Saturday, December 25, 2010

happy happy




happy christmas everyone!!!


Thursday, December 02, 2010

2011 yarn club

club signups are now CLOSED!!!

i've sent out emails to everyone who got in touch with me about the club - if you didn't get one, check your spam filter! memberships are now available for purchase in the web shop to everyone who was offered a place - please put your order through before friday 10th december in order to secure your place, or you won't be part of the club...

i'm really excited about the theme & colours for this year's club & i hope you are too!!

(if for any reason you've changed your mind about buying a membership, that's ok. there are still a few people who wanted a place in the club but missed the deadline - if you let me know that you won't be taking your place, i can offer it to someone on the waiting list!)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

smackdown

i'm starting to wonder if this just isn't my year. it's not that anything immense has happened - nothing hugely traumatic or upsetting, just a series of small annoyances. the tone of the year was set right from the start, when the RSA went off to india for work, & i was left on my own for weeks on end. just when i was starting to settle back into things, there was the triple-whammy of Knit Nation (brilliant but exhausting), Knit Camp (oh, the drama), & the pup-surgery one after the other, followed almost immediately by the yarn-shortage disaster. and then, just as i thought things were finally getting back to normal, the universe decided that i needed another little smackdown:

ouch.


yep, that's right - i've managed to pull one of the tendons in my ankle. i've got some painkillers, some prescription anti-inflammatories, and an elastic bandage, as well as strict instructions to rest "as much as possible". i'll admit that i haven't been managing too well with that last one so far - i spent the day in the studio today, and it turns out that yarn-dyeing requires a surprising amount of walking about (& i'm paying for it now, alas). so despite my best efforts, i may have to take a little time off, which means the studio might not be open for visits (email me before you come, just in case!) - it's pretty chilly in there, which is fine if you're moving about dyeing vats of yarn, but not brilliant if you're having to sit about & do nothing!!
so, what with everything, i've been feeling a little bummed out this week. but there are still things that are cheering me up:

'wollmeise
wollmeise 80/20 twin in "red hot chilli"


i got these in a ravelry swap (& yes, they really are that bright!). i'm planning some winter-banishing over-the-knee socks like these (scroll down to the second picture). that's an awful lot of sock-knitting - but it looks like i'll have some extra time on my hands for the next few days at least...

Friday, November 05, 2010

2011 colourways preview club!!!

at last, i've managed to get my act together, and spend some time planning the 2011 yarn preview club!! i'm so sorry that it's so late this year - i had really hoped to run it along the same timeline as last year, but several events conspired to delay things somewhat, and before i knew it, i was running out of time. but although i'm not on the time schedule that i'd originally planned, it's all coming together nicely, and i'm now ready to tell you all the details!! this year, the club will run along similar lines as last year's club:

  1. it will run for three months, with parcels being mailed out mid- january, february, and march 2011.
  2. each parcel will contain two skeins of sock yarn in two different colourways (i’ll be sticking to the superwash merino/blends for this club, so by the end of the three months you will have received two skeins each of 100% superwash merino, superwash merino/bamboo, and superwash merino/cashmere/nylon, with six different colourways in total).
  3. this year, each month's shipment will have one beautiful "extra", designed especially for the club in partnership with a very talented scottish artist, plus an "extra extra" in the last shipment. no patterns will be included in the club shipments.
  4. each of the colourways will be brand-new, never-seen-before-in-the-web-shop, and will not be available for general purchase until april 2011 (after the club is over), at which point they will be available to all customers as the new 2011 colourway collection. the "extras" are also brand-new items that will only be for sale in the web shop after the club is over, with the exception of the final "extra extra", which will only be produced for club members & won't be available for sale. because of this, i would politely ask that you not sell on any of the yarn/"extras" during the three months of the club (gifting/trading is totally fine though!).
  5. a single membership in the club will cost £110 for UK/EU residents, and £120 for non-UK/EU residents. this gets you six skeins of sock yarn (one skein each of six new colourways), plus four very cool "extras" (one in each shipment, plus a final club-exclusive item in the last shipment).
  6. a double membership in the club will cost £190 for UK/EU residents, and £210 for non-UK/EU residents. this gets you twelve skeins of sock yarn (two skeins each of siz new colourways), plus four very cool extras (one in each shipment, plus a final club-exclusive item in the last shipment). double memberships get double the yarn, but not double the "extras".
  7. yes, this is a bit more expensive than last year's club! this is partly because everything is costing me more this year (materials & postage costs have all gone up a fair bit since last year, alas!), and partly because the "extras" this year are bigger, higher quality items & are therefore costing me more to produce. i'm still trying to keep the price as fair as i can, and i hope you can understand why i need to charge more this year.
  8. the club will again be limited to 50 members - it will be a random draw from everyone who's interested, with no preference given to club members from last year (sorry!).

so, if you’re interested in the yarn club, please send me an email with “2011 preview club” in the subject line, and your name, country, & email contact details in the body of the message. i’ll be taking emails up until 1st december 2010 - if i get more than 50, i’ll ramdomly draw 50 lucky names; less than 50, & everyone who emailed me will get offered a place in the club. at that point, i’ll send out an email to let you know how to purchase your club membership, and i’ll start dyeing up a storm! please note that sending me an email doesn’t mean you absolutely have to purchase a club membership - if circumstances change & you’re no longer interested that’s ok. you'll then have until mid-december to purchase your membership, so that i can finalise the numbers; the first club parcel will ship out mid-january!!
last year was my first-ever yarn club, and it was so much fun - i'm really looking forward to doing it all again!!!

Friday, October 22, 2010

not very sensible

well, it seems official - winter is nearly here. the wind has shifted, there's a serious chill in the air, & it's finally time to start layering on the wooly knits. with that in mind, am i being sensible & spending my knitting time finishing up the various projects i have underway (a sweater, a pair of socks, a new winter hat, and a shawl, to be precise)?
i am not.
instead, i'm completely addicted to knitting these...

mini socks!
mini socks!!


