Wednesday, 7 January 2009

Winter Warmers Catch-up

I'm 3 or 4 weeks behind with the posts for the Winter Warmers swap so in case anyone is reading this and is interested (!) here goes.

So, what is your favourite winter warmer for your hands?
I have a lot of pairs of gloves - all of them leather and none of them knitted! I like the look of mittens and I'd enjoy knitting them, but they aren't very practical when you've got 3 children and you are always having to carry things, blow noses, dole out sweets, look for your keys - all at the same time. I also have a hatred of fingerless gloves - they remind me of Steptoe or Fagin. Handwarmers, Wristwarmers and cuffs are all nice though and very practical

Do you have a favourite pattern or finished object?
There are lots of patterns for mittens and gloves in my rav queue and these are my current favourites - Anenemoi
Druid Mittens
Paradoxical Mittens
Entangled Stitches
What is your favourite yarn for gloves/mittens/hand warmers?
Something soft - Merino, Cashmere, Alpaca, bamboo - i have sensitive skin so can't stand anything mohair, angora or even rough wool.

Are there any patterns out there you would love to own?
I have the patterns for Druid Mittens and Entangled Stitches already - Paradoxical Mittens would be top of my list.

I love scarves - I'm a real sucker for buying them though because I find knitting them very very boring. I'm going to buy a loom in order to WEAVE scarves instead - that's how much I love them.
I have never knitted a scarf - either for myself or for anyone else - I must be in a minority on Ravelry - there are some patterns in my queue but I think in my heart of hearts that I would rather someone knitted me a scarf as a present than I ever had to sit and do one for myself.

What is your favourite way of keeping your feet warm?
I love thick, cosy, very soft bed socks that are slightly too big. I get cold feet in bed so often wear socks to go to bed in and then kick them off in my sleep half way through the night.
Do you have a favourite pair of socks you reach for to keep your toes toasty?
I used to reach for my Fiesta Feet socks until the dye ran when I washed them and now I get upset looking at them. My second favourite pair are my Jaywalkers but they aren't quite as soft as I would like.
Is there a pair of socks/slippers you have been wanting to make for ages but haven't got around to?
So many sock patterns, so little time. I'd like to knit some knee length socks which would help to keep my legs warm.

My favourite yarn (that I have actually touched) is Natural Dye Studio Angel - Cashmere/Baby Alpaca & Silk. I don't get the chance to feel many yarns in the flesh so I'm not an expert but anything with those fibres in would get my vote. PS - I hate stripy sock yarns with a passion.

These are by far my favourite warming project and very much needed in our cold house when the heating goes off. I have some woollen and some fleece blankets in the cupboard but I like the idea of knitting some throws and having them ready on the sofas downstairs for when I get cold.
I have only knitted one blanket - this one which looks lovely but has too many holes to be a lap blanket - i need something more solid.

Browsing Ravelry I found these which I like
Scrap Afghan
Curve of Pursuit
I have the first Mason Dixon Knitting book which contains alot of fun knitted blankets - this is probably my favourite. I adore the ones from the latest Mason Dixon book though - this one especially. Can't wait til gets the book in stock.

As an afterthought - it's freezing outside and the best way I've found of really keeping warm has nothing to do with knitting - it's a laptop on your lap, very toasty!

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Winter Warmers Kit Swap

At least that's what I think I signed up for.... here's my answers:-

What kind of kit are you interested in receiving?
Mittens or lapghan would be my favourites.
Are you interested in any particular techniques?
I'm always up for anything challenging.
Do you knit, crochet, or both?
Both but I prefer knitting.
What is your favourite colour?
This week it's dark red or dark purple.
What is your least favourite colour?
What’s your style? (elegant, traditional, glamourous, girly, natural, sporty, outgoing, etc.)
I'd like to think I'm elegant and glamorous with a bit of funky thrown in for good measure.
Do you have a favourite type of fiber or brand of yarn?
Anything soft and squishy - Merino, alpaca, that sort of thing.
Do you have a least favourite type of yarn?
Mohair, angora, anything scratchy.
Do you do any other crafts?
Hundreds of them when I have the time.
Are there any knitting accessories you are interested in receiving?
Something to stop me constantly losing darning needles.
What do you like to eat?
Curry, Chinese, Mexican, Thai - anything with a chili kick. Oh and dark chocolate!
Any allergies/preferences (fiber-wise or treat-wise)?
I HATE NUTS and stripy yarn!!!
Anything we missed that you’d like your partner to know?
If I think of anything - I'll add it here....

