Monthly Archives: May 2016

Shark Attack

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

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

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

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

knitted pigeons

knitted pigeons

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

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

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

 

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

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Go Small Or Go Home

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Finished!

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

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

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

 

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Knitting And Nature

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

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

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

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

pub knitting

pub knitting

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

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

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

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

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

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

All was quiet in the deep, dark wood…

Aren’t bluebells lovely?

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

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

Carpets of ’em. Everywhere.

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

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

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

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

Right, back to the knitting…

 

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

 

 

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Teeny Tiny Picnic

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

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

And on keyboards... the twinnage.

And on keyboards… the twinnage.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Then I had to sew them together…

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

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

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Silver plated?

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

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But it came together OK.

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

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

The picnic blanket in situ in the garden.

The picnic blanket in situ in the garden.

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

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We Have A Winner!

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

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Outdoors Knows It’s Pretty

You’ve still got time (just!) to enter the Wool And The Gang yarn giveaway! Just head over here…

Meanwhile, I’ve been all over the place – knitting a bit of this, crocheting a bit of that, drifting from room to room, bumping into members of the household whom I’d forgotten existed… “Great uncle Mortimer! Heavens, I haven’t seen you since the Great Tidying Up of ’96! How the very devil are you, ol’ bean? What’s that you say? Huh? Oh. What, that cupboard there? The one with the hefty lock on the door? Oh gosh, I’m sorry. Very sorry. I might have got a tad over-enthusiastic towards the end of the Great Tidying Up… I must say though, you’re looking remarkably chipper for a chap who’s been locked in a cupboard for twenty years, existing on a diet of gnawed wood and roof-leakage. Kudos to you. And what’s that you say? Oh, this thing? It’s called a mobile phone: they’re quite common now. Come, allow me to introduce you to the modern world. First, we’d better set you up with a Facebook account…”

I blame the weather.

Seriously, it’s been nuts. One minute it’s simultaneously snowing and hailing – snailing, if you will – and the next minute, I’m applying suncream to the twinnage using a trowel. Nuts, I tell you.

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Even the moss looks beautiful in spring.

Still, the blossom’s been good this year.

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And we’ve just reached that point when the baby lambs venture away from their mothers’ sides and all try to hang out in the cool gang. If you’re a lamb, being cool involves gently head-butting your mates and occasionally scampering up a small hillock. Oh that social hierarchies could have been that simple and scalable when I was a teenager.

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There really is lots and lots of blossom. There’s summat wonderful about the loveliness and hope of all this fresh unsullied new life, don’t you think? (Let’s just forget about the existence of hay fever for a wee minute.) I know you’re supposed to feel such optimistic sentiments when you see a newborn baby, but I reckon that blossom has the edge when it comes to not screaming or puking in your hair at 3am.

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In Japan, according to my friend who lived there for a while, they have a whole festival day devoted to the first appearance of the cherry blossom. It’s a big deal, apparently. Frankly, I’m with the Japanese on this one, but I’m lacking the courage to phone up my boss and say, “I’m not coming in to work today, because blossom.

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Anyway. I’ve written before about the cherry-growing heritage of this village in which we live. There aren’t many cherry orchards left here now, but in the one that’s near my house, there are sheep/lambs wandering amongst the trees. Not only does this promise the magical combination of yarn and luscious cherries as future products, but also it’s a traditional approach: the sheep keep the grass/weeds down, and their poo helps fertilize the cherry trees. Organic production at its best.

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And its cutest:-

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You can’t move for wildlife around here at the moment. And even the light feels optimistic and fresh:-

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Photo taken whilst I was out on a run. So the quality was never going to be great.

Indoors, too, there are flowers. My good friend gave me these beauties when she came to discuss the knitting/crochet book that we’re writing together. Which reminds me, I really should get on with some work on that…

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(And I had so many knitting/crochet progress photos to show you! Ah well, next time.)

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