Archive for category Knitting Projects

A Slow Start

Although, as far as I can remember,  I never qualified as a Doctor I believe I have repetitive strain injury in my left thumb due to overdoing the knitting and crochet leading up to Christmas.  I am trying to rest it, ice it, ibuprofen it and generally wrestle it into submission but the frustration at not being able to continue with my current projects is really getting to me.  I cannot console myself with a glass of wine as I’m doing Dry January and I can’t seem to get back into the swing of sewing – I haven’t taken the cover of my machine for several weeks.  Woe is me!

                               Yes, I know that looks like a seal waiting to come in the house but it’s supposed to be a dog. I call it artistic license.

Although I never qualified as a physiotherapist either, I have decided it’s not so much the crochet activity that’s doing for me as the sock knitting.  I don’t really need any new socks at the moment so I’m putting that project aside until I can manage the close pinching movement needed to hold the teeny circular needles I’m using without taking to my fainting couch with an ice pack afterwards and sulking.

So, I have moved on a little with the Eastern Jewels blanket by limiting myself to half hour(ish) crochet sessions followed by ice and now have four completed octagons.  I might do as Sheila over at Sewchet did and try to join the rows of four as I go so I can be inspired but mostly so I won’t have as much of the boring stuff to do at the end.  I can only hope my blanket will turn out half as beautifully as Sheila’s  has.

                                         The first four being blocked – pinned to a yoga mat which is as much action as it has seen lately.

Talking of being inspired, I rather like Trish’s Liberty tana lawn shorty pyjamas over at The Small Sewing Room and decided to make some myself because I need to get back on that horse  sewing machine again and I don’t really need any new clothes but a new pair of P.J.s appeals as the RTW ones with shorts never seem to fit me properly and are often so short that I end up taking in tomorrow’s washing if you get my drift 😮

                                                                     I might not show off my belly button off quite so freely.  

Anyway, Trish’s version uses lovely, feminine, softly coloured tana lawn but mine will be covered in pears  – although they are still Liberty pears so will be nice and soft and comfy and, anyway, the fabric was a bargain on eBay and I decided I didn’t have anything against pear covered pyjamas at that price.

Once I’m back in the swing of things I will have another look at the Winifred Aldrich pattern cutting book I got for Christmas.  I had a quick shufty through and it scared me half to death so I bought a Craftsy pattern cutting course as well to get me started.  I am going to try making a skirt block/sloper for the younger Tialys Mademoiselle.  I was going to do the trousers course, as she wears those more often, but I think the skirt course has more of the basics included which is probably what I need.  I’ll let you know how I get on.

For reasons that I won’t go into again I was very physically inactive during the couple of months leading up to Christmas and over the whole holiday period.  Ironic then that, when I returned to my Zumba class last week, I had the cheek to have my hand and wrist in a support glove thingy as if I’d been doing all sorts of sporty stuff rather than too much knitting.   I didn’t own up to it though – what does that say about me?

Not my hand  – my hurty hand is my left one -you get the idea though.

Usually, I walk the dogs up some very steep land every day and go to Zumba and Pilates classes every week but I had done absolutely nothing.  The difference in my fitness level in the Zumba class was evident to all as I staggered,  gasping for air and water,  out of the side door in the midst of a routine.  Well, that’s a slight exaggeration but I did have to stop mid-fling about and swig from my water bottle instead of waiting until the music stopped :/

It’s been a slow start all round but I’m working on it.

Has 2018 begun well for you?

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Casting Off

For one reason or another, this has been a year more dedicated to the woolly crafts than the fabric ones.

I started this first project last November but, by the time it was ready for ‘the sewing up bit’ the weather was far too warm to wear it so I left it until this November to assemble it.  It was my second oversized or ‘boyfriend’ cardigan from Kim Hargreaves ‘Storm’ book of patterns using one strand of Rowan kidsilk haze and one of Kid Classic throughout giving it that nice fuzzy look.  One reason I’ve showed it on the mannequin rather than me is that the photos of the mannequin wearing it show the fuzziness better than the ones of me and the second reason is, despite being over 100 years old, she looks slightly less raddled than I do at the moment.

I like it but I don’t love it as much as the silvery grey one I made.  It will be worn around the house when I can’t be bothered to light the log burner and will make me a magnet for cats seeking comfort which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.


