Knitting

Today I’m Making – Mini Mania scarf

I think I’m in the final stretch of my mini mania scarf – at least I’ve nearly finished the I Knit London 2018 advent yarn so after that it will just be a matter of adding another grey stripe and that will be it done.

These first two pictures below are from June last year, its quiet bunched up on the needles so you don’t really get the vastness of it. Plus its linen stitch so you can do quite a few rows without increasing very much length. I wonder if the blocking will make it grow much? I haven’t made anything in linen stitch before.

I do want to finish it and get it blocked, I think it’s going to be absolutely stunning and quite possibly enormous, but on the other hand I’m enjoying making it so I don’t want to finish it particularly. These next two pictures are from this week. You can see how much I’ve done if you look for that bright pink stripe.

That’s quite a lot really, when you think every row is equivalent to doing half a row in height because you’re slipping every other stitch. Look at the way the stitch blends the colours though, in that blue stripe there’s cream and two shades of blue, then in the grey stripe there’s a yarn that was yellow with purple and green flecks and then there’s a semi solid green after that. I reckon I only have another two 5g minis to put in. At some point.

The weather here this week is a bit grey and rubbish, we have had some lovely bright days (though still pretty nippy) recently but it looks like we’re about to have a patch of rainy weather so not ideal for outdoor blocking and drying. I fancy blocking it on mats in the back garden, mainly because I think it will be too big to do indoors without taking over the entire living room floor, but also because I think it will dry faster outside on a nice day than indoors with the central heating on. I get too hot to have the heating on much so I’m a bit worried it might go fusty if it hangs around indoors a bit damp for any length of time.

Its not like there’s any rush, I’m not exactly knitting to a deadline if I bought the yarn in 2018, cast it on in 2019 and I’m still knitting it in 2021. I really fancy casting on another one after this as a scrappy project. I think if I made another one I’d cast on far fewer stitches and work it end to end rather than long edge up. God can you imagine if after I block this its too short to wear round my shoulders?

It will be fine. It will be fine. It will be fine. It will be fine. It will be fine. It will be fine.

crochet · Etsy · Shopping · vintage · vintage hair

Snood of the week – Fancy green cotton

A new snood, in infancy.

Today I’m going to finish this snood, I’m making a small one as a custom order for a customer and while she’s said she’s in no rush for it I’d rather get it done than have the poor thing hanging around half done and it’s pretty so I want to finish it. I call this one Fancy Green Snood because its fancy on two levels, the pattern is fancy and the cotton is pretty fancy too. I am resisting calling it Spring Greens (which is the name for it in my head).

I have started this snood and restarted it a few times now, it’s one of those stitches that you have to gauge by eye as you do it and a couple of times now I’ve taken a step back from it and seen a stitch in a row 2-3 rows back that I’m not happy with so I unravel it and do it again. If charged for my snoods by an hourly rate some of them would be in three figures. Still though, if its not right its not right and I have to redo it.

I only have this one ball of this mercerised cotton, I have no idea at all where I bought it so the chances are this is going to be a very limited colourway. Mind you, green is one of my favourite colours so if I do ever see some more of this I’d buy it but that kind of depends on being allowed to go to out to shops that are allowed to open…

That first picture was taken a good week ago, I know that because I’ve finished reading that book and nearly finished another since then. Here’s how it looks right now.

Looks a bit darker than in real life but you get the gist.

I only have the edging to do, a bit of sewing and then Bob’s your uncle, Fanny’s your aunt, we’re all tickety-boo and away she goes.

