Sunday, 20 December 2009

'Twas the Night Before Christmas...

...Well, it isn't, obviously, but for a change, I'm not frantically knitting the night before Christmas. (This is largely because I have written off the knitted teddy bear until next year).

The computer keyboard has been fairly neglected over the last few months, largely because of all the knitting; and because I started a new job in August which has been extremely busy; and because I've been running an online course (tutoring and marking); and because this year has been one of those years for anniversaries, milestone birthdays, housewarming parties and just general chaos. It has been great.

So, what have I finished? (You might want to go and make a cup of tea while this page loads).

Another "Retro" ("Sublime") jumper in 'Jaeger Extra Fine Merino' for the BF.

Socks for almost everyone on the planet (ok, ok, I know I'm exaggerating) in a variety of yarns - 'Rico', 'On-Line' and 'Opal'.

"Buster" and "Hans" ("Rowan Babies") in 'Sirdar - Soya' for Niece No 2.

"Buster" and "Bo" ("Rowan Babies") in 'Sirdar - Soya' for Nephew.

Erm... socks? mittens? a jumper? for my Step-Dad.

"Vintage Swing Coat" ("Sublime") in 'Sublime Cashmerino Silk DK' for Niece No 1.

Oh dear - it's another "Retropolitan" ("Son of Stitch and Bitch") in I'm not sure what yarn, for my Granda. But, I think I'm guilty of a Christmas jumper. I'm so sorry.

In my defence, I would like to point out that I am slightly colourblind (weird shades of green and blue) so what I thought was going to be a red and blue jumper has become a very festive green and red. (I've also got him a bottle of whisky to numb the shock).

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Sunny Samos

We stayed at the gorgeous Ino Village Hotel. ( because I cannot do justice with my photographs). It's up on a hill overlooking Samos Town (or Vathy) which is the capital of the island.

There is not a great deal to see in Samos Town. It's in a beautiful bay and there are lots of cafes and bars overlooking the harbour, where we benefitted from the breeze coming in from the sea. There are also lots of great places to eat but for attractions... well, the museum was shut every time we walked past it.

There is a statue in Pythagoras Square.

(Complete with a man picking his nose, in front of it. My camera timing is useless).

There's a very pretty church too.

Gagkou Beach is where we spent most of our time. Most mornings we were there before 9.30 and it was virtually deserted - just us and a few elderly people swimming in the water.

We did catch the bus down to Pythagoria where we scrambled around the walls of Logothetis Castle (which was shut) and visited the church nextdoor.

The harbour was fab - full of yachts and fishing boats. And cafes, naturally. We also walked out to the Efpalinos Tunnel. (Underground aquaduct through the mountain). Surprisingly, it was open and we paid 4 Euros each to walk down some steps, along a short tunnel and back again.

It was worth it, to get out of the heat.

Even the locals were sheltering in any shade they could find.

By, eck! It's been a while.

The last month has been a bit busy. I've been finishing off at work to start my new job tomorrow. (Nervous? Moi? No, not at all, honest. And if you believe that...).

On top of that, I've been marking essays and doing lots of swearing about plagiarism and students who can't follow instructions. Ask them to write 2,000 words and they present you with 741 words.

I've also been on holiday - which was lovely - and some of those photos will be in the next post.

On the knitting front... nothing hugely exciting which is why I haven't posted for a while. Because I decided to knit presents for everyone for Christmas and I don't want to be still knitting them on Christmas Eve, I'm managing to turn my hobby into a chore. That was never the point. Knitting is supposed to my relaxation not another list of jobs to be ticked off.

I am enjoying making the gifts - so the process is enjoyable - and I certainly don't begrudge them as presents for my family. It's the fact that I have created this 'list' and this 'job' as a task to be carried out. So, I won't be doing anything on this scale again.

However, I have been productive:

One sock for Mary's birthday on Thursday. (There will be another).

Socks for Debbie for Christmas.

Two pairs of socks for the BF's birthday and one pair for my Granda's birthday.

Swing Coat for Niece Number 1.

The BF's secret jumper - back, front and the start of a sleeve.

Monday, 22 June 2009

Beige on Beige

I was on a conference in Scarborough last week. Other than work, this obviously was a great opportunity for some stealth knitting. Here we have a shot of front of the BF's beige "Big Retro Sweater" (Sublime) on the beige carpet of my living room. Technically, the yarn ("Jaeger - Extra Fine Merino") is 'Biscuit' but as far as the BF is concerned, that's beige.

He may have a point.

Stealth knitting in the open - these are also for the BF for his birthday. (Further shades of beige). These are in "Rico" which is fantastic (and cheap) sock yarn. The BF thinks these are for my Granda's birthday - the perfect cover.

