English Landscape In Yarn

I’ve been quiet these past few days because the cough/lurgy descended even further into Dickensian melodrama, whilst I descended deeper amongst the sofa cushions. The one thing I did do was attend Blogfest in London, but I’ll leave that for the next post, because I promised you pictures of the finished Cladonia. Look!

Cladonia shawl knitting www.thetwistedyarn.com

The Burrow and Soar yarn is beautiful, and was a delight to knit. The main colourway that I used for the non-lace section was named ‘English Landscape In Yarn’, which rather perfectly describes it, don’t you think? Today I forced my aching, coughing self out of the house to walk up to the allotment, and I saw all of the colours in the shawl:-


The design of this shawl is beautiful. (In case you want to knit one too, the pattern is here: it’s by the immensely talented Kirsten Kapur.) Look at this lace!


Having stomped up to the allotment in my clumpy boots, I realized I’d forgotten my key to get in, so I had to scramble indecorously over the gate instead. At least I was perfectly camouflaged against the landscape in this shawl, so hopefully nobody saw me. Aren’t other people’s allotments tidy?


Nope. That’s Definitely Not Our Plot.

Sigh. I won’t give you an overview shot of our allotment, because it’s not looking quite so impressive yet. Still, at least the broad beans have germinated:-

growing broad beans www.thetwistedyarn.com

Hurry up and GROW: I’m HUNGRY!

And the onions are busy. Well, some of them are:-


Eighteen (!) raspberry canes should be arriving through the post any day now, but I didn’t feel well enough to clear the ground ready to plant them. But at least I left the house. Tomorrow I’m going to try getting back into running, and digging the garden, and sorting the house, and cooking and baking and normality.



Filed under Knitting

Washing And Blocking

So this post is coming to you from the sofa, where I’ve spent much of the past couple of days aching all over and hacking a cough that could’ve come right out of a Dickens novel. (Melodramatic, moi?) I do seem to be throwing these lurgies off more quickly since I began the four-times-a-week-running torture though, so I hope this thing will be gone soon, because it’s no fun feeling too ill to knit. (Also it’s no fun running four times per week, so I’d hate to think that it wasn’t serving any purpose.)

One thing that I did manage before the tuberculosis annoying-but-trivial virus took hold was to finish knitting the Cladonia shawl. I’ll show you properly in a couple of days’ time when it has finished blocking and when I have some daylight, but I don’t think I’m spoiling things too much by posting a dodgy artificially-lit snap taken on my tablet. Lace, people, LACE! Isn’t it pretty?


Note to self. Must buy blocking wires.

And the twinnage’s first words when they came home from school and saw it pinned out to dry were, ‘Mummy, you’ve finished your knitting! It’s so pretty!’ Clearly they must have been angling for chocolate cake, because no normal self-respecting dinosaur-obsessed mud-encrusted five-year-old would come out with such sentiments. Still, I’m touched that they noticed and I’m grateful for their words. (They got some chocolate cake.)

Anyway, the shawl has been washed and blocked. I must say, though, that next time I buy Eucalan, it’s definitely going to be the unscented stuff. Much as I love the smell of jasmine (I drink jasmine green tea, I eat jasmine rice, there is jasmine growing in my garden), my jasmine-scented Eucalan is just a Bit Too Much. I’d rather smell the yarn. Lesson learned.

So now that’s done, I can give my whole attention to that other project. Yes, that one. Forgive me if I’ve seemed persistently and annoyingly coy about it all, but I really do want to wow you with the finished thing. Right now (well not right now because I’m very busy coughing like a barking seal and also blogging), I’m working on crocheting the garden. Amongst a large collection of gardening books that the Stoic Spouse acquired from heaven-knows-where, I found a book called ‘Bright And Easy Borders’, so I’m flicking through its pages and working out how to translate them into crochet.

More very soon.

Happy knitting and crocheting, people.