Since I re-taught myself to crochet, there has been quite a bit of hooking going on this year.  I was enticed by these gorgeous colours in Attic 24’s Hydrangea blanket and the dense stitch pattern was an easy one to do in front of the T.V. which means I get on with it more quickly.

I didn’t register the measurements of the blanket which is single bed size so I’ve only just finished it but love it to bits.

Most of the crochet projects I’ve done so far have been in rows so I thought I’d challenge myself a bit.  Sheila over at Sewchet started on this lovely blanket called Persian Tiles in the Eastern Jewels colourway and, although I’d already spotted it, I thought it might be a bit complicated but after reading about it on Sheila’s blog I thought I’d give it a go.

Unfortunately, that is not me holding up the finished blanket – I’m nowhere near that finished, blonde or young.

I’m really enjoying it so far – although I’ve only done two and a half octagons – but it’s something a bit different for me to get stuck in to and I’m gaining a bit of experience ‘in the round’ at the same time.

I’m weaving my ends in as I go along because there are multitudinous ones and it will be a mammoth task at the end if I don’t.

Thinking that I would work on both that project and one other over the Christmas holidays, I got out two balls of sock yarn I bought last year and cast on for a pair of socks.  As this is only my third pair in as many years I have to keep going back to the tutorials to see what to do.

I like to do both socks at once so I don’t fall prey to the dreaded ‘second sock syndrome’ which I know I would be prone to and there is, apparently, no cure.  Also, I knit from the toe up for various reasons but not least because at this stage it looks as if I’m knitting a teeny bikini top or a pair of woolly sunglasses.  I am easily amused.  This method works for me but involves tricksy beginnings such as Judy’s Magic Cast On and the Magic Loop Method which I need to remind myself of when I embark on my annual sockfest.

All is not so successful.

Remember the Sunshine and Showers Crochet-A-Long I embarked on a while back? Another crochet challenge I thought I’d set myself.   Well, I got off to a flying start and then came the flowers.

The flowers are done separately, joined up and then attached to the existing piece.

This is where they are now.  It might have been a challenge too far.

I might go back to this project at some future stage but I am also fearful that the edges of the blanket will be less than straight because of all the different stitches and patterns in each section and, in my inexpert hands, it is more likely to happen than not as I’ve noticed other people, more experienced in the ways of crochet, have had this problem.

Unfortunately, having had a pair of needles or a hook in my hands almost permanently for some time now, I think I’ve got some sort of repetitive strain injury in the fat part at the base of my thumb so I might have to resort to an ice pack, some ibuprofen, massage and a few days of yarn deprivation to see if it will right itself.

In the meantime, I will gaze at my lovely hydrangea blanket – repelling all dogs and cats until the novelty wears off –  and, because I’m so chuffed with it, put a second photo on, which is almost exactly the same as the first one,  just to make myself feel better about not completing the Sunshine and Showers one.

Plus, I will read the book I asked Mr. T. for for Christmas and try to finally get to grips with pattern cutting.

So, in more ways than one I am casting off until the new year which is only two sleeps away but I will raise a glass of something sparkly to you all on New Year’s Eve and I will make the most of it because I am intending to test myself again this year by doing ‘dry January’ when I will try to maintain my sanity (and my liver)  while not drinking any wine (or any other alcoholic beverage) until 1st February.

Thank you for your support, comments, good wishes, contributions, virtual hugs and all those other things bloggers are so good at, in 2017 and I hope you will stick with me in 2018 – even though I might be a touch grouchy in January 😉

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Knit Two Together

Once upon a time, back when we called yarn ‘wool’ and there was often a little wool shop or  ‘kiosk’ in even the smallest of towns and independent knitwear designers were twinkles in their grandparents’ eyes, my Mum taught me how to knit.

Actually, I think she first used me as a living wool winder as I remember my early encounters with wool involved standing for a long time, arms outstretched, whilst a skein was converted into a ball.  Despite this unpromising apprenticeship, I took up the needles at a young age and have continued, on and off, ever since.

I don’t remember my maternal grandmother ever yielding a pair of knitting needles so I wonder what started my mother off on her lifelong hobby.

Perhaps it was this. ….

…..which  would have been just a little after the time she looked like this.

I wonder if she made those pompoms herself.

When I moved to France almost thirteen years ago Mum would come and visit several times a year as well as at Christmas and, what with my sister living in Spain, she was nearly always on her holidays which I hope compensated just a little for us not living next door.   Regular readers will know that, during these visits, all other activities were practically abandoned in favour of knitting and chatting together.

