Yarning Along: I’m knitting a sock!

Yep I’ve finally stopped talking about it and started! Confession: I couldn’t face the faff of doing a tension square, so asked a few sock knitters about it. A couple said they never do one for socks. The other is also a size 6 and said she starts with the same quantity of cast on stitches I’d guessed I need. I know, I know if it all goes wrong I’ll be playing Prince Charming and finding someone with the perfect sized foot…!

It’s so easy to count rounds of rib when it’s variegated yarn as the little v stitches are different colours. The changing colours make for more interesting knitting full stop as I’m now on the body part of the sock, that’s 60 or so rounds of plain, it is quite dull. I love that you magically get stocking stitch when using circulars. I must remember to stop and wiggle my fingers and flex my hands as the tiny needles are quite constraining. Maybe I should start a crochet project to alternate with and avoid hand strain.

This week I’ve just started listening to The Girl Before by JP Delaney. The book is a Radio 2 Bookclub choice and I heard the author talking about it in February. It’s a thriller set in London about two women who, at different times, apply to live in 1 Folgate Street in London. As I listened and knit yesterday I knew there was no way I’d agree to the architect’s terms and conditions. No books?! No pot plants?! No rugs?! And that’s only a few of the specifications. The audio is read by Emilia Fox and Finty Williams. I must stop listening to Finty’s voice and accent rather than fully concentrating on the story. It’s just that I keep analysing whether she sounds like her Mother, Dame Judi.

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading this week, leave a link to a current post in the comments and I’ll add it here. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

1:  Vikki Bird Designs

2: Simply Summer Street

3: Needles and Wool

4: Mossy Road

5: Florence Kerns

6: Made by Patch

I’m in my happy place

When my friend Gill messages me to find out where I am in London, sometimes I’ll just reply: “I’m in my happy place.” Then she knows where to come and find me immediately. I really enjoy a good mooch around the haberdashery department of John Lewis, Oxford Street, London. I’m often not the only one spending time waiting for a friend, or just having a really really good look around. I think the staff are used to it as well, they’re very laid-back. 

It’s not a huge area, but is full of really, really good quality wool (there’s not a huge amount of acrylic yarn going on here.) I have to admit my spending is mostly confined to a few balls of this and that. I’ve never had a major splurge; probably because I’m always going out and about from there and don’t want to carry a big bag of wool around with me. Plus I haven’t won the lottery yet…

This time I really fell in love with Martin Storey’s Folk Cowl. I actually started gathering some of the Rowan tweed DK I’d need but realised at £7:95 per ball it was going to be a really expensive little make. Drat! I think I’d neeed to find an alternative brand, though the Rowan colours are absolutely perfect. 

Do you think I can try that thing radio DJs do when it’s something like National Pie Week and they throw out masses of hints about wanting to try some? In result they get sent freebies to the radio station… Yes? Anyone want me to test knit this Folk Cowl pattern with these Rowan colours? Do you want my address? I’m really happy to do it for you, that’s the kind of lady I am.

I’m planning to blog every day in May, this is day two and I’m only slightly regretting my decision!

Yarning Along: the bunny’s keeping guard

I’m always making something and I never go a day without reading. I’m really missing Ginny’s Yarn Along as I always enjoyed seeing everyone’s posts, so I’ve decided to host my own version.

Please feel welcome to share what you’re knitting or crocheting and reading every Wednesday. Leave a current link below to share your photo with us. Share your photo on your blog, Twitter, Instagram or on Flickr using #yarningalong. Include a link back to this post on your blog etc so others can find us!


I’m enjoying adding to my Star Ripple blanket, my suitcase was full and so I didn’t cram it in to take away last week. It didn’t occur to me to pack it in my handbag either. This was a mistake as there were definitely evenings where a bit of crochet would have been the icing on the cake. (Or on the Millionaire Shortbread I developed an addiction to!)

This week I’m completely absorbed in a very sweet book: Jenny Colgan’s The Summer Seaside Kitchen. I’ve just had a week up in the Highlands of Scotland (where they really do make super shortbread and cover it in caramel and chocolate….!) and so this story, set on a remote island very far north, is perfect.

PS: I know this is not swish as this is the freeebie version, but from next week your thumbnails should show here, as I’ve now subscribed…

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Holey cowl

….Just in time for our current lovely Springtime temperatures! Oh well blink and the weather changes here in England.  I’ll take it away with me to wear during chilly evenings, or for wearing by the sea if the wind blows. 

The yarn looks a different colour in every photo, it’s more red not raspberry. 

The apple blossom should flower soon. It’s so pretty. 

Details – as you might want to knit a holey cowl too? 

I used Louisa Harding Orielle – Ruby (colour no. 12) 

This is a gorgeous wool blend; with 97% baby alpaca and 3% metallic polyamide (can you see the little sparkles?) It’s as soft as a cloud and drapes beautifully. 

I used 4mm needles and sewed the seam at the end. Can you spot it in the second pic? I’m not sure how I managed such a neat job of it, but I did enjoy the sewing. It would knit well on circular needles too if you prefer seamless makes. 

I used 3 x 50g skeins but if you want a longer cowl or a narrower one, the amount would obviously differ. 

Height: 41cm/16″ (I wear mine doubled over, I don’t have the neck of a giraffe!)

Circumference: 61cm/24″ 

Cast on 72 stitches 

1-5 rows: Knit  

6th row: K1, *yo, k2tog and repeat to the penultimate stitch, k1

And repeat until it’s the right height for you. 

Easy! Good pub or cafe knitting if you have a crafty meet up ahead. 

Bunch of pretty 

On the way out of Sainsbury’s yesterday this lovely bunch of spring flowers caught my eye. They smelled delicious too. On offer, reduced from £8 to £4, I couldn’t resist. 

My lacy cowl is coming on, I think I might see if it’s long enough at the end of this skein of wool. Then I can move onto something else. I wish I could knit faster. Maybe I’ll have a go at continental if I can find a good tutorial. I know I’ve said this before.  

I’m rereading The Camomile Lawn for the nth time. It’s got my name and Christmas 1993 written inside…so it will be many, many times over the years. On the train to London, on Saturday, I asked the girl next to me if I could be cheeky and read the blurb on her upturned book. It was Human Voices by Penelope Fitzgerald. The title and the white cover really attracted my attention. I’m planning to order it from my library. We spent some time talking about the author, books and reading. In return I recommended this and Mary Wesley’s subsequent novels. This discussion prompted me to run downstairs late that evening to reread it, yet again. 

You can’t handle it, can you?


On Sunday I finished my scarf; three skeins worth of Louisa Harding’s Orielle wool and quite a lot of knitting time. I cast off, looked at it, frowned and threw it to my Mr. He said “It’s nice, I like it but its too asymmetrical for you to handle isn’t it?!” 

I did try it on, pretended it was fastened into a cowl, posed in front of mirrors and considered. Then…. I undid the whole thing, rewound three balls of yarn on my nostepinne and on Monday started again. The same lacy repeat every six rows, but no increase and decrease at the end of every odd numbered row. It’s not going to be odd shaped. A bit boring maybe, but much more me! 

I’ve borrowed one of my ten year old niece’s Christmas presents! She’s a proper little bookworm. It’s lovely to be able to share some books. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is in script form as it was written as a play. It is very good so far and I have to say I was skeptical. 

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along again. 

Favourite things 

Knitting and reading – a few of my favourite things. I can’t think of anything to say today, which long-term readers will admit is a first. But a sentence is often good enough for Ginny’s Yarn Along posts, so today it’s good enough for me as well.

(The book is excellent, I never want it to end.)

Enjoying 

I’ve darned one side of my ripple’s ends and so have been ‘allowed’ to knit quite a bit. Do you do this kind of trade-off too?!

There’s a mistake in the scarf pattern. I’ve realised that if I k1, *yo then k2tog* repeat to the penultimate stitch, then k1, the stitch number doesn’t decrease. The two instructions might have been transposed, which is why my 72 ended up 66 and still decreasing, last week. I ripped it back on Monday and now feel happier. I am a perfectionist and hate knowing I could do something better or just properly; bodging isn’t great!  I’ve contacted the wool shop to say about the typo, admitting I’m not the greatest knitter in the world as I might be wrong anyway.

I’m still listening to The Silent Tide by Rachel Hore. It’s a good darning and knitting companion. The story is hotting up and I’m feeling intrigued about Isobel…plus is Hugh the great writer and man we think he is?

My other books are Feel the Fear and do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers (a classic read with something uplifting for everyone) and Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty. I wanted to read the book before seeing the BBC’s 4 parter.

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along once again. I really like seeing what people are making and reading. 

