Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Drama #2

The drama continues here, although we have now watched all of The Killing (series 1). It's good - and I am looking forward to catching up with series 2 sometime...

Putting that aside, perhaps it is just as well I started my Christmas crafting when I did. There has been little action on that score since the beginning of December. And, the socks I have started for DH have stalled a bit - they are toe-up and just look a bit, well, wrong. I am undecided at the moment, but am waiting for a new moon or something before they go to the frog pond...

The other dramas in our house have been a little less knitterly.

On Saturday the television stopped working - the remote control worked, but the telly did not. Fuse was checked, words were sworn and various things banged, bodged and shaken. To no avail. It was dead. It had departed. It was an ex-TV.

Given that we my husband has been discussing buying a new telly for months now, it didnt take us long to come to the conclusion that we should buy a new one. The old telly (about 10 years old - so box shaped rather than a flat screen) had been on the blink for a while. DH has been researching all the options - wireless, dongles, boxes, recorders, LCD, LED. But it all just made my head hurt, so I told him we should wait until the old one gave up, and that's what we did. On Sunday morning decisions were made, and a new TV was procured (look it up on tinternets, ring up shop, pay and collect later). One thing sorted.

Yesterday, I got into the office and sat quietly at my desk sewing on some buttons while my laptop powered up and my inbox caught up with itself. I was finishing those wee jackets I started a week or so ago, for those little twins I mentioned. As I sat and sewed, I scanned my inbox - and there was a birth announcement! Eek! Born on Friday, a few weeks earlier than expected and hoped, but safely born and good sizes (c. 4lb each). Welcome to the world little ones - Nathaniel and Lilith - we wish you and your clever mama and papa all the very best. There is a parcel of things on its way - including those two hats, and two wee jackets (paxton pattern from stitchymama via ravelry).

Two baby beanies.
yarn: small amounts of 4 ply from the stash

Yarn: 100% cotton DK (pink = Sirdar Carousel; blue = Jonelle) from stash
Size: 6-8lb (preemie/small newborn)
Notes: no mods - jacket with long sleeves. buttons from stash. This is the second time I have made these jackets - they knit up quickly and take almost no time to finish because of their top-down seamless construction.

This morning, after counselling both of my small people NOT to sit on window ledge next to Christmas tree, a few moments later the bean arrives in the dining room (where I am waging war on a tsunami of crayons and pens and bits of paper that have suddenly hurled themselves onto the floor) announcing that the wire has got his leg and the christmas tree has fallen down. The jelly bean wets herself at that very moment and my sense of humour disappears very rapidly. No-one was hurt, and the only thing broken (apart from my spirit) were a couple of decorations on the tree. Grrr.

Santa came to the rescue. In times like that emergency chocolate really is the answer, and if that is shaped like santa, then all well and good...

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Heads, fingers and toes (FOs)

A quick post to catch up on some of the little things that have recently made their way into my gift stash.

These are girl socks for the jelly bean, knitted with sparkly Berocco sock yarn. See those sparkles?

Followed by handwarmers for my dad, knitted with some mystery grey 4 ply. I think this yarn came from grandmothers house. There were several partial balls which - as you can see - were clearly from different dye lots. I hope the subtle difference in colour is not too noticeable when being worn! It feels like quite a woolly yarn, and it has bloomed and softened with washing. I improvised the pattern based on the ones I made for myself a few weeks back, but using slightly more stitches to accommodate a manly hand.

Last and not least are two very weeny baby beanies for those twins. Anticipating smallish babies and smallish heads, I adapted my baby beanie pattern, using 80 stitches rather than 100... Oh, and rather than an i-cord stalk with knot, I made wee circles instead. Cute huh?

Tuesday, 6 December 2011


There has been something of a post illness lull in this house. I have taken up one or two little projects to keep myself occupied - some weeny jackets for those twins I mentioned - but for the last couple of days I have been enjoying myself enormously making endless pompoms and watching the Killing (series 1). [If you dont know it, its a Danish crime thriller/drama series which moves very slowly over 20 episodes and which has the enigmatic Anna Lund as the main character. Anna is of course famous for her knitwear - witness last week's discussion on BBC R4's woman's hour...]

