Tag Archives: Autumn

Fancy Another Free Pattern?

Fancy another free pattern? Yes?

OK, but before I reveal all, may I just thank you from the very bottom left corner of my heart for the generous comments that you left regarding the chair. However, I am deeply aggrieved that you’ve all sided with Stoic Spouse about whether or not anyone should sit in the thing.

The twinnage certainly can’t be kept away. Here’s one young man and his car park:-

In all the excitement of the chair, I didn’t get a chance to tell you about another project – one that you might actually want to make. Take a look at this cowl:-

Falling Leaves cowl stranded knitting free pattern

The design came about after I was contacted by Hobbycraft (the major UK craft store chain) and asked to design something for their website. That was last autumn. And with my usual combination of optimism and stupidity, I set to work designing an autumnal project… which was ready shortly after Christmas.

Falling Leaves cowl stranded knitting free pattern

So allow me to introduce the Falling Leaves cowl. The FREE pattern is published on the Hobbycraft website, right HERE.

Falling Leaves cowl stranded knitting free pattern

It’s a stranded knit, but because there are some crazy-long floats, I’ve suggested an alternative way of trapping them.

Falling Leaves cowl stranded knitting free pattern oak

Talking of cowls, Rainbow Junkie (love the name) has made a beautiful jewel-coloured version of my All That Jazz cowl. Her rather gorgeous version is here on her blog. I love it!

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Autumning

Round here, nature is at last doing autumn properly, instead of lazily slinging a cloudful of water our way and calling it a season.

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Suddenly, it’s cold. Whatever time of day or evening you venture out, you can smell the wood-smoke from people’s log fires, and see ambitiously-stacked spider sanctuaries log-piles leaning against the walls of thatched cottages. In the evening, I pour a glass of red wine and sit down beside our own fire. Then, – more often than not – I immediately shriek and jump up again because I’ve accidentally sat on a spiky bit of Lego. (Thanks, twinnage.) Naturally, there is knitting involved in this part of the day, too. It’s good to relax after a hard time down the psychology mines*. Here’s tonight’s effort:-

log fire wine knitting hygge

That sock yarn? A review cometh…

Suddenly this past week or two, we’re surrounded by gorgeous fiery leafy colours, and the twinnage are asking important questions about the life cycle of trees. Well, one of them is: the one who has appointed himself Official Acquirer Of Twinnage Knowledge. His brother listens, quietly.

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The boys are also asking anxious questions about Whether At Last It Will Snow This Winter, as they are still of an age where they think that their mum knows stuff and can answer these things.

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I try to provide an answer that won’t eventually lead to that terrible accusation, “But Mummy, you said…”, whilst not entirely crushing hope (theirs or mine), and also hinting at how as a species, our reckless misuse of resources is making the climate turn a tiny bit wobblesome and changeable, thus rendering it impossible to reliably promise snow to six-year-olds if you’re anywhere south of the Arctic Circle. They frown, puzzled, and appear to mentally file my answer away under ‘Mummy’s weird rants about stuff’. (It’s a big file.)

Oh well.

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I hope we do have snow this winter. And some pretty frost. You can remind me of that in a few months’ time when I’m grumbling about the veneer of ice on the inside of my bedroom window. (I used to think that I must have imagined memories of ice on the inside of the windows as a child, but then the winter after we moved here to the brewery, it happened.)

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Anyway, mustn’t grumble. At least autumn gives you an excuse to wear all of your hand-knits at once.

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∗ Job-related phrase sneakily stolen from the wit of Narf, cos I’m a plagiaristic thief.

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Time Travel

Good evening, my fine fibrous friends. I hope that you’re so far ahead in your Christmas knitting/crochet, that you have plenty of time to read this post. And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, I hope that your Thursday has nevertheless been filled with joy and productivity (and yarn – lots and lots of luscious yarn).

Today at the Twisted Yarn, we’re going to engage in a wee smidgeon of time travel.