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It felt like Spring, for a day 

But now it’s back to grey and drizzly. Oh well, you have to make the most of the blue sky days and sprint outside when you can. 

I have given myself permission to start something new, as long as I darn blanket ends as often as I can. I dreamt I was knitting on Sunday night, so I decided that must be what I really want to do next. I used my nostepinne for the first time and find the centre pull wool ball fab. I’ve always unwound from the outside and the balls jump out of the yarn bowl. No movement at all with a centre pull. It just sits quietly making no trouble at all.

 I’m knitting a gorgeously soft scarf with sparkley Louisa Harding Orielle (in ruby) which is 97% baby alpaca. You increase a stitch at one end and decrease a stitch at the other. There’s a lot of plain knitting involved which might get dull, but hasn’t yet. I started with 72 stitches and realised I should check that I still have 72 . There were 66!?!? How did that happen? This is fairly typical of me and knitting. I think it’s all very straightforward, and just in case I get muddled I use a row counter app, but it always goes astray somehow. The perfectionist in me is tempted to rip it all back, but the voice of reason says “It’s only a scarf, get over it. Just add 2 increases until it’s 72 again.” Alright then!

I’m about to start listening to The Silent Tide by Rachel Hore. I liked A Gathering Storm and enjoyed Gerri Halligan’s narration before, so am looking forward to it. 

PS: I finished We are all Completely Beside Ourselves (see here) and quite enjoyed it in the end. I did read another novel after the spoiler and before continuing though. 

I’m joining in again with Ginny’s Yarn Along

2016

Here are my makes of last year, well most of them. There are quite a few other things that were started and unravelled, for various reasons. None of which I regret! Despite my intention to knit or crochet smaller makes (including socks) I seem to have hooked quite a few blankets again. Why does that keep happening?!

I’m not really sure what I want to concentrate on this year. I’m working on the Blackberry ripple and that’s not far off from being a good snuggly size. Then I’ve just got to do the darning and crochet a border.

Next I think (and don’t hold me to it) I might use a posh skein or two of wool and knit another sort of cowl. I think I’ve come round to them after wearing the Mira cowl a lot this year. I’ve always preferred wrapping scarves as tightly or as loosely as preferred, but this has been very cosy and you don’t have so much of it stuffed down the front of your coat! Hey-ho, hey-ho it’s off to Ravelry I go.

My friend has sort of lost her slouchy bobble hat (there’s obviously a story there) so I might be hooking one of those again, for her birthday in April. If only she knew someone with a fishing rod, who’s a dab hand at casting, I’m positive she could retrieve hers…

It’s Day 1 of the New Year, where normal non-festive life has resumed and no alcohol, mince pies, chocolate or twiglets have been consumed. I do fancy a hot chocolate though, that’s surely alright? It’s COLD out there.

New 

A night or two ago I learnt a new skill – mitred squares. I’ve been thinking about having a go for ages; then saw Angie’s photo on Instagram. They’re a good way to use up some oddments of DK. I have a lot!

I tried knitting one in stocking stitch, but it was too thin. Garter stitch is so easy and will make a nice warm blanket.  I’m really enjoying making these squares. It’s exciting to try something new.

I just picked up 60 Postcards by Rachael Chadwich at the library. I couldn’t resist it after reading the blurb: Rachael’s Mother died of cancer just sixteen days after diagnosis. Overwhelmed as her Mum’s 60th birthday approached she decided to scatter 60 postcards across a city, with a handwritten message asking the finders to get in touch. She decided to go to Paris, using the Eurostar vouchers which were the last gift her Mum gave her… Can you see why I couldn’t leave this book on the shelf? 

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along again. 

Upton House & Garden 

Well hello! I know, it’s been a while… I never really do much crochet or knitting during the summer, but this year I haven’t sewn yet either. I thought you might be interested to see somewhere I recently visited and found fascinating. I admit there are a lot of typewriter photos, I just loved them!

Upton House and Gardens in Warwickshire, is a National Trust Property with a current exhibition called: Banking for Victory. It once belonged to Lord Bearstead, whose father founded Shell Oil. (More information here.) In 1939 the family moved out of the house and the family bank relocated from London, for the duration of the Second World War. Mary Berry opened this exhibition last Autumn. I finally got around to visiting earlier this month.

This is the film tent with a little introductory film to the exhibition…      



The exhibition is superb. The great thing is that the NT do not want you to treat it as a museum, you are actively encouraged to open drawers, sit on chairs and sofas and basically be the nosy Parker that I you always want to be, but feel you can’t in most NT properties. Needless to say I sat and typed a paragraph at one of the typewriters, what no spell check? I opened some filing cabinets, rifled through the in/out trays and read some correspondence, read some Wartime newspapers and sat in the Bank Manger’s chair!

The attention to detail in the house is fantastic. For example: there are toothbrushes and hairbrushes in the dormitories, and much more, open magazines and knitting which seem to have been put down for a minute in the staff room, postcards displayed from local villages and towns and maps of cycle routes.

The bank staff left families and friends in London to live and work at Upton. It seems that they had a ‘good war’ living in the relative safety of the countryside, but lived with guilt knowing their loved ones were in danger and suffering in the war-torn city.

This doesn’t seem too much of a stretch to me, but different times perhaps?!

Knitting! I found knitting!

The project is something you can become involved in, if you fancy. See here for details. You have until 30th September deadline if you want to send some bunting. What really impressed me, while I knitted a bunt (is this the singular of bunting?!) and chatted to one of the organisers is that at the end the finished triangles will be stitched together to make blankets for charity. What a great idea and a practical use of the knitting at the end. I often wonder what becomes of things after yarn bombs and record attempts. I didn’t take a pic of my knitting. I’m not sure why, but you really didn’t miss much!

Today was a return visit to Upton as it poured after the tour around the house, so the gardens had to wait. I’m glad actually as the herbaceous border is now stunning with all the sun we’re enjoying. It was a lovely hot day.

Are you crafty during the summer, or more like me?

Maybe it’s a goner

A lovely online now offline friend (you know what I mean by that right?) Trish of Made by Patch blog recently won this book in a giveaway by Christine Perry aka Winwick Mum  with a bundle of other goodies, but as a newly minted sock knitter she had already bought a copy. So, she offered this one to me. What a lovely surprise!

I haven’t forgotten my 16 for 2016 list and am still keen to try knitting a pair of socks, but do have a few reservations. I’m not worried about the knitting part, since I know from all the successful pairs I’ve seen posted on Social Media that Christine’s instructions are fabulous. I think you’d have to have a brain of custard to fail. (Watch this space…) It’s whether I would actually wear handmade knitted socks. I don’t think I would out with boots and shoes; they just seem like they’d be too thick. But I can envision myself pulling them on in the chilly evenings to wear at home. Would they become very fluffy walking about on carpets? I already seem to spending quite a bit of time picking up massive bobbles of woollen sock fluff…but that’s another subject, ha! Am I going to get even more electric shocks, the sock yarns seen to have a fairly high nylon count. I already jump and squeal a lot of the time. When I’m in London some days I get a shock every time I touch a handrail. I’ll just have to knit a pair, try them and get back to you.

I was intending to make a cowl from this library bookimg_2857

but the one cable stitch forward or behind was really annoying. It’s me I know, I like knitting but only if it’s not too tedious, but either that one stitch just kept slipping off the cable needle or the whole process felt clunky. If I tried the dropping the stitch method, without using a cable needle, I worried that it was then twisted. Life’s too short and I decided that if I don’t enjoy making something, I stop. Why waste time on something that’s not fun? It’s not as if it was a vital cowl; I have a basket full of them and scarves. For the last few winters they haven’t really been worn. I really miss our heavy white frosts and icy mornings. The winters are noticeably warmer, with wetter milder weather.

If you have an alternative pattern suggestion for a 90 stitch cowl using 6mm needles with a 3-2 rib already complete, please comment below. I won’t frog the knitting for a few days, then it’s a goner!

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along again.

It’s not Mira’s Cowl, it’s mine!

I bought the yarn for my Mira’s Cowl at the end of September when I visited Yarndale. The other two skeins have yet to be used. But I think I have a plan for the blue 4 ply…

My wandering concentration issue was solved by buying stitch markers and from then on, magically, there were no missing sets of 2 stitches. So, they’re not simply for making knitting look pretty?!
I did decide against the ‘aggressive’ blocking advised at the end of the pattern. Although I chose to make the wider size cowl and it could be really long and loopy (see the pattern photo) I like the up, up chin warming properties of it when unstretched.

Because I knit and knit until I just had enough yarn left to cast off, it’s long enough for a giraffe. I put it on inside out and then double it over so the right side shows.

