Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Plodding on!

One Great Knitter
Write about a knitter whose work (whether because of project choice, photography, styling, scale of projects, stash, etc) you enjoy. If they have an enjoyable blog, you might find it a good opportunity to send a smile their way.

Lordy, I know which designer I am NOT going to mention here, although I suspect many others will! Nearly caused an uproar on Ravelry when I dared say I found her irritating, smug, and her designs overpriced and twee, and utterly overhyped. Rather sad - and indicative of the pack mentality - that people messaged me to say they agreed but didn't dare say so in the threads because of the vicious backlash. Good heavens, it's a free country, something is wrong if people can only be lovey dovey without fear of recrimination.
Anyway, I digress.
I lost all my bloglist etc when my laptop crashed, so can't even check through that for inspiration.
Designers I like are Kim Hargreaves (despite the repetition and minimal tweaking of a lot of her petterns, I love the styling in her books, the Yorkshire link is always going to be abonus in my head, and I love the riding jacket, tousled hair, froufrou skirts style, perfic!
For similar reasons I also love Louisa Harding, romantic, slightly froufrou, loadsa cardis (I love my cardis!), lovely. Stick thin models are a down side but never mind.
And Norah Gaughan, although I personally don't rave over all her designs, I do love the mathematical element to many of them, and the fact that most of her designs are instantly recognisable as such.
Links to blogs? Nah, not my thing (and I don't know if any of those designers have blogs, I have never checked - but please do have a nosy at their designs if you are not already familiar with them).
Kim Hargreaves
I have piccies to upload, but for some reason blogger is playing up and gives me a choice of loading a photo from my blog (er, doesn't that defeat the object somewhat?). Weird, if it resolves itself later today I will add some colour to these words.

Time to slap some makeup on and head to the gym, week 2 of Couch Potato to 5k ... wish me well.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

and again ...

Blog about a pattern or project which you aspire to. Whether it happens to be because the skills needed are ones which you have not yet acquired, or just because it seems like a huge undertaking of time and dedication, most people feel they still have something to aspire to in their craft. If you don’t feel like you have any left of the mountain of learning yet to climb, say so!
TAGGING CODE: knitcroblo2

Well I am on day two, and think I might give up after this - there's a huge part of me that rebels instantly when I feel duty bound to do something, maybe I am simply not a team player( does this make me a Really Bad Person??)(do I care?), but I certainly don't like following the crowd. Or the sheep.

Also my crafty life is revolving less around knitting and more around my sewing and quilting lately, which makes me happy.
Such as this bundle of loveliness, of which more information will come tomorrow when I take some photos of the blocks I have finished so far ... pink feathers, perfection.

But back to the blog theme - an inspirational pattern?
It's a weird one really - not the pattern, the concept.

I find many many patterns inspirational - I can look at many stunning patterns on Ravelry, or finished items, and think they are beautiful, and appreciate the talent and dedication that has gone into the concept, the design process and the finished item, But I don't feel driven to emulate many of them - partly because I prefer quirky, more obscure designs (back to not following the crowd maybe), partly because despite the gorgeous skeins of hand dyed laceweight I have upstairs I know I don't have the patience (or skill) to do it justice. Or the time.

The most challenging knitted item I have on the go (and haven't even looked at in about a month) is a gorgeous piece of colourwork, a shawl:, which I think is beautiful. I don't like using circular needles, and don't usually do long term projects, so in several ways this is out of my comfort zone. It's lovely to knit (once I tweaked the pattern a bit to make the roses more gently curved), I just got bogged down with other things. I would love to have this finished for my birthday, so must get back to it asap.

Inspiring? I don't know. Beautiful yes - very difficult or challenging? Not really. Aspirational? Not really - mainly because I don't aspire to be a professional pattern designer (I am still toying with designs to go with the craptastic book!).

I do, however, admire the mind that comes up with something like this:

(aplogies to the creator of this wondrous wotsit, I don't have the link to your site or your name). I love it.

