I wonder what this button does…?

Wow. My blogging has become so infrequent, it seems that every time I log in now wordpress has rejigged its innards and I have to spend a good five minutes peering at stuff to find out how to post.

I gave up trying to find batteries for my camera earlier (despite the fact that I bought a dozen AA rechargeables last christmas, to combat the shortage – but that’s what I get for having a camera that takes the same batteries as Wii remotes), and so the photos for this post have been taken using eldest daughter’s newest shiny acquisition (an Asus HD 7 tablet).

I’m posting mostly to make a mini-queue for seasonal knitting/crafty stuff – there’s a few non-knitting items on there which means I can’t use ravelry for my list, but there’s also the fact that my ravelry queue will just eat up the things I put in it and I might as well not bother. It’s a little out of hand over there.

And no, this isn’t a little early for making a list of christmas crafts. Aside from the fact that it’s a season I particularly like to savour, I need to get a headstart – I do draw the line at September, right enough, but October is definitely *not* early.P_20131004_141619

All this was brought on by a spot of stash-sorting that went on last month. I dug out the terribly-hibernated jumper that I started for my younger daughter far too long ago, and started what I hope will soon be finishing it off – one sleeve was already complete, I’ve completed the second, and then added an extra inch or so to the first (because despite the fact that she’s not a huge kid, she’s certainly grown a little in the last couple of years). Casting off this sleeve is imminent – I’d hoped to get it done last night, but all the kids have come down with superlurgy so that didn’t happen. Then it needs a collar (or hood) and zip (or toggles’n’loops).

(This picture is much bigger if you care to click on it – I’m playing with the wordpress image hosting thing at the moment rather than uploading to flickr as I usually do, and it appears to make a dinky pic by default. I like the text wrapping that’s going on though.)

Whilst digging out this long-ago promised jumper, I also came across the bag of yarn that I spun, and we dyed, and is also destined to become a long-ago promised jumper. The yardage was close to being too little even way back then, so I’m almost certainly going to have to either spin more yarn, buy in some yarn as close to this as I can, or attempt to persuade her she’d rather have a jumper with either no, short, or three-quarter-length sleeves.


And in the foreground… a big lump of leftover acrylic yarn from the molecules I knitted, that I hadn’t a clue what to do with until last month when I stumbled across them and they yelled ‘CHRISTMAS!’ at me (as you might expect from startlingly bright acrylic).

I haven’t knitted anything along the lines of baubles or stockings before (which is what I’m thinking I’ll have a go at, just now)… hopefully I won’t feel like I’ve wasted my time using this rather than yer actual genuine wool, but we’ll see…. I should probably start with some of those tiny baubles first, just in case.

Ta-da.. my handy list of links so far –

  • Baubles, as linked from this rather beautiful blog in a guest post from another Heidi, author of another fab blog (which I can tell I’m also going to spending some time wandering through, now I’ve come across it, even though I can’t read very much of it…)
  • Ice lanterns, from the same blog, this time a guest post from another blog I’m going to have to look at over a coffee soon…

To be frank, the entire Scandinavian Days of Christmas series is something I’m going to keep in mind – these three particularly caught my eye, but the knitted houses and little nisse folk are cute too.. I might get Heidi to see if there’s anything she fancies having a go at. It’s been a few years since we tried making a gingerbread house, and it was from a kit – I’ve never attempted homemade.

Finally – for now – a couple of ravelry stockings –

That’s it for the time being – I’m filing this and future posts under the category ‘christmas crafts’ so they should (theoretically) be nice and easy to find.

In other news, I’m spending the weekend finally building the shed I’ve been trying to get sorted for over a year now, and Saturday also sees the start of my level 2 maths course – have to find something to do to break up the days spent knitting, foraging for evergreens and cooking spicy biscuits with the kids, I suppose…



So much for resolutions! It turns out that the best thing for regular blogging is having something to post about. Which I now do – despite being mad busy with regular-life-stuff, plus trying to sort us out with a ‘new’ (ie, different) car, and currently not even being at home, I’ve been trying out a nifty knitting gadget courtesy of Goddess Jewels


June doesn’t knit, and asked if anyone who did could help out with some pics of her beaded row counter/abacus in action. I thought it looked intriguing and offered my services, so I’ve been taking it out for a bit of a spin –


It’s simple enough to use, and works as described here. This is me knitting to the end of row 9 –


– and switching up the marker for row 10 –


And this is what row 11 looks like, with the first of the teeny tens beads past the stopper beads –


I’ve never had a row counter before (previously keeping track of rows has involved peering at my knitting and checking and rechecking my counting), and I’m getting along with this one just fine. It sits happily on the loop of my circs between rows, mostly sat in my lap so I don’t even know it’s there. It’s light and well put together – no gaps between the rings to catch on anything – and I expect to find it very handy indeed on my next lace project in the hopefully not too distant future.
Thanks June!


I’ve come to the conclusion that my old blogging habits are thoroughly incompatible with my current lifestyle, and I need to create new ones. So – short and sweet if necessary is the order of the day, with photos where possible. It seems I’d lost the purpose of the blog in the first place – as a journal, mostly of my knitting but including other things occasionally. I did try separating off the gardening posts to a separate blog, but the result of *that* seems to have been that gardening posts ceased altogether.

