Friday, 22 October 2010

Baby Booties pt.2

Pattern is Saartje's Bootees from Saartje Knits made using Rowan RYC Cashsoft 4 ply
These booties were made two years ago for the birth of my nephew, Mitchell. I think that the two-tone colour works really well and the little buttons make them reasonably secure, and much easier to take on and off than ribbon.

Card by Dutchdoor via Etsy

The buttons offer a nice way of personalising the booties.

Grey Baby Booties

Thanks to the ongoing supply of babies by friends and colleagues, I have been working my way through various baby bootie patterns for gifts. Here are two different designs I tried for baby boys, both using grey Jaegar Matchmaker Merino DK yarn.

Beginner Booties by Cathy Payson from Knitting For Baby

Oh! Baby Baby Booties by Judy Nemish from KnitList (card by Teresa Robertson) 

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Going Home

Some scenes from the Underground, captured in retro glory thanks to a new iPhone programme which mimics the Hipstamatic, a plastic camera from the '70s.  Reminds me of the lost joy of Polaroids (only more discreet...).

Friday, 23 October 2009

Baby Birthdays - part 1; or Items from the Archive

Quite amazingly it transpires that my niece, Clarissa, is 1.  I'm really not entirely sure what happened to the last year, particularly as I haven't yet got round to blogging about the sampler that I made for her as a birth gift.  So, in honour of her 1st birthday, here is the sampler, a year late.

This was my first cross stitch project in a long time and my first ever sampler (there's an unfinished Beatrix Potter squirrel cross stitch lurking somewhere at my parents' house, disgarded about 15 years ago.  I'd happily finish it, if it ever surfaced).  This pattern came from Moira Blackburn who has a really lovely collection of classic sampler patterns.  The historical goon in me appreciates the fact that old samplers often missed the letter 'I' because 'I' and 'J' were interchangeable.  The sampler that I did for Clarissa follows that rule - I wonder if she will ever notice!

I enjoyed working on the project.  It did take months and months to do, though.  And, in the process, it became very well travelled, visiting Hawaii and New York with me during the spring and summer of 08.  I got lots done while staying in NYC as I tried to keep out of my host's way in the evening so worked on the sampler in my room whilst watching endless 'Law and Order: SVU' (very addictive and a good contrast to days spent in the library).  I'd love to try a larger sampler at some point but it has become increasingly clear to me that the reason my grandmother was such an embroidery/tapestry goddess was that she didn't work and had all the time in the world!  I hope she'd be a little bit proud of my efforts, though.

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Summer fruits

Some recent fruits of the garden...

'Black Beauty' aubergine

Brandywine tomato with assorted (smaller) others behind
A cat 'growing' in an empty bit of vegetable bed (can't you just see the vitamin D production underway?)

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Soggy Early August

Despite the best efforts of the British summer, the garden has done some growing. The view above is the one that greets us as we come down our back stairs and open the garden door. The weather was very overcast when I took these this morning but the flowers still manage to shine. And the wet weather goes some way to explain the untrimmed grass!

The flowerbed at the back is looking very bright. I'm looking forward to the clematis which I've grown around the tree stump coming into flower, although that may not happen until next year. Amongst the flowers are 3 small 'Tophat' blueberry plants. These have not exactly yielded a bumper crop. The five solitary blueberries still look lovely, though! I'm going to re-pot them over the winter and move them to the other end of the garden as I suspect they need more sun.The veg bed is doing well. From this view you can see runner beans with butternut squash and a small courgette plant in front of it. Some cabbages, giant purple sprouting broccoli, then beyond that tomatoes. There are also chard and leeks which you can't see, plus lots of salad and french beans in pots near the house.
The runner beans are 'Liberty' and I think the red against the green looks wonderful, even in such flat light. Hope they taste as good!
The new neighbours have been nice, and very impressed by the work we did in the garden. One of the women lived here a few years ago, so knows what it looked like before! She has grown some tomatoes on her side (you can see some of them in the far left of the picture at the top of this post). Apparently, they have amazing beans in Bulgaria and she has promised to bring me some for next year (although, given the quick turnover of people in the downstairs flat, who knows how long she'll stick around, but I hope she does - it's great to have someone take an interest).

