Friday, 8 November 2013

Post Scriptum?

I can't decide, as you may have guessed from the title.

It does seem a little odd to declare publicly that one is not going to blog any more, and then write something else.  But I am missing this in a quite unexpected way - writing, I mean  - and I am wondering whether to continue.  So I think that I shall just see how this goes.  Maybe there will be more, I don't know.

Things are very quiet here at the moment.  November is not a month that I like very much. The days get shorter so quickly, and it feels as if the year is sliding downhill towards the solstice.  But although we've had a lot of wind and rain, the weather still continues unseasonably mild.  We have not yet had a frost, and that really is unusual for late autumn.

On the knitting front, things have been fairly productive.  There was a cardigan for a friend, this was a relatively quick knit during September; and during October I finished a Thing for Rowan, about which I can say nothing at all.  As always, this is most frustrating. 

I do enjoy being one of the team of Rowan handknitters, very much, and I am actually rather proud of it.  I can't say that I'm secretly proud of it, because these words are rather public, let us not forget.  But from a blogger's point of view, it is definitely not the easiest thing.  

Anyway.  A Thing for Rowan, finished at the end of October.  I shall put that in my list as Thing O, and you may read into that what you will.

Right now I'm finishing a cardigan for my daughter.  I could post a picture, but really - a dark navy sleeve on the needles is not the most interesting of images.  

Monday, 12 August 2013

More than six years...

I have been blogging now since April 2007, and I think that perhaps it is time for me to stop.  I am most definitely still knitting, and you'll be able to find me on Ravelry.


Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Two things

First, here is Fastnet.

Slow steady progress, but I'm not in any hurry - and such a lovely fabric, quite gorgeously squishy.

The little markers are for row counting, before someone asks - I place a marker at the top of the ribbing, and then every ten rows thereafter, with a different colour every fiftieth row.  I leave the 'fifty rows' markers in place, and the 'ten rows' markers are moved on as needed. So you can very easily see that I am approaching seventy rows of knitting.  This avoids repeated counting of rows, which has always seemed to me to be a waste of time - and also avoids that situation where one keeps getting different answers.  Or at least, where I keep getting different answers.  Maybe it's just me....

And yes, that is an artist's palette that you can see in the corner there - it's dry, please don't worry! - and yes, as usual with my photographs, that is our dining table, which also serves as a general work table for us both for much of the time.  It is in the conservatory, which is a particularly nice place to work at this time of year.   My husband likes to paint.  More on that anon.

And here is the second thing, which is something you don't see every day.  Six newly hatched cygnets.

These are from a clutch of seven eggs.  We know that they are newly hatched because we went past the nest the day before and could see immediately that five of the eggs were still unhatched.  At that time both swans were staying very close to the nest and defending it fiercely, hissing at the boat in a way that they don't normally do at all.  So we did have an idea that something was happening.

And the next day, here they all were, straight out on the water and looking so pretty in the sunshine.  The parents were staying very close, as you can see, but were looking much more contented than the day before.

This pair and their babies tend to do better than the pair that are local to us, probably because their nesting site is better protected from the depredations of foxes, as it is in the middle of a reed bed rather than on the bank.   And that reminds me, I don't know how our local swans are doing - I must make enquiries.  I certainly have not seen any cygnets close to home.

We are wondering about the seventh egg, and whether there is a seventh cygnet still to come.  It is not impossible, just rather unlikely.  But six cygnets - that is really quite wonderful.  Let's hope that they all survive.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Picking up....

I am knitting Fastnet at the moment - well, theoretically I am knitting Fastnet.

The thing which I was knitting for Rowan is now safely back at Holmfirth, and there is always something of a hiatus after such a project comes to an end.    Usually I pick up the current sock-in-progress for an evening or two, or even relax without any knitting at all.  Yes, this does happen.

This time I picked up Fastnet, which I cast on rather a long time ago, before I became distracted with work-related knitting.  It has been pulled back a couple of times to accommodate design changes - I think I'd have worked as far as the armhole shaping by now, if not for that.

The yarn, by the way, is lovely.  This is Rowan's Pure Wool Aran, and it is such a surprise.  One expects a yarn like this, which is apparently a basic yarn, to be something of a workhorse, if you know what I mean.  One doesn't expect this - soft, squishy, yet with a pleasing solidity, gorgeous to work with, and a beautiful drape.  I much prefer it to the Cashsoft family, now discontinued.  And I expect it to wear better than the Cashsoft yarns, as well - it has certainly coped perfectly with all the pulling back and re-knitting that I have put it through.     If you haven't tried it yet, then I urge you to do so.  I don't think you'll be disappointed.  It is lovely stuff.

Where was I - ah yes, Fastnet.

This particular Fastnet has rather a lot of modifications from the pattern.

The original version is from Rowan 52, by Josh Bennett, and I am knitting the size to fit chest 48".

The shape isn't going to be altered very significantly apart from adding length to the body, which seems a little short to me at 27 1/2", and shortening the sleeves, which seem too long at 21 1/2".

You can see how long they are on the model - the poor chap must be pushing them up out of the way all the time.  Can't be doing with that!

