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Preview: Getting warmer

Getting warmer

Updated: 2014-10-07T02:15:03.806+01:00


Ruby, my walking companion



New blog


I know some of my old knitting blogpals still have links to this blog, though I've let it go to rack and ruin.
Although I'm still knitting, I've become more interested in taking pictures of the countryside. Not high-end photography, you understand - just snaps with my rather fancy new phone. So in case anyone's interested, I've started a new photoblog. It's also an exercise in web development - I'm hoping to start a little business building sites for some of my friends and neighbours, and need to build my skills up.

Hay stacked



Knit me, knit me


Hello blog, long time no see. I've done quite a bit of knitting over the past two years, but at a more relaxed pace than previously. I've even got to the point where I can make a train journey or go away for a night without taking any knitting with me.
But now I can feel it all coming back. Possibly inspired by an unexpected delight. I had 500g of alpaca dk and did a circular shawl (Elizabeth Zimmerman, Knitter's Almanac). I  made up the stitches as I went along and because it was on a circular needle and in a dark colour looked like a big soggy bag. Until I cast it off and blocked it when it metomorphised into the most beautiful thing I've ever made. (My camera isn't working unfortunately so can't show - hopeless.)
On Thurs I was driving past Colinette during office hours, and found myself pulling in. Bought 600g of Graffiti from the sale and by Sunday morning I'd finished the sweater. Nothing at all fancy, raglan sleeves, knit in the round, but I felt that driving desire to be knitting.

More countryside


Just a few more walkies pics. I know to other people who have lived in the country for years these probably aren't very interesting. Sorry.

Fruitful walking


I seem to be blathering away to myself, but I'm excited to be living here so it's nice to take pictures and post them. The hedgerows are full of fruit, most of it inedible unless you're geared up for making wine or jam, which I'm not yet. Even so, it's a lot lovelier than the (very nice) London park I'm used to.(image) (image) And here are a couple of pictures from the bedroom window, taken this morning. (image) (image)
Going to Julia's 50th tomorrow, in London. Bought a basket and some Shropshire-made stuff to put in it from this lovely deli, down the road. It's got some painting on the wall which is alleged to be medieval.(image)
Nearly time for another beautiful walk, and the sun's still shining.

Lions in the high street


It's the Michaelmas Fair this weekend. Unfortunately we won't be here (Ellen needs to be moved to her new student house in Canterbury, plus a 50th birthday party and 40th wedding anniversary party down there in the south). But Trevor has been helping with the preparations. I only took pictures of a few of the banners, but they're all the way up the high street. I don't know why so many houses have flag poles - including ours. We're both working quite hard, but have to take our doggie out for a walk each day so we're discovering all the beautiful possibilities. It's a good time of year too. Today I found these windfalls. They'd fallen in some nettles so hardly any bruises and no maggots.Also couldn't resist doing a bit wool-gathering out there in the fields. I can't spin but thought I'd have a go with a drop spindle. Also got some black Welsh tops because I thought it would be easier to be a beginner spinner with professionally prepared fibre, and a pair of mini-carders to prepare my gathered wool. I've made a start with the tops and got a little ball of about 3 meters - I'll take a picture when I've done a bit more.I've been doing some knitting too. Rose liked her Cozy and has taken it away to Edinburgh.Anticipating cold weather I've made some reversable (and double layered) hats, from Elizabeth Zimmerman. I did this one in sock wool so it took ages, but it's not as bulky as the others.Finally here's my latest passion - an Anglo Concertina. After Shrewsbury Folk Festival I decided I really wanted to learn an instrument. I've been practising fairly regularly and I'm quite pleased with the way it's going. It's called Rochelle and it's a cheap Chinese job but it makes a good sound, and I love the way it feels when you push and draw the bellows - as if it's breathing, and giving voice.[...]