And on a completely different note - this cactus has never ever flowered, and when I was giving it a drop of water the other week I noticed it was covered in teenytiny deep pink buds - and just look at it now!

This was taken last week, and there are probably double the amount of flowers at the moment, its stunning!
As for what's going on in the teenytiny garden and the teenytiny greenhouse - well, that needs a camera and sunlight to do it justice, so that's one job for tomorrow.

Right now, I think an early night is appealing (it's almost 11pm) and the last few pages of The Owl Killers, which is good but I preferred her first book.


Monday, 26 April 2010

A bit of all sorts ...

How and when did you begin knitting/crocheting? Was it a skill passed down through generations of your family, or something you learned from Knitting For Dummies? What or who made you pick up the needles/hook for the first time? Was it the celebrity knitting ‘trend’ or your great aunt Hilda?
 TAGGING CODE: knitcroblo1

This is not really the sort of thing I like doing - I tend to shy away from the madding crowd. But I hoped it would give me the kick up the derriere I need to post more regularly so here goes, in brief.

My much loved and much missed nan, and my lovely mum both taught me to knit, when I was too young to remmeber! They were both creative: sewing, knitting and crochet (although I don't think my mum ever did any crochet), and I remember being fascinated by my mum doing that twisty wool ties using the door handle, for my baby sister's loopy hat (so I must have been 4).
My little chubby hands (both adjectives still apply) would get all hot and bothered, and my knitting would get tighter and more and more squeaky, until mum would take it from me and knit a few rows at the speed of light to loosen it up again. I suspect she did this to save her sanity when the nails-down-blackboard irritation of the squeak became too much ...

I doubt this picture is anywhere near a true representation of me. Someone throwing it and having a paddy is probably more like it. Nothing much has changed.

God only knows what I must have knit - I suspect misshapen, grubby 'things' to cover assorted dolls and teddies.
I can't remember not knitting really - I certainly knit when I was at college, insanely large mohair things that shed everywhere at college (I was an art student mohicaned punk, York in the 80s), and I remember a rather 'special' loosely knit monstrosity / jumper / dress / tent that we used to burn holes in and reknot in the pub.
In my defence we were drunk a lot.

I idolised Toyah when I was young, so imagine this armed with needles and wool. I was the only polite punk in York - I simply could not for the life of me burp.

I knit a lot for my daughter, so that's going back 23 years, and have my nan's and my mum's needles. And now I get to knit mostly for me, although my daughter absolutely loves getting anything hand made, as do my friends.

And on a completely different note, and a bit late.
It was St George's day on Friday, the patron saint of England. He of dragon defeating wit and wisdom.
So Leeds was full of these:
My favourite was the drunken one, with his drunken friends, trying to pick a fight with an equally drunken fally down man. Lots of squaring up and puffing out of chests (I was over the road at the bus stop, doing that 'I am not really watching your faux fight' thing), but my favourite thing was the knight's fake chainmail leggings kept drooping right down to the floor and he kept trying to pull them up without falling over. Tough work being a knight.
There was a group of them sitting in the window of Akbars Indian restaurant, scoffing their tea - now that definitely made me grin when I went past on the bus.

It's true some days, you just couldn't make it up ...

Sunday, 25 April 2010


and showers!
Yesterday was A Good Day. I had a craft fair in Leeds, at Granary Wharf - this used to be home to the Dark Arches, a mishmash of independent shops and eateries under the railway arches, but all of this was shut down years ago (presumably due to funding or lack of).
Recently the whole area has been redeveloped, and for one it looks like it has been done well. The new buildings (and I am not a fan of new builds usually) sit well with the canal and the existing arches, and this space is where the Pannier Market was held for the first time yesterday.

I went from 'ah well, it might be a good way to meet nice people' to 'oh lordy I hope my stuff is good enough'. But the sun shone, the wind blew ( a bit too much at times, the nice lady next to me lost two of her hand made pots when they blew off her stall)(I did a lot of running round the front of my stall to anchor things down) and most importantly the people came!

