Monthly Archives: February 2015

Good News, Earthlings!

People, I bring you good news. The sort of news that could result in you receiving an enormous and colourful parcel of yarn on your doorstep some day soonish, no matter where in the world you live.¬†Seriously, if you live on Planet Earth, you’re in. A few days ago I posted about a competition by Stylecraft yarns to find a scrumptious new shade for their Special DK range. (As I’m co-judging this competition, I’m even more excited about it than I would be anyway.) At the time, the terms and conditions stated that only UK residents could enter, BUT there’s been a marvellous change of plan that made me smile from ear to ear when I read about it: they are now accepting entries from anywhere in the world. Wa-hey! Definitely the right decision. ūüôā Here’s a project I crocheted in this yarn:-


So for anyone who was distracted from my previous post by weeping because they were ineligible to enter¬†on account of¬†living in Djibouti, here’s what you need to know. For when you want an acrylic, Stylecraft Special DK is, in my opinion, the best quality option out there (and believe me, I’ve had some less-than-cheery encounters with its rivals – there are some really really bad acrylic yarns on the market). Nobody is paying me to say that, by the way. And it’s available in about 60 shades from strong brights to gentle pastels. But the good folks at Sylecraft feel they need to add another shade, and for this they need your help. Here’s the Arne and Carlos blanket I’m knitting in Stylecraft Special:- (Actually I’m knitting something else in this photo, but my mum is adding a row to the blanket.)

Knitting With Mother.

Knitting With Mother.

To enter the competition, simply send them the colour that you think they should add. You could paint this colour, photograph it, or cut it out of a sweet wrapper you nicked from your housemate. Doesn’t matter, just send Stylecraft a sample.

Oh, I’ve just noticed another project I crocheted (almost) entirely in Stylecraft Special:-

Crocheted hippo

Crocheted hippo

Entries must be received by 31st March. After that date, the fun begins for those of us tasked with judging the competition, namely me, plus Lucy from Attic24, Sarah Neal from Let’s Knit magazine, with some wise folks at Stylecraft who recognise a near-edible colour when they see one. Ten possible shades will be selected and –¬†believe me –¬†suitably drooled over. These will then be put to the public vote, giving you the chance to select the final winner. Want to know what’s most exciting? The winner will receive 100 balls of Stylecraft Special DK! Not bad, huh? Except¬†that the winner¬†won’t have all that yarn for very long because I’ll be popping round to borrow a shade or two to finish my blanket. Even if they live in Djibouti. Sorry about that. Runners-up will receive prizes, too.

Here’s another of my makes in Stylecraft Special DK: the replicas of my family for the ‘About’ page of this blog:-

knitted family dolls

knitted family dolls

Entries should be sent to:-

Stylecraft Special Colour Competition


Spa Mill

New Street




United Kingdom.

Or you can email entries to .

More information here.

So…. let your imagination go wild. Of all the million colours out there in the world, what shade would make your heart sing? What would make you want to skip work and neglect your family to grab your hook/needles and start stitching? Tell us – we need to know! Good luck, people.


Filed under Yarn

Heaven Is Purple Qiviut. Trust Me On This.

Somewhere amidst the frosty tundra of northern Canada, a musk ox (yes one of those vast and curmudgeonly¬†beasts) is missing¬†a little of its tummy fluff. Not very much of its tummy-fluff you understand, not enough to leave it with a shivery abdomen, for the musk ox is extremely well-insulated and tends to moult its excess¬†in spring. But just a few grams, sufficient to make… oh I don’t know… maybe a cowl for someone in the frosty – er – “tundra” of south Oxfordshire.

Don't Mess With The Musk Ox. (Image: Wikimedia Commons.)

Don’t Mess With The Musk Ox. (Image: Wikimedia Commons.)

All I can say is thank you, Mr or Mrs musk ox. And thank you again¬†to my father-in-law, the Gregarious Grandfather, for providing this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to bury my senses in the fur of such a marvellous arctic beast. image The qiviut cowl is finished! Nah, that doesn’t fully convey my excitement over this fact.¬†How about, THE COWL IS FINISHED!!!!¬†It’s a Smokering – a lacy but simple pattern that shows off the slight ombre in the yarn quite wonderfully. I’m wearing it in our chilly house as I write this and I feel both warm (at least in the neck area – everything else is shivering) and at one with the musk ox.

