Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Books I read in September

Before We Met (Lucie Whitehouse)
Beautiful Oblivion (Jamie McGuire)
Beautiful Wedding (Jamie McGuire)

Monday, 1 September 2014

Books I Read in August

Beautiful Disaster (Jamie McGuire)
Ostrich (Matt Greene)
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves (Karen Joy Fowler)
Walking Disaster (Jamie McGuire)
The Amazing Thing about the Way It Goes (Stephanie Pearl-McPhee)

Friday, 1 August 2014

Books I Read in July

Gone Girl (Gillian Flynn)
The Carrier (Sophie Hannah)
Eden Close (Anita Shreve)
The Red House (Mark Haddon)
Bridget Jones Mad About the Boy (Helen Fielding)

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Saturday, 31 May 2014

Books I read in May

The Circle (Dave Eggers)
The Husband's Secret (Liane Moriarty)
Knitting Rules! (Stephanie Pearl-McPhee)
Sisterland (Curtis Sittenfeld)

Monday, 19 May 2014

Me Made May: Week 3 (and a sewing FO)

Another week, another cardigan:

This week I've mostly been wearing my Shetland Shorty cardigan. I love this style of cardigan in the summer and I still plan to knit another.

Also me made this week is my first 'dressmaking' project. A Tilly and the Buttons Bridgitte scarf. More of my summer dresses are yellow than any other colour so I picked out this bright yellow spotted cotton. The fabric was shorter than the width called for (115mm) but works well enough for keeping hair off my face.

Monday, 12 May 2014

Me Made May: Week 2

Last week was all about my grey striped Paulie. This week it's my "Hey Tech" cardigan, which has so far been paired each day with my Primark skirt plus a pair of leggings to keep it decent.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

WIP Wednesday: Charade Socks

It's been a while since I started anything new and likewise since I knitted any socks.

Two birds, one stone... this week's work-in-progress Wednesday.

Socks for Mr Me in a cotton sock yarn (and some knitting elastic in the cuffs also).

Soon we'll all be able to say "bless his little cotton socks".

Monday, 5 May 2014

Books I Read in April

What's So Amazing About Grace? (Philip Yancey)
The First 20 Minutes (Gretchen Reynolds)
Mirror Mirror (Graham Benyon)

Friday, 2 May 2014

FO: Paulie

Well, I dragged this one out for a bit but it's finally finished, buttons and all!

Whenever I finally make it to the end of a garment I tend to come to the conclusion that 1) this really shouldn't take as long as I make it; and 2) I really should knit more garments, they're awesome.

There's a lot to like about this one. I like the colours and the fact that it's a thin 4ply-based fabric (I'm into thin sweaters at the moment). It was also pretty cheap yarn so I like that it's not a £100 cardigan and that it seems to look pretty great actually (I've not washed it yet, so I hope that I'm not speaking too soon here).

Buttons and yarn were both from my local indoor market stall come local haberdashery. Total cost of the buttons was about 40p and they fit well with the yellow of the stripes/i-cord. They're also the absolute perfect size to squeeze through the button holes without sneaking back out again.

The delay on this was primarily caused by the decision to add a hood without any real idea about how to go about doing so so I'm particularly pleased that after several revisions I seem to have a hood-shaped hood that looks pretty good both up and down.

Pattern: paulie by Isabell Kraemer
Yarn: Stylecraft Life 4 ply (75% acrylic, 25% wool) in colours Cobalt (grey) and Zing (yellow/green).
Mods: Added a hood (see Ravelry notes).
Project: online on Ravelry.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

Me Made May

I've been reading more sewing blogs than I used to and over time I've seen more than a few mentions of 'Me Made May'.

Well, today is the first day of May and, perhaps overly enthused by the recent finishing of my Paulie (more tomorrow) I figured I could take a tentative step into the Me Made Madness. I've been meaning to get on and actually sew things so perhaps this will give me the kick I needed... and if not I'll be piling on the knitwear regardless of temperature ;)

Pledge - I sign up as a participant of Me-Made-May '14. I endeavour to wear a handmade garment (even if it's just socks) at least once each week for the duration of May 2014.'

Now, here's my starter for ten:

May 1 - Hand knit socks made in September 2011 and Paulie - now with added buttons.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Almost done

After a long day away from computers, housework and distractions, I recently finished the knitting, seaming and end-weaving of my Paulie cardigan.

I swatched for this in June 2012 and started knitting in September 2013... I'd wanted to add a hood to it and that's really what ate all the time up. I must have knit 3 or 4 hoods before I found something I was happy with.