But the real changes are in the pattern itself - the cables, the texture.  My husband knows exactly how he wants this pullover to look, and he doesn't want it to look quite like that.  We are keeping some elements, losing others - and - well, you'll see.  (Or you will, when I post a picture.)  Anyway, we've talked it through, and I've made some little sketches, which he has agreed, and that's what I'm working from.

But it is still slow progress.  There is no urgency here, and it is a big pullover, after all.

I've got something other things planned as well - I am going to make a cardigan for my daughter, and I am looking forward to this, I do like knitting for her.

If I knit anything at all for myself in the foreseeable future, I am going to have to stick to unfitted garments and accessories.  I am still losing weight, and if I knit things to fit me at the moment then there is the awful (but very real) prospect that next year they might well be too big for me.

Talking of accessories - have you seen the new Rowan Fine Art Collection?   I have a copy, and I find that I am quite taken with some of the things in here.

In particular, and I wasn't expecting this at all, these over the knee socks.

Also, these stripy ones.  I've always wanted long stripy socks.

I am trying hard to convince myself that these are a good idea, that they are really practical, and that I would wear them.  Unfortunately I would in all probability have to resort to knitting-in elastic at the top, which I hate with a vengeance, in order to keep them up - but nevertheless I still want to make them.

No rush though....

By the way, Wee Peggy is now in her new home.  In Argyllshire, would you believe?   I did not expect that, and somehow it is rather pleasing.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Wee Peggy

Here's my Wee Peggy wheel.

I did mention a while ago that I was going to sell it, and that I would let you know - well, the time is now.  So if you are at all interested, please get in touch, and I can tell you more.  It is listed on eBay at the moment, with the auction due to finish on Sunday evening.

This is a nice little wheel - it is one of the originals,  made in 1984 by J Rappard in New Zealand.

I shall be sorry to see it go - it has been my first wheel, after all - but one does have to move on.

Now, knitting.

I find myself, yet again, knitting something that I can neither show nor discuss.  It is, of course, for Rowan, and it is, of course, rather gorgeous.

The knitting is very enjoyable - lovely yarn, beautiful colours, and an interesting stitch pattern.  But this situation does not make for interesting blog posts.  My deadline is the end of this month, but I shall be getting it finished as soon as I can.

In conclusion, I should just say that my rather prolonged silence here does not mean that anything is wrong - quite the contrary, in fact.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for a while will know that I have been dealing with a pain condition for a few years now, about which the least said the better, really.  Over the last couple of months I've been getting used to a new combination of meds which has turned out to be really helpful, but has also turned out to have the side effects of making me rather absentminded and forgetful - and that's putting it mildly.  Perhaps I should just say, rather spaced out.   As you can perhaps imagine, this hasn't been conducive to coherent thinking or writing, or indeed very much writing at all really, hence the long silences.

Fortunately, these side effects seem to have been temporary, and I think I'm about back to normal now.  However if you should notice me being rather more incoherent than usual, please feel free to blame it on the meds. ;)

Sunday, 21 April 2013

Sunday on the water

It is so lovely to be out on the water regularly again.  We still cannot quite believe it - the boat has spent so much time with the engine out of order over the last eighteen months that it had begun to feel like an expensive encumbrance, instead of something to be enjoyed.  But this weekend we have indeed been enjoying it.

It really does feel like spring now.  After the long winter everything seems to have suddenly burst into bloom together, there are swathes of primroses and carpets of celandines, clumps of violets in the hedgerows, and everywhere there are the starry spikes of ramsons - and that's something else to which we always look forward.

Wild garlic leaves - or ramsons.  In this case, soon to be lunch, together with scrambled eggs and a bit of smoked salmon.  And very nice it was, too.

Not a lot of knitting content this time.  I have finished a pair of socks.  That's it.  I think the yarn was Trekking XXL, I cannot possibly remember the shade number.

And, because I was asked - here is a picture of Jess, who is not really a pup any more.  She's three years old now.  Time goes by so fast....

More knitting content next time, I hope.

Monday, 15 April 2013


There has been quite a lot of knitting happening here over the last several weeks - both here, and, as you may gather from the photographs, on the narrowboat.  We had several hours out on the water the other day, it was lovely.  And as I can't show pictures of my knitting, I can at least show pictures of the waterway.

I don't think there was ever any real doubt about whether I would meet the deadline, to be honest.  But nevertheless there is always a certain degree of tension inherent with such things, which isn't necessarily a bad thing for a short space of time, but can become a little too much when it goes on for too long.

So what happened is that I finished all the first lot of squares in good time, together with the other project, and posted them off.  And then I was offered some more to do, and accepted.  So that meant another deadline.

The upshot of all this is that I have knitted sixty squares. Plus, of course, that extra project.  And that, for me, has been quite enough squares, just for the moment.  Please do not mistake me here - this is as nothing, compared to the level of work that the designer has done.  I happen to know that over the last four days alone she has knitted no less than thirty four squares.  I don't know how she is able to even speak coherently, I really don't.

 Anyway, for me it has been sixty squares.  They have all been different, all worked using intarsia, and all worked with Rowan yarns.  Each and every one of them has been a separate and beautiful little gem.  I just wish I could show them!  But that will have to wait until the book is published.

I cannot really say much more about this.  I can say that the book is co-authored by a designer who is from the Rowan 'stable' - I have no idea when it is due to be released - I can say that when it is released, I think it is going to be popular, because it is such a good idea - and there you have it, I think!

