Friday, 29 June 2007


As I've been catching up on my blog-reading this week, I've noticed that quite a few people have been a philosophical mood - discussing stash and blogging. Queen of the Froggers wrote a particularly nice piece about her views on blogging. Inevitably, I started thinking about this too.

Blogging is a fairly new activity for me - my first post 'published' in December last year. I have never been much of a diary writer, but the idea of having a blog always appealed. Why this should be, I've no idea. The idea of spouting my views and putting them into a public sphere for anyone to read filled me with unease. Now, I am no stranger to the soap box or my high horse, and I trained to be a journalist, so why would I be so nervous of sharing my thoughts in this way?

There were several reasons for this:

1. It seems to me that for many people chatting online there are not the same "courtesy controls" as in day-to-day, face-to-face life. There are no reins on some of the sheer spite that people feel they have the right to vent. Despite being a stroppy mare recently, I don't really like rows. Did I want to open myself up to such behaviour?

2. Why would anyone want to read my views on anything? I didn't actually have anything to talk about. For example, I didn't want to have a blog commenting on the news - there are many, many other people doing this and doing this far more eloquently than I could. While I find my life interesting and exciting, I'm not a fan of the "Christmas Letter" approach that people inflict on families and I would be taking wider with the internet.

So what changed?

I started knitting and while my Mam has taken up knitting, and my friends are impressed by the finished products, there's no-one I can talk to really enthusiastically about my hobby. Actually, some people get a strange look in their eyes if they think I'm waxing too lyrically about sock yarn. :-) Understandably - now I get a taste of how it feels to be an IT geek like the BF.

I love the fact that I can bimble on, on my blog, about what I'm making - its progress and the yarns I'm using. I'm not an expert on knitting, by any stretch of the imagination, but I'm learning and I'm really enjoying the learning.

When I first started the blog, I made myself some rules. I was only going to talk about knitting, yarn, plans for projects and shopping for yarn. My personal life was to remain out of it. However, that hasn't been possible. It's inevitable that personality and life creeps into the posts - it's probably more interesting that it does. I personally prefer blogs that are a mixture of knitting and life because I'm interested in people and their lives. (And those of certain monkeys too).

Recently, the stress of the rubbish that has been going on with moving house has made me post more personal posts too. It's been really helpful for me. I've been so angry and depressed by it all that blogging about the situation has made me feel like I've been letting off steam to a lot of people.

So, there are no more rules - I'll post what I feel like posting. Here, have a chocolate!

"Archie" and "Snug"

The crocheted blanket was making good progress until Wednesday night, a few more stripes - adding a dash of navy to ensure that it will be an actual blanket rather than a strip. I was using a plastic hook which was perhaps tempting fate, and as a newbie crocheter I am probably very heavy handed with it. So, perhaps it wasn't so surprising that the hook snapped.

As a result of this I was forced to sew up "Archie" and "Snug" last night. Here's the jacket ("Archie"). I think it looks very effective in "Opal - Lollipop" and will be fine whether Bump is a boy or a girl. The collar seems crooked in the photograph but it actually isn't, I promise. :-) I will wait until Bump is born before I buy some press-studs for it - I'm hoping I'll be able to get the type that have ceramic pictures on the fronts.

The jacket took only one ball of sock yarn - the way I knit, anyway.

Of course "Archie" wouldn't be complete without "Snug" and here is the finished hat in "DB Cashmerino DK" and the "Opal - Lollipop". I decided to knit the trim in the lovely blue because it will be fine whether Bump is a boy or a girl. "Snug" used virtually a whole ball of "DB Cashmerino" as I knitted the trim, deliberately, on smaller needles to give it a really tight, snug feel. There is over 90% of the "Lollipop" left over - that's a lot of booties.

My brother reckons that he and his wife need to do some work on their timing. Bump will be their second Christmas baby.

Tuesday, 26 June 2007

Falling off the Stashalong

I was packing up my yarn today. Here's a satisfying picture (and there are a couple of layers there):

This isn't actually all of the yarn. There's another box and a bag of sock yarn and odds and ends to be used up in charity knitting. However, the BF came in while I was doing this (and the yarn for his secret jumper is under that lot). He was actually quite shocked by it and told me I need to knit faster...


He asked me if I wouldn't mind making a couple of outfits for his nephew's birthday and Christmas present. He would buy the yarn. So he has picked out a star and striped jumper ("Rowan Babies") as part of Thomas's "Christmas Box" and these two from the "Dale of Norway - Soft Treasures for Little Ones". The vest has to be done in time for his birthday in August.

