Tuesday, 28 December 2010

Mental round up of 2010….

So 2010 is coming to an end and like most people I’ve been looking back over the year and reflecting.  Craft wise for me it’s been a mixed bag.

I think this is fairly normal in the land of us mere mortals.  I know some knitters that appear to only ever have successful, beautiful and well fitting projects.  I’m not one of them and I secretly wonder how many failed projects they have hidden in draws or buried in the garden.  Looking in my wardrobe I can see some lovely knits which I have worn and can see me wearing again in the future.  I’m proud to wear them and they fit just as I imagined they would when I started them.  Unfortunately next to some of these there are some, ahem, not so successful garments. 

This includes the blue ribbed top out of a Debbie Bliss magazine which I so carefully adapted for a different yarn and oh so carefully knitted up.  I finished it off at one of the local meet ups and eagerly tried it on.  Only to discover that even though others liked it - I hated it.  Had the yarn substitution worked?  Yes.  Did my adaption to allow me to knit it in the round rather than as a front and back work?  Yes.  Did my boobs fit?  Yes (this is often where projects fall down as despite knitting being stretchy it often isn’t stretchy enough for that ample part of my anatomy)  So what was the problem?  It wasn’t long enough.  Another few inches down onto my hips would have made it perfect…. but finishing at my waist simple made me feel dumpy.  The substitute yarn was Rowan Bamboo Tape which has a reputation for ‘growing’ and so since I didn’t have the will to look for a more imaginative way to fix the issue (or frog it,) I simply hung it up in the wardrobe in the hopes that it would grow.  I can’t actually report if this worked as I’ve not had the will to even take it out and try it on again.  Needless to say there is no photo of this particular project for your viewing hilarity.

However looking for that silver lining I was told by several of the girls at the knitting group that they have had trouble with sizing of Debbie Bliss patterns.  Add in that I’m quite a loose knitter (I knit socks on smaller needles and smaller sizes to get them to fit) and I approached my next Debbie Bliss pattern with trepidation.  Yet this one worked out wonderfully.


A long cardigan I once again substituted a different yarn.  The plan was to do it in a cheap yarn as a test knit since that much aran in a more expensive yarn could prove a very expensive mistake.  Yet I’ve ended up liking it so much I’ve yet to start on the next one.  I’ve worn it quite a bit, even into work.  I don’t tend to wear much knit wear to work because of the job I do, so this says a huge amount about how much I like this cardigan and how comfortable it is.

abalone-2I like long flowing type tops that you can just drape round your shoulders.  So I was pleased when I found a free pattern on Ravelry called Abalone by Beata Jezek.  I was a little dubious because of how skinny the model was in the photos leading to a suspicion that it might make my rear look a bit big.

I had some Rowan Tapestry in the Heather colourway sitting in my stash looking for a nice project so I downloaded the pattern and cast on. 



I’m still a little concerned that it drapes round my bum in an unflattering way.  But in the end I decided – hey I don’t have to look at my own rear. 

I also love variegated yarn for the love of the colour…  but I’m not a fan of stripes.  Lets be honest here, stripes are not often flattering when horizontal.

So why aren’t there not more patterns for sideways knits.  I think I shall have to investigate this next year.

Of course this isn’t all I created this year (and I’ve not even started waffling on about dyeing or spinning) but the household chores are calling me away from the computer, not to mention Pebbles the dog patiently waiting for her walkies…



Saturday, 25 December 2010

Appreciated Christmas Presents…..


Simba in her Christmas Bed

Christmas is a time for giving and like many people with Furry Children (also known as pets) I find it impossible not to get for them as well.

Salem in his Christmas Bed

This year it was new beds for the cats.  Shown here being appreciated by Simba and Salem.  Fire has been in for an inspection and experimental snooze as well but I didn’t manage to photograph him.

The doggies got new food bowls and a jumbo sized place mat to go in the kitchen.  No photos of that either though I’m afraid.

