Thursday, 20 November 2008

Several Babies With Warm Heads

It is probably safest not to mention the names of these two, or my relationship with them. After all, you never know who's looking....

.... but I feel it necessary to share the unbelievable cuteness with the world.

Babies F and C are two months old now - they are non-identical twins, and they came into the world after mum and dad had some help with a tiny bit of IVF magic.

Mum didn't know the sex of the babies until they arrived. We did (thanks to their dad). To celebrate their girliness, I knitted pink hats (in the round using Acrylic DK Nastiness and 4mm DPNs) and then knitted darker pink flower motifs and sewed them on.

Mum and Dad were very happy with the hats. The girls are not in a position at present to comment either way. I like to think that they approve of the pink girliness at the very least.

There has been a spate of baby hats in my life of late. This is Baby S (no relation to Babies F and C) who is proudly sporting a Dillknit cabled hat in fashionable white baby DK:

He's a boy, so pink definitely would not do. And any baby who is ANYONE knows that white is this season's colour.

**I have decided to pretend that I have been blogging regularly since July, and that the glaring lack of knitting or any other signs of life from me are definitely the fault of Blogger. Nothing at all to do with me being lazy. Normal service should now - hopefully - be resumed.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Where Does The Time Go?!

I am an awful blogger. Just awful. After all that complaining about others not updating their blogs often enough! That is very nearly 2 months since my last post - dreadful. This post, by way of an update (because life has just gone CRAZY) will be limited to bullet points only, in order that we can all (myself included) get back up to speed, and I may lay out more simply my list of excuses as to why I have been so quiet.

  • I got a new job. This is the main excuse. So I'm back in a real actual office, not working from home, so there is less opportunity to avoid work and knit and blog instead. In fact, there is no opportunity at all.
  • I got a new phone. I use my phone as a camera to post pictures on here. I'm slightly scared of The New Phone as I'm not entirely sure how it works (and it's all full of gadgets and a bit intimidating!), so I need to load all of its software on to the PC and play with it properly.
  • I just haven't been knitting. My flat is roughly the temperature of the core of the sun with the current heatwave, so picking up any sort of wool or yarn is horrible. I do however live in Britain. I think we can assume that the weather will be horrendous again by the end of next week.
  • We've been on holiday. To Glastonbury and Guilfest (the music festivals. Not just to Glastonbury the place. Guilfest is held in Guildford). Both rocked. Hard.

That's pretty much it. Pretty poor on the excuses front, if truth be told. I finished P's cricketing sock, so all being well there'll be pictures of it after my efforts at the weekend. Got to cast on for its mate before I lose the momentum...

I am also forging on with the 60th Birthday Wrap for my mother, but progress is a bit slow - all the wool arrived in skeins rather than in balls (normal in America and pretty much everywhere else, not normal for me) and I had such a bad experience winding up the last ball I'm in no rush to prepare the next one. 2 days, a big mess of tangled yarn, and much hysteria from me - you get the picture. That said - I'm loving the pattern, it's turning out just like I wanted it to, and the yarn just makes me drool. Bring me the skeins...

Thursday, 5 June 2008

The Best Laid Plans

A short, pictureless post today, for the sake of an update. Whilst I realise no one reads my blog except me (at present anway... patience, Sam, patience...), I do always feel slightly let down when the blogs I love to read are not updated more regularly... how dare these people take holidays/have to work/have nothing to blog about/have some sort of interesting life that doesn't involve the internet? I have the same problem right now - nothing to blog.

The loudly heralded car boot sale did not happen, despite our best laid plans. We rocked up, sat about in the rain for 2 hours, failed to get a place in the car park, went home again. But there are plans afoot for this weekend... so hopefully some cash will be forthcoming.

There has been knitting. I had a rush of blood to the head and cracked on with P's cricket sock - no point in photographing it yet as it still doesn't really look "sockish" enough yet, but I've turned the heel and am rocketing towards the toe... I would've thought I'll get it done by this weekend.

Friday, 16 May 2008


I have been conscientiously saving money. I want a new kitchen. I need about 2K. I had about 800.00, and I spent 550.00 on mending the car. I permitted myself a slight sigh as I handed the cash over, but we need a car and I had the money, and I'd rather spend it than get into debt. So the kitchen fund now is just under 200.00, and I need considerably more than that. So I'm doing a car boot sale.

