In which there is a really scary dragon

In which there is a really scary dragon

We’ve finished the cave, sorry the photos aren’t great – dragons don’t seem to sit still for long and Small chose the brightest green wool in the world for the wings which makes the lighting look a bit strange. The Chief Engineer and his apprentice were too busy playing yesterday to get their painting clothes on so I had a nice afternoon by myself and I’m afraid as I was unsupervised the green did creep up the sides a little, I think I’ve been forgiven though.


He did manage to find time in between playing to do the writing for the fire exit.
IMG_0124And the dragon looks a bit happier now that he has his wings on (and his ears).IMG_0126It is nice and cosy in the top of the volcanoIMG_0125and there is some treasure downstairs in the cave (heap of corrugated layers, newspaper, tinfoil and glitter glue).

Time for a cwtch.

In which the cave gets taller

In which the cave gets taller

The Chief Engineer and I have had a number of disagreements since yesterday, I have done the hinges which seem to meet with approval but after a detailed discussion about the ‘pointy bit’ I eventually worked out that maybe he meant something like Smoke Hill which is near the bend above Llaniog (in the top left hand corner of Wales).

IMG_0110So I made a pointy bit and he said it wasn’t tall enough. So I made a taller pointy bit and he said it wasn’t pointy enough but I said I wasn’t doing it again and Smoke Hill had a hole in the top like that. So he said it wasn’t pointy enough and he didn’t mean like Smoke Hill, he meant like the one in George and the Dragon which has a mouse. I haven’t seen George and the Dragon (or the mouse) so I said I wasn’t doing it again and that would have to do, the discussion was actually longer than this but it was pretty repetitive so I will spare you the details. He thinks I should make a pointy lid with hinges to go on the top but I think we will have run out of glue before we get that far.

IMG_0111Also I think the bottom bit should be green and the top bit should be brown (like Smoke Hill) but the Chief Engineer is adamant that it has to be brown all over although he did concede that I could paint some grass around the bottom.IMG_0114

And dragon heads are really difficult to photograph (please excuse any mud, I’ve been out making the most of the sunshine and doing some hoeing and turning over the compost) he looks very cute so far but I’m not sure the photo does him justice.IMG_0115


In which there is a lot of glue

I have glue in my hair. It’s half term and we are making a dragon cave, I’m hoping we can make it last all week what with things drying and needing more layers and drying again and needing painting and stuff like that. I may have just promised a small person that I will crochet a dragon to go in the cave; sorry Pip, I will finish your jumper before your old plus oneth birthday, I promise! But knitting is on hold this week or at least in parallel with dragons…

We started with some cardboard and sort of heaped it together in a cave shape with some gaffer tape:IMG_0103 I would give some more detailed instructions for this but we made it up as we went along, there is one main piece for an arch at the front and we left one side open for a big door at the front and filled in the back with some shorter strips, it is corrugated card so it curves nicely if you crease it all the way along. The small hole in the side that you can see in the picture above is for the fire exit (not my idea, although I sort of wish it was!) and is going to have a fire exit sign over it, the specification for the front is to have doors with hinges and the top has to have a pointy bit on it but I haven’t worked out why yet or how big it is supposed to be. Hopefully not too big because we have almost run out of newspapers and are using a copy of the ‘Primary Times’ which I think is a useful magazine which tells you local stuff to do in the holidays but I have never got as far as reading it yet and now it is being very useful as part of a dragon cave.IMG_0109Now I need to go and work out about this pointy bit and the hinges, I’ll let you know how we get on.  Oh, and here is the dragon that I am going to make – the pattern is ‘Fierce Little Dragon‘ designed by Lucy Collin, it’s free on Ravelry. Here’s a picture of her one:


Fierce Little Dragon © Lucy Collin

Apparently ours is going to be red with black spikes and green wings and really, really scary.

In which there is a little colour and I remember about Howl

Hurrah for antibiotics! I’m feeling a lot better and can have a proper conversation without a five minute coughing fit after every third and a half word. And the garden is waking up, I spotted the first bit of colour this year (apart from the green and brown, which clearly are colours, and the plethora of plastic toys that are a more or less permanent feature but don’t count because they don’t photosynthesise) and it’s purple.IMG_0080

I haven’t done much this week what with still feeling grotty but I did manage to finish a book. I used to read almost constantly – I spent the best part of my A levels either skulking in the music practice cupboard, bashing the piano loudly and hoping they wouldn’t hear it through the wall in the next room (which was where I should have been for a maths lesson) or when I didn’t need to be in the maths department I was normally sat in the corridor there working my way steadily through the fiction section of the college library. So it is very strange to not have the time to read and when there is time there is normally too much going on to concentrate on it anyway; I’ve been reading ‘Anna Karenina’ since August which has to be some kind of record, I think that even beats ‘The Lord of the Rings’. The book that I finished wasn’t that one, I was telling someone about ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ by Diana Wynne Jones the other day and then I realised I couldn’t really remember what happened in it so I thought I’d better read it again. It is another book (like Mr. Milne’s) that has chapters ‘In which’ things happen. One of them is ‘Chapter Six – in which Howl expresses his feelings with green slime’, there now, don’t you just want to read it to find out what all the slime is about?

