Thursday, 31 December 2009

2009 in Review

Another year is looming, so I thought it would be nice to have a quick look back at all the knitted goodness I've managed to produce in the last 12 months. If 2008 was the year of scrapbooking (and how!), then 2009 was definitely the year of knitting - I've done a quick count, and managed to complete the following:
- 16 hats

- 5 pairs of gloves

- 5 scarves / neckwarmers / cowls
- 3 shawls

- 14 pairs of socks

see that last pair of red socks - I finished them just last night in time for the New Year :-)

- and a whole load of various bits and pieces for the house and for Little Miss A
Now, given that at the beginning of this year, I had a) never used double-pointed needles, b) never used circular needles, c) never knitted a pair of socks and d) never done any lace knitting, I have to say that I am pretty impressed with myself!

So, what will 2020 hold on the crafty / knitting front? Well, I'm hoping to get back into scrapbooking, before I forget all the details of certain key occasions (so much as happened with Little Miss A this year, it would be a great pity to not take the time to record it as much as possible). I'm also hoping to get some of the many jewellery designs that currently reside inside my head 'out into the open' so to speak.
As for knitting? Well, the first thing will be that much more of the knitting will be for selfish purposes (I might have finished 14 pairs of socks this year, but I only kept 4 pairs for myself - there's something definitely not right about that....). I've signed up to knit 10 Shawls in 2010 - not sure how I'll do on that, but I am determined at the very least to make a Gail shawl (using Dream in Color Stardust, which has sparkly threads wound through it!) for my 40th.....oh yes, that's coming next year too! I'm also setting myself a personal challenge to knit 24 pairs of socks in 2010 - that's 2 pairs a month. Then I have a few cardigans & jumpers I want to make for Little Miss A. Of course, given the fact that my leisure / knitting time will be seriously curtailed next year (gotta go earn those pennies, don't I?), these goals are probably insane - but I figure it's better to start from a high point :-)
I wish you all a fabulous New Year - may 2010 bring lots of laughter, good times, adventures and good experiences to you and your loved ones.

Now I have to go and try to get the little one in bed before it is actually 2010.......

Monday, 28 December 2009

We made it!

Way back in the distant mists of time (beginning of November?), when my sister and I were sorting out our travel plans to go and spend Christmas in Brussels with my parents, we thought: "sure, travelling on Christmas Eve? No problem!"

Ha ha ha - that was without counting on the total and utter chaos that a certain heavy snowfall in northern France the week before Christmas would cause......let's just say that I was not a very chilled-out bunny rabbit for most of last week. However, we did thankfully make it over (pretty much as planned) and had a lovely time, with lots of good company, lovely food and oooooodles of presents (seriously, the pile was quite disgusting really). Little Miss A couldn't quite get her head around it all - in fact, she didn't even open all her presents (I'm now keeping them back to give to her for her birthday in March as she has more than enough to be getting on with for now).

We are now back, equally safe and sound, and looking forward to a few quiet days at home (the weather is not exactly conducive to venturing outdoors) before we all (and yes, I mean ALL of us!) return to normal, gainful activities.

I'll leave you with this gem which epitomises the lovely couple of days we've just had....a non-stop love fest between Little Miss A and her doting Grandad :-)

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Une petite douceur......

....saw this on Ravelry on Friday and just had to whip up this little snuggly for Miss A (she's only two cms away from being a whole metre tall now, so I figured it's time to drop the 'Little')

How I love crochet for it's power to let you finish a 'proper' piece of clothing (as opposed to a hat or pair of gloves) in only two evenings!

Monday, 14 December 2009

Welcome to Bollywood!

Way back in the foggy distance of time (i.e. in about March of this year), I discovered the wonderful yarns produced by the Knitting Goddess. My first order from her included this wonderful skein, called Bollywood

- beautifully saturated shades of vibrant purple, hot pink, olive green, a touch of lilac - seriously scrummy and very aptly named

Other members of the Knitting Goddess group on Ravelry have transformed their skeins into the most amazing shawls and such like. For some reason, though, I was unable to come up with a pattern that wanted to be made from this.......until now that is! The trick: hold it double and use a pattern that called for double-knit yarn.

