Temperature Blanket 2018 – March Update

This year I am making a temperature blanket!  I have chosen to make my blanket using the midday temperature, as defined by the Met Office app on my phone, at my home location.  I have an alarm set for 12.01pm each day and at this point I check the app and either record the temperature in my bullet journal or screenshot it to record when it is more convenient.  Then I crochet one row per day using the temperature and the following scale.

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You can find more information about the stitches, yarn and overall process in the post Temperature Blanket 2018 – January Update.

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Here’s March.  So much blue!  February ended with sub zero temperatures, snow and rows of purple yarn and that was how we started the month of March.  I was so hopefully that March would bring with it springlike weather and temperatures and a departure from the row after row of blue but it was not to be.

I have crunched the numbers, working out the average temperatures for each month using my blanket data and there has been an upward trend from the beginning of the year with March giving us more warmer days than January did but these warmer days were mainly still below 10 degrees celsius and therefore firmly in the blue zone.

The media were quick to herald the return of The Beast From The East mid month when the wind once again changed direction and brought us very cold air from Siberia but this time, in our low and flat bit of Yorkshire it didn’t bring us any more snow, just another row of purple.

As I have been complaining about the cold and willing Spring to spring forth I have been watching the effects of prolonged Winter on the garden.  These are photographs I took on the 21st March, the first day of Spring, this year and last.

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There is so much difference in the amount of greenery, shoots and blooms.  As I sit and write this almost a fortnight later there are a few more signs of the plants reemerging than there were on the 21st but we are still not up to the levels of last year.

The temperatures looked to be rising as we approached the end of the month but this year Easter fell over month-end and in the time honoured tradition of the the Great British Bank Holiday always having rubbish weather the temperatures went down again bringing overnight frosts and yet more blue.

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Quarter One is complete.  It is blue.  Really blue.  The day that I photographed this was grey and overcast with rubbish light and that is reflected in the vibrancy of the colours but I think that is a fair representation of the first three months of the year and so I am happy with the shot.  I am fond of the thick band of purple as it will always remind me of the first time my youngest child got to play in proper proper snow and the excitement we all felt at the unusual weather.

But I am now very ready for Spring, warmer days and some colours that aren’t blue!

Sock Club – Bend & Fold

This year I decided to organise a couple of crafting goals rather than just allowing myself to meander along between whatever projects catch my eye.  Not that I mean I’m going to stop choosing projects on impulse based on something cool I see on Instagram or Facebook or Ravelry or an idea that just happens to pop into my head but that I am going to do those things alongside the things I plan!  I have already posted about my Temperature Blanket , an ongoing crochet project that will take all year and for my knitting goal I am going to make myself 6 pairs of socks.

It seemed to me that the best way to achieve this knitty goal would be to sign up to a sock club.  A large number of the wonderful independent yarn dyers I follow run clubs but I felt myself drawn to The Knitting Goddess, I have bought yarn from Joy each time I have visited Yarndale and love her ethos of keeping it local, with all of her yarns being British and some being from Yorkshire.  It also doesn’t hurt that I also love the colours she uses!

Sock Club dispatches every 2 months with a skein of yarn delivered to my home and a pattern from the truly fabulous Clare Devine @ Knit Share Love arriving in my inbox and Ravelry library. This gives me a month to knit each sock and hopefully time to work those impulse makes in around them!

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This is the yarn for January. Its a blend of wool from Bluefaced Leicester sheep to make it soft and squishy and a little bit sheepy and nylon to make it strong enough for socks.  The colour is called Lepidolite which wikipedia tells me is:

Lepidolite is a lilac-gray or rose-colored member of the mica group of minerals with formula K(Li,Al,Rb)2(Al,Si)4O10(F,OH)2.[1][2] It is the most abundant lithium-bearing mineral[3] and is a secondary source of this metal. It is a phyllosilicate mineral[4] and a member of the polylithionite-trilithionite series

The theme for the sock club yarn is rocks and I am really looking forward to a drawer full of these earthy muted tones.

So to the pattern!  Clare has named this series of patterns Correlative Twins.  Each pair of socks contains two patterns for socks with similar but different patterns.  I have never been an odd sock wearer but the draw of learning more techniques and avoiding second sock syndrome was strong enough for me to overcome this barrier and knit one of each sock with my yarn to make the non matching pair.  You can find the pattern here on Ravelry.

