Post ﹟72 – In which I lament the fact that 72 is not a square number (but at least it is twice 36)

Here is a post to show you the rest of the squares, I was really hoping it would serendipitously turn out to be a square numbered post but it was not to be.  There isn’t much else to say about squares apart from here they are so I thought I would witter a little bit about some other stuff in between in case you are fed up of looking at squares.

Fantastic by Julie Yeager

The camera is playing silly wotsits so I took these pictures on my phone but I seem to have not framed these very well, I’m sure they all fitted on when I took the photo but I deleted it off the phone when I imported them to the computer so I can’t check and the squares are all organised in piles now which took me ages to decide so I’m not moving them again to redo the pictures. A bad workman and his tools and all that…

Fall Blossom by Aurora Suominen

This week I have mostly been listening to Jingle Bells (played somewhat inexpertly but improving rapidly) on the clarinet. Normally that would drive me insane what with it being only February and having a tendency to acquire earworms but when it is Small playing somehow it just makes me grin and turn into that really annoying parent who tells everyone how wonderful their child is. I think it is because I have been trying to get him to learn an instrument for years, we did a little bit of piano but it doesn’t really work when your mother is your teacher. I think he finally agreed to have lessons at school chiefly to shut me up about it but so far (one week in!) he is really enjoying it and I love hearing him play something he has worked out from the music himself even if it is not very seasonal.

In Like a Lamb, Out Like a Lion by Margaret MacInnes

In an effort to try and sort out the chronic grumpiness before it becomes terminal I thought maybe I should try to think of some things that I am grateful for or that are positive about being here so as a brief interlude from the squares here is the view from the rock pool (translation for the people at home – a swimming pool made of sea near some rocks, not a rock pool full of crabs and seaweed and small children with fishing nets) that is walking distance from school where I can sit with my knitting or a book and throw the children in to play, (I have even been known to get in myself on special occasions) and is somewhere that I can’t imagine ever going after school at home.

There are bits of purple shells on the bottom and sometimes fish and it is quite nice there especially if you can find a time without too many other people! There, enough being positive back to the squares:

Lise by Polly Plum

There are only two of Cat’s Claw, I thought about making a third one to get thirty-six squares but it was probably the least interesting one to make because you have to do a big plain square for the middle and then do the claw bits over the top afterwards so I decided to do something different for my extra one.

Cat’s Claw my Margaret MacInnes

These are the odd squares, I’m glad there was only one Tropical Delight because it was really fiddly, I had to keep rewinding Hercule Poirot in my headphones because I missed a bit while I was reading the instructions, I do like the spiralling petals near the middle though. Eternal Braid is not in the original instructions but I wanted to add an extra square to make the blanket a square, 6×6 overall instead of a rectangle, 5×7. It looks a bit like an eye, it’s not meant to particularly in the pattern but I’ve been reading A Series of Unfortunate Events with Tiny and kept thinking about the VFD eyes so the colours sort of came out in that order.

Tropical Delight by Susan Stevens, Sweet and Fair by Julie Yeager, Moroccan Window by Heather Gibbs and Eternal Braid by Chris Simon

This is the suggested layout of the thirty-five squares. I have been messing around with them and they definitely fit the bed better with thirty-six but I also realised I will probably have to do a couple of extra rounds on each one to make it fit properly otherwise it will be a little bit short of the right size.

I spread them all out on the floor and proceeded to try to do an insane sudoku kind of thing where the rules are arbitrarily defined and also a bit fluid – I didn’t want any in the same row or column that are the same pattern and I didn’t want any next to each other that are too similar in colour. This is what I finally came up with. I put the four odd squares in the middle (that is why I needed an extra one instead of another Cat’s Claw) and then listed the others as more-or-less-round, approximately-square and vaguely-X-shaped, the X-shaped category is the loosest one because I need to borrow one from each of the other categories to make up the numbers. They are in diagonal rows by category, except for the ones in the middle and except for the two I borrowed which are on two of the corners. I think I have managed to follow the rules about rows and columns. I know the Cat’s Claws are diagonally opposite the other way but I couldn’t make it work otherwise.  Oh bum, I have just noticed that some of the other X-shaped ones are in the same diagonal row where they shouldn’t be. I’ll have to swap those!

