Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week - Post 2

(for more details, see Eskimimi Knits)

An Inspirational Pattern
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!

The day I feel I don't have any of the mountain of learning yet to climb is the day I hang up my needles and whip myself with wet yarn, because nobody can ever know everything about their art or craft, and if I feel like I do, well I need taking down a peg or three.

It is only in the last couple of years I've mastered knitting on double pointed needles, and it's been fantastic learning how to knit socks. I'm still on the top downs, though - toe up is something I will try in the future, hopefully.

There are other techniques I still don't know how to do - casting on by the thumb method is one of the ones I want to learn, as is the long-tail cast on. Using two circulars is one I probably should know how to do but I'm not interested in, and Magic Loop seems as equally fiddly. I also need to figure out brioche stitch, as I think the way I hold my yarn is messing that up for me.

In terms of projects - part of me would like to knit a traditional Shetland shawl, and make it fine enough to go through a wedding ring but I know that I would never have any use for a shawl so fine, and nowhere to display it, so I do wonder what the point would be - they are traditionally used for Christenings and Weddings, neither events ae going to feature in my life! I'm not necessarily drawn to doing something "just because I can". Maybe a more practical weight  non-white Shetland style shawl will get made at some point?

And just because it is so cute, here's a Shetland sheep. Shetland sheep have very soft wool on their necks, and this was traditionally used for the finest cobweb yarns for shawls. The rest made wonderful, almost waterproof, clothing.

Click here to see other blogs tagged with knitcroblo2, blogging about this same topic for Knitting and Crochet Blog week. (May take a few hours to update on Google)

Monday, April 26, 2010

A Close Shave ...

I know my partner The Hermit doesn't appear very much in this blog - apart from when I make him stuff, or moan about mention that he doesn't like Christmas, so I thought it was time he had a post of his own. I won't go overboard, as he's mainly a retiring type, and generally hides behind pseudonyms on the web.

I imported him from Canada over seven years, having "met" him online in a Usenet community we were both members of. He's very tolerant of my stitching and stashing habits, as he does get a little obsessive enthusiastic about his own hobbies.

Sometimes, it seems he's a living Canadian cliche - burly, bearded and wearing checked shirts.

But, come 20 May, at least one of those won't apply, because he is shaving his beard off for charity!


If anyone wants to know why, and who for, I'd like to point you in the direction of his blog, where you can read all the details (and perhaps offer to sponsor him). I've never known him without a beard, so this is going to be weird ...

Knitting and Crochet Blog Week - Post 1

(for more details, see Eskimimi Knits)

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?

I learned to knit very young, from my mum, who learned to knit from her mum, who learned to knit from her mum, who learned from her stepmother ... and so it goes. 

My mum was always doing something crafty when I was little - she made virtually all of our clothes - in the picture below, I'm five - it's probably around my birthday, my sister is a year younger, and we're both wearing jumpers my mum knitted - Sis has a hat my mum made, and my trousers are homemade too - blue Crimplene flares! (And those of you who have seen pictures of the Tot will notice the resemblance between her and her mum at the same age!)

Anyway, it was probably around the time this photo was taken that my mum taught me to knit. Back in the early 1970s, there wasn't a whole host of distractions for children in a family where there wasn't much money, and bad weather ruled out my swing, or seeing Mr Ward's bantam hens, or climbing the apple tree in Matthew Abdy's garden. Mum cast on thirty stitches - I could count to thirty - using some dishcloth cotton and size 7 needles (metric was very much in its infancy in the UK, it's still a stroppy teenager thirty years later, but I digress) and taught me how to knit by chanting "in, over, through and off". And I was away ... I managed to do a couple of rows of purl, too, and how to cast off. Casting on was a technique that took me a while to get - I had to learn a two needle cast on, as being left handed and taught by a right-y, the thumb method just wasn't going to work...

My Ma still calls me cack handed at knitting, she maintains I hold everything in a very awkward way, but that doesn't stop her asking me to knit her socks ... it's rather sweet that I'm now the one making stuff for my mother rather than the other way round. I still sometimes have to call on her to remind me how to do things if I'm away from my books, and it's great that I have this resource and connection to my family going way back because of a shared interest.

Click here to see other blogs tagged with knitcroblo1, blogging about this same topic for Knitting and Crochet Blog week. (May take a few hours to update on Google)


First of all, I'd like to say a BIG thank you to all the people who took the time to send me supportive comments and emails after I posted about having a bit of a depressive blip. It really helped to know that I'm not alone, and that there are some people who really "get it" - despite us having never met in person.

