Sunday, 29 April 2012

In which the cardi of doom is slain.

Finito, one cardi of doom and swearing. It's a beautifully styled and shaped cardi, no denying that at all but it definitely goes down in history as the thing I have least enjoyed knitting PURELY because of the damned chart malarky.

I am glad I stuck with it though and improvised my way through the lace bit and I am really pleased with how it looks - so without any more ado here is the Cardi Of Doom and Much Swearing itself:

The buttons were a lucky find in one of my (many) buttons jars and I really like them against the grey. The thread was in my beloved nana's old thread box which was the loveliest way to finish things off. I don't usually do button holes (too fiddly for sore hands, buttons) amd use press studs, this also means I can use quite large decorative buttons on the outside if I want without worrying about huge buttonholes.

Favourite things about this:
  • neckline, without a doubt - love the shaping, love the way the garter stitch sits pretty neatly
  • the shaping throughout
  • the flared sleeves, hugely flattering for dumpy arms like mine and what I always look for in bought cardies
  • the back waist pattern (even if it drove me to despair) reflected in the v on the sleeve hems
  • the buttons!!
  • the wool, Ethical Twist, andf if I had known it was this lovely I would have bought even more when Kemps were selling it cheaply. This used a fraction under three skeins from a destash on Rav, so cost around a tenner.
Things I dislike - the fekkin chart!!! Not always the clearest of patterns either, mostly fine but a few ambiguities which could throw a non experienced knitter.

As promised, this is my version of the chart.

Travelling Vine row by row, sort of.
Worked over 12 stitches but be aware this count changes at times to 13 so don't panic, it will come back to 12.

k1b = knit one through the back of the loop
p2togb = purl two together through the back of the loop
ssk = slip 2 as if to knit, knit these two together

1)     k2  (yo, k1b, yo, ssk, k5) k2
2)     p6  (p2 tog b, p7) p5
3)     k2  (yo, k1b, yo, k2, ssk, k3) k2
4)     p4  (p2 tog b, p7)
5)     k2  (k1b, yo, k4, ssk, k1, yo) k2
6)     p3  (p2 tog b, p7) p1
7)     k2  (k5, k2tog, yo, k1b, yo) k2
8)     p5  (p2tog, p7) p6
9)     k2  (k3, k2tog, k2, yo, k1b, yo) k2
10)         (p7, p2tog) p4
11)   k2  (yo, k1, k2tog, k4, yo, k1b) k2
12)   p1  (p7, p2tog) p3

When the number of stitches was less than the 'full' row above I started from the amount BEFORE each bracket. I have no idea if this is correct but it kept things balanced and seemed to work out OK!

Lesson learnt from this knit - I AM CRAP AT FOLLOWING A CHART! I can do cables easily, second nature, but there was something about this that my poor old brain absolutely refused to understand. One day I might get my head round it but I ain't holding my breath....

Have already cast on the next cardi, which is my own design and in BRIGHT PIIIIINNNNGGGGGGG!
Perfect for cheering up such a manky wet, cold and grey day - piccies tomorrow all being well.

Toodles x

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Many photos ahead, be warned

What can I say - the sun finally came out so I headed outside with the camera! It has rained and rained and rained and - well you get the idea, so some sunlight is just wonderful.
Come on, have a little wander around my garden with me.

This is one side - I live in an incredibly tiny back to back house, so the 'front' garden is the only garden. This is the left as you come out the front door:
There is about another metre past the duck on the stool, where the mini greenhouse lives - told you it was tiny! Every single pot is absolutely bursting with buds and greenery. Sadly I knocked one of the ducks off the stool last week and snapped its neck off! OOPS.
To the right:
As I have said before I tend to layer and layer in each pot, so the most bonkers mix of plants come up! No idea if this is the 'right' thing to do - I tend to believe that the 'right' thing = things grow and look pretty. The ladybird wellies need some seeds in soon, might just pop some nasturtiums in. I love geraniums especially against the blue porcelain pots when they flower (the geraniums not the pots).
My bench is one of the best things I have bought, makes me very happy to sit there and just enjoy the fresh air.
In fron of the bench is a table made by my mate Barry the Boat, the table is just visible here. Not Barry tho', he is presumably on his boat .... I have hung hanging baskets in the tree !

