Monday, 9 June 2008

The Kindness of Strangers

It has been said before, and it will be said again, but knitbloggers are wonderful people. Kind,
generous to a fault, and really just the best.

I got home late on Friday night from another crappy week's work trapped in London. I have been working away week days for the last 4 months, and even though this is nothing to write home about in the big scheme of things I am fed up with working away, missing my home and working silly hours. So Friday evening I walked through the front door, feeling sorry for myself, dinner frozen in a bag from the convenience store (again. I miss real food) to find a parcel on the door mat. A parcel I wasn't expecting. A parcel from an address I didn't recognise. My interest was piqued!

I dropped everything - literally - my handbag, the groceries, the laundry basket with a week's worth of washing and detritus and opened the parcel up to this (apologies for crappiness of pictures - remember late Friday night...);

I wasn't quite sure why I had perv-worthy handspun and gifts, but I had a sneaking suspicion.

A couple of months ago Jeni over at Magnusmog invited people to sign up to the Pay it Forward pledge. In return for a small handmade something from Jeni I was required to pay it forward in a crafty way to 3 other people, who in turn pay it forward themselves. I thought it was a brilliant idea and signed up at once. Jeni and I traded details, likes, dislikes, the usual, and I got on with life knowing that one day a parcel would land on my door mat with a little hand made loveliness from someone who I only know through the magic of the blogsphere, all the while feeling a little guilty that no-one had signed the pledge with me (Jeni, with her evidently characteristic generosity said not to worry, find other ways to pay it forward - I have, and will continue to do so - but if any one would like to sign up...).

That day came on Friday.

There was chocolate for me to consume (Charbonnel and Walker no less). So far I have resisted, in part because the colour of the packaging is too charming (daft I know), and partly because I want to savour it, which means not inhaling a whole bar over the course of a weekend. There were 3 (yes THREE) skeins of hand spun, hand dyed Wensleydale yarn in beautifully complementing colours in my favourite colour palate of strong browns and reds and orange-y pinks (better pic over here). There was the piece of resistance too. A hand sew, hand felted stunning brooch. The photo only hints at how lovely a thing it is, and I have already installed it on my favourite jacket, and will be wearing it with pride, showing it off to everyone.

I have spent the entire weekend stroking and marvelling at the brooch and smushing the yarn to my face, figuring out exactly how to do it most justice. The surprise package from north of the border was a real tonic and lifted my spirits no end.

Jeni, I really don't know you could bare to part with such wonderful things. Please take it that I am totally thrilled with gifts, and blown away with your generosity. Thank you.

Friday, 30 May 2008


A little early morning eye candy for Friday - this is the summer installation in front of the National Theatre. In the evenings it is rammed with people sitting in the sun, reading their papers, drinking beer and pimms, but mornings are the quiet time.

Thursday, 29 May 2008


A little bit of eye candy to distract you first...

I know it isn't Friday, but who doesn't love leaping ducklings?

And members of the onion family are rarely wrong either.

There is some craftiness to share (a new jumper and new socks), but it is going to have to wait until I get photos for proper documentation.

But the big news really. The point for the near bursting excitement is I have also have a new craft to share. I spent my holiday funds (again) this week. The results of that rashness means that when I get home tomorrow this should be waiting for me to unpack, figure out, and then not move from for the entire weekend.


Friday, 11 April 2008


Towards Blackfriars
Originally uploaded by

I love the OXO tower. I spent a lot of time in my student union bar (surprise surprise) with a Newkey Brown in hand starring out at the tower, and now it forms part of my journey home, made extra pretty with the sun shining off Sea Containers House.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Compare and contrast

Compare and contrast
Originally uploaded by

Sunday it SNOWED.

Properly snowed. We got over 3 inches in 45 minutes. I was like a pig in pooh. Snow gets me as excited as Christmas, and I was all set to be snowed in for days.

Turns out however that 45 minutes of snow in a morning during spring don't mean a thing if the sun comes out, as by 5pm all the snow had gone again.

Easy come, easy go I guess!

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Eleven and a half

Note to self.

7th Feb, and 11.5 FOs in the last 38 days. You may want to slow down a bit. Or aim for larger Os to F.

