Earlier in the year…

….I knitted Bella by  Lene Holme Samsøe, from her book Essentially Feminine Knits -25 Must have Chic Designs.


The original pattern calls for Hjertegarn Alpaca Silk but I made a substitution for something I had in my stash.

The yarn I used, is Shilasdair Luxury 4ply Highland Inspirations. A cashmere, baby camel, angora and merino blend. Lovely to work with and when you wash and block it the characteristics of the fibre blend comes out and the fabric blooms gently.

Bella 3

At first I wasn’t sure about the reverse stocking stitch of the body (reverse stocking stitch not being one of my favourites) but I really didn’t want to loose that effect of the lines coming down from the yoke and continuing into the body. The yoke pattern would have been disjointed from the body which ever way I thought of working it.

Once knitted however, I am pleased that I just trusted the pattern and knitted it as written. Lene’s designs are well thought out and the flow between the yoke and body work perfectly.

I find Lene’s patterns engaging and enjoyable to knit.  The designs in this book are all pretty timeless. Let’s face it after putting a great deal of effort into knitting something, it’s a little disappointing for it to loose its appeal and look dated.

Bella Yoke

The book contains a good mix of warmer weather knitting such as this design and heavier weight cable and garter stitch garments for colder weather along with a few accessories.

Given the time, I would love to knit almost all the designs from Lene’s book, something that you can’t always say about knitting books.  I find it unusual to want to knit more than a few patterns from most books, some less – but perhaps I’m picky.

The designs use yarns from companies such as the Hjertegarn, Sandnes Garn, BC Garn, Rowan and Marianne Isager. If you cannot get hold of these where you are, the weight and yardage information is at the back of the book so you can substitute if you want to.

Some of these yarns are easily available in the U.K, Isager yarn is available from Loops knitting shop, SKD yarn stock Sandnes Garn and you will find BC Garn at Love Knitting.com. The only yarn I could not track down in this country was the Hjertegarn.

I recently had a bit of a sort out of my knitting books and sold off some that I have never used or couldn’t see myself knitting anything else from.  Essentially Feminine Knits is one book that I will be using again.

This short-sleeve vest will be winging its way to someone soon.

Happy Knitting.




Smooth and connected without breaks in the tones.


We all need something to whip up quickly when we need a gift for someone (especially this time of year), but as a hand knitter I always hesitate when considering my knitting for a gift if I don’t really know how it will be received. It isn’t just whether the item will be liked, I find most people like knitted items, but how it will be looked after.  Mention hand-wash to most people and it is enough to make them turn to stone. Mention throwing a beloved hand knitted item into the washing machine to a hand knitter and they will do the same! If knitting for children I usually make an exception and knit with something fairly bomb proof, although to be honest, it’s never completely enjoyable as it could be. I just don’t bond with the yarn in the same way and there’s no getting away from the fact that something knitted in natural fibres just looks and wears so much better.

A good yarn makes your knitting look better.  In my experience the majority of natural fibres are very forgiving of slight changes in tension between your knit rows and purl rows and other odd idiosyncrasies of pattern. Once blocked, they even out and bloom.  Often something lovely turns into something beautiful in the wash. You can’t say that about any pure acrylic yarn (in my opinion). The only exception to this is very fine Merino yarn, but perhaps that’s a discussion for another day. And yes, I know that there is a misconception that all wool yarns are scratchy and difficult to look after, especially here in the U.K for some reason, but that’s just a lack of experience I think. An unwillingness to try anything that isn’t cloud soft. Sometimes you need something with a bit of grip to it to get the best from your knitting. Try knitting fairisle with something silky and you will see what I mean.

So, when I was recently introduced to Elann’s  Pippilongcolors yarn, I was delighted to find that not only is it super wash treated wool but soft – very soft in fact.

The ball band states it is a mix of 24 and 26 micron wool.  This information means far more to you if you are a hand spinner, but I love the fact that they put this information on the ball band along with the nm 1.8 (the size, aran weight) and the fact that it is z-spun (the direction of twist).  Finally a yarn company that actually gives you some real information about the yarn you are knitting with and not just assumes that you couldn’t possibly be interested.