I do have one more of these in stock in my Etsy shop, its a large one. I think I have enough of this colour to make a medium and a small to complete the set but we’ll have to see how that goes as I make them. The pictures below are of the large size, I put a cream ribbon on this one because there is quite a lot of cream in this yarn and also variegated green is much harder to match to a ribbon!

crafting · Knitting

The Synonym Scarf

Here is the story of my Synonym Scarf so far. I don’t know if you are familiar with IKnit7 – roughly speaking its a group of 7 very cool independent bricks and mortar yarn shops who came up with a really good promotion to help them all get through the trials of lockdown. Basically there is a week-long promotion where each shop in turn puts on a special promotion, with discounts, special offers and exclusive kits, that sort of thing. Its good fun because they also do Instagram lives, virtual shop tours, mystery hunts and there was a Zoom party at the end of the last one because there’s also a massive prize draw that you get entered into if you buy something from at least three of the shops. Look it up. I think there have been two so far, not sure if/when they will do another but as the shops are spread all over the UK you get to have a squizz at shops you might never otherwise have heard of or visited.

In the last one Knit With Attitude had a discount code and I’d really fancied getting a copy of their 10 year anniversary book and I also ‘needed’ a pair of needles for a project so I snapped both up then and there. The book is something else, it’s a really beautiful thing (I think the person that does the photography for Laine magazine did the photos for it) it has 12 projects, all of which have been designed by really talented people. To coincide with the book Knit With Attitude are also running a year long knitalong, on Instagram mainly, taking a different pattern from the book each month. Course I’m right in there, I love to feel included in things. February was the Synonym Scarf, designed by George Cullen, who works at KWA and also curated several colourways of yarn kits to go with it. Obvs I I’ve bought one of those because the pattern is right up my street, being a parallelogram with lots of garter stitch, some simple lace, stripes and i-cord edging. Marvellous.

I went for the Indigo set which gets you three skeins of denimy type blues and a skein of mustard. Colemans is my favourite condiment and mustard suits everyone so a pretty safe bet for me because I tend to wear black, navy or charcoal and accessorise with blue and green with the odd bit of mustard or pink thrown in.

What I’m going to say is, however easy and comforting a pattern is, do not knit it when you are dog-tired or tiddly. I’m just going to leave it at that and if you spot a random thick yellow stripe or a patch of wonky lace we’ll say no more about it.

Knitting

Hardware Jumper

This week I’ve made a bit of progress with my Hardware Jumper, which is a pattern (and yarn) from Erika Knight. I have little to no discipline when making things for myself. If I’m making something for my Etsy shop I’m focussed and deadline driven, but when its for me… It can wait. For years.

This has been the sad life of this jumper, which I love and really want to wear but has been on the needles for a very long time but I’ve nearly finished the back so that means I’m about a quarter in doesn’t it and that feels pretty good.

I bought the yarn on one of the Great London Yarn Crawls, if you’ve never heard of that, it was a yearly event organised by the Yarn in the City team where you paid a very small fee to join one of several groups who visited several yarn shops on pre-planned routes through London and sometimes beyond, ending with a shindig in the evening. If you think that sounds fun, it was. I’m not sure when or if it will happen again, because a) The ‘Rona and b) one half of Yarn in the City emigrated which would make organising an event in London a bit of a hurdle. So this jumper lives in one of my Great London Yarn Crawl bags, though I think this bag might be from a later year. They always did a really nice goody bag on the day too.

I’ve gone a bit off track there but I bought the yarn from Stag & Bow in Forest Hill, it was a complete impulse buy mainly because Erika Knight herself was in the shop doing a sort of trunk show with on the spot advice and I loved this jumper. It’s designed to be knitted using her cotton yarn but I’m not a massive fan of cotton so I plumped for her British Blue (Blue faced Leicester) in the Regents Park shade which is a green toned teal, its a much stronger colour that it looks in my photos.

It was a great day and brilliant to get advice on the yarn substitution from Erika Knight herself, she was very generous with her time and even gave me her studio’s mobile number in case I ran into any problems. I haven’t. The pattern is so clear I really think it would take some effort to stuff it up. So I put that effort in and used the ladder placings from a different size to the jumper I’m actually knitting but it doesn’t make a wild difference.

I cannot tell you how much fun it is doing the ladders, at the time Erika said I’d want to put them in everything and she’s right, I do. Granted the yarn I’m knitting them with is a bit more toothy than what was intended so I do find I have to encourage the stitches to drop all the way down but that’s fun too. I know its going to be fine but there is still that moment when you drop the stitch that you imagine it just dropping away right to the end and unravelling the lot. Totally doesn’t happen. Its the fun sort of fear you get from reading a thriller.