New home


We've moved - now living in beautiful south Shropshire instead of less beautiful north London.
So far, so good. We are renting our house in London and renting here for now. The house feels great at the moment but it's huge, and probably very drafty and expensive to heat in winter. So I've been knitting busily - chunky sweaters, reversable double layer hats etc. In fact I'm wearing the chunky (image) sweater today, and it's only Sept 1st - in Colinette graffiti. Knitted in the round, with Raglan sleeves, from Ann Budd's sweater pattern book.
Another FO is this - minimalist cardigan from Interweave Knits (photographed while still in London). I had to knit the sleeves twice, 2nd time with smaller needles and fewer stitches, as they came out much too loose the first time. The cuffs still aren't tight enough to stay up, but it's ok. I love the look of moss stitch but it's a bit tedious to knit.
I also finished Cozy in some red Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk aran from my ebay stash. No pictures yet - it's for older daughter Rose who is moving to Edinburgh later this month. She's travelling back from Spain today and due to arrive here tomorrow - her first visit. Hopefully I'll get a shot of her draped in it before she takes it away.
I know I've been a hopeless blogger lately, but it does seem to be something people come and go with. I've got right out of the habit of taking pictures, which doesn't help. But perhaps now life is a bit less stressful I'll feel more inspired...


I've been exploring Ravelry. I think it's brilliant that you can look up a pattern, and see dozens of examples of how it has been knitted up by different people in different yarns. And you get people's tips too.
I got past the first pattern repeat on the back of the (image) tweedy aran cardi and then saw the minimalist cardigan on Knitting Daily, and felt it would give me a nice rest. I'm using Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk which I bought from Jannette's on ebay ages ago. It's finer than the yarn in the pattern, so I'm getting the right gauge but the fabric is a bit airier.(image)

Finished one of Rose's jitterbug socks. I tried to do the toe up socks from Interweave Knits, but just couldn't decypher the cast on instructions. Anyway I've got more than half the yarn left by weight for the second sock so it shouldn't run (image) out.

Also cast on my first lace project which is the Cat's Paw scarf from Northern Lace. I thought I'd be kind to myself and do my first project in 4 ply rather than lace weight.

(image) And I've invented something! I liked the look of the so-called scarf and started knitting it up. But the fabric it made was very thick and cushiony, and I didn't think it would drape well. Also it had a distinct right and wrong side which also seems to me to be a disadvantage for a scarf. So I converted the stitch pattern for knitting in the round and made a headband. I loved it, so I made another, and another and another. Now I have five, and Ellen has already snaffled one.
I think it would also work well for a hat. It's very substantial but also stretchy in all directions.

Just back from another little trip to Bishops Castle. I really like it there, and we're now looking for somewhere to rent as we're not optimistic about being able to sell our house quickly. Ellen seems to have come round to the idea, and the girls will still be able to stay at their dad's who lives about ten minutes walk from where we live here in London.


Been busy knitting and frogging if not blogging. I succombed to temptation on ebay recently and bought 800 grams of sock wool from Germany. I'm really pleased with it - unlike most self-striping sock wool I've tried this actually feels and smells like wool. I like the colours too.Here are Ellen's socksAnd mine.There's a bit of yarn left over so I've started a baby pair.I like knitting socks, and wearing them, but for some reason I don't feel at all tempted to branch out into fancier sock patterns. I suppose this yarn is so fancy, anything other than a simple pattern would be too much.I've just started a new pair in Colinette Jitterbug for Rose. The colour is Blue Parrot, which will match a jumper I knitted for her a couple of years ago and which is still going strong. Have read all the warnings about this yarn running our before the toes are done, so will do a short cuff - 4"?I used up a lot of scraps on this shawl for Ellen. As you can see we're all quite into loud colours in our family.This is Rose in her Wavy scarf and matching hat. You can't really see the waves in this picture, and because the yarn was thicker and I knit loosely anyway the design isn't as obvious. But I still like it and so does she. The yarn was from Handpainted Yarn.The latest project is the Tweedy Aran Cardigan. I've got a few rows further on since I took this picture - now into the pattern proper, beyond the edging. Much harder than anything I've attempted before I think it will take me years and years to finish and I may well go mad or die in the process. I'm using Rowan Yorkshire Tweed which I got on ebay a while ago. It's thicker than the yarn suggested in the pattern and I'm a loose knitter so I'm knitting the smallest size hoping it will come out about 20% bigger. So far the measurements seem roughly ok.I've also acheived closure on the project I was finishing this time last year - TC's cartridge ridge jumper. It never really fitted him properly and it has just been sitting on a shelf waiting for the moths so I frogged it. Read on Knitting Daily that the best thing to do was wind the yarn into balls as you rip it out, then wind it into skeins, then wash and dry it to get the curl out.This was made in two yarns held together, and there's about a kilo of it altogether. I'd like to separate out the two yarns again, but can't think how to do this. Would very much welcome any suggestions.Finally, first socks I ever knitted which were kind of bulky bed socks got accidentally put in the washing machine. Disaster. But the other day I was wondering how to keep the coffee in my mini-cafitiere warm while it brewed - and lo, my dear felted sock came to mind. With a slit for the handle, and a hole for the plunger, it's almost perfect for the job.[...]