One thing that I have particularly enjoyed about this project is being able to knit with some Rowan yarns that have been new to me, and I shall have more to say about this soon.

Monday, 25 March 2013

Ten days

I have a deadline.  And I have rather a lot of knitting to do.

This is not really unusual.  When one knits for other people, there do tend to be deadlines involved.  Sometimes they are a bit variable - sometimes they are rather less so.  I do try to treat them all in the same way, as if they were graven in stone.  This one has no leeway whatsoever.  Yes, I know, mixed metaphors again.  It seems that I can't help it.

If I have a deadline, this means that I must post the finished item the day before, by Special Delivery which guarantees that the package will arrive the following day - and don't get me started on that one, because it doesn't always happen.  But that's another story entirely. 

Anyway, I have to post the day before the deadline.  And that means that my final knitting day, the very last day on which a stitch may be knitted, an end may be sewn in, an item may be blocked - that is the day before the posting day.  So there is the day of the deadline - there is the posting day - and there is the last knitting day. 

Counting from today, up to the last knitting day, I have ten days.

I am just a little bit behind schedule at the moment. (Yes, I have a schedule.) Life gets in the way, you see.  If I could just sit and knit, there would be no difficulty with this at all.  But there is laundry to be done, a little dog who wants to be walked - and I like to go for a walk, as well - and meals to be cooked, and so on and so forth.

I still cannot show you what I am knitting, not yet.  Nor can I tell you anything about it.  I can tell you that I am knitting squares, which isn't really very informative, and I'm sorry about that but there it is.  They are lovely squares, and they are all different.  I am really enjoying making them.  The yarns are such a pleasure - do I need to say Rowan? - and the colours!  The combinations are just beautiful.   

So, at the moment I have twenty two squares remaining to knit.  Plus one Thing, for which I do not yet have the pattern.  And I have ten days.

I think I had better get on with it.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Caeli furor aequinoctialis

It is a long time since I first came across this lovely phrase, sitting in my school desk back at Northern Grammar School for Girls in Portsmouth.  I think it would have been 1968, probably, and I'd have been about 12.    It is Catullus, of course - who else produces such sonorous phrases? - Catullus 46, if memory serves, which I think it actually might, in this case.

I came across it again the other day, vide Jean's Knitting, and was just as enchanted as I was when I first encountered it.

The equinox itself has of course now come and gone, and the supposed 'raging of the equinoctial sky', which wasn't really very much to write home about after all, has come and gone as well.

Today it is just raining a bit, and I am off out with Jess in a bit, after I've been to the post office.  I do wish the postman would knock at the door these days, when there is a parcel, instead of just dropping a little card through the letterbox and walking away - it is apparent that he hasn't brought the parcel out in his van with him at all - but perhaps I should refrain from saying any more.  I shall instead go to the sorting office and see what it is.  Perhaps it is a very large parcel, too large for his van, but somehow I doubt this.

I do wish I could show some pictures of what I am knitting at the moment, because it is such fun, and so pretty as well.  I am making squares, I can tell you that - colourwork squares, using all sorts of different Rowan yarns, and it feels just like playing with a paintbox.  And having said that, it is far too many years since I did such a thing.

The nicest surprise, I think, is Anchor Artiste Metallic.  It is so soft! - lovely to work with, and a well-behaved fabric.  So if you should encounter a pattern that requires this yarn, don't hesitate.  It's a good yarn.

Off out the door now....

Sunday, 17 March 2013

By Jove she's got it!

Regarding Feedly, the penny has finally dropped.

(And GBS would shudder, probably.)  Never mind.  I have it all sorted out now.

Feedly is an app. That is what it all comes down to.  And I have a laptop, not a clever phone or a tablet or anything like that.  It is a somewhat elderly laptop - we were trying to work it out the other day, and we think it is eleven years old now.  But it works, and it works very well for everything that I want it to do, although it is a bit slow to load some rather 'busy' pages these days, and it is quite happy as long as I don't ask it to do too many things at the same time.

Where was I?  Ah yes, Feedly.  Which is, let me repeat, an app.  These days I use Chrome.  Not Internet Explorer, at the very thought of which I shudder - if you are still using it, I urge you to stop immediately.  Well, not quite immediately, obviously.  Please finish reading this, first.  Not Firefox either, although it is very much better than IE.  But Chrome, which is streets better than either of the aforementioned.  And Chrome supports apps.

And lest you think that I really have knowledge of such things, I will tell you at this point that I know this not on my own account, but from what my clever son tells me.  He is a software engineer who writes extremely specialist code nowadays, and I completely do not understand what he does.  However when he advises me to do (or not do) something computer-related, I pay attention, and act upon what he tells me.

It is very strange for me to think now that my very first job was as a computer programmer, using Fortran, back in the 70's before I went off to university.  Yes, before uni, not after - just through the summer holidays, after I left school.  I learnt Fortran from reading a computer manual.  It did have the advantage of letting me skip the (usually) requisite first year computing course, at least - I attended the first couple of lectures, realised that I really had covered all this and a good bit more besides, had a word with the lecturer, who asked some questions and arranged for me to sit the final exam the next day, which I passed with flying colours, and that was the end of my computing studies.