Filed under Knitting

And Then We Were Eight

Eight years ago today, I put on an asymmetric, teal-coloured, gown and walked down the aisle in order to promise lifelong, grudgingly-unswerving tolerance of the Stoic Spouse’s* quirks. And vice versa of course, though naturally my own quirks are charming and endearing rather than FLIPPIN’ ANNOYING.** Fast-forward getting-on-for-a-decade and we’re still here, and neither of us has yet eviscerated the other with the antique brass fire tongs. Pretty good, huh?

anniv flowerz2

But on the anniversary of our hitching, here’s some FREE marriage advice from TheTwistedYarn: never, never, ever marry someone who drums their biro on the table whilst they think. Not only is it irritating, but it also results in you having to live in a home where not a single pen is working. Go on dates with such a scoundrel by all means, perhaps even holiday with them (because it’s not as though you do much writing whilst you’re on the beach or up a mountain or in a boat), but do not marry them. It’s just not worth the irritation when all you want is a functioning pen to draft a blog post. That’s not much to ask, is it?! IS IT?! And… breathe…

Ahhhhh…. Here’s the picot cast-off row of my Cladonia shawl in progress, just to calm things down a bit. See, knitting is very therapeutic:-

cladonia 3 d

This time tomorrow, I reckon the shawl will be done, and I’ll be ready to get back on with the big crochet house-related slightly bonkers furniture-covering surprise project.

Anyway, we’ve had our marital ups and downs, the Stoic Spouse and I, but we’re still capable of being in the same room as each other without legal representation being present on either side, so I’d say that we’re doing tolerably well.***

Speaking of Cladonia, I’m seriously on the case. Even when I’m waiting for the twinnage’s music class to begin:-

cladonia 4  a

…Because lovely though Cladonia is, it’s somebody else’s pattern, and really this blog is all about showing you the crazy projects that brew in my brain, so Cladonia needs to be finished asap. Yes?


* Except he wasn’t the Stoic Spouse then, more like the ‘F’legmatic Fiancé. And yes I do realize that phlegmatic isn’t really spelt with an ‘f’.

** I’m paraphrasing our vows, here, but you get the gist.

*** Oh, come on. This is TTY. You should’ve known you wouldn’t get “I luffs ma hubz soooo much ♥♥♥” on this site.


Filed under Knitting

The New Gaff

Oops! Mind those boxes, there. Unpacking is a work in progress.

It’s strange, moving into a new place. Even though you know that soon its every detail will be as familiar as your own hands, there’s a period of adjustment whilst you’re learning its smells, its proportions, its light, and the fact that you have to yank the bathroom window handle slightly to the left in order to open it.

No, I haven’t physically moved house. I still live in the oldest, coldest, quirkiest, roof-leakiest, converted brewery in these ‘ere parts of Oxfordshire. My point is that moving house is just a very little like… moving blog, which is what has been happening over the past week.

The Stoic Spouse As We Ran Through Autumn Fog. I'm Sure There's A Metaphor There.

The Stoic Spouse As We Went For A Run Through Autumn Fog. I’m Sure There’s A Metaphor There. He’s Stopped To Wait Because I’m Busy Taking Photos.

I hope that everything on this site still looks pretty much the same as usual from your end? Yes? (Small issue: much of my follower total has vanished in a puff of bloggy smoke. If you wish to be further troubled by colourful knits/crochet and nuttiness, you may need to re-whack that ‘follow’ button to the right of this post, and whack it hard.)

But here behind the scenes, there has been much shenanigans, and it’s fair to assume that the staff at WordPress and my wise techie/crocheting friend Alice have realized the true extent of my cluelessness.

Anywhere, here we are. You’re welcome to a drink if you can find one to unpack. Good luck with that. Third box from the left might be worth a try, I think?

Just like two years ago when I started this blog, I’m standing staring at the walls of my new pad, wondering what changes to make. For those with an interest, I’m now self-hosted with WordPress.org rather than cosily spoonfed at WordPress.com. Returning to the house analogy, it’s a little like buying vs. renting. With WordPress.com, everything is easy and if your boiler breaks down, someone pops round to fix it.* Whereas WordPress.org is like buying a house: exciting and with all sorts of possibilities, but everything is down to you. When your boiler throws in the towel, you either fix it or pay someone else to do so. Yikes.