I keep thinking of the quote from Arcadia – ‘In an ocean of ashes, islands of order. Patterns making themselves out of nothing.’ If I try to lay them out randomly then I look at it and keep tweaking them until they follow some kind of rules again, I don’t think it’s quite what he meant but the words keep jostling in my brain. It’s a beautiful play, it has maths, fractals and chaos, landscape gardening, tortoises, a Broadwood piano, rice pudding and it is very funny. Tom Stoppard puts a lovely rhythm into his words, like Victoria Wood and John Finnemore. I think with clever writers it is as much the particular words they use as much as the sense of what they want to say that makes it a pleasure to listen to. Not sure what Mr Stoppard would think about being put in the same box as those other two though…

In other news, Tiny’s blanket is coming along nicely, I’m having the same sort of thing imposing rules on myself about the colours for the squares in this one even though they are supposed to be random. She loves it and keeps stealing it to play with which makes it a bit hard to carry on with. You can see from the selection of her artwork that is pinned to the end of my shelves why this particular pattern appealed to me to make for her. She does occasionally draw other things but I like these ones, they are nice and bright and remind me that God is watching out for us.

I told you before that I had trouble with startitis. I didn’t have any knitting on the go (except for a pair of socks but they don’t count and a couple of things that are hibernating and I will finish some time, they don’t count either) and this yarn was my birthday present last year which I have been itching to get going with, I will tell you about it properly next time. I managed to wait at least until I had finished the squares, I am pretending that doing the extra rounds and joining them all up and the border don’t count so that I am allowed to start a new thing, I mean the whole blanket is practically done, isn’t it?

In which I got slightly carried away making hats

I haven’t posted anything since half term. My life is now ruled by the school calendar more completely than ever. Counting terms it is a difficult habit to break when you leave school having spent three quarters of your life there, it was just about wearing off when my own children started school and it started to tighten its grip again but now, working in school, I am back to counting down the days of term until the next break. The Easter holiday starts tomorrow and I have time to catch my breath again for a little while.

This term I have mostly been making hats (and a green jumper that I started three times but I’ll tell you about that another day). One of the teachers at school is starting her maternity leave today and she asked me if I could make her some baby hats (I mostly sit in the staff room with my knitting to give me an excuse for avoiding eye contact), she said her mum would do jumpers and stuff but hats were too fiddly.

I have found though that the trouble with teeny hats is they don’t take very long and there are millions of patterns so it is very easy to get carried away and think, ‘That’s a nice pattern, I’ll just do one more…’, on the other hand the good thing about teeny hats is they don’t take very long, are very small and portable and good for knitting in the staff room without having to hide an enormous ball of green aran in the bottom of your handbag just to avoid accidentally giving someone a withering look when they are the fifth person that day to say, “Wow, that’s a big ball of wool!” (For the record it is 400g and a perfectly normal size for a 400g skein of acrylic aran.)IMG_4126

Anyway, I made a lot of hats and thoroughly enjoyed it and I even potted them up before I gave them to her. I haven’t done anything in the garden yet this year, is it showing? Sorting out the veg patch is on my list of things to do in the Easter holidays and I am hoping that BBC weather has got the forecast very wrong otherwise I won’t get far down the list.IMG_4128

My next mission which I had no choice but to accept (the enormous ball of green aran is on hold for a minute, at least for away from home knitting as it is a bit unruly but it was five pounds in Aldi and it is the sort of green that makes me think of Grandad so it had to be done) went something like this:

Me: What would you like for your birthday?

Tiny: A big teddy turtle.

Me: Oh. Right. Where are you expecting me to get you a big teddy turtle from?

Tiny: You can knit one.

Me: Yes. I could knit one.


Me: How big is a big teddy turtle?

Tiny: About this big. (Indicates about eight inches with hands)

Me: (Breathing a sigh of relief at how big ‘big’ is) Oh. Right. If I did knit one that is quite a small present, what would you like for your main present?

Tiny: (Looks around room for inspiration) A chair. I don’t like that one any more.

Me: Right. What sort of chair? Would you like a rocking chair?

Tiny: Yes, a rocking chair.

Me: Really? You’d like a rocking chair for your big birthday present?

Tiny: Yes.

Me: Right.

