Monday, March 30, 2015

Allotmenting - End of March

It's time for another allotment update. It's the end of March, and the season is slowly creaking into gear. I few days ago I spent a bit of time on the plot - not long, because it's still cold and it was a windy and rainy kind of day - and spread a bit more compost (all from our chickens and home composting this year!!) and planted a few more seeds.

 I also had a look for any signs of life. 

At first glance it still looks very gloomy and wintery, but if you look closer you can find all the tell-tale signs that nature is waking up...

Thursday, March 26, 2015

That muddy-brown raglan: An 'Ugly Duckling' kind of a tale...

I've got another FO to show you! It's the Easy Raglan V-Neck by Stefanie Japel, knitted in my not-so-loved brown GGH Savanna.

I didn't have particularly high hopes for this project, mainly because I didn't love the yarn. It seemed drab and, with its mottled brown colour, kind of ... messy-looking? Since it is a soft yarn, though, I thought that perhaps with the adorable Stefanie Japel v-neck pattern it might make a good home / allotment jumper that would keep me warm and cozy, even if it was never going to look very stylish. 

Half-way through I started to panic that I wouldn't have enough yarn, so I decided to add some orange half-sleeves to make sure I didn't run out. To create a more coherent overall look I added the stripes at the bottom of the body and reversed them at the bottom of the sleeves. I initially just added a thin crochet border to the v-neck edge, but because my gauge had been slightly off the neck came out a bit large and the thin orange band didn't look right so I ripped it out and added a ribbed edge.

You know, I'm actually really really pleased with how this jumper has turned out:

In fact, I think I kind of love it!

It fits so well, and it's so very comfy and you know what - I think, if you squint a bit, it's downright stylish! Who knew the drab brown GGH Savanna had such untapped potential!

Since I said I would, and also because it's so snuggly and warm and it was a cold day, I did wear it to the allotment last weekend, and I have also been wearing it quite a bit at home because it keeps me warm when I'm working in my office, but I'm planning to wear this jumper A LOT, and I'm so happy with how it's turned out, I don't think I'll have any qualms about wearing it 'in public'. 

My photographer, as has been so often the case recently, is boy#1 (aka The Bean). He's actually started to direct me on where he wants me to stand and how he wants me to pose and look. Clearly he is taking his new job very seriously! ;)

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

WIP Wednesday - general crafting update

Life got busy again and I've not been able to update. It's funny how that works, because I still manage to knit, but somehow when it gets that busy I just don't feel like dragging the camera out to photograph anything that I'm working on. Knitting, and crochet, and weaving... well, that happens in the little spaces in-between the busy periods, but somehow photography and blog writing requires more brain space and more dedicated time, and hence get pushed to the side.

In any case, I am back (for now) and since I'm now in the much-needed and awaited teaching-free period around Easter updating should become much more regular again.

I haven't really done a proper update for ages, so I've spent some time in the past few days trying to find the right light to photograph what I've been up to.

First of all, there is the peg-loom rug:

After the initial mad dash I slowed down quite a bit, but the project is now truly approaching completion. I anticipate another two or three lots to thread on, and then I'll call it finished. Tidying up, of course, may take a while longer, because there are loose ends to weave in, little bits of fabric and thread sticking up, etc., and I've also not quite decided if I want tassels or if a clean edge might be preferable, in which case I need to thread the warp through to hide it.

Doesn't it look fabulous, though? It's HUGE!

Next on the list - the Weekender blanket.

This is progressing quite nicely. I only work on it when I'm sitting down in the living room because adding pieces as you go along makes this a pretty non-portable project, not only because of the bulkiness of the blanket as it grows, but also because of all those balls of yarn.

Talking about balls of yarn... we have a problem:

There have been complaints (from D), and the boys have been playing football with the yarn, which led to more complaints (from me).

I also have a confession to make... That's not all stash yarn...  I've been buying yarn. Yes, I hang my head in shame, but it was unavoidable (or so I tell myself...).

I initially wanted to make the  blanket completely from stash, but quickly realised that unlike with the granny square blanket, where I was able to mix yarns from sock-weight to aran quite freely, with hexies you can't really do that. This means that I don't have enough yarn with the same or similar weight to complete an entire blanket. I am still using bits of stash, and I intend to use up as much of the mountain of cheap acrylic that I've acquired as I can, but I tell myself that since it will be a big family blanket and the acrylic was very very cheap it wasn't too bad a purchase, even if I broke my own rules about stash enhancement...  