Friday, 8 May 2009

Come in to the garden

For a joyous 4 months at the beginning of this year we were blessed with an empty ground floor flat. This meant that, apart from not being disturbed by noisy neighbours, we also had the garden to ourselves.

To recap, this is what we found when we bought the house in 2007:

After some cutting and clearing last year, the addition of a new fence and the introduction of a raised bed, things began to look much better.

However, I had been unsure how much work to do on the garden since it is technically shared by the downstairs flat as well. Our last neighbours took no interest in it at all. Thus, whilst we had it to ourselves I decided to try and improve it to the point that we could take pride in it and, when we come to sell, it might not actually put people off! Plus, I thought if we made a show of caring for the garden the new neighbours might too.

So in January Miles and I with stoic help from my Dad pulled down all the overhanging creeping vine and chopped down as much as we could of the dead tree. Which left us with this:

We then spent a couple of weeks burning that giant pile in our new incinerator bin - very exciting!

Then this spring I've been adding in more flowers and introduced a container garden on the raised shelf at the back (it is filled with soggy gravel from its previous life as a pond/bog so I thought it was probably easier to put things on top rather than to try and clear it out. Miles lugged 3 enormous paving slabs up and down the stairs then across the garden which are what the middle pots are now sitting on). This is how it's looking this morning in the sunshine that followed the rain.

There is now much-needed colour in the garden which makes a huge difference. I'm planning to add more pots and plants throughout the year. The azalea and pansies are the stars at the moment:

Like every other gardener out there, I'm keen to get going with the major vegetable planting. Salads etc are doing well but I'm waiting to let my collection of triffids (or should that be tomato plants?) outside. Currently they are on our dining table wondering if the humans will make a good dinner...

Friday, 6 February 2009

Cardie conundrum

I am really excited about my Buttony cardie. The yarn is lovely, the fit is good and it's going to be great for the kind of proper wintery weather we've been having lately. All was going well until, half-way down the second arm I ran out of yarn. I am really baffled by this as I KNOW I had enough yarn. I originally bought 7 skeins (700g) of this yarn and the sweater only just weighs 500g so problem one - where are the other skeins??

I turned my yarn storage boxes upside down at New Year and couldn't see hide nor hair of them. So, I did what any sensible person would do, I ordered 2 more skeins. The yarn is from so has to come all the way from Uruguay. This took a few weeks, then, on Tuesday morning the package finally arrived, so I wound myself a ball and started up knitting again.

Now, the moral of the story so far is two-fold: 1) don't lose your yarn in the first place and 2) don't assume hand-dyed yarn from September 2007 will match the same colour-way dyed in late 2008, plus, don't knit half a sleeve, sitting on the sofa in bad light watching telly as it may well be days before you notice this little problem!

So I find myself here:
with a half a sleeve (on the right) darker and less varigated. This flash-bleached picture gives you an idea of how much the two different dye-lots contrast.
The problem is too pronounced to just let it go, so my question is, what do I do?

Do I have yet another look for the original skeins? (Did that this morning. Result: no skeins, but I did find the docking wire for my Zen and my mobile phone holder!)
Or, do I shorten both sleeves and make them 3/4 length? (I'm sure this would look fine but it makes the jumper much less practical)
Or, do I rip back both sleeves (boo hoo) and knit them again, doing one round with the original yarn and one round with the new yarn and trust that they'll blend together (and not look too odd next to the colour of the body)?
Or, do I email the suppliers and see if they'll dye some more for me (and thus give up on wearing the jumper this year since I'll have to wait ages for the delivery)?

Any advice greatly appreciated!