I found a stretchy decrease cast-off described here. It’s very easy and does exactly what it promises.

I just sat in the sun and single crocheted the seams together with a  3.5mm hook. As I’ve said before; if I can combine a bit of knitting with a bit of hooky then I’m very happy. Sewing up gets put off, funnily crocheting doesn’t! I’m typing this and still wearing my cowl. It’s so warm and snuggly as the yarn is 75% merino.

Next I’ve got to make myself do some more baby hexagons. It really is a bit like that, but I quite like doing them when I get going, especially if my audio book is on. I’m really into The Kashmir Shawl, I’m exactly halfway through now. I walked over 7 miles listening to it yesterday. I was so engrossed in the story that I didn’t even really mind when the ground turned into a quagmire. I ended up squelching home with completely brown trainers and socks. That must be the sign of a very good book…

 

Yarn Along 

  
Here’s the knitting I mentioned in my last post. The pattern is called Mira’s Cowl by Mira Cole. It’s free on Ravelry.

 I’m not sure I want to aggressively block it as per the instruction. By the end the most I’ll probably feel like doing is flinging it around my neck. Consistently good knitting is not my talent. For some reason I can crochet quite difficult stitch combinations and follow patterns without much of an issue, but knitting has always been another matter. This is despite being able to knit from childhood, as you know crochet came much, much later. Even this simple pattern of blocks of 2, 4, 8 or 16 stitches has been problematic. I keep finding whole sections where the stitches have mysteriously changed to knit where they should be purl, and vice versa, halfway up. I could blame it on the toenail bit of A Gathering Storm, but that wouldn’t be altogether truthful. I’m often rubbish at concentrating on my knitting. It’s a good thing that the wonderful Nicky Sutton displayed excellent graphics how to pick up, or alter stitches with a crochet hook on IG. It’s saved me undoing any rows. I quite like the opportunity to use a little 3mm hook on my knitting. I know that’s probably not the attitude, but at least it works!

I’m about to start my next audio book: The Kasmir Shawl. I like to leave a day or more between them, just to let the memory of the last fade a bit. Do you do this too? I used to read lots of Rosie Thomas’s books, but it’s years since the last. I hope this is good. It’s set in 1939 and a young woman from rural Wales is moving to India with her husband, who has been posted there as a missionary. What could possibly go wrong?!

I’ve always got both an audio book and a printed or e-book on the go. Last night I read more of After You by JoJo Moyes while listening to an owl hoot in the trees.  The torrential rain and wind then put a stop to that delightful noise. I hope it managed to stay warm and dry.

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along

Valentine’s heart patches


This is a sweet little patch. I intend to buy two blank craft cards and envelopes and attach a heart patch to each using double sided sticky tape. Do they still use that all the time on Blue Peter? I’m going to send them to two little-ish girls for a Valentine’s surprise.

Alternatively you could just knit two rectangles, swiss darn the heart (or one on both sides) and sew or crochet them together, to turn them into a little woolly pincushion or a pointless but cute woolly thing. You’ll probably have even better ideas. If you do, please share them!


Yarn: I knitted these with Stylecraft Special DK scraps, in parchment and did the swiss darning in raspberry. You can use any DK you have.

 
Needles: I used 3.5mm but use whatever you have or prefer. 4mm would work equally well and will still make a patch small enough to easily fit onto a card.

 
Pattern:
Knit a moss stitch border with stocking stitch as the main part of the patch

Cast on 20 stitches

Moss stitch for 2 rows:

Row 1: *k1, p1*and repeat * until the end

Row 2: *p1,k1* and repeat until the end

Stocking stitch with a moss stitch border for 8 rows

Row 3: k1, p1, k to last st, p1

Row 4: p1, k1, p to last stitch, k1

Repeat rows 3 & 4 6 more times.

Repeat rows 1 & 2 once

Cast off

Swiss darning/duplicate stitch: decorate the patch with a contrast yarn. See this video from Simple Stylish Knitting if you’re unsure about how to do swiss darning. It’s easy once you get into the rhythm of it. Sew in a good source of light, so you can see what you’re doing properly.

 Both of my hearts are slightly different from each other. The main thing is to start at the top, and do the middle stitches first. Make sure the bottom stitches line up with those at the top.  You can make the heart as wibbly or symmetrical as you like.

Simple Stylish Knitting

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a PR Company to ask if I would be interested in trying the first issue of a new knitting weekly magazine series, or park-work, published by De Agostini. I’ll always be honest in my write-up if I am sent a product to try, or asked to work with a company. After a few of my very ‘real’ past write-ups I’m quite surprised whenever I’m approached again; I aim to give a balanced view but as I try to be very truthful I will say if I find something lacking.

After having a look at Simple Stylish Knitting online I decided to give it whirl. In fact I hoped it might help to improve my own knitting skills. There are so many really talented knitters on Instagram, and seeing their beautiful work makes me want to move forward with my own.

Included in the email was this information, I found it interesting and have since read the full report: As knitting fast becomes the new ‘it’ hobby for young people, DeAgostini Publishing and University of Exeter Medical School have issued a report looking at the hobby’s health benefits to understand why so many youngsters are taking up the new skill.

In brief: A study of over 3,000 members of an online knitting community found:

* 82% felt ‘a little’ to ‘very happy’ after knitting

* Almost half (47%) indicated that it helped them think problems through, while over a third (37%) said it helped forget problems

* Nearly two-thirds (65%) reported an increase in confidence, while 86% felt an increase in belonging

A study conducted in an inpatient eating disorder unit found:

* 74% of participants reported distraction from eating disorder thoughts and feelings

* Nearly one-fifth (18%) said knitting prevented eating disorder behaviours altogether

* 74 % found it relaxing

I think this some of this will ring true for both knitters and crocheters, we know it makes us feel happy, calm and productive.

Looking at this photo I’m wondering if I threw the needle away with the packaging, ummm….

Each week there are two balls of yarn with the magazine. I was surprised they are 50% wool, 50% acrylic; they’re not the usual squeaky yacky magazine yarn. I partly learnt to crochet through buying crochet mags and the yarn was absolutely shocking quality. It also came in lurid colours! (See my early crochet pics here from 2011/2012 for evidence…)

The plan is that you knit two squares a week, which gives you the chance to learn many different stitches. I had a look on IG for pics tagged #simplestylishknitting and lots of people are knitting stitches I haven’t ever tried. At the end of the (90 issue!) series (I checked the online FAQS) you will have knitted a substantial throw, or alternatively you could buy fewer and build a collection of stitch swatches.

I spent a fair amount of time using the online stitch library, watching the knitting techniques videos. The mattress stitch video is the clearest I’ve ever seen. I thought it would be good to test how clear I found the instructions for a familiar technique. Another demo has given me Fair isle confidence. People mention 3 needle bind-off / cast off a lot and I had NO idea what that was, now I do. It’s the same with tinking though I realise I’ve always done it, I just didn’t know it was called that (did you know it’s the word ‘knit’ backwards?) If you do check out the videos look at the funky lime yarn and purple nail combo! Even the crochet hook matches.

Square number one was plain garter/knit stitch and that I definitely didn’t need to practise! So I knit number two which is stocking stitch, decorated with duplicate stitch/swiss darning. This is the first time I’ve tried it. I like it! The only thing I would say is that the stitch library video assumes you’re a right hander. I really can’t hold the sewing needle in my right hand or sew from the right, but I just did what I do with some crochet charts – I started in a stitch on the left, going into the legs of the stitch above from left to right.

I liked swiss darning so much that last night I designed a little woolly decoration to make a Valentine’s card! For this I used my KnitPro wooden needles. The magazine ones are a bit like knitting with those splintery chopsticks you get in cheapie Chinese restaurants, they do the job but are not luxurious.

Apart from the two squares a week there are patterns for other makes, the first issue includes: a mug cosy, pom-pom scarf, Mr Fox ipad case (which I love but would need to size up for my regular sized ipad.) Yarn requirements vary for the other patterns; so you’d need to buy more, or use your stash.

For complete beginners there is a full knitting know-how section at the back with very clear instructions and photos. One omission is that there’s no how-to hold your yarn photo. It’s only shown looped over the index finger, so it’s unclear how you would tension your knitting. Most people would automatically use Google, YouTube, websites etc or look it up in a book, but its inclusion would be useful in the magazine and also in the video stitch library.

For improvers like myself each pattern is written in the usual pattern short-hand, as well as with more detailed instructions given for a novice knitter.