I ordered the yarn from "Dragon Yarns" tonight. The "Ull" yarn is much cheaper than an equivalent in "Rowan 4ply Soft", and I'm looking forward to making these two outfits. They are knitted in the round, until you reach the armholes, when you start shaping the front and back seperately. That's very usual in traditional Norwegian knitting isn't it?


Contracts were exchanged today. Yesterday we agreed to the 6th July, reluctantly - the vendors kept phoning me to mither me about contacting our buyers and solicitors. Their solicitors then contacted our guys to tell them we had agreed to the 6th when they rang us on Sunday afternoon to see what we had decided.

No, we hadn't.

I'm relieved that we have exchanged and am happy to get the house we wanted. The BF is still annoyed about it all. He also pissed off our solicitor and his assistant by bawling them out yesterday. While I stand by the BF's stance, I do think there are better ways of tackling it - I had a lot of bridge building to do today.

A very bitter taste has been left in the mouth. I don't much care whether we have been misled by estate agents, solicitors or vendors but I'm pretty confident about who I would put my money on.

Thanks to everyone who has sent really supportive comments over this. Thanks to everyone who has read my whinging updates.

Sunday, 24 June 2007


On Friday, we were supposed to exchange, with completion on the 29th. Exchange had originally been set for Tuesday but this was moved to Friday. The BF was suspicious. I foolishly thought the best of everyone involved.

Amazingly, the vendors' solicitor was not available until after 4pm.

Then, it emerged that the vendors' vendor wanted to complete on July 6th, and the buyer's solicitor disappeared for the day. Does anybody actually work on a Friday?

Surprise, surprise - we were annoyed, again. We decided to write a note to the vendor, explaining our viewpoint and leaving our phone number. Twenty minutes after we delivered it, they called - relieved that we had got in touch and cursing their estate agent. We had a pleasant chat - both sides telling their situation.

Basically, they could move on the 29th but it's inconvenient, and we could move on the 6th but it's inconvenient for us. Their story had a few details that just didn't tally with what we know - based on what they've said on their website and what our estate agent and solicitors were able to find out. We will see what happens tomorrow.

So, here's a picture of some sunflowers I bought to cheer myself up.

I finished knitting "Archie" though haven't sewn it up. This is the second time I've made this - the last time being over a year ago for the BF's nephew. For me, the interesting thing about making "Archie" again is that it shows me how much my knitting has improved - neater and faster.

Last time around, it took me nearly two weeks. This time, I knitted it all up in four evenings.

On Thursday night, I started knitting "Snug" (which is the hat). I'm making the trim in this gorgeous blue "DB Cashmerino". However, I had to stop knitting as my thumb and finger started to really hurt. So, I resumed...

crochet! (Yes, I could have sewn up "Archie" but we know how I feel about sewing). I'm making another baby blanket for Bump, and using up some yarn.

This is a very random blanket - made in double crochet and treble crochet in random 'clumps' of pattern. The yellow yarn is "DB Cashmerino" while the purple, green and white stripes are "DB Cotton DK". The varying texture is working really well.

Sunday, 17 June 2007

Crochet - A Dark Art

Actually, it's not. For months I've been trying to crochet and been getting nowhere with it. I decided to give this dark art another bash yesterday. What triggered this was knitting group the other night - Mad Knitters' Tea Party - when one of the ladies who comes to the group gave three of us a master class in crochet. The main thing was that she showed me a way of holding the hook and yarn that 'clicked' for me.

Here are the results...

This is a 'twirly' scarf for my niece. I did a row of double-crochet in shocking pink, then a row in lilac of half-treble, and finally the triple-treble. However, it looked like I was running out of lilac yarn, so the middle third is back in the shocking pink. It doesn't look much but I am incredibly pleased with it.

This morning, I still had the crochet bug... so I improvised a flower badge to go with the scarf. I can't believe how quick crochet is to create something. Ok, so I was only making small things but the speed is so surprising.

Knitting remains my first love, but I was still on the instant gratification kick, though not for socks, and I started making "Archie" ("Rowan Babies") in "Opal - Lollipop" for Bump. The back is already finished. Instead of buttons (as I don't know whether Bump is a boy or girl), I'm going to use press-studs.

PS On Friday, after a few mini-panics because the vendors' solicitors were not replying to faxes, it was finally agreed that we would exchange on Tuesday or Wednesday... we think. I am such a pessimist, but living in such a state means never being disappointed. You're either proved right or pleasantly surprised!