We have been easing ourselves into the Killing over the last few weeks. After episode one, DH said he wasn't too bothered about it, and I watched the next few on my own. Somehow DH managed to be in the room when I watched episodes 5 and 6. Can you see what is coming next? When I got back from pilates last week, there he was watching episode 7 on his own. His face was suitably guilty...

Trouble is, what with the Danish and the subtitles and all, you have to really concentrate on the screen lest you miss a significant comment or detail. It is not the time to be knitting anything with charts, or rows that needs counting. I even found it hard to increase every other row when knitting weeny jacket no 1. It all looked tickety boo until I looked at it carefully in daylight and had to rip back a few rows to fix the increases I had missed.

Last night I managed a double bill of the Killing, and switched to pompoms. They are a lot more forgiving - although I do of course have to put them down now and again to really concentrate on the drama.

Can you tell what it is yet? I've come over all Martha Stewart, and I'm making a christmas wreath with pompoms. It's eating into my stash very nicely, and using up some of the dodgier balls of yarn in an entirely pleasing way, as well as some of the less dodgy things. Dont you just love how pompoms made with mohair turn out? Gorgeous.

I made the base for my wreath out of a coat hanger, bent into a suitable shape and padded with some strips of fabric topped with toy stuffing. This was secured with yarn. Lots of yarn. I used up some peach coloured yarn underneath, and then topped this with white yarn, as the pompoms are mainly white/cream. DH approves of the stashbusting - and it's using up quite a lot of yarn. The bean inspected the half finished wreath this morning, and declared it gorgeous. I promise to show it off when it's finished...

In other news, we have had our first snow of the season. Not enough to make snowmen or throw snowballs, but just enough to dust the grass and verges with white and to freeze the earth to stone (good job I dug most of the spuds up last week).

DH is further north at the moment - near to Loch Fyne - in a lot more snow. He set off very early yesterday and arrived safely - waiting for the road at Rest and Be Thankful to open, rather than taking the long diversion. But the weather meant that they did no work because it took all day to get their equipment up 5 miles of snowy track to their site. So, it looks like he will be there most of the week. Best get cracking on his Christmas socks then....

Thursday, 1 December 2011


I am celebrating quietly as the darkness draws in and we look forward to the turning of another year.

We have reached a certain sort of milestone in our house, not just where there is little trace of any baby-ness (moses basket, cot, baby toys, baby clothes all gone), but where the toddler days are almost at an end too. Our little jelly bean has stopped wearing nappies. I won't go so far as to say she is completly potty/toilet-trained, but we are well on our way.

The cloth nappies I made a few months back are all packed up ready to hand on to a new baby. I'm happy, but a bit sad too. It's nice to move on and grow up, but I do love scrunchy little newborns, and a happy baby that coos and rolls and gurgles and only drinks milk! I'll have to see if I can get by just borrowing cuddles from other people's babies from now on....

Monday, 28 November 2011

Making Monday: Christmas is coming...

Winter vomiting disease has been and - hopefully - gone in our house now, so normal service is resumed. I'll spare you the details, but suffice to say the washing machine got quite a work out....

Despite it all, there has been plenty of Christmas crafting this year. I don't know why I've started so early, or been so organised about it. Who knows? But - without wishing to boast - the christmas basket is starting to brim with handcrafted goodies all made from stuff I was hoarding  the stash. So far I have made:
  • three pairs of socks (one adult; two child);
  • two men's hankies (upcycled from an old shirt);
  • three quilts for a dolls bed (also upcycled from various shirts and sheets);
  • and one pair of handwarmers.
Here are a few shots of these projects...

In the midst of all this I have also made a pair of socks for my brother's birthday (happy birthday boy!), a cowboy/Woody style waistcoat for a 5 yr old's birthday (happy birthday Digby!) and a baby hat for a newly hatched sister belonging to one of the bean's friends.

Here are the birthday socks...

pattern: generic top down
yarn: German sock yarn, bought at Peebles show in 2010.

You'll have to wait for pics of the other things. The baby hat and socks for the jelly bean will be worth waiting for - they are knit in that fab Berocco sock yarn I had for my birthday. It's gorgeous stuff and I'm just hoping there will be enough left to make some socks for me!

