stashdash2016

The Gift of Knitting

This week has been a particularly trying one. Lots going on at home and the impending school holidays rushing towards us like a juggernaut. School activities always take on  more of a frenzy at this time of year, particularly so this time as it is my DS1's last few days at primary school (cue emotional wreck of a mum in the corner).

Knitting the Amulet shawl - in fabulous speckled yarn from Countess Ablaze.

Knitting the Amulet shawl - in fabulous speckled yarn from Countess Ablaze.

Lots of school plays and after-school activities have meant that my normally busy day has had to expand into the evenings with a sort of taxi-shuttle run service to and from school.

Never have I been more grateful for my knitting. With my trusty project bag (or two) stowed safely in the car I truly don't mind having to sit and wait for an hour (and I would rather do that than waste time and petrol by shuttling to and from home).

Last night, it was a balmy evening for once so I left the car and found myself a perch on a bench in the school grounds. The doors to the junior hall were open (to avoid the occupants dying of heat stroke) and the sounds of joyous (and only slightly off-key) singing wafted across the field.

The previous night I had been watching both my boys perform (whilst dying of heat stroke, seated on a tiny chair) with a tear in my eye and a very full heart. But last night was special too. Just me and my knitting (the new Amulet shawl from Curious Handmade, in case you were wondering) and a fabulous summer evening. I even had hot coffee. And for that one perfect hour - I could bask in the sense of a job well done. No where to be and nothing to do apart from knit - that's my kind of evening.

Ambitious? My weekend knitting plans.

I have high hopes of some serious knitting action this weekend.

As well as two designs that need to be finished - one shawl and one pair of socks - I have two other exciting projects clamouring for my attention.

Keeping busy this weekend.

Keeping busy this weekend.

The first is the new shawl design from Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade. The Talisman shawl is the first in a series of six shawls which she has called The Shawl Society. Each month sees the release of a new pattern which is kept secret until the release date. As you would expect from Helen, tons of additional information is provided in terms of yarn choice, sizes and top tips to help you achieve a great looking shawl.

I'm not sure that I will manage to keep up with all six - the KAL running over on Ravelry is super busy and full of lots of chatter - but I know that I will be able to work my way through them in my own time and end up with a series of fabulous shawls at the end.

My own personal challenge during this KAL is to use up yarn from my stash, and to use the yarn I have to showcase the fabulous range of indie dyers we have in the UK. Many of the 4ply skeins I have in my stash have come to me via The Golden Skein yarn club and are from some brilliantly talented dyers. As each shawl design is kept secret it is difficult at this stage to know which yarns I will be using but I have quite a lot to pick from so I think I should be OK.

I am knitting Talisman in one of the recommended yarns, which must be a first for me. It just so happened that I had a coveted skein/cake of the Wool Kitchen's Urban Hints yarn which was one of the ones Helen used for the samples.

Urban Hints is a wonderful gradient yarn that gradually introduces speckles of darker colour until eventually you transition fully from light to dark. Interestingly though, Helen opted to start with the dark shade on the outside of the cake and work towards the lighter centre - so I am copying her :) I think the lighter border will work really well with the long crescent shawl border.

Working clockwise we have a sock design using lovely Rusty Ferret yarns from Fluph. My tech editor is primed and ready to go with the pattern draft so I just need to get a wriggle on and get these beauties off the needles.

Next up we have a shawl design using the fabulous new Wenslydale/Shetland 4ply from the Knitting Goddess. Again this is nearly 75% done and just needs a final push to see it on to the next stage of it's journey.

And finally, we have the amazingly addictive Vivid blanket which is approaching completion. Happily the new parents have requested a small pram-sized blanket as all their larger blankets keep dragging on the ground. This means that a 4x3 square arrangement will work perfectly. Just 1 square to go and then I get to practice my mattress stitch skills and turn it into a Finished Object. One more to go towards my Stash Dash total.

Right, that's my objectives sorted. How about yours? Do feel free to leave a comment below or tag me on social media with your #weekendknitting plans.

 

All hail the mighty KAL

There seems to be something in the knitterly brain that happens around the beginning of June. Always happy to be swept along or enabled into casting on 'just one more pattern', the onset of June traditionally sees the start of a whole festival of KALs. And I for one, am happy to go along for the ride.

First up, I do have to give a plug for my own KAL - Running from June 1st to Jul 31st for those knitting the Hebridean Hap. This was inspired by and designed using the fabulous Daughter of a Shepherd yarn from Rachel Atkinson (of My Life in Knitwear). You don't need to use the specific yarn but you do need to have a love of squishy garter stitch, cosy shawls and a bit of fun chatter. The thread is over on my Ravelry group - please do pop over and say hi. If you are knitting the hap, show us your shawl and if not, maybe we can tempt you?

Next up is the #summersockskal run and hosted by the brilliant Rae (aka MmedeBeauvoir on Ravelry and Psychoknitter on Instagram). Rae is hosting a really fun and chatty group for this celebration of all things sock related - her Ravelry group is here.

There are no rules - other than to chat about socks, sock patterns, sock tips and general enabling. Whether you are new to socks or an experienced sock ninja the group is open and welcoming to all comers.

Of course, at the root of this summer related knitting obsession is the annual Stash Dash event. Hosted by the KnitGirlls and running from the end of May to mid August the aim is to keep track (in metres and Km) the exact amount of yarn which leaves your stash in the form of finished objects. All the details and answers to many questions can be found over on their group - but with goals ranging from a 3K jog to a 15K marathon it has a wide ranging appeal and is wildly popular.

And just in case I was in danger of finding myself with insufficient WIPs, two new KALs appear in view to tempt me.

Helen of Curious Handmade has announced the launch of her new secret Shawl Society pattern club. Starting on June 8th the first shawl pattern will be released and one of the recommended yarns - Urban Hints - is that dyed by my friend and fellow woolhead Helen of The Wool Kitchen. A skein of that very yarn currently resides in my stash so it would be rude not to join in..no?

 

 

And then, just to finish me off, the charming Ellipsissy on Ravelry (the_ellipsissy on IG) posted a few pictures of her new project - the Vivid blanket squares by Tincan Knits. Except she is knitting them in superb natural yarns from Isla of BritYarn. Totally gorgeous and utterly compelling. A wet and windy bank holiday weekend (is there any other) saw me grabbing the needles and some stash yarn and casting on. Six squares later I appear to have accidentally started a new baby blanket project (the good news is that each completed square counts towards my Stash Dash tally) and also agreed to host an informal KAL on my group. The #minivividkal is growing by the day though and isn't quite as mini as it once was.

There is something extremely addictive about these innocent looking little squares - please do pop over to the group to check them out - but don't say that I didn't warn you :)

Right, that's enough from me I think. If anyone wants me this weekend I'll be hiding in the spare bedroom frantically knitting whilst my family subsist on peanut butter sandwiches and takeaway pizza.

 

Happy Knitting!