My camera’s charging, which means I can’t take a pic of what I’m currently knitting – two baby cardigans for my niece and nephew (twins!!) – or a progress shot of the cardigan which I’m still knitting for Heidi (though in fairness, that’s more an embarrassing-lack-of-progress shot – thankfully I knit it with plenty of growing room so it’ll still fit, though I need to lengthen a sleeve). Once a week, however short, is my new plan for the blog – so pics will appear then!

I’ve now got 13 months of BSc study under my belt, well into the first bit of level 2 material at this point and facing my first exam for about 16 years, scheduled for the second week of June. And while it took longer than planned to buy and move into our new house (due to the increasingly nervous disposition of bankers) we’ve now been here for almost eight months.


(Heidi says hi.)

Still a fair bit of work to do getting organised, but we’ve a wall full of bookcases and LP/media shelving (a wall of awesome, as my friend Tracy dubbed it) going up hopefully this weekend, so that should make a huge difference to the number of boxes and piles of stuff I’m currently sharing my life with.

The biggest change, of course, is the little bundle of joy that is my new baby son, soon to be ten months old.

radio… silence…

I’ve got that Thomas Dolby song in my head.

Firstly – oops. Massive blog neglect. There are many reasons why this happened, but it’s probably easiest just to say sorry, it’s been hectic and other things got priority.

I’ve been knitting, though not lots, and spinning even less. The blog neglect may well continue (though hopefully not to the extent it has been) as the hectickery looks set to be a feature for at least a few months… I’m a third of the way through the first module on my Open University BSc course, and as well as that we’ll (hopefully) be moving house in a month or so.

So I still haven’t finished dad’s socks –


I still haven’t started Heidi’s multicoloured jumper (I hope that when I do, she hasn’t grown so big that I don’t have enough of the handspun I’ve spun for it). And while her cardie’s come on a bit – it has slightly more than one entire arm now –


it’s still a fair way from being completed.

This is down to my knitting also being derailed by other knitting, related to the other reason why things are likely to remain busy here for a wee while –


Hat pattern, knit in King Cole Merino Aran.

Sweater pattern, knit with Mirasol Yarn Hacho.

Booteeeeeeeees! knit with some ancient leftover Jaeger yarn (4ply, and called Matchmaker, if I remember right).

(Shocking exposure on the hat there – in my defence, I was reduced to using eldest daughter’s camera, as we’re still experiencing a shortage of AA rechargeables round these parts, and hers only takes two, as opposed to the four that mine takes.)

Spacepod #3 is due to arrive in a couple of weeks… do you think that’s enough time to knit a shawl? (And, um, obviously do some proper finishing on both the hat and the sweater, there.)

last post before christmas!

My blog rate has totally slipped. Partly because I’ve been very caught up in thoughts of Christmas this year – last year’s severe weather made me anxious to make sure I got things like presents for the children sorted early. Since my last post I’ve also had a trip down south to visit family, during which the aforementioned photographer’s gloves were handed over – they fit perfectly, and hopefully are now saving my brother-in-law’s not-so-tiny hands from freezing.


As you can see, I abandoned my orginal idea of putting flippy-tops on the thumbs and forefingers – to be perfectly honest with you, whichever way I tried this, they just looked *wrong*.

I’m sure you know what I mean.

Since coming back, my christmas knitting has consisted solely of a pair of Fetching mitts for my sister, on request. I finished the Laminaria off before this – the casting off took me a while (mostly because finding the enthusiasm for that eluded me), and I still haven’t blocked either that or the Aeolian I finished a few months ago, so a mass-blocking session is in order in the new year.

I’ve got about halfway along with my dad’s first sock, so it’s looking likely that he’s not going to be wearing them on christmas morning, sadly. I chose a 4ply wool/nylon blend (Jura by Texere yarns) which I’m knitting on 2.5mm needles, so my progress isn’t terribly fast, and unless I get them done by thursday I’ll have missed the last post. The yarn was held up in (presumably) the christmas post, so it was a couple of extra days before I managed to start on them, and then I had a couple of false starts till I got the right needle (a smaller one than that given by both the manufacturer and ravelry).

Progress has also been slow with the silk I’m spinning – I think I’ve done about 8g total at this point. I’m not sure really how to progress with it, whether to try and do as much as possible as a single skein or whether to stick to more manageable amounts – last time I think I stuck to a maximum of 20g on the spindle per single, so I expect that’s probably what I’ll end up going for this time.

As well as the usual Christmas distractions, I’ve recently enrolled on an Open University course – my course materials arrived last week – and this week we took the plunge and decided to invest some of the money we were given as a wedding gift in a quite honestly magnificent Kenwood kitchen machine (and icecream maker, though that’s had to go back to the shop as it wasn’t the right size one – replacement due any time in the next few days).

It’s all go.


Yep, I’m out of action again. Not my back this time, but my upper arm, which currently has a hottie bottie tucked under it. I think I pulled a muscle in it at the weekend, shifting luggage – it’s not shockingly bad, but I’m not risking making it worse by attempting to knit or spin just right now.

