After The Sun, The Rain

See that cloud up there? Yup that’s right, the big hairy∗ grey one. Well as I walked the twinnage to school, it snuck up behind us and dumped a ton of rain on our heads. The twinnage think we should go by car when there’s a downpour; I think we should be fearlessly rugged and outdoorsy and brave all manner of elements to get there on foot. I (mostly) have custody of the keys to the Stinkwagon, so I win. One day soon, it’ll occur to the twinnage how ridiculous I’m being and they’ll mutter, “For goodness sake Mother, it’s the village High Street, not the north face of the Eiger”, but in the meantime, we walk. And now the sun is coming out.

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We’ve had that kind of month so far: when leaving the house, it’s important to wear suncream, waterproofs, flipflops, sunglasses, and a woolly hand-knitted scarf. You may look weird, but you’ll thank me later.

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Still, for colour-lovers like all of us here, the aftermath of each downpour does provide good photo-snapping opportunities. Look!

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How jewel-like are those raindrops?*

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I’ve been trying to carve out a tiny bit of time to concentrate on taking pictures, rather than just snapping shots rapidly and thoughtlessly with small children around my ankles. Let’s just say that it’s a work in progress, the time thing. In particular, I really need to start using the tripod rather than relying on my shaky hands. Tomorrow. I’ll definitely start bothering with the tripod tomorrow

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Last week, I went on a photography walk around Streatley (a nearby village), as part of the Gap Festival, with a friend (sorry, I mean arch enemy). I’m so glad that she suggested it, because it was awesome. And I say that as someone who very rarely falls victim to the temptation to use the word awesome. The event was run by two pros, and I took hardly any shots because I was too busy listening to their amazing advice and wisdom. OK I got a great snap of my friend lying down on a bridge to get the right angle for her photo, but I don’t have the resources to compensate her if she sues me for publishing it, so you’ll just have to imagine the scene. After the event, most of us retired to a local café and one of the course leaders got out his laptop to show us his work and to teach us so. many. things. It’s fair to say that he pretty much knows which way round the camera goes.

I didn’t dare tell them about the telephoto zoom that remained hidden in the depths of my bag.

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The event was inspiring, though, and it prompted me to go home and use my camera more mindfully and to start lusting in vain after a better camera body. I do use most of the different functions on the camera, but I need to start also using time. And thought.

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In the meantime, I hope you’ve enjoyed this watery tour of the (few) bits of the garden that I haven’t dug up yet.

Happy knitting and hooking, people.

Exciting book review coming next!!

 

∗ OK, it’s not really hairy.

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When A Knit-Lover Goes Shopping

Want to see something that’s both gorgeous and knitting-related?

This isn’t usually a blog about buying-all-the-things, but occasionally my typing finger hovers a little too persistently over the “Add to cart” button. And on this occasion I succumbed to temptation. Sorry-not-sorry. Would you like to see the contents of the little parcel that fearlessly flew the Atlantic and plopped through my letterbox the other day? Loook! (This isn’t a sponsored post – I paid full price, I have no connection with the maker, who as far as I know has no compromising photos with which to blackmail me for publicity.)

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How lovely? I’ve been wearing them most days since they arrived.

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See those grey hairs? They weren’t there before the twinnage arrived.

They were made by Jewelia Designs, and they’re perfectly splendid. Just sayin’.

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Anyway (this post is a tad bitty – I hope you don’t mind) do your laser-sharp minds recall the shark-bombed house that I mentioned a few posts ago? Well as luck would have it, it’s up for rent right now. Move your life and your work and your family to Oxford, UK, and all this could be yours! See here. And if you decide to do so, please be kind enough to invite me for dinner because I’d really like to view your shark up close (as well as share your company over dinner, obviously).

