Thursday, 21 March 2013

[Belated] Happy Equinox!

Yesterday was the vernal equinox, meaning that the 24 hours were neatly divided into equal parts darkness and wintry gloom. Last year's suspicions about the local ice-cream van were confirmed: it follows the solar calendar and appears for the first time at the spring equinox. (Is this standard practice for ice-cream vans?) I have to say its outing yesterday seemed rather a token one and not quite the triumphal return you'd hope for after 6 months' hibernation; I only heard a 5-second snatch of the tune and I doubt that any children ran out in the freezing, damp dusk to get a Fab (or whatever it is these days). But still, officially spring has sprung! We're into the light half of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. And as I type this it's almost threatening to brighten up outside.

Now, remember those pyjama trousers I made for myself? That looked a bit posh? And had that vintage navy ribbon drawstring that finished them off so nicely?
Yes. In the washing machine, the drawstring did pretty much finish the trousers off. Not so nicely. I have no idea why it didn't occur to me that this might happen - I'm very careful about pre-washing fabrics, but somehow I just didn't think to pre-wash the cotton ribbon. Obviously some self-kicking has been done but I think it could have been worse: I've got lots of this navy ribbon and I [used to] really like it, so if I hadn't learnt my lesson here, chances are I would have ruined something else later on, and that could easily have been a much more time-consuming project in fabric that I was more attached to. None of the other whites in the wash got stained. Plus, PJs don't go out in public (I've observed some neighbours going down to the mailboxes in their nightwear but I consider it a bit uncouth, and let's not even mention the man spotted visiting the garbage chute in his boxers) so I can still make use of these. I could replace the waistband, but there are also those blue blobs down the front of the trousers. A long soak in oxygen bleach only faded the stains slightly, but I'm loathe to try chlorine bleach - it's the dead-tree-dead-fish symbol that puts me off: like Silent Spring condensed into one simple line drawing. The Internet says Dylon make a colour run remover - has anyone tried it?
To balance out that little catastrophe I had a crafting success too: an improvised hat. I couldn't find quite what I wanted on Ravelry so I made Emily Ocker's Circular Beginning and knitted my hat from the top down. Somehow improvising seemed easier in that direction, and I didn't even have to do a gauge swatch because I just kept knitting until the hat was the size I wanted. We had a few days of lovely mild weather while I was working on this and I thought I might have missed the boat, but as soon as I'd cast off the temperature obligingly plummeted again and the hat's already been very useful.
The yarn is from my favourite wool company, Garthenor (old-school website alert!). It's a Ryeland DK that I've had stashed for years and sadly is no longer produced. Ryeland wool is very springy and amazingly resistant to shrinking. I once knitted up some little sample squares in one of Garthenor's other Ryeland yarns and subjected them to all kinds of abuse in an attempt to felt them, and they bravely withstood it all! They got a bit softer and fluffier but refused to shrink even a millimetre. When I emailed Chris at Garthenor about this he was unsurprised and explained that Ryeland sheep were bred for exactly those qualities - and I thought they'd just been bred to look cute.
I've also been continuing to make slow progress on my epic quilt. I suppose the passing of the equinox means I haven't finished it this winter, but I wasn't really attached to that deadline anyway. Honestly, this quilt has been going on so long that it's transcended the whole concept of deadlines. I've now turned the fourth corner and am on the home straight with the binding. Not much to be done after that...
Is it springlike where you are? Did you manage to finish your winter sewing projects in time to use them? I think I need to work on winter clothing all summer and sew summery dresses and tops through the winter, just to have things ready in time for the right season. Perhaps I should only follow Southern Hemisphere craft blogs??


  1. No, still not springlike in Oxfordshire either. Love the hat.

  2. waiting for spring to really show its face, sorry about the bleeding color

  3. We had springlike weather here in Colorado all week long, then another seven inches today, so that hat would have worked wonders here, too. I love the beautiful stitching of the hat, and the top center is so perfect!

    1. Thank you! Yes, it snowed heavily all day long yesterday, very unusual (or used to be) here in London. I just had a look at your lovely crocheted snowflakes - might have to try my hand at one of those if the weather keeps on like this...