Tuesday, January 27, 2015


It became apparent to me over the weekend the reason I am not a quilter; I am hating sewing this sodding blanket together*. I had a good plan, I thought, but it ended - as many plans do - in swearing and crawling around on the floor all over again .

 Remember how I laid it all out so carefully:

Well, then I loosely tacked each strip together, and the intention was to sew the squares into strips, and then sew each strip together. This didn't work at all. A horrendous three strip long mess of puckering and mis-matched corners (so awful in fact that I didn't even take a picture) was enough to convince me to begin again.

I laid everything out for a second time, this time with all the squares in it, so that was novel at least!:

And then I did a really hi-tech** chart of each set of bigger squares (where they existed, as it's 9x7 they aren't all squares, obviously) and smaller rectangles, and poor little square 20 which is all on its own.:

Then I loosely joined all the squares (or rectangles) together, while taking regular breaks to find the next episode of Amanda Vickery's 'History of Private Life' on the iPlayer, and as I did this I thought of all the other women through the ages who had cursed their abysmal quilting skills.

I gave each square a new label to say which direction 'bottom left' is, so hopefully avoiding further confusion when I sew it together:

Now I'm sewing each of the sets of squares together (a bit more loosely, for puckering avoidance). Once that's done I'll sew and sew until I have bigger squares, and eventually a blanket. So far it's going a lot more smoothly, though I'm pretty sure it's impossible to avoid a bit of ripply-ness, I suspect it's to do with how I did the m1 in the squares to start with, and ripping it back that far ain't going to happen. I'm also considering that an i-cord border might not work on this, I think it needs something a bit less rigid. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

*there was much worse swearing than this...
**back of a piece of old calendar, reuse recycle etc...

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


Big Blanket or 'Kaffghan', as this appears to be what we're calling it, is all over apart from the sewing up and border knitting, and good lord is that a large amount of sewing up and border knitting....

Here is a pile of squares (63 in all). They are at least all blocked and most (why didn't I do this as I went along, why?) of the ends are woven-in:

I am following Kaffe's layout, basically because I am too tired to do anything else. This is when large areas of floor space some in super handy:

The gaps are the final 5 squares which were not yet quite dry in time for the laying out. I wouldn't like this for a carpet, but for a blanket that's likely to serve useful time in the camper-van it's pretty amazing! Not amazing enough to sew itself magically together though.

There is also the border to consider, and here is my remaining yarn. There is a lot of it, so I am loathe to buy any more to knit the border with:

At present I am leaning towards a knit on stripey i-cord border which will in some way match the squares as I go along. It's worth a try. I am also leaning towards a large glass of something red and grape based in one of my new gigantic Dartington wine glasses, to get me through all this sewing...

Pattern: Rowan Kaffe Fassett Mystery Knit Along
Yarn: Rowan Pure Wool Worsted

Wednesday, January 07, 2015


Well, Christmas has been and gone, and we're into a dull, grey January. It's so grey I can't bear to take down all the fairy lights so I expect they'll remain where they are for the full twelve months, or until we need to take them to a festival (we start those in May, so it's not that long to wait).

I made hats for my Mum for Christmas, she only asked for one but the boredom of knitting 'something to match her navy blue coat' was so difficult to cope with that I ended up making three, two of the same pattern - and it really does show how you yarn choice can make an item a very different item to the other one (if you follow) and another which was SO BEAUTIFUL I almost kept it for myself. They are all patterns from Woolly Wormhead, 'hat architect' extraordinaire.

Hat 1 - Propello in  Patons UK Merino Extrafine Aran (Navy):

Now, this is a lovely design, simple and effective (as you will see, and can see from the purple hat in the published pattern) and an easy knit for in front of the TV on a wintery afternoon. But this dark blue flat looking yarn turned it into what I can only describe as a 'school hat', which does match the coat so, brief fulfilled! 


Hat 2 - Propello in Noro Kama (not sure which colourway):

Same design, completely different hat experience!. I had a few doubts about the colourway on this as I knitted it (pink/green/very dark red may not be to most people's taste after all) but the finished item shows it off really nicely (unlike these slightly shoddy photos).

