Skyscrapers and String


Category Archive

The following is a list of all entries from the Things I Made category.

Shawling and Wrapping!

Hello everyone!

I hope you’ve been having a happy and creative time. It has been all go chez Jenny, what with poppy selling, knitting things for presents in a big flap and a rush and making wooly decisions.

On the work front it has been bonkers, lots of people are leaving and there is a lot of silliness going on. I am keeping calm and remembering to knit and drink mint tea.

I have had to fill in my appraisal, which is stressful as my boss has no self confidence and thinks that if you write down any achievements in any kind of positive language you’re unforgivably boastful, and need taking down a few pegs. If I’m not to write down what I actually did all year, and if I am not to say I am good at what I do, when I’ve done well, how can I fill in the form? Pfftt!

November is a horrid time of year for my family, it will be three years since I lost my beloved Poppa, and my dear Aunties were bereaved this month too, losing their parents and a husband in the same month. Also I have two friends who have lost their dads within days of each other. It is a gloomy time.

The charity poppies have been a big success, we’ve sold loads and the total stands at over £700 with more cash due to come in next week. I never realised how good it feels to raise money for others less fortunate than yourself, it truly makes your heart bigger.

On a wooly note, I have been wrestling with my time and my imagination. I simply have too many exciting things to do, and I want to start everything at once! I want to knit!

This is incompatible with two dinners out in one week, and swimming after work.

I also need to put my iPad out of reach as I seem to need to look up random facts mid row, then an hour of net surfing later I have run out of knitting time.

I have been making a shawl for my dear friend Alex’s birthday, and it has been very jolly.

Firstly it was using stash yarn, which feels virtuous, and secondly, because I had a random amount, I didn’t know how big the shawl would be. But, in some ways, that made it more enjoyable!!!

I had some Shilasdair in a beautiful tawny plum shade, some Isager twinni in a russet/spice and some coral spindrift. Lovely colours!

Oh but being on a deadline! Yikes!

It’s one of my “Jennifer” shawls, which means I just knit straight out of my head. This week I had a wonderful note from my dear friend Barbie and she asked me to write the recipe up, so I will! Isn’t it kind of people to take the time to send encouraging messages!

Here you can see a before picture, Alex did love it, I’m pleased to say!

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And after:

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I hope you’re all well. I have never been so happy!


Ally Pally Weekend

Hello everyone!

I hope you’ve had a super weekend. I have had heaps of fun and am looking forward to the week ahead, life seems gentle and peaceful all round.

On Friday, three of us from Knitting Club went round the Knitting and Stitching show.

I have no photos as my iphone 4s dies if away from a charger for more than three hours. Accordingly I was trying to save power by not using it but it was flat before I got overground on the district line.

Nonetheless, I can say the show was a great success, although some stalls I hoped to find weren’t there. Last year there was an excellent stall with purse clasps and the like, and I promised myself a splurge but no, it was not to be found.

I did find and purchase my vintage americana bear embroidery kit I regretted overlooking last year, and finally I got some yarn for the bobbled poncho I am longing to make:

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Also, I found some red yarn to finish a shawl in progress, and two small skeins in brown Colinette Jitterbug for mittens.

A surprising hit of the show was the handmade chocolate stall, I bought about 5 lots: truffles, rose and violet creams, fudge, solid rabbits and giant buttons. The truffles evaporated on the train home as I was starving! Jon had the fudge, Amber had the rabbits and we shared the creams yesterday whilst I was sewing the linings for my pencil cases. It felt very luxurious wafting a bag of choccies about. They were yummy!

Knitting wise, I am making a vast garter stitch shawl and thought I’d follow the directions in a pattern I used before. Unfortunately, I am using smaller needles than the pattern, so I have run out of directions and have another 10 inches of shawl to knit. It’s a semi circular shape, so I will have to guess the rest. Oh dear! Lol!

My nipper took some fab photos of me actually wearing my handknits for Ravelry, she always makes me look nice. Have a splendid week!

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Planning and Poppying

Hello all,

At Knitting Club, we compete as to which of us is the most OCD when it comes to knitting. I must say, I am not even in the top three. lol, who am I kidding?