I won’t tell you too much about it in case you do want to read it. ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ is about Sophie who should be young but is old because of a curse and can do magic without realising, she talks to things and tells them what to do or to be and talks life into them without knowing she is doing it. Another character is Calcifer, a rather grumpy fire demon, who makes the castle move and the castle belongs to Wizard Howl/Howell Jenkins who is from a strange land (can you guess which one with a name like that?) and who according to Sophie is a ‘slitherer-outer’ and who according to Calcifer is ‘heartless’. It’s a lovely story, it has shooting stars, the sosban fach song, mermaids, seven league boots, the Witch of the Waste, a yummy cake shop and the castle is fantastic – it scuttles around the hillside and is somehow in four places at once which is very useful and it is a different shape inside than it is out.

I like reading, I will read most things, grown-up books are ok and I enjoy them but fairy tales are great and kids books always seem like a lot more fun and anyway who says I have to grow up?

In which there is more than one way to knit

Sorry for the break in transmission, I have mostly been feeling sorry for myself with some horrible cold lurgy kind of thing, I’m still feeling pretty rough but alive enough today to realise that the house is a tip because I’ve not done any housework all week and I live with two mobile whirlwinds who make mess faster than I can pick it up at the best of times. So am I tidying up? No, I am writing on here while the mess carries on increasing…

I have been very good and not done any more of jumper number three (which is actually a cardigan) before doing jumper number two although I did accidentally cast on some socks (I am determined to make some that actually fit somebody but I will save the story about sock disasters for another day) but seriously, who could argue with the fearsome beast that was guarding jumper number two?

I have done a sleeve and a bit so it is coming on slowly. The other reason I keep putting it off is that I am knitting it back to front.  I used to think I knew a lot about knitting but the more I learn, the more I realise there is that I don’t know. A few months ago a friend asked me to remind her how to knit – she had learnt before but was a little rusty, I’m not great at explaining things anyway but she was holding the wool in her left hand and I couldn’t work out quite what she was doing so we didn’t get on very far. She worked out what to do anyway without me interfering but it made me remember something I had read about continental knitting and it turns out that’s what she was doing. I was taught the English/throwing method where you tension the wool with your right hand and kind of flick it around the right needle to make a stitch but with the continental method you tension the wool in your left hand and scoop it up with the right needle instead. The bit of me that is vaguely an engineer (very, very, very small bit) can see that that this should be quicker just because things are moving less far for each stitch so I tried to teach myself and made an experimental jumper. Experimental because I knit the whole thing with the wool in my left hand and also it was the first time I had knit a big thing in the round and it is a great pattern because it taught me a bunch of other techniques that I didn’t know existed. I would show you a picture of it but most of the photos have got my grumpy Christmas face in so I won’t. If you want to learn more about the different techniques then stick it into Google, there are loads of tutorials and this is waffley enough already without me trying to explain properly.

I promised my friend a jumper for her birthday last year, she was supposed to be choosing a pattern, I was supposed to be nagging her to choose a pattern and eight months later she saw my jumper and said she would like one like that. The size I did first time round fit her ok so I am making one the same which means the tension needs to be the same which mean I don’t dare knit it with the throwing method in case it turns out a different size. I am still quicker at throwing anyway but also I have super bendy thumbs which go more or less from -90° to +90° (I did contemplate showing you a picture of that but I thought you probably didn’t need to see) and the way I grip the needle for continental knitting means my thumb bends the wrong way, it’s not uncomfortable but if I do it for too long my thumb seizes up (which is sad) so that is my excuse for putting off jumper number two, that and the cat.


In other knitting news, I finished the rainbow hat but I haven’t written it down yet, I really should do it before I forget what I did. And I put the other hat pattern onto Ravelry where it has been downloaded over a hundred times already. That’s probably not very many in the scheme of things but it’s enough to remind me how terrifying the internet is.

