A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: Buachaille

This was another week of not really staying inside. I had to go to hospital for my plastic surgery follow-up, to another hospital for some work appointments, and I moved the majority of my possessions into storage.

Giving up my room wasn’t an easy decision to make, even though it makes sense. I’ve had assurance from work that it’s very unlikely that I’ll have to have to do any face-to-face work for the foreseeable future, but everything still feels uncertain. I wish it was possible for there to be more clarity around what’s likely to happen in the coming weeks and months, but I know it isn’t.

In craft-related packing, I took my sweaters out of the freezer and put them back in. I discovered some moth damage on my Better Breton sweater so I iced all the woollen items that I had stored in the same drawer. I’ll have to do some mending once my stuff is out of storage.

As the restrictions eased, Virtual Yarns starter operating again. I jumped on the opportunity to invest in a kit. I’ve been inspired by @cleocmc on Instagram, who makes a lot of Alice Starmore garments. No photos as yet but I’m sure I’ll be writing about the kit and projects soon.

This week I finished sewing in the ends on my Somewhere socks. Can’t see myself wearing hand knitted socks any time soon!

I also got a lot of work done on the second sleeve of my Oran do Chaora/Sinister catdigan. I have used one whole skein of yarn. It’s pretty exciting that soon it will be time for me to start work on that sweet sweet cat yoke! I started thinking about some of the maths and calculations since I’m moving from one pattern to the other 🤓

All in all I can’t wait for this packing to be over. Moving is such a pain. BUT I’m very exciting news, I’m hoping to buy a flat this year. Honestly if I’m able to do it that will level my life up so much. So fingers crossed all of this annoyance will be worth it in the end.

 


I didn’t write a post last week because I wasn’t able to stay inside. I had to travel back to London for a couple of essential work and health appointments. I did collect some more craft materials to bring back down with me. I also knitted a swatch to test out some techniques for my sinister catdigan.

This week has felt extremely exhausting. I think a lot of that is due to the global black lives matter protests and uprising. While in some ways it’s been positive to see a lot of support and allyship, it’s also traumatic to be bombarded with posts on social media. It’s a constant reminder of the existence and experience of racism that I face every day.

I have still been knitting. I’ve now finished my Somewhere socks. I still have a lot of ends left to weave in.

I also hosted a crafternoon for some friends. I wanted to choose an activity that wouldn’t require anyone to buy anything (especially from Amazon). So I asked them to collect paper from their recycling bins and we each made a rainbow collage.

This week I also put together a sourdough starter. I used this post for guidance. It began really well but it hasn’t seemed that active for the past day or two. I’m hoping it’ll perk up soon because I’m keen to try baking with it.

I already had a go at making some crumpets with the discard. They were a bit doughy- presumably because the starter is immature- so I’ll try again in a couple of days.


Since I’ve nearly finished the body and first sleeve of my blue cardigan, I decided to buy the Sinister Catdigan pattern so I could start thinking about the yoke. And I discovered that SC is knit from the top down. I don’t quite know how I managed to overlook this when I was researching the pattern but hey ho.

Just as a warning, this is going to be a pretty technical knitting post.

I’m certainly not going to undo all the work I’ve done making the body and sleeve, which I did from the bottom up. I started to think about whether I would be able to graft the top-down and bottom-up sections together.

I did a bit of research online and couldn’t find that much information- possibly my fault for using the wrong search terms. But from what little I could find, I felt hopeful that I would be able to graft together two stocking stitch sections. From what I read, it might cause a half-stitch jog that should only be visible at the edge of the piece. Since the Oran do Chaora pattern has a single stitch selvedge and picked up button bands anyway, a slightly messy edge shouldn’t matter.

Now, you may be wondering why I didn’t simply convert the fair isle chart to be worked from the bottom up. That would be much easier than knitting it in the opposite direction to the rest of the garment right? Right. BUT the genius of the cats chart is that it uses the properties of the stocking fabric to give the sharp points on the ears. I didn’t want to sacrifice the cuteness of the design.

I’m so pleased with my decision to buy the pattern rather than trying to reverse engineer the fair isle pattern from pictures. I would never have noticed that the chart is designed to be worked from the top down and would likely have run into problems as a result. Just the reminder I needed of why we pay designers to do some of the thinking for us.

I decided to knit a swatch to test out the method I had in mind. That plan had the added benefit of enabling me to check the exact gauge I would get in the fair isle section. I used a provisional cast-on because I intend to knit the remainder of the yoke from the bottom up. I think this will give me more control over the shape of the neckline and a better finish overall.