Just to bore you with the finer detail if you don’t handspin. A micron is one millionth of a meter. In this case 24 microns represents a wool fibre of the type from Merino or a very fine Corridale or Shetland sheep. A good Bluefaced Leicester sheep will have a fleece of around the 26 micron count. All these are classed as next to the skin soft. Just as an interesting piece of information, anything below 3 or 4 microns and you couldn’t see it as our eyesight just is not that good.  Emperors new clothes springs to mind!

Anyway, where was I? Yes. Gift knitting. So, over the last week I’ve managed to knit up a couple of quick gifts for some girlfriends of mine. None of them are knitters and really can’t understand at all my love of wool, so this yarn is perfect for us all.

Legato Pair 1

Leg warmers / boot toppers and a matching pair of fingerless mittens. They knit up pretty quickly and the rib pattern is interesting enough to stop me from getting bored but makes pretty good T.V. knitting too.

Legato Mittens 1

Taking really good photos is difficult with our gloomy weather at the moment.

I love this colour-way.  It is called ‘pleased as punch’ but there are several equally lovely colours in the range all with interesting names such as ‘Blaze a trail’ and ‘chasing rainbows’.  I have bought some more in a lovely colour-way called ‘Storm in a tea cup’ for my more reserved friends!

Legato Leggins 1

This pair of leg-warmers is for my friend who wears leggings and skinny jeans a lot. I have actually colour matched them by reeling off some yarn from the ball until I got to the same place in the sequence that I started with for the first one – but stupidly here one is upside down – if you see what I mean! Of course you don’t need to colour match them at all because they look good anyway.

You can get a pair of leg-warmers and a pair of small or medium fingerless mittens from just two balls of the yarn. The larger mittens paired with the shorter boot toppers also take the same amount.

I tried out the pattern as boot toppers in a plain yarn while waiting for some more to arrive.

legato cream 1.12

These are only 15 cm or 6″ long and will be great for stopping a draught down my boots but I admit that I prefer the Elann yarn.

I have written up the pattern and more information about yarn, yardage etc. is on the pattern page. It is now available to buy from here or through Ravelry and Etsy if you would like to have a go.

If you are in the U.K. the good new is that Elann now sell through Amazon so you can get the yarn (along with their other yarns)  here.

The weather here is about to turn much colder so perhaps a little brighter too? Good knitting weather whatever it will be.

Autumn – Delicious Autumn

My very soul is wedded to it and if I were a bird I would fly around the earth seeking successive autumns.

George Elliot.

Autumn Blueberry

Is autumn not a beautiful season?  My favourite time of the year – until spring!

Recently though we have slipped from the bright, crisp, colourful days of autumn where the light has such a beautiful hue, to those dark, damp, dreary days that are so common on this island.

It has been so dreary here the last few days that it is near impossible to take a decent photo.  Our cottage can be quite dark at this time of year when the light outside is so bad, much too dark for decent photographs anyway and outside it is raining so even with the best intentions it’s just not going well.

Time then for warm soups, and knitting!

sweet potato soup

Sweet Potato and Coconut Soup

Serves 4 – 6

Gluten and Dairy Free

1 Brown Onion – diced
2 Sweet Potatoes approx. 400g – diced
1 Large White Potato – diced
1 Litre Vegetable Stock, your favourite, I use Kallo.
1  400 ml Tinned Coconut Milk –  not carton. Keep back a few tablespoons for garnish.
Salt and Pepper
Coconut oil for frying

Melt a walnut sized piece of coconut oil in a heavy based saucepan and add the onion. Fry gently until soft but not coloured then add the sweet and white potatoes and leave to sweat for a couple of minutes.
Add the stock and tinned coconut milk and bring slowly to a simmer. Continue to simmer for about 30 minutes until the potatoes are soft then take off the heat and allow to cool down before pureeing with a stick blender or blender.
Return to the heat and season, adding salt and pepper to taste.
When serving, swirl a little of the coconut milk on top.