This child is unique. So now I am knitting a turtle (whilst investigating rocking chairs). So far it (the turtle not the rocking chair) has two legs, a body, a tail, half a head and no shell. We compromised on the colour – she wanted it to be red and pink and purple but we found one with welly boots and a rain hat so it is going to be green with pink and purple boots and hat. I drew the line at knitting a pink and red turtle.

In which there is some semi-secret baby knitting

Sorry for going so long without posting anything, I have mostly been knitting instead of writing.

I’m going to be an auntie again in the autumn (for some reason being given the title ‘auntie’ makes me feel an awful lot older than being labelled as a mother) so I’ve been knitting baby stuff. I’m not big on babies, my own were rather nice, I quite like the ones that I know well and I don’t mind having a cuddle with other people’s (as long as I can give them back when they puke on me) but I’m not one for making a big, noisy fuss or thinking they are terribly cute – to me one pink, wrinkly baby looks more or less like all the other pink, wrinkly babies (my own included). Nevertheless I thought I should probably make something for the new one before it arrives, I wasn’t going to post anything about it on here but I have no reason to think that my brother will read this so I decided it didn’t really matter and even if he does then it won’t fit him… Based on past evidence my brother and his partner appear to produce immaculately presented, delicate, pink, frilly creatures (unlike my own clodhopping ragamuffins) so I looked up some suitably delicate, pink, frilly patterns, gritted my teeth and acquired some pink wool (if you know me then you will know I’m not a great fan of pink). Behold the results:

This one is a pattern called Olinda which is a lacy, reversible cardigan (I think I like the first side better), it was interesting to make because I don’t do much lace. I found the hardest part was sewing in the ends so they didn’t show on either side.  The pattern was ok once I got going with it but I found it pretty confusing to start with, it is all colour coded for the different sizes which I found difficult, it’s just a style thing but I struggled with it and I found it quite long winded – you would read all the way through one group of instructions and then at the end it would say things like, ‘As you work these rows be aware of the length required to knit to, listed on the next page, and stop when you reach that length.’ So I read a load of instructions I didn’t need to. Also it called the sizes by their sizes rather than ages all the way through, I know children aren’t all the same size so what fits one at three months might fit another at six months so maybe it is fair enough but I know I am aiming for a roughly three month sized cardigan whilst I don’t have a clue that it should measure 16 inches around which meant I kept having to double check what size I was doing. That said I am just grumpy and it is a nice cardigan.

This one is a pattern called Elsie’s Petal Dress which I think is gorgeous, the pattern is really well written – the instructions are written out in full as well as charted for the lace, the sizes go from a prem up to six years and you can do a regular skirt or a full skirt (this is the full one). The bodice went really quickly and then the skirt seemed to go on for ever but it’s done now and for once I am looking at baby clothes and thinking how cute they look, I must be going soft in my old age. Just got to wait for the beautiful baby to put in it to complete the effect, I really hope this one doesn’t turn out out be a tomboy now!

The other baby knitting I have been doing which is staying a secret (just because it will wind her up) is for my friend’s baby. It is made out of this wool (aren’t those colours fantastic?) I don’t think she believed me when I said it was all the colours, and a week or two ago it looked like this (this is the inside of it because the outside of it is still a secret and it has more colours now) just to prove I am really knitting it when she isn’t looking.

I have been doing so much knitting and so little writing that I now have a backlog of knitting to show you, I’ll save the rest for later in the week.

In which the photos take up more space than the words

This is just a quick update on a couple of things because I haven’t posted anything for a little while, I got all the photos ready and then didn’t do anything with them.

I finished the fruit for the tree over the weekend, it’s a little less baked bean can shaped than it was and I think it’s slightly less knobbly. I did enough layers of paper that I could sand it off a little bit so at any rate it is less wrinkly even if still has big knobbles. I’ve just noticed in the photo that most of them have the red side facing out but they are greener on the back. Hopefully they look ok from a distance although I don’t think the little green fellow there will be seen except from on the stage.


The crocheted something or other is coming along nicely and just needs a head. Have you worked out what it is yet? There is a song about it if that helps, some people think the title of this song is irrelevant…


The other thing that I promise I will tell you about next time is the bed jacket, which is finished, it is blocking at the moment. I thought that seeing as I have put off writing about it (because it would take a little while to explain and I didn’t want to tack it on the end of something else) for so long that is is finished then I might as well write about the whole thing in one go. Here is a peep of it until then:


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 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 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.