November 14th, 2011

No rest for the wicked

Yeah yeah, so I was all ‘woo, it’s autumn, no more garden work, yay!’. And I was sooo wrong. I ordered some trees from the interwebs, and we planted them in the garden. And when I say ‘we’, I mean J did all the hard digging work and I busied myself with stuff that wasn’t too tiring. I kinda failed at the not getting tired thing, but it wasn’t toooo bad. And now I have braeburn apple, conference pear, and morello cherry trees in my garden. And a victoria plum tree in a pot that I’ll give to my dad because they are his favourite fruit ever.

This is my apple tree. Not hugely exciting, but it’s planted and looks happy and hopefully will have made me lots of fruit by this time next year.

appletree

Littlecat also had autumn garden fun by climbing my birch tree.

littlecattree

We’ve done lots of work on J’s plot in the last few weeks too…and it was very much needed. This is what it looked like after a summer of neglect.

weedyplot

After a couple of hours of strimming (him), and weed pulling (me), we’d got it looking much more like a vegetable plot and less like a patch of weeds, and also picked loads of potatoes, onions, and beetroot. 3 weeks later it was still looking much better, though some naughty weeds were trying to return.

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We wanted to get a head start on planting and put in as much as possible to extend the cropping season next year, so we put in onions, garlic, asparagus, peas, and broad beans. That’s pretty much all we can get in the ground now until spring, but it’s a good start. It gets dark sooo early these days, so it was hard to get a decent pic, but trust me, this area is all dug and planted and looking awesome.

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I just realised I’ve been very bad at blogging about fibrey things. I have still been knitting (a lot), and spinning (a little), I’ve just not got round to talking about it, but I should probably share this as I think it’s the biggest project I’ve ever done.

Sometime in the dim and distant past (march I think), I was all full of planning and enthusiasm, and decided that for my mum’s 60th I’d spin, design, and knit her a jumper. Because November is sooooo far away. So I grabbed a pile of fibre, mostly in natural colours, with a little blue for fun.

01

I carded it all up on the drum carder, which took approximately a million years. I think I did 3 passes to get it mostly-blended-but-not-too-even. Littlecat thought it was the most fun thing in the history of the world.

04

I then took each batt, split it into 4 lengthways, and rolled it up into a little bump, planning to just keep them in a box and grab them at random to further mix up the colours. When i ended up with 52 of the things, I was starting to fully realise just how long this would take. Oh well, it was March, November was soooo far away.

05

And I spun. I was good to start with and got through a lot, and wound my singles off onto a cardboard core on my ball winder so I could ply the first singles with the last and minimise any differences in spinning over the time it would take. Then at some point I forgot about spinning, as is often the case in summer.

THEN IT WAS OCTOBER ARGH.

So I brought the spinning wheel up to my room so I could spin while watching tv, and plied some of the singles, so I could spin when I had the energy, then knit in bed once I got tired. And I spun, and I knitted, and I doodled, and I found some nice contrasting handspun in my stash, and when I finally applied myself to it, I FINISHED IT.

(yes it’s a terrible pic, it was dark and the lighting was poor, but she likes it, so yay!!!)

mumjumper

August 3rd, 2011

I know I’m fucking awesome, but I can’t change the weather.

I’m sorry littlecat, I know it’s really hot outside and you really want to play but instead you have to lounge around doing nothing, but I promise there is nothing i can do. Howling and looking mournfully at me before flopping down in a huff will not make any difference, I promise. And I can assure you I hate this crazy heat just as much as you. In fact, probably more than you, because I can’t even open my bedroom windows fully at night because you think it’s fun to climb out.

I forgive you though, cos you are super cute.

littlecat

So, yeah, it’s hot and I hate it. My body hates me anyway for thinking that hooping on and off all last sunday afternoon was a good idea, so I spent a week pretty much constantly in bed recovering from that. And now I’m feeling kinda better, it’s way too hot to do anything. At least my garden is happy with the sun though. I have a gazillion beans and courgettes, and the tomatoes are juuuust starting to ripen…in fact, this pic was a couple of days old, the ripe tomato in the pic was eaten today, and it was lovely. In another couple of weeks I will be overrun with tomatoes.

courgettes
beans
raspberries
tomatoes
blueberries

Sadly the blueberries are no more. To start with I thought that some birds must have somehow avoided Snargle and eaten them, but then I realised the day they disappeared was the day that Rocky escaped. Fucking chicken. She kept jumping on the food storage box then over the fence, so I moved the box. Then she managed to fly from the box over the fence. So I clipped her wings. Then nothing for a week or so, so I thought it was all good. Until yesterday, when I looked out the front window and she was staring at me from the patio. I have no idea how she managed to get out, but it was very irritating, especially as she was desparate to get back in, but hadn’t realised there are plenty of things on this side of the fence to climb on and get back over. I think I might have to grab her again and cut the feathers back even further, or maybe do the other wing too. Or perhaps shoot her in the head. Fucking chicken.