The table is half crammed with pots, moved a few so I have my knitty space. Each side is crammed with more pots - I seem to have the latest blooming daffs and tulips in the country so it should be beautiful in summer when it all flowers.
These are really fat, I think they are the parrot type layered tulips. No idea about colour, pink would be lovely!

I managed to get nice and grubby - do note I wear my (pink) gardening gloves for most gardening but today was just using fresh bags of compost so didn't bother. Knitting needles are most excellent for removing what the nail brush leaves behind.

No sniggering at my stumpy little hands please!

(Burn caused by being a clumsy weak handed clot is healing at last).
These new planters are fab, extremely cheap (£2 ish), drainage hole at the bottom. Half filled it with polystyrene first to save compost and keep it light as possible, this one has a peony tree, an unknown mini shrub, and dianthus which I love. My nan and mum always had dianthus in the garden and the smell is lovely. I have two of these planters, the other is also crammed with all sorts including many lily bulbs.
And last but not least my beloved blossom tree:
Just gorgeous.

Oh - not quite last. I also bought some (cheap) wall hanging planters - the tiny one is up and my daughter is on drilling duty tomorrow to hang the multi tiered one:

Knitting is sort of happening, so tired lately but the cardi of doom is not too far from being finished. Have also been knitting a sleeve for 'the design' - I still feel rather pretentious saying that I am designing even though that is exactly what I am doing!

Enjoy the sun.

Monday, 23 April 2012

The Outside World

There is one! It exists!

I braved outside today - sick to death of being in, and going a bit stir crazy. So orf I pootled, not just to the scary post office but then over the road, got the bus (been so long since I was on a bus that they have changed the whole tickets!) and had a long slow wander round the indoor and outdoor markets.

Easy pleased, that's me - I love markets. The more obscure and old the better - Leeds market is fab, very old in parts and always struggling to keep going. Some bits have been boosted and tidied up, with stands such as a very smart cookery lessons area, a chilled drop your shopping place (chilled as in cold storage, not mellow music and dope).

But I personally have a weakness for the garish bonkers stalls - the Chinese stalls festooned with weird brightly coloured garlands of very fake flowers, the Indian stands with beds covered in huge diamante studs, giant shiny porcelain leopards, that sort of thing - fab! Oh and also outside, the marvellous TOILET ROLL stall, I kid you not - nothing but mountains of loo roll. This is where Mr Marks, of Marks & Spencer fame started out - not with loo roll but at this market.

One day I must take my camera, my daughter and leave the old lady shopping trolley I now need behind because the building is seriously stunning:

Stocked up on PSidney's very favourite food so I now have a very happy piggy, some more plants for the garden (who can resist pansies?) and general bits of tat - oh, and vital things like pink hair dye!

Piccies to come tomorrow, simply too tired today - have slept most of the afternoon, the price to pay for a couple of hours out but worth it.
Knitting to do, finally working on getting one thing out of my mind and into reality. Pattern writing to follow if it works out.

That's about it really, tis raining yet again, grey and gloomy - I think we would all perk up with a bit of sunshine again. Drs tomorrow oh joy, results of scans from the other week.


Sunday, 22 April 2012


Oh cardi of doom, despair and many swear words - GOTCHA.

Was on the verge of giving up and unpicking the whole thing after cocking it up yet again - never have I had such a struggle to understand a pattern.
But it seemed such a shame - as I say I really like the shaping and general style of the cardi, and as I am almost finished I decided to give it one last go.

And lo - and indeed behold- I found a very easy to understand WRITTEN version of the chart, things clicked, and I am firing, for now, on all cylinders.

Will add the link tomorrow / next post and some progress piccies. Am aiming to get the lace part of the sleeve done tonight and then only have the second front to do. Phew.

As for the Queen of Deletion and Disorganisation - plenty of hoohah going on in Twitter land, understandably a LOT of very annoyed  and incredulous people. Won't say much more as I really do not want this blog to be taken over by her fantasism again, but lordy what a fekkin pillock she is!

