If it sounds like I’m swearing in the title I’m not, although I certainly felt like it. For those non-knitters amongst you, ‘frogging’ basically means undoing what you’ve spent hours doing because you got wrapped up in an episode of something on the T.V. and let your concentration slip. As you can see below, that happened to me during a binge watching session of ‘Silk’ and I didn’t do a twist where I should have done. As I have explained before, these big, bouncy, beautiful blankets are knit with six strands of wool so undoing it when you’ve made a mistake is a bit of a nightmare. To my shame, I did consider leaving it as it was because it’s going to be my Mum’s Christmas pressie and I thought she won’t notice or, if she does, she won’t mind but, when it came to it, I just couldn’t do it – what sort of knitter (or daughter) would I be?
This photograph shows where I had got to with my frogging before I decided to take a photograph, the error was much further down than that originally – 26 rows further down actually, if you must know. I did this with one of my previous blankets and started frogging lots of rows at a time which resulted in the strands of wool getting so tangled up I had to cut them and rejoin the yarn which meant, instead of having tail ends to weave in only at the beginning and end of the blanket, I had some in the middle too. I didn’t want that happening again so, after about 2 hours of carefully undoing one row at a time, I got into a system of having the strands going round the back of my neck and rewinding one ball at a time at the end of each row. Nightmare!
Having got myself back on track my trusty 20mm circular needle – the conqueror of 3 and a half of these blankets so far – broke and I have lent my spare one to somebody who has only just completed the first 8 rows of her blanket and I haven’t got the heart to ask for it back. I am about to continue with my needle held together with superglue, smooth duck tape and a prayer.
I made some of these to cheer myself up.
They are Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate and Banana muffins and they are meant to be chocolate coloured but when I opened a tin of what I thought was luxury chocolate powder, it was a tin of chocolate chips which you add milk to in order to make posh hot chocolate. Still, I added them anyway and it worked because how could luxury chocolate chips not work?
Anyway, all has not been a complete cock up. I have mentioned before the F2F patchwork block swap I’m participating in. I’m so excited as it’s my turn this month and, by the end of it, I should have received 11 packages from all over the world, each containing 3 blocks for me to join together with the 3 that I have made, to make a lovely big quilt. Last month was Sue’s turn – she is one of the organisers and had requested black and white with a hot colour of our choice. You could use more than one hot colour but once I’d settled on this hot pink I couldn’t get enough of it. Also, I’m getting better at these Anvil blocks (a bit better anyway) so played it a bit safe, stuck with those and just alternated the colours.
The black fabric is covered in tiny text which is a quote from George Eliot.
I love this musical score print.
A reminder for Sue that these blocks came from France – albeit nowhere near Paris!!
I don’t know why this one goes in the opposite direction to the others but I’m sure it won’t matter :/
Off to order another 20mm circular needle – just in case.
Have you ever had to undo something you’ve made which was such a pain it has lingered long in your memory?
Some time last year I made a knitted jacket called ‘Shale’ from Kim Hargreaves’ Storm collection. I wasn’t 100% happy with how it turned out, mainly because I had substituted the wool and it came out too big for me but also because I wasn’t keen on some of the features such as the back vent, buttoned cuffs and one too few buttons (to my mind anyway) on the front. I blogged about it here
Despite those things, I really liked the texture the stitch created and the style of the jacket so, nothing daunted, I bought more yarn and made it in the XS size, omitting the fancy details and adding a button a little higher up.
I’ve used these vintage buttons for now because it’s hard deciding what to use but, if I see something I like better, I’ll change them.
I really like the texture and it does actually feel like a jacket rather than a cardigan.
The mannequin is sporting the buttoned up version because I’m such a lazy baggage I couldn’t be bothered to change so I pulled some jeans on under my dress and then just folded the hem of the dress up a few times to make it look like a top with the result that it made me look hippy when I buttoned the jacket up. So I’ve just used the photo of me demonstrating the open version.
This is the next thing I’m doing from the same pattern book and this really is supposed to be a ‘boyfriend’ cardigan.
