Monthly Archives: June 2014

Flora, Mandalas.

Saturday evening staying-in indulgences: wine, knitting, and home-grown strawberries/raspberries. As I write this, please excuse the frequent pauses to take sips of wine. Also, the increasingly slurred writing as I proceed through this post…

The Stoic Spouse is away for a few days visiting relatives, so I’ve been pottering about at home with the Toddler Twinnage, observing the garden:-

Pink Rose

Pink Rose

Now I’m not someone who likes pink (sorry), or roses (sorry), but even I concede that the above is quite a beauty.

Anyway, despite distractions by camera cases and so on, the knitted mandala is most definitely proceeding. Witness:-

knitted mandala

knitted mandala

(Look, you can see a bit of the reverse there, right at the bottom of the picture. Anything longer than five stitches and I’m ‘catching’ my yarn, in order to avoid over-long floats.) Actually that photo doesn’t really show much of the design. Let’s try again:-

knitted mandala

knitted mandala

Those needles were part of the Deramores prize (a set of Knitpro Symfonie Rose interchangeables). They’re rather lovely and smooth and warm to work with. None of the roughness of bamboo, or the cold over-slipperiness of metal. I read somewhere that they’re painted to look like rosewood rather than being actual rosewood, which does seem a tad cheaty. (Huge apologies if I’m wrong.) But as I said, knitting with them is pure pleasure, and I’m most definitely grateful for this bit of the prize.

Anyway, I’ve finally been able to put my crocheted hanging basket away, because the real hanging baskets are at last beginning to raise themselves off their lazy floral backsides. Here are a few sample blooms:-

petunias

petunias

And some fuchsias. I have fond memories of fuchsias: a kind-hearted woman called Joy looked after me in the evenings when I was a child, and she was the most amazing artist. I still treasure a beautiful painting of a fuchsia that she gave me, partly because it’s a stunning piece of her artwork and partly because I know that she loved these flowers so much.

Fuchsias

Fuchsias

Anyway, it’s fortunate that the allotment has come along, because my fruit-and-veg crop from home is pretty rubbish this year. Basically, I’ve been feeding the slugs and snails. Hope you enjoyed it, slimy invertebrate blighters. But today has been about strawberries and raspberries. Yum. Look!

Home-Grown Strawberry Yumptiousness

Home-Grown Strawberry Yumptiousness

And look!

Raspberries

Raspberries

‘Til next time, yarn-lovers. And bastard veg-thieving slugs.

33 Comments

Filed under Outdoors

The Yarn-Bombing Continues

The yarn-bombing of our brewery home is spreading slowly, very slowly, like one of those garden weeds that – once you initially notice it’s there – you keep spotting more and more outbreaks, until you realize that it’s actually everywhere.

Stand still for too long (say, approximately a week) in our house and you risk being measured up for adornment with crochet, or perhaps having your extremities entrelacced (ouch). Consider y’self warned, my friend. Unfortunately the Toddler Twinnage move too fast to be effectively yarn-bombed as yet: I’m waiting until they slow down into lethargic hormonal teenagers before I attack. (I’m sure they won’t mind in the least – it’s not as though teenagers are bothered about looking cool or anything.) As for the Stoic Spouse, his stoicism doesn’t quite extend to knitwear, and certainly not to this.

So for now, I’ve had to stick to adorning inanimate objects.

Anyway, we’ve long had a row of grown-from-seed basil plants on the kitchen windowsill. They make a hairy herbal hedge that affords our poor neighbours some privacy from the sight of us bickering about The Correct Way In Which To Load The Dishwasher*. The pots were dull, though. Witness! (Photo taken before the plants got big: it’s like a proper little hedge, now.)

Kitchen Windowsill Before

Kitchen Windowsill Before

That’s not very good, is it? Needs a bit of colour, don’t you think?

So I bought some cheap and cheery nuclear-holocaust-proof acrylic, dug out a crochet hook, and started ‘bombing. What do you think so far? :-

Crochet-bombed flower pots

Crochet-bombed flower pots

For the main body of each pot, I used a spare pot to get the size right. I started about a centimetre above the bottom of the pot (because I don’t want the bottom of this thing soaked in water every couple of days), and chain-stitched until I had a ring that fitted very snugly, joining with a slip stitch at the end. I then worked rounds of double-crotchets (US terminology) upwards, increasing whenever necessary to ensure that the sleeve got wider at the same rate that the pot did. A very very snug fit was essential, and I paused to try the sleeve on the pot at the end of almost every row.  For the last round I added some picot edging.