Saturday, 16 June 2007

Blanket for Bump

I finished the "Moon and Stars" blanket for Bump last night. It's from Zoe Heller's "Nursery Knits" and is a fantastically easy pattern to follow. Being unable to follow instructions, I veered from the pattern requirements of eight balls of "Rowan Handknit Cotton" for the main colour, two balls for the border and one of "Rowan Chenille" for the stars.

I also thought the colours were rather cold, so I used "DB Cashmerino DK" in navy and gold, and used far less - five balls in navy and one-and-a-half in gold. (I haven't checked the length of "Rowan Handknit Cotton" in comparison with my choice, but five versus eight seems a significant difference).

I've also been working on some socks - "Fortissima -Sombrero" - but it's been heavy going. However, I think I had just 'gone off' the yarn, because I'm actually really pleased with the way the sock is takin place.

That doesn't mean I'll get it finished today. :-) I'm going to play with some crochet, I think.

Wednesday, 13 June 2007

Stressed, moi?

I hate moving house. If I ever manage to move house this time, I'm never moving sodding house again... at least not if involves dealing with people.

In case you haven't been keeping up, we've been in the process of selling and buying since the end of April - offers made and accepted; and a moving date agreed with the sellers of the house we want to move to. End of June.

On Thursday last week, I rang around all parties to check that this was still on. (Why I pay my solicitor I don't know). Everything was fine. Yesterday, the seller's estate agent rang to say that there had been a change of plan - was it alright to move at the end of July? No, it bloody wasn't. Our buyers are champing at the bit to move in this week, so there was every chance that, with a further delay, they would drop out on us and nobody would be moving.

Additional annoyance was the fact that the agent let slip that this discussion was held last week. When were they planning to let us know?

The BF was full of vengeance last night and spent the evening plotting. As part of this he Googled our sellers. You never know what you might find out. We discovered their blog, with the address of the new house they are moving to. (Why would anyone post so much information? "Hello, here's where we live and here's all the stuff that will go into our house when we move in." It's like an example from the campaign that advises people not to advertise how to break into their homes). On it, dated 3rd June, was also their intention to move in July. I say again: "When the hell were they planning to tell us?"

So, this morning we went to see our solicitor. Before we went I rang the agent. Had she managed to speak to the seller? No. Had she tried ringing her mobile phone? No.

There was much to-ing and fro-ing between the solicitors and, to shorten an already long story, we left the matter with our solicitor. We were offered middle of July while we were in his office.

Yes, we are playing hard ball. While moving dates change and "these things happen" when you move house, I don't see why we should put up with people not having the decency to get in touch to discuss matters - especially when we have been working to their deadlines in the first place.

By mid afternoon, there was another letter from the seller's solicitors. It had all been a misunderstanding - the fault of the estate agent - and there had never been any deviation from the end of June as our moving date. Yeah, right.

Nothing is yet set in stone so we're still waiting. The last 24 hours have been rubbish but the situation appears to have improved. We will see.

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Summer Knitty

Summer "Knitty" is on-line ( and there is a veritable feast of socks. Among this quarter's items are this/these(?)...


They're inspired by Victorian prudery about dreadful young ladies wearing drawers to go riding in - so they could get their legs over the horse. All the underskirts under their gowns only left the option of riding side-saddle.

Hurrah for drawers!

PS The sellers of the house we want to buy are now playing silly buggers. Having spent the last six weeks working to a completion date of the end of June, they've now decided they want to complete at the end of July. On top of this, their estate agent let slip that this was decided last week, so when were they going to tell us?

I'm seriously pissed off.

Monday, 11 June 2007

Do you want the moon to play with?

That's the one line of a song, that my Nana used to sing to me, that I can remember. It seems very appropriate when you consider what I making for Bump. This may be hard to believe, but it's something of an improvement on "Fireman Sam" which has been on permanent loop in my head since yesterday morning - in a Scottish accent. Don't ask.

(I have nothing against Scottish accents. I don't really have much against "Fireman Sam", even if Naughty Norman did get an ASBO. This weekend has increased my knowledge of children's TV to levels it really didn't need to reach).

Here is the lovely "DB Cashmerino" and the start of the blanket in moss stitch. The wool is so soft that even the moss stitch texture feels squishy and flexible. (I love moss stitch).

A good star - that followed the pattern as it should.