This is Mum with Mlle. Tialys the Elder who, while not having caught the knitting bug at the time of writing, is a dressmaker and cross stitcher and could probably be brought into the fold at some future stage.

She made this for her Nan as an early Christmas present.

Back in 2013 Mum was nominated for a voluntary carers’ award for visiting a housebound elderly lady every week – almost without fail – for  ten years.  She was 80 herself at that point but this was the sort of thing she did.   She wasn’t going to attend the award ceremony – being far too shy and modest – but I said I’d go with her and she agreed to go.  She received a framed certificate from the Lady Mayor and afterwards we had a traditional English tea (another one!!) in lovely gardens in the sunshine.

While I was in England caring for my Mum with my two sisters, I knitted this little scarflet for my Stitching Santa partner.

Even though Mum didn’t have the strength to knit herself any longer by this stage it still felt like a bonding experience as I’m sure she could probably hear the clicking needles and the quiet chatting  as my youngest sister began to knit a bear and my other sister started to knit squares for a blanket.  One of my nieces visited, saw the three of us companionably knitting,  and wanted to learn.  And so the passing on of skills continues.

I have to say – and I know she’d agree with me – that Mum never really progressed beyond ‘enthusiastic amateur’ status.  Mainly due to the fact that she hated ‘the sewing up bit’ and looked at me as if I were mad if I ever suggested anything as radical as ‘blocking’ a finished garment.  She was the Queen of UFOs (unfinished objects) – her loft was full of half finished jumpers, cardigans, baby clothes, etc. – but even those things she finished weren’t deemed good enough to wear or pass on to the new babies of the family.  The little baby jackets, cardigans and bootees we found cast off,  in both senses,  was poignant to say the least.  The joy for her though was in the choosing of the pattern, the yarn  wool and the actual knitting – if something decent came off the needles that was a bonus.

You may remember my recent post about the Ugly Christmas Jumper and how it came to be and I hope you will be pleased to know that it was finally finished (once I’d added proper ribbing to the sleeves and lengthened the body) and handed to ‘the nephew’ one week before Mum died.  I think he will treasure it forever.

It was a shame, as she loved Christmas so much, that she died the day before the first window of her advent calendar was to be opened, especially as there was a chocolate inside.

Family was everything to my Mum and I am so pleased that my sisters and I were able to be with her, in her own home, in the last few weeks of her life and could be there for her final, peaceful breaths as she had been there for our first ones.  I am finding that a huge comfort at this difficult time.


Wherever you are now Mum, I hope there’s lots of wool and chocolate and laughter.

10th September 1932 – 30th November 2017

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The Tale of One Ugly Christmas Jumper and How It Came To Be

A bit of an explanation for those of you who might have noticed an absence of my usual waffle in the comments section of your blog posts.  I have been to the U.K. for a week but not for the usual fish and chips, underwear grab in Marks and Spencer and other frivolities.  Unfortunately my Mother is ill and my sisters and I are taking it in turns to keep her company while she receives palliative care at her home.  Logistically it’s quite difficult as I am in France, one of my sisters is in Spain and the youngest is in Wales which – though in the U.K.,  is still a 3.5 hour drive away from where my Mum lives.  Still, whilst it is still possible, she wants to stay in her own familiar surroundings so we are doing our best to make sure she has one of us there at all times.  I did take my iPad but screen time was sacrificed to quality time and, although I have certainly read most of your posts, I haven’t been commenting.  In fact, since I returned home yesterday I had just under 300 emails and had to be ruthless with the delete button – just so you know.

Anyway, despite taking a new crochet project with me and some small sewing bits to keep me occupied, it was all put aside in favour of ‘the Christmas jumper’.  This project was entrusted to Mum, just after she received her diagnosis, by my nephew.  I think he thought it would give her something to work on and keep her mind occupied.  She was actually knitting a rather lovely top for herself at the time but, as the sun shines out of his proverbial, as far as my Mum is concerned, all else was swept aside in her desperation to finish it for him and the boring stocking stitch began.

My nephew knows absolutely nothing about knitting and printed a very basic pattern off the internet and told her that was what he wanted.  Despite knitting for years, my Mum has never got the hang of intarsia knitting and the chart left her dumbfounded.  My middle sister was with her at that stage and decided to make the Christmas tree in felt and appliqué it on to the front.  It was, I am told, a disaster.  So, despite not even being a regular knitter herself, she came up with a separate knitted version of the tree, complete with pompoms for the baubles and star,  and sewed that on.  Mum completed the back before the extreme fatigue she is now suffering from kicked in, the same sister took some of the yarn back to Spain with her and did the sleeves and my task was to pick up the stitches and do the neckband and then sew it all together.

