November

Hey, I made it back after mere weeks rather than another month! I’m still settling into the new post-PhD rhythm of life, which is made odder by the fact that we’re in lock down again. Slowly, slowly, I feel like my powers of concentration and desire to take on slightly more challenging crafty projects is returning, and I love it.

One thing I have started since I last posted is a Moonraker shawl.

I have a bit of a history with this shawl. I’ve long admired this pattern. In general, I love Melanie Berg shawls. She always makes them to a nice, generous size, and the slightly asymmetrical shape that she tends to use is much easier to wear than a straight triangle, or even some other shallower asymmetric triangle shawls that I have made in the past. I actually bought the Moonraker pattern a couple of years ago, and attempted it only to give up in frustration as I reached the special swirly stitch that you see above. For the life of me, I just could not figure out how to do it. I could see what was intended, but found it impossible to get my needle through all of the stitches. So I gave up.

Recently, I saw a beautiful version of the Moonraker shawl, by Yarn and Floss. This inspired me to have another go, and on revisiting the pattern I discovered that all I needed to do was read the pattern notes more closely and the problem was solved!

I’ve recently finished another Melanie Berg shawl, Drachenfels.

I’ve come to the conclusion that shawls are the perfect garment to keep neck and shoulders warm while working from home, and have another planned for my needles after I finish Moonraker.

I’m off now… I have more to tell, but not much time tonight so this is a flying visit. I’m also thinking of dipping my toes into the world of vlogging… not sure yet, but watch this space!

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October

October, November, autumn… I think it’s my favourite time of the year. I’m a real home-body at heart, and I think that’s why I love autumn so much. I no longer feel frowned upon because honestly, I’d quite happily be at home rather than out somewhere. In autumn, the urge to cosy up at home is not only understood by most, it is positively encouraged.

I also always think of autumn as a good time to feather the nest. Actually, I think any time of year is a good time for that! This year, my new sewing addiction means I can add an extra dimension to my nest feathering!

I had a day off a couple of weeks ago, and I also had some beautiful William Morris print fabric. I’d decided that some of the cushion covers in the living room needed a refresh. In fact, I quite liked the idea of having different sets of cushion covers which I could rotate with the seasons. A set of covers with more autumnal colours seemed to be in order. I’d also seen a pretty patchwork cushion on a French sewing blog. If you have a look at that blog, you should see a cushion cover made with 3 triangles of fabric sewn together to make a square. The cushion featured in that blog post looked as though it had piping between the fabric pieces, but I’m not clever enough for that yet.

It took a bit of head scratching and some false starts to get the pieces for the front correct – somehow I could not get my head around the idea that I would need to add 1/4 inch seam allowance for the inner seam, where the 3 pieces join, as well as a 1/2 allowance around each edge. Anyway, I got there in the end and managed to make 2 covers to fit 2 of my existing 45cm cushion pads. The back, which I haven’t shown in the photos, is a solid plum colour, to match the plum colour of the flowers shown in the largest triangle on the front. Two of the fabrics are William Morris Standon print, the third I think is Kelmscott.

I realised once I had them on the sofa that the colours in the fabric tone quite well with the colours in a big granny square throw which I made last year – this is the throw which you can see in the pictures above. That made me very happy! I just have to think of something to do to continue the fabric theme in other useful living rooms items. I’ve been thinking that some fabric storage baskets might be nice, or some coasters or mats. Please leave me a comment if you have any other ideas though!

I’ve also finished my Zick Zack scarf – another make which made me very happy. Initially, although I loved it, I was wondering whether I would wear it much. My main winter coat is grey, and it seemed a shame to pair the beautiful yarns in this scarf with grey. However, I was lucky to see a half price coat on sale in SeaSalt in my size, in a beautiful teal colour. It’s the perfect weight for this time of year, and goes perfectly with the scarf. I promise I did not just buy it because it went with the scarf though (well maybe a bit!).

There’s actually quite a few other things that I’ve been beavering away, making since I last posted. I haven’t taken photos of all of them yet, and actually I had forgotten about some of them… there are socks too, and another cushion cover destined to be a Christmas present for my partner’s Mum.

However, here is one more thing – another little bag! Actually this one is a tad bigger than previous zip up pouches which I have made, as I wanted something bit enough to hold all the yarn and pieces for a garment. I’m back into garment making now that autumn is upon us!

I saw some sweet hedgehog fabric in a haberdashery store a month or so ago, and had to buy it. I don’t know if you can see in the picture, but the hedgehog is holding an apple. I’m obviously developing more of a taste for whimsy as I age, because I thought it was just so cute, and would make the perfect print to use in an autumn project bag.

As you can see I hade an attempt at quilting, which was moderately successful. I was worried that quilting the top panels of the bag would make attaching the zip too difficult, but actually it was ok. Top stitching was a bit tricky, due to the thickness of the quilted panel and lining when folded back away from the zip. However, it worked well enough.

At the moment my hedgehog friend is guardian a sweater, which I’ve just started. The pattern is Relax, by Ririko. It is perfect, relaxing sofa knitting, just the kind I like – nothing too complicated.

The yarn I’m using is totally to die for!

This yarn is Julie Asselin Fino, in the colour Fleurs Presse (pressed flowers I assume). It is definitely right up there as one of the most gorgeously coloured yarns I have ever seen. The main colour is a soft biscuity brown-grey. It looks a bit too pale on the picture above, it’s a shade more soft brown that it looks. There are little flecks of purples, pinks, blues, greens, yellows and browns throughout. It is a real stunner. The Relax pattern should be perfect to show of this gorgeous yarn as it is a basic stocking stitch sweater with dolman sleeves. Also something that I should get a lot of wear from.

