Monthly Archives: January 2014

Crochet coat.

Another post whilst the monster rainbow stained glass window afghan continues to grow so big that it threatens to engulf the house and several neighbouring properties too, causing untold environmental alteration and aesthetic weirdness. I can’t quite help being quite excited about the progress of this enormous project, but I don’t want to reduce its impact by showing you photo updates every hour. Actually that’s a lie: that’s exactly what I want to do.

So meanwhile, you’ve all persuaded me through your comments on my recent post, that I should act. Yarn-bombing the house was a crazy idea. So I’m going to do it. The yarn has been ordered. The Stoic Spouse accidentally came across that particular post, so he knows about the impending craziness. The good news is that he didn’t divorce me on the spot. The bad news is that he probably didn’t take the idea seriously enough to bother divorcing me on the spot. But really, he should know me better than that by now. It’s a crazy, creative, OTT idea. Therefore I will do it. The yarn will arrive on Saturday. Dontcha just love Deramores? 🙂

And I’ve just been mooching about on Facebook. A friend has posted this:-

coat thingy

coat thingy

Ignore the hat. Isn’t the coat amazing? It’s here, if you have a spare £3112, which sounds like not much money for the amount of work it must have taken to create, although obviously a completely insane amount of money per se, and about a hundred times as much as I’d normally spend on a garment of clothing. It’s billed as knitted, but the housey bits look crocheted, don’t they? I want to make one so much. (See earlier comments about crazy+creative=I’mgoingtodoit.) Look at those little balconies! They’d make perfect little pockets for bits of the twinnage’s Lego and the odd snotty tissue and rice cake… which would maybe detract from the whole wonderful designer effect, but this is what happens when haute couture meets snotty toddlerdom.

Here’s another photo:-

coat

coat

OK, I don’t like the silly fluffy bits. I don’t like the hat. I don’t like the fact that the arms are baggy – give me tight and slim instead. But the housey stuff down the bottom is just so perfect. I wonder if there’s a pattern? If not, I might have to improvise. So many projects, so little time…. But I’ll get there.

Meanwhile, back to the monster afghan.

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Yarn. Lots and lots of oddments of yarn.

Another post while the monster rainbow afghan grows and grows. And grows. 🙂

There’s a bit of a problem in my study. A bit of mission creep. The study is supposed to be home for all my work stuff (psychology books, journals, etc), and all my writing stuff, plus a spot of tedious admin. And all the sombre, brooding pictures that the Stoic Spouse dislikes. And my geology books and some of my fossils and rock specimens, the ones that would be small enough for the twinnage to use as food or lethal weapons if they got near them. It’s a dark little cave of a room, because as long as I’ve got a little lamp at my desk and a mug of green tea beside me, I can read and write contentedly.

But there’s an invader, a determined, fibrous invader.

Creeping around the room like ivy, along the tops of the bookshelves, over the desk and filing cabinet, creeping pretty much everywhere in fact, is yarn. Look!

(Bad photos due to darkness of room.)

Yarn. More yarn. And... yarn.

Yarn. More yarn. And… yarn.

And look!

Nowhere is safe

Nowhere is safe

And I write this as someone with a stash aversion. All this yarn is leftovers from projects or balls for projects I’m working on or am about to do. Where will it end? This has happened fast. How soon will our entire house silt up with spare yarn and we’ll be forced to move out and live in the garden shed? I foresee an advantage, however. Lined with yarn, this room will soon be the only place in the house that is blissfully warm. 🙂

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Yarn-bombing the house. Just maybe.

The crochet stained glass window is going well, but I don’t want to saturate this blog with minute-by-minute pictures of every stitch. (Well actually I do, but I won’t. Maybe I should introduce a knitting/crochet webcam. Though that might result in a few too many views of me crocheting in my pyjamas at 3am.)

But other plans and ideas keep forming…

The other day, I found this rather lovely image on Wildcat Designs’ blog:-

Knitted Rainbow Railings. What's not to like?

Knitted Rainbow Railings. What’s not to like?

Photo from http://catameringue.blogspot.co.uk/. Reproduced with permission.

And I looked at our crazy old brewery house, and I thought Hmmmmmm…. Because at one end of the house is a tower, which is presumably where most of the brewing malarkey occurred. (Sometimes I’ve dreamed of knitting a giant scarf, that would go all the way around the tower. It’s the sort of crazy hare-brained thing that I might actually do one day. And the tower is quite cold and badly insulated, so it could do with a nice snuggly scarf.) Part way up this tower are some doors with a little Juliet balcony, ie some railings. Look!

Railings, just begging to be yarn-bombed

Railings, just begging to be yarn-bombed

Don’t you think they’re just begging to be adorned with rainbow knitting?

What do you think? Could I do it? Should I do it? Would the neighbours grumble? Would the stoic spouse move out in protest? Would the parish council evict me from the village in shame?

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Chocolate cake recipe… and colour inspiration

OK, I’ve had a couple of requests for the chocolate cake recipe from my last post. I’ll type it up in a minute. First, a moment of inspiration…..