The back of the star to show off my Intarsia. This is my first real successful attempt at Intarsia. I remember to twist the threads this time.

A wonky star - adding my own personal touch to the pattern.

PS The "Revel" Scale:

Chocolate - Best, obviously
Toffee - Not as good as Chocolate, but Very Good
The Malteser One -Good
Peanut - Pretty Good
Orange - Really Not Very Good At All
Coffee - Bleurgh! Bleurgh! Bleurgh!

This was all scientifically worked out the other day.

PPS Buyer wants to move THIS WEEK! We had agreed on the end of the month because our sellers can't go 'til then. Buyer texted on Saturday to see if they could pop around for measurements. Sure no problem. Then between Saturday night and Monday morning they have a huge barney with his Mum and Dad and now want to move this week!

It ain't happening... though we would love to because we want to move to our new house. I feel for our buyers - first timers living with the in-laws. It's bound to get tense.

Friday, 8 June 2007


I've just returned from a conference in York. During the day I've managed to squeeze in several knitting related adventures.

Taking my trusty sock yarn ("Fortissima - Sombrero") with me on the train, I managed to add a few more rounds to the dismal two I managed before the prawns struck me two weeks ago. When the train reached Huddersfield, a lady got on and after she sat down, I heard the unmistakable 'tink' of knitting needles dropping out of a bag onto the table. At first I thought she was making A Gryffindor scarf - the yarns were claret and gold. However, she was actually adapting the Alan Dart elephant pattern from "Simply Knitting".

We chatted about knitting and yarns until the train reached York.

This afternoon, I strolled off to 'The Shambles' in search of "Sheepish" and spent some time browsing through their stock. There is some lovely stuff in there. However, although I saw some beautiful "Regia" sock yarn which was very tempting, I didn't buy anything.

I did pick up a copy of "Knit Today" to read in the Museum Gardens (accompanied by a chocolate icecream). It came with a small pamphlet of baby patterns. I am taken with the chunky cardigan and the T-shirt and combats combo. There is also a beautiful "Rowan - Kidsilk Haze" cardigan. However, other than that... I'd give this edition a Peanut on the "Revel" scale of magazine content.

It was actually the first time I had picked up a copy and I'm not certain I will buy another.

However, yesterday I bought a copy of "Knitting" which I was impressed with. I like the reviews and I was really impressed with the clarity of the techniques section. There were also several patterns I liked - especially the plain men's (ok, unisex) jumper. On the "Revel" scale, this is definitely a Toffee.

Magazine buying - like everything - is very much determined by personal taste. I can take a passionate dislike to an article if I don't like its tone and style. "Knit Today" felt quite staid, even if there were some funky designs - such as the mock rib jumper. "Knitting" feels more professional and isn't patronising.

PS Our "Borders" knitting group now have a name. We decided on "The Mad Knitters' Tea Party" - inspired by the birthday cake brought in by one of the girls. It was iced to looks like some knitting, with a pair of actual needles and a sample sticking out of it. (There's a photo on my phone but I can't find my cable).

(Edited: Found it!!)

PPS The "Moon and Stars" blanket for bump is progressing nicely...however, the photo cable is safely hidden somewhere.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Stealth Knitting 2007

I've fallen off the stashalong, or I could treat it as my one day off per month. Friday was a warning - the yarn buying impulse was getting trigger happy.

A few weeks ago the BF casually asked: "So, will you be doing any stealth knitting this year?"

I laughed and said I doubted it.

A few days later, as I was knitting the "Opal- Neons" for his sister he hinted that he wouldn't mind some socks - green ones.

This made me think. There's every likelihood, he will get some socks, probably for Christmas, and I think I'll make him some "Opal -Caterpillars". However, he really seemed to be hinting for another jumper, and asking me now gives me plenty of time to knit it in secret. (The BF has a very good idea of how much stealth knitting went into "Leo").

So, for the last few weeks I've been looking at jumper patterns that aren't too patterned - not too many colours, not too much texture so no cables, though ribbing is fine. Once again, "Knitty" has come to my rescue. This is "Saranac" which has a zippy neck and is very much to the BF's taste.

The remaining problem was to find the yarn. The pattern for "Saranac" recommended "Cascade Sierra" which is an aran weight blend of wool (80%) and cotton (20%) or is that the other way around? So, I've been hunting around the usual suspects that provide a). nice yarns, b). of a similar blend and c). at a nice price. I didn't want to faff about with ordering from the US.

