2021: Knitting, Spinning and Other Crafts

Greetings from a windy, but otherwise strangely mild Treehouse! I hope you’re all well and able to enjoy these last few days of the year. This is the second part of my look-back at my year. I’ve been using these days off to make a start on sewing my winter coat in Shetland wool, knit on my allover, and start new projects. As I type this I’ve some yarn on the stove, with the eye to do a last bit of natural dyeing before the year is out with some dyestuff I’ve been holding on to for many months waiting for me to carve out a bit of time to put it to use. I’ve also been reflecting and doodling in my craft journal and it’s been fun to revisit my year in crafts (doodling my year in crafts sure goes faster than the actual making of all these things, phew!). I’ve also been thinking ahead of the new year, and wondering what will come up in my craft reflections next year. I’m not making any resolutions or challenges or plans for the next year but I’m enjoying the anticipation of what might be.

We will be ringing in the new year in our Treehouse burrow. We’re planning to make pizza and probably bake something sweet and toast to the new year when the bell drops. We will be comforting the cats from all the loud booms and sparkles outside (despite being in a lockdown which includes a fireworks embargo, like last year, I’m expecting the fireworks to be bonkers again (also like last year)). We’ll make our annual year drawing and doodle page in which we draw out our memorable and sweet moments of the past year and reflect on the year and make room for the new. There will be no resolutions, but there will be hopes, dreams, good thoughts and wishes for the new year.

This is the year that I’ve truly become a multi crafter. Or perhaps not became one, but I became to see myself as one. Before this year my other endeavours outside of knitting and sewing were perhaps too sporadic and haphazardly to see myself as a multi-crafter and even when I became a regular spinner I still saw myself as a knitter, sewist and spinner separately. But with my crafts more and more interacting and intertwining with each other and me adding more crafts to the “stuff I regularly do” pile I’ve come to regard myself as a multi crafter as well. I guess there is also some snobbery directed at the word multicrafter (as in ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ where the emphasis often is on the latter) and I think I internalised some of that. I think social media also has tapped into that; the algorithms reward and encourage people to hyperfocus on one very specific thing within a thing and create the expectation that this is the only thing you should post about or be interested in. For most of my life I just identified as maker or crafter and this year I’ve grown into that moniker even more.

In this post I’ll talk about my knitting, spinning, embroidery and weaving. I talk about how while I spread more over different crafts than ever before, I have really not felt stretched out over them. At the end of the post I’ll also go into how stepping away from social media and being more minimal and intentional with it and how I spend my time online in general has influenced my year and my crafting.

Knitting

Despite picking up different crafts, at the end of the year I found out I’ve knit about the same amount as I’ve averaged in recent years. I wasn’t sure how that was going to pan out, and it wouldn’t really have mattered, but when I went through my craft journal it came out as almost the exact number I knit last year, which was almost the exact number I knit the year before. No matter what type of projects I have focussed on, big or small, my end collection curiously always brings me to the same average yardage. As if I have some sort of weird inner clockwork that meticulously keeps me to it.

In my round up of last year I mentioned I felt my knitting last year was quite erratic, haphazard and unmethodical. In contrast my knitting this year felt grounded and sort of the one constant while I experimented and let myself loose (and be more erratic) with my other crafts and hobbies. Knitting was the first craft to enter my life and the one I felt most at home at for a long time. I guess it will always remain the backbone of everything I do in terms of craft, and from which everything else has sprouted. There was a lot of stranded colourwork, allover colourwork, yokes and a nice mix of big and smaller projects. So let’s have a look at what came of my needles this year!

Chestnut Fair Isle Allover

Perhaps my favourite knit to make it to the blog this year is my Chestnut fair isle cardigan. Honestly it’s among my favourite colourwork pieces I’ve knitted all time, and thus among my favourite things ever to come of my needles. The colours are right up my alley with its selection of greens, yellows and dark orange and fit well into my autumnal colour palette. I love how the colours remind me of a summer wildflower field with tansy, yarrow, poppies, cow parsley and St John’s wort and the likes, and thus reminds me of my favourite things about summer. At the same time it fits equally well in autumn, particularly early autumn, with it’s many shades of green still present and slowly being taken over by shades of yellow and orange until only the evergreens remain. This cardigan also has proven to be quite versatile in my wardrobe and pairs nicely with a lot of things in my wardrobe but I have a soft spot for pairing it with greens.

