Monday, January 30, 2006

Socks! & A Hat!!

Just back from my art group (every Monday evening) and feeling a little dejected and demoralised. Working with oils tonight, which I hate, and I just overworked my image of an iris and totally ruined it - so much so that I can't even bear to show it here...

Finally finished the Clapotis Hat... the crown looks great, but not so happy with the size of the piece - just far too big. I sense another frogging coming on (is this a sign of becoming a more advanced knitter when you're happy to frog - or is it just as I'm getting older I'm getting a little more selective?

And - da daa - I started my first sock ever on Wednesday. Rather than risk my Lorna's Laces Shepherd Sock yarn, I bought some Opal yarn to try all the skills needed. It's going great! A few ickies but noting to worry about. Just got to the Kitchener grafting stage which I need to find the sock knitting tutorial link which will help me do the job (this is a fab link by the way).

However, I bought some Jaeger Alpaca in a gingery-chocolate colour today in my LYS so perhaps I'll never quite get to use my Lorna's Laces?!?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Oh My God....

I can't believe it's been over a wek since my last post... time has just flown away! In the meantime, I've frogged my Clapotis hat and got to the picking up stitches stage for the replacement (having cocked up the pattern more than once I decided it was telling me somthing, so it had to go - in the past I'd just have put up with it and carried on, never being totally happy with the finished result which ended up languishing in a cupboard). Here's pics of the hat before the stitches are dropped, front and back.

Finally finished the flowers for one pair of bootees - but they look verrrry strange indeed: but hey ho, I'm calling it modern art and they're staying that way - what do you think?!?

Fingers are itching to start knitting socks having found a link to some wonderful video tutorials on another blog (if I find the link again I'll post it here) but am desperately trying to finish other projects first... will she, won't she?!? You'll just have to wait and see!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Clapotis Hat - and a sad cake

Finally got stuck into the Clapotis Hat, mentioned previously, and it's going okay. I feel if when I get to the top of the hat, and it doesn't look right, I may have to frog it all and start again. I can see how fabulous it could look though - and it will be great to have the matching set... mmmm, what next?!?

Have finished knitting both the Knotted Bootees - but have fallen at the hurdle of the last tie needed for the final bootee... promise will finish by tonight!

And finally, I attempted a Victoria Sponge yesterday. Tastes lovely - filling of blackcurrant conserve with fresh raspberries and whipped cream (yes, I know, the diet!) - but the sponge itself didn't end up light and airy. It rose beautifully but collapsed soon after. Either the oven, or the KitchenAid mixer didn't put in enough air. Methinks it may be back to the old fashioned aching arm method next time - I've started limbering up!

Heading off to my local LYS today... I hear they have SWTC Bamboo in stock and I've not seen this one in the flesh... I feel a lighter purse will be in my handbag this evening!

Saturday, January 14, 2006


Feel much better today, I'm glad to say - so much so that I attempted a bit of cooking.

I keep saying that baking is my forte, but The Man finally reminded me that I hadn't actually baked for a verrrry long time (18 months or so) so either shut up or put up. So, what do expect a girl to do... et voila: a coffee and walnut cake (thanks to Nigel Slater's Kitchen Diaries I'm drooling over at present).

On a roll, a friend of ours popped over for coffee and lent us his copy of Preserved (by Sandler & Acton with foreward by much admired self sufficiency guru Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall)... and I fell in hunger with the lamb tagine recipe and the accompanying recipe for preserved lemons. So, here's a couple of jars I just rustled up!!

No knitting today, but here's a pic of a gorgeous felt corsage I picked up in France over Christmas... isn't it gorgeous. And here's my future versions of it... yeah, hell of a way away I know, but you'll have some after pics soon (promise!).

Best go and try that yummy cake (after the roasted fennel and confit de canard in the oven) - gosh, the veritable Martha Stewart (ummm, best not - can't stand enclosed spaces...).

Friday, January 13, 2006

Another day.. another headache - another decision!

Still not 100% today so I'll keep this short and maybe sweet.

Decided to do the right thing and stick with the knot bootees - this'll keep The Man happy that I'm still on track! However, Lord things are sent to tempt us... look at this yummy skein just arrived from HipKnits (thank you...!) which my fingers itched towards to 5.5mm needles to knit up a scrummy hat. But, commons sense (or the flu capsules) prevailed and I'll wait until my current needles are free - boo hoo...

Can't stop surfing and reading other blogs at present (wasting good knitting time I hear you cry) and there's so much fun, inspiration and cynical words out there it really warms the cockles of me heart!

Thought for the day: knitting is good for you - official. It releases similar natural chemicals that meditation does - so, ya boo sucks to you: I'm off knitting (after the cough medicine tho!).

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Knitting Saga - not quite an Aga Saga!

I'm really suffering from flu at present and have nobody to talk to so I'm taking it out on my blog!

I mentioned previously that I have a known tendency to start things and not finish them - even if all it takes is to block and make it up. Ladies and gentlemen... this has now changed! On Christmas Day I started knitting a Clapotis in Noro’s Silk Garden (colour 224)... and finished it on the 4th January - yay! I was like a woman possessed, knitting at every opportunity possible with this gorgeous yarn. I found the pattern easy - although I couldn’t for the life of me work out ssk (having a blonde day) so just did k2tog instead. I don’t think it shows on the pattern, although others may argue - I just don’t care... it’s finished!! I found great enthusiasm and encouragement listening to some knitting podcasts, especially Brenda Dayne’s Cast-On - thank you soooo much Brenda, I feel you are a true friend and I don’t even know you!