& before you start thinking "well, they're wooly socks, what's wrong with that?", i should show you a picture with some sense of scale...

mini sock
they're teeny tiny!!


the pattern is free here - they're meant to be christmas decorations, but i'm planning to use them to decorate the big front window of my studio (it's looking a bit bare & bleak, and needs some added colour before the winter days get too gray).
& not only that, i've already started to spread my new addiction - i've asked the Old Maiden Aunt group on Ravelry to knit some tiny socks out of their leftover OMA yarns & send them in to be hung up in the window. & if you'd like to join in, please do - the more teeny tiny socks, the better!! just post your finished socks in to the studio address - make sure you include a note of your ravelry name and/or email contact details, and in exchange i'll send you a discount code for the web shop. i'm also going to be doing a few random prize draws for tiny sock knitters, to add to the fun.
now, i'd better get sensible, & spend some time knitting my real winter clothes, before the cold really sets in...

Friday, October 15, 2010

a good offense

it's true - the best defense is a good offense. and the first line of defense against the rapidly encroaching winter weather? woolly socks, of course.

pomatomus


project specs:
started: 25th august 2010
completed: 14th october 2010
pattern: pomatomus by cookie a., from knitty
needles: 2.25mm
yarn: wollmeise 80/20 twin in indisch rot WD

there's nothing better than a brand new pair of woolly socks just as the weather starts to turn, in such a warm, glowing colourway. maybe winter isn't so bad after all...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

lazy hazy

there's been a definite chill in the air the past couple of days - it seems that with each passing moment, the scottish winter is slowly drawing ever closer. & today, one of the first signs of the approaching winter appeared - the haar.

the haar
view from my window - sea obscured by fog


but sometimes, it's quite nice to have a gentle haze over everything - especially on a day like today, when there was nowhere i needed to be. it's a day to fire up the heating, light some candles, & snuggle up on the couch with a cozy blanket, a big mug of good coffee, a new knitting project (fiona on the fly hat by a black pepper, which will be essential for the upcoming winter weather!)....

lazy day


& a laziness supervisor, who knows everything there is to know about being snuggly.
it's back to work tomorrow, but for now, i'm enjoying my lazy, hazy day.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

yarn apocalypse

something awful has happened. my utterly wonderful & reliable yarn supplier has had a huge warehouse fire, which has completely destroyed nearly 3 tonnes of undyed base yarn (& that's a LOT of yarn!) - the fire was so devastating that, in his words, "it's as though all that yarn never even existed in the first place". luckily, nobody was hurt in the fire, but his stock has been totally wiped out - and, as an inevitable knock-on effect, my stock levels (& those of a lot of other UK dyers, i'll bet) will suffer as well.
i do still have a reasonable amount of undyed yarn in the studio to work with for the time being, but obviously i'll be limited to what i already have in stock for the next little while - it will probably take him a couple of months to be fully back up & running, & sending out undyed yarn to all his customers again. i'm quite low on the sock yarn bases, so there won't be much of those being added to the shop over the next little while, but i still have lots of lace & sportweight, as well as a few kilos of a new lush 4ply blend which i hope to start adding to the shop soon.
i'm keeping my fingers crossed for him, that the recovery from this doesn't take too long - and (quite selfishly) that i'll be able to get my dyeing hands on some more sock yarn soon!! since a lot of us UK-based dyers use the same supplier, it feels a bit like the end of the yarny world here in the UK - here's hoping that we all get back to doing what we love quite soon.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

fancy a dip?

this may just be the cutest thing ever...


doggy hydrotherapy!!!


doggy hydrotherapy!! (sorry about the photo quality - it's a little blurry, he was swimming so fast!).
after the initial "what the heck is this?!?" reaction (understandable - even for a laid-back, adaptable pooch, this was a little weird) he absolutely loved it (the squeaky chicken toy may have been key). & until you've seen a dog wagging his tail underwater, you haven't seen true happiness.
he's now completely wiped out, & happier than i've seen him in ages - he was getting a little bummed out over the lack of exercise & excitement in his life, what with all the post-surgical restrictions. he's still in recovery, and won't be completely back to normal for a good few weeks yet, with no long walks or off-the-lead playing until probably the end of october! but swimming is great - all the exercise with none of the joint stress (plus, squeaky chickens!!).
lucky for us (& the pooch!) our insurance will cover a fair few sessions, so we'll be doing this twice a week for the next few weeks. & the bonus of this for me (in addition to the extremely happy puppy) is that it will hopefully tire him out enough to be left on his own for longer periods, so i can finally get back on a better work schedule.
after so long away from my normal working days, though, it may take more than a squeaky chicken to motivate me...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

must be the season

it's official - the weather is starting to turn. we've had a few days in a row now of some fairly typical scottish autumn weather - rainy & blowy, with a definite chill in the air. some people might be upset at the passing of the summer - they miss the heat, the sunshine, the bright days & warm nights. but in the autumn, a knitter's fancy turns to thoughts of wooly jumpers, cozy socks, & soft shawls.
& although i'm excited about the change of weather, and am looking forward to a long winter of snuggly knits, i'm having a bit of a knitting dilemna. there are loads of things that i want to knit, but i'm struggling with which projects to choose. a lot of the knits in my queue are fine-gauge, fitted cardigans - since i'm still a work in progress weight-wise (nearly there, but not quite!), it's hard to know what to pick. i don't want to knit anything fitted until i know for sure what my final size/shape will be - i'm already having to give away a lot of older projects, knits that i spent a lot of time & nice yarn on, because they just don't fit anymore. so i'm limited to socks & shawls for the most part, with the occasional garment thrown in - anything that is designed to fit loosely without closing (my recently-finished-except-for-sewing-up minimalist cardigan), for example, or styles like the recently-cast-on buttercup (fitted around the shoulders/yoke, which is a body part that probably won't change all that much regardless of weight loss).
but regardless of my problems with choosing knitting patterns to work on, i don't seem to be having any problems with my yarn choices...

autumn knitting
top to bottom - shawl, sweater, socks


there's a distinct colour theme going on here - it must just be the season.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

how the time is spent

life with no tv...


...is actually quite nice.

Friday, August 27, 2010

just enough

we're heading off to get some peace & quiet for a long weekend, at a lovely little house in dumfries & galloway, in the middle of nowhere with no tv, no internet, and a patchy mobile signal at best.... bliss. lots of rest, lots of delicious food & wine, a few board games, a few audiobooks...

too many projects?


