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.


Gracie Baby Blanket

First of all, thank you all so much to everyone who contacted me regarding the baby blanket.  Your support was overwhelming, I was so taken aback that I had to have a little re-think on this pattern.

I have made a few changes that make me feel better and have re-listed it as you all requested.

Daisy 1

As you can see from the title of this post, the blanket also has a new name, the Gracie Baby Blanket.  The lovely lady who I first designed the blanket for has now had a beautiful baby girl whom they have named Gracie. As I was making other changes, I thought it would also be nice to call the blanket after the little one who inspired the making of it.

New baby blanket.

New baby blanket.

So, once again it is available.

And, in honour of the new baby Gracie, the pattern will be available for free until the end of February, just put in the promo code gracie at the checkout.

blanket8Once again, thank you all so much for your kind comments and support over this, you are wonderful!



Daisy Baby Blanket

I know that I promised a give away for the baby blanket pattern but, well, I can’t, I can’t even sell you a copy, and this is why.

Before I write-up the pattern for something I have designed, I do a good deal of research to make sure that there is not too similar a pattern already available.  This is harder than you might think as there is an abundance of knitting patterns available from spinners and indie designers all over the world. Some designs are similar, but also, some things that look similar are in fact very different in terms of construction etc. It can take hours of scrolling through pages of designs all over the net to check them all out.

However, this is one time I have had my fingers singed a little.  As you know, I’ve been working on baby blankets lately and wrote up a pattern for one that I recently gave as a baby shower gift.

This one.

New baby blanket.

New baby blanket.

I had spent hours looking at blanket patterns and not once did I come across one  like this one, not even similar. So, after checking and editing the pattern I uploaded it to Ravelry as usual with a promo code which made it free for a month. It’s a very simple pattern and I only charge a nominal fee after a while as I’ve been burnt with free patterns before. Some of you may remember the original Duffers pattern fiasco! Anyway, all uploaded and everything hunky dory until I went back to check the listing to make sure that it was working and…. when I put in the search what pops up but a very similar blanket, too similar for my comfort zone. Of course I prefer my version, but I’m allowed to aren’t I?

I just can’t do it. Sorry. I have removed the listing, but it is still showing at the moment.  I assume that it will disappear over time.


If you want a similar blanket to this one you’ll just have to purchase the other pattern.

Scone or scon(e)

If you don’t know how to pronounce a word, say it loud! … Why compound ignorance with inaudibility.

E.B. White

However you pronounce the word, scone means different things to different people depending where you live.  There are scones that are served with jam and clotted cream; drop scones that are more like pancakes; potato scones that you can have with your breakfast; scones made from oats and scones that you have with gravy. Some are fried and some are baked, some are sweet and some are savoury, some are large and cut into triangles and some individual and round, (fluted for sweet, plain for savoury) – the list is endless.

In our house, no particular pronunciation is correct.  If someone pronounces it one way, you can be sure that somebody else will pronounce it another – just because. The other week I decided to try to make some allergy friendly scones, also – just because.  I’m not a huge fan of scones, the baked with jam variety anyway, never was, but gluten and dairy free ones are particularly difficult to master so ever up for a challenge I decided to give it a go. I found this book,

Serously Good Gluten-Free Cooking by Phil Vickery

seriously Good Gluten-Free Cooking by Phil Vickery

which used to be my Mothers.  I haven’t really cooked anything from it to be honest as most of the recipes are for savoury dishes and I long ago (mostly) mastered gluten and dairy free mains. In it Phil Vickery has a recipe for scones (the English jam and cream variety) using polenta which I thought worth a try. As a comparison, I also found a recipe online for scones which had very good reviews and decided to give that one a go as well.

Firstly I made these,


You will find the recipe, from the head chef at the Whitehall Hotel here. The hotel is pleased to cater for special diets, a great idea, and if the scones are anything to go by, well I think you would be in for a treat.

Then I made the ones from the book.


They look quite different but are both very scone like in taste and texture.  I made everyone try one of each and then asked for their opinion. The verdict was that they were both equally good  –  the Whitehall ones being sweeter were nice on their own if you just wanted some with just butter or DF spread, the Phil Vickery ones looked more like traditional English scones and, being less sweet, lent themselves to being smothered with jam. They were all gone within 36 hours anyway, none lasting any longer that the other so I guess that’s a hit for either recipe. Sweet or less sweet, the decisions is yours, as is the pronunciation!

There has been knitting, if you were wondering.  After posting about my dilemma with the blanket mistake, my old friend Alison, aka MidlandSpinner on Ravelry, always a mine of information, contacted me about fixing it without ripping back all that work. After a short discussion she advised that perhaps the best way to approach the problem was to snip the yarn at the mistake, unpick and re-do just that section.  I admit that I dithered quite a bit before taking the plunge, but, take the plunge I did and after a good deal of swearing (and perhaps wine) I managed to get it all sewn up again and looking not too bad.  Thank you Alison, as always you have the best advice and support just when I need it.  I still can’t show you the finished article yet, but what I can show you is the blanket I designed after that one.

New baby blanket.

New baby blanket.

When I chose the pattern for the baby blanket, I had trouble finding one that was a) pretty enough if the baby was a girl,  but  b) not too pretty if the baby was a boy,  c) was quite quick to knit up but looked as if it wasn’t! and finally  d) looked pretty good from both back and front.

So after the hair-raising first blanket, I gave some thought to what I would knit that fulfilled all of the above and came up with this one.  Knitted in 4 ply or fingering, it’s light enough that it doesn’t look too heavy on a newborn but if you went up to a DK or light worsted weight yarn it would make a good cot blanket for a bigger baby. This version is just the right size for a basket or small crib or when around and about in a pram or car seat. I made this one in white as I intend for it to be given away with the first, but I think would look great in a semi solid or brighter yarn as the raised pattern catches the light wonderfully. It is so simple to knit, as soon as I get a few hours I plan to write the pattern up as a give away, so stay tuned!

Things have been just mad around here the last few weeks, which is why I haven’t been by, but with the tax out of the way and some ‘must do’s’ under my belt, I hope to be back next week with some more knitting and news of the blanket pattern.