One of the reasons I haven't been blogging much is that I keep forgetting to take pictures of my projects. I've finished three projects and given them away without photographing them. The most recent was a lacy scarf made from Debbie Bliss silk which I posted this week to Georgia (the place in a state of emergency). It's a real shame I didn't take a picture as Rose, my daughter, said it was the most beautiful thing I'd made so far - and I don't even know if it will ever arrive at its destination! It's for Ketevan, a woman I stayed with in Tbilisi for a week in October.I've been messing around with a couple of other things - one is a fairisle sampler which I'm making up as I go along. It's a tube, and the original idea was for a tubular scarf as Elizabeth Zimmerman suggests. It will be an extremely warm scarf though, as on the patterns bits there will be four thicknesses of wool. The yarn is jumper weight from Jamieson and Smith. I ordered it online but used Schoolhouse website to choose the colours. Schoolhouse distribute Jamieson and Smith in the US and the colours are much clearer on their site.This is another tube, which I'm calling a legwarmer. It's plain and unshaped apart from a 20st lace panel, called Staggered Fern, from The Ultimate Sourcebook of Knitting and Crochet Stitches. Now, faced with the choice of chopping one of my legs off or knitting another, I've started a second. The yarn 4 ply is from Natural Dye Studio.The third wip is a crocheted blanket for my little Ellen (please don't tell I called her that!) Based on a pattern from Simple Crochet it's in strips of staggered (more staggering...) blocks of colour. I'm putting in the odd granny square at Ellen's request. The idea was to use up some of the Latvian wool in my stash. It's not really soft enough for a blanket though - especially in this knobbly triple crochet stitch - feels more like a string bag. I suppose it will be ok used as an afghan, draped over the back of a chair or something.Another piece of knitting news is that we had a knit-and-sing evening here. Eight knitting friends came round including daughter Rose (who has moved out and now shares a house with a couple of friends) and her friend Alice. The group included someone who wanted to learn how to cast on, someone who brought a jumper she'd started for her son when he was two - and he's now 25, and one very accomplished knitter who was working on a beautiful entrelac blanket for the baby she's expecting. The cast-on-learner, Lucy, taught us a couple of lovely songs. It was difficult to concentrate on both at once though, so I think maybe next time we'd need to do the song-learning before the knitting, then could sing them confidently as we knitted. We're planning to have another session in the new year.[...]