I guess one thing about the hot weather is that it makes me want to eat healthy food. I just don’t fancy eating junk or heavy fatty food. So today I went to the shop and bought a buttload of fruit and veg. Nom nom nom! I’ve spent most of the time feeling hungry, nauseated, or both, so I figured if I get lots of quick and easy food I might actually manage to eat something and hopefully not feel ill afterwards. And I looooove salads and fruit.

fooooood

Oh, and I finally got round to getting gren to take some pics of stuff I’d knitted recently. My favourites are this vest and hoodie. Unfortunately the sun was too bright and the hoodie pic is rather bleached out, but trust me, it is awesomesauce, sooo comfortable, and has pretty cables on. In case anyone cares, the vest is a slightly modified razor cami, and the hoodie is my own design, there are instructions on my rav project page.

greyhoodie2
vest2

May 13th, 2011

Failbread, and other tales of domesticity.

I found some french flour at the local farm shop, which made me decide to make french bread. And I did (several months later). It turned out really nommy, but I was slightly afraid of breaking my mixer, and I couldn’t knead the dough by hand unless I wanted to suffer for it for days. So I decided to try a no knead recipe for my next attempt.

I used this recipe, pretty much, after reading a few things online and deciding to change it up a bit. My dough was too wet after the, hmmm, 16 hours it spent rising, so I used a wet spatula to try and fold it over in its bowl, then gave up and dumped it straight into the bowl with the floured towel. Then the plans went a bit wrong, i put it in the airing cupboard just before my parents came over to take me to the garden centre, thinking I’d be back in time to get the oven hot for it to go in after 2 hours. Well, i forgot that ‘do you want to go to the X’ from my dad, means ‘do you want to go to the X and then the pub’,  so we were out considerably longer than expected. When i got home the dough had fallen inexctricably in love with my teatowel, despite the copious amounts of flour used. So i just dumped it in the cold cast iron pot, pulled as much as i could off the towel and chucked it on top, then stuck it in the cold oven. I turned the oven to 230 degrees and set the timer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes i removed the lid and stuck a thermometer into the dough. I have no idea how long the next stage took, maybe 15 mins, but when the internal temp of the bread reached 99 degrees, I took it out.

Looking good!
failbread3

Then. I looked over to my left and saw the untouched roll of greaseproof paper. I had PLANNED to put some in the base of the pan to stop it sticking. or at least some flour, but in my teatowel unsticking frenzy, i forgot.

Still looks pretty good, right?
failbread4

Untiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiil
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YES MY BREAD HAS NO BOTTOM SHUT UP. There was no way in hell i was getting the thing out of the pot, so I waited until it was cool and then realised i had to sacrifice the bottom crust.

failbread1

Ignoring that huge fail though, it looks pretty good, really light and airy, tastes like a cross between ciabatta and french bread, but with the BEST CRUST EVER. Seriously, it’s incredibly delicious. Next time I will use a liiiiiittle less water, remember the damn greaseproof paper, and probably borrow a smaller casserole dish from my mum so it makes a taller loaf. Oh, and try not to ruin any teatowels. Still, failbread is yummy, so I’m happy.

Another fail i experienced lately was that my beans didn’t grow. Considering the seeds were 10 years old, I pretty much expected it. So today i bought some dwarf french bean seedlings, which are now happily sharing a bed with my peas.
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The tomatoes I am growing from seed did rather too well, i have 20+ plants, but i am expecting at least a few cat-related losses. The watercress in the front large pot has suffered at the paws of mummycat, and the carrots in the back pot have been sat on a couple of times too. Still, stuff is growing. There’s 4 chili plants in there too, which are doing very well.
vegmay2

The courgettes are getting biiiig, and i got a couple of tomato plants from someone down the road (one Alicante, one Gardener’s Delight) for some variety, as the ones I’m growing are all Moneymaker.
vegmay1

And fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinally. The most unflattering photo of me EVER EVER EVER.