My obsession is with lists and my Ravelry queue, organising my stash and so on. I love to have several projects on the go at once, and it can be stressful to have too many things on the needles and to lose track of what you’re doing.

I get really bored doing one project at a time, so keeping several projects purring simultaneously is a must for me.

What I’ve been doing, and it’s working well for me, is to knock up a little table for each project, and I’m marking my progress on each project as I go along. This keeps the projects clear in my mind, and it prompts me to do a bit on each every day.

Let me show you the tables:

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Basically, I have divided each item into units, so in my green shawl, each garter ridge is a unit, on my Mitred squares bag, each square is a unit, and on each poppy, I can mark them down as I knit them, then work out how many felt leaves I need to make, and it becomes a neat production and assembly process.

On the subject of poppies, I made great progress on these this weekend, about another 8 went into the fancy Parisienne Macaron box I am using as a poppy store.

Here you can see the display of what I’ve made and finished so far – I set a target of 30 poppies, and I’ve made 26 so far, and I’m still really enjoying them.

Have a look, what do you reckon?

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Secret Projects and Fairy Godmothers

Hello everyone,

I am sitting here with my cat, feeling a bit emotional because for the first time in probably a decade I have spoken with my Godmother. Not due to I’ll feeling or anything, quite the contrary, we regularly exchange cards, and we’ve been writing occasionally as well, but I didn’t have their phone number.

I wrote to them recently to let them know about my Mum being placed in the home as she has dementia. She called me as soon as she got my letter as I had the genius idea of putting my phone number on it.

My Godparents were proper Godparents, gentle, loving Christians who made a bond with me directly. They bought me a charm bracelet and every year when I was growing up they sent me something to add to it.

It was a lovely conversation last night, she and I talked about everything that has happened, and she was so understanding and sympathetic, I feel like a weight has lifted from my shoulders. She also knits and we chatted about what we enjoy making, I feel I have a kindred spirit.

I have been finishing projects at a rate of knots recently, and I am feeling very pleased with my crafting.

In previous posts I have been alluding to a secret project which has taken up a lot of time, and now Russ from Knitting Club has been given the baby blanket we spent ages making between us, I can share this with you too.

Ta daah! He was well surprised. We had managed to keep the project a total secret and he looked really happy!

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Basically, the blanket is made of mitred blocks, it’s a really enjoyable technique that knits up quickly. The yarn is Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, and it is luscious to use! I am not sure if I would machine wash it like it says you can on the label, it really bloomed just being gently soaked ready for blocking.

I made a matching hat with the leftover wool, it only took 6 balls in total.

Here you can see some “in progress” pictures:

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Here you can see the picking up of stitches, you join the blocks as you go along:

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This morning I just tidied my wool cupboard. Woozle helped.

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More than one way to bake a cake..!

Hello everyone!

What a week it’s been!

I was poorly on Monday, which in all truth was probably stress from work. Tuesday we went to a funeral, it was very jolly as funerals go, seeing people you’ve not seen for years, we also got to pay our respects at Grandad’s grave, I still miss him like mad. I am particularly missing him today, we always spent Bank Holidays together. I made a cake and I rarely make fruit cake since I lost him. The smell of fruit and spice just brings him back into the room.

Wednesday was back to work, and I had to work on Thursday And Friday as I’d swapped my day off for the day to attend the funeral.

Friday at work was Very Odd. I saw my colleagues in polo shirts and jeans. I wanted a nap mid afternoon!

Saturday, Lesley and I went to Leigh on Sea. What a fabulous place! So many nice places to eat and drink, such lovely views of the estuary. We had bright sunshine for the whole afternoon and my lungs were full of the salty sea air. There is a fabulous haberdashery there and I stocked up on buttons, on ribbons and lace, and bought some red and cream yarn to make a toy fox.

Yesterday was just quietly indoors, catching up on chores and Knitting. I bought red and cream aran weight yarn to make my latest toy, the stitches flew off my needles and this morning I put the finishing touches to the jolly little chap. Here, what do you think? Isn’t he adorable!

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I am missing my Nipper terribly, she is having a week’s holiday in Spain. I hope she is having a super time!

Anyhow, as Jon is out gallivanting with his friends I needed to sort out my craft corner. I have been through everything. I have so many half finished things. I want to make new things, I think it is known as Startitis!