The magazines are available in Supermarkets and newsagents, or back issues can be ordered through the website. In true part-work style the first issue is 99p, the second £1.99 and thereafter it’s £3.99, the p&p is free. E-copies are also available in digitally too.

And tomorrow I plan to join in with the Yarn Alongers. Is this turning into a post a day in February?!

Don’t they look teeny?


I’ve crocheted these mock cable mitts up as I was putting off the sewing. Mattress stitch is fiddly to do well and even worse in poor light. I used a 3mm hook into the single loops of the stitches on the edge of each side (holding the right sides together) feeling very glad I’d thought to leave a very long tail of yarn for sewing up. Crochet has made a dull task enjoyable.

Don’t they look teeny lying there on the table? But see – when they’re on my hands they’re really stretchy and warm, with the double rib edging rows and bouncy mock cable. I increased the bottom ribbing to 12 rows for this pair, rather than the 6 of my first so my wrists would be well covered and warm.

The pair of mitts weigh 40g so if you wanted to try making some with only 1 ball of Knitcol Trends by Adriafil (this is colour 061) you could probably chance it. I tend to buy yarn in twos just in case. I’m a bit scared of playing yarn chicken because I usually lose.

Using 3.75mm needles (it’s DK yarn) I cast on 47 stitches, and knit double rib for 12 rows. Then I repeated a 4 row mock cable pattern 12 times and ended with 2 rows of double rib. Easy! Don’t forget to leave a gap for your thumb when sewing or crocheting them up.

Yarn Along 

I finished my mock cable knits last night, all bar the boring sewing up. I’ve just noticed that the right mitt is the right way up in the photograph – so you can see the mock cable pattern – but the left is not. I’ll pretend I positioned them like that deliberately to show you both sides, but the truth is a repair man was here and it was all a bit of flurry. He’d just had a call and was rushing off as wife has been in a car accident (unharmed, though the other lady might be) and so I wasn’t really concentrating.

I’ve always got an audio book on the go, they’re a great distraction on long journeys or while walking. Clare Balding’s first book My Animals and Other Family was an excellent listen as she writes and narrates so well. Rather than rapsodize about Walking Home: My Family and Other Rambles I’ll link to The Telegraph review, it’s very good.

I’m joining in with  Ginny’s Yarn Along again. The linky thing’s open for a week if you want to as well.

Allowed to knit again 

   
   I had banned myself from starting anything new until the body of the blanket was finished, and as soon as I tied off the last end I grabbed some yarn and needles. Hurray!
I haven’t used Adriafil’s Knitcol Trends before, it’s 100% merino but not the softest ever, which sounds like a criticism but it really isn’t. The fabric is warm and thick. With my wooden KnitPro needles it’s really satisfying to knit. Again this might seem off-putting and critical; but it makes me think I’m knitting with string and sticks, more than anything else I’ve used. I can’t really explain why but it is very enjoyable. 

Last May I knit my first pair of Mock Cable Mitts. I used a pretty luxurious 97% baby alpaca, which I’ve really enjoyed wearing but it was definitely much more slippery to knit. Then too I was really meant to be finishing crochet blankets, not starting new knitting. There’s definitely a pattern of using knitting as a distraction from finishing crochet. 

This photo, taken just after I bought the yarn in Broadstairs, Kent, was one of my favourites of last year. Yarn, sand, sea and a stunning sunset beginning…
 Now my plan is to darn about 10 ends of the blanket a day and the border can be crocheted. We’ll be at a late Christmas family gathering at the end of the month so I’ll schedule a post, so as not to spoil the surprise for my cousin. Then you can finally see the mystery blanket. 

2015

It’s that time again; the last day of another year. Are they flying past, or is it just me?

I can’t believe that today is my blog’s fourth birthday! I didn’t have a long-term plan when I started this; it was simply to record my makes as I learnt to crochet. I haven’t had to make myself carry on, or set up a blogging timetable, it’s just happened organically. Admittedly joining in more regularly with the weekly Yarn Along and Taking Stock posts, every month, has helped to keep to keep the ball rolling lately; as I’ve had little new to show, with bigger projects taking time to complete.

2015 really did turn into the Year of the Blankets, despite the fact I’m sure I’d resolved not to make many. I wanted to learn some new skills, make some small things and get my sewing machine out again. I can see a 16 for 2016 list happening…

Here are some of my favourite makes and highlights of the year:

I’ve just had a little look at my previous end of year galleries in 2012 2013 and 2014. 2012 was a busy year for the country with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics. Looking back has reminded me of my 200 Blocks CAL. I was still very much a novice crocheter and learnt much more through organising and taking part in the CAL. If you’re fairly new to crochet then I’d really recommend working through a book of crochet blocks. It gave lots of us a really good grounding in reading patterns, trying new stitches and experimenting with colour combinations.

Thank you for reading and for your comments over the last year. Have a very Happy New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, wherever you are in the world.

Yarn Along 

 Yesterday this Araucania Botany Lace (one of  my Yarndale bargains) was a knitted piece 6′ long. I was flying along until I noticed a mistake. B—– Why didn’t I put in a lifeline? I tried and I tried but I couldn’t undo it; I was foiled by the yarn overs. I just kept ending up with the wrong amount of stitches. I want to knit something as perfect as I can get it. So in the end I gave up and just ripped the whole thing out. Can you see my thin blue thread? This time I’m being very careful.

I’m on the last 12 minutes of my audio book: ‘Reckless’ by Chrissie Hynde. Rosanna Arquette’s terrible pronunciation of many words and shocking attempts at English accents have had me shrieking with irritation, or screaming with laughter, occasionally both at the same time. This has rather spoilt a sometimes shocking, but also poignant story of music and friendship.

I’ve just started reading a new book about a painting: The Improbability of Love by Hannah Rothschild. I’m not far into it yet, but the painting has chapters of its own. I like its voice!

I’m joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along again. Why don’t you?

Hitchhiker II now ready to travel

   
   There’s really nothing like the relief of finishing something is there? Even if you’ve really enjoyed the making process, you’re just so glad to put it down wrap it around your neck and move on.

I used Lang Tosca Light, raspberry on 4mm needles. I much prefered using DK than the sock yarn of my first (specified in the pattern.) It makes a bigger scarf and is just as pretty with all the colour variations in the yarn. It weights 119g so I must have started with a bit of leftover yarn from another ball, though I really don’t remember doing that! 

I tried to lighten the photos but it made the colours look much brighter, almost garish. The colours look truest in the first photo. My iPad has retina display, and so when I look at my photos on my laptop I’m often surprised by how different they seem. Autumn amd Winter low light levels really hinder the taking of sharp photos. Perhaps I need a model who could prance about outside (in a leaf strewn forest? On top of a hill? Sitting on a dry-stone wall?) while I photograph them wearing my makes. Any takers? There’s no pay, unless you fancy some homemade bread and cake…

I must say a big thank you to the Show Me England website who recently published a list of the Best Knitting and Crochet Blogs in the UK. I’ve noticed a steady stream of visitors coming here from the site. Well how nice – I see I’m in excellent company too. 

Star ripple II


  

This second 12 pointed star ripple baby blanket (or lap blanket as it kept my legs nicely warm, while I sewed) took me just a few days to crochet. Then at least a week to darn! There were more exciting things to go onto; with a new Hitchhiker scarf in progress and the Spice of Life CAL last week. But I made myself finish as I loathehaving unfinished tasks hanging over my head. All the pattern details etc can be found in the blog post I wrote after finishing the first.

The yarn colours in this one are Stylecraft Special DK: lime, raspberry, pale rose and parchment.

Oh my goodness I feel poorly today! I’ve come down with a stinking cold. They knock you for six, don’t they? It’s so long since I had one this bad. I’ve really appreciated mugs of peppermint tea, easy knitting and this week’s Downton to cheer me up this afternoon.

Yarndale 2015 (again!)

So, as I said yesterday Yarndale was a blast; a jolly happy day. And, that was that for another year. Until the next. No. No? Well, although I’d sensibly booked a Saturday ticket and my train tickets some weeks ahead, I woke early on the Sunday morning with a strong sense of ‘I have to go back’. This only increased as I scrolled through my Instagram feed and saw lots I hadn’t seen. No angora bunnies. No alpacas. Not enough yarn. And – oh my goodness – I’d come away with only one card, which is for someone’s birthday anyway. I’m not a huge shopper generally. I prefer to buy yarn for specific projects, but even by my standards this was pants.  As I was due to meet friends in Leeds for dinner, after they’d been to Yarndale, it seemed sensible to drive to Skipton this time and hope that I could park. Actually there was a marked difference on the Sunday; when I arrived there were plenty of spaces and much more room to move in the mart. This time I was focused, not so much chatting and more looking.
  This gorgeous make is called Like a Leaf on the Wind by Sharon Jane. It’s free on Ravelry, in case you want any inspiration for your Yarndale purchases or stash. It uses one skein of 4 ply (fingering weight) yarn and is definitely now on my long list of ‘things to make’.

