New Year Resolutions: Looking Back and Looking Forward

The turn of the year is an opportunity to review those resolutions from a year ago and make new ones. Who could have predicted what 2020 would become?

At the beginning of the year my blog was only a couple of months old. I was creating content every day and that was mostly knitting related. I’d started it as part of my plan to learn a new skill every year. I set some knitting and crafting New Year resolutions last January

  1. Make a Santa hat. I completed this last January, though I had fewer occasions to use it with no choir or ukelele gigs this Christmas. I never knitted a Bah Humbug version for K (who I described at the time as my personal Grinch). Maybe this year?

2. Knit a Christmas Jumper. I cast this on in April when the Pandemic had taken hold and it became my lockdown project. I bought the yarn online and remember quarantining the parcel for 72 hours before I opened it. I stopped knitting altogether at times but finally completed it in late August. I’ve loved wearing it this Christmas.

3. Keep on stash-busting. I had set out to use scraps of blue and grey yarn to make a cape/poncho but it didn’t workout. I pulled it out and redesigned it as a jacket which I finally finished a couple of days ago! This has made a smaller impression on the blue and grey parts of the stash than I’d hoped. I need to think about a project that will use another part of the stash.

The other craft materials I’ve accumulated got used too. Quilting fabric was made into masks and I used seaglass to make mosaic coasters and Christmas baubles. I made pheasant feather baubles too, and driftwood candle-shades, wax melts….

I still have piles of material in the craft room, so the stash-busting is ongoing.

4. Finish as many UFOs (Unfinished Objects) as I can . I completed a piece of tapestry during lockdown, which suited my state of mind at the time. Now it’s finished I’m not sure what to do with it as I don’t like it enough to frame or make into a cushion. I also finished a cobwebby scarf, a needlefelted unicorn from a kit among other things. There are still more projects to finish but I’m getting there.

5. Tidy up the craft room. This is ongoing and very much linked to 3 and 4 but at least I don’t have to share it with Son’s drum kit, which has been sold. he’s more of a guitarist these days.

6. Get out more – with my knitting. I had resolved to spend more time sitting in a car with a nice view while K walked the dog, but as lockdown began and there were no essential journeys allowed, driving to the beach stopped – later it was hard to get anywhere near as more and more tourists arrived in the area. I did get out more on my scooter for local dog walks and that reconnected me with nature, particularly wildflowers, and I started regular Wildflower of the Week posts on the blog. As Summer turned into Autumn the blackberries and sloes ripened and I got into preserving and making fruit gin liqueurs.

7. Improve my photography. I began using lenses that clip on to my mobile phone, including a macro lens for close ups of flowers. I also use tripods and remote shutter controls so my pictures are sharper. Still lots of room for improvement though!

8. Learn brioche. This was achieved when I made hand warmers, both 2 and one-coloured versions. I love the soft squishy feel of brioche stitch.

Of course I did other stuff this year. I have learnt a new skill : spinning yarn since I got an e-spinner for my birthday – with more equipment for Christmas I think this will take up a lot of crafting time in 2021, especially with all the gorgeous alpaca fibre I’ve been given.

So here’s my list of crafty intentions for 2021 – they deliberately include more of the same ongoing items, and some new ones.

  1. Make a Bah Humbug hat for K (like a Santa hat but in black).
  2. Continue stash-busting, including another big project, to be decided.
  3. Finish more unfinished projects
  4. Continue to sort and tidy the craft room
  5. Continue spinning, including a jumper for myself
  6. Get out more to knit if and when I can
  7. Keep improving the photography
  8. Learn how to dye yarn and fibre (this could be my new skill for 2021)
  9. Use natural fibres and upcycle/resuse/recycle wherever possible

I think that’s enough to be going on with!

Finally, a very Happy New Year to everyone who reads this. We got through 2020 and what it threw at us so we are well equipped to deal with anything this year sends our way. I remain hopeful that things will improve with the rapid rollout of vaccines. Here’s to a safer, calmer 2021.

Have you made any New Year resolutions?

