The too early worm is the one that gets caught by the bird

I’ve been hibernating, it is winter. The Man in the Shed bought me a hot water bottle, chiefly to stop me from whinging and putting my cold feet on him. (The title of this post is a quote from a song by Flanders and Swann which features a hot water bottle and people with cold feet so I thought it was fitting.) The smalls promptly nicked it so we sent him back to the shop for two more and I get brownie points for using up some of my stash to make some covers. The pattern is by Lucy Neatby who has written a book of holey stuff.

Here is some other stuff I have been doing during hibernation:

Putting off sewing on lots of scout badges and eventually sewing them on this week.


Making a new Joey for Mathilda because she lost hers somewhere along the way and I thought she looked a bit sad without him. I did use a pattern but I can’t remember which one and I changed it a lot because it wasn’t really the right size or shape to match Mathilda.


I made a couple of these pop up cards just for fun to see if it worked. Hopefully there is an only-ever-so-slightly-wobbly video filmed by Small if I can figure out how to put it in the post.


I made some more bookmarks to put away for Christmas, I think they have forgotten about them now. Ooh, and I did some other super secret Christmas stuff that I can’t show you yet until after Mikulás has visited but it was lots of fun to make.


I finally thought of something to do with this yarn, it is a really slow colour gradient, I bought some to make a baby blanket (the baby is 3 ½ now) and I bought an extra ball for me because I loved the colours so much but then I couldn’t think what to make with it. This is a linen stitch scarf – the front looks almost woven and the back is a bit like seed stitch. I’m really pleased with how it is turning out although I suspect it might be a bit itchy. I found the end of a ball from the blanket so that I didn’t have to start with yellow (I don’t know why, just didn’t want to have yellow on the edge), it almost joined up so there is just a slight discontinuity between the yellow and the green. There is a worse one between the red and the purple because my ball of yarn had a join in the middle which I didn’t know about until I got there but I don’t think it is too bad. I’m just over halfway through, there is one more repeat of the colours up to blue again.

Oh yes, nearly forgot – things to be thankful for number …hmm… don’t know where I got up to: we are more than halfway through our time away so it is downhill from here (downhill in the sense of getting easier rather than downhill in the sense of getting worse). That is probably cheating because choosing a thing that is about going home doesn’t really count as a thing that is good about being here. Let’s try again – things to be thankful for number whatever it was: wallabies are brilliant – we went to the wildlife park in the school holidays and you could feed the kangaroos and the wallabies. The kangaroos couldn’t care less but the wallabies were acting like they hadn’t been fed for three months and they would hold your hand to get at the food better, it was lovely, they are really soft like cats and they have really warm paws. I definitely need to give my cats quadruple cuddles when we get home, I’ve got some catching up to do.


In which things are looking rather square (except for the triangle)

In which things are looking rather square (except for the triangle)

I’ve been making squares for a while, Esther Dijkstra published a ‘crochet along’ last year on her blog for a blanket called Nuts About Squares which I fancied making. I started it in the autumn  spring (oops, I don’t know what time of year it is anymore) and then got side tracked with Christmas stockings before I got round to writing anything about it.

Esme’s Winter Cottage by Dedri Uys

It’s a great pattern – she has collected a load of 12″ square patterns from different designers who agreed to be part of it and put them together to make a big blanket, she has made all the squares up to the same number of stitches so you can join them easily and published yardage for different weights of yarn and for a border and it’s lovely.

Spiro Star by Helen Shrimpton

All of the squares are a little bit unusual or interesting to make so it’s has been really fun working through them, some of them are slightly fiddly and some just use common stitches in a particular combination to make shapes that look a bit different.

Denna by Polly Plum

There are three of most of the squares in different colour combinations so you can get the hang of a pattern without getting bored of having to make thirty five of them (it is five squares by seven) although I am considering making thirty six because why would you call a blanket Nuts About Squares and then have an almost square number of squares? Also if it is six by six and the whole blanket is square then it will fit better on the bed.

Le Vesinet by Sigrun Hugoey

The instructions use six colours, I didn’t use the ones she suggested because I didn’t really like the brown so I picked a main colour that was closer to grey. I’m not too sure about it but by the time there is a whole blanket of it, it will look like it is meant to be there.

Rachel by Melissa Green

I tried explaining to Man in the Shed about how lovely all the squares are and how clever the designs are and what is special about them all but he just said something along the lines of “Yes, Dear” and wants to know why am making another blanket but he has been hiding in the garage (he doesn’t have a shed at the moment but the Man in the Garage doesn’t sound so good and you might think I had swapped him for a different one!) to make a Scalextric lap counter thingy with a big seven segment LED display that he can control with a Raspberry Pi even though he already has a perfectly good lap counter where you can set the number of laps and it beeps at you when you have finished and tells you your best time and everything so I think we are quits now.

Bavarian Beauty by Heather Gibbs

I haven’t quite finished all the squares yet, I’ve got a couple more to do before I show you the rest but here is another thing. I have always had a bit of trouble with startitis but I am generally a lot better at finishing things off than I used to be. This is going to be a blanket for Tiny to go on her bed, it is a Stylecraft pattern. I’m am struggling with it a little bit because when I bought it I thought that the order of the stripes repeated and it doesn’t, there is a sequence in that the middle colours of each stripe repeat but the outer ones change each time and the instructions for the motifs in the centre of the squares tell you to use random colours but my brain won’t let me do that so I am using the three colours from each stripe to make a motif that matches it which also means it makes it less monotonous to alternate the stripes with the squares. Tiny doesn’t have an issue with the colours being random, I have instilled a good appreciation of pretty rainbow order colours in her but most of the time she just throws anything she likes together so she is very pleased with it and keeps telling me to get on with the her big square instead of my little ones. Yes, Miss! I’m going back to work now!