  Ah! I found the rabbits. And had a stroke too.
  Isn’t this stunning? It’s by Jane Crowfoot.
    This is really for me because I’d love some, but you might fancy some gorgeous charcoal yarn in your life too?
  As I caught up with my friends from Leeds in the Knit and Knatter lounge, and Heather and I shared our yarn purchases, some sheep came trooping into the space! I think they’re going to be part of the puppet festival in Skipton, next month.
  Naturally they were followed by their sheep dog, who just would not stand still until I used my best “Stay! Stay dog! Stand still!” and s/he obeyed. Good dog!  And now faces to fall in love with…

  Just look at these two. This could be a Valentines Day card.  It felt a bit mean to swoon over the bunnies and alpacas, so I snapped this calm sheep and quietly thanked them all for giving us their wool.This one just blinked and sniffed the hay in an ‘you’re being embarrassing’ kind of way.  I sat outside in the warm sun admiring my shopping, after doing a final loop of the mart. By other people’s standards it’s not a huge pile of goodies, but plenty to make me smile, and keep me busy.

I’m so glad I went back for another day. Someone I overheard on Sunday said: “You need a day to peruse and a day to buy.” I need a day to chat and another day to see all I missed.

On Monday morning I sat up in bed knitting a few more rows of my second Hitchhker scarf, musing on all I’d seen and the wonderful people I’d met, already making plans for Yarndale 2016 (a hotel in Harrogate or Halifax or Skipton?) And then I headed off to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. And that was another good day.

Yarndale 2015

I came back from Yorkshire last night, after a fantastic 4 days there. I really love that part of the country! I’d booked a ticket to go to Yarndale on Saturday and felt really excited. I didn’t go last year but went to the first Yarndale 2013 and was interested to see how the festival might have developed.

When travelling to Skipton what really amused me was the sheer number of Cath Kidson bags on view on the train. There weren’t as many woolly items being worn as I see en route to the Knitting & Stitch Show every March; as we’re enjoying a late Summer at the moment. I love anything Cath Kidson and so loved seeing them all. There was such a party atmosphere on the Leeds – Skipton train, with everyone talking about crochet, knitting and yarny matters, that the conductor asked where everyone was off to? He said he was absolutely loving seeing people talking to each other, not staring at their phones!

  I caught one of the red double deckers from the station and this was the mandala hanging in the window. It was amusing to see people in town doing double takes as the bus passed by. I noticed a few taking photos of it too!

When I arrived at the auction mart at 1030 people were streaming in. There seemed to be many more exhibitors this year and it was more spaced out than in 2013, which was a good thing.
  Once again I went to Fiona of Marmalade Rose gorgeous stall, where she was showcasing her felted wool pictures. They are works of art. I bought one of her cards. She is so talented.
  Some of the fabulous bunting! I tried to spot the ones I’d made, but it’s a few years ago now and I’m not sure I’d recognise all of them. I’m pretty sure I saw one or two, but wouldn’t put a bet on it!
The stunning Flowers for Memories displays were a real WOW. Here are just two panels. They were sent from 22 countries according to Lucy. Incredible isn’t it?


  This is just a section of the auction mart, you can imagine how busy it became over the day. It was very good to go upstairs for a bird’s eye view of everything, and to take a few minutes out. There really were fantastic stalls; such a variety of goods on sale and really, really stunning displays. I don’t have any photos but keep an eye out for any of Eden Cottage Yarns since it was definitely one of the best. If not the best.

This year I’d decided I was not going to take any photos (ha ha, failed I think) so there aren’t masses of yarn porn pictures. I was too busy staring greedily at it all, and trying not to smoosh it too much. But if you look on Instagram and search for #Yarndale2015 you’ll see plenty to satisfy you.
  
  I chatted to people all day: said hello to bloggers I’ve long followed, fellow instagrammers, anyone who started to chat about yarn or craft related things and designers I admire. It was so good to finally meet Kat Goldin, though due to my rubbish sense of direction I kept passing her and Joanne Scrace‘s The Crochet Project stand; as I went around in circles, rather than up and down all the rows. By the end I must’ve looked like a deranged stalker.

Yarndale felt like one giant, fizzing, happy party. I loved it. But by mid-afternoon I felt completely overwhelmed and decided to head back to town, it had been great but I was ready for a quiet wander. I jumped off the Yarndale express in the town and spent a huge £1 on a wooden door wedge at the market. I explored some of the lovely little independent shops and then popped in to Cooper’s Cafe, on the way back to the train station, and headed upstairs to Lucy’s studio. I felt a bit of a stalker again (and heard another saying the same) but it didn’t stop me looking around and taking some photos to show you.

I’m looking forward to seeing everyone’s take on this log cabin inspired blanket, the combination of colour possibilities is endless.

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So familiar from Lucy’s blog, it’s a treat to see them once again in ‘real life’.
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And there we are – my Yarndale experience. Or is it? Might there be more? Watch this space tomorrow…!

The Hitchhiker is ready to travel

   
 My  Hitchhiker sat in a bag for a while and when I finally got around to finishing it, the last 8 rows took no time at all. Well, apart from the row I had to knit backwards, which is my term for undoing stitches. Instead of purl 1, knit the rest I realise I’d purled all. You never realise these things until the end of the row. I blame it on David Sedaris and his turtle story, which I listened to on the BBC radio iplayer. You’ve got to blame lapses on someone haven’t you? 

I don’t really know why I thought it was a good idea to use 4mm needles with sock yarn. It seemed the specified 3mm needles for 4 ply yarn, used with sock yarn and combined with my knitting tension would make a scarf (I can’t call it that name ending with ette; it makes my my mouth pucker) suitable for a dolly. This is why it’s a slightly loopy looking at the edges. Loopy is so much nicer a description than holey isn’t it?

Summer Snapshot

   
    
    
 I’ve been holidaying in West Cornwall during a really beautiful week of weather, walking over 55 miles of coastal paths and local trails, exploring the local area, eating all the seaside holiday faves: pasties, fish and chips, cream tea and loving trying the local ciders.  Rattler (apple) cider is definitely my favourite. 

There was so much to see and photograph: particularly the spectacular coastline from all angles on the peninsula. As you headed away from the sea over a hill, or around a bend you would see it again. We were based only 8 miles from Lands End and wild flowers, butterflies, rabbits, birds and fish abounded. 

Then it was time to come home and I found my plants had grown inches (the dahlias are a foot taller – really) my porch pot has taken off, as you see, compared to the mere 3 flowers it had when I last saw it. There were juicy strawberries to eat, chillies had appeared in abundance and the herbs are bursting out of their pots. We have a very good neighbour who waters while we are away!

Although I took all my crochet kit away, to work on the border of the motif blanket, I didn’t do any. In the evenings it was too hot, or we were eating at a local pubs or sipping wine on the terrace looking out on the 180 degree view of the sea (taking far too many photos of the sunsets), or we were walking by the sea in the evening breeze. All I’ve done, since coming back, is a few rows of knitting of my Hitchhiker shawl. It’s really a scarf isn’t it? I’m not sure where/when calling everything a shawl started.

Now it’s far too hot to have a wooly blanket on my lap!  Today it’s 32 0c and reportedly the hottest day in 9 years. I was in Australia and missed the last one, but remember seeing news reports of tarmac on roads bubbling and railway lines buckling; much to the Aussies amusement. 

  
Like many I have reeled on reading about the death of Wink, there are no words to express my sadness. She will be missed by so many. XX

Hitchhiker progress 

      

It’s not perfect. I’ve had to stop myself several times from ripping it out and rewinding the yarn, but I’m sticking with it. I’ve swapped to 4mm instead of 3mm circulars, so started again once already, because the gauge was tiny. A scarf for a doll! 

The wool is so fine, being Rowan Fine Art sock yarn, that it slips off my shiny metal Nova knit-pro needles often so the tension is a little wiggy in places; but as I said I am resisting my perfectionist tendencies and leaving it be. 

I love the colours, this is expensive but very lovely yarn (merino wool, kid mohair, polyamide and mulberry silk.) 

Yep: I’m knitting a Hitchhiker too

          Every time I scroll through the pretty pics on Instagram I see the Hitchhiker pattern being knit by someone. Seeing this many pictures of the same item is really a form of brain washing, or extremely effective advertising, so the other day I found myself click clicking on Ravelry here and in receipt of the pdf. I only wish I’d designed it as I read somewhere that 18,000+ (and I’m hoping this is true and not a wild exaggeration!) copies of the pattern have been sold.