Another long posting gap - sorry to anyone who has visited me in vain over the past two months.We had a lovely holiday camping in Shropshire. The original idea was to go to Scotland but we decided to go via Shropshire because it was on the shortlist of places to move to when we leave London. A friend had recommended Bishops Castle, and Foxholes, the campsite we found there was so lovely that we just stayed - for nearly three weeks.Bishops Castle itself is great too. No yarn shop, though it's got everything else you could wish for including two pubs that brew their own beer. When we move there I thought I might take a stall in the weekly indoor market in the town hall and try selling a bit of yarn - not to make money, just for fun and because I'm sure it's a place with plenty of closet knitters.We're planning to go next year. Two years ago I gave up my job and we launched a little education magazine. It's done well enough to support us both with a bit of help from TC's teacher's pension, and happily we can do it from anywhere. I'd move straight away, but I don't want to pull the rug from under my daughter Ellen's feet. She's lived in this house all her life, and started university this week, so I want to wait till she's settled there before selling her home here, although she says there are plenty of friends she can stay with in this area, and she's enthusiastic about the idea of a home in the country.I've been doing quite a bit of knitting, and have also joined Stashalong. I needed to - I've got at least 13 kilos of yarn under my bed and no room for any more.I've got two good friends, who don't know each other. They both have the same name and have birthdays within a week of each other, and are both currently having trial separations from their husbands so are naturally a bit fragile. Quite strange, uh? Anyway I knitted a pair of socks for one, and a mobius for the other and they were both really pleased.I'm also crocheting a blanket for Ellen in an effort to get my stash of Latvian dk down. And I'm doing a Fairisle sampler in the form of a tubular scarf.I finally made it to Colinette while we were in Shropshire, and spotted Wye Sue sitting on the floor surrounded by 4-ply. Sue's was one of the first blogs I visited when I started knitting, and I think it was actually from her that I discovered Colinette, so it was quite an event for me to arrive there and meet her.I bought some ribbon yarn from the bargain bins, and after a lot of experimenting made a scarf in garter stitch, on 10mm needles. Pretty basic, but I love it. It looks like chain mail and it's got a wonderful drape. I've worn it to a couple of partyish events, and had it much admired. Don't know what I'm going to do with the other 800 grams though!After Shropshire we spent a couple of days in north Wales with my father and step-mother Jean who is in the Lleyn branch of the spinners and weavers guild. It was lovely to see them, and she'd just finished knitting a gansey for my father. It's always great to see what she's been up to. She's very creative and hardly ever uses patterns, and she also does lace (not knitting - the kind you do with pins) , tapestry, felting as well as spinning and natural dying; I'm in awe of her. She's been very encouraging since I took up knitting as a beginner, age 51, having been completely uninterested in textiles of any kind until then.I've also just cast on the first of a pair of legwarmers, with some sock wool from the Natural Dye Studio. I work at a desk in front of a very drafty window, and the recent drop in temperature has reminded me of how cold my legs get in the winter.[...]


Thanks for the commiserations about the train incident. I hope that's something you do only once - I've been very careful since.It's been very exciting reading about Woolfest. It does sound wonderful, and I'd love to go next year. Couldn't do it this time, partly because Ellen was returning from her three months of travelling round South America on the Friday. She came back safe and sound with hardly a negative experience to report and I think really benefited from the trip. It's persuaded me she can look after herself too, so I try not to worry so much when I'm not sure where she is. (Well she is 19.) Here she is in the Atacama Desert in Chile, in a hat knitted by mum. Apparently it was dawn, below freezing, and the egg she's eating was cooked in a hot water geezer spouting out of the ground.I've got a few knitting projects on the go. First, I finished another pair of socks. They're getting better every time, as you'd hope, but they're still a little on the saggy side. I know Elizabeth Zimmerman suggests 2x2 rib and I've done that right down the cuff and on the top part of the foot on the pair I'm currently knitting. I like to think these latest ones are the sort of socks that could be found in a peat bog in a million years time (yes I know it's rather optimistic to assume the planet will still support intellegent life then..). They're made from some robust Latvian wool I bought from Inita on ebay. I'm really pleased with this wool which is great value at £1.75 per 100g, and have been back twice for more already. I held a thread of nylon with the wool for the heel and toe, as suggested by E.Zimmerman.I'm also making a cabled cardigan from some yarn bought from the Knitting and Stitching show last year. It was advertised as wool, and I naively assumed that meant pure wool. It's not, but it's OK. This time I'm trying to do some waist shaping. Here's the back.I've nearly finished a mobius in Colinette Sky. It's for a friend I've known since we were at school together 40 years ago who is having a challenging time at the moment. Hope she likes it.Off to York on Thursday for Rose's graduation ceremony. It's funny - in my day we shunned that sort of thing completely but apparently it's de rigeur now, even the among the rebelious ones like Rose. Must try not to leave the knitting on the train...[...]

Clickety click


(image) I hate this picture, despite the cherries and hollyhocks - I look like a mean (and shapeless) person. But felt I had to show you that I'd done some knitting and finished the jumper . I hope one day I will graduate to proper, designed garments knitted from real patterns but for now I still enjoy just making a back, front and two sleeves from interesting yarn and sewing them all together.

I suffered a severe setback when I left my knitting on a train last month. I was on the second sock of a pair, and also had a half-finished scarf in the bag made from Debbie Bliss silk yarn. I got off the train at Euston and left it under the seat. I hoped it would turn up in lost property but it didn't which made me think the train cleaner must have thought it was rubbish and binned it!
I made another pair of socks though, which I'm wearing right now.
(image) I'm beginning to see why so many people knit socks - they are very satisfying aren't they? the main problem in the past has been dropping stitches but I've now swapped my short Britannia birch needles for a pair of Surina 2mm which are 7" long and easier to work with for me.