Another Foggy Image From Another Foggy Run

Another Foggy Image From Another Foggy Run

Adios. There will be many photos of knitting and crochet very soon. Much stitching has been happening around here, and I hope in your world too?

*I’m assuming a level of landlordly competence that is not necessarily matched by many people’s reality.

ETA: Oh goodness, French readers. My heart is with you.


Filed under Blogging

Lost In The Ether

OK, this is a quick one, because I know you’re busy. And it’s sort of an admin post, just like when you go to a training event and they tell you at the beginning where the fire exits are, and ask how long a lunch break you’d like, at which point everyone opts for a short lunch so that they can go home early.

I’m trying to knit whilst typing, so please do excuse any errors.


So, tomorrow-ish, some serious backstage shenanigans will be happening on this site. (For those with an interest, I’m going self-hosted with the .org version of WordPress.) When it’s all done, very little will change at this end. I’ll still be chattering away at TheTwistedYarn.com. And knitting, obvs.


I’m hoping that nowt will seem much different from your end (except there’ll be no more of those ads at the bottom of the page – yay!) But, BUT, BUT… as far as I can tell, it’s possible that you may need to ‘re-follow’ after the change-over, in order to ensure that the usual stream of bonkersness, chatter and over-ambitious knitting/crochet ideas continues to land in your in-tray. Can you sense the mild desperation that made me type those words in bold?! Can you tell that my entire sense of self-worth is built on online validation, and that I’ve disappeared so far into the internet that I’ve forgotten how to have meaningful relationships in real life? 😉

Slightly dispiritingly, all previous ‘likes’ will vanish, my previously healthy total of 2511 subscribed followers will plunge, and my stats counter will reset from 150,000 to zero.


But the good news is that all your friendly, interesting, funny, kind, and heartfelt comments will still be here, which makes me very happy indeed. The blog will look the same. I’ll post in the same way. We can still knit and crochet together by the fire, and all will be well.


The changeover will happen some time from Monday to Tuesday. After that, I’ll post again to say hello.

There, that’s all finished. So you can all go home early. :-)

Happy knitting!

PS: Thank you, Alice, for holding my hand through the process and for not telling me out loud that I’m an idiot.


Filed under Blogging


Knitting and crochet are like food for the soul.

Just like real food, they can satisfy, intrigue, nourish, challenge, and comfort. And just like with food, you can crave different things when in different moods. I’ve been plugging away at designing the big-secret-crochet-house-project (which is n-e-a-r-l-y finished), but tonight, forget all that: I need simple, warm, comfort-knitting. And I need somebody else’s pattern, so that I don’t have to think too much. So I’m back on my other project: the Cladonia shawl. Photo from a while ago because I’m writing this (with a pen! In a notebook!) by a combination of firelight and low electric light, which doesn’t make for great knitting photos. I’ve come a wee way since this twinnage-assisted picture was taken, and I’m almost on the lace section. Cladonia has beautiful lace, as you’ll see, soon enough.

Cladonia shawl in progress

Also, I’m writing very quietly because it’s November 5th, Guy Fawkes Night, and the fireworks going off outside may yet wake the twinnage. They’re frightened of fireworks, so I’m very much hoping that they sleep through the entire shebang (with emphasis on the ‘bang’).

Before I reach the lace section of Cladonia, I’m going to add some extra increases because my Burrow And Soar yarn is working out at a much smaller gauge than the pattern dictates. (Disclaimer: I didn’t pay for the yarn, but It Really Is Luscious. Honestly.) Burrow and Soar ship worldwide, just so you know…

So no more crazy crochet cabbages tonight. And no finished object yet. Instead, I’m curled up in an armchair with a deep glass of wine, occasionally chattering with the Stoic Spouse, alternating knits with sips and staring into the fire. It’s been a long day at work on the ward. A L-O-N-G day. This clinical psychology malarkey can be intense and raw. Tomorrow I’ll be back to inventing stuff, but tonight I need the simplicity of knit-knit-knit with just the occasional increase. If you’re a fellow knitter or crocheter (or clinical psychologist), I know that you’ll understand. I hope you understand.