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Too Many Projects

A couple of weeks ago I was struggling to knit anything at all and now I find myself with way too many projects on the go at once....
Firstly I have a pair of socks for my SoSeSaSwa partner - they are pink and knitted in NDS Angel and that's all I can say until she has received them.
Secondly I have a completed Corsica Waistband.
Thirdly I have half a wristwarmer....It was freezing cold this week and I am trying not to put the Central Heating on during the day, my hands were like ice blocks and I could hardly type. I suddenly thought "I need handwarmers" and started scavenging Ravelry for suitable patterns. I don't like fingerless gloves, they remind me of Fagin, so I was looking for something a bit different. I came across these and printed the pattern off only to find that I didn't really have anything the right weight in my stash that I was prepared to use. My brain was too cold to begin to work out the maths required to make it work with the yarn I do have so I reluctantly gave up. I still want a pair though and have added it to my queue.
I scouted around for a few more hours (ravelry is great when you don't want to do any work) and then started to knit these in some beautiful cashmere aran from Hipknits. I got one skein in a mixed Sale Bag of blue and green yarn and I absolutely love it - shame they don't do it any more.... Anyway I knitted a few rows before realising that even though my gauge was fine, they wouldn't go over my hand - frogged and stared again and have now got up to the bottom of my fingers....but I don't like them. I've stopped knitting on them whilst I have a rethink. I definitely need something to cover my wrists and then flare out over my hands so that my fingers are still free - oh and I only have 75 yards of Aran Weight - any suggestions????

My son's school asked me to teach the children to knit and my son's class teacher said she wanted to knit doves for the Church Christmas Tree, which is being decorated in the theme of 'Peace'. Knitted Doves????? Of course - Alan Dart to the rescue and a few minutes later I had made one of these.
My son's teacher loved it and asked my son to make on for her, two girls in his class also wanted one. So this weekend I've made another three and am currently knitting up the pattern in chunky wool on 6mm needles so it will easier for the 10 and 11 year olds....wish me luck, I'm not that patient with kids.....
Oh and the new Twist Collective threw up yet more beautiful patterns to add to my queue - only one complaint though, they are almost all in Chunky weight yarn and there isn't really a cheap Chunky yarn available in the UK so I don't think I'll be able to knit them any time soon. But if you haven't seen Twist Collective yet - take a look, it's much much better than the Winter IK preview that has also just gone online.

Monday, 10 November 2008


Monday is fish tank cleaning day. The Tropical Fish belong to my son but guess who has to clean the tank each week? It takes me anything from 30 mins to 1.5 hours depending on the number of jobs that need to be done and each week I dread doing it and then find myself being sucked in by the task, wanting to make the tank look perfect.

I siphon out 3 buckets of water, change the top layer of the filter, dismantle the pump and check it's clean, clean the algae from the front and side glass and remove any dead bits of plant. Then I make up 3 more buckets of clean water (with chemicals to make the water safe) and put the 30 litres of water back into the tank. Wipe the lights and put the pump back on and the job is done.

I'd like to have a beautiful planted tank like the ones in my son's Practical Fishkeeping magazines but it's much more difficult than it looks. My plants don't exactly thrive and there is always algae on them. Strange that I can rescue almost any house or garden plant and lovingly nurse it back to life, but aquatic plants don't seem to respond the same way.....

Oh and the Beastie at the top is my son's favourite fish - a Golden Nugget Plec. It eats most of the plants and produces masses of pooh out the other end - messy messy beast!