I promise I won’t accessorize it like this. ( If only I could get away with such things any more).
I decided to knit this using the Rowan wools recommended but as you use one strand of Kidsilk Haze and one strand of Kid Classic throughout it worked out rather expensive. I scoured Ebay until I came up with somebody who, miraculously, had the 11 balls of Kid Classic I needed in a soft grey colour so I bid quite high as I was determined to get it and it still worked out a lot cheaper than any of the other sellers. I found somebody selling the Kidsilk Haze to go with it at £4 a ball – which is about half the price of everywhere else – bought and paid for it and then they told me they were waiting for stock. The next day they refunded my money. I threw a bit of a hissy fit as I probably wouldn’t have embarked upon this project if I’d had to pay full price – or I’d have found substitutes – now they’re saying it is still in the system and, when it comes in, they’ll send it to me anyway without charging me again. If that happens it’s a good result for me but, if it doesn’t, I’ll be naming and shaming them as I don’t like the practice, becoming more and more common, where sellers take your money for something they need to order from another supplier without always knowing they’ll be able to get hold of it. Rant over (for now).
Do you think I’m compensating for not being able to add to my fabric stash because of my fabric fast by knitting like a woman possessed? I must confess that I nearly fell off the wagon on Thursday. I went to Ikea in Toulouse with a friend and, as we were walking round, I spotted the curtains and blinds section and noted again the fact that their fabric selection is diminishing. My friend realised she needed the loo which we had just gone past so she backtracked, leaving me alone and unsupervised. I vaguely wandered over to the fabrics and wasn’t interested in any of the home furnishing weight stuff but noted the plain cottons they have for 3.99 euros a metre and, as my stash is sadly lacking in ‘plains’, I thought I’d buy a metre of the black cotton. If you have ever bought fabric in Ikea you will know that you cut your own and then weigh it and stick the resulting ticket on it.
This is how far I got – literally – the scissors were open and the fabric was between the blades – before I remembered that I have 11 months to go until I can do such a thing again.
Still, I’ve cast on for another one of my huge blankets. The weather has an autumnal feel in the mornings and evenings now and I think I can bear to be covered in wool from time to time and this will be for my Mum’s Christmas present. It’s a funny colour – lilac mist I think – it’s beige with a lilac fleck in it but, to be honest, it’s mostly beige unless you look very carefully in good daylight.
Do you do ‘research’ when you’re making something? By which I mean trying to find the materials at the best possible price. It does take up a lot of time and sometimes I think I’d rather just pay the top end price and be done with it but, to be honest, I secretly enjoy it.
Hello all, it’s Flo the guest blogger again. The Missus is in a slight depression because she is on some sort of ‘fast’ – something to do with not buying any fabric for a year or something – so she said I could do the post today.
This is me – gorgeous aren’t I? I am not on a fast of any sort. In fact I wanted to make sure that, like me, you are getting your five portions of fruit and veg a day so that you too can be glossy and beautiful with a nice wet nose.
I love fruit and will go to great lengths to get it. I like it when mangoes are ‘two for the price of one’ in the market because the Missus won’t notice if I take one out of the fruit bowl. I just need to make sure she doesn’t find the chewed up stone on the rug like she did last time. She said ‘fruit doesn’t grow on trees you know’ which is patently untrue because here is a picture of me posing beneath my favourite tree where the plums hang down low enough for me to reach. I think she was trying to be funny because she laughed a lot after she said it although the rest of the humans groaned.
I was quite upset when the plums were finished but now I’ve found that I love figs. Apart from the Missus, who eats them with cream cheese and bagels, the humans in the house don’t like figs so she used to pick them and share them with me and my boys and the chickens. I call the other dogs ‘my boys’ because, even though I’m the youngest and I’m a girl, I’m in charge and I boss them around. The Missus calls me a ‘dominant bitch’ – is that a good thing do you think?
Here I am with one of the figs that I sourced myself. I would prefer it with cream cheese too but don’t want to push my luck.