Well, that’s it for now folks, stay safe!

X

Back after an impromptu month off

Hello again, as the title says, and as you may realise if you’ve noticed the date since I last posted, I’ve accidentally taken an impromptu month off. No reason really, other than just… well, life really. It happens sometimes.

I finished my thesis – it is finally complete, submitted, that’s all folks, the end! It was such a strange feeling for the first few days after I uploaded the final version to the University website and received formal confirmation of my award. I don’t know if you have heard of imposter syndrome (I am sure you have, I think a lot of people suffer from it), but basically I had an attack of that. Not unusual for me. For about 2 weeks after submission I was literally just waiting for the email to come, saying there had been a mistake, that I hadn’t finished it after all, and there were still a few other things I had to complete. As a result I’ve hardly told anyone, literally because I could not deal with anyone congratulating me at the same time as trying to deal with my imposter syndrome!

However, a little bit of time, and pespective and a weekend away in Chichester, and it slowly started to sink in. So a few people that know me know now. And I am mentioning it here, obviously, but I feel like this doesn’t count as real life!

As well as dealing with that, I’ve been away a couple of times, once for the aforementioned weekend in Chichester, but also a longer week to Cornwall. So it feels like it has been a really busy month.

Needless to say, crafting has carried me through. I haven’t done very much knitting, but there has been a fair bit of sewing. I’m started to feel like I am really getting the hang of patchwork, and I’ve even done some quilting!

My proudest sewing achievment to date is this cushion cover, which I made for our living room.

I mostly used Liberty print quilting fabrics that I bought online for this, with a couple of Tanya Whelan designs thrown in. It is a simple 4×4 square patchwork, with a border all around and a zip closure. I was a bit nervous about doing this, partly because I was worried about whether my sewing machine would be able to cope with sewing through layers of quilting wadding and fabric, and a zipper, I didn’t have a pattern (so I was making it up as I went along!) and I have struggled with sewing in zips before. However, it was relatively easy! The sewing machine seemed to have no trouble with the zip and quilting. I also used a Janome adjustable zip foot for the first time (rather than the snap on zip presser foot which came with my sewing machine). I have to say that the adjustable zip foot was a heck of a lot easier than the basic snap on foot, and I got really good results, which I was thrilled with. I doubt I will ever bother to use the basic foot for anything again.

I’ve also made a cushion cover, which is destined for my parents’ living room (I am hoping to see them next week, for the first time this year!). This was an even more basic 3×3 patchwork square with a tie closure on the back, but quite sweet I think. I added some interfacing to the inside back of the patchwork front, and was suprised how sturdy the whole thing felt once I had done that.

As a knitting, new to sewing, of course I have also had to dip my toe into the waters of project bag making. So far I’ve made four….here are two of them.

All the bags that I have made so far have been to the same pattern, from Kandou on Etsy. A couple of months ago, I would never have thought that I would be able to make something so professional looking, so I have been thrilled to be able to turn these out, and I really recommend this pattern, if you want to make something similar for yourself. The pattern provides instructions for 3 sizes of bag. So far I have made a small, a medium (shown in pictures) and a large. I think you could easily size up to make an extra-large, so I may do that some time.

I have also been knitting and crocheting, but haven’t very many finished items at the moment (probably due to all of the sewing). At the moment, the only thing which I have recently completed and actually got around to photographing is this scarf:

This is a very basic scarf, made without a pattern, simply to use up some odd balls of yarn that I had hanging around. The scarf was made with Rowan Fine Lace, and Rowan Kidsilk Haze, using one strand of each yarn held together throughout. Just a colourblock design using my favourite grey shades. The fabric is really soft and snuggly and luxurious, and I’m looking forward to wearing this once the weather gets a bit cooler (still 23 degrees here today!).

I do love to knit a scarf, so I started on another one almost as soon as I had finished the one above. This one is using the Zick Zack pattern, which is freely available on Ravelry. I’m using 2 yarns, one is a OOAK from Hedgerow Yarns and the other is a skein of Misty Woods (can’t remember what base though) from Eden Cottage. I think they complement each other beautifully.

It seems that I need a little motivation to get on with my knitting lately, so I also treated myself to this cute autumnal bunny progress keeper from Sew Sweet Violet.

Well, thats all (and probably quite enough!) from me for now. I hope you and yours are all safe and well.

x

Finished snuggly cardigan

I mentioned last time that I had finished my ‘Free’ cardigan – here are the pictures…

I’m not sure these pictures really give the most accurate idea of the colour, as the knitted fabric looks quite grey, especially in the third picture above. In reality it is much more of a bluey-grey green. I love grey, so would be quite happy with that as the colour but I really love the subtle colour of this. It’s partly due to holding two yarns together throughout, but I think the bulkier yarn, which is Rowan Softyak DK is also slightly marled or flecked. Anyway, I love it, and forsee getting a lot of wear out of it as the weather turns cooler again.

It’s strange, isn’t it? Here in the UK we’ve passed through 2 complete seasons since lock-down began. I’ve been working from home since March, like many other people. It feels odd to be going into autumn, still working from home. I still believe it is the right thing to do to take all these precautions to protect ourselves and others. I flatter myself that my partner and I have coped with lock-down fairly well. We’ve been lucky that we have not had to worry about our jobs, and we haven’t any children to look after either. It’s been worrying in some ways – I haven’t been able to physically see my family since Christmas (we do weekly Skype calls though). I would love to be able to go and see my parents, who are actually only a 1 hour drive away, but I hesitate to put them at risk.