Constantly - there wasn't a quiet time all day, and whether they bought or not they tended to stop for a chat.
There's something childishly lovely about people saying that they love what you make, it's good for the soul. I think that as soon as any craftsperson puts their work out on public display, on whatever scale, there's a part that hopes people will like it.

My 'shop' name got a lot of comments and grins, which was fun.
The much hyped artist - the next big thing apparently - was decidely average, he spent the day drawing and painting some very derivative work. My opinion of course and I am sure plenty of people thought he was great. There was a mournful harmoica player who was thankfully changed to a fiddler before everyone cried or slashed their wrists.

I would have liked to have a closer look at the canal (I love water and boats) but I didn't have time - I took two books, a magazine and some knitting, and only flicked through the mag and did a bit of knitting (every time I picked up my needles someone came to the stall, magic knitting!).
Anyway, I covered my costs including the taxis, and paid for next month's stall, and had enough left for tea -life in the fast lane or what!
I am now going to get dressed (lazy Sunday morning and a lie in, lovely) and nip to the tiny Tesco down the hill, then back home to have a much needed tidy. Then I plan on starting my quilt, and finally doing some knitting, it feels like a very long time since I sat and did and 'real' knitting.

Enjoy the remainder of the weekend!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Hang onto your hats -

I have photos!

This beauty is the first jelly roll I have ever bought!
Not cheap (this was about £22.50 plus postage, which seems about average) but it is stunning, It is Plume, by Moda, and is destined to become a quilt for the first quiltalong on the UK Quilters group I recently started over on Ravelry.
We are a very mixed bag (oo er madam) of experienced and innocent faced new quilters, and people are very enthusiastic which is great! Do come and have a nosy.

I love the shapes and colours, I am dying to have a nosy but don't want to spoil it. I am not madly keen on some of the patterns (I also have a charm pack and half a metre of the fabulous pink feather print) or the browns and mint greens, so might leave those out, but having had a nosy at other Plume quilts they really look gorgeous. Go on, google Plume by Moda, have a look! Pink swans! Keys hanging from trees! Pink feathers! More exclamation marks!

I have also finished about half of what I plan on taking to the craft fair on Saturday. That gives me tonight, tomorrow, and some of Friday to get finished with sewing, stamp the bags (just in case I actually sell anything), price everything up, make a sign or two and pack it all into a suitcase with wheels.

It's colourful, I am currently finishing off some stuffed birdies in linen, and some bags - no idea what I think I will finish in so little time!

Do come and have a look if you are in Leeds on Saturday, it is being well promoted (I saw a man with it advertised on a huge sign on his bike in town this afternoon):

I really like the changes to blogger, this is so much easier to use - and I can link things at last. Large photos, links, faster (particularly uploading photos) - much better.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010


posting due to utter exhaustion!
I started work yesterday, just part time and not teaching or in lessons at all this week, and yesterday was pretty tough (my job is not the easiest in the world, or with the nicest people, and at one point I found myself literally on the periphery of various groups chatting in the staff room - which I suppose is to be expected after six months off work). I am shattered, truly shattered.

Anyway, camera batteries are charging up as I type, some yummy fabric arrived this morning and more is due tomorrow, I am sewing up a mini storm for this Saturday's craft fair, minimal knitting sadly but this will pick up next week, and my house needs a damned good blitz.
My teenytiny garden looks pretty when the sun is out, and assorted seedy things are sprouting in the teenytiny greenhouse, so plenty of photo potential.

I just need to wake up!

Thursday, 15 April 2010


the last week of freedom vanish far too quickly!
I start back at work on Monday, in a non teaching capacity, then part time for two weeks, then back to it. Very mixed feelings - I need to use my brain, I need to be with my lovely friends, but the utter dread that is work is definitely creeping up.
The job hunt goes on ... anyone want an outstanding teacher and behaviour specialist in a school near the sea? A nice school? Yes?

