Buddhism For Mothers Of School Children, Sarah Napthali describes it well:
Whether we feel like a traumatised empty-nester or a woman who finally has her life back, our sense of identity shifts: we do not feel like the same person we were a year ago.
In discussing this time Napthali goes on to say that... mothers of school-aged children we see ourselves going beyond what we ever thought we were capable of. We witness in ourselves extremes of anger that shock us, as much as we see more love in our hearts than we ever imagined would exist.
This is especially true of my relationship with My Boy at the moment. It wasn't long ago that he was a little baby, and now he is very nearly seven, has no front teeth and thinks the word "poo" is absolutely hilarious. Sometimes I am so overwhelmed with love I could squeeze him and never let go, and other times it feels I barely know him - he is so different to the infant we coo-ed over. He looks very much the same, but sometimes he doesn't feel like "my little boy" anymore at all... until he is asleep, when he immediately reverts to the gentle peaceful soul that I know.

Each new stage for my children brings with it fresh challenges for me as a mother, and I still maintain that attempting to make even a semi-decent job of it is the trickiest craft of all. What do you think? 
Thursday, 11 July 2013

Pick A Boo! It's week 2!

What a fabulous start to the knitalong - over 90 participants have already signed up and there are some beautiful FINISHED knits popping up on our Ravelry group and lots of WIPs being tagged (#PickabooKAL) on Instagram - do you fancy a peek?

There is a tremendous amount of enthusiasm for these beautiful patterns - so far the favourites seem to be Cloud Illusions, Out of Darkness and Dragonfly Wings. The range of different experience in the group - from new knitters to lace experts - mean there is always someone who is willing to help answer questions and queries, including Bev of Boo Knits who has been offering tips and advice via the Ravelry group.

Sadly, my own progress has been halted by the RSI pain I mentioned on Tuesday and I haven't been able to knit or spin this week but am hoping to crack on at the weekend. It's not a big problem as we are only a quarter of the way through the knitalong which means there is still plenty of time to cast on if you're thinking about it! Full details can be found here. Happy knitting, everyone!

If you're already 'in' and have been blogging about your progress, here's the linky. 
Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Spinning Show & Tell: Things I learned this week

Handspun yarn - Spinning Show & Tell
Since last week's post two skeins have been finished but apart from that it's been a week of slow progress and several lessons, some of which I am still figuring out...

Firstly, I learned that it's ALWAYS worth entering competitions. The very day I wrote that I wanted to learn about natural dyes, the perfect giveaway was announced on Knitsofacto and.... I WON!!!  The prize - Eco Colour: Botanical Dyes for Beautiful Textiles - arrived last week and looks to be packed with all the information I could possibly need. Of course, I haven't had time to read any of it.

Secondly, I realised that plying on a drop spindle one day, then spinning another 100g and plying it within 24 hours, may result in some sort of RSI to the dominant wrist. With that and the end-of-term busy-ness find myself way behind on my spinning and knitting plans for this week already.

Related to this second point, I also discovered that however relaxing and pleasant it is to spin on a drop spindle and however pretty the colours you're working with, plying is not as enjoyable. The pink yarn (BFL/alpaca) turned into a nightmare to ply. I'd spun it fairly thin to get a fingering weight yarn and a few times, under the weight of the half-full spindle, one of the singles snapped. Not really knowing what to do and with the whole thing wanting to twist up on itself, I tied a knot in it and carried on. If anyone would care to enlighten me on what I should have done (apart from spinning it more consistently in the first place), that would be most welcome. As a result of this I am really not looking forward to plying the very fine singles I showed you last week and have been procrastinating on that. I have noticed a few people plying on a wheel after taking the singles off the drop-spindle. I'm hoping that's not necessary as I don't want to buy a wheel right now. What do you all suggest?

It has also struck me that unless I start to knit some of this yarn soon (thanks to Chrissy for pointing out that knitting with it will probably help the learning process, in terms of finding out what works and doesn't) I am going to need a bigger basket to store it all in. With this in mind, I am considering the three yarns pictured for a stripy project - probably a scarf as they are all soft enough to be worn next to the skin.

The brightly coloured Devon Longwool yarn (shown in the main image above) will probably become something for the home, as it's very beautiful but not very soft and I can't imagine wearing it. Luckily the colours are perfect in the Cwtch so perhaps that can become something from The Knitted Home?

Before I go, here are a few related links I've enjoyed this week:
Thanks for everyone who has been linking up over the last few weeks. As usual, here is the linky - please feel free to add any recent spinning-related posts and to link back here.
Monday, 8 July 2013

Cwtch-speak lesson 4: Froject

Whippoorwill WIP - on my 3rd year of projects list!
fro-ject noun
A knitting or crochet project planned and designed to achieve an aim, but which either has to be completely undone / "frogged" (rip it, rip it), or which requires  stitches (or rows) to be removed before it is possible to continue.
A few rows. That's all I need to undo on this lovely project so I can get on with knitting it. I love the yarn, and the pattern. In fact, I knit too much because I was really enjoying it, so I don't understand why I have put off fixing it for MONTHS. Maybe it's because the error occurred on the low point of what Wink calls the Happiness Curve of this project? Does this ever happen to you? I'm sure I can't be the only one. Either way I need to get back to this 'froject' as it's been carried forward onto my 3rd Year of Projects list which should have been published yesterday. Andy Murray's Wimbledon final scuppered those plans and so here I am, a day late, to tell you about it.

