The truth is… I’m a teacher. Not only a teacher, but a brand shiny new teacher who just finished her first term in a secondary school. Wow – I didn’t manage a single blog post in all that time! And it’s even taken until the end of the Christmas holidays to wrap my head around posting anything now. I loved blogging over the summer, but as soon as term started, I lost my ‘voice’ (actually, I lost my literal voice quite often, too).
Still – it’s a blog, and there aren’t any rules about how often you have to post! I don’t do new year’s resolutions (apart from retrospective resolutions for things I’ve already completed – brush teeth, eat breakfast… helps the sense of achievement), but I do hope I’ll manage to escape from the real world into blog world a bit more often this term.
I have been reading other people’s blogs though, and obsessively scrolling through Pinterest when I’m awake at 4 a.m. thinking about marking exercise books. I think I’ve gone all the way back to the beginning on Attic24, Cherry Heart, Coco Rose, and lots more. I’m an avid reader of fiction (guess what subject I teach), but just haven’t been able to concentrate on a story for long enough before I fall asleep over the last few months. Blogs fill that gap tidily – a little bit of happiness and escapism before dropping off at night. The only other thing I can manage is dystopian teen fiction, but they started giving me nightmares. So thank you to the bloggers who do manage to get through the day-to-day and still find time to give me something to read – it is very much appreciated!
So. Wool. That’s why we’re all really here, right? (I do know that there are people for whom wool doesn’t play a huge part in their lives, but… Those are the people we knit for.) I have managed to pick up needles and hooks now and then – mostly for Christmas presents which have now been dispatched. Luckily I did have the presence of mind to take a few photos before wrapping them. Not great photos though. Wales in winter does not provide much natural light.
Fair Isle handwarmers for C’s lovely sister. These were from a kit with a magazine – and in case you think I’m cheap for giving a present made from free wool, bear in mind that I bought the magazine for the wool! I haven’t really done Fair Isle before, but I enjoyed it. Well, I enjoyed the first one – the second one was a bit boring. They actually taught me a lot about my Fair Isle preferences. I already knew about catching the wool in the back, and holding the dominant colour above the non-dominant colour, but I found out more about how to make Fair Isle convenient. I’m planning to do this pattern again for myself, so more then! Worth mentioning the value of blocking these – I just steamed them with the iron then pulled and patted until they looked right. See the difference?
Mitred granny square bag for my lovely sister. I don’t know where I got the idea for this – certainly Pinterest for the granny square structure, but I must have seen the mitre pattern on another project and decided it would work well for diagonal granny squares. And I think it does! My sister is a fan of bright colours, so that’s what she got. I also found the perfect material to line it with – tape measures! Actually, I think my mum was more excited about the lining than my sister was. Attaching the lining was a giant pain in the bum, but the bag is so much better for it.
Ruffled handbags for C’s nieces (and one for my friend’s daughter). At what point do his nieces become my nieces too? When we’re married? They call me Auntie, which is very sweet! They are 5 and 8, and definitely girly girls. These bags are lined too, so little hairclips and things don’t fall out. The most exciting thing about the pattern for the two matching bags is that I made it up completely on my own. C and I were in the caravan in the summer – no internet, just me, a hook and some Stylecraft. I’m really pleased with how they turned out, particularly that the fronts and backs all match up! The girls were pleased with them – lots of cuddles for me! Unfortunately, I completely failed to write any of it down, and can’t for the life of me remember what I did. So, I guess I won’t be making these again! The round bag, which isn’t finished in that photo, is just the first few rounds of Attic24’s blooming flower cushion. I want to make it in actual cushion size at some point, but couldn’t see how the pattern made what was in the picture (my fault, not Lucy Queen of Crochet’s, I hasten to add!). This mini version helped me figure it out. This is the lining, captured in a really terrible photo:
Sequined snowflakes for C’s parents. Although because of the light, you can’t see the sequins. And I made eight for them, these are the three I kept for myself. Actually, I was going to make some for my parents too, then my mum came to visit in November and showed me the ones she’d made using exactly the same pattern 😦 I guess I still could have, but it wouldn’t have been as exciting. Anyway, I made these using some lovely sequinned Bergere yarn. I picture them on a tree or along a mantlepiece, reflecting the Christmas lights. Or they might end up forgotten about next year, I guess!
Hats for men. Three men, to be precise, but I only managed one photo. This one is C’s, in double moss stitch. I love double moss, but hate actually knitting it. Too much back and forth. So this is a testament to how much I wanted to make a nice hat for C. The other two hats used the same basic pattern and structure, but I changed the double moss section. Instead, I did stocking stitch for three rows, then a K1 P1 row. Might write a pattern for that, actually, because it looked good! The reason I chose that pattern is that one of the men is my sister’s boyfriend, and my mum knitted him a jumper in that pattern (actually, does it have a name?). And I thought it would be the funniest thing in the world for him to have a matching jumper and hat. Just me?!