I love colour. It’s fascinating. I particularly love colour in the natural world, because as I’ve repeated ad nauseum, Mother Nature is surely the very best designer.

But sometimes, the juxtaposition of ordinary objects can be inspiring.

The other day, I was emptying the dishwasher. (I know, I know: could my life possibly be any more glamorous?) I’d nearly finished. There were just a few dishes on the upper tray, and they looked like this:-

Image

And I thought, wow. Imagine a jumper. Or maybe a throw. Mostly rich dark grey. Quite fine yarn, pure wool, maybe four-ply. But with stripes at the bottom, maybe 1.5 inches wide, just one of each in those colours. It could work. Maybe?

But you need some cake, yes? OK, here, from memory, is my chocolate cake recipe. It is a heavily modified version of one I found online a couple of years ago. North American readers can – I think – buy buttermilk rather than faffing around with adding vinegar to ordinary milk.

The Twisted Yarn Chocolate Overdose

Ingredients (of which there are many, but don’t worry, this cake is easy)

200g dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa solids. Yum. Try not to eat it before it hits the mixing bowl.

200g unsalted butter

125ml water (the only healthy thing in this cake)

75ml milk

a few drips of white vinegar

85g plain flour

85g self-raising flour

25g cocoa powder

half teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda

200g light muscovado sugar

175g caster sugar (yes this cake is seriously sweet)

3 large eggs

half teaspoon of almond essence

Line a 20-cm cake tin. Set oven to 140*c (fan oven) or 160*c (conventional oven).

Put the chocolate, butter, and water in a small pan and set over a very low heat. Stir occasionally until you have a molten, chocolatey mush.

Meanwhile, add the vinegar to the milk and set aside.

Mix the flours, sugars, cocoa powder, and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl. Add almond essence.

Beat the three eggs.

Combine all the ingredients. Beat them briefly. Sling them in the cake tin and pop the cake in the oven. Bake for approximately 90 minutes. It’s done when a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Fend off any passing children or husbands.Image

Yum.

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Sorry, twinnage.

I have wine. I have crochet on my knee:-

Crochet and ill-matched socks

Crochet and ill-matched socks

I have been for a walk in my rainbow wellies with the toddler twinnage:-

Ex-cherry-orchard windbreak poplars. With sheep.

Ex-cherry-orchard windbreak poplars. With sheep.

We saw sheep whose wool was just begging to be shorn (in this unseasonably mild weather), spun, dyed, and knitted. The twinnage sweetly observed that someone had been drawing on the sheep, so I had to explain about marking them so everyone knows who owns them.

Sheepsters. All pointing left.

Sheepsters. All pointing left.

We came home and baked my deceptively-easy-chocolate-cake:-

My chocolate cake. Recipe available if you want it.

My chocolate cake. Recipe available if you want it.

…But I’m feeling bad. The twinnage, though adorable, have been, um, a tad challenging. I am not a shouty mummy, but I shouted. Sorry, twinnage.

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Crochet therapy

The end of a stressful day of tantrumming toddler twinnage.

image

The rainbow stained glass window is progressing well, assisted by a two-hour bout of insomnia last night. Can you see the little popcorn stitches? I’ve reached about 60cm diameter (24 inches), and the final thing will be about 2 metres (>2 yards) across. I love this pattern! It’s by Julene Watson, and the increases and pattern are perfectly calculated so that it remains beautifully flat as it grows.

And it’s cheaper than therapy. 🙂

IN OTHER NEWS:-

Continuing my occasional series of knitted motifs spotted out and about, here’s where wine meets fairisle. 🙂

Fairisle wine. :-)

Fairisle wine. 🙂

Most definitely not a wine that I’d choose, but not bad for a combination of concepts.

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Crochet stained glass window

I’m so excited about this project. I’m talking wake-at-4am-and-can’t-resist-doing-a-bit levels of excitement.

Sitting in the corner of my study for several months has been a large project bag (did I mention that spare curtain fabric is perfect for making drawstring project bags?) containing 51 balls of Rico Design Creative Cotton Aran in a rainbow of colours, plus lots and lots of black. It was bought with a specific purpose in mind. (You know about my stash aversion already, yeah?) But I was so excited, I hardly dared to start. Until now.

It’ll become clear as this blog evolves that I have a bit of a thing about rainbows. As I’ve probably said before, nature generally gets it right, colourwise; she’s probably the best designer around. And you can’t get much better than a rainbow. Have you seen our rainbow wellies?

Our rainbow wellies

Our rainbow wellies

So, I decided to crochet a giant rose stained glass window afghan. But instead of conventional stained glass colours, I’m going to use the colours of the rainbow, working outwards from a rich red centre to a purple edge, each section framed by black to represent the lead.