& more than a few knitting projects. when you're packing for a weekend away, and your knitting projects take up more room in your suitcase than anything else, is it too much? or just enough?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

knit camp

phew - i'm back from Knit Camp!
if you've been online at all in the past wee while, i'm sure you've already heard all about the various problems with this event. since i was only booked in as a vendor in the marketplace, i managed to avoid most of the glitches (although the overall organisation did leave a bit to be desired, it only affected my experience slightly, and i think i was pretty lucky compared to some of the folk who were booked in for the whole week of classes etc.).
because some of the other vendors had pulled out, i ended up with a giant double-width booth space to fill. as a sole dyer, i've only ever booked single-width booths at market events, because i'm always a little worried about being able to produce enough yarn to fill anything bigger - especially after having my stock decimated by the horde of locusts ahem lovely knitters at Knit Nation (i had to have a few days of furiously dyeing sock yarn, just so i had something to take with me to stirling)!!!
i think it worked out ok in the end, though...

knit camp booth


the room that my booth was in was huge & airy with lots of windows, which made all the yarn colours look great. & i learned a lesson from my Knit Nation setup - this time, i pushed the tables to the back of the booth space, so that i could sit out front instead of being trapped behind my stock all weekend. the marketplace wasn't nearly as mad as the one at Knit Nation - the flow of traffic was pretty steady, but i wasn't rushed off my feet, and even managed to spend some time knitting (as well as take a little break now & then to do some shopping of my own!). i was rather unfortunately placed, though, as i was right across from the Jamieson & Smith booth - i say "unfortunate", because the marketplace hadn't even officially opened yet before i started spending money (a whole pack of gorgeous shetland laceweight, enough for a beautiful lightweight sweater - it was the last batch of a discontinued colourway, so really, i had to buy it). i also got a couple of skeins of laceweight from a couple of other UK-based dyers - i'll have to do another blog post later with all my booty from the summer of yarn shows!
i got to meet lots of lovely customers in person at last - it was so nice to finally meet some of the people who have been supporting me for so long, some of them since the very beginning! alas, i didn't have time to take any pictures myself (but i think you can find me on some other blogs here & there!).
all in all, it turned into a pretty good weekend - although i definitely wouldn't recommend the beds in the student halls! i got to knit, hang out with friends, have some of the best fish & chips i've ever had (the chippie in bridge of allan, yum!) and sold lots of yarn (i may even be able to pay off the balance on my credit card at last!). now i just need to get everything unpacked, and back up in the web shop....

...maybe i'll just have a little nap first.

Monday, August 09, 2010

enough for now

well, things have been a little chaotic here lately. first, there was Knit Nation (which was fabulous, but busy & exhausting). then, there's Knit Camp1.
and then, there's this...

sad puppy


the pup has had to have some fairly major surgery - it turns out he has a luxating patella (on both back legs, but obviously, they can only fix one at a time). his surgical fix involved making a cut in the tibia, tightening the tendon to make sure the kneecap can't pop out of place anymore, and securing it all back together with two metal pins (ouch!!). we've had to crate-train him very quickly (he wasn't crate-trained before, and had about a week before the surgery to get used to being in his crate) - his activity levels will need to be seriously limited over the next few weeks, which is going to be difficult (he's not the sort of dog who likes to take things slowly!). plus, he's a bit of a fussy licker, so if he's left on his own for even a few minutes, he has to wear the "cone of shame" (which he loathes & detests, but it's the only way to stop him from messing with the stitches). he is a lot happier in the crate without the cone on, though...

a little happier!


obviously, he's going to need a lot of care & attention over the next few weeks - because they had to make a cut in the bone as part of his repair, he's essentially got a fractured leg, and needs to be watched most of the time to make sure he doesn't move about too much (dogs aren't great at remembering that they're injured!). and because my working hours are much more flexible than the RSA's, it's going to be down to me to keep an eye on him a lot of the time - which means i won't be able to be at the studio as much as i usually am (so if you're planning a studio visit, please email me ahead of time to make sure i'll be there!). i am still going to be working as much as i can manage, but the web shop will be restocked a little less often than normal, so i hope you can bear with me for a few weeks until i'm able to get back to more normal working schedule.
and to the universe, or fate, or whoever is in charge of what's been going on? i just want to say - can you give me a break for a little while? that's enough for now, thanks.


1 if you're on ravelry, you'll already know about the various ongoing problems with Knit Camp, which as of the time of this post have yet to be sorted out. i AM still planning on having a stall at the weekend marketplace; if anything changes, i will post it on my twitter feed.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

knit nation

i'm finally back home after knit nation!!! i'm still organising things in the web shop as i gradually unpack the tiny amount of yarn left over, and re-dye a lot of yarn in preparation for next week's knit camp - but in the meantime, here's a little recap...
i managed to get my boxes & boxes of stuff packed up & shipped down safely, and followed them down on the train. after a couple of hours of building up & arranging (& rearranging) of what suddenly seemed like a ridiculously huge amount of yarn, the booth was ready!

knit nation booth


everyone at the booth was very hard at work all weekend long.

hard at work


& it's just as well - look what happened when the marketplace opened!! (this was actually taken by the RSA, who went away to get me some food, and couldn't get back into the booth for about half an hour!)

frenzy at the booth


it was a bit of a buying frenzy (but a very polite one!) - this was more or less the view of the booth all weekend long. & it was absolutely brilliant - not only did i manage to sell a ton of yarn (i shipped home about a quarter of what i sent down, & although it seemed at first as though i'd brought too much, it disappeared fairly quickly!), i got to meet so many of my online friends & customers in "real life" at last. & although it was utterly exhausting, the whole experience was just so much fun. everyone was having a great time - even the RSA, despite being a non-knitter, was completely won over by the fantastic atmosphere (turning to me in wonder at one point & exclaiming "everybody's just so HAPPY!!!").
& it just got better & better - after the marketplace closed on its final day, the vendors did what must have been the quickest breakdown in history (so quick, in fact, that i completely forgot to take an "after" picture of the booth & its decimated stock!) so that we could all run over to the ravelry party, where we met even more lovely people (& had a few well-deserved drinks!) - and i even won one of the door prizes, a beautiful project bag from ysolda, with a "damson" kit (printed bag, pattern & a skein of malabrigo sock in "ravelry red") inside.

ysolda prize


all in all, the weekend was fantastic - i really really REALLY hope they do it again next year!!!

