Sunday, 19 January 2014

2013 unravelled, 2014 cast on

Looking back over 2013, it's been a year for hopping about. I've delved into some knitting design (Elizabeth Zimmermann inspired), lots of scouring, or washing of my large stock of Ryeland fleece prior to spinning it, attempts at using up small quantities of hand-dyed and handspun yarn using crochet, an experiment in growing and processing flax, and even cross-stitch and kantha stitching entering into the fray.

There have been some surprises as I never expected to find myself pulling out the needles and thread to start on some home furnishings and accessories.


Call it being easily swayed, but it was partly turning a corner to the last leg of the long house renovation project mentioned on blog posts before (it's so much part of our lives) that made me think of furnishing the home with some home-made home style. Before that, when faced with the vision of walls taken back to brick, incomplete floors and dismantled sash windows, I couldn't contemplate knitting, crocheting or sewing for a space that looked like a building site.

Nevertheless, after coming across a book called 'The Gentle Art of Stitching' by Jane Brocket I found myself cross-stitching an alphabet sampler (destination - the new living room walls?) and working some Kantha stitching into making a pair of large-scale patchwork curtains. I never thought I would be doing either cross-stitch or embroidery. It's made me think that there are so many avenues to be explored, if you love all things fibre and textile related, and getting diverted is all too easy. How easily are you diverted? Do you have strategies for keeping yourself on track? Or, do you say 'hang it, I'm doing this now'.

Still, there are projects a-plenty to finish and other ambitions lurk. There is so much to explore in the world of knitting, like Fair Isle, Shetland lace and Scandinavian knitting. I'm drawn by the rich culture, evoking wind-swept remote places. I don't live anywhere like this, so is this armchair travel by knitting? The fiddliness involved might try my patience though. Start small with these, that's my tack. Swatching might be all that I can manage for now.

Coloured Ryeland sheep
I hanker after knitting with natural fibre yarns, as much as possible: that's been there for a while, but it's also a natural follow-on from learning to spin, and appeals to the conservationist in me. Those pure breed sheep/alpacas/angora goats need our business, or rather the farmer does, of course. It looks like artisan and pure breed yarns are on the up, or so it seems from perusing blogs and twitter. For instance, if you wonder 'shall I knit with pure wool - isn't it rather expensive?', for woolly inspiration try reading Campaign for wool and Wovember. I'm sure you'll be drawn in. I've not seen campaigns on quite the same scale for other fibres, but here's one to help alpaca artisans in Peru.

Then there's the art of the small knitting project, so handy for using up the yarn stash. The yarn/fabric stash is something that has been sitting upstairs in the loft and squeezed into drawers around the place, niggling at my conscience. Coming across an article in the paper about The family who bought nothing new for a year brings 'the stash' into focus again. Just when I think 'maybe I'll get some yarn and knit up that jumper pattern I like', the voice of reason says 'but you've got enough unused yarn and fabric to make a whole new wardrobe of clothes and accessories, for you, Mr L and friends, no problem! I've come across the call to Buy nothing new  for a year before, and marvel at everyone who achieves it. I'm not sure I could commit to buying nothing new this year, but I could seriously challenge myself to use what I have and delve again into that stash.

Added to that, I've developed an obsession for making something from scratch. From the fleece on the back of sheep in the field to a finished woolly (knitted or crocheted), from a flax crop in a field to a piece of linen cloth. Where does the desire for the complete process come from? All the washing, carding, spinning, dyeing, harvesting, bashing, (breaking), heckling ....I really don't know. Perhaps it is the delving into a lifestyle; one that has shrunk from being a central part of daily life to being, mostly, a hobby for a few (at least in this part of the world).

Blogs - I have had so much entertainment, and learnt so much. I could spend hours at any one time. And then there are podcasts. I have recently discovered Electric Sheep from Hoxton Handmade, which to me, has the soothing, relaxed feel of Radio 4. I'm awaiting the next one. Last, but not least, I have been on Pinterest. It started with sorting out some ideas for the house and has grown. Find me on Pinterest as Liz at In Stitches Daily. Here's to 2014....

2 comments:

  1. My stashes are legendary...craft stack (ribbons, thread, felt) in the dining room...two deep drawers under the bed (one full of wool, the other of rubber stamps and card-making bits) in the spare room, a huge box (card and paper) in my bedroom...I keep meaning to knit myself a throw or a rug to use the wool up; perhaps a square at a time so it becomes a multi-coloured sampler of stitches?
    Must also look into sock wool sourced more locally too...

    PS - liking the new look to the blog!

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  2. Ah ha, so someone else is guilty too... I also have a whole drawer full of card-making bits and rubber stamps. Stashes have way of multiplying themselves (I think elves creep in during the night and plant things in drawers). The multi-colour rug sounds like a good idea - something you can work on when you have the inclination, and shrink the size of the wool stash. Thanks for the comment on the new look blog - I thought it needed a face lift.

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