The little black cat with the powder puff tail 

I’ve knit some more of the washcloth I started last week. Doesn’t the stitch definition look fabulous with the cotton? On Thursday morning I did some train knitting, surrounded by suits, laptops and newspapers. I will not be intimidated. I shall craft. 

And look! I’ve darned 3 1/2 ends in the Wave Blanket. I meant to do 10 last night; but had to put it down to concentrate on Who Do You Think You Are. It was Ruby Wax and her family’s story was making my eyes brim (then I kept gasping.) Maybe I’ll do 16 1/2 ends later to make up for it. 

I’ve felt better about adding parchment into my garter stitch blanket. It does look better than I imagined, with the blended yarns. Thanks for the reassurance Vikki. Last night I restricted myself to six rows only so as to keep my elbow happy. It’s hard to put something you’re enjoying down, isn’t it?

This is my third and last, for a while, zippy bag which I made at Sewing Club on Monday night. Next week I’m trying something different. I’m a bit slack on the prep and lack confidence about what to make. I’d prefer it if the tutor came with all we needed, did a tutorial and we went off to make it. Lazy aren’t I?! But it’s like Knit & Crochet Groups where you take whatever you want to make. (Though she does do a quick tutorial for various things which you can try at home. This week it was lacy knickers! We naughty ones sniggered seeing how tiny medium was and decided we’d just get a multi-pack from M&S!) Shelly sits across from me and is a machine. She always sits right down and starts sewing what she’s prepped beforehand. No faff, or excess chatter until she’s made a start. She’s sewn so many different items this term that I tease her about her work ethic, while feeling fairly rubbish about mine. She’s only little and wears quite high heeled stompy boots. When I said about wanting to try something new next week but not sure what, she marched across to my table and wrote in my notebook saying very firmly: “Bring four pieces of material cut to these sizes. It’s easier than what you’ve been making tonight. Just do it!” O.M.G. Right then. I’m far to scared not to do it!

Mum’s dahlias. Perfection.

Well here he is – that little cat I mentioned a few weeks ago. And oh, you did make me laugh. Occasionally I’ll write that I’ve got a bad cold, a real stinker, or that my elbow is sore. Once I remember reporting that I got out of bed and fell over as my knee had gone kaput. I don’t remember many comments about any of these, but I casually end a Yarning Along post with ‘I must dash, as I’ve got to take a little black cat with a powder puff tail to the vets’ and you’d think I’d said the sky had fallen down! The comments, private messages, both sympathetic and worried, really amused me! He was only going for a dab of this and a tablet of that. He’s young and is in very fine fettle, but I realised I’d worried the cat ladies! (But thanks for all the sympathy when I’m poorly, no really you’re just so caring.) So I took his photo for you because as I walked into Mum’s garden yesterday, to photograph the dahlias I saw him sitting under the apple tree. He was next to the shed where she was potting up hyacinth and tulip bulbs. Maybe he was being a guard cat?

This week I’m reading Ruby Wax Sane New World on my Kindle, which is why I particularly wanted to see her episode of WDYTYA. It’s interesting learning about mindfulness. And I’m also listening to the rest of the  Alan Bennett plays. I feel I might need to hear A Question of Attribution again. I was marching around the countryside when I heard it and think I missed some of the nuance. 

Do you listen to audio books or prefer podcasts? What are you watching on TV at the mo?


Yarning Along

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link to your post in the comments. 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. 

Yarning Along = yarny stuff you’re making and what you’re reading (‘a good yarn’) but let’s not get too bogged down…if you’re reading mags, gardening or recipe books that counts, as does sewing, jewellery making or whatever. Just tell us about what you are making and reading.

Yarning Along: a bit of this and that 

It’s definitely cooler and the urge to make lots of stuff has returned. This feeling is definitely seasonal. Although I crocheted my Wave Blanket during the summer,  I didn’t feel that I wanted to do it every day. Now I’ve gone back to wanting to craft every day and am suggesting meet ups with crafty friends.

Mine you I needed to stop crocheting last night when I was watching Strike. When he hit someone with his prosthetic leg, I had to put my pot holder down and concentrate! Have you been watching? It completely passed me by in the summer and so I’ve just watched the first three episodes on catch up. Strike is responsible for my biting my nails off last night. For the first time since last July, when I had a competition with my nine year old niece to see who could stop biting and grow the longest ‘white bits’. Drat! Now I don’t have fingers, I have stumps. And they hurt. I’d forgotten that happens. If you see me with my fingers anywhere near my mouth, you have permission to HIT ME. (Not too hard.)

So, this week I’ve been making: another pot holder just because it’s great cotton to crochet. I think a pair might be handy for taking things out of the oven, or maybe I’ll give this one to someone. A little zipped bag which I started at sewing club on Monday night.  I wrote about sewing club here. Looking at the pic, I just realised that pattern matching probably means the flowers should start in the same place after the zip, on both sides? I’m such a novice sewer. It was exciting enough that I managed to sew along a zip semi-straight, with a zip foot! Lastly, I was at Knit and Sip last week and decided it’s time to finish my Wave Blanket. Actually one of them said it’s plenty big enough for a two year old to snuggle under, which is what I wanted. I didn’t want to make a tiny baby blanket, as they grow so quickly and then it’s redundant. I’ve got to crochet one last finishing row, darn the ends then do a border. Then we wait for baby Winnie to appear. I think she’s due next month.

I started The Night Book at the weekend. I haven’t got terribly far into it, as I’m also reading the last few chapters of that Laurie Lee. Yes, the one I’ve mentioned for the last three weeks. I’m not entirely sure about The Night Book; I find myself cringing whenever Richard Madeley mentions sex or the main character getting naked. It’s not me, it’s Madeley. If you know who he is, you might understand?

