Since starting my period of isolation, I’ve been keen to work on a project to mark this bizarre time. I was thinking of a blanket. I considered making Birlinn by Kate Davies but she no longer produces Buachaille. I thought about substituting Titus by Baa Ram Ewe as an alternative but again was stymied by stock availability. This was a common theme in the projects I wanted to make, which I’ve written about in a previous post.
I’ve followed Mothy and the Squid on Instagram for a while. I love the fact that she’s super into fitness and a feminist, as well as dyeing beautiful yarns. When she posted about the Somewhere socks made using her mini-skeins, I immediately bought the pattern and then the yarn.
This pattern is absolutely addictive. Such was the instantaneousness of my decision to make it, I didn’t even bother reading the pattern. So it came as something of a surprise when I discovered that it’s not made using fair isle, but a slip-stitch pattern.
I’ve been using a tip given to me by Kate Davies and knitting with the floats on the outside to help with my tension. It feels like it’s helping, though from this picture I’m not sure how much of a difference it’s making- I knit the leg portion of the first sock with the floats on the inside.
The pattern means that the sock is less stretchy than a standard hand knitted sock. I think the fit is perfect, but I do have to ease the socks very carefully over my heels to get them on.
For reference, my lower calf circumference is around 9.5” whereas my ankle and foot is around 8. I decided to go for the Medium size. I haven’t bothered to measure my gauge.
My aunt has already asked for her own pair. I’m sure I’ll be happy to make this pattern again. However, my aunt puts her socks in the washing machine and I’m not sure I’m willing to have her do that with £50 yarn. I’ll see what’s in my stash that might be suitable.
Yarn: Mothy and the Squid bright rainbow miniskein set
Ravelry project page
This week was especially tiring because it was the last week of the half-term. My body is still responding to the rhythms of the school year although I haven’t stepped foot in a school in over two months. Half-term won’t be much of a respite for me. I have a couple of appointments that require me to travel. I haven’t been further than the supermarket since I came down on 20th March.
My work on my Somewhere socks continues apace. I finished the first sock in less than a week. This is the project I tend to work on in calls 🤫
My Joy mitts are finished but I still haven’t managed to weave in all the ends on the second one. That’s always a task I find pretty tiresome.
Khaleesi kindly offered to help me take the photos.
I also resumed work on my Hastings mackerel goldwork embroidery after a long hiatus. I’m not feeling that inspired by this project but I’m looking forward to learning how to mount an embroidery. Might help towards my distant dream of a goldwork dragon brooch.
I had another very tiring week at work so I was very grateful that it was only four days long thanks to the bank holiday. I had hoped to get a few things done- particularly some exercise- but I also need to be careful with myself and if my body is saying I need sleep, I ought to listen.
Funnily enough, the day after writing the above paragraph (and sleeping for over ten hours), I unexpectedly ran my first 5k in under 30 minutes. I’ve been struggling towards this goal since I resumed running six weeks ago and felt like I’d plateaued. I knew that I had my goal pace in me; I actually ran 5k in 30:01 when I did my first 10k in December 2018, then went on to run the same distance again. But maybe at 33 I couldn’t do it.
Distance running feels like more of a mental challenge than physical for me. I always have a voice in my head telling me that I need to stop. Sometimes this voice is telling the truth- like when I’ve timed my run badly and not eaten enough, or if I’m just having an off day. But normally the voice is lying and I am capable of running more. My body is a much better barometer for what I can do than my mind, and I’m learning to listen to her. And I think that’s what helped me to achieve this goal. I listened when my body said I was too exhausted to do my previous run on Thursday and I rested. I allowed myself to sleep more when my body told me to. And then yesterday I found myself with the energy and grit to keep going.
Anyway, on to my weekly update.
This week I finally cast on the second Joy mitt to match the one I started in Africa. God, that seems like a lifetime ago. I’m very grateful that I was able to go and have such a great experience. The mitt was also an enjoyable knit after working in long rows or rounds of plain stocking stitch on my last project. Looking at this photo, I’m not sure why the second mitt is looking bigger than the first but I’m hoping I can even them out with blocking.