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But let’s get back to the knitting. Specifically, Simply Knitting magazine, the folks for whom I take a spatula to scrape some of the bonkersness out of the recesses of my brain for a column once a quarter. Well this month ain’t my quarter, BUT the current issue features an article on knit-blogging, with interview material and photos from me and a couple of other bloggers. You could maybe put a case to argue that I’m a tad biased, but I think that knit-blogging is a lot of fun, so if you’re tempted to try, here’s some advice. Part two next month.

Yup, that's my camera strap, leaf design, hands cutting knitting, and bag design.

Yup, that’s my camera strap design and camera, leaf design, hands cutting knitting, and bag design.

And that, my fine fibrous friends, is pretty much all for this evening. Very much more to come…

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Want A Free Pattern For Knitted Cherries?

(This may be the longest blog post ever. But I hope that it’ll make you laugh. Your patience will at the end will be rewarded with a free knitting pattern.)

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You know when you get embroiled in an epic yarn war with someone, and you’re prepared to battle to the death – nay, further even than that – to achieve knitting victory?

No?

Nor did I until a couple of weeks ago.

I have a friend. Well, actually she’s a mortal enemy right now, to the extent that our two families are doomed to mutual loathing for generations to come, but until recently she was a friend. Let’s pretend she’s called Selma. And let’s pretend she blogs beautifully about knitting and crochet and sailing and cake and rural Oxfordshire life and her Norwegian heritage at eclectichomelife.blogspot.com.

You with me so far?

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Anyway over a glass or two in the village pub, Selma and I got into one of those debates – as-yer-do – about working up a new design together for making cherries in yarn as part of a larger project, and whether it would be better for us to do so in knitting or crochet. And that’s when things went wrong. Very wrong. Maybe it was the strength of the rioja we were drinking, or maybe it was something in the air (pollen, probably – hay fever does tend to make me cantankerous), but suddenly the atmosphere changed. As our voices rose, conversation at the surrounding tables fell away. A dog that had been snoozing beside its owner’s feet opened one eye and pricked up its ears, sensing trouble. Behind the bar, the landlord narrowed his eyes.

There was a leaf, but it needs a bit of reworking...

There was a leaf, but it needs a bit of reworking…

Crochet,” hissed Selma.

Knitting,” quoth I, thumping my wine glass down so hard that a few drops of rioja sploshed onto the table. Selma and I paused to wipe up the spillage before continuing our argument.

Crochet, you fool.”

K-N-I-T-T-I-N-G.”

OK, you’ve probably grasped the gist of the argument by now. It continued in this vein for some time, the eyes of the pub flicking from one to the other of us like spectators at a tennis match. Who knows where it would have ended if the landlord, realizing that he had serious trouble on his hands, hadn’t escorted us from the premises?

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So that, my fine fibrous friends, is how the two of us found ourselves outside with our yarn and our hooks and our needles, barred from the village pub for the rest of the evening, our dispute unresolved. The only solution, we realized, was for Selma to create a design in crochet and for me to create a design in knitting, and then we could see which was best.

Let me tell you that much as I love crochet, I had no intention of losing this challenge.

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I began knitting up a simple seamless pattern using double-pointed needles, refining it with each new try. All went well. It exuded the very essence of cherry-ness. It practically smelled of cherries. Now, one of the challenges of this project that’s fermenting in our oddball imaginations is the fact that these cherries need to be tough and outdoorsy: filling them with toy stuffing wasn’t an option. (One day soon we’ll be able to show you why, but for now you’ll have to just trust me.)

But what on earth to use instead? Frankly, I was stumped. So I decided to go undercover and see how my adversary was solving the problem.

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Selma lives in a picturesque old cottage in a rival village. And she likes to work outdoors. She has no idea that one afternoon last week, an intruder scrambled awkwardly over her garden fence, landing head-first amongst the hostas, swearing quietly before righting herself and peering through the leaves. I was in luck: Selma was sitting at the garden table working with a hook and some red yarn. Cherries! As she finished making each fruit, she reached into a bowl and picked up some small round object with which she filled the crochet. But I just couldn’t see what it was. All I knew was that I had to find out what was in that bowl. After a long time (maybe it wasn’t really that long, but time drags when you’re sitting on a thistle – Selma really should weed her garden more thoroughly), she stood up and went into the kitchen. I heard the sound of a kettle being filled. This was my chance! Like the hero of an action movie (in my imagination, at least), I burst out from amongst the hostas and raced across the lawn towards the table. OK, I probably shouldn’t actually have stolen the bowl, but by the time I was back in my hosta-hide, it was too late to replace it because the back door of the house was opening again.

