Sunday, 31 July 2011

M is for Mystery Knit

Marilyn getting involved
Mystery - another post in the ABC meme run by An Accidental Knitter

Have you ever knitted something and when you completed all the pieces thought to yourself,
"It's a mystery...
... how this is going to go together",
"...why I did it in this yarn."
"...why I did it in this colour."
"...why I ever started this."

Right now I have all of those.  It's a 'drapey bolero' knitted from side to side which I intended for summer wear.  I didn't do it in the recommended yarn, did most of it, left it over the winter and one year after starting I don't like the colourway, I have two long drapey pieces of knitting and can't for the life of me see how they fit together to make a bolero.  They are so long they won't fit on my blocking board (which is made up of an old cork noticeboard and some cork table mats wrapped with an old towel - Make do and Mend another M).  And I have just this minute realised that the colour shading is not going to work in the right directions when I put it together.  Hey-ho.

And I'm wondering whatever possessed me.  It's a mystery.

Michael Kors Cape

Then there's the Michael Kors double breasted cape I knitted last winter with intricate cabling and decreases.  Although definitely cape shaped, it is definitely not double breasted on me .  Just about goes around me with a bit of an overlap.  And now it's finished I can see where the error is in my cabling.  And I don't like the way the base of the collar works.  I spent ages researching a yarn for it and spent rather more than I should have for the yarn when I found it.

Whatever possessed me?  It's a mystery.

Still, you have to keep telling yourself it's all about the journey.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Hungry Cat on one of his better days

Looking particularly handsome
Hungry Cat lives rough and visits us only for meals.  I couldn't believe my luck when he stayed long enough to pose for a picture outside the back door.

I don't suppose it will ever happen, but one of my ambitions in life is to hear him purr.  He's a miserable old devil.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Gilbert White's house in Selborne

Gilbert White's house from the garden
During the eighteenth century Gilbert White was the vicar at a small village called Selborne in Hampshire.  There he built a 30 acre garden and made meticulous notes on nature, the weather and his garden.  From these notes and letters to others with similar interests he compiled a book, The Natural History of Selborne which has been published in many editions and many languages since then.

Last week we went to visit his house and garden, something I have wanted to do since I was a little girl, mad about natural history.  It was a lovely day and a lovely visit.  Walking through acres of meadow, looking around his house and learning about his world and his interests.

He inherited a tortoise and wrote about it often.  In a letter of April 21st 1780 he wrote :
" The old Sussex tortoise, that I have mentioned to you so often, is become my property.  I dug it out of its winter dormitory in March last, when it was enough awakened to express its resentments by hissing; and, packing it in a box with earth, carried it eighty miles in post chaises.  The rattle and hurry of the journey so perfectly roused it that, when I turned it out on a border, it walked twice down to the bottom of my garden ; however, in the evening, the weather being cold, it  buried itself in the loose mould, and continues still concealed"

An old moss rose in Gilbert White's garden
You need to go to Selborne on a sunny day to fully understand Gilbert White's devotion to this place.  The sound of the grasshoppers in the meadow grass tells the story.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

L is for Lace, Laundry and Land Rovers

Lace oddments stored in a box that once held rose scented soap
The next instalment in the ABC meme run by An Accidental Knitter - L is for Lace

I love lace, all forms of lace:
Bobbin (all the different kinds)
Needlelace and lacework embroidery

I love the look, the techniques, the patience of the people who make it well.

Odd thing is that for me it doesn't have to be attached to anything or have any purpose.  I just like bits of lace.  And when it's raining and there's nothing better to do, then a dolly wash is fun.  Some lace bits come out of the collection in the cupboard and I launder them according to the instructions in old books.  Yes, I have a fascination for laundry techniques as well - bit peculiar I know.

They are dried and pressed unstarched (otherwise they go yellow), placed between sheets of acid free tissue paper with lavendar and there you are.  Lavendar, it's scent, it's colour and it's calming properties - love that as well.

These little pieces may not be seen again two three years, but when I open the box, Heaven.

Drooping Elm Leaf from the Barbara Walker Treasury - knitted by me (4th attempt).

And Land Rovers.  Ever since I was a little girl I have loved Land Rovers, the look, the sounds, the smell, and the ride.  I learned to drive on a beaten up series 2 short wheel base Land Rover manufactured in 1959.  My first love.