Knitted heaven

Knitted heaven

Is it obvious how gorgeous this yarn is? Perhaps not from a photo. Let me explain. If I laid this 34-gram cowl on your hand, you’d scarcely notice its weight, but instead feel the most gentle, floaty sensation on your skin. qiviut Qiviut doesn’t shrink so it isn’t prone to felting, but I have to say that a little of the oxen grumpiness remains in the yarn and it did tend to scramble itself into felt-like tangled messes rather too easily as I wound it and worked it. Am I complaining? No of course I’m not, because I have this:- arctic qiviut cowl And within this happy, simple pattern, there is lace, although it’s hard to make out the details in the fluff-fest above. Here’s another shot:- lacy qiviut cowl Some people say that qiviut is a nicer (and altogether more amenable) experience when it’s blended with silk or summat. And yes, this might make the yarn a little more biddable, but I can honestly say that putting on a pure qiviut garment is absolute heaven. Well worth the grumpiness, I say. ¬† *Meanwhile, if you’re in the UK, don’t forget the Stylecraft yarn designing competition! I’m so excited to be on the judging panel that will look over all your entries. Go on, let your imagination go wild! In case you can’t make out the details from my little photo, everything you need to know to enter is here.*


Filed under Knitting

Look! A Competition!

*whispers* Would you like to win lots (and lots) of yarn? In all sorts of near-edible colours? Yes?

Well I have to declare an interest in publicising the Stylecraft competition below, because look who is one of the judges, along with Lucy from Attic24 and the editor of Let’s Knit magazine! How much fun is it going to be to look through everyone’s colourful suggestions and work out what would work best in fibrous form? I’m sitting here willing everyone to let their colourful imaginations run riot. The only downside to judging this competition (and it’s a big downside) is that I can’t enter it. Oh well.

stylecraft competition

Photo from ‘Let’s Knit’ magazine.

Now I’m sorry, but the competition is only open to UK residents… and it will look a tiny bit suspicious if there are suddenly¬†two thousand yarn-loving inhabitants at my home submitting their entries, so I can’t help you there. (Actually it wouldn’t look very suspicious to the Stoic Spouse, who daily tolerates a multitude of yarn and yarn-lovers passing through his home and life.) But seriously, if you’re in the UK, have a go. Special kudos to my friend who, when told about the contest, suggested a transparent yarn with which to knit the emperor a new suit of clothes. ūüėČ

Go on. Have a try. You might win. Is it possible to manufacture perfectly transparent yarn?

Meanwhile, there is knitting here, of course. The 100% pure, almost insanely soft, qiviut cowl is finished! I’ll toddle off to wash and block it in a moment for its proper photoshoot, but here in the meantime is a picture of when it was nearly done:-

qiviut cowl

Oh my goodness that yarn is soft. And getting softer. I really do see what all the fuss is about.

And of course I’m still NOT knitting socks. Oh no. Not even slightly. The picture below isn’t a swatch, motivated by finding some sock-suitable yarn left over from the camera strap I designed. Noooo. It’s, erm, well, y’know, just a way of keeping my knitting fingers occupied now that the cowl is finished, yeah?

This in no way resembles a gauge swatch for socks.

This in no way resembles a gauge swatch for socks.

Those needles are just are just crying out for meaningful occupation, and they happened upon some Rico sock-weight yarn. Could happen to anyone, yeah? They could just as well have been gainfully employed as hair grips. Like this:-



Yikes, when did I get so GREY? Oh, that’ll have been when the Twinnage came along. Sigh.

See, no need for any sock knitting addiction with these DPNs. Oh no.


Filed under Knitting

The Only Arctic Musk Ox In Herefordshire

Herefordshire is a pretty, muddy, green English county snuggled¬†up against the edge of Wales, its lush hills gazing at¬†the¬†neighbouring Welsh mountains. My parents live there in peace, tidyness, and rural tranquility, or at least they do until my battered old car screeches to a halt in their driveway, instantly wiping¬†¬£10 000 off local house prices until we leave¬†again. The car engine is switched off or possibly stalls, and out stagger the Toddler Twinnage, hungry and over-tired after¬†the tedious drive from Oxfordshire. I follow them, struggling under the sacks¬†of yarn I’ve brought with me because we’re here for five whole days, and¬†obviously the very first thing that needs to be unpacked from the car is the yarn. You understand that, right? Right? My parents smile with remarkable tolerance as we burst through their front door and donate clods of fresh Oxfordshire mud to their floor.

It’s beautiful here.