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Sock one had these beautiful twisty cables made with twisted stitches and lots of knitting through the back loop.  I found the amount of counting needed to put my cables in the right places to be quite challenging and had to be careful to choose good times to knit these (not while watching my favourite TV shows!).

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Sock two had the same triangular panel containing the design but instead of twisty cables this one has a blocky arrow design.  I was feeling more confident by the second sock, found it knit up quicker and I think I like this one best.

Together the detail on both socks looks like this –

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And the full socks like this –

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The heels look a little funny on my sock blockers but are a detail on the socks which I really love.  On my feet they look much better!

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This is my first time shaping the gusset decreases beneath the foot but I find the little detail so pleasing I think it may become my go to heel shape in future.

I am thrilled with these socks and am really looking forward to pushing myself with new designs throughout the year.

Temperature Blanket 2018 – February Update

This year I am making a temperature blanket!  I have chosen to make my blanket using the midday temperature, as defined by the Met Office app on my phone, at my home location.  I have an alarm set for 12.01pm each day and at this point I check the app and either record the temperature in my bullet journal or screenshot it to record when it is more convenient.  Then I crochet one row per day using the temperature and the following scale.

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You can find more information about the stitches, yarn and overall process in the post Temperature Blanket 2018 – January Update.

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Here’s February!  Much like January it is very blue. February is my least favourite month of the year.  It feels like it has been Winter forever and yet Spring still seems a long way off.  I do not enjoy February.  The temperatures and blanket at the beginning of the month accurately reflect my mood, with wide stripes of colour and little change to add interest, it is just blah.

Towards the end of the month things started to get a bit more exciting!  We started to get temperature changes from day to day, the colours got mixed up a bit and then The Beast arrived!

Here in Yorkshire we are familiar with cold, wet winters but actual snow (as opposed to sleet) and prolonged freezing temperatures are far less common away from the hills. The Beast from The East is the name the media gave to the Siberian air which chilled the East of the UK for the last few days of February (and into March but that’s a story for next month!) giving us subzero temperatures throughout the days and wind chills leading to ‘feels like’ temperatures of -10 celsius in the middle of the day.  Brrrrrrrr, much colder than we are used to.

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And proper snow!  Snowman building, winter wonderland snow, enough to make my family very giddy!

But I chose to make my blanket with the midday temperatures.  Not the daily low nor taking wind chill into account so the lowest temperature recorded in my blanket in February was -2 and my dark purple colour.  I am fervently hoping that Spring is on it’s way as we move into March and that the temperatures will rise from here meaning I won’t get to use the colours I selected for extreme cold until next Winter and the very end of the year, if at all.

Would you like to see how the blanket looks with the year to the end of February?

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So blue!  Fingers crossed that March brings us some green!

Temperature Blanket 2018 – January Update

I don’t know if it’s just the circles I’m moving in but there seem to be a lot of people making Temperature Blankets this year.  I am, of course, no exception!

I am so excited by this project.  I have long been enthusiastic about the weather, loving to watch the sky, the clouds and the changing seasons and this blanket is the perfect way to use this obsession creatively.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept let me give you a quick overview.  The maker creates a colour key with different colours representing different temperatures and then uses this to create something lovely.

I am in a Facebook group with over 1000 members some of whom are making scarves, there are a couple of snakes and lots and lots of blankets!  People are knitting, crocheting and using looms and I love watching their creativity.  Some are using bright colours, some pastels, some variegated yarn and some beautiful muted shades.  There are people adding in special rows for snow or celebration days, some are working the high temperature, some the low, some both and some the average.  There are blankets for this year’s weather and also many using historical data to celebrate the first year of a loved ones life, the first year of a marriage or another meaningful year from the past.  In short there are no hard and fast rules!

I have chosen to make my blanket using the midday temperature, as defined by the Met Office app on my phone, at my home location.  I have an alarm set for 12.01pm each day and at this point I check the app and either record the temperature in my bullet journal or screenshot it to record when its more convenient.  So that equates to just one row per day for me for all of 2018.

Do you want to see my colour choices?

I’m sure it will come as no surprise to regular visitors here to see that I am using a rainbow of colours, nor that I am using Stylecraft Special DK, my blanket yarn of choice for some years now.  As well as loving rainbow colours I also find myself drawn to the idea that cold is blue and hot is red with my colours echoing those on the TV weather maps.

I am using the temperatures in celsius (which has caused some confusion talking to American crafters) and fairly narrow bands to ensure lots of colour changes and variations as my blanket grows.  I think its pretty unlikely that I will use the colours at either end of my spectrum but you never know and I feel happy to be prepared for extreme weather.