I've been busy with singing. My choir (I don't mention its name on the blog any more because I'm shy about people I know reading it - and the choir has such an unusual name that anyone doing a search ended up here) took part in the Singing River performance to mark the reopening of the Royal Festival Hall in London. We were on the pontoon - it was really good fun but very tiring as we had two weekends of rehearsals followed by a dress rehearsal and two performances, all ending at midnight.

Anyway while I was on the south bank I found a really interesting old book on traditional fairisle knitting (by Sheila McGregor) on one of the second hand book stalls. I think the next project might be a simple fairisle something - probably a hat. I've also started a cable cardigan using some yarn I got at the knitting and stitching show. It's a lovely colour, but I'm pretty sure it contains acrylic, though it was sold as wool.

If you happen to see the film Taking Liberties, which is around now, I'm in it!. There's a little interview in our kitchen with my daughters, my ex and me about the girls' arrest and treatment by the police after their climate change protest last year.

Hope everyone is enjoying the summer.

More stuff


I keep putting off blogging because I think, "I must take a picture of that first" or "I must wait for that to arrive". And then there's so much to say, it's a bit off putting and you stop visiting other people because you feel a bit guilty about your procrastination.Anyway I'm fine, and thanks for enquiring. Lots of things have been happening. My 18 year old daughter Ellen flew to Rio de Janeiro on March 28th to go travelling for three months - due to return from Lima, Peru. Before she went it was crazy as she'd left everything to the very last minute, and afterwards I was missing her too much to think about much else.Before that was TC's birthday. I finished the jumper the night before, and I thought it was fine but he was a bit uncertain about the fit. Then I wet-blocked it and although I was incredibly careful not to let it stretch, it kind of "relaxed" and got about six inches longer, and looser all over.He doesn't like it, says it feels too big. And if I'm honest he's right. I'm pissed off because I was really careful to measure his favourite jumper, and adapt the pattern etc. I can of course shorten it but I'm not sure he'll want to wear it even then as it is a kind of chunky sloppy-joe-ish style, and so can't quite face the job. Afterwards, I read this in Stitch'nBitchHere's a legend known to all knitters across the land: it is bad luck to knit a sweater for a boyfriend as it guarantees that the relationship will end...Like most myths, it holds a good amount of truth. If you've spent a month or two working long and hard on a sweater for your guy, only to have him not appreciate it enough or not wear it very often (and this happens all the time), you might catch a lingering resentment and wind up dumping the ungrateful lout. The theory, I suppose, is that if you're married to the guy and make him a sweater he never wears, you're still stuck with him.Perhaps one day - maybe before next winter - I will feel inspired to try and fix it. If not I guess I could find someone who does like it, or put it in the washing machine and cut it up to make felt bags or something ...I had another failure with this shawl but in the opposite direction. It's got a lace panel down the middle, which you can just about see, and I love the yarn (from handpainted yarn), but I knitted it on too small needles so it doesn't drape properly - it falls off.I haven't finished the second sock yet, but I haven't abandoned it. And I'm still working away at my Colinette jumper, which is a real delight to knit because it's so simple and I so love watching the colours pass by.I made a decent-sized dent in my stash when Rose, my older daughter, asked for yarn for her 22nd birthday last month. So I've been busy replenishing. I was down in the south west over Easter, and visited Mandy Wools shop in Wells, a huge emporium of a yarn store. I was fairly restrained - I got some bottle green dk merino by King Cole to go with some cream I've already got - one day to become something stripy. Also some Regia sock yarn, and a couple of small balls of cotton for trying fancy crochet stitches.I've also been visiting Jannette's on ebay, where she's doing a great deal on Debbie Bliss silk and alpaca dk. I've never tried a really luxury yarn before so this was a bit of a revalation. I'm trying a simple lace pattern for a scarf but I'm a bit puzzled by it.It's diagonal, so you move along a step for each right side row. At one stage a k2tog moves from being the first stitch in the row to being the last. So you effectively shift two stitches along, which means the diagonal lines go out of alignment every 16 rows. As a lace beginner I don't know whether this is a mistake in the pattern, or normal[...]