The Rauma yarn has held up really well and has really become a firm favourite and has nestled among my go to yarns. It comes in amazing area of colours and I could hardly help myself with dreaming up other colour combinations for this cardigan. I think it would translate equally well to very different palettes; like a moody predominately dark blue version or something with reds and terracotta shades. Readers of this blog will know that my knit queue shoots to the moon and let us not mention the huge list of other crafty plans I have but who knows maybe in a couple of years down the line I’ll try my hand at another version of this cardigan.

A Trail of Socks

Since being bitten by the sock bug a year ago I’ve predominantly knit on colourwork socks. The Woodland Socks were one of those pairs to make it to the blog this year. I knitted these as a gift for my partner in their chosen colourways and they have been worn a ton over this year. It’s been really cool and rewarding to see exactly how well loved my knitwear can be in the right hands. As with many of the colourwork socks I’ve knitted over the past year I can see myself turn to them often; knit them in different shades or with reversed colour hues and of course as gifts for others or alternatively knit them for me when I knit the initial pair as a gift (as I want to do with this pair). Because socks are smaller and less of time commitment than say allovers or knitted sweaters revisiting patterns in the short term seems more feasible as well (or so I tell myself soothingly).

In the summer I knit a couple of simple socks and tried my hand at self patterning yarns for the first time. After over 15 years of being a knitter I finally discovered why knitters love knitting socks in the summer and why they are the perfect project to knit under the summer sun. I finished the year by knitting another pair of stranded colourwork socks with little mushrooms on it, which you’ll see more of in the new year.

First Project in Handspun

Another huge milestone for me this year was knitting my first project with my own handspun yarn. It’s probably the project I’m the most proud of to come off the needles. I first spun the yarn for my shawl on my wheel and then naturally dyed it with red onion skeins to get this beautiful golden green. I then knit the handspun skein into a shawl until I had as little yardage left as possible (which ended up being one meter) so I could make the most of my precious handspun wool. I still look in wonder and amazement at the shawl I ended up with and can hardly believe I made my first project with handspun yarn this year. What a way to come from picking up an old spindle a summer ago to now having my first self spun project knitted up! The shawl itself is simple in shape, but I’ve learned that those are the types of knitted shawls I wear the most and it shines in its rustic simplicity. The golden green is a colour I cannot seem to get enough of and is another project that seemingly pairs well with everything I pair it with. Lately I’ve been liking it a lot with blues, greens, sheep colours and dusty muted colours like the heathery pink I’ve been into this year.

Arguably with spinning the yarn and then naturally dyeing it myself, and finally knitting it, this project has been a silly amount of work, inexplicable no doubt to those not involved in the craft and general making sphere. Nevertheless it’s also been one of the most enjoyable and rewarding things to have worked on this year. I’ve learned that I get a great deal of satisfaction about planning and undertaking such a project and then working towards that goal for many months. I guess that is, in part, also why I cannot be kept away from allover colourwork jumpers. Anyway I’m looking forward to explore this sort of projects with my spinning and knitting more in the new year.

Not in Nottingham

My Foxtales Yoke jumper is another well worn knit I made this year. I find yoke jumpers just so easy to wear and it with it’s dark brown, bright orange and warm red the jumper fits right in with my autumnal leaning wardrobe. The proportions of this jumper with its deep yoke, the colourwork around the ribbing and the amount of ease are also pretty much ideal for me for these types of jumpers. The yarn is really airy which makes for a light jumper. A cold weather standout feature of this sweater is how fast it dries in comparison with my other sweaters. Haha, can you tell this post is written in the depths of winter? Greetings from the land were laundry takes multiple days to dry!

I’m wearing this jumper today to ring in the new year, in the hopes to take some extra Sherwood-y forest vibes with me into the new year!

Floof

The final finished knitting project to make it to the blog was my Wilhelmina Cardigan. With its high mohair content, fluffyness and the way the colour is printed on the yarn creating a variegated adjacent effect this was definitely more of a wildcard project for me. As I wrote in the blogpost about this cardigan a lot about knitting it for me was about coming full circle in my knitting journey and the knitting was really engaging and fun. That said I wasn’t sure how much I would actually wear it. The last time I indulged in what for me was a wildcard project the knitting was fun and got me out of a huge knitting slump, but sadly in all honesty the finished project gets worn only sporadically.