That was back in the days when a computer was as big as a bungalow and lived at the end of a telephone line and had to be talked to via a card sorter and paper tape.  One of the chaps in the lab could read the paper tape without having to put it through the reader, a dark art indeed.

I think that perhaps I ought to retitle this post 'Getting Sidetracked'.


Is An App!  (At least, it is for Chrome.)

The homepage of Chrome, which browser I recommend to you all, shows nice big clear sensible icons for various apps, some of which are put there automatically by Chrome because they are so standard, and some of which arrive automatically when you add them.  On my homepage, for instance, I see there is Gmail, Google Search, and YouTube.  Also - ahem - there might be Angry Birds, which we will not discuss.

Also, as I'm sure you will have guessed, on my homepage is the icon for Feedly.   It was only right in the middle of the page, right under my nose, all the time.

Where I was going wrong was bookmarking it.  No bookmarking required - at least, not for Chrome.  Go to and get yourself the version for your browser, and off you go.  And if you haven't yet got Chrome, have a look around online and sort that out for yourself first.  It is, of course, free. And so is Feedly.

Feedly is very good indeed, by the way.  Do I dare to say it is better than Google Reader?  I think that I do.

It is all very intuitive and simple to use.  For instance, if the post is long, and you've scrolled down reading it, and you've come to the end - you might find yourself thinking, hmm, I want to go back to the top and read that first bit again - and there is a little thing to click to take you back to the top of the page!  and another to click to move to the next item! - they've thought of everything, it seems.  So far, at least.

It is excellent.

Knitting? - another day, I promise.  I am knitting, lots of interesting things actually.   And I want to talk about darning, too.  Thankyou so much for the comments, I knew I couldn't be alone! - and yes, shirt collars and sheets too.

This has turned out to be a somewhat eclectic post, has it not?  I wasn't expecting that when I started writing this morning.

Saturday, 16 March 2013


More about blogs this morning.

I do follow a lot of blogs, more than 80 at last count, although most of those people don't post every day, or even every week. Some of them are in my sidebar, down there on the right hand side.  Many more of them are not, and I really must update that list.  If your blog isn't visible in my list, please accept my apologies, and please don't think I'm ignoring you.  I'm just usually knitting.  Also, I'm lazy.

Anyway.  Google Reader has been my standby for a while now.  It keeps track of all the blogs to which I subscribe. I have one little icon on my bookmark toolbar and all I have to do is click there - and instantly, there I have a list of all the new posts which are waiting to be read.  Lovely!

Except that Google are going to throw it in the bin.

They've given us quite a lot of notice - 1st July 2013 will be the date of its demise.

What to use instead?  I asked Google yesterday, as one does nowadays, and the consensus of opinion seemed to be that Feedly was the way to go.

So off I went, and yesterday everything seemed to be fine.  I worked out how to go from just seeing the first few sentences of a post, to seeing the whole of a post - I worked out how to mark a post as read, when it was a short post and there was no scrolling down to be done - and I worked out how to move through the list.  All very intuitive and user friendly. This was a keeper.  I bookmarked my Feedly Homepage. Good!

Today, not so good.  Feedly just keeps telling me 'synchronizing feedly v. 14.0.468. Please wait..'

Grrrrr.  What am I doing wrong?  Help!

Also - darning?  Anybody?  Is it only me?

Friday, 15 March 2013


The last week has rather got the better of me.  But here I am, finally.

I have no pretty pictures of knitting to show you, because I've been working on another photography garment for Rowan.  It is all packed up and sent off now, anyway.  Another new yarn - really pretty, and lovely to knit with, but I was a bit less enamoured with it whilst doing the finishing work. But maybe that was just me.

Beautiful fabric, though, without a doubt, and the finished garment was gorgeous.  I did take some pictures, and I shall be able to talk more about the garment when the pattern is released - and I don't know when that will be.  This was Thing H, just for future reference - if I don't write that down somewhere, I know that I will forget it.

What else - there were several things that I wanted to talk about regarding blogs.  Today, two blogs that I have discovered in recent months.

Dovegreyreaderscribbles is first.   This lady lives in Devon, she used to be a community nurse, she knits, she quilts, she reads, and she writes beautifully.  Go, read, and fall in love.  And then do please come back again!

Now, TomofHolland.   This gentleman lives on the South Coast, he knits, he sews, and he darns.  And he writes beautifully too.   I too used to do a lot of handsewing, so I find his posts about sewing very interesting.  And he mends things too! - in fact he mends things beautifully.  I like mending things. I have always thought that mends do not always need to be invisible.  Very often they benefit from being visible - and it turns out that Tom of Holland agrees with this principle entirely.

Do read his post about mending That Green Cardigan.   It is wonderful!   And then, do read his post about mending a vintage Aquascutum coat with a terrible hole at the side, and a nasty tear where the pocket attached, quite awkward to deal with - and such a tidy result!   I could wish for the opportunity to try such a thing, but alas there are no vintage Aquascutum coats in my wardrobe in the first place, so I will just have to enjoy this one vicariously.

