In which there is a lot of catching up to do

I remembered my WordPress login, I updated all the stuff that I haven’t updated since March and I tried to upload some pictures but they are all bigger than 2MB and the silly thing won’t let me so now I have resorted to writing the words and hopefully the Man in the Shed will fix it for me later…*EDIT – He fixed it because he’s clever like that. Yay!*

Oops, I was going to write a new post in half term and it whooshed by like all the other weeks and I didn’t. This term has mostly been blankets, there was this one for a soon to be new baby which started off ok and then got ridiculously huge until there almost was no room for my lunch in my bag because it was full of blanket.


There was this one which was a Stylecraft Crochet Along thing which just had to be made because it is so pretty, you can still get the pattern on their website but I’m too lazy to look up the links, I’m just going for speed and actually getting round to posting something. That was a much more sensible size for my work bag because it is made of small hexagons. It has since been commandeered by Tiny for a bedspread although it isn’t really big enough. I added a couple of rows to the border because I had quite a bit of yarn left over and why would you end with a red and pink row if you could end with purple and blue?


There was this one which I started before the first blanket (but it isn’t a blanket) and then it got postponed in the middle to start the flowery one which in turn got put aside to do the rainbow one but they are all done now except the pockets on this. It isn’t meant to have pockets but I am incapable of leaving my phone in my bag and people tell me off if I keep it in my bra. It has got some nice cables on the back but you can’t see them because I put it up this way to dry.


The holidays so far have mostly been making hats, very good stash busting hats. There is a pattern somewhere, I can look it up if anyone wants to know but I am being lazy, as I said, this is also why the photos are wonky and not cropped and well, never mind, at least there is a post. The rainbow one is mine, the striped one is Tiny’s, the scary red one is Small’s and the white one that isn’t finished is for a friend who ordered a lacy one. The Man in the Shed declined to have one made for him, not sure why…


The Man in the Shed has been busy making an outside box (he didn’t do the bricks but he did do the cat proofing) for the So-Called Tortoise (so-called because she does appear to be a tortoise, I keep checking in case I’ve been mistaken and she is really a cocker spaniel or a greyhound but she remains stubbornly tortoise shaped) after only sixteen months stuck inside, poor thing, she is thoroughly enjoying it and I am deliberately planting weeds which goes against the grain a bit. She has been happily stumping around and sitting in the sun enjoying the flowers, I am starting to wonder if I am secretly a tortoise, we have a lot in common.


I’m nearly up to date now, I had about nine months of housework to catch up on so the first week and a half of the holidays was mostly cleaning and getting haircuts (Tiny is very pleased with hers and mine is at least tidier than it has been, I’ve only been psyching myself up to get it cut again for three years this time…) The place is nowhere near pristine but I made enough of a dent in it to show willing, both the small people’s carpets have been visible enough to hoover this month and there isn’t that much washing left.

The second week was swimming, tiling the utility room and waiting for the rain to stop among other things and I managed to sort out some new uniform before the week before school starts this year. When I say ‘sort out’ you realise I mean that there is uniform that fits in the house, I still have a thousand and thirteen iron on name tags to do… Ooh and we accidentally managed to sort out school shoes on a day out in Cheltenham which means I don’t have to drag the Smalls into Cardiff, hurrah! I just hope they don’t grow now.

Now it is the third week, it is the first and only week on the calendar with nothing on it, the sun is shining and the garden is calling, it’s a jungle and the vegetables have all gone to pot, mainly because I left them in the pots and didn’t have time to plant them out – the tomatoes have just about recovered but the brassicas didn’t make it out of the greenhouse thanks to a bumper harvest of slugs and snails despite the slug pellets and going out in the dark with a bin bag to catch them (that was a lot of slimy creatures in one night), I forgot to dig up any potatoes while they were growing and had to harvest the whole lot in one go yesterday (ooh, that hurt!)


I have finally managed to do some weeding (not very much yet but I managed to hack a path to the compost bin so that’s a start, I’m going back out as soon as I have written this) aided and abetted by my lovely and extremely thorough dad who started it off last week for me – there is one border which seems to have been all weeds and no shrubs by the look of it after he had finished but it is full of So-Called Tortoise friendly plants now: pansies, snapdragons, sow thistle and I’m trying to persuade some honesty to grow which I pinched from my grandparents in Hampshire but the soil is very different so I don’t know whether it will work. A couple of weeks ago he attacked a mountain of bindweed for me as well but I’m making him a jumper so I think we’re square.