Herefordshire is known for its production of apples (and cider), potatoes, and – in my mind at least – for its complete and utter lack of arctic musk ox. Being in the mood to knit some qiviut, I had to bring my own musk ox tummy-fluff. I’ve been a bit quiet about the pure qiviut lately, because having exhausted my precious 29g skein, I had to wait for more to arrive from the frozen wilds of Northern Canada. Let’s just pretend that I waited with the dignified patience you’d expect of a grown woman, OK? Anyway it’s here now, I’ve stopped squealing, and the adventure in some of the world’s softest, warmest yarn begins again.


I knew already about how qiviut yarn starts soft and, after¬†handling and washing, becomes so soft that it approaches¬†downright heavenly. Well it’s true. Even across the rounds of knitting in the photo above, you can see perhaps the degree of floaty softness that the early stitches have achieved, whilst the recent rounds still look a little more like yarn. BUT, part of the reason for the progression you can see above is because pure qiviut yarn, though gorgeous, is a tad fond of knotting itself and attaching to itself at every available opportunity, and I have spent so many hours unknotting the beast that this yarn has had a¬†lot of handling already. Let me say that again: a lot.¬†But at least the knitting is soft.

Makes me wonder how tricky it is for the musk ox to keep his/her¬†tummy-fluff smooth and combed, because given the notorious grumpiness of these beasts, I don’t imagine anyone else is going to do it for them. Knitting with qiviut really is like knitting slightly knotty¬†gossamer threads formed by angels. And I thank my father-in-law, the Gregarious Grandfather, for giving me the chance to do this, just once in my otherwise ordinary life.

pib qiviut1

Anyway, enough about the qiviut for now.

Every family has its little quirks and traditions, and ours is no exception. My parents, for example, have this eccentric tradition that knitting must occasionally be put down in favour of activities like chatting to each other and going for walks in the glorious winter sunshine. (I know, I know: do try not to judge.) It is properly lovely round here, though, and we found snowdrops – the very first flowers of the year, hinting at spring’s approach:-


And deep amongst the weeds of my parents’ wildlife pond, we discovered this rather beautiful smooth newt. Isn’t he gorgeous, if a little disgruntled at being disturbed? Unfortunately you can’t see his violently orange belly in this photo. I spent hours and¬†hours of my childhood poking about in ponds and streams, seeing what critters I could find, damming the polluted tiny stream at the bottom of the garden, and even constructing complex graphs of water temperature gradients in my parents’ pond. (We always had a pond, at¬†all the houses we passed through.)¬†Looook:-


But back to the subject of yarn. Stylecraft Special DK in fact – that colourful stash-staple of knitters and crocheters everywhere. I’m whispering this because it’s a teeny bit top-secret for a few more days so I can’t reveal details, but the folks at Stylecraft are teaming up with the souls at Let’s Knit magazine, and there’s going to be an especially cool competition. Seriously, people: look out for it. And the reason I’m telling you this now is because I – as well as Lucy from Attic24 – are involved in this competition in a way that promises to be rather stupendously fun. Watch this space, and get ready to try and win a humungous¬†prize.


Filed under Knitting

Confession Time

A confession. (Steel y’selves knitters, this is a¬†B-I-G one.)

I have never knitted socks.

Sometimes, this makes me feel like a not-proper-knitter, because real knitters have 204 sock patterns committed to memory and neat, colourful sock drawers that look like those displays of rolled neck-ties you get in the menswear sections of upmarket department stores… Don’t they?

A non-knitting friend of mine once remarked on a knitter he’d observed who always knitted socks. This knitter was, in my friend’s opinion, not a serious yarn-wielder. I think he assumed that proper knitters were people who made big things like cabled afghans or fairisle coats. Socks,¬†to his mind, were for mere dilettantes, because socks are small. I love my friend, but he clearly didn’t know much about knitters.

Still, I haven’t knitted any socks.

It’s not as though I’m scared of any of the techniques involved: I’m happy with DPNs, kitchener stitch, and all manner of stranded/ribbed/increasing/decreasing shenanigans. And I’ve crocheted a sock. (Just the one. It was beige, for some very good reason that escapes me now.) Hell, I even knitted a pair of slippers once, so you can’t accuse my knitting needles of any aversion to feet. Although our various and mostly cold, rough, floor surfaces shredded the soles of my slippers within days.

But I’ve never knitted socks, despite the fact that the Toddler Twinnage specifically requested that I knit some ‘smelly socks’. (I had to explain that the odour is generally introduced after the knitting is finished.)

