Friday 30 April 2010


Today's topic for Knit & Crochet Blog week is location: where do you knit ?

I don't need words to answer, just this:

Thursday 29 April 2010

Onward and Upward

Today's topic for Knit & Crochet Blog
week is new skills: anything new we want to learn.

Not to sound like a stick-in-the-mud, as in, I know what I like and I like what I know, at the moment there are no new skills vis-a-vis knitting that I want to learn urgently. The idea of knitting socks is nudging at me ever so gently in the darker recesses of my mind, but I have seen what happens to people once that particular obsession is unchained - and just let me tell you, it isn't pretty.

Instead, what I want to do is get better at what I already do - to refine and hone my skills, if you will. I have found already that my patience has increased with exercise; certainly self-discipline has - I do finish what I start even if I don't like it overmuch; the only exception being DH's Sweater of Doom (posted about here) ...

Where I lack discipline is over my curiosity:
the amount of time I spend looking at people's
blogs, and Ravelry, I ought to spend actually
knitting. I could have covered the Forth
Bridge by now.

So there it is. I guess my aims are like the Olympic motto: swifter, higher, stronger .....

Tuesday 27 April 2010

When I Grow Up

I have combined the topic for today's Knit & Crochet Week post, aspirational/inspirational patterns, with tomorrow's, inspirational people, as to me they are inextricably intertwined ... so to explain my choice of people, I have to explain my favorite type of knitting. Some people drool over socks. Others salivate over gloves. Some unusual people spend years knitting scarves.

For me, it's lace. I'm fascinated by it - so intricate, pretty and it simply looks fabulous in almost any kind of yarn. And in reality, it can also deceptive - some of the simplest patterns look like disguised rocket science when they're done: so if one is looking for the Awesome factor from beholders or recipients, Lace Knitting is where it's at.

A few of my friends are skilled lace knitters, like Heathwitch, Ania and Helene. I like to look at their work and be envious. The lace knitter/designer I like most is Linda Choo - her patterns are very clearly written (I don't like charts, although she offers these too) with plenty of instructions: I am knitting her Willow Leaf Stole at the moment. I've just noticed she's a retired engineer, which possibly explains the clarity of the instructions.

And because I love lace, what I aspire to is traditional Shetland Lace or Estonian Lace. It is the ultimate pipedream - I have neither the patience, eyesight, attention to detail, almost invisible needles or ability to handle delayed gratification that are necessary. But they have an unsurpassed beauty ...

Oddly enough, the person whose work I admire the most is actually a crocheter: for beauty, style, skill and just wow effect, Miroslava Gorokhovich's work is second to none.

I'm really looking forward to see who and/or what the other Knit & Crochet Week bloggers choose for these topics ....

Monday 26 April 2010

Crafty Beginnings

The theme for the first post of Knit & Crochet Blog Week is 'how did you start'. This is what drove me to delve into the gazillion photo albums at my Dad's house - to find a picture of my maternal great-grandmother, Annie Gorman nee Hewitt.

Born the eldest of thirteen in 1888, I shudder to think of how tough her life must have been, and how hard she must have worked.

My mother had a very close relationship with her - far closer than with her own mother, whom she cordially hated - and I assume it must have been G'ma (pronounced Jeema), as we all called her from her signature on her letters, that taught my mother to knit.

I remember going to visit with her in the 1970s (it turns out from the photos that my mother actually labelled, in a departure from her usual habit, that it was 1973) and it was then that she taught me the basics of knitting and crochet; it must have been the very basics, as I was around 6 or 7 and not awfully good at sitting still for any length of time.

She had very bad arthritis in her hands, but oddly enough, they had twisted in a way that was good for holding the yarn and maintaining tension. She was very patient, and I did carry around on a pair of small needles for some time the obligatory beginner's scarf that we all know and despise, that lasts forever, never grows in length, is never completed, and is full of dropped stitches and snaggledy bits poking out. I have no idea what happened to it.

My mother also knitted - I remember with affection lovely warm school sweaters, and a pale blue mehusive bulky sweater I wore to death in my teens - I'm positive she never knitted a test swatch ever. After she died, when we were sorting out some of her things, my father offered all her knitting needles, yarns and patterns to my sister and I; unfortunately, neither of us were interested at the time, so my sister's MIL was the lucky recipient of a couple of boxes of random knitting stuff.