Regarding handsewing - in my student days I had no sewing machine, and I made a lot of my own clothes, so handsewing was what I did, and I became quite good at it (says she modestly).   I have had an electric sewing machine since then but to be honest I did not really like it, and I soon returned to a machine similar to that which my mother used to have, an old Singer.  Mine is about 120 years old and still in good working order   However I rarely use it.  Usually I still sew by hand.

Now, regarding darning.  I darn socks routinely, and patching and mending is also routine for me.  There is always a pile of mending waiting to be done.  And I'm sure this is the case for everyone.   Or am I wrong?

Because Tom of Holland is running classes in darning.  And this has me just a bit puzzled.   Is darning really such a lost art?    I thought everybody knew how to do it.  

Is this not the case......?

Friday, 8 March 2013


I always associate the name Santorini with those gorgeous domed roofs against the blue Aegean Sea - or is it actually the Aegean?  Geography has never been my strong point....

Anyway, something like this -

Blue sky - blue dome - blue sea - and preferably with some beautiful flowers spilling out of terracotta pots on a stone terrace - you'll just have to imagine them....  I've never been there, but I can dream.....

And then Rowan produced this design in Rowan 53 and called it Santorini, which is where that particular story was photographed - and you know, beautiful though it was, it didn't quite click for me.

Not quite.  Almost, though.  It had the flowers ....

Then a friend of mine, Jane Crowfoot, asked me to knit up this design for her, but with some changes.   A little alteration to the shoulderline - lose the sleeves and just have a neat little ribbed border instead - and change the colours.  The changes to the colours - well, let us just say that the changes were quite drastic.

We both thought they would work - and let's face it, Jane is a very experienced designer, and she does know what she's doing when it comes to colour and shape.  And when I opened the parcel of yarn, I knew in my heart of hearts that this couldn't be anything but stunning.

But you know how it is - you still want to see it for real.  You still want to see the actual fabric,So I zoomed through the back as fast as I could, and then zoomed up the front to where the colourwork started, and six days after I'd started, I'd reached this point.

It was going to work.

A few days later it was looking even better -

And the knitting did not take long to finish.   (Those locking stitch markers lurking at the side are for keeping count of rows.  That's my usual trick, and a very useful one too, I think.)

We will not discuss the amount of time spent sewing in ends on the back.  This took longer than all the knitting, including the colourwork.  But it was worth it.

Less than three weeks after I started, this was what I had.

I was so pleased with it.  It isn't very often that the opportunity comes along to knit something like this, and I knew that this was something very special.

The flowers had really worked beautifully in their new colours, and the blue background was just perfect.

And then! - Jane Crowfoot sent me some more pictures.  Her lovely daughter had very kindly agreed to model this garment, and it looks even better in wear.  Also, of course, Jane takes much better pictures than I do.

Here it is then - Santorini.   I'm really rather pleased with this.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Beaded Boa

I have just realised that I have yet to write about this rather lovely thing.

This was a sample knit for Alison Crowther-Smith, and it really is pretty.

Two shades of Rowan's Kidsilk Haze - Ultra and Mist are used here - plus lots of clear silver-lined beads to outline the bell-shaped ruffles.  The beads add a pleasing weight, and mean that the boa will drape beautifully and be well-behaved in wear.

This was great fun to knit, and it is quite gloriously decorative.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Blink, and you've missed it....

By which I mean the Rowan preview videos - it seems that they were not supposed to be released just yet, and they've been taken down.

From Rowan's facebook page:

Whoops a daisy! We accidently released a preview of our Autumn Winter 2013 collections. We’ve now removed it but, if you were one of the lucky ones who managed to catch a peek then we hope you liked it!!!

Ah well, it did seem a bit too good to be true!   And yes, I did like it very much!

On another note entirely, I am going to sell my spinning wheel.  More on this very soon - I need to take some photographs.  It is a Wee Peggy - one of the originals, made in the early 1970's from what I can discover, and it is in good condition - it's been used, looked after, and loved.  This is a castle wheel, very similar to an Ashford Traveller, and it has a built in Lazy Kate.  I am going to sell it together with all the bobbins and also two Ashford carders - full size, hardly used.  Buyer collects.  I shall be listing it on eBay - but in the meantime....
Any offers?

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Rowan again

I've managed to get Blogger to behave itself and recognise the Angora Haze video.

I am quite ridiculously proud of this.  Not getting Blogger to behave - but the video itself, more specifically, seeing one of the garments in the video.  This is daft, because it is not as if it is the Rowan magazine itself, and the brochure isn't even released yet.

But the video is released.  Thing A might just have something to do with the first garment in the video, which is called Audrey, and is also to be seen on the front cover.

Edited to add:   And now I cannot get it to play in the blog post.  This is very frustrating.  Why will it not play? It just keeps telling me that 'an error occurred' and that I should try again later. Is there anything that I can do to make it play?   Anyone?

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Rowan 54

I can't keep quiet about this!

Rowan have posted a video preview of the next magazine, which will be released this summer.

So many beautiful things, I hardly know where to start.  I want to cast on for Anatolia immediately, if not sooner, and I also want to make all the garments from Kaffe Fassett.

There are some new yarns too - foremost among which, to my mind, is Angora Haze, which has its own brochure.    There's a video for that, too, but I can't get Blogger to recognise it, which is rather frustrating.  But you can see it if you go here.