For anyone not in the UK and who might not have a clue what I'm talking about, a car boot sale is a bit like a communal garage or yard sale - you pack all the things you want to sell into the back of your car, drive it up to wherever the sale is being held, and treat it like a shop front. I'm selling a load of stuff - old clothes, bags, shoes, kitchen equipment, and tonnes of knitting. Much of it has been featured on this blog, plus a couple of older scarf and hat sets that I wore for a year, then carefully put away to allow myself to knit another set...! On sorting through my stuff I found some treasures of my art that I'd forgotten about.

Look at these gems! The first picture is of a stripey poncho I made about 2 or 3 years ago, when I first started knitting - it's tiny and would probably fit a 2-3 year old. It was pretty much the first pattern I made up myself! I remember being very impressed with myself that I had managed to successfully pick up and knit stitches to form a collar.

The second picture shows the 2nd pair of socks I ever knitted (thanks of course to the Legendary Cath Grant). They are from the selection of 3 patterns she gave me, these are the "fancy" pair. I would wear these myself, but why hide the "fanciness" inside shoes?! These deserve a better home.

The sale is next week - I'd ideally like to make about 50.00. But who knows what I might achieve, selling fabulous hand knits like these!?

Wednesday, 30 April 2008

All I Want Is A Tiger Hat For Nickmas

They say that Nickmas comes but once a year... well Chez Us it does, in any case. My brother in law, Nick, has been away in Tasmania for 6 months. Apparently Christmas over the barbeque rocked, but it just wasn't the same as Christmas in the UK (cold, usually rainy, everyone asleep by 5pm because we've eaten so much). So we had Christmas last week - since it was in his honour, we named it especially for Nick - NICKMAS.

It turned out to be the best idea ever. Having not seen them over Christmas proper, we had gifts for Nick and his girlfriend, but we got tokens for the rest of the family (just so's everyone had something to open). There was a tree up, mulled wine (produced from two slo-cookers by myself and the famous FIL), and a full on roast turkey dinner. It was the coolest thing ever, everyone loved it.

My gift from my fabulous P was a ball of wool - often I have said I have the best husband ever, see how thoughtful he is (and how he foolishly feeds my addiction). Fortunately for him, he picked a ball in a colour he actually liked and would wear, so I knat him a hat. It's a simple 2/2 rib over 120 stitches on 5mm DPNs (P has a head like a small planet). I was delighted with how the self striping yarn worked out - I've called it the Tiger Hat as it's vaguely tiger striped. Yet to try it on P (in the picture it is modelled by the lovely me), hopefully it'll fit and keep his head warm!

Thursday, 10 April 2008

Scarf For FIL

There has been knitting in my house of late, although the regularity of blog posts does not reflect that. Just when I think I might actually get through a project, another one crops up... and this one genuinely wasn't due to my usual fickleness.

I was commissioned by my father in law (FIL) to knit him a scarf - despite the fact that we're now pretty much in Springtime here, the temperature thinks it's still winter, and the poor man has been suffering with a heavy dose of flu for about 3 weeks. So he wanted a scarf, to protect his neck (as scarves are designed to do). My only instructions were that it was to match his jacket (which is a kind of reddish brown).

I invested a full 3.00 in some acrylic nastiness which was in the sale - but it is aran denim acrylic, and actually feels a lot nicer and softer than usual cheap wool. Sadly my local yarn shop has closed down, and my only other option is a horribly expensive haberdashery - superb for nice baby knits or stuff you've actually slaved over and intend to wear as much as possible, but bad for cheap scarf wool.

I invented the pattern with the raised diamonds, and being a generous soul - here it is:

Yarn: James C. Brett Denim with Wool Aran - 80% acrylic, 20% wool
Needles: 6mm plastic needles (no idea where they came from)

C/o 20 stitches (I held 2 strands together)
Knit 3 rows garter stitch.
Purl 1 row.
Knit 1 row.
Pattern stitch:
Row 1. P9, k2, P9
Row 2. (and all alternate rows) K
Row 3. P7, K2, P2, K2, P7
Row 5. P5, K2, P6, K2, P5
Row 7. P3, K2, P10, K2, P3
Row 9. P1, K2, P14, K2, P1
Row 11. Repeat Row 7
Row 13. Repeat Row 5
Row 15. Repeat Row 3
Row 17. Repeat Row 1
Knit 1 row.
Repeat these 18 Rows until scarf is required length.
Purl 1 row
Knit 3 rows garter stitch.
Cast off.