However, the best present for me was watching Jake head down the stairs on all of his paws.  That was a wonderful sight……

Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas Niddy Noddy

Yesterday when I got home I had one of those cards on the floor in the hall – ‘We Tried to Deliver but….’  So today I trotted down to the local sorting office in the hopes of having my new Niddy Noddy for Christmas.  Yet the parcel was something else……  Yummy yarn.  Obviously yarn is never something to be grumpy so I set off to do my last minute jobs and head home.

But guess what….. when I got home I found my shinny new Niddy Noddy waiting for me.  What a wonderful double whammy in time for Christmas.


Now naturally I need to cook up some of that nice new yarn (a merino silk blend) but perhaps a cuppa tea first hehe……

Monday, 20 December 2010

Yay for Jakey…..

Today was another in a long line of vets visits.  You may remember that Jake the dog busted his leg way back in October.  Well it turned out that he had popped his ligaments and snapped off the bottom of his femur.


Now anyone who has had a similar injury will tell you the bone healing is easy compared to the ligaments.  The vets wanted to operate and put a metal framework in but I wasn’t keen.  I don’t believe in surgery as a first resort.  Don’t get me wrong I have no problem with surgery the way I know some people are against it….. I just believe that Mother Nature is amazing at repairing things and we often don’t give her the chance.


Of course it’s a lot easier when you’re making the decision for yourself.  But in this case, it was for my dog.  I basically had three choices :

  1. Surgery to rebuild the ligaments and put a metal frame on the leg, pins etc….
  2. Strap up his leg with a splint and see if it heals
  3. Amputate the bottom of his leg

Not a nice list of options.  However I decided to go for option number 2.  I had a similar injury many years ago and that was the option I chose for myself, so I felt it was ok to choose this for him.


That’s when the on going visits started.  Since the end of October he has been going in to the vets roughly twice a week to have his ‘cast’ changed.  This was basically a splint bound onto his leg with lots and lots of bandages.  It also had to be kept dry as once wet you couldn’t dry it off.  Of course getting Jake to understand this wasn’t easy.  So no walkies, especially in the snow.  Well, 8 weeks later it was time to see if his leg was able to support him without the splint (I might add that he had broken 3 splints bounding about on it while it was bandaged up).


My heart was in my mouth as we got him down off the table and tentatively allowed him to put his foot down on the floor.  Then disaster!  He immediately tried to jump up and down, squealed in pain and hopped over to ‘mummy’ and refused to leave my side again.


Hoping it was just the initial shock I brought him home and flopped on the sofa feeling sick to my stomach.  However slowly he started using his leg again and now 4 days later he’s happily bounding about on it.  Phew!  Obviously he’s not out of the wood yet and walkies are a long way off (I know how he runs about)…..  but it’s looking like he’ll be able to enjoy a lovely holiday next summer exploring somewhere new…..  All of these shots were taken on our trip to Bonny Scotland in August this year.  Jake thought it was brilliant……

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Winter on the Stour

Well after once again being the last part of the country to be hit by snow it finally arrived last night.  This afternoon I braved the white stuff to pop into Manningtree to get a few supplies for the beasties just in case it decides to get worse.  I’ve given up on checking the weather forecast as it never seams to bear much relation to what goes on outside my window.

As I drove along the River Stour I couldn’t believe it when I saw the the ‘mud flats’ which flood at high tide were completely frozen over.



Those grey bits aren’t water but huge sheets of ice.  I pulled up at the side of the road and snapped these quick shots with the camera on my phone.  It would have been nice to take some proper shots with my ‘real’ camera but given how bad the roads are I’m not going back just to take some photographs!  I’m going to stay inside in the warm, drink tea and knit….

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Hanuri Shawl

A little while ago I started my second shawl.  My first was a gift which I gave to my mother for Christmas (even though I gave it to her in October).

