Return of the sock

Hello April! It’s nearly the end of the second week already…

I’ve been away on a road trip trip holiday, up to locations in County Durham and Northumblerland, then to Dundee and Aberdeen, in Scotland. After a great time there we headed down to Yorkshire and stayed in Harrogate. I put a few pics on My Instagram account if you want to see.

It was a great trip and included catching up with quite a few friends. I finally went to Seaham to collect sea glass too. That’s something I’ve wanted to do for a few years, or more, since reading about the Victorian glass factory which tipped its waste into the sea. Read here for info, if you’re interested.

Just a selection of what we found (not my hand!)

I’m so pleased with my appropriately Easter egg shaped find!

One of the best bits last weekend was enjoying the company of Trish of Made by Patch blog (you could hassle her nicely about returning to blogging if you like) and Mr Patch over the weekend. The men were off doing their own thing for the morning and we got together for an hour or so. We were sitting in a comfy hotel lobby, on a squashy sofa with all sorts of sock knitting paraphernalia spread around us. It worked well until some bouncy young and very loud South Africans came to the adjacent sofa. But no matter; it was nearly time to meet the group and I’d finally got my sock knitting confidence back.

Over 1,000 miles later and we are home to a bag full of chocolate. It’s one of those Sainsbury’s Bags for Life; they aren’t at all small. We forgot to take any away with us. I’m rationing mine unnaturally well so far, like the good girl that I never was, and so it’s maybe going to last a long time.

You’ll maybe note that the sock above is not quite the sock you see below; the heel part originally purple, is now cream. There is the beginning of a gusset and the circular needles are back in play above. Yes well, I have been named a True Perfectionist by my sock knitting coach Trish but it was not right stitch count wise. I decided it’s not like me to fudge it, especially on the first attempt, as the second sock will have to be too. So, I’ve redone the heel flap to be slightly shorter and turned the heel, this time ending on 20, not 18 stitches. That seems better as I cast on 64. I’ve also taken pains to make sure the foot section will be 32 and not 35! I think it was originally 32 but wrongly placed markers were to probably to blame. I’d started the k2tog and ssk decreases too and decided they would show if I altered the line. I didn’t want to start with the sock on the wrong foot, boom-boom! Ahem.

As the book is a guide rather than an exact pattern, especially you’re casting on more or fewer than 60 stitches, I’m counting everything as I go and making copious notes. I’m hopefully going to be clear about what I’ve done when I come to do the second sock.

It’s fair to say this sock has been a long time in the knitting…

My sock knitting timeline:

June 2016 Trish wins a giveaway including a copy of Christine Perry’s Sock book (all info also available for free on her Winwick Mum blog) but had a copy already so gives it to me

Christine updates the 2015 book and I print out the extra update sheets

Become confused by all of the info, hide it away for a while

May 2017 Buy 2 balls of Regina Design Line ‘Jazz colour’ by Erika Knight yarn and my first 2.5 mm tiny Addi circulars and dpns

Knit the ribbing and knit the leg, it’s fun! I seem to be able to do it!

June 2017 Deep breaths and do the heel flap, that’s ok too. But the next bit? Oh my lord I am confused.

July 2017 Hide or shuffle feet and hum when anyone mentions sock knitting

February 2018 Post a photo on Instagram of the sock so far, because Trish and I have arranged to meet up for a coaching session on April. I tentatively think I might have an actual sock by the end of the year. Maybe even a pair.

April 2018 Meet up on Saturday 7th, turn the heel with Trish knitting along at the same point. She’s a star.

Mr Patch comes back and shows me he is wearing his pair. They’re fab. He loves that they’re so comfortable with no seams which rub. He also complains it took two years to complete them, so I have a feeling he’s angling for more pairs.

Timeline to be continued…..

We got chatting to a woman later that day, surrounded by 8k people (really) who were drinking beer / gin / vodka. She stood out because she was starting a sock, amongst a sea of people who were not knitting. I just had to go and chat to her. She was making a pink and blue Checkerboard sock, her husband heard us chatting and pulled up his jean legs to show us his homemade socks. He loves them he told us. I made absolutely no promises about knitting Someone his own pair!

*If* I ever have a complete sock to show, then get round to another, only then will we see about promises to nearest and dearests.

As well as knitting, I’m reading A Kind Man by Susan Hill. It’s a library book. Last time I went in I found 5 books straight away; so have quite a stack. I’m three quarters of the way through and although I’ve always loved the author’s writing style, I am finding the turn the story’s taken a bit weird. I just wanted to stay looking out at the fields and feeding the chickens for longer. I wonder how it will end?

What are you making and reading? Have you travelled anywhere new recently? Have a Bag for Life full of chocolate too?

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

Taking Stock – March

Making : Triple chocolate brownies (yum!)

Cooking : Thai pork noodles

Drinking : tonic water with ice still as it’s Dry Lent (I always stop on Easter Sunday)

Reading: Apple Tree Yard by Louise Doughty

Wanting: a variegated yarn cake

Looking: at this gorgeous Hitchhiker in Lion Brand Mandala: Centaur

Playing: The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R Carey – audio book

Deciding: to allow myself to buy a yarn cake – even though I’m stash busting still

Wishing: my elbow was titanium – though it’s better after the rest

Enjoying: 15 minute dramatised episodes of The Old Curiosity Shop on the BBC radio iplayer

Waiting: for two, or more, sunny consecutive days

Liking: my new iPhone

Wondering: what we’ll do in London later

Scilla

Scilla – so pretty

Waterperry Gardens

The long border will be full to bursting in the summer. I love this old wall in any season.

Loving: The Marvellous Mrs Maisel on Amazon Prime – the first 2 anyway

Pondering: buying more jeans

Considering: ?

Buying: toothbrushes

Watching: Shetland – the latest series was brilliant

Hoping: for a dry day today

Marvelling: at the amount of chocolate sold absolutely everywhere this year

Cringing: that my MiL and I have both bought the same egg for Someone! (And laughing too, it is amazing as there are SO many to choose from…!)

Needing: more rubber needle ends

Questioning: why was I wide awake at 0610?!

Smelling: fresh air

The Easter bunny?!

Wearing: none of your business!