Homeland for me now and more knitting. It's pissing down outside as it seems to have done since the DROUGHT word was first mentioned.

Oooh - before I go, as an antidote to political farces everywhere:

Barbie aged 40.

and Aintree 2012 - fact and fiction with ne'er a blur.

Toodles x

Saturday, 21 April 2012


Remember the entire Knit Camp cock up?
The lies?
The cons?
The unpaid monies?
The visas?
The unpaid tutors?
The cash handed out willy nilly for cancelled classes?
The non-existant sweat shirts?
The 'goody' bags?
The rudeness?
The public sackings?
The deleted posts?
The locked threads?
The mismanagement?
The utter disorganisation?
The magical trip to 'Ireland' ?
The total and utter lack of apologies, the lack of guilt, the total disregard for the damage she has done?
The lies told to Stirling University?
The debts?
The crafty liquidation mysteries?
The bunnies?


Read this:


The 'about me' page is hilarious - especially points 13 and 15.
Spooky how there is no mention of Knit Camp. Or the missing items later sold on Ebay. Or the buttons, what the hell happened to the buttons??? Can buttonist people run for election?

Dear lord.
Yes, same woman.

Utterly deluded, surely? How can ANYONE just go from one thing to another and expect people to simply forget what has gone before? Please tell me this won't go unnoticed, please.

So she thinks she is suitable to be in a position of power, in any degree? This woman is astounding, for all the wrong reasons. Yet time after time people fall for it, fall for the words, the empty promises, the Big I Am. God only knows why.

Working in schools. Blogging merrily away (in several places). Happily living her life, pointing out how much it costs to fill their two cars, mentioning their life in the country blah blah blah. Oh - and opening another online wool shop.
Nuf said.....

Today's post

will be brought to you mostly by the colours pink and .green.

Been a rough week healthwise, but never mind - more ooman today thankfully (have been doing Olympic worthy sleeping and it seems to have helped).

The crochet throw thingy is growing slowly but surely - more slowly than surely I think. I am really enjoying it - no need to look at a pattern, no need to jot anything down as I go, just round and round, finish, start another. Bliss.

I joined most of the ones I had finished and couldn't work out quite why it looked such a pitiful piece of messy tat:
Surely this was how I did it before? But no - I have crocheted them but just a single chain running like a - well, like a running stitch. Yuk.
So I unpicked this lot - thankfully it just pulls out easily - and started again, this time with a treble crochet.
I think it's a treble anyway - the idea was to have the deep pink joining all the hexagons and showing on the top of the seam, as a raised pink row.
I know it isn't perfect but I am really pleased with bit - miles to go still! The chunk that's complete (and ends sewn in on the reverse) is about a cushion size. So if I get really bored I can at least make it into a garden cushion ;-)

Even the scary dayglo PINK is bearable in small amounts:
Considering this is so cheap I think it looks pretty decent.

Knitting wise, the grey cardi of despair and swearing continues. Once again I came unstuck trying to follow the chart and instructions from the pattern, I think I tried 4 or 5 times to knit a front and gave up, went back to 'my' written out version and that's been much better.
I really like the pattern itself, and love the waist shaping (done by decreases and increases on the fronts and back, not in the side seam) but bloody Nora it's a pain in the derriere. Plus this happened on the back:

A chuffing great ruffle. I don't mind ruffles, in fact I rather LIKE  ruffles - but there wasn't a ruffle in sight in the pattern! Hopefully it will smooth out when blocked and worn.
Hmmmm. I know the trailing vine pattern is going to open when blocked, but I really do hope it looks better finished than it does at the moment. Back, one front, one sleeve finished so far. Hmmmm ....

It has rained here every day and every night for AGES AND AGES AND AGES. So I haven't been any further than the bin for a while - haven't been out of the gate since Tuesday (not sure if that's because I have felt so ill, or if I have felt so ill BECAUSE I haven't been outside). Managed to grab 15 minutes last night when it stopped raining to plant out some more bits, including cabbage seedlings and some parsnip seeds.