I got so indignant about a character’s behaviour in my audio book, A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson, that I had to undo some last night as the teeth were at the wrong end. I only noticed after 8 more rows. D’oh! Apart from times of audio distraction it’s very easy and satisfying knitting.

I hope you don’t feel like I’m spamming you with too many posts this week. It’s just that I’ve had more to show as I’m not just plodding on with the same couple of makes. Also I’ve got lots of free time as I’ve been laid up resting my knee. 

What are you up to at the moment?

Mock Cable Wristies 

All sewn up and ready to wear  for Autumn.

 It’s hard to get pictures showing the true colour; I think because the sunlight glints off the sparkles on the finished wristies, but these are very close.

Can you see the sparkles? It’s such a pretty pink yarn and incredibly soft.  It’s Louisa Harding Orielle, cerise, and is a DK yarn with 97% baby alpaca and 3% metallic polyamide – aka the sparkley bit. There are many other lovely colours too. I didn’t even intend to buy it, but saw someone in the yarn shop knitting the wrisites with the same wool, and before I knew it my purse was out and I had a bag with a skein and wristie qpattern in hand. They get you like that, don’t they?
The skein was 50g and plenty for the pair of wristies. I knit them with the 3.75mm needles specified in the pattern. Now the 3mm I’m using for the sock yarn feel even tinier.

If you want to knit your own wrisites I’m not really giving much away when I say you knit some rows of double rib for the wristband, mock cables until they’re the desired length, then a few more rows of double rib to finish them off. You can probably tell that just by looking.

You have a rectangle to sew up (mattress stitch is best I reckon), leaving a hole for the thumb. Make sure you carefully check that the thumb holes are in the same place for both….unless you fancy wonky mitts. Then go for it anyhow you please.

Earler I left my (still excellent) audio book, sofa and cold pack to venture outside, into the real world! I dropped some smoked trout off at a friend’s and admired that gorgeous wisteria. Then popped to Sainsbury’s. Getting in and out of the car with a tubi-grip on my knee made me pull ridiculous faces. I probably made a few Ow and Ouch sounds too. Well it hurt. I noticed an elderly woman in the car park with a “Buck up your ideas, for goodness sake!” expression on her face, and wanted to explain what it was all about. We don’t do this in England generally, so I hobbled inside towards the salad veg instead.

These two blog posts have cheered me up and made me laugh this afternoon: The Cat isn’t Speaking to me on Yarn Harlot and  Carry-all: a Soup Story on Cosy Made Things.

I felt dull witted for a little while in a ‘Where’s the problem?’ kind of way, because I’m not much of a knitter, then pretty superior: ‘I would never do that!’ in response to Kristen’s post. So all in all I feel fairly balanced now.
You?

Still not knitting 

…instead of darning ends, ends and more ends! 

I now have only six rows of bright stripes left to crochet; due to having enforced rest for a few days because of a pesky joint (no, not that kind.) 

If you’re into audio books try the new Kate Atkinson: A God in Ruins. It’s so superb that I can’t stop listening, and I only started yesterday. It’s definitely made things like ice packs, sitting and generally too much inactivity easier to put up with. An interesting book along with mindless crochet, and of course the knitting I haven’t done, can make time whizz. 

Two alpaca soft wool wristies have NOT been knitted, with one sewn up. 

And of course it’s not me who is about to wind this gorgeous yarn and knit with it… 

     

What are you up to? 

Definitely not knitting 

I’ve got to finish darning my motif blanket (it’s going well and best described as: slow but steady) and crochet lots more stripes. So, I’m still determinedly not going to start knitting anything, or begin any new project, until they’re finished. 

 I can still buy the occasional treats though. A gorgeous pottery coaster and a skein of the most deliciously soft yarn which is 97% baby alpaca, (see the silver sparkles in it?)  along with a little pattern for wristies with a mock cable pattern.
  It would be foolish to begin a new make, when I’ve really got to finish the overdue motif blanket which is for someone else. Equal pleasure can surely be gained from darning and half watching a Pirates of the Caribbean film can’t it? 

   Bright stripes are good for the day after the night before, when one by one leaders are resigning and pundits are still reeling from false predictions. 

What are you definitely not doing? 

A little reinvention

I know it’s now a saga, this honey cowl. As you know, I disliked the feel and look of the Stylecraft Special DK when it was knitted, so swapped to a lovely soft DMC Creative World merino I had in my stash.We all know swatching is important, even vital, but it seems a drag – not that I’ve ever actually done it before. The honey cowl is meant to be 12″ in width, but mine was actually looking like 10″ which meant I was knitting a neck brace! I didn’t think blocking would make 2″ difference so after pondering the inevitable I undid it all. It is best to do this quickly, rewind the yarn into balls and stuff it into a bag out of sight, out of mind!

It’s not great undoing your knitting but I have to admit this was accompanied with a measure of relief – since I found the alternate slip a stitch purl-wise, then purl pattern was really aggravating my golfer’s elbow.

But last night I fancied a quick make while I listened to the last hour of The Minotaur by Barbara Vine. I don’t need another pin cushion so this will go to one of my friend’s charity craft stalls.

I can choose a new audio book on Friday when I get my new Audible credit, do you have any recommendations? 

What are you up to this week? What are you reading? 

Five things 

I’m making a few loaves of bread again at a time, one to eat and the other(s) to freeze. The freezer lately seems to be full of stewed apples from the glut last Autumn, and frozen trout because of my knowing a talented fly fisherman. No sooner had I baked two loaves on Sunday than 3 whopping fish were brought home; one brown and two rainbow trout. Luckily family and friends are more than happy to have them as they are or potted or smoked.

BBC radio 2 are broadcasting Sounds of the 20th Century, it’s ‘An audio journey through five decades, starting at 1951. Archive recordings include George VI overcoming his stammer to open the Festival of Britain.’  I’m going to try to listen to them on the iplayer because it’s fascinating; no commentaries or explanations, just music, news, programme clips etc from each year. I’m listening to the first from 1951 now.
“The average housewife works for 75 hours each week and does overtime at weekends….according to a Mass Observation study…”

“Coupons will continue to be required for meat, cheese….”

Poor little Princess Margaret “born into disappointment as the Nation longed for a little Prince.”

It is compelling listening for a social and economic history junkie.

On a Saturday jaunt to Marlborough it was lovely to see clumps of snowdrops under trees. It really feels as if Spring is on its way now; with blue skies and sunshine, albeit interspersed with showers. Washing has been hung on the line a few times this week already and partially dried in the gentle breeze, this is a very good thing.

Johnnie Ray is now being asked about why he cries as he sings and how long he’s worn hearing aids. We’ve just watched the three Rock and Chips specials on Netflix (an excellent prequel to Only Fools and Horses) and his music was featured in the first one…

I’m a terrible procrastinator where some things are concerned, like sewing up knitting. This little baby jumper was something I knitted it in 2013, just something I saw in a knitting mag and thought I could give to a friend. I also knitted a cat (recently sewn up by a Nana in my friend’s craft group, which sells items in aid of the Deaf Access charity) and a tank-top which I subsequently undid. I blogged about the sewing up then. Oops.

Forty thousand feathers on a thrush!”

The silly thing is that I did the sewing while listening to my current audio book: The Minotaur by Barbara Vine (excellently narrated by Sian Thomas) and it was really painless. I guess in the interests of complete honesty I should admit that it took so long to finish because my cousin had it for ages, it was she who actually sewed it up. But I sewed on the buttons! This took several months, but it’s all done now.

You are the lone ranger!”The next is better; I sewed up my headband. It only took 2 weeks or so after finishing it. Improvement, yes? Here it is with a little card, ready for posting. The P.O has put in self-service machines and for some reason I really got flustered trying to gauge the size of the packet, type in the address for a proof of posting certificate etc. It was all too much but the new cheese counter take-a-ticket-wait-for-the-number-to-be-called wait was far too long.

“…without cotton many mills in Lancashire would close down…”The friend who sent me Clara Parkes knitting book also popped in two balls of yarn. This one was bought in iknit, London, she was going to make an entrelac something or other but ended up unravelling it without keeping the yarn band. It feels like wool, or a good wool blend, and is sock or lace weight (are these really so similar in weight that they are virtually the same?) I like using a really fine thread, it’s different.

“There will be more houses to let, more houses to sell, more houses for everyone…..the Conservative pledge will be kept in full…”

“The time is now six fourteen and three quarters…”  What an excellent programme, if distracting listening to it while writing here.