Following: blogs I’ve read for years now

Noticing: how you get a nice feeling seeing photos of the same places, people and pets

Knowing: the alarm will go off shortly

Thinking: this is in the nick of time – it’s 31/3!

Admiring: daffodils all along the verges around here

Sorting: to-do lists – tick, tick, tick

Getting: longer nails

Bookmarking: recipes in my Itsu 20 minute suppers library book

Coveting: chocolate!

Disliking: eating too much chocolate

Opening: tomorrow – chocolate!

Giggling: at Tony Blackburn on R2

Feeling: pleased my cowl is nearly finished

Snacking: it’s 0630 – so on nothing

Hearing: birdsong

Worrying: I’ll be sleepy again by 0800

Slicing: brownies for dessert, yesterday

Celebrating: Easter with family

Forgetting: what? There’s bound to be something

Winning: the lottery? Will check last night’s ticket after this…

Pretending: I’m going to portion out Easter chocolate till August

Sneaking: it will be chocolate won’t it?!

Embracing: family, this weekend

If you fancy writing your own Taking Stock list you can find a blank list on Pip’s Meet me at Mike’s blog.

Have a VERY HAPPY EASTER!

Update – knits

“Brilliant kick! Ohh! Get over!” is what I’m hearing from the right side of the room, while I try to gather my thoughts about this post.

Now: “Noooo! Ouch….Knees don’t bend that way!” And I am firmly fixing my gaze downwards to my iPad’s screen. I do not need to see any gory injury replays. I knew these outbursts might be the case, but I had hoped for a quiet game and silent supping of beer, alongside the occasional sounds of dry roasted peanut munching. My Instagram feed is currently full of photos of knitting and crochet ‘while the rugby is on in the background’, or ‘while I watch the rugby.’ I know there are plenty of women who enjoy it too, I’m just not one of them. It’s England V France and currently 6-3 to us. I cheer when we win, but don’t watch the game.

Anyway, sorry for the sports waffle. Back to the knits; I wasn’t sure about the shouty bright pink being added to the mix in my garter stitch blanket, but it works doesn’t it? I like it quite a lot. I am sticking to it being a stash buster, so it’s going to get even more random. However the blending helps to tone down some of the less likeable shades.

I’m really enjoying this knitting, as you know I haven’t knitted much complex lace and this pattern is labelled on the Love Knitting site as intermediate. Hurray! I feel like a proper knitter. The Edenvale cowl is reversible and this is the side which faces you as you knit, but it’s definitely the other side that I prefer (shown below.)

“Are you knitting a giraffe a neck warmer?”

“Ooh look, your dream-catcher is coming on!”

I put up with a lot some days, I feel.

Not knitting, but beautiful anemones I just saw when we popped out to have a wander around a local nursery and plant centre. It’s the day to buy flowers, or a plant, as it’s Mothering Sunday tomorrow. Sainsbury’s, on Friday, looked absolutely crammed full with extra buckets and stands of flowers.

It’s been a while since I recorded what I’m reading and listening to: The Tent, the Bucket and Me by Emma Kennedy is making me laugh out loud, more than any book has made me laugh for a long time. I didn’t even really know who she is, but that doesn’t matter at all. Emma writes really well and being an actress is sublime at accents, particularly Welsh. The premise of the book is to describe the family’s disastrous attempts at camping holidays, during the 1970s. So, of course you get a bit of context of what’s going on in the country at the time, the food they eat and encounters with other holiday makers. Highly recommended. I’ve got 3 hours left to listen and I only started the audio book this week. This is probably a speed listening personal record.

I finished reading The House of New Beginnings by Lucy Diamond on Friday night. It’s nice; one of those multi-character stories, where each woman has experienced a recent trauma, heartbreak or has to adjust to a major change. There’s a fair bit of loneliness and isolation at the beginning, but you can guess where the story goes and that ultimately warm and supportive friendships gradually form. There’s nothing wrong with reading a bit of candy-floss. I also think that sometimes a story like this can encourage readers to join a new club, try something new or make an overture of friendship towards another. It can give assurances that all things pass and tricky times improve.

What about you, what are you busy with right now? Can you recommend any good reads?

The score is now 9-9 and I’ve just said SHUSH as “Argghhhhh!” was shouted and made me jump.

Linking with Ginny’s now monthly Yarn Along.

Soup & trying to knit weather

Tuesday

At 0800 it’s -3 on the thermometer and doesn’t really change all day, except to get colder. The so-called Beast from the East, a very cold weather system from Siberia, is blasting the UK. We’ve got off lighter than many areas but it’s very cold. There’s no snow until late afternoon, although the village pond is already frozen solid. The canal is going that way too. As I watch the narrow boat go I can hear the ice cracking! In the time it takes me to click the photo my gloveless hand begins to tingle and hurt with the cold.

It seems a very good day to spend one of my Christmas gift vouchers on some warm West Yorkshire Spinners Shetland Tweed. I’d seen a particular cowl in Loop, Islington last year and haven’t got it out of my mind. I buy the pattern when I’m home, but can’t make head nor tail of it. There is no number of cast on stitches to start with, and more confusion besides. Nearly £5 and it’s a pretty awful pattern, touted as suitable for lace knitting beginners but it’s clearly not. I should have have taken more notice of the zero reviews. I check it’s not me, missing something obvious, and ask a very clever test knitter and designer who I turn to for knitting advice occasionally. She says it’s one of the worst patterns she’s ever seen. You just don’t know this until you have the pdf unfortunately. I email the company selling the pattern (it’s also on Ravelry, for even more money) knowing they have a zero refund policy, once you’ve downloaded the pdf. My email contains a list of issues with the pattern, provided by my contact. I have a full refund and apology by 9pm. Drat though! That cowl has been in my thoughts for ages. My star knitty friend then goes above and beyond. My instagram is suddenly beeping like crazy. She sends me links to 13 lace cowl patterns: “Which are on Ravelry and far better written.” I chose Edenvale. It’s going to be a very warm cowl as it’s in aran weight wool, but I’m hoping I don’t find it too scratchy to wear…

I feel chilly and can’t get warm, so I wear my Holey Cowl over the top of my Mira Cowl. I’ve never worn either inside the house before.