I’m looking forward to knitting the yoke even more now, even if I’m a bit concerned about the lengths of those floats in such a slippery yarn. I was worried that my gauge in the two yarns were quite different but actually the cat section was just curled due to pulling the floats too tight.

Once I’d finished the fair isle chart, I cast on the same number of stitches in the body yarn and worked in stocking stitch for a few rows. I joined the two sections using standard Kitchener stitch and it worked perfectly!

I picked up a button band at one side to test the impact of the jog. I’d considered adding an extra stitch to the selvedge but I don’t need to bother. I just need to be mindful of where I pick up the bands.

While I was at it, I also tested undoing the provisional CO and knitting up. I’m thrilled to say that that worked perfectly as well. Incidentally I’m in love with the way the two shades of turquoise look next to each other and I may need to incorporate that into my design.

Overall my swatch was an unremitting success. I can start the much more unwieldy task of the full cardigan safe in the knowledge that these techniques should work. It’s been fun to try out some new-to-me applications of technique too. Sometimes I feel like my knitting skill has plateaued because I believe that I could hand knit any pattern. Doing things like this is a reminder of the knowledge and expertise I’ve developed in my decade plus of stitching. I also enjoy the mental exercise of solving these engineering problems.


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.


For some reason, I’ve been more prone to shopping over the past month or so. I’m not sure if it’s just because I’ve been a bit stressed out and feel the need to buy myself presents to give myself the illusion that life is worth living. When I received a Kate Davies newsletter saying that her dyed shades of buachaille were on sale, I knew that my credit card was likely to take a hit. I love to support small female-led businesses when I can.

Oran do Chaora

Copyright Kate Davies

I ended up buying a kit to make the Oran do Chaora cardigan.

I got the blue colourway, which is called between weathers. I love the way Kate’s work is inspired by the natural world around her. Luckily the pattern was included because I thought that it was included in Inspired by Islay, of which I have a copy, but I was wrong.

Sinister catdigan

Copyright Marna Gilligan

When I was clicking through Ravelry looking for inspiration pictures, I remembered the Sinister Catdigan that I’ve had saved in my favourites for a while. I just love the way the kitties look.

I’d seen that someone had knitted a plain Oran do Chaora. My initial (mean) thought was that it was silly since the cables are the main feature of the pattern. But then I started to wonder whether I could incorporate a colourwork yoke into the cardigan. I wear a lot of blue and have a RTW navy blue cardi that I wear a lot already. I feel like a cute cat cardigan could add a lot to my life.

I dug through my stash to see what I could use for the contrast colours and I’m thinking about the leftovers from my She Loves Wool sweater.

I like the way the colours look together, but I am a little apprehensive about using two such different yarns in the same garment. Buachaille is a relatively rustic and sheepy yarn (for me), while sugar baby alpaca is super soft and feels a bit more processed. There is also a slight difference in my gauge. However, I am drawn to the idea of using the yarn that I already have rather than buying something new.

I think I’m going to steam ahead regardless. Oran do Chaora is knit from the bottom up, so I can always unravel and re-knit the yoke if I find that the alpaca really doesn’t work. I haven’t quite decided yet whether to buy the sinister catdigan pattern. I’m pretty sure that I could recreate the yoke without needing to purchase the pattern, but I also feel that the designer has created something very cool and unique and should be remunerated for that. I prefer the cardigan style of ODC so the fair isle will most likely be the only design element I use from the other pattern.

As always, I’d forgotten how boring it is to knit flat stocking stitch- though not quite as bad as the long stretch of ribbing. As usual, I used a tubular cast on (Ysolda method) because I love the way it looks. I’m sure no one else will ever notice this little detail, but it’s still worth the extra time to me. As I also often do, I forgot that you’re meant to knit the ribbing on a slightly smaller needle. That’s something that I don’t think makes a big enough difference to re-do, so I will be leaving it.

Yarn: Buachaille by Kate Davies

Pattern: Oran do Chaora x The Sinister Catdigan

Ravelry project page


I finished knitting my Paper Whales sweater and I have to say that I think baby jumpers are the way forward. So quick and a great way to use up yarn left over from adult garments. I think this one turned out really cute.

I felt like there was still a long way to go after my last post, and I even envisaged doing a few posts about the sweater as I did with Paper Totoros. However, knitting the sleeve caps was super easy (just a couple of hours each) and then the yoke was so addictive that I nearly completed it in a weekend.