Then, of course, I mooched around online until I found patterns for crocheted flowers that looked pretty.

As for the flowerpot saucer, I started the initial round slightly smaller than the circumference of the saucer’s base, because I wanted the sleeve to begin just out of sight beneath the base. It thus pulls inwards underneath the saucer and holds itself in place. I then worked upwards and outwards in the same way as for the pot. When I got to the top, I crocheted a super-tight round with a few decreases, so that the circumference of the last round was smaller than that of the top of the saucer, meaning that it stretched inwards and held itself in place at the top.

As I’ve said before, Am I making sense?

And as I’ve also said before, Pretty, no?

Yarn-bombed flower pot

Yarn-bombed flower pot

* A subject in which I’m undoubtedly right.

52 Comments

Filed under Crochet, Uncategorized

Crocheted Camera Case

What does a knitting/crochet blogger do when she buys a fancy-pants new camera?

Why, she crochets a case for it, of course. Look!

Crocheted Camera Case. Because I Can.

Crocheted Camera Case. Because I Can.

(It’s an irregular shape because the fancy-pants camera is an irregular shape, OK?)

And, look, from the back!

Back Of Camera Case. It's As Bonkers As The Front.

Back Of Camera Case. It’s As Bonkers As The Front.

I used some of the yarn that I won from the Deramores Blog Awards.

Just in case you want to know how to do it, I started by crocheting the purple disk over the lens cap, then worked round and round in single crochet (US terminology) to make the tubey-bit around the lens. Then when I reached the main and oddly-shaped body of the camera, I continued round and round, using increases and decreases as well as switching between single and double crochets to fit the camera perfectly. And the buttons are hangovers from a dressing gown I owned circa aged nine. It was a bad dressing gown. The yarn is Vanna’s Choice (an aran weight), and the hook is a 6mm. (Can somebody please explain to me who Vanna is?) The case took a day to make, albeit a day of conveniently long car journeys as a passenger.

As for the back, I single-crocheted in purple rows up the back, then made overlapping flaps which are fixed with the buttons. (Am I making sense at all? It’s been a long day…)

Yup, it’s bonkers. Yup, it got a comment from a complete stranger just as soon as I took it out in public. No, I don’t care.

At least the Stoic Spouse won’t be tempted to steal the camera when it looks like this. 😉 Hell, nobody will be tempted to steal the camera when it looks like this.

A win, I think.

 

(PS: And yes, I’m still working on the mandala.)

54 Comments

Filed under Crochet

Mandalas and allotments

Evenin’ all. 🙂

[Passes round glasses of wine (or juice, for the non-drinkers) and a range of small but delectable nibbles, including vegetarian options. Encourages you all to continue knitting or crocheting whilst we chat. Sorry the canapés are shop-bought: I didn’t have time to cook because I’ve been out all day. And – uncharacteristically for me – I haven’t baked any cake, I’m afraid. Maybe come back tomorrow if that’s what you’re after. I have baked some wholemeal bread, though.]

It’s not been a very knitty or hooky day, but it has been fun. And just in case you think I’m slacking in my yarnery, here’s a shot of the progress of the knitted mandala picture:-

progress of knitted mandala picture

progress of knitted mandala picture

I’ve been thinking more about mandalas, and I realized that there are a few on a dress of mine (I’m a sucker for Desigual dresses.) Look:-

Desigual mandalas

Desigual mandalas

Anyway, back to today. I have an allotment! No, let me say that again: I HAVE AN ALLOTMENT!!!!!!! After several years on a waiting list, and after endless hoping, pleading, bribing, blackmailing, extortion, and general corruption of a wide and creative variety of forms (not really), I have finally got to the top of the allotment waiting list. Unfortunately the plot that I’ve been offered looks like this just at the moment. Those weeds… they’re taller than the toddler twinnage:-

No, really.

No, really.

But a sweet new friend, whom I also secretly know to be our village yarn-bomber but I’m not supposed to know that is going to run it jointly with me, so right now it seems possible. She knows this plot well because she’s rented it in the past, and when we went to visit today (carrying the toddler twinnage to avoid losing them forever amongst the undergrowth, which would – let’s face it – be a tricky one to explain to social services), she showed me that deep down at ground level, you can find delicious strawberries. And there are some valiantly-surviving potato plants too, and a smattering of roses and day-lilies. All good, yes? The strawberries were delightfully yumptious, but I’m afraid I didn’t get a photo, because I was too busy eating them. Oops.

