Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Enter Cat

No, you can't assume from the title of this blog post that I have re-homed another cat, although that is on my wish list of things to do this year. It is actually my interpretation of the pattern name for this cute cute cute cardi I have made for Flo: Entrechat. It is french and I thought it translated to Enter Cat but it is in fact a ballet term where the legs cross each other mid-air in a flutter - apparently.

The yarn is the skein of Handwork Cotton I got a Plaristow of Rye on holiday and was lovely to work with. Soft and not too shiny as cotton can sometimes be. I wanted to find a one skein pattern and ideally something for Flo to wear. When I asked her what she wanted me to make she asked for a toy dog, which I instantly rejected in favour of something she won't just hide in the bottom of the toy chest.

The pattern was lots of fun and knit all in one piece, there's lots to keep you interested but nothing to confuse you which was just what I wanted. I was initially worried that one skein would not be enough but I finished with a tiny bit of yarn left over, so it was just the right amount.  My favourite bit of it is the little flounce the back where you increase after the textured section. It creates an explosion level of cuteness in me.

The biggest dilemma came with the button choice. I have so many buttons at home but always nothing to go with what I've made and I end up buying more. But I do love buttons so much I don't think I'll ever stop buying them just because. I went with a simple wooden heart button from Liberty, which helps to balance the pinkness of it all.

Sadly a continuing fact of life is that it's hard to get a 4 year old to stand still for a photo. *sigh...*

She still looks lovely in it though.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Plaristo of Rye

During our trip to Camber a few weeks ago we popped into nearby town Rye to enjoy Ye Olde feel of it all. Every local we spoke to engaged us in a lengthy friendly chat about the history of the place whether we had time to stop or not. And so we quickly learned that because of its close proximity to the Channel it was a prime spot for the French to invade, resulting in Rye being burned to the ground on several occasions. Educational and exciting! But it wasn't just the lovely locals, cobbled streets, castle and cannons I was looking for. As usual I was hoping to find some yarn and as usual I found it.

Plaristo of Rye isn't really a simple yarn shop, it's more of a fibre gallery with fluff in many forms. Weaving, spinning, knitting, crochet and some other non fibre-related arts are all catered for. The colour in the shop was enveloping. Everything was a bit special, a bit jazzy, a bit out there. I loved it. Of course I was mainly interested in the yarn and while Flo inspected the resident felted sheep with bestie Shan and the lovely shop owner, I had a look around.

Mr Sheep and his weaving

Fluff and stuff

A cool table top made of yarn, buttons and lights with glass on top.
Would love to steal this idea.
The lovely thing about the shop was that apart from some of the well known brands there was quite a lot of unlabelled skeins which I spent most of my time there squashing, sniffing and rubbing on my cheek - these are my three main methods of testing the quality of yarn don't-cha-know. The owners took time to tell me that these skeins are all delivered to the shop undyed and they dye them locally, which I thought was delightful and therefore had to buy some.

As I was choosing, this happened:

Flo picked up this skein of cotton and said she wanted me to buy it for her. Now, let's be clear. I'm not usually in the habit of letting her have things that she picks up off of any shelf and requests. It could lead to a very dark place. But this request totally melted me. Seeing her little face, while holding up this quite florescent yarn, asking me to buy it was a proud knitting-mummy moment! 

Flo's florescent request was quickly bought, along with the above multicoloured 4ply Baby Lamb Alpaca. It's going to knit up like a clown threw up on it, but I'm sure that will make it fun to make something with.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

I Can't Doooooo It...

Flo asked me to teach her how to knit the other day. This was the outcome.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Picking a project for the other Birthday Girl

This is Shan and she's my special 'birthday twin' as we were born on the same day in the beds next to each other 30 years ago! I wanted to knit her something to mark the occasion, as for me that's the ultimate expression of love; making something specifically for someone and hoping they'll like it, use it/ wear it and cherish it forever. So I set about thinking what I wanted to make for her:
  • She's a classy lady so I wanted something unfussy, but with a simple interest. 
  • She wears a lot of black, perhaps because she's a doctor and has seen enough white for a lifetime? So it needed to complement that without being a really 'out-there' colour that she'd never wear. 
  • She has recently bought a house, which is probably the most exciting house I have ever been in. It's like a little cavern that keeps throwing up random rooms, extra kitchens, tiny stairways to studies and narrow hallways leading who knows where. The only thing is that it's practically falling down and therefore freezing in the winter. So whatever I made for her I knew it needed to be warm. 