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Puff Daddy in da House

For my friend Noel's birthday present I made a lovely, quick gift - the Puff Daddy. It is a little scarf which fastens by passing a large pompom through a keyhole opening.
I made it with two strands held together, one of Colinette Graffiti in Velvet Plum and one a very boring purple 100% wool aran weight yarn that I had lurking in the stash. The scarf is very warm as, thanks to the giant i-cord construction, it comes out double thickness. Noel seems very pleased with it and has even modeled it for her office! Thanks Noel for the pictures.

I can't wait to do another one: I think I can improve upon it by using some Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran for the second strand, which would make the scarf softer overall. I also saw an excellent mega version on Ravelry, where the size had been increased to make a large neck warmer rather than a scarflet.

Picture by Yarnzillaonline.

This is a great project for this time of year - you can make it in one sitting so it will keep you warm as near to instantaneously as knitting will allow!

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Happy New Year!

The New Year, full of promises... Like finishing this Buttony jumper, and posting 4 months of backlogged projects...

I blame having to go to an office everyday for the chronic disruption to blogging service.

Anyway, a Happy New Year to all from me and my sleepy cat.

Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Handkerchief Corners Quilt

I realised that I've been keeping this blog for just over a year, so happy blogging birthday to me! I started last year with the quilt I made for Dominic and Carolyn's wedding. It was the first, and so far, only, full-sized quilt I've made (despite many good intentions!). I had, however, made a lap quilt beforehand. Thinking back, it came to me that I'd never photographed it so here we have, well over a year late, my Handkerchief Corners quilt.
It was initially going to be full-size but I thought I'd better learn how to bind and quilt somehow before embarking on the quilt for Dominic and Carolyn so I stopped at lap size in order to get it finished. It now measures 106cm square.
I took these pictures in the garden on a very bright day, just before I went to New York. In actuality the colours are a little richer than they appear here - a combination of the sun and my bog-standard camera conspired to bleach them. I love the backing fabric. I'm not sure what it's called - I bought it with lots of other retro 30s fabrics in Branson, Missouri two years ago.
As you can see, Emily appreciates the burrowing potential of a folded quilt! She deserves a special mention today for having been a brave kitty and making it through her neutering operation with minimum fuss. She is back home, and, having got past the wobbly stage, is now in fully-fledged-chemical-madness-stage which involves knocking over all food and water bowls and then marching repeatedly over your humans, purring all the time but never settling down. It doesn't help that she isn't allowed to go out for a while - the vet said to keep her in for EIGHT days. I don't think the carpets (or the cat, or the humans) will be able to stand that! At least the madness is packaged in such cuteness:Going back to the topic of weddings - I heard today that my wonderful bridesmaid Abby is getting married (about time too!). I'm so thrilled for her and Misha. I wonder if this means more commemorative quilting is called for...

Monday, 11 August 2008

Wonderful Town!

I made it back from New York in one rather sweaty piece and am subsequently delighted with the Typical British Summer we have been experiencing for the past week! Since most of my time in New York was spent at various libraries I didn't manage nearly as many cultural activities as I would have liked.
I do have a couple of good recommendations, though: on the museum front, the Merchant's House Museum is worth a visit. A preserved 19th century home with recreated interiors and an especially good kitchen - water pump, a full cooking range and a pie-safe (pictured below) - I love all that stuff!
Also the Folk Art Museum was excellent - very varied and interesting. This detail is from an incredible papercut, made by a prisoner in the 1830s.
If you can catch it before 14th September, the Asa Ames sculpture exhibition at the Folk Art is really remarkable too, displaying amazing wooden portrait sculptures (good pictures on their website to give you a feel). Also, if you're in New York, definitely stop at Blossom in Chelsea, an excellent gourmet vegetarian restaurant (or it's sister branch, Cafe Blossom uptown): I took my very carnivorous host and she was impressed!

I stocked up on lots of ideas for the next visit as well - Governor's Island, the Cloisters, Morris Jumel Mansion, the Rockefeller observation deck, Green Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, the Highline Park (once it's finished) etc etc... Oh, and obviously, many more trips to Moo Shoes (they have live-in cats!) and Purl (where, just as everyone would have you believe, you DO feel like you've died and gone to tasteful-craft heaven). Can't wait to get back with Miles for a proper holiday, maybe 'autumn in New York' next time to avoid the heat, though!