But, now all that's finished, I'm not quite sure what to do next. Someone at work is expecting twins in the new year and I was thinking about making some weeny jackets for them; I've got a Clothkits dress for the jelly bean languishing somewhere, and various plans for dressing up clothes to add to our dressing up basket, plus a friend that I owe a hat .... Any suggestions? Perhaps a glass of sloe gin will help? It can't hurt, can it?

Thursday, 24 November 2011


No blogging here at the mo because we are struggling with various bugs and illnesses... back soon (I hope), there are lots of FOs and Christmas crafting to report....

Friday, 18 November 2011

Something old, something new (FO)

Some French friends of ours were married over the summer; announcing the nuptials only after the event. We saw them recently, and thought we should give them a little something to mark their new life together.

We looked in a local craft gallery for a suitable present, but nothing was quite right. So, I set to with my sewing machine instead, and made two placemats, two coasters and two napkins.

I used linen (a charity shop bargain) plus some scraps of vintage fabric from my grandmothers house. Since both bride and groom are tree geneticists, the leafy motifs of the fabric seemed to fit perfectly. In addition, I quilted a leaf motif onto the back of the placemats,which you can just see here ...

You never quite know how such gifts will be received - (I have a relative who never acknowledges the handmade things I send) - but I am pleased to report that the happy couple were happy, and so was I! Another gift gifted, and made entirely from the stash.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Hats off... (FO)

I like to knit hats. It's one of the things that I have made consistently over the years. Jumpers, cardigans and socks all come and go, but hats just keep on.

A few years ago I devised a hat recipe which I have reknit many times. I've lost count now, but I think there are at least a dozen of these 'scrap' hats as I call them, wandering the hills and streets and places of this fair isle, and beyond (one lives in the US).

Occasionally a friend will place a kindly request for such a hat, and they will lodge in an ethereal queue until the urge to make a hat comes upon me. I was met with such an urge in the summer some time, and I made this lovely thing, with yarns carefully selected to complement the hair and beard of the intended recipient.

Unfortunately, for some unfathomable reason it came out too small for a large manly head.

Fortunately for the bean it was just right for him; so, it's now tucked neatly into one of our cupboards, waiting for the snow and ice to come...

I'll post the recipe some time, and you can make your own.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Quick, quick, sloe

We went furtling at the week-end. Furtling and rootling and rustling the leaves and hedgerows for sloes. Searching for treasure.

We had seen them last winter, in the depths of the snow and ice - and made a mental note about the location. Sloes are a bit like hen's teeth in Scotland. And, if you know anyone that has a supply, they usually won't tell you where they get them from. Not like my native Herefordshire, where every hedgerow and every lane and every winding path has sloes and rosehips and blackberries/brambles in plentiful supply.

Anyway, we were in luck - the birds and other sloe hunters hadn't yet stripped the bushes bare. So we picked enough for our needs and left the rest for the birds. I'm looking forward to sloshing them around with sugar and gin and waiting for the delicious rosy red colour to emerge. I'm not sure it will be ready in time for Christmas, but perhaps in the new year?

As for this - it's hard to believe this was the scene in our street at the end of November last year. The bean keeps asking when it's going to snow....

Soon I tell him, soon...
At least this year we'll have the sloe gin to keep the grown ups warm!

Monday, 31 October 2011

The Cardigan of Doom (again)

On Saturday evening, I was booked to baby sit for a family we know. They had a dinner of spectacular proportion to go to (17 courses or perhaps 29), and I knew that I would have a long evening to entertain myself. The plan was this: to seam the cardigan of doom and continue with the knitted edging which goes on for several hundred yards seemingly. I got my bag ready in good time, and when the time was right, I set off to supervise someone else's children into bed (with an obligatory story or two) and then settle down on someone else's sofa for the evening. After reading the paper and spending some time trying to work out which combination of FOUR remote controls resulted in a tv with both sound AND picture, I picked up my bag to begin. I hauled the sorry nicely blocked pieces out of my knitting bag and set them aside. Then I reached in for my scissors and needle case. And, it was at this point that my plans for the evening broke down. Neither scissors nor needle case were actually in my bag - and I believe scientists have established beyond doubt that those two things are fundamental for sewing up anything you might care to mention. I was stumped. I was flummoxed. I was completely bojangled.

