Sunday, December 23, 2007

Rudolph cakes and Happy Christmas

I HATE writing Christmas cards, hate it with avengence, so for my work colleagues I came up with another idea

Rudolph cakes which were a very popular and much tastier alternative

The victorian aran weight shawl is coming along nicely, I`m now part way through ball 4 (of 8) and on the third type of lace. DD thinks it looks like a forest of trees, and I can see her point - quite seasonal (or they would be if they were green with tinsel and baubles!)
And because the rows are getting rather long, and I`m still having trouble memorising the pattern I have started a piece of `I-don`t-want-to-have-to-think-about-it` knitting in the form of the babies shawl from February in Elizabeth Zimmermann`s Knitter`s Almanac - though you could be forgiven for thinking that I am knitting a beret!

Just lovely mindless knitting, with the odd yarnover for shaping, so I can chill out when the festivities get a bit much.

Happy Christmas to you all.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

What shall we have for dinner?

A question I often ask myself - I do dislike having to keep thinking of what to cook. But inspiration can come from the strangest sources, for example I spotted this little chap in the corner of the garage.

So what did we have for dinner?

Toad in the hole, of course!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

They can forget any time.

My lovely team mates at work suddenly realised they had missed my birthday which was a few weeks ago, and so they bought me these beautiful flowers. I was really pleased (and slightly embaressed so my cheeks blended nicely with the flowers) The company may have got things wrong, but I count myself lucky to be working in the team that I do, we are mostly a little more mature and we all care and look out for each other - sadly, the same can`t be said for many teams across the floor.

And then, I came home to find a small parcel from an old school friend who I kept in contact with but over the last few years our letter writing had dwindled to a christmas card and round robin letters. And in the parcel was this bright and cheerful bag which she had made for me as a belated birthday present! Now I think this is just begging to be used as a knitting bag, so I may just have to start another project to keep in it!
and having received these shade cards from The New Lanark Shop especially with their prices, I may just have to go shopping.

And after all, I do need something to cheer me up this evening - visiting the freezer for inspiration for our evening meal, I realised that something was wrong - it took a while to dawn on me that at some point during the last week the whole lot had thawed and then refrozen into one solid lump of meat, fish and poultry - including the christmas turkey :-(

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Progressing slowly

This applies to both getting used to works new computer system and the victorian shawl, one of which I am enjoying and one not - no prizes for guessing which is which!

We are gradually adapting to the new system, they have grudgingly made a few minor changes, but essentially, yes it is all down to money - I can`t believe such a large company can be so shortsighted - unhappy customers are not going to stay, and it is affecting the customers, not just us. I wish I was like some of the kids on the floor, but I do care and I hate providing a substandard service.

Anyway, enough of that, I`m loving the shawl, the yarn is really nice to knit with - the english mesh lace is proving a bit of a challenge though as I just can`t see where it is going, and the pattern won`t stay in my head - but I`m using the index card method (where each row is written on a separate card, they are held together with split rings and you turn the front card to the back each time you finish that row) and I would like to award a medal to the person who came up with this idea as it is so helpful to a befuddled brain like mine. So here we are so far (It`s actually greyer than this as in the previous post)

I also finished off this little lady for the Baby Pack Project

but I am concerned that she might need some psychiatric help judging by her expression, which is something I find a little worrying as an old toymaking friend insisted that a toys face reflected ourselves!!!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Squishy retail therapy

It`s been a horrible couple of weeks at work. I work in a call centre type environment where our every move is monitored, but please don`t think that it is just a case of relaying that `the computer says no`. Some of us have to have a lot of knowledge, at least of what we need to be looking out for and where we are going to find the answers - sometimes I get some very nasty people who don`t like what I have to tell them, sometimes I get to talk to some lovely people who have every right not to be - it`s a funny old world. And now in their infinite wisdom the company have introduced a new computer system, which frankly is c**p. It was designed for another division of the group and poorly adapted for our use - but still our every move is monitored and our wrists slapped if we aren`t working as quickly as we used to - which of course is inevitable, not only are we finding it hard to adapt, it just doesn`t do what we need it to.