I have things potted inside, the spider plant spiderling and the Mexican Hat plants are still alive. I also planted some lemon pips in the vain hope that they might sprout:
I don't have many rooms, so not many windows - so the poor living room windowsill is now a mix of 'nice' things and plantpots.
This beauty has just started flowering:
Pink and green, perfect.
My mum has my nan's old flowering cactus and it is an absolute beast of a plant, seriously huge! This is only small, but it flowers beautifully every year.
I bought a few of these, and a longer multi-tiered version instead of a hanging basket by the front door. Haven't tried them before and I need to buy some plants to go in, but hopefully they will look nice against the walls. I am running out of ground space so thought I would start going upwards!

And something nice to end with for today, the blossom tree of unknown heritage is still in full bloom - it's such a shame that the weather's been manly as I think it's just about past it's best now and will start to drop soon. Usually I manage to get more 'outside' time with it by now, and get to smell it properly. So I cheated and brought some inside:

I doubt it will last long in here but it is so pretty, such delicate shades of pink (and green). Must take some close up photos and try painting one day ....

Enjoy the weekend.

Monday, 16 April 2012

I am a Hooker.

Hands were simply too sore for knitting and I get really twitchy if I don't have something to occupy my hands if I am watching telly or a film. So I spent an evening becoming friends with crochet again - haven't done any for about a year (when working on the summer bag pattern which still needs finishing!).
I couldn't decide between a square or a hexagon to make a summery bright blanket for the garden bench, 2 hours later I had a whole ONE hexagon / flower to show for it - the same pattern as the bag I am working on but what the heck.

Cheapo acrylic, the colours are fab - except for one!
The end one is parchment,m a sort of putty colour - defo not white as it seems in the photo. BUT the next pink is seriously bright - doesn't show it's full scariness no matter how often I photographed it.
Think dayglo socks.
Think headache inducing.
Have used it very sparingly so far, but I really think it's going to be a no no - am sure I have some other pinks and greens upstairs, will have a look later.
By the end of Saturday I had this:
(Grand Prix qualifiers, late night bosing) and by the end of Sunday this:
(Grand Prix). Daughter's birthday yesterday, how dare she interrupt crocheting!
I have a serious amount of tidying to do before Wednesday so little of anything going on today craftwise - plus I am struggling with the damned RA. Yesterday was pretty grim, pain, sore throat, very tired - admitted defeat and was in bed by 8.30ish last night which is unheard of. Sleeping tablet helped me sleep through the pain most of the night - shopping's been delivered this morning so I suspect I will be back up to bed very soon.
Some days it just can't be beaten or ignored or coped with, and giving in is the only solution.

Elsewhere, I have a nice burn on my hand caused by having considerably weaker hands than I always think (thanks to the RA) - struggled getting tea out of the oven and hit my hand on the grill.

Since the pic it blistered then burst, and is now rather angry looking and sore. Grrrrrr. I also spilt a (thankfully cold) pan of oil over myself the other morning - I have become much clumsier since being ill. Bloody thing.

Garden wise - I am also planting bits for inside, I have very limited space inside for plants (or anything much) but things tend to thrive. I have some teeny tiny Mexican Hat plantlings to plant - they tend to just need popping on top of compost rather than shoving into it:
and am trying some lemon seeds, which will either grow or not!
I potted up a Spiderling from one of my bigger plants the other day:
Why yes that IS  a little smiling face there.
He is a little paper face. Makes me smile.
I have a fabulous gift from a fabulous friend, more of that soon.

Enjoy the day.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012


Thank you for the comments on my last post, I really treasure them.

I am plodding on - braved the scary post office of doom yesterday and rewarded myself with a pootle around Wilko - I know how to party. Since when did it become acceptable to have kids on scooters trailing after their stroppy mums in shops? Eh?

I love Wilko, fab shop - trated the garden a bit and have been out with good intentions of planting them all up this morning, but a) my hands hurt and b) it is chilly, so the rest can wait.

But despite the chill the sun is shining, always a good thing.

I had a fabric delivery this morning so it is washed and on the line ready to cut tomorrow - scuse the awful photo taken through my (dirty) window.
Ordered ages ago from an online shop in Germany, I think it's Not sure I will use them much, but the only option for actually handling material before buying involves going into the city centre.
This was very stiff (!) but seems to have softened up nicely after a good wash, it wasn't mega cheap so hopefully there is a skirt / dress to come from it.

