Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Snippets: The Beach

Beach huts at Goring
Standing on the rocks
Archie's first trip to the beach (and a new friend)
Seaside dog walking.
Yesterday was the perfect autumn day - crisp and clear - so Mum and I took the kids and dog to meet some friends and their lovely dog at Goring-by-sea which is just over half an hour away. It's the first time we have been there despite living here for almost four years. Dog-friendly, easy to park, and absolutely perfect for walking, collecting shells and getting plenty of fresh air before a delicious latte at the café. Little Miss is recovering from tonsillitis and it was just what she needed. It made me realise that we haven't done this nearly enough. Discovering new places is yet another benefit of having a dog.

We were so busy having another lovely (half term) day that I completely forgot to post Spinning Show & Tell. Normal service will be resumed next week (when the kids are back at school) but no WIPs and books today... we're off to explore a forest and Archie starts Puppy School later! Hope you are having a great day x
Monday, 28 October 2013

Snippets: Hunting for fairies

Thankfully the predicted overnight storm was not too bad for us and the sky cleared quickly this morning, leaving a beautiful day which was just perfect for a fairy hunt. This is something we've wanted to do since Little Miss got a book about spotting their signs, and we were not disappointed in the local woods. Not only did we find lots of holes in trees, and hidden openings in bushes, but we are pretty sure this is a house, it even has a window! 
During a closer inspection, my mum moved some leaves and found some actual sparkling fairy dust! We must have only just missed them! Perhaps Archie frightened them off - I don't think fairies like dogs. Little Miss loved our adventure although I overheard her talking to her brother on the way home. She said she thinks that fairies are not real, and everyone is just lying about it. She is a lot like her father.  
Mushroom (with a window) and FAIRY DUST!
On the other hand, My Boy is pretty sure that dragons have also been living in these woods. There were a few places with large areas of flattened foliage, as well as quite a lot of what he thought looked like scorched logs...
Scorched by a dragon?
Dragon hunting is next on our long list* of things to do this half term. Sussex has a history of dragons, and we're going to see if we can find anything interesting. Naturally, I'm planning to wear my Dragon Watcher's Hood. It was finished last week, and is lovely but a little too warm for today's mild weather. It feels like it's turning colder this evening. Fingers crossed!
Dragon watcher's hood
*If you're also enjoying the changing seasons with children, I'd highly recommend the activities and booklets which are available to download from the Woodland Trust Nature Detectives site.

PS The scarf LM is wearing was made recently by my grandmother. 
Wednesday, 23 October 2013

WIPs & Books: Re(a)d

WIPs & Books 23rd October
RED: The Rown Drift (colourway Fire) which just arrived for a Dragon Watcher's Hood - I am so looking forward to knitting and wearing this. Hopefully with these 10mm needles, it won't take too long as I am planning on some Dragon hunting during half term next week.Red is the colour of some other things I've been knitting too. Cute little things which I'll tell you about soon.

READ: It hasn't been much of a week for reading (or listening to) the novels which are on the go at the moment (Time's Echo and Case Histories) but if I tell you that I've been dipping into Moods of Motherhood and various puppy training books, you'll get a general feel for things around here.

The excitement of the new school year, a new puppy, and a blustery change in seasons is definitely showing on the children. They are totally shattered which makes life so much more difficult. On top of that, my mother has been flat out on a very exciting project and D has been working almost every day since August. He is beyond exhausted. We all need a break. Roll on next week and that Dragon hunting! 
Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Spinning Show & Tell: More punis

If you blog in the northern hemisphere, you may have noticed it's that time of year already. The time when you wait until 'later' for sufficient light take photos, but then it just starts getting dark again! I shouldn't grumble, we've had a long late summer, but with the days drawing it and the weather taking a turn for the worse, it's suddenly feeling as though winter is well and truly on the way. It may be time to think about making a lightbox

Anyway, here's this week's spinning: 
Spinning Show & Tell: more punis.
Aside from this, I also finished off the plying from last week and it's waiting for a soak. It doesn't feel as though I've had time for much spinning lately, but I'm well ahead of schedule for my Year of Projects goal of one handspun skein per month, with an average of 2 per month so far so all is good.

I've had some wonderful feedback on the Whimsical Cowl (... with bells on) pattern, thank you so much for your enthusiasm and encouragement. I'm actually thinking of casting on another, maybe with some handspun stripes...?

That's it for spinning, I'll be back tomorrow with a peek at some of the knitting projects I'm working on at the moment, and if you'd like to leave a link to your own spinning/fibre posts, please do so below. (If you can't see the linky on your device or on your email subscription, open this page in your browser and you'll see it.)