On the knitting front, I have just finished Portage by Melissa Schaschwary.

Portage 2A little different from my usual knitting so far as the yarn is concerned.  On a recent holiday in Wales I somehow came across the Colinette factory, funny that!

Portage 3

The yarn knitted up beautifully and has a good hand, not too soft but not at all itchy either.


As I said, I am afraid that it’s near impossible to get a decent shot at the moment and these photos don’t do the cardigan justice at all.

The pattern is a top down seamless knit, raglan style.  The shawl type collar is added afterward by picking up stitches around the front and working back and forth in garter stitch. The pockets are integral to the collar and are sewn back to the sides at the end. You can’t see it here as my pictures are so bad but my pockets hang down quite a bit at the front of the garment.  Not a pattern error, I just think that I should have picked up less stitches around the fronts as my yarn has given a little with the weight. I may put it right if it annoys me that much but at the moment nobody seems to notice except me.

I do have another F.O. but that really needs some decent photography before showing you and being sent off to the recipient. No sign of doing that over the next couple of days though.

May your days be colourful and bright!

A diversion from the norm

and as a wise man once said “Nothing is worth holding on to”

Recently I’ve been having a huge clear-out, sorting through all my ‘things’ and making trips to the charity shop and the local re-cycling centre. I’ve been clearing out just about anything and everything that is either not essential or desperately precious. It’s funny how things come about. A small trigger which has consequences that you just didn’t see coming.

It all started with a recent brush with (those of you with a delicate nature look away now) – moths. The scourge of knitters everywhere. The pesky little critters had got into several large baskets of yarn and spinning fibre in my wool room and the results were, well, not for the faint hearted to say the least. Now, some of my stash was in plastic bags, some in boxes and some I’m ashamed to say, just left laying about. When I found the tell-tale signs of moths on the yarn that was, lets say, naked – I kicked myself for not taking greater care, but was a little philosophical about it. But, when I found out that they had made their way, into other more carefully stored yarn, well, I was heartbroken.

Be warned, check all bags for small holes and boxes to make sure lids are on securely. Be vigilant.

A few days later, when I had calmed down and got used to the idea of loosing a large part of my stash, I began to sort through things slowly. I looked for signs of moth larvae activity. Some damage was obvious and that yarn/fibre went straight into the bin, some yarn was clearly stored well and free of the little b******* and was put to one side and some, well, if I was in any doubt the yarn went into the bin anyway, just to be on the safe side. I even found a pair of cashmere fingerless mittens eaten through with holes the size of 10p pieces – heartbreaking.

As I worked my way through everything, slowly my perspective began to change. What was I stashing all this for anyway? Why hadn’t I used it? If I loved it all so much, why wasn’t it already made into something? What was the original intention been when I bought it? Slowly, I started to look at the yarn with new eyes and started to apply a new set of rules for keeping it. If it was undamaged, I looked at it carefully. Did I really like it? Did I like the yarn but perhaps not the colour any more? and the final cutting question – Was I ever going to use it, really, honestly?

Now, we all have reasons for keeping a stash. Admittedly, some stashes are larger than others and mine may have been a little big. But, I enjoyed being able to dip in and out of it when the fancy took me and I liked just being able to start something without having to plan and buy new yarn, mostly. But when I really thought about it, really thought, how often did I go into the stash and then, not being able to find exactly what I wanted, go out and buy something new anyway.  Wasn’t half the enjoyment of starting a project choosing and buying the yarn?

I went through all the yarn I had saved, and, with new eyes I realised that a good deal of it I was keeping because – just because. It went into a bag and was given away to a local lady who will use it for her charity knitting .

