Saturday, December 31, 2011

End of year

I have found it very hard coming back here after the last post, but I didn't want to end the year on such a sad note - so I made myself come back with a final tidy up of bits and pieces I have knitted/crocheted.

A couple of months back I joined the Baker's Dozen group over on Ravelry after hearing about last years swap on an old podcast. Basically, in case you haven't heard of them, there are 13 of us in a group and each month 12 of us make a 12" square to send to the 13th member (member of the month) so eventually we all get enough squares to make a lap/snuggle blanket. We can specify colours, washability etc and the rest is up to the maker, so
November's request was for a square that had meaning to the maker, with a suggestion of girly colours (if required). As I live in 'The Garden of England' I chose this flower square.

December's request was for purple - and keeping on the theme of Garden of England I decided on a leafy square this time.
January's square is at the planning stage, I'll reveal more later.

Charity knit wise, I finished another blanket for Bonnie Babies - I must like this pattern, it's the 3rd time of making

I seem to have started a tradition of making a Christmas card for each of my 'Lace Friends' which can then be used as a decoration - this year I went for Wreaths

Finally, I felt like trying something different, so I hunted out my Tunisian Crochet hook - sat down with the internet to hand and created a sampler square - it's not perfect by any means, so don't look too closely, but I had a lot of fun and it will be put to good use as it can go off with my next batch to Knit-a-Square

And just to wind up, and purely for my own interest, I do like to keep a note of the books I read each year - much to my suprise I have read 14 in 2011, and they are

* Knitalong by Larissa & Martin John Brown
* Santa Cruise by Mary Higgins Clark
* The Dead of Winter by Rennie Airth
* A Killer Stitch by Maggie Sefton
* Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks
* Old Boyfriends by Debbie Macomber
* Yarn Harlot by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
* Darkness and Light by John Harvey
* In for a penny, in for a pound by Tim Waterstone
* A knitter's Home Companion by Michelle Edwards
* Haunting Violet by Alyxandra Harvey
* Confessions of a GP by Benjamin Daniels
* Not What She Seems by Victorine E. Lieske
* Free Range Knitter by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee

So there goes 2011 - let's hope 2012 is a Happy New Year for everyone.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

A big space

There's a big space in my life right now and I'm feeling rather low.
Thanks to a car I have lost my furry companion, my shadow, my little 'helper'
2005 - 9th December 2011

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Autopilot socks

I really don't know where the time goes, it's been 3 weeks since my last post yet it only seems a day or two. I know I have been busy moving offices, making the Christmas cake and pud, doing all the normal stuff and manning the phones for Children in Need but really!

The day after my last post it was my birthday and DH's pressie was a workshop in London called Autopilot socks by the lovely Amy Singer (of Knitty fame) organised by IKnit London.
Not only is Amy a genuinely nice person, she is also very clever, and her way of knitting socks is just brilliant, no more hoping they will fit, no more confusion over short rows and which bit to knit into, just a good logical knit and a nicely fitted sock at the end. The group were very pleasant and much chatting took place (with quiet bits for concentration) and we all came away happy with a sample sock that gave us chance to have tried out all the techniques.

Ok so I admit it, I haven't got around to starting a real sock for myself, but I definitely will and all the bits are ready in my knitting bag to pick up and start (just waiting for a few more hours in the day - or at least some spare time in the ones I do have).
I can highly recommend a workshop with Amy, I would certainly go along if she does any more, but in the meantime all the details of her sock 'recipe' are over on Ravelry under Autopilot sock

Other knitting wise, I am still making the baby blanket and the lace border is being knitted on and is growing nicely, I have started Hitchhiker with the King Cole Riot I bought in The Lakes, (though I can't say I am really enjoying the yarn, it's lovely and soft on the ball but there is just something about it, maybe because I'm not used to working with singles, I don't know, still I will persevere,) and I am making the garland bit ready for all the lovely decorations to hang on from the talented Frankie Brown's Advent Garland (but since that is currently just a grey strip of garter stitch with icord edging it wouldn't make a very good picture.)

And talking of Christmas, my finished item is

A Little Christmas Tree
Which is only about 6" tall and will be perfect to go on my new (tiny) desk in my new office because we aren't going to have room for much else in there!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Caught without knitting !

