Sunday, January 25

January FOs

There has been a bit of a rash of finished objects this month; as well as the Central Park Hoodie for mum (which I am told she has now worn and it fits and is very warm!), I have managed to finish off a few other things.

Last Sunday I spent four hours in A&E with my 81-year-old neighbour, who fell off her motorised scooter and broke her hip. Only a knitter could see the bright side of this; I managed to get the second sock finished, of a pair that had been hanging around for some time.

I bought the yarn (Trekking XL sock) from A Fine Yarn in Darlington market hall while I was killing a couple of hours on the way to Teesdale last year. The stall is small but has a great selection of yarns and they do mail order too. I love the colours on this yarn, they are subtle but not boring.

The pattern is my regular toe-up sock pattern, built on Amy Swenson's universal toe-up pattern from Knitty. It's perfect for A&E knitting; no pattern needed, it's all in my head!

The second FO is another pair of Saartje's bootees, for another newly-sprogged friend and made from leftover Yarn Yard sock yarn. I think one of them is slightly bigger than the other, I always have a problem counting the rows on the garter stitch. I also make little bobbles for the fasteners rather than using buttons; it seems to work ok.

Finally here's part of an experiment with the two balls of Noro silk garden yarn I bought half price in John Lewis last year. I picked a stitch pattern out of one of my books and started knitting what I planned to be a lacey neck warmer.

I have finished it, but cast off late at night and immediately sewed it up - forgetting that I should have blocked it first to emphasise the lace pattern. So now it's waiting to be unpicked, blocked and sewn up again! I'm pleased with the initial effect though, and the colours are glorious!

Friday, January 23

Say it with flowers!

I love to receive flowers, and when they are sent unexpectedly, so much the better! Many flowers are chosen to convey a particular message.

Take these, for example - what do they say to you?

'I love you'?

Or perhaps 'I'm sorry, please forgive me!'

Sent anonymously they might mean 'I am admiring you from afar but I'm too shy to ask you out!'

Would they perhaps, in some circumstances say 'Thanks for spending ten minutes looking in the archive of your magazine for an article I thought was published in 1999. Actually I was wrong it was in another magazine. But thanks for looking anyway!'

No, didn't think so! Me neither!

I'll admit to being slightly freaked out when these turned up at reception for me today. I knew they weren't from The Curse (apparently our relationship is well beyond the point where I should continue to expect flowers. Especially roses. That boy still has a lot of learning to do).

But to find that they were from someone I'd had a couple of emails from, who'd been searching for an article in a previous issue that I'd been unable to find, was rather disconcerting. (Apparently we also met at a conference in Sweden in 1999; I have no recollection of the man but I obviously had a lasting impression on him!) Anyway it seems the article had been in a different magazine or something, and he was thanking me for looking and apologising for wasting my time.

By sending me a dozen red roses!

Now I would have been touched to receive ANY OTHER type of flowers, but in my opinion, red roses are just plain inappropriate for this occasion. Or am I being old-fashioned?

All the same I can't wait to see the Curse's face when he gets home....!

Sunday, January 18

Happy birthday mum!

Love the buttons (had a special trip to 'Rolls & Rems' in Lewisham where I let myself run riot in the buttons!). I sewed the last one on at about 11.45pm the day before her birthday, so in actual fact I did get it finished in time, but unfortunately it still has to go in the mail so she won't get it for a day or two.

Hope that it fits!!!!

Wednesday, January 14

My bed blocks!

Mum's Central Park Hoodie nears completion.

I find my bed with its duck down duvet (that's a duvet filled with duck down, although it is also a duvet under which one wants to duck down) provides the perfect base for blocking. I have to make sure that I've got as much water as I can out of the pieces though, and I also only do it when the Curse is out of the house. I fear he might take a dim view of it.

How do you block? Or should I say, do you block?

Friday, January 9

Post-christmas deadlines

You'd think, with the holiday season over, I'd be taking a bit of a break from deadline knitting. But not a bit of it.

When I modelled the Deptford Park Hoodie at my parents' house, my mum was so taken by it that she requested I make one for her too! My mum used to knit, but was always a bit of a reluctant knitter which made for very uneven tension. She didn't really enjoy it, even though she was extremely creative in other crafts (remember macrame?! and those pictures made of pins with shiny thread wrapped round them?). With anyone else I might suggest that I show them how to make it themselves, but she's my mum and I love her dearly so what else could I say?!

I jokingly suggested I could make it for her birthday, which is mid January, but without any serious intent. The weird thing is that the hoodie is so quick to knit, I might even make it!

I'm doing her a washable version in Wendy Mode Aran, which is 50% merino and 50% 'fine' acrylic (as opposed to 'nasty' acrylic?) and I'm already halfway up the first sleeve, with the main body sections completed! No pictures yet due to bad light and the fact that I'm knitting it in a dark grey colourway, but I will try and take some this weekend. If I can tear myself away from the knitting that is.....

Sunday, January 4

Niecelet joy

Aw, don't they warm the cockles of your heart?

And the niecelets are quite cute too ;-)

Saturday, January 3

On the receiving end

It's reassuring to know that while I was beavering away with all the christmas gifts, my friends were also busy crafting and creating on my behalf, resulting in some wonderful christmas and birthday presents for me! (Yes, I was a christmas baby - don't ever let anyone tell you that having your birthday and christmas all come at once is anything other than a great big pain in the backside)

But leaving that aside, let me show you a few of the gifts I received, and tell you a little about the crafters!

First up, check out this wonderful knitted sheep - a gift from my friend Dee who until a few months ago hadn't picked up knitting needles since childhood! She called on my help with a christening shawl which her terminally-ill mother had started knitting for the latest grandchild, and which Dee had been given the responsibility of finishing when her mother was unable to continue. At first Dee saw it as a duty to her mother, to carry out this final wish even though she could barely remember how to knit. But over the course of the evening she started to get the hang of it, and by the following day she was hooked! This gorgeous little sheep is just one of a growing menagerie which includes more sheep, pigs, and even a knitted John Deere tractor. I have demanded photos of the latter, the only knitted tractor I know of.

My friendship with Sally dates back several decades to the days when we went to the same school and lived five minutes' walk apart (our parents still do!). As well as being in full-time employment and mother to two scarily well-adjusted teenage boys, she is a baker extraordinaire as she proved with her beautifully-presented gifts. The spicey christmas biscuits shown above were a joint effort by Sally and her youngest son; I didn't get a photo of the packet of biscotti she also brought (they didn't last long enough!) and she also proved a worthy competitor in the technique of chutney-making. She feared she was bringing coals to Newcastle, but her spicey chutney was very different to my own home-made versions, and made a tasty contrast.

Lisa and I have been friends for almost as long, and I was particularly delighted to be the first recipient of her handcrafted jewellery. She has been taking evening classes in silversmithing for about 18 months now and has developed a very personal style which comes through clearly in these gorgeous earrings. It's lovely to see how much she sparkles when she talks about her jewellery making, it's obvious that she has found a craft that she can really connect with. Much as I'd love to convert everyone in the world to knitting, it's so much more fun when everyone does different things - much greater potential in terms of gifts for a start!

One of my closest friends, my walking buddy and long-time sufferer of my appalling jokes and bad puns is Gareth, who also gave me a very touching gift. There's no picture since it would be a photo of a photo, which would somehow feel a bit wrong and perhaps even insulting to the original photo! He gave me a lovely print of a photo he took when we spent the weekend at the Folkestone Triennial arts festival last year; a picture of a faded building on the seafront which looked like it had been created for the label 'ripe for redevelopment'. Not only is it a great photograph, it brought back lovely memories of our weekend, which was blessed by lucky weather and full of laughter and good food (oh and art of course). Gareth makes his living through photography, but this hasn't dampened his enthusiasm for his art one little bit and he is rarely seen without a camera secreted somewhere about his person. Check out his other work on his blog, including some photos of our new year South Downs yomp!