And the almost? I haven't actually sewn the buttons on :)

Friday, 4 April 2014


Last weekend I finally found a moment to get excited about the garden.

 For the first time I visited a garden centre with gardening in mind (and also lunch) and I came away with probably more seeds than I really needed.

I planted a whole bunch of things pretty much the moment I got home. A few beans, leeks and pak choi into the bed and a wide variety of bits and bobs to start in pots.

Yesterday my first sproutling popped up from the soil.

This is a Dahlia 'Yam', hopefully the first of many green things to come.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Books I Read in March

A Mind of Its Own (Cordelia Fine)
The Secret Children (Alison McQueen)
The Virgin Blue (Tracy Chevalier)
The Light Between Oceans (M.L. Stedman)
Graceling (Kristin Cashore)

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Out and About in Budapest

One of the nice things about my work (when I'm appreciating it at least) is the fairly frequent opportunities to travel. Outside of work I tend to take few holidays and to use them for projects in the house or to volunteer -- I rarely go away.

This week I'm at a conference in Budapest and today my supervisor figured it would be a good idea for me to go out sightseeing... here's how my day went.

First a gentle start just a short walk from the hotel. I read a couple of pages of book in the park and then try (and fail) to find my first geocache. I spot some interesting but seemingly decorative only(?) bells and the first of many of these curious ladybirds. I haven't yet found the right search terms to identify the ladybird so would be happy if someone could enlighten me. I then head to the metro station to head into the city proper but get distracted by my first Hungarian geocache find in a small green space with the flowers and a collection of saints.

Just a short walk away and still not on the metro, geocaching led me to these interesting people who would not be out of place back home (except perhaps for one set of summery footwear).

Then onto the metro and a few caches before heading up many steps towards the Castle District. Once you've climbed so high it's easy to admire the views... (top left: lemon sorbet -- I ate it; top right: chain bridge - I crossed it; bottom right: Castle Hill Funicular -- closed for maintenance).

I spent around three and a half hours in the Castle District, admiring the locals.... (top left and bottom right: Matthias Fountain; bottom centre: statue of the horseherd).

Visiting key attractions: most of these are Matthias Church I think, but in the middle is the middle of Budapest (0KM Stone) and at the bottom right is Maria Magdalena Tower.

There seemed to be lots of shape and colour. If I had to pick a favourite it would be the door on the bottom right with the little door set into a garage door. I spent quite a bit of time staring at little doors here and there.

So there we go! I finished up with a shorter trip into the main shopping area and then headed back to the hotel just in time to go out for dinner!

Collages created with I think it works pretty well :)

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Books I Read in February

How Bad are Bananas -- Mike Berners-Lee
Alys, Always -- Harriet Lane
The Rose Petal Beach -- Dorothy Koomson

This month started with an unplanned library visit.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Getting Over Excited

I love to plan things for myself to do. My expectations often seem to go beyond what I'm likely to achieve, but in my mind I'm a whirlwind of activity bouncing from one thing to the next.

Here's what's on my mental projects list right now...


  • Get out and find some things -- aim to beat current number of consecutive days caching.

Knitting (and other fibre-related activity)

  • Fix the hood on my Paulie so I can finish that garment.
  • Start a Pippin
  • Gradually progress the Riff scarf I've started.
  • Crochet a ripple blanket
  • Spin up that sample I planned to finish in January
  • Weave a scarf

Inspired by the Great British Sewing Bee (I loved the first series), I've been making a gradual move towards learning to sew. Of course I don't want to start with cushions and aprons so I've been plotting an assortment of (mostly) garments and now have a mini stash of fabric for the following.
  • Circle headphone bag. The only thing I have lined up that's not clothing. I've bought a few blue fat quarters and a matching zip to give this a go.
  • PJ shorts (started in the summer). My first draft barely fit over my bum so need some modification. Once I've figured that out I have the nicer fabric I bought to sort a good set. Perfect for February... or not :)
  • Miette skirt. I have a lovely pink linen blend for this, plus some purple bias binding to have a go at some details like those on this version. Again a summer plan largely forgotten until now.
  • Wrap round trousers. I have a pair of these that I bought in London and are perfect for the very rare warm days we get here in the UK. The pair I have aren't a great colour though, so I've bought some practically coloured brown linen to have a go at crafting my own. By the time I get round to them it's bound to be a summer again, right?
  • Another skirt. I'd forgotten about this one :(
  • After resisting for a while I then bought another Tilly pattern, Coco and last week ordered fabric for two such tops. Every autumn/winter I somehow have a desperate lack of long sleeved tops and so I've convinced myself that these purchases will help me stay warm.
  • Trixie Lixie knickers. Eskimimi featured these on her blog last week and so I ended up with a kit to make my own spotty undies.