Happily I can report that this project has not suffered the same fate and I have often reached for it in these colder days. Perhaps it’s that the yarn is variegated in such a way that it almost becomes heathery? Perhaps it’s that while its floofy and mohairy it’s also colourwork? Perhaps it’s that I’m having a moment with warm heather pink? Perhaps it is that it is essentially a cosy fluffy blanket and who doesn’t want to warm their bones with that during frosty days? For all I know it could be a bit of the all of the above or it could be none of it and projects don’t compare as easy over years. In any case this was a knitting wildcard success and those are always worth celebrating.

Unfinished Business

I put a lot of work in my Autumn Oregon during the last months of the year and while it is close to being finished I will take it with me in the new year to put in the last efforts of finishing it. With me taking a break of all things crafty when my arm hurt in the autumn and then casting on a pair of colourwork mushroom socks, it has seen its fair share of pauses and because of this the project has felt like it’s taken a lot longer than it actually has been. Because of this the final push for this project is feeling a bit tedious and I find myself looking forward to it being finished (and me being able to start new things) more and more. It’s a shame really, as the bulk of the knitting on this was a delight and I think the finished project is going to be beautiful and can already tell it will be a firm favourite in next year’s end-of-year reflection. So I’ll try to keep that in mind while I work on the final touches.

Spinning

Last year arguably the biggest thing to happen to my craft life was learning to spin. This year getting a spinning wheel stands a good chance of getting that title. While I still spin on my spindles, and in terms of time input I’d say they average to the same, getting a wheel has been transformative. It opened the doors to new possibilities and techniques and it has made spinning bigger yarn quantities undoubtedly more attainable for me. In a short time I’ve grown very attached to it’s presence and I can hardly imagine my spinsters life without it (or my craft life).

I feel my spinning took off with leaps and bounds this year. The sort of crowning glory achievement was spinning and dyeing the yarn for what would become my first handspun knitting project. But I’ve also worked with fleeces from different breeds and learned a ton about fibres in the process. I’ve learned to use a blending board and I’ve experimenting with blending and working towards spinning tweeds. I’ve also worked with different commercial blends and because of that worked with new fibres like bamboo. I’ve also made steps in preparing raw fleece for spinning and look forward to exploring this further in the new year.

All in all it’s been a wonderful year in spinning. Even after a year and a half the entire process of getting from (raw) fleece or a bunch of fibres to a skein of yarn you can knit, weave or otherwise work into something still has me in awe and has altered the way I look at crafting in general. While I have some plans and ideas for my spinning next year like techniques I want to explore and the aforementioned turning raw fleece into a skein of yarn I also go into it very open and want to see what will turn up in the process and what kinds of things spinning wants me to learn.

Embroidery

You might have noticed that I got a bit distracted with embroidery this year. I never meant for it to become a thing and getting as much into embroidery as I did this year was not something I planned, but as with all my crafts, I’m rolling to where the inspiration, creativity and joy is taking me. I’ve purposely taken a casual approach to it and tried not to fuss too much over the actual quality of my works and more on the learning and fun aspect of it. That approach worked apparently as I’ve had embroidery hoops on the go pretty much all year. That said I really take my time with these hoops and in general divide my attention over many crafts so my hoops often take weeks to complete with a bit of stitching here and there (and often no stitching) but that approach works for me so I’m not looking to change it.

Unsurprisingly the things I’m interested in stitching are the things I’m in general interested it. So lots of nature, stitching animals, landscapes, seasonal inspired pieces etc. Next year I’ll continue to move in the same direction, because I like what I like, although I might try and add some historic or folklore inspired themes. It’s been so much fun hanging these seasonal pieces on my walls and filling my house with reminders of my favourite things. The Treehouse definitely feels a little more homely and cosy after this year of stitching.

Weaving

This summer I got interested in weaving. In some ways it mirrored how my enthusiasm for spinning started the summer before. I first got interested in history and living history, getting more sucked in with looking at archaeological textile finds and from that sprung an interest in tablet weaving which finally snowballed in a general interest into every and anything weaving. So for the past months I’ve been reading about the history of weaving, reading on and trying to understand the general practises and techniques of weaving, looked at more historical and modern weaving and finally been teaching myself to tablet weave.

I’m cherishing this newfound love and passion for weaving. I’m also embracing being a beginner yet again. Tablet weaving is finicky and not the easiest craft to just fall into and learn (at least, that was the case for me) and learning it has been a humbling experience at times. But I’ve grown into it over the past months, and I also got some weaving equipment that has been helpful (while the hole-punched playing cards worked, actual cards made for tablet weaving work a ton smoother!). I hope to do a more in depth post about my weaving somewhere in the new year so I’ll talk more details about it then.