Apart from my usualy knitty adventures, I’ve been doing some more patchwork sewing. No pictures at the moment, as I haven’t had time to take them, and in any case things are all unfinished at the moment. I think I may be a little addicted to patchwork though! I love the neatness and accuracy of cutting all the pieces out, lining up the seams and stitching together. There is something so satisfying about it! I bought some more fabric fat quarters in coordinating reds and creams with butterfly and floral designs, again from Moda (I love their patterns!). In my last post I said that I wanted to have a go at quilting (didn’t I? If I didn’t mention it, I should have done).

I’m still thinking that I would like to have a go at quilting one of the cushion cover fronts that I’ve made, but it will require purchase of more supplies (batting/wadding and quilting foot), so that’s on hold for the moment. I then started making more patchwork squares using the red and cream fabric, and I had intended to quilt that too. However the idea of doing some applique on to the patchwork is growing on me, as an alternative to quilting… We’ll see! I think it’s fairly safe to say that I have definitely been bitten by the sewing bug though! I’d also like to try and make a drawstring project bag, and have already downloaded a pattern from Etsy. I just need to pluck up the courage to cut out my fabric pieces and interfacing (ugh – interfacing – the one thing I do not like about sewing is iron on interfacing! I don’t know why, I just find it such a faff!) and have a go. Wish me luck!

I’ve also been doing a little bit more stash busting. The mood just took me, to make a few small, quick crochet projects to use up some of my older stash yarns.

The pictures above are a crochet mat or doily. Well, I’m not sure it is a doily as it is rectangular. Can you have a doily that isn’t round? Anyway, the crochet mat took a few evenings to make, using up about 1.5 balls of Rowan Summerlite 4 -ply that I’ve had kicking around for a couple of years now. I’m quite happy with it, though the edges are a bit ruffly. I think possible I should have had a slightly smaller stictch count in the border, but hey-ho. I think it might smooth out with time and use anyway.

I’ve also made a little pink crochet storage basket, and plan to make some more. No pics of those yet either, as again I haven’t had time yet. Hopefully next time though!

My final crafty endeavor of late has been a little bit of jewellery making. I used to do quite a lot of beading and simple jewellery making about 10 years ago, but I hadn’t done any for years and years. It’s been nice to get back to this. I don’t plan for this to become a major hobby (I think sewing, knitting and crochet are probably enough!) but it’s fun to dip my toes in occassionally.

So far I’ve only made a few little bracelets using semi-precious gem stone beads. The ones in the picture here are aquamarine beads. I simply threaded them onto some find beading cord, and knotted the cord between each bead. I used a crimp bead to close the ends of the thread, with a calotte over the top and a simple clasp. I couldn’t resist adding the little silver star charm as a finishing touch! I’ve made another, similar bracelet that is a double wrap with rose quartz beads.

That’s all for now, stay safe and I hope you enjoy some crafting and relaxation time this weekend.

Seaside patchwork

I mentioned in a previous post that I wanted to try my new sewing machine out by doing some patchwork and quilting, and yesterday I was able to sit down and have a go at this.

I decided to start slowly. Another blogger, Joanne from Three Stories High, suggested starting with a simple 9 squares patchwork, and that’s exactly what I did (good advice!).

My partner and I had a weekend away with his parents last weekend. As they live near Bath, we spent one morning wondering around the shops there. A slightly surreal experience given the need to wear a face mask in every shop now – we didn’t stay long. However, there’s a fabric shop there called Country Threads, and so I bought some fabric to start me off. I saw a charm pack in the Ebb and Flow pattern set by Janet Clare for Moda. I’d been admiring some of the patterns in this set online but the patterns I liked the most were sold out. So I couldn’t believe my luck when I saw a charm pack for this pattern set! I snapped it up. A charm pack seemed like a good way to start off as it meant that I wouldn’t have to worry about cutting squares out before I could start sewing.

With the help of a couple of YouTube tutorials on sewing squares and rows together, I was on my way!

I stitched together two sets of 9 square patchworks. It was definitely worthwhile paying attention to elements such as pressing the fabric and seams. My first side isn’t quite as neat as the second, as I didn’t manage to get all of the seams exactly lined up. It wasn’t until I got to stitching the second row of squares together that the meaning of the phrase ‘nesting the seams’ suddenly clicked! As a result the second patchwork panel that I created is a bit more accurate and I was thrilled to see that I’d managed to line up all of the seams almost exaclty! Not bad for a beginner!

I was chuffed to bits with this. My plan is to turn these patchworks into a pair of cushion covers. It’s on hold for the moment as I want to add a cream border around each square. I have some fabric already, but I realised that I really will need a cutting mat and rotary cutter to make an accurate border. I’ve ordered both and hopefully they will arrive by next weekend. I’m planning to make simple envelope closures with a plain back. I’m very tempted to also try some very basic quilting, but I’m going to wait and see how the borders go first. I’d have to get a walking foot and some batting and more backing fabric, none of which I have at the moment. In the meantime I think I will carry on practicising sewing squares accurately together, and perhaps make some larger panels which I could then turn into quilted pillow covers rather than cushion covers. Hopefully if these come out well enough I will be able to give some of them as gifts to friends and family.

As the weather cooled down slightly once we reached the weekend, I was finally able to finish my ‘Free’ cardigan. I just have a few loose ends left to weave in and then I’llve give it a soak in some Eucalan. I’m quite please with how that has turned out, but it’s not in a fit state to photograph yet, so I’ll save that for next time!

I’ve also started knitting a shawl, using the Sundry pattern by Jennifer Dassau. Again, it’s a very simple textured shawl pattern – lovely relaxing knitting. I’m using some hand dyed yarn from Mr B Yarns.