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Not Knitting but Cooking

Whilst (almost) everyone else was at Ally Pally this weekend, my husband decided it was time to make the Christmas Mincemeat. Since I was a child I have had an aversion to Mince Pies and would not eat them. By the time I was an adult I could just about manage to eat a small one politely without gagging but other than that - YEEEEUUUUKKK!
In the early 1990s Delia did her 'Christmas' series and I was hooked (I had serious cookery ambitions then). In the book is a recipe for Mincemeat with Delia's comment that 'once you've tried it, you'll never go back to shop bought Mincemeat'.......
That year I made an enormous amount of her recipe and then used ready made pastry to make Mince Pies. Everyone who tried one said they were delicious and my husband fell in love - not with me, with the Mince Pies. Encouraged by the flattery, I tried one myself and do you know what? They aren't my favourite food but they were actually edible without gagging - I too was in love with the Mince Pies.
Shop bought Mincemeat and Mince Pies are sickly sweet and for the most part, textureless gloop with too much filling in proportion to the pastry - Mr Kipling and Supermarket Own label being the worst offenders. Home made mincemeat is sweet but not overpowering and is full of Christmassy flavours, it retains all the texture of the ingredients and there is hardly any liquid in it - fabulous stuff. Delia was right, we've never gone back to shop bought Mincemeat and it's been 15 years now.
Anyway, it's normally MY job to make the Mincemeat and the Pies but last year I bought a new Food Processor and Husband decided to MAKE THE PASTRY HIMSELF - yes really! Every weekend he would whip up a new batch of pastry and bake some more pies......This year, he decided he would make the Mincemeat as well and sent me out on a shopping expedition for all the ingredients, oh and 'get me two new bun tins as well - the old one is rusty and I need more than one'. Typical man, can't do anything by halves - has to start his own Mince Pie factory instead.
He started weighing out the ingredients with our younger son, but after a while the child was bored and sloped off to watch TV. Then he decided he couldn't work the zester so got me zesting and juicing lemons and oranges whilst he sloped off the to shop for almonds......Needless to say I ended up finishing the Mincemeat. It's made now - complete with a very large slug of Brandy and is 'maturing' until the weekend when, I'm pretty sure, husband won't be able to leave it alone and will start making Mince Pies.
We have also been tempted to make our own Christmas Pudding this year - good ones are really expensive considering what's in them and the Times last week had some good links to recipes for microwaving them, thus avoiding the 6-8 hour steaming process which has always put me off. I'll let you know how we get on this weekend with that project!

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

I hate Ally Pally

no not really, I'm just jealous. I went online yesterday in search of some luxury yarn for my SoSeSaSwa partners but every store I went to had cleared out their online inventory in order to take it all to Ally Pally!
There's nothing in my stash that I am prepared to part with so I am stuck until everyone updates their shops after the weekend - how cruel is that?

P.S. was trying to knit mittens for Operation Christmas Child last night but I've lost my sewing up needle again......ARGH!!!!

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Busy Doing Nothing

Well it feels like I am anyway. I could write a very long list of all the tedious little things I have been doing over the last week or so, but you wouldn't be interested, really you wouldn't. I have been VERY busy frogging though
First I cast on for these
And frogged them when I realised my palm was wider than the glove
And frogged again when I realised that the start of the fingers was way too low
And frogged for the final time when I realised that the fingers were going to be too short and that I really couldn't accommodate all these differences into the pattern because I don't get enough thinking time.
My question now I get three lots of Frogging Points on Knit Wars or just one?

Fresh from my success at Glove Knitting I moved on with enthusiasm to Corsica and after completing a swatch I plunged straight in to knitting the cabled waist panel. Each pattern repeat is supposed to be 4.5 inches wide and 6 inches long. Mine were 4.5 inches wide and 4 inches long!!! I frogged back to the beginning and started again - managed to get the length up to 5 inches per repeat. Frogged again and cast on with bigger needles - now I have 5.75 inches and I'm going to have to make do with that. I'm completely fed up with the damn cabling pattern now and can't wait to finish the waist band and move on to the rest of the sweater.
How many frogging points do I get for this?

And finally, they say troubles always come in threes, so here is my third knitting disaster of the week - Danbyholm. I'll add a photo or two shortly (issues with the camera and the USB ports again) but lets just say that although the finished sweater is a thing of true beauty on the hanger, once I put it on my body it looks fugly.....I cannot bear to wear it, the sweater will have to be frogged........more Knitwars points for me!