I blocked it, but it still curls inward slightly on the wrong side as stockinette is wont to do. Doesn't worry me, I like it. Hopefully FIL will too.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008


There are many things in life I'm happy for. P, my house, my job, my enormous CD collection, stuff like that. Today, I'm happy for the Superted I knitted! Here he is, in all his Super 8 inch high glory.
P must talk about my knitting at work - I don't generally make him stuff, I'm aware that he needs to remain pretty cool at all times (what with running a record shop and all) so I don't generally bless him with knitted gifts. Anyway, he must've spoken about it to his boss, and she gave him the pattern for Superted (out of a magazine or paper or something, I've only got the one page so I have no idea where it came from). I made him with yarn from the stash (acrylic nasty DK on 5mm needles), so he didn't cost me a penny - I even had the stuffing (and still I am left with a huge amount of stuffing... must make more Superteds!). He will soon be flying off to join P as the shop's mascot!

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

Tiny Clothes for Tiny People

I made a hat and booties (so far) for my friend Soph's baby. I am planning a jumper to match (in the cable pattern), which I'm intending to cast on, as soon as I've finished a tiny little secret project I have on the needles right now - I cast on for it last night, and fully expect it to be done tonight. It's so damn cool I can hardly contain myself, I hope it rocks as much when it's done as I imagine it's going to. I will not reveal today what it is... but soon.
So the baby stuff. Looking at the hat and booties (which I'm really pleased with - as ever my photography leaves a lot to be desired but you get the idea...) despite them being neutral baby white, it does look a bit girly... Soph isn't finding out the sex of the baby, so if it is a boy, he may end up with early gender issues if she puts him in these. I will speak privately with the child when its older and apologise profusely.
I knit this using some super soft baby DK and 3mm needles, and the pattern is from The Art of Knitting magazine. Hat took about 4 hours, booties an hour each. I love knitting tiny things that get finished quickly...

Thursday, 13 March 2008

Spinning Many Plates

A quick pictureless post today, just for the sake of an update. I have many, many projects on the go right now - and not enough done on any of them to warrant pictorial evidence.
1. Cricket socks - I'm making a pair of socks for P (as he plays cricket every summer), in his club's colours. They are my "zombie knitting" project (ie. the one where you don't have to follow a pattern, or actually think about what you're doing. Perfect for late at night...or after a couple of glasses of wine). I'm about 3 inches in.
2. Mum's 60th birthday wrap - I've ditched clapotis completely now, and I'm working on a feather and fan patterned wrap with the silky wool for my mother's 60th birthday (which fortunately is in October, so plenty of time). It's coming out beautifully, if not a little slow, but I'll definitely photograph it for next time. I'm about 5 inches in - and I'm not convinced I'm going to have enough yarn to finish it. No matter, I can buy more.
3. Baby stuff - I've known about my friend Soph's pregnancy since January. And it only occurred to me a couple of weeks ago that I should really knit her something (I am a disgrace to knitters everywhere, I am well aware). I invested in some white baby DK (which is so soft it's like kittens!) which was on sale, so I got like 500 grams for about 7.50. I've made booties (yet to be seamed), and I'm cracking on with a cabled hat. I've knitted the pattern before, so I know what to expect. I'm also making the matching jumper, it's going to be so cute. I am trying not to get broody myself... it scares P.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

A Speedy Hat For My Grandfather

My parents came over on Sunday. I made bread pudding for them, which sounds awful but actually comes out beautifully. We had some wine too, which went surprisingly well with bread pudding. But that doesn't matter for now. They mentioned to me that my grandfather (who is 81, and in the prime of health) has mentioned that he wants a hat. For presumably, he has a cold head. So obviously, I knitted him one.
I used up some King Cole Aero which I had in the stash, and which I don't actually intend to use ever again, as it just feels wrong. The yarn is chunky, and looks like small strands plaited together. I've been trying to get rid of it for a while, and that hat was a good excuse. I knitted it on 7mm DPNs, over 56 stitches. Simple 2 by 2 rib for the bottom, then stockinette for the main body. Here it is, modelled effortlessly by the lovely P. Easy peasy, and took me about 2 hours to knit up. G'dad will never go chilly again!

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

I Never Felt So Good!

The bag turned out so much better than I imagined it would. I actually finished the knitting a while ago - I've been faffing around over the straps. I made 2 i-cords which I intended to felt and twist together, and they just took ages (you know that magic sort of knitting where your fabric gets to a certain length and then just stops growing? However much you knit?)

Eventually they were done (yay) so I put everything into pillow cases and stuck them in the washing machine on a boil wash. I was a bit nervous about breaking the washing machine (I put plastic boxes filled with water in as well to "agitate", and the sound it all made was horrendous, grindy breaky expensive noises) but everything came out well - I was really surprised how much it shrunk by.