The colours used are called Beachcomber (on the right in the picture above) and Sea Glass

This is progressing quite slowly as I’ve been finishing off other things and getting distracted by patchwork, but I don’t mind that. We have another weekend away coming up fairly soon, so if I don’t finish it before then it will be a good holiday project to take with me.

We finally had some rain here yesterday, though not the promised thunderstorms. I feel slightly cheated! The weather forecast has been promising thunder and lightening here all week, but it just seems to have passed us by. We heard some distant rumbles on Friday, but we haven’t had a good storm over our little patch of SE London. We had a lovely day out in the misty damp yesterday though, to visit Nymans Gardens. There were so many beautiful flowers and plants, all sparkling with raindrops.

That’s all for now. Have a relaxing Sunday and I hope you stay safe and well and happy.

A soft, snuggly sea-side vibes cardigan

I thought I would try to squeeze in another blog post this week. Mainly because I’ve been enjoying my knitting so much in the last week that I wanted to share that with you.

I’m making another Kim Hargreaves pattern. I really do love her designs of the last few years. They have the simplicity and elegance that I’m after, which makes them really wearable. Her pattern books are also always beautifully presented. I think its partly because she tends to use the kind of subtle soothing colours that I really like myself. So I don’t need to expend any effort in re-imaging how her designs would look in the kind of colour scheme that I like because most of the time she has already used the same colours as I would choose!

So, the ‘Free’ cardigan is from one of the more recent pattern books, the Calm Capsule Collection no. 3. You can find the Ravelry info page for the pattern here. I’m using exactly the same yarn colours and needles etc. as specified.

I’ve loved knitting this so much. It’s worked up very quickly, which is nice in a way as I can soon have the pleasure of wearing it, but also a bit sad as then I won’t be working on it anymore! The fabric has an interesting construction which gives a textured effect that is very lovely but also easy to achieve – you simply alternate different needle sizes, with a larger size needle used for purl rows and a smaller size for the knit rows. I love the effect, which is of a loose, airy but also warm and snuggly knit. The large needle size also means that the fabric works up speedily. The pattern calls for two yarns held together, a single strand of Sotfyak DK and a single strand of Kidsilk Haze. Again, this makes for an ideal combination in my book – you get the glamour and luxury of the Kidsilk Haze without having quite the level of fear about washing and wearing it!

I love the soft greeny-grey colour of the fabric. I hope that I will love wearing it as much as I have loved knitting it, but actually I feel pretty confident about that. Kim Hargreaves’ designs have never led me far astray in terms of fit, sizing and overall wearability, which I guess must be the mark of a really good designer! The whole garment has a lovely sea-sidey vibe. I don’t mean a bucket and spade, brightly coloured plastic, sun-burn, wind break, people wearing socks-with-sandles kind of sea side vibe. I mean a coastal path, slightly bohemian, sleep on the beach, sea-pinks, mermaids, sea-shells, sun and sea-salt in your hair kind of vibe.

Its extremely hot here in the UK at the moment. I don’t do well with this kind of heat, it makes me wilt! It’s supposed to cool down a fraction tomorrow and more the day after. It’s so hot I’ve hardly been able to bear picking up any of my craft projects at the moment. In a way its frustrating as I have several things that are within a whisker of completion. But it’s just too hot to move at the moment!

The flower pictures are from a recent trip to Ightham Mote gardens. Hope you can stay cool wherever you are. I’m off to find some ice….

Completed Bryum

I hope you’ve all been doing okay. I’ve been feeling a little brighter this week. I think it might have something to do with the two upcoming long weekends away, plus a week holiday in September that we have booked. I really hope the country doesn’t go back to a stricter lock-down before we manage to squeeze these in!

I know things are a bit worrying in some parts of the country at the moment, and indeed still in many other countries around the world – but I sincerely hope that the situation there will soon improve. We’re comparatively lucky here, but I honestly do try to spare a thought for those elsewhere during my weekly round. Kindness seems more important than ever this year, especially kindness to strangers.

This week, I’ve managed to finish my Bryym shawl. I’m reasonably happy with this. The pattern was a straightfoward and relaxing knit, and I finished it without any real problems. I think I was hoping for something slightly bigger than the finished size of shawl though. I do love a nice, big, snuggly shawl. That’s not to say it isn’t a perfectly reasonable size though, especially after I soaked it in some Eucalan. I’m rubbish at blocking – I don’t even own any blocking pins. I usually don’t bother much with it, although sometimes I will give things a gentle press with the iron. However, shawls often do seem to require quite aggressive blocking, which I don’t love. It’s probably one reason why I don’t make that many shawls!

I did sort of stretch this one out on the carpet after soaking it. Actually the soak alone was enough to open up the garter stitch and texture rows somewhat, and I expect it will drop down a little with further washing and wearing. All in all I’m pretty happy with it. I guess actually the main thing is the colour. As nice as they are, these colours aren’t my usual palette. I think this shawl will be nice for autumn, when I’m in the mood for golden colour tones. But at the moment, as summer draws to close, I find I am craving sea shore colours…. soft blue-green shades, pale pinks, cream and biscuit… that sort of thing. Luckily, I’ve been building up my stash of 4 ply a little again… and so I have a few things that meet the requirements!

There are quite a few pinky shades in my stash, but I have a pale green from Eden Cottage (I think it is Misty Woods), and also 3 from Mr B Yarn – Beachcomber, Sea Glass and Longmeadow. I just need to decide what to make! I think I would like a shawl of some kind, but I’m not sure whether to go assymetric triangle again, or perhaps rectangular this time. I also have issues in that I am not sure that I can bear to use up these lovely colours. Crazy isn’t it? If I use them to make something I love, it’s not like I’ll be using them. And yet, I still struggle to let go… what’s the point of having lovely yarn just to sit unused on the shelf, not filling it’s full potential?