I have run out of Buachaille so work on my blue cardigan is on hold. I’m probably going to go back to London for a few days (or longer, depending on what happens with work) in late May so I’ll have access to my stash. It’ll be time for me to do some proper planning for the yoke of this cardigan, which should be a lot of fun.
After spotting a gorgeous pattern on Instagram, I decided on the spur of the moment to invest in some rainbow mini skeins from Mothy and the Squid. I’ve been following her for a while so I’m glad to have bitten the bullet and made an order. I’m a bit ambivalent towards hand knitted socks. I don’t like wearing them in shoes because I find them too thick. However, I really enjoy making them and I like them as objects. I’m going to try wearing them as bed socks I think.
This week I baked some vegan pasteis de nata. I’ve had the recipe pinned for ages but never got around to making them before now. I posted about making pasteis de nata many years ago- reading this old blog post was such a blast from the past!
I could have done much better with my vegan custard but this is a great jumping-off point.
This week was another busy one at work. Not so bad as last week, but I haven’t taken any annual leave since January and I’m exhausted. I probably will cave and take some time off before long, but I’m waiting until I will have the day to myself.
The notebook I ordered to make my quarantine bullet journal finally arrived. Although smaller than expected, I’ve cracked on with it and I do think it’s going to help me make goals and keep track of this time.
I’ve continued work on my blue cardigan here and there. The body is on hold and I’m working on the first sleeve. I think I will run out of yarn before the sleeve is finished.
I’ve also continued work on my Hastings mackerel goldwork embroidery (dedicated blog post pending). I don’t really understand how I managed to make it backwards (in my head I think I believed it was rotated rather than mirror reversed) but it’s going okay so far. Because the goldwork is such a small scale, it’s easy to stress out over tiny imperfections. Normally when I take a step back, I realise it’s actually looking pretty good.
This week I made vegan potstickers from scratch (again from @woon.heng on Instagram). They were so time-consuming! I think I was working solidly for three hours on them. Although I enjoyed the potstickers, I don’t think I’ll bother making them again. I preferred the buns I made the other week, and I think those were a little easier.
I went to a different supermarket this week and obtained some different vegan ingredients to play with. I managed to get some cashew butter. SO many vegan sauces are cashew-based, which means it’s impossible to make them properly if you don’t have a high-powered blender. My dream kitchen, which I hope will be a reality one day, has a bean-to-cup espresso machine and a Vitamix at its heart. I haven’t decided yet which sauce I’m going to try but I’m excited to cook something different. I also got some silken tofu. It’s called for in the tempeh recipe I’m planning to try, and I got a second box so that I can make some kind of vegan dessert.
I’m going to try out a weekly format for the rest of the lockdown, but since I wasn’t ready to write them until now, here is a super-post. I think it’ll be useful for me to track the progress I’m making on various projects.
I’ve seen a lot of posts floating about saying how people with various psychological disorders might actually feel better during the pandemic. As somebody with C-PTSD, I wouldn’t say that the case for me, though I think I’m coping okay. You wouldn’t expect everyone with a certain label to respond in the same way to one event, but that oversimplification has been bothering me. I’ve never been great at working from home, so that has been the main struggle for me. That, and my normal issues with attention and focus are massively amplified, so I feel like I’m wasting a lot of time. I try not to beat myself up about it, but it’s still a little frustrating at times.
Before the lockdown was implemented, I decided to come down and stay with relatives on the south coast for a while. I was struggling to work in my shared house in London. With my aunt and uncle, I have access to a dining table where I can set up my working from home equipment. They also have a garden that’s been so wonderful during the warm weather we’ve been having.
I brought a few projects down with me. I already wrote about the gold work song thrush that I managed to finish over my first weekend. I have since framed the embroidery, though the back is a little bit messy and I think I’ll add a felt backing once I’m back with the bulk of my possessions.
