A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

FO Friday: Galaxy shawl

I finished knitting the modified spindrift shawl I’m making for my aunt with the yarn I picked up at Countess Ablaze when I was in Manchester last year. I decided to omit the eyelet rows because I didn’t want the shawl to look busy. I think the yarn speaks for itself. However, it did mean that knitting it was unbelievably boring. I just don’t like knitting stocking stitch flat, but I do really like the way that it looks.

I took these pictures when I was at Hampton Court Palace for my embroidery workshop.

I ended up doing quite a few rows of garter stitch for the border since I had quite a bit of yarn left. I didn’t want to risk running out of yarn but I needn’t have worried. I actually finished the knitting and cut the yarn in Finland, before realising that I didn’t have a darning needle with me for the sewn bind-off.

I have no recollection of how I did it the last time. I’m fairly sure I used this technique on my Bad Day shawl, since I got the idea from looking back at the boneyard shawl pattern. I used this technique. It took HOURS.

Anyway, I hope that my aunt will appreciate this gift and get a lot of use out of it.

Pattern: Spindrift shawl (modified)

Yarn: Viscount of Spark by Countess Ablaze in Bienvenue

Ravelry project page

Cost: £20

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Less trash Tuesday: Eleventh OddBox

Last week, I returned from Lapland to my latest OddBox delivery.

I must say that I was baffled by the item in the bottom left corner. I thought it was a beetroot but there was no indication on the website or letter that we would get beetroot this week. I then thought it might be a really big potato. It smelled like a potato.

It was indeed a yellow beetroot, though I wasn’t entirely certain until I had cooked and tasted it 🙈

I stir-fried the cavolo nero and purple broccoli.

I followed the recipe that came in the box for a roasted carrot and lentil salad. I don’t really like roasted carrot (I prefer sweet potato) but I liked the lentils and dressing, and it was pretty filling.

I also followed the vegetable soup recipe from the box. The soup is serviceable but it looks repulsive.

I also managed to have zero waste vegan quidditch tournament! When I realised that the only available food would be from a burger van, I took some time to food prep. I had shopped in the Source and Lemons & Limes, a lovely greengrocer in Chiswick. I made the satay noodle dish I’ve done a few times before.

I packed two servings and warmed them up each morning before transferring to my vacuum flask.

Since I was volunteering, I got a £5 food voucher. I got some (black) coffee in my keep cup and the lid of my food container saved a couple of polystyrene trays from landfill. Its so nice to be able to eat hot food when you’re standing around outside in Manchester all day.

The team I was coaching came third and my club’s second team (London Unstoppables) took silver, so all in all a successful weekend.

RSN metalwork song thrush workshop

Last weekend was really a tale of two embroidery workshops. After spending a happy Friday evening stitching a vagina at the Tate Modern, I got up bright and early on Saturday to travel to the Royal School of Needlework at Hampton Court Palace.

When I was really unhappy in my job over the summer, I started thinking about alternative things to do with my life. One option I considered was a degree in needlework. I had really enjoyed playing around with beading when I tried to stem the flow of damage to my beautiful vintage jacket. I thought it might be a good idea to try out a workshop before taking things any further.

The price of the workshop (£125 I think) included the kit. The kits were on sale in the shop downstairs for £45. It includes most things you will need to make the song thrush, though not a large embroidery hoop. I picked one up from the RSN shop because I only have a little hoop at home and it’s not very good.

The first step was to create the beak using satin stitch. We then tacked a piece of felt padding to the linen.

We next learnt how to use soft thread to create an additional level of padding. This helps to make the final item more 3D.

We learnt three gold work techniques; couching, pearl purl and cut work. You can see a little bit of all three in the photo below. The head is couched in gilt thread, the wings are outlined in gold pearl purl and the brown bits on the wings are the cut work.

This is what I had achieved after the five hours of the workshop. I’m not sure when I’ll have some time to return to it, but it’s a project that I definitely want to finish.