I’ve also been spoilt this last week…. for some reason my other half took it into his head that he needed to buy me a present. For no reason at all (my birthday isn’t until the end of November!). I told him I was thinking about buying myself a crafty treat and that I couldn’t decide between an embroidery kit and another skein of yarn, and he decided he would buy whichever I chose for me. Actually he offered to buy me both, but I didn’t let him – I don’t want to get too spoilt! Anyway, I had my eye on the skein in the pictures above, from Hedgerow Yarns again – it’s another one of a kind dye. I just love the mix of blue, pink purple and greens. I’m sure they are the colours of my soul!

I also had a bit of a splurge last month…. I bought a sewing machine! I’ve been thinking about doing this for a while. A few weekends, we were in Whitstable, where there is a independent gabric and haberdashery shop. They had some beautiful fabric, which I just couldn’t resist. I bought some pink ticking striped fabric and another fabric with a bee print. Both were printed here in the UK. Since then I’ve been trying to get a little sewing machine practice in whenever I can. I think it’s safe to say I have caught the bug. I don’t have much experience of sewing though, so it’s been a little frustrating trying to get results which reflect what I’ve imagined making! I think I’m improving though.

One of the first things that I set out to make was a lined, zip up pouch. I just wanted something fairly simply for general use, maybe as a small project bag or something. I got there in the end, and you can see the results above. However, it took me three attempts to get something that I was reasonably happy with! Even then, there were still some details that I didn’t get right. Getting the zip in neatly seems to be a bit tricky. I’ve been doing coverend ends to the zippers, stitching fabric tabs across each end. However, this seems to create quite a lot of bulk at the ends of the zip, making the corners pull in when the pouch is turned right side out. To some extent I overcame this by cutting away some of the excess fabric, but still. I’ll keep trying though. Quilting is next on my list of things to try (never say I’m not ambitious!). I’m worried about how this will go as my cutting skills don’t seem to be that accurate (I know, I need a rotary cutter, a template and a cutting board!), and I’m not completely convinced that I can sew in a straight line, but I’ve been oogling quilts on Pinterest for the last couple of weeks, and I just have to give it a go!

I stumbled across some lovely examples of quilts… have a look here (Beech Tree Lane) and here (Willow Cottage Quilt Co.) if you like that sort of thing! And wish me luck and straight stitching!

That’s all for now. I’m off to spend some quality time with my latest knitting project (more on that next time). I’ll leave you with some photos from the lovely Ightham Mote, in Kent.

A beautiful ruin

Hi folks. I guess it’s been a while again. Partly becuase things have been busy. And I’m sure you know that when things are busy, the days can just slip-slide away from you. If I’m honest, it’s also because I’ve been struggling a bit with anxiety in the last couple of months, mainly brough on by dealing with the completion of my PhD, viva, and corrections. It’s a weird feeling. I don’t want to talk about it at great length here, because that’s not what I want this space to be about. I passed the viva, yet I don’t feel like celebrating.

I feel scared still. Scared that something will go wrong because I am not over that last hurdle. I think other people find this hard to understand, and just want me to celebrate and be happy. And the fact that I don’t feel like that is hard for me too, as I feel I am letting people down, in a strange way, by not feeling jubilant. And then there is still all of the original anxiety lying beneath that. I hope that one day, not too far in the future I can look back on this, and it won’t matter any more…. but I think that is some time in the future. I’m not there yet.

In the midst of all of this, as always, crafting has been a life line. This blog, which always used to be a bit of a life line (even if no one read what I was writing), and which I had to give up, is again becoming something of a life line. I guess that’s why I am here, now, writing this. I could bury it. It’s easier to bury feelings, I often find – at least in the short term. But long-term, it does no good. Sometimes you need to confront things. Only then can they take their true shape and proportion in life. But enough, I waffle. I didn’t come here for this, and I am sure you didn’t either.

The pictures I’m sharing here are of a cotton throw, something that I’ve been working on for a while. I created this based on a picture that I saw in a magazine a couple of months ago. It was Country Living (which even though I am a city dweller, is a guilty pleasure for me!) – I think it might have been the May edition. I know it was after lock-down started. I was flicking through, and saw this beautiful cream bedspread in an interiors spread, crocheted, and with a tassel border all around. I couldn’t think about anything else except how I was going to replicate the pattern, and how much I loved it!

I wasn’t able to find a pattern anywhere and there were no clues in the magazine. So with a bit of careful scrutiny of the photos, I set out to figure it out myself. Surprisingly, it wasn’t too difficult as I think it is fairly similar to a lot of existing fillet square patterns that you see around. I’m not sure I’m going to give a tassel edging (it would be a lot of tassels!)

I’m using Sirdar Cotton DK, which is my current favourite for this type of project. It’s a bit softer than a lot of mercerised cotton yarns, though I think it might have been treated in some way. The colour palette also floats my boat as there are plenty of softer, chalkier colours. It’s slow going, as I think I started this back in April. It might be finished in time for next spring though!

As well as the throw, I’ve been working on a Bryum shawl. This is a lovely gentle knit, with easy texture stripes. I started out knitting something involving lace, but ended up ripping it all out as my brain just couldn’t cope with lace over such a large number of stitches! I think it’s been too long since I’ve knitted lace. Also I am not sure that lace shawls are really ‘me’. I’m more of a texture gal! I do think it is important (at least for me) to know that I am knitting something that I will love and get lots of wear out of. So I have to really like the pattern. The yarn used is a combination of a lovel OOAK skein that I bought from Hedgerow Yarns, probably a couple of months ago now. It’s the yellow-y coloured skein above. I’m using it in combination with a terracotta coloured yarn – actually I think it is two yarns! I had 2 small balls in the cupboard left over from something else. I know one was Madeleine Tosh 4 ply yarn of some kind in the colour Pink Smoke Tea Tree. The other is something else, but in an almost identical colour, so it works.