(i did also manage to sneak away from my own booth to go visit another vendor's booth - i'll post about that separately though!!)

Friday, July 09, 2010

light as a feather

& here's the second of the two garments i managed to complete in my long blogging absence...

featherweight 2


project specs:
started: 18th may 2010
completed: 3rd june 2010
pattern: another featherweight by hannah fettig, available here
needles: 4mm addi circular
yarn: dream in color laceweight, colourway "black parade"
modifications: added a little length to the body & sleeves, and left off the ribbed edging
i've made this once before in a slightly heavier yarn - it's a super-easy knit and the finished garment is great. it's lovely in a laceweight knitted at a loose gauge - the perfect light cardi for the scottish "summer" evenings!

featherweight 1

Thursday, June 24, 2010

audrey (not in unst)

it's been so long since i did a proper blog post - so long, that i've actually managed to finish two full garments. here's the first one - and my first time knitting a big project with one of my own yarns!

audrey 2


project specs:
started: 21st march 2010
completed: 18th may 2010
pattern: "audrey in unst" by gudrun johnson, available from twist collective
needles: 3.5mm & 3.75mm addi circulars
yarn: old maiden aunt alpaca/silk sportweight in a "dyer's mistake" colourway; 375g/1050 yards
modifications: practically none! i added about 1" in length to both the body & the sleeves, between the ribbing section & the shaping (which also meant that i had to add extra buttonholes & extra buttons). i made the 40.5" bust size, which fits perfectly, with about 1.5" of negative ease (so i'm hoping that it will still fit after my weight-loss phase is over!).
the pattern is excellent - quite easy to knit, but with some lovely, thoughtful details which make it look really well-finished & clean. there's a beautifully simple lace bib & a tidy little icord neck edging - and then there's something that i can't believe i didn't know about before...

audrey 1


...seamless set-in sleeves. they're fantastic! i love the look & fit of set-in sleeves, but i hate hate HATE sewing them in - i had no idea that you could work them seamlessly, using picked-up stitches & short-rows, and i'll definitely be using this technique on future cardigans!!

audrey 3
ta-da!!

Monday, June 21, 2010

shameful

i can't believe how long it's been since i posted - it's absolutely shameful. i've been SO busy! i will do a proper blog post later this week, i promise - i've got a lot going on that i should be posting about, but i just haven't had the time!
i've finished two cardigans, and haven't even managed to photograph them yet.
i've dyed up about a thousand skeins of yarn for the lovely Loop, who seem to be selling my yarn like nothing on earth - it's actually quite overwhelming!
i've also dyed about another thousand skeins which are being quietly stashed away in boxes hidden around the studio, which i'll be taking along to Knit Nation in London and to the Ravelry Weekend marketplace in Stirling in just over a month's time.
& i've even managed to dye a few skeins of yarn to restock the web shop now & then.
which, alas, doesn't leave a lot of time for blogging...
but i will definitely try to do better!!

Monday, May 31, 2010

prizes (at last!)

my apologies for the delay - life has been very busy lately, and i just haven't had the time to focus on anything other than work! but at long last, i've drawn the names for the "hulk" yarn winners....

sadie, flavaknits, elodi, and lin!!!

please email me with your mailing address, and i'll send your yarn out straightaway.

thank you everyone who replied - it did really make me feel a lot better about the whole thing (and in case you were wondering, he didn't get elected).

Thursday, May 06, 2010

don't make me angry

those of you who follow me on twitter will already have seen my comments about one of our local MP-hopefuls, philip lardner (i'm not going to link to his site, because i don't want to give him the traffic - but if you're really interested/curious, feel free to give him a google). i don't often get too personal or political on my blog - it's usually a place to talk about knitting, or cute dogs, or nice things like that. but sometimes, i need to vent a little bit.
this MP candidate was a member of the conservative party - he was suspended once in 2008 for racist comments, then reinstated, only to be suspended again this year (so soon before the election that he's still listed as a conservative candidate on the ballot papers, which may be confusing to some!) for an anti-gay statement published on his website. he's still standing as an independent MP candidate, and unfortunately for us, has been quite a presence on the local streets over the past few days - including leading a wee parade of his supporters (about 10 or so) up & down the street outside my studio on saturday, then spending some time hanging about chatting to folk right outside my studio window.
it was a strange feeling for me to watch this little parade of bigotry - some of these folk are local people who have previously been quite chatty & friendly to me, and a few have even visited the studio from time to time. seeing them out in support of a man who not only believes that i'm "abnormal", but who is actively seeking to gain policital power so that he can lobby against me & my kind, was a shock. & although i've certainly experienced homophobic behaviour of varying degrees throughout my life (ranging from the sudden absence of former "friends", to verbal abuse, to being spat on), for some reason this was almost worse.
and then i worked out what it was - i've actually reached a point where for the most part, the majority of people that i come into contact with on a daily basis really just don't care that i'm as gay as the day is long. and so, i let myself relax - and i almost forgot, just for a minute, that we're not quite there yet. i forgot what this kind of casual hatred feels like; i forgot the fear, and nausea, and the sheer unadulterated rage that floods through your brain in response to something like this. and in the short time that i was in the studio with this going on outside the window (before i fled up the street to a friend's studio & accidentally burst into tears on her shoulder), i did the unthinkable....

.... i added the wrong dye mix to the pot that was cooking away on the stove.

now, not only had this ruined my saturday afternoon, but this tiny-minded man had actually ruined my yarn. it was meant to look like this:



& instead, it came out like this:


sigh. but the more i looked at my "mistake" yarn, the more it reminded me of something...

"don't make me angry - you wouldn't like me when i'm angry."