newdress

I finished this dress the other day. The top is based on this pattern but at a tighter gauge because I wanted to use a 100% silk yarn and knew it would stretch, and then i added the skirty part. I don’t like orange, but i had 4 skeins of Debbie Bliss Pure Silk in orange that I bought aaages ago cos it was cheap. I thought i actually had 5, but maybe one has gone on a stash adventure. I also had a skein each of the pink and purple, so made that hideous creation. AND TODAY I DYED IT. I was going to dye it red then overdye it with black, but i decided i liked the red as-is, so it can stay this way for at least a little while until i am bored with it. Red is notoriously hard to photograph, but here it is, it’s a really bright yummy cherry red colour.

ruffles

Once it’s dry I’ll beg Gren to take a pic and hope I don’t look as chubby as in the above webcam pic. I may also have to sew an underdress thingy for it, cos it is raaather nippletastic, and while i have no qualms normally about my nipples showing through my clothing, this is a little much even for me.

March 19th, 2011

It’s that time of year

Well, it’s been that time of year for a while, but I’ve mostly been in bed for the last 2 weeks cos I had a horrible cold. Now I’m just slightly coughy, I thought it was time I got on with stuff I’ve been putting off. So I cleaned out the chickens, sorted out the big bin I store the feed/corn/straw/medicine in, and started on the veggie patches. The furthest one in the pic had awful soil in last year, so I grew potatoes to break it up, which seems to have worked. The other 2 weren’t so bad, but were very weedy when i got to them today, so i dug them as best as i could, and spent most of my time just sitting on the edge of the bed pulling weeds and squishing lumps of soil with my hands. Most of the raspberry plants have survived, but only 3 strawberries made it. Before I plant this year I’m going to build a fence so the chickens can’t sit on or dig up everything. And when I say ‘I’, I mean, hope gren and or my dad will help me.

vegbeds

Every time I turned round today, I had a row of chickens following me. I kept telling them not to eat ALL the worms, but I don’t think they listened.

chooks

Before I got ill, I discovered the eye-searing Oranje on Knitty. Orange is SO not my colour, but I decided I had to knit it. I am trying not to buy yarn, so I had to knit from stash. I chose Faithful Beauty Bugga! for the main colour, and a green and a blue for the CC’s. It knitted up SO fast, and although it was my first project involving steeks, it was all very easy and uneventful. I put plenty of notes on my rav project page if anyone else is thinking of making it and is unsure of anything. I mostly followed the pattern, but made the collar a little shorter and did the bands differently as I’m going to be using a zip rather than buttons. Currently the zip is tacked in place, awaiting a battle with the sewing machine. Here’s a zipless pic.

fi2

The pattern looks a little daunting because it’s so long, but that’s a good thing, because it means it’s really clear and easy to follow. HUGE props to the designer for writing such a good pattern, and for generally being an awesome person. This is the first colourwork I’ve done on a garment (other than little things like socks, gloves, and hats), and the charts were easy to follow, easy to remember, and even the few rows that involved 3 colours in one row weren’t too traumatic. I love it so much I’m considering making another in worsted/aran weight so I can wear it as a jacket.

July 9th, 2008

Shaving

So today I had a bath. I was going to shave my legs, but it was late, and I was tired, so I didnt bother. The reason I am sharing this will soon become apparent. I have been asked to do a little craft stall selling my knitted stuff at a school fete this weekend, I’m not expecting to sell much, I’m just doing it to help out the organiser really. Anyway, I decided I should wash some of my socks and my favourite jumper to take along as samples of stuff I can do on commission if desired, so I chucked them into the bath after I’d finished to soak for a bit, then completed washing and hung the socks out to dry.

 The jumper I laid out on the floor in the spare room. I made it around 6 months ago and it’s had a lot of wear, and it’s made from kureyon, which as a singles yarn, pills like crazy. So even clean, it wasn’t looking its best. Then I remembered reading somewhere that if you don’t have one of those snazzy jumper shaver bobble removers, a simple disposable razor will do. Fast forward to 5 minutes later, and I’m on my hands and knees on the floor in the spare room, shaving my damn jumper. At one point I looked down and noticed my stubbly legs. The irony wasn’t lost on me.

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 Look at that huge pile of fluff that came off it! The knitting geeks amongst you may notice this looks a lot like Lizard Ridge. I knitted an awesome blanket from that pattern (though I made it bigger), which was completed sometime in the winter of 2007. I loved knitting it, it was so relaxing, and so beautiful. For Christmas I was given a pack of Kureyon, and I decided I wanted to make a jumper based on the Lizard Ridge wavy stitch pattern. So I did.