So what was in the bowl? Look!

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Marbles. I grudgingly concede that this was an inspired idea of hers. Still hidden in the hostas with the bowl of marbles, I saw Selma came back outside. She looked around the table, frowning, clearly noticing what was missing. Her frown deepened.

Yes my friends, it was true: Selma had lost her marbles∗.

Anyway back at home, I pondered. It wouldn’t do to steal her idea, would it? But what else could I use? What – other than an actual cherry – is perfectly cherry-sized and shaped, and is waterproof and tough?

Balls, I thought.

No, really. Balls. Children’s rubber bouncy balls:-

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And the beauty of these things is that with a sharp knife, you can cut out a little piece top and bottom to make the indents on the fruit. Ha, I could smell victory. I almost felt guilty for stealing Selma’s marbles. Almost.

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So, in the interim before the madcap final project is available, would you like the pattern for some perfect →knitted← cherries? Yes? Oh all right, then.

∗ Just had a horrible thought: what if losing one’s marbles isn’t a universally-understood metaphor? Apologies if this phrase is absent from your life and my weak joke has thus fallen flat.

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Anyway, here ye’ go:-

Yarn

I made these cherries in Patons Cotton 4-ply in Red, but that’s just because I had most of a ball left over from a previous project. Ditto the green I used for the stalks: DMC Natura Just Cotton in Pistache. Assuming that you’re substituting in your own choice of yarn, know-ye that Patons Cotton 4-ply is billed as being good for 28 stitches per 10cm/4″ with 3.25mm needles.

You’ll also need…

  • A set of 5 DPNs. I used 2.5mm needles because I wanted the stitches to be nice and small.
  • Some 27mm bouncy balls, such as these.
  • A craft knife.
  • A lockable stitch marker, or a safety pin, or a tiny stitch holder.
  • A not-too-thick, not-too-thin needle. Think very fine darning needle.

Abbreviations:-

  • kfb – Increase 1 by knitting into the front and back of the stitch.
  • kfbf – Go completely wild and increase 2 by knitting into the front, and back, and front of the stitch.
  • k2tog – C’mon, you know this one. Knit 2 stitches together to decrease by 1.
  • S1, k2tog, PSSO – Decrease 2 by slipping a stitch, knitting 2 together, then passing the slipped stitch over. (Or if you’re not in the mood for such shenanigans, you could just k3tog – I won’t tell.)

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So let’s do this thing, yeah? Let’s knit ourselves some stonkingly splendid cherries.

  1. Cast on 4.
  2. kfbf every stitch, and distribute the resulting stitches between 4 needles as you go. (12)
  3. Knit every stitch.
  4. On each needle, kfb, k, kfb. (20)
  5. On each needle, k2, kfb, k2. (24)
  6. Knit every stitch.
  7. On each needle, k3, kfb, k2. (28)
  8. Knit every stitch.
  9. Knit every stitch.
  10. Knit every stitch.
  11. On each needle, k3, k2tog, k2. (24)
  12. Knit every stitch.
  13. On each needle, k2, k2tog, k2. (20)
  14. On each needle, k2tog, k, k2tog. (12)
  15. Knit every stitch.
  16. Insert bouncy ball from which you’ve cut a small portion at top and bottom.
  17. On each needle, s1, k2tog, PSSO. (4)
  18. Cut yarn, thread needle, and pass through all stitches. Pull tight.
  19. Now you’ll understand why the needle needs to be as tough-but-fine as possible. Pass it down through the centre of the ball and out the other side, ideally in the middle of the opposite indent in the ball. And then pass it back the other way. And again, and again. Cut the yarn as close to the cherry as possible. There, you’ve got a beautiful cherry with perfect cherry dimples top and bottom. Don’t be surprised if some flakey bouncy ball detritus is now scattered on your trousers. Maybe consider wearing trousers with a bouncy ball – flake pattern on them to disguise the mess.