The beautiful cardigan on the front cover of that particular brochure might perhaps have had something to do with me.......

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Two things finished!

Today, first of all,  I'd like to say thankyou to everyone who has been in touch, both through the comments and otherwise.   We're still feeling a bit stunned here, but I think we're heading back towards normal again.  My husband is still extremely tired, but he is doing well.

I have finished two things over the last couple of days, and they are both for other people.

The first thing is a little Debbie Bliss baby coat with a hood - you might perhaps  have read about it here - unfortunately the hood had accidentally been knitted on back to front, and some sorting out was required.   This was a real crisis for a new knitter, as you can well imagine.

I suggested picking up stitches below where the hood was joined to the front, and also above, just to be on the safe side.  Then it would be possible to snip a single stitch in the middle of the join and unpick out to each side, and so separate the hood from the two fronts.  After that, turning the hood round the right way, and grafting it back in place, taking care to keep the pattern correct.

Jannette would normally have done this herself but unfortunately had hurt her hand.  So between them, she and her customer decided to send it to me for sorting out and finishing.  I was happy to be able to help.

It all worked out beautifully, and I'm very pleased to have been able to post this back to its rightful owner.

Now the second thing!  I am rather pleased about this, too.

I have finished Alison Crowther-Smith's Colourwash Mobius Cowl, and it is just so gorgeous.   As usual my pictures don't do it justice at all.

Alison's colourwash technique produces a gentle shaded colour shift, very subtle and beautiful.  The colours here are Dewberry, Majestic, and Shadow - this takes the colour from a soft true purple, through a greyed lilac, to a pearly pale Ashes of Roses.....

The edge is finished with a soft ruffle - and that in turn is finished with a fluffy cast-off, which really does add the finishing touch.

The construction is a Mobius strip, worked all in one piece.  It is great fun to knit, I can tell you, and it is fascinating watching the fabric grow, forming this wonderful shape.    This is the first time I've made one of these, but I am sure it won't be the last.

Now, back to the Beaded Boa....  I'm having a lot of fun here!

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Life is precious

On Thursday evening - goodness, I posted on here earlier that day, it feels as if that was about a week ago - that evening, my husband had what turned out to be a TIA, sort of a mini-stroke.  Fortunately I was with him when it happened, and was able to call for help.  The ambulance arrived very quickly and took him off to the local hospital, where luckily there is a Stroke Unit.  He is now home and although extremely tired, he is basically all back to normal again.

It was not like the thing that we've all seen so much on the television recently - FAST - about how to recognise a stroke happening.  No face dropping on one side, no problems smiling or raising arms, no speech problems, not at that point.  There was one half closed eye, that was all.   I noticed this and started asking questions, which is how I know about there being no problems with those other things.  One eye half closed, that was all.  Then - feeling sick (not that I knew this at the time as he was unable to speak by now, but I didn't know that at the time either), and then being sick.  After that it all got a whole lot worse, very fast indeed.  To be honest I was not absolutely sure what was going on but I just grabbed the phone.

Anyway, thanks to the NHS, all is well.

There has been no knitting progress whatsoever.

I did work on the Beaded Boa for about half an hour on Thursday evening - I was put in a waiting room whilst my husband was off having various scans, and there is nothing quite like knitting to distract one from stressful situations.   But after about twenty minutes I discovered that I'd made a mistake on the row before - not really surprising in the circumstances, I suppose - and had to unpick back to that point.  So I got it all straight again, and then I was called back in.

Yesterday is just a sort of haze.  I had not really slept the night before - perhaps three hours? - and I had far too much coffee to compensate.   Poor little Jess spent the day trying to stay as close to me as possible, and at the same time watch the front door in case Steve reappeared.  She disapproves of one of us being absent at the best of times, and the events of Thursday evening had clearly upset her considerably.

Today we've been talking a lot.

And tomorrow I plan to knit.

Thursday, 14 February 2013


Nothing major, really.  But I just could not resist casting on for something else.

This is another new design from Alison Crowther-Smith, a Beaded Boa.

With pretty silver-lined clear glass beads, as you can see.

My camera is playing tricks again - that ball of Kidsilk Haze is in reality a lovely clear violet colour, 659 Ultra.  Neither of these pictures are actually a very good representation of the true colour, but if you have a look at Rowan's Kidsilk Haze information page - here - then you can see what it is really like.

Anyway, this morning I've been sitting in the tiny waiting area of the local place that fixes windscreens, knitting away on this pretty thing, placing beads and enjoying the sunshine - entirely happy.  (Lots of chips on the windscreen recently, all now sorted out.)

There were plenty of glances at the knitting, and one chap actually stopped and asked me what I was making, because he thought that his wife would like it a lot - that was her favourite colour, he said, and she would love the beads and the fluffiness as well.     I pointed him towards Ali's website.  So, Ali, if you get an enquiry about something that their husband saw somebody knitting in a waiting room - it will be this.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

I'm a happy knitter

Finally a quiet day. The last couple of weeks have been far too busy.  Really, I must try to get into the habit of writing a post first thing in the morning again.  When I don't post for more than a week, I end up with so many things that I want to write about that I don't know where to begin.

What's on the needles is usually a good place to start, I believe.  Even better - what's not on the needles any more.