So, in need of cheering up I went surfing, and lo this fell into my basket

Why, oh why do I find a gorgeous yarn just as it is being discontinued, it`s soft, it`s squishy 100% merino and it was cheap. I ordered it on the monday from Jannettes Rare Yarns and on Wednesday it was waiting for me, you can`t ask for more than that. I`m going to knit the Aran weight Victorian Shawl that I mentioned previously. I did start it once before, but decided that if I was going to put that much work into something it deserved to be in a nice yarn, in a colour of my choosing rather than a cheap and not particularly fetching yarn that I`d inherited.

And despite being thoroughly cheesed off, and not really feeling like doing much in the evenings except mope - I made myself get out the needles last week and produced these

Both are from Last minute knitted gifts and was the first time I had tried an i-cord edging, which I rather liked. Hopefully the baby who receives this particular Baby Pack project pack will have a suitably large head and small feet.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

How on earth....

..did Elizabeth Zimmerman work out that you needed a piece of knitting this shape

to end up with this...

I know you have probably seen (or made) these before but I am still in awe of her skill. It isn`t often (in fact I can`t ever recall it happening before) that I finish knitting something and immediately want to make another one!

I didn`t get very much knitting done on the canal boat - with all the fresh air and activity we were tucked up by 9pm every night - but this was the perfect project. I just believed and knitted without question, though there were a couple of times when I lay awake and pondered on how it was going to work until I drifted off again. Well there isn`t a lot you can do on a canal boat at 2am when the other two are snoring their heads off, it`s pitch dark, and you can`t get up and make a cuppa as it is open plan and the water pump was enough to wake the dead never mind the whistling kettle!

I had lots of diddy balls of yarn (inherited) so I just knit until they ran out and joined the next, and just let whatever would happen, happen. Not that I would have had any control since I didn`t fathom out till right near the end how it would work.
Anyway, this now makes ten charity knits, so I have achieved my New Years resolution. Not that it means I will stop, I`m having too much fun.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Small haul and long boat

I like October - apart from the lovely autumn colours October means a two week half term (yes DD`s school is odd), Ally Pally and a holiday.
Ally Pally is MY day. I book the day off work as soon as the list comes round, and when the day itself arrives I take myself off, just me, by myself and it`s great. I can go round which ever way I want, and if I want to visit the same stand three times, I can, with no one to comment. I don`t necessarily buy much, but I just love wandering and looking.

This year I bought the new Let`s Knit magazine, which despite the unpromising cover, I quite like. (The DVD that came with it on the other hand, is, well painful to watch to be honest - I`d be embarassed to be involved with that one).
I also picked up a copy of Elizabeth Zimmermans Knitters Almanac, and can`t believe how much it makes me want to knit! The other bits and pieces are circs for socks and stitch holders.

Yarn wise, I ended up with socks, scarf, hat and shawl. I was really surprised to see Fabel sock yarn at only £1.60 per 50g ball from Scandinavian Knitting Design and bought a couple for socks and three for a scarf. ( I may end up finding out why this was so cheap, but I thought it was worth a try), Two balls of GGH Davros will become another Coronet (from Knitty) for me and I fell in love with the silk from Knitwitches Yarns and this colourway is called Blackcurrant Sundae, I can well see why (as always the photo doesn`t do it justice)

Our week on the canal boat was very enjoyable, we were blessed with wonderful weather (apart from tuesday afternoon, when the rain was even running down inside our waterproofs yeuk) and though it was quite physically tiring, we felt mentally relaxed. The canals were quite quiet and the water was so still ahead, we saw some lovely reflections. DD captured this one (she took lots of nice photos, seems to have inherited her Dads eye for it)

Our trip was from Rugby down to Banbury and back, and here in the centre of Banbury, right by the shopping centre, I had to wind up the pedestrian footbridge for the boat to pass through making the shoppers wait - Oh the power!

We had some lovely misty mornings, which gave some very atmospheric pictures at sunrise.

and yes, the boat did look like that, had a few scrapes entering/leaving the locks by the look of it, but at least it meant we didn`t feel too precious about it

And just to show you how cold it was, here is another of DD`s pictures taken the morning the ropes were frozen to the mooring rings!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Two new knitting bags ? !

Two new knitting bags in one weekend ! What a lucky girl.

I`ve been wanting a small, cart about bag for ages, and having seen lots of examples on the internet, I grabbed a pretty off cut of fabric that has been lurking in my cupboard for ages, and created this....