Hello, I'm still here. Work has been very busy, and I've also joined a gym after the physiotherapist suggested I did something to strengthen my arms and shoulders. He suggested yoga, pilates or swimming and as this women-only gym at the bottom of my road does all three it seemed a good idea though a great big extra expense. I already get quite (image) a lot of exercise walking the dog, and now I'm going swimming most days as well.
I've also had a couple of weekends away. TC and I went to Aldborough, got a bargain room in the very nice White Lion hotel, and went for long walks along the beach, and on Dunwich Heath.
We also had our choir's annual weekend away at the Ridegeway youth hostel near Wantage in Oxfordshire. 48 hours of singing fabulous Georgian folk songs and feasting on Georgian food, cooked for us by two Georgian women. Lovely.
Knitting is going OK. I made two moebiuses, one for Rose - matching her hat.(image) The other one I made from my favourite yarn, One Zero from Colinette, in my current favourite Colinette colour Venezia. I've been wearing it a lot, indoors and out, and it has been getting lots of attention from non-knitters who know about moebiuses.
I've also got to the final sleeve of TC's cartridge ridge jumper. It's his birthday on March 22 so I have got a deadline, and there is quite a lot of making up to do because it's big (and heavy).
Last but not least I've (almost) made a proper sock! When I first started knitting, last year, I(image) ordered a sock kit from Web of Wool and have had numerous frustrating and failed attempts at knitting it up. What made the difference this time was that I finally bought myself a pair of reading/knitting glasses so I can actually focus on the work. I really like the look and feel of it and have been thinking I'd like a hat made of this sort of fine, self-striping yarn. Still got the toe-grafting to tackle though - and the other sock of course...

Back in business


BBC NEWS | England | Merseyside | Knitted breasts help new mothersThis is going to be a rag bag of a post. First, I didn't knit these but aren't they sweet?I am knitting again though. My frozen shoulder seems to have gone into the second phase, which is stiff but much less tender than the first phase. I picked up the needles to have another go at TC's jumper - cartridge rib in dark green on 4mm needles. He's a tall man too, so there was a lot of it. I'd already negotiated to downsize it from a jumper to a waistcoat (partly because I wasn't sure the yarn would last out) and managed to knit the back. But when I cast on the front I knew I'd never finish it. It was so boring. He was nice about it, but I could see he was a bit disappointed. And then I had an idea. I frogged back the hours and hours of work on the back and started again with 7.5 needles, using the same yarn but knitted together with some black Rowan Yorkshire Tweed from my stash. I love the look of these two yarns together, and the chunkiness of the fabric. And it's growing so fast! It's a saddle shouldered sweater from Ann Budd's Handy Sweater Patterns book - I've done the back already and this is the first sleeve. A bonus is that I now definitely have enough yarn for the whole sweater.I'm also knitting my first Mobius, having read about them on Anne's and Kath's blogs. I bought Cat Bordhi's book about knitting Mobiuses, then looked far and wide for a long enough circular needle (120cm - from Heirloom Knitting) and after several abortive attempts finally acheived the special moebius cast on last night. It's really strange - you're knitting in a spiral, outward from a central spine, so you never come back to your starting point as you do with normal circular knitting. She explains why the result (a Mobius shape) is different from deliberately twisting a piece of circular knitting, but my poor brain hasn't been able to grasp it yet.Finally here's a picture taken this morning from my bedroom window. Quite an unusual sight here in in Hackney.[...]

Small steps



Still quiet on the knitting front. Rose, my student daughter who lives in York, has had her hair cut short. It really suits her, but her hats no longer do so I made her a short hair hat - small enough to show off the new hair line.
(image) Also finished the tea cosy. The knitting was done ages ago but I finally get round to measuring the tea pot and sewing it up with the right sized holes in the right places. The pompoms look very jolly, but I didn't find them much fun to make - threading a very long piece of wool through a doughnut-shaped piece of cardboard lots and lots and lots of times. Does anyone know a less tedious method? Importantly this tea cosy does really works. Because of all the strands of wool across the back it keeps the tea hot for ages.
Ellen, my younger daughter, asked for a sewing machine for Christmas. Unfortunately the one we (image) bought turned out to be broken and we didn't get the replacement until half way through January but since then she's been busy re-structuring most of her clothes.
I have almost no sewing skill but I do have an old machine, and as I can't do much knitting I dug it out, inspired by her. I've done a few little jobs like making a sausage shaped draft excluder from and old curtain, and I've bought a 12 yard bolt of cotton fabric (image) (£10 from my local market) and a little "how to sew"picture book, and I'm now making an ultra-basic top from a pattern.