I give you my new hat, christenend Bollywood Belle.

Pattern: Scalloped Lace Beret by Nina Duke-Howard
Needles: 4.5mm circular needles
Modifications: I added two pattern repeats to ensure sufficient 'slouch'

It is currently blocking, but will try to remember to take pictures of my actually wearing it in the next few days (if the light holds out - it's been a nightmare taking pictures recently....)

Thursday, 10 December 2009


Look what my lovely postman brought me the other day:

Yes folks, it's lots (and lots!) of lovely, squishy yarn!

From left to right there is two lots of Claudia Handpainted Fingering in Maple Leaf and Just Plum, then four skeins of Dream in Color Smooshy (Beach Fog, Some Summer Sky, Petal Shower and Visual Purple). Arranged at the top is a skein of Pagewood Farm Alyeska in Lavender Field and two skeins of Shibui Knits Sock in Pebble. Swoooon!

And the reason for all this bounty? Well, after many long months of searching, I have finally found myself a new job! Starting on 4 January, I will be gainfully re-employed as a Higher Executive Officer (don't be fooled by the job title) at a local Job Centre until late November 2010. Yep - I'll be a civil servant....I will be completely honest with you , and admit that it is far from being my dream job. However, on the positive side, the pay is good, so are the hours, and it's only a 15-minute commute from home / nursery. I will also be gaining some new skills (customer service anyone?) and I will definitely be gaining greater social awareness (that might prove to be an understatement!). It's going to be a massive learning curve - let's just hope I don't get too frustrated with some of the 'customers' and start doing my 'posh lady' act........

And if that wasn't enough yarn for you, remember those lovely matching socks I made for myself and Little Miss A back in October for the Through The Loops Socktober KAL? Well, they won a prize!! Wheeee - I never win things, so this is just extra icing on the cake - they were such a joy to knit, that would have been more than enough. My prize arrived today:

A one-off colourway of Schaefer Nichole - it's such a limited edition colourway, it doesn't even have a name :-)

Lovely rich copper, smokey grey and peacock green - I'm thinking some kind of scarf, but haven't decided yet......

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

All knitted out........

It's been seriously crazy around here recently (well, from a knitting point of view anyway). Since the last update, I have managed to finish two cowls (or neck-warmers if you prefer):

this one is a bit of a self-invention, using the same modified herringbone stitch I used for my Mum's scarf back in February (seems like ages ago!)

this one was a lovely quick crochet pleasure - holding the Twilleys Freedom Spirit double and using a 6mm crochet hook - started and finished in one day :-)

and lastly, all the girlies and female relations will be getting one of these - little knitted hearts made from scraps of sock yarn (held double and using 3.75mm needles) and then stuffed with the most potent lavender I've ever smelled......mmmmm!

Monday, 30 November 2009

A Spoonful of Sugar

A month ago, Little Miss A had her photo taken at nursery - as last year's official snaps were so awful, we took the precaution of getting her to pose before leaving the house. Even though I am totally biased, I do think she looks awfully cute - don't you?

On the same day, it was the fancy dress Halloween she has grown so much since last year, she obviously needed a new outfit. After much discussion with her Daddy (who was being his usual over-indulgent self!), we ended up with this:

A rare moment of stillness on her part.....

Saturday, 28 November 2009

It's time to be selfish......

Yesterday, I added another hat to the Christmas goodie pile. It's a Pretty Puffs Slouchy Beret, made using the scrummy Freedom Spirit by Twilleys. I've had this in my stash for ages, and I can't believe I haven't used it until now - the colours are fab and it will give the lucky recipient a very warm head and ears this winter. I had two skeins, but only used a smidgen of the 2nd to finish the hat (partly because I was using a smaller size hook than recommended by the pattern, and therefore needed to do a few more increase / puff stitch rows). THe observant among you will note that I have turned it inside out - I actually think it looks nicer that way (yes, I'm a little strange like that......)

