In which I digress

This is nothing to do with anything so far but it is brilliant so I thought I would tell you. Last time we went to the library we found a book, it is fairly surreal and everyone should read it. I love reading and silly stories and kids stories and reading silly kids stories, that’s probably a good thing as I don’t get much time for reading grown up stories at the moment because it is hardly ever quiet in our house. By the way, don’t read this post if you don’t want me to tell you the end of the story because I probably will.

The book is ‘Daddy Lost His Head’ by Quentin Blake and André Bouchard.

7345864It is about a daddy who comes home from work one day without his head, he keeps bumping into things because he can’t see. However, he can hear and follow instructions so his family sit him down quietly while they look for his head and after failing to find it they make him a new head out of newspapers which they paint and add a potato for his nose. As he didn’t have a brain to think for himself, Mum told him what to do which got lots of cleaning done and also she was pleased that he no longer snored. He is still able to do some things ‘thanks to the Super Brilliant Force of Habit’- the children take him to the toy shop, one steers him and one hides inside his jacket to do the voice and Dad can still manage to type in his PIN without thinking about it. One day he came back from work with his real head, he had left it at the office because ‘he needed all of his brain to work on a project that was Ultrasupertopimportant’. Dad didn’t remember about any of it and everyone else was very pleased because his real head had the recipe for chocolate cake and all the bed time stories in it.

The drawings are great; Dad’s paper head does look surprisingly like his real one. Quentin Blake’s drawings always make me smile (I can remember reading Mr Magnolia when I was littler than I am now and being able to picture the drawings vividly even when I hadn’t seen a copy for years). The words are fantastic and silly, I’m not sure small people understand most of the jokes but maybe that’s half the fun.

In which there is a lot of winding up

There is a bedroom in our house with all the stuff in it. If something doesn’t have a place to live it goes in that room, if we don’t know what to do with something it goes in there or if it is something that really should be thrown out or given away because nobody has used it for ten years but we can’t quite bear to part with it then it goes in that room. There is a big box of wool in there and no matter how tidily I put it away, it gets up and dances a jig when I am not looking and all the colours wrap themselves around each other and make a nice big nest which looks very comfy for someone but is not good for knitting from and stops the lid from shutting.

We are supposed to be getting on with decorating the house and are always saying we are going to tidy up in there so I said if someone got me a wool winder for Christmas then I would tidy up my wool. So they did. So I did. I tried out making a couple of balls with it from a couple of the least tangly bits of mess, I thought this would be really boring and I didn’t want to give myself RSI so I planned to wind a couple of balls a day until they were done. However, it is magic,

it turns this:                                                                                      into this:









(which takes up less space and you can pull the wool out of the middle when you want to use it without making a big horrible knot that collapses in on itself after you have used a third of it) and it is strangely addictive.

I re-wound the entire box in under thirty six hours and it is all beautiful and tidy. Although, I might be busy for a while longer – that was just the double knit; there is a bag of 4 ply and several ends of 400g aran balls that aren’t enough for a whole jumper and that I have a plan for which I will tell you about later…

Here is a silly thing, just for fun, if I can get it to work. Click on the picture  and give it a minute to load properly to see the silly thing.




In which slow progress is made of one sort or another

I have ordered some prints, it is very slightly terrifying and I have spent the best part of a day trying to do what should have been a half hour job. I found out from my friend exactly which pictures and in which size she wants and went to upload the images to the printers only to realise that they wanted the files to have a CMYK colour profile instead of an RGB one. I don’t completely understand this but it’s something to do with the debate which crops up in our house from time to time where the one with the photographer’s head who thinks in light colours insists that red plus green makes yellow whereas the one with the painter’s head who thinks in paint colours is adamant that red plus green makes a brown sludgy mess.

Anyway, it took me most of yesterday afternoon and all of this morning trying to work out how to make my computer do this without buying Photoshop, there’s a utility thing that almost does it but I couldn’t get it to do quite what I wanted. It should be really simple – it’s just what each colour is called in numbers and there is more than one list to choose your numbers from, a bit like having a cross stitch chart with DMC numbers in the instructions but using anchor threads, the colours are almost the same so you just find the one that is closest and it will probably look ok. I eventually gave up and found some different printers who can cope with the files as they are. About five minutes later I was e-mailed back by the original ones to say actually an RGB file would most likely be fine but being the stubborn creature that I am I have ordered them from the second lot because they had better instructions and I didn’t spend a day trying to follow them unnecessarily. So now I am waiting nervously for the prints to arrive next week and hoping they will be the right colour and the right size and generally ok.