Monday, 29 September 2008

Bored of Raspberries

It's official - I am bored to death of raspberries. I never thought I would see the day when I would look at a plate full of freshly picked raspberries and think - YUK but today it happened every time I opened the fridge.
I bought 5 canes of Autum Bliss 2 years ago and stuck them in the bare earth in January. By summer I had 3 feet tall plants with just a few raspberries. Last year I had more raspberries each day than I could eat and froze a lot of them. This year, despite the rain, we have been inundated with them - I can't face the sight of them now. If I shut my eyes, I can see raspberries - it's awful. I have made two lots of Oven Jam a la Nigella and given them away to friends. I have filled every empty ice cream container in the house and frozen them all, I've made raspberry sauce and raspberry cake and now I have run out of raspberry recipes.
This summer I planted a thornless blackberry so next year I shall be moaning about all the blackberries aswell - you have been warned!
P.S. As I have now lost 3lbs in 2 weeks with the dreaded Weightwatchers, I can't eat puddings (I need all my points for alcohol instead) The raspberries will have to stay in the freezer for a few more weeks but once I feel able, I will make Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse Cake, yum yum.

Monday, 22 September 2008

Where the Hell are all my Needles?

I've finished knitting Danbyholm but I can't find a sewing up needle. Is there one lurking in the bottom of my Knitpicks Options bag? - Nope. Looked through the bag containing all my dpns - Nope. Is there one in the bottom of the knitting bag containing an unblocked but finished Skin of The Sea? - Nope. What about underneath all the Aran Weight Silk that's waiting for a suitable pattern? - Nope. In the sewing box with all the reels of thread? - Nope. In the tin containing all my pins?
I am reduced to wandering aimlessly around the house looking for places I might have left a sewing up needle.......
Where do you keep yours?


Signed up for the Socktopus Secret Santa and here are my answers to the questionnaire:-
1. What are your favourite colours and fibres?
Colours - Blue, Purple, Dark Red, Baby Pink
Fibres - Merino, Silk - anything really really soft.
2. Anything that makes your toes curl? (Fibre, colour, other)
Day Glo Brights, Fuschia Pink, Mohair and Angora
3. Would you describe yourself as a beginner, intermediate or advanced knitter?
Advanced but not extreme - no two at a time socks on DPNs or double knitted bags!
4. Do you have an online wishlist? (Amazon or other)
5. Any new techniques you'd like to learn?
Can't think of anything but I'll keep you posted.
6. What is your favourite:
Snack? - Chocolate, anything Coconut
Book? - Crime Novels are my Favourite but I am also a Sci-Fi Geek
Movie? - This is really hard becasue the only time I get to go to the Cinema is to see kids' movies. I like the original 3 Star Wars films, James Bond, Indiana Jones - that kind of thing.
Music? - I am forced to listen to my son's ipod in the car so we currently like The Feeling, Melee and Mika but his tastes change daily so it can be hard to keep up.
7. What are your favourite items to knit? Sweaters, jackets, cardigans.
8. Any patterns that are top of your queue? My Ravelery queue is long but not in any particular order - I tend to get swayed by the latest issue of Vogue or Interweave and am currently trying to find cheap Chunky Weight wool for this
9. Do you have any other hobbies? Gardening, Sewing, Cooking, Reading.
10. Tell us about yourself. When did you first pick up your needles? Who/what encouraged you to start knitting? How would you describe your knitting style? Are you a process knitter or a product knitter, etc.
I was forced to learn to knit as a child and hated it but was soon knitting little outfits for my teddies with my Mum's left overs. Didn't knit anything full size until I was a teenager and then stopped knitting for about 10 years in my thirties when I had too many other things to do with my time. I am both a Product and a Process Knitter - I knit jumpers and cardigans in order to wear them but will only knit something that is complicated or has an unusual construction. I sometimes knit socks but don't really like wearing home made socks much so I only knit socks that are difficult to knit!! I hate knitted hats, so I never knit them. Don't like shawls because they fall off all the time but love lace knitting because it needs concentration.
I am trying to reduce my stash - no I really mean it - I have enough yarn to make 9 sweaters and I really need to get cracking.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008


I signed up for Ravelympics - in THREE categories....I Must be mad.
Firstly we have WIP Wrestling which for me involves just 2 projects - Skin of the Sea which I recently re-started in a blue-green Aran Silk, a Pink Daisy Cardigan which has come out way too big (I misread the size of the needles required, translating the US size into millimetres!).
Secondly we have Designer Discus in which I am designing a pair of colourwork mittens with a theme of Glendurgan (a beautiful garden in Cornwall).
And finally we have bead wrangling which requires me to finish the beaded Mystery Stole 3.
Nothing too ambitious but I am conscious that the Games have been going for several days now and I haven't finished anything.....