Ideally I’d like to be wearing this when the weather turns colder, it is just beginning to get a bit nippy but it’s not cold, cold so I’m not being exclusive with this jumper yet. That day will surely come quite soon, I’ve started daydreaming about what I can wear under it that will show through the ladders for maximum effect. I’ve set my heart on a gold metallic t-shirt that so far only exists in my imagination.

crafting · Knitting

Today I’m Making… Strictly Socks

Its Strictly season! Thank god for that. I needed a bit of sparkle and fun. You know what else that means don’t you? Its Strictly Sock time. If you don’t know what I’m talking about it’s the sock MAL run by Ali of the Little Drops of Wonderful podcast on YouTube. She runs this very easy going knit along every year where you quite simply knit a pair of socks while you watch Strictly. You’ll have to check the podcast (there’s a Ravelry group too) for all the details but there are prizes and cheating is encouraged so you don’t have to worry about sticking to a load of rules.

Not a ton of progress, admittedly.

I wanted to make a glitzy pair of socks because, obviously, its Strictly. Lucky lucky lucky me West Yorkshire Spinners have brought out their new Christmas yarn – Silent Night and it is sparkly! Its a sort-of stripe in a few shades of night or evening time blues with silver stellina to represent stars. I know. Its perfect.

I love West Yorkshire Spinners, and these Zandra Rhodes earrings which are sadly too heavy to wear except on Zoom meetings.

A couple of weeks ago I popped in to the brilliant Seeded independent yarn shop in Southsea (near Portsmouth) and picked up a ball (and a ball of WYS Candy Cane too for the Stranded Festive Sock Along) and got the free Comet Sock pattern by Winwick Mum too.

I did cast on for the Comet socks but I feel a bit funny about patterned yarn and lace designs together. It just feels like there is too much going on for me but I cast them on anyway knowing it was pretty sure that I wouldn’t like it, but I’m willing to be won over so I gave it a go.

If you can get to Southsea please go to Seeded, its a treat.

Nope. Frogged that. Two problems here, one is that I can’t do variegated and pattern all mixed up, it makes me feel oogly. Look at the picture from the pattern, you really can’t make out the lace pattern can you? The second is, I can’t watch Strictly and do a lace pattern at the same time. Not my brain, not my fingers.

I pulled them back to the rib and now I’m knitting them as just vanilla socks and I love them. The yarn is so pretty and I can just knit, knit, knit and not care if I’m in the middle of a round if I want to stop and just concentrate on Maisie’s amazing samba. Which I did, a bit open mouthed.

By now I’m sure you’re gagging to find out where I bought the best dpn holder ever for this project aren’t you? Its metallic gold and I got it from Pickle-Lily on Etsy. She has a ton of really nice dpn covers and project bags, so well worth a look there. It all came really nicely packaged too so that was a treat. The envelope had a rainbow on, the covers (I bought two) were wrapped in tissue paper and tied with candy striped twine and there was a little thank you note too. Just bloody lovely.

Also, I’ve had my nails done, so had to get those in.

I am going to make the Comet Socks at some point, the pattern looks really pretty but I’ll make them out of a solid colour yarn. I’d like to see the lace pattern clearly so I can appreciate the desigN. I have some Triskelion yarn in a lovely soft pink that I think would work well but I’m in two minds whether I want to use the pink for that or the Curious Handmade cream tea socks. I think what I need is some midnight blue solid sparkly yarn. Where am I going to find that? No really, tell me if you know where I can find that.

crafting

London memories

I’ve been looking through all the images I’ve kept in cloud storage and came across this one from 2017. This is was an absolutely stunning display outside a restaurant at Aldwych in London that I used to pass every day on my way to work. The flowers were all fresh and the colours were just so bright and beautiful. I loved it. It was a highlight of my day the whole time it was there and I would stop for a minute just to look at it from across the road.