They really are delicious. I don’t mind if I get the ones with wasp poo inside either.
This is why the Missus doesn’t share with me any more. I pick my own.
Sometimes I have to get a bit inventive but it’s all in a good cause. It is very important to get your five a day. I actually prefer fifteen or twenty.
My oldest boy ‘Taz’ relies on me to shake down some fruit for him as he’s not quite as athletic as he used to be. I don’t mind though because he has introduced me to the delights of windfall apples.
The other one is only interested in his tennis ball – you can tell by my face what I think of his silliness.
The Missus says that she thinks I might be addicted but at least clearing up after me in the garden is a much more ‘fruity’ experience which I think might be a good thing. However, she doesn’t seem quite so pleased about the other results which are often to be heard (and smelt, apparently) when I’m lying on the sofa in the evening.
Maybe you should just stick to five portions.
Do your pets eat fruit? It can’t just be me can it?
I mentioned my tentative foray into block swapping in an earlier post. It has been organised by Kate over at Tall Tales From Chiconia and Sue From The Magpies Nest and involves twelve people from all over the World. It’s called Foot²Freestyle because each block will have a finished size of 12 inches or a foot, clever eh? Every month it is the turn of one of the twelve participants to receive three blocks from each of the other eleven participants so there will be eleven parcels to open. It’s my turn in October – I’m excited! I also have to make three blocks of my own, making 36 big blocks with which to make a 72 inch square quilt.
Bearing in mind the year long fabric fast I have just started, it is lucky that everybody chose their colours right at the beginning of the swap so I think I have enough fabric to make all the remaining blocks between now June 2016.
I have made the blocks for Miss September which is Sue, one of the organisers, she’s asked for black and white with a ‘hot’ colour of our choice, but I can’t show photographs of them yet as it will spoil the surprise when she opens her package.
I’ve made the three for my own quilt so I’ll show the photos of those instead. The colours I chose were dark grey, with light grey, white, turquoise and touches of coral or orange. Rabbits not obligatory!
I said earlier that I made a ‘tentative foray’ into the world of block swaps and that is because, although I’ve been doing patchwork on and off for years, some of the others have made it into an art form and seem to make a quilt a week. Therefore, I decided to concentrate on colours and fabrics and keep the designs simple. Mind you, even then, I seem to cut off points and go ‘wonky’ from time to time. I’ll never win any prizes but I’m enjoying it. The bug jar above is a fun design, I think and bottling rabbits is a little different to the usual spiders, etc.
Some years ago I made a faux ‘crazy’ quilt using this block. It’s supposed to look as if it’s been randomly pieced but actually there are three pieces cut with a template and the rest by measurement and they are then joined together to make a block. In this way, you can achieve a random looking quilt by mixing up the fabrics used for each piece and turning the block around so that the total effect looks ‘crazy’.
I like the anvil block because it has points, but not too many, and I’ve been making a few of these so I’m managing to keep more of the points in the actual design now! The grey patterned fabric in the background will be featuring quite heavily in the near future and the reason for that will be revealed in a future post. However, the words ‘I’m never bothering to make a dress again’ might give you a clue what the subject matter will be.
Do you like the colours I’ve chosen? I was inspired partly by the Riley Blake fabric below from Sew Scrumptious Fabrics where I am always tempted by the beautiful range. Note the coral coloured feet and eyes – a contrast I have made more of in my colour scheme. I meant to buy this fabric to incorporate into my blocks but didn’t get round to it and now, because of my fabric fast, I can’t :(
Actually, now I’m looking again, I think those little feet are pink but you get my drift.
The time has come. I’m really going to do it. I have pledged to buy no fabric – of any sort – for one whole year.
Some of you suggested six months would be more achievable but I fancy a challenge and I ‘m going to go the whole hog and do the year. Although I have called this ‘day one’ I am actually going to count it from the beginning of September as I haven’t bought any fabric yet this month and it feels good to be one week in already.
