Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Something for 3-6 year old
A little bit of knitting for a charity stall.  As long as I keep focussed and don't try anything too large, I actually do seem to be able to finish stuff.  This is in chunky of course, which I rarely use.  But I can see why people like it.  It grows fast. 

I always worry about the thumbs on children's gloves.  They always look out of place to me.  Too prominent.  I'm just hoping they mould to the wearer.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Christmas knitting

They look better with a foot in
Finally finished some Christmas Knitting - and it has turned out rather better than I expected (and better than these photos - I rushed them a bit).  These slippers are done in aran knitted double.  They are supposed to have a tassle at the front.  Since these are going to someone with three Yorkshire terriers I think that's tempting fate, so I crocheted some flowers and put a bead in the centre and it's all very, very firmly sewn down. 

I think I shall add some drinking chocolate sachets and other little goodies that might help with a warm and relaxing afternoon watching old films. and cuddling Yorkshire Terriers.  And before you think it, they are the same size, I've just realised that they look different in this photograph.  I'm going to have to start concentrating on the photography a bit more.
Slippers for idling on the sofa

Friday, 25 November 2011


November morning
A misty November morning and you would think that there wasn't a lot of colour to be had. 

The world starting to wake up

Look more closely, see what you can find - lots of inspiration here

And suddenly the world's awake


Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Martin Down

Man made ditches stretching down the hillside
Martin Down, ten miles from Salisbury is a site with a long history, a bronze age enclosure and enormous ditches acting as boundary markers.  The scale of these ditches is remarkable - it would be a huge undertaking even today with modern machinery.  It was all dug by hand.  It's all grassed over now, but when it was first dug the great white stripes across the down as the chalk was exposed would have demonstrated the power and dominance of the people who created it.

It's now a nature reserve providing a downland home for all the creatures who specialise in that kind of habitat.  We went at the end of October, so not much in the way of flowers and butterflies to be seen.  Lots of sheep though.
A Derbyshire Gritstone
The Derbyshire Gritstone is one of the oldest British breeds of sheep originating in the Derbyshire Peak District in the mid eighteenth century and is well able to survive on the top of a hill in the south of England.   I have two little books called 'Know Your Sheep' by Jack Byard and they tell me that the wool of  the Gritstone is used for high quality hosiery, knitted outerwear and underwear.

An ancient burial mound
On top of the hill an ancient burial mound lay among yew and holly trees.  The ancient druidic trees.  Very fitting for such a site and very atmospheric.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Sugar and Spice

Knitted skirt, jumper and cardigan for 2-4 years old
I should think this pattern from Sirdar's Sunshine series is late '50s.  Knitted in 4ply, the button bands on the cardigan and the cross band on the skirt are embroidered with flowers.  I can remember little girls who would have looked just right in this.  Their hair neatly brushed and their little white socks gleaming in their patent shoes.  I wasn't one of those.  Frequently mistaken for a boy, always untidy with unruly hair and chewed sleeves, one sock up, one sock always down, I was a source of desperation to my mother.  By the time I was ten I had the National Health specs - the brown ones with the wire earpieces (I refused to wear the pink ones).  I knew what my style was early on and everyone learned to live with it. 

When I was about five I paired up with one very neat little girl called Valerie for a fancy dress parade.  We were Jack and Jill.  She looked wonderful in her little flounced dress, pale yellow with white frills.  I was Jack and wore dark blue striped dungarees and a brown hat.  I held her hand and we walked out into the sunshine with the rest of the parade.  Someone in the crowd said,  'Oh look at that sweet little boy'.  We won first prize. 

Nowadays (about fifty years later) I love fashion and feminine clothes, but still look best in a pair of jeans and a check shirt.  I knew it all along.

Friday, 18 November 2011

Dog Roses

A Dog Rose in November

"Unkempt about those hedges blows
An English unofficial rose;''

Rupert Brooke
The Old Vicarage, Grantchester

I love Dog Roses but they always seem to come into flower in those few weeks in June when we get high winds and slashing rain.  As soon as they appear their delicate petals are whipped away.  I found this hardy specimen on a walk in early November on the hills around Ashdown Copse.
On some wonderfully sunny walks in October on Sidbury Hill I saw masses of rose hips.  Must remember to come back in early summer to see the roses.

Rose hips in October
Some of the hips had split to disperse the seeds.

Just look at that sky

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Colours in late October

Rosebay Willow Herb
These pictures come from a walk in late October.  I like to record colours for use in knitting swatches.  This huge clump of Rosebay Willow Herb was turning to the most glorious colours. 

How the colours look close up
Rosebay in full flower tends to be associated these days with waste ground and bomb sites and so doesn't strike us as it did Culpepper in his herbal who believed it to be the most beautiful of all the willow herbs.  As it dies into winter it certainly is very beautiful.

Dogwood going through green to bronze to purple
And then, of course, there's the sky

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Bias Knitting

This bias knitted swatch was achieved by increasing at one end of a row and decreasing at the other.  This keeps the number of stitches constant but slants them diagonally.

I cast on 3 stitches and then knitting in garter stitch increased at each end of the row until the swatch was the width I needed.  Then I decreased 1 stitch from the right hand side and increased 1 stitch on the left hand side on alternate rows.  Then when the swatch was long enough I decresed a stitch at the end of every alternate row until there are no stitches left.  The colours were inspired by a satellite view of a Saudi Arabian desert.