I'm a bit behind in posting pictures and stuff, but I will get caught up eventually. However, don't expect too much over the next month or so, as it's the end of the semester and I have two assignments and an exam between now and the 4th of June. Add into that two interviews (from only three job applications!) and I'm going to have my hands full - oh, and I mustn't forget my niece's birthday, or my dad's! I must remember about Blogging Without Obligation ... no one is actually going to fall out with me if I can't post because I'm busy doing other things...

Craft wise, I've been knitting because it takes less energy (physical and mental) but I will try and get My Needle and Floss finished for the end of the month - or at least, the end of the May Day weekend, which is almost the same thing :o) I do have a big knitting project nearly finished, it just needs sewing up - but as it's an afghan with 48 blocks in it, it may take a while...

I hope everyone who has requested an April Biscornu pattern (or any others) has received it by now - thanks for your patience. The good news is that I've done the May one already, so it will be released in a more timely fashion. I will be continuing with the monthly series as freebies, but I think I may have offer any other designs for sale only, because of the time they take not only to design but to send to people. I haven't decided how I'm going to do that yet, though!

Okay, I'm going to have to get cracking, unfortunately I can't spend the day like my guinea pigs...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

April Biscornu and Fob - Free Cross Stitch Chart!

 April brings the primrose sweet, 
Scatters daisies at our feet.

We have been having a lovely sunny Spring here, and it's been most welcome after the cold and snowy winter! It's not been amazingly warm, due to the Northerly breeze that also brought all the volcanic ash, but leaves are budding, flowers are blooming and the birds are singing!

My niece is loving all the flowers - she is very much a child of nature and adores animals of all kinds, as well as flowers. She is getting good at identifying flowers now, having mastered animal names - which isn't bad when you're not quite four!

We went for the day to Hardwick Hall last weekend, and although she did enjoy visiting the house - especially the four poster beds, and finding all the animal imagery in the paintings, tapestries and furniture, the favourite part of the day for her was picking the daisies in the lawn... Her handbag made a convenient receptacle for them, and I'm sure the plastic shark that was already in there enjoyed being garlanded with flowers!

The chart follows my usual format of using only three colours so it should be quick and easy to stitch. I think it will look best on a pastel coloured fabric or natural linen.

The scissor fob can be personalised with your own initials as I've included a full alphabet

If you would like a copy of the chart, please comment below and leave an email address unless yours is visible in your blog profile. Some people ask for charts but I have no way of getting them to them :o( Charts are sent in PDF format.

If you do stitch this design, I'd love to see the finished article - and there will be a prize for any I show on my blog!

Although there is no charge for this chart, a donation to the MS Trust for this chart would be appreciated. Pennies will do - and you can make a donation by clicking here

There is no obligation to make a donation - you will be sent the chart whether or not you choose to make a donation, as I appreciate that some people are not in a financial position to do so.

This pattern is offered for personal, non-commercial use only. Items made from this pattern may be sold on a small scale basis such as on Etsy or at craft sales. Sales for charity are positively encouraged! This pattern and the text and photos contained within, may not be copied or reproduced for any purpose other than personal use. Please direct people to this blog rather than forwarding the pattern, thank you! Copyright 2010 N M Wray

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A touch of the blahs

I'm feeling a bit low and stressed at the moment, so I haven't felt like posting. Haven't felt like much of anything, to be honest.

This will pass. With gritted teeth at times, but it will pass!

Plans changing and disappointing turns of events aren't helping. But I have talked over one of the major stressors with a person who is in a position to help, and I feel better for that.

I had struggles with depression for years, and I know that I can and will overcome them. But when an episode hits me, it still has the power to knock me off my feet and mess with my head in all kinds of ways.

If you are waiting for a freebie pattern from me, I will be sending them out at the weekend. And I will be posting April's freebie pattern then too. I'm sorry for the delays.

It hasn't been all doom and gloom - on Saturday, I went with my Sis, BiL and The Tot to Hardwick Hall, and I will post about that, especially the needlework... but for now, I will just leave you with a taster of the building:

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Requiem for a Mezzo - Carola Dunn

With dashing Scotland Yard detective Alec Fletcher at her side, Daisy Dalrymple is enjoying a splendid performance of Verdi’s Requiem featuring her neighbour Muriel Westlea’s celebrated sister, Bettina. But the show comes to an abrupt end when what emerges from the star’s gifted vocal chords is literally a dying gasp. Daisy soon learns that the doomed diva was notoriously difficult and had more than her share of enemies. There’s a philandering tenor, a burly Russian bass and even her own vocal coach husband, with whom she had a turbulent relationship. Did one of them poison the singer? Or was it someone determined to see that Daisy’s investigation ends on as bitter a note as Bettina’s last performance . . . 