I don’t have as much fabric as a lot of other people but I still think I have too much and, instead of using what I’ve got already I too often buy new supplies when I have perfectly good stuff to hand. My daughter asks why I don’t do as she does and buy the fabric as needed for each new project. There are many reasons for this, three of them being: She is a student. She lives in a small space. She is more sensible than her mother.
By my reckoning, I have in my possession at the moment, enough fabric to make around 10 dresses, 30 tops and/or skirts, about 20 patchwork quilts, 4 rag quilts, 100 cushions, 10 bags, 50 coin purses, 20 cartonnage boxes and numerous other things I can’t think of at the moment. When will I have the time to make all this stuff and, if I do, why can’t I use what I’ve got? After all, I bought it all originally so I must have liked it. I know familiarity is supposed to breed contempt but if I get the fabric out, open it up, stroke it a little and imagine what I can do with it, maybe my first feelings about it could be rekindled (oo-er Missus!).
A cupboard holding lots of Ikea home furnishing fabric, some oilcloth and a basket of large scraps. The drawers hold flannel fabric, scraps of linen and some vintage kimono silk. Nobody can say I’m not eclectic in my choices.
Liberty yardage and patchwork/craft fabric.
Fat quarters, charm packs and jelly rolls.
Dressmaking fabric and some patterned linen.
A few plains (hmmm….. I’m a bit short on plains) and some more dressmaking fabric.
A basket of cotton flannel, towelling, polar fleece and stretch lace all watched over by a scary baby mannequin and topped with a basket of selvedges (selvedges? Don’t ask. It seemed like a good idea at the time)
Even my yarn stash – which may be a fast for another day – has pieces of fabric peeping out from beneath.
One of my many scrap bags (others, without skulls, are concealed in the attic).
By next September :
I hope to have more space in my workroom and the stuff that is still there will be arranged more tidily.
I hope to have become more disciplined in what I choose to buy in future.
I hope to have spent less time on the internet
lusting after looking at fabric.
I hope to have completed every project I undertake – be it craft, home decor or dressmaking with fabric already in my possession.
I hope to have more money.
So, I pledge to buy no more fabric of any sort until 1st September 2016.
I will be blogging about my progress from time to time so I’m hoping, now I’ve announced my intention, the shame of failing will keep me on the straight and narrow.
Would you ever consider a ‘fabric fast’ or have you done one in the past? How did you cope? Did you over compensate when you finished with a buying spree?
I’m back from my holiday in Porto in North West Portugal which is famous for its port wine production (see touristy boat featuring the Sandeman man above) and its bridges across the Douro river. I know all about the bridge below because we were on one side of the river and, even though we had all the port wine cellars on our side and the most amazing view of the city, the more interesting (and cheaper) restaurants were on the other side so we regularly crossed that bridge – and after drinking all that port too!
Of course it is always necessary to keep an eye out for the local arts and crafts
Those cockerels were everywhere!
We sampled the local cuisine and had to try the famous Franceshina which is a ‘sandwich’ made with bread, wet-cured ham, linguiça (I don’t know either!), fresh sausage, steak or roast meat and covered with melted cheese and a hot thick tomato and beer sauce served, if you can believe it, with french fries.
and, just in case you can’t (or don’t want to) picture it, this is the beast sliced down the middle
(the fries were on a separate plate!)
It was a good job we had to walk up a lot of hills afterward
and could have a swim in the infinity pool on the fifth floor of our hotel
Now I’m back and my workroom is rearranged and almost tidy. At least I can see my sewing machine and overlocker again.
I was shocked at the amount of stuff I had in there. I moved out a sofa bed, a large wooden chest and a big wicker hospital laundry hamper which didn’t create as much room as you would think as the contents of the chest and hamper and the things
thrown over arranged on the sofa bed had to be accommodated elsewhere in the room.
I have too much fabric. There’s no getting away from it. I have upholstery fabric. I have dressmaking fabric. I have soft furnishing fabric, vintage fabric and patchwork fabric – so much patchwork fabric.