It's extremely unusual for me to be without knitting, normally there is something to knit in my handbag but on the one occasion that I actually needed it last week with the prospect of a 2 hour wait - I didn't have any! DH suggested I bought a magazine so I could read about it instead, but I had a better idea...
I popped into a charity shop and bought a ball of (weird) yarn and a pair of needles all for the princely sum of £1.50 and while I sat waiting I started knitting this little chap
He's my version of the Angelbear (well it was from memory) done all in garterstitch this time with loopy ears.

We were actually away in the Lake District and unfortunately I was still suffering a bit from the lergy so I wasn't feeling up to walking as much as usual, so on one day I sent DH off to bag some more peaks and happily sat in the rented apartment knitting, quilting and just generally enjoying the view Well, with a view like that from the window it seemed a shame to waste it :0)

While we were up there I also finished my wwwww #1 by Kate Davies of Needled perfect for keeping my ears warm when walking
If you are not familiar with Kate and her work then I would highly recommend that you wander over to her blog and have a read, - not only is she a very talented lady, she is also overcoming a serious health issue too. One of the most inspiring and determined people I have come across in a long time.

Other knitting included the Noro Sekku scarf from the yarn and pattern I got the previous week at Ally Pally but it just wasn't doing it for me so it has now been frogged and having had a wander around Ravelry to see what others have done with this yarn (what a brilliant search tool) I think it is destined to become a Revontuli instead - a pattern I printed off yonks ago but would never have thought of using for this without Ravelry's help. Fortunately I always take far more knitting projects on holiday than I usually need so I had the yarn and pattern to start another charity baby blanket, which is currently just a square of garter stitch so no photo yet until it is a bit more interesting to look at.

Finally, back home I finished off number 4 Christmas Stocking for the charity Bonnie Babies Christmas Challenge (beware of the music on the site if you follow the link!)
and these have now been posted off to grace the cribs of premature and poorly babies in SCBUs over Christmas.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

My 'puter is back

...a bit of a long catch up post

I've been without 'puter for a couple of weeks as it all went pear-shaped and had to go away to have a new motherboard (whatever that might be). It was rather disconcerting to have a man come and collect it and drive off into the sunset, but then a machine rang up every so often to say where it was in the chain of repair, and I am pleased, and relieved, to say that it is back with me now, feeling better, and so here is a quick (or not so quick) catch up post.

A second co-worker left to have a baby, and again she didn't want to know if she was having a boy or girl so I had to choose another unisex pattern
Cardi for Emma's bump
from a Garnstudio pattern

I do hope the next person to leave decides they will find out the baby's gender, I am dying to make a sweet lacy cardi or a cute boys jumper - oh well, this one went down a treat and there were plenty of compliments (isn't it great when you work with people who know the basics but aren't knitters, so they think you are SOOOOOO clever!)

With the weather turning chilly I decided it was time to get over my SMS (second mitten syndrome) and get myself ready for winter - I do suffer from such cold hands, even at the best of times, but this year hopefully I am prepared
Matrix from Knitty

I used New Lanark Aran on 3.25mm dpns (I am a loose knitter) and lengthened the cuff because I hate having a gap between glove and sleeve, and it seems that I may have the makings of warm and toasty hands this winter. (Sorry the photo is sideways - I just can't seem to get it to turn, it looks fine until I upload it, and if I turn it first it ends up upside down!!)

And my 'odd moments' knitting has created this rather strange little chap
A bear for the Angelbear charity

I didn't have a stitch dictionary to hand, and don't know how to do loop stitch so he ended up with plain ears suitable for the under 3s. I think he looks odd (don't all my toys?) but hopefully he might bring a little comfort to a kiddy in need.

So that's what I have made, and now for new supplies.....

Of course it was The Knitting and Stitching show at Ally Pally at the weekend, and I had a great day. I was actually quite restrained and came home with some back issues of mags, enough Click DK to make Amna , some Knit-pro dpns, some Hipknits laceweight in a gorgeous purple and the obligatory impulse purchase - a ball of Noro Sekku which was displayed along with a sample scarf and free pattern.
My impulse purchase

Now anyone who knows me will be aware that 2 of those purchases are rather out of character for me - the only things I tend to knit for myself are scarves/shawls and the like but DH keeps asking why I don't make something bigger for me, I haven't made myself a jumper/cardigan since I was a teenager, so maybe it is about time I did. I bought the Click from the Blacksheep stand (you know the one, where there is an e-nor-mous heap of packs of wool and it is almost impossible not to dive in head first - intentionally or otherwise) and it was a bit of a bargain at £14.99 so if the cardi doesn't work out it will mainly be time that I have wasted rather than money as well. The other unusual items are the dpns - not that I don't use them, I do, but these are for something I don't generally knit, something I desperately want to like making but so far don't, something I am going on a workshop to learn to do in a different way.... all will be revealed at the end of the month.

