Skyscrapers and String


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!

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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!!!


Pink, Red and Blue

Hello everyone!

I hope you’re enjoying your weekend!

For quite a while now I’ve been trying to organise my life.

My thoughts, being muddled, led to my life being jumbled up. It’s taken a lot of trial and error to get to tidy thinking, and now my world is happier.

For a long time, I built up a vast collection of craft supplies. I would buy things on impulse, and not know what to do with any of it.

The temptation of shopping as recreation, the lure of the sale price, the luxurious product on sale at a show, the opportunity to acquire something really fab and hard to get, the fashion trend, the buying of stuffs with a solely seasonal appeal, you name it, I have fallen prey to the temptation.

And some times I have been a bit led astray. Like the time the Rowan Mill had a sale on £1 a ball yarn, and books at £1 each! Or the time I found my greek hotel was built over a wool warehouse, and I could have any ball for €1. Or the October sale at Loop!

A perfect example: last year, I went on a class by Madeline Tosh on colour theory, she really knew her stuff. We looked at colour wheels, contrast, saturation, tone, hue and everything.

The first question she asked was “what is your favourite colour?” And I answered with Daffodil yellow. This is a precise answer in terms of knitting, because at Loop there is a vast cupboard stuffed with a rainbow of balls of Jamison’s Shetland Spindrift yarn, and Daffodil is my go to shade.

I was sat next to a very talented and clever yarn dyer. At the end of the class everyone agreed on a theme colour for each person. Mine was dusty purple.

I felt vexed. I don’t really ever wear purple. It is dark and dull, plus, during the 80’s I think I was mad on it for a decade, and, now I am in my late forties, I now like bright spring colours.

After the class, I went wild and bought heaps of purple yarn. And I haven’t used any of it.

Anyway, I discovered the key to my stash was in my hand all along.

Just like Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz, I discovered that my Ravelry notebook was the answer!

I had never much used my stash tab, however over the recent weeks, I’ve filled it in, and knowing exactly how much wool I have, yard by yard, has meant I can pick patterns out properly !

Now I know what I’m doing and my stash is my friend!!!

So busy knitting this week. It’s all going well!

Here is the lovely lace crochet bag now in my queue due to be made in Drops Paris – idea was from their newsletter:

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Here also is Amber’s shawl, I ran out of yarn Friday evening, bought another huge ball to complete the last three rows, and to my astonishment, the wool came today! Post on a Sunday! Fabbo!

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Here you can see the Nimu Isel in blue to make an Ishbel shawl. Regular readers will know the last time I tried to knit this it was rubbish. So wish me luck! The yarn is a soft but bright blue, with denim tones here and there, it is truly stunning.

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I am also making another shawl in red, this is in Shilasdair 4 ply. Gorgeous!

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Here you can see this morning’s baking, wholemeal sourdough, two loaves, one with cinnamon and raisins. Mmm! Also my cat guarding my Ishbel pattern.

It’s been a fab weekend. I hope you’re all well and happy!

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Patchwork Crochet At Last!

Hello everyone! Happy Easter!

I hope you’re having a jolly weekend!

This morning I got up, my first day free of Minion Hats, and picked up my crochet.

These skeins of Spindrift came from Loop, my favourite shop in the whole world. The day I bought them was fab, I was at a class taught by Madeline Tosh, and in my break I picked out these 10 skeins.

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I am making filled granny squares, and after making a dozen, I think I have the pattern mastered now. I am joining them as I go along, it is fun working out what goes where!

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Covent Garden! Two cakes!

Hello everybody! This post was written Mothers Day weekend, but I forgot to press “post” silly me!

I can’t believe how quiet the house is today, the clock is ticking and I can hear the bed creak when Jon moves about in his sleep. The UK has moved to British Summer time, so to my shock, when I look at my iPad it says twenty to eight, however I got up at six thirty, where did the hour go? Oh yes, BST, I remember now.

I am looking forward to two quiet days at home, I have tomorrow off from work, and I’ve enjoyed the long weekend so far!

Yesterday was manic. Luckily I started the day fresh and without a hangover, my Friday night drink date was cancelled, it could have been a very painful day yesterday otherwise!

My plan was to visits the seaside with my dear friend Lesley. I got up and raced about, however the journey to Upminster took a mere 30 minutes, and when I got there there were hordes of teenagers wearing fancy dress and carrying camping equipment. Why??

When Lesley arrived we went to the station to see about tickets to find the trains weren’t running properly and they had a replacement bus service between Benfleet and somewhere else.

