Monday, 31 December 2012


Sound familiar?
This year, like most other years before it, began with a list of resolutions (you can see some of them on this post). They were written with good intentions, but frankly, after a few weeks the things that had seemed important on Jan 1st were not so high on my list of priorities. 

The year started off with unexpected surgery and various health problems followed. They were much more important than learning to knit and read at the same time. D's career really took off - he did some great work including the official Olympic Legacy films and is now making the transition from editing TV programmes to movies (the film has not yet been released yet, but it's done!) It is a dream come true for him and I'm so proud of him for making it happen, but it meant we didn't see him too much for several months. That was a strain on all of us. Writing patterns was pushed to the bottom of the to-do list (where it remains). And so it went...

Overall it's been a good year - Mum relocated and we see her daily, we had a lovely family holiday, and things are ending on a peaceful and positive note. Looking back at my list now, I can see that one or two of the resolutions happened but it was co-incidental.

For 2013 I have only one resolution which is not to worry about ticking things off a list, but to be present and deal with life as it happens. That, after all, is the most I can do. 

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank each of you for your visits and comments this year. There have been times when this blog and the lovely community it has brought, has quite literally saved my sanity. 

I wish you and yours a happy and peaceful new year. 

Sarah x
Sunday, 30 December 2012

End of Part One - YoP Update #18

Year of Projects
It's been a great first half to the second Year of Projects with a total of fifteen finished items crossed off my list so far - some big, some small. This is already more than I completed in the whole of year one so the dual aims of stashbusting and a list of items seems to be working well. In light of this, there will be no changes to the list at this half-way point. While making this 'highlights' collage, the number of little crochet projects was quite a surprise, particularly as they are some of my favourites so far.

Rather than repeating myself, if you'd like to view all of the completed projects and remaining list, please take a look at the dedicated YoP page.

All that remains is to wish my fellow YoPers a happy and productive 2013. 
Photo 15 Jul 2012 08:33
Saturday, 29 December 2012


Hello! You may have noticed a few changes around here today.   

After almost 2 years of fiddling about with templates while hoping for the best, I figured it was time to let someone else take a turn, someone who actually knows what they are doing. I am delighted to say that Carrie (from Carrie Loves Design) has waved her magic wand to give the blog a facelift ready for the new year. What do you think?

The main changes are to the formatting but you'll also see some nice new widgets in the sidebar to the left, and lots of de-cluttering has taken place there. A couple of old pages that need a revamp have been removed for now too, so if you're looking for something and you can't find it in the search box (located in the sidebar) please just leave a comment to let me know. 

The other noticeable change is that hyperlinks are no longer obvious until you hover over them, so if you want to find out more about something I've mentioned, please try hovering - there's a good chance the text will change to indicate you can click it. I'm still checking through the archives to ensure my pictures have all survived the changeover, do let me know if you notice any anomalies before I get to them.

If you're reading this in an email or in a feed reader, thank you very much for subscribing - you may like to visit the original post on the blog to see the new design. 

I do hope you like the new 'look'. As always, I welcome your feedback. 

Friday, 28 December 2012

Se7en Days (and a couple of books)

Christmas 2012 collage
A whole week between posts! That probably tells you all you need to know about our Christmas - it was very relaxed and lovely and spent with our family - both our mothers, our three sisters and the children's sole cousin Jack. The Knights appear to be camera shy and managed to completely avoid being in the few photos I have - they can look out next time!

George went back to the North Pole with Santa on Christmas Eve, but not before leaving strict instructions on the chalk board for hugs from the children (who have not been allowed to touch him incase the magic goes, but were desperate to give him a kiss before his departure) and taking a look around their bedrooms. He also left them a final gift of some PJs, little cuddly toys, reindeer food and a framed photo for each so they can remember him between visits. My Boy was incredibly upset - heartbroken - for about half an hour. He really bonded with the cheeky little elf and I knew it was going to be hard for him. Thankfully he got over it when he realised it's not all that long before George will be back. It's not the end, but the beginning of a new Christmas tradition for our family, and who knows, we may even hear from him before then.

I have done NO KNITTING for three days after my project bag containing the newly-cast-on Metalouse mysteriously vanished (recovered this morning behind a table) so I've managed loads of reading on my new Kindle Paperwhite 3G which I absolutely LOVE.  On Boxing Day I finished The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson and last night I finished The Sealed Letter by Emma Donoghue.

