Thursday, 15 January 2015

Splice The Mainbrace!

Did you know that we spend most of or time in the house by the sea being pirates? It's just a fact of my life. I grew up in a sailing family, so I was well prepared. Sausages has his own Mirror dinghy, handed down from me and in a shocking state of repair. I'm hoping it will be seaworthy in time for him to start taking it out himself.

This week I did a little spit-splice, and it made Sausages' day, so I thought I might share it with you. This is the process of joining together two ends of yarn to make one continuous piece. This is particularly useful if you suddenly come to the end of a ball of yarn half way through a row (ahem), or hate sewing in ends, and it only works on animal fibres, because it is essentially felting.

First undo the plies for the end 3" or so of both pieces of yarn, and cut out half from each piece, to make the ends half thickness.

Lay the two pieces together so that the ends overlap, and the thinner bits overlap the thicker bits

Next apply friction and moisture (this is why it is called "spit splicing," although obviously you could just use water. If you have a four year old handy they will definitely volunteer to help with this bit). Wet the yarn and roll vigorously between your palms until you can no longer see the join. Give it a little tug, go on! It's all the one now.

Here is my slightly clumsy splice before and after knitting in to the work. I promise that it usually looks better than this! What mostly shows in my work is that my stockinette in the round is ruined by my purl stitches in the short rows, oops!

This week's knitting is the second of my Lego Mitts, another Work In Progress making a desperate bid for Finished Object status. I hope to have it finished before the 19th of January because I have signed up for Ysolda Teague's Follow Your Arrow 2. A bit ambitious, since I haven't finished Follow Your Arrow 1 yet, but I will have finished two items from the long-term WIP pile before I finish it, so I'm treating myself, and I'm completely in love with the format. Here are the many reasons:

1. It's a Knit-A-Long, so lots of other people are knitting it at the same time as me, which is nice and companionable. The first one was very popular and I felt very cool joining in!

2. It's a Mystery KAL, with clues being released once a week. I have no idea what the finished object will look like, other than that it is a shawl, knit in 4-ply somewhere around the specified gauge.

3. Ysolda provides two options to choose from in each clue, so there are 32 possible clue combinations, not allowing for colour combinations. This excites me no end!

I'm still reading Unconditional Parenting. It turns out that using my time after the boys have gone to sleep to read has been the hardest intention to follow. I have only managed it once or twice. I feel so tired that I can't bring myself to go and get my book. We've been ill in the last week, and I feel like I'm walking through treacle all the time. I must make more of an effort with this, for my sanity. I'm really enjoying listening to Margery Allingham's The Black Dudley Murder in the car. It's just about not unsuitable for the boys.

We had a special 1st birthday this week, and since I know you love my halfhearted cake decoration, here is his cake. Sausages and I discussed at length what Bob's favourite things are,and settled on a staircase. There was a purple step, but I burnt it. Ahem.

Linking up with Ginny's Yarn Along and Nicole's Keep Calm Craft On, so do head over to see what everyone else is making. And if you feel like sharing pics of your slapdash cake decorating to boost morale, that would be lovely too!

Take care,


Wednesday, 7 January 2015

First Yarn Along of 2015

OK, I know everyone else managed a yarn along last week. I was still in holiday mode. In fact, dragging us all into term-mode is proving a little tricky. It's 10 a.m. and the boys and I are messing about with breakfast in our nightwear in a half-hearted fashion. I did pick up Sausages' swimming bag on my way downstairs in an attempt to have all the kit together more than an hour ahead of his lesson, but all it contained was a cuddly otter, so I abandoned that again. I'll try again after two cups of tea...

Book number 1 of the Bringing up Burns' reading challenge: a book you own but haven't read. We bought Unconditional Parenting when we were going through a challenging time with Sausages. I really wanted Husband to read it, but he started with Playful Parenting and didn't get as far as this one. So far so good, I'm enjoying the mindset of the book, and it's unapologetic forthright style. It's hard to say that you think that what many parents do out of love for their child can be damaging. The messages in this book so far are really reinforcing how Husband and I try to respond when our boys are having a tough time. That's not to say we manage it every time, mind you. Parenting can be difficult, and we're not perfect. Have you read this book? Do let me know what you thought, I'd love to hear.

I popped into the sale in a local discount store and picked up 4 Margery Allingham books on CD. I usually prefer books to dramatisations, but with this author I really like the audio books. The reader is very good, his voice perfectly fits my idea of the main character. Margery Allingham is one of the "big four" female crime fiction writers of her era, along with Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers, and Ngaio Marsh, and I find their stories a balm, even if they do veer from charmingly dated to alarmingly bigoted at a moment's notice. I guess I should take it as a positive reminder of how far cultural attitudes towards people of different gender, race, and socioeconomic situation have improved over the last century or so.