I am heading out to lunch today, it's my daughter's birthday, so that will be a good afternoon. And I am meeting a good friend and colleague tomorrow for cake and coffee, so that's good too! One will be chat about nothing much, one will be mainly about work - both will be full of giggles.

Knitting - have just finished some robot mitts (totally the wrong thing for spring, but what the hell), and then back to trying to finish the cardi of boredom - piccies to come if we get any daylight (it's very dull out there).Then hopefully get enough spinning done to be able to cast on for something from Misty, Kim Hargreave's new book. And sewing, lots of sewing - I have a craft fair next Saturday (more info on that soon too).

Enjoy your day!

Sunday, 11 April 2010


makes so much difference, doesn't it!
Yesterday was beautiful (helped by the fact I got my laptop back - in full working order! I have lost everything on it, thankfully I backed up all my files, pdfs and photos), and I spent the afternoon pottering about in my teeny tiny garden, then sitting outside with a book.

This is one side - the other is the same size, so when I say tiny I mean TINY! The smallest garden I have ever had, but it's so pretty in summer. Those pots, and yes there are bloody loads of them, are crammed with bulbs, and every year they look gorgeous. The lavender doesn't look too happy, I cut it right back last year so I hope it grows again - my bluebells haven't flowered this time either.
But everything else looks like it's doing OK.

Plenty to plant out too, I headed out today but the couple over the road had the smokiest barby in history, great billows of stinky smoke, so I went back in.

And yes, The majority of flowers ARE pink! Glorious, wonderful happy pink!
I love pink and green together, if I wore colours I would be bright and clashing.

Instead I have indulged my colourful side by making a start on a mini mountain of flowers. Took me a few goes to get them exactly how I want, after that it was straightforward.

Some days, it doesn't take much to make me happy.

Friday, 9 April 2010


it's one of those weeks.

My laptop started playing up a while ago, it works in every way except being able to get online - so I have been using my old workhorse of a pc, which takes up 50% of my precious table space. Between that and the sewing machine ....

Ah. The sewing machine.
Will return to that ...

Lap top - trip to PCWorld, paid a fairly hefty sum to have it looked at, and he pretty much said if what needs doing isn't covered, then it's a £300 job and I might as well get a new one. With what!This one was just under £400. Lordy.

Then my sewing machine gave up the ghost. I took it apart twice, and it was a bit better, but not well enough to cope with the massive amount of sewing I do (bags bags bags - Knit Camp is calling and I need to get a move on).
So I nipped to Argos and bought a cheapy one, thinking it would do until the summer, and if things go well at the Ravelry weekend then I can treat myself to a good one. But oh no, this cheapy thing (and £60 isn't exactly cheap) (then add on bloody taxi fares to and from town with sewing machines) was utter tripe! Tiny, plasticky, noisy as hell - the reviews online said it was great, but I think it would have baulked at sewing a bloody tissue.

So that went back, and I invested in a much better one - ie much more expensive one - and it is, thankfully, fabulous. But bloody hell it ate into my cash.

And I have just had a call from the laptop repair blokie, asking if I have backed up everything I need. I have - and asked if I should feel worried.
'At this point it could go either way - but we won't do anything expensive without contacting you first.'

I feel very concerned.
This sounds ominously expensive
Anyone want to buy several bags?

I fell out of bed last night!
I was tossing and turning all night, worst sleep I have had in ages - then obviously rolled too far and shot straight out of my bed onto the floor. Three am, and I was in tears laughing.
Thank god I am single.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Stitching up a storm.

More of a gentle breeze really.
I rummaged upstairs in the Cupboard of Doom to find a missing pack of Kaffe Fassett garish fabric, bought last year with the ambitious intention of making a quilt - never got further than the many bags I was making, and the material vanished.