...which cheered me up a little. i think that anger can actually be quite a useful emotion - it's an "active" feeling, and it can sometimes inspire or push you to do something that you wouldn't normally do. anger is what's behind a lot of the political protests that have changed the world for the better - and when used in the right way, anger can be pretty powerful. & i'd like to get something positive out of this - something that would annoy the philip lardners of this world, just a little bit. so here's the plan...
i have four skeins of this colourway, in the merino/cashmere/nylon 4ply base - and i'm going to give them away. all i hope for in exchange is that you make a donation to stonewall, a UK-based charity that works towards equality for GLBTQ (gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered/queer) folk like me & mine (or, if you'd prefer, to a similar charity in your own country). stonewall accepts donations by credit or debit card, or via paypal. then, leave me a comment on this post that says "i donated!" - you don't have to tell me how much - and i'll add your name to the draw for one of these totally unique skeins of yarn. i'll keep the comments open for 2 weeks, until 22nd may, then i'll draw the winners.
and maybe, being angry won't feel so bad in the end.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

summer haircut

winter coat...
before.....



summer haircut!!
& after!!!

Monday, May 03, 2010

the winners

thanks for all your great comments! i've randomly picked three winners from all the lovely commenters, and here are the winners....

winner of the £15 gift certificate is victoria (spiderknits)!!

winner of the £25 gift certificate is marie (stashsiren)!!!

and, winner of the giant £50 gift certificate is..... lucy williams!!!!!

thanks everyone for your great comments. if you're a winner, please email me (info@oldmaidenaunt.com) and i'll let you know how to use your gift certificate in the shop.

Friday, April 23, 2010

thanks to you

i got a little bit behind on my accounts this year (ok, by about six months, but we won't talk about that). i started off the tax year with the best of intentions, planning to keep track of everything month by month. that way, when it came to putting together my tax info at the end of the year, everything would be so easy - i'd just pull out my monthly sums & add everything up.
well, that never really happened - i managed to keep it up for the first few months, and then all my good intentions just slipped away. which is how, these past few weeks, i've found myself having to go through months of orders, receipts, invoices & payments - and have ended up with some results that have truly blown my mind. of course i was aware that orders this year have been good - i've been keeping pretty busy, and have been shipping out lots of parcels every month without fail. but when i sat down & added it all up at once, i nearly fainted.
i've never been a very business-minded person - years ago, when i went to a few business start-up classes, i felt completely out of place among all the ambitious folk who talked for ages about their financial plans & how much profit they planned to make. my goal was always fairly simple - i wanted to be able to do something i really loved, to work for myself, and above all, to avoid the kind of office jobs i'd always had before (& which nearly drove me into a full-on meltdown - i don't really do well in any kind of "normal" job). what with one thing & another, we've been more or less living on the RSA's salary for a good few years now, so we're fairly used to living an economical life, without much financial input from me.
so when i started this little business, it was really more of a "hobby" - i loved dyeing, creating new colourways, and i loved what i was making - and i hoped that a few folk out there might like what i was making too. i hoped that i would be able to cover my running costs - but it never once occurred to me that within the first two years, i would be running an actual profit-making business. it's said that if you're starting up a small business, you should expect to make a substantial loss in your first 2-3 years. well, in my first year, i sold enough to cover my costs plus a little bit extra. and this year, it would seem that i've actually made enough that i'm going to need to pay income tax on it - and it's all thanks to you.
it completely blows my mind that there are so many people who want to buy what i'm making - i'm so grateful to each & every one of you. so i'd like to give you a little something in return - how does a gift certificate to the old maiden aunt shop sound? i'm giving away three - one for £15, one for £25, and one for a whopping £50!!!! to get a chance to win one, here's what you do - leave me a comment on this blog entry telling me about something you're thankful for. i'll keep the comments open until the end of april - after that, i'll get the RSA to draw names from a hat, and three of you will win a thank-you gift certificate!!
thank you all so much - i really mean it.

ETA - comments are closed!! i'll be drawing names tomorrow & posting the winners so please check back then!!

Monday, March 29, 2010

awesome

some awesome things:
1) the twisted ribbing on "audrey" is done!! now i can move on to the next exciting part... oh, wait - it's stockinette. still, the yarn (if i do say so myself) is awesome.


photo 55
(old maiden aunt alpaca/silk sport)


2) i just found out that the cat empire is coming back to the UK in the fall. we went to see them almost by accident the day that i flew back from canada - i was completely exhausted & jet-lagged, but somehow ended up dancing through the whole show, that's how awesome they are.
3) my customers. not only are they fantastically understanding & forgiving (i've had a few glitches with overselling in the web shop, and so far, the few folk that it's happened to have been very cool about the inevitable delay that this will cause to their orders), but sometimes they send me amazing stuff! look what i got from the blogless - but awesome - daniele in france. my customers are made of awesome.


tiny rocking chair charm
teeny tiny rocking chair charm!


4) it's finally spring! (at least it has been for the past couple of days - let's see if it sticks.) the sun is shining but it's not too hot yet, and everything is turning green & lovely. spring in scotland is awesome.
5) i've been doing the weightwatchers thing for three weeks - and have already lost half a stone!! (that's 7lbs, but half a stone sounds much more impressive, doesn't it?) & despite the fact that none of my clothes fit properly anymore - i've got a pile of clothes from my (slightly) thinner days that are still a bit too small, and all my "fat" clothes are now too big - i'm pretty excited. i've changed a lot of things about the way i eat, but it hasn't seemed like too much of a struggle (except for a little - well, ok, fairly major - sugar withdrawal in the first week, but we don't talk about that). i'm don't feel like i'm starving all the time, and i already feel a lot healthier - i even went to a step class last week, and since i didn't die, i'm going back again this week, and probably next week too (crazy, eh?). so i think it's safe to say - i'm awesome.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