I blocked the bag body by filling it with paperback books, and just laid the straps out straight. It didn't take that long to dry, so I sewed the straps on the following day (deciding not to twist them as planned, they just looked good sewn on straight) - added some flowers, made a closure out of some plaited yarn which just hooks over one of the flowers. It looks really cool, much better than I thought.

And already I have more projects on the go. I ordered some yarn from the US to make Clapotis for my mother, so that's underway - the yarn isn't quite right so I get the impression I might have to do more pattern repeats than the pattern says, but I'm not worried at the moment. Also got a quick hat for my grandfather and a cricket sock for P (in his team's colours!) on the needles. I am putting a yarn ban on myself for this month - I want a new kitchen, which I can't afford thanks to the paltry payrise my company gave me, so all my savings are going towards that.

Mind you, I've promised myself that before....

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Knitting Buckets

So I'm knitting some sort of big red bucket. This thing has begun to spiral out of control (as my knitting tends to) - I started with a pattern (free on the interweb, as most of the stuff I knit tends to be) and messed around with it.

This one involves knitting a rectangle (done), picking up all the stitches round it (done) and then knitting in the round in plain stockinette until you have a bag (doing). The picture here looks pretty good to me (although the bag only just fitted in the tiny square of sunshine I have in my flat at this time of day), but it just feels like it wants to be a bit longer - so I'm going to give it another inch or two before casting off.

Then I'm going to felt it. In a pillowcase in the washing machine, like you're supposed to. Then I'm going to block it by filling it with old videos. Because they fit, that's why.

I have no idea what I'm going to do about straps/handles - I'll play with it when I cast off and see what works best. I have an idea about embroidering it after felting, although I'll make decisions about this when it's done and I can see what I'm dealing with!

Friday, 25 January 2008

Say It With Mice

Nothing says "thanks for giving us a gorgeous cat" like knitted cat nip mice. As ever, my photography is poor - but you can get the idea. I found the pattern on someone's blog somewhere - not one I regularly read, but they took about 10 minutes each to make. I modified the pattern slightly to make ears.

I've stuffed them with teddy bear stuffing - in the middle of each ball of stuffing is a cat nip heart, so they turn cats orgasmic. At the very top of the picture you can see a black triangle - George's ear - and the white blur by the purple mouse's tail is his paw, shortly before he pulled it out of the picture. The cats home are now only getting four meeces - George has claimed Mr Lilac as his own. They look a bit shabby in this picture (particularly the seams) but I wasn't being that fussy with them, and they actually look pretty cool in the flesh (or wool). I'll be sending them to the Milborne (Milburn?) Animal Centre together with a letter and picture of George this weekend.

Speaking of George - I finally got him to sit still long enough to pose for this picture (he is so lovely I'm sure it will eventually be part of his supermodelling portfolio). He's starting to settle in now - having spent most of this week under our bed, today he's been prowling around and napping in his own bed. Right now he's motoring around the living room after Mr Lilac - proving that missing a leg doesn't hamper his fun at all.

The yarn I bought for clapotis (and subsequently started knitting place mats with) is now destined for greater things. Reading up about the yarn on the internet, apparently it felts really well - so I'm knitting a simple bucket bag which I'm going to try felting in the washing machine. Currently about 75% through it - pictures next time.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Seven Between Us

Phipps' owners came forward on Friday, and so he was returned to his rightful home. We know we did the right thing (and the owners themselves were very, very grateful), and since we took him in we knew it was a possibility that his owners would be found, but it was still really heart wrenching to say goodbye. A few tears were shed (after the owners and he had been dispatched with smiles and waves) and P and I got straight on line Friday night to get numbers for our local cat rescue places in an effort to adopt a "cat of our very own that no one can ever take away".

So Saturday morning I made some tea and got on the phone. I rang several cat protection places in our area, whose websites were begging for kind owners for their rescued cats. And I have to say, in all honesty, I have never spoken to such a bunch of sanctimonious, patronising women in all my life. I realise they have the best interests of the cats at heart but apparently no one in the world other than them have ever owned or perhaps even seen a cat before. No one wanted to help us.

Eventually I got through to our local branch of the RSPCA and spoke to the first useful person I'd spoken to that day. He direct us to the Millbrook Animal Centre in Chobham, and advised as they were very busy it would probably be best to go and see them in person as they haven't always got time to answer the phone. So we did just that.