I really enjoyed doing this workshop. I found the process really absorbing and meditative. Of course, I had my usual feelings of competition with my classmates. I’d been a little anxious when we were waiting to be picked up and I noticed that there was only one other person under the age of 60. The other women had probably been embroidering longer than I had been alive! Fortunately, the techniques for gold work are actually fairly straightforward providing you have decent fine motor skills and patience.

Funnily enough, I spotted some brooches in Liberty a few weeks ago that really caught my eye.

The company is called Macon & Lesquoy if you want to check them out. Their pieces are really stunning and contemporary. When I saw that the labels indicated the patches were handmade, I couldn’t work out how such tiny beading could be done. I realise now that a lot of the design is metalwork. I feel really inspired by learning this technique and I have some designs in mind that I would love to be able to create one day.

WiP Wednesday: Speckled gloves

I am coming to the end of knitting my galaxy shawl, for which I am grateful. The endless stocking stitch has been deeply uninspiring to work on. I had a holiday coming up and felt that I might be able to finish the shawl on one of the plane journeys. My mind turned to new projects.

Since I was going back to Finland, it seemed appropriate to use the yarn I bought when I visited in the summer. The beautiful ice blue also seemed appropriate to the freezing weather conditions.

I had planned all along for this skein to become a third pair of convertible fingerless gloves/mittens (striped pair, rainbow pair). These are intended to go with the Kelly anorak I am working on.

I found an hour to wind the skein before my trip and packed my 2.5mm DPNs and a spare for any casting on/off that might be required.

I am trying to recreate the most recent (rainbow) pair of these mitts that I made. Unfortunately, I don’t seem to have taken any notes beyond mentioning that I improvised a size in between medium and large. I wonder if I maybe took notes in Adobe reader (as you would take notes on a physical copy of a pattern) and they have been lost. I am trying to recreate the same process I followed.

I used a 3.25mm needle for the tubular cast on. It looks a little bit loose so I will try to dig out a 3mm or even 2.75mm DPN for the second glove. It’s not bad enough that it’s worth redoing.

At the moment, I am working on the fingers of the first glove. Things are going well so far. I’m enjoying working on something smaller, and with more thought required than my last project.

Pattern: Modified version of Smartphone Friendly Mitts

Yarn: Hedgehog Fibres

Ravelry project page

Vagestic embroidery workshop

Last Friday was Lates night at the Tate Modern. I haven’t been to one of these events in a long time. They are normally good fun, but can get really busy since they are free.

We managed to get tickets to the keynote discussion featuring Susie Orbach. Hearing her speak really took me back to my days at the Tavistock studying psychoanalysis. I will definitely be looking out for her books in future.

The real clincher that got me to go along was a vagina embroidery workshop.

As Anna pointed out, this could definitely be used as a ‘tag yourself’ meme.

Once Paula and I braved the crowds to get hold of some embroidery hoops, we used stamps to put the designs on our fabric.

I kept it quite simple and did a chain stitch design. Here we are with the progress we had made after around an hour of work.

I decided to finish it up when I got home, since I had taken some extra thread with me.

There is another design (the same as my friend’s in the picture of us) in the shirting under the hoop. Maybe I will make it up one day, but to be honest I’m not entirely sure what I will do with one embroidered vagina, so I don’t think I need two yet.

I’m really glad I went out even though I wasn’t feeling too well on Friday. I’ve been feeling for a while that I would like to get more into embroidery, so this was a great way to dip my toe in the water.

Mod Monday: Shortening my League

I get quite a lot of wear out of my League sweater. I like to throw it on with jeans for work when I’m doing paperwork in the office. It’s great to wear under my raincoat in winter (and autumn and spring, let’s be real). The wool means that it’s nice and warm on chilly days, but I don’t overheat too much on the tube because it’s breathable.