the disconnect

i've never been a very physical person. i'm not into sports - i don't really like exercising, and i'm not very graceful or coordinated (minor understatement!). most of the things i enjoy doing are fairly sedentary (knitting, spinning, reading & so on) & cerebral. & no matter what i try, there always seems to be a disconnect between my mind & my body.
a small part of this is an Aspergers thing - my messed-up sensory system means that sometimes i struggle with correctly identifiying physical sensations (pain, tiredness, hunger) & end up thinking i should be capable of more than i actually am (which never goes well, and makes me quite cross with my body & its limitations).
but for the most part, it's simply down to being female, and living in this society where we are constantly told that we'll never measure up. i've had the tv on the background while i've been thinking about this, and so far, i've seen a series of ads that are telling me i need to lose half my body weight, but enhance my "assets" (ahem); elongate my eyelashes, colour my lips, smooth out my skin, and hide my gray hair, wrinkles, & stretch marks; and that i should never, under any circumstance, let it be known that i sweat, menstruate, have body hair, or ever get that "not-so-fresh" feeling (& don't even get me started on that one - that's a whole rant on its own!). add in the fashion industry, with its clothes cut to fit an idealized, tiny body type (the like of which the vast majority of women will never possess), and the diet industry, whose sole function seems to be making us feel bad about enjoying food, and you can see how it all begins to wear you down.
because of this, my relationship with my body is difficult at best - i tend to see it more as something that i need to do battle with rather than something which holds & supports me, which gets me where i need to go, and which (more or less) works exactly like it should. & despite knowing how lucky i am to have a body that works, it's often hard not to feel like it's not quite good enough. & it's even harder to admit that although i try my best to like myself as i am, the simple fact is that i do need to lose some weight in order to be a healthier person.
with all the aforementioned factors playing their damaging part, though, things become very complicated. if i say that i need to lose weight, is it because i want to be healthier & stronger (yes) or is it really because i think i'll look better as a thinner person (also yes)? and if i'm losing weight partly because i think it will make me look better, is this some kind of feminist betrayal, because i'm buying into the idea that thin=attractive? or is it ok that by "coincidence", what will make me feel stronger & healthier will also make me feel like i look better? & so on, & so on.... sigh.
& so, with all that in mind, i've joined weight watchers (online only - no meetings for me, thank you) and have officially started my becoming-healthy project as of the start of this week. and as much as i loathe, detest, despise & abominate the diet industry, so far it looks like weight watchers is a fairly reasonable way to go - it's already making me more aware of what i'm putting into my body, and what it's actually "worth" nutritionally (i'm fairly certain that's not a word, but i'm just going to carry on regardless), and it doesn't seem to be geared towards making you feel guilty about food. & i'm trying some different ways to connect to my body, from the serious (healthier food & exercise) to the downright frivolous.

photo 53
(apologies to my friend with the foot phobia!)


& hopefully, soon, i'll start to appreciate my body for the wonderful thing that it is, instead of feeling so disconnected from it.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

frankengreen


frankengreen cardi 1


project specs:
started (2nd time): 1st february 2010
completed: 20th march 2010
needles: 5mm addi circular
yarn: superwash merino aran from fyberspates, 600grams
pattern: a monster-mish-mash of ideas from various sources, mainly my january cardigan and my adeline coat.
this was originally knitted up into almost a full cardigan, before i decided to rip out the whole thing & redo it into something completely different - & i'm really glad i did! i'm quite pleased with how this has turned out, especially as i pretty much winged the whole thing (especially the mini-shawl collar!).

frankengreen cardi 3


hopefully i'll have more great projects to show off soon - i've found a gorgeous yarn/button combo for my next cardi, and now that i've cleared one big project from the needles, i'm excited to get started on the next one straightaway!

photo 52

Friday, March 12, 2010

still here

sorry about the long silence - i'm still here, & things are good! the RSA got back safe & sound a few days ago & i've been adjusting to having someone else in the house again (turns out that eight weeks is just about long enough to get so used to being on your own that it's slightly odd to suddenly have someone else around).
it's starting to feel like the long winter is over at last - the days have been really sunny, and it looks like spring might finally be peeking through.

photo 44
first crocuses!


& i've been knitting something designed to chase away the last lingering remnants of the winter grays.

sam socks
"sam" socks by cookie a. in wollmeise "sonne"


apart from that, i'm just trying to get back to normal - being on my own was a pretty big adjustment, and it seems that not being on my own is going to be an adjustment as well! hopefully it won't take too long, and i'll have more brainpower for blog posting soon.

Friday, February 26, 2010

gold medal knitting

well ahead of the finsh line, my knitting olympics project is complete - and i just managed to scrape through, with less than a metre of yarn left over (the tiny little scrap above the socks in the photo is what was left from the skein of yarn i used).

trystero socks


project specs:
started 12th february 2010, finished 25th february 2010
needles: 2.5mm addi circular (magic loop)
yarn: handmaiden casbah - almost exactly one skein (115g/325m)
pattern: trystero by cookie a.
modifications: i used a larger needle size (2.5mm instead of the recommended 2.25mm). i worked the pattern as written except i shortened the toe slightly, working the toe decreases to 28 sts total instead of the recommended 16 sts. for a UK6 foot, i worked foot chart C, chart A, chart C, and chart A ending on row 9.

trystero leg detail


this pattern is gorgeous, with some great, well-thought-out detailing (like all cookie a. patterns). the cuff ribbing flows nicely into the leg pattern, and the cable detailing framing the heel looks beautiful as well as being fantastically comfortable to wear. i'm really pleased with these, and i may have gotten me over my fear of cookie a. patterns - maybe i'll try these ones next!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

seven reasons

seven reasons why today was better than yesterday:

  1. the snow is gone - it turned to rain overnight, so everything's been washed away. it's been gray & rainy, but the wind is a lot calmer, so i'm no longer getting a face full of snow every time i walk out the door.
  2. welly boots plus woolly socks is a great combination (i even splashed through some giant puddles in the park, just because i could).
  3. i planned ahead, and brought spare clothes to work today, so i had something dry to change into after the rainy, puddly dog-walk in the park.
  4. we're now officially in single digits in the RSA-comes-back-from-india countdown - 9 days left!!!
  5. i had to get to the studio early for a courier pickup - i didn't love the early start, but i got lots of work done this morning, and even had time for some coffee & a cake.
  6. the courier pickup was a big box of yarn that was heading off to Loop London - who have started stocking some of my yarn!! (i'm super-excited about this as i always thought that Loop was a pretty swanky place, so i guess that means i'm swanky now too!)
  7. i finished my knitting olympics project, well ahead of schedule! (i'll take pictures tomorrow when there's better light.) i was completely convinced that i was going to run out of yarn, so much so that i'd dyed up a skein of my own merino/cashmere/nylon (a base that's almost identical to the handmaiden yarn i was using for the socks) in a colourway that i tried to match to the project yarn, in case i needed it - but i managed to finish the second sock with less than a metre of yarn left (which is just as well, since my dye-matching job wasn't too great).