I get my nostepinne out to wind a skein and Someone texts me:

“Stick the oven on, I’m just leaving”

“Argh!!! I’ve got a skein of wool wrapped around my knees!”

Wednesday

It’s -5 at 0742 so I’m staying in bed reading for a while, because I can! It’s so cold sticking your arm out of the covers, even with the radiator full on.

I meet up with Mum and we go to the library and pop to the supermarket for her groceries. When we come out the car park is swirling white with a snow blizzard. It’s hard to see where the car is parked! We go to her home for soup and toast. Barty naughtily sits on the worktop, watching the snow fall.

Thursday

The window thermometer tell me it’s -4 and there are gusty winds with light snow at 10:00. I plan to make chicken soup, update my card details on the national Lottery website (ready for that huge jackpot win) and start my cowl. The heating is on full blast, but I’m still cold. I dig out my Poncho and am so pleased as it instantly warms my shoulders.

I relearn how to do a long-tail cast on. If you’re also a leftie watch Bill Souza teach the left handed LTCO, he’s very good.

Next I need to do a tension swatch, but can I do flat knitting for what will be a circular knit? Instagrammers tell me I can, but there’s a special technique to it. Purl Soho have a good guide. I check my swatch after an inch or so, because my Knitting Answer book says I will be able to tell how it’s going by then. They say to measure 4″ and count the number of stitches, it’s easier than my usual method of the other way around. My tension is perfect for the cowl pattern! Wey-hey I don’t think that’s ever happened before.

I need to cast on 120 stitches. My book describes various methods to decide how long to leave your tail. I choose the one where you allow an inch of yarn per stitch. Someone is incredulous and says “But that’s 10 feet of wool!” and indeed he turns out to be right. It seems the easiest method, so I get the big tape measure out of the junk drawer in the kitchen. It is more than enough, really and truly. My little piece of knitting is destined to have a massively long tail. It’s a waste of good Shetland Tweed. Maybe next time I’ll try another method and calculate the tail measurement by multiplying the circumference of the finished item 3 1/2 times. What do you do? Cable cast ons are an absolute breeze in comparison.

At the end of a mere 5 hours I have relearned the cast on, swatched for circular knitting, cast on 120 long tailed stitches, painfully knit the first round (my CO is so tight that the tweed feels like garden twine cutting my poor fingers) and slowly knit 3 rounds.

I think this cowl had better look half ok, because I’m fighting my perfectionist tendencies all the way. I will not allow myself to unravel a single bit. I can’t have spent 5 hours in total today with nothing to show. Sometimes it’s better to actually use new skills and refine them as you go, while accepting the first item will not be the best. I find this hard. My natural tendency with tricky knitting is to undo it again and again. I lose heart. Decide I just can’t do it, it’s rubbish and then I move on to something easier different. Not this time! I want to crack lace knitting. Hard lace knitting, not mere holes in cowls.

Friday (today)

-4 at 0800 and it’s clearly snowed some more overnight. It’s now about 4″ deep. We decide to go out for a walk and so wrap up as warmly as we can. It’s -2 by the time we go, but the BBC weather app tells me with the wind chill factor it feels like -9. Pretty soon my legs and bottom feel numb. Someone smugly tells me he’s toasty, because he’s wearing his fishing thermals. Wah! And I’m wearing jeans, which I know, I know, are the most useless thing in this weather. My legs are red like lobsters when I take down my jeans, back at home. Luckily I have the brilliant idea of leaving a spicy lentil soup to cook in the slow cooker, while we’re out. I delegate the chopping and initial cooking of spices, onion, celery and carrot while I shower. What a brain wave. It is super (souper!) to smell lunch ready and waiting for us when we return.

Not many are out at all, we see a handful of people with sledges but it’s bitterly cold for the dogs and their walkers. With the icy wind cutting across our cheeks and snow beginning to fall, it’s a big relief to be home.

It’s been snowing steadily for over an hour now. I will knit my 4th round soon. Wish me luck!

My cousin has been holed up in a pub in Lincolnshire for 2 nights. It isn’t that far from where she lives, but the roads are impassible so she hasn’t been able to get home. There are definitely worse places to be stranded; if that were me, I would drop my Dry Lent like a shot.

How cold, or warm, is it where you are? Any snow? Let’s share a weather report from around the world.

The Hitchhiker & a house full of flowers

Finally it’s finished. Finally. No more Hitchhiking. After noticing that freaky extra row of stitches heading up for the light on Christmas Eve, when I thought all it needed was darning, it’s taken a while to knit the two thirds I unravelled. Repeating the same thing can be so disheartening can’t it, even when it’s very easy plain knitting. Still, it’s done. I wrapped it in Christmas paper and gave it to Mum yesterday. The yarn is Tosca Light by Lang and sapphire shade. Here’s the pattern on Ravelry.

What’s with all the flowers? Are you opening a florists Rachel? Well no, I am not, although I always had the idea I’d enjoy that job. My image of the work was having lots of cups of tea and coffee, listening to the radio all day and singing along as I arranged pretty bouquets, chatting to smiley people. The reality is probably very, very early starts, drafty cold rooms which suit the blooms, lots of standing so legs covered with varicose veins and grumpy customers who don’t want to chat, hear the music blaring, or my singing!

We had family here for Sunday lunch last weekend and they brought that lovely bunch of narcissi, which have made the whole kitchen smell beautiful all week, and two bunches of irises. I tend to sit next to the table with the vase of irises and have often found myself staring at them, the blue is stunning isn’t it? The huge Spring bouquet was delivered on Wednesday as a Valentines Day surprise. That’s very fragrant too, hyacinth is one of my favourite scents this time of year. The ice bucket is the best size for the size and height of the bunch! It’s unconventional, but kind of cool. There were still so many flowers that I took some out to place around other rooms. The plumber came on Thursday and apparently he visibly clocked all the vases. I wonder if he had bought any for his wife? It would be funny if he was feeling bad for forgetting, or being nagged to death for not bothering, and then came to this home filled with them.

The Spring flowers have really opened out over the last few days, which is why I’ve included the gin photo, taken for a few friends last night. Nine friends actually, but that story doesn’t show my will-power in such a great light. Though my friends are stars…So, we will skirt over that shall we?