Not much blogging going on because not much to blog about - I'm still doing very little knitting, because of my shoulder. I have finished my Lizard Ridge cushion cover though.
It's 26x26", with four squares on each side plus a crocheted border. I thought about lining it, but I think it fits better without a lining. I also took the easy way out by leaving one side loosely stitched for washing purposes instead of trying to put in a zip.
I know it looks a bit much on the Turkish rug but it is nice to lounge on beside the fire.

Knitting hurts


I've reached the sad conclusion that my frozen shoulder may have been triggered by doing too much knitting, and is certainly exacerbated by it. So I've had to be very self disciplined and knit only in short bursts. I'm also trying to remember to do some stretches before and after I knit - sounds crazy I know but it's better than lying awake in agony for several hours. When I started knitting last new year I bought "Knitting for Dummies" - highly recommended for beginners, but I wish I hadn't ignored the chapter on unkinking exercises. I suppose it's not surprising that if you suddenly start spending several hours a day crouched over the needles concentrating hard on very small movements, your body is likely to protest.
I did manage to knit a few hats for Christmas presents though - including Woolly Wormhead's Whirly Rib Cap. It's a good pattern, very enjoyable to knit. Though I do recommend treating the advice to use a stitch marker after each repeat as an instruction rather than suggestion. I had to rip back a few rows because I got muddled after failing to do this.(image)

We went to Wales with Rose and Ellen this week for a few days to visit various friends and relatives. It was a lovely trip - we were very lucky with the weather as it's been horribly wet there recently. Did plenty of walking on the beach, in Borth near Aberystwyth and in further north. My step mother Jean who is a very experienced spinner, dyer and knitter, donated lots of oddments of her handspun and dyed wool to Rose. Rose also started knitting this year and is still at the scarf stage - and living in York, she needs them. On the way home on Friday we came along the A458 from Dolgellau to Welshpool hoping to visit Colinette. I didn't have the address though - only a memory of where it was from the website. Couldn't find it so got the phone number from directory inquiries but no reply so presumably they had closed for Christmas already. Disappointing but perhaps just as well as I'm not exactly short of yarn.
Thanks for the kind support with my daughters' court case. They went to court just before Christmas and both got a conditional discharge. Hooray.(image)

I hope you all have a great Christmas. xxx(image)

Horses for courses


I've been thinking about why different people are attracted to knitting different sorts of things. It doesn't seem to be just to do with skill, or with what you like to wear. For example I don't really understand why socks attract so many people. For one thing, you have to knit two of them. For another, they take a long time because they have to be knitted in such fine yarn on skinny needles.And - I may be wrong here - but can hand-knitted socks really be more comfortable to wear than Marks and Spencers stretchy cotton jobs?Anyway this is a digression from my main point which is the obvious one that what you knit reflects your personality. I am an impatient person, and in my brief (not yet a year) knitting career I have discovered that I don't have much perseverence and do get bored quickly. I love beautiful stitchwork, and would love to have a garment like the one on the front of the Winter issue of Interweave Knits. But I don't think I have it in me to make such a big investment of time and effort - even if I had the skills, which I don't. And I really honour and admire people who do. I have made some jumpers and a cardigan, but they were all with chunky wool so grew rapidly. Three were in Colinette Graffiti, which was exciting to knit because of the interplay of the colours - you didn't know what it was going to look like until it rolled off the needles. Poor TC's jumper is still languishing in a bag upstairs. I haven't even finished the back, and have now negotiated with him to make it sleeveless... Even though I love him to bits, it's just too dull to do more than a few rows at a time of the same old stitch pattern in this dark colour on 4.5 needles.Having finished eight squares of Lizard Ridge I've copped out and decided to make two big cushion covers instead of the throw (which will take 16 squares instead of 24, leaving me with quite a nice leftover stash of Noro Kureyon).This isn't pure laziness as we actually do need cushions more than a blanket. But it is partly that I know I am going to get bored with it, and I've been itching to get on with other things.To keep myself amused I have made a few more hats, some for Christmas presents. I love hats, both because I love wearing them, and because they are so quick to make! I had an inspiring encounter with Woolly Wormhead and several dozen of her hats at a local craft fair, and I'm now making her Whirly Rib Cap.[...]