I decided to crochet my blanket and plan for it to live on the back of the sofa when it is complete.  Using the sofa as a size guide I began with a chain of 304 stitches which has made my blanket around 150cm wide.  From my browsing around Pinterest and Ravelry before starting I found many people using tall stitches were surprised by just how long their blankets were ending up and so I chose the shortest stitch I could think of, linen stitch also sometimes known as moss stitch.  And it turned out to be a great decision.  By measuring my progress after a couple of weeks and then doing a couple of quick sums I have calculated that my finished blanket will be around 150cm square before I add a border, perfect for sofa snuggles!

So here are the first 31 days of the year.

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January is blue!  I have loved watching the patterns emerge.  The odd warmer days in the first half of the month showing up as spots of paler blue.  The single row of purple marking the day that was still freezing at midday and then the period of much milder weather, so mild in fact that there were a couple of days of teal.

The eagle eyed among you may also have spotted the little strand of metallic silver thread at the far right of the photograph.  I didn’t really want to mark the month ends in this blanket, preferring to let the colours flow into each other but thought this teeny bit of sparkle might help when looking over the full year to see where the months end and begin.

I love the way the story is emerging and I’m really pleased with the overall look of the stitch as well.  I am so excited to see how the rest of the year unfolds.

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Decemberist

Brrrrrrrr!  Tis the season of lovely warm scarves!  When I saw Countess Ablaze post her Decemberist shawl on Instagram I knew I wanted one to wrap my neck in all the snuggliness and keep me warm for the rest of the winter.

The Decemberist is a top down triangular shawl pattern by Melanie Berg knitted in super chunky yarn and is brilliantly written and easy to follow.

I love to knit with indie dyed yarn and all of my other shawls and scarves are in a beautiful riot of hand crafted colours.  But I felt a bit intimidated by the 293 metres of yarn the pattern calls for.  That takes it into three 200g skeins of most indie dyed yarns which given my confidence level before starting the project seemed like a lot of money for something I might mess up.  So I choose the budget brand Drops Andes in their medium grey (colour number 8465) which is a wool/alpaca blend and I was pleasantly surprised by both how soft it was and how well it behaved while knitting.

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Just look at those great big chunky stitches!  I knitted mine on 9mm needles and it has a nice drape but I don’t think that 10mm would have hurt at all.

It was so much fun to knit such large yarn on great big needles and watch how fast it grew into a shawl.  In fact the blocking took almost as long as the knitting!

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Pinning it out really opened up the gorgeous lace pattern and was definitely worthwhile but I live in a draughty, cold, old house and it was taking aaaaaggggggeees to dry.  So I changed tactics for the last bit with a rigged up washing line, all of my pegs and the trusty aga.

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Then it was ready to wear!

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So for less than £10 and under a week’s worth of evening only knitting I have a lovely shawl!

But… as big and snuggly as it is I kind of want it to be bigger!  Mine didn’t come out to nearly as big as the pattern designer’s and looking through the Ravelry Project Gallery this is a common theme among those not using the pattern specified yarn.  The pattern calls for Woolfolk Hygge which I have struggled to find to buy in the UK and Yarn Sub say that they do not know of many closely matching yarns.

As it was Countess Ablaze that set me on this journey, and now I know how wonderful the pattern is, I think I’m going to knit another using some of their lovely yarn!  I’ll also go up a needle size or two and I’ll be sure to let you know how I get on. 🙂

 

Sophie’s Stool

I bought the Sophie’s Stool Kit on a total whim.  I had no burning desire to own a new stool, in fact I’d not even come across the idea of making a cover for a pre constructed stool until the lovely, but seriously enabling, Mrs Snufflebean started posting photographs of the kit on her social media pages!  But once I had seen it I knew I needed it!  The kit includes a wooden stool with a padded top, 9 skeins of Scheepjes Catona cotton yarn, a label and some buttons along with a pattern for the stool cover which does send you to the Sophie’s Universe pattern for the mandala.

I have long admired the Sophie’s Universe Pattern by Dedri Uys which was a crochet-along to make a blanket in 2015. Last year I went as far as to buy the book containing the full pattern but I haven’t made the blanket yet, I intend to this year and would highly recommend the book.  Although the pattern is available for free online the book is a thing of beauty with lots of very clear, step by step photographs which I used to make my stool cover and is, in my opinion, well worth a purchase.