In said rummage, I also dug out 4 half made bags, an armful of material that caught my eye, and huge bag of Laura Ashley yumminess - in shades of teal and duck egg, neither of which I ever want in my home. Hmmm...

BUT I did also manage to finally put together, and take a photo of, the two main colourways that I plan to turn into quilts of some description.

Sunglasses at the ready, the first will make your eyes bleed - it matches absolutely NOTHING in my home.

I love the cabbage material more than any other - a couple of the greens have now been removed, I just love the greens and pinks together, they make me happy.

I think if it is bound and bordered with pink it should be nice, I would either drape it over a the chair or hang it on the wall. (Throws on the settee just don't seem to work, I bought two lovely ones to try and disguise its shabbiness but they just end up looking really messy).

This is the other colourway, which would tone with the living room perfectly, but which doesn't excite me much!

I am toying with a silk pink heart in the middle of each block to tie it together, but am also tempted to applique a tree with a bird on a nest ... why oh why I don't go for a simple option I don't know.

Eve bought something utterly impractical purely because it was pretty? How's this for a pretty and useless tea towel -

Thank you Laura Ashley sale, with your dastardly ways.
Also from Ms Ashley's emporium, but bought on different trips, plus the heavy velvet from Ebay, the cushion cover mission (again to try and detract from the shabby settee - although I have a hunch they might make it look even worse).

They are about to be cut out and I will make a start on them - I haven't done any sewing at all for a week, which is a concern as I am waaaay behind with my million bags mission for Knit Camp. Bugger.

Knitting? I am plodding on with the most boring cardigan in the world, dull dull dull to knit. Hopefully better when it is finished! Plus some colourwork mitts that I m loving so far, piccies to come. Plus quite a bit of spinning and plying, including some gorgeous roving in pinks and electric blue / turquiose from Becca, who is kind and generous and downright lovely.

And for no other reason that it is such a lovely photo - this is from etsy, and sorry etsy seller I don't remember who you were.

Enjoy the rest of the Easter break!

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Time flies like an arrow...

fruit flies like a banana. Groucho Marx, I believe.How fast is it going to go after Easter, when I am back at work?! Yikes! It's been six months, a long long time (and I have very much enjoyed being at home)and I have mixed feelings about going back - I do love my job but not this particular one, I work with some of my closest friends who are wonderful people, will be good to be back with them every day, and I need to get my brain working again.The rest? Hmmmm, will get back to you on that!
Very positive meeting though this morning.

And my union chap, who is lovely, is going to get in touch with local literary wotnots, to get me involved and help me get ideas about self publishing.

This little bunny was for a friend in an Easter swap on Ravelry, it's a pattern from the Little Cotton Rabbits blog - great fun to knit.I used Rowan 4ply cotton - I usually avoid all cotton like the plague but this was soft and lovely to knit with - unlike the very splitty Sirdar 4ply cotton I used for the head!

And some pretties - I treated myself on payday, not a big splurge but I love all of these (from Accessorize). The pink scarf in particular, have worn it every time I have been out, and the brooches are on my mac. Twinkly, yay!

And this, Gorgeous, absolutely gorgeous. If ever you visit Leeds do do DO make time to find Rose&Co. It is tucked away in the Victoria Quarter, the beatiful designer shopping area near Harvey Nix. At the moment their window display has the be the prettiest in town, towering cake stands piled with bath melts in whites, silvery glitter and pinks, totally over the top girliness! Will have to get a photo before they change it, it's lovely.
The shop is set out like an old fashioned apothecary shop, with a very 1940s / 50s styling, crammed with yummy bath and body treats, unusual perfumes, quirky jewelry, and lots of things you didn't know you absolutely HAD to have!
Upstairs is a hairdressers, and downstairs is a fabulous dress shop, filled with top stitched pointy bras, frou frou frilly knickers and huge bouffant layered petticoats, gorgeous!
Go on, spoil yourself and have a visit.
PS it's also very close to the best chocolate shop in town, Charbonnel et Walker .... ;-)