So I bought the yarn. A lot of (cotton) yarn. Fifty-one balls of the stuff. Here it is:-

Rico Design cotton aran

Rico Design cotton aran

And at last, I’ve begun work. This thing will be truly enormous. So when you see the largish bit I’ve done below, notice how tiny a part of the overall design it is:-

image

And being crochet, it’s growing so quickly. I reckon I’ll be into yellow by the weekend, then maybe hitting some greens and blues in a couple of weeks or so. Bliss. 🙂

I’m knitting, too. My snuggly ‘Thermal’ jumper in painfully thin 4-ply. It’s a lovely pattern, but my goodness it’s slow:-

'Thermal' jumper on its way

‘Thermal’ jumper on its way

It’ll be worth it, though. This house is properly cold just now.

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Water, water, everywhere.

It’s wet in Oxfordshire right now. Really really wet. (North America, I can’t help but envy your polar vortex. I’ve seen so many beautiful snowy/icy photographs on people’s blogs.) Here, there’s flooding. We’re all about the Thames in this bit of the UK, as its early waters wind their way down through Oxfordshire and Berkshire.

On Wednesday morning I had a medical appointment in Oxford, and on the way home, I drove the long-suffering twinnage a twisting route that roughly followed the Thames downstream. The flooding in Oxford itself is bad but I wasn’t anywhere photogenic. A little way downstream I found this:-

Oxfordshire floods.

Oxfordshire floods.

And then I hit Wallingford, where people stood on the old bridge and stared at the swelling water:-

Wallingford. Wet.

Wallingford. Wet.

It could’ve been worse, though. What they couldn’t see from above was the side of the bridge that showed quite how much worse it was in 1894:-

It could be worse.

It could be worse.

Much further downstream and into Berkshire is our old house on the bank of the Thames at Pangbourne. I’m still signed up for flood warnings there, and I had a phone call, a text, and an email one night last night week warning me of imminent watery doom. Fortunately the river peaked an inch or so below our old back door. But the village’s flooding was bad enough that I couldn’t get to any decent vantage points to take pictures. The 17th century pub two doors down from our old house has, sadly, been inundated. This was the best I could do, and it doesn’t quite show our old house in the background. Trust me, most of this would not normally be underwater:-

Pangbourne submerged

Pangbourne submerged

Not quite as pretty as your North American snowy pictures, I admit. As I write, the stoic spouse has just uttered the words “It’s bloody raining again, isn’t it?” so we may be in for more. If I go quiet, please send snorkels.

In knitting news, I’ve succumbed to the temptation of a warm jumper for me – not really what this blog is about. But the pattern is called ‘Thermal’, and in our freezing ancient brewery home, that was enough to tempt me. Photos soon. More relevant to TheTwistedYarn, I’m starting my giant crochet rainbow stained glass window afghan. Here she is so far. The red is much darker and nicer than the yucky pinkish hue this photo suggests:-

Stained glass window afghan

One day soon (very soon, knowing my obsessive yarnery), this will be the epicentre of a two-metre diameter beauty. And the wine you can see tastes rather yumptious. And the log fire is lit.

Happy days.

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Knitted blog header

It’s done! The knitted blog header is finished. 🙂

Actually it was finished a while ago, but I’ve only recently decided that all the knitted/crocheted flowers round the edge were a bit OTT, so they’ve been abandoned. (I may have to use them to yarn-bomb some plant-pots.)

I hope that what you see above is the finished header. It didn’t photograph very well… and its proportions are all wrong for the WordPress header shape… and I was unsuccessfully trying to fend off twinnage while I photographed it hence wonkyness, but It Is Done. Here’s a close-up:-

Twisted yarn close-up

Twisted yarn close-up

And another one:-

Blog header

Blog header

And now I’m going to do some sensible knitting instead. Pictures to follow very soon….

Meanwhile, may I mention another blog? It’s a relatively new blog, but it’s rather beautiful and sometimes you just know that a blog is gonna work. It’s http://www.greenclogsblog.wordpress.com and it’s all about the things that bring the writer joy. Given that these include countryside and knitting, I’m hooked. Go take a look…

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Jumpers for toddler twins

This old brewery that we live in is cold, properly cold. One winter we had ice on the inside of the window panes, something I half-remembered happening in childhood but had thought I must have imagined until it happened again here, in our bedroom, two years ago.

Times like this, I have to stop knitting/crocheting housey stuff and make warm clothes for the twinnage. Actually it’s weirdly mild here in the UK here at the moment, but it still manages to be chilly in the house, and I do live in hope of some snow landing this winter.

So I’ve made jumpers for the boys:-

Finished jumpers for the twinnage

Finished jumpers for the twinnage

The pattern, for those on Ravelry, is Jamie, by Katy Farrell. T’was a well-written, easy pattern. It’s quite a simple design, that I chose in order to show off the variegation in the yarn. The yarn is Adriafil Knitcol, one of those ugly-duckling-to-beautiful-swan yarns I’ve blogged about before.

Here’s a shot of the moss stitch collar:-

Collar details

Collar details

And the contrasting yarns used for the two garments:-

Contrasting yarns

Contrasting yarns

That was fun, but now I want to play with yarn for housey projects again. 🙂

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