I have pledged to buy no more fabric of any kind for one whole year. Or do you think that’s too ambitious? Should I say six months? I might be able to manage it then. I’m hoping it will encourage me to use what I’ve got – and I’ve got plenty – then at the end of the ‘fabric fast’ I will reward myself with a bit of stash rebuilding if necessary.
So. Six months or a year? What do you think?
I haven’t blogged for a while not because I haven’t had anything to say exactly but, in the end, there was too much to say and I couldn’t filter it down into a blog post and also I haven’t had the time.
So, in a nutshell (a big nutshell – something like a coconut)
We went across the border into Andorra for a free show by the Cirque du Soleil. The heavens opened, a storm raged, we bought plastic ponchos and the rain stopped 5 minutes before the show started. The show was magnificent and we were damp but happy. The story behind the show was supposed to be something about the history of Andorra but, as with all the Cirque du Soleil shows, I don’t actually know what was supposed to be going on. I only know that I am in constant amazement at what the human body is capable of if possessed of bendy limbs, muscles like steel, a body weight no heavier than a gnat and an apparent fearlessness of small spaces/high places/empty air between waiting arms.
Having recently had a travelling circus in this part of France boasting tigers, a lion and ‘the largest hippopotamus in Europe’ – and this in a ‘civilized country’ – I wonder why anybody would need to gawp at caged wild animals exhibiting unnatural behaviour when they can see fully consenting human beings in beautiful costumes doing amazing things with their super fit bodies. That sounds wrong somehow but you get my drift.
Being a tax free independent principality, it is the done thing in Andorra to go and marvel at the enormous bottles of alcohol for sale at silly prices – or is that just us?
The next morning we drove down into Spain, forgetting that the first Saturday in August is the day that all of France decides is the start of their annual holidays, jump in their cars and pack the roads – this despite the fact that the kids have been on school holiday since the end of June. We queued for an hour to pay for the privilege of using a toll road as did the rest of France apparently.
When we finally arrived at our destination – a port called Cadaqués – it was beautiful and we pondered buying something there for holidays, rental and eventual retirement.
Then we looked in a couple of Estate Agents’ windows, saw the prices and changed our minds not having upwards of two or three million euros to play with just at the moment.
Anyway, what they did have in Cadaques, apart from beautiful scenery, charming back streets and good restaurants, was their very own cat rescue called ‘Cats de Cadaqués’. This is an association that raises funds to feed and, most importantly, sterilize the local cat population. A lot of the shops and restaurants are supportive, display posters and sell cat themed items.
This restaurant has embraced the theme in a very picturesque manner.
Despite being a ‘dog person’ I do also have a soft spot for cats (I have 4) and agreed to be ‘admin’ on a new Facebook page set up by the feline equivalent of Dog Rescue Carcassonne which I sometimes blog about. I don’t really ‘do’ Facebook at the best of times – I usually have problems just uploading photos – and now I am suddenly faced with the myriad opportunities presented behind the scenes when you are an ‘admin’. I’m still working it out. There are other ‘admins’ so I leave most of the dealings on FB to them and I am writing ‘the blog’. If you want to see how I am now the crazy cat lady as well as a dog botherer, you can see my new blog here. Some comments, likes and followers would be nice as I’m finding it hard to get it off the ground.
On the creative front, things have come to a shuddering halt because it was time to clear out my workroom again and, despite many black sacks and boxes of items being removed and deposited at the charity shop, the Dog & Cat Shelter’s vide grenier (boot/yard sale) stash or the bins, there still doesn’t seem to be any way for me to get to my sewing machine very easily. No before and after pics of that, I promise, because even when I’ve finished it will not look like a magazine photo shoot workshop and, if it did, I’d never be able to do any work in it for fear of messing it up.
Also, I’ve lost my sewing mojo at the moment having made ‘the dress that nearly broke the camel’s back’ which is headed for the bin and had me heading off to Zara and other RTW outlets for a couple of items for my holiday wardrobe. However, I might blog about that when I have more time so, for now, I’m saying ‘tchau’ which is how you say goodbye in Portugal apparently and that’s where I’m heading for some time away from the computer, the phone, the messy workroom and the dogs and cats and chickens.