The main reason for this is that I’m scared… not of the techniques involved, but of the addiction. Because as far as I can tell from other knitters, getting into sock knitting is a little akin to getting into crack cocaine – it’s a one-way street. You don’t come across people saying with a shrug, “Yeah, I used to knit socks – still do, occasionally – but I mostly work on afghans, now.” No. Those sock-knitters turn their heels with a fervour that scares mere mortals. And I’m scared, because whilst I’m already pretty obsessed with knitting, I do still occasionally¬†pay token acknowledgement to¬†my friends and family (yes really, I do), and I¬†don’t want to lose touch with them to the extent that I forget their names. Also, I don’t want to forget to go to work.

I don’t spin or dye, for exactly the same reason. Don’t think that I wouldn’t like to try. When the Stoic Spouse presented me with a large wrapped box on Christmas day, I secretly and silently wondered whether it was a spinning wheel. Because if a spinning wheel was foisted on me, the consequent addiction wouldn’t be my fault, right?

Anyway, back to the socks. Which I definitely don’t knit. Ever.

I must confess that Father Christmas brought me some rather especially lovely DPNs that have entirely cured my aversion to such needles. ‘Tis a mere coincidence that they’re all in sock-perfect sizes. Who even knew that Father Christmas knew about knitting paraphernalia? Likewise the fact that I’ve just shelled out for a beginner’s book on sock-knitting certainly does not suggest any imment sockery. I’m merely taking a theoretical interest, so that I may contribute insights at any future sock-knitting conversations at dinner parties.¬†This is not at all like an alcoholic expressing surprise when her chosen holiday destination is right next to a vineyard.


And whilst I work a jumper sleeve on DPNs, it hasn’t even remotely occurred to me that it would be similarly pleasurable to work the neat length of a sock. Oh no.


And the fact that the sock-knittery¬†book wasn’t delivered until a day later than promised? Noooo, it didn’t bother me at all. It’s completely coincidental that I sulked all afternoon. Coincidental, I tell you. Probably just the weather.

No, I’m not about to knit any socks. None.


Filed under Knitting

Channelling Escher

This post is entirely the fault of one Jack Of All Craft, who spotted this picture in my last post:-

balls arm

…and mentioned that famous Escher drawing:-


Well she had a point, didn’t she? So of course I had to recreate this artwork just a little more closely. And because this plan had difficult-to-do and a-bit-bonkers-and-creative written all over it, I was powerless to resist. For anyone who hasn’t been watching, the purple sleeve above is from the resurrected jumper-of-doom. And in order to set up this photograph, I had to knit the first bit of the second sleeve too. Determined to get this thing done, I worked like a demon. You have no idea how much neglect of my children went into the making of the photograph that I’m about to show you*. Also, you’re probably blissfully unaware of how tricky it is to photograph your own arms laid in opposite directions, in crappy ambient light with the Toddler Twinnage nipping at your ankles. (If you are, you have my sympathy.) So don’t expect much photographic brilliance, OK? Right, here we are, for the enjoyment of the bonkers amongst you. Anyone sane-and-sensible, avert your eyes now.:-

arm 7a

If I had infinite time, money, and yarn, I’d dedicate my days to recreating famous artworks with a yarny twist. But sadly, I have to work for a living.

Gotta love an Escher: he, of the haircut like surfable waves and the drawings of impossible buildings. I’ve just been reading up on him on Wikipedia. Apparently 1922 was “an important year of his life”. But what? My status anxiety is leaping up a couple of notches, here. I’ve been alive for 42 years and so far I’ve never yet had An Important Year. In fact, I’m not entirely sure that I’ve even achieved An Important Week. What on earth am I doing wrong, people??

In other news, a large additional lump of arctic qiviut has arrived. I think I may be just a little in love…

* Not really.


Filed under Knitting

In Which The Toddler Twinnage Is Warehoused And The Knitting Is Knitted

I’m getting a bit shameless about knitting/crocheting anywhere and everywhere (except at work: my patients would be disconcerted to find their psychologist muttering over stitch-counts as they entered the consulting room. Unless they’re knitters, of course.) Oh, and I’d best gloss over my recent attempt to knit secretly under the table at the pub whilst having a rare lunch date with the Stoic Spouse. I know he reads this blog, and I’m not sure his disapproval of that incident has worn off yet. See, he’s not that stoic. If only the ball of yarn hadn’t rolled out from under the table, I swear he’d never have known.