So, I've settled on "Rowan - All Seasons Cotton" because it's aran weight and while it doesn't contain any wool, I've used it before and like the way it holds a pattern. The supplier was Cucumberpatch because they were having a sale when I stumbled across them last night...

Voila! "Mocha-choc" at £1.95 a ball - wasn't that worth falling off the stashalong wagon? :-)

Sunday, 3 June 2007

Completed "Paisley"

While it may be far too hot to wear (and one of our neighbours is thoughtfully sharing their music), I've finished "Paisley". I always underestimate how long it will take me to finish belts and ties, so Friday's theory that I would finish that night was far too optimistic. :-)

Here is the view from the back.

And... Here is the view from the front. I really like the sweep of the huge collar and it will be a lovely, big, warm cardi to snuggle into when it's cold. I made the belt about 40-50cm shorter than the pattern recommendations as it would have been trailing below my knees otherwise.

I didn't really understand the pattern's instructions about knotting lengths of yarn through the cast-on and cast-off edges of the belt. I couldn't see how this would hold the belt in place and allow it to move so made my own belt loops which you can see in the pic below, if you squint!

I liked the way the slipped stitches at the edge of the belt created a looped effect so I did something similar:

Cast on 6 stitches.
For 24 rows - Slip first stitch knitwise, purl two, knit two purl.
Cast off in pattern.

I felt the belt hoops needed to be chunky to match the overall feel of the complete cardi.

PS I got a new laptop yesterday so I will try to update my blog more often.

Why is it always the people with the cackest taste in music who feel the biggest need to share?

Friday, 1 June 2007

The Lure of Ebay

It's not that I haven't got anything to do at work - it's not as if I'm even bored. However, I'm being drawn to Ebay. It knows I'm attempting a stashalong, even if it is a stashalong in baby steps. The first stage ends on June 14th. If I make it to then, I will have lasted one month without buying any yarn. So far it has been two weeks.

You have to take these things slowly.

However, I've just seen these on Ebay. Whilst, they're not tremendously new by any stretch of the imagination, they're pushing my cravings.
For a start, this rainbowy "Opal - Feelings" could be used to make some socks for my SIL. She always had a rainbow jumper at Uni and I think she would love these.

Pah! Enough of this altruistic justification... I want a pair of Tigers to go with my Snakes, and my Blue Frogs and the Peacocks and the Zebras and the Fish. Ok, so I haven't knitted those last three up yet.

However, then there is this lovely stuff... "Opal - Handpainted - Autumn". On Kay's website (Seventy By Heart) she showed a pic of the most beautiful scarf she made in 'Old Shale' and I fell in love with the colours. I think these are they... though I know she didn't use "Opal" yarn.
I've hidden the credit card. Maybe I'll have another look at these tomorrow and think about it. Or maybe I'll just buy them.
Who knows? :-)

New Month, Better Luck

May has been a real mixed bag with quite a lot of bad stuff happening both personally and at work. Admittedly, it hasn't all been bad but it has been like the little girl with the little curl - when it has been bad, it has been 'orrid. So, here's hoping that June improves. :-)

Ok, bit of an update on some of the things that have been happening.

1. Remember the chav in the BRIGHT LILAC tracksuit? Well, the police called the other day and somebody, whilst not giving a statement, had given them the name of this sartorially challenged individual. So, she will be interviewed on Monday next week and dependent on what she says, I may be asked to go in to see a line up. I didn't expect the police to catch anyone but the nice officer who called the other day simply said: "We got lucky."

2. The house selling and buying lark has given us a few jitters but I think (fingers crossed, touch wood, chuck salt over my shoulder, count magpies, etc, anything for luck) that we're nearly there. My solicitor told me we can complete very soon.

3. The prawn lurgie has definitely gone now. It came back on Tuesday!

And the knitting.... I have nearly finished knitting "Paisley", I started the belt during "Hustle" last night. The collar seemed to take ages, and as a result I'm sick of ribbing. This may have something that I ended up with 30 more stitches on the needles that required.

For each section (the back and the two fronts) I consistently picked up ten more stitches than the pattern recommended. Obviously this was wrong, so I tried again being strick on the required number but the join between the collar and the body looked as if it was full of holes, so I decided denser was the best way to go.

Naturally, this took longer to knit and used more wool but I'm pleased with the end result. It fits!

Of course, now the weather has suddenly warmed up again!

If I finish this tonight I think I'll start on the moon and stars baby blanket for Bump.