G'ma died aged 96 in 1984, a few years after the only one of her siblings that I knew, my Great-Aunt Ivy. As an aside, they were both tiny women - I remember walking down the road with one on either arm when I was 8 or 9 years old, and I was the same height as them, although I was not a tall child.

Anyway, the basics that she taught me came in very handy when I picked up knitting again a couple of years ago; and I like the idea that a bit of G'ma remains with me through this skill that she shared with me.

Thursday 22 April 2010

Alone Again ....

The week is coming to a close. DH works away all week, in effect making me a single parent most of the time; this is not quite so bad as it might sound - we (the kids and I) have a definite routine, I can eat anti-social foods, I have total power over the TV remote, I don't shave my legs or other places (in the winter at least), I get the bed to myself (6'4'' tall and around 250 lbs takes up a LOT of space - and let's not even mention the chainsaw snoring), and really he doesn't know what I do during the week: I can be as lazy or efficient as I like, as long as by Friday things look as if I've Done Something.

Please don't mistake - it's me that feels the pressure to clean the house manically every Thursday so that DH may actually be conned into believing the house looks this way all the time. My friend Alison has it better - her DH is away for months at a time.

The downsides to this ? I didn't get married to just see him on the weekends, the kids really miss him, he's missing out on them, and I don't eat real food during the week. An odd personal plus was that this way of living enabled me to firstly recognize some of my control issues, and then secondly, allowed me to shed them. I don't care that at the weekends, the routine is shot to hell. I don't care that nothing is where it should be. I can even live with the mess and muck all over the house. I can let it all pass by, even sometimes engage in spontaneity, and yet the sky does not fall on my head. I don't think mellowing so much comes with age, as with a different mindset.

But after a bad day and an alcohol-free cold bath of pathetic self-pity, it's like this ...

Monday 19 April 2010

Knit & Crochet Blog Week

My friend Mimi has organized a Knit & Crochet Blog week, running from 26th April to 2nd May. The idea is to post daily, and to aid this, she has chosen some topics which broadly outline the subject matter for the day. You can read the topics ahead of time, if you're the sort of person who likes to plan, or at least have a rough idea of what you're going to write about, or you can wing it and see the topic on the day itself .....

I don't think it's a spoiler to say, that having looked at the topics, I spent some time at my father's house unearthing some old photo albums ....

You'll see also that I have a new, limited edition, blog roll in the sidebar, of blogs of the other people who are taking part. Ravelry members who are taking part can also be found here. If you would like to take part, pop along to Mimi's blog, download the cute banner she created, and let her know in the comments section ....

Friday 16 April 2010

New Experience

Well, I've had an interesting couple of days ... yesterday I spent blitzing the house, as yesterday I hosted a meet & greet thingy for Ben Gummer, one of the candidate MPs for my town. How this happened, I'm really not quite sure, but I thoroughly enjoyed meeting some more of my neighbors, with most of whom I had a good chat. Ben is the only candidate so far who has bothered to go out and about, and actually talk to real people; he tried to answer at least some of the questions/concerns we had, which last night ranged from the NHS (a hospital matron), education (a school governor & parents), jobs/the economy (a retail manager), and disability funding right through to how on earth these MPs secured Legal Aid. Putting a real person behind the name and face has real impact, from the talk I heard between my neighbors afterwards. Although I'm not sure looking so young is helpful, having a solid local record and roots certainly will.

Something that raised my eyebrows into my hairline was a suggestion from the formidably efficient Kathy Kenna that I should consider becoming a local councillor, and could she talk to me about it next year. Currently I am sniffing round the idea like a child with broccoli on its plate for the first time - it's alien and looks dangerous.

So revelling in a clean house, with the kids on a playdate for the afternoon, I finished the scarf I've now named 'Spring Scarf' - 5 repeats of Vine Stitch, in Jojoland Melody. Even after blocking, I still don't like the yarn - it is softer after washing and fabric conditioner, but the color gradations are irregular, and although both balls that I used were the same dyelot, I don't think it looks like it: it varies from a deep teal to a light lime green.



stitch detail


Thursday 15 April 2010

Sunday 11 April 2010

The Sap is Rising

What with the lovely sunny weather recently, I could no longer deny the call of the garden. Garden describes it loosely - the back is 2/3 patio and 1/3 gravel (not our choice) and the front is a rectangular handkerchief. So I have to be really selective in my choice of plants, and grow a lot of things in containers.