Et voila!

Could this be the weirdest Christmas jumper you see this year? It is like the Frankenstein of woolen wear – being made by different makers at different times and all of different abilities.  Unfortunately, my sister was unsupervised when she knitted the sleeves in Spain and so mistook k1, p1 rib for moss stitch so there is absolutely no difference between the width of the cuffs and the width of the sleeves.  I didn’t have time to do anything other than to sew it all together but it did occur to me that it might be worth picking up around the ends of the cuffs and knitting a proper ribbed piece on.  What do you knitters think? Would that work?  I know that the moss stitch piece would have to stay but we could call that a design feature.

He will be delighted to get this for Christmas.  No, really!

I am sure of  two things however:  it will be the only one of its kind and he will never wear it in public.

Did I mention he is 35 years old?

This is my old boy Taz – he turned 12 in September. He is in recovery mode.

The day before I was due to leave for the U.K. I had slept very badly because, not only was I very nervous about my trip not knowing how I would find my Mum and worried about my caregiving abilites but  I could hear the dogs marauding about downstairs in a restless manner.  I got up to let them out in case they needed to pee and then I noticed that Taz’s stomach was hugely distended and rock hard.  I thought it might be the very dangerous condition called ‘bloat’  which  happens when a dog’s stomach fills with gas, food, or fluid, making it expand causing it to put pressure on the other organs. I wondered about calling out an emergency vet – it was 5.30 in the morning – but suddenly he was incredibly sick and I remembered that I had found the dog food delivery ‘tampered with’ the evening before and a kilo of one of the two 15kg sacks stored downstairs suspiciously missing so I put it down to him gorging himself.  So, instead of rushing to the vet, I took my daughter to work at the normal time but, when I got back , I thought I’d take him to the vet anyway as he needed some more pills for his arthritis and let her have a look at his stomach – ‘just in case’.  Luckily I did because she did an echogram, saw his spleen was in a bad condition and decided to whip it out on the spot.  So, he lives to scent our lives with his gaseous emissions another day – while he was having the echogram the nurse was at the wrong end holding his feet still and had to run and fling open a window.  ‘Welcome to my life’ I told her.  Luckily, Mr. Tialys was on his way home from the U.K. to cover for me while I went to the U.K. and we picked him up at the end of the day.  We put him in one of the girls’ t-shirts instead of a buster collar and, just over a week later, he appears to have recovered well.

Just what I needed before setting off for a week of grappling with multitudinous medications and daytime television but I am now an expert in both.

Not being a daytime t.v. viewer myself I am amazed at what gets discussed, dissected and repeated over and over again between the hours of 08.00 and 17.00.  The worst of it is, because the target audience is obviously older the adverts are nearly all for life insurance ‘so your children aren’t burdened with your funeral expenses’,  fund raising pleas for cancer charities with images of patients and, as it was Halloween while I was there, numerous coffins and other death related paraphernalia – all very uncomfortable viewing when watching with an elderly, sick loved one :/   It was worse than an unexpected explicit sex scene coming up while watching with all the family round at Christmas time.

Still, there was always the Jeremy Kyle Show on to remind us that perhaps a more rigorous programme of contraception ought to be promoted amongst people who can shout at more than 90 decibels and use one swear word for every two ordinary ones in any given sentence whilst demanding to hear the results of the DNA test to prove who, out of a number of possible candidates, is the father of their unfortunate child.

Anyway, I’m back now.

 

 

 

 

 

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Touching Swiftly on a Hatbox

In keeping with my pledge to add to my Liberty Hatbox wall hanging project at the end of each month I’m afraid I have failed miserably as I still  can’t decide on the final block.

 So, I made another one.


I won’t bore you rigid with the choices I face again but I’m still not sure and now I think I’ve made it worse by having three to choose from instead of two.  Kate, on the other hand, is making great progress and has started hand quilting (yes hand quilting) her full size quilt and putting me to shame.  See and admire here.

So that’s the hatbox pledge dealt with which would make for a very short post indeed .

Your hopes, however,  are dashed!