Casting on for Christmas

At the turn of the year I made some knitting-related New Year resolutions (for the full list click here). One of these was to make a Christmas jumper. For several years running, as the Festive Season arrives, I’ve thought about how great it would be to have a really nice hand-knitted Christmas Jumper and promptly forgotten about it until the following year, when it’s far too late to do anything about it. With this in mind chose a pattern and ordered yarn a while ago. With social activities and trips out curtailed in the current lockdown, what better time to get started?

I found the Frosty’s Christmas pattern for a snowman jumper on the Drops Design website – one of thousands of the free patterns on the site, which also includes tutorials, hints and tips, an online shop and list of stockists.

Photo by Drops Design

It also has a yarn converter – all the Drops yarns are divided into groups: every pattern will recommend a yarn and provide alternative yarns – all yarns from that group can be used, sometimes using a double strand – the converter works out the weight/number of balls needed in your chosen yarn. That’s what I did. I fancied treating myself to something more luxurious than the 100% wool Drops Eskimo recommended but found that I could also knit this design using two strands of Drops Brushed Alpaca Silk (a 77% alpaca, 23% silk blend) so I bought that. This means that I’m also sticking to my “green” resolution to try and buy natural fibre yarns whenever possible.

The sweater is knitted in from the top down in stocking stitch, with raglan sleeves, constructed with separate front and back, rather than knitted in the round. It uses nice chunky needles (7mm) so it should take shape quite quickly. The details on the snowman’s face and the snowflakes are added afterwards. You have the option of knitting the snowman on the back too – you just don’t add the nose, scarf etc so you get the back view of him!

Now I’ve cast on the back and got started I’m really enjoying this. I did spend some time before I got to the snowman design rewinding the black and white yarns – the pattern only uses one ball of each and it is to be used double-stranded. The yarn is feather-light and super soft. I like the way it’s knitting up.

I’m really looking forward to wearing this at Christmas….and let’s face it we all need something to look forward to right now!

Boulmer, Boats and Birds: Working Towards the New Year Resolutions.

A different beach and a different project today. I’m making great progress with the New Year Resolutions too. We went to Boulmer (pronounced Boomer) and while K took the dog for a walk I knitted some stitches by the sea (definitely working on Resolution #6). This UFO is a project that’s been hanging about for a while: a cobwebby scarf in fine mohair yarn on 10mm needles made in garter stitch. This was sitting in the bottom of my knitting bag where it’s been on standby to be worked on in knit and natter groups if the other project I have taken with me requires too much concentration to allow simultaneous nattering and knitting. Must crack on and finish this one (Resolution #4)

  1. Make a Santa hat. There are always a number of times I need one over the festive season (eg choir/ukelele performances) and I always think how much nicer a hand- knitted one would be than the tacky felt one I’ve been using. By the time I think about this it’s always too late. To avoid this happening again I have already started this, so that’s the first new project for 2020 underway. If I enjoy doing it I might even make a Bah Humbug version for K, my own personal Grinch.
  2. Make a Christmas jumper. For exactly the same reasons as 1.
  3. Keep on stash-busting. I want to finish the Stashbusting Blues Cape/Poncho and look at what else I can use up. I recently came across the SABLE (Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy) acronym so I need to reduce what I have ….and that’s all craft materials, not just yarn.
  4. Finish as many UFOs (Unfinished Objects) as I can (which is linked to 3. in a way.
  5. Tidy up the craft room. When I retired, one of the first things I did was decorate the conservatory (which had become a bit of a dumping ground) and turn it into a workshop/studio /craft room and a place to store all my yarn and craft kit that was previously scattered around the house. I do have the share this space with son’s drum kit, but as I acquire more stuff, it silts up. This needs a good sort out which will in turn help with 3. and 4.
  6. Get out more – with my knitting. Sitting in a car with a nice view while K walks the dog, will actually increase my knitting output. At home there is always something else that needs doing before I sit down with the needles and yarn.
  7. Improve my photography. I was not impressed with the blurry knitting on this post. Needs work.
  8. Learn brioche. I keep seeing beautiful examples of this. It could even be my new skill for 2020