What are you enjoying listening to or reading at the moment?

If you write your own Five Things post then feel free to add a link in the comments below, then we can all see what you’ve been up to.

** I just had a text and selfie of the headband being worn, this was super fast delivery as I only grappled with the self-service machine yesterday! It looks really nice and will definitely be in use next week on the ski slopes. Hurrah!**

Begin again

It was obvious I had to start the Honey Cowl again wasn’t it? Thank you for all your comments here, and elsewhere. I was kind of hoping someone might suggest I could wave a magic wand and transform the yarn into something else, without having to undo all my knitting, but no go!
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I’m on a yarn diet at the moment, I’ve sent a bag of never-gonna-use-this balls and oddments of yarn to the charity shop and have others I’m planning to use before another big purchase. I’d forgotten I still have some merino which DMC Creative World sent me last year. I used some when I made my needle roll. It is PERFECT, the yarn slides along my wooden Knitpro needles with ease, it’s soft and the stitch definition is great. Now I can see why it’s called the Honey Cowl, see those little honeycomb shapes?
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Before I kept hearing the refrain: ‘Poor Old Michael Finnegan begin again’, I was reluctant to undo what I’d knit so far, but this has been a fast catch up even for a relatively slow knitter like me. It’s the merino, nothing to do with me!
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What are you up to this weekend?

On a random note: have you ever tried tatting? I was thinking that I could maybe use some of the fine DMC crochet thread to learn.

Dilemma. Knitting.

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So, I’ve knit a bit more of the Honey Cowl, it’s described as a slip stitch honeycomb pattern which explains the name, but am caught in a bit of a dilemma. It’s not big as the world goes; but enough to make me pause. It’s the Stylecraft Special DK, it’s really fine for crochet blankets. It’s lightweight, soft, washable and can be tumble dried (not that I’ve ever tested the last two but it’s comes highly recommended by so many others that I believe them) and is inexpensive. The trouble with knitted stitches more sleek in appearance than crochet, is that suddenly the yarn seems to be too shiny, too light in weight and just very acrylic looking and to the touch too.

I’ve knit too much to undo it without a thought, but am not sure that it’s wise to carry on when I already know that I won’t want to wear it. What would you do? IMG_8702-0

Mostly ends with one beginning

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See the golden coloured ‘square’?  I took this photo to: “You’re in the way of the rugby!” Well, the light was best in front of the tv and it was Valentine’s Day, sheesh! Even so this isn’t the clearest photo, but we’re trapped under iron skies here. I didn’t notice that I’d pulled it out of shape arranging the piece on the carpet. When I went to add more hexagons to fill in the gaps I realised it was in the wrong place completely and it would be far too fiddly to add one in with all the sides to be joined. Bye Bye Goldie.
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I finished the Vanessa headband, it’s blocked and posed to be mattress stitched up. This is my issue with knitting; joining crochet with crochet is not a problem, because it’s crochet. Sewing knitting up makes me start yawning even at the thought of it.
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I have until a few days before 28th, then it needs to be posted to its new home because it’s then flying off to Austria skiing for a week. Clever headband!
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Yet more ends to be sewn. I have another boxful of motifs ready to JAYGO to my William Morris inspired blanket, but they must be darned beforehand. I’ve set myself a 5-a-day plan like last time. But oh it’s boring. Crochet a motif, darn that motif is a great idea, but I enjoy the flow of making them and seeing little stacks pile up.
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I started this circular Honey Cowl while listening to the last part of The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins audio book. It seemed pretty obvious early on who dunnit, although I still found the story quite gripping overall.

So, there’s going to be no sewing up! Which is a Baldrick style cunning plan, I think. It’s not posh yarn and I did wonder how I’m going to feel about wearing Stylecraft Special DK; but it’s really soft and consistent for knitting. I’ve only ever used it for crochet blanket making, but I just didn’t want to start with a nicer yarn (I have some Tosca Light left over from Brian) and run out mid way.

Do you use Stylecraft for wearable knitting or crochet? How do you find it?

It’s been ages since I knit

A friend sent me this book

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Knitting and an audio book – The One Plus One by Jojo Moyes – is just so relaxing that when I stop I feel as if I’ve had a deep sleep. This might be the same sensation you experience after meditation?

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I came by this headband pattern on Pinterest I think. Here’s the link. I can’t see me wearing it but I just liked the idea of cabling again. It’s a fast knit with chunky yarn (a leftover ball of Sirdar Escape chunky from when I knit my Bergere de France poncho) and size eights, even for a rusty knitter who keeps dropping the cable needle down the side of the sofa.

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I may offer the finished headband to my generous friend who posted the book along with some VERY interesting yarn. I’ll show you that another day.

I’m also getting on with sewing up and adding little pearly buttons to this

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which is indeed a little doll’s dress to give to a friend who crafts for charities. She’s always happy to add my random offerings to her stall, or at least is good at pretending.

Sorry it turned out to the longest wait for an answer to a silly little Guess What question ever!

2014

Have you had a good Christmas? I’m sitting here with the fairy lights twinkling, presents in piles around the sofa, cards on the mantlepiece along with the stub of the seemingly everlasting Advent candle which finally spluttered to an end last night during Harry Potter. I love Crimbo-limbo, that special time between Christmas and New Year when life seems to go in slow motion.

Looking back at my blog photo archive I’ve found so many projects I started and then unravelled for different reasons. It seems to have been the year of procrastination, trial and error. I hadn’t realised until now. But I have gathered some highlights and favourite makes from my crafting year…

Looking back at my end of year galleries from 2012 and 2013 I’m amazed at the number of things I’ve crocheted, knitted and sewn which I’ve forgotten about! Lots has been given to family and friends and so it must be a case of out of sight, out of mind.

Today it’s my blog birthday, 3 years old! It was originally a way to record my progress as I practiced my fledgling crochet skills online diary styley. I always thought that to be mentioned in a crochet magazine one day would be the icing on the cake, although that was obviously never going to happen. Wrong! This blog and my crochet have now been featured in Inside Crochet as part of their Our Favourite Blogger feature, and earlier this year Simply Crochet paid me to design a Springtime brooch for an issue of the magazine. Also, I’m still delighted that photos I posted after a birthday lunch were used in Decanter magazine. Ca-ching!

So where do I go from here? I carry on making, of course. This is what’s happening on and off between slabs of Christmas cake and hot chocolate after hikes in the freezing cold: the what-I-call William Morris motif blanket has regenerated, and I’m busy darning in ends as I make each stack of motifs, but more about that next year…

The Zesty Raspberry Ripple was received with great praise for the colour choices “they’re really me, I love the raspberry and greys together, and lime green is my favourite colour.” It barely left my sister in law’s side after she unwrapped it. Excellent.

Thank you for all your likes, comments, emails and messages on social media this year. It’s been fun. Let’s do it again in 2015.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Homemade compliments

I’ve just read Sarah of Crafts from the Cwtch blog post about how her new knitted Colourblock Shawl has prompted compliments from strangers on the street. This reminded that when I wore my crocheted ribbed scarf to evening class on Tuesday I was complimented on the colours. It’s so gratifying to make something handmade and have it noticed. (For the right reasons!) Shop bought rarely gathers compliments; I guess the colours and designs can be too generic to stand out.
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If you want to crochet a ribbed scarf the pattern’s here. Or, you could dig out your knitting sticks and make Sarah’s cosy shawl.
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Currently I’m rippling away still, full speed ahead. The end is in sight, bar the darning and border. I have about 19 more stripes to crochet and I’m whizzing along to (don’t judge me) Glee: season 4. I gave up on Glee at the beginning of series 3 which was shown years ago here. It was so samey and they looked far, far too old to still be hanging around a High School music room! Series 4 was apparently broadcast two years ago, most of the originals have moved onwards and upwards which makes it fun seeing their next steps. It keeps me singing along as I fiercely hook, hook, hook on the sofa. To be honest I am absolutely dying to make some small fun makes, but I know I have to get the zesty raspberry ripple finished and then go back to the motif blanket. Both WILL be completed in time for Christmas.

What are you up to?

Fashion and Textile Museum: Knitwear, Chanel to Westwood

Yesterday a friend and I went to the latest exhibition at the London Fashion and Textile museum in Bermondsey. I’ve visited a few exhibitions there before (Kaffe Fassett and Bellville Sassoon.) It really is a gem of a place. Originally founded by Zandra Rhodes in 2003, it’s now operated by Newham college.
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Before buying our tickets a few weeks ago I’d Googled to see if there were any discounts. It’s so worth doing this before buying anything online. The results showed an Amazon Local deal several pounds cheaper, with vouchers for two hot drinks at the cafe. While I waited for my friend I used mine, I’m not sure why I chose hot chocolate as it was 21 degrees by mid morning! This is very strange weather for October – though beautiful.