In which thar be pirates

In order to break up the knitting a bit and because I haven’t done much painting for a while I thought I would show you a fun thing that we made about six months ago (before the rainy season when it was still possible to do things in the garden without floating away). There was a pirate sports day (?!) at school and the smalls were into playing pirates so we made them an enormous treasure map. I’m not sure where the enormous piece of paper came from but the boys took it into the garden with various unpleasant smelling brown liquids (mainly coffee), some cups for making rings and (against my better judgement) some blueberries for squishing and making interesting stains. We laid the paper out to dry in the sun (remember, that big yellow thing in the sky that you aren’t supposed to look at in case it notices and decides to hide behind a cloud?) and then found a nice map picture on Google to give us something to copy (I don’t know whose picture it is, it is on a few websites but if anyone objects to us using their picture then feel free to let us know).


Someone with a steadier hand than me drew the outline for the island and did the scale along the top and bottom (our kitchen table still bears the scars from the thick marker pen!), we used the bits we liked from the picture, left out some that we didn’t and added in a few extra bits, I had some help with the colouring in but not very much because the attention span of small pirates was not as large as the sheet of paper.


Click to embigificate

Here’s the finished thing along with quite a lot of pencil sharpenings and some random stuff in the kitchen. And here is the promised mug shot of the blue jumper on my father-in-law because the knitting is never far away. But he is not a pirate (as far as I know…).


In which there is a new pattern

It’s finished, this is the first time I have written up anything like this so be kind! If anybody spots any mistakes or needs anything clarified please let me know – (sarahATmartelldesignsDOTcoDOTuk) and I will update it or reword anything that is not clear.

The Gamekeeper’s Hat






The idea for the pattern started hatching when a friend was knitting a scarf using this stitch and she said she liked it because the front is the same as the back. I like hats with folded brims because then you can get them exactly the right height but sometimes if the inside is different and you fold it up too far or not enough then you can see where it changes texture and it looks a bit daft so I thought this would be a good stitch to use for a hat.

There is some waffle in the pattern about the gamekeeper in question so I won’t tell you all that again but he is amazing and here is a picture of him modelling a rather nice, warm, green jumper in the snow a year or two ago.

In which the post arrives

The prints are here, I’m pretty pleased with them. The internet pixie is working on revamping the shop in nearly every spare minute that he has and it is getting there, I’ll tell you once it goes live and you can see what you think.


He keeps nagging me to set up all the postage prices and write the waffle about the things but I’m not really sure what I want to say and just keep knitting hats instead… Maybe I should sell hats as well, then I would have an excuse for knitting all the time.

The pattern for the green hat is almost done, I just need to get a decent photo of it outside when it is not dark and raining (you can’t call a hat ‘The Gamekeeper’s Hat’ and then take a photo of it indoors, can you?) so I’m hoping to get the pattern on here at the weekend, photographer and daylight permitting.

In which there is far too much starting and not enough finishing

Do you remember after Christmas I said I had three jumpers to finish? Well jumper number one is finished (hurrah!):

Jumper number two, which I should be getting on with now I finally have the wool, looks like this:

Jumper number three, which is really a cardigan and which I should definitely not have started yet, looks like this:

Isn’t that pretty? Symmetrical and asymmetrical all at once and nice colours and I’ll tell you about it later because I’m not supposed to have started it yet…

If I’m not knitting number two then I should be writing up the hat pattern, the second prototype is finished and seemed to go ok so now I need to get some proper pictures of it to go in the pattern.

And what am I actually doing? I accidentally started another hat with the left over wool from jumper number one which is such fantastic colours (guess which colour comes next?) that I have been itching to do something with it. Is there a woolly equivalent of something burning a hole in your pocket?

Must stop it now, plus I need to do some tidying up before the cat makes away with the trolley…

In which the obsession exceeds all previous limits

I am sure normal people sit and watch Foyle’s War and think things like, ‘I wonder if he did the murder?’ or, ‘Is that the one that Sam marries? I can’t quite remember even though I’ve seen it before.’ or, ‘What else have I seen that actor in?’ or possibly even, ‘Ooh, he’s rather nice.’

I, on the other hand, was sitting there wondering whether the said gentleman was going to be shown in close up in a minute so that I could get a proper look at the pattern on his Fair Isle waistcoat…

In other news, the blue jumper is finished. It has been blocking on the dining room floor for the best part of a week, I think it is finally dry now. I will try to get a picture of the intended victim recipient in it to show you (if he is amenable). The second prototype hat is about two thirds done and seems to be going ok so hopefully I can put the pattern up next week some time if I get on with the rest of it.