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Free Pattern: Whimsical Cowl (...with bells on)

For those who have asked for more details on my Whimsical Cowl, I've written up the pattern so you can make one too. The cowl is knit from the top down in the round, with an icord drawstring held in an integrated placket, and shaping at the bottom. These features mean that it sits nicely around an adult neck and it can also be used as a child's capelet, or as a child's hood (I love versatile garments!).
Whimsical Cowl (...with bells on)  
You will need: 
- 50g 4ply/fingering weight yarn (I used Drops Fabel Unicolour in blue)
- 1 ball of Rowan Kidsilk Haze Stripe (colourway Frost)
- 6 mm* circular needle for knitting in the round
- Crochet hook for cast on
- 3.25mm double pointed needles
- 4 stitch markers
- 2 x 10mm jingle bells (optional) 
- Darning needle

Skills required:
Provisional cast on
- St st = stocking(ette) stitch
- Knitting in the round 
- Kfb = increasing by knitting into the front and back of the same stitch
- Binding off
- Sewing a hem
Whimsical Cowl (...with bells on)Whimsical Cowl (...with bells on)
Use both yarns (held double) throughout: 
1.  With the 6mm circular needle and crochet hook, cast on 96 sts using a provisional cast on.
2.  Knit flat (back and forth) in St st for 4 cm, ending with a WS row.
3.  Join to knit in the round, place a marker, then knit 2 rounds.
4.  With RS facing out, fold the work in half so that the live stitches and provisional cast on are next to each other. Release the first cast on st and put it on the needle, then knit it together with the first of the live sts already on the needle. Repeat across the whole round to create the placket which will hold the icord.
5.  Knit in the round until the work measures 30 cms.
6.  Kfb, k23, PM, kfb, k23, PM, kfb, k23, PM, kfb, knit to end.
7.  Knit 10 more rounds with a kfb after the markers on each alternate row.
8.  Bind off loosely, leaving enough yarn to sew the hem.
9. Fold the bottom edge up (WS together) so that there is a hem of approx 1cm and sew to hold in place. Because of the increased stitches, this will leave a slightly wavey bottom edge which looks especially nice when worn as a capelet.
Whimsical Cowl (...with bells on)
- Using DPNs cast on 4 sts, if you'll be adding bells, leave a long tail for sewing.
- Knit the icord for 100 cm (or to desired length if you have plenty of yarn).
- Bind off leaving the tail for sewing up.
- Thread the icord through the placket and sew a bell onto each end.
- Sew a couple of stitches between each end of the icord to give the open section of the placket a nicer finish.

I'm really enjoying wearing mine and hope you will too. Any questions, please let me know. If you make it and use Ravelry, please link your project to the pattern notes so I can see how it turned out!

*For the sample, some rounds were knit with a smaller needle (4mm), but it doesn't show very much with this self-striping yarn. 
Friday, 18 October 2013

Whimsical Cowl... with bells on!

Whimsical Cowl FO
PATTERN: my own, find it here
MATERIALS: Rowan Kidsilk Stripe, held double with Drops Fabel Unicolour, 2 small bells
Let it be noted that this is a cowl and it is MY cowl. I will concede that it makes a very cute girl's hood/capelet and am prepared to go as far as to make another for that purpose, but this one is definitely mine. It's so warm and cosy and these colours suit me best. Even so, I don't look half as cute as LM does in it.
Wednesday, 16 October 2013

WIPs & Books: Experimenting

WIPs: It's a fun week for WIPs. Aside from the spinning, there have been a few more hexipuffs, the whimsical cowl (from last week) will be ready to show you on Friday, and some new tools arrived - at the moment I'm experimenting with icords and wire.  It's fun!

BOOKS: I've just started reading Time's Echo which was a high-rated recent 99p 'daily deal' and it's enjoyable so far. This week we also bought some new additions for the children's book collection which are too good not to mention. MB is studying dragons at school so we got Dragonology for him - it's full of dragon 'facts' and great illustrations, envelopes with pull-out letters, codes to decipher and so on. I feel sure that other titles from this series will be on his festive wishlist.
How to find Flower Fairies & Dragonology
Of course Little Miss wondered if there was a Fairyology book (there isn't) but I found a perfect and very beautiful pop-up book for her from which she is learning how recognise the signs of flower fairies. The fact that both happen to be set locally in West Sussex is something I didn't realise when I ordered them but which makes them all the more interesting. After reading through them both together and with much awe, pragmatic Little Miss turned to me and said "thanks for getting these books for us, they are brilliant. It's a shame dragons and fairies aren't real". Thankfully her big brother reassured her that the tooth fairy IS real and he should know because he has already lost four teeth. Phew!

