Wednesday, 31 December 2008

happy new year

Thanks for all your birthday messages, I had a really nice and relaxing day. My HH got me the yarn and pattern book, and I started straight away on Haven. Heartfelt is a beautiful book, very inspiring, I thought I would just make Haven but several other patterns have jumped onto my queue.

I really like Haven so far, I think this might actually be something I've knit that I get a lot of use out of. A lot of my other projects haven't really made the leap from well-loved to well-used. It knits up quickly of course, with 8mm needles, but surprisingly feels so light, not bulky at all. I'm using Rowan Cocoon in Bilberry, which is lovely and soft. So far I've done this much....

So did anyone else get some novelty yarn from well-meaning but clueless relatives? My in-laws rather sweetly bought me this horror....Schoeller Stahl Big Ball you can see it looks like I've skinned a soft toy : )

Luckily I knitted this swatch up while they were visiting and they saw the funny side, so won't be expecting me to make and wear the shawl pattern given on the label.

Finally, its time to make New Year resolutions, mine are all knitting/sewing related...

  1. To knit things this year that improve my wardrobe, ie things I will actually wear and don't look awful
  2. To knit something really nice at least once a month (haven is my january knit)
  3. To design my own sweater, and then actually write a pattern and knit it
  4. To learn a bit of real dressmaking, and make myself a pretty dress

Happy new year everyone!

Monday, 22 December 2008

vintage beret - finished

I did indeed finish the vintage beret last night, it is officially a one-skein project. I'm really pleased with the tweed effect, though the colour variation means the lace detail is hard to pick out. It's warm and comfy for 6.30am walks down windy streets. Here's a picture of me looking like death warmed up and flu ridden, and for more detail of the beret (read: easier to photograph) my bear Schlep kindly agreed to model for me.

It's very useful for tucking your hair up, by the way.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

vintage beret

Have decided to cheer myself up with a quick knit, using that gorgeous manos I've been hoarding. Its the vintage beret from the latest Rowan magazine...I'm going to try and complete it ready to wear on Monday morning.

Finally, finally a pattern for Nerys

I finally have some basic instructions and a chart available for Nerys. But, I don't have the software to turn it into a pdf file so if anyone would like these documents (MS word and excel) email me and I'll email you a copy. I'm hoping to get a pdf version sorted soon though, and then of course I'll put it on ravelry.

I'm feeling utterly rotten as I have flu and it's my day off work, but at least I had no excuse but to sit at the computer and get this done finally. I swear any future patterns of mine will be sooooo much simpler!

Saturday, 13 December 2008


hey it tastes good too, and I can recommend making your own candied peel, its surprisingly easy and yummy.

Here is your virtual slice Johanna ; )

Friday, 12 December 2008

cake in the making

Here is a gateau to die for...lemon and orange white chocolate gateau, mmmmmmmmmmmm

I'm baking this for my HH who has a thing for white chocolate. And I get to test the oven mitts I made yesterday, which took about as long to make as it's taking to bake the cake.

Including the production of this lemon and orange curd filling...

...the 'pocket' for hands is sewn into the seam (no bias binding!)... it can be flipped over so the outside becomes the inside; reversible oven gloves!

This is how many white chocolate buttons you need to get 200g of white chocolate...

Sickly sweet? Finished pics will be up tomorrow when everything has cooled and been assembled.

Monday, 8 December 2008

Sunday, 7 December 2008

I like tartan too, do you?

My friend amy was here has reminded me how cool tartan is at this time of year, so I dug out this skirt I've had for years. One of the few things I've ever bought from Monsoon. Do you like tartan too? Do post a picture....

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

patchwork practice

Patchwork practice for the quilt...a cushion for Lizzie to match the applique butterfly cushion she had in June.