Return of the hat


We went to the climate change protest on Saturday. I was wearing my Woolly Wormhead beret, the one in the profile picture. I bumped(image) into a friend, Hilary, who asked if I would make her one - but she wanted autumn colours with lime green. This is not a colour I would ever buy for myself, but miraculously when I got home and had a look at my stash I found that Handpainted Yarn had sent me a free gift of worsted weight merino which fitted the bill. I remember thinking when I opened it that I'd never use it, so there you go. And here it is, the first hat I've made for a couple of months.(image) Really enjoyed it and will be giving it to her in exchange for some Icelandic wool she gave me when she cleared her parents attic recently. I used some on Sunday to make this hat for Ellen (sorry the picture is a bit blurred). She specified the details and I made up the pattern as I went along. It's a bit messy, but she seems to like it.
On the way back from the climate change demo we went through Regents Park which for anyone who doesn't know it is the most urban of city parks. I've been amazed before to see herons there - and managed to get a picture this time.(image)

Lizard selection




Haven't posted lately because not much of interest has been happening. Tea cosy, TC's jumper and my jumper are still confirmed (image) wips and(image) (image) growing very slowly. I knew Lizard Ridge was going to be a long job, but I'm nearly a quarter way through.
I've been pretty busy with work, especially with my work web site which I do myself with occasional advice from a techie friend. I'd like to show it off but it's got my home address on it (which is also my business address) and I would feel vulnerable if all the personal information about me here was linked to an identifiable person, name and address and all.
The frozen shoulder is quite painful. I went to see someone last weekend for a session of Bowen Technique which I'd never heard of before. She hasn't cured it but it definitely has changed in some way so I'm going back tonight. Clutching at straws possibly, but conventional medicine doesn't seem to offer anything much.
Sold my car yesterday to the son of a friend. We bought an oldish camper van in the summer which we've converted to LPG which is more environmentally friendly and cheaper than petrol, and as I almost never drive in London anyway there was no point in having two vehicles. We took the van to Dorset last weekend, put up the awning for the first time which was exciting, and walked on the coastal path near Corfe Castle which was beautiful.


(image) I've done the first Lizard Ridge square, complete with several mistakes. (no-one could accuse me of being a perfectionist!) It now seems odd that this pattern is in stocking stitch both because it curls up and because it's not reversible - and you kind of want a blanket to be reversable, don't you? Although perhaps an Afghan is different - I don't really know what an Afghan is. Can anyone advise? Anyway I suppose I could back it with something - even possibly something knitted.
The film crew turned out to be not from Channel 4 at all. They were an independent film company making a feature film about civil liberties in the UK - I got the impression the director saw himself as an English version of Michael Moore. Anyway they sat us all at the kitchen table and interviewed us for about an hour. We all had to avoid having words put into our mouths eg. "So do you think your daughters were treated like terrorists?", and as we didn't say exactly what he hoped we may end up on the cutting room floor. Either way it was interesting because I learned more details from the girls about what happened. This report on the BBC this morning underlines the point they were trying to make.
The Knitting and Stitching Show at Ally Pally was huge, hot and heaving - I don't know what I'd (image) imagined but it wasn't that. Perhaps late morning on Saturday was the busiest time. Anyway I saw some lovely things, and bought some wooden straight needles for the Lizard Ridge, and this yarn at a very good price from a man who only sells at exhibitions. Only spent £25 in all though, so not too wild.
Organising exhibitions seems to be almost a license to print money. All the organisers had to do was hire the venue and publicise it. And set up a few workshops. Then they just wait to collect the money from the exhibitors (I bet it was expensive) and the thousands and thousands of visitors.

New arrival


It's here - already! I'm really pleased with the colours.
Have postponed my visit to Ally Pally to tomorrow morning. I won't be able to stay long because we've got to go to Sussex for a wedding in the afternoon, but felt I had to be here today to tidy up for the film crew - and of course to make a start on Lizard Ridge.
Glad I did my experimental swatch with odds and ends - I'm sure I'll make plenty of mistakes but hopefully not as many as I would have done.
The biggest problem is going to be persisting with TC's much-needed rib jumper when this glorious thing is waiting for me!