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So you may have seen the mandala that makes up the top of the stool before as I finished making it with a couple of days of 2017 to spare and included it in my Year in Yarn post.

I haven’t shared the side view though.

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In her pattern Dedri points out that her crochet tension is tight and that it is important to swatch, measure and change hook size accordingly.  As I love to live dangerously (!) and very rarely do any of these things my cover is too big and overhangs the sides!  That deep section in pale blue is supposed to be on the top not halfway down the edge.  But I don’t think it detracts from the beauty at all.

The sides are then made up of lovely stripes of linen/moss stitch which I think I might love almost as much as the top. These colours together and this pattern are right up my street, I love everything about it.

 

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The eagle eyed among you may have noticed a difference between the two full length pictures of the stool above.  The first one shows the stool legs to be barefooted whereas in this one they have socks on!

I remain undecided about the socks.  My children love this stool and on our wooden floors the socks cause it to slip about more than it does without.  They are also a level of frippery to which I do not usually reach, I tend to like my lines a bit more straightforward and plain.

But they are just so pretty!  Especially with the gorgeous buttons from the kit sewn on.

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I just don’t know what to do about the socks!  As I type this the stool is still wearing two socks and there is a third almost finished in my WiP bag.  I have moved on to other projects, some knitting which has really captured my interest and another crochet project, I can feel these socks slipping away.  I am so tempted to take off the already completed socks, move the stool from my works-in-progress to a completed project, both on Ravelry and also in my mind but then where would the harm be in finishing the socks eventually…?  Decisions, decisions!

2017 – My Year in Yarn

As the year draws to a close and with my last project off the hook I want to reflect back upon the last twelve months in yarn based projects.  And also crunch the numbers, I love statistics!

When I think back over the year the first thing that comes to mind is blankets as they took up the bulk of my crafting time.  I made two blankets this year, my Spice of Life Blanket and my Sunny Log Cabin Blanket.

While the blankets may have taken the most time, I think the most exciting make of the year would have to be publishing my first two patterns for a Swaledale Sheep and a Woolly Bully.

Last year was all about the wreaths with 16 wreaths made!  This year I only made 4.  My Moorland Wreath in the colours of Attic24’s CAL and with the interchangeable sheep or cow sitting inside; my Balloon Bunny Wreath; and two Mini Autumn Wreaths with little gnomes.

2016 also featured more socks, I made just two pairs this year Rhian Socks and a pair of basic socks.  I intend to make more next year and branch out further into patterned socks.

Sticking with the wearables I made six pairs of wrist warmers; Victorian Shell MittsGreen Thumb MittsRainbow Shell Wristwarmers; and after my children saw the rainbow mitts and declared them just like Wonder Woman’s gauntlets and requested a pair each, 3 more of the same pattern!

From feet and hands lets move up the body to shawls and scarves. Three of them this year.  Reyna ShawlSeafoam Scarf and Close to You.  I have several in my Ravelry queue for next year so I expect them to feature heavily in 2018.

To finish off the wearables, hats.  I also made a baby cardigan this year but as it had a matching hat it can sit in here!  So one hat for me, my Sweet Trellis Beanie, two Pixie Baby Hats, one hat with a matching cardigan and a Rainbow Toddler Hat.

Which brings us to the stuff which can’t be neatly categorised!  I made 8 butterfly flowerpots which I sold as Mother’s Day gifts. A Yarny. Three little sunflowers for A Flower for Jenny.  A Scottish Thistle.  A Yarndale Creative Heart.  A Fat Fabulous LadyChunky Holly, Two Baby Sloths, A Yarny Christmas Card and 7 little things to go in Christmas Crackers.

And finally two beautiful mandalas to bookend the year.  I made my Starflower Mandala in the first week of January and finished my Sophie’s Stool today with just a few days of the year remaining.

 

So drumroll please…

… 2017 a year in yarn in numbers.

2 blankets, 2 patterns, 4 wreaths, 2 pairs of socks, 6 pairs of wristwarmers, 3 shawls, 5 hats, a baby cardigan, 27 things that defy classification and 2 mandalas.  Phew!

54 separate items (if we count the pairs of socks and mitts as just one thing each).

Just 12 of them, or 22%, knitted the rest in crochet showing a clear bias towards my yarn craft of choice.  I would say that this is because the majority of the fiddly little bits are crochet but the biggest items, the blankets, are also crochet and so it seems fair to say that crochet is dominant here.

I wonder how next year will measure up!