There are more WIPs and Books at Tami and Ginny's link parties - enjoy!  
Tuesday, 15 October 2013

What day is it?

Oh my! I just realised that it's Tuesday and I haven't posted my Spinning Show & Tell yet. (Where did that week go?) In fact, this week's update it more of a 'show and ask'. Here's the 'show' bit - I've almost finished plying the punis I showed you last week...
Spinning Show & Tell
It has been great working from these although I'm not sure my spinning has really done them justice. By the end of each one, I was finding that I'd made a bit of a mess of the last little bit which means that the singles are not as smooth or fine as they could be at the transition points. You live and learn, and this is something I'll be more mindful of next time. 

And now for the big question - if you put a spinning wheel on your Christmas wishlist, which would you ask for and why? And if you were a beginner, would you give the same answer? I love spindling so much I think it might be fun to learn to use a wheel too. Before asking Santa to invest, I plan to visit the local Guild, but would be really interested to hear what you all think.

As usual, there is a link below so you can add your own spinning/fibre posts. If you can't see it on your device please open this page in your web browser. I'll be back tomorrow with WIPs and books, see you then! 
Monday, 14 October 2013

Snippets: Family History

Family History
Last weekend my mother-in-law brought a bag of her late father's belongings for D. He was already given his log book and medals - including the DFC - but this was a more personal collection of photos and things he'd saved over the years. Included in the parcel were D's great grandparents' wedding rings - his great granddad's was worn throughout his service and imprisonment during the first world war. He was one of those fabled people who did actually have his appendix removed in a PoW camp without anaesthetic. D has started wearing the ring, which fits perfectly, as a reminder that however bad his day gets, it's never THAT bad.

Today is the centenary of the Senghenydd Mining Disaster. My great great grandfather, Evan Hopkin James, was one of 440 men killed in the explosion which devastated the village my grandparents still live in. One of our family members, Lindsay, was interviewed for this short documentary about the tragedy...
I've heard my grandparents talking about this disaster and the long term effects on the families of the village since I was a child. As a wife and mother it's upsetting to think of those women, including my own family members, who lost one or two generations of men in this disaster and went on to lose the next generations in the wars. 

Our recent ancestors went through so much. It puts the dissatisfaction of Generation Y (really interesting article) into perspective. I don't know how the next 100 years of our combined family history will unfold, but feel it's important to remember these snippets of the past, for ourselves and our children. 
Friday, 11 October 2013

Stashbusting Crochet Dog Bed

Archie is a companionable little chap. He likes to be where the action is - even if the only 'action' is peeling potatoes or writing a blog post. In other words, he likes to be at my feet most of the time. He has two comfy beds (kitchen and sitting room) and a den/crate where he sleeps at night (utility room) but will pull his blankets onto the floor at my feet if it means he can sleep next to me during the day. While writing the recent 'stashbusting' post (with him under my chair), I decided to try something with two giant balls of fabric yarn. A couple of hours later, a lightweight bed had been hooked up - something that he can move around easily on his own, but which is far more comfortable than a blanket on the cold floor. 
Crochet Dog Bed
Yarn & 25mm hook from Ingrid Wagner (at The Knitting & Stitching Show 2011)
I started with with a central chain and worked around it to create the desired shape. The yarn is 'thick and thin' so I went by eye to make it the right shape rather than counting the stitches on each side. A trained eye will notice that the stitches are not even all the way around as a result, but overall it works really well. With the addition of an inexpensive fleece mattress (under £5 at the outdoor store) Archie absolutely loves it...
Crochet Dog bed
As I'm under strict orders NOT to dress the dog in knitwear, this is the only thing I've made him so far, but it's unlikely to be the last. Do you make things for your pets? 
Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Fluff and bells

As the craft shelves start to fill up, I find the books are not only used for patterns, but for inspiration too and this is especially true of Woodland Knits. After making the Bo Peep scarf with two yarns held double, I was keen to do the same again and started a fluffy cowl (without a pattern) at the weekend. Some bells have arrived for another of the patterns in the book and, with several to spare, a couple of these will also be included. It's going well. I can't wait to tell you more about it, but it won't be this week as I already have a 'Finished Object' ready for Friday's post. 
WIPs & Books - whimsical cowl and The Principles of Knitting
The book (pictured) is the June Hemmons Hiatt classic The Principles of Knitting. A friend loaned me this copy but as soon as it goes back I'll be getting my own. It's the single book I've come across that I think every knitter should have access to. Everything is in there. In fact, just looking at it makes me realise how little I know about knitting! (For the cowl, I have been looking up different ways of grafting the bottom edge. The top edge was a provisional cast on which I used to make a placket for the i-cord and I'd like the edges to match.) As this is a weighty tome which would be handy to access on-the-go I'd consider getting the Kindle edition too if it wasn't so expensive to do so - I am hoping MatchBook will include titles like this! 