The containers are looking very Spring-y: daffodils, narcissi and pansies in flower, wallflowers - or gillyflowers as they are sometimes still called - on the verge of flowering. My pink jasmine is in bud, my scented patio roses (yes, they do exist, although not many of them) have fresh green baby leaves; my bronze fennel and lovage are back, and the violets are flowering. I even have some hopes of survival of the collection of dry sticks that last summer was my lemon verbena.

I have a space of maybe 3' x 3' to fill in the front, where last year I had a huge mallow; it liked the position so much, it was taking over everything, so I got DH to uproot it in autumn. Budget and scent are key when I come to choose what will go there. Suggestions welcome.

But anyway, it's all swept, checked over and trimmed, and DH made a trip to the tip with the stuff that had been lying around 'just in case'. I figured, since we obviously hadn't used this stuff for at least 6 months, we no longer needed it and would be better off for the space.

I've switched over from Radio 4, as I already can't take how much discussion there is about the election. I wonder what they talked about before. I found this instead. I recommend this at pretty much top volume as an accompaniment for housework.

I plod on with the Jojoland Melody scarf. I do not like it. It is gradated shades of green rather than the teal I wanted. It has big lumps of fluff where it has come unplied at various points. And worst of all, it feels scratchy. Maybe after washing, conditioning and blocking the feel will improve.

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Let the Good Times Roll

We had a lovely Bank Holiday weekend - DH was home for all of it, and cooked for all of it, which is why it took me well over an hour to clean our matchbox of a kitchen this morning; but it was absolutely worth it: I am replete with proper, tasty nourishment.

Nanny came to visit, which it was lovely to see her, and the kids were thrilled. BIL and his wife also visited - the new baby is gorgeous, and because I have yet another cold, I couldn't smell his poopy bum - although apparently it was quite pervasively pungent. Auntie Fashion and her family are also over for a few days. So it's been a good Family Time all round.

My soap swap box got to its destination in Holland in just over a week - by Airmail. I could have swum and got it there quicker. But at least it didn't spend 6 weeks in a foreign postal system only to be returned to me, as happened last time when the swap hostess was in France

I started knitting a sweater for myself, which was designed for Wendy Monaco yarn- not made anymore, and I couldn't find its yardage anywhere; however, it turns out the yardage of Patons Flower Garden is only 60m per 50g. It took me nearly 4 balls to do the back, in 34'' size. I had bought a pack of 10 x 50g. I do not have enough to anything like complete the pattern, so my choices are to find some more of the yarn and buy, say, another 10 balls or so (expensive when I had not allowed for this at all and have no budget for anything, let alone yarn); frog it and knit something for Mini-Diva; rip it back to the start of the raglan decreases, and alter the pattern to a tank top or shell. I like the last option best, but this will mess with a whole bunch of aspects of the pattern - the number of stitches for the back of the neck being the main one. So it is sitting in the Naughty Corner while I contemplate my lack of ability to gamble and win ...

So using Jojoland Melody Superwash I cast on for a scarf for my oldest best friend. I did this several times, actually. Doubling the width of Branching Out, I tried it with 3.25mm, 4.0mm, 5.00mm, 6.00mm and finally 8mm needles. I didn't like the look of it at any time; even allowing for the fact that it would need to be blocked within an inch of its life, it just did not look anything special at all. Not Good Enough.

Fortunately I have one of Barbara Walker's Treasuries out from the library; first, I tried the Drooping Elm Leaf, but again it wasn't looking right. I am currently trying Vine Lace, on 3.25mm needles, and it is looking a little bit hopeful.

Today the sun is out, my kitchen and bathroom are spotlessly clean, my second load of washing today is almost on the final spin, the kids are behaving, and I managed to make a halfway decent cup of tea. It's easy to take pleasure in the simple things.

Congratulations or commiserations to Sabine, who is the (un)lucky winner of my April Fool's Giveaway .....

Thursday 1 April 2010

April Fool's Giveaway

Yes, there's a tricksy element involved, but the giveaway itself is absolutely concrete; the joke is what it consists of - it is 3 x 100g balls of this:

It is unloved and forlorn in its garishness, and I am certain there is someone out there who has just the right victim, I mean, person, and project in mind for it. Entry is free, UK postage is free. All you have to do to win is make sure I have your email address when you submit your comment (so I can notify you if you win), and be the LAST person to comment on this blog post today.

I wish you luck - whether to win or not win the yarn depends on your opinion of it .....