Busy doing nothing

I thought it must be about time to write a post, we seem to have been very busy the last few weeks but when I tried to remember what we have done I’m struggling to have come up with anything to write about, it has all been very ordinary things but there have been a lot of them. I’ve got an earworm of the song now, I only know the chorus really, I just looked up the rest of it and I like the line, ‘I must rehearse the songbirds, To see that they sing in key.’ I’ll have to learn the rest of it next time I have nothing to do.

Tiny was sick a couple of weeks ago. A week after that the Man in the Shed took Small and Tiny off on family camp with the Scouts, I still haven’t managed to remove all the mud from the strange places it has found its way into. I got out of camp by going on a training weekend for Joey Scout leaders (Joeys are the equivalent of Beavers in the UK) and it felt very odd to have a night to myself with nobody else in the house but I did enjoy the quiet. This week, when home was being hit by a bout of freezing weather just when it should be warming up, we got hit by a 39°C day just when I was getting used to it being in the 20s again and my body said, ‘No, too hot!’ and promptly sent me to sleep on the sofa all afternoon.

I got all my squares joined together, it didn’t take as long as I thought it might. I had to hold the yarn in my left hand to make the join work because you had to keep the working yarn under the bits you were joining and I usually hold it in my right hand, (I was going to say I hold it the wrong way but then I decided it isn’t wrong, just different and it works perfectly well most of the time) so I had the option of putting the yarn round to the underneath after every stitch or holding it in my other hand. The first couple of squares were slow going but once I had done a few it was quicker. The border wasn’t very interesting to do, most of the rounds have a spike stitch every fourth stitch which messed up my rhythm and slowed me down a little and the last round has 1408 stitches so it was a bit of a slog but I really like the way it looks. It fits nicely on the bed too but if I took a photo if it there then I would have to tidy up the rest of the room for you so here it is on the floor. You can click on the photo if you want to make it bigger.

The pretty cardigan with the pockets is coming along nicely. I got to the end of the body and because it is stocking stitch all the way down with an i-cord cast off it is a bit curly at the moment, I am really hoping that once it is blocked it won’t curl up so much but I am not sure. Maybe I’ll have to weigh down the pockets with all my pocket detritus, that ought to do the job.

The pockets made a lot of ends to sew in because you have to cut and rejoin the yarn in various places and I thought I would sew those ends in before I start the sleeves so instead of doing that I got distracted making a secret thing for Tiny’s birthday. The pattern matches her blanket but it is in different colours, here is how far I have got with it so far. I had to redo the back because I did the number of rows in the pattern and it was humongous (is that how you spell that? It doesn’t look right whatever letters I put) and when I checked the size of the squares for the front from the blanket I realised there was no way they would ever fit together and I unravelled a load of it and redid it smaller. The Man in the Shed earned himself a look by suggesting I could have measured it before I had done the whole square and made it the right size in the first place. He’s right really but don’t tell him or he will be smug about it.

The only other exciting news I can think of is that my mending and sewing pile has reached the critical mass where I decided I really should do something about it. At the moment it consists of a sleeping bag with a ripped seam, a pair of Small’s shorts with a hole in the bum, one of Tiny’s skirts which looks like it has been through a shredder (I’m not really sure it is mendable, maybe a patch will have to do), a hermit crab which I can see nothing wrong with but apparently is coming apart at the seams and has holes in, and a pile of Scout badges. A couple of them are Small’s and the rest are mine – having sent me on my training weekend to make my Gilwell woggle our group remembered that they ought to invest me and give me a scarf to put in the woggle and some badges to sew on. So now I’ve told you I am going to do the mending pile, I’ll have to get on and do it, won’t I?

We’re busy doing nothing,
Working the whole day through.
Trying to find lots of things not to do.
We’re busy going nowhere,
Isn’t it just a crime?
We’d like to be unhappy, but
We never do have the time.

Possibly the most spoilt bears in Wales

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”…


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.