Friday, 30 September 2011

In the back of the cupboard

It's that time of year when you start turning over the summer clothes to dig out the autumn/winter ones.  I found this which I knitted winter 2009.  It's knitted in Rowan Big Wool.  First time I have ever knitted anything that chunky.  Grows fast, but I don't find it a comfortable experience, rather hard work and I shan't do it again.

I had read that big wools can mess up your tension and that the fronts will tend to droop.  That's exactly what happened here.  I packed it away in disgust, but now I shall re-style it and wear it as if it's meant to be that way and use a scarf pin at the top, removing the button that is supposed to fasten it at the bottom.   
It's nice and warm and red is very 'in' this season.  And I've lost some weight, so I won't look quite so 'lumpy' in it.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011


The comfrey is still going strong.  Grown from seed last year this variety is a rich dark purple.  The bees love it and it's good for the compost bin.  Helps things rot down faster.  Leaves laid in strategic positions can also be used to tempt slugs away from susceptible plants. 

Apparently we're in for a heat wave over the next few days.  Our Indian Summer.  So, out in the garden to do some tidying up and cutting back. 

Comfrey, Bee and Ox Eye Daisy

Monday, 26 September 2011

U is for Underwear

Late twenties - early thirties
U is for Underwear, another post in An Accidental Knitter's ABC meme.

Advertisement on the back of the pattern for the combinations
I don't recall ever having any knitted underwear, but I rather hanker after a knitted silk camisole.  Maybe one day.  Drawers are quite another thing and I don't think I could ever reconcile myself to knitted drawers.

Stitchcraft 1947 - described as 'snug fitting briefs'
The ones below are handsewn and are rather more appealing.  I've made the ones in the centre for a doll.  They are "French panties finished at the top and bottom with a facing and opened at both sides by means of short plackets."  There is something rather lovely about handsewn underwear.

From a Women's Institute publication - first published in the mid Thirties
The WI publication describes each of the styles and then goes on to explain how to make all the special features; the placket, the waist panel in the style shown lower left and the scallops at the top.

"...every woman can have dainty, neat, well-fitting lingerie if she chooses her materials carefully and her designs wisely, and if she does her sewing skilfully."

Friday, 23 September 2011

Another Pair of Leg Warmers

Finished the second pair of leg warmers.  These are done in King Cole Ocean - picked up a few balls in a bargain bucket.  It's the colour I was after (sort of creamy) and the slub gives them texture.  They are done in K3,P3 rib and sewn up the sides because I was experimenting and too idle to work out the sizing properly.  I'll do the next set on DPNs, but I've really got to stop knitting leg warmers now and get on with some other bits.

Evenings are drawing in now and the days are cloudy.  Finding it really difficult to take good photos and keep the colours true.  Upside is, as soon as we get to this time of year I really get my knitting fever going.  Has to be good news for the stash.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Leg Warmers

Been trying to photograph my own leg - it's not really that shape, it's the angle of the camera.

 I have become obsessed with leg warmers.  I hope this isn't advance warning of another bad winter, like an excess of Old Man's Beard in the hedgerows and rats nesting facing south.

I think it actually started when I bought a pair of brown cords when racing round the shops (I hate shopping). When I got them home that they are really tight fitting all the way down the leg.  With my shape that is not necessarily a flattering style, so I thought, baggy leg warmers.  Balance the silhouette up a bit and that will look fine with my walking boots ( or weird, but deliberately so).

The first pair are quite tight fitting and so don't necessarily achieve the desired effect.  I wanted to use yarn from the stash so took a Sirdar Eco Wool DK in a sort of soft dark greyish brown and a vintage 4 ply (Falcon Superior) in rust and knitted them together.  It's come up at around aran weight and the effect is ok.

It's given me lots of ideas for using up the rather varied contents of my stash.

Monday, 19 September 2011

T is for Tatti

T is for Tatti - another post in An Accidental Knitter's ABC meme.

Tatti is one of my sister's Yorkshire Terriers and the only one that sits still long enough to be photographed.

Tatti had a hard start in life.  She was apparently abandoned on the streets of Portsmouth at about two months old, possibly by a puppy farmer when it became apparent that her ears were not 'right' for a pure breed.  Imagine the terror of a little dog alone on the street.

Tatti was taken in as a rescue dog with another little dog called Daisy who had been a breed bitch in a puppy farm.  At last they had a happy home, but it wasn't long before their new owner became very seriously ill and life became uncertain once more. 

In stepped my sister, taking both little dogs who by this time each had their own set of issues.  Tatti was very nervous, widdling at the slightest provocation.  Daisy took exception to people in trousers who came through doorways suddenly.  Teeth were bared, flesh was punctured.

My sister and her husband are endlessly forgiving and firm with their discipline.  Move on two years and with a huge amount of patience and love Tatti has become very cuddly. Daisy is now more tolerant, loves attention from her favourite people but has never learned to cuddle.  And they have been joined by a little brother Pinksie, the escape artist (formerly known as Prince).

The most wonderful sight is this little dog, Tatti, sitting in my brother in law's arms with her head on his shoulder wearing a completely soppy, devoted and trusting expression.  She came through it all and rewards us with love and laughs.

Tatti in the cable coat I made for her Christmas 2009
- more interested in food than posing for the camera.

Friday, 16 September 2011

More Late Summer Colour

Viburnum Lantana

Something to brighten things up - the Wayfaring Tree seen on the chalk hill below the iron age hill fort where I take my walks.  Wayfaring Tree, how I love that name.