As I was about to come to write here I just heard a loud knock on the door and the tulips were delivered! Oh, aren’t they lovely? I’m wondering about giving them to someone special, as vase availability is now reaching a critical level and I’m almost overwhelmed with beauty right now.

Now I have my crochet moss stitch patchwork blanket to work on, the garter stitch blanket (long term pub knit night knitting) and ‘that’ sock which I must either unravel, or complete. I could do with a friend to sit with and knit alongside as it’s my first. It would probably gee me up and give me some sock knitting confidence. I’m lazy too, I have to admit that ploughing my way through the book or online tutorial isn’t as appealing as someone nice instructing me. Also, I saw a cowl in Loop, Islington in London last year which is still haunting me. I fancy trying something new and exciting. This stomps all over my recent assertion that I prefer to only have one knit and one crochet project on the go. We’re allowed to be inconsistent, aren’t we?

Have you just finished something? Struggling with lack of know-how and/or laziness with something?

Hey, thank you to those of you who answered my: making, listening, reading, watching, cooking questions last week. I love that, there’s nothing better than a two-way street.

Hello to my latest new readers too, I’m waving a tulip at you!

What larks!

Argh! A game of yarn chicken and I lost! I think I’ve still got about 7 ‘teeth’ to knit so Mum’s Christmas Hitchhiker is the same size as mine (fewer than 42 as per the pattern, but just right.) But actually I should, of course, have done the sensible thing and ordered more yarn than I thought I needed in the first place, to ‘make the most of the postage’ as someone from my knit group sensibly pointed out to me at the time. But this year I’ve been trying to not buy any more yarn, instead aiming to use up what I already have at home. This has been successful to a degree (ie: not very.) It’s pretty tricky when you’re making a stash bushing blanket, which turns into a gift for a brand new little one. So, naturally I ended up having to stock up on some colours. (Winnie is very sweet and after staring at me intently for a while on Thursday, decided I was very boring and popped off to sleep for the rest of the visit. She’s only nine weeks old though, it’s what they do eh? She definitely loved her Wave Blanket though, I know that.) So, with only days left of postal delivery before we all get snowed under drifts of Twiglets and iced gingerbread, I ordered TWO more balls of wool. Oh dear. I’m only going need about a tenth of one so I haven’t helped the stash situation much. Then it’s inevitable that you start a new project and run out and have to buy more, but with extra again to ‘make the most of the postage’ and so on and so on! I have a feeling that my yarn pile will start as a hill and end as a mountain.

Anyway, I took my new ball of yarn to the Knit Group’s Christmas meet on Tuesday night. This was at one of their houses and I endeavoured to knit another tooth in between delicious courses. The house turned out to be a large black and white timbered Tudor style from the eighteenth century (perhaps before) with floors of huge smooth flagstones, an industrial sized fireplace complete with log burner, beams and creaky staircases. Essentially I felt as if I had stepped into Christmas past. As a history lover with a vivid imagination it was hard to concentrate on the talk swirling around me and not drift into revelries about roast goose, pennies in stockings and merry gatherings. I’m currently reading Charles Dickens Great Expectations which only added fuel to the fire! If you’re casting around for something different to read, hopefully you’ll find it’s also a free classic on Kindle wherever you are too. It’s extremely readable and surprisingly funny, especially considering it was first published in 1861.

We all received a little Christmas emergency first aid tin from J (the Lego mitt knitter.) The row counter is gong to be so useful and the key ring hooks will be good for picking up dropped stitches. Someone has already said the little scissors would make excellent snips when fishing. NO THEY WOULDN’T!

If you’re like me you’ll be curious to know what we ate, won’t you? We started with nibbles and drinks, followed by squash soup (home-grown squash and onions) with a selection of breads, then a baked chicken, chorizo and rice dish, roasted vegetables with chickpeas, sun-dried tomato and olive pasta, then a really light and delicious homemade sticky toffee pudding with ice cream. I took a tin of Rocky Road that unsurprisingly everyone was far too full to touch, so I wrapped pieces up and gave it out for people to take home.

It was a lovely evening and I managed to knit another tooth too….hurray!

What are you making and reading at the moment? Are you still eating proper meals or grazing on all the Christmas naughties?

If this makes no sense at all and is full of mistakes; I have to say that I wrote the first half while sitting in the car this morning while waiting to collects omeone. The other half at four o’clock the following morning (now) as annoyingly I’m wide awake while the rest of the house/street/universe is asleep!

Kitchen sink post

This is what I’ve always called a kitchen sink post; since it feels like everything’s included except the sink.

I keep glancing up, as I type, to look at the long line of beech trees across the road. Their leaves are gently fluttering down and across in a diagonal line to fall straight into our garden. Some are hitting this window with a real ting. They’re not incredibly close by but the wind always seems to blow this way. There’s a carpet of coppery leaves covering the grass now and they’re not even our trees! Pretty though.

Previously I would darn the ends in a blanket on several lazy weekend afternoons; semi-watching a film or listening to an audio book, while the rugby played out on the tv. It got them done and I didn’t mind it too much at all. Hand sewing of any kind has always been relaxing. But this Wave Blanket is not getting darned very fast at all, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. Weekends have been busier lately (in a very nice way, no moaning here, or competitive ‘I’m the busiest person in the world’ boasts) and so no lazy afternoons to sit and focus. Today I’m meeting someone very yarny for lunch and when we were making arrangements last night she clearly instructed me to bring yarn. ‘Anything fibrous’. Does Stylecraft’s acrylic yarn count? Hmmm. Well, I don’t know that I can sit in a gastro pub and darn, that’s a step too far for me. I’m not entirely comfortable with knitting or crocheting in any public place, unless it’s tucked away on a bus, or as part of a knitting and crochet group. She currently carries a spindle and wodge of fleece in the depths of her bag, and thinks nothing of whipping out her knitting while queuing in the bank, walking up a hill or ….. I don’t have that kind of chutzpah, or obsessive compulsive behaviour around yarn. (Fingers and toes crossed she doesn’t read before this lunch. Could be embarrassing.)