The pattern I finally settled on was The Age of Brass and Steam, which is a rather steam-punk name for a pretty simple, classic pattern. The barley colour of the yarn really reminds me of Shan as she loves neutral tones in her home decorating. The yarn is 100% wool so it will be super warm in the winter - it's actually a bit of a shame that I gave it to her during summer! Although she can't wear it just yet for fear of over heating, she seems to really like it, so if she's happy, I'm happy.

We did lots of celebrating this year but wanted to do something extra special to mark the big birthday so went away for a long weekend, husbands and Flo in tow to Camber Sands in East Sussex. We stayed in an amazing little holiday home called The Salty Dog which I HIGHLY recommend. It was lovely to spend some quality time together and get away from it all for a few days, but by far the best part was Camber Sands beach and dunes. Seriously, you can't get better than this.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Birthday Goodies

This year I reached the grand old age of 30 and subsequently got lots of amazing gifts. Here are just some of my favourites:

Roberts retro look DAB radio. The kitchen and garden have been alive with dancing and singing since it's arrival.

Lady Dinah's cat cafe 9 lives card. This entitles me to 9 free entries to London's first cat cafe. They have their own cats, you need to bring your own! I'm dying to go but sadly they're all booked up until October, so I'm hanging on the hope that I'll get a cancellation before then.

Fyberspates Scrumptious 4ply. Merino + Silk = Yum. I am not sure what to knit with this yet but when I do it will be squash-tastic.

TickTackToe yarn print cushion. This is pride of place on the sofa.

Bespoke necklace from my Birthday twin Shan. We share the same birthday and were born in the beds next to each other a few hours apart 30 years ago. The necklace has an 'L' and 'S' on it and feels very special. The photo doesn't do it justice.

Peace, Love, Knit Tee Shirt. Wearing it loud and proud.

The Mr. got me this AMAZING bespoke yarn bowl made by my favourite ceramics designer Annette Bugansky and Maya from Knit with Attitude. It's only one of a couple in existence so is a pretty special gift. The bowl is made up of two halves and is made to look like a big ball of yarn. You open it up and pop your yarn inside, thread the yarn through the hole in the top half and knit away without your yarn rolling off. I must confess with Flo running around I'm unlikely to chance putting this delicate ceramic on the floor at present, but there will be a time that I use it perhaps for a one skein project when she's at University? For now it is admired on a shelf, away from little sticky hands.

A friend, Katie, made me this lovely tea cosy, which has been in use a few times already. I need to drink my tea scolding hot, so this helps keep my brew at optimum burn temperature.

And finally my knit Guru, Wendy, knit me this cute back pack with cats inside and out. She uses her famous Peterson technique to do the intarsia. This technique ensures that the edges of the image are smooth and contoured instead of blocky. Cool huh? Tutorials are yet to come on her site but I'll let you know when they're up.

All in all it was a great birthday - what a lucky girl I am!

Sunday, 11 May 2014


It's been over a year since I last made something for Flo. Other people's kids, yes, but my own? Shamefully, no. So with the winter well and truly over I wanted something just for her and something that said 'Spring' and this was it. The pattern is called Maytime by Kim Hargreaves. I'd had it in my queue for ages and the lemon yarn had been staring at me from my stash for some time too. So the need for a spring knit, the long-saved pattern and zesty yarn converged together at the right time for this knit. 

What kept the pattern in my queue for so long was the mix of crochet and knitting in this garment. I don't do a lot of crochet. I always think of it being too structured and thick for clothing, which is the bulk of what I like to make. But I think the granny square hem and picot edging on this is just the right balance when blending the two skills. 

My mission was to finish it in time for May, almost purely for the name of it. I finished it last weekend and Flo wore it out after a quick blocking. Of course after that one day of wear Flo had managed somehow to get what looked like soot all down the front of it. I have no idea when or where she was climbing up chimneys. And something red on the sleeve. Was it a sweet? Lolly? Blood? I have no idea what this kid gets up to when I'm not looking. So at the end of the day it needed another wash, which isn't ideal as this yarn has both angora and cashmere in it. Really, what was I thinking? 

In summary, I'm more than pleased with how this little spring time cardi came out, but not hopeful for its ongoing survival.

PS: Flo has her fingers in her ears in the top photo because the Mr. was doing loud DIY at the time. Classic bank holiday sounds.

Sunday, 4 May 2014


I haven't knitted myself a proper jumper in a long time. Trawling Ravelry I found the Papillon pattern and fell in love. Truth be told I don't usually wear jumpers with such a high neckline as it can make my boobs look like a shelf, but there was something about this design that just made me not care. Also this was a paid for pattern, which cost me about £3.95. I'd never usually pay for patterns and usually just search for the free ones, but this was just too nice to click away from.

