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.

IMG_0114

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.

Mindie

P1010071

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!

Mindie

 

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.

blanket8

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

Autumn

I sit beside the fire and think
Of all that I have seen
Of meadow flowers and butterflies
In summers that have been

Of yellow leaves and gossamer
In autumns that there were
With morning mist and silver sun
And wind upon my hair

Part of a poem by J.R.R. Tolkien
 

It has been a beautiful summer here and I find it is much easier facing the cold mornings and evenings now, having had some warm summer weather between winters! Over the last few years here, our winters have more or less run straight into the next autumn without a summer in between!

Our mornings here have been looking very much like this,

Autumn

and the evenings have just been beautiful,

Autumn Evening

today we have cloud – back to normal then!

The chilly mornings have had my thoughts turn to warmer garments, as I know the whole knitting community is, and I have been swatching in some cushy wool / alpaca yarn.

Something textural with just a little colour I thought, and after a while came up with two interesting but slightly unusual stitch pattern combinations that compliment each other well.

Sample

I changed the colour to something a little more seasonal and let it take shape as I went on.

Patterning

Working bottom up, I am nearly up to the point where I need to knit a couple of sleeves to join with the body.  I have put in a rather large front pocket with plenty of room to warm your hands in and have a nice idea for the collar too. I hoped to be further on than I am but have also been tempted by this yarn that I found at my local LYS that is just calling out for some more attention.

Tweed yarns

It is a lovely tweed yarn, 97% British wool (spun in Yorkshire) with 3% viscose which I assume is the tweed neps. This yarn has very little spring to it but has a beautiful crisp handle that I find irresistible. I couldn’t resist buying one ball in each colour just to try them all out and keep thinking that they may look good all together in one garment, but that may change.

I blame the autumn weather, you just want to be able to knit everything at once.

I picked a whole host of wild blackberry’s and made one of my favourite desserts, blackberry and pear crumble.

Blackberry and Pear Crumble

Blackberry and Pear Crumble

I am still working on the final recipe for the topping.  I am intolerant to oats, even gluten free ones, so have been looking for a good alternative for my usual gluten crumble.  I’ve tried all the usual suspects such as quinoa flakes, which I like, but we here are partial to coconut and this latest version has dessicated coconut along with some chopped nuts to give it extra crunch.  The coconut toasts beautifully but I think I need to increase the fat content a little as this was quite crumbly and I also like my topping to ‘stick’ together a little. Fussy eh?

Cyclamen

Cyclamen

I am also working on the final draft of the Hathor pattern while the test knitters finish theirs and hope to have it ready to publish soon. The colours they have chosen are just beautiful and are up on the pattern page if you are a Ravelry member.

Mindie

How time flies

when you’re having fun…. or whatever is happening really..

I can’t believe that it has been over eighteen months since I shut down my blog and left just the pattern pages standing.

A great deal has happened since then.  I’ve been else where, being someone else and doing other things. Not exactly in a spy/clandestine way you understand, just not being quite myself or doing my usual things; it sure felt as if I was someone else for a while.

Unfortunately, I’ve also been unwell for the last year. More about that later, but suffice to say that my cooking has taken another turn. I used to post gluten and dairy free recipes here. Now I cook without even more; corn, soya, yeast, oats and sometimes eggs and fruit to name a few. It gets interesting and I am having fun (if you can call it that) exploring the vast array of new blogs and books out there dedicated to the subject.

But, I have never stopped knitting, (gasp in horror at the thought)  I’ve been designing too, so I’ve kept my hand in.

Hopefully now though I am able to come back and bore you all with my activities. I don’t expect that I will re-instate the original pages that I removed, a new start with a fresh look is called for I think, but for those of you that remember what the original blog consisted of I expect this will look similar. For those who don’t (and why would you in all honesty) I drivel on about knitting and other crafts such as spinning with a generous sprinkling of gardening and cooking thrown in for good measure.  With a fair wind behind me I also hope to be posting some reviews on various knitting and cookery books and reviewing allergy friendly and not so friendly recipes. I shall also be putting some new patterns up and discussing design ideas for others too.

So, an exciting time ahead. Hope you will enjoy it as much as I will…it’s nice to be back!

Happy Days