Hat for a boy – I haven’t actually given this one yet. I’m not sure it’s going to fit. Fingers crossed! This pattern was an amalgamation too – standard beanie, then I stole the earflap bit from another pattern. Then I taught myself to crochet an i cord! (Sounds like an Apple product.) I have an aversion to dpns, so it’s nice to have a different method to make i cords. Why are they called i cords?
Round bag for C’s other lovely sister. Oh boy, I definitely used a proper pattern for this (OK, I did change it slightly because I used chunky wool and needed fewer rounds), and I can’t remember where I found it. If I find it, I’ll update this. The star is another Lucy pattern from Attic24, and I made a little matching purse based on a pattern from a Nikki Trench book. It used exactly one ball of wool from B&M!
Stocking for C. This is the only photo I have of this stocking… He’s still got it in the hope I’ll put presents in it again next year, so I’ll get a better picture. The inspiration for this came from the Hobbycraft magazine – no pattern, and I changed the construction of the toe, but it was really simple. The ends were a pain though… I have to admit, I committed a cardinal crochet sin and just cut some of them off without sewing them in properly. It’ll probably fall apart before next year. I lined this too, so weirdly shaped presents don’t stretch it out. He doesn’t know yet, but I’m going to make one for myself to make sure I get lots of presents next year!
Purse for a friend who may or may not like handmade gifts. It’s a gamble… I haven’t given this one yet either, so we’ll see! Although she is always polite about them, so maybe I won’t see!
What else? Well, I did get some excellent woolly presents too! C, setting the bar very high for boyfriends of wool enthusiasts everywhere, took me to a lovely wool shop in Cowbridge – La Mercerie – and let me choose my own presents! Actually, I think he just takes me here for some peace and quiet; they’ve got a sofa and newspapers, and I entertain myself for… an embarrassingly long time. I did have a budget of £20, which made me think very hard about what I wanted. Something special, obviously, that I wouldn’t usually buy for myself. Something I would actually use. Something I could even use as soon as I opened it! I spent Christmas day impressing his parents (first Christmas at their house – it was lovely) by knitting a hat with the Crofter DK he gave me. In fact, useful tip for people trying to impress in laws: kicking ass at Articulate while simultaneously knitting a hat from a pattern you can remember by heart goes down very well. My mum gave me a set of pom pom makers so the hat was topped with the biggest pom pom I could make. Actually, it’s too big – I can feel it nodding around on top of my head when I walk down the road. Still, I like it! And there’s enough wool left for handwarmers – I’m using Sandra of Cherry Heart’s excellent stripy mitts pattern because I want something that matches, but isn’t matchy, if you see what I mean. Mixing knitting and crochet is excellent for that. Also, I understand that Crofter DK is not exactly a luxury yarn, but I rarely spend more than the cost of Stylecraft Special on anything for myself, and that’s £1.79 for 100g.
C also gave me two lovely laceweight yarns – a pale blue and a warm cream. They’re soft and squishy, and they scare me. I don’t want to mess them up, or choose the wrong pattern, or accidentally mutilate them. What I’ve got in mind is a long, crescent shawl. But a shallow crescent. Possibly knitted, using the blue. And then a big, ruffly, lacy edge in the cream on the long curve, crocheted because knitting lace is scary – there’s too much to keep an eye on. Hopefully an edge with lots of increases and repeats so I can get a really good ruffle on. And then one single, thin line of blue on the edge just to finish it off. The only problem with this plan is that, of course, I can’t find a pattern like that. I’d even pay for one, and I’m a notorious cheapskate (I get it from my mother). So the laceweight can lace-wait – it deserves the right pattern.
And lastly from C, this some soft variegated DK – my favourite of the three. This will be a scarf with interlocking strands to fasten it at the front. I know exactly what I want with this one! Sort of. All the patterns I’ve seen are plain, and I want a little bit more interest. And I need to work out how much scarf length I can get from 100g. But apart from that, I know exactly!
Finally. My lovely mum. She came with me and my friend to Bristol Wool Fair last summer, and paid very close attention, because she chose the exact wool I wanted – a purpley yellowy primrose affair. But instead of getting a ball of wool and knitting me something with it, she bought unspun wool (loose, dyed sheep, essentially), learned to spin it, made some of it up into a lovely bow knot scarf, and then knitted some more into a little bag which she then felted. She even made the button for the bag. She really is a very excellent mum.
So. Enough? It’s like the floodgates opened! I really am going to try to write more often, if only to keep track of what I manage to make! Back to school on Monday – a colleague and I have been talking about starting a knitting club (I work in a reasonably tough city school. Should go down well.), so we’ll see how that goes!
Happy New Year 🙂