I hope you don’t mind if I knit whilst we talk? I’m a little behind with the projects that I want to show you (partly due to the shock of the fire at work), and also I’m knitting a Christmas gift which I can’t mention because the recipient reads here, and he doesn’t know that I’m knitting for him. (No, Stoic Spouse, stop looking so terrified: it’s not you!)

bauble

So whilst I knit frantically, let’s travel back in time a couple of months, because I want to show you some interesting photographs. No wait, these pictures were taken in October, but really we’re travelling back well over two thousand years to the Iron Age in what is now Britain. One of the things that I love about Oxfordshire is how deeply and obviously its landscape has been marked by our ancient forebears. (I’ve talked before about the Ridgeway and Blewburton Hill. And skipping forwards many centuries, also ( 😉 ) about our family seat.)

One day a few weeks ago when the Tyrannical Twinnage were on their very first break from school and my newly-transplanted-to-Oxfordshire parents happened to be free, I nagged everyone into a trip back to the Iron Age. Not far from my parents’ new home is Segsbury Camp, a hill fort reckoned to be between 2200 and 2600 years old. Here it is on the map (marked ‘fort’ in the centre of this image):-

Segsbury Camp www.thetwistedyarn.com

Ordnance Survey, my heart will forever be yours

On the map above, the pink diamonds mark the Ridgeway, and we climbed the hill from Letcombe Bassett at five-year-olds’ pace. There were some decent views across autumnal Oxfordshire, such as this:-

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And this:-

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And also this:-

Oxfordshire www.thetwistedyarn.com

And then at last we reached the fort. Can you imagine the men who would have guarded these ramparts and the wooden structures contained within its curtilage?

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The sides remain steep. How many hours were taken to build these ramparts by hand?

Segsbury Camp www.thetwistedyarn.com

I can’t help being impressed. (Even the twinnage were fairly interested.)

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We walked the perimeter of the fort, and admired the fruits of autumn, such as sloes. (Why did I not get round to making sloe gin this year?)

sloes www.thetwistedyarn.com

And hips:-

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And then, spurred on by the not gentle sound of children whinging, we descended the hill again.

I always feel a little meditative after such experiences, as though I’ve almost been able to reach out and touch those ancient people. They’re not so very far away from us, you know.

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Mostly Crocheting The Vegetable Patch

September. The season is on the swing, towards autumn here in the UK, but towards spring if you’re in the southern hemisphere. There’s a hint of chill early in the day, regardless of whether or not the later hours become warm.

It's hip to be rose

It’s hip to be rose

The logs are stacked beside the fireplace and the kindling bucket is full. It’s so tantalisingly nearly time to light a fire. There are blackberries to be gathered from the hedgerows for crumble-making:-

blackberries

As the temperature falls, it’s spider season, and those of us with an – ahem – aversion to the hairy little critters must go to extreme measures to survive the month. Fortunately my father-in-law, the Gregarious Grandfather, is visiting, so I can use his fancy camera device that’s for studying the inside of engines to examine my wellies for interlopers.

Photo is rubbish due to the trauma of discovering an ACTUAL MEGA-SPIDER in my boot!

Photo is rubbish due to the trauma of discovering an ACTUAL MEGA-SPIDER in my boot!

I assumed I’d be writing some dull caption like ‘All seems OK here’ to that photo, but…. then we saw the actual live freakin’ wriggly mega-spider on the screen! Let’s just gloss over what ensued, and instead talk about crochet. Yes?

Right, crochet. Well now that the twinnage are a’school, I have a wee smidgeon of time in which to write up the pattern for the crochet house bag. And… it’s very nearly done, but the charts will take a wee while longer to conjure. But it’s coming, and it’ll be free of charge forever.

crochet house bag at thetwistedyarn.com

Meanwhile, I’ve been starting to add flowers, shrubs and vegetables to the house-related, nearly-finished, mega-project. The one I’ve been drip-feeding you with glimpses of for months. I’m sorry, I don’t do quick, simple projects. This is the nature of the beast.