I astound myself sometimes, but then simple things and simple minds...

Monday, 15 June 2009


The situation with the greenfly in the garden has spiralled out of control so I have had to engage in biological warfare. I bought a ladybird house and twenty-five ladybirds. It beats chemical warfare.

Here it is.

Yes, it is indeed a piece of wood with some holes drilled in it. However, when was I going to get around to doing it myself? Answer, in case you weren't sure: NEVER.

Here we have the ladybirds in action. The greenfly never saw them coming. Ha!!

They're amazing. They have swept across the rosebush from right to left and back again. Insect vacuums in action.

I also recovered from my attack of SSS at the weekend - here's the "Wendy - Happy" socks for the MIL. I hate knitting with this stuff, but she loves them so much.


Sunday, 14 June 2009

Swinging Times

The Swing Coat for Niece No 1 is knitting up quite quickly (aside from stealth knitting breaks).

Here's the back. I'm knitting the smallest size because the pattern seems to have four adult sizes and one child. I was in two minds about whether the smallest size would be too small but, as I was mulling this over, I realised that the next size would fit my Mam (and she's not that small). So I'm hoping I made the right decision.

The stocking stitch section's width is reduced by 25 stitches by the time it comes to the moss stitch panel. This starts to produce some 'pleats' which will contribute to the swing effect.

Just a shot of stitch definition.

Monday, 8 June 2009

Socked Off

The MIL's socks are on hiatus. This could also be known as Second Sock Syndrome. However, I have had enough of socks for now and am currently knitting this...

You may have recognised this yarn from a pre-Christmas attempt at "Sublime's Hearts and Cables" tank top. The yarn is stunning - "Sublime - DK Cashmerino Silk". It's gorgeous, it's soft, it's squishy, it has beautiful stitch definition and produces a lovely drape. What was there not to like?

The pattern... well, actually, no. There was nothing wrong with the pattern. I just decided that an Aran-effect top (even if it isn't DK) probably wasn't the way to go when I was feeling a bit chunky. (There's a copy of "What Not To Wear" in the office staff room, so even though I was planning to go with a V-Neck, a cable top could not be classed as 'My Greatest Decision, Ever').

Upshot - I frogged the work, which was a truly satisfying experience and have started knitting the "Swing Coat" (from the same pattern book) for Neice No 1. Yes, it's expensive yarn to chuck at a small child but I love the pattern; she will adore the the coat and the colour; and there are only so many pairs of lilac gloves I can make.

I suppose it could have been turned into a matching hat, scarf and gloves set... nah, what the hell.

One slight annoyance I have is that one of the patterns for small girls, in this book, is called 'Little Flirt'. It's a simple shrug for 5-7 year . I don't know if I am being particularly sensitive, easily offended, mucky minded but I don't like it - I think it's inappropriate. It seems to be symptomatic of the trend to sexualise young girls.

Before I go off on a rant, I shall stop there and leave you with a pic of nextdoor's cat doing her "Here's Johnny" impression.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Knitting Daily

I wasn't planning to post today - I'm hungover and all I am knitting at the moment is plain socks (plain as in bog-standard stocking stitch) even if they are rather funky colours. However, today's email from 'Knitting Daily' features a booklet of free baby knits.

It's rather good and these booties really grabbed me. I think they will be a fun knit.

Monday, 1 June 2009

FInished Blanket

I finished the blanket this weekend. Ta-dah!

I am debating whether to block it or not. Blocking may result in some nice neat squares but I rather like the 'wonkiness' of the slightly different sized squares pulling it out of shape. I realise that this sounds like a good excuse for not finishing the blanket properly, but I think it's rather a good one.

Further confessions...

While the yellow and blue hearts along the top of the alphabet column are indeed the colours of Kiev's football team (a little clue as to where this blanket is headed), they were sadly not part of a cunning plan. There wasn't enough room for another letter but I couldn't leave it blank.

Furthermore, the yellow and blue mix was not intended as Kiev's colours, I ran out of pink. However, in the scheme of happy accidents, this is certainly a good one.

In other news, I have knitted 2/3 of the back for one of the Christmas jumpers for the BF. "Jaeger Extra Fine Merino" is a beautiful yarn. I raved about this last year but the drape of the 'material' as the yarn knits up is gorgeous. It is a really satisfying knit.

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Baby Blanket

Some time ago, I started knitting a patchwork blanket for a friend of mine who is expecting a baby next month. This was actually about four months ago. "Relax," I told myself. "What's the rush?"

Then suddenly, there's less than a month to go... and I still have three squares to knit and a column. Oh dear. Fortunately, we weren't doing much on Friday so I got two squares rattled off while watching "Rosemary's Baby". Do you think I could be jinxing this baby? Knitting its blanket during one of the best justifications for not getting pregnant?