In which there is woollies, decorating and long division

I am still putting off showing you stuff that I made for Christmas. It wouldn’t take very long but the thought of actually working out where the few photos are that I remembered to take and trying to think of something to write about them has sent me scurrying off to do the gloss paint which is what I was putting off the week before (the queen of procrastination, remember?). This week I have mostly been dangling over the bannisters with a paint brush (don’t tell my mother, she’ll have forty fits) like some sort of trapeze act with added mess. (It’s ok, Mum, I’ve done all the high bits now.)

Before the guilt about not writing anything and the decorating set in I finished this jumper and have mostly been wearing it ever since (except for the parts when I was painting). I have been very pleased to have it this week as it is lovely and warm. I should have taken a picture of it before I wore it though  – it is going bobbly already.


I nearly stuck to the pattern (also, chronic tweaker) – I added in a bit of shaping at the waist and a few short rows above and below the yoke to raise the back slightly and lower the front; it should be one of those that doesn’t have a front or back but I don’t like having a tickly neck. The yoke is a bit interesting, it’s got a few purl stitches thrown in here and there so it is a tad lumpy. I haven’t decided whether I like it yet or whether it just looks inside out but it is very warm so I think I’ll live with it.IMG_2762

I also seem to have produced a few body parts for another wee critter, this is as far as it’s got. It reminds me of the Griffle from Puddle Lane at the moment.


I have run out of decorating for the time being and the only reason I am writing this is that I am really supposed to be working out how to do long division. I have somehow survived thirty one  years and a month or so on this planet and a maths degree without ever knowing how to do long division properly and I should really work out how to do it before I try to explain it to someone else…

In which there is the rest of the too much knitting

Having made a jumper for Tiny a few weeks ago I had to also make one for Small to keep things fair. He had his eye on the rest of the very blue wool given to me by a friend who was having a clear out so I made him this:


Sorry about the apple, it was just easier to take the photo with it! The pattern was quite fun to do, it is called Jens and is a free one but it is in Danish. Google translate didn’t do too bad a job on it and I could work out most of it with a bit of lateral thinking – cast off two stitches rather than close two stitches and things like that (it is knit bottom up, in the round and joined for the yoke if you are interested in that sort of thing). When he first saw it he said, ‘But I didn’t want green on it!’ but by the time it was finished he was so excited about it having a zip that he seems to have forgotten his aversion to green.

I was going to give the knitting a rest as my hands were getting a bit achey but this sort of fell off my needles over the weekend:


It’s a free pattern for another Sarah’s blog and it happened to suggest the same wool as I used for the mad cardigan so I’m doing pretty well at using up left over bits and pieces at the moment. I was going to put a picture up of her in bits as well but a man came to knock down the bathroom wall on Monday so I retreated into my cave and sewed her up without taking a photo of the parts. It’s going to be a stocking filler for Tiny which does seem stupidly early but I am mostly just putting off housework. Plus last year I was finishing a frog at about midnight not much before Christmas so I decided I would get a head start this year.

Now I’m off to crochet a robot. As you do.

In which there is a stripy wee beastie

The wall is coming along, I should be able to show you a picture of it more or less done tomorrow, British Summer Time permitting.

Today the stripy jumper is done, I swear the child has grown six inches in the two weeks since I began it. It should be massive on her so that is still fits on 1st September when it gets cold and miserable (just in time for school going back) but instead it is only slightly oversized. Maybe the sunshine has been making her grow along with all the weeds in my vegetable bed. She seems to like it anyway and is refusing to take it off despite it being about 25°C at the moment and I get points for having made an entire jumper without buying any more wool…


So much for not starting anything else

Do you remember I said I had a load of stuff to finish before I started anything? Well I did finish a couple of them and then realised I should get on with two different new baby presents so rather than the big pile of too much yarn diminishing it now has grown by several colours. They are lovely colours and I did think about putting on photo of a heap of wool but I thought that would spoil the surprise so you’ll just have to wait until I’ve finished those to see them.

I had a plan in the back of my head for a stripy jumper for Tiny a while ago but I was being good and not buying any more wool for a while and then a friend who was having a tidy up of her stash gave me some bright blue aran that she said wasn’t enough for a whole jumper for her grandchildren but it might do one for one of mine (children not grandchildren). When I suggested to Tiny that perhaps she might like a blue jumper she had clearly remembered the conversation from a month or two ago about stripes and was quite insistent about it and Small seems quite keen on the bright blue. I had a think about it and realised that I have several ends of balls of aran left from various jumpers so I could do her the striped jumper out of those and probably have enough left for a blue one for Small if it had a different coloured pattern on the yoke or maybe blue and green stripes because I have most of a 400g ball of green left as well.