However, I’ve never been thrilled with the fit. The length and shape of the sweater can make me look a bit boxy. I realised (18 months after finishing it) that I might be able to improve the fit by simply shortening the sweater- it’s kind of A-line and the pattern encourages blocking the hell out of the bottom ribbing so that it doesn’t cinch in.

The ribbing measures 4.5cm and I planned to shorten by 10cm, starting the new ribbing around 20cm below point of white.

I already wrote a post about my work on this sweater. I got held up for a while because I was worried I had made the front too short. I left it on the naughty step for a few months while I worked on my She Loves Wool sweater.

Method 1

Unpick one side seam below the waist

Pick up all stitches on a needle at the level you want the ribbing to start. Use separate needles for the front and back

Unpick the other side seam

Cut off the bottom part of the sweater

You might want to do this step for the front and the back at the same time so that you can skein, wash and ball both sections of yarn at the same time (I didn’t do this).

Unravel

If your harvested yarn is very kinky, you may want to skein, wash and hang it up to make your knitting more even. See this blog post for more details about this step.

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Attach the yarn you harvested and knit the ribbing

Remember to count your stitches! Many patterns have some decreases after the ribbing so be sure your numbers match those in the pattern before you start knitting.

Checking the length for a final time

Tubular cast off

After trying my sweater on once I’d shortened the front, I realised I wanted a split hem and to have the back a little longer. I had forgotten how fine the yarn and needles were for this project and the front running had taken a long time. So I used a different method for the back.

Method 2

Insert a long needle a couple of inches above the ribbing. Cut the sweater below the needle. Unravel down towards the ribbing until the sweater is your desired length. Pick up the stitches on another long needle.

Count the stitches on each needle and ensure you have exactly the same number. Adjust if needed.

Attach the two sections using Kitchener stitch.

Block

I blocked at this stage because the grafting was a little uneven.

Re-do the side seams

Block, if desired

Overall I am happier with my sweater now than I was before. However, I am a bit worried that the front is too short and the back is too long. I will wear a few more times before making my final decision, but this may not be my final post about altering this sweater.

Less trash Tuesday: Tenth OddBox

My most recent Oddbox arrived during the busy final week of Veganuary.

I made some sticky sesame cauliflower. Since I didn’t have any sesame seeds, I added in some cashews. It was pretty nice- possibly some of the enjoyment was lowered because I didn’t reduce the sauce enough. I’m not sure if I would make this again because it really was not filling. I still struggle to remember that just because something looks like a decent amount of food, vegetables simply do not fill me up.

I haven’t eaten a turnip (to my knowledge) in years so I decided to roast it. The roasted turnip was okay. I wasn’t sure if I like turnip but I think that it’s swede that I really hate. I don’t tend to like bitter vegetables. The leftover roast swede was slimy and inedible so I stuck that in with the remaining cauliflower when I made some meatless balls. I’ve made this recipe before. It’s quite easy, filling and a good way to get rid of cauliflower.

The kale, cucumber and fruit went into either smoothies or lassis. I decided to go with a lassi as a non-vegan treat but I made the regrettable decision to try kefir rather than using Greek yoghurt. I will certainly not be doing that again. I juiced the carrots as I did with the beets last week. I am going to stop juicing until I have found a responsible way of disposing of my food waste. Even though I am ‘using’ the veg, in reality most of it is going in the bin.

Overall not the most interesting week but things have been so busy and hectic that I’m just pleased to have managed not to waste much food.

Weekly tilt

I stayed in a hotel at the weekend and remembered anew that sachets of instant coffee and individually wrapped tea bags are the status quo at most chains. I need to start travelling with my own sustainable solution. At home, I have vegan flat whites made from package-free beans and oat milk (tetra pak but not much alternative at present).

Weekly triumph

I have managed to convince my aunt to stop wrapping presents for me in foil gift wrap (it’s my birthday on Thursday). Even though there is still tape, at least I know that it’s reused paper rather than virgin material.