What are you making? Is your book making you laugh, or cringe? Can you sew?

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link to your post in the comments. 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.

Got to start (again) somewhere 

On a Saturday in March I lugged many bags into a secondary school Maths classroom and wondered how my day was going to go. I’d signed up for a day-long machine patchwork course after far too long not doing any sewing. The skills I once had had atrophied. Funnily enough I’d done a cushion making workshop with the same tutor many years ago. I remembered her as very funny and straight talking. She hasn’t changed at all and is a superb teacher. I even got told off for nearly being silly, she’s that good at anticipating bad behaviour. It appears I haven’t changed at all since I was really in a secondary school Maths lesson.
I baggsied a nice spot at a table for six by the sunny window and waited for others to arrive. The room started filling quite quickly. A very quiet elderly woman set up along from me, this was fine but I fancied a fun day with lots of chat and maybe even some laugher, reasoning that even if the patchwork went badly it could still be enjoyable. I quite liked the professional-sewer look of one woman, who was settling herself at a table across the room. She seemed to have all the kit and a swish sewing machine, plus very cool coloured Liberty fabric. Then another woman came in a few minutes before the start, all of a fluster and panic: “Are you sure I should be here? You have told the others I’m a complete beginner? I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing!” Well this decided it for me; I didn’t have to be the only rusty sewer or novice there, she seemed like she’d be good fun too. So I approached her and turned to Anne-Marie too, saying they should join me at my table. I think I actually said “You can sit there, and you can sit there.” I might even have pointed to their appointed places. This is a bit embarrassing! But I’m not saying I wouldn’t do it again.

By mid-afternoon Anne-Marie was saying to Tracy that she was amazed they both did exactly what they were told, she’d even moved all her stuff from her table to mine! It was a fab day, I picked wisely. At the end we all said we wished we could spend every Saturday sewing. Tracy suggested we set up a WhatsApp group and by bedtime we’d shared photos of things we’d made, more things we were trying to make and discussing when we’d get together to sew again.

I did kick myself for not getting my machine out beforehand to refamiliarise myself with how to thread it and fill the bobbin. Things could have started a little more swiftly, but it was ok in the end. I’ve noticed that whatever the course I’m always the last to finish each step, be it making polymer beads, jewellery making, intarsia or Fair Isle knitting (that was the following Tuesday. I might tell you about that another time.) It’s the perfectionist tendencies I have, whereas others throw themselves at something new, sensibly accepting their first try isn’t going to be the best. Mine certainly isn’t either, but at least I’ve tried very, very hard!

I wish I hadn’t tried quilting my piece (we had time at the end of the day to play) as my patchwork isn’t exactly enhanced by the dodgy stitching around the outside to attach the wadding. I could undo it all, but the thought is rather painful.

From that day sewing in streaming Spring sunshine, laughing, chatting and unpicking stray stitches I’ve made two new friends. They’re great fun and we are all pretty keen on sewing and, it turns out, crochet. Anne-Marie is making a cooked breakfast crochet blanket for her son, freeform style, and when we’ve met for crochet in cafes asks me random (and quite challenging!) questions about how I would crochet a baked bean, or a button mushroom? Tracy has two little grand-daughters aged 5 and 7 months, she’s aiming to make them both a patchwork quilt by Christmas. Yes, she is the flustered “I’m not sure I should be here” novice sewer! But that’s Tracy, she throws herself into things. Why waste time panicking that you don’t know what to do? You just try and get on with it! I’ve just dropped off my blocking mats so she can have a go at blocking her deceased ex-mother in law’s crochet pieces to make up an heirloom blanket for her daughter. She’s You Tubing various joining methods as I type I expect.

Anne-Marie belongs to an exclusive Sewing Group, which started about 20 years ago as the tutor found people attending her workshops said they just wanted and needed time and space to sew. Space physically, rather than clearing off the dining room table to set up (then planning meals the family could eat on trays for a few days), and time as in an allotted time where it couldn’t be put off. She asked if I could join the group and I asked if my fellow novice sewer Tracy could come too. As I told her, I didn’t want to be the only idiot there. This made her laugh and didn’t offend in the slightest. This is why I like her so much. We really are honoured as I think it’s usually by invitation from the tutor only.

We’ve been twice so far and I’m hooked. There’s no teaching, it’s in a village hall like the equivalent of a Knit and Natter group. You take whatever you’re making and get on with it. You can ask questions, and the tutor will come round to each table asking if you’re ok, but you need to be fairly low maintenance. It’s really well organised. There’s a quick meal of quiche or pizza at the beginning, for those coming famished straight from work, and a cake break in the middle. I’ve subverted this by taking grapes and Tracy’s taken strawberries, as we’re trying to walk the healthy eating road. We’re both usually trying to make up for the eating and drinking of the weekend!

I already seem to be the joke of the group as I took along a Rowan Amy Butler jelly roll I got from Mollie Makes magazine (I’ve googled my own blog to find out when and where I got this!) I was thinking that I wouldn’t have to do lots of faffy cutting out and could actually sew at sewing club. Plus I knew it would help me practice sewing straight lines. The issue comes when the others naturally ask me what I’m making? I have no idea, truly. I’m just joining the strips and then again and again, as the tutor has instructed. I reply that it could be a bag, cushion, a thing or skirt. A ‘thing’ looks most likely right now…

The funniest moment so far was when the tutor asked how long me, Anne-Marie and Tracy have known each other. She was visibly shocked when we laughingly said we’d only met on that Saturday in March…

I’m going to try to join in with the Blog Every Day in May plan that knitting designer Vikki has mentioned on Instagram. I’ve never tried that before. It’s quite exciting. They won’t all be as long as this post, I promise!