I'd heard about 'The Hundred-Year-Old Man ...' before but I'm not sure where (in fact, writing it here is giving me a deja-vu feeling) so when I saw it for 20p on Kindle I had to download it. This is a very amusing and well written tale of a Swedish centenarian who quite literally climbs out of the window of his care home on his birthday and has an adventure. However this isn't his first adventure and while Allan is escaping the local police and journalists who are hot on his trail, the tale of his life - spanning the major events and figures of the last century - unfolds. I don't want to say much more to spoil the story but I thoroughly enjoyed it and have already recommended it to a number of friends. I'd rate this 4.5 out of 5. 
The Sealed Letter is a very different book which I selected after enjoying Room by the same author. Set in London in the 19th Century, this is a book inspired by the real life divorce of a Victorian Admiral and the involvement of a leading figure in the Women's Movement of the time. Divorce was rare - it was a time when the issue of "women's rights" was beginning to flourish, wives and offspring were the husband's property both in practice and in law. The real life case caused quite a scandal including revelations of a stained dress (sound familiar?) implications of lesbianism and betrayal. An interesting read in terms of the historical background but not a book I'd want to read again. I would rate this 3 out of 5...which is perhaps quite generous.

Today we're braving the shops. We must be mad as it's tipping down with rain. Hopefully it'll stop tomorrow so the kids can finally get to try out their new bikes, but I'm not holding my breath - I'm starting to think an ark may have been a better gift.  
Friday, 21 December 2012

February Lady in December!

It's finished. Finally. Oh, and *cough* it took just under 400g (the extra ball and worry about the different dye lots was for naught). I don't really love it - it's not really the right shape for me - but the yarn is so snuggly and warm I'm sure it'll get a lot of use over the coming months. After 10 minutes trying to get a decent self-taken shot, and then asking the 3 year old who didn't do much better, I'm afraid this is the best we could manage. 
PATTERN: February Lady Sweater by Pamela Wynne (free download)
YARN: Rowan Creative Focus Worsted in Chocolate
NEEDLES: 6mm circulars
(Buttons from Textile Garden)

I'll be blogging over Christmas (although not to my usual schedule) so I hope to see you around next week, but for anyone visiting for the last time this year, and for those who are popping in from Tami's:

Thursday, 20 December 2012

Elf Antics Week 3: Soon to Depart

It's been another lovely week with George, and apart from having to reiterate our talks to an over-excited 6 year old about kind behaviour to his sister, it's mostly been one of fun antics and surprises. He's made a zipline between the lights, held a book club for his friends, brought surprise photo canvasses for the playroom wall, redecorated the little tree in the kitchen, held a conference with gnomes, and made a "snow" angel - from flour. Of course, I'm sure the time he spent in a stolen Police boat with Barbie will be the most reminisced when he returns to the North Pole on Monday night. 

The children - especially My Boy - are going to be sad when he leaves. I often hear them talking to George about all sorts of things (in English and Elvish in the lad's case). It's going to be quite a wrench. They wanted to give him a cuddle since he arrived, but haven't been able to incase the magic vanishes and he is unable to get 'home'.  As Santa will be coming on Monday night anyway, we realised it doesn't matter about the magic that day as he can hitch a ride back on the reindeer. So the countdown to Christmas Eve is no longer in anticipation of some special gifts, but spending the day with George. Being able to show him things he hasn't seen so far (like their bedrooms) and cwtching him. 

If you would like to add a link to your elf's antics, feel free to do so - we love seeing what others have been doing too. 

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

WIPs, Books & A Reindeer Giveaway

WIPs and Books 19/12/12

KNITTINGFebruary Lady Sweater in Rowan Creative Focus Worsted (Chocolate)
DECORATING: Papier Mache Deer
Sadly there is not much change from last Wednesday's update - Christmas preparations seem to have stolen any crafting time so the second sleeve of my FLS is yet to be started (today, definitely today!) and Pi has only just set off from India in the boat, so I must be about a third of the way through the book. Why can't there be more hours in the day? 

Yesterday these cute reindeer arrived from Homecrafts. Little Miss and I have plans to decorate them in time for Friday's FO post. If you'd like to have a go yourself, I have another set to giveaway - just leave a comment stating what you'd do with them (glitter? decoupage? paint? crochet?) and a winner will be randomly selected on Friday. The competition is open to all until 9am GMT and I'll do my best to post the same day as soon as I have your address so please ensure you leave a way of contacting you. It's unlikely to get to you before Christmas unless you are in the UK but I am happy to post anywhere.  GOOD LUCK! ENTRY IS NOW CLOSED!