Getting into weaving was unexpected to me, it might not seem so odd to the outsider given my love for other textile crafts but before this summer it was the craft I was the least interested in (hard to imagine now!). Ha, I’m definitely catching up now for my lack of interest! I have to laugh at myself, it seems the craft fairies really looked down on this household and thought to themselves “you know what this household needs…another niche textile craft to escalate into their life and slowly take over everything”. (and who am I then, to deny them this?)

Stepping Away From Social Media and Into Other Crafts

One of the big things for me personally this year has been my move away from social media and in general my move towards less screen time overall and more time doing other stuff. I have removed twitter completely and sporadically visit and post on instagram and check what you all are up to but it’s no longer a daily, weekly or even monthly thing and I do not keep the app installed on my phone. The reasons for which are manifold and I’m sure you can guess more than a few of them. Even though I never posted a lot, I felt a huge responsibility to keep up with everyone and everything. It was a huge time-slurp and my inability to do so properly gave me guilt. All of it added up and was ultimately too much to ignore. On a more basic level it also came down to going back to myself, my own thoughts and wants and needs without it constantly being pulled into directions by things on a screen.

What came back was more time and energy to do other things, more time to do crafts, be outside and explore and come back to new and old interests. Since consciously moving away from social media I have read more than I have in a long time, started regularly embroidering and learned to tablet weave. I’ve also started drawing, something I always thought I wasn’t good at but a few months ago I decided that I didn’t care if I was good at it I just really wanted to draw some toadstools, and fallen leaves, and snails, and pixies swinging from a branch, and… and… So I dug out my pencils and a really old sketchbook and have been steadily filling it with those things and more. I’m enjoying it so much that I recently got some paint and drawing ink to explore it some more. I’ve been writing and (craft) journaling, activities I always tried to make room for but now I’m devoting more time to it. I grew up in a music heavy household and played various instruments up until my early twenties when life and university got too much and I stopped altogether. I surprised myself by picking it back up and strumming the snares for the first time in years and finding out, while much has slipped, how much muscle memory was still there. I’ve also been spinning more and as evident on the blog my needles and sewing machine have been busy still too. I’ve been more present on the blog as well, and while my audience here is smaller, from all my online places I’ve always felt most at home on my blog and visiting other people on their blogs.

Looking back at the past few months it’s amazing how much space and energy there now is for these things. I’ve always wanted my life to be filled with crafts, music, art, books, growing things and being outside, but somewhere along the way I feel I lost my way somewhat with that…or forgot that I didn’t have to try and do those things squashed next to my life responsibilities AND to hours on some apps and various screens. It’s been really liberating and I don’t think, or maybe hope, things will return to the way they were before. I really feel I’m now in a phase of my life where I drastically want to shift things and focus on doing things intentionally; learning new things and just being. There are so many more things I want to do and learn and dream about: woodcarving, more quilting, hand sewing, stamp carving and printmaking, weaving fabric on a loom, basket weaving, support spindling and more spinning techniques on my wheel, instruments I want to learn to play, exploring history and historical dress and crafts, natural dyeing and paint making, soap and candle making and more. It’s a list as unattainably endless as before and time is still finite in a post social media life but it will never be about my productivity, and it feels right to spend my time on it now. I will of course still be sharing my makes; knitting, sewing etc and my wanderings on the blog as I have been doing for the past few months while this has been going on already. It feels like an awakening of some sort and I’m excited to see where it leads.

Finally I want to thank you all for your readership of my blog; your comments and encouragements of everything I do and share on here are invaluable and it means a lot to me to have that camaraderie here. In return I hope you enjoyed reading about my crafting, my outside wanderings and pottering. I hope you found some inspiration and companionship and enjoyed visiting this online space of mine this year. I wish you all a very happy, nurturing, warm, safe and loving new year. May it be filled with all the craft and creativity you heart desires. See you all on the other side!

3 thoughts on “2021: Knitting, Spinning and Other Crafts

  1. Zo, het duurde even maar nu ook alles gelezen. Mooi overzicht. Super veel gedaan dit jaar. Mooie stukken gemaakt. Veel soorten handwerk gedaan, uitgebreid, verdiept en ervaren. Mooi een vruchtbaar jaar. Leuk om je blog te lezen ook je keuze om meer tijd over te houden voor je eigen dingen. Groet

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