In the first year, I had a simple list of projects to complete. In the second year a list of projects PLUS the overall aim of stashbusting. For this third year, which officially started on Monday 1st July, my aims have developed further and are now in four parts:
  1. Stash-busting. I don't have an extensive stash, but do want to focus on using it up, so this is top of the list. I have enough yarn for numerous pairs of socks, so you should expect lots of those! 
  2. Spinning. Having recently learned to spin, I would like to include a goal of spinning at least 12 skeins of yarn this year. So far I am making more than one a month but realise that this momentum is unlikely to last a year, so I hope this is a realistic goal. As with all the others, it will be reviewed at the six-month point. 
  3. Handspun projects. This is a combination of points 1 and 2 above. I don't want to end up with an ever-expanding stash and so want to make at least 12 distinct projects from my handspun yarn. 
  4. Specific projects. I haven't finalised this list yet as a few patterns need to be added before my next YoP post. So far, there are just a few items which are being carried forward: 
  • Whippoorwill (pictured) must be finished before Christmas.
  • Continue with the Beekeeper's Quilt which is unlikely to be finished this year, but should see significant progress. 
  • Socks for Little Miss (she is the only one who didn't get any yet). 
  • Complete a toy for each of my kids - I have one knitted but not sewn up already and need to knit the second. I plan to do this before Christmas. 
  • I'd also like to write my own sock pattern.
So there you have it. I will be working on other things which are not part of the YoP and for this reason will post monthly updates, unless there is something that can't wait that long. Each of these posts will be clearly marked with the following banner which also links to the Ravelry group when clicked. 
If you are interested in joining the Year of Projects, it's not too late - simply list your crafty intentions for the next 12 months and then blog along with your progress. Head on over to Ravelry for more information and the list of other participants. 
Thursday, 4 July 2013

Pick A Boo! - We're off!

The Pick A Boo! Kal started on Monday and over 70 people have already signed up/entered the giveaway. The winners will be announced tomorrow so if you haven't already entered and you're going to be knitting along this is the link you need. I cast on while waiting for the kids on Monday - this is my update:

It started so well. I had yarn waiting in the perfect colour, picked which of the Boo Knits patterns I wanted to make first (Dragonfly Wings), and cast on. When I got to row 50 and stopped to check the stitch count I spotted a slubby bit of yarn right in the middle of a row that I would NEVER have been happy with... and so.... about 10 rows needed to come out. It's not the end of the world - I'm no stranger to false starts, and I'd rather do this than end up with something I don't love. This picture isn't quite up to date but gives you an idea of the colour. 
Pick A Boo! KAL - Dragonfly Wings.
For this shawl I'm not adding beads. Partly because I don't have any and also because I don't think I'd wear a beaded shawl so much and this colour goes with much of my wardrobe and is likely to be well-used. I'm also doing a simple bar increase rather than a M1L/M1R. It wasn't a conscious decision, just something that happened (this was cast on while out and about so I wasn't really thinking much at all!) For the next one, I'll follow the pattern... probably.

Useful links:
If you're blogging about the knitalong and would like to use this graphic, please right click and save it to upload to your blog. You may also like to leave a link to your blog post below.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

WIPs & Books: What's purple and ruffled...?

Regular readers will know that I generally favour natural fibres and indie-dyed yarns, but there are a few occasions when I prefer acrylics:
  1. When knitting clothes for my kids. I learned this the hard way - after knitting a couple of gorgeous woolly things that snuck into the machine on a regular wash and ended up 1/3 of the original size! 
  2. For novelty items - not that I make very many novelties, but there have been a few crowns, bracelets and so on where sparkly acrylics are absolutely perfect
  3. When making gifts. I prefer to give gifts that do not require too much special care or blocking after each wash in order to look good. It's just not practical for non-knitters unless they have lots of time and millions of pins!
A few weeks ago I discovered Red Heart yarns were launching in the UK and Germany and was sent a generous sample pack of different acrylic yarns, and one cotton, to try. My first project from the sample, and the WIP I'm going to show you today falls into the third category above, as it's going to be gifted. 
It's not really my style but I know several people who have bought these scarves (two of them quite discerning non-knitters) who absolutely LOVE them and independently enthused to me about the level of intricacy etc. When my mum (a knitter) saw it this morning she almost ripped it out of my hands to try it on. I do hope the recipient feels the same way! 
Knitting with Red Heart Sashay yarn
The yarn is a kind of mesh ribbon - unravel it and use the 'rail' of hoops to knit with (click here to see a video).