The garden is looking lovely (to me, anyway).
I seem to have the latest flowering bulbs around - the tete a tete have just flowered and the rest are not ready at all. I have these in hanging baskets too - my walls are seriously hard to drill so I have hanging baskets in the tree!
I love how the most delicate looking plants survive inches of snow and ice each year.
This is a pussy willow which I had just about given up on, I chopped it right down and left it alone and here it is again, brilliant! Needs a bigger pot as soon as it warms up again.

This big pot should be glorious once things start flowering - huge fat tulips, if I remember correctly these are the layered ones, more forget me nots and others layered in the compost. I am a big believer in just layering lots of bulbs and seeds, keeping them warm and damp then letting them do their thing.
The blossom tree is at its best at the moment, I love this tree so much. It's a delight to open the curtans on a morning - all I see from my bedroom is a mass of blossom (note to self : remember to take camera upstairs).

It is becoming pretty overgrown, I must ask my landlord to come and tidy it up when it stops flowering. I don't like very 'tidy' trees but this one is getting a bit mad.
I plan every year to paint the blossoms and never ever get round to it.
Just absolutely, perfectly beautiful.

Knitting wise things haven't been quite as perfect.
Oh no not at all - much MUCH swearing has been involved.
I cast on for the cardi in the last post, started with a sleeve just for the hell of it (large swatch) and what a bloody fart on.
The pattern says to use the travelling vine pattern in a decreasing 'v' for the sleeve - fine so far.
OK, not my favourite thing but I do a hell of a lot of complex cables so charts are nothing new.

'Work the vine chart only on the marked stitches' - personally I would have worded this 'BETWEEN the marked stitches, but never mind.
At the same time decrease - yep, got that. Again not very well pointed out, also the decrease row is written twice so anyone new to knitting might get very confused.

I knit, I counted, I used the chart. I unpicked.
I repeated the above maybe three times. Swearing happened.

I drafted it out on paper - nothing added up. Got there eventually and knit one 12 row repeat. Looked fek all like the photo.
Tried again - whole 12 rows. Grrrrrr.
This happened:
Bloody buggering thing.
I considered turning to drink
I considered starting smoking.
Or doing drugs.
Or changing to an easier craft like open heart surgery.
Or street fighting.
BUT LO - and indeed behold - BRAINWAVE!

I looked online and found a written version of the chart - bore absolutely no resemblance to what I had been doing, Yes the stitches were the same but in a Morecamb and Wise stylie - same stitches but not necessarily in the same order. The start / finish of the chart was totally different in my head. Sigh.
So once again - I know the sodding 12 rows.
Moved the markers in, knit the next 12 rows.

And then this happened:
Not only had the wool had a knot - but a knot that had come undone after I had knit the previous row.
Oh joy.
Yes, swearing happened.

I thought knitting was supposed to be relaxing????

Anyway, all is ok so far. I hardly dare knit anymore for fear it might self combust.

Other knitting - I knit this shawl last year from some wool I dyed a while ago. I wanted to look all elegant like the project photos on Raverly.
Nah. Not going to happen.
OK to knit, a bit boring maybe.
stripe-study-shawl - but a royal pain in the wotsit to wear with any aplomb. Looks all right on a bench I suppose ....

A few days to knit - a year to get round to sewing in the ends. Such is life.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Black Puppy. Long Post alert!

Not quite a full blown dog but definitely a down time at the moment - maybe partly literally downtime after all the business of last week.

 Not in the best of moods and have dealt with it by doing some serious throwing away and tidying . Still a MASSIVE amount to do but everytime I manage to get a bit done I feel pleased.

Anyway - part of my misery at the mo is feeling fat and frumpy. I haven't been slim for about 20 years and am usually relatively accepting of my little stumpy bod's design faults. I bloated like a balloon last year when I was on steroids and thankfully that came off eventually.
But at the mo it's one of those 'everything in my wardrobe hates me' times.