So, the long and the short of it is that I’m beginning to feel awkward that this blanket isn’t done. I shall try to goad this feeling into determined action. Aiming for five ends a day would be something. It’s not huge after all, just fiddlier than my usual Ripple pattern. A dozen ends last week was clearly not reaching for the stars. That little baby Winnie needs her blanket.

I have been steadily knitting my Hitchhiker, adding a section at a time, and really like the different shades which are appearing. It’s Lang’s Tosca Light in Sapphire.

It’s all Christmas a go-go isn’t it? I did a double take when I saw the trees in the garden centre on Friday, but I imagine lots will be up and decorated from this weekend, as the first of December looms. I’ve only bought three Christmas presents, but feel quite pleased with myself. I don’t believe in rushing these things!

The Soup of the Week here has been tomato and vegetable, with that stunning bowl of plum tomatoes bought on impulse from the market. There were just over a kilo for £1. Bargain! It’s probably the ideal recipe for a summer glut of tomatoes when they’re at their tastiest, but it’s great with feta or blue cheese crumbled on top for added oomph.

~ Sweat onion, carrot and celery in a little rapeseed oil, then add 500g of ripe tomatoes, a 400g can of tomatoes, 500ml of stock, salt and pepper, a little sugar to take away the acidity of the tomatoes and a good handful of fresh basil leaves (or whatever fresh or dried herbs you fancy.) Add a tablespoon of red vinegar. Blend to a smooth consistency and enjoy.

I used up a vintage red pepper in my first batch a few weeks ago and that worked well. It’s a goodie for adding whatever you fancy. I’ve tried it with and without the red wine vinegar, it adds piquancy but is fine without too.

Reading: this week I’ve got four books on the go; one printed, one Ebook, and two audio.

1) I’m enjoying another Laura Ingalls Wilder from my childhood collection. A few chapters are good nostalgic reading late at night.

2) Yesterday’s 99p Kindle Daily Deal Seven Days of Us by Francesca Hornak reeled me in as I tried the sample and that’s almost certain to hook you into buying. I try not to download them, some days with more success than others! I’m really enjoying it and can almost certainly see a film being made from this one. It’s breaking my own rule about not starting Christmas books before 1st December, but whatever!

3) Bruce’s Born to Run audio book, read by him in that uniquely gravelly voice, which I will still be listening to in chunks next year because it’s over 18 hours long.

4) And finally, The Muse by Jessie Burton which I started on the way to Excel, London on Saturday for the Knitting, Stitching and Hobbycraft Simply Christmas show.

How much do you think I bought there by the way?

Answer…..a Carrot cupcake for lunch pudding! I was so restrained I nearly sprained something. Black Sheep Wools had bags of gorgeousness on sale, another seller had those Swirl cakes and Whirl cakes and all sorts of lovely wool blends. I resisted. Yes, I do deserve a medal, thanks very much, especially as my friend had told me to remind her she’s skint then bought bags of yarn and other fancies!

What are you making, cooking and reading this week? If you want to add your own Yarning Along link in the comments go for it. But tell us what you’re up to either way.

New knitting & Street Wisdom

The best kind of post! I do love Lang’s Tosca Light wool blend (55% new wool, 45% acrylic.) I have a few scarves I’ve made with it and they’re so warm and soft to wear. I’ve been wearing my Hitchhiker a lot lately. It’s just such a good sized scarf, nice and neck-warming but not bulky. I see beautifully made shawls on Instagram but although I’d enjoy the making, they’re not my kind of thing to wear.

I offered to make Mum a Hitchhiker to wear with her black jacket and the sapphire looked like a really nice blend of colours. It’s gradually changing to to purpley now. That’s the thing about variegated yarns, isn’t it? You never know quite what you’re going to see next. It will keep things interesting when the rows of garter stitch become long.

London is now twinkling with Christmas lights and window displays. It’s lovely. Old Bond/New Bond street is one of my favourites this time of year. As you’d expect for a street full of designer shops, there are very upmarket lights and decorations.

I really shudder to see Christmas items appear in shops in August, but enjoy the lights in November. It can be rather a grey and dreary month, so a bit of sparkle and twinkle cheers everything up.

On Friday I met a friend and her husband in Covent Garden to attend something she’d heard about: Street Wisdom.There are opportunities to join groups in various countries in the world. It’s an interesting and FREE thing to do if you have several hours to spare. Here’s a little info from the website…

Street Wisdom is a global social enterprise with a mission to bring inspiration to every street on earth. It’s a technology that allows anyone, anywhere to get unusual inspiration from their everyday surroundings. Led by volunteer facilitators on city streets across the world, free Street Wisdom workshops give participants the skills to access the ‘invisible university’ that’s all around them and find fresh answers to personal or work-related questions – with profound results.

As I wandered the streets around Covent Garden on my quest, I couldn’t help taking a few photos. What a lovely row of window boxes this building had.

Interesting I found the signs and signals were drawing me to a cofffee shop! Isn’t Street Wisdom great?! It was cold and I was glad to be wearing my Hitchhiker scarf and holding a warming cup of mocha as I walked. When I found myself drawn into a Hotel Chocolat for these I wondered if I was mis-rereading the signals perhaps?! (In my defence I ate 3 and took the others home to share.)At the end of our hour long solo walks our little group met back upstairs in Le Pain Quotidien for hot drinks and to share our experiences.  I can’t say I got particular insights regarding the question I asked, but I really enjoyed the afternoon. I always find meeting new people interesting and with events like this anyone can turn up. The experience reinforced the fact that I do tend to notice what’s around me and always end up talking to strangers. I do try to appreciate the little things and look out for little acts of kindness. Even in a big bustling city like London you’ll see everyday, ordinary acts of kindness, with good manners in action and people generally behaving decently to one another. I shall sign up for another Street Wisdom session one day, it was fun. Maybe I could lead a group at some point too.

My reading this week is rather eclectic, shall we say. I’ve just started Born to Run, written and read by Bruce. He can really write, not just lyrics but what is going to be a very satisfying autobiography. The Secret of Happy Ever After by Lucy Dillon is the antidote after finishing The Bitter Lemons of Cyprus by Laurence Durrell. I found it an absorbing read in part, funny and richly descriptive, but for the last third it became very dry, focusing on the historical and political situation. So I felt I needed some fluff next. I’m picky about fluff however; I can’t read any old thing. It has to be well-written and entertaining. Lucy Dillon’s books are definitely that, if you’re looking for a good read then go for A Hundred Pieces of Me. It made me laugh and cry and reassess what I own. I feel a bit guilty now for the fluff comment, because this is no silly chick lit, but I’ll let it stand.