September always makes me a little morose and everything is a bit of an effort.  It's almost as if I need to hibernate.  I start cleaning things quite fanatically and feel a bit low.  It happens every year.  It's most peculiar and a little irritating.  Talking with some colleagues today I find I'm not alone, which is at least reassuring. 

Come late October, I will find something to inspire me and that will take me through the winter. 

For now, I'm hanging on to as much of the year's colour as I can.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Another Minor Victory

My cropped top to wear over shirts.  This was an exercise in creating my own pattern, a very simple one, assessing the measurements and tension and then charting the decreases.  It has actually worked.  Nobody more amazed than me.  Mind you, the amount of counting and calculating I did, goodness knows how I will ever achieve a pattern with sleeves, or a collar.

Still, you have to start somewhere.

Monday, 12 September 2011

'S' is for success (well, sort of)

The finished bolero
Yessss, a bit of Success.  The next instalment in 'An Accidental Knitter's' ABC meme.

This is the drapey bolero which has given me so much concern.  When I finished knitting I had two very long strips of knitting and really couldn't believe that they would make a bolero, but wahooo! 

On the blocking board

I knit a fair bit for myself, but because I experiment a lot, the results are a bit patchy.  Against all expectations I am rather pleased with this.

This bolero was a Sirdar Flirt pattern knitted in Rowan Damask, (I don't know why I do things like that), but actually I am rather pleased with it.  My other bit of success is that I have lost a stone in weight so that the bolero actually fits me rather better then I expected.

The view of the back reminds me of a sort of Georgian brocade.

We have a saying in our family.  If ever asked to assess someone's new outfit and unsure how to break bad news gently, our diplomatic response will be, "It looks nice from the back".

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Very Sad

Hungry Cat
Hungry Cat was put to sleep yesterday morning after succumbing to a very severe skin complaint which became infected.  At the end he did not look like the beautiful strong boy in this picture.  He was suffering and it took me two days to catch him so that I could get him to the vet. 

Hungry cat was feral and although he allowed us to feed him we always had to keep our distance.  He could have lived with us, but chose to live rough.  He often arrived with new scars and wounds and we were never sure what he'd been up to.  He survived it all until this time when he picked up something, probably from foxes and it took him over.  This time there was not going to be a recovery.  We are sad that he ended his days in fear and pain in a strange place, but he is out of pain now.

A beautiful boy

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Have officially stopped buying yarn

...And I mean it this time, I'm not buying any more.  Thirty eight items in my Ravelry stash and I've only listed one shelf.  There are three more, several boxes and some cubbyholes.  Plus the stuff my mum has that she is unlikely to use.  (A room full).  So it has to stop.  Healthy culling is required, a strong will and a determination to get down to knitting something rather than faffing around.

Unfortunately I am one of those slightly obsessive people who will not allow myself to start something new and exciting until I have finished off the old and boring.  This does all slow down the stash reduction process somewhat.

Sunday, 4 September 2011

R is for Remedy

Borage, Tansy and English Mace in the garden in mid August
Collecting herbs is a bit of a hobby of mine and has been for many years.  I like to cook with them and although I don't use them for remedies very much, I like to know their history as all-round useful plants. 

Since moving to Wiltshire I have found wild plants growing in this garden that I didn't find in the part of Hampshire where I grew up.  This will have been partly because my part of Hampshire was arable and therefore chemical sprayed to within an inch of its life in the late '60s.  If the wild plants in my Wiltshire garden are pretty or have a medicinal history then I tend let those grow among the cultured flowers.  Woundwort (used on open wounds) and Fumitory (an all round useful remedy) are two that grow profusely here.

A passer-by who had come back to visit the village where she was born told us that in the thirties a lady lived in this house who was locally known as 'The Witch' because she grew medicinal herbs in the garden.  A dour old lady in long skirts with hair tightly drawn back into a bun, she must have seemed intimidating to small children.  Her herb garden was right in the spot where I had chosen to put mine.  So now I preserve wild seedlings on her behalf.  Some may be from her stock.

The Borage, Tansy and English Mace shown in the picture are introductions I have made.

Borage - the crushed leaves smell like cucumber and can be put into salads.  The brilliant blue flowers are favourites with bees and are very pretty frozen into ice cubes to drop into your Pimms on a hot summers day.  Among other things borage was a remedy against the blues.  It was thought to raise the spirits and was used for centuries as a tonic.
Borage self-seeds very, very freely and needs thinning out frequently.

Tansy - old recipes used the leaves for flavour in puddings.  I'm sure I read somewhere that it was used as a strewing herb in houses among the rushes on the floor as a remedy against insects.  It was also used for dyeing fabric.  It was used as a medicinal plant, but is toxic, so was only used only by people who really knew what they were doing.
Tansy is rampant, so be very sure you want it before you plant this one.  Its roots spread underground like mint and it is very difficult to eradicate.  I have been somewhat incautious.

English Mace - one of my favourites.  It's a form of Achillea, or Yarrow, sometimes known as Milfoil and is an old medicinal herb, not used any longer.  Insects love it and it simply has a country look, providing a pleasing backdrop to other plants.

Friday, 2 September 2011


Gedifra Easy Wear - very very chunky
I had a birthday recently and I got presents!!!

Very, very chunky Gedifra - hat? bag? arm warmers?  So soft, so cuddly, it would  be nice to use it to keep warm.

Noro Sekku
Oh the fun I have had already with the Sekku.  Just looking at all the lovely possibilities on Ravelry has kept me quiet for hours.  I'll have to make a decision, but not yet.