Also the jumper is gradually progressing, I am down from 288 stitches to just 78 which means it is taking me a lot less than five minutes to finish a row and the end is in sight…

In which there is almost no knitting and definitely no bees

This is a nice thing that we made as a Christmas present for the small people, someone else thought it up – the instructions are here, but isn’t it a good idea? The cover is an old patched up duvet cover that was in the back of the cupboard for emergencies, the wood cost a couple of quid because for once there wasn’t quite the right sized bit in stores, the nice man in the shed drilled the holes (although the specification I gave him wasn’t quite clear enough so we have extra holes for hanging things on) and varnished the wood without being asked because he is a Really Useful Engineer (apologies to the Rev. W. Awdry) and I sewed some elastic loops onto the corners of the duvet cover.

Apologies for the blurriness, my photographer has gone to work and I am clearly not competent to operate the camera.

Apologies for the blurriness, my photographer has gone to work and I am clearly not competent to operate the camera.

It can be tall and thin for being the highest room in the tallest tower or it can be wide and flat when a giant has stood on your cottage and squished it, it can be a tent for sleeping under and if you speak to the nice man in the shed in your best polite voice then he will cut you a little piece of wood with a hole in it and glue it to your periscope (also made in the shed) so that you can hang it off the end of the crossbar and use it as a submarine, or you can use it as a stable for your horses that I’ll tell you all about some other time.

Sorry for the proliferation of posts, I was aiming for one or two a week but I am putting off sorting out the shop on my website, (the Really Useful Engineer has taken it on himself to revamp my shop and has kindly installed some software on the website for having a proper checkout, it will still use Paypal but it won’t have to have the nasty yellow Paypal buttons that don’t match anything else and change character sets when you aren’t looking, it’s not live yet so don’t try looking for it.) finishing a jumper, knitting another hat from the pattern to see if I wrote it down properly, doing the ironing, looking up how much poster tubes cost to buy and to post and about a dozen other things which mostly involve cleaning…

In which a hat is finished

But not quite the same one that was started – after about six inches it was obviously going to be too loose, even the person in the house with the biggest head said it was a bit too big so I unravelled it and started again with smaller needles (two sizes smaller because the next size down were busy making a jumper) and consequently spent the whole of the rest of the hat worrying it was going to be too small. I also decided to add in some extra colours, the result of which is a really dense, cosy fabric (which is what I was aiming for because I hate having the wind whistling through my ears, it blows in one and comes straight out the other side, you know?)

It took me about three goes to cast on for the second attempt of the hat (mostly because of trying to watch an Agatha Christie at the same time), the first time it looked ok when I joined it but then I must have twisted it before the second row and after about an inch I realised I was making a Möbius hat, which whilst interesting is not very practical to wear, (I have seen a pattern for a Möbius sort of scarf or cowl thing somewhere, I’ll have to dig it out) so I started again, the second time I had an extra stitch somewhere which I should have been able to fix but because it was right near the bottom the casting on fell apart as well as the stitch that I undid.

Eventually it got going properly and I’m pretty pleased with the result, it is very slightly too pointy, the decreases at the very top need to go more quickly, it is better after I blocked it by letting it dry upside down on a football which the small people thought was hilarious.  I think somebody else quite likes it too, I may have to wrestle it from her…

Tiny with large hat

Tiny with large hat – never tell children to smile.

Now to write it down before I forget what I did!

In which some inventing commences

A little bit of a hatJust a quick post to show the start of a hat, if it turns out ok then I’m going to write up the pattern and put it on Ravelry to find out how that works.  I’m not sure about the size at the moment, it might need smaller needles, it’s really stretchy so far which is good for fitting different sized people but I’m not sure if it’s not going to be too loose. I’ll let you know how it goes…

Ooh, and we eventually thought of a better name for the blog after sitting for most of an afternoon reading the thesaurus, dictionary and a maths book about symmetry and then throwing ideas back and forth for several days. The logo/header/whatever-you-want-call-it is the first thing I have ‘painted’ on a finger painty app thing (I expect there’s a proper name for it but I don’t know what it is) which I pinched for the day.