Fortunately, before leaving my own two chiddlers at home for the evening, I had stuffed the boy socks into my knitting bag, just in case.

Just as well. Sock two progressed from just started to more than half done, just like that. I finished it last night, and tried it on my sleeping son to make sure it wasn't too small. Save for one small detail (some blocks of duplicate stitch on the sole to indicate the approximate size of the sock- I'll show you sometime) - they are all done and in the (very smug) Christmas box. And the cardigan of doom still mocks me from the knitting bag...

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Glasgow School of Yarn (and an FO)

On Saturday we went to Glasgow. A family day out and a birthday treat for my mother-in-law. While the boys went to see the new transport museum, we made our way to the Mackintosh Church to the Glasgow School of Yarn 2011. Unfortunately, I booked too late to get into any of the workshops, but we spent a happy hour or two in the market place choosing yarn, drinking tea, eating cake and chatting to knitters.

Natalie from the yarnyard was there with her lovely yarns and magic carpets (which she explained to me) and a lovely warm hug; and the jelly bean helped me choose some yarn to make some boy socks with - and we carried off some lovely BFL yarn in the colourway 'Lochside' from Abstractcat.

Once the second handwarmer was finished, the skein was quickly wound and a pair of boy socks cast on. I'm adopting/creating a new tradition to make my children socks each Christmas. And, while we watched the last episode of Spooks (sniff, sniff) I soon rattled through the leg of the first sock (I don't know why this picture insists on appearing sideways... I've tried to put it right, but it just won't go...)

Everyone else has got much better pictures than me of Glasgow and the CRM church (try here and here for lovely pics), and everyone was super friendly, and I only hope that it happens again next year.

In other news, the handwarmers are finished and rather lovely (even if I say so myself). There will definitely be some more of these in the near future...

Pattern: handwarmers (based loosely on the purlbee's pattern)
yarn: Jenny Cook hand dyed yarn (multi-coloured) with some green 4 ply from the stash (Jaeger?) 40g used

I'm trying to make better use of my time by being a bit more focused and organised about things both at home and at work. To this end, I am tending to having one 'big' project (for the house) and one 'little' knitting project (for out of the house) on the needles at any one time. At the moment, my big focus is on the cardigan of doom which is now blocked and waiting to be seamed and finished. I'm also focussing on my sewing basket/mountain a bit more regularly. Apparently you actually have to get your sewing machine out for things to be made and repaired - just thinking about it is not enough; who knew? Anyway, serious roll of drums and trumpet fanfare, because I have just made my first quilt! Tada!

It may be an itty bitty doll sized quilt for the jelly bean, but it's a quilt and I pieced the top and bagged it and stitched in the ditch and everything. And, it's all recycled/repurpose from old shirts and some old flannel sheets...

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Announcement (and FO)

We interrupt this blog to announce that forthwith the drinking of tea in the vicinity of laptops is strictly forbidden. At. All. Times. (Without. Exception).

I should explain. There was a small incident last week. One involving an almostly completely drunk cup of tea and a laptop. Despite my best efforts (tip laptop upside down, shake vigorously, blot any remaining moisture with hanky, swear even more vigorously, keep fingers crossed and leave laptop in warm place for a day or two) said laptop has taken ill and is with matron in sick bay. Not sure when she'll be back - and of course, until she is I can't do any work it's a bit tricky accessing photos and files.

No matter. I might have missed this week's making monday, but there is a wee something - or even fourteen wee somethings to show instead.

A small bevvy of hats for this year's Big Knit, which I parcelled up for Age Scotland. These hats will shortly grace the tops of Innocent smoothie bottles and each hat sold generates a donation for Age UK. The target was 650,000 hats!