As well as crafting, weekends are my gettaway. We bought a car about a month ago, and it has transformed our weekends. The short walks around our neighbouring streets because we didn’t feel comfortable on public transport are no more. Now we jump in the car and head out for a picnic in the Kent countryside. Last Saturday we made it to the beautiful Beyham Old Abbey. This may not be everyone’s thing, but personally I love a beautiful ruin.

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It’s been a busy week, and a lot has been achieved. I’m happy to be able to write this having overcome one of the biggest hurdles that I knew I had to climb in 2020 – the viva exam for my PhD!

As well getting through that unscatched, I’ve (more importantly!) also finished a knitting project this week!

This is ‘Lure‘ by Kim Hargreaves.

The uses Kidsilk Haze, knit with only a single strand except for cast ons for each piece where the yarn is held double. I wasn’t convinced that a single strand of Kidsilk Haze would be able to stand up to life in my wardrobe, so I’ve used two yarns held together – some Isager Alapca 1 and Onion Yarns Kidsilk Mohiar yarn.

The pictures don’t really do this sweater or the yarn justice. As the Isager yarn used was a mid grey and the Onion mohair yarn was more of a blue grey, the knitted fabric has a kind of blue grey mottled effect which I really like.

I made a size extra small, thinking that as the pattern looks like it has a fair bit of ease built in, and I was using two yarns held double, I would have heaps of ease. However, the finished result is actually fairly fitted around the waist and hips. It’s not tight, but its perhaps not as loose as I was expecting. I think this may be because if I had used a single strand of yarn as specified, the stitches would have opening out more during blocking and washing, and the whole thing would have had more give. That said, the Onion yarn is 40% silk, and after one handwash in some Eucalan, the whole sweater softened and loosened a bit – a couple more washes and I think it will be perfect!

The style has more ease across bust and shoulders. As you make each piece (front and back) you just gradually increase the stitch count rather than going in for the waist and then out again. I wasn’t sure the shape would suit me, but I really like it, and I think it is quite flattering. Overall, I’m really please with this knit. Just a shame it’s a bit too warm to wear it just now!

I’ve also had a few new yarny goodies in recently, which I don’t think I have mentioned before.

This is actually just a sample of the yarny-goodies I’ve been indulging in lately – I bought these over a month ago and haven’t gotten around to talking about them yet. As you can see from the picture, they are all from Eden Cottage. This is their Hayton 4 ply in colours Rambling Rose, Stonecrop and Oak, from left to right. I bought these vaguely thinking that I could make some kind of shawl or scarf with a bit of a fade effect. No particular pattern in mind yet, so if you can think of anything let me know!

In the meantime, I also bought this lovely one of a kind dye from Hedgerow Yarns. I bought it after seeing it on their website, just thinking that it looked really pretty. If you haven’t come across Hedgerow Yarns, check out the website – gorgeous colours and bases are to be found!

When this OOAK skein arrived, I realised that it would go quite well with something I’ve had a in stash for a while, which is a skein from Trava and Wool in the colour Madder. So at the moment I’m knitting these two up together into a shawl.

Well, I think that’s enough for now, more details on projects in progress with these lovely squishy yarns next time! One last pretty picture before I go and settle down with some knitting and tea – the Lavender field of the title – something we stumbled into on a walk this morning…

An old favourite and a short break

I’m just popping in today to say that I’ll be taking a short break… which is kind of funny, as really I’ve already been taking a short break, as I haven’t posted since 6th June.

Anyway, it’s been a busy couple of weeks – I have and have had a couple of personal things going on that needed my full attention, and in fact I still have some important stuff coming up (hence the short break!). The major thing is that I have the exam for my PhD at the end of this month. So consequently I have been spending a lot of time preparing for that and not doing a great deal else. We’ve also had a birthday to celebrate this week, and the very adult activity of buying a car!

I have had a few crafty things on the go, but nothing that is really at a stage where I want to share it yet.

However, I did think I would share a couple of pictures and some details of an old favourite make. This is a blanket which I made a few years ago, and have never posted about as I made it during a time when I was taking a break from blogging.

I made this blanket back in 2017, and I have very fond memories of the making process. It’s a fairly small blanket, made using DK weight yarns, and a simple granny square pattern that I made up myself on the spur of the moment. There’s nothing to it really. I’ve never written a pattern down, but I didn’t think it was necessary as there are plenty of similar patterns out there, and to be honest it wouldn’t be difficult to work out just from looking at the pictures anyway.

This blanket has been very well used around the living room, and has lived pretty continuously on our sofa ever since it was finished. I took it on holiday with me to make and can remember sitting in our room in a B&B (we went to Whitby that year), working on it in the evenings before going out for dinner.

I’ve put as many details as I can now remeber on a Ravelry project page for this blanket, including hook size and as many yarn types and colours as I can remember. The main colour used for the border in most of the squares was Sirdar Snuggly DK which I think is a wool-acrylic mix. I think the shade has since been discontinued, but it is a lovely stormy purple sort of colour. Looking back, I think I bought that yarn mainly because it was an economical option as I knew I would need a lot of that particular colour. However, I’ve recently discovered that acrylic yarn is made of plastic! So in a bid to be a bit more sustainable I’ve decided I won’t be making anything else using acrylic yarn in the future – I’m sure there are economical but also sustainable options out there next time I want to make a big wool blanket. If anyone has a favourite, environmentally friendly yarn that they use for this sort of thing, I am very open to suggestions!