(This is good news with regards to me getting some blogging done, it would seem.)

My dyeing is all done – has been for a week or so but I’ve been a tardy blogger, which isn’t terribly wise when it comes to record keeping as I’ve now got to try and remember details that are not quite as fresh as they might have been.. I did at least make some notes (both on ravelry and, y’know, on your actual paper).


I’m pleased with the end results – I did initially have trouble with the yellows, as the one I ordered turned out to produce something much more mustard coloured than I’d hoped for but I guess that’s the risk when choosing colours online. In the end I reverted to food colouring for the yellow, and used the first two attempts with the Landscape dye as bases for my green and orange, overdyeing them with the Landscape blue and red.

I pretty much followed the instructions that came with them, at least with the primaries. The colours above are made at as close to their recommended full saturation levels as I could manage – the skeins are only small (25g-ish each) and my scales only measure 1g increments, so I had to estimate 2.5 grams and hope. They came out really quite saturated indeed, good news as I have plenty of remaining dye for future projects (particularly if they’re to be multicoloured and/or more muted than these).

I haven’t started knitting with them yet, as my other unfinished projects still aren’t completed, though I’ve started a pair of ‘photographer’s gloves’ (gloves with flippy tops on the the thumbs and forefingers) for my brother-in-law to keep him cosy on those winter photo shoots.


I have started a new spindling project though. More mulberry silk tops, so far I’ve managed 4g at about the same weight as the last lot –



And as you can see from this picture, I’ve also managed to give it a proper bounce off the kitchen floor. It doesn’t seem to have affected its spin too much, but it does feel a bit weird, so I think I’ll glue it back on – though I think I’ll at least wait until I’ve emptied the spindle, it seems like asking for gluey trouble otherwise.

stocked up!

I’ve not got very much further with any of my projects recently, due in part to a week spent with downright wicked back pain (totally unable to knit, misery), and also to the fact that I just didn’t have the stuff I needed to continue with them. Firstly there was the issue of not having enough beads for my Aeolian, just a row and a half from the end. I turned to the cardigan I’d been knitting for my youngest and finished both fronts and seamed the shoulders only to find, when it came to picking up stitches around the armholes for the sleeves, that I had neither double pointed needles nor circulars in the same size as the straights I’d been using up to that point.

I also completed the final skein of the shetland for her *other* jumper, but had no dye to move to the next stage of the project.

I’m terrible for overdeliberating when it comes to spending money, but faced with the prospect of beginning yet another project (I don’t like to have too many on the go – I can hear them nag me), I knuckled down, opened my purse, and bought my much needed supplies.

First up – the beads. Now the packet of beads I originally bought had no code or description of any sort (other than their size), so I had to resort to peering at photos on the internet, and crossing my fingers. In the end I ordered a pack of noir-lined crystal, as they seemed closest to the clear-with-iridescent-lining ones I already had. Here they are in my little pot –


and here they are on the knitting –


The two beads in the top left of the picture are the new ones. They’re a little more vivid, with a tad more of a blue tinge to them, than the new ones. Not wildly so, but as the changeover happens just *one* repeat from the end of the second-to-last row I suspect I might find myself wanting to tink back to the beginning of that row and replace the lot.

Here’s the cardie, with the armhole picked up using a 2.5mm circ I had lying about (it’s next to useless – a cheapy £1 needle from Lidl that I bought on the offchance, it has a horrible grating quality and a too-short, barely flexible cable), and my new 3.25mm Addis from ebay –


As far as the dyeing project goes, I threw out the idea of using natural dyes. The dyes themselves maybe natural, but the exhaust left behind (containing the remaining mordant) is fairly toxic. There were other considerations too, but long-story-short, in the end I decided to go with acid dyes – asking about on ravelry, it came down to a choice of Kemtex, Landscape, DebbieT’s Hue and Dye range or – as I’ve used previously and have since been assured they’re pretty colourfast – food dyes.

In the end I went with Landscape dyes from Wingham Wool Works, as I only needed a very small amount and they were the best value for money. Nice colours, too –


I picked a red, a yellow and a blue – the 15g packs will dye more than I need anyway, so I think I’ll be able to make some attempt at blending – a green, and then possibly an orange and a purple if necessary. (I succumbed to a 100g bag of mulberry silk tops while I was at it, as it was such a good price…)

I still need to do my sums in terms of figuring out what amount I need of the various colours, so at the moment I’m doing that, trawling ravelry for inspiration, and dividing a few of my skeins into 25g ones.

And seeing as it seems I’m never going to get round to giving my wedding veil a proper post of its own, here we go –


My hubby’s sister took this photo, it’s a lovely view from the back. And our professional photography was done by my sister’s hubby, Daniel, who took these –




This was our venue, incidentally – Blair Castle, in Perthshire


More specifically, our ceremony took place in the disused church in the grounds, St Bride’s Kirk –


It has no roof, no windows and no door, but fortunately Scottish law allows outdoor weddings. (We did have a backup rain plan, inside the castle, and very nearly ended up using it!)