What are you making this week? Something for you, or for someone else? Reading or listening to a book, or both?

A little progress 

A little progress, but not a lot admittedly as I’ve been away and didn’t sit knitting; with the sea to walk beside, good weather, food and drink it’s understandable, for some. Unthinkable for others!

I recommend The Reader on the 6:27 it’s a good and very quick read. Translated from the original French it is quirky and definitely reminded me of Amelie. 

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, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

1: Vikki Bird Designs

2: One Creative Cat

3: Simply Summer Street

4: Made by Patch

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. But 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. 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

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. 

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

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?

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? 

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!

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!

In progress

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This second pair of mitts are still waiting to be sewn up, the first are being worn and appreciated during the chilly school run apparently. I’ve had a request by one of my little nieces asking me for “white pink with purple bits, like Mummy’s but…oh no I mean light pink with purple bits.” (Awwww, so sweet.) As I’m told they’re superb at losing gloves I’m heading in the direction of a good quality acrylic, not Rowan tweed like these!
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The cabled yoke cardigan has been renamed ‘that stupid cardi’ I’m sorry to say. The time it took it took to figure out the cabled strip has rather soured the project. Well….I guess I have to be honest and admit that’s not absolutely it. Don’t start dipping rags in oil and sharpening your pitchforks but I’m not so sure about the actual look of it. Knitted clothes look so smooth and elegant, crocheted clothes particularly in chunky dcs like this just look coarse somehow. Know where I’m coming from? It needs to be edged, sleeves crocheted and button-band added so I might be more impressed after it’s finished. Maybe.It could be the yarn, I wonder if a different colour and quality of yarn would help too. I chose to use my Stylecraft meadow as I thought it would look lovely, and it’s washable so is practical for children’s clothing.

Oh and also I’m worried that the neckline is tiny. Overall I worry that it’s a bit small. I really, really should try a tension swatch before new projects.

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I’m going to be knitting this feather and fan scarf until I die I fear. Last year I decided I’m going to live to be a hundred; so I’ve got a lot of time to carry on, but might die just after completion and so not get the benefit!

It’s probably far more practical to use a non-fluffy brand for lace knitting. It’s not tricky to undo or knit, but another would show the lacy holes and repeats making it easier to see mistakes and just act as a guide. I’ve tried using pony stitch markers but those little plastic rings are going to scratch my birch needles, they’re getting in the way a bit too. I’ll maybe have a try at placing yarn markers. I accept this scarf is going to be a long-term project and don’t mind really, not now I’m adding lifelines!

I must get on and darn some more of the ends of those granny squares. It’s actually not so bad once you get going, it just starting that’s the issue.

Also I’m knitting up something for a yarn review and that is another story…

What are you up to this weekend? Hopefully not splashing about in flood waters like these poor ponies were, gradually more green patches are appearing though as the water slowly drains away.

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14:37 Mitts now sewn up & ready to wear. This post was a good motivator!

Feather & fan

This is the second time I’ve started this post. I wrote a (witty, sparkling?!) paragraph or two earlier but lost it, definitely probably due to the lunchtime glasses of prosecco, wine and amaretto during a family lunch. Ah well.

After seeing someone’s lace knit jumper in progress at knit group I decided to try my hand at feather and fan lace stitch.

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It’s such a neat pattern – four rows repeated, including one row of purl, two of knit then a single row of yarn overs (yo) and knit two together (k2tog).

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I rushed upstairs to the little room to take these photos when the sun came out, it was so bright that the desk looks yellow! It’s been disconcertingly still here after the huge storm Friday.

In fact I became so confident about this pattern that I took it to a new knit group last week. It’s not that tricky to stop talking and concentrate for one row is it? Maybe not for others! Actually a lovely girl there said she’s learnt the hard way never to take any complicated knitting because she’s lost count of the number of times she gets home and spots many mistakes!

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Which is why after seeing this excellent tip about lifelines I decided to actually use them rather than tell all the knitters I know. It’s not just me that hasn’t ever heard of them. After undoing eight rows or so I’m now going to add them at regular intervals!

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Can you see it? I’m hoping it won’t be too tricky to pull out at the end, maybe I should use a shiny cotton rather than another wooly yarn which might mesh together with the fluffy Tosca Light wool blend I’m knitting.

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These rubber ends by KnitPro have been handy for when I’ve stuffed my lace knitting in my hand bag and rushed off to catch a bus. Can you imagine the horror of your knitting slipping off needles and unravelling? Eeeek.

The Winter Olympics ice dancing is incredible! I’ve been watching while I write this post. Do you also get sweaty hands and feet while you watch? I feel nervous for them all.

Have you had a good weekend?

The knitty gritty and reading

I experienced a strong sense of déjà vu as I finished off the thumb of the second fingerless mitt of the second pair. It only takes an evening to knit one mitt and is so economical on wool. I’ve still got 34g of a 50g ball of Rowan Tweed left! That’s 4 mitts out of 2 50g balls, with more than half of one left over. I know – it occurs to me too that I could retype that much more simply!
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I’m going to have another go at mattress stitch and make sure I line up each stitch really carefully. The tweeter of Inside Crochet and I had a good ole chat about it. Apparently Claire Montgomerie, the magazine’s editor, is obsessed with MS. I can see why – it’s so fiddly but produces a really good seam.
I’ve got a few relatives with little hands so I have a recipient lined up to offer this pair to at the weekend. But it would be easy enough to use a larger size pair of needles, or scale the pattern up by a couple of stitches if you haven’t got small hands!