I’m bored of typing now, so I’ll pad this out with some pics. Firstly, some spinning ones. I’m taking part in the Tour de Fleece, which is a spin-along type thing where you have to spin every day the tour rides. Today was day 4, and here is my progress so far; 375m/100g of purple merino sock yarn that I dyed myself, and one bobbin’s worth of a single that will become yet more sock yarn.
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batt

Finally, here’s a pic of some sock yarn I dyed the other day for the stall. I’m not entirely sure whether many sock knitters attend school fetes, but if no-one buys it, I get to keep it for myself, which is fine with me, as I LOVE the purple one. mmmmmm.
sockyarns

April 9th, 2008

Dad’s the word – free sock knitting pattern

I finished the socks I was making for my dad, and had people ask what the pattern was, so I thought I would attempt to write it out. This is my first knitting pattern that’s anything more formal than scribble on the back of an envelope, so if there’s any errors, please let me know.

 I unfortunately gave the socks away before starting to write the pattern, foolishly forgetting to measure the tension, and i’ve lost the swatch I made beforehand, but i shall measure next time i see my dad. For now, if a plain 60 stitch sock fits, this sock will fit, the extra stitches make up for the pulling in of the cables. I know its written for a man, but my dad only has size UK6 feet, so it’ll probably fit women better than it does men.

 The yarn used was ONline linie 2 supersocke silk, in colour 0006, 2*50g

 I used the magic loop method, feel free to use whatever method you prefer. If using dpns, i’d recommend having the front/top stitches on one needle, and the back/bottom stitches divided between another two needles, then knit with the 4th needle. The charts for the front and back of the sock are separate.

Right. I think that’s all the preparationy stuff. Read through the pattern before you start, as there will be at least one instance of ‘at the same time’.

 Cast on 68 stitches. Divide as explained above, or however you want.

Work 16 rows in 1×1 rib

Charty links: chart 1 chart 2  chart 3 chart 4 chart 5 chart 6 key to charts  

Front of sock: work chart 1 3 times, then chart 2 3 times, then chart 1 once. AT THE SAME TIME:

Back of sock: work chart 3 7 times.

Then…

Front of sock: work chart 1 twice, then chart 5 once. AT THE SAME TIME:

Back of sock: work chart 4 once. Row 30 is the row you start to turn the heel on. Before knitting this row, rearrange the stitches as detailed below.

(The numbering of chart 5 starts at row 13, so you can make sure you’re on the same row on charts 4 and 5)

You will now have 26 stitches on your front needle, and 42 on your back needle. Move 4 stitches from each end of the back needle to the front needle, so you have 34 on each again.

 Heel: work a standard short row heel with wraps or double stitches or your own preferred method of avoiding holes over the 34 stitches on the back needle. For the top part of the heel carry on the rib pattern as in row 30 of chart 4, keeping the ribs going until you’re not working as far as those stitches anymore. For the second half of the heel, just knit. (I will add a line by line heel explanation later, but for now i imagine anyone knitting this knows how to turn a heel or they’ll be mightily lost with my pattern already).

After turning the heel, carry on with the pattern on the top of the foot:

Chart 1 3 times, then chart 2 3 times, then chart 1 3 times. Bottom of foot: knit all stitches. You might want to ktbl for the first and last stitch on the bottom needle on each row to give the edge more definition.

Now move to chart 6. knit row 1 of chart 6 as many times as you need until the sock is 7.5cm (need to check this number) shorter than desired final length, then work the rest of chart 6 on the top of the foot, continuing to knit on the back of the foot. AT THE SAME TIME, every time you make a decrease on the top of the foot, work an increase on the 2nd/2nd to last stitch on the bottom of the foot. you are only working the ribs into the middle at this point, NOT decreasing the size of the sock.

Now you can start to decrease for the toe. All worked in knit stitch.

work a decrease round: k1, ssk, knit to 3 stitches from the end, k2tog, k1. repeat on second needle.

work 3 rounds, work a decrease round

[work 2 rounds, work a decrease round] twice

[work 1 round, work a decrease round] four times

[work a decrease round] six times

12 stitches remain. Graft these using kitchener stitch, or thread the yarn back through them and tighten it, however you prefer to finish your toes.