Did I mention Liberty of London fabric?  I think I told you they had a sale and I think I told you I indulged.  I’m not sure I realised there were actual skyscrapers on this fabric when I ordered it but, now I know, I like it even more.   The simple shell top on this New Look pattern that had come free with a magazine seemed just the thing….

and so it was.

I’ve decided I have a back problem in that nearly everything I make gapes a little at the back of the neck.  I think I have narrow shoulders in comparison to my bust so, next time, I’m going to cut a wedge out of the centre top of the back bodice and see if that fixes it – a tip I found on By Hand, London.  Unless anybody has any better ideas.

Also, I bought this astrology themed tana lawn in the Liberty sale to make a shirt for Mr. Tialys who had a hand in choosing the fabric.

I’ve never made a man’s shirt before but thought it was time I gave it a go as my wardrobe is full, one daughter makes her own clothes, the other doesn’t much care about clothes so that leaves the husband (or the pets and don’t think I might not go there!).

I chose the Negroni by Colette as it’s a nice, casual style but with some interesting features, it has good reviews and there is a very detailed sew along (from about six years ago!) on the Male Pattern Boldness blog so what could go wrong?  Actually, so far, very little.  I’m working on a muslin using fabric that was more expensive than the tana lawn due to the fact that there was 60% off in the Liberty sale but I  always hope my muslins (when I actually bother to make one) will be wearable otherwise I get upset if all the work comes to nought – apart from ensuring you’re making the right size of course which is the main purpose of them after all.

Anyway – how’s this for a flat felled seam?

An inside view of course – the fabric is dark on the outside and I certainly wasn’t confident enough to use contrasting thread so you wouldn’t be able to make it out.  This is the first time I’ve tackled a real flat felled seam, although I did mock ones on Tilly and the Buttons’ Rosa dress,  and I’m pleased with the way this one turned out.  I say ‘this one’ because the other one didn’t turn out quite as neat but I’m not going to show you that now am I?

Did somebody mention a sale by the way?

Fifty six 50g balls of cotton double knitting yarn in all the shades in the range and no,  I don’t know what I’m going to do with them, thank you for asking.

Mr. Tialys is still creating awesome leather things in his ‘spare’ time which is strange because I didn’t think he had any of that or that’s what he tells me if I ask him to do anything in the house or garden 😉


This is a laptop bag he designed himself and is in the kind of leather that already looks as if it’s been ‘lived in’ which is the kind I like.

I decided to have a clear out in the cupboard in the conservatory and threw some stuff in a box ready to go to the charity shop.

I know I sometimes get fed up with having so many animals but I haven’t quite resorted to this yet.

What is it with cats and cardboard boxes anyway?

 

 

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Knitting Needles, Crochet hooks and Dodgy Cakes

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A friend of mine has just started to learn to knit and it was her birthday last week so I knew just what to make her.

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I went back to the pattern in ‘Stitch and Bitch’ that I’d shrunk down to make a roll for my new crochet hooks and made a full size one for her.

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I didn’t leave my gorgeous knitting needles in though – I bought her some plain ones.  I’m not that good a friend.

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Possibly becoming adventurous beyond my burgeoning crochet ability I bought a kit from Black Sheep Wools who kindly deliver to France at a reasonable cost.  I was tempted by those lovely colours.  The yarn is James C. Brett DK Merino.  It’s actually mostly acrylic  – well, it is for a blanket that will need washing – but there is a 10% merino content so it feels lovely and soft and is great to work with.

I was daunted by the 162 chains as I’ve never yet managed to make even a small  one without twisting it and then, getting my U.S. and U.K. terms mixed up, I did the foundation row in double treble crochet instead of treble but that is how it’s staying as I’m not re-doing that chain!   It’s a nice easy pattern and perfect for me to get used to the whole technique of crochet.

This is it so far…..

Crochet Blanket Start

….. and this is how I’m hoping it will end up.

Highland Heathers Blanket

Sara’s Highland Heather Blanket Kit – available from Black Sheep Wools here

Just in case you are thinking I’ve gone all ‘perfect’ over the weekend – think again.

It was Mlle. Tialys the Younger’s birthday on Friday and, flushed with success after making Nigella’s Madeira cake (feast your eyes here – no calories!), I had a go at her Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake (also from ‘How To Be A Domestic Goddess’).

Salvaged Cake

If you think this looks a little like a pig’s breakfast, then you should see how it looked half an hour after it came out of the oven.