Here you can see my cake making efforts, I am quite happy, my mouth still tastes the spices. The recipe called for several layers of brown paper and stuff, I had the brainwave to use my new silicone breadmaking pan. What a triumph! If I’d had a proper brain, I would have saved myself washing up and could have stirred the cake in the same pan!

Still, what a success! Delicious cake ! I used the recipe from Kirstie Allsopp Crafts, its the fruit cake that won first prize. I used half measures as I only had half the dried fruit for the recipe as written.

When I finish this post, I will get some more. It is lovely! I hope you are keeping well! The weather here is ghastly! What else is there to do? Lol!

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Blocking Lavender, Liquorice and Mint Leaves

Hello all!

I hope your weekend is starting well, unlike mine where. I am stuck at being very angry at someone at work and the unfairness of a certain encounter last week.

My last big boss, who was very inspiring to work for, said to me at his leaving drinks, “Jen, you are a wonderful person, stay exactly as you are and don’t change”. There is an old saying, if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything. The reason it has been passed down for eons is that it’s true.

At work, you’re all crammed in on top of each other, and nothing is ever perfect. At least you can behave nicely towards each other, because anarchy ensues if you don’t.

Anyways enough of that. It kept me up all night last night seething and I’ve had two days off already, being Thursday was Amber’s exam result day.

Yesterday, Jon did an excellent job of blocking my shawl. I bought the wool at Loop, which is my very favourite knitting haven. Just walking in the door makes me happy.

Last year, in October, I bought quite a quantity of yarn of different kinds in the Medicins Sans Frontiers sale.

He last remaining ball of Noro was green, purple and black. I bought some Jamiesons Spindrift in a lavender colour and started to knit.

With such wonderful colours in my hands the shawl was a delight to knit. Because of the vast yardage of both the Noro and the Spindrift the shawl came out quite big.

Here you can see the shawl in progress:

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Here you can see Jon’s genius with pins, wires and a ruler:

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The shawl has a lovely swing to it, and the colours are very wearable. I think green and purple will be big this winter:

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Looking back over my pictures, I’ve found a picture of my purchases at the yarn sale, I still have some left, but not any more Noro…

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I hope you have a super day, I am looking for resources online about Anger Management. I hope none of them suggest knitting as that patently is no help whatsoever lol!!!


Bread and Silicone

Hello all,

I hope you have all had a jolly week. Mine has been good and rubbish and stressful by turns.

I will gloss over the whole thing if you don’t mind.

At home, I’ve been getting really organised. Last weekend I tidied my wardrobe, and I feel like I am getting somewhere. I put all my winter clothes in the loft and predictably, the weather has started to change, there is a definite nip in the air!

Regular readers will know for quite a few months now I have been baking sourdough bread. The recipe is very simple but makes a tremendous mess, I get flour everywhere, the dough is runny and sticky, and getting it out of the bowl and into the cooking pot is a bit of a faff.

Recently, I got a Lakeland catalogue in the post, and saw a silicone silicone bread pot. You mix the dough, let it rise, and bake it in the one thing! Genius!

Yesterday Amber and I went to Westfield Stratford for a celebratory shop and lunch following her success in her exams, so I popped into Lakeland and treated us to one of these pots.

When we got home, I put the ingredients into the new pot and left it overnight.

This morning I heated the oven and popped the pot inside.

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The results were fantastic!

Not a speck of flour went astray, no sticky hands, and the result was delicious. Really crispy crust, almost caramelised. Shaped like a rugby ball!

The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and we just had some for lunch. It was smashing.

The bowl came out beautifully clean and has gone in the dishwasher.

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Jon has been tirelessly blocking my shawl backlog, and there’s one beautifully pinned out drying upstairs. I’ll show you tomorrow!


Transformation

Hello everyone!

I hope you’ve had a super weekend!

Knitting by itself is a delightful pastime, piling up rows of knit and purl stitches, it is rhythmic and therapeutic, and a total delight.

Once I got the hang of knitting and purling, I wanted to stretch my wings a little more.

I saw on Ravelry all these lace shawls. My mouth watered and I figured, I can do that. I assembled yarn and needles, and a pattern. I got the hang of yarnovers, and learned left and right slanted decreases.