Here she is on the blocking board

The only change I would make would be to have the zigzag design both below and above the whales. The design is quite bold overall so having the more delicate fade design above the whales looks a little out of place.

Some notes for any future Paper X sweaters:

  • Knit ribbing on 3mm needles and body on 3.25mm
  • When decreasing, do so on colourwork rows (if alternating colour and resting rows) where possible to keep colours evenly spaced

I can already see myself making more of these for friends’ kids. I have nearly a skein of Titus in grey and I’m starting to picture a Paper Elephants…

I really wish I had weighed the yarn I used for this project. I even forgot to weigh the end product! I less than a skein of the main colour (I started out with a full skein plus some odds and ends).

I actually finished this sweater well over a year ago but didn’t want to post about it until I gave it away. I’ll leave it to the reader to decide if they think the gift ended up with the recipient I had in mind when I started out! I think baby knits are a gift that need to be given in person (not least because I am rubbish with sizes so tend to have little idea when they will fit). My friend sent me a picture and I was relieved to see that the sweater fit her elder kiddo (though perhaps March isn’t the best time to be given a jumper 🤪).

I also have to trust that my friends will be happy with my colour choices. I am a firm believer that clothing does not have a gender and I think this little sweater would be adorable on any baby.

Yarn: Baa Ram Ewe Titus

Pattern: Paper Dolls by Kate Davies (smallest size)

Ravelry project page


This project got a bit held up due to lacking in motivation to knit, but I’m glad that I persisted. Overall I’m really pleased with how this little cardigan turned out and the parents-to-be were happy to receive it too.

I think the pattern is really good. I powered along until I was due to start the buttonholes. I realised that I must have picked up the stitches from the wrong side, and reversing the instructions (though very straightforward) was too much for me at the time. After sitting in time-out for a while, I saw the yellow cardi languishing in my tweed basket (which in itself is an unfinished WiP) and decided to take a look at the pattern again. It only took me a couple of hours to finish off.

You can see the fabric isn’t totally even on the body. I have since found out that the uneven, almost striped, appearance is caused by ‘rowing out’- where you have different tension on your knit and purl stitches. I have since altered the way I purl, which will hopefully prevent this problem in future projects.

I took the cardi with me to the one place on Goldhawk Road that sells buttons. The shop didn’t have any small enough to not make the owls look a bit weird (although looking at this pic now, the size doesn’t look as bad as I thought). However, I did think that I’m not sure the buttons are really needed (side note: sewing 30 tiny buttons onto a cardigan doesn’t sound like that much fun). I also learnt that an Instagram poll isn’t the best way to make important decisions. Before anyone asks, I know than two people voted because I checked it a few times.

In the end, I decided not to go with buttons. But I did pick up these cute gold hearts as the actual fastenings.

Pattern: Wowligan by Kate Davies (I foolishly didn’t note down which size I made!)

Yarn: 3 skeins Buachaille in the Furze colourway, provided in kit from website

Ravelry project page


I’m working on a mini Paper Dolls sweater with a yoke pattern featuring whales. I charted the pattern myself, based on a project I found when searching Ravelry.

Photo credit: Svitlana on Ravelry

My design was really chosen to work with the colours of yarn I had in my stash. I’ve been keen to use up some of my Titus remnants- over a skein of the turquoise and blue colours from my League, and over a skein of white from my first Paper Dolls and Port Charlotte. I was thinking about starting a challenge thing where I would try to make matching baby knits to my own sweaters. However, I worried that parents would think it weird if I wanted their babies to match me. Maybe an idea for the future. Until then, my friends’ children will just have to coordinate with me.

img_8399

I made the chart just from eyeballing Svitlana’s pictures. I was going to have zigzags at the top as well, but I couldn’t get the stitch counts right while incorporating the decreases as written. I decided instead to use a fair isle pattern I’d seen in another version of Paper Dolls on Rav. I would be such a different knitter without Ravelry there to inspire and help me!

I’m really excited to see how the colourwork will turn out. My yarn colours are less saturated than the colouring pencils, but I’m hoping it’ll still be cute.

I cast the sweater on in Udaipur. Used a 2.25mm needle, which I’m sure is what I used for Paper Totoros. The corrugated rib looks really neat, but it has turned out quite small. I’m hoping that a bit of aggressive blocking will sort it out.

I’ve managed to finish knitting the body. The next step will be to work the sleeve caps before the fun part- the colourwork!

Pattern: Paper Dolls by Kate Davies (smallest size)

Yarn: Remnants of Titus by Baa Ram Ewe

Ravelry project page