Because my hands are knackered I can't wear a lot of my 'usual' clothes - buttons are out, back fastening things are out etc. I caught sight of myself in a long floaty dress I thought disguised a fair few faults - and believe me IT DOES NOT.
So I think it is sewing time - time to make a few dresses etc that (hopefully) suit me.

I finished the shawl the other night and had that jittery what the hell do I knit next thing.

 I looked through loads of pattern books and had to admit to myself that one of my favourite designers simply wasn't going to work for me. Very 20s styling and I do not have a 20s up and down figure! I love the styling and the patterns but no, most are not for me.

It's time to face it - I need something more structured, to give the illusion of a waist even on fat days.
So last night I ended up spending far too long trawling the web for those 'How To Look Good' / Dress for your Shape type sites. Remember Trinny and Susannah and their strange bosom grabbing ways? That sort of thing. Once upon a time I wouldn't have given a flying fart and would have just dressed in what I like - but at the moment I want a few reliable outfits I know fit and look fine.

Biggest issue - what the hell shape am I????????
 I seem to be a mix of several. Easier to say what I am not I think.

I am not a banana (scuse me a what???) - not slim or boyish.
I am not pear shaped, my top half is a size larger than my bottom half, not because I am busty but because I have broad swimmer's shoulders. I also have large upper arms, grrrr. If I could change just one thing on me I think slim upper arms would be it. Or a flat tum.

My bust is very similar size to my hips and I have a definite waist, even though it is no way as small as it used to be! So that would make me an hourglass shape which is supposed to be the easiest to dress.
I am just under 5ft so allegedly petite - I tend to think stumpy is a better description.
BUT I also have a tummy, more noticeable lately because of medication and digestive issues.
So that's a mix of an apple and petite stumpy and an hourglass. Erm .... this is where it all got silly.

The lists of what I should and should not wear then started to contradict themselves. I should wear this neckline but should NEVER wear this on fear of certain death and ridicule. Then the exact opposite. Sigh.
I should wear floaty things AND fitted things apparently. At the same time? Eh?

No wonder I didn't sleep last night....

Then I thought about things I do own that I feel happy in and confident in, things that people have complimented, that fit and that I don't tug at or make me want to permanently suck my tum in. My working wardrobe is mostly stored away now but I do have a few favourites I still wear now and again - I like dressy clothes and never ever wear jeans.

Black net skirt from Monsoon - love this so much I have two. Very long, slim over the hips, very full at the hem.

This sort of bolero cardi - but in black of course! My favourite Laura Ashley one has flared sleeves.

I love long waterfall type cardis but not convinced they love me. I want to hide in loose baggy things but learnt many years ago that they don't HIDE fatness but simply exaggerate it. So no, not hugely baggy. I like my shift dresses but I know they are not flattering (I wear them with leggings and have chunky legs). So what I have decided to start with are some 50s style dresses, this sort of thing:
Not with a halter neckline, maybe thick shoulder straps or a scoop neckline. Hmmmm. Wouldn't wear it without a coverup of some sort to hide my chubby arms. But yes, I like this - would give me back some semblance of a waist and if I make it with a side zip (or front?) it would work with my hands. I have some skull fabric too just crying out to be a dress.
I trained as a pattern designer / cutter many years ago and it's calling me at the mo, I have my cutting paper, design materials and pattern cutting rulers, curves etc at the ready. Energy would help!

And a bolero type cardi like the one above but I want a black one and a bright pink one! Pin huge flowers on and that would make me happy.

I have one or two (dozen) plain black tee shirts that I seem to live in all summer, but they aren't great for us bingo wings women. I have a rather nice flattering black top with a tie back (again making a waist), 3/4 sleeves and a shaped neckline, must have a closer look at that soon and make a pattern.

Not sure what else though - any ideas? Do you know what suits you? Do you care?!
Knitting wise - I finally ended up casting on this cardi:
Petrea by Amy Herzog. It has a decent bit of waist shaping, a nice neckline and most of all sleeves that should hide the worst bits yet still be pretty. I know Amy blogged in depth about body shapes in her 'Fit to Flatter' posts.

Watch this space .... and thank you for bearing with a long post!