I’ve also been working on my blue cardigan, which I must say has been super uninspiring. Knitting plain stocking stitch back and forth is just something I find really boring. I think the body is nearly long enough, so I’m going to switch to working on the sleeves, which I think I’ll enjoy a little more.
I also picked up my Ripple bralette. I got frustrated when casting off the back but managed to finish that bit and get as far as possible with the yarn I have on hand.
I’ve been searching for a cool quarantine project to work on, but I keep being scuppered when the materials aren’t available. Of course I want businesses to protect their employees and limit the spread of the virus. It’s just a little unfortunate that every time I manage to settle on a project, I can’t get what I need to make it. This happened first when I decided to get an Alice Starmore kit and again when I decided to make a jumper out of denim yarn, which apparently is impossible to buy in the UK.
Aside from craft, I’ve been taking the time to cook. I’ve been enjoying having the opportunity to make myself whatever I like for breakfast and lunch each day. I’ve been on a big toastie jag. I also made some brownies, Chinese steamed buns, and bagels from scratch.
I’ve also resumed running since the gyms are all closed. I’m not a huge fan of running, so I basically only do it when all other exercise is off the table. I’m making (very) slow progress. I really enjoyed participating in some live-streamed classes from a yoga studio near me in London. I should make more effort to do more.
What I find the most difficult about lockdown is not knowing how long it’s going to go on for. I had been planning to move house in the summer and now I have no idea when that’s going to be possible. At the moment my place in London is no more than a storage facility.
When I purchased the kit for my first pair of Joy mitts, I ended up buying two kits in order to qualify for get free delivery. When a friend came out, I thought she might like some mittens to demonstrate her pride too.
There was quite a bit of yarn left over from making the first pair- nearly enough to make a third mitt, though I did have to do quite a bit of splicing so that I used up pretty much every inch of yarn.
I took the leftover yarn as one of my projects when I went to Africa in January. This is as far as I managed to get before I ran out of the main colour. I’m hoping that, if I am careful with what I have left, I will get three pairs of mitts from the two kits. I think it’ll be an interesting game of yarn chicken to try and eke out every last centimetre of wool. Though I wouldn’t say I’m wasteful with yarn, generally I do have more than I need for each project so I don’t need to worry about, for example, leaving a really long tail when I cast on.
Pattern and yarn: Joy kit by Ysolda Teague
Details: Size small using 3.5mm needles
I found it pretty helpful to review the things I made in Winter 2018/9 so I’m going to review my makes from September, October and November 2018.
Corduroy cigarette pants
These trousers are certainly one of my most successful makes. I wear them all the time and think they are great. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll probably have seen me complain that it is impossible to get a good picture of these trousers. I’m convinced they look fabulous in real life.
The corduroy seems pretty hardwearing thus far. I probably wear the trousers once per week. The texture on the cord is a little worn at the inner leg (which is where my trousers always wear out) but showing no signs of developing holes yet. I wonder if I should attempt some pre-emptive patching.
Reusable cotton pads
These make-up removal pads were a complete disaster and have been composted. They absorbed loads of liquid, which seemed wasteful, and I didn’t like the way the stranded cotton felt on my face. I replaced them with some washable woven cotton pads that I bought from The Source and I like those a lot better. However, I try to wash my face with water and a flannel where possible rather than using make-up remover.
Fortunately the other ‘zero waste’ item I made was a lot more successful. I use these cloths for washing-up and wiping down surfaces and they do a great job, I don’t have any pictures because they’re not that pretty. You’ll just have to trust me.
The hemp yarn isn’t especially strong, which means that the cloths develop holes now and again. My system is to rotate the two dishcloths that I made. Once one develops holes, I put it in the washing machine and then put it in the repair pile. It only takes around 20 minutes to repair them every month or so.
The dishcloth I made using larger needles was even more prone to wear and kind of an annoying size so it has been composted.
I did some work to fix up my zebra shorts, which were looking a bit shabby. They’ve certainly stayed in commission, though I don’t know how much more life they have left.
Really I need to make a second version of these shorts using a more hardwearing fabric.