The exhibition brochure begins: ‘Knitting is one of the most fundamental textile techniques, produced from a continuous yarn and simple needles, yet its origins are shrouded in the mists of time. Early examples of knitting dating from Coptic and Egyptian cultures still exist, along with hats, stockings and knitted undergarments from the sixteenth century…”

Most of the examples of knitted and crocheted garments are from a private collection and the exhibition ‘reflects the emotions we invest in objects.’

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I took this with the wacky and wonderful Jill in mind. At the moment she’s busy crocheting rhino horns for beanies. That seems to be one of her typical working days.

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This is an Edwardian wool petticoat from 1907. Can you imagine wearing it under layers of clothing?

To read some blogs there are current designers and makers who write as if they invented ripple and chevron patterns, but in 1907 (and probably long, long before) women were choosing red and black wool and rippling away. It’s quite humbling isn’t it? Nice too, to think we’re just many in a long history of the craft.

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How old is this crochet dress? When would you date it?
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It’s from H&M and was sold in the 1990s. Did it fool you, like it fooled us?
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Items from the 1940s Make Do and Mend era during The Second World War. There are examples of old dresses reworked into new skirts and garments knitted or crochet from many oddments of wool.
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The exhibition is not without faults I’m sorry to say. Some other women we chatted to felt that there was not enough information about how items were made and they regretted not being able to see garments from all angles. Curiously the displays were standing in what looked like giant packing crates. Signage is rather unclear so it takes some time to work out which garment information refers to. I found displays on top of crates really frustrating. They were at least 7′ up in the air and you couldn’t see them clearly. Why?!

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Wonderful fair isle tank tops. As we read the info the four of us all chorused – before we came to it – “And the Prince of Wales was sent one and wore it to see the GOLF and that’s how fair isle became famous.” It’s obviously one of those tidbits that everyone remembers.

There was much more to see and this is just a taster. The exhibition is there until January 18th. Although we experienced some irritations with the display I would still recommend visiting if you can, as the sheer range of items is interesting. I heard many cameras clicking and comments as people recollected similar clothing they, or their Grannies, used to wear!

Afterwards we walked towards the river. Look at all those t-shirt wearing people. In October! In London! ENGLAND! I was one of them, because thank goodness I checked my weather app before I left home.
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Looking across the river we could see that the area around the Tower of London was busy, but it wasn’t until today that I heard of the surge of people who took advantage of half term’s sunny weather to go and see the poppy installation, a memorial for the British and Colonial soldiers who died in the First World War. Apparently Tower Bridge tube station had to close several times during the day. And now visitors are asked to delay going until next week because of the crowds.
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Isn’t Tower Bridge pretty? Spotted the bird?

Next we aimed to walk to Greenwich, along the Thames path as far as we could go, as we had tickets to visit somewhere really cool (not at all) but paused at The Angel, Rotherhithe for some of Samuel Smith’s Yorkshire finest. Sitting on the outside balcony watching the river craft passing, hearing the water lapping below while soaking up the sun turned out to be a very good thing too. When the sun shines like that you make the most of it. And the other thing will have to wait until the end of the month.

Happy November to you.

Designer Yarn Play

Near the end of May I received an email from Black Sheep Wools asking if I would like to review some new designer yarn. Well of course the answer was yes! Who isn’t going to want to try brand new designer yarn, for free? Then I was told I’d need to complete a non-disclosure agreement, I was not to tell anyone about the yarn or even that I was to be doing a review. How secret squirrel was that?! I’ve been sent yarn and other products before from various companies and have never seen a disclosure form. I admit that I felt quite excited and started to look around for crochet patterns; this would be the time to start on my first crochet garment, no more blankets, hats or scarves for me, this was obviously going to be a lovely big bale of yarn, suitable for a cardie, jumper or huge wrap, otherwise why all the secrecy and legally binding paperwork?

At the beginning of June a little parcel was popped through my letterbox, just as I was heading out. Oh…
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I’d obviously been very convinced and convincing about the quantity of yarn due to arrive, as Someone said “Is that it?!” “Mmmmm, yes it seems to be.”

Shortly after that an email came full of guidelines for the blog post; must be no shorter than xxx words, must contain no more than 4 links to the website, but should include one to x and x and x, the review must contain both positives and negatives, though obviously more positives than negatives, an original design could be submitted to the company website and would be appreciated, along with the blog post etc, etc, etc…

I may be about to fail short of some of these guidelines but this is my space, I have used the yarn and will tell you as many details about it as I can, given the quantity. The moral of the story is that sometimes bloggers get free things to play and have fun with, other times freebies come with expectations. Be prepared. But Black Sheep Wools seem like a good company and obviously have very discerning tastes in craft bloggers (the need for a winking smiley feels strong here, but I will not break my no emoticons in a post rule) also I can’t imagine ever writing a ‘review’ which wasn’t honest. If you want an honest opinion I’m your girl.

I’ve never used any Louisa Harding yarns before so this was a new experience.

Here goes…

Yarn details:

Louisa Harding – Esquel
60% merino, 20% llama, 20% silk
50g ball, 106 yards (97 mts)
Suggested neeedles: US 8 (5mm)
Suggested tension 18 sts x 24 rows

This lovely yarn feels quite soft but also due to its thickness of the strand (and the silk?) it’s strong. The band doesn’t say, but I think it’s aran as it needs 5mm needles and is thicker than other designer DK yarns I’ve used. I decided to make more fingerless mitts as it seemed just the right amount of yarn for a pair. I’m going to give these away as a present.

I used much smaller needles than the recommended 5mm, but the resulting fabric is thick and makes warm mitts.

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Although it’s really annoying it seems that it’s sometimes inevitable that wool yarns have knots in them. This is one disadvantage to using woolen blends, unlike acrylics which rarely have this problem, but most synthetic fibres do not have the quality feel of yarn like this. Unlike a ball of baby cashermino I once used which once had 4 or 5 knots in one 50g ball, this ball of Esquel had only the one. I decided to cut the yarn and start the cuff again, the fewer darned ends in a pair of mitts which will see plenty of wear and tear, the better.

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Lots of gratuitous tomato pics today I’m afraid, in my search for better light they seemed as good a backdrop as any. It’s great to come home after a hol to 8 plants groaning with ripe and nearly ripe red and yellows! Sorry – back to the yarn…

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I would recommend Esquel, because it comes in such lovely colours, the feel of the knitted material is fairly soft and also seems as if it will be hard-wearing and warm. I bet a knitted, or crocheted, jumper would be super toasty in the winter.

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If you’d like to check out Louisa Harding’s Esquel in Black Sheep Wool’s online yarn shop it’s currently £5.35 a ball.
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As I photographed the mitts outside on my emergency-stepladder-storm-resistant-stand-up-tomato-plants-please-don’t-fall-over-device look at what I saw…I’ve grown a rabbit!

Here endeth the review. A Manhattan is waiting for me on the other side. Happy cocktail hour weekend everyone!

All the good stuff

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I don’t think there’s anything better than a stroll along a seafront, a paddle in the sea, fish and chips on the beach and a creamy ice cream in the sun on a bank holiday weekend.
The pebbles pic could be used on that clever website (I don’t know what it’s called, and am feeling too Bank Holiday Monday lazy to press a few buttons to find out) which gives a colour chart, based on the range of colours in a photograph, for a blanket, or fabric patchwork.

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Yes please, I said. It’s my birthday soonish and so, yes please I’ll have that beach hut. Thank you very much.

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Anemones? Sticky up like electrical wire which is partly stripped back, just standing up in clumps in the sea?

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A spot of retail therapy today (damn you Cadbury Outlet Shop; you are bad, BAD, very Bad!!!) and a wander around the historic dockyard of Portsmouth. Even though today was rainy the queue for the Mary Rose museum was long. Must book ahead and go early one day.

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A dicey drive home on very wet roads, home to my Stanley who’s very interested to see on Instagram that someone is having all sorts of adventures with Kate and family (Stanley at Legoland) I did eight more rows of knitting after we’d unpacked, made some cups of tea and tried a terribly bad (good) Cadbury Crunchie biscuit. I’m limiting myself to short bursts at the mo. I started this Friday evening, after a friend said she’s knitting two to sell for charity. Guess what it’s going to be? Bet you won’t be able to get it. (Just remember I will never ever knit a toilet roll holder. I promise this much.)

Have you been tempted into eating naughty things this weekend too?