In the UK, public transport regularly is rubbish at weekends due to engineering works etc and they get out of criticism of it by running “replacement buses”. The only problem is, you have no idea where to stand to catch the bus, and no idea how often they are running, so it’s best to just make other plans, or you would just end up getting stuck at Benfleet overnight or something….

Anyhow, we decided to go to Covent Garden. We had Patisserie Valerie. Mmmm!

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At lunchtime, after strolling about in the sun admiring things Lesley took me to “The Souk” which is a moroccan restaurant hidden in Neals Yard.

We had lovely dips and bits, proper mezze. It was super, but the best bit was the Sharbert. This was rose, mint and lemon snow in a glass. Divine!

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Afterwards, Lesley went home but I headed north to Angel to meet my dear friend Karen, who had made the journey down from Cheshire.

I headed to Loop and treated myself to a new Addi Rocket sock needle and some yarn.

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Karen and I met up and went to the famous Ottolenghi restaurant for dinner, it is both expensive and odd. The actual menu bore no resemblance to the impression I had of umpteen yummy salads, vegan and wholefoody.

My starter was a dish of raw beef. I mean raw. You couldnt have vegetables or sides with the main course, these were all cold mainly, they had to be starters. They were about £8 each. The main course I chose was pork, it was smaller than the palm of my hand.

Although I’d been to the cake shop already I had a dessert as I felt like I had eaten nothing. The wine was expensive too so I didn’t dare order another bottle.

We sat on a communal table alongside a german family whose children had no manners and they drew throughout dinner, after a bit the mother and daughter just left silently, perhaps they went to the chip shop. The father and son sat in silence.

Karen and I had a fabulous catch up, it was lovely to see her! I was a bit tired afterwards and was glad to be home by 9pm or thereabouts.


Saturday Loops

Hello everyone!

Have you had a jolly day today? I got up early to see my daughter off, she was heading off to do her barrister thingy at a Uni in London near Holborn or something. After she went, I went back to bed and had a most enjoyable lie in, with my dear cat:

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Jon put the bread in the oven from last night, and whilst I was on the tube to London to meet Lexie, he sent me pictures of the bread and text messages expressing his enjoyment of the hot bread plus his need for a nap as he was somewhat over full.

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I will be nomming the rest of the bread with some bacon and eggs in the morning. He has left me some, apparently!

On the tube, I was able to take some nice pictures of my crochet bag, which had its first outing today.

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We met at Angel, the weather today was so changeable, it was by turns horridly blustery, tipping with rain, sunny and then freezing. It started to literally pour down, so the first part of our jaunt was lubricated by gin and tonic, as we dived into the pub to get out of the rain.

We then went to Loop, it was very quiet. From there we popped over to our favourite haunt, the “Cuba Libre”. Disgracefully we drank loads of Mojitos and we ate tapas. It was splendid fun!

Jon was at home waiting for the Ikea delivery, and when I got home he’d put a whole work top up for me! Isn’t he good!

My cat was also pleased to see me. Look how it smiles when I fussed it this morning, it is so easy to love her!

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Happy Day!

Hello everyone! How are you today?

I have worked all day today but it has been a really joyful day. Amber was home, and although recently broken hearted she is the best company.

And I heard about how I’d managed to link two people at work through my heading the employee network for disabled folks, and as a result, finally, for the first time, hard of hearing people who can’t use the phone can now open bank accounts or gain access to their funds across the globe. I am pretty impressed actually. Go me!

Here I can show you what I am happy about in a craft type way:

Here is my Scotsman for my collection, I have a few of these now, but this one is so detailed:

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Here you can see my knitting corner and the baby sleep sack I am knitting whilst reading Game of Thrones “A feast for crows”:

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Here you can see my mantelpiece, I decided to keep my Nisse out on display with my spring lambs as they are very jolly.

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Also, I made some bread today:

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I took my sad Nipper out for a walk and she bought the latest “Glamour” magazine. Inside was an article on J Lo. I adore Jennifer Lopez! Although in the pictures she appeared to be disturbingly commando under everything, even her Dolce and Gabbana dress, she also posed in a pair of MiuMiu knickers. I have no comprehension of fashion.

Also there was a tiny Missoni crochet bag in yellow, which is my favourite colour. It is crochet, in a bobble stitch. It would take about two hours to knit. The handle looks like one of those things you get in Ikea to string children’s toys up with to make their rooms tidy.

Tomorrow I’m at Loop with my beloved Alex. I will buy wool. I will eat Cuban tapas and get shockingly plastered on Mojitos. I am in my new yellow and turquoise pajamas and me and Jon have next week off together, I’m really very happy! Hope you are too!

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On And Off The Needles!