Anyway, the great thing about running an allotment with a yarn-bomber is that our first discussion was not about who was going to water the plants on a Tuesday, or how to divide up the tomato crop, or what type of fertiliser we need. No, our first discussion was about the yarn-bombing potential of the fence around our plot. Don’t you just love that? We’re sorting out the important stuff first. 🙂 Happy days. I’m thinking a little light rainbow crochet around the top of the fence, to start? Advice, people?

So we had a little look around, and we pondered. And we visited the chickens and guinea pigs in the garden of my new friend whom I’m not supposed to know is the yarn-bomber and then we went next door to the house of another friend of mine who has more than 20 pet rabbits, and I looked at her gorgeous bunnies and the piles of bunny-fluff on the grass from where she’d groomed them, which made me think, knitting! How soft would that bunny fur be to knit?! And a sweet baby bunny climbed me, resulting in this:-

Baby bunny savagery

Baby bunny savagery

And then it was time to go home, because I had – hard life – to go to my favourite cousin’s 40th birthday party in a neighbouring village, where we enjoyed a high tea with many cakes and scones and some rather delectable green tea and champagne beside the river Thames. Happy birthday Lisa, if you’re reading this!

45 Comments

Filed under Knitting, Outdoors

Knitted mandala in progress

Hello, yarn-loving friends. The biggest joy of blogging is to be amongst like-minded knitting and crocheting souls. You’re all lovely.  🙂

The knitted picture of a mandala is coming along surprisingly fast. Twenty thousand stitches down, about forty thousand to go. Want to see? This photo doesn’t do it justice. The blighter is knitted in the round, so you’re only seeing just under half its width, here. And I’ve only done the bottom portion, so it’s going to get a LOT bigger. So, what you’re seeing is just skimming the bottom bit of a giant circle, OK? Here she is:-

Mandala in progress

Mandala in progress

Note the reel of gold thread? I bought that this morning to embroider around the green. A beautiful combination, no?

The green is a rich, gorgeous Fyberspates. A million shades of green within one skein. The cream is a uniform string-like yarn that’s so rough it chafes my knitting fingers. But it’s a perfect plain parchment-like background to the luscious green. I don’t so much knit this soft beautiful green, as pour it onto my work. It’s like a brand new felt pen, working dark but variegated colour onto the page. It’s like ink. It’s like the thousand shades of green in a forest. It’s like perfection. Can you tell that I’m a Fyberspates convert?

The question is, how and where exactly should I embroider the gold?

47 Comments

Filed under Knitting

Knitted Mandalas

That new project I’ve been referring to? It’s a giant knitted picture of a mandala, to go on the living room wall. Here’s the background:-

Mandalas are the thing at the moment. For anyone with spiritual or crafty leanings, they’re everywhere, and joyfully so. Witness (with excitement), Attic 24’s ever-growing collection of crocheted mandalas ahead of this year’s Yarndale, here. Rich and varied colours, complex, circular, swirling patterns: what’s not to like? (Is anyone going to Yarndale? I’m so tempted…)

I’ve put together a page of Mandala inspiration on Pinterest, because I’ve started taking an interest in these gorgeous creations. I’ve concentrated particularly on mandalas in different media – from bookshelves, to crochet, to painting on stones. Anyway, have a look and judge for y’self. (I’m very very new to Pinterest, so would be honoured if you followed me – I’ll happily follow you back, oh crafty souls.)

Do you remember from childhood – and I say this as a 41-year-old woman – the wonders of Spirograph? Man, I loved that toy. No particular skill or artistry required to create complex, repetitive, beautiful, elegant mandalas. Using it, I felt like an artist and a mathematician, all at once, for very little effort.

So, naturally The Twisted Yarn needs to jump on the mandala bandwagon, but in its own unconventional way. First, I started to think about the nature of mandalas. They’re big in Buddhism and Hinduism, representing the universe. And as a clinical psychologist, I can’t ignore Jung’s eccentric incorporation of mandalas into his thinking. (Everything about Jung was fairly eccentric. But I’m not here to ramble on about my day job.)

Yarnwise, I have to say that crochet has the edge over knitting for this medium, despite the fact that I’m primarily a knitter. You can most certainly knit mandalas if you’re comfortable with DPNs and short rows and suchlike, but really, crochet allows you to make beautifully multi-coloured creations, especially if you can master overlay crochet. Like, wow. Proper wow.

And if as a child you had and loved a kaleidoscope, you’ll adore the tree-based mandala I have on my wall here at the brewery, a representation of alder blackthorn by Sean Hellman. I bought it many years ago whilst on an Arvon course in Devon.