It is based on many of the sock bags I`ve seen around, with a 4 1/2" square base and is about 10" high - perfect for small projects and in this case a Baby Surprise Jacket which is coming with me on the train to Alexandra Palace on friday. :-)

Then, as DD needed some more velour dance pants, we took a trip to Primark - well at £4 who cares if they get scuffed or torn on the dance floor (they do seem to spend a lot of time sliding around on the floor considering it is supposed to be dancing, but perhaps I`m just being old fashioned) and I spotted this......

Perfect for a whole project, and they have even included a mobile pocket which is exactly right for my i-Pod. And with room for a book or two, this one is coming with me on our canal boat holiday on Saturday.

See you all when I get back, hopefully with lots of goodies from Ally Pally, and lots of knitting from the holiday

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Little and Large

Little hats for Innocent drinks from odds and ends.

And a large Coronet hat from Knitty for me. (modelled by DD)
I re-used some of the aran weight yarn that I had lying around after frogging some of Rene`s less successful work, and having decided that it does fit and I do like it, and more to the point it looks half decent on me, I now feel justified in buying some nice yarn to make it with.
It is ages since I have done any cables, and I had forgotten how satifying they can be.
Other than that I have been busy getting sore fingers replacing the zip in my favourite jeans. Hateful job! Next time I think about doing that, will someone please tell me to go and lie down in a darkened room til the feeling passes, and send me shopping to replace them instead!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Not my own work

In fact all I did for this was the blocking. The squares were knitted by Rene , then Mum sewed them together and knitted the border. I think she has made a lovely job of it too.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Boot Fail

No, it isn't a typing error, it's how I feel about this mornings efforts. I only do one, or at the outside two, Boot Sales a year, and decided that I really, really must make the effort and clear the clutter so DD and I packed the car last night, got up before the crack of dawn this morning, and spent several hours in the field only to find we had brought home the princely sum of £34.45! We sold lots and lots of bits - but they were exactly that, 10p bits 20p bits, the odd 50p and even rarer £1 bits. So I guess I shouldn't be too put out as I do have more space in my garage now. But it really didn`t help matters that by the time we were ready to come home, one of the major roads near by had been closed and so my best route back was now a 7 mile queue of solid traffic going nowhere and not even moving - so my only alternative was a 20+ mile detour :-(

On the bright side though, my one (and only) purchase was this...

1500g of Lopi Chunky (plus needles) for ........£5!!! I`ve been wanting to make a felted bag for some time - ok the colours aren`t that exciting but for that money, it`s a great way to try and see if I do like felting.

And here's one I made earlier.....

and which I intended to post a picture of for ages. In amongst the items I cleared from Rene's I came across this little chap that I knitted for her many, many years ago. It was lovely to think that she liked him enough to keep him all that time. He`s another of Jean Greenhowe's designs, and I thought he was just perfect for a knitting artist.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Actually enjoying socks!

I don`t know where the time goes, it only seems 5 minutes ago that we were breaking up for the summer holidays and suddenly I have been back at work for a week! I really enjoyed the break and DD and I had a lot of fun, so now we are counting down to half term.

One of the things we did was to play with Kool aid, and in the dish on the right (no it`s not spaghetti, I know I had a photo of a pasta dress recently, but I`m not that creative) is DD`s sock yarn dyed with blue raspberryade, lemon and lime, lemonade and berry blue Kool aid. She decided to call this Hawaiian (sp?) Beach because it has the blues of the sea and sky, the green of the palm trees and yellow sand! So, having got her interested in the dyeing, I had to do something with the yarn. Some of you may know of my reluctance to knit socks, and having until now only grudgingly completed one and a half pairs, I am not sure what made me try again, but I treated myself to two addi circs and to avoid SSS, knit Two at Once, Toe-up socks

with short legs at DD`s request, and guess what, I actually enjoyed making them! So much so, that I know have another skein of sock yarn to dye for me, and I have bought myself Sensational Knitted Socks (not that I really needed to put a link to that, I don`t suppose there is anyone out there who hasn`t heard of that book).

I had a lovely letter from Val at the Baby pack project last week. I had enclosed an envelope and reply coupon just so I knew the pack had arrived safely, I only expected a brief note or compliment slip, but received a long hand written letter - the work she and her co volunteers do is just wonderful, and to take the time to write like that left me feeling humble. I have the next pack nearly ready to go, and here is the toy for it.