I did however sign up for Mystery Stole 4 and Secret Stole in an effort to use up my Laceweight Stash. I absolutely love lace knitting but hate shawls so Stoles are a good way to get my fix. Need to go get beads.....

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

UK Swap Questions

I've got really behind with these but now I've managed to combine my Blogger accounts, I can use this Blog without being logged out of my Gmail account.

Question 1

What are you doing to participate in WWKIP day on Saturday?

I can't participate in WWKIP - I am way too embarrassed to knit in public. I have no knitting friends who would share the embarrassment with me so I will be staying indoors. The last time I knit in public I was knitting through my eldest's school play and made a huge mistake in the pattern. Never again....

What is the strangest place you have ever knit?

See the above...

Picture Bonus: Post a picture of you knitting in public on Saturday, or if you don't get a chance to knit in public on Saturday, take a place of your favourite place to knit at home.

My favourite place to knit is curled up at one end of the sofa, in front of the TV with a glass of wine resting precariously on the arm!

Question 2

Which three guests (alive or not) would you invite to a dinner party and why?

First two are easy - Stephen Fry, because he is just so interesting and clever. Despite the fact that I know he has an earpiece and a computer in QI, he is still amazingly funny and clever and provided he didn't monopolise the conversation, he'd be great company. Second is Patrick Stewart who I don't know that much about in real life but as I have been in love with Jean-Luc for 20 odd years I can't resist putting him next to me at my imaginary dinner table. The final choice is more difficult as I am not really a celebrity worshipper and would rather have somebody witty and clever than somebody famous - do you know anyone I could choose?

Question 3

Is there a TV programme you watch religiously?
Not anything that I would cry over....but I do REALLY like House, CSI (only Vegas), Dr Who and Bones. Sky+ is also set to record Criminal Minds, Without a Trace, Dexter.

What TV programme(s) do you avoid like the plague?

Big Brother. Anything with 'Celebrity' in the title. Any kind of Sporting Activity.

Is there a TV programme that you find works particularly well for knitting along to?
No, I can knit whilst (not) watching anything.

What was/is your favourite kids TV programme? Maid Marian & her Merry Men. Scooby Doo (the original series not the latest 'Get a Clue' series) Art Attack.

Question 4

What is your favourite thing that you have knit? (It might not be your favourite thing to wear but it was the most enjoyable to knit). I'm only half way through it - Mystery Stole 3 From Pink Lemon Twist - love the lace, the concentration required, the beads, love everything about it except the fact that I can't knit this project when the kids are around.
What is the worst thing you've ever knit? I have knit many awful socks that have almost all be frogged - I usually hate the way the hand-dyed yarns knit up and so I never knit the secodn sock.
What are your favourite knitblogs? I have lots on my Google Reader but prefer to read blogs written by people I actually 'know' from elsewhere on the web - e.g. Ravelry or Swaps.
What is the most amazing knitted thing you have seen (This Ravelry thread might help)
I've ploughed my way through that thread and now my head is buzzing with hundreds of things - can't make up my mind at all now. I'm leaning towards the lace projects though as I know they need concentration to knit.

What is your favourite knitted item to wear? Post a picture if you can.

I am super -critical of absolutely everything I knit and so although I wear all my sweaters I never fall in love with any of them. They are all too hot, too big or too small in a particular place, don't fasten, itchy etc. In fact, reading back through that list - why do I knit at all?

Question 5

Choose one - don't think just choose...

1. Stop or go? Stop.

2. Going out or Staying in? Staying In.

3. Small town or big city? Small Town.

4. Happy or sad? Sad.

5. Straights or Circulars? Straights.

6. Red or Blue? Blue.

7. Seaside or countryside? Seaside.

8. Fish or chips? Chips.

9. Surprises or plans? Surprises.

10. Wine or beer? Wine.

11. Sweaters or cardigans? Cardigans.

12. Pizza or Pasta? Pasta.

13. Chopsticks or fork? Chopsticks.

14. Early Bird or Night Owl? Night Owls.

15. Knitting or crochet? Knitting.

16. Hot or cold? Cold.