And that would be Santorini, which is the cover garment from Rowan 53, which I knitted for a private commission.    I've changed the colour presentation to prevent it from being identifiable, which is why it is in shades of grey.  In real life it is not grey at all, but very colourful and beautiful.

I did enjoy knitting this.   Less than three weeks from start to finish, and a stunning result.  And yes, I would make one for myself.  (And that one probably would be grey.)

I do like intarsia, both the process and the result.

On the needles at the moment is something equally gorgeous, and very different.

This is a sample for Alison Crowther-Smith - a new design.  This is a Colourwash Mobius Cowl - and I am having great fun with it.  In fact I can't remember when I last enjoyed knitting something as much as this - if that makes any sort of sense.

Not only I am actually knitting a mobius 'thing', which I haven't, before now - but also I am using Alison's lovely Colourwash technique, which is what produces the beautiful shading.  And all in Kidsilk Haze - honestly, I don't think knitting gets much better than this.

There are only three colours involved here - Dewberry, which is a clear purple;  Majestic, which is one of Rowan's chameleon colours, a sort of greyed lilac; and Shadow, which is a relatively new shade, and which I think is perhaps best described as a pale pearly Ashes of Roses.  It is a very 1930's - ish colour, and very beautiful.

I am currently working on the cast-off, which may take a little while to finish, but is eminently worthwhile because of the lovely fluffy result.

This cowl is very luxurious, and I'm looking forward to seeing what it is like when it is off the needles.

More Kidsilk Haze after that, again for Alison - and then another photography garment for Rowan, in yet another new yarn, which I must not show you and about which I must not drop any hints.  And after that, more things for another designer, for another book....

(Yes, the new yarn is gorgeous. I'm sure I'm allowed to say that.)

My own knitting? - I'll get there in the end!

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Just a minute..... and some thoughts on intarsia

It's been very quiet around here recently.

I'm working on the garment commission, and am well into the colourwork now.  This is complex, and does not allow for distractions - reading whilst knitting, as usual? - not a chance.  Even conversation can become a bit disjointed, because I keep stopping and looking at the chart for just a minute.... and completely forget what we were talking about.  Somewhat anti-social, really.  But I'm enjoying the knitting.

Now, something that I have been meaning to mention.

Lots of people don't like knitting intarsia - indeed, think that they can't knit intarsia - because they are unhappy about how it looks when it comes off the needles.  Almost invariably, they set the work aside because they are so disappointed, and cannot bring themselves to take it any further.

There is, however, a secret  regarding intarsia.

It always looks messy, at first.

But then you neaten it up, adjusting the stitches if necessary with the tip of a needle, and darning in the ends on the back along the colour joins.  This makes all the difference, and it can be really quite surprising how much better the work looks afterwards.

So if you are in the I-don't-enjoy-intarsia camp - or even if you think you are in the I-can't-do-intarsia camp -perhaps consider giving it another try, and this time, sew in the ends.  You may be pleasantly surprised with the results.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013


I had absolutely no idea that there was anything on Pinterest connected with me.

Until this evening, that is - when I was looking through the blog statistics and discovered this, which has really surprised me.

A bit parky

It is still quite chilly here.  We don't have anything by way of sub-zero temperatures, it is just hovering a few degrees above freezing - not dissimilar to being inside a fridge.  This means, of course, that all the snow is thawing, leaving everything very wet.  If we do get another hard frost, then there will be a lot of black ice.

It has been trying to snow again all day today, but a bit half-heartedly, and it hasn't stayed.  I would be very happy indeed to see the sun come out tomorrow and dry everything off a bit, but that does seem rather unlikely.  Still, spring isn't so very far away.

I did make a pair of fingerless mitts over the weekend, using some oddments of Felted Tweed Aran left over from my Victor(ia), and 4mm needles to give a dense fabric.  They are very warm and ideal for dog walking as I don't need to keep taking them off - but the fabric is oddly prickly in wear.  This is unexpected as I've had no such issues with the pullover made from the same yarn.   I think that perhaps I should wash them and give them a rinse in fabric conditioner.

Here they are, looking rather unexciting.   But they are certainly useful.  The pattern, which incidentally is very well written indeed, can be found here.   It is unusual because of the neatly fitted thumb, which the designer credits to June Hemmons Hiatt, author of The Principles of Knitting.  The idea is one to remember, as it makes a considerable difference to the fit.

I'm working on a privately commissioned garment at the moment.  I do wish that I could put up some pictures as it really is going to be very gorgeous, but that wouldn't be appropriate.  At the moment I am flying along as nothing complicated is happening, and I expect to continue flying along until I hit the colourwork, at which point there will be a dramatic slow-down.

In the meantime though, it is nice to see the work growing so quickly.

Friday, 18 January 2013

Snow day

This morning we've got several inches of snow, and it is still coming down quite hard.

Every winter Jess greets the first snowfall with fresh amazement; it really is as if she completely forgets about it from year to year.  Right now she is out in the garden yet again - wading around in it, biting it, throwing it up in the air, and generally messing around, playing like a puppy.  She is very reluctant to come in, but eventually the cold brings her back to the house, wanting to be dried off and to have a little nap in a warm corner - and then as soon as she wakes, she wants to go out again.  It is lovely seeing her having such fun.