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A knitting group friend wants to accomplish her goal of learning to knit fair isle this year. I knew I had various patterns tucked away in my magazine hoard in The Little Room so had a good few minutes flicking though copies. It’s so worth holding on to patterns because you never know when you’re going to need inspiration. Hmmmm I am running out of space for magazine holders though! I’ll have to move over to all didgey copies soon. I found a selection of patterns for her but also distracted myself with the Knit Now mag (issue 25) pattern above. The colours are not me, not at all, but I fancy some lace knitting. I did say I wouldn’t make anymore scarves, but hey over the course of a year you end up wearing them all really, don’t you? It fits in with my plan to use up more of my modest stash too. I’ve got a few balls of my favourite purple DK yarn Tosca Light so I’m going to use 4.5 mm needles and see how it goes. The pattern is for 3.75mm needles and 4 ply but suggests trying all different weights of yarn.

Somebody went to Cuba for a week and on the first day I had a knock at the door early in the morning. It was an Amazon delivery of a Kindle Paperwhite and accessories, no doubt meant to distract me from remembering to nag about too many cigars, rum and sun from fishing! I’ve got a few Kindle books already as I’ve tried them on the ipad app. I’m addicted to scouring the Kindle Daily Deals and have bought stunningly good books for 99p or less (49p has been the cheapest so far.)

At the moment I’m reading House of Silence by Linda Gillard (98p/$1.61!)  It’s hard to put it down.House of Silence

“A country house mystery… A family drama… A Gothic romantic comedy…
REBECCA meets COLD COMFORT FARM in Linda Gillard’s complex new novel, HOUSE OF SILENCE.” Amazon.co.uk

It has sewing (patchwork) too. What’s not to like?

I must get on with casting on the scarf as I’m going to another knit group and want to get to grips with the pattern before I go. I’d like to blog about my knit group crawl, trying out all the local groups, along with various friends, but it’s potentially social suicide. How could I resist telling you about some of the characters and (bit weird) happenings without maybe shooting myself in the foot? I’ll have to write a novel one day….

What are you reading? Can you recommend any good Kindle reads?

Conquering mattress stitch

Terrible light so rubbish photos I’m afraid….

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I’m determined to conquer mattress stitch. I’ve heard it’s one of the trickiest sewing-up methods but I’m persevering. It’s also not straightforward when the Rowan Tweed breaks off because of the weaker, thinner parts of the strand. Argh!

The Knitting Answer book (see link on the sidebar) diagram has made sense of the method. There are a few different ways to use mattress stitch, depending on what you’re sewing up, and I’ve chosen this one. It seems like a good choice as the seam isn’t too thick or uncomfortable when you’re wearing the mitt.

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I found I really got into a rhythm and ended up enjoying the sewing up. I’ve always liked hand sewing but the little voice in your head that says you’re going to find a new thing hard (especially when other people say how hard it is) needs to be silenced at times. Or stamped on. Then covered with a good layer of something.

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I’ve sewn up both mitts now. Hurrah! The light’s gone now so no more (awful) photos. I will be wearing the mitts, they’re fine, but if you do own a copy of Cute and Easy Knitting and want to knit them I’d suggest trying a tension swatch. I know, I’ve never done one in my life either but they did come out fairly small. I have little hands but I reckon the mitts might be a little snug for others.

Can’t wait to have a sip of G&T and a glass of wine Saturday, after doing Dry January. I reckon I’m going to be a very cheap date!

Which method(s) of sewing up do you use for knitting?

Knitted slouchy beanie

During the last couple of evenings i’ve been knitting a beanie
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I used this basic beanie knitting guide from Kirsten but have adapted it by making a slouchy beanie and you can see that I’ve ribbed my hat brim. Next time I’d do a double rib of k2, p2 for an even stretchier brim.

I’ve used up the rest of the marble chunky, that you’ll recognise from other makes, with 40cm long 6mm circular needles. It’s a fast way to knit a hat. Of course you can also use straight needles and sew a seam.
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Basic slouchy beanie pattern

::Cast on 80 stitches
::Rib (k1,p1) until the band is as thick as you like
::Stocking stitch around (actually on circular needles you just knit every round and the SS stitch magically appears. I love that!)
::Keep knitting until the hole appears well above you head. If you want a regular beanie then stop when it’s just past the top of your head
::Knit 8, knit 2 tog around. Repeat for the round.
::Knit the next round
::Knit 7, knit 2 tog around. Repeat for the round
::Knit the next round
::Knit 6, knit 2 tog around. Repeat for the round
::Knit the next round
::And so on until you have 16 stitches left. You could change to DPNs or use the magic loop method with circulars like I did when the going gets tough because of too few stitches
::Knit 2 tog, repeat for the round (8 stitches left)
:: Knit 2 tog, repeat for the round (4 stitches left)
::Cut the yarn, run the tail through the remaining four loops using a darning needle, darn in the ends. Make hot chocolate with marshmallows and drink while wearing your beanie.

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First circular hat!

I’m pretty pleased with this hat. It’s very stretchy and warm. As the title says it’s my first on circular needles. Just getting the correct 40cm cable with the right 6mm short tips was a little time consuming. 40 cm cable is so short it needs 10cm Symfonie KnitPro needle tips to be useable, rather than the standard interchangeable circular set. Mine look pretty short to me, but are 12.5cm. I got there in the end despite being rather fuzzy about it all. But this was, I freely admit, a #firstworldproblem !

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I used yarn left over from my crochet Seashell Scarf and Cabled Owl Jar Cosy mainly because it’s the only chunky I have. It’s Marble Chunky by James C. Brett by the way. Cheap and very cheerful. I do like the variegated colours and the stripy effect near the ribbing.

20131205-111741.jpgHow differently the colours look in this photo! It’s the shifting light. Scotland has 100 mph winds today and the north of England is also suffering. Traffic news is full of lorries blown over on roads. Down south we just have a blustery day with very grey skies.

This Slouchie Beanie pattern designed by Tanis Gray is available free on Ravelry.  I first saw the hat on Hannah’s Not Your Average Crochet blog.  Mine has a mistake or so well, technically it’s got many more than one or two I think, but you can only really tell if you look inside and who would be rude enough to check and scrutinise? The first of anything using a completely new technique is unlikely to be perfect. If I knit another I would try to make it slouchier as it’s not really very, but I’m more likely to surf for different patterns as I like to try new projects all the time. If you have a good recommendation please let me know.
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20131205-111756.jpgI hope you’re warm and well wherever you are, hot chocolate and a hat is the way forward here I reckon!

Bergere de France poncho – Finished

Enfin, le poncho est terminé!