Alder Blackthorn by Sean Hellman

Alder Blackthorn by Sean Hellman

And whilst we’re indulging in a little gratuitous mandala porn, have you seen this book? I fear some expenditure coming on…

Oops, did I get distracted there?

Here at The Twisted Yarn, we really don’t do things conventionally. I do feel the need to subvert the medium a little. I thought about knitted mandalas and I thought, “Nah”. So I decided I’d knit a picture of a mandala. That’s what all my graph-paper-work over the past few days has been about. I’m going to knit a large panel to go on the wall of our abandoned-to-the-toddler-twinnage-because-I-haven’t-got-round-to-decorating-it living room. The design I showed you? I’m going to knit it in-the-round and then cut the steek. I’m using my new knitting needles from the Deramores prize. 🙂 The cream background is knitted in rough, string-like Wendy Guernsey, and the luscious variegated green foreground is deliciously soft Fyberspates Vivacious DK Deep Forest, that I’m resisting the urge to cuddle. Not two yarns that naturally belong together texture-wise, but their colours are perfect. We shall see whether this works. Or not. Here’s its start:-

Mandala design

Mandala design

If it doesn’t work as a panel, I guess that given that it’s knitted in the round, it could pre-steek be a (rather excessively large) jumper*… but for someone else, because I don’t wear pale colours, ever. Even my wedding dress was dark teal. In pale, I look ill. Any takers?

 

*’sweater’, to North Americans.

 

48 Comments

Filed under Knitting

Deramores Prize

Can you hear that noise?

That shrill, slightly irritating noise?

That’s me, whistling. Because I’m a bit over-excited today.

The yarny bit of my prize from the Deramores Blog Awards has arrived.

I’ll show you in a minute, but first I want to feign a serious expression and show you a bit more of what I’ve been working on. Look! New project further progress, despite rampant over-exuberance:-

Busy Designing Stranded Knitting, As Usual

Busy Designing Stranded Knitting, As Usual

And as of this morning, it has yarn! (Because my yarny prize from Deramores arrived at the same time as a paid-for order from them, too. Happy days.)

Fyberspates For New Project

Fyberspates For New Project

I can’t wait to whip out the new, from my Deramores prize below needles and start knitting. More on what this project is, and on the thinking behind its design, very soon…. I promise it’ll be worth the wait.

You want to see some yarn porn, though, don’t you? Face it, you didn’t come on here today to watch me doodling curlicues on graph paper. OK, I’ll show you.

First, there was an exceptionally large box, delivered when I was embarrassingly clad merely in pyjamas. (Fetching purple pyjamas, but nightwear nonetheless.)

The Box Was Large

The Box Was Large

And once opened, there was a rather sweet compliment slip. I’m a sucker for a kind word or two.

Kind Words From Robyn At Deramores

Kind Words From Robyn At Deramores

Want to see what was inside? £500 of knitting gear, that’s what. And there’s plenty more prize to come, in various forms. Thank you, Deramores. 🙂 (I’ve posted nice stuff about Deramores on here ages ago, long before they gave me a prize – I genuinely think they’re fabulous. And being a cynical old sod, I don’t say that about many corporate outfits.)

Unfortunately at this point, the toddler twinnage seemed to be under the impression that I should actually parent them, so all exploration of fibrous heaven was postponed. But later, I returned. And I saw this: 🙂 🙂 🙂

:-)

🙂

As I said, I’m happy. I’m grateful. And I’m whistling. Badly.

But although it was all beautifully packed when it arrived, getting it back into the box proved slightly more tricky. Oh well, I’ll just have to start knitting/crocheting it:-

Thinking Outside The Box

Thinking Outside The Box

 

60 Comments

Filed under Knitting

New Project This Way

A new and rather striking housey project is on its way. I’m very excited about this one. More designing of stranded motifs: happy days. Here’s a quick and sneaky glance at a preliminary sketch of part of it.

New stranded design. And some green tea, as always.

New stranded design. And some green tea, as always.

You’ll be the first to know when it hits the needles.

Meanwhile, we all trooped over to Hay-On-Wye the other week, for the literary festival. It’s a happy pilgrimage that we make most years. For those who’ve never had the pleasure, Hay is a hilly, sheepy, rainy Welsh town of 1900 people and 30 bookshops, mostly second-hand. One bookshop per 63 people sounds like a pretty decent ratio that should be replicated everywhere, upscaling to 132 000 bookshops in London, for example.

Anyway, with interesting speakers, quirky bookshops, and friendly people milling around, it’s all kinds of bliss. But I missed blogging and I thought of you, so I brought you back a couple of photos. Look! Here’s a cool concept: poet for hire.