And you? Do you have comfort-knits or comfort-hooks?


Filed under Knitting

Autumn Outdoors

It’s a satisfying time of year to be outdoors, clearing away a season’s-worth of overgrown undergrowth whilst it’s still mild enough to work unencumbered by eight layers of clothing. Also the colours, of course. Ah, the colours:-

autumn colours www.thetwistedyarn.com

Many times before, I’ve mentioned this village’s long cherry-growing heritage, and now the few remaining cherry orchards are in their autumn livery.


I’d been feeling guilty about ‘growing’ yarn vegetables in the garden of my big-crochet-house-project whilst failing to make any headway with my real allotment, especially as I know that my long-suffering allotment-mate sometimes reads here. The latest additions are some onions and lettuces that I worked in the pub on Knit Night. (Again, the rival knitting group was there, too. Again, they were far too friendly and nice for me to be able to come away with any amusing bloggable anecdotes of yarny rivalry. Grrr.):-

Yes that skirt has nude cherubs on it. I am that odd.

Yes that skirt has nude cherubs on it. I am that odd. Also, why can’t I take decent pictures on my tablet?

But now that the novel-writing MPhil is submitted, the twinnage are a’school, the yucky IVF drugs are out of my system, and I’ve got more energy thanks to running four times per week, (gosh this sentence is getting long – does anyone know when it might end?) I’m ready to tackle the allotment. And the garden. And even the damp, rickety portions of our house. The twinnage love coming up to the allotment. Sometimes they ‘help’ (I use that word very loosely) to dig, and sometimes they like to discover things, like the vibrant colours of the seeds in the last few runner beans that we left on the plants:-

runner bean seeds www.thetwistedyarn.com

They like it when we come across the occasional frog. And grasshopper. And red kites shrieking in the sky above our heads, hoping we’ll drop dead and become carrion, no doubt. And the amazing network of mouse tunnels under the carpet we’d used to cover the bare earth. Also, the pretty rosehips:-

rosehips www.thetwistedyarn.com

It must be cool to be five, because everything’s still kinda new… although I hope that the twinnage never lose that sense of wonder, even when they’re ninety-five.

Anyway, some proper progress has been made. Vegetable beds have been dug over and weeded, with phacelia planted as a ‘green manure‘. (100% of the credit for that knowledge and idea goes to my allotment-mate.) Grass has been trimmed back to a level where TV crews are no longer interested in using it to make a documentary about exploring the last frontiers of the world’s natural wilderness. And onions and over-wintering broad beans have been planted. Dinner will be ready in a few months’ time, OK? Maybe have a snack whilst you wait.

I love the allotment, but it’s slightly intimidating when you see neighbouring plots cultivated to within an inch of their lives, with twenty different crops grown in regimented alphabetic order in perfect raised beds. I think the neighbourhood pests (slugs, rabbits, insects, children) take one look at those scarily perfect plots and come and munch our produce instead. Maybe I should take a couple of allotmenty photos for you next time?

Back home, I’m starting to properly tackle the garden at last. The Stoic Spouse has been keeping it trimmed and weeded, but really, it could be so much prettier out there. Look at the beautiful warty toad I accidentally disturbed whilst weeding! Sorry mate, hope you managed to get back to hibernating.


So most things are trundling along OK. Yes there’s the going to work and the laundry and all the things that have to be done, but also there’s time with the children, and baking, digging, planting, cooking, planning, running, and clearing out. And in the evenings, there’s a log fire, reading, knitting/crochet, and blogging. And if this paragraph sounds unbearably smug and twee, do please feel free to pop round and wallop me about the head with the wet haddock of reality. Also, do remind me of my cloying smugness when I’m next whinging about sitting in a traffic jam on the motorway nursing a head-cold and stressing about being late for some tedious appointment or other. Thank you.