It’s been two steps forward, one step back, as some attempts at vegetation just don’t work. For example, this attempt at a bush does rather resemble a slime mould:-

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But the biggest triumph of the day has been the cauliflowers in the vegetable patch. Because I was inspired by the veg patch in the Jan Messent book I found in a second-hand shop:-

jan messent. thetwistedyarn.com

I had an urge to make a row of cauliflowers. As you do.

Fortunately, we happened to be visiting my parents, the Twisted Seniors (newly re-located from Herefordshire to Oxfordshire) today. And they had a cauliflower in the fridge so I could compare shades of yarn and scratch my chin thoughtfully.

cauliflower thetwistedyarn.com

…And in the end decide to just go for it. I wanted to catch the lumpy-bumpy nature of an ordinary cauli (much as Mother Twisted wanted me to perfectly represent one of those fractal-like fancy Romanesco specimens). So I chained in cream-coloured yarn for a while, then wrapped the chain into a ball whilst sewing it in place. The green outer leaves were made by making a 4-chain loop around the cauliflower stem, from which I made 5-chain loops that became leaves which I sewed tight against the white ball of cauliflower.

crochet cauliflower thetwistedyarn.com

Can you tell the difference from the real thing?

So far, I’ve sewn a row of them into the garden:-

crochet cauliflowers. www.thetwistedyarn.com

Now, what next? (Can you perhaps understand why this is taking a while?)

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Log Cabins in Yarn and Fabric

Now listen up, good people: this is serious. All your comments on The Icing On The Cake were lovely, thank you, but they’re starting to go to the Stoic Spouse’s head. He’s even been overheard muttering the phrase ‘fan club’. Ahem, we need to put the brakes on this before it gets out of hand.

Anyway, while the Stoic Spouse keeps the home fires burning (literally: he’s apparently shifted one tonne of newly-delivered logs from front to back garden whilst we’ve been away), the Toddler Twinnage and I have remained in Herefordshire with the Twisted Seniors (thank you, Contented Crafter, for that inspired name for my parents). We’ve been soaking up the weak autumn sunshine and wondering whether the colours could inspire a yarn combination or two:-

Autumn Views in Herefordshire

Autumn Views in Herefordshire

And whilst I’ve knitted and knitted, and knitted a log-cabin blanket for my friend’s imminently-arriving baby, my mum has been renewing her love of log-cabin patchwork. Don’tcha just love a decent log cabin? Look at these beauties:-

log cabins

log cabins

There are thirteen pieces sewn together in each patch, like this:-

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Here she is, at work:-

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Of course, there are so many ways of arranging log cabins. Playing with the squares she’s completed already, I made these patterns (not sewn together yet so of course they don’t look as lovely as they will when finished:-

quilting

Can you tell that the finished thing will be beautiful?

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The Morning After The Cake Before

Well, friends and fair crafters of the blogosphere, may I confess to a certain feeling of fullness? The blogiversary cake was eventually cut and… well you can probably guess the rest. Let’s just say that I won’t be hauling myself out of this chair for another week or so. Those buttons on my waistband won’t re-attach themselves, y’know, if I accidentally pop them.

No I hadn’t forgotten that this is a knitting/crochet blog, so here’s a tiny bit of my semi-secret project, now finished and blocked, but in need of some proper photography. There’s a reason that all those stitches look so horribly wonky, and that reason involves my hatred of endless 1×1 ribbing. Sigh. Also I wanted to do a little Wee-hee! at the woven label. 🙂 Labels like this are surprisingly cheap to commission, and you can semi-customise the design to add a professional touch to your work.