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 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 there is a lot of winding up

There is a bedroom in our house with all the stuff in it. If something doesn’t have a place to live it goes in that room, if we don’t know what to do with something it goes in there or if it is something that really should be thrown out or given away because nobody has used it for ten years but we can’t quite bear to part with it then it goes in that room. There is a big box of wool in there and no matter how tidily I put it away, it gets up and dances a jig when I am not looking and all the colours wrap themselves around each other and make a nice big nest which looks very comfy for someone but is not good for knitting from and stops the lid from shutting.

We are supposed to be getting on with decorating the house and are always saying we are going to tidy up in there so I said if someone got me a wool winder for Christmas then I would tidy up my wool. So they did. So I did. I tried out making a couple of balls with it from a couple of the least tangly bits of mess, I thought this would be really boring and I didn’t want to give myself RSI so I planned to wind a couple of balls a day until they were done. However, it is magic,

it turns this:                                                                                      into this:









(which takes up less space and you can pull the wool out of the middle when you want to use it without making a big horrible knot that collapses in on itself after you have used a third of it) and it is strangely addictive.

I re-wound the entire box in under thirty six hours and it is all beautiful and tidy. Although, I might be busy for a while longer – that was just the double knit; there is a bag of 4 ply and several ends of 400g aran balls that aren’t enough for a whole jumper and that I have a plan for which I will tell you about later…

Here is a silly thing, just for fun, if I can get it to work. Click on the picture  and give it a minute to load properly to see the silly thing.




In which there is almost no knitting and definitely no bees

This is a nice thing that we made as a Christmas present for the small people, someone else thought it up – the instructions are here, but isn’t it a good idea? The cover is an old patched up duvet cover that was in the back of the cupboard for emergencies, the wood cost a couple of quid because for once there wasn’t quite the right sized bit in stores, the nice man in the shed drilled the holes (although the specification I gave him wasn’t quite clear enough so we have extra holes for hanging things on) and varnished the wood without being asked because he is a Really Useful Engineer (apologies to the Rev. W. Awdry) and I sewed some elastic loops onto the corners of the duvet cover.

Apologies for the blurriness, my photographer has gone to work and I am clearly not competent to operate the camera.

Apologies for the blurriness, my photographer has gone to work and I am clearly not competent to operate the camera.

It can be tall and thin for being the highest room in the tallest tower or it can be wide and flat when a giant has stood on your cottage and squished it, it can be a tent for sleeping under and if you speak to the nice man in the shed in your best polite voice then he will cut you a little piece of wood with a hole in it and glue it to your periscope (also made in the shed) so that you can hang it off the end of the crossbar and use it as a submarine, or you can use it as a stable for your horses that I’ll tell you all about some other time.

Sorry for the proliferation of posts, I was aiming for one or two a week but I am putting off sorting out the shop on my website, (the Really Useful Engineer has taken it on himself to revamp my shop and has kindly installed some software on the website for having a proper checkout, it will still use Paypal but it won’t have to have the nasty yellow Paypal buttons that don’t match anything else and change character sets when you aren’t looking, it’s not live yet so don’t try looking for it.) finishing a jumper, knitting another hat from the pattern to see if I wrote it down properly, doing the ironing, looking up how much poster tubes cost to buy and to post and about a dozen other things which mostly involve cleaning…

In which we go round and round and round

This is one of the three jumpers that need finishing (actually only two jumpers need finishing, one needs starting) it is a birthday and Christmas present for a relative which was started far too close to Christmas  to have a hope of finishing it.

Half a jumper

My idea was that I might have two sleeves finished for him to unwrap and that I could do some more of it over Christmas, I merrily started on one sleeve a couple of days before Christmas when we were going out for the day on the train, I took plenty of wool with me and thought I might get it done on the journey. I did check the tension, for once I checked it really carefully first and when I got to the number of rows where the sleeve should be about the right length I realised it was far too small and measured the tension on the sleeve and it was too tight, I have no idea what I did when I measured it the first time but I had to sit on the train and unravel it all, much to the bafflement of the other passengers I should imagine. The most frustrating bit was I didn’t have any bigger needles with me, the train was held up for about three hours because of the floods and I couldn’t get on with it, then when we got home I didn’t even have a needle the right size. Christmas Eve was spent dashing out to the shop to get one and knitting like fury all day to get one sleeve done so there was at least something to unwrap and the second sleeve was done on Boxing Day. I’ve now done the body up to the arms and am waiting to see my victim to check the length on him before joining the three pieces for the yoke.


The pattern is a free one by Istex which is available here. It is knit in the round up to the armpits, then the sleeves and body are joined and it has a fairisle yoke. I’ve done some small bits in the round before like hats and gloves on double pointed needles (which is always fun as people make comments about knitting ninjas or say things like, ‘What ARE you doing?’) but I’ve only recently tried doing big things in the round on circular needles and (once you get the right size needle) it is great, I don’t like stocking stitch normally because I get bored but stocking stitch in the round with some Christmas DVDs to watch is great, you just go round and round and round and don’t have to think about or even look much at what you are doing, and jumpers in the round are amazing because there is no sewing up, just a little bit of Kitchener stitch under the arms.

Tubular cast on

I’ve also done a tubular cast on on this jumper which I discovered recently, I really like the way it looks, but I’ll tell you more about that another day.