But anywhere else is fair game… such as those places where they warehouse toddlers amongst sand-pits, ball-pits, tractor runs, climbing frames, and cute animals. I’ve long been a bit wary of these places, but I was persuaded to try¬†one by a good friend and her son, so I took the Toddler Twinnage along with them on Saturday. In addition to seeing my lovely friend, this was a¬†prime knitting opportunity, and I managed a good few rounds of a sleeve for the jumper-of-unrivalled-(not-to-mention-unravelled)-despair whilst my highly anxious children took wary steps closer and closer to the sand-pit. I completely understand their reticence, having been similarly petrified of pretty much everything at their age. I really do get their caution, and I think it’s OK. So I sat there, working a sleeve, and flinging the occasional word of encouragement in their direction.

We came, we saw, we cast on.

We came, we saw, we cast on.

We were much more at home amongst the animals: the Toddler Twinnage are very used to farm animals. Except for the llama: he was mean. Knittable he might have been in theory, but he was damned if he was going to let me anywhere near his fleece without a¬†dirty fight. See how this photo is slightly shaky? That’s because I was worried he was about to spit. Do you reckon he could tell that I was coveting¬†his tummy-fluff?

balls llama1

Next time I’m tempted to moan about how my job is so hard, please remind me that there are people out there whose livelihood depends on shaving llamas. Yes llamas, those grumble-tempered beasts who find amusement in gobbing at your eyes. Nice.

Anyway, I backed slowly away from the llamas, waved from a distance at the alpacas (whilst fantasising about their yarn), tried but failed to snatch an angora rabbit from an innocent child’s arms, and found some sheep. “Sheep!” I called, “What do you think of my knitting? Ta for the wool, by the way.” These sheep thought my knitting was baaaaaaaad.

balls sheep 2 better1

Miserable blighters.

Back to the sleeve. Look at this ribbing! Instead of normal 1×1 rib, it’s K1 tbl, P1. Neat, huh?

balls twisted rib

So thanks to all this knitting-in-public, we have something that’s beginning to resemble a sleeve for the Thermal jumper. Look!

balls arm

But in case you think that the jumper is going a little too well after its 18-month hiatus, it was only when I got home that I realized I’d got muddled in my waffle stitch, and would have to frog back. Here are the needles inserted lower down, ready for the frogging. And if the photo looks crappy and badly-lit, that’s pretty much how I was feeling. *Sigh*





Filed under Knitting

“That” Project

Let’s talk about that¬†project. That half-finished, half-loved-half-hated one you shoved in a bag somewhere, that only occasionally shows its face to remind you that you still haven’t figured out where you went¬†wrong in the pattern repeats, or been able to face another nine inches of seed stitch in lace-weight silk.

Every knitter/crocheter, I’ll wager, has a project like this. If you can’t think of one, it’s probably because your version of this project has tortured you so badly that you’ve blanked it from your memory. Lucky you: isn’t the mind a wonderful thing? But it’s there somewhere, I guarantee. Go and look behind the sofa. And don’t say I didn’t warn you.

My particular project-of-doom sat in a broken washing basket under my bed for a year and¬†a half, until I got it out the other day, girded my loins (whatever¬†that expression means – second¬†thoughts: I don’t want to know) and decided that I would not be defeated by 350g of purple sheep-shavings. It’s a neat little jumper (non-UK translation: sweater) in fine 4-ply (non-UK translation: flippin’ fingering-weight) waffle stitch (translation: nine million hours of stitching hell)¬†and I am never ever knitting it again.

It’s a perfectly well-designed, well-written pattern called Thermal, and please don’t think for a moment that I’m criticising the designer (Laura Chau), because I’m not. It’s a beautiful pattern, worked in waffle stitch to trap cosy little insulating pockets of air against your skin and keep you snug. If you’ve read any of my 300 rants about the temperature of this house, you’ll understand why I chose this pattern, decided to knit it, and bought soft purple merino for the job. There are some gorgeous pictures of finished versions on Ravelry.¬†So far, so good, although I should possibly have hesitated when I noticed that the pattern said, “The fine gauge might take a little longer than usual.” If I am ever unfortunate enough to come across those words again in another pattern, I shall grab my children and my knitting needles and flee screaming from the house.