And you shall –

Nigella says the cake is so dense and damp it will sink a little when it comes out of the oven.

Burnt Cake

 I don’t think she meant quite this much  😦

Some days I’m more of a domestic goddess than others.

I broke a few pieces off around the outside and it actually tasted good so I chopped it up into brownie sized damp, dense pieces and arranged them on a plate, sprinkled them with icing sugar and, because I couldn’t find the birthday candles, stuck a fancy straw in the top.  Luckily my daughter is easily pleased especially when chocolate is involved.  How fortunate was my friend who got a hand made knitting needle roll instead of a cake.

I Googled the recipe expecting to find loads of other, similar disasters but I didn’t.  So, it’s just me then.

I know I have a follower who happens to be a baker and, if he’s managed to get past the knitting and crochet, perhaps he will have an idea of what went wrong.  I think it was because I’m a lazy cow and, instead of creaming butter and sugar together by hand and adding the rest of the ingredients gradually, I did the whole thing in a stand mixer – although stage by stage and fairly gradually – so I might have beat too much air in.

Anyway, Sunday night we heated it up and had it with cream and it made a really nice dense, damp, chocolate pudding 🙂

 

 

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Christmas Cats, Woolly Hats and That’s That for Another Year

Despite having six cats and three dogs roaming around the place, we put up a large ‘real’ Christmas tree in one room and a smaller ‘artificial tree’ in another.  They survived – relatively unscathed – until the new kitten (don’t ask) discovered he could shin up the centre of the artificial one creating havoc and mayhem among any food and drink stuffed, semi-comatose humans in the vicinity who were then forced to move at an unwelcome rate in order to prevent bauble breakage on a massive scale.    I suppose he found it all very amusing as, once achieved, he repeated it ad nauseum until, last night, I got fed up and took it down.

Cat in Christmas Tree

Having mulled (and drunk) enough red wine not to want to count the empty bottles, I decided to get up off my arse while still possible and hike up a small mountainside with the dogs.  I made Mr. T. take a photo of me to show me wearing my hat that came in one of my Stitching Santa parcels.  Despite the dark glasses and luminous dog harness I am not registered blind – just saying as I suddenly realised it might look like that.  Stan’s harness actually says ‘Ball Junkie’ and not ‘Guide Dog’.

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Thanks to Sheila over at Sewchet who organised the Stitching Santa again this year, I received a lovely package from Pippa at Beads and Barnacles in the U.K. who got me as her sewing recipient.

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Ignore the clove stuck orange – she didn’t send me that – I was on the way to mull (yet more) wine when the photography urge came upon me.

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Pippa had made some very useful pouches and a bag for me to keep stuff in and even a length of bias binding she had made.  Can you spot the blue fabric in the middle?  I did take larger photos of it but the colour didn’t come out right so this is the best view of it.  It is boiled wool jersey which I have never used before.  Any tips or suggestions on what to make with it?  Pippa suggested a sweater.  I have 1.5m and it has a slight stretch to it.

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Also in the parcel was a useful pattern and one of her lovely knitted hats which I am modelling for you in the above dog walking picture just to prove to her that I will actually wear it – she seemed doubtful for some reason.

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As I’m a knitting person as well as a sewing one, I thought I’d go for the knitting Santa too and, just in the nick of time, a day or two before Christmas, my package from Anne in Australia arrived.

(There’s that orange again – don’t worry you won’t see it again as it is now saturated with spiced wine – a bit like me – at the bottom of the bin)

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Anne chose two lovely hanks of wool from Plant Craft Cottage in the Botanic Gardens in Melbourne where the yarn is hand dyed – these ones with eucalyptus leaves apparently – so I’m now looking for something to knit with them – there is 25g of each colour, it is 8 ply Australian wool, needle size 4mm and gauge 22st to 10cm.  Any ideas knitting friends?

Ceramic Buttons

Three beautiful ceramic buttons were in the package

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Plus a lovely pencil drawing of a shell from Anne who is a talented nature and botanic artist so I’m very happy to have a little example of her work.

I was chuffed to bits to receive all these generous gifts and thanks again to Sheila for organising us all.  Sign me up again for next year!!

There was another gift that wasn’t quite so successful.  A few days before Christmas I went out to lunch with a friend of mine and we browsed about in some shops for a while.  We went into a home décor shop where each section was themed by colour and, as we passed through the orange and yellow ‘retro’ section she said ‘I can’t stand those two colours – I wouldn’t have them in my house’

Which was a shame because this was what was in the gift bag I’d handed her to put under her tree when I picked her up at her house earlier.

