Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Mum's Fingerless Mittens

Mum has restricted mobility due to stroke and is always cold.  Ordinary gloves are difficult for her to put on, so these are especially designed for her.

I used a basic fingerless mitten pattern and adapated it so that :
  • There is no ribbing at the cuff, I used moss stitch which pulls in a little, but not so tightly that mum struggles to get her hand in
  • Moss stitch is also used at the finger ends to pull the glove in slightly around her fingers, but not too tightly
  • The embroidered 'R' tells her which one is the right hand mitt and is also her initial
  • The yarn is Artesano 100% alpaca bought at I Knit in London and the stripes are designed to use all three colours that I had bought
  • The gold detail at the finger ends is a stripe of moss stitch, (but I found I couldn't get it exactly the same on each glove)
The yarn is so soft and cuddly that these are a pleasure to wear and I am tempted to steal them back.

Monday, 27 June 2011

H is for Hungry Cat

Hungry Cat started to come to visit us at the end of one winter about three years ago.  He looked thin, hungry and bedraggled.  He would come quietly through the cat flap to steal food.  Any movement from us and he was away again. 

We started to put food down for him every day.  Now he comes regularly to be fed and if we are in the kitchen will rattle the cat flap to let us know he is waiting.  He won't be touched, and hisses angrily if we try, showing a set of pink gums and not very many teeth.  We can get very close to him now and move about without startling him, but it's very much on his terms and he will let us know if we take liberties.

At first he would eat absolutely anything  I put down.  Now he has definite preferences and if there is something in the bowl he feels is not up to the required standard he makes a great show of burying it.

Some days he will appear with mysterious wounds, scratches on his nose, fur scraped off one leg, a whole patch of fur torn from his back.  And I worry for days, having already decided that I will only attempt to trap him and take him to the vet if something really serious happens.  I fear that the distress of being captured would make him run away from us when we release him again and then where would he get his meals?

Through the summer I steadily fatten him up and he becomes a fit, big, sleek and relaxed cat.  He sleeps in the sun on a pile of bricks and won't move for the whole day.

We have had two bad winters and through that tough time, despite all the food I give him, he loses weight, his fur gets out of condition and he becomes tenser and stiffer in his bones.  I don't know how old he is, where he is from or where he sleeps.  He could stay with us, in a bed in the kitchen.  But he won't hear of it. 

He's a handsome, tough, independent spirited old cuss.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Greater Bindweed, pernicious perfection

Greater Bindweed

I know I shouldn't, I know I will ultimately pay the price for letting a little grow, but I love this devastating weed.  It's said that the roots can go down 15 feet into the ground.  Only a little chip of root needs to survive for it to start growing all over again.  It will develop into smothering ground cover and a choking climber if left alone.

I let a little grow under and up into the hedge in the wilder part of the garden.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

It's all in the eyes

This is a panel from an ancient Egyptian coffin at the British Museum.

Wonderful colours and loaded with significance. The Eye of Horus is an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection, royal power and good health.

Horus was the sky god who was usually depicted as a falcon. The eye symbol represents the marking around a Peregrine Falcon's eye. The left eye sometimes represented the moon and the god Thoth.

There are seven different hieroglyphs used to represent the eye, most commonly "ir.t" in Egyptian, which also has the meaning "to make or do".

Sunday, 19 June 2011

G is for Grannies

A faded photo of my Gran "Nana" in her Dorset garden

Nana was a magical crocheter who could just look at a picture and recreate it.  She crocheted clothes for all her six babies without ever using a pattern, at the same time helping to run a working farm through the war.  She cooked for twelve (family and farm workers) every day.  She had  been a piano teacher (absolutely adored Liberace) and as a girl had regularly driven one of the first motor taxis in her part of Dorset - a Model T Ford.  Only one piece of her work ever came to me, a linen tablecloth with beautiful filet crochet edging which, since I don't have children, I passed to a younger cousin when she married.

Nowadays, knowing how interested I am in crafts, people bring to me the things their grannies leave behind.  I find it a little sad that families may have no interest in the little pieces of work and UFOs which gave their gran such pleasure and try always to use these, or pass them on to someone who can. 
very curly stocking stitch patches
A friend recently had to arrange for her granny to move into a home as she was becoming so confused she could no longer look after herself.  Some of her crafting came my way.  The picture above shows about 55 rectangles mostly knitted in stocking stitch using 2 and 3 strands of cotton double knit in an extraordinary variety of colours.  I don't know what the intention was, but I have started to crochet around them in 2 strands of black cotton double knit to get them to flatten out.  It's playing hell with my knitter's elbow.

A sample of the edged patches, not yet joined or embellished
I hope to join these patches into a throw which I will embellish, perhaps with small buttons or with small crocheted flowers to break up the density of the black. It may end up just looking weird, but if it works out (and my elbow stands the strain) this will go back to my friend whose granny, I'm happy to say, is having a wonderful time in her new home.

Patchwork UFO with lots of patches ready to be added
With the knitted squares came a partly completed patchwork cover in lovely bright colours.  Looks like some 70's fabrics in there.  It's a long time since I did patchwork and I'm not sure my stitching is up to this standard, but I might give it a go.

