Sunday, 23 December 2012

Quiet Over Christmas

I'm going quiet for a while.  Mum was taken into hospital with pneumonia a couple of days ago.  Very, very poorly.  We spend our days and nights with her.

Much love to all of you over Christmas.

Guess What?

Gift Bag with Vintage Button
Guess What?  Once again I forgot to write down what I was doing and although I know this is a slip stitch, I don't know which one.  Will I ever learn?

Friday, 21 December 2012

Slip Stitches Again

Gift Bag in a version of Garter Slip Stitch
Using multiples of 2 + 1 stitches cast on

1st row (right side): Knit
2nd row : Knit
3rd row: K1, *sl 1 purlwise, k1; rep. from * to end.
4th row: K1, *yf, sl 1 purlwise, yb, k1; rep. from * to end.
Rep. these 4 rows.

The trick is in the order of the colour changes.  Options are :
- work rows 1 and 2 in colour A and then 3 and 4 in colour B.
- 2 rows in A, 2 rows in B and 2 rows in C throughout 
- 1 row each in colour A, B, and C throughout

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Houndstooth Pattern

A small gift bag in Houndstooth Stitch
Christmas gives me the opportunity to play with my favourite slip stitches, making little knitted items.  This Houndstooth Pattern is very effective and I would like to see it in black and white in a little boxy jacket, Chanel style.

Knitted in two colours
Cast on multiples of 3 stitches in Colour A

1st row (right side) : Using A, k1, *sl 1 purlwise, k2; rep from * to last 2 sts, sl 1 purlwise, k1
2nd row: Using A, purl.
3rd row: Using B, *sl1 purlwise, k2; rep from * to end.
4th row: Using B, purl.

Repeat these 4 rows.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Christmas is getting to me a bit

Christmas gift bag in Ribbon Stitch
Ribbon stitch is a favourite slip stitch of mine.  Looks fine in Christmassy colours,  but even better in other colourways.
The Reverse

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Bits n' Pieces

Small Christmas Gift Bag
Not a good photo, but this little bag is made in Step Stitch.

Close-up of the button.  I added a pearl to the centre

Friday, 7 December 2012

Christmas bits

Heart-shaped gift bag
Trying to get into a Christmas mood.  I didn't manage it at all last year and in fact I rather like Christmas.  So,  I'm going to work at it.  I've started making little bits and have at last started the shopping, although this consisted mostly of a couple of hours sitting at the computer ordering things on line.  Perhaps I should give in and go into town, but I loathe shopping.
Felt gift bags - colourful

I've done a little sewing for the first time in ages.  Rather enjoyed it.
More heart-shaped gift bags

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Watery Lane

Looking West - deep and fast flowing water in winter sun
When I visited St. Leonard's church in Bulford at the weekend I wandered around the old part of the village.  The old village is centred on a splay of chalk streams which run either side of the church. Ancient houses appear among the trees, clustered around the church and nourished by the waters.  In the year 2001 some were flooded, particularly the ones along Watery Lane.  
I wonder how many times this has happened over the centuries.  The name is a bit of a clue.
Looking East - sun at my back
Shallow and serene - clear as glass

Sunday, 2 December 2012

A Church Fair

The Parish Church of St. Leonard, Bulford

14th Century tower
For years I have driven past the little church in Bulford wondering what it was like inside.  Sometimes they hold a little fair to raise money for repairs, but I have never had the opportunity to go.  Yesterday, I made it. It was bustling with people, the centre of a community.  

The kind Church Warden left her raffle stall to find me a printed leaflet which is a copy of an architectural survey written in June 1900.  It tells that the church must be early 12th century and that it has been altered greatly over the years.

The tower was once much higher, but probably due to faulty foundations only the base remains.  Somehow it's much more endearing that way.

The little church fair was very busy and I couldn't stand still too long inside the building, or take photographs, but one feature stood out.  A partly exposed medieval wall painting, very faint.  So faint that I couldn't see what it represented and I was told that it had been covered up by the puritans, (them again).  The community cannot afford to have the whole piece restored, so it stays under the plaster.  One day.
Showing signs of  many alterations over the years
The main doorway is in the tower
Children's bikes outside - a much loved  building - still busy
Quote from the front of the little leaflet. 
"The care of this ancient sanctuary falls on the parishioners.  It is a 'labour of love' to preserve and beautify it for this and future generations".

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Still on Slow Time

Early sunlight on hazel 
I can't seem to get up to full speed after various bugs and ailments, so am reducing the frequency of posts for a short while until I get back in the swing.  

I found this old picture taken last autumn and it called to me.  I like the way the sun has gilded the coppiced hazel and picked it out against the backdrop of the fallen leaves which look purple in the shade.  