It was a top down construction which was satisfying and useful to try on as I went. As with some other knitted tops I've made lately I have had to make the waist shaping more pronounced to fit me properly and I think this helped with the 'boob shelf' issue. The central pattern wasn't too hard to master and although I may have slipped up a few times it wasn't too difficult to fix as I went.

Of course I have finished it at the wrong time of year, just as the weather begins to turn. But I did manage to wear it to the beach over Easter weekend and my lovely photographer friend James took these pictures for me. Poses are courtesy of moi, I wouldn't blame such things on him. The weather was perfect newly knitted jumper weather; sunny, chill in the air, a bit blowy and threatening showers.

This will now be packed away till more suitable weather in Autumn when I will be excited to wear it, but probably not to the beach again.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Easter Fun

Happy Easter everyone! I hope you all had nice relaxing weekends. Here's an overview of ours.

The little bunnies above were made in a few hours for my Nephews. A friend recently shared Frankie's Knitted Stuff with our knitting group and I immediately queued tons of the projects. They're all out of the box thinking, cute and ingenious things, so have a look. 
The Baby Bunnies took small amounts of DK yarn in the stash and I found them really fun to make.
The mini pom poms were made by a technique using a fork. Useful!

I made Hot Cross Buns for the first time and they were AWESOME. As with all bread type products they take a long time to make but are worth the effort. I've even frozen a batch so the Easter fun and go on and on.

I won a competition at work and got this luxury Easter egg from SAID in Soho. They're an Italian Chocolatier and every time I go into the shop I want to buy something but simply can't justify how much everything costs! So this was the ultimate treat. Hidden inside was a carefully wrapped little bottle of Grappa and every time I open the box the beautiful smell of bitter chocolate fills the room. I shall be eating this slowly over a long period of time. That is unless the Mr. finds it.

Finally, here's Flo stuffing as much easter egg into her face as possible. Egg-cellent.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Goodbye to Kiefer

It's been very hard to know what to write in this post. It's been in my drafts for some time now, with one or two things written and then deleted. But this week I managed to write my article for Knitting Magazine all about Kiefer and how he suddenly died last month and so I feel I can final write it here too.

We got Kiefer from a rescue home last year and he really was such a lovely little man. He quickly became part of our family, our daily routine and gave a constant heartbeat to our home. In total he only lived with us for five months, but I know that he had a better life with us than if he wasn't re-homed, which does help with the sadness of it all. He was completely surrounded by three peoples' love each day, which is more than even some people can say.

One morning Kiefer just didn't look right. He was acting strangely; walking round in circles, falling off of things, not eating and would just look at me and cry a sad meow. The vet suspected many things could have been the cause but that the most probable was a virus called FIP which effects kittens exactly at Kiefer's age, is deadly and has no cure. It was obviously a heart wrenching decision to have him put down, but to watch a beautiful young kitten go through a long drawn out death didn't seem to be an option.

And so our home is much more empty now. We miss him terribly and as I'm sure anyone that has lost a cat will know, they are such a fixture of the house you still think you can see them out the corner of your eye, sleeping on the sofa, tiptoeing under the bed and sitting looking out the window. And when you look they're not there.

We will re-home again in the future, but just need a little time.

Goodbye my little man.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Purl Soho, aka Purl About New York

As promised I'm back to report on my trip to snowy New York and more specifically my visit to Purl Soho.

The last time I visited New York, I think in 2006, Purl Soho it was in a smaller premises and I bought some Bly Sky Alpaca's Brushed Suri. I still have that particular yarn in my stash because I could never decide what to do with such fluffiness. I simply wanted to bring something home from an exciting New York yarn store as a souvenir. On this latest visit they are now in a much bigger shop which includes fabric and yarn in the same store, but despite having a lot of yarn squirrelled away at home already I still wanted to bring back a little something from my trip.

When I entered the shop it was a busy hub of activity, which is always a great sign, especially considering it was 3pm on a Thursday. Were all these people skiving off work too? Instantly the sales assistants greeted me with a friendly "hello" and left me to browse.

Yarn packs the walls all the way to the back of the shop where it is replaced with fabrics and haberdashery. On every surface there are examples of knitted garments you can make with the luscious yarns, most of them are made from the free patterns on the shops very own blog, the Purl Bee. It was lovely to be able to squash and feel everything as I wandered around as well as get the inspiration from  the knitted up items.