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Oops!

A more successful gift was this satchel that Mr. Tialys made for a close friend of ours who spent Christmas Day with us this year.

mockcrocsatchel-1

It is modelling for me on the bonnet/hood of her car as she was leaving the next morning with the bag stashed in her boot/trunk and I remembered I hadn’t recorded it for posterity and made her unpack it again.

So, that is that for another year.  I have made a couple of New Year’s resolutions but, after the disasters last year of my Firsty February (where I attempted not to drink any alcohol for a month and failed) and my Fabric Fast (which lasted 4 months instead of my pledged twelve) I will let you know what this year’s ones are if I actually manage to keep them and, if I don’t, nobody but me will be any the wiser.

Have a brilliant 2017 and I hope everything you wish for comes true.

 

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Snow? It Must Be Time To Get Out The Knitting.

The first snow has appeared on the mountains opposite our house.  Despite taking this from my bedroom window on the top floor, I couldn’t omit the wires but there you go – that’s the reality, I won’t whitewash it.  I could have gone out in the back garden and taken it I suppose but I happened to be in the bedroom when the photography mood came upon me.

First Snow on Pyrenees

Anyway, with the snow my knitting mojo comes back into play although this embryonic lacy scarf doesn’t look as if it would keep anybody particularly warm but I had a 25g ball of Rowan Kidsilk Haze left over from the boyfriend cardigan I made last year and Sheila at Sewchet made some beautiful scarves with this pattern last year so I was inspired.  I’ve never knitted lace before and I found the first few rows a little difficult – I kept losing count of the stitches because the yarn is so fine  – but once the pattern started to establish itself I was away.  I didn’t thread beads on to the first row as the pattern (available here for free) has you do because I’m not sure the intended recipient is a ‘beady’ person and also, that might have been a step too far for my tolerance with ‘fiddly’.

Lace Knitting

What bothers me a little is how this scarf is going to grow long enough to go round somebody’s neck.  I appear to have used about a third of the 25g ball already and it’s supposed to end up around 53inches (135cm) long and the bit above is only about 8 inches so I can’t see that happening.  Does a miracle happen at the blocking stage?

Unlike with sewing, I don’t normally have two knitting projects on the go at once but, as the lace will be a gift, I had to make a start on it and I had already begun a second Drew (boyfriend cardigan) in a different colourway as I already had half the yarn I needed to make another one.  As you can see below, the fine Kidsilk Haze is knitted together with Rowan Kid Classic so is much easier to handle than the skinny one on its own.

Kim Hargreaves Drew Cardigan no.2

Last year I knit a jumper while my Mum was visiting because she knits and we can have some mother daughter bonding time over the needles.  I sort of knew I wasn’t going to like it much so, once finished, it languished in my ‘I Like Big Balls and I Cannot Lie’ knitting bag all summer waiting to be sewn up.

Marble Chunky Jumper

The sleeves were supposed to be holey too but I didn’t do that for a reason I now can’t remember but I’m glad anyway.

It’s O.K. but I don’t love it.

What I do like is the shape – it’s quite hard to find a knitting pattern that is fitted and has a nice scoop neck.

The yarn – and pattern – is from James C. Brett and it’s called Marble Chunky, in case you’re interested.

Marble Chunky Jumper Back VIew

I like the variegated colour and, if I were to knit it again, which I won’t, but if I did, I would omit the holes from the front too.

As with the vast majority of my knitted garments, I will probably only wear this ‘around the house’ as, although I love to knit, I’m not a big knitwear wearer.  Bizarre I know.

It’s always good to end with a cat (or dog) photo in my opinion so here is one of Mac who climbed into my antique bowl while I was trying to photograph it for my shop. (It is a very big bowl)

Cat in Antique French Confit Bowl

I was going to use it as a product photo but thought it might put people off who are allergic to cats but it was too cute to waste so I’m sharing it with you instead.

 

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Boyfriend Cardigan Finished – Orangutans Need Not Apply

Remember the fuss I made trying to choose between two different colours of yarn to make the  ‘boyfriend’ cardigan from the knitting book Storm by Kim Hargreaves?   I blogged about it back at the end of last year and, having canvassed your opinions, I went with my instincts anyway and chose the dark grey fine mohair instead of the purple to knit together  with the pale grey thicker ‘base’ yarn and here’s the result.