Which I’m sure absolutely delighted all my fellow commuters rushing past.

This building is gorgeous too. I loved that the display worked in sympathy with the moulding above it; look at the expression on her face, its just magical. I really recommend looking up when you’re walking around London, or just get on the top deck of a bus and look at things that are above street level, there’s another layer of London up there that will take you right out of whatever ordinary thing you are doing.

This is one of those pictures that I come back to a lot when I want to see something that will lift my mood. I’ve realised looking at this again today that this is the exact colour scheme I’ve been planning for my garden next year.

We moved house at the end of July and have been clearing out what was a pretty scruffy garden, next year we’re going to have a bit of decking laid, the rest is going to be just grass with some stepping stones but on the decking we’re going to have just a few really beautiful pots with flowers in orange, hot pink and bright yellow, so yes it’s exactly this photo that is going to be our inspiration.

crafting

Today I’m Making… red snoods

Classic lipstick red

Today I’m concentrating on restocking my classic red snoods. In the picture it looks a bit brighter than in real life, thus is like the perfect shade of red lipstick, it’s an intense red without being too bright.

I think red can almost be used as a neutral, it will add a pop of colour to a dark outfit without looking too colourful and don’t believe that old wives tale about it clashing with red hair, I’m a redhead and I’ve seen other redheads wearing this shade and it looks cute.

If you’re like me and tend to wear mainly dark colours a red snood can be a nice way to add a bit of colour without feeling overwhelmed by it.

As you may know already I moved house not long ago so quite a lot of my yarn is still in boxes, I have only been able to lay my hands on this one back of red so there won’t be many of these in my shop but it is a staple colour for me so if you miss out this time it will be coming back at some point.

Knitting

Today I’m Making… Shell Cottage Socks

We’re settling in nicely to our new home, we love this area, the people are so friendly and smiley – I don’t think I’ve ever been so happy anywhere I’ve lived.

Of course the house needs a few bits and bobs doing but nothing urgent and we’ve almost unpacked everything, I think there are about 18 boxes left, and most of that is stuff that really belongs in the loft or it’s my craft supplies that I need to buy new storage for. So now that we’re pretty much sorted I have been able to do some lovely relaxing Sunday knitting and what is better than a nice pair of socks?

Teensy bit too long for my blockers

These are my Shell Cottage Socks, they’re a design by Helen Stewart of Curious Handmade and were the first socks in last year’s Sock Society. I love this pattern its so pretty and effective, I actually have two pairs of these on the needles but these grey ones are my favourite. I think they look just like those lovely cobblestone cottages you see driving through Hampshire.

I cast these on when the pattern was first released but because I like to cast on all the things and knit them all at once progress is painfully slow on with every single thing I make. I only recently finished the first sock – a good 18 months later.

I’m quite pleased with my gusset

This is absolutely no reflection on the pattern, I love Curious Handmade patterns, they’re so well written I’d happy knit nothing else but when I enjoy something I want it to last so here we are. I mean really, what is the rush? I’ll still have feet next week…

I’m knitting them on my lovely Knitpro wooden cubic out of Debbie Bliss Rialto Sock, which is very pretty but a bit too keen on unplying for my peace of mind.

Debbie Bliss Rialto Sock
Yarn bowl from Little Wren Potteries on Etsy
This is where they sleep, this bag is from Flying Tiger on one of their £2 sale days.
Lou Lou is not that interested in knitting.

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New house!

We did it! Finally we completed on our new house and we have now moved in. We’re not doing that again in a hurry… the stress!

If I say so myself we have been pretty good about unpacking boxes straight away and getting things sorted out. The only room now that looks awful is the spare room, that’s the space I’m going to use as my home office and workroom and I’m not back at work until Friday so it has become a bit of a dumping ground for the last few boxes full of things I don’t know what to do with. My chair has been delivered today but the desk will arrive on Saturday so I am going to use this weekend to get that room done and the furniture set up ready for Monday.