So here is the beginning of a stripy jumper which I started at the weekend. I had forgotten how fast children’s clothes are, especially in big yarn, I haven’t made any for at least six months! I’m not sure why I am knitting it now because I am having to guess how much she will grow before it gets cold again but we are going camping in the holidays so perhaps she will need it then – August, cold and dank and wet, brings more rain than any yet. The pattern is called Fiver and is a free one on the Love Knitting blog. There isn’t a really clear picture of a child standing up wearing it so I’m not sure if it is meant to be short but the length they gave for the 4 year old size wouldn’t reach down to Tiny’s belly button even the size she is now so I have added about five inches to the given length in an attempt to cover up the almost permanent builder’s bum. I’m not too sure whether the colours really go together but she seems to like it and we’ll be able to see her coming a mile off – on a scale of one to Smarties-before-they-changed-to-natural-colours it is really a notch or two brighter than it looks in the photo!

In which there are an awful lot of ends

I think it’s time I properly introduced you to jumper number three (which is really a cardigan). At Christmas I had three jumpers to finish, number one (for a Christmas present, overdue), number two (nearly in time for the birthday after the one it was meant for) and jumper number three (which is really a cardigan).  Number three, or rather the wool for it, was my officially-being-middle-aged birthday present from the Man in the Shed.
(By the way, before this starts any debates about how old is middle aged you should know I intend to use my allocated three score years and ten and then die (from having eaten too many cream cakes and buttery things and generally not doing much exercise, except perhaps digging) before I get old and fall apart therefore I am now in my middle decade.)

IMG_0344It is the Ross cardigan which is from this book. I can’t remember how I came across this pattern but it is one where I just looked at it and thought, ‘Wow, I have to make that one!’  I have no idea why, whether it is the colours or the patterns or the shape or all of it together but I think it looks fantastic. My friend looked at the picture and said ‘Ew, no, that’s just weird.’ or something along those lines so it is probably just me having strange taste.  Maybe now would be a good time to explain about the patterns on it – there are two Fairisle patterns, the left front and the right sleeve have one and the right front, left sleeve and back have the other. Normally I am mildly (is that the right word?) obsessive about things being symmetrical, (only certain things, not everything). I would tell you the story here about me being two and a half and the health visitor and the symmetrical pattern but you have probably heard it before and if you haven’t heard it yet from either me or my mother then the chances are that you will at some point. But for some reason this one is ok, maybe it’s because the patterns themselves are symmetrical or maybe because it is deliberately asymmetrical rather than just being a bit crooked, I don’t know but I love the pattern.  

IMG_0346It does require some concentration though, I think I haven’t got round to showing you properly yet because I have been making it here and there between everything else – it is not very portable knitting. I’m almost done with the patterned bits – one sleeve left to do (if I can shake the nagging feeling that I’m going to run out of wool before I get there) but I think the button band might be a killer, (I’m not a big fan of button bands) and just look at all those ends! I am starting to wonder whether I will go insane sewing all of those in. Ok, more insane than I am now, is that better?

In which we find a frog

We were tidying up the patio the other day and sweeping up all the slugs who live behind the lettuce box in an attempt to have a vaguely slug free environment before planting this year’s lettuce when we found this beauty snoozing underneath. The picture doesn’t really do him justice, he is beautiful and fat and round and perfectly podgy frog shaped, he also didn’t think much of having his photo taken and kept running back under the box every time I moved it.IMG_0233

He didn’t look best pleased at a) being disturbed this early in the year, b) having all his slugs tidied up that he was saving for later or c) having all his nice damp muddy nest that he had made under our box cleared away, so we sent him round the corner to the log pile with a couple of slugs and told him we would wake him up in May.