I still have a fair amount of yarn left.  I can’t go completely cold turkey.  But I tell you this – its days are numbered! Seriously. I’ve discovered that by clearing things, my thoughts have opened up and the possibilities are stretching out before me.  I like my new, almost yarn free life.  I have chosen my last couple of projects more carefully because I have had to (mostly, see below) buy the yarn for it, not just choose some yarn and cast on, only to find that, you know actually, I’m not sure that project is for me. My room is certainly tidier and strangely so is my mind.

Which led to clearing out everything.

Slowly, little by little, I have been applying the lessons learnt in my wool room to the rest of my life. Each day I remove something from my life that is not either essential or loved, really loved. Some days I remove two!  Slowly and surprisingly I’m finding that I now view everything in terms of its real value. Things are no longer just things.  They have to have meaning or real use.  And I don’t buy anything new. How can I when I’m spending most of my time throwing things away.

All this leads into my latest project.


Please forgive the bad quality of the photo. A diversion from my normal knitting I know. This cushion cover was made with little bits of acrylic yarn left over from some baby knitting and some Menet cardigans made as samples. There wasn’t enough to give away and as the moths obviously had no interest in it, the little balls just needed a home. So, rather than just throw them away, I turned them into something useful.

The squares are the Sunburst Granny square, found on Ravelry here, and I used a great tutorial for joining them on Attic24 here. For the cushion cover I made two 4 x 4 pieces of squares, then I edged each larger square with two rows of double crochet (one cream, one coloured) and a final row of half trebles. I then joined three sides of the cushion using half trebles and inserted a zip into the opening.

I’m now back to knitting. (I think)

Price increase and promotional code

I know that its been a while since I last dropped by.  About this time last year actually.  There must be something about spring and the increasing light that spurs me into action. I’ve been around, knitting, cooking, gardening and all the usual things, just haven’t had the time to write about them.  Work had been quite demanding, and when it all evened out just before Christmas I thought that then, I would find the time to get back to things but you know the best laid plans and all that.

I came across pictures by Sam Toft a while ago and have a couple with plans to collect a few more. The thing I love about some of them is the sheep..

Taking the Girls Home by Sam Toft

Taking the Girls Home by Sam Toft

and the dog…

Along the Prom

Along the Prom by Sam Toft

..who is called ‘Doris’ –  Grumpy Doris as far as I know.  It’s a bit of a family joke but it makes me smile every time I walk past.

I have just finished a cardigan by Justyna Lorkowska called Alecia Beth. It is yet to be blocked and this picture was taken very quickly so forgive me for the quality.

Alecia Beth by Justyna Lorkowska

Alecia Beth by Justyna Lorkowska

Yarn, John Arbon Viola

Sleeve and button band detail

I used a John Arbon yarn called Viola in the colour way Unpredictable. Lovely yarn, the bottom picture is closer to the actual colour.  It knits up beautifully and is very, very soft. I loved knitting this, it was one of those projects that you don’t mind taking a while. The original pattern has short or three-quarter length sleeves and although there are rough instructions for making them longer I did do a little maths myself to get them the way I wanted. Justyna’s patterns are very well thought out with lovely details and fitting, I’m already looking at her pattern Fickle Heart for next autumn but knitted with a bit more ease so that I can get my beloved long-sleeved T’s under it.

Re-hashed sleeves

Re-hashed sleeves

I also recently finished a pair of Welsh Country Stockings by Nancy Bush.  They are from the book Folk Socks, the history and Techniques of hand knitted footwear.  I’ve had this book for years and have knitted several of the patterns.  There is a huge section on all the different types of heels and toes.  These were supposed to have Welsh heels but I just used my standard heel and toe for them.  I also adapted the pattern to fit my very narrow foot.  The yarn is Drops Fabel sock yarn. I’m sure this is now thinner than it was a few years ago but still knits up nicely and wears well. At just over £2 a ball you can’t complain and I’ve recently bought sock yarn for three times the price and not been overly pleased with how it knitted up.  This will probably be my go-to sock yarn for a while.