Today's links: WIP Wednesday and Yarn Along - I'll be back with Elf Antics tomorrow.

PS - Are you an Instagrammer? If so, I'd love to know what you think about the proposed changes which I blogged yesterday. Please take a look and leave your comments. 

Tuesday, 18 December 2012


ex·o·dus a going out; a departure or emigration, usually of a large number of people: the summer exodus to the country and shore.  (Source:

Have you seen the news about Instagram and the changes which take effect from January 16th?  In the revised Terms of Service it states, among other things, that "you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos... and or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you." I certainly don't think that my own photos (mostly snapshots of knitting, clouds and kids) are at much risk of being used as stock photos for someone else, but if they were to sell them for use, under the new terms they wouldn't even have to tell me! The information on my photos (metadata is covered by this clause) could certainly be used by parent company Facebook (which acquired Instagram for £629,000,000 despite it never making a profit) to target advertising at myself and my friends. I am not happy. I do not consent to this. 

Unless the terms are revised in the next couple of weeks it'll be a case of deleting my Instagram account and the 900 or so photos I have there to date, which is a huge shame as I have some really lovely contacts there, people I now consider to be friends, and I've really enjoyed being a part of the knitting, crafting IG community. It's also likely that various photos from old blog posts will disappear as some are from Instagram, but I am not sure which. Knitalong photos posted by numerous users could also be lost. It's such a pity, not to mention a massive inconvenience.

I would have happily paid a "Pro" upgrade or small monthly subscription to keep Instagram as it was - it's a shame Facebook didn't offer this as an option when they bought the company. As it is, I foresee that many of us will simply leave.

So what's the alternative? Flickr have recently launched a new iPhone app and so, like numerous friends, I'm starting with that. I have an account which I used with Blogsy until the latter was integrated with Instagram so it's set up and ready to go, although there isn't much there at the moment. If you use Flickr, then my profile is here if you'd like to connect.

Preparing for the exodus!

I'm really interested to know what you think about this and if you currently use IG, whether this will result in you deleting your account...?

EDIT: Shortly after publishing this post, a message was published by Instagram - you can read it here
Monday, 17 December 2012

Catching Up (including Year of Projects #17)

Hat: rescued from the charity shop for £2.50
Girl: made her myself, priceless
With a week to go until Christmas Eve, the children are incredibly excited. They have been singing songs from the pre-school carol concert on Friday and watching the video clip of My Boy's poetry recital. (Unfortunately there are too many other kids in most of the pictures so I can't share them here.) We have seen one Santa or another for four consecutive days - needless to say they realised it wasn't all the same person, and have sussed that there is in fact a Team of "Santas" at this time of year. 

Our Primary school doesn't finish until Friday (!!!) so it's just Little Miss and I at home this week and there is still much to do but we are slowly ticking things off the ever-expanding list, between laughter and cuddles. I've packed up a few parcels ready to post today, the fifth load of drying is in the tumbler and the grocery deliveries are booked until the new year.  It's a start. 

There are a few crafty things on my list too, the first of which is to block 22 Little Clouds which I think will go nicely with that hat - which incidentally is mine! This is a really cute little knit and worked up quickly even though it needed additional rows after using 4ply for the DK pattern. I'll add a better picture  later in the week when it's blocked.... beter add that to the list. But it's finished. 
My other YoP Project, February Lady Sweater, needs the second arm to be finished and that will be done too, but you may have noticed that I always slow down when the end is in sight. Not sure why....
Thursday, 13 December 2012

Elf Antics Week 2 - Unexpected changes

Since George came to stay with us on December 1st there have been some benefits that I couldn't have imagined...

Most importantly, the children are BEING NICE TO EACH OTHER! I should make it clear that this is not because they are worried George is telling Santa about their behaviour (that aspect hasn't really worked) but because they have this exciting amazing thing in common - they are in it together.  They are having so much fun together they have forgotten to bicker! 

Whoever wakes first waits for the other (this generally means My Boy is staying in bed later - something we have been trying to encourage for a very long time), and they hurry excitedly downstairs together to find where he is hiding. Once George has been located, they find the gift he has brought for them (from our book advent calendar) and they TAKE TURNS each day to open it. For 3 years there has been a massive power-struggle between the children, with My Boy desperately trying to be in charge of everything and do everything first, bigger, better.... Not now. He is just as excited when Little Miss gets to open the book and will happily sit and read it to her. Most days there is one book which they SHARE. Sharing is another thing that often lead to conflict in the past. 