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Make two cherries, then use green yarn to make the stem:-

The stem is worked as an i-cord, starting slightly thicker before splitting into 2 and attaching a pair of cherries.

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  1. Using 2 of your DPNs, cast on 4 stitches. Slide the stitches to the other end of the needle and, pulling the yarn tightly behind, knit another row of stitches starting with the first stitch you cast on. Repeat this a few times, until you’ve worked approximately half a centimetre. Then put the last 2 stitches you worked on something to hold them (the world’s smallest stitch holder, maybe, or – as I did – a locking stitch marker. You could also use a safety pin.)
  2. Working with the first 2 stitches only, continue working an i-cord until it’s about 6cm long. Cast off and cut yarn.
  3. Remove the other 2 stitches from their holder, rejoin yarn, and work another i-cord of the same length, trapping the yarn end inside the cord. Cast off and cut yarn.
  4. Attach stem ends firmly to tops of cherries.
  5. Rejoice in the wonderful superiority of your creation.

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…And that’s it.

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When Your Knitting/Crochet Just Keeps Getting Smaller

Do you know that feeling when you take your knitting (or crochet) somewhere, only to return later with less of it than you had when you left home?

No? Just me, then?

Hang on, I know it’s not just me because sometimes at knit-night in the pub, a friend∗ is overheard muttering, “Aargh, I’m three stitches short again!” before yanking out her needles and ripping away three hours’-worth of intricate cabling. This definitely, definitely has nothing to do with the wine or gin that we’ve been drinking. But it’s particularly likely to happen when the rival knitting group is also in residence. The rest of us wince as we watch a pile of yarn with that distinctive unravelled curl grow beside the poor knitter. We’re not smug, because we’ve all been there and we feel her frustration. Even the members of the rival knitting group aren’t gloating. “Next week I’m bringing a garter stitch washcloth,” she sighs. We all know that this won’t happen, because knitting is like childbirth: the agony and frustration and vows of NEVER EVER AGAIN are soon forgotten, only to be replaced by thoughts of, Ooh, wouldn’t it be fun to knit one of those heirloom lace shawl thingies that’s three miles wide but fits through a wedding ring.∗∗

If we're knitting, we're sipping.

If we’re knitting, we’re sipping.

Anyway the reason that I raise the subject of diminishing knitting/crochet is because of what happened last week when the twinnage, the Stoic Spouse, and I cancelled work, loaded up the stink-wagon, and headed down south-west for four days to stay in a beautiful old cottage on the Devon coast for some serious yarn holiday-time. Since I was in charge of packing for everyone except the Stoic Spouse, we took a lot of knitting with us. (Yeah, yeah, I also threw in a few children’s toys and a change of socks, because it’s not as though I’m yarn-obsessed or anything crazy like that…) Devon was lovely, thank you for asking. The cottage had a cute courtyard that was eminently suitable for yarnery:-

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I mentioned a while back that a good friend and I are working on writing a knit/crochet book together, and I thought these few days away would be a good chance to work hard on one of the patterns for this. I apologize now for how thoroughly irritating I’m going to be in the coming months dangling hints of projects in front of you without (yet) giving you the flippin’ patterns to make them, but it’s hard to know how else to proceed, and I will try to create other new things WITH free patterns for you, too. At least I can safely show you my disasters so that you can have a good belly-laugh at my expense. I can most certainly reveal that whilst this pattern is for something small, the amount of knitting that has gone into its various prototypes is so large that I could have knitted a planet-warmer for the entire world in the same time.

Still, I got to knit (and rip out) various versions in some very pleasant settings.