Welsh Stockings

Welsh Stockings

As you may have noticed, I have slightly increased the price of my patterns.  This is partly due to the new EU Tax on digital downloads that I mentioned in my last post, and partly due to increased selling costs.  Most patterns have gone up by 50p (not a great deal) but the good news is that if you are in the EU, including the UK, you will pay the same price as everyone else as I will cover the cost of the VAT for you. I don’t like having to do this, and don’t want to bore you with the details but overall I don’t think that a 50p increase is too bad.

As a sweetener, I am offering a 25p discount, half of the increase, for the next week on all patterns with the promotional code spring25, enter this at the checkout on Ravelry and your discount will be applied. This code will run from 8th to the 14th April 2015.

Well, I hope you all had a good bank holiday. I hope it isn’t another year before I manage to post again.



EU Vat Law on digital downloads

Yes I’m still here! Just been a little busy but do hope to get back soon.


I don’t think that there are many people who buy digital downloads, (for our hobbies, interests or otherwise) who have not heard of or been impacted by the recent EU Vat law which came into force on the 1st January. If you have missed all the fun, Google it, there are many good articles out there.

Firstly I would just like to say that my personal opinion on the vast majority of this new law, the whole zero threshold bit, is that it is beyond stupid it is ill conceived and will impact on many people who, while they may not be a major contributor to their countries’ economy, nevertheless count. Count in more ways, more important ways, than many large companies. Don’t get me wrong, but …. ah perhaps another time, I could go on but I have a soft heart and an aversion to hate mail (there will be some).

All that said, and even though I try to be non-conformist some things you just can’t beat and although I have been slow in implementing things I have now had to configure my sales to accommodate this farce legislation. So, if you are outside of the UK but within the EU, I apologise for the fact that you will now have to pay tax at your countries’ rate on my patterns. Please read below on the purchase options for you. If you are in the UK or outside of the EU, this does not apply to you.

If you purchase any of my patterns and are liable for tax you will be taken to my Etsy shop where you will see the price of my patterns including the applicable tax for your country and have an opportunity to purchase. Buying through Etsy will give you an automatic download but will not place a copy of the pattern in your Ravelry library. If you wish this I am more than happy to place a copy there for you if you contact me with your purchase details.  Alternatively, if you would rather pay the normal ex-vat price for my patterns you can do this by contacting me using the email address you use for Paypal and stating the pattern you wish to purchase.  I will then send you a Paypal invoice for the amount.  When this invoice is paid, I will attach a pdf file of the pattern to an email and send it to that address.  This is not an instant download and as such does not incur Vat.  However, please be aware that this is a slow process and I am not always at my computer so it could take up to 24 hours for you to receive your pattern.

I think that just about covers it. Any queries or problems with the new system please let me know and I will sort things out for you.

Hope to be back soon…

You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.

Pablo Neruda


Miniature Daffodil

It’s been too long.  I’ve been trying to get a post together for weeks but I just haven’t got here until now.  I started the month off sort of unwell – again.  I have a very tiny lump on my temple, had it for ages, and it was so small that the only time I knew it was there was if I ran a finger across my temple and I could just feel it under the skin. Some time last month it decided to flare up, as apparently they do, and it became very large and angry. To cut a long and rather gruesome story short, after a few weeks of trying to deal with it myself (don’t say anything!) I woke up one Sunday morning to find the whole of one side of my face rather larger than the other. It’s quite interesting being able to see two different people in the mirror at the same time; but perhaps not quite as much fun as you would think! It was another 24 hours before I could see a doctor, (our local drop in centre is to be avoided unless you are in immediate danger of death as far as I’m concerned) who put me straight onto a heavy course of penicillin/antibiotics.  We discussed what it may do to my weak digestive system, but in all honesty I had no other choice but to take the course. As my Dr. kindly pointed out, it was either that or be admitted to hospital where they would do the same anyway. I still may have to have the lump removed but at the moment it is all healing nicely and apart from a small mark, has all but disappeared once again. The drugs did make me very ill, as we knew they would, and have upset my system to such an extent that I am now back to where I was six months or more ago as regards to digestive health. I know from tests that I have already lost two types of beneficial bacteria that I should have in my system, ones that aren’t so easy to replace, now I don’t know if I’ve lost any more following this course of treatment. The good thing is that I’m starting from a much stronger point. I heal much better than I did, and at least now I know what I need to do to give everything the best chance of recovery. I’m hoping that, as with a lot of things, experience will make things much easier second time round. It’s frustrating, but it is what it is.