In which we go round and round and round

This is one of the three jumpers that need finishing (actually only two jumpers need finishing, one needs starting) it is a birthday and Christmas present for a relative which was started far too close to Christmas  to have a hope of finishing it.

Half a jumper

My idea was that I might have two sleeves finished for him to unwrap and that I could do some more of it over Christmas, I merrily started on one sleeve a couple of days before Christmas when we were going out for the day on the train, I took plenty of wool with me and thought I might get it done on the journey. I did check the tension, for once I checked it really carefully first and when I got to the number of rows where the sleeve should be about the right length I realised it was far too small and measured the tension on the sleeve and it was too tight, I have no idea what I did when I measured it the first time but I had to sit on the train and unravel it all, much to the bafflement of the other passengers I should imagine. The most frustrating bit was I didn’t have any bigger needles with me, the train was held up for about three hours because of the floods and I couldn’t get on with it, then when we got home I didn’t even have a needle the right size. Christmas Eve was spent dashing out to the shop to get one and knitting like fury all day to get one sleeve done so there was at least something to unwrap and the second sleeve was done on Boxing Day. I’ve now done the body up to the arms and am waiting to see my victim to check the length on him before joining the three pieces for the yoke.


The pattern is a free one by Istex which is available here. It is knit in the round up to the armpits, then the sleeves and body are joined and it has a fairisle yoke. I’ve done some small bits in the round before like hats and gloves on double pointed needles (which is always fun as people make comments about knitting ninjas or say things like, ‘What ARE you doing?’) but I’ve only recently tried doing big things in the round on circular needles and (once you get the right size needle) it is great, I don’t like stocking stitch normally because I get bored but stocking stitch in the round with some Christmas DVDs to watch is great, you just go round and round and round and don’t have to think about or even look much at what you are doing, and jumpers in the round are amazing because there is no sewing up, just a little bit of Kitchener stitch under the arms.

Tubular cast on

I’ve also done a tubular cast on on this jumper which I discovered recently, I really like the way it looks, but I’ll tell you more about that another day.

In which we begin

Somebody asked me today if they could have some of my prints and I don’t have any which got me to look up printers again and this time I did find some that would do good quality prints for a reasonable price and for very small print runs, i.e. one. I haven’t ordered any yet but it has made me think that I really should get off my bum in between knitting and clearing up toddler poo and do something with Martell Designs (which has been pretty much dormant since birth apart from rabbit’s friends and relations buying stuff to be encouraging) so I am going to properly investigate some different printers, maybe do some more card designs (or redo some of the ceramic stuff onto paper to generate some new card designs without actually having to have a new idea) and I thought I would see if I could work out how a blog works. I have also been wondering for a little while whether I could design any knitting rather than just knit other people’s ideas so I am planning to have a go at that some time this year (either before or after I finish the three jumpers that are either in progress or have been promised to people nearly a year ago and are now in a queue of jumpers) if I manage to design anything sensible then I will probably put it on Ravelry and maybe on here too (if you haven’t seen Ravelry then go and look at it, it has all the knitting). I’m going to try to update the Martell Designs website which is really dull and whilst putting off doing that (I really hate HTML and I don’t even understand PHP) I won’t be able to justify doing any knitting (except maybe the three jumpers that need finishing) so I thought I would start off by doing some posts about stuff that we made last year because it did seem to be a pretty good year for making things and I thought maybe someone might find it interesting (my mother, at least, will read it to be polite although she probably has seen most of it before). It goes against the grain to even think about starting a blog because I’m a fairly private kind of person so it will probably mostly end up being about knitting and making stuff but I thought I would give it a try anyway and see how it goes. Hmm, I’ve said it now, I’ll have to get on and do it, won’t I?

The other thing is, I have called it Martell Designs at the moment because once I remember how the menu bar on my website works, I’m going to put a link on there but really that is an incredibly dull name for a blog and I mostly just make things other people have designed anyway so I would like a better name. Silly is good. Any ideas?