 And that concludes my first ever knitting pattern. Please please please let me know if there’s any errors or ambiguities.


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March 12th, 2008

I’ve got balls!!!

Today was a very knitty day indeed. I spent this afternoon at my parents’ house with my mum and 3 other knitters at our first ever knitting group meeting. I worked on my sock and taught mum how to turn a heel, and we talked about sheep and pigs and all sorts of things. Then I made a yarn swift out of meccano.

ys1.jpg

I’ve been getting increasingly frustrated with the time it takes to wind balls from skeins. I got a ball winder with my spinning wheel, though it didnt have a bobbin with it…so i discovered a place that sold just the bobbins on ebay, and that made my ball-winding life considerably easier. Unfortunately it either needs two people to do, one of whom gets achy arms, or I need to contort myself into strange positions with the skein wrapped around my knees or neck or something. After stumbling across a blog showing a homemade swift made out of some kids building toy that i’ve never heard of (i’ll add a link to it if i find it again), I realised i could easily make one from meccano…which i knew dad has a case of in the cupboard. It only took about 10 minutes to assemble, and it works wonderfully. So I’ve just spent half an hour or so winding some of my stash into balls.

 yarnballs.jpg

 left to right, top to bottom: Angels and Elehants Sock yarn, shetland wool, colourways candyfloss (1 ball), holly berry (2 balls). Handspun from rovings: red and green laceweight, blue and grey laceweight, pink and purple DK (two balls). Handspun from norfolk horn fleece, green DK, pinky aran, and pink chunky.

And as if that wasn’t exciting enough, I finished the socks for my brother. I found this awesomely orange corriedale roving in my LYS, and decided i would spin it and make some socks for him, as orange is his favourite colour. It was the first time i’d spun anything finer than DK, but it turned out pretty even, and the socks feel nice and soft…though I was cursing his size 9 feet by the end, i’ve never made socks any bigger than a 6 before, and this seemed to take aaaages. timsocks.jpg

Oh, and here’s a couple of other (clicky) pics of the swift (one with monkey’s head in, as she’s found the whole process fascinating). If anyone reading wants any more info as to how it’s made, just give me a shout, though really it’s pretty self explanatory.
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February 27th, 2008

Lace scarf – finished

lacescarffinished.jpg
[click to enlarge]

woohoo, i finished it, and it only took me 8 days. it was blocked overnight last night, and I just took it into the garden to photograph. Sadly early morning sun on a breezy day doesnt lead to the best silk lace photographs, but i don’t care cos it still looks pretty.

February 19th, 2008

scarf update

lacescarf2.jpg I’ve been knitting away at my new lace scarf, only allowing myself to knit 10 rows at a time, and fastidiously using markers and counting out loud, so i’ve only had to unpick 20 stitches so far…and the hard bit is done for this end, now it’s on to the relatively easy straight part. The pic is rather dodgy due to silk being very shiny, and the light in here being terrible…and of course it’ll look much nicer when blocked, but i am happy with progress so far.
February 18th, 2008

it’s been a long time…

I decided i should blog more about what i’ve been up to…so here goes. This of course is all knitting/spinning related so i can include lovely pictures of pretty things. The first picture is some wool i’ve spun lately. The orange and pink/purple are spun from corriedale tops, the green is from the big pile of Norfolk horn fleeces in my garage which i am slowly managing to wash and card.

merino/silk/alpaca I’ve also spun a lot of beautiful merino, and also a merino/alpaca/silk mix. Unfortunately I knitted them into hats which i gave away without photographing, so a pic of the pile of lovely fibres will have to do for now.

Knitting-wise i’ve been very busy making hats, jumpers, and all sorts of other things, but don’t have photos yet, so here are pics of what i’m working on at the moment…an almost finished sock from a lovely hand dyed yarn from http://www.araucaniayarns.com/ and the very start of a lace scarf based on the knitty pattern Juno Regina in a silk yarn from http://www.fyberspates.co.uk/. Its the first time i’ve knitted proper lace (anything with more than a 4 row repeat) so i am a little scared i’ll make a mistake..so i’m forcing myself to take plenty of breaks and won’t let myself work on it when i’m tired.

WIP sock

lace scarf - just started

In the pic above you can see the pretty stitch markers i made last week out of silver wire and some beads from my stash…much prettier than using loops of waste yarn as i normally do.

 I think i shall try and update this blog regularly with details of what i’m working on…if anything else it will stop me boring my friends with constant knitting talk!

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