I followed some patterns, the ones I picked were either too hard, or not particularly well written.

Classes I went to, it was hard to talk, listen and make lace.

Eventually it all started to come together, it took a couple of years.

Here you can see my daughter’s shawl.

It’s a good example of transformation.

Once it’s all knitted up it looks, well crumpled.

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The transformation comes from the blocking.

The knitting is the easy bit, effortless, like when your life is going smoothly. Then the lace part is like falling in love, there are points when you are full of rage, there are points when everything goes well, and you can’t believe your luck. There is usually heartbreak and you have to rip back. Sometimes you don’t have a lifeline, and it is impossibly scary.

You have to say goodbye to the shawl and cast it off the needles.

It sits, neglected and alone in the knitting basket.

When you get round to it, it’s day finally comes.

You take the knitted thing and drown it, even when it’s perfumed waters, the shawl has to drown. Once it has relaxed in the water, it looks like a mermaid, sleeping.

Then you gently rinse it and release it from the water. It has to be squeezed then wrapped into a thick dry towel like a baby.

Once the blocking mats are ready you pin out the shawl. It is wet but happy to emerge from its slumber.

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Patience is required, nothing gets blocked quickly. Pulling it into shape hurts. But it is worth it.

Lace knitting is a metaphor for life.

This is what being transformed is about. From a lumpy ball of yarn. Into a butterfly.

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Transcending

Hello all,

I hope you’re well and that you’ve had a jolly weekend so far.

I am having a splendid time.

Yesterday, we had new gas and electric meters fitted which give us a minute by minute account of how much we are spending on our usage. I am likely to turn into a snarling miser come winter, and insist my family wear more jumpers and thicker socks etc to ensure the heating gets kept turned down low.

Afterwards, Jon and I walked through the sunny park to the library, he was carrying half a hundredweight of knitting books which I wanted to return. From there we hopped onto a train and scooted into London.

I was able to knit the entire journey, I was making a baby hat out of scraps from a secret project. One of the secret projects was left at home blocking.

Secret projects are pests when you blog as you end up with gaps when you can’t say what you’re up to.

Anyhow, after the train journey I was at Loop, the best wool shop in the universe, and my favourite shop in the whole of London. Jon patiently sat in the ice cream shop whilst I went in and booked on an Intarsia class they are holding there in November. I also was really naughty and bought more wool. I fell in love and it had to be mine, OK? Lol.

After Loop we picked up some cake for my friend Lesley’s visit today and then went to Desperadoes and ate and drank. The food there is very good but the toilets have rude murals in them, so don’t be shocked if you venture into there, you have been warned! We sat outside in the sunshine, it was a shame to go home but Amber was back from Poland later in the evening and we were excited to see her!

Our reunion later in the evening was very happy.

It is nice to have my Nipper in the house, I am pleased to have her about and to be able to have hugs.

So today, Jon went off to work, and it was my turn to do some blocking. I blocked my holiday Ishbel shawl, which was knitted in a skein of Nimu Isel, in denim blue.

Here you can see some pictures. I really love this piece of knitting, it transcends what you think of as handiwork to make something like this, I almost can’t believe I made it.

This is the third time I tried to make this design, and I found it really hard to get right, but third time lucky. Perhaps my previous failures made the final result sweeter in the end.

Here are the blocking pictures:

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Here it is blocked and looking good:

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Here are some close ups:

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Bag Heaven!

Hello everyone!

We’ve had constant sunny weather in the UK, which often is quite unheard of.

I’ve been mad busy, this morning I trimmed the shower curtain, emptied all the kitchen cupboards, chucked some old stuff away and then put them back straight, and wow! They look amazing now.

For the first time in my life I feel like I have a modern, functioning kitchen.

This afternoon, I sat and sewed a new lining for my beach bag. I did a pretty good job if I say so myself!

Here you can see the bag with the lining removed (the zip broke shortly after I bought it):

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The lining was made from a vintage apron I’ve had in my fabric stash for a few years. Bright pink, blue, white and yellow. With an iPhone pocket!

Below are some pictures showing the different stages of sewing and inserting the zip:

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Here is the taa daah of the finished bag:

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I am also in the middle of making a second bag, this is a knitted bag with a crochet pocket.