This is one of Jean Greenhowes Rainbow Babies from her free charity patterns, though I changed it slightly to have bare feet as I thought the little ones in Africa might identify more with that - mind you if it is hot enough for bare feet they probably wouldn`t wear a woolly hat and scarf, but there you go, I obviously didn`t think that through properly.

And finally, a quilted bag. DH brought me home a copy of the Popular Patchwork magazine, and I just fell in love with the bag in it, I knew I had exactly the right piece of material in my fabric stash so over the bank holiday weekend I got stitching.

I would be already for the beach if there was any summer left. Oh well, there is always next year.

Monday, August 20, 2007

I`ve come home for a rest!

Lots of pictures but no knitting this time
We have just come back from a lovely weeks fell walking in the Lake District, had a great time but my legs are begging for mercy! It`s such a shame that we live so far away, but I guess it just makes us appreciate our time there all the more. Most years we stay in the cottage attached to my old bosses house up near Penrith, it was he who got us interested in fell walking about 18 years ago when we worked together. He has been fortunate enough to realise his dream, and on taking early retirement moved to the Lakes a few years back - luckily we have always kept in touch since I left the company when DD was born and so we have been able to rent their cottage (at rates for mates) many times since. And how is this for a view from the dining table?
It`s right on the northern edge of the Lakes, hence no Fells in the view, but only a few minutes drive and you are in the National Park.
Where we did lots of this (yes I`m the one in pink, panting along at the rear!)

To get some stunning views like this

We did take a little time out to visit the local towns, and I did get to look at a couple of yarn shops like this one in Penrith, where I had a lovely long chat with the owner (DH got bored and decided to take a photo of me while he was waiting!) but I didn`t actually buy anything.

And then whilst DH went off for the day with our friend and his dog, to do a round which included more miles and fells than I would necessarily choose to do in one go, DD and I decided to visit Eden Ostrich World. As well as ostriches they do have many other animals, and yes I know these aren`t ostriches....

I just thought they were gorgeous, and I couldn`t believe how hard and course their fleeces felt - I was expecting it to be softish, but each curl felt like it had been liberally coated with hairspray!
Part of the fun there is having a bag of food (50p - good business ploy that - get the public to pay for the priviledge of feeding the animals!) and watch the creatures stampede across the field once they realise they are in with a chance of food. It took DD a little while to pluck up courage to hand feed the sheep, but when she did she discovered what lovely soft velvety (if a little slobbery) mouths they have.

And finally, since it was Ostrich world, here is one of the big chaps - can`t say I`d want to get in the way of that beak!

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

More jam and a pasta dress!

More jam - this time it`s Strawberry (which actually set, though it tastes ok it isn`t quite the same when you pour it onto your toast instead of spreading it!) and Blackberry and Apple.
I have saved the worst til last... DH loves Damson jam, I tell him that I really must love him to make that - have you ever tried fishing out all the stones (it takes at least 50 damsons to make a 1lb and that`s if they are a goodish size!)

The pasta dress? no I wasn`t going mad. DD and I had a very enjoyable trip to the V&A, in fact we enjoyed it so much we went back a second time. She is doing Textiles GCSE and part of the course involves studying how nature affects design, and she will ultimately have to design an item of clothing, so we went to have a wander round the fashion and textiles sections. Not that this has anything to do with the pasta dress - but I was just fascinated that anyone would even think of creating this - I mean we used to get the kids making pictures out of pasta at playgroup, but a dress!!!

This week I have mainly been `unknitting` well un-tunisian crochet ing if I'm going to be technical. This was one of Rene's less successful attempts - it had four sleeves and had been sewn up with one of the fronts twisted through the armhole?! Anyway, it is no more and in the process of (the rather boring job of) unpicking, skeining, washing and balling up again, I have come to the conclusion that I am a bit of a thinking knitter - no I don't mean I am intelligent, rather that I spend as much time (if not more) thinking about knitting than actually doing it. And to prove my point I am intending for the magenta balls (which incidentally were the welts) to become a Coronet hat and a hot water bottle cozy and the lilac to be an Aran shawl - See, I spend far too much time looking for patterns and planning, if only I was to actually knit some of the stuff I just might be this good.....

Well, in my dreams. I do wish I had taken a few close up pictures of these. They are from the first half of the 1800's, and so fine in every sense of the word. Knitted in an incredibly fine cotton on goodness knows how thin a needle. I was totally in awe, and failed dismally in doing them justice in the photo.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Jam and Cat (or cat in a jam?)