Several times this week I've heard one of them say "I love you" to the other. They have been hugging and playing so happily. I will confess that this melts me - even at 6am.

The changes don't end with the children. D doesn't like dolls or puppets or anything 'creepy'. I'd go as far as to say he hates them, and he physically shuddered the first time he saw George, but over the last 13 days a change has gradually come about. When it is time to *cough* 'facilitate' the nightly antics, D has not only participated, but started taking the lead. Twice this week he's had his own ideas before I've mentioned anything, and when I came home last night (after Christmas curry with the book club ladies - yay!) I was shocked to find everything sorted. This may not sound like much, but D is not usually a "participator" in things like this. Seeing the children so incredibly happy seems to be working it's own subtle magic on him too. 

So yes, life with our elf is pretty good. How is yours? If you'd like to share your elf's antics, add the link to your blog post below - please link back here so your readers can find the other elf antics too. If you don't have a blog but have an online photo album or instagram tag, please feel free to add that URL. 

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

WIPs and Books: Success!

Big THANKS to everyone who commented on yesterday's 'dye lot' dilemma, here or on Facebook. After reading all of your suggestions, I decided to start the patterned section of the first sleeve again and alternate the two different dye lots after each round. As you can (hopefully) see, there was no discernable difference once knitted, so I soon gave up on that and stuck with just one ball. I really don't think it will be noticeable as there is a bit of a sheen to the yarn so it catches the light as it moves anyway. It means I have only one and a half sleeves to go, and might even have a Finished Object ready for Friday. 
KNITTING: February Lady Sweater in Rowan Creative Focus Worsted (Chocolate)

At the weekend I finished Pride and Prejudice and rated it 5 out of 5. I'm not one for love stories, but  there is something special about that book - the dialogue is wonderful, there is so much humour and I loved the characters. It's status as a beloved classic is well deserved. But what to follow it with? I have so many books queued on my Kindle that I really wasn't sure what to read next, and finally decided on Life of Pi. I read it years ago at the height of it's prize-winning and popularity and I didn't find it all that earth-shattering to be honest, but when I saw an illustrated edition for 20p on the Kindle Daily Deal a couple of weeks ago, decided to give it another shot. My perspective on life has changed a great deal since the first reading, and I'm sure that I am already enjoying it more than the first time around. 

Today's post is linked with Tami and Ginny - visit them for more blogs and loveliness.
Tuesday, 11 December 2012


Imagine you were knitting something and you really liked it. Before you cast on, you knew you didn't really have enough yarn, but you started anyway, envisioning short sleeves. Yet as it neared completion, you wanted to finish it properly. So you looked for the same dye lot, but couldn't find any more (you've had it a while) and you ordered an extra ball you need to make the longer sleeves in the hopes that it would match... but it's not quite the same colour. 

Would you knit the second sleeve from the new ball and hope it wasn't too obvious...? Or how about knitting the patterned part of both in the original yarn but the borders in the new (different) colour....? Would anyone really notice...? 
Rowan Creative Focus Worsted in Chocolate ... and Chocolate.
I need your words of wisdom.
Thursday, 6 December 2012

Elf Antics Week 1: Meet George

Our Elf on the Shelf arrived on Saturday, bringing with him the first of the daily advent gifts (all books) for the children. They decided to call him George. He seems to be settling in well although he is having a 'duvet' day today after causing carnage in the sitting room last night with his friends.

Little Miss has come around to having a spy in the house and I have never seen My Boy more thrilled, or more creative. When George was hiding in the toilet tissue, he went into the bathroom and started making a terrible noise. D rushed in thinking he was in pain or had a problem, only to find he was speaking Elvish. Another night it was like an episode of 'CSI Sussex' as he went around the house finding all sorts of clues as to George's night time antics and was making up some really incredible stories as he bagged his evidence. When he discovered the tree had been decorated in socks, he literally screamed with delight - he loves that we have a cheeky, messy elf. They are kindred spirits.  (The little santa in the last picture is the gift My Boy bought for him.) Arranging an elf adoption might be the best and most memorable thing I did for him this year. 

