A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: wool

I feel like a broken record, but it’s been another busy week at work. Aside from that, I was mainly working on my Sinister Catdigan again. I forgot to take a photo of the wrong side last week. So pleased with those floats! I don’t trap them because it ruins the look of the design when you’re using high contrast colours.

I finished the yoke and grafted it to the body and sleeves. The grafting took 3-4 hours and used a lot of yarn. I thought I’d left a long enough section of wool (about three armspans) but I had to splice on some more.

I couldn’t wait to try it on. I’m pretty happy with the fit. I never button my cardigans so the width is fine. I’m a little surprised at how long it’s looking, but the neckline may bring it up a bit.

I spent over an hour picking up the stitches from the provisional cast on, and an evening researching knitting patterns for my neck decreases. I really can’t be bothered to try and calculate the decreases myself. I’m happy to pay someone who has already done it!

On Tuesday I made vegan cannelloni. It didn’t look that stunning but it tasted amazing- even if it took well over an hour longer than suggested in the recipe.

I also made a cake using some cheap rhubarb I got in Waitrose. It was delicious!

And I made french toast using my sourdough bread from last week. The bread was actually very tasty even if it looked a bit flat and the french toast livened it up perfectly.

Finally, I made some vegan mozzarella using School Night Vegan’s recipe. Yes I am obsessed with him. At first I was put off by all the speciality ingredients required for a lot of his recipes, but they really do make a difference to the texture. I now own psyllium husks, agar powder, potato and tapioca starch. Just as well I am not spending any money eating out at the moment!

If the sense of relief I felt on Monday was anything to go by, I made the correct decision in moving out of my place in London. I had two busy weekends of sorting and packing things, but all that work should make it fairly straightforward for me to move in once I find my next place, which I’m hoping to buy rather than rent.

I did have a little break from packing to darn one of my dishcloths before putting it into storage.

I also marked my compost bin in the hope that a new tenant will keep using it.

A lot of craft time has been dedicated to my Oran do Chaora/Sinister Catdigan again this week. I’ve finished both sleeves and joined them into the body, which has now been set aside.

I mentioned last week that I’d started doing the maths for the colourwork yoke. Well, unfortunately I made a really stupid error with that calculation that resulted in me spending about four hours reducing the body section by one stitch.

Slightly uneven blue stocking stitch

Slightly uneven knitting where I tried to fix the tension problem caused by removing a stitch

Fortunately I re-checked my sums before I did anything too major and realised my mistake. I’ve now picked that stitch back up and the numbers on my Oran do Chaora body and sleeves should match the numbers on the finished Sinister Catdigan yoke.

I’ve done the crochet provisional cast on for the yoke and the first row of cats has emerged! It’s quite hard work managing the tension with long floats and a slippery yarn but I think it’s going okay so far.

It’s funny that I was looking forward to knitting the cats and it’s only now that I’m recalling how laborious this kind of knitting can be. Working the fair isle requires quite a lot of attention. It’s very easy to make errors and I’ve had to do more than my share of undoing. But it is fun to see the cats emerge row by row- in fact it’s pretty addictive.

I’m already starting to think about how I will do the decreases for the shoulder section. I’m not that fond of the neckline of SC and I think it will look odd to do a saddle shoulder above the fair isle section. Some more planning and maths is in order next week I think.

I fed my sourdough starter again in preparation for making my first loaf. I looked at some recipes and started to get a bit stressed because of all the equipment needed. I don’t have a banneton, baking stone or a dutch oven.

The loaf is a little disappointing. I used a pan as a lid following some advice online and I think it actually restricted her growth. Now I’m contemplating investing in a Dutch oven.

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.


My mind is blown that this has been going on for twelve weeks now. This week I finally cast on the second sleeve for my Sinister Catdigan, I’ve been reminded that I need to take much better notes. I always assume that I will remember everything and that is simply not the way my brain works. I can’t remember whether I knit the ribbing on a smaller needle to the stocking portions of the other sleeve and body. Not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things but I’d rather the two sleeves be identical if possible. This will be the project I work on during calls.

Inspired by last week’s crafternoon rainbows, I made a birthday card for one of the girls.