In other news: I have been WIP wrestling, and got Deli (aka the cardigan of doom) out of hibernation. Since I had 4 of the 5 pieces already knitted, I thought I would block what I had and go from there. So, two sleeves, one back and one front were all washed and ready for blocking. As I got to work with the pins I noticed a hole, and then another and another. I'm not sure I can even say the word: m o t h. Apparently one has been nibbling at my knitting. So, there has been ripping and grafting and gnashing of teeth as I repaired and reknitted the three of the four pieces which had holes (and installed anti-moth measures in all my stash boxes). At the weekend I started knitting the second front (the last piece) and was gaily decreasing for the armhole when I thought I had better check that it matched the first side. It didn't. It wasn't quite as far out as the yarn harlot was, but it was still out, so there'll be more ripping and reknitting, and I daresay some gnashing of teeth too. Still, I did manage to finish my first handwarmer last night (after abandoning the cardigan of doom in disgust). I'm wearing it now. You know. As you do. Just to see.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Making Monday: Simply stripey sock recipe

For this Making Monday, I have been writing a recipe to share. Let me know what you think!  

I like to make the most of my sock yarn, even when there are only a few grammes left, and after seeing the grumperina knit stripey socks a while ago, I have developed her technique for my own ends to make simply stripey socks. This is how I do it:

1. Have a good rummage in the stash, and choose some sock yarns in complementary colours/shades.

2. Weigh the yarn and make sure there is enough to make a pair of socks. (I know that I need at least 50g to make a pair of plain vanilla socks in my size). If there isn't, then go back to step one and rummage some more.

2. Divide any small balls into two roughly equal portions.

3. Cast on in the usual way and knit the sock cuff using one of the yarns. In this instance, because there is a lot of green and not much of the others, then I am using the green as the 'main' colour.

4. When the cuff is the required length, start on the leg of the sock. Introduce your additional yarns/colours at this point.

A. If there are only two colours/yarns, then work the first round in the new colour and then go back to the main colour for the second round, then revert to the new colour for round three. Continue knitting in this way, alternating colours/yarns until the leg of your sock is the required length.

Joining the second yarn after the cuff

B. If you have three colours/yarns to work with (as I have here), then join the first colour at the beginning of the round, AND then join the second colour the next time you change needles. Continue knitting in that colour until you encounter the main colour again (at the end of the round). Pick this up and knit until you meet the tail of the first colour and then knit with that one.

If you find yourself with all of your yarn tails at the same point, all you need to remember is to ALWAYS knit with the LOWEST yarn available. In the picture below, this means taking the paler green yarn (on the left).

I find knitting these stripes really addictive, and once I've started it's hard to stop - although I do break from time to time to admire the effect. One of the yarns I'm using here is a self-striping one, changing from cream to green and back again.

Keep knitting until the leg is the desired length and prepare for the heel flap. I knit this in one colour - in this case, the same colour as the cuff, so I make sure that the yarns are in the right place. The spare yarns should be 'parked' just before the heel flap, as shown below.

Heel flap and yarn on left (front) needle; spare yarns parked on right (back)needle.

Continue knitting the heel flap in the normal way until you start to pick up the stitches along the side of the flap. You should find that as you come to pick up stitches on the second side of the heel flap that you encounter your spare yarns again. As always, work with the lowest yarn available and use this to pick up the stitches on the second side of the heel flap. 

Work the foot and toe of the sock in your usual way, alternating yarns as you did before for as long as you want or are able. I often use quite small quantities of yarn for my stripes, so sometimes only the leg of the sock is striped, while the rest is plain. The possibilities are endless! Here are few examples...

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Big Lace Scarf (FO)

I'm not a lace knitter - not yet anyway(!) - I've knit some lace in the past, but haven't yet cast on any glorious shawls in gossamer fine yarn. But something lacey caught my eye in the More Last-minute knitted gifts book, and I just had to do it.

Pattern: big lace scarf from More Last Minute Knitted Gifts (Joelle Hoverson)
Yarn: chunky, unravelled from charity shop jumper
time taken: a day or two last week
mods: I subbed the yarn and knit with 15mm needles

The photos haven't come out terribly well, but you get the idea. It's big and chunky and involves a simple 4 row pattern, which I managed to screw up several times. Who knew that counting to 4 could be so tricky? After dithering a little, I decided to keep this as a scarf and not transform into a cowl, and this is also stashed in my box of things (along with its sister), waiting for the right person or right occasion to come along.