I taught myself to knit when I was about 7 years old, much to my mother’s amazement: seeing me knitting in very thick, bright orange wool on huge wooden needles (I’m sure in hindsight it was only 5mm needles and aran weight wool but to a wee sprog this seemed huge). Both my mother and grandmother were very prolific craftswomen: knitting, quilting, sewing clothes, weaving, etc, that I know this is where I got my enthusiasm for all things handmade.

Growing up in a liberal and quite bohemian atmosphere with a mother who was keen to generate a replica of The Good Life in west London where we lived, which then expanded to a cottage in Gloucestershire (near the current home of HRH don’t you know!) for weekends. Couldn’t have been easy to do holding down a full-time teaching job, bringing up 4 children, running a household with your mother incumbent and your husband working long hours... phew, makes me feel tired thinking about it! I remember going to bed when I was about 8 or 9 with my mother starting cutting out a pattern for a dress for me and then getting up in the morning to a finished garment - she must have worked until 2am and then got up at 6am to prepare breakfast for us all! I never really appreciated what she did for us, so my way of giving thanks (apart from saying I love you Mamo!) is to be creative myself - damn I thought she had a spinning wheel which is what I’d like to try next, but unfortunately not (The Man wouldn’t agree with me and will be thanking all deities that it doesn’t exist...).

Since the wonderful Clapotis - of which you will no doubt see many versions of this very ‘now’ pattern online (for once, I’m current - yippee) - I have knitted a couple of pairs of really sweet bootees for a friend who’s just had a beautiful baby girl called Alannah - one made from Rowan’s Kid Classic in cream and the other in Rowan’s Cashsoft DK in a coffee colour. Both pairs finished (and stitched into shape) and just waiting for adornment - I thought I’d make some teeny felted flowers using needle felting with maybe a seed bead or two - what do you think?

My dilemma is what next? I’ve started another pair of bootees (all of these are from Zoe Mellor’s book 50 Baby Bootees to Knit) this time some knot bootees using Rowan Kidsilk Haze in cherry - but the needles are tiny and I have to use the yarn doubled and they’re horrid to knit...taking forever. Finished one bootee so I suppose I’d best stick with it and finish the second especially after all’s been said above!

Perhaps then the French Market felted bag from Knitty, or a Clapotis Cap from Needles & Hooks, or socks from Lorna’s Laces Shepherd’s Sock Yarn just waiting in the shadows for me to try my hand at socks...the list goes on (just like my posts - sorry). And I’ve fallen in love with the Eris cardigan from the girl from auntie, but it looks darn complicated for my present state of mind.

Best go and knit - will try not to have verbal diarrhoea next time.... as if!

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

This is me...

The Man calls me a butterfly - nothing to do with my stature (more about that one later) but more about my tendency to get fired up and excited about a new project, work on it for a short while and then flutter onto the next one - from flower to flower! I'd like to use this blog to bring some order, reason, and yes even some sanity to my creativity! If I see all my projects and plans written down, and actually think about them in detail, perhaps some sense will prevail before I flutter onto the next one. I have so many ideas and I know I can actually do most of these if I set my mind to it so I want to physically do them all - how mad am I?!? Jack of all trades and master of none is how I sometimes feel...

A little about me to set the scene: I'm 39, married, no kids, a cat (PC for Pussycat aka Whinging Minnie) and a beloved dog (Carter, a gorgeous big Golden Retriever who keeps me sane). We live in a beautiful part of England, East Devon to be precise, a couple of miles as the crow flies to the sea. We also own a barn in Normandy, France, which we are slowly renovating (hope to have it habitable this summer - but don't hold your breath cos you may go blue!). So we trundle across the Channel every so often - not often enough for our liking.

I work as an interior designer for Fired Earth where I cover a huge territory - the entire south west of England - aaargh! Theoretically this is a lovely job: be nosey in peoples' houses and then tell them what to do... doesn't quite pan out that way! Previous lives have seen me work in IT for IBM, in the NHS as a business/marketing manager, in motorsport doing PR and in intellectual property licensing (sounds flash but simply put its selling image banks - or 'properties' to companies to use on their merchandise, eg Peter Rabbit/Beatrix Potter for clothing or ornaments or toys).

What else? I qualified with a post-grad diploma in Essential Oil Therapy for Animals in 2002 (part-time and boy was it hard work) as I love animals and love holistic healing methods such as aromatherapy. Haven't pushed this side of my life as I seem to get entangled in so many other projects to have time. I also write articles for a couple of local magazines (Devon Today and EX1) mainly about interior design, but want to expand this side of my skill-set and see if I can get more work from national magazines this year (oh no, sounds a little like a new year resolution.... don't do them...). I'm also involved with a local art group - but more of this later.

I'm a keen knitter but very very rarely manage to finish a project off - being the proverbial butterfly in picking up the needles, having bought the yarn (and yes, I am a yarn snob - no acrylic at all for me!), start the jumper or cardigan, whatever, and even sometimes manage to virtually finish the item - but then get bored with it and move on. I recently cleared out our loft and gave away most of my knitting yarn and half-finished jumpers (some going back 22 years...) and have only kept half a dozen with the intention of actually finishing them (or at least frogging and reusing the yarn - now why didn't I do that with all the yarn... no, don't go there!).

God, so many plans and dreams and so little time. And I haven't even touched on my art and craft hopes and projects ... more another time!