Hat 3 - Limpetiole in Lang Yarns Jawoll Magic 6-fach (Quail colourway):

What a wonderful thing this is. I really avoid knitting anything lacy as a rule, I don't enjoy it, it makes me incredibly tense and the chiropracter is not cheap so if I do it's generally a small item such as hat or gloves. But I found this one endlessley entertaining - watching the 'candle flames' appear (I was in a fairly seasonal mood by this stage) was really quite engaging. The stripes actually work quite well and the yarn is beautiful. the only thing I had to drink through was the 1 x 1 twisted rib, but it does look fantastic, so was worth it.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 14, 2014


The other day I was too unwell to go to morris practice - I don't dance any more but it's hard to get through a tune when you're constantly on the verge of a gigantic sneeze, or coughing fit. Poor Me (but it has gone on and on). So I had a couple of hours on my hands and, more importantly, some rather scandinavian looking jingle bells that needed a home. I thought a wreath or some kind of arrangement that didn't cost a fortune (we have a real tree, that's the major outgoing!) would be the thing, and I traditionally like to fill the house with sticks and leaves so I can hoover them up well into the summer.

I wrapped up warm and went out in the garden to gather some greenery - we're very lucky to have a fantastic garden with all your Christmas greenery needs right there at the snip of the secateurs. I fixed myself up with a pile of conifer, rosemary, bay leaves, a little bit of holly (our holly trees are still quite little) and some dried chillis for a bit of red (an idea totally stolen from those lovely Riverford people). The hoarding of the 'useful one day' items in this house is pretty full on, so I also found some galvanised steel wire and gaffer tape to fasten the whole lot together. Later on some giant nails and a bit of log also came in handy.

Artfully arranged and wired together greenery. I never plan this stuff, just hope for the best and fill in gaps when I need to:
Twigs in an unruly heap

Twigs in an orderly heap
Then I wrapped the whole bottom of it round and round with gaffer tape. I did intend to put this in a pot or vase, but it refused to remain upright due to being somewhat top-heavy. This is why it ended up being nailed to a log, which adds to the rustic charm don't you think?

Twigs finally brought under the control of wire, gaffer tape and 2 x 3.5 inch nails
Then the fun part, which is hanging stuff on it. Also, nothing is anything without fairy lights! Here is a lovely photo of my washing up and greenery:

Wok and twigs and and fairylights. I really dislike that red tray now, and there are four of them.
Chillies, lights and bells.
It didn't stay on the kitchen windowsill very long as it kept fighting with the composting pot (knowing, surely, its ultimate destiny. Nothing goes to waste) and is now on the dining room windowsill.

Other Christmas stuff I've a fancy to make are this fabric wreath by the marvellous Jack Monroe, and this knitted + pom pom wreath has been on my Ravelry list for a year, oh! TWO years.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014


And so, the Christmas countdown begins. I already feel like I usually feel with three days to go and it's only the first week in December, it may be due to the Advent Calendar madness we embarked on.

Usually we've bought The Boy an advent calendar off the shelf, last year a Star Wars Lego one to avoid the 7am chocolate tantrums, but all the bits were a very small and didn't add up to much in the end. So this year we had the brainwave of buying a full size set (same price as a calendar) and splitting it into 24 elements; this is very much the Husband's department and involved a great deal of faffing and MEASURING and making special instruction cards, which is almost his favourite thing to do, so he was happy.

This will mean nothing to most people. Others will know it's a LEGO 70503 Ninjago Golden Dragon set, with Golden Ninja; who used to be the green ninja and before that a delinquent candy stealer called Lloyd Garmadon. he has now reached his full potential, but he did have a difficult childhood.

I did the sewing, which is my third favourite thing to do but there was no way a knitted calendar was going to happen in the time available (I'll leave that to the Yarn Harlot).

I made it pretty much out of things already in my stash (for a mainly-knitter I have a pretty good stash of sew-ey stuff, it turns out) but went out and bought glitter fabric paint for the numbers because embroidering up to 24 is not so much my thing.

Biscuit tin storage. I need more tins though.
A giant rectangle of blue fleece and 24 jersey pockets later I had the basics down (or the boring bit as I christened it) so I got to do the fun bit with the felt, braid, beads and hot glue gun, because I am the sheriff of stationery village.
Oh, I do miss the Mighty Boosh

 I made snowmen, parcels and trees (with re-purposed beads for baubles):

And then stuck them all over the giant blue rectangle. Here is a photo taken of it hanging off the drinks cabinet (drinks cabinet!) at a crazy angle.I honestly hadn't been at the drinks inside the cabinet at this stage, but may have been over-caffeinated:

Ooo, gin!
Then we stuffed each pocket with 1/24 of the LEGO set and instructions,  and may possibly put some chocolate coins in the weekends but I'm not sure yet. He'll get the Golden Ninja on Christmas Eve.