As for knitting, I'm working on my resolution to complete my WIPs. I have high hopes of finishing this shawl for a friend this week. She gave me the yarn for it 18 months ago when I had a pregnancy yarn aversion, so she's waited long enough! She is a very dear friend who I met at a knitting group when I was expecting Sausages. It turned out we lived around the corner from each other, and she was an invaluable friend to me as a new mother. I do miss my friends in the Fens so much!

This week I managed to find the iron in order to take up a pair of jeans I bought in a charity shop (brand new, £3, but about 8" too long!), and seized the moment of having it out to do something I have always wanted to try: these little melting beads! Mine are not the smart brand, but an own-brand. Sausages loves to sort them into different colours and make pictures, but forbids the ironing of them. He was still asleep so I managed to make a couple. He seems rather taken with them, so maybe I'll get to iron some of his designs soon. I saw that Lucy of Attic24 gets to play with them too. A very creative lady. Anyone have any idea what I should do with them now I have made them? I think I'd like to hang a few up...maybe...undecided...

Don't forget to pop along to Erin's and Ginny's to see what everyone else is crafting and reading this week. What are you up to? I'd love to hear! Have a good week


Sunday, 4 January 2015

New Year's Intentions

As you can probably tell from the date of my New Year's post, I am chasing my tail a bit at the moment. We've had so much going on, I just don't seem to be able to catch up with myself. We had a lovely Advent and Christmas, and in 8 hours the new term begins and we are back to the real world, so I'd better get my head in gear!

I've just had a look at last year's intentions, and boy, were they ambitious! To be fair, I knew they were at the time, hence labelling them "aspirations," and I knew I wouldn't be able to achieve them all. What did I achieve? Well, I did give birth, and what a birth! It was glorious and empowering and fast, all on my own in the bungalow bathroom. We met darling Bob (not his real name), and he changed our lives in all sorts of interesting ways! A happier little chap I have never met, and he has more character than you can shake a stick at. He's very outgoing and adventurous in the day time, but at night he will only sleep curled up in the crook of my arm. He's snuggled against me right now. I've breastfed him whenever he wanted for his whole life, carried him close to my body, kept him safe and mostly well. I'll count that as an achievement.

I did manage to get two small pieces published, although since we left the bungalow there has been no more time for me to write. The boys are pretty full on, and the house is nowhere near sorted. C'est la vie, the boys come first. One day soon they will both leave home and I will have plenty of time to do things other than sail pirate ships, hunt for dragons, and read stories for hours on end. More's the pity.

I did not learn to use Matilda the sewing machine, although I have a project that I am keen to get underway with at the moment (no spoilers). I didn't learn to use my drop spindle either. I did knit down my stash a bit, but really I have had so little time for crafting that it hasn't made much of a dent. Having the stash in storage for a few months didn't help either! But I have plans, so here are this year's intentions:

1. Finish all of my Works In Progress on Ravelry. There are only a few, and some are quite big, so there will be no shame in casting on smaller, easier projects to go alongside them.

2. Join in this reading challenge. It's leaning towards fiction, and I have a lot of non-fiction on my "to read" list, but it's a good starting point. I find myself surfing the internet at night after the boys are asleep. If I leave them Bob wakes up, but I have a head torch and this time would be better spent reading, or...

3. ...knitting socks, which is going on the list again. I think I might start with something for Sausages, with an afterthought heel so I can just knit plain rounds in the dark.

4. Continue to knit down the stash and buy only natural fibres. There are a few jumpers and blankets on the horizon I feel!

5. Be self aware and practice effective self-care, and to rope Husband in on this one as well. For a start, knitting or reading for my wind down in the evening would be better for me than surfing the internet.

6. Make some friends in our new area. I'm not good at this, but I have met some lovely people in the last couple of months. It's awkward, and I'm shy, but I must do it!

7. Get back to blogging about things other than knitting and reading. The yarn along keeps me ticking along, but I have more to say.

8. Start training to be a La Leche Leader. I want to be the person you can ring at 3 a.m. when you're having a meltdown. I have had such great help with feeding my boys, which has often seemed impossible, and I'd love to support other mothers to meet their own breastfeeding goals.

9. Get back to good meal planning based around a local veg box and less supermarket shopping. Our food bills are huge at the moment. We still don't have a functioning oven, and too often I am scrambling to make something at the last minute because I haven't got the slow cooker on at the beginning of the day. At least I have cracked baking our bread in the slow cooker!

10. Get back to preparing early for Christmas. This is the first year I have been organising gifts in December, and it sucked. In 2015 I want to hand make and collect gifts throughout the year, and be finished by the end of November. I have already bookmarked a few patterns and ideas.

There we go, a more modest selection than last year. I guess I didn't know that Bob would be such a limpet, that we would move and be homeless for two months, and how this would affect us as a family. We've started a whole new life here by the sea, and the next few months are all about finding our stride.

What are your major New Year's resolutions? Can you give me any advice about mine? I'd love to hear it, so long as it's polite!

Wishing you all a great year to come