Saturday, 29 November 2008

yarn drought

Well, all is quiet on the knitting front these days. Twinkle has stagnated since I had to rip back to the armholes after realising I seemed to be knitting it in child size. Now I'm starting to wonder whether it's worth it, but I have written my own version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Knit in case there is a day when I post finished photos. Other than that I have abandoned the other sock (SSS? I think so) and my stash is empty. Alright, I admit I have the gorgeous Manos skeins, but I can't think of anything to make with them right now and refuse to waste the yarn because I have itchy fingers. This is turning into a moan, so let me move onto what I'll be knitting with the yarn dear hubby has promised to give me for my birthday.....

First, either Bond by Kim Hargreaves, or a version with cap sleeves and a coloured motif in the centre - sort of a custom designed 't-shirt' to wear over light long-sleeved cotton tops.
And, a long, wide, soft, lacy scarf...I'm thinking of Haven, I particularly like this one. Both of which I really want to do with something other than rowan wool, maybe its finally time to try Cascade.

In the meantime I've begun a quilt with some very pretty fabric, it might be ready in time for unusually chilly summer nights...

In real life I'm to organise the adoption of two donkeys on behalf of brownies and guides in Bath from a Devon Donkey Sanctuary...sweet! It's not my idea I hasten to add, but part of a trip I am obliged to help plan, a weekend in Beer, Devon for nine and ten year olds.
Isn't Beer an absurd yet romantic place name?

Monday, 17 November 2008

fabric painting and forgotten knitting

I'm ashamed of the dusty mirror in this photo, but am rather proud of my first serious attempts at fabric painting... I cut out a cabbage rose stencil late last night while watching Topgear, then made four different coloured prints on this old black t-shirt; navy blue, royal blue, silver and turquoise. Obviously my technique needs quite a bit of work, but it's so much fun!

I've recently made a list on my side-bar of all my finished knitting projects, and discovered that there are a few things I might have blogged about but didn't post photos of the finished objects. So here is the long-since finished hollow oak teacosy, and a tiny valentine's day heart made from scraps of red malabrigo for my HH.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

you are what you read

I work at a bookstore. My mind runs on books for many hours each day. Boxes of books, stacks of books, armfuls of books, shelves of books, tables of books, walls of books. I am also a list-maker. So I have decided to write my very own list of books I've read, and have read again and again, and can heartily recommend. That is the only thing these books have in common; they do not all appear on any public/literary critic 'best books' list, they are not all fiction, or classics, or bestsellers, they are simply good. Really good.

They're also not in any order of preference, I can't bring myself to rank some books over others, I can't compare them to each other. I would love to know which of these you have read, because you see this is more than a snapshot of my bedside table over the last 10 years, its a mini-portrait of my soul. To quote Greg Kinnear's character in You've Got Mail..."you are what you read".

  1. Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
  2. Craven House by Patrick Hamilton
  3. Persuasion by Jane Austen
  4. Cranford, and other short stories by Elizabeth Gaskell
  5. Vanity Fair by William Thackery
  6. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  7. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  8. Good Wives (and the two sequels) by Louisa May Alcott
  9. Pride and Prejudice (and the many sequels) by Jane Austen
  10. Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell
  11. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell
  12. Love in a Cold Climate by Nancy Mitford
  13. The Pursuit of Love by Nancy Mitford
  14. Don't Tell Alfred by Nancy Mitford
  15. Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons
  16. Consequences by Penelope Lively
  17. 1939; The Last Curtsey by Anne De Courcy
  18. Nancy Mitford (biography) by Harold Acton
  19. Coming Home by Rosamunde Pilcher
  20. Last Curtsey by Fiona MacCarthy
  21. The Mitford Sisters by Mary S. Lovell
  22. A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute
  23. Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire by Amanda Foreman
  24. The Victorian House by Judith Flanders
  25. Victorian Girls by Sheila Fletcher
  26. Aristocrats by Stella Tillyard
  27. Daughters of Britannia by Katie Hickman
  28. Evelina by Frances Burney
  29. Sense and Sensibility - Diaries by Emma Thompson
  30. The Tale of Beatrix Potter: A Biography by Margaret Lane
  31. Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  32. Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
  33. The Girls of Slender Means by Muriel Spark
  34. Master and Commander, and the entire Aubrey/Maturin series (21 books) by Patrick O'Brian
  35. The Golden Ocean by Patrick O'Brian
  36. The Unknown Shore by Patrick O'Brian
  37. The Catalans by Patrick O'Brian
  38. The Road to Samarcand by Patrick O'Brian
  39. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling
  40. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
  41. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  42. The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
  43. The Discworld series by Terry Pratchett
  44. The Hornblower series by C.S. Forester
  45. The Diary of a Nobody by George and Weedon Grossmith
  46. Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell
  47. The Liar by Stephen Fry
  48. Moab is My Washpot by Stephen Fry
  49. The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan
  50. Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome

Thursday, 13 November 2008

There's nothing like a contest to win yarn...

So get yourself over to Choo Choo Knits fantastic blog, she's giving away yarn for cryin' out loud!

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Plenty of Photos

I finished the awesome mittens a week ago, these were difficult to put down - I was so anxious to wear them. I've added a mitten flap and they are tres cosy. I will definitely be making these in a charcoal and lilac/blue combination too.

I have plenty of photos; making the mittens ~

wearing the mittens ~

So my life has taken a dramatic turn, hopefully for the better. A few months ago I quit my dull job and after working out a colossal nine-week notice period as a favour to my ex-employers, I tasted first relief that I had decided to make a positive change in my life, and then the fear of unemployment. Luckily, oh so luckily, I have a new job, and even better I think I'm going to enjoy it. So pensions are out, and books are in - I'm working part-time in a well-known bookseller (I won't mention the name as they have rather strict employee web-log rules). But they do have a dress-code that suits me down to the ground, it being casual and black.

Has anyone else been reading Little Dorrit? Its
such a great novel - I finished it last night but wouldn't reveal the sensational ending for the world.

Monday, 20 October 2008

awesome wrist warmers

Do you remember those pink dashings I started way back when? Well I barely got through one before I frogged the whole thing and resigned the yarn to my stash. On a stash dive today I found the remnants and a whole ball of pristine new yarn and decided it would be perfect to make these awesome wrist warmers with...

(photo credit to Johanna Ziegler - I haven't made mine yet)

Unbelievably this gorgeous pattern is a free download on ravelry, designed by Johanna Ziegler, and featured on her blog Twee as Volk. I love the grey and lilac combination, but for now pink and navy will have to do. The pretty lace design and practical warmth is just what I want in a mitten. (I might make a mitten 'flap' to attach - it's drizzling in Bath right now).

Also, I have almost finished charting a cleaner, simpler version of nerys (ie without all the mistakes and 'errors of judgement', but with the main cabling of course) and it will soon be available as a free download on ravelry, about which I am very excited.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Nouveau Sack was a long time in the making...

I can't believe I started this in March, March. I completely re-started this gorgeous pattern by Weaverknits only three days ago with new yarn, and knitting it as it was designed to be knit - in the round (using magic-loop). I really, really enjoyed this fun, quick, adventurous knit.
I like to wear it this way...

I used Rowan Tapestry and King Cole Merino Blend DK - its an Arctic colour combination for a very warm hat.

Saturday, 4 October 2008

I name this scarf nerys

The day before I left for Paris I did that mythical thing - I finished one of my projects. The deadline was met, alas I had reckoned without the weather... it was sunny and warm, no place for scarves. Now home in Bath some 150 miles northwards, in the winds and rain of October, I am glad of the warmth of nerys...

The 'design' is a scatty mish-mash of cabling. I changed my mind about the pattern half-way through, influenced by the yellow mittens of Vogue Knitting. I eventually came up with a chart to replicate the cabling (not having bought a copy of the magazine yet) and nearly used up my highlighters in all the drafts...