In fairness, not all of the things that have been finished this year were started this year. A case in point are these hats. These were made in Norfolk over New Years when I was away with Rachel, Ferg & the wonder dog Ness. I made one for each of us humans to protect us from the ravages of the Siberian wind that then singularly failed to show up (I expressed my disapointment at the time to Rachel, who's neck of the woods this is).

The hats all started out using the basic hat recipe from LMKGs. All knit in Manos. I got 5 different colours that all sort of went with each other, and we all chose the brim style and colours we wanted, and then I just went for it.

From the top, clockwise; Ferg's, mine & Rachel's.

Of the 3 I am most pleased with Rachel's. She wanted the colours to be used totally randomly, and I had a lot of fun with that, carrying colours along rows, changing the colour order. The results worked out well. Mine is fine, but I had a regimented order, each colour did 1.3 rounds and the yarns were switched at the same point all the way though the hat. I can see the change and it annoys my that it wasn't smoother. I am quite pleased with the goofiness of Ferg's hat. He loved the strong colours, and really wanted a deep brim to keep his ears warm when he is out surveying on boats in the middle of the Irish or North Seas, my only beef with it was that I don't like the way the ribbing shows the colour change, and I think there is a better way of doing it. It was a fun project and a good way to start the new knitting year.

I seem to be living in the land of pregnant people at the moment. Thinking about it logically as a 34 year old woman with lots of married friends I can hardly be surprised about this. This has lead to the next 4 FOs of the year which are a little group of 4 bibs. These are another idea from Mason Dixon Knitting.

They are all for the bump of my mate Sarah. She is due to give birth a week today. For the purposes of these bibs there are 2 things you need to know about Sarah; 1) she is married to a lovely cricket playing, lager drinking, rugby watching Australian called Shane, and 2) she is mad for lilac. Mad for it. Every day of her life she has something lilac on, even if it isn't apparent to the rest of the world, be it socks, hair bobble, whatever. She has already made it clear to Shane that even if she has a boy she will be dressing him in lilac. I can't help it but I have pandered to the madness and knit her 3 little bibs in lilac and 1 bib for Shane in green and gold, or at least what passed for green and gold in my cotton collection.

All the yarn is peaches and creme. What I love about the yarn is that not only is it machine washable, but you can tumble it too. What I love about these bibs are the buttons and the neckbands. I wanted each of the bibs to have its own little identity, so I made all the neckbands different. The buttons all came from my Auntie Vera's button box which I inherited a couple of weeks ago. I somehow think that my 92 year old aunt would have approved of hand made bibs and saved buttons as a baby gift.

The final FO is a pair of tiger feet. This is the 3rd pair of slippers I have made from the Rowan Felted Collection but the first I have kept for myself, the other 2 pairs being gifted to Jenn for Christmas and Fiona for her birthday. I love this pattern. It is so quick but really satisfying to make.

Knitted in Big Wool Ginger Snap and Camouflage. I had enough for a pair in each colour way but decided to mix them, which means that when these die, and given the fact they pretty much haven't left my feet in a week now they will die, I have enough to make another pair.
Yay for cosy toes!

Now the astute amongst you will be saying "3 hats, 4 bibs and a pair of slippers do not 11.5 FOs make" or words to that effect. And you are right. Even my maths isn't that poor.

So where the other 3.5? Well, they are still waiting to be phtographed. The 3 are 3 kitchen cloths for the van. I have 1 more ballband to knit before the 'set' is complete and will reveal when it is done - probably this weekend.

The .5 is, depending on how you look at these things, either a finished sock which is waiting for me to get on with its mate, also unphotographed, but more because it is a plain stockinette sock in a frankly lurid makes-your-eyes-hurt-but-somehow-attractive yellowish yarn than because it is only half a thing, or my Scrumptious Calpotis which I am exactly half way through, and I am hoping that by thinking of it as half an FO it will encourage me to F the rest of the O. Hoping. By the way I offer a round of applause to anyone who actually followed that last sentance. For the rest of you a recap; 2 half finished objects trying to earn the .5 FO status, first is a nasty yellow sock and the second a half finished clapotis. I hope that helped.