The customer service was excellent. As I pulled my tiny wheeled suitcase around behind me one of the sales assistants asked if I wanted to put it behind the till so that I could browse more easily. This instantly made my shopping much more enjoyable. Then I asked if someone could show me some yarns that I might not be able to get in the UK and a lovely red head lady took me around the whole shop showing me all the different yarns they carried and telling me a little about each. When I mentioned that I was thinking about knitting a hat they printed out one of their free online hat patterns for me immediately. The service was so good, friendly, knowledgeable and thoughtful. I wish all yarn shops were like that.

Kiefer couldn't resist getting in this photo

Eventually I settled on this skein of deep green Brooklyn Tweed Loft, with an accompanying hat pattern and a Purl Soho zip up, nylon, project bag. I had never seen or heard of the yarn in the UK before but sadly I must have been living under a rock as you can indeed buy this yarn in the UK. The purchase is still special to me though as it will always remind me of my quick stop over in New York and my lovely experience in Purl Soho.

Bye Bye NY. Till next time.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Fly and Knit

Not a bad view to knit with, aye?

I'm currently in New York on a work trip, lucky, lucky me! Only for 2 nights but it's still making me smile from ear to ear. The snowy view from the plane was breath taking but I also got to watch a couple of movies on the plane and some TV shows too, which all mades for great knitting time. My new project is making good progress because of it.

Before I left yesterday I started doing that thing where I couldn't decide if I'd packed enough yarn or not. I've been on planes before where I've run out of yarn on the journey home and been really annoyed with myself but I've packed 3 balls and haven't even the finished the first yet so I think I'll be ok.

This is a pattern called Papillon by Svetlana Volkova. I think it's the first time I've paid for a one off pattern on Ravelry but it was exactly what I wanted to knit, so I'm hoping it will look good on me once finished.

Although I won't have much spare knitting time while I'm here I am planning on popping into the nearest yarn store to our office, Purl Soho. So hopefully more to report on that when I get back as well as the return journey to knit some more.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Brainy Brainless

At Christmas I had an unwanted visitor: Shingles. This is the left over virus from childhood chicken pox that lies dormant in your system until you get run down, at which time it will climb up a nerve of it's choice in your body and attack! Mine chose a nerve on my head. Gross. Most of the time the Shingles virus will make you feel crappy and the rash itself will hurt. Thankfully I felt pretty normal and although it hurt to touch I wasn't in the habit of touching my head all the time and so the pain wasn't really an issue. 

The major down side was that, although I couldn't give people Shingles, I could give people chicken pox if they hadn't had it before and so Christmas was cancelled for me and my two lovely Nephews. It was pretty crushing as I sent the Mr and Flo off to my Mums to open presents and have Christmas dinner with the Nephews and the rest of my family, but I was determined not to let it get me down and so spent the quiet time at home to it's best advantage winding yarn and starting a new project. With a glass of fizz to accompany me of course. 

And here are the finished socks! The pattern is called Brainless which I took to mean - a pattern I could do easily without using my brain. However this was an entirely wrong assumption. The pattern kicks off with Judy's magic cast on, which required me to have a YouTube refresher. Then there was the cabling to contend with, the curious gusset, a new method of turning the heel, more cables and topping it all off was Jenny's surprisingly stretchy cast off which again I needed refreshing on!

The first sock didn't go as well as the second, as indeed I learned a lot doing that first sock. As a consequence there are inconsistencies in the cables, increases and borders between the two socks. But I don't really care. They still look cool.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

2013 Knitting Round Up

Well, hello 2014!
As we step into the New Year it's time to do my annual knitting project round up. So here's 2013 in projects:

The year began with the Milla Mia Charlotte cardigan for Flo
A Mellow cardigan for me
Two Pay It Forward projects of a scarf and some socks
Then a quick hat to warm me up
Followed by two versions of Picovoli, one for my sister in law and a cheeky one for myself
Some baby trousers
A baby cardigan for my nephew
Finally a finish to a long standing blanket project
The gift of a washcloth
A vintage cropped jumper
Speedy cowl knitted on a plane
Baby jacket
The Fieldwork cardigan
My final Pay It Forward of some quick Skipworth mitts
And a shoulder bag Christmas present for my Mum

Looking back I upped my number of projects in the previous 2 years from an average of 11 to 17 projects this year!
I also usually average 1 knitted top for myself per year. This year I managed 1 top and 2 cardigans all for me!
I'm still hitting my average of 1 blanket a year and at least 2 baby cardigans consistently.
The main difference in my knitting this year is that I have managed to knit a lot more for other people. This has a lot to do with the Pay It Forward projects I made, the kindness of my own damn heart and the usual baby making that happens so often round here.

All in all 2013 was a productive one. I'm setting no goals for 2014 except to keep on enjoying knitting and doing it for enjoyment above all else, otherwise, what's the point, right?

Come on then 2014, lets do this.