 Another good mystery with a period feel, this is even more convoluted than the last one I read, but no less fun for that. I'm warming to Daisy, and I think Alec is great...

The author contributes to a blog here, for anyone interested.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Two Down, One to Go

You know that assignment I was working on and had to submit yesterday - well, I did it. Only to get an out of office response from the tutor, because he's on holiday all this week! Grrr....

I have submitted the job application as well - it's not that I'm desperately unhappy doing what I'm doing, but this vacancy is a new role and related closely to something else I've been doing. It may be earmarked for someone else though, in the way that jobs within the University tend to be, so I'm not pinning my hopes on it - but I'd like to at least get shortlisted!

The last assignment is stewing in my head - I need to get it on paper - or at least into my computer, but I've had enough of sitting and staring at my monitor!

So, tonight I'm going to have a night off and just knit. I hope everyone else has a pleasant evening too!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Still Here...

I've got a numb butt from sitting at the computer today. I've got an assignment due before the end of the day, a job application deadline tomorrow, and another assignment due Friday. When I'm going away for the weekend, so need to pack suitable knitting as well as clothing for our changeable weather... so, I've been busy typing away and I'm sick of it ... especially as doing the first assignment has shown up some issues that will need to be addressed fairly urgently by one of the companys I work for... and guess who will probably end up sorting it all out? ;o)

I've been knitting afghan blocks because they are pretty mindless, portable and can be picked up and down - Margaret, I will show pics soon, I promise :o) - but other than that, not a lot has been happening on the crafting front. The good news is that the Easter holiday meant I got all my stash together, and I'm even more determined to work through it - and to certainly make sure that more goes out than comes in! Having it all together and being able to see it all is certainly helping my planning - but not my frustration as I can't get working on it! Roll on the weekend - a weekend of friends, fab home cooking and a lovely house in rural Shropshire with nothing to do except eat, chat, knit and stitch!

Right, just need to proof read assignment one before I send it to the tutor ... I'll be back soon, hopefully!

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Fly By Posting

I've now enabled comment moderation because of an outbreak of sex spam ... so sorry if comments are delayed, but at least genuine commenters won't have to enter the word verification any longer!

Anna, a "hygienic trimmer" is basically one for nose and ear hair. It's a man thing, fortunately - it looked vicious! The Hermit bought it and then changed his mind ...

Right, I'm off to the office early (for me) as deadlines are getting closer ... I'm going to have plenty of peace and quiet, as most of my colleagues are spending at least some of the day at the British Juggling Convention!

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Flung ...

This flinging lark is contagious. Not only have I worked through my UFOs, I've had a sort out of other stuff too. Thanks to Freegle, I've been able to help out loads of other people with my unwanted possessions. Prior to this weekend, I'd already got rid of a chest of drawers - replaced by a bigger set - but this is what went this weekend:
  • Over 1kg of yarn
  • One box of books
  • Two bags of clothes
  • One pair of boots
  • One pop up laundry basket
  • Two small plastic baskets
  • Four underbed storage bags
  • One underbed storage box
  • Four jewellery display items
  • One "hygienic trimmer"
  • One posture chair
  • Two underbed storage drawers
  • Two bath ballistics
  • One Psion Siena organiser
  • Two hand held games
  • One large box of various bits and pieces
  • Two covers for clothes rails
  • One tall bookcase
  • One set of hair clippers
  • One three drawer desk tidy
  • One 16" CRT monitor
  • One flatbed scanner
  • One Gameboy Advance
  • Three Gameboy games
I think this will be it for now - and I feel happier with some of the clutter gone. Now I can get round to sending out the UFOs other people have spoken for, and I may also get rid of some charts and kits to raise money for the MS Trust. I've also got some course deadlines approaching, so I will be busy - it's probably a good thing that I got the weekend of the knitting retreat wrong and it's not this weekend, it's the one after!

Monday, April 05, 2010


I've been having a bit of a Spring Clean this weekend - I've finally got all my yarn stash sorted - and given away over a kilo on Freegle! I'm also trying to get rid of some excess furniture and computer stuff, but some Freeglers don't seem to think "prompt collection, I'd like this gone ASAP" applies to them and that I have unlimited storage space ... perhaps I'm just odd in that once I make the decision to get rid of something, I want it gone quickly!

I'm working slowly on my afghan - I'm having a bit of a re-think about which blocks I'm going to use, as in my Spring Clean (yes, it deserves capital letters!) I found another 100g ball of suitable acrylic yarn, so I'm trying to incorporate that too. I have no idea what I'm going to do with the completed project, as the colours don't go with anything I have ... hmmm ... Ma has a bedroom that it might suit ... or my sister ...