Hello everyone !

The vote on which project to start next was unanimous on the crochet spindrift shawl! Thank you everyone! I will plan it and share my thinking here with you as I go along.

Today is a day of serious finishing, so I am sharing with you some bits and bobs which I’ll clear away ready to bring out my crochet hooks!

We are having a quiet day indoors. Jon is not at work as he has a ghastly chest infection again, and I feel like I’ve caught it, so my plans for today are scuppered.

Well, I can show you my Loop Charity Noro Yarn jacket, which I finished last night whilst watching Deadwood, and waiting for my Nipper and Bestie to come home from Maroon 5 at the O2. They had a super time!

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Then there’s my patchwork blanket in progress square no. 1, I can show you, this is going to take a while to complete:

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Then today I will be owling, Jon bought me this fab kit from Fyberspates, however I’ve been stuck on it because the yarn they gave me as a contrast was completely invisible against the pale brown, so I’m using some Spindrift in white, as you totally couldn’t see the pattern at all whilst knitting! Also I have 56 stitches on 2.5mm needles, which is like knitting in miniature. I’ll let you know how I get on. I am doing Magic Loop now, as it served me so well on the cardigan sleeves.

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Here I am knitting with a colour in both hands, another first for 2014!

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Afterglow Of Blocking

Hello all!

I am literally whizzing round today, half my house is topsy turvy where I am hastening to get a few last things done before I go back to work tomorrow.

Here are the pictures I promised you of the shawl I showed you being blocked yesterday, just looking at it last night and this morning has filled me with a fuzzy glow!

Jon approved of my blocking, he saw the shawl hanging up where I undid the blocking late last night and he was shuffling bear like and sleepy into bed. For him to notice so tired and so late it must have been approved of!

The only problem I have, is that I already have another of these shawls on the needles already, and I want cast on again to make another the same as this but in black! There is no hope for me!

I have startitis!

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French Ladies Crochet Bag Ta Daah!

Hello everybody!

My New Year is off to a flying start, what with bread baking, and finishing things off and lots of craftiness at home.

I have a new ta daah today, well in all truth it’s from yesterday, but by the time I’d finished it was too dark to take pictures.

A couple of years ago, my world was rocked when I went to an embroidered buttons course at my favourite shop in the world, Loop, in Angel, Islington.

There were two French ladies in charge of the course, Cecile, who was teaching, and Veronique who was assisting with translating. Both were the height of glamour, and they were delightful, inspiring ladies, tres charming! The course was wonderful and we had a super day and learned loads, as I wrote here in my review which you should be able to see if you click on the icon for Loop on the left hand side bar of this post. Cecile’s website is here.

Before the course started, I was early, and browsing in the shop. So were the French ladies. Whilst they were looking around, I think it was Veronique who had a wonderful yellow and blue crochet bag, and inside was a Volvic bottle in a crocheted cosy as well. I stopped in my tracks, unable to breathe.

A green mist of covetous envy descended on me. Unlike other kinds of coveting, which are generally frowned upon as a deadly sin; when you can knit and sew and crochet for yourself, violent coveting of someone else’s crafting becomes a delicious inspiration.

Here you can see the bag, and dear Cecile and her daughter, and some pictures of the buttons we made on the day:

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After the day’s class I was on fire with ideas, however they take time to percolate into action in real life, largely because if you already have a dozen things on the go you have to finish them off first.

I loved the yellow bag, and every accessory the French ladies possessed was hand made and embroidered and beaded, like an exposition of fabulousness and finery!

Here you can see I made a bag in orange silk scraps next, using Cecile’s book “Granny Folies A Crocheter”.

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Next I made a beaded bag out of the leftovers:

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As you can see, whatever the French bug was, I was thoroughly bitten by it!

Since the class, I’ve been to another held by Cecile as well, but my way of thinking has been transformed. I expect more of myself with my work, a higher standard, more detail, beading, luxury in my accessories, everything.

I have become the Elizabeth Taylor of knitting. Jon of course is Richard Burton. He encourages me in my excesses!

Here you can see my French Ladies water bottle cover I made on holiday.

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I wanted to make an exact copy of Veronique’s bag, but it wasn’t to be this time, the bright colours I bought originally were jarring and clashing, so I kept the clear yellow, turquoise, white and navy and toned them down with ballet slipper mauves, taupes and greys.

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So it was all sewn up, and my challenge for yesterday was to add a lining, so I hauled out my sewing machine. I made it work, after many practice pieces to get the right tension and everything. And I love it!

Here it is, handles on and ready for a jaunt! Oh la la! C’est bon!

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