In other book-related news, I've finished Where'd You Go, Bernadette which was quite enjoyable but nothing exceptional, and so I'm back to Kate Atkinson and started listening to Case Histories on the walk home this morning. I have enjoyed the last few books by her so much and hope not to be disappointed as I also acquired the paperback from a charity bookshop.

So what have you been making and reading this week? Join in by linking to Yarn Along or WIP Wednesday, or if you don't have a blog, just leave a comment. I'd love some book recommendations.
Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Spinning Show & Tell

There's not much to say about spinning this week, except that I am enjoying these Eaden Yarns rolags and I'm finding that working from fibre prepared in this way is easier as it is so much more portable. This was mostly done while in the garden with Archie, who can't go 'out' until next weekend.  

I had plans to do a lot more spinning during the last week, but other inspirations struck and I ended up crocheting a dog bed (come back on Friday to see it) and knitting a slightly whimsical cowl - I'll be showing my progress on that tomorrow. 

For anyone else who does actually have something to say about their spinning or fibre, please add a comment or the link to your own blog post in the widget below (if you can't see it on your device, open this page in your web browser.) There were some great posts last week so thanks to everyone who joined in and linked back here. I look forward to catching up with them all soon x
Monday, 7 October 2013

On 'Stashbusting'

I started a new project at the weekend, a 'stashbusting' project, which got me thinking. Just a few years ago, when I began knitting and following knitting blogs, I didn't understand why so many people had a "stash" of yarn that they were attempting to use up, to get rid of, to "bust". If they didn't want the yarn, why had they acquired it? One afternoon in a friend's kitchen, as she revealed bag after bag after bag of beautiful yarns that were squirrelled away around her house, I made a personal vow that I wouldn't do that. No way. Not me. So why is it that such a short time later my own 'Year of Projects' includes, for the second year running, a goal of "stashbusting"? How did I end up with some of this stuff in the first place, and why am I trying to come up with ways to use it up? If I look at my yarn collection - which is not extensive but is not wholly necessary either - I can see that I typically 'stash' things which fall into five different categories.

1. Things bought for specific projects that are yet to be started, or which have been become the subject of procraftinationA perfect example of this is the King Cole Opium purchased for Rural Idyll. Love the yarn, love the sweater, but when I started knitting the size that should fit, it looked like a whole herd of something would be able to fit inside, immediately thwarting enthusiasm for the project. It's been sitting in my knitting bag since then, untouched. 
Stashbusting - yarns I'm hoarding right now.
2. The Sock-Yarns-For-Socks. I have a pair of 'handbag' socks on the go at all times, so these are generally purchased when a sale is on and I can pick up some bargains. I am perfectly happy with these and will continue to maintain a small stash for this purpose. It's the knitting equivalent to chocolate - comforting and necessary! 
Stashbusting - yarns I'm hoarding right now.
3. The 'Sock'-Yarns-Not-For-Socks. These are usually one-off skeins I just couldn't resist... but which are too nice for any old sock pattern. These are more likely to become shawls or scarves, or maybe a very special pair of socks when the right project comes along. This is definitely the most worrying category as it's generally the most expensive and least likely to be used. 
Stashbusting - yarns I'm hoarding right now.
4. My Handspun.  The most regularly enhanced category, but generally not enough meterage to do much with, so I'm stashing these until there is enough for something that might use up a load at once. Say no more. 
Stashbusting - yarns I'm hoarding right now.
5. The "I got carried away" yarns. Generally these are things which were acquired on a whim from a yarn show (when in an irrational buying-frenzy), or from an online retailer when the deal was 'too good to miss'. In this category you will find an eclectic mix of all things from bright pink acrylic (whoever called that one a "lucky" dip has a warped sense of humour) to giant fabric strips that are insufficient to make anything sizeable. 
So you see, even with the best intentions, it can happen to anyone. I'm sure you will be able to relate to at least some of these? What is it that you stash - do you have a few things you're crazy for, or do you stash a broader range so that you're always prepared? Perhaps you're someone who is able to resist temptation entirely. Please leave a comment to let me know. 
Friday, 4 October 2013

FO Friday: Bo Peep & some spinning!