So here are a few little things we’ve done so far.

Bedside cabinets from The Range

We went shopping yesterday to buy a few things for our new home, at our flat we had built-in furniture in the bedroom so we didn’t have stand-alone bedside tables. The ones we wanted were in a different shop but they only had one in stock so we had a look in The Range and were about to buy a different set when I spotted these in the bathroom section. Our wardrobes are white painted lattice work so these go really well and we love them. We’re going to paint the surrounds of the wardrobes in a washed out grey to match.

At the flat I had a bright blue oversized-knit footstool that really didn’t go here and to be honest it was looking a bit ropey so I picked up this heart shaped crushed velvet one also from The Range. I absolutely adore it. Call me an old softie but I do have a bit of a thing for heart shaped bits and bobs. I also think this would look really nice with a little cat sitting on it but it’s early days to be thinking about getting a pet. At least not while the spare room is full of boxes.

We’re going to replace these three bookcases, there’s another larger one too that has to be replaced at some point but I’d like to have a long bookcase made that fits the space under that white rail and goes along that part of the wall from the radiator to about where the trunk is. The reason I’m showing you this is because I’ve been able to organise my books into colours the way I like them and that has made me feel instantly at home here. We both love the vintage trunk (which is full of my materials) and I like having the grey metal trunks stacked on top of it with the jug of flowers. There’s a small grey metal trunk missing in action somewhere in a box in the spare room that I’m hoping to unearth over the weekend.

Finally just a couple of little kitchen bits.

The previous owner painted the kitchen this glorious shade of pink, which we are definitely keeping. The dinner maracas are out with a good selection of tea and we picked up this super pretty doormat out shopping yesterday which goes really well I think.

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We’re moving! – wardrobe death cleanse

Finally, finally, it looks like we’ll be moving in the next 2-3 weeks. It has been a long road, my friends, and there were many times when I pretty much gave up hope but fingers crossed it looks like it will happen. Soon.

See how I have blocked access to the big windows just in time for the heatwave.

I’ve probably just totally jinxed myself saying that.

You know what this means, don’t you? The dreaded packing. It’s not too bad because we’re moving from a flat to a house so we’ll have more room and in theory that means we could just take everything without sorting it out but that was never going to happen was it? I have recycled so many magazines in these last few weeks I could have probably saved us all the pain of The Great Loo Roll Shortage of 2020 if I’d started when we accepted the offer back in March.

About 6 years ago I started boring my friends with the idea of doing a death cleanse on my wardrobe and curating a perfect capsule wardrobe in its place. Well the time has come. I have a lot of clothes, I started packing them for the move last weekend and I put some things to one side to donate to charity but packed away quite a lot of my clothes leaving myself just what is in the laundry and complete outfits for seven days. I warn you, it looks pretty brutal.

Harsh but fair

Now I’m not claiming this is my forever capsule wardrobe. Let’s not forget the full laundry bin and the ever present ironing pile but this feels pretty good. Today I’ve taken two giant bags of clothes to a donation point and I feel so…. light.

I hit that wardrobe with two ideas in my head. I picked every single item one by one and if it failed both of these questions it was doomed.

1. Does it fit?
2. Do I feel good wearing it?

Now on the face of it this seems pretty simple but for me clothes are loaded with guilt and self-loathing. I very rarely try clothes on in shops because I don’t like to look at my reflection, loaded on top of that I am the worst returner ever. I try things on at home and if they don’t fit or look foul I somehow convince myself that the day will soon come when all that changes. That day does not come.

The problem I then have is those clothes then sit there in my wardrobe for an age and every time I look at them they remind me that I am a good two sizes bigger than I’d like to be and that as yet my breasts have failed to shrink to darling little b-cups.

I’m left with two bags of clothes that I’m not going to wear ahead of the move. The stuff in the laundry and the ironing pile is going to get the same treatment and when I start to flag or waver I imagine I’ve died and Carrie Bradshaw has been sent to sort through my effects. So far nothing with tassels has survived her twisty-mouthed disapproval.