The great thing about this scarf is that it's just 6 stitches and each row is knit - pretty much ANYONE could make one of these. Crocheting it is probably even easier and something I would look into if making another. Now you would think the tiny 6 stitch rows make it a quick knit, but using regular yarn I could probably knit 30 stitches in the time it takes me to knit these - even so I made 1/3 of a scarf in a few hours last night. My first Red Heart project gets the thumbs up so far, I'll let you know how the others get on. By the way, you can find lots of patterns and videos on their website, whichever yarns you are using.

I've also cast on Dragonfly Wings for the Pick A Boo! Knitalong. I'll be updating on that in a dedicated post tomorrow but if you haven't seen the Kal details or if you are going to be knitting along but haven't entered the giveaway, you'll find the details here. The draw will be made on Friday, so there's not long if you want to be in with a chance of winning the great prizes!

A quick book update today - I'm still reading Immortal by Dean Crawford and having finished listening to Inferno by Dan Brown (not so great, and I feel like I lived it in real time *yawn*) I've started listening to Behind The Scenes At The Museum by Kate Atkinson. If you followed my earlier recommendation and enjoyed Life After Life (I know many of you have), this may be another one to add to your list - so far it's very similar in writing style, has wonderful characters and is very interesting, this time following a character born in the early 50s but with lots of back story.

Several people have asked me about audio books - I use the Audible App (via my iPhone and iPad). It's free for 30 days - which includes one free audiobook and member prices on any others and you get to keep anything you download during the period. I did that and then signed up to a monthly subscription which is £3.99 for the first 3 months and £7.99 after that (cancel at any time) - it's working out great, as it takes me about a month to listen to each book.

Today's links are WIP Wednesday and Yarn Along. If you have spinning-related posts and would like to link them to Spinning Show & Tell, you will find this week's post here
Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Spinning Show & Tell: On the cheap

I used to have a reputation as one of those people who would start something new and have to acquire everything to do with that obsession hobby, before really knowing what I was doing. The common term is "all the gear, no idea". Part of my fascination with spinning is that it can be done with rudimentary tools - not significantly different to the tools that have been used for this craft for centuries. Incidentally, if  this sort of thing interests you and you didn't see the Kate Humble Wild Shepherdess programmes, you can catch them on BBC iPlayer in the UK and on YouTube elsewhere - well worth a watch.

So, until this week I have been managing with a couple of basic £5 spindles and just one nicer rainbow spindle. I already had a notepinne for winding yarn, and I've borrowed everything else from a friend but I don't have any bobbins to wind the singles on before plying, and no Lazy Kate to ply them from either. A little bit of improvisation was necessary to start plying this finer weight yarn and having seen these used elsewhere it seemed a great way to repurpose cardboard tubes:
Spinning needn't be expensive
Little Miss was concerned about the use of toilet rolls "toilets have germs, you know" and was relieved to know that the yarn will be washed once it's plied. With the singles on their new bobbins, I used some extra long knitting needles and a plastic basket to construct this which came from an idea in the Craftsy Spindling Class where a cardboard box is used... 
Spinning needn't be expensive
It's not perfect - the weightlessness of the cardboard bobbins means it unwinds quite quickly and caution is necessary to prevent the singles from plying with themselves (let's not talk about that, sore point) - but it's certainly workable before investing in the real thing.

In contrast to these basic tools, my  Trindle finally arrived this week. It has the MicroXL shaft made of carbon fiber and weighs almost nothing - I think the official weight is around 4g but I had to try it out before checking and now it is laden.
Being so light, it's possible to spin really fine singles - in fact I have to remind myself not to spin it too fine! It's photographed next to my very first handspun which shows the progress made with drafting over the two months of daily regular spinning practice. I suspect that it may have also improved the tone of my arms, but the jury is still out.

That's it from me today - here's the linky for anyone who would like to 'Show & Tell' your  recent spinning posts. I'm really enjoying visiting all your blogs, thank you for participating and please link back here so your readers can find the other posts too.

Monday, 1 July 2013

PS... the Pick A Boo! Prizes

Since launching the details of Pick A Boo! Kal on Saturday night, I am delighted to see that around 50 people have already signed up. I feel I should explain that it's not absolutely necessary to 'sign up' in order to knitalong but if you do, and if you do it before Friday, then you will be in with a chance to win one of these lovely prizes from the Kal sponsors Boo Knits, Tangled Yarn and Rosy Retro:

The Pick A Boo! Prizes

In fact, the first prize is not just one pattern - Bev is happy to include the collection that your chosen pattern comes from!  To sign up for the Kal and enter the prize draw come on over to the CftC Ravelry group where people are already introducing themselves and CASTING ON!!!!!!

The Knitalong runs throughout July and August so you have time to get your supplies or finish any other urgent WIPs and still join in. If you're tweeting or using Instagram, remember to tag your posts with #pickabooKAL so we can find them. Happy knitting, everyone! 
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DISCLAIMER: Crafts from the Cwtch is part of the Deramores, Craftsy, Etsy, Creativebug and Amazon Affiliate programmes and works with a few carefully selected sponsors. Where posts or projects are sponsored, the opinions will always be entirely my own. You can find out more about affiliate links and blog sponsorship here.

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