Sunday, 18 November 2012

By Dose id Bugd Up

Common Toadflax
Managed to come down with yet another bug and am going to go quiet for a few days.  I'm a bit fed up, so looked for something to cheer me up.  Common Toadflax photographed on a walk at the end of July on the one day it wasn't raining and the whole world was alive

Friday, 16 November 2012

Lucky Girl

Last week I was given the most enormous and most wonderful bunch of flowers  -  all different varieties in autumn colours.  Someone knew that while I love pretty pinks and whites those aren't really the colours that are at home here.  All these reds and rusts and golds fit with the wood, the ox blood walls and and the firewood stacked in the fireplace.  It's a funny old house, not everyone's taste, but sometimes I'm rather proud of it.  
Wonderful depths of colour
Unusual shapes and shades

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Innocent Times

A Girls' Night In - Late 1920s / Early 30s
Advertisement from the back page of a Weldon's Knitting booklet.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

My Name is Gracie

Gracie is a 9" dolly
I got her in a car boot sale
And dressed her in a 1950s layette
and made a little pillow with lace edging for her head to rest on
All very silly, but I learned so much from doing these little bits of knitting.

Friday, 9 November 2012

It's All Very Dolly

Blocked and Ready to Sew
I've been knitting little bits.  It's all blocked out - I raced around yesterday morning early before work pinning and damping down because I have a day off today and can have a day of sewing up.  There are...

- Wrist warmers on behalf of my mum for  her great niece for Christmas.  Mum so badly wants to knit and has great ideas, but she struggles now, so a bit of it comes my way to finish.

- Dolly clothes from a 1950s (I think) pattern. 
Lots of Fun in a Sixpenny Pattern
 In my previous post I talked about reducing the needle size to get a better fit on the dolly.  This was a disaster - I now have a dress in a size for which I don't have a doll. So, went back to the original needle size and we'll see how that goes when all these little bits are put together.

Pretty, Pretty
There are also experimental Christmas bits in red green and white slip stitches - my favourite stitches.  I'm checking out how knitted gift bags might work.  Possibly a bit weird.  I enjoyed the knitting though.

Gift Bags? I Hope So

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Reading Again

King Charles brocade
The stitch on the yoke of King Charles I shirt when he went to his execution
Took me ages to finish ...

'A Gambling Man', the book by Jenny Uglow about Charles II and his Restoration to the Throne after the execution of his father King Charles I and the Interregnum by the Parliamentarians.
What a difficult life he led and he behaved gallantly and impeccably most of the time, except where his poor wife was concerned.  His extra-marital affairs are the stuff of legend, he had several illegitimate children and was a target for any ambitious courtier who could find a handy female to use in their power play.  He simply couldn't resist. His wife, Queen Catherine had repeated miscarriages and had to sit by as she was humiliated by his mistresses.

I hadn't realised before what a heroic part he and his brother James played during the Great Fire of London.  When the officials panicked the royal brothers took charge, got out there, organised fire crews and demolition of buildings to create fire breaks, stood in bucket lines and worked through the night.  Don't let those curly wigs fool you.  They were pretty tough.

Now reading

The Beach by Alex Garland
It's gripping.  You just know it's going to turn nasty.  Off they go to Eden, to get away from the world, taking all their cultural references and emotional baggage with them.  Funny and tragic.  I don't know how I'm going to follow it up.  Jane Austen might be a bit of a cultural leap from this.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

The Reluctant Cook

Mine is the 4th edition printed in 1956
The Reluctant Cook, yep, that's me most of the time.  I have a huge collection of cookery books and I refer to them a lot.  But I don't do more cooking than I absolutely have to.

However, this week I made my special mincemeat recipe.  I don't like shop bought mince pies - too rich.  Here is a  recipe for Lemon Mincemeat cut out of a Woman's Weekly magazine long ago.

Lemon Mincemeat (vegetarian)
Makes 3 and a half pounds (1.75kg)

Rind and juice 3 lemons
8oz (250g) caster sugar
1lb (500g) cooking apples
8oz (250g) currants
8oz (250g) raisins
8oz (250g) vegetarian suet
Pinch salt
1/2 level teaspoon cloves
1/2 level teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 level teaspoon ginger
1/4 (150ml) sherry

Pare the rind off the lemons with a potato peeler.  Put in a pan, cover with cold water and simmer for 20 minutes.  Drain and chop finely.
Strain the juice of the lemons and put in a bowl with the rind and sugar.
Peel, core and grate the apples and add to lemon mixture together with the rest of the ingredients.
Mix well.  Cover and leave overnight before pressing firmly into jars.
Store in a cool dry place.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Sometimes, When it all gets Too Much

Dolly Pattern - Early Fifites?
I've not been feeling too well this last couple of weeks and I find that I go for comfort food (which is often a mistake), comfort reading and comfort knitting patterns.  Comfort reading usually involves cookery books.  Comfort knitting usually involves something very straight and uncomplicated.  But this time it's dolly patterns.  I'm having a try at this one.  The blue edging is done with a slip stitch - my favourite.  I've started the little dress in pink with cream edging.  The pattern proudly says 'THICK WOOL'.  I did a tension swatch and it's actually 4ply.  Those were the days.  Everyone knitted for themselves in 3ply and for the dolly and baby in 2ply.