It feels like a lot to have finished in 6 weeks.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Round-up part 1

And I don't mean weed control.

It is time for a bit of a round up of the last 3, nay 4 weeks. It will be in installments, as rather than overpower this post with photos this will be text only posting. If you have the time and inclination to go and look I'll be posting photos on Flickr later on.

Last time I wrote anything of substance I may have left you with the impression that I was looking forward to going to Germany for the weekend with my friend Andy. It was an accurate impression, possibly underplayed for the audiences (there is was LOT more internal squeeing than you can imagine. My parents often tried to give me away free with a bar of soap around the holidays because I became THAT unbearable). Nuernberg was fantastic. The hotel was just adorable, and very central to all the bits in the old town that we wanted to go to. Getting to and from the airport in Munich couldn't have been easier.

Nuernberg really knows how to throw a Christmas Market party! They market themselves as the Christmas Town, and they are pretty much right to (from a shopping and getting you into the secular spirit point of view, all other towns with claims to being the birthplace of Christmas aside...). I had forgotten how much I love German Christmas markets. The smells, the sounds, the sights, but mostly the smells. And the sounds. Oh, and the sights...

We arrived late afternoon on the Friday, and once we had dumped our stuff at the hotel we hit the main square in front of the cathedral where the bulk of the Christmas Market is. Andy, being roughly the width of a twig, was instantly freezing, so I felt it only fair that I kept him company with a steaming mug of Gluewein. If you ever got to any kind of holiday market, and you think there is a chance they won't be selling any mulled wine, take a hip flask. It is the utter way forward. When we lived in Germany I was a bit young to really appreciate how fabulous Gluewein is. I am now a convert.

Saturday we roamed the town itself. There is a Breuniger in Nuernberg. This is possibly only exciting to someone who was a teenager in Boeblingen in the 80's. As I was we had to go. Imagine my disappointment when it was just a clothes store. It is like going to Harrods and the food hall being absent. Or going to Liberty's and have them just selling scarves. Very odd. We also found the only vegan restaurant in town and had lunch there. Whilst it was run by some very earnest hippies, they were earnest hippies who made good food, and had a great deli.

Andy and I had made the decision on Friday that we were only window shopping to make sure that we had seen all that there was to see, so Saturday night we headed back down to the market with Euros in our pockets and empty shopping bags in hand. We have a history of giving Christmas tree ornaments in our family, and it is something that I have extended to my closest friends for the last 10 years. I found some lovely traditional wooden ornaments for my friends, which were just perfect to give, but I also got some fabulous painted tin ornaments for the family. Tin ornaments are such a traditional part of Christmas in Germany, often times they come in the guise of a little shop front or other tableau, and can either be hung from the tree, or against a plain wall, so that you can really see the detail. We have some from when we lived there, so it was good to be able to remind my Mum & Sarah of the good times we had in Germany, especially this Christmas. I also treated myself to a German Smoker, like the big soldier or prince nutcrackers that you see, another really traditional German decoration.

On a knitterly note I did manage to find 2 yarn shops in the town though. The first just sold Lana Grossa, so I needed to get some. I bought some New Cotton in a teal-y colour, and I bought some Merino Big in orange and variegated browns, blues and oranges. The latter for me to make mitts and a hat out of (and if there is enough left over then a neck warmer too). I am obsessed with hats and gloves at the moment. The New Cotton was for my sis. She has eczema and can't tolerate wool, and the yarn I had bought to make her hat and mitt set with wasn't working out on the mitt front. The bad mitts had formed part of my packing, so I frogged them as soon as we got back to the hotel, and cast on with the NC (which, as luck would have it needed the same 4.5mm needles as I had with me). I finished sewing the ends of the 2nd mitt on the plane on way home. The 2nd shop was more of a generalist shop, but they had some Regia Design Line Kaffe Fassett, so I snagged a couple of balls to turn into socks at some stage this year.

Nuernberg got a big 2 thumbs up from both Andy & me. It has set a high bar on the Christmas Market front for future trips, and I think we will be going back, as really, who can resist the sights, the sounds, the smells...