But in the end, it wasn’t even the sanity-sapping need to flick back and forth between knit and purl in yarn so narrow that I could’ve flossed with it, that did for me. No, it was the fact that I’d knitted round and round and round for a full twelve inches of jumper before I had the sense to hold the thing up and mutter, “Hang on, doesn’t this look a little… wide?”


Before you ask, yes, I’d swatched. Several times. In slightly different needle widths and materials, just to be sure. And yup, my stitch count was just as it should be. But somehow, 240 little stitches in the round were working out so big that, if I ever mastered the art of time travel, I could pop back and offer the thing to myself as maternity-wear for when I was bumpy with the Toddler Twinnage. (Just to put this in context, a midwife at the hospital laughed heartily and said that in her 20-year career, mine was the biggest bump she’d ever seen. Sigh. Thanks, twins.) Except that a summer¬†twin pregnancy was possibly the only time in my life when I’ve ever felt warm enough and had limited need for super-warm knitwear.

Being an essentially lazy person, I couldn’t face frogging back and starting again.¬†And devoid of other ideas, I went and whinged to the Stoic Spouse.

My husband’s usual¬†approach to anything non-functional is to say, “I’ll take it in the garage,” where he’ll either add a bit of metal/wood, remove a bit of metal/wood, or bash it about until it works. Obviously, he was going to say something ludicrous about the jumper. But his first suggestion was almost workable. “Why don’t you wear it as a skirt?” he asked. Now that idea had some merit, because I do like narrow shortish warm knitted¬†skirts, but I’m not sure I’d like one with a bobbly waffle-stitch texture, so I shook my head. “OK…” he paused. “Why don’t you just cut it down the side and sew it up a bit smaller?” His shrug implied that this plan was both obvious and workable.

“Cut?! Cut?” I screeched.

“But I’ve seen you cut your knitting before. Loads of times. Like that blog header you made…” I willed him not to repeat the shrug. For the sake of his survival to meet any future grandchildren, do not¬†let him repeat the shrug.

“That was different. That was a steek.” (OK, so there wasn’t a hyperlink in my actual speech.) “You can’t just randomly go round hacking bits off your knitting when you feel like it!” He may have missed these last words because by now, my voice was so high-pitched that it was probably audible only to dogs. “Besides,” I added, because¬†I was really going to nail this argument, “the yarn is superwash: you can’t steek superwash.”

He stared at me blankly, whether through his inability to hear speech at¬†40kHz, or whether because he had no idea what I was on about, I don’t know.

But I was still left with an unworkable jumper. And, whilst I’d’ve cut off my own nose rather than admit it to him, maybe the Stoic Spouse’s idea wasn’t entirely insane. After all, what else was I going to do? (No, I was not frogging the beast.) So with a lot of eye-rolling and ‘hmph’-ing, I began to consider the possibility. Obviously, it wouldn’t be a real steek. And the felt-proof¬†superwash (no I don’t know why I decided to use superwash, either – it was¬†a¬†long time ago, and I wouldn’t make that choice now) would need an insane amount of reinforcement on either side of the cut, possibly involving superglue and staples¬†when mere stitching didn’t work out…

So I did it. I sewed up and down (and up and down, and up and down) where I wanted to join, and¬†on either side of the band I planned to cut out. And then I made the first cut…

cutting my knitting

…And the second cut, which left me with this:-


And then in a move of gross stupidity that I’d recommend to nobody,¬†I folded over my cut edges and sewed them a bit more. This was quite a stupid¬†plan, because I now have some incredibly bulky sewed-up stuff on the inside of the seam, thus ensuring that (i) I’ll be irritatedly scratching my right side every time I wear the jumper, and (ii) I’ll look two inches wider than I am. (See bulky side of the jumper near camera on photo below.)¬†Oh well. It’s like wearing a hair shirt: my punishment for knitting stupidity. Maybe next time I won’t make such a stupid mistake. At least I’m hard at work on the jumper:-


As for the Stoic Spouse, I plan to convince him that I’ve filled out a bit, and I’ll just have to hope that he never notices the seam when I wear the jumper.


Filed under Knitting

GUEST POST: Selma Brings Her T-Shirt Yarn

You will not believe what happened this morning when¬†I opened the door to my blog. It’s quite an old,¬†creaky, woodwormy¬†door, as you can see from the photo below:-


…and when I opened it, I gasped because there was someone in there! I was scared, I can tell you. I almost slammed the door shut and ran away. But then I realized that there was nowt to worry about because the visitor was the lovely Selma from the EclecticHomeLife blog, and she had kindly come to share some of her clever, artistic skills with us folk here at the ‘Yarn. So instead of running away, I sat down beside her and read over her shoulder whilst she typed, which probably annoyed the hell out of her. Sorry, Selma. This is what I read:-



What fun!¬† I had such an addictive pleasure using t-shirt yarn and I can see myself using it again and again for so many things.¬† What took me so long to come round onto this particular band wagon, I do not know.¬† But being asked by the wonderful Twisted to guest blog on her fantastically written and inspiring blog gave me the final push.¬† I’m glad it did.