Finally, just in case you’ve noticed that there’s not much knitting or crochet in this post, here’s proof that it’s possible to knit whilst bouncing on a trampoline at a local park with the twinnage. Sort of.


‘Til next time, adios and good knitting/hooking.


Filed under Outdoors

Darkest Deeds At The Ostrich

So I’m sitting and I’m knitting and I’m sipping, in front of a log fire. I hope you are too? Whilst we knit/hook, let me tell you a tale dark enough to be perfect for All Hallows’ Eve. May I please refill your glass whilst I talk?

It concerns an ancient pub. This isn’t the first time that I’ve written about an old inn. (My post about the pub that was in our family for 300 years is here.) But today, we drove 50 miles just to lunch at a very particular pub that my dear father-in-law discovered on his travels some time ago. Its story intrigued us. Keep reading: there’s a truly hair-raising tale approaching, once I’ve set the scene. You won’t be disappointed.

Permit me to introduce… The Ostrich at Colnbrook. (Yes, weird name. Possibly a corruption of ‘hospice’, meaning travellers’ rest.)

the ostrich colnbrook www.thetwistedyarn.com

Looks charming, yes? A typical British coaching inn? But before I acquaint you with its sinister past, allow me to tell you a little about the place. It lays claim to be the third oldest inn in England, originally dating from 1106, although the current building is a mere whippersnapper of a construction at ‘only’ 515 years old. Here’s a model of how it originally looked from the back, before the external gallery disappeared:-


Let me show you around. Inside, there are splendidly old rooms:-


(Aaaaaah, British pub carpets: gotta love ’em.)

And details:-


Exactly how much would you like to know about the place, before I get on to its grizzly past? Let’s aim for a medium level of detail, OK?

Geographically, we’re located in Colnbrook, near Windsor Castle (one of the homes to our monarchy since 1066, WOAH that’s a long time ago), and just west of London. The near-Windsor thingy is significant, because in (many) centuries past, important folks intent on visiting the king/queen would stop off at our fair inn to change their apparel from something travelly to summat a little more audience-with-the-king-y. In our modern world, this place is by a grim outpost of Slough (yes, Slough the concrete doom-world for which John Betjeman wrote ‘Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough’. Slough can be un-lovely. I say that as someone who covered the patch as a forensic clinical psychologist in times past.)

So we came, and we settled ourselves in anticipation of lunch. (In case you’re local, the food was excellent. I can’t fault a place that offers samphire.)image

But there’s more.

All was not always well at this hostelry. Are you sturdy of constitution? You’ll need to be, in order to stomach what comes next. For The Ostrich has a dark past, although the exact date of its darkness is uncertain. But at some point in the Middle Ages, a chap named Jarman was innkeeper. He and his wife were less goodly than their charming manner would suggest. Know-ye that people in those times often travelled with their worldly fortunes stowed about their person, ATMs and internet banking not yet being a ‘thing’. Jarman and his wife (Mrs Jarman? Ms Jarman? Ms Smith?) hatched a wild plan to separate man from fortune. Whenever a rich-looking chap travelling alone would land upon their inn, these evil folks would lodge him in the finest room in the house, which happened to be right above the kitchen. How charming, one might think. Except there was nothing charming in what took place next.

Are you quite certain that you’re ready for this?

For the bed in this fine room, though elegant and four-postered, formed part of a cunning device. When the traveller fell fast asleep after his weary miles, Jarman had only to release a couple of iron pins in the kitchen below to tilt the bed, hurling its somnambulant occupant head-first through a chute into a vat of boiling liquid below. They were dead before they even had time to grumble. Thus silenced, they could be safely robbed by Jarman, and the corpse tossed in the local stream. Anyone questioning the man’s absence at breakfast would be told that he had taken a horse from the stable and rode off early that day. Yikes. Here’s a model of the bed in question:-


Scary, huh?