The original idea had bobbles, but they didn't seem to scale so the other end has mini pom-poms. There is an unexpected detail I like - the shaping of the edges created by the cables and especially the plaits. Four balls of Rowan Big Wool were consumed, and 10mm circular needles (working back and forth) were used. Its deliciously warm, like wearing a blanket. The deep intense dark blue makes me smile inside.

Friday, 3 October 2008

Six random things...

I've been tagged by Juicy Knits for the '6 random things about me' meme, hmm...

The rules first:
Link to the person who tagged you. (tick)
Post the rules on your blog. (tick)
Write six random things about yourself. (hell and death, as Stephen Maturin would put it)

Tag six people at the end of your post. (forgive me dear tagees)
Let each person know that they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog. (see above)
Let the tagger know your entry is up. (you bet)

Alrighty, here are six random things about me;
  • My favourite font is Garamond, and it breaks my heart that this font doesn't appear in the blogger font drop-down menu. I also like to find those free download font websites and install 'The Hobbit' font and 'Floral Art Nouveau' font and such like onto my computer. Goodness knows what I'll ever use them for.
  • I taught myself to knit from a book called 'Debbie Bliss Workbook' which had diagrams of how to cast on, knit and purl. I've never knitted any Debbie Bliss patterns, as I think they are a trifle frumpy.
  • I have a Polish surname, due to my paternal grandfather, of whom I am immensely proud - he escaped the Russian gulag and trans-siberian railway and joined up with the British army in Italy, eventually travelling to London where he met my grandmother. But he lost contact with his Polish relatives and I do not know if any exist, I've never been there and I can't speak Polish.
  • I can't stand the combination of cheese and tomato. The smell makes me feel sick. Which is absurd, because I love cheese in all its varieties, and tomatos are pretty good too. I can only eat pizza if it is liberally doused in chicken and barbeque sauce.
  • One of my ambitions is to learn how to fly a light aircraft, and I have seriously looked into the cost of flying lessons at Bristol Airport in order to get my Private Pilot's License. I just need about £3,000 and a medical check-up.
  • Today I posted my 100th post on ravelry, and here are some stats: I've been on the site for eight months, I've got 62 favourites, have aquired 26 friends, and my favourite group is 'The Lesser of Two Needles' where I've posted 25 times.

I'm going to tag these lovely people; amy was here, Glass of Fashion, and Original Stitches. I hope you all post your six random things because I would like to know you all a little better.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

I love Stephen Fry...and I just got to meet him!!!!!

I totally adore this man, and have been one of his many millions of fans ever since I first snuck a copy of 'The Liar' from my Dad's bookshelf at 14 and was initiated into really good adult literature. Since then my personal favourites have been appearances on 'Just a Minute' and 'I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue', not to mention all his other books and films, and of course QI.

After waiting for a mere hour and half on Milsom Street outside the Bath branch of Waterstones with Mr HH, we had a whole two minutes of conversation while he signed our book - perhaps the most thrilling 2 minutes of my life! I still feel like jelly, the adrenaline is pumping, of all the people I would have liked to have met, he is at the very top. Huzzay!

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

the art that I like

or, a history of my love of Art Nouveau...

I'm no art critic or scholar of the Art Nouveau movement, what little knowledge I have comes from Wikipedia, this is merely a post of pure appreciation.

It all began on a saturday shopping ramble when I was 14, and I came across this outrageously gorgeous pack of playing cards in a well known department store, and promptly fell in love with the art of Alfons Mucha.

Years later I've just moved into halls at university and have a rather dire room with a brown carpet to brighten up. Imagine my delight when I found this at the college poster fair...

It is a curious thing, that on the streets of Paris are many street booksellers also touting posters, prints and postcards of Paris sights and Paris art, and among their wares are unexpected packs of coasters, in a vast variety of different art styles. Which brings me to one of the best souvenirs I've ever bought for four euros...a set of Mucha advertisement coasters!! Far, far too good to use, here they are scattered around my flat...

And my absolute favourite...