Other things that have come my way from other grannies include lots of knitting bags, accessories, knitting needles and yarns.  I've passed a lot of this on to other knitters.  I've been given stacks of old Stitchcraft and Needlewoman magazines going back to before the war.  These I cherish.  Then there are the well used, faded old knitting patterns like the one below.  Torn almost in half and tattered around the edges, I can't part with this.  I think it tells a story.  If you look carefully at the background you can see the palm trees and the tank.  My generation's grannies lived through some extraordinary times and were extraordinary people.

Wartime Bestway Pattern for Tropical Service Socks
Clearer view of the tank in the background

Friday, 17 June 2011


An enormous piece of driftwood beside the breakwater at Hurstbourne Point.  Isle of Wight in the background.  Not another tree to be seen for miles.  I'm thinking about the forces that got the driftwood here and how they wore it down into this texture.

The lines remind me of travelling stitch.

If I really look hard I can see that there are interesting colour combinations to be worked on as well.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Scarf or shoulder wrap

At the Shepton Mallet Knit and Stitch show I bought a couple of balls of a novelty yarn from BeeBee Wools who specialise in fancy yarns.  The instructions with it were to cast on 40 stitches on 10mm needles and knit in garter stitch until you had used it all.  Finished it (terrible accident at cast off when for some reason it started to unravel itself, but ok now).

It's in what I would call cappucino colours.  I think I would have liked it a bit longer and if I knew then what I know now, I would have cast on 30 stitches.

On the upside, it's wide enough and just long enough to wear around the shoulders as a wrap with a shawl pin at the front.

Monday, 13 June 2011

F is for Feather, next posting for An Accidental Knitter's ABC.

F is for Feather,

So simple, so fragile, such a feat of engineering, found after rain. 

This came from an adult, but right now the fledglings grow fat on the feeders, flutter out their demands on imperfect wings.

I filed this photo in my collection under 'E' for 'embellishment'.  How perverse.  I like the idea of raindrop beading on dove grey.

Friday, 10 June 2011

English Diamond Quilting Pattern revisited

I did another swatch of the English Diamond Quilting Pattern from Barbara Walkers Treasury of Knitting Patterns.  This time using a contrast colour on the yarn over rows.  This does give you a stripe across the background and more unfortunately I ended up with lots of loose ends.  I'm sure there is a way to get over this if I think a bit  more.  The other problem with this pattern is that it curls badly.  This can be eased by making the Yarn Overs really loose.  I also might try wrapping the yarn over twice, that would be even more effective.

I'm sure something could be done with this.  Not sure what.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

A Bakelite Button

Bakelite Button
I love buttons and collect bakelite.  I got this button from a lovely lady at the Shepton Mallet Knit and Stitch show.  She has a shop in Bath - Jessie's Button Box Ltd at the Antiques Centre in Bartlett Street.

This button is smooth and shiny and such an elegant shape.  Cries out be sewn on to something special.

Monday, 6 June 2011

E is for Excel Spreadsheet

English Diamond Quilting Pattern
From A Treasury of Knitting Patterns - Barbara Walker
A Slip Stitch - has possibilities, but tricky to stop it curling up
  E is for Excel Spreadsheet
(part of the A-Z meme for An Accidental Knitter )

Now don't get alarmed.  It's not as bad as it sounds, this won't be a spreadsheet tutorial.  I am finding that I love Slip Stitch the more I do it and have started a collection.  I have set up an Excel spreadsheet with the following headings (I'd love to hear if you think any other information would be useful) :

Reference No. - Yep, a reference no. and each colour variation on it has a subset no. (001a, 001b)
Name  - I am finding stitches without a name, so that's interesting too
Source - Where I found it
Pattern Rows Repeat
Stitch Multiple
Notes - just thoughts and ideas it generates
Date I swatched it -
Swatch details - Yarn, Needle size and no. of stitches cast on
Date I blogged it

Where the source is a bit obscure and might get lost I type out the stitch instructions into a Word Document headed with the reference no.

I photograph the swatch and put the reference no. in the file name

And I put the swatch into a binder, so I can touch it and love it.

Weird Huh?

Friday, 3 June 2011

Catching water

My new Pride and Joy.  A cattle trough my Dad bought for me at a farm sale for a tenner.  It had holes in the bottom, which is why it was cheap.  My chap, The Man Who Can, mended the holes and we put it beside the garage.  He found an old piece of cast iron down pipe which he painted his favourite Bedford Green and it now catches rainwater off the garage roof.   Really useful in this dry weather as I have some lime hating plants in pots and they cannot abide our tap water.

I grew some Ox-eye daisies and Comfrey from seed and have planted these around it.  Insects love the Ox-eye daisies and the Comfrey is good for the compost.  I've also planted a Virginia Creeper to grow up the side of the garage.  Hopefully the creepy-crawlies will like that and the wrens will like the creepy-crawlies.

The plants are just getting established, but I hope it will all end up looking a bit wild and natural.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

The cropped top thing

Still moving on with this sleeveless pullover I am designing.  Got the front done and know how I am going to do the back.  Not at all sure about what I am going to do at the neck edge and I suppose you should work that out before you start knitting.  But, hey, where's the fun in that?

I'm rather pleased with the way it's coming along, even if at the end I don't like it on me.  It's shaping exactly as I want it.  The photos don't quite bring out the colours.  They are very subtle and a bit heathery.