About that ‘yarn diet’

As you may have gathered, I am on a ‘yarn diet’. This means that over the next few months (at least until the end of the year) I am not going to buy any more yarn. This may sound like imposing unnecessary suffering on myself, but the intention is to encourage me to enjoy the beautiful yarn I already have rather than leaving it languishing in various drawers and cupboards, unappreciated. Many crafters have the habit of accumulating lots of materials (whatever their preference). I do this and, whilst it’s fun to have stuff available to use when inspired, it feels very wasteful to have loads of untouched yarn, plus it does take up a lot of space.

In general I buy yarn for particular projects, but sometimes I never get round to starting them, and by the time I am ready, I have had a change of heart (or even shape!) and so I need to find an alternative. I’m also a bit over-enthusiastic about sock yarn and have ended up with rather a lot of the stuff… more than I need for sock making. As I don’t want to build up an enormous collection of shawls, I have been wondering what else I might do with the sock yarn and inspiration arrived on Saturday. One of the organisers of the 60MT get-together was wearing a beautiful short-sleeved, asymmetrical top, clearly knitted in 4-ply. I asked her about the pattern and now I’ve bought a copy and will use some of my yarn to make Sugar Maple.

Despite the diet, some new yarn has come my way, but I did not buy it. At the event on Saturday, we had a ‘secret Santa’… everyone brought a ball of yarn wrapped up and they all went in a big box, before each person selected a different package to take away. So, I gave a ball of mottled sock yarn (which I entirely failed to photograph), but came home with two balls (yes, there were two balls in the parcel I picked) of Rowan Lima, an interesting aran yarn that looks like it has been crocheted into a chain already:

The two balls add up to the same weight as the donated ball (and, in fact, contain similar colours), so I have made no net gain, and, indeed, a loss, if I consider length of yarn rather than weight. I really am beginning to think like someone on a diet! Not sure what I’m going to use this yarn for – it’s very soft, so maybe a cowl.

As well as working on various existing projects, I’m also trying to restock my etsy shop a bit, as I’ve sold quite a few of the bird roosts. The train journeys over the weekend were split between sock-knitting and bird roost crochet, and I’ve now got several roosts ready to felt:

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three done, one in progress

So, the stash is slowly being used and I’m not feeling deprived because I can’t shop for yarn… it’s a good result so far.

Sock-hogs

I don’t knit socks to sell – they take so long to make that even asking a paltry per-hour rate would take them out of the reach of almost all potential customers. Although a pair of handmade socks will last for years and is much easier to repair successfully than a mass-produced pair, no one wants to pay the true value. This means that, in general, if you own a pair of socks that I made, it’s because I love you! The only way I will undertake a commission to make socks is if I can barter for them – although I still have to like you a lot to even agree to do this! There are , however, folks out there who have skills that I do not and so there is a possibility of an exchange.

And so it is with my latest creations. These socks are very special: not only are they going to be exchanged for some leather work (haven’t quite finalised what), but more than that, they are made in part with wool from a friend’s sheep at The Inkpot, which is…

home grown, home shorn, Yorkshire spun, permaculture designed, pasture fed, holistically managed, non chemical, rare breed, British native, slow grown wool

Because it’s pure wool, it’s not ideal for hard-wearing socks, so the heels toes and ribbing are knitted from ‘sock wool’, which contains some nylon so that it doesn’t wear out too quickly. Even that yarn, is British (from West Yorkshire Spinners).

The recipient of these socks also already owns the first two hedgehogs that I made (Shy and Spike)… so I decided to expand the family. Therefore, the parcel contains three additions… two made from the Inkpot wool and one from the sock yarn. Of course, the spikes are made using eyelash yarn and that, sadly, isn’t British, but these three were made from left-overs from previous hedgies.

What do you make for love?

Hanging up the stockings

Apparently this evening many of you will have hung up some knitted foot attire in the hope of it being filled with goodies.

Chez Snail, we hang out our socks on a regular basis, but only on the washing line and the only thing that ever fills them is feet (and I should note that the two things NEVER happen simultaneously).

socks

A fine display and not a mantelpiece in sight!

In fact 2015 has been a good year for socks… I’ve made a whole bunde of them over the year:

And those are just the ones I can find pictures of!

