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!


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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Vintage Addiction

Some knitters wrestle with their vast stash of yarn, and their Ravelry queue stretching into dozens of pages, all full of ideas of things to make and do. Some knitters also sew, embroider and quilt, there are blogs to follow and Pinterest boards, and then you have the worldwide Interwebs.

I have a lot of collections. Today I received half a dozen vintage bedjacket knitting patterns to add to my collection.

Like this one. One of the ones that came cost me 9p. If you add an interest in vintage craftstuffs your potential for hoarding or project overwhelm increases many fold.

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I also like Vikings. I have a ceramic one in my kitchen that was probably made by someone from my old school, we had a kiln, and it looks like the kind of thing a sixth form art student might have made. I got it in a charity shop near the school.

The other Vikings in my collection are wooden ones. One holds an axe, the other is a ship with Vikings in it. I think the Vikings are actually bottle stoppers. The one I just won on eBay is a Scotsman in a kilt with a knitted pompom hat and he’s holding a sword! I am so happy!

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On a slightly different note, regular readers may remember last year I visited a lovely Naturopath a few times, and she gave me lots of tips on healthy eating. I have kept to quite a bit of her advice regarding eating well, however I failed absolutely to adopt making smoothies, let alone green ones including kale or spinach. I have taken to goats milk, and am still interested in eating well.

Some of the things I had been doing which were “good” were giving me a very bloated feeling, and I felt I was in need of a different approach. Eating healthily but not improving further was quite frustrating to be honest.

Yesterday I went to a talk in work by a very famous nutritionalist called Ian Marber. He has written about a dozen books, with a new one out soon, and he is on TV regularly offering hints on healthy eating.

At work, we have a brilliant well being scheme run by my very clever and wonderful friend Raewyn. She organises the talks on health, ensures we can attend yoga and Pilates in our building, and sends out newsletters packed with tips from experts on stress reduction and everything. She arranged for Ian to come in.

When I was going through my troubles with my Grandad and afterwards, she saw I was having a really lousy time and she was really great to me, I will not forget ever the kindness shown to me by my colleagues and friends at that time. I felt like I was being helped by angels. Some of the kindest moments were just from strangers in the lift or the corridor. My job is truly super.

Anyway, Ian came to talk to us about the dangers of sugar. He substantiated his comments with lots of science and described how sugars come in different forms, how to spot them in foods where they might be hidden in the labelling and how they are absorbed by the body.

The intriguing part for me was how he read out a list of symptoms for a new sugar related condition called “metabolic syndrome”, and I had every one of them. Waking at night, high cholesterol, constant cold symptoms, etc., he was describing me perfectly. We were given handouts to follow, so today I went shopping after work, and today continued my second day of non sugar eating.

In the newspapers there have been articles about sugar free eating recently, so you might already have seen something on the subject.

Basically, the idea is to eat plenty of greens and vegetables and ensure you combine any high fibre complex carbs or fruit always with protein, completely avoiding food or drink manufactured with added sugar. I’m allowed two squares of 80% cocoa dark chocolate after dinner.

So I can report, I have had plenty to eat, I’ve not had a “starving” feeling, and my mood all day has been jolly. Bring on tomorrow!


10 Super Christmassy Things and Why I am Happy!

Hello everyone!

Happy Christmas!

My feet are up, I have a belly full of roast dinner and pudding. My lap is red hot due to a large sleeping fur monster and a big pink shawl in progress. Dr Who is on. I hope you’re having a brilliant day!

I wanted to wish you peace and happiness, and a vast stash of yarn, and mastery over all lace patterns, especially ones marked on Ravelry as “Easy”.

The knitters on Ravelry mark most fiendish patterns as easy because they are geniuses and goddesses. There should be a special pattern category for people like me with no attention span, it would contain garter stitch squares mostly, and patterns you knit without sewing up and that can fudge your way through….

Here are my reasons to be happy today. I hope you can think of better ones for yourselves!

  1. It’s Christmas, I am surrounded by love, and I have so many good friends and I feel so grateful for everything and properly happy in myself, and I feel so content knowing that I have every blessing
  2. Everyone liked their presents and I am planning a new red knitted sampler blanket
  3. My friend Karen got in touch, she’s in New York, and things are good
  4. Ali texted me, and I’ve heard from everyone I like today
  5. I finally have got the hang of my lace knitting pattern
  6. I had a nice walk and it didn’t rain on me
  7. Dinner was fab, Jon made it!
  8. Dr Who is on
  9. We made a Christmas cake with the fruit I put in to soak in brandy last Autumn and it looks wonderful
  10. We ate the Christmas pudding from last year, it was nice!

I’m going now as Matt Smith is about to regenerate. Have a lovely evening!

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A Clash Of Lists

Hello all!

Those of you who read my blog or know me in real life will attest to the fact that I do too many things in bits all the time. This applies to work, craft, anything.