The pattern is for a 10 inch dolly, but mine is 9 inches and much slimmer round the chest than the pattern has been made for.  So, I'm knitting on 3mm needles (old UK size 11) rather than 3.25 (old UK size 10).  Too weary to do another tension swatch to test it.

We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012


Yvonne the Spider
This is Yvonne, especially designed and created for Hallowe'en along with the pumpkins.  I also managed to crochet Yvonne a web which is now in place at Beulah's, but quite difficult to photograph.  

Last week was one of those weeks when I had a sudden burst of creativity and saw how to make things.  Silly things admittedly, but very pleasing.  I now have loads more ideas.

Forgot to photograph them with their stalks 

Monday, 29 October 2012

Lulworth Cove

The Tortured and Folded Purbeck Stone
Once a year, if I'm lucky I am taken to 'see the sea'.  This time it was a grey gloomy day in late October and I was taken to Lulworth Cove.  The last time I came here, I must have been about eleven.  I'm still awestruck by the way the rock has been folded and turned on its side along this Jurassic coastline, then worked by the sea into tunnels and blow holes and pretty little coves.  There are fast flowing freshwater springs running down through the village to the sea, under and around the houses.  One has been dammed to make a peaceful little pond where mallard and moorhens feed and doze.

Highlight of the day was watching an excited labrador leap into the sea, heave out a big chunk of driftwood and drag it up the shore to drop expectantly at his master's feet.

The Cove

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Corfe Castle

Corfe Castle
On a grey drizzling Friday we drove down to see Corfe Castle, high on its hill in Dorset.  It's a vast complex, much larger than I expected and must have been quite something in its day.  Ravens live in the castle now. Soay and Herdwick  sheep graze the steep hillsides.
Herdwicks grazing under the walls
First, long ago there was a Saxon hall and Edward the Martyr, King Edward the first of England died there in 978, murdered it is said by his stepmother Aelfthryth.  They say that on the anniversary of his death a cold north wind blows through the castle.

The typical herringbone pattern of a Saxon stone wall
William the Conqueror acquired Corfe in 1086 and built the first substantial castle there.  The very steep hill is a natural feature carved out from the landscape by two rivers and extremely defensible.

In the 12th century King Henry I  built a great stone keep.  This took nine years and as more kings took ownership over the centuries a small village grew up at the base of the hill to house the workforce.

Henry's tower
King John and King Henry III went on to add to the castle so that it became a very sophisticated royal residence.  Henry III ordered that the keep be whitewashed and it would have been seen for miles.  Over the years many royal and aristocratic unfortunates were imprisoned there as rebellion and royal struggles raged across the land.
Where the Ravens live
Queen Elizabeth I sold Corfe to Sir Christopher Hatton in 1572 and in 1635 it was bought by the Royalist supporter of King Charles I - Sir John Bankes.  During the Civil War Lady Mary Bankes defended it valiantly for six weeks.  
Watching Out for the Enemy
Finally the castle was betrayed when a force of Parliamentarians disguised as Royalist reinforcements were admitted.  The castle was attacked from inside and outside and defeated.  Lady Bankes was given safe passage to leave because of her gallant defense.  The story goes that she threw her jewelry down the well inside the castle, but it has never been found and it's now believed she smuggled it out in her underwear.

In 1643 the Parliamentarians voted that the castle be 'slighted', demolished so that it could not be made defensible again.  Huge chunks of masonry have been thrown and tilted, they were very good at 'slighting'.  Sad that there is someone in every generation who excels at tearing things down. 
Craftsmanship - the fancy stonework at the top is probably
conservation work to prevent further deterioration

Wednesday, 24 October 2012


The 1960s Girl About Town
This picture comes from 'Dolls' Dressmaking' by Winifred Butler - 1962

I think I got this in a second hand bookshop a few years ago.  It shows little girls all the things they need to know to make clothes for their dollies.  It ranges from the very simplest techniques to the more complex and structured.

I can't help feeling that I would have been one of the little girls who quickly gave up on it, but just looking at it makes you feel happy to be alive.

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Why do we do these things?

Why, oh Why, oh Why?
In the middle of everything else and the general knitting against the clock for Christmas, etc. I have suddenly taken it into my head to knit pumpkins.  Why do we do these things?  Now I'm planning a knitted bat.

Getting the 'carved' features right on the pumpkins is giving me a lot of trouble.  It was all going swimmingly up to that point.  I battled with them at the Upstairs Stitchers at Beulah's Vintage Attic on Thursday night while Jan gloated over her finished pair of socks, (first socks she has ever made) and the lovely Tina and Sarah made their small fabric goodies - flowery tea cosies, danglies for the Christmas tree and clip on flowers.

This is not my work
Lots of Loveliness - Part of Tina and Sarah's stand at Beulah's
Colours in this picture slightly washed out as it was late and lighting was tricky.
The stand is much brighter than this.