It's funny about the acrylic, though. I really used to loath the stuff, and even now I don't think I'd want to knit any garment from it, but for blankets it's great, because it wears and washes well and it's not scratchy or tickly. Plus, it's so cheap. I bought most of those huge 200g balls for £1,20 each! 

Anyway, enough self-justification, moving on to the next project - the Acer cardi. 

This is very slow-going. I really think I'm going to love the finished cardi, and I love how the yarn knits up, but I don't love knitting with it. It's splitty and it's black, making it almost impossible to knit in the evening or when I can't give it my full attention. In our household that means almost never! Then my old (and cheap) cable needle broke and I had to go out to get a new one. 

I splashed out a  bit on that one, but they didn't have the cable length I wanted in any of the cheaper versions so I ended up with an interchangeable cable needle. Oh well, at least I can add to it whenever I need another cable needle and it does look quite pretty!

Last but not least, I've started a little Amigurumi pattern. Do any of you know the Studio Ghibli film My Neighbour Totoro? It's a Japanese anime film and the boys love it (and so do I), and this little fellow is Totoro, who is a kind of forest spirit. I think boy#2 and boy #3 in particular will like this one. :) 

I am truly crocheting this one from stash - the blue/grey is a bunch of Rowan All-Seasons Cotton that i still had lying around from a project years ago, and I have some off-white recycled yarn that I am using as the accent colour. 

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Crocheting again...

I've joined yet another CAL.

Yes, yes, you've heard that correctly. I've just about managed to raise my head back above water and I've gone and joined another CAL. 

You can never have too many projects on the go, you know? 

OK, just kidding, but really, this one was too tempting.

It's another crochet blanket CAL, but it won't be nearly as stressful as the Scheepjes CAL because there won't be weekly pattern pieces. Instead you work on this one in your own good time, and once a week you post an update on Instagram or the Ravelry page for the CAL to show your progress. As I've been looking for another project that will allow me to use my odds and ends of yarn this one seems perfect.

There is no particular pattern that needs to be used, but as I quite like the look of it I've decided to go with the pattern that is suggested - the Weekender blanket. I really like the small hexagons, which make this a kind of crochet/quilting cross-over. 

(look, little hexies!)

I suspect that I'll be doing this for some time to come, because I'm not dedicating a lot of time to it. Also, I'm joining it as I go along, meaning that it very soon will become too bulky to be carried around. That's OK, though, I'm in no hurry. This family isn't exactly short of crochet blankets. 

Monday, March 16, 2015


I need to tell you about another thing I've  been up to during my prolonged silence... I've been peg-looming! 

You might remember that for Christmas D gave me a beautiful peg loom that he'd made himself. Although I wanted to start a rug there and then I didn't want to rush into this project without considering:

a) the size of the rug
b) the right materials (the string to use, the fabrics)
c) that I had enough fabric
d) where to work on this presumably quite lengthy and also quite bulky project
e) a good time to start the project so it wouldn't languish in the corner of the room, half-finished because of other more pressing commitments

I did fairly well with most of these points. I waited until I had enough waste fabric (the moment came when our childminder arrived with 2 bin bags full of old bed linen that she had sorted out and offered to me for use in the rug), I sourced and bought enough strong string, I considered the size of the rug that I wanted, I found that the dining room table was ideal for the task, and that when not in use the project could be rolled up and tucked away quite nicely against the wall of the dining room. The only thing I wasn't so great on was timing. 

Of course this is not usually my strong point, so this is not too surprising. 

That said, this rug-weaving is a lot quicker than I anticipated. 

It's also quite messy. The dining room isn't looking its best... 

The boys thought it was hilarious and they played 'cave' under all those sheets all day (believe it or not, there is a boy under there...). Ocasionally one of them crawled out and helped me rip strips of fabric. I think they quite enjoyed the fact that they were allowed to rip fabric to pieces...

Bus as I said, it's fairly quick as a project. This picture was taken a couple of hours after I started:

I at least waited until a relatively free weekend about three weeks ago to start this. It's not finished yet, but I suspect that if I hadn't been quite so busy these past few weeks it would be finished by now. It's taken an insane amount of fabric, but I'd like the rug to be nice and thick (this has the added bonus of really squishing that fabric together so you can't really identify all those ugly 1980s sheets anymore!).

