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.

A wealth of talent

Morning!

Have a look at this little lot, there are some really interesting patterns. I favour the granny squares and triangles nearer the bottom of the page best.

However I need to learn how to read symbol diagram patterns before I can try any. In person with someone else pointing at the beginning place would be best. It’s far easier when you can ask questions and learn alongside another. Anyone in Southern England who fancies having a keen pupil?! Failing that can you recommend an instructive blog/website/book please?

I found the link for the above site on Aunty Mum’s blog by the way. :-)

Also I’ve been meaning to share the link to this blog for ages; purely for the name ….oh what an original name! It really made me look twice when I stumbled across it.

Thank you for your tweets and comments on my I’m-so-poorly post yesterday. I am beginning to feel a bit more human but still don’t feel like talking much today…that’s a sure sign I’m unwell!

I’ve got to perk up actually as I’ve got crochet homework to complete soon! I asked Adrianne of Teeny Weeny Designs if I could have the pattern for her flower key cover as I have a stash of cotton and want to use it on nice projects. Adrianne’s written it up and asked me to road-test it as an English crocheter…exciting! Then she will make the pattern available in her Etsy shop.

Here’s one Adrianne made earlier….

Beautiful isn’t it?

Rhubarbing & Rainbowing

So, this is how the newly christened Rhubarb Ripple blanket’s going. (Imagine you’ve gone to the end of the garden to cut some rhubarb for a Sunday crumble, and have taken your blue colander to place the sticks into. See? Everything needs a name.)

The Rainbow Granny Stripe is progressing in a very random fashion. It’s not at all challenging to make and so the ‘what next?’ element of choosing the colours keeps it interesting. Meanwhile I’ve planned the colours for the RR, but there’s no taping tufts of yarn to a card for me…that would be far too professional!

I’ve almost certainly broken the cardinal rule of crochet by changing from a 4mm hook to a 3.5mm as I go, but there was no way I was undoing it all. The tension was definitely going to be too loose with the larger hook. I can see where it changes, but if I hadn’t told you would you have guessed? Be honest if you spotted it – I’m interested, but not changing it now! :-)

The blankets are for small girls who like pretty, that’s why they’re so bright. The next one will probably be more sutble.

The little cotton strip on the top of the pile is for a jar cover.

Sadly I’ve got another streamer of a cold and so am not feeling very dynamic today. It’s particularly a shame when you’ve had a busy week and have plans to do fun stuff at the weekend.

I’ve instructed friends & family to hit me on the head with a large box of balm tissues if I crow about how many colds I used to have when I was younger and how much healthier I am these days….I’ve had two corkers of a cold since I said that last. What a wally.

I feel so blah that I’ve just text downstairs to ask for another cup of Lady Grey and a pint of water…well I’m ill….

A few drinks, and some chatty comments below would definitely cheer me up in fact. I seem to have a lot of visitors to The Little Room but few cheery hellos….go on…introduce yourself, I like meeting new people. :-)

Crocheting in bed

I really did go downhill yesterday, I thought that the streaming cold of Sunday would be better and probably nearly gone by yesterday but I woke up feeling really horrendous. I was even slightly tempted to take a photo to prove how hideous I looked and felt, but am truly glad I didn’t….it would be scarey viewing.

I’d read a tweet at the weekend which said something like ‘if all you want to do is sit up in bed and crochet – while watching a movie, then do’ (Or 140 characters worth of similar advice anyway!) I’ve never considered bed and crochet as being compatible; I have enough trouble with my hooks sliding down between the cushions, or onto the floor when I’m on the sofa. But as I was feeling so fragile, and bed was the cosiest place, I decided to try.

So far Mr Scrappy only had a body and one leg or arm which was all green when it was meant to be stripey.

(Here’s why it’s plain green, not colourful…)

I settled down against my pillows with my audio book of Me Before You by Jojo Moyes and made another one.

Anything you notice about them?!

I sighed and decided to carry on making Mr Scrappy’s body….while laughing out loud and feeling a little teary as the book progressed…

Lynne’s advice about using a stitch marker when crocheting in the round is sooo helpful. It really works!

Ok, so after going back and making another arm or leg I could see that crocheting after 2 glasses of wine, while watching Red Dwarf, might not have been such a great idea the other night…

I’ll undo the freakishly big plain green one and save the wool for another section of Mr S.

Not bad crochet for a poorly Rachel – especially while choking and sobbing over Me Before You.

I can’t recommend the book enough, it’s amazing by the way. So amazing I might even be listening to it again from the beginning.

Crocheting more of Mr Scrappy took my mind off how terrible I was feeling and I might even crochet in bed again one lazy weekend. Hopefully without all the germs!