When Jarman was eventually arrested, he confessed to sixty such murders. Whether he was really so prolific or whether the knowledge that he was inevitably to hang loosened his tongue is uncertain, but there is undoubtedly an air of darkness about this place (however delicious the food). Visit at your peril, and above all remain awake…

Perhaps I’ll stick to knitting: it’s much safer.


Filed under Outdoors

When Did ‘Doing Something’ Become Such A Thing?

So it’s our first ever school holiday, at the end of the twinnage’s first ever term of school, and the boys and I are embracing the gentle art of pottering. Unscheduled, routine-free time suits us far too well, and it’s entirely possible that I’ll forget to send them back to school next week. The only downside is that I can’t go running, because the Stoic Spouse is at work and the boys are with me whenever I’m not at work.

But anyway.

Tempting though it is to stay home and crochet whilst reading them stories all day, I figured that we probably ought to Do Something. When did the children Doing Something become such a thing? I’d have rolled my eyes right out of the top of my head if my parents had tried to fill my school holidays with organized and worthy activities. I was far too busy damming the hideously polluted stream at the bottom of the garden, playing in the street with friends, drawing graphs of the changing temperature of our pond at different times and depths (I kid you not), visiting my friend who was skilled in taxidermy by the age of ten, and writing stuff. But then, I’m a maladjusted, curmudgeonly old bint, so what do I know?

Seriously, though, friends keep asking, ‘What are you doing this holiday?’ and I can only mumble ‘Well the laundry pile could use some attention,’ and, ‘There’s a fair-to-middling chance that lunch will be cooked eventually.’ At which point I feel like a rubbish parent for not having scheduled Latin crammers and lessons in ashtanga yoga, let alone an educational trip to Venezuela. Sorry kids, but I’m not that sort of parent.

So instead, we’ve been pottering. And yes, I’ve been knitting and crocheting whilst we do so. Pottering involves mostly time at home with play and books, but also some time on the allotment under the wise guidance of my allotment-mate, who helped us plant onions and broad beans this week:-


Also, plenty of cooking. The Stoic Spouse cooked partridges (yum!) so I boiled up the bare carcases with leek, carrot, onion, garlic, mushrooms, coriander seeds, mustard seeds and peppercorns to make stock. The boys were fascinated by this strange form of cooking in which you throw all the solid stuff away at the end:-


Also, there’s been the feeding of chickens at our local farm shop:-


Oh, and spurred on by allotment activities, we finally got round to digging up the potatoes at home. Digging up potatoes is like unearthing buried treasure to small children. These were the potatoes left to languish below-ground far too long after my IVF-induced apathy this summer, that I guiltily assumed had probably rotted, but surprisingly they came up just fine. Look! That’s dinner sorted…


Even better, we discovered that our straggly, untended raspberry plants didn’t get the memo about it being too late in the year for fruiting:-


So in all, nobody has improved their Latin. Nobody has been to Venezuela. A great deal of time has been spent at home. Mummy has been knitting. But you know what? Maybe that’s all OK. Yeah?


Filed under Outdoors

The Crochet Cottage Bag Pattern!

crochet house bag www.thetwistedyarn.com

Well, here it is, at last.

The pattern.

The pattern… for the crochet house shoulder-bag that I designed. It’s been a while coming. Would you like to make one? It’s not that hard, honest, just a little fiddly around the windows. But I’ve explained everything in the pattern. And if you run into any problems, you can always give me a shout. I’m really very, very excited about this thing. Sometimes a crazy idea in your head just works.

house in bits

And it’s free! :-)

crochet brick stitch www.thetwistedyarn.com

So without further ado, shall we cut the ribbon and commence the unveiling? Yes? Well, the pattern is…… HERE! Just a click on that word, and it can be yours. Enjoy. And on Ravelry, it’s here.

Gosh, this might be the shortest blog post I’ve ever published.

Happy hooking, my fine friends.

crochet house bag www.thetwistedyarn.com


Filed under Crochet