The second is the Hanuri Shawl by Emily Ross which I found on Ravelry.  This is a lovely knit and I have to admit I’m finding it much more enjoyable than the shawl I made my mother.  I’m not sure why but I’m not going to argue the point.


The pattern is really clear and contains both written instructions and charts.  I’m most of the way through the first section.


I tried to stretch it out to photograph on my desk but I don’t think I was very successful.  Can’t wait to see it blocked.

That said I’m also starting to get the desire to sew again.  Do you find your crafting mojo moves through your different crafts?  Recently I’ve started to yearn to get my sewing machine out again.  Now I just need to build up the energy to clear my sewing table off. . . . .




Friday, 17 December 2010

Ridley McPiddley

A few years ago I met a lovely lady while mooching around a Open Garden near here.  She was painting the most beautiful pictures of animals.  Since then I have commissioned some of my own little beasties and this evening I picked up the latest.


This is Ridley my beloved Seal Point Siamese.  He passed away a few years ago but his legacy lives on in the way my kitchen is designed.  He liked to sit on the kitchen counter and watch everything that was going on, so when the kitchen was redesigned this was taken into account.  Ridley was the sweetest cat you could ever hope to meet except when stressed – then he turned into a feline hose pipe.  You can see where his nickname of Ridley McPiddley came from.    He will always live on in my heart and now I have this wonderful painting to help bring a smile to my face.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Some Newly Dyed Yarns

Well today I’ve been able to get my camera out and take some photos of the yarns I’ve dyed this week.  Hope you like them.  I’ll be adding them to the Folksy shop later today.





Friday, 10 December 2010

It’s been a strange week…..

and I’m very glad to have reached the weekend.  Some weeks you slide through smoothly and can gaze out the bus window at all the wonderful things passing by.  Other weeks you have to fasten your seat belt and hold on tight while praying you don’t loose your dinner.  I’m sure you can guess which type of week this one has been.

However if all you do is dwell on the rocky bits you’re going to turn into a pretty miserable so-and-so, so lets not do that but look for some nice things instead.


Nice thing number 1)

My yarn delivery arrived.  This is a combination of Blue Faced Leicester and Alpaca sock weight yarns.  I’ve had the BFL before but this is the first time I’ve tried the alpaca.  I’ve cooked up a few skeins of the BFL but wanted to keep the alpaca for the weekend when I’ve had a bit more sleep.  Besides I keep fondling it in it’s bag in the lounge.


2 Skeins of dyed yarn rinsing in the sink


Nice thing number 2)

Jakes leg appears to be healing well and with luck the vets are going to try him without the splint this weekend and see how he goes.  Taking him in twice a week for treatment has been a drain financially but also emotionally / time wise.  Each visit takes an hour out of the day and when all you want to do is curl up and ignore the world for a while……


Jake lying on the floor beside my chair while I type.  Note his leg all bandaged up.


Nice thing number 3)

Ok I’ll admit it, I’m a bit stuck for something to write here.  I could go on about how lucky I am to have a job, nice home, friends blah blah…..  and don’t get me wrong I am well aware of how lucky I am compared to some people.  But if I’m just talking about things for this week and you rule out things like – ‘Well I didn’t fall over yesterday’ I’m struggling…. That said I’m sure things will start looking up as soon as I get some sleep and the sun starts shining (so I can play with my camera)….  Hmm maybe that can be nice thing number 3….. Looking forward to a couple of days off.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Rest in Peace Richard –Wherever you are…

Just a short, sad little post today…..  My friend Richard has committed suicide.  I don’t know why or many details yet.

I suppose that means a funeral in the coming weeks.  Why is it that I only ever seem to see people at funerals these days?

Richard – I don’t know where (or even if) you are, but rest in peace…..

Friday, 3 December 2010

Winter Wonderland

Right now I have two dogs.  One is a very happy dog…. the other isn’t.


This is Pebbles.  Pebbles is a happy dog.  Why?  Well she’s just been for a run down the woods in the snow.  This as far as Pebbles is concerned is wonderful.  She gets to run and snow plough and bound about like a puppy.  Mummy is there and she even remembered her camera.