All you need to crochet t-shirt yarn:

Old t-shirt (obviously) preferably clean and not too many stains on it!


Crochet hooks

First you need to cut off the hem and the sleeve section, just leaving the torso part to work with.  This will create an amazing amount of yarn.


Next, cut through both sides of the t-shirt at the same time, depending on the thickness of the desired yarn will determine the width of your strips, but for a first attempt, I suggest strip width should be about 1- 1.5cm wide.  IMPORTANT:  do not cut the strips all the way to the end of the t-shirt, see photograph.  You must leave at least 3cm gap.  All will be revealed in a moment, just heed this advice!  Keep cutting strips until the whole torso section is cut.


The next part is the clever magical bit, let’s make a continuous strip of fabric yarn.  Read and watch carefully…

Lay the t-shirt flat out so that the uncut section is in the middle, see photograph, then carefully place this over your arm, see second photograph.  Excuse the very blurred picture here, but you try and photograph with one hand suspended in the air with a t-shirt dangling from it and photograph it one handed, not easy I tell you, this was probably attempt number five and see how poor it is, it’s the best of the bunch.  Twisted, will never ask me to write a post again!?!?!


With scissors begin to cut from the lower strip to the right, this first cut will make you cut to the end of the torso section and this strip should fall away to the floor, this is the beginning of the continuous yarn.  Cut each strip diagonally from left to right.  I have drawn pink (Twisted’s favourite colour, not) to show the direction and where to cut for clarity.

When all sections are cut you should be left with a heap of t-shirt yarn.  We’re not finished yet. To create a rolled edge to the yarn, pull the t-shirt strips through your hands from left to right, and once you have done that, do it again pulling the yarn through your hands from right to left.  This gives it a polished finished look.  Ball it up and you are ready to crochet!


How to make a heart bowl with t-shirt yarn

You will need:

I x t-shirt yarn ball

5 or 6mm crochet hook

After every row, chain one and turn

Chain 3, (remember to also chain one and turn too)

SC into each stitch (3 st)

Now we begin to increase, we will be adding 2 sc into the first and last stich of each row


2 sc into first st, sc in next st, 2 sc in last stitch (5 st)

2 sc into first st, sc in next 3, 2 sc in last stitch (7 st)

2 sc into first st, sc in next 5, 2 sc in last stitch (9 st)

2 sc into first st, sc in next 7, 2 sc in last stitch (11 st)

2 sc into first st, sc in next 9, 2 sc in last stitch (13 st)

2 sc into first st, sc in next 11, 2 sc in last stitch (15 st)

2 sc into first st, sc in next 13, 2 sc in last stitch (17 st)

2 sc into first st, sc in next 15, 2 sc in last stitch (19 st)

For the next 3 rows:  Sc into each of the 19 st (remember at the end of the last row to still chain one and turn)

Now we begin the right side of the heart lobe:

Sc into the first 9 st, this is the end of this row, so remember to chain one and turn

We are now going to begin decreasing to form the heart shape.

Decrease the first two stitches and then sc in the remaining seven st (8 st)

Decrease the first two stiches, sc in the next 4 st, and decrease in last two stiches (6st)

Decrease the first two stiches, sc in the next 2 st, and decrease in last two stiches (4st)

Decrease the first two stiches, decrease in last two stiches (2st)

Pull yarn through and fasten off

To make the left lobe of the heart:

Sc into the ninth st from the left side, so you are effectivley starting to crochet this lobe from the centre, there should be one sc between the base of  both lobes.


Continue to sc for the next 8 st (9st)

Sc into the first 7 st then decrease in last two st (8st)

As with the previous lobe we will be decreascing at each end of the row.