  • Make my house presentable. I should totally do this.
  • Make my own lunches. This used to be the default but recently I've been too lazy/busy and things have slipped.
  • Do my German homework each week, starting today.
  • Think about learning to play the Ukelele some more... this always leads to me thinking about joining a Choir again or getting some singing lessons or something.

Where should I start?

Friday, 14 February 2014

Travel Project

Working on some big knitting projects is great but doesn't fit so well with a few days of travel. So just last weekend I treated myself to some new yarn especially for knitting on a trip I was making this week.

I planned for one skein of either 4ply or laceweight yarn for either socks or a shawl. After some deliberation I went with this.

One Schoppel-Wolle Lace Ball.

After some deliberation I settled on the Rill Scarf as the perfect combination of mindless knitting (for the very early start) with a little sprinkling of interest.

Progress has been slow and the early start definitely resulted in more tinking than should have been needed so far. I'm still on my first colour but the pattern is starting to emerge.

Looking forward to seeing this progress but tonight it's back to the cardigan I think.

Monday, 10 February 2014

Tackling a Big Project

Now that work is easing up a bit and I'm allowing myself some free time, I've finally found the mental energy to resume a project previously abandoned.

This is Paulie. It's been nearly done for a while.

Swatched in June 2012, I finally started knitting over a year later in September 2013 and progressed well until I got to the hood.

There's no hood in the pattern and I wasn't happy with the shape of my first attempt. so I put it aside until this weekend. Fingers crossed that this time I get a shape I'm happy with so I can finish this one off (and weave in all those ends).

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Books I Read in January

The Book Thief -- Markus Zusak
Beautiful Creatures -- Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Beautiful Darkness -- Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Beautiful Chaos -- Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Beautiful Redemption -- Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl

Friday, 31 January 2014

FO Friday: Maudie Socks

Finished my Maudie socks just in time for the SKA deadline:

These socks are really nicely fitted and feature a simple cable pattern down both the front and back of the leg -- the front pattern continues all the way down the the heel and the back cables all the way down the heel. Sadly, neither are captured well in these pictures.

The pattern is perfect mindless knitting, with attention only needed at the heel and toe. The yarn is Colinette Jitterbug and is a lovely round yarn, perfect for showing off the cables. Sadly I ran out with just a few toe rounds to go. The skein size is now bigger than when I bought the first one, so having ordered an extra one a week or so ago I now have more of this yarn than when I started!

Another pair of socks to start soon...? I think so.

Friday, 24 January 2014

FO Friday: Smaug Socks

One final pair of finished socks from last year's radio silence.

These are Smaug socks. They had the potential to be beautiful but they just don't fit well at all. Waaay too big in the leg for me (particularly at the ankle).

The yarn is madelinetosh tosh sock and it's kind of wasted on these. I can't decide whether to try adding elastic to pull in the ankle a bit (easy but probably not the best fix ever) or to rip them back, or to just ignore the poor fit and wear them anyway.

Pattern: Smaug Socks by Claire Ellen
Yarn: madelinetosh tosh sock in colourway Saffron
Project: on Ravelry

Monday, 20 January 2014

Saving For Best

In recent years I've noticed that I have a tendency to save new clothes for 'best' and continue wearing items that make me feel less good about myself.

Here's another previously unreported pair of socks from 2013.

These are 'Brienne', knit for June's Sock Knitters Anonymous `literary characters' challenge. Around the time that I started these I ordered the first book from the A Song of Ice and Fire series that inspired the designer of these socks. I probably didn't start actually reading the book until late July, and it's a long read so the socks were done well before the book was.

The yarn is Yarn Addict BFL sock and is a club yarn from November 2010. I seem to recall it bled slightly as I knit it, but blues often do. I've not yet worn and washed them so I'm yet to find out how much the colour bleeds in the wash.

I'm a fan of twisted stitches on socks and am very pleased with how these have come out. Since I finished them in July they didn't immediately make it onto my feet and since the weather has turned colder I've kept them at the back of my sock drawer with a few other pairs I'm "saving for best".

Can you have best socks?

