The paws are finished. I still don’t have long enough arms to get a decent photo and I would have waited for some bigger hands but I wanted to get the paws into the post. It’s as cold as a witch’s wotsit here (by my standards anyway. Standards of tolerance to the cold, I hasten to add, not standards of coldness of wotsits…) and the paws need to be sent to the Wild North where it must be even colder so I thought the Bear might appreciate having his paws sooner rather than later.
I’m really pleased with how they turned out because it was only a vague idea and I thought there would be more patterns already written for bear paws but they all just looked like mittens with pads on which didn’t seem quite right. In the end I used this one which I think is supposed to be a webbed foot but it looks like a paw to me, it has sort of fingers but they don’t come right down as far as fingers on a normal glove do. I added some extra stitches to make a bigger size and the cuff seemed really tight so I did the increases slightly differently. The Man in the Shed tested them out for me because he has almost the same size hands as the Bear (just a little thicker) and he said the paws were enormous. I thought they looked ok and he doesn’t like the way his fingers rattle around inside mittens anyway but I thought I would humour him and have a go a making some linings to take up some of the slack – I had some offcuts of fleece left from something else (me, a hoarder?! No!) which I used for the pads so I cut some hand shapes out which I thought would be plenty big enough but by the time I had sewn them together they were pretty snug even on my twiggy fingers. The second attempt was much more bear sized so now they have cosy linings which help keep your fingers in the right place a lot better and they are lovely and snug and warm and going in the post this afternoon.
The puddings look reasonable although one of them crunched up the plate it was cooking on and they formed a really thick skin which we weren’t sure whether you were supposed to take on or leave off when you changed the cloth. When it came down to it half the skin had welded itself to the cloth anyway so we peeled off the rest to even it up and are munching our way through rubbery, floury Christmas pudding skin (like Victoria Wood eating tofu, I was going to put a link to a video of it but I can’t find one so you’ll have to use your imagination) because it tastes ok and it seems a shame to throw it out. We put clean cloths on them with less flour this time and hung them back up in the cupboard where, for some reason, out of the corner of my eye I keep seeing them as a nice brace of pheasants lurking in the corner, must be something to do with ancient memories pootling about in the back of my brain somewhere. This picture is before we changed the cloths so they are about half an inch smaller all round now.
The other Christmassy experiment I am doing is I dried out a bunch of slices of all the different coloured citrus fruits I could get my hands on. The idea is when they dry out they are less sticky and a bit translucent so you can hang them up on a string and they catch the light and look pretty. I only burned a couple (oops!) and I am waiting for them to air dry the last bit before I try and hang them up but at them moment the all look a bit brown and the room smells vaguely of festering oranges so I’m not quite sure how it’s going to turn out yet…
Sorry for the dearth of posts, I’ve been knitting secret Christmas things and haven’t got good enough at arty farty close up shots to show you anything without giving away what things are and also we’ve had a house full of plasterers followed by damp and black mould so I’ve been alternately too busy painting/too busy moping about the damp to feel like writing anything.
I have no idea when stir up Sunday was this year because our church doesn’t do the collect, (Stir up, we beseech thee, O Lord…) but we thought it must be about time to make the Christmas cake and puddings. I usually make a couple of puddings in basins, we eat one at Christmas and the second one has variously been given away, eaten at the next big family do, eaten at Easter or once eaten the following Christmas when we found it lurking in the back of the cupboard. Last year the small people had an advent calendar thing on the computer about an Edwardian house at Christmas with animations and interesting stuff and Small asked if we could make a round pudding like they did in that house. My first reaction was, ‘No!’ thinking of the mess but they did some research with the Man in the Shed and they persuaded me to have a go. We boiled a couple of old muslins up for some Tuesdays before tying up the puddings and they are currently being boiled (for even more Tuesdays than the cloths were) as I type. The photo was taken by my small assistant at about eight o’clock this morning from a height of four feet.
The other thing I’ve been doing is knitting some bear paws for a friend who has acquired a bear hat for his birthday, he seems quite pleased with his hat and excited to have ears (despite his wife pointing out that he did already have ears) and I suggested that he needed paws to go with it. Here is the first one, I’m hoping it will look a bit better with the right sized hand in it. I have also discovered I don’t possess long enough arms to take photos of my own hands. It’s not quite finished, I need to dig out some grey fleece that I have got in a box somewhere and then I can sew on some pads but it’s not looking too bad.
They have their own bunk bed. The blankets are finished, the boys have glued the other bed together and they have pillows and mattresses made from some spare calico that has been lurking in a box from when I made a practice wedding dress out of it.
The blankets are done with entrelac knitting which is where you knit a little square at a time, you pick up some stitches along the side of a previous square and work back and forth just across those stitches whilst decreasing on the other edge to join it to the square at the other side. There are loads of online tutorials or patterns if you search for them by people who can explain it far more eloquently than me! It’s a bit fiddly so I wouldn’t recommend it for knitting big things but it looks interesting. It also taught me a new skill – I got thoroughly fed up of turning the knitting round every six stitches so I worked out how to do a knit stitch going from right to left rather than left to right and then not long afterwards Sarah on Crafts from the Cwtch did a tutorial on exactly that which you can look at if you are interested because I am too lazy to take a load of pictures to explain something when someone else has already done a better job of it.
The knitting part of the secret thing is finished so I had to take a deep breath and do the steek. A steek is where you put a few extra stitches into your knitting so that you can cut it later. It means you can knit things in the round which end up flat or which need an opening later on, for example you could knit a cardigan as though you were doing a jumper in the round (which is much better for trying to do fair isle because you are always looking at the front of the pattern) and then you cut it up the middle, tidy up the edges and do the button band and stuff.
You can either machine sew over the steek before you cut it or crochet over the extra stitches, I decided to machine this one because it is going to have some binding sewn along the edge afterwards anyway.
Hold your breath! It hasn’t unravelled so far…
The Secret Thing, which is a bit bigger than I had planned (meaning I didn’t really plan it or work out what the finished size would be from the tension and just started it, oops) is blocking at the moment (blocking is when you wash it and lay it flat in the right shape to even up the stitches and make it look even better – the Yarn Harlot has written a nice thing here). After some considerable thinking I decided it would have to be pinned to the rug because it won’t fit anywhere else sensible but the rug is on the table because I was paranoid about the water soaking through and marking the floor, I did think about stripping the bed, pinning the Secret Thing to that and sleeping somewhere else until it is dry but I thought it wouldn’t go down too well with the other occupant of the bed, long suffering though he is, I imagine that would be a step too far. Although he only has himself to blame – it was him who taught me how to knit in the first place.
On a completely different note I currently have the ear worm of the suffragette song from Mary Poppins – “Though we adore men individually, we agree that as a group they’re rather stupid!’ which whilst this isn’t a view I particularly agree with (unless applied to the human race as a whole, regardless of gender – I prefer individual people to large mobs) I don’t see why I should have to suffer Glynis Johns being Mrs. Banks marching up and down singing about Missus Pankhurst being clapped in irons if nobody else does. Ready? One, two, three, go: “We’re clearly soldiers in petticoats”…