Yup, that's a smidgeon of twinnage right there. May we please crowd-fund my legal fees for the future date when he sues me for this image?

Yup, that’s a smidgeon of twinnage right there. May we please crowd-fund my legal fees for the future date when he sues me for publishing a picture of him?

I knitted out at sea:-

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And the Stoic Spouse kindly agreed to do most of the driving. Result!

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This is a picture of me not driving.

Sadly, the twinnage vetoed us going on this wheel, so I can’t show you any photos of sky-high knitting:-

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And as we scrambled over rocks and hills, my geological side was rather pleased to stumble upon some fossils. These are coral, if I’m not very much mistaken:-

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But the problem was that no matter how much I knitted (and know-ye that I knitted a lot) I never quite achieved The Final Version of the pattern. When I tinkered successfully with one part, it caused knock-on effects on another part which then needed re-knitting from scratch. Never did so much knitting achieve so little.

But I’m almost there. I’m back home, and I have a version that’s not too shabby. Even though it is rather smaller than what I started out with.

Sigh.

 

∗ Don’t worry Alice, you shall remain nameless.

∗∗ Here’s a very naughty tip: if you’re going to agree to make one of those, only do so for someone whose fingers – and thus ring size – are on the larger size. And if they’re not possessed of suitably large proportions, keep offering them doughnuts in the run-up to the wedding.

 

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Mutants! Mutants Everywhere!

I saw the weirdest thing today (whilst knitting, obviously).

There I was, flicking through a perfectly normal gardening catalogue, thus proving through one simple action that I’ve left my youth behind forever, when I came across the most spooky mutant plant thingy that I’ve ever seen.

The TomTato. And I’m not even joking. Look:-

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How spooksome is that?! You plant this oddball in a pot, and whilst above ground you get a lovely crop of cherry tomatoes, below ground the roots are busy making… potatoes∗. See? Freaky. If they could just somehow graft a live cow onto the side, you’d practically have the makings of a beef hotpot (or possibly a futuristic horror movie) right there in one tub.

Gotta be easier than the vying-for-space that goes on between the potatoes and tomatoes (and other veg) that I’m growing on the patio:-

Definitely Not Mutants

Definitely Not Mutants

I didn’t even know that this could be done, but it got my knitting head thinking – what else might be possible? Imagine if, the next time you buy a 50% wool, 50% alpaca ball of yarn, it comes from one animal? May I present… the sheepaca!

the sheepaca

the sheepaca

Actually, it has been tried (properly crossing a sheep and an alpaca, I mean), in order to breed hybrids to guard flocks of sheep. But I assume that the idea didn’t really catch on, because I can’t find a photo. And there’s a llama-alpaca hybrid called a huarizo, which sounds rather blissfully knittable. I think we need a few of those for the lawn.

In my fantasies, I’d turn our whole back garden over to a Good Life – style smallholding, chock-full of veg and fruit and yarn-producing creatures. Meanwhile, the Stoic Spouse dreams of a miniature railway paradise out there. We’re compromising by doing something that’s completely different from either of these, because surely the point of a good and fair marriage is to make certain that both parties are equal in their gloomy disillusionment?

Seriously, though, whilst the Stoic Spouse begins his annual summer campaign of repairing the bits of the house that dropped off over the winter… (any idea what this bit is and where it goes??):-

This dropped off the tower. We have no idea what it does.

This dropped off the tower. We have no idea what it does.

…I’m completely (and very slowly) redesigning the garden. Out will come all the dull overgrown shrubs, and in will come many, many, many bulbs spanning every season, and also a few fruit trees, including cherries to celebrate the cherry-growing heritage of this village. So if my rate of knitting/crochet has been slow of late, then my rate of cursing stubborn tree roots as I dig them out has been rather greater.

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So yeah. That’s about it. Time to get on with some knitting, methinks.

 

∗ Yes, I am indeed aware that tomatoes and potatoes are related, but thank you for checking, nonetheless.