Decrease the first two stiches, sc in the next 4 st, and decrease in last two stiches (6st)

Decrease the first two stiches, sc in the next 2 st, and decrease in last two stiches (4st)

Decrease the first two stiches, decrease in last two stiches (2st)

To neaten the edges and make the heart more smooth, sc around the heart.  BE CAREFUL not to add extra stitches and on reaching the bottom point of the heart, remember the 3 stitches we began with, sc 3 times into that middle st to create a sharp point to the heart.  When you get to the meeting of the two lobes, decrease one stitch which pulls them together and creates a more heart like shape at the top of the heart too.

You could leave this as a pot trivet or I was keen to make it into a heart bowl, read on …

To make the sides:

Ch 3 and then tr crochet into each st using back post only.  This forms a small ridge and allows the crochet to begin to curl upwards to aid the growth of the sides.  All will reveal itself as you crochet on. Keep the tension slightly looser than normal so the bowl does not creep in too much.

Ss to join

Ch 3 and tr into each stich again

Pull yarn and fasten off


But at this point I hit upon a problem, I know that Twisted likes to add colour to her home and as I only had old white t-shirts that were able to be cut up, felt this too bland and not worthy of our friend.  I hunted through my stash and found some thick felting wool.  Seeing that the purple had perhaps a tad of pink shade to it, I mixed it up with some blue, here’s hoping that it will meet with Twisted’s approval.  I just single crocheted around the edge of the bowl toad the splash of colour.



Filed under Crochet

Failing At Adulting, Winning At Knitting

I was raised by the Twisted Seniors, parents so virtuous that they always completed the paperwork-of-duty before permitting themselves to indulge in the biscuits-of-liberty, even when nobody was watching. (EDITED TO ADD: But see their response in the comments thread below. ūüôā ) Their lawn is tidy and their cutlery is arranged alphabetically*. Correspondence is dealt with in a timely manner. They are really very good at adulting; experts, in fact. To my knowledge, they have never once¬†incurred a parking fine or been told off for dressing scruffily at work, both of which have happened to me. (To defend myself just a little, the boss doing the sartorial telling-off had been a professional model before she became a neuropsychologist, so her views on fashion and style were a tad more sophisticated than my own. That said,¬†she was occasionally seen in a turquoise leather mini-skirt, so I’d like to stand up for my Doc Martens and ancient frayed skirts just a tiny bit. I can’t defend the parking tickets, though. Not any of them.)

But my parents laboured under the illusion that one day, I’d grow up and be an adult, just like them. I’m afraid that they were to be disappointed. In this case, the apple hasn’t just fallen far from the tree; it’s rolled under a hedge, crossed four lanes of traffic, negotiated a housing estate, and ended up in an entirely different county – one where people aren’t quite so good at adulting. One where houses are chaotic, bins are put out on the wrong day,¬†and post isn’t necessarily opened in the same month in which it was received.

So is there a crochet/knitting-related point to this fable of filial failure? Well yes there is, as it so happens, and it relates to the Winter Braid hat and gloves I’ve been knitting with Yarnstories yarn.

The point is that¬†a proper grown-up would, on finishing the knitting of these lovely items, dutifully wash and block them and then¬†wait for some semi-decent light before attempting to photograph them. After all, they’re cabled, and so stitch definition is all. That’s what a proper grown-up would do. That’s what the Twisted Seniors would’ve done.

You can tell where this blog post is going, can’t you?

I finished the knitting. I leapt round the house squealing, thus frightening the neighbours, and I grabbed the camera and started snapping away, without the slightest consideration for blocking. Sorry. My stitch definition is not what it will be once these blighters are washed’n’blocked. But looooook!


The pattern, in case you’re thinking of knitting it, is an easy one for anyone who’s cabled before. My only gripe was that increases in the hat¬†were in the form of m1, rather than kfb, which resulted in some rather unsightly holes. I assume that I’ve misunderstood something here, and missed some vital hole-avoiding point. EDITED TO ADD: See lovely helpful advice in comments thread below. I love knitters. ūüôā

Would you like to see more of the yarn? As I’ve said before, I was sent this Yarnstories aran-weight as a free gift, though there was no condition whatsoever that I knit it or post about it or even mention it. Look!


The merino and baby alpaca is most definitely soft, and warm, and feels exceptionally gentle and hug-like on the skin. The twist isn’t as tight as some, so if you favour your yarn tightly-twisted and meaty, this might not be your favourite. But it makes for a gentle, light, yarn that is warm as toast.


Frankly, it was a joy to knit with, and now it’s a comfort to wear. And the ultimate compliment: the Toddler Twinnage have requested that I make mini versions for them.


* Not really: they’re organised, not odd.



Filed under Knitting