Talking of workshops, I also spent a very pleasant 2 hours on Saturday learning freeform crochet,
Freeform sample

and no, I haven't a clue what it is going to be when it grows up, but it was fun anyway!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The good news and the bad news

The good news is that from today my secondment becomes a permanent post.

The bad news is that I lose my Tuesday mornings off.

The good news is that I won't have to go back to the contact centre.

The bad news is that I will have to take a 1 hour unpaid lunch break.

The good news is that I can use it as knitting time! Yay!

Alpaca love

Last weekend I discovered Appledene Alpacas was having the last open day of the year, and it isn't too far away from me - well as the crow flies anyway, but my SatNav has a very funny idea of shortest and fastest routes, I can tell you. Anyway, after a bit of a scenic drive in which I got mixed up with a large number of bikes doing an 80K cycle ride and had an unwelcome passenger in the form of a bewildered wasp who had been flying along minding his own business when he got scooped in by my open sunroof, I arrived in one piece (and unstung) to find these gorgeous ladies

waiting patiently in a pen, and I was delighted to find I had arrived just as they were about to be scanned - and we were treated to a view on the ultra sound monitor of the little cria that they were carrying.
I do think they have the most beautiful and intelligent faces

And don't you just love the hairstyle?

There were lots more Alpaca in the fields

but no-one wanted to come up and say 'hello' apart from this chap, who quite clearly knows he is handsome.

I shall definitely be going back next year to see the cria when they are born.

Knitting wise, I had a little loss of mojo for a week or two after the show, then suddenly I had the urge when this came up on my knitting calendar and knit it all in one day (then had achy hands for a few days - serves me right)

Wasp Nest Hat

(rather appropriate given my stowaway on the trip to see the alpacas!)

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Too tired to knit

Would you believe I was away all last (bank holiday) weekend and I didn't do a single stitch of knitting! I know, I was amazed myself, but I was SO tired.

I may have mentioned before that DH is deputy editor of a Model Aircraft magazine (BIL is editor) so we had a working weekend.

The British National Model Flying Championships

We were at Barkston Heath RAF base near Grantham, Lincs where literally thousands of model flyers of every discipline attend to compete, watch, camp, socialise, and shop.
(That is only a small part of the traders village in the photo above, and some lovely clouds!). Now the menfolk need to network, photograph and cover the events so this is where DD and I were all weekend
Our 'shop'

It was more of a publicity tent than shop really, though we were selling current and back issues of the magazine and subscriptions plus a few accessories - each day we had to unpack the van and set up the stand, then pack it all away again at the end of the day, then drive off to the Premier Inn nearby where we were staying for a decent shower and a meal- I've camped at the Nats before, twice, and believe me that was two times too many. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, for miles to stop the wind, in fact this year only one tent was blown down, but last year there were several!

DD in the corner at the till

We had a prize draw which was very popular and planes made from the free plans in the magazine on display too

We met some lovely people and had some very nice chats, we met some weird people - like the man who had bought a plan for a model plane 20 years ago from the previous company and insisted on showing us every line on it that was even a milimetre out! and we met some strange people too - like the lady who wanted to know why we hadn't bought any Cross Stitch magazines to sell a) this is a model flying event with 95% of the attendees being male, b) we were there for the specific model magazine not the publishing company and c) rather more importantly, the company don't publish one - not that she would believe us!