Old Land Rovers in a line up at a recent 'Sort Out' - an Autojumble - which focused on Land Rovers

Friday, 22 July 2011

The Stash

Part of the shelved section

The stash is giving trouble.  It's out of control.  I don't know what's in there any more and it constantly surprises me. 

Time for a re-think on how I am managing this. 

I have been collecting yarn for years and not necessarily with any purpose in mind, just simply because it came my way, or because it took my fancy. 

And Oh Deary Me I've got a problem now. 

If I can find a pattern, I can't find the yarn and if I can find the yarn I can't find a pattern.  Instead of resorting to going out and buying more yarn which then gets lost in the Bermuda Triangle of my boxes and shelves, I should rationalise and use what I have.

So, here's a mid-summer resolution.  Introduction of some order and control.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The current WIP

The current WIP (which was a UFO that I picked up from last summer) is a waterfall front, three quarter length sleeve drapey bolero from the Sirdar Flirt pattern book no. 371.
I've chosen to do this in Rowan Damask.  (57% viscos, 22% linen, 21% acrylic).  It's definitely drapey.

Got a few worries.  On revisiting it I am unconvinced about my choice of  yarn.  This happens often as I hardly ever knit anything in the yarn stated and some of my choices have been - eccentric.  I do it because I want the silhouette in a particular colourway.  And I just like to see what will happen.

It's got a weird construction and right now I seem to have all two shapeless lengths of knitting that look to me like they will never make anything, let alone a drapey bolero. So the jury's still out on that.

Second problem is I have just finished a ball of yarn and can't find where I put the rest.  It's in the stash somewhere, but the stash has reached legendary proportions.  I've been through the boxes, so it must be on the shelves which are really packed so that if you pull something out the whole lot comes tumbling down.  Looks like I am in for an afternoon of searching and tidying.  Oh well, it's raining, so no gardening in prospect.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

K is for Knit Nation 2011

The Yarn Yard stand

Still enjoying An Accidental Knitter's ABC meme and as luck would have it this weekend was Knit Nation.
This wonderful event is becoming a fixture each July at Imperial College in London.  Too good an opportunity to miss for 'K'.

The weather was grim, but the atmosphere inside Knit Nation was cheerful and bright.  So many happy people,  all sharing the love of yarn. 

John Arbon Textiles stand

It's not a huge show, but a very busy and popular one and there are lots of quality yarns on sale.  The Habu Textiles stand was of particular interest.  So unusual and I regretted not doing more research before I got there.  Clearly lots of visitors knew about Habu and knew how to use these very specialised and unusual yarns.  I was fascinated, but unsure and so just bought a little tsumugi silk to experiment with.  A missed opportunity, but I'll be ready next time.
Habu - the UK website
Habu - the American website

Juno Knits roving

The colours at Juno Knits were hypnotising and Artisan Yarns took my breath away as they always do. 
And then there are the workshops.  I chose a class on Top Whorl Spinning for Beginners.  I fear this was really not for me.  The tutors were wonderful, but it was not my greatest triumph and as another delegate said after a couple of frustrating hours trying to get yarn from a heap of wool top and a wooden stick,
"I came into the room a knitter and I shall leave the room a knitter"
However, when a few of us gave up trying and just sat and chatted, we had a really lovely time and I came away happy.
The very dodgy bit of spinning that I brought home with me

Friday, 15 July 2011

More of the Country Show

Views across Gloucestershire towards the Severn
This was a beautiful, quiet place where a few local people had gathered and brought along their old cars, their tractors, lorries and sheep. 

There was a sheep shearing demonstration and while it doesn't look a particulary pleasant experience for the sheep, it's over quickly and they do look so much more comfortable afterwards. 

Zwartbles ewe after shearing
This Zwartbles ewe was clearly suffering from the heat more than most, simply because of her dark colour.  It must have been wonderful to have had all that heavy fleece removed.  She was very friendly and apparently that is a characteristic of the Zwartbles. 
Her Fleece
Her lamb

Her closeup
'Zwartbles' is Dutch for 'black with a white blaze'.  The Zwartbles originates from Friesland and was bred early in the last century.  As farming changed the breed nearly became extinct, but was saved by the Dutch Rare Breeds Survival Trust and now you can see them all over England and Wales.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

A Country Show

At the weekend we went to a little country show in Gloucestershire.  Lines of old cars and tractors in a field on a promontory overlooking the Severn Estuary.  It wouldn't have mattered what you put in that field, the view alone was worth the entrance fee.