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20131026-124214.jpgIsn’t the yarn lovely? It’s a wool blend (51%) and is Sirdar Escape Chunky, bought with my gift card from Black Sheep Wools. It’s just so warm and soft, not at all itchy. It’s a little on the fluffy side – when I hoover after knitting there’s a circle of reddish pinkish fluff on the carpet by the sofa – so I should perhaps wash the poncho soon.

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Such a simple beginners design by Bergere de France  – you knit two rectangles and through some clever fixing end up with a cosy poncho. In a way it was a little too simple for me knitting-wise and I must admit it did become known as ‘that stupid poncho’  particularly as halfway through the first piece I decided that it was tiny. I held it up against a very petite lady I know and she thought it was not even going to fit her.  When in Broadstairs, Kent I visited the lovely little yarn shop C Wool (near the beach, geddit?!) and the experienced knitty owner told me that French patterns use a size smaller needles than we, for a denser fabric, and the Italians use a size larger. So poncho take two began with larger sized bamboo needles and quite a lot of sighing.

It used less wool than the pattern stated and is definitely a less dense fabric using larger needles. I’m very happy with it, although it’s not something I’d ever wear out of the house because, as anticipated, it makes me look like an Oompa-Loompa!)

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It could be reversible if your seams are invisible I reckon. Mine are *ahem* not – since I couldn’t face sewing them and decided to slip stitch crochet instead. This means they’re a little on the bulky side as I went under the top stitches and the wool is chunky, but that’s fine. If you’re sewing up a long length of knitting you can’t use too much wool at a time as it will tangle, so I could imagine running out and having darned ends to potentially pop out. Crochet it was and fast too.

The diagram was making my eyes roll as I tried, and failed to match up AA with BB, fold GG and HH and stitch it to JJ (ish) but luckily my cousin was here for dinner and a bit of social crafting Thursday. After merely glancing at the pattern, and pushing it to one side, she worked out how to assemble it, fixing the edges together with stitch markers. So I set off with my crochet hook. Although she had her own crochet with her she *somehow* ended up starting to sew the little red jumper for me. It’s gone home with her, and I didn’t even need to provide buttons. This reminds me of the Snow Patrol ‘Chocolate’ lyric” As a child of 25….” And older…Ha ha!

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The neckline is as it should be above, but last night I decided it looked a little wide and drafty as the plan is to wear it when it’s chilly and I’m snuggling on the sofa during the winter. This is far less grannyish than pulling a blanket up to my chin, yes? So for the first time in YEARS I picked up stitches around the neckline and knitted a little garter stitch collar. It rolls inwards but actually that works well so I’m happy.
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Happy that is apart from the stream of questions asking if I’d like a llama or a sombrero to go with it. Actually I wouldn’t say no to a BIG bottle of tequilla but that’s not materialised.

Here’s a link to some poncho related facts if you’re inclined to look.

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Tomorrow a good friend’s coming over. She said that we’re always talking about craft, visiting crafty shops, events and emailing links but apart from the embroidery and jewellery workshops we haven’t actually done any together! So she’s coming here with her s/m, I have mine as Christmas came early for me last Saturday and we’re having a stitchy day together. Very exciting!

Do you have the chance to get crafty this weekend?

Yarn Along

My current read is an audio book. I’ve stopped reading printed books so much in the last week or two. Hopefully buying a new bedside lamp will change this; I’ve broken so many of those glass Ikea lamps that this time we’ve gone for a metal type from elsewhere. Fingers crossed! (No, I’m not hurling them across the room, the leads just get tangled and a yank on the hair drier results in smashing glass. This still happened even when I changed things around. But if it’s breakable I’ll get it! Oops.)

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It’s not quite the crime fiction, set in London, that I was expecting. In fact I gasped when the first unexpected thing first occurred. I’m enjoying the book, but during some chapters the reader swallows and licks his lips really loudly! Either other audiobooks edit this out, the recording technology is better, or they are more experienced readers but it’s really distracting and very irritating! Fortunately it doesn’t happen too often; it’s just when the character is being thoughtful and reflective so the pace of the narration is slower.

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I’ve started using my new gift card yarn. This Sirdar Escape chunky wool blend is really nice to use, pretty too. I’m not too convinced about the Bergere de France poncho pattern right now, it might end up being undone and used for chunky ribbed hats and scarves, or whatever.

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It’s one extreme to another with hook and needle sizes this week. I go from 6 mm needles to a 3 mm hook. I changed over to the Simply Crochet hook just because it’s a better grip than the thin metal one. I’m expecting this scarf to be a long term project because it’s not a whip-it-up-in-a-week-crochet-project. 4 ply and a smaller hook slows you down. That’s ok, there’s no race to win.

The changing light levels now autumn has arrived is affecting the colours in photos so much. Can you see the difference between the not-so hot pinkiness of the colour of the yarn today, and the photo I took when it arrived at the weekend?

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I loved the high temps so much that the sudden onslaught of cooler weather, when I was expecting a bit of an Indian summer, has really taken me unawares. I’m amazed at how drastically I want to eat much more and just feel generally a bit fed up. I’ve banned myself from buying cheering up marshmallows because last winter they and hot chocolate were my absolute downfall. I was trying to see how many I could cram into my pint mug of hot chocolate, and it wasn’t far off a large packet – with a few extra to eat while I was making it of course.

What’s the weather doing where you are? Are you craving certain foods or drinks too?

I’m joining in again with Ginny. What are you crocheting / knitting and reading at the moment?

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I’ve been a bit knitty

The plan was practise my new knitting technique and make myself a garment.Then I rethought that because that would mean a whole new order of yarn and I had other plans for my gift card – as you know – so decided to make some little garments for a friend’s baby, with some of my leftover yarn. I’m not totally convinced they’ll fit, to me they look too teeny tiny tiny for her, but it’s hard to tell. We’ll see.

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This is not a posed photo, although it looks like it might be, I was actually showing Mum what I’d been knitting lately and doing the beseeching look which tries to convey ‘I’d LOVE to sew these up but would equally LOVE it if you want to offer to do them for me. In fact that would be super all round.’ No go. Even when I bluntly asked her she laughed and said no. Pah!