Jake on the other hand had to stay at home because of his leg.  This means Jake is not a happy dog.  There is snow out there and he should be outside playing in it.  Life just isn’t fair when you’re a doggie with a poorly leg…..

It was a beautiful day down the woods, even if the walk had to be cut short because I was freezing.  I had lots of layers on but still I could feel myself getting colder and colder.  I love the cold but it just doesn’t seem to love me.  It never ceases to amaze me how such a familiar landscape can be transformed by a dusting of frozen water.


While we were out I spotted these pine cones with snow on them.  How very seasonal.  I also saw some holly with snow on it but couldn’t really stop that since it would have meant holding up the traffic going into Tesco’s car park.  I didn’t really think that would go down well.

But the main object of desire for my camera was my beautiful Pebbles.


I took loads of shots of her bounding about and simply looking happy in the snow.  There are few things I love more than to be out and about with my dogs and my camera.  This last one of her has got to be one of the funniest shots of her I’ve ever taken.  snowy-woods-1

I have lots of shots of her with her ears bouncing up and down like pigtails on a little girl but having the tongue out as well really cracks me up.

Anyway now we are back in the warm, safe and sound with several large sacks of doggie food stacked behind the sofa to make sure we don’t run short.  Time to snuggle up and get out the knitting…. and maybe a cuppa tea Winking smile



Thursday, 2 December 2010

Winter finally arrives…

Well after hearing stories on the news about how the weather has brought other parts of the country to chaos, the snow has finally reached East Anglia.

It’s still no where near as bad as other parts of the country and don’t get me wrong I’m not complaining or doing the ‘oh it’s horrific – the end of the world is nigh’ routine that some people are doing.  That said I am glad I have a snow day today.  It’s my first ever!

winter 1

Yes you heard me right…..  My first EVER snow day. This is the view on the patio at the back of the cottage.  Now I know this doesn’t look very impressive but you have to remember how rarely we get snow.  To me this is a strange sight and it’s pretty much all from snowfall overnight as well.

Last year was a bad winter for us down here and the snow didn’t come till much later on.  Part of me is wondering if that means I will have huge heating bills again……?  But then I remember that last year my boiler broke and I was without heating or hot water for 3 weeks during the worst of the snow.  Sparkly new boiler is much more efficient and also under warrantee…. Breathes a sigh of relief….

I also go caught out in the snow last year coming home from knitting one night.  What should have been a 20 minute drive turned into a 15 and a half hour epic saga.  It must have been a strange sight, some mad woman stranded in her car on a duel carriageway knitting by the light of the street lights at 3 am as the snow continued to pile up.  My car now has heat pads and a blanket in it permanently.

So it’s curl up on the sofa with the dogs and get out my knitting time.  I found a pattern for a beautiful shawl the other night on Ravelry and decided to cast on with some lace weight I bought this summer.  I’m not a fast lace knitter, the shawl I knit recently for my mother took me 5 weeks!  But the results are oh so pretty…..

Hmm…. I’m off to pop the kettle on and get out those pointy sticks Winking smile

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Little Blue Sheep….

Yesterday I went to the Frating Village Hall for a day of yarn, spinning and knitting.  This is a wonderful day which happens about 4 times a year and is organised by one of the local groups.

There is always a friendly atmosphere and cake and cheese scones and cake and did I mention the cheese scones?  Hmmmm the cake and cheese scones…… dribble!

It’s also a chance to catch up with friends and be inspired by their latest projects.  Enter the little blue sheep!


These fabulous stitch markers we made by Julie and what is not to love about them.  Some are little balls of yarn and some are little sheep made out of little balls of yarn.  How CUTE!


These photos don’t do them justice but they really are so adorable I just had to share them with you.