So, that is why I haven’t been around for a bit. Enough of the doom and gloom, since I have recovered some of my energy back I haven’t been sitting around.

Spring has started to, well, spring around here.  The blueberry is starting to make moves toward flowering.  Last year was a poor year, as far as this plant was concerned, so I fed it well all through the summer and am hoping that it shows its’ appreciation this year by giving us a bumper crop, weather permitting.

Blueberry 1

Blueberry buds

I’ve been spinning a little too.

Norwegian Tops

Norwegian Tops

A few years ago now I purchased two of these beautiful Norwegian tops from Wonderwool Wales. A natural humbug mixture. I’ve started with the white and plan to keep the colours separate, hoping to use them in something together, perhaps a pair of socks with different coloured heels, leg and toes.

Norwegian Tops

Norwegian Tops

I love handspun socks and have recently worn out a pair I made about 5 years ago, they lasted well so maybe it’s an ideal time to get back into a bit of spinning and replace them at the same time.

While I was taking the drugs it was all I could do to make it to work and although I wanted to knit, I just couldn’t settle to anything. I started things, ripped and started something else, then ripped again, but over the last week I’ve got back into a couple of projects that I had already on the go but suddenly had no enthusiasm for.

One is a cardigan for myself, started when the weather was very miserable and I felt in need of something big and warm to wrap up in.

Textured cardigan

Textured cardigan

Back a month or two ago I started a top down raglan, adding a simple textured pattern to the sleeves.  Basically making it up as I went along, I’ve ended up really pleased with how it is turning out.  I wanted it oversize so I could put it on over a couple of layers and snuggle up into it.  I’ve also knitted it much longer than I normally like my cardigans and have a plan to add big patch pockets to it when I’m done. I wanted to knit it in blue but just couldn’t find a colour that I really liked so I dug out this natural grey from the stash and decided to try it out in this. If I like it enough to knit two, I’ll look for something else next time.


Front and sleeve view

It only has the one, almost finished, sleeve so far. It’s been sitting like this for weeks so I’m hoping if I tell you about it, it will give me the needed push to get it done.  While I finish the second sleeve I’ll try to decide whether to put a collar or a simple ribbing around the neck. I think a collar would look best at balancing the chunkiness of it all but, well, I’m not always keen on them as they do add to the bulk around the top. Time to decide yet anyway.

Weather permitting, I’ve been planting seeds. I’ve got some tomato and pepper seeds in and have sewed the first of the carrot seeds up at the allotment along with the onion sets. These little seedlings I’m especially proud of though.

marigold seedlings

marigold seedlings

They may not look much but I collected these seeds from plants I grew myself………………  wait for it……….. Five years ago!  I picked off the seed heads and put them into an envelope at the end of the season, threw them into an old shoe box in the cupboard where I keep my seed packets and just really never got around to sewing them.  This year I went through to box turfing out all the old out of date seed packets to see what I needed to buy this year and came across the collection of envelopes with seeds I have collected myself. On a whim I decided I had nothing to lose and, well here they are. Who says seeds don’t keep well for more that a year or two. I don’t know what the final germination rate of these will be of course, they’ve only just started to pop up, but if I get half I’ll be more than happy.

I have also spent some time cooking, as usual, and have a great recipe that I adapted for a gluten and dairy free Manchester Tart. A Manchester tart is a pastry case spread with jam and covered with a custard filling topped with toasted coconut.

Manchester Tart

Manchester Tart

This one also has a little something extra inside!

Recipe to come.