Friday, 28 August 2015

Setting Goals

The combination of an energising family holiday and the annual 'back to school' enthusiasm for new routines and new habits has lead me to thinking and planning for the next few months.

I have always tended to focus on a monthly planning system - my Bullet Journal but invariably some tasks take longer than a month to achieve, or (all too often) they fail to progress at all leading to a vague sense of dissatisfaction.

There has been a lot of discussion recently about developing habits over 100 days rather than the more conventional 21 or 28 days and much has been written about why cognitively, this may prove to be more effective than traditional monthly goal setting Read here and here if you are interested more in this - it makes for fascinating reading.

Also, as I increasingly work with commissions and other folk within the fibre industry I am coming to realise that my work and knitting time needs to be planned much more in advance in order to avoid the dreaded deadline overwhelm.

With this in mind a bunch of my Ravelry group members have come together to form a chat thread over on my board. Some are using the 100 day approach and some are using monthly goals but all are offering friendly support and (gentle) accountability. There are no firm objectives and no pressure to achieve anything, it is just a helpful way for us all to stay on track and get some FOs off those needles over the coming months.

I get the feeling that I'm going to need an incentive to keep working on this:

Cosy Stripe blanket in Stylecraft Acrylic


Why not pop over and join us. We may even inspire you to set a few goals of your own - some of the group members have some great ideas. Likewise, if you have any tips or tricks for goal setting do please let me know. I'm always keen to hear what works for other people.

Monday, 24 August 2015


You may have gathered from the radio silence that I have been taking a little break. A well earned family holiday in the Lake District has been just the thing for recharging the batteries and spending some time making happy family memories.
Random images from our Cumbrian holiday

I packed the knitting of course but hill walking, bird watching and general outdoorsy activities left very little time for knitting. In fact I barely picked up the needles at all. What was even more strange was that I didn't feel the urge to either.

Instead I read. A 'proper' book - as opposed to using my Kindle. I also map read and spent time in the Youth Hostel's bird hide. I haven't bird watched in years but seeing it though my children's eyes made it so much more fun than I remembered.

I came to the conclusion that, in large part, my compulsion to knit is a reaction to the low-level, everyday stress that many of us face. Deadlines, homework battles, the dreaded packed lunches. With that taken away I was happy just to sit and be.

With this in mind I have decided to be kind to myself and have a gentle re-entry back into my normal everyday activities. I also plan to carry on with my reduced use of electronic gadgets (although I may backslide a little on this one) and spend a bit more time outdoors.

With all the laundry to be done though, not to mention 'back to school' shoe shopping I have a feeling that the knitting will be much needed by the end of today.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

A Stash Dash triumph

Today marks the end of Stash Dash 2015 - an epic challenge hosted by the Knit Girlls to knit 3K, 5K or 10K's worth of yarn from your stash.

Me, being me I had to go for the 10K challenge and I have to admit that there is no way on earth I would have achieved this, were it not for the Mitered Crosses blanket which acounted for over 5K of yarn all by itself.

My Stash Dash 2015
So, clockwise from top left we have:
Hitchhiker 400m
I Heart Stripes shawl 365m
Shetland Trader MKAL 453m
Traveller Tunic - 973m (The shame - I still need to take a modelled picture of this one
Drachenfels  939m
Log cabin-ish blanket 1002m
Watermelon Stripes 268m
Mitered Crosses blanket 5034m
Trickle Shawl 385m

All the links take you to my Ravelry pages in case you want more details of yarns, patterns etc. Also a few lovely members of my Ravelry group - Louise Tilbrook Designs - joined in too and we posted details of all our projects here. Do check them out as there are some fabulous inspirational projects there.

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this years challenge and getting some larger projects off the needles was very motivating.

Now all that remains is the question - Is it too early to start planning for next years challenge?

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Taking it Easy

After the rather frenetic pace of Stash Dash I feel the need to slow down a little in my knitting. Clearing some longer term projects – I’m looking at you MiteredCrosses blanket – has been very rewarding but I now need a more relaxed project. Something to savour and enjoy.

Work knitting is quite busy right now with deadlines aplenty and several designs in the pipeline and I need something for recreational knitting that I can relax with and enjoy. Something to knit for pure pleasure and luckily I have just the thing.