My endeavours have been slightly encouraged by joining a ‘sock yarn club’ about five months ago. I signed up for six months so that I would receive a skein of hand-dyed sock yarn every month for the duration. I’ve liked the colours, but I have been rather disappointed by the fact that three of the five lots of yarn received so far have not really been suitable for socks – being spun from soft yarn and not reinforced with some hard-wearing man-made fibre.  The yarn is perfectly lovely, but I feel a little let-down that it is sock-weight yarn (i.e. 4-ply) rather than what I consider ‘real sock yarn’.  I used one skein to make the lovely spatterdash wrist-warmers, but now have two beautifully soft fine yarns that I’m not sure what to do with. I’m really hoping that the last of the six is suitable for socks.

Anyway, not to be deterred, I have decided to subscribe to a different sock yarn club for 2016. In this case, the yarn type is the same each time and really is sock yarn. In fact, the yarn is posted out six times a year, so that’s a little less frantic. This club is perfect for me as 2016 is themed ‘Back to Discworld‘. It’s being offered by The Knitting Goddess, an indie dying company based in Harrogate (near where I grew up). There will be a different discworld-inspired colour scheme for each skein… now won’t that be great?

Anyway… whatever you are doing with your socks today (I’ll be knitting some morefor my mum), have a great time!

Snuggly socks

I am not a big buyer of souvenirs when we go on holiday, but Mr Snail has learned to accept that there may be the seeking out of wool. And thus it was in Norway (although since this was our second trip up the coast of that beautiful country I had already identified my target yarn shop). So, we returned home in May with little that we didn’t take with us in the first place, the exception being six balls of Norwegian sock yarn:

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Local wool, bought in Norway

Since my skill with the Norwegian language is non-existent, I was unable to follow the pattern that came with the yarn. However, I found an attractive pattern – Silver Star by Drops Design – and have spent a couple of weeks creating my first ever pair of socks involving colour-work:

I rather enjoyed making them and they are very cosy because of the double layer of yarn throughout, but the pattern was not the best-written and I’m certainly glad that I had experience of knitting lots of pairs of plain socks previously.

I have enough yarn left to make another pair, but I think that I will be seeking out a different pattern.

Have you tried anything new this week?

And the winner is…

Entries for the yarny give-away closed last night.

All the names were placed in a bowl:

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The bowl of opportunity (note the use of scrap paper)

And a winner was selected by our impartial judge:

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The judge

And here is the draw itself (be patient):

So, congratulations itwasjudith… we will be in touch very soon to get your address so that we can post your yarns to you.

Commiserations to all the rest of you. That was fun, so we might have another one in the new year… watch this space.

 

Last chance

Today is your last chance to enter our yarny give-away: an Arctic tale and some cosy sock wool. Perfect for winter entertainment… or just entertainment if you are south of the equator!

reading KB

A gripping yarn

Simply leave a comment on the give-away post for one chance to win. For a second chance, head over to Mr Snail’s blog and leave another comment on his give-away post. Entries must be received before midnight tonight, 6 December, UK time.

Good luck everyone… we will be making the draw tomorrow.

And if you don’t knit, you can nominate someone else to receive the yarn.

sock yarn

Lovely sock yarn, for you or a friend

Remember to enter our give-away

Just a note to remind you about our give-away for a chance to to win these two yarns

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Ripping yarn and knitting yarn

Whether you fancy a good read

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Kirkenes Blue (reader not included in the give-away)

Or creating a pair of socks

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This is what the yarn looks like when knitted into socks (socks not included in the give-away, they belong to my mum now!)

Our give-away is for you!

To enter, just leave a comment (not just a like) on the original give-away post HERE; and to double your chances of winning, leave another comment on the original give-away post on Mr Snail’s blog HERE. Actually, go visit Mr Snail’s blog anyway… he’s got a lovely new blue background and it’s snowing (he likes snow), plus his latest post has a very scary picture of a spider.

Entries for the give-away close at midnight on Sunday 6 December 2015, UK time… and you can enter no matter where you are in the world.

GOOD LUCK!

 

Will knit for wool

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about wanting to do more bartering, so I was delighted the other day to receive a message from a friend who is about to move house and is sorting out ‘stuff‘. He wanted to know if I would be interested in an exchange… he’d got some merino wool tops suitable for felting, did I want them and what would I offer in exchange? After a bit of discussion, we settled on a pair of hand-knitted socks. I sent him a photograph of my stash of sock wool:

My current sock yarn stash

My current sock yarn stash (smaller than it used to be!)

and he selected the colours he liked.