All in all it was a very enjoyable, though very tiring, weekend.
However the only downside was the facilities - think a handful of portaloos, a warm weekend and thousands of men, some of whom had absolutely no idea of hygiene or aim and must live in a pigsty and you will realise why DD and I decided that it wasn't only the model helicopters that needed to hover!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Blanket confession

If you have been over on Ravelry lately chances are you will have come across the Beekeeper's Quilt . Like all of us, I am sure, sometimes I see a pattern and think I must make it NOW, but it isn't often that I act on it and the urge passes - this time, resistance was futile, I tried to ignore it, but it kept going through my mind, and all those balls of sock yarn were calling out from the cupboard. I was just so taken with it that even though I switched off the computer and went off to do something else, I couldn't help myself and logged back on, bought the pattern and cast on.

I have deviated from the pattern a little in that I am using magic loop (knitting on two DPNs just isn't for me) and Judy's Magic cast on - which I need to practice and be familiar with for a workshop I have booked, so this was one of the ways that I justified buying the pattern :0) and I am closing the puffs with Kitchener stitch.
Who knows how many I will end up making, there may only be enough for a cushion seat pad, but on the other hand they are quite addictive so I might have a bedsized quilt, only time will tell.

We have also been talking about blankets over on the Crafty Threads'n'Yarns forum, so I thought it ought to be confession time....I have two other blankets on the go already (but neither of them are as portable as these little puffs where all the bits and pieces fit neatly into a cosmetic bag in my handbag).

Babette is still on the go although I haven't touched it for a while

and there's a Mitred Blanket that has been on the needles for a good long time,

based on the sock yarn blankies that have been popular but using DK oddments, I'd forgotten how cheerful it was and I nearly disposed of it at one point, but I'll be adding a few more squares now, if I can put the puffs down for long enough!

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Oh I do like to be ....

.....beside the seaside.

Hastings looking towards Bexhill with remains of the Pier

The weather was lovely at the weekend, and we didn't have anything planned (for a change) so DH and I decided to go to the seaside on the spur of the moment. We aren't ones for the sandy beaches (I'm still trying to get the sand out of the car from when DD took the nieces over a month ago!) so we headed off to Hastings, our nearest sea and where we used to go a lot when we were courting (lovely old fashioned word that).
We had a really nice wander all along the front towards Bexhill then turned and walked back to the fishing huts at Rock-a-nore and through the old town, ending up with a picnic on the beach.
It's strange how sad I felt to see the remains of the burnt out pier (a result, it is believed, of arson in October '10) considering in all the many, many times I've been to Hastings, I never once went on it, and never will now.

On the way back through the town I popped into Clarks (the shoe shop) just on the off chance that they had the bag that I had missed buying when I ran out of lunch hour and someone had beaten me to it by the time I got back, and I couldn't believe my luck when I found it

Never mind the outside - will you just look at the lining

and what's more it has two sections, one for my purse etc, and the other for my knitting all at the bargainous 70% off price of £13.49 !!! now it doesn't get much better than that.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Mmmmm Muffins

When I worked part time there were always freshly baked cakes or cookies in the tin, but increasing my hours made it hard to find time for that anymore. Then DD started baking after school - how lovely to come home to the scent of freshly baked goodies, but now she has started working full time too. However yesterday I suddenly had the overwhelming desire to cook so I looked in the fridge, whipped out my cookery book and made

Raspberry and Chocolate muffins

and rather yummy they are too.

And talking of being domesticated, looks like I might have to rewash my skeins of cotton

Dudley looked so comfy, and by the time I found him they were hairy anyway so I left him to it - that'll teach me to put things away in future ;0)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

What's a girl to do?

Much to her delight, DD has recently acquired a car. Now it might be an older car, but it is hers, all hers.
It happened all of a sudden when FILs old next door neighbours, now in their late 80s decided to give up driving - well that is Mrs P decided that Mr P was going to give up driving - and she wanted someone to buy the car who would look after it. They have had it from new (1995) with only 30K on the clock and she didn't want some 'boy racer' to have it, so she was rather pleased when FIL suggested DD might be interested. It doesn't have power steering but DD's arm muscles are coming along nicely and it has given her more independence and saved the difficulties of her and I working different hours.

And having got her car she decided she would like a blanket to go in the boot, stop everything sliding about and that she could whip out for improptu picnics with friends or when looking after the nieces. Have you any idea how difficult it is to find a blanket these days without paying a fortune? So the obvious place was a charity shop (and we were lucky on the 4th attempt, and an absolute bargain at .... £1.25!) Anyway, in the course of our search I came across
500g of Jaeger Contemporary Cotton, now what is a girl to do? It would have been rude not to have bought it, now wouldn't it? So I got busy and frogged, skeined and washed the knitted parts

and now have to decide what to do with it - but even if it ends up as a pile of dishcloths (which I don't think it will) at the equivalent of 25p a 50g ball it doesn't really matter.