Back in May, my friend of umpteen years had a very significant birthday ending in a ‘0’ and I’m sure she won’t mind me saying that it wasn’t her 20th – or even her 30th – but I’ll stop there.
I knew I wouldn’t be seeing her until June as she spends half the year in the U.K. and half in France so I started making a gift for her. Something fairly traumatic delayed her getting here until this month and, yesterday, we met up and I was finally able to hand over her present. It would only fit in a humungus carrier bag that I had bought last Christmas for some reason I can’t remember.
I couldn’t resist knitting another giant blanket and, this time, I chose a rusty orange colour that I knew would go with the décor in her flat in the U.K.
When I gave it to her she cried. I think it was because she was happy but it might have been because it is so hot here at the moment a blanket is about as much use as a chocolate teapot.
Then we went out for dinner here……
and, after a glass of something sparkly on the terrace, went out into the cloisters of the abbey which was set up with tables for the evening meal.
Then, because we couldn’t drink anything else as I was driving (she could have but kindly abstained so as not to make me jealous) we polished off a bottle of sparkly when we got back to her house and stayed up until the small hours chatting and reminiscing and laughing fit to burst about things I can’t recall now. I had a slight headache this morning but it was worth it.
Next blanket will be for my Mum who has a birthday in September. The only trouble is, we are forecast to have even hotter temperatures in August so I’m not sure I’ll be able to survive partially submerged under almost 3kg of yarn – it might have to be her Christmas gift instead.
The photos of the beautiful Abbey are from the owners’ website (click on photos to see more) as is this description – L’Abbaye-Château de Camon is an ancient Benedictine monastery dating back to the tenth century. It is situated in the beautiful village of Camon in the foothills of the Pyrénées. Surrounded by forest and pasture it is only a ten minute drive from the medieval town of Mirepoix. In the heart of Cathar country this historic monument is now a luxury chambres d’hôtes.
It almost makes me want to get married again so I could have my wedding reception there.
After much cutting, gluing, sewing, photography, scribbling and testing, I have finally produced my Hexagonal Sewing Box Tutorial.
I’ve been making these for years – I love them – but I know lots of crafty people would rather have a go at making their own so I took photos of of all the steps as I was making this one
and wrote down notes with sticky fingers as I was making this one
When you’ve been making something for a long time you forget the steps that need more careful explanation which is why testers are so helpful because they can remind you that things that might seem obvious to you after umpteen years of doing them aren’t necessarily obvious to the first timer. So, after some tester cursing and unsticking – I’ve now made it clearer that those sides have a short and a long edge and won’t work if you try to put them up the other way – sorry ladies ;)
Also, don’t use wadding that is too thick otherwise you will have a bit of trouble making things fit instead of just ending up having softly padded, lightly luxurious feeling lids and inners – sorry again! My lovely testers made those mistakes so nobody else has to ;)
Anyway, if you like assembling things, getting a bit gluey and sticky, can do a passable teeny whipstitch and fancy having a go at making your own sewing box, my tutorial is now ready in my Etsy shop here.
and, in case you decide to give it a try, put this code in for $2 off the price BOXCLEVER. It’s an instant download so you can get started straight away.
If you do make one, please send photos and I’ll make a little gallery.
According to Wikipedia Hot Yoga refers to yoga exercises performed under hot and humid conditions. Often associated with the style devised by Bikram Choudhury, hot yoga is now used to describe any number of yoga styles that use heat to increase an individual’s flexibility in the poses. In colder climates, hot yoga often seeks to replicate the heat and humidity of India where yoga originated
According to me Hot Yoga is when it’s too hot in the loft where we normally practice so you go outside in the garden instead.
Here we are giving a whole new meaning to ‘putting your head on the block’
It was still quite hot but, apart from a few insects settling on me and having a nibble, the fact I didn’t have any sun lotion on and the ground sloping a bit, it was wonderful.
I am usually slightly more ‘active’ than this photo would have you believe but this was taken at the relaxation stage at the end – honest!