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Shark Attack

And then suddenly, the great white shark plunged from the sky, head-first into the roof of the house. Nobody was hurt (apart from the poor shark), but several local residents wondered privately whether it was time they cut back on their drug use. Look!

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OK, if you’ve lived in or near Oxford in the UK, you probably already know about the Headington Shark, but I hadn’t seen it for maybe a decade until I happened to be in east Oxford the other day. It’s been there for years (30 years, actually: there are qualified professionals who are considerably younger than that shark). The first time I came across it as a shy young student in the early 1990s was a happy surprise because I didn’t know beforehand that it existed. Then, as now, I loved finding quirky, surreal, and creative touches in the most unexpected places.

Yarn-bombing most definitely falls into that category. It’s hard not to smile when you happen upon an unexpected patch of colour. Personally, I think our village yarn-bomber (no, it’s not me) should be paid a regular stipend by the parish council. Here’s some of her work.:-

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It’s been a while since I yarn-bombed our own house, but the post is here if you’re interested. It was fun:-

knitted pigeons

knitted pigeons

Reflecting on all this as I inch around the crochet/knitted garden of that project, I wonder whether I could include some miniature yarn-bombing as well, or is that just getting too silly?

Anyway, whilst we’re on the subject of knitting, take a look at this:-

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Is this – the garter stitch section at least – the worst knitting you’ve ever seen? Those unintended yarnovers! That complete lack of consistent gauge! Want to know what idiot knitted that swatch? Me. Yup, that hairy mess is all my own work. Because it seems that whilst I can knit drunk, or in the bath, or whilst out walking, or in the dark, I cannot knit without looking whilst lying on my back having sharp needles repeatedly poked into the area around my eyes*. I have officially reached my knitting limit. On the plus side, I coped much better this time with knitting than I did last time without: further evidence of the benefits of knitting.

 

  • Permanent eyeliner tattooing, in case you’re wondering. Not the sort of thing I’d usually do – I haven’t even had a haircut in over a year – but think of all the knitting time it’ll free up!

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Go Small Or Go Home

Have you ever tried really teeny-tiny knitting or crochet?

If you’re one of those people whose leisure hours are spent perfecting 2mm-high reproductions of Notre Dame in gossamer-fine thread, then I salute you. Know-ye that I’m intimidated by your brilliance.

Having made some reasonably small paraphenalia for that project, I was bitten by the smallness bug, although only gently nibbled by it rather than properly bitten: there’ll be no micro-amigurumi around here any time soon.

So I bought some tiny crochet hooks, partly to see how low I could go (so to speak), and partly because the tiniest hooks that I already own don’t have chunky handles and thus they tend to turn around annoyingly when I’m trying to micro-crochet. It’s frustrating:-

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So I went shopping for smallness. Allow me to introduce you to the nought-point-five-millimetre crochet hook! Yes, it’s half a millimetre. That’s small. So small that you can scarcely see the hooky bit. Perfect for stealing webs from spiders and using them for crochet. Only a little too bulky for crocheting at a subatomic level.

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It’s a steel hook in the Clover Soft Touch range, my go-to hook for reasons of comfort and relative sharpness (even though these beasts are not beautiful). Here it is in its un-beauty:-

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It’s actually quite hard to find a yarn small enough to use it for. I did have a dabble with some gold thread, though:-

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Anyway, a kind friend lent me some of her tiny knitting needles. I used these 1mm needles to make a cushion for the picnic blanket in the crochet garden:-

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Finished!

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Well, the cushion is finished. The garden isn’t. I’m on it, though. I’m hoping to make some very delicate plants for the crochet garden using these new hooks and needles.

Unfortunately you leave this thing lying around for five minutes and some cheeky blighter goes and parks their car on it. Typical.

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I’m going to have to put up No Parking signs on my own crochet. Sigh.

 

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Knitting And Nature

So yeah, whilst I continue knitting small things for the crochet/knit garden of that ridiculous project, shall we go for a wander around outside?