FO Friday
PATTERN: Bo Peep Scarf by Tiny Owl Knits (my Ravelry notes here)
YARNS: Drops Fabel held double with Nimu Kidsy
I thoroughly enjoyed knitting this - because of the fun pattern and the vivid raspberry red colour, which clashes beautifully with the blog - oops. Unfortunately, I cannot for the life of me tie it around my neck! I tried many times this morning so I could get a photo, and ran out of time before I managed. Must practice. When I figure out how to do it up I'll get some more photos! The pattern is easy to follow and to knit but as others have said on Ravelry, it is really quite floppy when worn which is a shame as the shaping is so nice. I'm considering sewing a thin lining in to help.

This project was a stashbuster project made for my Year of Projects. As the three skeins of yarn made in September for the YoP haven't been featured on FO Friday yet, I thought I'd show you those too...
September 2013's handspun yarn
For anyone who is interested in spinning, or who already blogs about spinning or fibre, please pop over on Tuesdays for Spinning Show & Tell link party. It's something that started a little while ago and we already have a some lovely spinners regularly linking up. It would be great to see more of you join us. In the meantime, have a lovely weekend!
Wednesday, 2 October 2013

WIPs, Books & Another Ticket Giveaway

Firstly, my apologies to the readers who have sent messages about the lack of Archie this week (clearly those people are not on Instagram which is in Archie-overload). I hope this will tide you over until the next post!
Archie Schnauzer - 9 weeksWIPS: Knitting hasn't been easy this week. The time when I usually settle down with my projects now co-incides with the most playful period of the day for a certain young pup - it was the wrong time to try out long wooden needles for sure - they must look very tasty to little teeth.

Bo Peep - almost finished!Despite this, my first project from Woodland Knits is almost finished and I'm thinking about yarns/colours for the Dragon Watcher's Hood - those little bells are irresistable - and possibly the Mr Fox Stole too, it's so cute!

BOOKS: On the walk home from school this morning, I finished listening to The Cuckoo's Calling - the detective novel written by JK Rowling, under the name Robert Galbraith - and found it very enjoyable, looking forward to each opportunity to listen (it softened the blow of housework and laundry). I hope this will be the first in a series of novels about Cormoran Strike and his temp-agency assistant - it feels as though there is a lot more to learn about them as well as being a darn good detective story. There is nothing 'Harry Potter' about this book littered with strong language and murder, and I can see why Rowling chose to publish under a psudonym so that it could be judged without bias. It is engagingly written and feels fresh and contains humour in a way that books of this genre are often lacking. If you like the Kate Atkinson novels mentioned recently (Behind the Scenes.. and Life After Life) I think you might also like this - there is a similar level of observational detail and warmth and I'd certainly pre-order any follow-up.
Knitting & Stitching Show ticket giveaway
TICKET GIVEAWAY: If you're in the UK, I'm sure you're already aware that The Knitting & Stitching Show comes to Alexandra Palace next week (10th to 13th October) and the organisers have kindly offered a pair of tickets to one lucky reader. If you'd like to be in with a chance to win the tickets, please leave a comment below telling me which day you'd like to attend and with a Ravelry name or email address so I can contact you if you win. The winner will be randomly selected on Monday 7th October. Good luck!   The draw is now closed, if you entered please check your inbox! 
Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Spinning Show & Tell: The not-enough-meterage edition

Not one, but two yarns have been finished this week, although they are yet to have a bath and a 'thwack' to set the twist. The yarn on the left is the last of the alpaca blend from Hannah and is as super soft as it looks - I have a project lined up for that already. 
Spinning show and tell
Feeling highly motivated after finishing that, I got on with spinning the fibre on the right for the SAL/KAL and plied it yesterday. It's pretty - very sparkly and a lovely colour, and I love the inconsistencies in thickness which I had planned for this one (will attempt 'art' yarn soon, perhaps).... but there isn't enough to make the (Age of Brass and Steam) patternI estimate there to be about 140m and the pattern calls for more but as I don't want to buy additional fibre for this pattern and have nothing that really looks right with this, I will be bowing out of the KAL part of the SAL/KAL, although I'm still following the Instagram pictures from other participants.

So what's next? Well I still have the punis I showed you last week and am keen to have a play with those, and some Malabrigo Nube also arrived...
Malabrigo Nube fibre
Before I start spinning it, I'd like to take this Dyed Fiber Spinning ClassI've heard some really great things about it from other spinners, so I'll let you know how it goes in the next few weeks.

That's it from me, but please post links to your fibre/spinning posts on the Mister Linky below (if you are reading this on a mobile device app and can't see it, please open the page in your browser).
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