maybe the week is picking up...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

i give up

we're in the middle of a completely ridiculous snow-blizzard here, so i've decided that's it for the day - i give up. the problem is not so much the snowiness (it's very wet snow, so it's not really "sticking", and the road surfaces are mainly clear) as the blowiness. the wind is so strong that the snow is "falling" more or less horizontally. & if you have to go out walking in it (which, if you have a dog, is pretty much a given) you instantly resemble some kind of human/yeti hybrid, as whichever side of you is facing the wind becomes immediately plastered with thick, soggy snow-globs. as for driving, the wind is also performing frequent, random gusts of multi-directional wildness, so you have to go considerably slower than normal, lest the road ahead of you suddenly disappear in a mad swirl of giant fat snowflakes.
by the time i got to the studio, i was fairly well drenched, & had to spend most of the afternoon wearing wet trousers; today was also the day that my nearly-brand-new snowboots (purchased during the last freak snowstorm a couple of months ago) decided they would spring a leak, so i also spent most of the afternoon in wet socks. despair.
so, what with everything, i've decided it's time to give up on the day. i closed up the studio a little bit early (i thought it was probably safe to say that nobody was coming in to see me today), and made a detour to tesco's on the way home, where i found something to cheer me up:

happy feet


wellies with butterflies on them, yay! hint - always check the kid's section. the largest kid's size is a UK 6, which is exactly the same as a UK women's 6, but their stuff is always way more fun. plus, if (like me) you suffer from disproportionately large calves, kids' boots tend to be shorter in the leg, which avoids the calf-size issue altogether. so until i get my proper winter boots replaced (they'll be going back to the store as soon as i can get up there - i'm really not happy that a so-called pair of serious walking boots only lasted 2 months!), at least i'll have happy, dry feet!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

olympic progress


trystero sock #1
olympic challenge sock #1, nearly completed

Thursday, February 11, 2010

citius, altius, fortius

i've decided, at almost the last minute, to attempt the knitting olympics this year. there aren't any hard & fast rules, except that a) you can't start your olympic project until the olympic flame is lit at the opening ceremonies, and you have to finish before the flame goes out at the closing ceremonies; and b) that whatever project you choose, it has to be something that will be a personal challenge for you to complete in these 17 days.
i had thought about joining in this time (i haven't before) but since i'd already started a few new projects recently, i figured i had enough going on, and i would probably give it a miss. but then i realised that one of my newly-started projects was going to be too small (i underestimated the circumference of my calf, and there's nothing worse than too-tight socks!) so it looks like i'm going to have to start over. the pattern is trystero from cookie a., whose sock patterns are beautiful, but full of intricate cables...

month 02 week 02 photo 03
trystero "swatch"


& although i've bought several of her sock patterns, as well as her new book, i've yet to knit any of them, because i'm frankly a little scared of how complex they all look! but i decided that it was about time i tried one of them - and actually, although you have to pay close attention to what's going on, it's not nearly as scary as i had thought it would be. & since i've had to rip out the first few inches of the first sock so i can change my needle size & start again, i've decided to make this my olympic project, and consider the first attempt my "swatch" (& swatching ahead of time is allowed!). maybe challenging myself to knit my first pair of intricate cookie a. socks will inspire me to move on to another of her patterns (which i bought ages ago, at the same time as this one, and really want to knit - but it's really scary!!).
& in case you suspect advance-knitting-olympic-cheating, i absolutely ripped out my "swatch" and will not be starting over until tomorrow - here's the proof!

olympic re-start


no head starts or false starts, i promise...

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

cheering my tuesday

look what arrived in the middle of my day-off drudgery (i'm not in the studio on tuesdays, which means i have to clean the house, boo!)...

un-valentine flowers


some "un-valentine" flowers from the RSA (who's still in india until the beginning of next month - but yay for online florist deliveries!). there were so many of them that they wouldn't fit in my one & only teeny, tiny vase, so i had to go get something to put them in (all i could find was a big glass pitcher, but i think it works!). while i was out, i may have accidentally stumbled into a sale of cheap dvds, and bought these three bad movies (whoops). so once i finished all my house-cleaning, i got back into my pjs, and have been alternating between watching dvds & gazing at my lovely flowers.
i also managed to finish these, so i've been wearing them as well (i love the colourway name, it makes me laugh every time i see them...

crabby mchappysocks
plain toe-up socks in socks that rock lightweight, colourway "crabby mchappypants"


and, i've finally started the shawl that i've been dying to start since i bought the yarn for it in paris this summer...

agatha shawl
agatha shawl, 4ply alpaca from la droguerie


so all in all, my tuesday has been well & truly cheered - how about you?

Monday, February 01, 2010

starting over

why is it, as knitters, that so many of us keep going with projects that we know just aren't working? we convince ourselves that somehow, if we just keep knitting, all our concerns about a project will disappear. somehow, it will fit properly, it will flatter us, it will work out...
and then, without much effort, we're confronted with an almost (or entirely) finished knit that just isn't what we wanted. it doesn't fit; or it fits, but in the least flattering way possible; or the pattern modifcations that we thought were such a good idea, really weren't; or the yarn/pattern combination is awful; and so on, and so on.
some knitters will deal with this problem by finishing the damn thing anyways, then wearing it once before folding it away in their closet of mistakes, from where it will never return. but some of us take a different route:

starting over


this was, up until yesterday, the o'keeffe cardigan, and it was very nearly finished - all i had left to do was sew on the sleeves & knit the collar. and as i was plodding away at it, the realisation was slowly dawning that this was not a good knit for me. it wasn't going to work the way i wanted it to, and it certainly wasn't going to look good on me. and despite knowing this, i kept on knitting - until it came to me. the only reason i wanted to finish this project was so that it would be finished. i didn't want to wear it; i wouldn't be happy with the result; i just wanted it done. and as far as i'm concerned, that's not a good enough reason.
so, i spent most of yesterday afternoon ripping out an almost-finished cardigan, and winding the yarn back into neat little yarn-cakes. and now, i'm starting over. i'm working from a "pattern" idea that i've already used (my january sweater, modified for an aran rather than a chunky weight yarn) - it's one of the cardigans that i wear all the time, so i know that it works for me. and although i'm a little disappointed that all that knitting work has been undone, i'd much rather have the extra effort go into something that i'll actually use - i don't have enough closet space to hang onto my mistakes.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

not a stranger

i hate to admit it, but i'm fairly certain that i'm not always the greatest friend. having an autistic spectrum disorder means that on any given day, i can be any or all of the following - self-absorbed, abrupt, inadvertently rude, awkward, selfish, unsympathetic, and socially unaware. & knowing this, i'm more than amazed to remember that i have such a great core group of friends. at the moment, we're meeting every week for a regular knit night - they know that i'm struggling on my own, and although they can't all make it all the time, at least a few of them have been meeting me every week to remind me that i haven't been totally abandoned, and to keep me attached to the "real world" in a way that i just can't manage on my own.

how strange to feel not a stranger
how much stranger could i be?
(deb talan, back to oregon)


maybe it helps that we're all a little "odd" - none of us seem to see the world in an ordinary way, so perhaps that makes them a little more forgiving of my peculiarities. but having come through a long childhood of always being the "weird" one, the one who was "too smart", the one who nobody really liked, i feel like i can't ever take having friends for granted.

i need my place at your table
i'll come for dinner when i can
(deb talan, "back to oregon")


and it amazes me that no matter how much i'm struggling, or how socially inept i feel, or how far inward i turn, they will be there. even if i can't manage to meet up with them when i'm supposed to - if the world becomes too much for me, and i need to retreat for a bit - i know that they're waiting out there for me to come back, and that when i do, they'll be as welcoming as they always are. and having people like them to help me navigate this difficult world is more than i could have hoped for (& you all know who you are).

Thursday, January 21, 2010

status report

i don't know how everybody makes it through the daily drill
paint their nails, walk the dog, pay every bill
(dar williams, "buzzer")


sorry about the small blog silence (and thank you to everyone who was concerned!). i'm pretty much ok - just really tired from working my way into the new habits of Being Alone. when you've been living with someone for quite a while (10 years, yikes!) i think you naturally settle into a routine, and a kind of division of labour happens - sometimes deliberately arranged, sometimes just something you fall into. one person does some tasks, the other does the rest, and everything gets done that needs to. but when you're suddenly on your own, you have to do everything yourself - and boy, is it tiring.
& it's not so much the fact that you now have to do all the daily tasks on your own - it's knowing that no matter what, you have to keep on doing them. there's nobody to say "hey, you look tired today - i'll do the laundry/take the dog out/clean the cat litter/pick up milk on the way home" - and that, more than anything, is what's utterly exhausting. there's no back up - just me, on my own, doing everything.
and it's going ok so far - i'm not living in squalor, or eating nothing but junk food, or living like a shut-in. i've been keeping things clean, keeping myself & the menagerie healthily fed, and have even been going to the gym (mainly out of boredom, but still...). and i've been making a point of getting together with friends every week for a knit night, and they're cheering me up no end.
but i'm not sleeping all that well (i'm a bad sleeper anyways, and even more so when i'm on my own) and i'm starting to get pretty tired, what with everything. and i'm definitely as lonely as i thought i would be - but i'm coping. and there are some small things every day that make me happy...

month 01 week 03 photo 01
basking in the afternoon sun


& maybe these small happinesses will be enough to get me through the 46 days that are left (not that i'm counting down, or anything...).

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

(heart) warming

month 01 week 02 photo 02
(month 01, week 02, photo 02)


a friend who comes to meet you for a night of knitting, because she knows you're lonely, even though she has a broken wrist...
it warms you up inside.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

my own devices

i'll admit, i'm not too great at managing on my own. when i'm left to my own devices, here's what happens: i eat rubbish junk food (i can't cook to save my life), i watch far too much bad tv, and i tend to avoid social contact in favour of talking to the dog. none of these things have ever been a big problem before, since the longest i've been left on my own for has been a few days here & there.
unfortunately, the RSA (the Resident Sock Appreciator, aka my partner) has just left for TWO MONTHS working in india - so i'm pretty sure my usual on-my-own habits aren't going to cut it for that length of time. luckily, the freezer has already been stocked with piles of easily-reheatable (& nutritious!) food, so that solves one problem; i've also filled up my lovefilm rental list with a bunch of great dvds, so that fixes the bad tv issue.
the last problem, however, is a little more difficult. having an autistic spectrum disorder means that i'm kind of naturally wired to avoid socializing - even if i want to have company, i'm not likely to actively seek it out. and although the RSA does a lot of practical "caring" for me as well (keeping me organised in the midst of life's chaos, keeping me positive when i'm more inclined to mope, and keeping me fed!) the most important thing she does for me is to link me to the "real world".
having aspergers is sort of like living on a small island - the rest of the world is happening around me, but i'm separated from it. it's not always a bad thing - parts of the island are nice & calm, and it's pretty relaxing to hang out here. but sometimes, it's really lonely, and scary, and weird - and luckily for me, i have someone who can bridge the gap between weird-alone island and the rest of the world, and make things less lonely over here. and the thought of two months of being cut off on my island is quite frightening.
it's not all bad - i do have a few very good friends who i'm sure will be looking out for me, and family who will no doubt be calling (a lot) to make sure i'm still alive. but there's noone that i feel as safe with as the RSA - and even the best of friends can't help with things like having to go to bed alone (i'm fairly certain that i'm not that good friends with any of them).
so, here's hoping that the two months passes quickly, and that i don't get too weird & reclusive from being stranded over here on my island....

Friday, January 08, 2010

staying warm

month 01 week 01 photo 05
cold snap? what cold snap??
month 01, week 01, photo 05