woven label

woven label

Anyway, I’m writing this from deepest most rural Herefordshire, where sheep roam the hillsides and where apples are relentlessly pulverised to make cider. The Toddler Twinnage and I have just arrived to stay with my parents before the parents make another of their once-a-decade moves to a completely new bit of the country. We’ve been wandering around the garden admiring the abundance of autumn:-

autumn fruits

autumn fruits

…and chatting to the locals, who are of exceptionally handsome stock:-

Bumblebee

Bumblebee

Up the hill behind my parents’ house are bushes laden with sloes. Note the lichen growing on the dry old branches: lichen loves to grow where the air is clean. Remember the blackthorn I photographed in the spring? Well blackthorn = sloe bushes and now we have enough fruit to make sloe gin:-

sloes on the bush

sloes on the bush

Just in case you didn’t enjoy a misspent youth (my childhood chores included stirring the sloe gin each day 🙂 ), here is how to make this sweet, delicious drink. You’ll need to pick roughly a pound of sloes. (Don’t be tempted to eat them – they taste vile, though they’re perfectly harmless.) Take them home, leave your muddy wellies outside the door, please, and prick the sloes all over with a sharp knife. Put them in a large jar with 8oz of caster sugar and the contents of a large bottle of gin. (No, the gin does not need testing ‘just to make sure’.) Stir. Put the lid on the jar and place it somewhere dark. Get it out every day or two and stir gently. It’ll be ready for Christmas. I used to make this stuff every year, but have lapsed, lately.

There is so much more colour and loveliness to show you from our Herefordshire hideaway, before we head back home. And my Mum has been doing the most amazing patchwork which warrants a post all of its own. So I’ll shut up for now and get on with some knitting. ‘Til next time, me hearties.

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Channelling Autumn

Autumn has definitely sneaked into our quiet little corner of Oxfordshire. And in its sneaky sneaking, it’s brought a very familiar damp chill to our old house, as well as rich new colours to our surroundings, and some birthdays to be celebrated (not mine – I’m plenty old enough already and don’t feel the slightest need to advance any further).

Birthdays bring visiting relatives and peaceful times around the log fire. This time it brought a happy new novelty, too: companionably knitting with my Mum, who came with Dad to stay here for the weekend. (Dad is strangely uninterested in knitting.)

Knitting With Mother.

Knitting With Mother.

Here she is doing a few rows of the Arne and Carlos blanket and yes, her gauge may be different from mine, but I Don’t Care because I just like the thought that she’s putting some stitches and maybe some love into what’ll probably become our go-to family-sheltering-from-the-cold and Toddler-Twinnage-making-dens blanket. Anyway, she’s my Mum. She taught me to knit (though she despairs at my knife-grip of the right-hand needle, being herself a lifelong pencil-gripper). Y’never know, maybe there’s a genetic component to gauge that enables mother and daughter to knit pretty similarly. Certainly, what she’s done looks just fine. Thank you Mum. (But we’ll just have to agree to disagree about how to hold the needles.)

And in the photo above, I’m working on another prototype for My First Proper Grown-Up Pattern. Yes, knitting 1×1 rib is so slow that my fingers will grow old and drop off before I’m done, but the reward is a lovely thick, stretchy fabric where the stripes transition perfectly on both sides!

Work-In-Progress. Seriously, though, look: stripes are just fine on both sides due to 1x1 rib. Now do you hate ribbing fractionally less?

Work-In-Progress. Seriously, though, look: stripes are just fine on both sides due to 1×1 rib. Now do you hate ribbing fractionally less?

Anyway, before all this birthday malarkey hit us, we went out to take a little look at autumn. We wore our stripy wellies, the toddler twinnage and I:-

steve 1a

And we ran along an old cobbled path in a nearby village:-

steve 3a

And we had a pretty decent amount of fun in the chilly sunshine. I hope we get a proper cold winter this year, despite the ice-on-the-inside-of-the-windows and the need to dry out clothes from the wardrobe over the radiator before putting them on that this oddball house brings. Much as last winter’s floods were photogenic, we need some decent snow and ice round here soon. Any weather gods reading this? Would you mind ever so much?