The tea tent was one of the best I have ever seen.  Tablecloths and china, all home made cakes and elderflower cordial.  The weather was fine and it was a great start to our holiday. 

Among the exhibits was a sheep shearing demonstration.

Jacob's Sheep - Before
...And After

The Fleece

Monday, 11 July 2011

J is for "Just let me finish this row..."

A Sunny Day in the Garden - My Sister Learning to knit aged 6
 J is for "Just let me finish this row..." the next posting in An Accidental Knitter's ABC meme.  I had a hard time thinking about J.

For some reason I started to think about a photograph of my younger sister learning to knit.  Her passion was (and still is), dolls.  Fearfully skilled at all arts and crafts, even when young, her driving force behind all that concentration was to make things for her dollies.  When my parents moved and we opened up old trunks of stuff, we found the beautifully dressed dolls.  About 70 of them.  Tressy, Barbie, Sindy, Tammy and many others.  She made little cotton and lace dresses and knitted for them all
Aged Two with Doll's Pram

Trying to get her off to school, trying to get her into the car for an outing, trying to get her to do her homework, trying to get her to the teatable, trying to get her to go to bed.  It was always,
"Just let me finish this row..."

When she fell off a horse and broke her hip at ten years old she was in hospital for many weeks, suffering a lot of discomfort.  We took her dolls, knitting needles, crochet hooks, fabric, everything to keep her entertained.  The nurses (who were strict in those days), gave up trying to persuade her to keep her bed clear of all this stuff.  She was a craft centre for the entire ward.

My sister is all grown up now.  Highly intelligent, politically active, outstandingly articulate, a consummate organiser of people and events, fanatically hard working, glamorous when the occasion requires it, kind and caring, doing lots of voluntary work.  She sculpts and paints and still has a giant doll collection.  All beautifully dressed.  I have watched her crochet an exquisite cocktail dress for a doll without even looking at a pattern.  And when she settles down to arrange or dress her dolls, "doing some dollying"  that look of deep absorption steals over her face and I'm swept back forty years.

Friday, 8 July 2011


Satisfaction is when you let a wild seedling alone and it thrives and spreads and rewards you for your forbearance.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The Way We Were

Mid-Late 60's  ?
Crocheted Flares  - Oh My, Oh My.

Monday, 4 July 2011

I is for Innocent Pleasures

When the day is a bit grim, when I'm feeling a bit down, a bit tired, or like today - a bit under the weather, some things will make me smile.

Mrs Beeton has crept into my poetry section

Books - the look, touch and smell
of old books
(and new books)

The Isley Brothers 'Summer Breeze'

Sitting out late on a warm evening watching for bats

Marilyn Among the Wallflowers

Watching a sleeping cat


 Cleaning something and it actually looking like it's been cleaned (everyone notices when you don't do housework, nobody notices when you do).
Casting on a precious new yarn

Artisan Yarns Silky Merino 'Rainbow Lover'

Mid-Late '40's??  Bit of a Tyrol influence

Meandering through my collection
of old knitting patterns

Tiny wrens getting cross with anything that moves in their territory.

The scent from the herb garden and the sounds as the bees work away there.

Lavendar - can't get enough of it and I just keep on planting it.

Going through my assortment 
The Blue/Coral selection

of junk jewellery to find
interesting colour

All these things can make me smile.

Friday, 1 July 2011


Stink Bug
Found this little bug (dead, unfortunately) on the bathroom windowsill.  It's a kind of shield bug, also known as stinkbug.
When I did a little research I found this website gardensafari which I am going to spend some time with as it has wonderful insect photographs.

My bug certainly looks like their picture of Troilus Luridus, but apparently one sure way to tell is a striking yellow patch on its antenna and I don't see that in my photograph.

Apparently this little bug is used as a natural pest control in agriculture.

I like its colour and texture and the way the scales on its back come together like the front of a rather nice pair of sandals.  I wonder what else could be done with those shapes?

Apparently, The Man Who Can found it dead inside his shirt when he got it from the airing cupboard.  So he thoughtfully put it on the windowsill.  Over the fifteen years we have been together I have found he is incapable of throwing anything into a waste bin.  Even a dead bug.  Still, I got these photos out of it, so mustn't complain.