Now that I'm de-junking the bedroom, I'm thinking about what colour to paint it. It's going to need something that will cover the existing pale pink (not my choice) and the marks from the damp (not my choice either, and why I bought a de-humidifier). I don't know whether to go with white, magnolia, or something else altogether. My sister has just done her living room in a very pale taupe colour which looked very nice, but I'm afraid it would just look grubby, as the room is north facing, unlike my sister's. It's going to be a pain to paint, as there's not a lot of room to move furniture too, but it needs doing. The whole flat does really, but I'm taking it one step at a time!

Right, back to the sorting and cleaning. My life is so exciting...

Saturday, April 03, 2010

April Goals

Finish UFOs:

  • Lizzie*Kate Round Robin - Lizzie*Kate
  • Passing Time - DMC (Little Suzi's Zoo)
  • Chevron Socks 2 
  • You Shall Be Queen Afghan
  • My Needle and Floss Comfort Me - Waxing Moon
Start and Finish:
  • F is for Friend (Prairie Schooler ABC SAL)
Frame or have Framed:
  • June
  • Sow Kind Seeds
  • Morning Song
  • Bee My Honey Bee
  • April Biscornu & Fob Design
  • Easter Biscornu & Fob Design
  • Get previous giveaways mailed out
  •  £20 for the MS Trust
The good news is that next weekend, I am away with some of my knitting group for a retreat to deepest, darkest Shropshire, so hopefully, I will get the knitting goals achieved there.

Friday, April 02, 2010

March Review

Who knows where the time goes?* It's been a busy month. There's been a lot of non-crafting stuff going on in my life and work and I'm so glad the long weekend is here and I can re-group and re-focus. But, as this is mostly a craft blog, let's have a look at the crafting goals I set myself for March:

Finish UFOs:

  • Chevron Socks 2 - these are going to be a Mother's Day present (in the UK, Mother's Day is in March) - not done. Ma got a massive box of chocolates instead, and the socks will be an early birthday present. I'm halfway down the second leg at the moment - and I have until June to finish them, which is when the Aged Parents are going to Norway.
  • Chevron Socks - DONE!
Start and Finish:
  • Hooked on Exchanges LHN/CCN Exchange - DONE!
  • One quilt block - not done. I'm going to put this away for now, it's just causing me loads of guilt, and I think I'll be happier once I've worked on some more UFOs. As a UFO, it is hardly the oldest...
  • F is for Friend (Prairie Schooler ABC SAL) - not done. But I'm well ahead of my self imposed schedule for this anyway.
  • 20 Innocent Smoothie Hats - not done. But the deadline for this isn't until late October, so no worries
Frame or have Framed:
  • June - not done.
  • Sow Kind Seeds- not done.
  • Morning Song - not done.
  • Bee My Honey Bee - not done. I haven't done any framing myself this month, although I did take O Christmas Tree into be framed, instead of Morning Song.
  •  £20 for the MS Trust - a total of £12 was raised this month, which came from only two people. I would like to thank them for their generosity. Their names and comments can be seen on my JustGiving page.
I also need to get my previous giveaways mailed out ... - still not done. It's a task for this weekend!

I also managed to complete:

  • Alpaca Mitts - these are just so strokeable - I got one small ball of this alpaca, and it will be enough to make two pairs of fingerless mitts, a great use of this luxurious yarn!
  • Afghan Blocks - I've done 15 six inch square blocks so far of my stash busting afghan, which will be called "You Shall Be Queen" - you'll see the reason for the name when I post pics of the block. It's using acrylic double knitting yarn, which is horrible after the alpaca, but it will make a hardwearing and easily washable blanket!
  • Oh, and an eight inch block for a charity blanket
So, I was quite productive, just not towards my goals - I even managed to forget about one commitment totally :o/, which is going to be finished today ... One major project is complete - I've decided what to do with all my UFOs, whether to "Finish or Fling?" them. I've really enjoyed going through them and talking about them in a rational way, and appreciated all your comments on them, including the offers of adoption! I may do something similar with the "To Do Something With" pile, so watch this space!

Right, I need to get cracking, I'm off to the opticians to have my eyes checked over, and then to visit with my sister and The Tot! I hope you have a fun day too!

*  This is one of the songs I want played at my funeral. The decision is to whether it is Sandy Denny's, Kate Rusby's or Nina Simone's version that gets played. Sorry if this sounds morbid, and it's not an event I'm planning on having anytime soon :o)