This is good weather for staying indoors and knitting, if you ask me.  Or crocheting, as in my case.

I've very nearly finished the crochet squares now - I have one in progress, and after that there is just one more remaining. Working these squares in different stitches has reminded me of when I did something like this once before.  When I was in my teens I taught myself to crochet, from a book belonging to my mother.  There was a section illustrating a couple of dozen different stitches, and I worked my way through the lot.  I didn't keep the squares, I just unravelled each one when I'd got the hang of the new stitch, and re-used the yarn for the next one.

Back then, I was working with the yarn carried in my right hand, and taking the yarn round the hook as if to knit.  This is because the diagrams in the book did not actually show hands in any of the 'how-to-crochet' section - there was just a hook, and the yarn, floating in midair.  So I just did what came naturally - being exclusively a right-hand-carry knitter, having only learnt that way - and had the yarn in my right hand for crochet as well.

When I started working as a Rowan DC at John Lewis a few years ago, I decided that I had to learn to crochet in the more usual way - with the yarn in the left hand.   This did not come easily at first, but now I am very glad that I made the change, and I much prefer working this way.  My tension is firmer and more even, and my hands and wrists are more comfortable.

I'm looking forward to finishing these squares though, and getting on with knitting something appropriately woolly that I can actually wear.  As usual after finishing a paid project, I want something for myself - and something quickly finished, too.  A new hat? - or mittens? - or fingerless gloves?  I've also just discovered this Reversible Stripes Scarf pattern - that's a free pattern, by the way -  and am very taken with it, but that's hardly going to be a quick knit.  So perhaps the fingerless gloves first, I think.  In Felted Tweed Aran, they would be a very quick knit, and that's a very sensible design, with the fold-down top.

Maybe I'll be able to cast on later today.  That would be good.

Monday, 14 January 2013

How did that happen?

I don't know how it comes to be halfway through January already - but it is no bad thing.  This is because it means that we are now halfway through winter, and this is definitely a pleasant thought, even though the worst of the weather is undoubtedly still to come.  The evenings are getting noticeably lighter now, and this is A Good Thing.

Today I had yet another trek up the M3 to the dentist, and it was a great relief to discover that the horribly expensive things that were initially mentioned as possibly being required are not going to be needed after all.  No root canal, no metal post, no crown.  There does have to be one final visit to finish everything off appropriately - but that's the lot.  We hope.

In general it has been very quiet here, and I've been busy.

One thing that I have actually completed is someone else's knitting.   A lady in her 80's (the mother of someone that I know) had knitted Seth, from Kim Hargreaves book Shadows, and was unable to finish it because she had injured her hand.  So I said I'd do it, and a parcel of knitting duly arrived.  

Incidentally, this caused a big double take from my husband, who came back from walking the dog to discover me with a lapful of knitting which he had certainly never seen before.  (Where did that lot come from?  Did you do that?)

All that I had to do was knit the last little section, block the pieces, seam, work the buttonband and neckband, block one last time, and send it back to its rightful owner.  This pattern is full of lovely little tailoring details, as is often the case with Kim Hargreaves' patterns, and I always enjoy finishing a garment - this one was no exception.  

I hope that the recipient will wear it in good health.  I do know that she is a very good knitter - I have rarely seen such beautiful even tension.

Once again I am working on the crochet swatches.  I was waiting for more yarn colours at one point, but that duly turned up, and all I need now is to actually get on and finish them off.

My husband has started asking plaintively if I am still knitting Fastnet.  Yes I am - just rather slowly.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Summer Stole

I can talk about it now!

Back in October, I was knitting this beautiful thing.

Kidsilk Haze in Steel, with lots and lots of silver-lined glass beads from Debbie Abrahams.

This is the Summer Stole, which will be the June pattern for Debbie's Bead Club 2013 - go, read all about it.  Signups are open now.

The designer is, of course, Alison Crowther Smith.   Go and have a read there too - Ali takes lovely pictures, unlike me.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

New Year

So here we are on the other side, again.   Still here, still knitting.  (And the fence is still standing, just.)

Last year was actually quite productive.  I completed 35 separate projects, although rather a lot of them were other people's knitting, and I cannot show pictures of several of those yet.

I have been somewhat distracted from my usual routine over the last few days.  The blame for that goes to a broken tooth, literally half an hour after the turn of the year.  I do now have a temporary fix, which is a great relief, I can tell you.   I've got to go back, of course, and get it fixed properly, and that is a moderately big deal.

Our dentist is not exactly local, you see.  We drive all the way up to Surrey - about two hours in the car, if the traffic is light - and we consider it entirely worthwhile, because of the standard of his work.  It is not common to find a dentist in the UK who is a member of the American Dental Association, as ours is, and the waiting room tends to be full of accents from the other side of the pond.  People do travel quite a long way to see him, and our two hour drive is not exceptional in context.

I finished the crochet swatches - well, most of them.  I am still waiting for two colours of yarn, when that turns up I shall be able to do the rest.  The ones which I have finished went back to the designer, who is pleased with them.  I was not quite so stupidly anxious about whether they would be acceptable, as I have been previously - perhaps I am actually getting over that, which would be sensible.  

And it has just occurred to me that I forgot to take pictures of the swatches before I sent them off .....  Well, darn.