Having finished this, I started pondering what to do with the leftover almost-skein. Answer: a pair of fingerless gloves. And you know what: they are NOT going on the gift pile. You heard right: these are all for me (it's about time I made something for myself!)

Managed to finish the first glove last nigtht (minus the thumb - I'm waiting to see how much yarn I have left after I finish the main part of the 2nd glove - that way, I can always do a contrast thumb if necessary). I started the 2nd this morning.

This leads me to a rather urgent question: how come I can make an (almost) entire glove in about two hours of concentrated knitting time when I have the house to myself, but can only get 4 rows of ribbing done while supervising a toddler?

Just so you know that I'm not yet ready for maternal sainthood, I'm feeling absolutely no guilt this morning at telling her openly and honestly that she is annoying the living daylights out of me........

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Keeping the chills at bay.....

The only good thing about the arrival of winter is that it provides the perfect excuse to stay indoors and play with fluffy wool...... I've been a busy little bunny in the last few weeks. Unfortunately, as most of the projects are destined for Christmas presents, I can't show you too much....but you can have some sneaky peeks:

Little Miss A has acquired a new hat - a crocheted Milla Fall Hat using a limited edition sock yarn (Eastern Promise) from The Knitting Goddess. Madame Ladybird will also be getting a new hat - once I've posted it to her. This is a "I heart Pompoms" hat, made with Bergere de France Sport in a lovely pale grey. This wool is just scrummy - soft and bouncy and knits beautifully. I really quite like this hat, and am seriously thinking I might have to make one for myself (not identical of course, even though I still have 7 balls of the Bergere left.....but I have plans for all of them!)

It hasn't been all unselfish, I promise! I have discovered a new 'personal favourite' sock yarn - Dream in Color Smooshy. Believe me, smooshy is the perfect word to describe this stuff - it's soft, squishy, bouncy and knits up like a dream. I only had one skein in my stash (it's almost impossible to get your hands on it in the UK) but I have since acquired few more in some lovely shades of burgundy, pink, blue and purple.....schlurp!

So, what did I make with my solitary skein of Smooshy? These! A pair for me and a pair of Little Miss A - she is sooo chuffed at having a matching pair, she went off to nursery wearing them and lifting her trousers up to show everyone!!

These are the snuggliest socks I have made so far.....look out for many, many more in coming months!

Saturday, 21 November 2009

A Very Important Bear......

Just look who we met at Liverpool Street station yesterday! A very special (and very yellow!) bear....

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Lily Allen - eat your heart out!

Lily Allen is known for wearing pretty evening dresses with sneakers - something tells me that Little Miss A has been picking up style tips from someone other than her Mummy....

Don't you just love the scruffy mini Converse teamed with brown cotton tights and a pretty blue/tan tartan skirt? Oh, and please note the neat and tidy's worth the morning battle with the hairbrush to see her looking so cute at the end of it :-)

Getting ready....

...the days are getting shorter, the alarm clock goes off when it's still dark, and there's a definite nip in the air! Yes folks, that means crafters all over the world are starting to think about Christmas......I have a ludicrously long list of projects / gifts that, in an ideal world, would mean all my friends get showered in hand-made bounty. However, being realistic, I know I will have to prioritise as there really is a snowball's chance in hell of getting them all finished on time....

Of course, I couldn't make Little Miss A wait until Christmas - sending her off to nursery without something to keep her ears warm would have been just too I whipped this up using some of the leftovers from her little tank top from earlier this year. She loves it - thank goodness!

In addition to all the cowls, gloves, and hats that are in the pipeline, I have well and truly been bitten by the 'lace bug'. I can't quite explain just how soothing it is to knit a lovely, lacy design and seeing it grow exponentially on your needles. These projects can look like something the cat sicked up before you block it, and then 'pow', it just blooms and comes out looking gorgeous. Take this Ishbel for example:

Made using the Knitting Goddess's BFL sock yarn in semi-solid violet - just gorgeous! Of course, I still have no idea who it will go to - maybe I will wear it myself?