There's a blog post on teeny knitting and crochet on its way.

There’s a blog post on teeny knitting and crochet on its way.

Yes it’s possible to knit and walk. Trust me, I’ve done far more embarrassing things in public than knit. I realize that not everyone is this shameless, though: I was knitting in the pub with friends the other night – the rival knitting group wasn’t there, so all was peaceful – and one of my friends said she just couldn’t quite bring herself to knit in public. She did slightly undermine her own argument by saying this in public whilst knitting, but I can’t help longing to live in a world where knitting in public is just as unremarkable as reading in public or tagging your friends in weird Facebook goat videos in public. When I’m President-For-Life Of The Universe, there are going to be some big changes around here, let me tell you*.

pub knitting

pub knitting

But back to our walk-whilst-knitting. Let’s go. And yes, we shall ignore those people staring at us – they’re uncouth and their gauge is uneven. Do come along. You see, the best way to knit colourwork whilst walking is to put one ball of yarn in each pocket, like this. Excellent. Sorted. What’s that you say? You’re doing some complex intarsia? Ah, you might need rather a lot of pockets…

OK it’s been raining, but for a few days back there, we had a sort of spring-summer hybrid that was deliciously warm. Come back in time with me for a forest stroll: I took the twinnage to a lunch party at a friend’s house and on the way back, the boys asked to go for a walk in the bluebell woods. Well I couldn’t possibly say no to that, could I? Care to join us? 🙂

A mouse took a stroll in the deep, dark wood... And then The Gruffalo gave my children an irrational anxiety around forests. Thanks for that.

A mouse took a stroll in the deep, dark wood… And then The Gruffalo gave my children an irrational anxiety around forests. Thanks for that, Julia Donaldson.

Deeper and deeper we went, the twinnage picking paths apparently at random. I tried very hard to memorise our route. (Don’t worry, this isn’t another post about getting hopelessly lost in the countryside.)

All was quiet in the deep, dark wood...

All was quiet in the deep, dark wood…

Aren’t bluebells lovely?

"No" is not a valid answer to the above question.

“No” is not a valid answer to the above question.

Carpets of ’em. Everywhere.

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We just couldn’t get enough. The twinnage were enchanted (whilst pretending to be dinosaurs romping through the forest).

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I love spring. I’d love it even more if it was as warm as summer, and for a couple of blissful days back there, it was. Nature is busy on the home front, too. A pair of great tits has moved into the nest box, and my goodness they’re busy fetching worms for their young. (How do they manage that? I can’t even persuade my children to eat offal.) Look!

Mmm, look children! No I haven't got any chocolate but here's a delicious worm!

Mmm, look children! No I haven’t got any chocolate but here’s a delicious worm!

Right, back to the knitting…

 

  *In short, cheese will be made illegal, everyone will have to knit or crochet their own socks, and any countries threatening to go to war will have to first sit down together and cooperate on knitting some really complicated fairisle, to see whether they can just chill the heck out before being allowed to nuke each other back to the Stone Age.

 

 

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Filed under Outdoors

Teeny Tiny Picnic

So if you’ve been reading this blog since roughly the late Jurassic*, you’ll know that I’ve been working on a giant mostly-crochet-with-a-smidgeon-of-knitting house-related project for a while. And I hope that you’ll believe me when I say that it’s honestly nearly done. I’ve been busy in its garden, and there’s more progress to show you. Trust me, it’ll be worth the wait when you see the (bonkers) finished object.

Now, for reasons that will be obvious when you see the outcome, the garden section needs to be flattish, so there’ll be no serried ranks of tall thin spiky conifers. So what can I make for the garden that’s flat? Well, it’s pretty warm here in southern England as I write this (I’m only wearing one cardigan!) and my thoughts are turning to picnics on the lawn. Yup, I decided to knit-and-crochet a tiny picnic blanket. It was more fiddly than you might imagine. Still, it kept my hands busy as I sang along during the twinnage’s music class:-

And on keyboards... the twinnage.