Boulmer was looking glorious in the sunshine and the beach was busy with families, and dog walkers. In an effort to improve my photography, I got the decent camera out to take these (Resolution #7)

Looking south from Boulmer
Boulmer is a safe haven for fishing boats, protected by rocky skerries, with a narrow entrance into the bay.
Looking north
Boulmer Village

The blue and white boat in this picture is a coble, the traditional fishing boat of the area. The sand here is fine, verging on mud and supports a lot of invertebrates and in turn wading birds. There were lots of oystercatchers, turnstones and curlews among others, feeding at the waters edge, flying up every time someone (or some dog) went past. The birdwatchers seem to congregate at Boulmer as I keep coming across reports of rare birds from here. This evening K found an online report of a black redstart seen today within 100m of where I was. I’ve never seen one of those before and I missed it!

Last night I completed the Santa Hat (Resolution #1)

This was very quick and easy to make – the pattern, Santas Hat by Angela Modzelewski is here. I didn’t have circular needles in the right size so I did it straight and sewed up the join. For the furry bit I used James C Brett Chinchilla which is incredibly soft and knits up on 10mm needles. The main red part is in James C Brett Chunky with Merino, which felt great to work with and knitted up very quickly on 6mm needles. If I do it again I won’t use the same yarn for the pompom which moults worse than my dog! I’d use a more conventional yarn (though the Chinchilla was perfect for the band, Now I have to put it away until Christmas 2020!

How are you getting on with your New Year Resolutions?

Taking to the Hills with New Year Resolutions

Happy New Year Everyone. I wish you all a very happy and healthy 2020, with a special shout out to all of you who have followed my blog and liked and commented on posts.

Every year I like to learn a new skill. In previous years I took on beat-boxing(!), playing the ukulele and online publishing. It got to November and I realised I didn’t have a new skill for 2019. That’s why I started the blog. I had thought about it, but this was the decider. I began blogging on 14th November and I’m loving it. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy writing and I’m really enjoying making contact with people on here, especially fellow knitters and crafters. Today I reached the 200 likes milestone.

Today we weren’t by the sea. We headed for the hills for the big dog walk. I took my knitting as you can just about see (more of that later). It gave me a chance to make a note of my New Year Resolutions.

  1. Make a Santa hat. There are always a number of times I need one over the festive season (eg choir/ukelele performances) and I always think how much nicer a hand- knitted one would be than the tacky felt one I’ve been using. By the time I think about this it’s always too late. To avoid this happening again I have already started this, so that’s the first new project for 2020 underway. If I enjoy doing it I might even make a Bah Humbug version for K, my own personal Grinch.
  2. Make a Christmas jumper. For exactly the same reasons as 1.
  3. Keep on stash-busting. I want to finish the Stashbusting Blues Cape/Poncho and look at what else I can use up. I recently came across the SABLE (Stash Acquired Beyond Life Expectancy) acronym so I need to reduce what I have ….and that’s all craft materials, not just yarn.
  4. Finish as many UFOs (Unfinished Objects) as I can (which is linked to 3. in a way.
  5. Tidy up the craft room. When I retired, one of the first things I did was decorate the conservatory (which had become a bit of a dumping ground) and turn it into a workshop/studio /craft room and a place to store all my yarn and craft kit that was previously scattered around the house. I do have the share this space with son’s drum kit, but as I acquire more stuff, it silts up. This needs a good sort out which will in turn help with 3. and 4.
  6. Get out more – with my knitting. Sitting in a car with a nice view while K walks the dog, will actually increase my knitting output. At home there is always something else that needs doing before I sit down with the needles and yarn.
  7. Improve my photography. I was not impressed with the blurry knitting on this post. Needs work.
  8. Learn brioche. I keep seeing beautiful examples of this. It could even be my new skill for 2020

I daren’t list any more, but there’s nothing to do with dieting, giving up anything or taking more exercise (though I probably should). This should be interesting to review in a year’s time.

Have you set yourself any knitting/crafty-related New Year resolutions