I anticipate another two or three hours of work on it before it's done. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

A Hint of Spring...

Spring is finally happening! 

We spent some time at the allotment today, mainly to dig in some compost to get the beds ready, but I also did some planting - broad beans, some peas and some parsnip went in the ground. I can't believe it's that time already! 

Right now the allotment is still looking barren, but it won't be long until those beds are filled with vegetables once more. 

When we got home I did some serious planning...

The boys were helping me dig in the compost plant seeds, but they weren't too fussed about the planning and the sorting of seed packets. Boy #1 got his PJs on, wrapped up in a blanket and read his book. :)  

I, however, was completely absorbed in allotment planning for a good couple of hours this afternoon. Seed packets were sorted according to the time the seeds need to go in the ground, potatoes were set out for chitting, lists were drawn up...

Which reminds me, did I show you that second seed packet delivery I got? I'm pretty sure I forgot, but when I opened the box again today it reminded me and since it was such a nice surprise I think it deserves to be shown. I ordered quite a few packets of vegetable and flower seeds, but this is what arrived: 

These were the seed packets that I ordered. See those little labels? They peel off so you can stick them on the little wooden markers you can just see at the top:


And this is what I got as a freebie with the delivery:

Isn't that lovely?

Spring can arrive now - I'm ready! :)

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

I'm back! With Owls!

I can't even remember when I've last posted a knitting update, but I have high hopes that I'm back now. I have another couple of busy weeks until the Easter break, but even so I'm a bit more in control of the workload so hopefully it won't get the better of me again the same way that it did these past few weeks. 

So things are looking up - I'm utterly exhausted, and also in the midst of one of those persistent won't-go-away types of cold (I'm pretty sure the exhaustion and the cold are linked...), but I have room again to occasionally, in the evening, think of things that are not work! 

Surprisingly, even to me, I still have quite a few things to show. You see, I've been doing quite a bit of work-related film and television viewing in the evening, and while that isn't compatible with constructing and writing blog posts, and while I've had very little time to model and photograph knitwear during the day when the light is better for taking pictures, this kind of activity is quite compatible with a bit of not-too-complicated knitting.

This means that I have a few FOs and WIPs to talk about. I've not photographed all of them yet, so I'll drag this out and post it a bit at a time.

Anyway, without further ado, I present...


Showing off the shaping at the back:

Front and shaping at the side:

And another shot of the back section...

And the front again... (no idea what I'm doing with my left hand on this picture...)

Photographs courtesy of boy #1, also known to longtime blog-followers as The Bean. 
He's not really The Bean anymore these days - he's rather outgrown that and doesn't much look like a bean anymore. ;)

He's turning into quite a good little photographer and when I asked him to take a few quick pictures of me wearing Owls before school he happily agreed, even though he predicably didn't bother with socks or shoes before following me outside and got freezing feet as a result of it!   

Afterwards, before heading off to work myself, I took a couple more shots of the owls in the mirror:

I am so happy with the way this jumper has turned out. I don't think I'll even bother with the buttons for the eyes of the owls, though if I change my mind I might add them at a later date. For now I'm calling it finished and I'm so so thrilled with it.

Despite my concerns about the thickness (or thinness) of the yarn I like the density and definition of the knitted fabric and the way the structure of the owl pattern looks, and it fits so well - comfortable but snug around the waist and the arms, but not too tight either. Unlike others I've not even had a problem with the shaping at the small of the back. It doesn't bulge but fits snugly, and I love the way the shaping adds interest to the back section.

The only quibble I have is that it's a teeny tiny bit tight under the arms. It doesn't show, but it pinches a bit, and if I were to knit it again I'd probably add a few stitches there to loosen it up a bit. 

That said, I've already worn this to work twice now and I love the way it looks with a skirt - casual, but dressed up enough for work, what more can you ask? 

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Sunday, March 08, 2015


Life continues to be busy around here. The worst of it is over, but I'll have to see how things will go this week. I've been missing my regular posts, though, so I'll leave you with some pictures I took today when we briefly headed out today to the local bird sanctuary. I don't really have an ideal lens for wildlife photography, and it was raining and we didn't stay long, but I'm still happy just to handle the camera again and take a few snaps!