I also took along some of my hand dyed yarn which I have been playing with.  I’ve been experimenting with natural dyes but I’m dyeing much more than I can knit.  So after some encouragement from some friends I took some along to see if anyone else liked it.  After all this would help buy more yarn to play with!  This is something that I’ve been wondering about for a little while, just hadn’t done it.  Anyway on the back of this I’ve opened a Folksy shop.  If you’d like to visit it then you can find it here.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Autumn has left and Winter has arrived…..

Well the autumnal leaves have left the trees and Jack Frost has come to play every morning.  Pebbles and Jake woke me early this morning as they haven’t yet got the hang of weekends.  As a struggled my coat on over the top of my jimjams I looked out of the lounge window to be greeted by frost and mist.  I knew that there was no way that Jake would wait while I got my camera so I stuffed my mobile in my pocket and off we went out into the cold.


The scene as I stood there was beautiful but given the limitations of my camera phone and that I was attached to a dog by a lead I only managed a quick shot of some of the frost covered leaves on the grass near the cottage.

The cold has been an on going feature of life in this beautiful part of England this week.  Many of my friends work in schools so the subject of possible snow days has never been far away.  For me the cold means something else….. time to look for ways to keep warm!  This week that involved using the cooker to do some dyeing in the kitchen.  I love this…..  I love the magic of watching the colours change, even though I know it’s really chemistry.


This beautiful purple has been named ‘Libby’ and has already been nabbed by a friend.



This particular colour was a pig to photograph.  The colours just kept overpowering the image. (grump grump)




Right then off to play with my yarn hehe…..


Sunday, 21 November 2010

A plea to the blog-o-sphere……

Ok what’s going on?  It appears that some of my photos are not showing up in the blog.  If you click on them then a larger version pops up….  but why aren’t they working in the smaller sizes in the posts?

Anyone know?

Help needed on this……

Anyway since I have little else to write about (still recovering from that illness I had this week) here are some more photos.  I’m experimenting with the format I put them in before uploading.  These are all shots from my meanderings with my camera this summer.  Fingers crossed they all work.


This is a model frog I found in a garden I visited with my mother.  I like visiting gardens and spending time in other peoples little personal plant based paradise.

I’m not 100% certain which garden this was found in but I do know it was in the village of Langham in Essex.

As a village about 15 gardens all opened up on the same two days to raise money for charity.  The weather wasn’t very nice but we enjoyed ourselves anyway.



lochThis is Loch Faskally by Pitlochry in Perthshire.  Jake and I walked around it during our holiday this summer.

stagNow what would a trip to Scotland be without a stag.  Actually I have visited this wonderful country many times but this is the first time I’ve actually managed to get a shot of a stag.  Something always seems to go wrong.

In fact it nearly went wrong this time as well.  My camera locked up and refused to work.  I couldn’t believe it!  I mean What The ****!  It’s a good camera although it is getting a little old now.  But I mean really, of all the times to lock up!!!!!  Swearing was involved….  But I did get this shot



This was taken on another garden visit.  There was a sculptural seat above these stones.  I suspect that the owners hadn’t spotted the little seedling poking it’s head up through the stones….  But I thought it was a lovely image.  Nature showing us that she’s still there no matter what we do….

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Just a little quickie….

Well I’ve been busy or ill most of this week so not a lot of time for any sort of crafting.  I did however get the time to have a go at a stash busting project I’ve been thinking about for a while.
On the coach trip to Ally Pally my friend Irene was crocheting a beautiful bag.  I’m not always taken with knitted or crocheted bags but this one was lovely.  She explained the idea of how to do it (couldn’t believe how simple it was)  and so I decided to have a go.
Unfortunately when I was part way up the sides I decided that the base was a bit big for the bag I have in my head.  So I decided to make it into a basket / toiletry tidy.  It’s three strands of yarn from my stash worked together.  A cream DK (not sure where is came from) and two balls of Noro Sock for the colour.  I’m rather pleased with the results.  Simple, easy and most importantly stops Salem the cat from playing football with the stuff on top of my chest of draws.