I`ve been off a whole week now (I`m so happy I work term time only) and the time has just whizzed by. The garden is tidier, the house is cleaner, I`m more relaxed and I`m enjoying being domestic.

I`ve made jam , and prepared 2 carrier bags of runner beans and what seems like 100`s of pounds of french beans for the freezer, all courtesy of my Dad. He has an allotment, and conveniently, I live part way between it and his house, so I regularly find fruit or veg on my doorstep - a bit like the organic box schemes but so much cheaper!

On the crafty front, I have been doing some more lace (yes, the horseshoe in my last post is bobbin lace) and also a bit of crocheting. I have knitting plans but I am waiting for the yarn and needles to be delivered, how dare the post office have another strike when I`m waiting for a squishy parcel - some thing which is pretty rare for me, buying decent yarn instead of making do with acrylic, or charity shop finds.
And while I was out in the garden yesterday I kept hearing Dudley`s meow, but I just couldn`t see him at first, but after a while of persistant mewing, I spotted him

Up here!

but I am pleased to say that he found his way back down again and spent the rest of the day


Sunday, July 22, 2007

Bond...the new swear word

Many years ago, I bought a Bond knitting machine (didn`t we all?) I used it a bit, but it has sat in the back of my wardrobe for the last 12 years. Recently, I had the great idea of getting it out to `quickly` make a baby blanket for the next Baby pack.

Time makes you forget the bad bits, and though it was a fiddle to get going again, and there was one latch that steadfastly refused to knit a stitch and had to be done by hand each row, it wasn`t until the carriage jammed, suddenly moved and all the knitting (including the weights) landed on my feet I remembered just why it had been put away.

Eventually, I succeeded, and a square of knitting was produced, but it was neither quick nor satisfying, but having crocheted an edging around it, it will pass and keep some wee one warm.

I probably won`t use the Bond until 2019, when I will have forgotten all about it`s awkward habits again, so watch out for the bad language again then!

My FO this week is lace, but not the knitted kind

Little cousin is getting married in a few weeks, and being a crafty young lady I`m hoping she will appreciate this. It was a lovely design to make, and though it doesn`t show up too well in the photo, it is ivory (to match her dress) with gold fans and the little diamonds are actually beads. The bows on the top are lilac to match the bridesmaid.
LC had thought of asking DD to be a bridesmaid, but quickly realised that as she is under 5 foot and a size 14+, and DD is 5'8" and a size 10, it might look a tad odd - she still wanted DD to be involved so has asked her to do a reading instead.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

First Pack

Just a quick post to show you the contents of the parcel that I`ve just wrapped to send off to The Baby Pack Project, I know I could have just sent bits I knitted but I thought it would be fun to assemble a complete pack. So with the help of good old eBay and the local charity shops, I managed to find everything on my list. I have to confess to not actually having knitted everything - the cardi was in the 50p basket in the charity shop and was obviously new!

Sunday, July 01, 2007

A pair of pairs of booties

But, first of all, I would like to say thank you to everyone who has commented on my last few posts about Rene. I hadn`t thought I would feel upset at her passing, having not seen her in the later years, but I have been surprised at the emotions it has stirred, and the memories that have resurfaced. It has been lovely being able to share with you.
I have now finished most of the knitting that needed attention and it is packed and ready to post to Feed the Children and I hope she would approve.
The only exception is the pile of knitted squares which Mum asked to take care of. She has sewn them together and is currently knitting an edging to attach - all 144" of it. I`ll post a picture when it is done.

As for my own charity knitting - here are items 6 and 7 (of my target for the year) which were actually finished a while ago, but Rene`s posts were more important.

These will be off to the Baby pack project when I have some more bits to go with them.
Apart from Granny squares, a bag and the odd edging, I haven`t really done any crochet that requires the following of a pattern, so the booties were an interesting challenge - the first one was frogged twice, (the initial effort would have needed a very deformed foot to fit!) but now I am keen to do some more and I have requested Crochet in no time from the library to see if it contains the sort of patterns I would like to make. (I hate not having a book shop with a decent craft section round here, and I am too mean to take a chance and order it unseen over the internet!) It sounds good from the reviews so we`ll have to wait and see.