Bias knitting would achieve the same kind of drape as any bias fabric and chevron stripes are created using the same principles.

I got my instructions for the swatch from a course I did with Locaine Mclean who runs a City and Guilds knit course.  But for her I would never have tried things like this.

Friday, 11 November 2011

A quiet corner

The Mortuary Chapel, Tidworth
I've been meaning to go and look at this little corner for some time and then the other day ended up on a footpath that went right by it as I climbed Furze Hill.  The chapel was built in the late 18th century using materials from the demolished medieval church of South Tidworth.  A place of worship is recorded there in the Domesday Book, but the grandees living in Tedworth House at the time considered that it spoilt their view and got permission from the Bishop of Winchester to demolish it.  The little mortuary chapel built from its rubble was then the only place of worship in South Tidworth.

I wonder what impact this would have had on the villagers.    I wonder if they were at all devout, attached to the old building and conscious that their families had worshipped there for generations.  Did this demolition strike at the heart of their community?  Or maybe, it was just another damp and leaky old building got out of the way and replaced by a much drier one on higher ground.  That was certainly the argument made by those who wanted it pulled down.

View showing the belfry

Some quite grand people - the estate owners - were buried beside this little chapel in the 19th century without much fuss.  And then there is a sad little corner for the children where the graves date between 1915 and 1918, two of them for children from the same family, aged 9 and 16 months.  Hard to think that with all the great suffering of  those years, small tragedies were still being played out far from the trenches.

Children's graves from the years of the First World War

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Exhausting week

Marilyn - trying to look as if she knows nothing about it

Very exhausting week last week.  We could hear something moving about in the walls and under the floorboards.  Always in the early hours of  the morning.  Fearing the worst I got the pest control man out.  He turned out to be about twelve years old with a mobile phone that rang constantly.  He was extremely laid back.  He only became animated when he saw our bird feeders.  Clearly he does not like bird feeders.  I made him go in the attic because he was annoying me.  He rummaged about a bit, then went away. 

'The Man Who Can', came home from work with a circular saw and we started taking up floorboards.  Finally caught a mouse.  The noise it had been making over the past week, I thought at least a small pony had been running about in there.  I discovered it had stashed about two boxes worth of cat biscuits in The Man Who Can's boots.  Of course, if we didn't have the cat, we wouldn't have the mice.  She brings them in and lets them go.

Needless to say I have been emptying and scrubbing cupboards ever since.  But things are no longer scrabbling in our woodwork and the upside is we found some rather nice wooden floorboards that we didn't know were there.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Perhaps I shouldn't have started

Part way towards smocking
You know how it is when you think perhaps you shouldn't have started.  I'm making what I hope will be a Christmas gift (I'm not prepared to admit what it's supposed to be yet).  Got carried away and didn't read the pattern properly before I started.  It has smocking on it and this smocking is achieved by Tw2R and Tw2L. 

The second one takes some getting used to.  (and I don't think I'm doing it right), A couple of hours of this and my fingers are really stiff.  And then when you have done all that you have to stitch all the diamonds into place so that it really looks like smocking.  Oh deary me.

K into front of second st on left-hand needle, then P into front of first st, slipping both sts off needle together

P into back of second st on left-hand needle, then K into front of first st, slipping both sts off needle together

Friday, 4 November 2011


A stand of beech - end of October
The photo bears no relation to the post.  I just like to look at it.  The post is about what I've been reading lately.

E.M. Forster - A Passage to India.
All these years and I've never read it, but have seen the film which doesn't quite do it justice.  It's wonderful.  Like Henry James, but with more happening.

Arundhati Roy - The God of Small Things
Very sad, I found it upsetting.  It's about how easily fragile lives are damaged.  Wonderful writing from the viewpoint of a child.

Jo Nesbo - The Snowman
Billed as the next Stieg Larsson (The Girl with the Dragon Tatto), this was gripping with many twists and turns.  A good page turner.

Trea Martyn - Elizabeth in the Garden
Fascinating story of the rivalry between Robert Dudley Earl of Leicester and William Cecil Lord Burghley for the favour of Queen Elizabeth I.  They competed extravagantly to build fantastical gardens at The Earl of Leicester's house at Kenilworth and Cecil's home, Theobalds.  The gardens were designed to celebrate the Queen and all the emblems of her cult.  The book tells the story of the Queen's visits to these houses and the entertainments that were arranged for her.  They spent the equivalent of millions of pounds, but neither of these gardens exist today.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

A Very Extraordinary Pig

You see, I don't make toys really.  I kind of know that it's not my thing.  But mum's craft club is having a charity stall at the end of November and I thought I would muck in, so to speak.  So along with some hats and gloves and slippers, I  had a go at making a pig.

He's just under 6 inches high (about 14cm in new money) and very, very round.  The legs are not stuffed, just knitted and sewn on. He's not quite what I expected.  Or rather, he is what I expected, knowing my skill at toy making, but probably not quite what the designer expected.  I thought I  might put a label on him saying either,

"Please look after this pig"  (which is plagiarising Paddington Bear really)


"Please do not feed this pig
Because his tummy is too big".

I'm looking for those old fashioned brown card parcel labels to use on him and on the hats and gloves so I can give sizes.  Can't get 'em anywhere.