We were interviewed about our suitability as owners, and about our house. We explained were were after an indoor cat as we don't have a garden and our flat overlooks a pretty busy road. We then had a look at the cats needing rehoming picked one who was perfect for us in our situation. A very nice lady from the RSPCA came round the same evening to check that everything we'd said was true (and that we were who we said we were), gave us the green light and we picked up our cat yesterday.

His name is Boyz, but we thought that was a bit ghetto for a cat living in rural Frimley Green, so we've renamed him George (not terribly dissimilar in terms of how it sounds). He is 6 years old, gigantic (he's 10 inches from the back of his neck to the beginning of his tail), 5.5 Kg and VERY vocal. He's also very special, as he's only got three legs (he lost one to cancer a month ago). He's still finding his way around, but he's very affectionate (and demanding of cuddles every five minutes!). He is also a diabolical genius - whilst he can hop around and get up on the furniture perfectly well when it suits him, he is not adverse to lying pathetically on the floor mewling until someone picks him up and puts him where he cannot be bothered to go himself.

Our family now has 7 legs between us, and we're very happy about it. This is not a cat blog, although he will now feature from time to time (and there will be a photo when he's more settled). Back to knitting next time. Needless to say, as a thank you to the people at the RSPCA (and more importantly for the other cats) there will be some cat nip mice knitted and in the post.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

My New Familiar

We've acquired a cat. P works in a record shop in Godalming, and this cat turned up one day and stayed. He has no collar. He appears not to be chipped. P has had no response to the poster he put up in the shop window, and no response since we reported him to the local vet. When a poster appeared in the town centre reporting a missing cat, P called up - it's not this guy. He appears to be a stray - in fact, some of P's customers have reported seeing several ginger cats around the area, which suggests it might be an abandoned litter (or someone's cat has had a litter that the owner doesn't know about!). He's about 4 months old (he's small and quite fluffy, so I don't think he's quite a full grown cat yet). We've brought him home so he's got food and a warm place to sleep while we wait to see if someone's going to claim him.

Needless to say, I've fallen head over heels in love with him. He's hilarious - he chases everything and falls over stuff and chews P's hair. We've called him Phipps - after the character in Ripping Yarns who is famous for escaping from everywhere. On 2nd February (3 weeks away - giving his owner, if he has one, ample time to get in contact) we're putting a collar on him and getting him checked out with our vet. Then he'll be our official Cat.

In knitting news - there isn't much I'm afraid. I bought yarn to make Clapotis. I swatched. The gauge was right, but the yarn wasn't - it's just too stiff and scratchy (getting the correct yarn for any American pattern is a nightmare, so I aim for best match). I worried about it for a while and got about 60 rows into Clapotis. Then I relaxed, and ripped the whole thing out. I have decided to use the yarn (which is very lovely 70% wool, 30% alpaca in bright red) to make placemats - we've got some el cheapo silver placemats which I wanted to replace, but with red knitted under-placemats, they'll have a new lease of life. I have made nearly 1, I want 4 (as our table seats 4). It's a basic moss stitch pattern, and it's perfect for the yarn and for how I want it to look at the end. I'm not sure when they'll be finished... Knitting is now an extreme sport with a cat about...

Friday, 4 January 2008

Goodbye to Christmas

Naturally, my Christmas rocked. All of it was spent with friends and family, my husband spoiled me rotten (and I him), and we got some really nice things for our house from our relatives. There was much food, much carolling, more alcohol than I care to remember just now... just the way Christmas should be.

The Twilleys was not forthcoming. I went to my parents' place on Boxing Day, equiped (just in case) with all the relevent needles and pattern for the Twilleys Cardi, convinced that the yarn would be in one of the boxes with my name on it. Sadly no - the parents could not work out the weight of yarn I was after, but bless them forever for trying. My mother did knit me a scarf - one of those eyelash ones, it's gorgeous and the colour (burgundy and green varigated) is so festive. I hate knitting with eyelash yarn - I find it doesn't behave itself - Ma had bought me the yarn to knit it myself, but I must've mentioned I hate knitting with it, so she did it for me. It is my first hand knit gift, and it's so lovely - I like it all the more that I didn't have to do it myself!

My mother in law got me a knitting doll. It made me chuckle, just because of what it is and how it looks, but it actually has a practical application for making i-cords. So everything I knit from now on will be adorned with i-cord!

Now I'm thinking about the next project. I haven't picked up any knitting at all over Christmas, so I think a larger project would now be in order. I do have a sock and a boring black glove for P on the needles (having managed to knit the other glove in 2 days...) I'm trying to get my head around the pattern for Clapotis - it's one of these things everyone needs to knit at least once. I won't commit to buying yarn until I have had a go with a swatch...