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Today We’re Mostly Pink And Orange

First, thank you all for your kind words about my risky felting, but to misquote a phrase, reports of the death of my washing machine are greatly exaggerated. After some enthusiastic but inexpert effort, I managed to unblock the beastly machine, and whilst it’s still spitting out occasional gobs of pink felted fluff, it is at least functioning sufficiently to deal with the laundry generated by two potty-training toddlers. (We’re talking a lot of laundry, here. Like, really, a lot.) Here’s the finished bag, a shadow of its former enormity dimension-wise, though eight times the thickness and possibly nuclear-bomb-proof:-

The Felted Bag. To Which We're Not Currently Speaking.

The Felted Bag. To Which We’re Not Currently Speaking.

But enough about that, before I start growling quietly…

Y’know, there’s been some weird light around here, lately. Within a day, we’ve gone from this early morning misty strangeness:-

spooky light

spooky light

…to this:-

weird light sunset a

…as the autumn weather fails to make its mind up. But the second picture at least justifies pink and orange together…. Taking me back to that pesky bag.

Anyway, now that the bag is done, I’m working on the second prototype of a forthcoming pattern. Here’s the ribbed cast-on in a delicious blend of wool and alpaca.

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Yes, that is a wiggly train track in the background. *sigh*

 

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Autumn. Knitting. That sort of stuff.

Evenin’ all.

*Nods at absolutely everyone. Then tries to stop head wobbling after protracted period of nodding.*

It’s been a mostly good day, here. There were early morning views of our local-ish 4th century BC hill fort. (Previous blog post here, from my very early days of blogging.) Hmm, can you just about see its stepped sides in this picture? It’s rather magnificent, and a pretty fine spot from which to defend the locality.

Iron Age hill fort in cautious early autumn sunshine

Iron Age hill fort in cautious early autumn sunshine

And there’s the new knitting project. My first proper grown-up pattern, to be published soon. For now, much secret-squirrel prototype-related activity is on the needles, especially at times when any sane and sensible person would be catching up on sleep. But it’s a secret, so you really must read this post in a whisper, OK? *Taps side of nose enigmatically* The finished product will look rather different, but look at these delicious colours!

Secret!

Secret!

More soon. But don’t tell anyone, OK?

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Autumn: good enough to knit/crochet

Is it my imagination, or have the autumn colours been particularly rich and gorgeous this year? If I could capture them in yarn form, I would. And it’s such a good year for fruit/berries. Today I took the twinnage for a walk (translation: they sulked in the buggy, which I pushed and pushed up a long hill). We saw hips in abundance:-

autumn rose hips

autumn rose hips

And pyracantha with variegated berries. Can you tell how much I love variegation?

pyracantha

pyracantha

 

And I’ve mentioned before how this area was once the centre of the cherry growing universe, and how this village is surrounded by serried ranks of long-redundant windbreak trees, mostly poplars. Here’s some more from today:-

windbreak

windbreak

You can still see cherry trees dotted around, especially in hedges. They’re beautiful in spring and autumn, their dying leaves a lovely pinkish* shade of yellow-orange:-

cherry tree

cherry tree

 

*Yes I know I’ve written about how much I hate pink, but as in most things, nature gets it just right.

I often pass through the village where I used to live, too, and the autumn colours are even more magnificent when doubled by the glassy water of the river. This is the view from our old house, give or take fifty metres. I pass by on my way to work, and stopped to take a couple of snaps this week:-

river 2

I kind of miss it. We used to sit in the living room watching crowds of coots (the thugs of the avian water world) engage in mass brawls, whilst great-crested grebes drifted by, secure in their sense of vast superiority. Sometimes there’d be a heron, and very occasionally the flash of brilliant blue of a kingfisher. And we’d sit on the riverbank behind our house watching hundreds of tiny fish dart about in the shallows. I’d fantasize about somehow dredging the riverbed to find what treasures lay semi-submerged in its silt. I don’t mean treasures in monetary terms, I mean clues to the events and the lives that have passed here before. A civil war helmet was found in the water upstream from here – how many more things must be down in the depths?

river view

river view

And the conclusion to all this? I think that you should be able to commission yarn, based on the shades in a picture. You should be able to take a gorgeous photograph of heather-covered moorland or an autumn woodland and have it reproduced in wool. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?

 

 

 

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