So, here it is with the completed squares.

And here is the started column. It looks from this angle as though it might be too narrow but that's because the stocking stitch curls under.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Google Analytics

One month ago, I registered my blog on Google Analytics ( This is a tool that allows you to find out how people are finding your website, where they are coming from (geographically and technically - referral sites, search engines, networks). It's something that we have started using at work to monitor the use of some of our websites, but I wanted to play with it at home to see what it can tell me. It has been really interesting.

1. In less than a month, 100 people have visited my blog, though there have been over 200 visits. Around 50% of these are newbies and the other 50% are returning to read pages. I was stunned to find out that so many people have been dropping by and coming back. Thank you.

2. The majority of people visiting are in the UK, but there is a fair old number who have popped in from the US (which has vastly improved by knowledge of North American geography) but also from Poland, Japan, Turkey, France and Australia.

3. The searches that have resulted in people coming here have included the not terribly surprising: cartridge rib, socks, pixie coat - all knitting related and as this is a knitting blog, to be expected, as I mentioned. What has been surprising is the number of people who have got to this blog through searching for porn and sex confessions.

There are a number of very disappointed people out there as they have ended up on the pages titled "Sock Porn", or "Yarn Porn" or "Ally Pally Porn". Or discovered that SEX here usually refers to Stash Expanding eXpedition. Or discovered confessions about my attempts to botch knitting or sewing mistakes.

As a result of this post there will be some disappointed people tonight and over the weekend.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Finally, Some Bloody Progress

I have finished one of the curtains for the spare room. There's a fanfare playing in my head, if not everyone else's. This is going to be a very picture heavy post so if you are on dial up, you might like to put the kettle on.

1. Measuring up - the eyelet tape is my new discovery and a very happy discovery it is too. It minimises the risk of 'wonkiness'. However, there were too many eyelets on this, for the curtains, in my opinion.

2. So, I put the facias in position to see what this would look like with six eyelets instead of the twelve on the tape. I rather liked it so went with that.

3. Drawing the holes to cut out. On the front of the curtain!!! Nothing like living dangerously.

4. Cutting out said holes in the curtain.

5. Completed hole with eyelet facia pushed in. That's my foot you can see through there.

6. The view from the back. The eyelet tape is attached to the back of the curtain, in the same way that ordinary curtain tape is. Next job was to sew it in place.

Here's the room that the curtains are going in.

7. Putting the curtain up.

8. Fanfare please.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Forgot to mention...

...Hobbycraft are selling "Sirdar - Soya" at £1.49 per ball, and I think this usually retails at £3.99 per ball. "Bargain," I thought.

I went shopping and bought lots of the above to knit the following for Niece No.2 and Nephew:Buster, Bo and Hans from "Rowan Babies". Hopefully, this yarn substitution will work well.

Saturday, 16 May 2009


I thought I would give you a break from curtain progress pictures. They're still not finished as this picture demonstrates - so I have still managed to sneak in a picture that was supposed to be curtain free. This has been the view in my living room for the last couple of weeks.

...Yes, the BF is a very understanding representative of his species. It is also very helpful that he is currently completing this year's final assignments for his OU degree. This means that he is rarely in the room to notice them or, more importantly, to complain.

Over the last few weeks, I've also been knitting socks to make a dent into the Christmas knitting.
Here, we have socks for my Mam, Niece No. 1, nephew and SIL.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

Curtain Stages III

Nearly there. Still haven't bought the curtain tape but I sewed up most of one of the curtains on Saturday and I am really happy with the way it is taking shape.

1. Sewing up the side.

2. Modelled by me.

A time consuming but satisfying project.

Friday, 8 May 2009

Curtain Stages II

Started sewing up the curtains last night. I still need to pop out and buy some curtain tape otherwise I might as well have dish clothes hanging from the poles. These are going to be eyelet curtains and the material I have chosen is very soft, so the curtain tape needs to be placed between the lining and the curtain material (at the top with the eyelets) to give it some 'oomph'. (Yes, that is the correct technical term to describe what I want to achieve).

1. Sewing up the lining. Below, hopefully, you can see the very bad stitching on the right side of the lining's hem. However...

2. ...the stitch line is very neat on the wrong side of the lining. So, I am making an executive design decision and am going to make this the right side of the lining.

3. Pinning the elephant rim to the bottom of the main piece of fabric before starting to watch Season 5 of "The Wire".

I think the overall effect will be pretty good. The cream needed something to cheer it up, and the shine of the fabric will be a good contrast with the colours in the room.

These need to be done within a fortnight. We have friends coming to stay.