And on keyboards… the twinnage.

And I was fairly pleased with the result, even if I am never, ever going to knit another. (I’m guessing that you know that feeling when you’re knitting something, teeth gritted, muttering curses and vowing never to indulge in such a project again. If that happened to you whilst knitting one of my patterns, I apologize.)

You mean I have to weave in ALL these ends??

You mean I have to weave in ALL these ends??

Obviously a picnic blanket needs to be covered with stuff. A stonking good book made of crocheted pages sewn together, for example.

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Really, this should be the sort of novel that you lose yourself in for a week, but I couldn’t resist embroidering this title:-

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And I think it’s fair to assume that we’d need some crochet or knitting, right? Lesson learned the hard way: if you’re going to try teeny tiny knitting using wooden toothpicks, sandpaper the picks smooth first, OK? You’re welcome.

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This was kinda fun. Some refreshments, yes? A nice bottle of wine would be a little too vertical for this project, so I was forced to settle for cake. I’ve never crocheted cake before. (I know, weird and sheltered life – blame my parents.) So I was basically winging it.

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Then I had to sew them together…

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There were quite a few ends to deal with. I am not a fan of ends.

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Let’s be civilised, and use a plate for the cake. Silver?

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Silver plated?

Nope, not happy with that. Try again. Blue? Yes, blue.

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But it came together OK.

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The only problem, I thought to myself as I embroidered a few cherries on top, was that all this was making me feel blimmin’ hungry. And, well, like lying on the lawn knitting and reading and munching.

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All this has given me a taste for teensy-weensy knitting/hookery (as well as cake), so I’ve borrowed and bought some miniature needles and hooks, and I’m making a wee cushion for this picnic blanket. But that’s another blog post…

The picnic blanket in situ in the garden.

The picnic blanket in situ in the garden.

  • Ah do you remember the dinosaurs way back in the Jurassic? I wish I’d blogged more about the dinosaurs! Who knew that they’d become such a ‘thing’? They just seemed so ordinary at the time.

29 Comments

Filed under Crochet

We Have A Winner!

Did you hear that gong sound? Yesterday at noon GMT.
That gong signalled the close of the ludicrously generous yarn giveaway by Wool And The Gang on this blog.
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At the time, I was sitting in the garden at my good friend Selma’s home, discussing future yarn-related projects with and sipping cordial. Man, that gong was loud.
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A heartfelt thank you to all 195 of you who entered. (Smallprint: as stated in the competition details, email addresses from everyone who entered will be added to the Wool And The Gang database. You can of course unsubscribe at any time. But hey, it’s yarn, how bad can their emails be? 😉 )
So we need a winner, don’t you think? I love the comments you left, by the way – they made me wish that all of you could win. Sadly, that’s not possible. So I consulted the oracle of randomness at random.org, and yielded this fine result:-
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Who exactly is the mysterious number 150? Please step forward and take a bow, Elaine who commented at 2100hrs on 29th April! Hurrah! Congratulations, you’ve just won 800G of Crazy Sexy Wool in shades of your choice! Not too shabby, huh?
I’ll pass your email address to a lovely lady at WATG who will invite you to choose your colours. And I hope that this luscious yarn brings you many, many hours of joyful knitting/hooking. Actually it knits up pretty speedily, being so chunky, so it won’t take you that many hours to produce summat wondrous. Enjoy.
Commiserations to those of you who didn’t win, but there’ll be more giveaways here on this blog in future.
Finally, a big twisted-shaped thank you to WATG for the yarn. You guys rock (and you manufacture damned fine wool).
Right, back to admiring the springtime in Selma’s garden. Fortunately she’s the sort of understanding fellow blogging friend who doesn’t bat an eyelid to find me lying in her flower bed taking pictures of the sky:-
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Oh, and I’m sorry to be a little late in responding to comments at the moment. Still catching up with life after a couple of weeks of illness.

5 Comments

Filed under Yarn