I still haven’t received his foot measurements yet, but that’s not a problem for the time being… I can do as far as just beyond the heel for both feet before I need to know. So at present on my needles are Eddie’s socks… I hope he likes them:

Work in progress on Eddie's sock (displayed with my happy snail yarn bowl)

Work in progress on Eddie’s sock (displayed with my happy snail yarn bowl)

Scrappy update

All laid out, in no particular order

All laid out, in no particular order

When you’ve finished a piece of knitting, there are always scraps or oddments of yarn left over. Currently, I’m using the left-overs from my sock knitting to make hexipuffs… tiny hexagonal padded pockets that will eventually become a ‘beekeepers quilt‘. I’d really like it to be big enough to cover our bed eventually, but I’m a long way off yet. To date, I have knitted 86 puffs, but they don’t even make a square metre of quilt. However, I still have lots of yarn oddments to work with and lots of sock yarn still to knit into socks. My intention is only to use left-overs and not to buy any new yarn for this project because I started it as a way to avoid waste. It’s also rather lovely to have a project like this, where it’s possible to complete a section in half an hour or so (with practice, I’ve got quicker at making them) and thus maintain a sense of achievement even when there’s still a long way to go.

planetcoops' leftovers shawl... I really want to make one!

planetcoops’ leftovers shawl

Despite my long-term goal, I have recently seen a another project for using sock yarn oddments that I would really like to undertake in the future, a ‘leftovers shawl‘ as made by planetcoops… perhaps I’ll get there in about four more years!

Of course, not all my oddments are 4-ply – the gauge I knit socks in – so I’m on the look out for other projects to use up double knitting  and chunky yarn. Amigurumi is great for this, especially since I’m currently experimenting with my own designs… eventually I will have a crochet version of the knitted snails that star at the top of this page.

So, what do you do with yarn oddments?

Oddments and leftovers

Cooey the pigeon

This year has been the year of socks and snails as far as knitting goes… there have been other things (slugs, worms, a butterfly, Cooey the pigeon and Nessie for example), but mainly socks and snails, The result being rather a lot of wool oddments. I had thought about knitting a pair of really random socks, combining all the different patterns of wool that I’ve worked with this year, but somehow that really didn’t appeal. Then the other day, whilst browsing the blogs I subscribe to, I came across reference to the ‘Beekeepers Quilt‘ on The Secret Life of Yarn. It’s just what I’ve been waiting for* – a way of stylishly using up all those bits of yarn that I can’t bear to throw out, but I haven’t been able to think what on earth to do with.

My first three hexipuffs

The quilt is constructed from ‘hexipuffs’ – tiny knitted hexagons, lightly stuffed. They are each only about 5cm, so take hardly any wool and you combine them into a crazy patchwork quilt so the more colours there are, the better. Until you stitch them together at the end, there is no sewing required, as they are knitted ‘in the round’ on double-pointed needles. I decided to learn a new technique for casting on (not necessary, but interesting) – the two-needle long-tail cast on. So far, I have knitted three… but I only started yesterday and I do also have a pair of socks I want to finish this weekend. Apparently, for a quilt measuring 3 feet my 4 feet (90cm by 120cm) I’m going to need nearly 400 hexipuffs, so don’t expect to see it finished soon! It’s going to be a WIP (work in progress) for a long time yet.

I am a great fan of using up leftovers, whether they be in the form of wool, fabric or food. The latter is easy, as we usually eat them up the next day – meat is turned into rissoles; sour milk is used to make waffles or scones (Mrs Beeton’s for preference); stale cake can become trifle; roast vegetables can go into soup… the options are endless. And, anyway, most things can be frozen in one form or another for even later use. Of course, it’s different with craft materials: since they don’t go off, I can save them indefinitely**. This is not good for a hoarder like me, as I’m happy to allow things to accumulate because I know that they might come in useful later. I am trying to rectify this at the moment and make some more space by selling some things on ebay. I find it much easier to send things to a good home than to throw them out, but I fear that no one but me is going to be interested in my (not for sale) selection of used wrapping paper, felt off-cuts, bits of wool and packaging material. Still, at least the latter will be useful when I find buyers for the other stuff that’s on the market…

-oOo-

* And for real obsessives, like me, there’s a whole thread on Ravelry dedicated to this one pattern!

** Not entirely true  I just found a ball of wool in the loft that had been consumed by clothes moths… the little blighters!

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