"Give me all your candy canes"

Friday, November 21, 2014


Kama (not karma, though that is also important). Kama is Noro yarn of which 1/4 is silk, so it's a bit less woolly than some of their others. The colourway I had it in (05) may well not appeal to most; muddy green, deep red and a touch of pale pink anyone? (I did consider removing the pink part entirely, I must admit). This may be why it was in the bargain bin at £5 a ball, which is practically half price, I cannot walk past a bargain even a weirdly coloured one.

So, the request came in for a hat for my mother which needs to go with her navy blue coat. I ignored this instruction and decided to make her a muddy green, red and pink hat instead. Also, I needed a break from those squares. I really did.

I made Woolly Wormhead's Propello. I needed to go up a needle size, which I found out by swatching and also washing the swatch like a good knitter. It is a lovely thing to knit. In fact I may have knitted most of it twice due to going directly form brim to crown instructions and missing out the main round and round part on my first attempt...

Excuse the crap photos, it is STILL NOT DRY despite having been wrapped round this plate for 24 hours.

I used my two skeins to knit alternate rows to see what would happen, and I got a quite pleasing effect in the end, with a stripey bit round the main part of the hat and a red crown. 

The pink bit is really hardy there at all:

Look at those decreases, I love them. That Woolly is a clever designer:

And it really does look like a propellor.

And now I am really behind on the Kaffe knitalong.I might have some wine.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


I've been reading 'The Woman in White' by Wilkie Collins which, in case you don't know, is a very long Victorian sensation fiction novel about a young woman falsely incarcerated in a lunatic asylum, a very secret secret, a criminal conspiracy, unsettling and shady characters aristocratic and otherwise (some of them foreign) and a bit of romance. Also, there's a bit that'll make you jump out of your skin, or at least make it creep a bit. I can't understand why it's taken me until this great age to read it, as it's just up my street.

It was originally published in series form in Charles Dickens' magazine 'All The Year Round'. I can completely understand the anticipation of the readers as they waited for the next episode to appear - I should think on a par with the experience of waiting for the next 'The Killing' episode on BBC4 on a Saturday night.

I'd have quite liked to read it in that episodic way, but when presented with an Entire Book it proved impossible to stop, though I did once fall asleep mid-epoch with the paperback on my face (this is not uncommon, I admit, and much more comfortable than falling asleep with a first generation Kindle on your face). It's written in the from of 'reports' by major and minor characters, and you find yourself trying to put together what happened for yourself, which I think makes it all the more gripping.

If you get the Penguin edition it has a very good introduction by Matthew Sweet, in which he does helpfully tell you to read the second half of the intro after you've read the novel (does that make it an outro?) so you don't spolier* yourself at the start. Thank you, Dr Sweet.

When you do read the end of the introduction you're presented with all sorts of other unsettling questions about the motives of the narrators - and one in particular - so you have to think about scheduling in a second read of it. Anyway, if you like a fright, a mystery and a long Victorian book I can recommend it.

I'm going to read Collin's 'The Moonstone' after I've read 'We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves' - which should be read on the basis of its excellent title alone, and not simply because a friend recommended it by practically grabbing me by the throat and making me promise to read it so we can discuss.

*which makes me wonder, did Victorian people go about avoiding society or not reading their mail, in case they overheard something they had not yet read?.

In knitting news I have undertaken  the Kaffe Fasset Rowan Yarns Knitalong. I am not up to week 5 yet, but I do have some lovely squares from weeks 1 - 4:


I am doing the turqouise version, I love the yarn and am already thinking about cosy jumpers made of it (it's completely non-itchy). However I am already dreading sewing it all together. I can sew it together over Christmas though so at least will have access to daytime wine.

I don't usually do KALs, and I had kept up until very recently. If the typeface on a Penguin Classic was a bit larger I may have been able to knit and read simultaneously, but it isn't, so instead I have become horribly addicted to 'Grimm' on Netflix, which is much easier to knit to, despite the beheadings.

Grimm is basically 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer' with more variety in the monster department. The 'Buffy' part is a cop called Nick, and one of his sidekicks is a vegetarian werewolf called Monroe (he's very deadpan, I like him a lot) rather than a witch. It's all very entertaining and set in Portland, Oregon - someone was ripped to pieces by a monster outside the very Rothko exhibit we visited a couple of years ago.

Portland, watch out for the Hexenbiests!