So that’s it for now, I will be back in July once I have my exam over with. See you then!

One deluxe mulepose and two socks

I’m quite pleased with myself this week, as I’ve actually managed to finish  not one, but two projects. I’ve also started a sweater and yet another bed spread…but let me start at the beginning.

Back at the start of April (it seems like ages ago now), I stumbled across the patterns of Pia Johannesen, and started making the Deluxe Mulepose. Her patterns are mostly in Danish, so I had some fun and games translating the terms, especially for the Mulepose. In case you’re wondering, I think mulepose roughly translates to a tote bag, or just ‘bag’.

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I got so far with the bag (finished the body) and put it into hibernation until I could summon up the energy to fasten off the ends and make the handles. Since I reorganised my craft supplies into a dedicated display cabinet, and designated one shelf in that cabinet for WIPs, the bag has been sitting there, looking at me reproachfully. This week, I cracked and realised I should finish it. I was feeling guilty and ineffectual at my inability to finish anything lately. Then I realised that for that feeling to go away, I need to actually sit down and FINISH SOMETHING!

So I did. It only took a couple of evenings work, and then it was done – hurrah!

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I’m happy-ish with the results. I really like the overall design of the bag. The body (or bag part, if you will) is made in a single piece, rather then being two sides sewn together. You start by making an oval for the base, and them simply continue up with out making increases so that the oval begins to curl up on itself, a bit like amigurumi. I thought that was really nifty, and a great way to make a nice strong bottom for your bag. The oval shape works great for a tote style bag too.

The stitch pattern was interesting. Due to difficulty in translating the terms from Danish to English, I’m still not sure I had the pattern exactly right. The pattern refers to something called a ‘spydmaske’ which Google translated as spear stitch. After some head scratching, I decided that this must be spike stitch, so went with that. Judging by the photos in the pattern I think I pretty much had the right idea.

I also liked the way the handles were made – basically you start by making a short flat rectangle and then join to work in the round making a spiral handle, flattening out to work in rows again at the other end of the handle. The rectangles at each end are then stitched on to the body to attach the handles. Again, very nifty.

In fact the only things I don’t like about the bag are down to my colour choices – I went with blues and cream in order to use up yarn that I already had in my stash, knowing all the while that I would much prefer something in one colour (probably a grey or chalky pink!). Ah well. It was good to use up the stash material, and I think this will make a great bag for holidays and beach going. I used Sirdar Cotton DK and Rowan Cotton Glace.

The other thing which I have managed to complete is a very beginner-ish pair of socks. Although I’ve been knitting for a pretty long time now (since about 2005), I’ve never knit a pair of socks before. I guess I’ve been put off by reports that things like turning heels and working toes are difficult. I’m not a huge fan of knitting on dpns either. Also I’ve just never particularly wanted to knit any socks…until now. Recently, I get the impression that a lot has changed in the sock knitting world, and there are new techniques around to make the whole process of knitting something fairly small in the round a lot easier. I know a lot of knitters seem to absolutely love sock knitting – I see so many examples of beautiful socks on Instagram, especially from the likes of @Tinkhickman and @sandracherryhrt. As I mentioned recently, I’ve been watching the Cherry Heart podcasts, so I’ve seen several of the socks she’s knitted.

I had a skein of La Bien Aimee cashmere in my stash (which I think is partly intended to be used for socks as it contains some nylon) and suddely I just had the urge to have a go. I braved the magic loop method (which is actually quite easy) and used german short rows to turn the heel. I didn’t even have too much trouble with grafting the toe stitches.

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So, here they are in all their, ahem, glory! I’ll be honest, they aren’t 100% perfect. I had a little bit of trouble getting the tension right, and have something approaching a bit of laddering down the side of the foot, at the point where I was switching needles in my magic loop. Its not too noticeable, and I’m hoping it might disappear altogether with blocking and a bit of wear. I think this was caused because I actually pulled the yarn too tight when changing needles. I was so worried about having a ladder all the way down that I think I yanked too tight for the first few stitches after changing needles, and then eased up subsequently. So I have a slight difference in tension across the round (rather than a ladder as such).

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I’m afraid the socks aren’t shown to their best advantage in these pictures as I don’t have any sock blockers yet. I have some on order but they’re taking ages to arrive!

You might be able to see a little bit of gappy-ness around the heel turn in the picture above. Again, its not too bad, but I’d be happier if I could get the heel turn a bit neater. I struggle to see how you can avoid a bit of a gap if using short rows to turn. I don’t fancy the idea of a flap and gusset, but I have heard of something called the fish lips kiss heel turn, which promises to be super easy and gap free (pattern is by Sox Therapist). I’ve bought the pattern on Ravelry, ready for my next sock attempt (hopefully that’ll be quite soon).

The sock pattern I used is the Vanilla Sock from Cherry Heart’s Pick n’ Mix Socks. I think plain sock knitting may become a firm favourite with me, provided I can master the magic loop and turning the heel. I enjoyed knitting these simple socks, as much because of the beautiful, beautiful yarn as anything else. The colour used is called Pink Granite, and I used 2.25mm needles. In retrospect I think I probably should have used a 2.5mm, but never mind, next time. The colourway is absolutely exquisite when knitted up – I just adore the soft pink and grey blending into one another in subtle stripes.

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It’s suddenly turned in to hail and a thunderous downpour outside – which is needed judging by how brown the grass is around here lately! So I’m off to snuggle on the sofa with my current knitting project. See you again soon.