If you can't find an "official" Elf on the Shelf but would like one, take a look here or here - there are lot of other patterns on Ravelry too. If you already have an elf scout in your home and have been taking pictures of their antics, please join in by adding your link below. If you can link back to this post, people will know how to join in too, which would be lovely. (Feel free to link to an online elf photo album if you don't have a blog.) Myself and the children are looking forward to seeing what they have all been up to. 

EDIT: Aaaargh - Mr Linky mysteriously vanished!!!!  I've put it back and hope it work this time!

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

WIPs, Books and Christmas Trees

'The Tree' is done, the Children have decorated their own tiny tree in the kitchen, and this morning we had a bit of snow. Even though it had melted in no time, seeing the big soft flakes landing in the garden was enough to send our little people into hyper-excitement mode. Probably not a bad thing as they have both been unwell the last few days and now My Boy has an eye infection. As he watched the snow coming down he sighed and said "this is the perfect winter - I'm so happy".  He is such a sensitive and thoughtful little soul. 
KNITTING22 Little Clouds - pattern by Martina Behm 
 February Lady Sweater by Pamela Wynne. 
READINGPride and Prejudice by Jane Austin (not much further than last week) 

As you might imagine, with the Christmas preparations and the kids at home, I've not had much chance to read or knit, and have yet to start the edging that will finish 22 Little Clouds. I've been working on the February Lady Sweater from Sunday's post, which would be several inches closer to completion were it not for a lapse of concentration that resulted in ripping out an evening's work on Monday

My gripe about needing to use an online calculator for the increases seemed to put a few people off the pattern, and I feel the need to set the record straight - it's a really nice pattern and a doddle to knit, once you have the spacing between the YOs sussed. Please don't be put off as you can find the link to the increase calculator on the useful Wiki tab of the pattern. Had I found this before starting to knit there would have been no delay. 

Today is my mother's birthday so I've been secretly packing Rondelay. She was fancying the yarn and had no idea it was for her as I was knitting it up - it's hard to keep a secret from her as she's here everyday (and quite nosy!) so I am pleased with myself for this surprise. Next to inflate some balloons...

Today's links are WIP Wednesday and Yarn Along.
 Come back tomorrow for December's new Elf Antics meme!
Monday, 3 December 2012

Christmas Jumpers. Do you?

I went shopping today (urgh!) and noticed lots of Christmas knits, and in fact lots of knitted things in general - everything from cushions to faux cable candle holders. It got me thinking about novelty knitwear and I realised we don't have any in our house. It's not something I'd be likely to knit - the effort that goes into producing a sweater means I wouldn't want to limit it's use to such a small part of the year - and I don't tend to buy knitted clothing.... but part of me would secretly quite like to have a proper full-on Christmas jumper. How about you?

(PS "The Knitter" in the cartoon is inspired my mum. She has watched that film a MILLION times. I wonder why?!?!)

Sunday, 2 December 2012

YoP Update #15: December Lady

KNITTING: February Lady Sweater - pattern by Pamela Wynne
YARN: Rowan Creative Focus Worsted in shade 3249

It was -4C when I went to Yoga today (third week running, yay me!) and there was a beautiful frosty sparkle to the early morning landscape. Winter is here. It is the perfect time to get to work on one of my YoP List projects - "cardigan for myself". A few nights ago I decided on the FLS and cast on. I've had this queued forever and my recent love of garter stitch made it the top contender. There are over 12,000 of these on the Ravelry projects page and it is a really nice design, based on a child's pattern in Elizabeth Zimmerman's Knitter's Almanac (which I wrote about here).... but... I found it quite frustrating to have to work out the placement of the increases etc and I lost a whole evening's knitting while procrastinating on this. (Thankfully, Christine helped me out by linking to a great online calculator tool - I've made a note of the details on my project page.) I have only 400g of yarn, so it may have quite short sleeves, or I may try to find more of the same dye lot - I'm not sure yet. 
Click to view the YoP group with links to this week's other posts. 
With the cold weather, and preparations for school concerts etc, it's starting to feel a lot like Christmas  -especially since George (our Elf on the Shelf) arrived yesterday morning. My Boy was so excited and emotional that we had actual tears of joy, while the pragmatic Little Miss looked quite concerned that someone will be making nightly reports back to Santa. (Come back on Thursday for an Elf Antics update and new seasonal meme!) We bought our tree today, and it's currently being watered in the garden - I am not sure who is more excited about getting it in to decorate on Tuesday! 

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