In other news, I am now without a sock project. But, as I can't seem to manage without a small project I can take with me to meetings, work, conferences etc, I have cast on something else small and portable worked in the round using sock yarn: some wrist warmers. I'm using the purl bee's long striped handwarmer pattern for my first pair. Watch this space...

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Making Monday (on Tuesday): dribble bibs

I'm a bit late with this week's making monday (oooops!), but if a things worth doing....

The last couple of weeks have been studded with birthdays - first dear wee Elias, then my dad, then my cousin's twins and yesterday, a little friend of ours who has got to the very grand age of three! Happy birthday to you all.

Wherever possible, I prefer to give home made gifts, so my dad got socks, and the twins - who were 1 at the weekend - got a variety of things, including a few cute dribble bibs (tutorial here).

These were upcycled from some old terry squares and some of the jelly beans old clothes. She really wears her clothes, and not all of them are in a fit state to pass on when she has grown out of them! Some days it is hard to keep track of the clothes she gets through - such is her capacity for attracting dirt and soaking herself with any/all available liquids. Not that we'd have her any other way...

Sunday, 2 October 2011


A week or so ago, I made use of a child-free day at home to sort out my stash of fabric. It was a rather sobering experience - I hadn't really realised just how much I had accumulated over the years, nor how many half-finished projects and things for mending there were languishing in various trunks and baskets and drawers. 

First on my hit list were some old trousers of mine, set aside to make new trousers for the bean - and a pair of trousers of his that needed mending.

Then, I got to work on some trousers for the jelly bean. When you are in the throes of potty training, dungarees are a bit of an impediment, so I turned this cute pair into some trousers. Trouble is, the jelly bean herself has a different view point - in the way that two year olds do - and won't actually put them on...  humph. But I live in hope...

Saturday, 1 October 2011

October Fest

I am officially designating October as a FO Fest. While September has been quiet in terms of blogging, it has been anything but in terms of crafting, and there is a lot of catching up to do.

First up, socks. I've been a bit of a sock addict lately, and two more pairs have sprung off the needles.

Pattern: Java (from Knitty)
Yarn: twinkle toes, by Jenny Cook
time taken: 28 August - 19 September 2011

I also finished a pair of brown stripey socks for my dad's birthday (happy birthday dad!). I used my favourite striping technique to make best use of some sock yarn odds and ends.

Pattern: generic top-down with grumperina stripe
yarn: Plymouth Yarn co. sock yarn plus some unknown sock yarn (charity shop)

Monday, 12 September 2011

Making Monday: making, baking and being at home

As is always the case, a week was simply not long enough to accomplish everything on my list, but it was good to get some things finished, and some things started, and to have a few days where work interruptions were minimal and the priorities were unashamedly domestic.There was...

: : knitting - two socks finished (but not a pair)

: : sewing - one small t-shirt refashioned and two pairs of trousers cut out ready for stitching (both repurposed from my old trousers)

: : baking - a lemon drizzle cake (from Nigella's domestic goddess book) and a delicious quiche (mushroom and leek) and home-made pizzas and a jumble fruit crumble

and playing, and meeting friends, and some trips out, including one to see this: the Tour of Britain, which started yesterday in Peebles.

And there was a wee bit of gardening (in between the showers) and paperwork and sorting and decluttering (three big bags for the charity shop), but a bit less sleep than we hoped for on account of a small person with a tickly cough but, all in all, it was a good week.

Don't forget to check out other making mondays to see what everyone else has been doing...

Monday, 5 September 2011

Making Lists

No work for me this week, so my making monday is all about lists: planning the week ahead to make the most of my time at home, some of it without children(!)

: : read/finish reading the lovely books that are cluttering up my side of the bed
: : convert as many WIPs as possible to FOs
: : sort and rationalise the fabric stash (see item above)
: : bake and cook good things
: : weed, deadhead and tidy up the garden
: : attend to personal grooming (pedicure and haircut both booked)
: : catch up on paperwork/tax affairs
: : sleep
: : eat
: : play
: : blog

I hope there'll some more of these:

And plenty more of this: