I have been knitting for about 5 years, ever since my sister announced she was pregnant and I decided to knit something for my new nephew. It was a pram blanket and it was pretty awful I suppose! I got my mother in law to teach me and I fell in love with knitting immediately. I still can’t get over the fact that you start off with a long bit of string and it becomes a fabric with only a couple of sticks as tools. Over the years I’ve knitted jumpers (the less said the better, I am wearing one right now, but it wasn’t intended for me), toys, scarves in lace, nearly all of a huge blanket, gloves, fair isle wrist warmers, hats and a badger tea cosy.
I had avoided cables though, they looked complicated and I thought I would mess them up. Recently I have been thinking more and more that I should give cables a go, I mean knitting is just following instructions so surely I could manage it? The plan was set when I saw the “Starcrossed Slouchy Beret” by Natalie Larson on Ravelry. I had been wanting to make a hat for a particular person and I could just imagine her wearing this one, so I took the plunge.
It was my first time cabling and my first time using a circular needle. I tried out a bamboo one too as these are often touted as being good for arthritic hands and I am living in fear of my wrist going again! I can report the bamboo felt good, it was light and is “warm” in the hands as often commented. I couldn’t get a short enough circular so it was a bit awkward and I kept ending up with a loop of cable, but it wasn’t the end of the world. I used some yarn I got free ages ago at a knitting class, and just ran out! Luckily the friend I went with saved the day and pulled her matching ball from her stash and sent it on a 400 mile postal journey to me! It is an alpaca yarn and a beautiful dark grey, so squishy…
Anyway, I don’t know why I waited so long to try cables. All I kept thinking was “am I doing this right? Is it meant to be this easy?”. I love the hat, and it turned out so well. No sizing issues for once and it looks so cool. I think it’s really going to suit her. Here is a picture of it blocking over a plate, and being investigated by the cat. I would love it if when people receive their gifts, if they like them of course, if they would send me pictures of them with their presents, especially if they are wearable.
Monday is my day off from work, so that is often my crafting day. Last week I settled back down to my sewing machine after a rather long hiatus when I’d been doing other things. As I’m only just learning to use the machine this break probably wan’t such a good idea. I was trying to sew a few more notebook covers but two went in the bin because I cut the pieces to the wrong size, and another went in the bin because the cheap white cotton I was using all snarled up and wrecked the thing.
These kind of disasters probably happen to everyone, but I guess not that many people own up to them on their blogs.
Maybe I shouldn’t? Maybe all my friends are now getting nervous about getting really shoddy presents?
I finally got two of them done but I’m not that pleased with them. How can the first one I ever did be neater than the second two?!
To soften the blow of going back to work after such a gorgeous holiday, I bought a crafty magazine. Included were some felt sleepy fox brooches. I had a go at making one during the second half of the England game last Tuesday night, and the other after coming home early from work on Friday. I know my sewing isn’t perfect but I think they are pretty sweet and even the cute sleepy eyes have been embroidered acceptably. I’m not sure the orange one is giftable, but I think the raspberry one is and I can really think of a couple of friends who would like these.
I have been the recipient of another haul of free fruit. My mum and dad’s garden has a pear tree which produces an incredible amount of fruit each year, and this year is about only the second in my life that the humans have got to the pears before the wasps! So when we went to pick up the rabbits from their holiday hutch in the parental garden (two bunnies being the other members of our two person, three animal household), we were also offered a ladder and a bag.
But then the holiday was over and the 3.5kg of pears sat in my kitchen for a week… Luckily only a couple went mouldy so I made two different preserves with them. Last year I saved a recipe for Pear and Fig chutney from Country Living but was put off making it by the cost of figs. I saw them reduced in the supermarket in the week so I made up three jars of this. It looks lovely so fingers crossed it tastes good.
Secondly, I went back to the trusty Pam Corbin book and made Mulled Pears. I went for the cider version instead of the red wine as I have unfortunate memories of being practically force fed pears in red wine by my grandad as a teenager – “try it, you’ll like it” is the rallying cry of so many Jewish parents and grandparents. Actually I probably would like them now, but I do love cider… You heat up a syrup of cider and sugar, stud the pears with cloves and then pack them.
I adore the smell of cloves. It reminds me of working in the Geography lab for my favourite professor the summer I finished my degree. I was setting minerals from glacial sediments on slides in clove oil so they could be looked at under the microscope to identify them. This told you what rocks they had come from and therefore which direction the glacier had come. Anyway, I suppose no one is really interested in Quaternary science so I’ll get back to the pears…
I’m drinking the remainder of the cider right now, and it’s not the best so I hope the pears are ok. You pour over the syrup and then put the jars in the oven. When they are totally cool you have to test the seal by unfastening the clips and lifting the jar up by the lid. I have never been so scared in the kitchen! Thankfully the seals held so there is now one rather attractive jar for the present box and one for the cupboard. There is always one for our cupboard. I think that is probably it for preserving for now so I have packed the jam pan away and am just awaiting the excitement of bottling all the flavoured alcohols in about a fortnight.
If you are a regular reader (i.e. my mum) you will have noticed the blog was a bit quiet. I went on holiday! I was finally well enough to do a little walking and we had some spare annual leave so we booked a holiday to Canada! We flew in to Toronto and then toured around a bit of Ontario in a campervan. We are both in love and have to go back. It was peak colour time for the trees and we had the most amazing weather. I managed a few short walks and a monster canoeing trip, it was heavenly.
I took the gloves-from-hell with me and only managed to knit about half of one finger, there was just too much else to do. I did of course manage to visit some yarn shops in Toronto: Romni Wools, if you think you’ve seen a “palace of wool” as a friend and I used to call an Edinburgh wool shop called McAree Brothers, you ain’t seen nothing yet. The husband was somewhat bemused.
I wanted to buy some local yarn and found it at Lettuce Knits! I seem to be incapable of stopping buying 4 ply. Maybe I should actually start knitting socks… I was also after some aran weight as I have a hat in mind for someone, but whilst they had some lovely organic local yarn it was way too itchy to use for a hat, so the search goes on.
Being that it was autumn and there were loads of truly amazing colours in the Sugar maple leaves I did collect a few of those from the ground and press them in my guide book, so they should feature in a few projects coming soon.
So, I think I had a problem that many knitters have at some point. I started a project and didn’t enjoy making it very much so I put off working on it and it therefore took forever. Yes, I am talking about the gloves. Apparently they are one of the best things I have ever knitted technically (according to my husband) but I just did not enjoy it. I don’t think it’s down to the pattern, it is very clear, but I just took so long to get started because I had wrong gauge, wrong size, wrong needle size… So I probably could have knitted 3 gloves in the time it took me to do one. I love knitting, and it is the craft I understand best, but it can be so frustrating, especially for a slow knitter like me. I just don’t know how all these people on Ravelry finish a jumper in a few weeks.
Here is the proof, and yes you can only have one hand in a picture because the other is holding the camera!
I so hope the recipient likes these. If she doesn’t I hope she gives them to someone who will so that all the hard work gets put to use. I suppose I am taking a risk hand making presents because it isn’t really a done thing in the modern world and people might not like them.
I had hoped to have them finished before I went on holiday to legitimise visiting local yarn shops! I did it anyway without any real legitimacy… Watch this space from some selected holiday craft related posts.
Pattern: Flamenco, find it on Ravelry – if you’re a knitter and you’re not on Ravelry, what are you thinking?!