I sent it with Joy mitts I’d made for her. Double rainbow FTW. I blocked them using my sock blockers since I don’t have my matts here. I tried to shrink the larger glove using some boiling water but that didn’t seem to have any impact. It was easier to block the smaller glove fairly aggressively. They’re still not exactly the same size but hey ho. Predictably I failed to take a photo before wrapping them up (in reused paper of course!) and sending them off.

I’ve sewn in all the ends on one of my Somewhere socks and a few on the second. This is a task I’m trying to do while listening to an audiobook (currently The Hate U Give, which is incredibly emotional to listen to at the moment).

Work was bananas this week so I’m relieved that I was able to have a quieter day on Friday. I bought everything to have a go at School Night Vegan’s sausage rolls but didn’t have a chance to make them until Friday. They were so good! And didn’t contain too many obscure ingredients. I’ll definitely make these again.

My sourdough starter has stalled big time. Apparently this is not uncommon if the comments on a post about troubleshooting are anything to go by.

I think I may have accidentally over-fed the starter at times (feeding 100g+100g rather than 50g+50g) because the weight was way off. This may have been part of the problem since I wasn’t feeding it enough- and indeed it started smelling of acetone, which is apparently a sign that it’s hungry. I felt weird discarding so much of it so I compromised and now discard and feed 150g total. I’ve been eating some of the discard in the mornings because I hate throwing away all that flour. I make a kind of freeform pikelet, which is ok if a little gummy, like the crumpets I attempted last week.

I need to call it something other than ‘discard’ because that makes it sound gross. I just read someone calling it excess unfed starter so I’m going to try that.

I’m also keeping the jar in a different room because the kitchen is quite cold. I actually put it in my bed during the day. All in all I’m frustrated with the starter. I was led to believe that it was pretty foolproof so I feel like an idiot not being able to mix flour and water properly. I’d actually planned a whole meal around a sourdough focaccia which is far from possible at this point. Oh, the hubris.

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.

The other project I took to southern Africa with me was the cardigan I am making for a friend who is expecting. I decided to use Kate Davies’ Wowligan pattern, since I was pretty happy with the first one I made.

My finger was still pretty bad on this trip, so I tried to practice my continental knitting. I taught myself continental style a few years ago because I wanted to be able to knit fair isle without having to drop the yarn every few stitches. I first used two-fisted fair isle (as it’s called in Stitch’n’Bitch, the book that saw my through my early years as a knitter) on my Peerie Flooers hat, and then my beloved Paper Totoros sweater. When I normally knit (English style/throwing), I tension the yarn on my small finger. The sensation of the yarn rubbing on my scar was horrible. With continental style, I was able to wear my splint, which helped to keep the finger straight. I know that some people switch to continental since it is faster, but for me I don’t find it intuitive and purling is a nightmare. I know that I have thousands of hours of practice knitting English-style, but still. I don’t see myself making the switch any time soon.

I managed to get most of the boring stocking section finished while I was away. I love how quickly tiny sleeves go by, and then I have the cable section to look forward to. Yes, I am a nerd.

Since I knew that I would be using some fancy buttons that I picked up in Vilnius, I decided to try and modify the cable pattern to match the space theme.

I was a little surprised that no one else who has made a Wowligan has altered the cables, or at least no one who has recorded what they did on Ravelry. I also couldn’t find a pattern with cables designed to look like rockets. In the end, I looked through search engine image results for fancy cables, picked a design that looked kind of like a rocketship and then modified it as I went.  It’s funny how I think of baby knits as speedy. Knitting the cabled yoke section took me around 12 solid hours. I was resting after a super busy couple of weeks and just got in the groove. However, I was still shocked at how long it took. Since I normally knit in dribs and drabs, it’s harder to track the total time things take.

I think they look a bit more like fish than rockets, but I don’t mind that too much. I took some basic notes outlining what I did. Maybe one day I will convert this into chart form, since that might help consolidate my understanding of how charts relate to written instructions. As I said, I am a huge nerd.

While searching for cable patterns, I found that it’s pretty easy to make a really cute bunny rabbit design, so that will probably be what I make for my next baby knit.

Pattern: Wowligan by Kate Davies

Ravelry project page