On the knitting front I have just finished a Baby Blanket for Bonnie Babies (a quick word of warning in case you click on the link in public - the site has music straight away, annoying music at that)

This is the second time I have used this pattern, and it won't be the last. I love the mindless garter stitch centre and then the lace border, which I knitted on, adds some interest just as I have had enough garter stitch, but is simple enough to memorise (and easy enough to 'read' the knitting) after only a couple of repeats.
I can't think of many other patterns I have enjoyed enough to knit more than once.

Monday, July 11, 2011

It's behind you

Or Cat and Mouse

DH and I had a few days off and being at a loose end decided to pop up to London for the day on the spur of the moment (living in a town with a Railway station only 50 minutes from London definitely has it's advantages). With no particular plan in mind we put on comfy shoes and bought sandwiches en route to the station and set off, we thought we would just follow our noses and stop, start or turn off where ever it took our fancy, and what a great day we had.

Our first priority on arriving in London was to find a coffee stop and there just so happens to be a nice Costa upstairs in Waterstones near Charing Cross station which fitted the bill perfectly and once fortified with caffeine a quick use of the facilities was in order before embarking on our adventure and having a strange sense of humour the notice on the door rather amused me

Obviously some of the clientele of the book shop need a little help!

Anyway using the principle of 'that road looks interesting' and 'let's turn down this one' we wandered round and came across the Covent Garden Bead shop (though DH had his doubts that this was by luck) and later on found ourselves in
Soho Square

Where we decided to eat our sandwiches which was fine until DH brushed a crumb off his lap and four million pigeons descended from no where.
Saville Row followed, and I was fascinated that you can look over the railings down into the basements and watch the tailors at work. Burlington Arcade was so interesting, especially the antique silver and then further along we spotted
Liberty London

which I have always wanted to visit, so in we went - well, if you are ever in that area it is well worth a pause, the building is amazing inside as well as out, and apparently uses the wood from two ships. The materials and haberdashery sections were wonderful, but at £35 + per metre I could only dream, however DH did buy me
a cute little cat money box.

So where does the mouse in the title come from? Well, like all knitters with the prospect of sitting on a train for best part of two hours I took my knitting needles and yarn with me and made

Captain Cat-Battler

having seen the appeal (via Ravelry) for Mice for Cats at Battersea Dogs home.

Mice for cats at a dogs home, now I really have lost it ;0)

Monday, July 04, 2011


Not that I am complaining, but I seem to be suffering from finish-itis ! Not only did I finish my lace angel (in the last post) but I have just finished off two other things, firstly there is the One Row Lace Scarf

Made from one ball of Colinette Lasso which I p/hopped and I think the colourway was Jay, it was a strange yarn to use, and certainly not easy if you had even the slightest roughness on your hands as anything caught, but the end result feels very nice and makes the perfect spring/autumn weight scarf.

Then I got around to darning in the ends of Damson which I am sure by now everyone knows is by Ysolda Teague.

The yarn was Woolcraft Superwash Sock Yarn which I received in my birthday swap on the Crafty threads'n'yarns forum. The colours are so lovely, all my favourites put together (though the photo, as is so often the case, doesn't really do it justice). The thing that was disappointing though, was that despite having more meterage than the pattern called for, I ran out of yarn before I could do the edging and consequently it curls a little despite a severe blocking. Oh well, it's still lovely and will be used quite a bit what with the air conditioning at work having two settings - off and fridge!

I think I may have just realised what has caused this bout of finishing - could I be putting off knitting the little jacket I have started for a co-workers bump? Once again I am asking myself why on earth did I choose a pattern almost entirely in moss stitch when I hate the stuff - hey ho, maybe one day I will learn - but then on the other hand ..........

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Early or late?

This poor little angel has been sitting on my lace pillow for months, just waiting to be stiffened and put together, so finally, on the 23rd of June, I got round to doing it

Now I wonder, does that make her late for last Christmas or early for next?

She was designed by the very talented Lou Woo from The Craft Corner who I am lucky enough to count amongst my friends.