My boyfriend cardigan 1

(Note that I have opted not to frighten the horses and, as promised,  haven’t styled it with shorts and ankle boots as they did with the (very young) model in the book for which, I’m sure you are truly grateful.)

It’s soft and squishy and nicely oversized but not by too much .  My worries about the sleeves only fitting an orangutan were unfounded – it’s just that, being raglan sleeves, they seemed to go on forever when they were on my needles.

Here it looks a bit like your Grandad’s cardie rather than your boyfriend’s but I like the stitch used which gives you that wide rib stitch effect in relief.

MyBoyfriendCardigan (3)

I sewed the silver metal buttons on then, for a touch of femininity and also for strength, I backed them with some little floral buttons.

MyBoyfriendCardigan (4)

MyBoyfriendCardigan (1)

I really am pleased with it and to prove to Kate who always tells me off for being too self critical  that I can, in fact, be proud of my work, I’m not going to point out any faults because there aren’t any.  Ha!!

This is what’s on my needles at the moment but, even though, I like the yarn (James C. Brett Marble Chunky) and it knits up quickly and is reasonably priced and even though it’s fairly unusual to find a knitting pattern for a jumper with a scooped neck and a fitted shape I know I’m not going to love it as much.

James c brett jumper

  The yarn for the cardigan was Rowan Kid Classic – a wool and mohair blend and Rowan Kidsilk Haze, a mohair and silk blend which were knitted together and it has produced such a soft, luxurious garment that anything made with acryclic is going to pale into comparison.  Having said that, the Rowan yarn was expensive – despite me scoring both the yarns on Ebay – so, unless you’re going for a ‘special’ knitted item, I guess the  cheaper yarns will always have their place.  Of course, I do still have the purple Kidsilk Haze I didn’t use for this cardigan so I might keep my eye open for some coordinating Kid Classic in the sales and then I can make another one in a purple shade – if I can face those never ending sleeves again that is.

Mac, the kitten, likes it anyway.  He appeared from nowhere.  Knitting and cats – it really is like moths to a flame.

marble chunky kitten with knitting needles

How do you feel about knitting (or crochet) yarns?   Do you prefer to wait until you can splash out a bit and use the best quality or do you prefer acrylic blends for their easy care qualities which, for some projects is a big consideration of course,  or perhaps you can’t wear wool next to your skin?

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Knitting Santa Goodies – Oh Yes, I Entered Both!

I wasn’t really being greedy by entering both the Stitching Santa and Knitting Santa organized by Sheila of Sewchet because it meant I also had to send out two packages but in for a penny in for a pound as I never say outside of blogland and why have one surprise gift when you can have two?

Knitting Santa

I showed you my gifts from my stitching santa (Susanna)  a couple of days ago here.  My secret Santa for the knitting section turned out to be Nikki of SewingNikki who blogs here and also has a pretty Etsy shop here.  As France does not have a public holiday on Boxing Day like us Brits, the postman came and bought this festive looking bundle.  It was actually really nice to have an extra pressie to open when I’d gorged myself with all the others on Christmas Day.

Felt Bags

Two handmade felt bags were inside the package – lovely in themselves but holding yet more surprises.

buttons

A sweet smelling owl, some buttons –  you can never have enough! – and an intriguing item made from a twisted vintage metal knitting needle.  Is it a hatpin,  a stitch holder – help me Nikki – I love it anyway!

Knitting Needle Roll

Some knitting needles in the roll and, in a blatant attempt to lure me back to the dreaded crochet, a couple of pretty pink crochet hooks.  Also some cute earrings which Nikki also sells in her shop.

Knitted Cushion Pattern

However, my favourite, favourite gift was this splendid pattern for cushions, complete with four balls of navy aran yarn to knit one with.  Spookily enough, I was looking at buying this pattern just before Christmas as I have so much fun knitting my huge cable blankets, I wanted to knit cushions to go with them.  I particularly like the design on the centre one on the chair as the middle cable is one I haven’t tackled before.

Thank you Nikki, I love everything.

Like a fool, I didn’t photograph my gifts before wrapping them up and sending them to the bloggers I had been paired with but, if you are interested, they have both done my job for me and blogged about what I sent them here and here.  I’ll know better next year and there will be a next year as it was a really fun swap.  Thank you Sheila for all your hard work in organising us all.

 

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