But that's not all....oh no, not by any means! I've also got these three (what is happening to me?) shawls on the go at the moment:

A Leaf Lace shawl by the amazing Evelyn Clark (she also designed the Swallowtail that I finished back in the summer), using some lovely, shimmery Rowan Damask in shades of blue - when I actually sit down and concentrate on it, it goes quite quickly....

An Ulmus shawl by Kirsten Kapur, using a limited edition colourway that the Knitting Goddess created for Wimbledon 2009 (that's the light green with cute little white flashes) combined with some yarn I hand-dyed in the summer (that's the dark green). In fact, it is so green, I have rechristined it Leaping Leprauchauns :-) This pattern is seriously addictive - I started it yesterday afternoon and I've already managed 7 of the 16 repeats - that is seriously wow for me....

This little Multnomah, using Easy Knits Merino Bamboo in Rhubarb, is not too advanced right now, but I think it's going to look really cute

And of course, I've also been doing lots of sewing. My No. 1 customer ordered all these goodies a while ago:

a tote bag in a lovely 'Apple' fabric, lined with red polka dot fabric. I cannot tell you just HOW pleased I am with how this came out - it's definitely my best sewing effort yet :-)

and a series of project bags with an autumnal / Halloween / Christmas theme - cute no?

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Do Fame and Fortune beckon?

I have just finished designing my first knitting pattern! Woo-hoo! Cannot tell you how chuffed I am with myself. Without further ado, I give you my Fruit Lattice fingerless gloves:

You can add this to your Ravelry queue by clicking on the link above. The pattern itself will soon be available through the Knitting Goddess website in return for a small donation to Macmillan (the KG charity for 2009).
This is a very versatile pattern for several reasons: it can be knit in DK or sock yarn. The stitch count can be adjusted to fit the smallest (or largest) pair of hands. The cuff and finger length are also adjustable – it’s all entirely up to you :-)
The two examples shown were knit using:

- Angels & Elephants BFL sock (the purple pair) - this was knitted on 48 stitches, with a 2” ribbed cuff, 5 pattern repeats before the thumb gusset and ribbing to finish the finger section

- H&W Hammond & Co Sockenwolle (the grey pair) – this was knitted on 42 stitches, with a 1” ribbed cuff, 3 pattern repeats before the thumb gusset and a garter stitch edging for the finger section.

The gloves feature a simple, but very effective, quilted lattice stitch on the ‘upper’ side of the glove. Great for variegated yarn!

Wednesday, 23 September 2009


So, at the beginning of the month, I was intending to do a post asking where the summer had gone, and how come it was September already. you can see, time has got away from me somewhat! And during that particular chunk of time, I've also turned a year older - the last one of my thirties in fact! Strangely, I'm feeling pretty ok about the prospect of turning 40 - while I still don't have a job (this recession is proving a LOT tougher than I naively thought back in March), I have a wonderful husband, a gorgeous daughter, a nice house (although I do hate having to clean it!), good health for the most part, and loads of lovely creative things to keep my mind busy. Not bad really when you think about it.

Anyway, enough philosophising. As you can imagine, I've been busy in the craft room. I've managed quite a few cards (but had a blonde moment and forgot to take pictures before I sent them off!). I've also been sewing lots of project bags and little zippered pouches....the zippers are getting easier all the time (thank goodness!)

And, of course, I have been knitting - don't tell me you're surprised? I'm taking part in three KALs (knit-a-longs) this month:
- this month's sock from Cookie A's Sock Innovation book is Devon. I'm using the yarn that I dyed with food colouring a few months. I'm still far too in love with the colour :-)
I can't say I have enjoyed knitting these - in fact, I will be VERY glad when they are finished. However, I like the final effect - the eagle-eyed amongst you will note that I am doing a plain foot (because I thought the lace would be rather uncomfortable when worn with shoes - which is the whole point really, isn't it?). These will either go to my friend Emma (who has asked for red socks for Christmas) - she's coming over on Saturday for a fitting, but I have a feeling they will too big for her. If that's the case, then they'll be mine!

Next, I am working on two different pairs for the SKA (Sock Knitters Anonymous) September challenge. The first is a mystery pattern designed by Nancy Bush:
The rules were that these had to be knitted in YELLOW. Now, this is not my usual colour by any means, so I decided I might as well for for a really bright shade - have you got your sunglasses on? I'm really enjoying doing these - but they are coming out really, really small (I'm following the pattern to the letter). I will definitely use the lace pattern again - but on bigger needles and more stitches next time!
These are going to a certain duck-loving friend of mine - can you guess who it is??

Finally, the 2nd SKA challenge pair is using a Wendy Johnson pattern - in this case, I'm using the lovely On-Hold pattern. I do adore Wendy's patterns - they're amazingly well written, easy to follow and I just seem to get less bored / frustrated with toe-up socks

I'm using some lovely Regia Kaffe Fassett in autumnal colours. I love the short colour repeats on this yarn - the knitted result is coming out very funky. These are going into the Christmas pile for my very good friend Alex - I think the colours are just perfect for her (in fact, I'm having serious problems with the idea of giving them away, coz I like them so much!)

Oh, and last but not least, I whipped up this little neck-warmer / cowl the other night, using some amazingly soft Alpaca / Silk mix that I picked up from EasyKnits during the recent IKnit Weekend (boy, was that a blast - expect to see more of the purchased goodies soon!). I cannot find the words to describe just how luscious this is - so soft and snuggly. And the colours? Mmmm hmmmm! Lilac, pewter and silver - just perfect!

Thursday, 27 August 2009

A big hit...

as promised, here are some pictures of the lacy shawl I knitted for my friend's 50th bithday. It went down a storm, with several people asking whether I had really made it, and how much I would charge for a similar one...:-)

Thursday, 20 August 2009

A little bit of what you fancy.....

It's been a topsy-turvy world in our little part of north London recently. First off, little Miss A managed to scare her Mummy silly by getting a really high fever and going all pale & floppy (thank goodness our local A&E has a special paediatric section - it was tonsilitis by the way). Four days later, Mr A came down with swine flu, which meant isolating him in the spare room and trying failing to keep the little one away from him (cue one little madam screaming for her Daddy). All's well that ends well thank goodness - although I'm a little knackered to say the least!

Let's see: what else is new? Nope, still nothing on the job front....I've been applying for PA / Admin jobs, but because I haven't actually done this for seven plus years, recruitment agencies are not interested. Well, I have decided to take control and have registered to do a Legal Secretary Diploma. Not only will this refresh my Office skills, but will also get me an official certificate saying I'm competent (ha! try to tell me that you can 'forget' how to be a good PA - I'll show you!) but I will also add to my skills set by gaining the legal knowledge. It is a certain chunk of money, but I figure it's an investment - and hopefully it wil pay off...

On the creative front, I'm slowly mastering the art of sewing zips (it would help if they actually made a zipper foot for my particular machine, but practice will make perfect, I'm sure!).

I've finished two pairs of socks since I last posted:

First up, we have a very snuggly pair of Eunice socks (by the amazing Cookie A) in Ranco Araucania Multi. These will be heading up to Scotland shortly for my bestest friend's birthday

Then we have the completed Diagonal Lace socks by Wendy Johnson in the smooshiest cashmere mix - these are a total joy to wear

I'm also slowly getting ready for chillier temperatures - I'm determined to have a funky collection of hats and berets to cheer me up this winter

I've also completed my first lacey shawl for a friend's 50th birthday - I'll be delivering it at her party this coming Saturday, so will come back later with (hopefully decent) pictures showing her wearing it....I can however show you her card

Oh yes - I've rediscovered the joy of card-making. Each time I sit down to make a specific card (or two!), I'm trying to be good and make two or more from the same papers - there is a credit crunch on after all!

One of the staff at Little Miss A's nursery recently had a baby girl - she already has a son, so I thought this would be perfect....

this was made for a knitting friend of mine who's not been feeling very well lately

My sister is going to a very posh wedding in New Delhi in late September - this was made to go with the happy couple's (totally gorgeous) wedding invitation


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