 

Diamonds and tassels shawl, boho bunting and some reorganisation

Hmm, I’ve been a bit lax on the posting front. As we’re still in lock-down here in the UK, there’s really no excuse for it. Well, actually I have a sort of excuse, in that I’ve just found it a little hard to settle down with a single project, until the last week or so. Because of that, I didn’t feel like posting about any of the things I’ve been working on.

You may remember the colour theory blanket, which I’d just started working on last time, and was very excited about. Well, unfortunately my excitement dimmed somewhat. The problem is the colours that I’ve chosen. The more squares I made, the more I somehow felt that I had made a mistake and the blanket wasn’t for me. So I gradually, gradually ran out of steam, and eventually gave up altogether and put the squares and yarn into hibernation. The issue is that I think in the end, I have gone too bright, and there are just too many colours in there. I tend to go for a much more neutral, softer colour palette in my home, and for some reason with this blanket I just got drawn into hurling loads of bright colours in. I’m not sure why really…I put it down to something to do with being in-doors so much the last couple of months and wanting a change!

So, I’m still trying to work out what to do with this blanket. It seems I have two choices – I can either pick it up again and force myself to go through with it, with the bright colours I originally had lined up. If I don’t like the final result for myself, then it could always be a gift for someone else. Choice 2 would be to work in some more subtle shades to try and damp down the brightness a little, and make it a bit more me. I’ll have to think about it a bit more, and get a couple of other projects out of my system before I go back to it. I’ve just been looking at some photos I took before I put it into hibernation, and actually I like it more than I remember….

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I think in this picture the balance of colour is more toward soft pastel than bright…by the time I had put it into hibernation the balance had definitely swung toward the brights. So maybe I should just work in more neutrals…

Apart from vacillating and procrastinating over the blanket, I’ve been crocheting shawls and bunting.

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This is the Boho Bunting from Lulu Loves. I decided that the living room needed cheering up a little a couple of weeks ago, so I made a small string of this bunting. Cherry Heart recently made some in pastel colours, and I’d also seen some all white bunting in a White Company Instagram pic (I think it was on Instagram, or maybe it was a marketing email), which I thought was rather nice. I also already had some white dk cotton in my stash, and so…the bunting was born.

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I’ve had more time lately to spend in looking at other people’s craft blogs and watching podcasts, scrolling Instagram etc., and honestly it has been so nice and inspiring to see so many beautiful things made by other people. I know a lot of people worry about spending too much time on social media, but honestly, for me most of the time it is the opposite – I haven’t had time to browse this kind of content for a long time. So it’s nice to finally be able to indulge my whims in that direction!

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And then, there is the shawl…this is another pattern from Cherry Heart, and I’ve really been enjoying listening to her podcasts on weekends lately. I used to read her blog way back, years ago before she starting podcasting. The last 5 years or so, my PhD kind of took over my life, and I had to give some things a back seat – reading blogs, and working on my own was one of them. Well, now the PhD is in, the Viva is coming up (eeek!) and I finally have a bit more freedom. As I’ve never watched a single one of her podcasts, I’m playing catch up a little bit! But that’s also kind of nice in a way, as I don’t have to wait for a new installment – whenever I had time I can just dive into the archive.

Anyway, I digress….

I’ve also been making Cherry Heart’s Diamonds and Tassels shawl. I’ve mentioned previously that I’ve been doing a bit of stash diving, and this was another stash diving project. I have 2 skeins of Madeleine Tosh Prairie, which I bought last year, with no particular purpose in mind. Here’s one of them:

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The colour is called Calligraphy. Isn’t it gorgeous? It actually looks more peachy pink in the photo above than it does in reality – I think it must be the light. Anyway, it’s a kind of silvery grey with shades of pink, lavender and maybe a bit of sea green in there too. It’s kind of like the inside of a shell. I’m head over heels with it at the moment. Here it is worked up into the shawl pattern, which probably gives you a better idea of the colour:

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Although it uses lace weight yarn, this shawl is working up fairly quickly on a 3.5mm hook. The pattern is very simple, though I am debating some changes to final shape and border – it will depend on how much yarn I end up using before I’m happy with the size though. I still have a little way to go at the moment, but I am already over halfway through my first skein, and according to the pattern, the whole thing can be made using only 1 skein. I’m not sure about this, given that it seems no where near big enough yet, but I guess with some fairly aggressive blocking it might make it. However, as I have two skeins rather than the 1 called for in the pattern I’m not going to worry too much about that and will just go ahead with the body pattern until I am confident I have a nice, big-ish size. Then I’ll see how much I have left and decide what to do about the border.

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And so finally, the last thing I’m going to natter about today is a little re-organisation that I’ve been doing at home to better accommodate my hobbies. Yes, I’m gradually turning our spare bedroom, which we use as an office into an office/craft room. We don’t have enough space for me to have a dedicated craft room, so the room will always have to do double duty as an office as well, but I don’t mind that. Even in a ‘full’ craft room, I think I’d still want a PC, computer and desk so it’s all fine. Anyway, so far the conversion of this room into a part craft room has consisted of getting a display cabinet, in which to house my yarn stash, pattern books, needles and other knitting and crochet paraphernalia. S very kindly helped me assemble said cabinet last week, and I’m happy to say it’s fully installed with my stash etc. neatly laid out on the shelves. Previously I had everything crammed in plastic storage crates in the bottom of my wardrobe, which was really not great. Now, I can see everything that I have, and get at it easily. I am really hoping that this will encourage me to shop my own stash a bit more, and make the best use of what I already have rather than buying new yarn quite so much. Though I must say, I have been fairly good at stash diving lately.

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The room is still a little bit less lovely than I would like it to be, so no full room shots just yet. However over time I’m hoping to gradually pretty-fy it a bit more, and so maybe I’ll show you more one day.

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That’s it for now, have a lovely weekend.