Saturday, 19 July 2008

A Man Named Pearl

I'm currently in New York doing some research at the Schomburg Center. And it is HOT. The Center is actually quite cool, but outside it is boiling. It was 29C at 10.30PM last night: yes, it was basically as hot as the hottest we ever get in London AT NIGHT! Crazy weather. However, I've not seen kids playing with fire hydrants yet, but I'm keeping an eye out!

I'm staying with my friend Janet in Brooklyn and last night, at the insistence of her sister, we went to see A Man Named Pearl. It's a lovely little film about a self-taught topiary artist, Pearl Fryar, from a tiny town in South Carolina. We got a chance to meet him before the screening and he was very charming and interesting. His work is incredibly elegant and beautiful, and a true testament to the value of finding what you do well and having fun with it. Also, it's amazing to learn that most of the plants in his garden were salvaged from the dump behind his local garden centre. It made me think of all those crafts people out there producing beautiful work in so many mediums. There's a nice post here about a visit to the gardens and some great pictures. If you get a chance to see the movie I recommend it - a real one-off.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

A Fishy Tale

So, on Friday night I was walking home from the tube station about 11.15 - I rounded the corner into our road and something caught my eye on the street. It was a small fish tank with one dead goldfish and one live one. It seemed that someone had just dumped the tank (maybe because they freaked out at the dead fish?). Anyway, I couldn't leave the poor surviving one, so I enlisted Miles' help, and he carried the tank home. We flushed the dead one down the toilet (the appropriate funeral method for goldfish, I believe) and cleaned out the tank for the remaining chap. We had no fish food (obviously) but I found out online that fish are meant to like lettuce so I tried some nice organic stuff but did not meet with success. Fish food from B&Q on Saturday morning proved more popular. I had been thinking of contacting the RSPCA but Miles had the inspired thought that our sister-in-law, Carolyn, had mentioned that she'd like to get a goldfish. And that if she had a fish she'd have to call him 'Ramesses', because a small fish could walk/swim taller with such a grand name! Anyway, we asked, and she and Dominic said they would take 'Ram O'Seas' (as Dominic excellently renamed him). Unfortunatley they couldn't come till today so we had to hide the fish from Emily for a while. I ended up putting him on our chest of drawers in the bedroom as Emily isn't normally allowed in there, but, given the tank had no filter, the water began to smell really quickly! Well, we managed to keep Emily at bay, although she'd worked out something fishy (sorry!) was going on by today (in an unguarded moment I found her sitting on Miles' pillow, smacking her lips...). Dominic and Carolyn bought a spiffing new tank for Ram O'Seas and came to collect him this evening. So there is a happy end to the story of the rescue fish, and here he is in his new home playing with his own reflection.


Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Kitchen Cloths

After some experimentation I think I've found a fool-proof kitchen cloth pattern. Over the last couple of years I've made a selection of cloths for my mother and she has declared this pattern the most effective - and Mum's cloths take lots of punishment so if she says they do their stuff, they do!
I made this pair of green and pink cloths as a gift for a friend.

And this pink cloth for my kitchen. The pattern lends itself well to stripes and the pink cloth is made from a varigated and a solid pink yarn in alternating 2-row stripes. All the cloths are made from Peaches and Cream cotton.

I found the stitch pattern in my Reader's Digest Complete Guide to Needlework.

Woven Stitch - Double crochet stitches worked in single chain spaces.

Unit of 3 ch plus 3

Row 1: miss 2 ch, 1 dc, *1 ch, miss 1 ch, 1 dc*, 2 ch, turn

Row 2: *1 dc in ch sp of previous row, 1 ch*, 1 dc in the turning ch sp, 2 ch, turn

Rep rom Row 2

Happy crocheting and happy cleaning!