This skein of gorgeousness is by the very talented Eleanor of Solstice Yarns in a much admired custom-dyed colourway called Beetle. Eleanor has dyed this colourway onto a range of her bases and my skein has been sitting patiently in my stash, awaiting its turn to shine.

The SolsticeYarns group are having a relaxed KAL from August through the end of the year – a ‘Beetle-along – allowing people to share their projects and inspiration for this beautiful yarn.

Southern Shawl - © Truly Myrtle

I am going to be making the Southern Shawl by Libby of Truly Mrytle Designs. There is a lot of simple stocking stitch and texture which I think will work really well with this silky smooth yarn and the lace at the end looks particularly pretty and delicate.

Even better – the shawl is asymmetrical in construction, meaning that I can double dip with the Yarns at Yin Hoo Aymmeti-CAL – always a bonus.

The main aim with this project is to slow down a little and just to enjoy the project for it's own sake. With yarn so beautiful I want to enjoy the whole process and this shawl looks like the perfect way to do that.

Thursday, 6 August 2015

The Ultimate FO: Roundup of the Mitered Crosses Blanket

This project has been a long one, there's no denying it. The truth is there for all to see on my Ravelry page. The Mitered Crosses blanket started way back in 2013:

Date started: 29.03.2013
Date finished: 28.07.2015

In progress: much caffeine required

During the course of the project and latterly, through my participation in Stash Dash 2015 I have received lots of very kind encouragement and also a lot of questions, some of which I'll do my best to answer here.

I found that it helped to knit the squares in batches, working a series of coloured centres (as many as I could get from one skein) and then going along and adding all the neutral borders. This helped to keep the project portable as I didn't have to drag all the yarn along with me. All the squares were joined at the end - I used this tutorial for joining using crochet - which also maintained its 'portability'.

Working outside for a change of scene
My top tips:
  • When picking up stitches for the neutral border I used this tutorial, picking up through 1 'leg' of the stitch only to create as flat a seam as possible.
  • Be careful to pick up the exact number of stitches along each centre square - this makes joining the squares a lot easier and avoids wonky corners (ask me how I know).
  • Weave in the ends after each square is completed. I tried to do this religiously but a surprising number found their way into my project box without this crucial step.
  • When you pick up the project after a length of hibernation - and you will - check the pattern to make sure you are casting on the right amount of stitches for your mitered square. As well as this project I am also doing a mitered sock yarn blanket which calls for a different number of starting stitches. Why, yes. I am easily confused. How did you know?
Some assembly required

Without Stash Dash 2015 I don't think I would never have had the impetus to finish this project, but sharing my progress and receiving all of your feedback and encouragement has been invaluable.

Thank you all so much

In place - and cat free (for the moment)

Yarn used: Shilasdair Luxury dk. Each 100g skein has 340m (372 yds). This yarn has now been discontinued but a very similar one is still available just with a slightly different fibre content

7 = the number of semi-solid colours used
8 = the number of neutral skeins used

6 = the number of squares I got from each colour
2.25hrs = the time taken to knit one full square (42 x 2.25 = 94.5 hrs)
1.25hrs = the time taken to add a neutral border (42 x 1.25 = 52.5 hrs)
15hrs = approximate time for seaming and single crochet border

A grand total of 162 hrs

Monday, 3 August 2015

Word of the Month for August - Slow

After much deliberation I have decided to go with the word 'Slow' for my new word of the month.

I am usually the Queen of Multitasking. I love a list as much as the next person and I revel in being able to tackle more than one task at a time. But sometimes this leads to errors, to things half done and a sense of being constantly rushed and harried.
So this month with the boys off school, no homework and few planned activities I am going to take the opportunity to slow down and appreciate the here and now.

In the kitchen - taking the time to read through some of my beautiful but rarely used cook books and plan some new meals.

In my knitting - with the end of Stash Dash in sight I am going to be picking some nice, relaxed knits with Autumn in mind.

With the family - a relaxed walking holiday in the Lake District beckons. A welcome (wi fi free) break and a chance for us all to kick back and enjoy some fun family time.

If any of this strikes a chord with you do leave me a comment below and let me know how you will be taking it slowly this month.