My take on this is that I am never bored, I always have something I can do that pleases me, and that it enables me to turn out a huge volume of things consistently.

For example, on Ravely, you’ll see this year I have turned out about 35 things so far (some are multiples, like the poppies and preemie hats for charity).

Rather dauntingly, my Ravelry queue has about 460 things in it, and my library shows I have over 9000 patterns.

Also, since I built my wool corner in my living room, I seem to have a lot of wool knocking about. Especially since the Loop wool sale!

I also have a lot of books I haven’t read.

Recently, I scrawled a list of things I want to finish or make ASAP. I want all of these right now.

To finish:

  1. Amber’s blue silk cardi
  2. pink lace cardi for me
  3. lace edging for Mother of Dragons shawl
  4. Mod draining mat
  5. French ladies bag – add handles and lining
  6. beaded purse – add lining and clasp
  7. robin embroidery
  8. crochet blanket

Queue to make:

  1. iris beaded shawl
  2. sewn patchwork something
  3. sasha slippers
  4. owl kit
  5. mitts
  6. Peach washcloths
  7. log cabin washcloths
  8. crochet wrap with sparkles
  9. black slouch hat
  10. sparkle hat
  11. purple chevron something
  12. red sampler blanket

As you can see, it is a bit substantial, a hefty task list.

I also have some Pinterest boards, and two scrap books full of pictures and sketches, plus 13 folders of patterns cut out from magazines.

I also take pictures of things I like to review.

How do you sort yourself?

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Beavering Away!

Here are two ta-daahs!

The hat is finished and beaded, here is the wrap I made last year which finally has the ribbon threaded through the loops.

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Friday Knitting Plans!

Hello everyone!

It’s the weekend yaay!

Today I have been really busy. I got up at the crack of dawn, tidied, did laundry, zoomed about cleaning. My windows are sparkling and I have clean net curtains.

Although it was a bit grey outside, after my nap at 3pm I ventured out to get some more folders (for knitting patterns) and other supplies, and now the sun is out and I am proud of my shiny house!

Finally the laundry mountain is finished, all my clothes are clean, and I have a full cupboard of towels.

I learned something new this week, after searching the Internet for a cure for the odd smell emanating from my washing machine when we came home from our trip. Apparently where I have been all for the current fad for washing clothes on a cold wash has led to a build up of bacteria which left for two weeks caused the yucky niff. The way to put an end to this is to use old fashioned Ariel detergent powder and a 60 degree wash regularly, and as this powder contains an antibacterial agent and bleach, the heat and the chemicals kill the mould in the machine.

I’ve been following the advice and it works really well!

It was pretty daunting coming home to so much housework, but Fly Lady says to just tackle things in baby steps and to persist, and now I’ve been home all week I am starting to get to a place where I can feel pleased with a clean house. I still have quite a bit of sorting and putting away upstairs, but I’ll see to that once I have sat down for a bit.

During my holiday I completed three projects, and now I’m home, I am itching to start something new.

A white shawl, in quite thick soft yarn, a ballet slipper pink cardigan, some gloves, a new hat, a cream cardigan, and a mustard cable cardigan. Ooh if you didn’t know I had so much wool in my stash you would say, go ahead!

Pulling myself back to reality, I have dutifully brought down the blue cardigan I am in the middle of, and I’m going to finish that first.

Also, I have a couple of things to block, I can get that done this weekend.

Woozle seems really happy we’re home, she is still climbing Jon’s cupboard (“The Tower”) every day, it’s about 8 feet high. Don’t know how she manages to heft herself up!

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Deep Stash!

Hello everyone!

I hope you’re having a jolly day and enjoying the weekend! I am pleased to report that my deep depression of recent months has completely gone, following the miserable weekend two weeks ago. I don’t know if it was a kind of cathartic experience, the weather improving, my holiday approaching, or whether it was knowing my dear friend Ali would always stand by me, her wise counsel or a combination of all these things.

I know that my mood is helped by becoming more organised, and I demonstrated my marble jar yesterday. I am adding another item to my marble list – for delegation, as I feel I should pat myself on the back for getting help with these jobs when I can.

Jon is at work today, and Amber and I are rattling about in the house together. Dear Woozle is looking better by the day, her abscess has healed, all the horrid scabs have fallen away and her skin is pink underneath and very healthy looking. It is a shame her little head is shaved, she looks like Sinead O Connor.

Anyhow, on the subject of organisation, today I have girded my loins and following a fabulous sausage sandwich brunch I have dived into the yarn boxes on top of my bookcase.

Here is my bookcase, it is rammed with knitting books.

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The oldest one is Kaffe Fassett, “Glorious Knitting” which is inscribed inside as it was a prize for classics when I was at school. I saw Kaffe speak, when I was about 20 years old, he has been my muse for my entire adult life. I would love one of his white paintings, he loves still lifes, the same as me, and his handling of colour and texture is marvellous. If you click here you can see some of his work.

