I was furloughed for all of January, which I must say was amazing. I was able to focus entirely on things that make me happy. So I knit, I planned this year’s garden, I read, and I went on short excursions up in the hills with a thermos of tea. I’m certain that when I look back at this time that I “had to” spend at home, I’ll think I was so fortunate – which is probably a terrible thought to have in a pandemic. But the incessant focus on career and sitting at a desk or a computer for the vast majority of your waking hours has always bothered me. There is no time allowed for interests or hobbies – things that make me feel right, or like I have accomplished something. I’d much rather we could spend two or three hours at our desk jobs and then get to go out and work with our hands. Maybe the recent rise in interest in home steading and self sufficiency is a result of other people feeling the same way.
We had frost a couple of nights, but we also had a few days of real snow! It was so lovely to see since I haven’t really seen snow for several years.
Most of my knitting time this month was spent on my Wilkhaven sweater. I got a kit from Black Isle Yarns in 2019, which consisted of the pattern as well as some beautiful shades of Shetland yarn – two natural shades and two naturally dyed shades.
After knitting a swatch (yes, I’m trying to be a person who makes swatches) I found that my gauge was tighter than the pattern, so I decided to knit a size up. This was a mistake for two reasons. Firstly, because my gauge was knit flat which for me produces a slightly tighter gauge than I get in the round. I was also only off gauge by a tiny bit, so knitting in the round I will have met gauge easily. Secondly, the kits for each sizes were different and I got the kit for the smallest size.
So I was knitting an oversized version of an already oversized garment, and I then ran out of one of the dyed shades halfway down the first arm. I had a feeling that I would run out, but I was so against ripping back the whole body and starting again that I instead steeked the armhole, after which I could not rip back, and just kept knitting. Luckily for me, Julie of Black Isle Yarns was able to send me more of the indigo yarn which I had run out of and I was able to finish the sleeve. Halfway down the second sleeve, however, I ran out of the white yarn. I also only had 10g left of the gold. Again, Julie came to the rescue and sent me the 46g of white leftover from the cone, and I purchased another skein of the gold. I ended up using about 12g of the white, and actually had 2g of gold leftover without having to break into the new skein!
Even through my yarn and gauge struggle, this sweater has become my all time favourite make. The Shetland yarn is so wonderfully soft (there’s a reason it’s regarded as the British alternative to Merino), and the colours are really striking. I’m actually thinking of getting another kit once Julie dyes a few more up, and gift the one I’ve just finished to my mother.
While waiting for yarn refills I picked up a languishing work in progress. Thinking I had an arm and a half left to knit, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I actually only had half an arm left! It took me all of an hour or two to finish, and I had a finished project. It is child-sized though, but I really love it. I’m planning on making one for myself next, with natural shades of brown wool. It still needs buttons, and ideally a band to cover the steeks. It’s knit in acrylic, which I don’t buy anymore, but I like to use it from stash for children’s garments as they’re easier to wash and keep.
I also knit a lopapeysa in Álafosslopi which I’ve worn over my fleece when out in the garden, as well as a pair of socks for Liam.
I didn’t read an awful lot in January, as I was too obsessed with my Wilkhaven project to focus on much else. But I did finish the most recent book in a series I started last year – Firebrand in the Green Rider series by Kristen Britain. There’s a collection of short stories set in the same world published as well, and hopefully the next book will come out this autumn. After that I’m sure I’ll have to wait years and years until the series continues, as the author is rather slow in releasing work.
Sewing wise I pieced together the second set of fabric for my quilt. I now have to square them all before putting together into blocks, which is my least favourite thing to do, so the project has stalled a little.
I’m back to working remotely now in February and expecting to be back in the office at the end of the month.