Poet For Hire

Poet For Hire

Isn’t that cool? I was tempted to employ him, but then I overheard him trying to persuade an impoverished-studenty-looking young woman that his brief commission for her was worth at least £50, so I thought I’d save my hard-earned cash, because unless he’s going to re-write Beowulf or summat, that’s a lot of cash per rhyming couplet.

Talking of (not) saving cash, there’s a scrumptious yarn shop in Hay, selling hand-dyed local wools, amongst other yarny pleasures. Friends, you’d love it. But I’m incapable of buying yarn without a specific project ready to begin, so I merely browsed and sighed.

Anyway, I promised you two photos from Hay, so here’s the second. I do love a funny parking prohibition:-

No parking. Definitely no parking.

No parking. Definitely no parking.

More soon, lovely people. Happy knitting and crocheting.

 

 

 

 

 

24 Comments

Filed under Knitting

Finding vintage

Oooh, I do love a spot of serendipity. I was in Oxfam today (that’s a charity shop, for the information of non-UK readers – I think they’re called thrift shops in North America?) And having bought what I’d gone in there to buy, I was just about to round up the toddler twinnage and head off when I noticed a large basket full of vintage knitting/crochet patterns at 29p a piece. There must have been a few hundred of the things in there, mostly 1960s and 1970s. Well what happened next was fairly predictable. The poor twinnage didn’t get to leave the shop very soon, although they inexplicably but enthusiastically immersed themselves in the contents of a stand of second-hand Mills and Boon books. (They’re three – a little too young, one might think, for the intricacies of cheesy romance. But hey, I’ve underestimated them before.)

Actually I only managed the top inch of the delicious pile of patterns before I had to hoik the twinnage away from mischief and abandon ship but my goodness, this pile of old patterns was fascinating. I wish I could have bought them all. I wish I could show you them all. I bought three in the end, a 1973 booklet of crochet patterns, a knitting pattern for a lacy top that I can only guess at circa 1972, and a knitted top and dress that scream circa 1968. All for a grand total of 87 pence. Look!

Vintage patterns

Vintage patterns

I might make a few adjustments for modernity. The black and white pattern for the dress, bottom left, could do with slightly shorter sleeves or maybe full-length sleeves, and a deep V-neck, I think, but they’re basically decent patterns. Not sure when I’m going to knit/crochet them as I have so many housey ideas for this blog, but it’s very tempting to get going.

Anyway enthusiasm aside, there were a few duds in that box. And even in the booklet of crochet patterns I bought, some patterns were definitely more appealing than others. I really didn’t like the waistcoat below – it looks absolutely unshaped and so unflattering to the figure. Didn’t people have figures in 1973?!

unflattering waistcoat

unflattering waistcoat

And whilst we’re on the subject of unflattering, I have some old (1974) craft magazines kicking around at home. They’re fascinating as much for what still looks good as much as what doesn’t. But I can’t resist showing you the gem below. Be very nice to me or I shall knit this for your children. 😉

monstrosity

I have no words.

 

36 Comments

Filed under Knitting

Deramores Blog Awards

Gosh. 🙂

I’m writing this with an enormous smile because the big news, as promised last night, is that I’ve won the Deramores Blog Awards! Wheeeee! Frankly I’m honoured, surprised, and excited in pretty much equal measure, and I haven’t stopped grinning since I learned the news. Hop over here to see the details if you’re interested. I won the knitting prize, and a beautiful vibrant blog called Betsy Makes won the crochet prize (though I also can’t help wishing there’d been a prize for the brilliant Eclectic Home and Life).

Deramores Blog Award

Deramores Blog Award

Soooooo, I’ve finally done what I should have done a long time ago and have made a Facebook page and a Twitter handle for thetwistedyarn. I’d be touched, honoured, and seriously smiley if you were kind enough to like my page and Twitter-follow me (and I’m happy to follow you back because I love all the other bloggers on here, although I’m still figuring out how Twitter works). And if you told your friends, your acquaintances, and your family about these pages, I’d be even more honoured.

Facebook: Thetwistedyarn

Twitter: @thetwistedyarn

Twitter is a tad confusing, so it may be a few days before I’m fully active on there. Please don’t be offended if I commit some ghastly tweeting faux pas – it’s cluelessness rather than intentional rudeness.

And yesterday’s yarn-bombing of our house  has been getting a fair few fun comments from people we know, too. Here, gratuitously, is another picture:-

rainbow railings

rainbow railings

Happy knitting/crocheting, people. 🙂

78 Comments

Filed under Blogging