My yarn boxes are all empty, and my yarn is all over the bed and I am sorting it out. As usual, I am intrigued with the bag of odd bits of yarn, the leftovers, the weird colours and mismatched textures. Why do I bother being serious and buying 600g of decent hand dyed yarn to make a project? I should just head to a charity shop and buy whatever old oddments of acrylic they have left and get all inspired and fizzy like I am now.

Ridiculous!

Anyhow, I am in the middle of sorting it all now, so I will run back upstairs and finish. I have found my little bag of knitting in beads that I’d lost, also, my other set of sock needles. And a completed tapestry of some flamenco dancers. I am the naffest person who ever lived.

Also I am quite ashamed at how much wool I have accrued. I was seriously planning to buy some more yarn this weekend. Aargh!

I will report back to you when I am done.

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Hoarders! Avalanche!

Hello all!

I hope you’re having a super weekend so far!

Mine has been far too exciting, in the most dramatic and dangerous sense of the word.

Our holiday is approaching, and we are trying to get ready in an a organised and sensible fashion. As you know, I have been decluttering downstairs and today we agreed to hook out some boxes from the loft as all my summer clothes are there, in boxes, along with a whole load of other stuff, as Jon has had a DVT and hasn’t been well enough to do this before. Pretty much all downstairs is done, I am still wrangling magazines, and haven’t started on the knitting books yet, but I can say hand on heart it looks clean and neat all around.

One of the things you read in Suze Orman’s books and I have seen it mentioned in other space cluttering and feng shui books, is that holding on to stuff you don’t use can be linked to psychological symptoms which can be hard to overcome. The idea is you look at the stuff, and, instead of thinking, “This is old junk, it needs to be tossed!”, instead, it represents some kind of security, and you fear being parted from the stuff, even to the extent where your house becomes a great mess, and they call in the TV crew, and you find yourself starring in an episode of “Hoarders”.

Back to the drama. Right, so Jon pulls down the loft ladder, Amber is studying in her room quietly, and we start bringing down boxes. All goes well for the first four boxes, then Jon stumbles and an orange bag of god knows what falls down the ladder right onto me, I freak out as I think my arm is broken, and in all seriousness, it was a complete shock and fright! Nothing was broken but I lost my temper and I accused Jon of trying to murder me, and now, although I have apologised and tried to make amends he is a bit of a sulker, so unfortunately we are now existing under the same roof in a state of what PG Wodehouse would describe as “Froideur”.

Once I had composed myself, which took a while, and I can assure you my eyes are still stinging from my hot angry tears, I went through the boxes and dumped and charity shopped quite a bit. Jon also went through his cupboard and tossed a whole bin bag of shabby old things, so well done to him!

Here you can see my charity shop bag:

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Also, in an effort to be strict, I have listed for sale my Vintage Boye Circular Needle Set.
I have had these for about 10 years, and I bought them from the US. As I have so much vintage knitting stuff already, I thought it would be nice for these to go to a good home.

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Also, I would like to thank the collective genius of the users of Ravelry. Twice in the last week, I have been completely stumped when trying to identify patterns I wanted to review. The first was a striped Tunisian crochet design on an advert for Knit TV. I had emailed the magazine, they didn’t understand what I wanted at all, and in frustration, I posted a picture of the scarf on a Ravelry forum and got the right answer in less than an hour. Today, whilst doing my 15 minutes of magazine culling, I found a really nice cardi with no description whatsoever other than it was a Debbie Bliss pattern. So, boldened by my previous success, I popped a picture and asked politely for help on the Debbie Bliss fans forum and, as if by magic, the answer was proffered almost instantly.

Ravelry is completely the most wonderful resource for crafters. What would I do without it?

The weather is gorgeous once again, and my dear Woozle has even ventured outside – look!

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Organising Knitting

I have been struggling with my vast collection of knitting magazines, which, due to the number of subscriptions I seem unable to resist, have taken over the house.

Despite my recent decluttering, my knitting items have overgrown the space they should reasonably take up and you’ll see from my posts since before Christmas that I have been searching for ways of managing my crafting more effectively.

Flylady says we should cull our magazines regularly, yikes! How could I do this? I was torn, but I knew I needed to!

This weekend, I have bitten the bullet and have unleashed a frenzy of ripping and dumping. All the patterns I like I have kept, the rest are heading for the bin, or already nestling in the recycling already.

My friend Sweatyknitter, has posted today about the dreadful standard of patterns in some magazines, and her musings could not be more timely considering what I saw this weekend as I have just hacked through a couple of years worth.

I will try to put together a montage of some howlers tomorrow and we can all have a good chuckle. Although, I do think you’d have to go some way to beat the last Rowan magazine…

Hmmm, I could even cancel my subscriptions to Rowan and Designer Knitting, now that’s a revolutionary thought! Ok Rowan, no more of you, that’s easily done as you can only renew once a year.