We have been reading a lot of Frog and Toad by Arnold Lobel recently (Harper Collins have published a collection with all the stories in together) I remember reading some of them as a child and am pleased to have an excuse to read them again. Frog is always jolly and sunny whilst Toad is a bit grumpy, miserable (is it possible for a toad to be clinically depressed?) and fairly irrational at times but his friend Frog is always there to look out for him. One of my favourite bits is from ‘Spring’ – ‘Toad went back into the house. He got back into bed and pulled the covers over his head again. “But, Toad,” cried Frog, “you will miss all the fun!” “Listen Frog,” said Toad. “How long have I been asleep?” “You have been asleep since November,” said Frog. “Well then,”said Toad, “a little more sleep will not hurt me. Come back again and wake me up at about half past May. Good night, Frog.” “But, Toad,” said Frog, “I will be lonely until then.”‘

Sometime it worries me how much like Toad I am…

Image source: Harper Collins

Image source: Harper Collins

So although it is really the wrong way round, seeing our rather disgruntled frog did make me smile.

It’s raining today (which is nice for the lettuce and for frogs) so I have finished jumper number two, I’ll see if I can get a mug shot of it being worn, but here it is drying off, it looks a little dark because it is soggy but you get the general idea.

IMG_0249Ooh, that means I am properly allowed to do some of jumper number three (which is really a cardigan) which I wasn’t supposed to have started before…

In which things are growing

In which things are growing

I love this time of year when everything is in bud and starting to grow and you can see all the potential of what will be (slugs and hose pipe bans permitting).


It still amazes me every year that I poke these little, brown, dead looking things into some mud and then more or less neglect them for a few weeks and they turn into plants and flowers and vegetables all by themselves. I have never understood about being green fingered – plants want to grow and they don’t take much encouragement.


Even our magnolia twig which has been in four or five years has decided to produce one single solitary flower this year:IMG_0227

And the knitting is growing too, jumper number two has reached the interesting bit, it’s not so easy to photograph because the are 232 stitches crammed on the needle so I can’t spread it flat very well but you get the idea.


I tried joining the armpits with a three needle cast off this time. I’ve used kitchener stitch before which makes it lovely and smooth underneath but you get a whopping great hole at either end of the seam which has to be sewn up anyway and I never get it very tidy, (I’m not sure why it bugs me because who walks around examining people’s armpits, but it does) so this time I cast off the two lots of stitches together at the point that I joined the sleeve which gave a much smaller gap at the end of the seam and I could just pick up an extra stitch to fill it and then lose it again in the row above, much tidier, I think.

Also I appear to have accidentally cast on another pair of socks, (this is getting to be a habit!) which were much longer but the cumulative irritation of about three things wrong with them was building to the point where I ripped them back to the start of the patterned section and began again from there. They are behaving much better this time round (so far) .IMG_0229

In which there are socks

In which there are socks

I was going to explain how to do a tubular cast on (I’ve got the photos ready and everything) but actually writing it down would mean I had to stop and think for ten minutes and the garden is calling so I will do that later in the week when the rain comes back (I am only a fair weather gardener). I turned over an entire bin of compost yesterday which was hard work but sort of satisfying and I’m off to go and plant some stuff in a minute so this is just a quick post to prove I am really getting on with jumper number two.


There you go, it’s coming along, there’s still quite a lot to do but it feels like I have broken the back of it now. There is some shaping for the waist so at least I know where I am in the stocking stitch and don’t have to keep counting all the rows to see if it is long enough and then the yoke is after that which is much more interesting.

And to give my thumb a rest from the continental knitting here is some normal knitting that I have been doing in between:


Sorry about the legs, I’ve cut as much of them off as I could; I’m not really sure how you are supposed to photograph your own feet! I pinched the cables from Earl Grey by the Yarn Harlot (because I am incapable of doing that much plain stocking stitch without going mad) but I did the socks toe-up and two at a time. The toe up bit (I used Judy’s Magic Cast On which is brilliant – really easy and looks nice) was to make them as long as possible because I just kept going until I ran out of wool (I really did, I used Jeny’s Surprisingly Stretchy Bind Off which is just the right amount of stretchy but it used about twice as much wool as I was expecting, note to self: read instructions first, so I had to unpick a whole row on each sock). The two at a time bit was to deal with SSS (well documented problem: Second Sock Syndrome – make one sock, cast on second sock, forget quite what you did for the first one or how many rows or are just not inspired to make two of the same thing, second sock sits on needles for months and months and you have one cold foot). Oh and they have a FLK (Fish Lips Kiss) heel which I haven’t tried before but I think looks nicer than a normal heel flap.

Right, I’m off to sort out some vegetable seeds. Hmm, I think the greenhouse needs washing before I put anything in it, maybe I’ll just cast on another pair of socks quickly first…

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.