On Ravelry: Saffie's Brienne

Friday, 17 January 2014

FO Friday: Sideswipe Socks

As I work away on finishing up my Maudie socks I thought I'd show off a few of the FOs that snuck by unannounced during 2013.

At the end of 2012 I learnt to knit continental style. When I first started knitting, I learnt to knit 'English style' in which you hold the yarn in your right hand -- in continental knitting you instead hold the yarn in your left hand. Knitting continental style can offer a few benefits -- it typically results in less movement of the hands which can reduce RSI and speed things up a bit.

Learning continental had been on my curiosity list for a while, so when I spotted a class at Baa Ram Ewe I jumped in and gave it a go. This class was really great -- the pace seemed about right and enough time to really get to grips with the technique (for example, spending plenty of time in the morning learning a traditional purl -- and then, once we'd got that down, learning a Norwegian purl in the afternoon). The class included a ball of yarn and a cowl pattern, the cowl covered a wide variety of techniques (cables, lace) and was the perfect project. (Also, the class was held in a lovely cafe/restaurant and the resulting lunch was really good).

Once I got home I plugged away at the cowl for a while but in the back of my mind there was a niggle about the (not-so) softness of the yarn. It was a lovely yarn, but after a while I was pretty sure I would never wear it next to my face. I ripped the cowl out and looked for a new project.

I finally spotted the perfect project when Twist Collective posted a picture of Sideswipe in their twitter feed.

This pattern is knit flat, toe up, and gave plenty of opportunities with perfecting both knits and purls. My gauge was way off the pattern gauge at 37st/4” so after I'd knit enough to count as a swatch I did the maths to adjust the size and restarted with new stitch count. Apart from that I made no pattern modifications.

I love the finished socks. The yarn comes in a variety of non-garish colourways -- most of them grey with a splash of colour (purple/green/pink/blue). I could easily I have bought a few more balls.

Mostly a mindless knit, for 90% of the time you're just plugging away at simple stockinette. If you're not into picking up stitches (and I admit it's not my favourite thing in the world) then these socks should probably come with some sort of warning and there's also a long chunk of grafting to close the sock at the end BUT I think they were worth it.

Only thing is, I've not knit anything continental style since... I'm not sure I'm ready to make this my primary knitting method (anything other than a bog standard knit or purl is still somewhat clunky) but I do want to carry on experimenting and improving my technique, so... what's next?

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Making Resolutions

While I was busily working away at the tail end of 2013, I kept telling myself that I would start a list of all the things I wanted to do when I had more time for me again.

I didn't ever write that list.

I've never been sure about New Year's resolutions, but instead I think I'm going to set myself a little monthly goal (for January at least)... something small for now, something fun, and something I can see myself achieving.

Very late in 2011 I bought a spinning wheel. I was super excited about it. Shortly afterwards I noticed I was almost never at home to use it :)

Very late in 2013, HilltopCloud introduced some non-wool blends into her shop, and very kindly offered samples for just the cost of postage... I snapped one up.

For a while I set myself a no work after 9pm rule and so over two evenings spun up two of the three samples:

First was a 65% silk, 35% kid mohair blend. in a dark purple and navy.

Second was a 65% llama, 35% faux cashmere blend with a slightly paler purple and grey.

Both samples were navajo plied to use up every last scrap. Sadly neither colour photographs well. Both yarns are beautifully soft and I can't make up my mind which one I prefer.

So, two down, one remains. I started the final sample very soon after these two but it wanted to be a much finer yarn and that meant there was no way I could get it all done in a single evening (especially not between 9pm and bedtime). So the startings of a single are sat on a bobbin waiting for the rest of the fibre to join them. It's been a while now and they're starting to get lonely.

JANUARY GOAL - Finish the last wool-free sample, then soak the lot to set the twist and work out their vital stats (yardage, wraps-per-inch).

That's it. Shouldn't be too hard...

Monday, 13 January 2014

Life Resumes

I'm the kind of person who likes to fill their time with as many things as possible, but part way through last year I realised that I had maybe taken this to an extreme. As a result, I made a conscious decision not to blog until I'd made it to a particularly important work/life deadline.

I made it.

So, now I'm picking up the fun stuff again. Starting with knitting.

In 2013 I finished nine projects (for comparison, I finished twenty-two in 2012). By the tail end of 2013 I had no knitting and was definitely noticing it's absence. So, on Christmas day I cast on for the first sock in months:

This is Maudie, a second sock.

The pattern is free and features a four row cable pattern, a new-to-me heel flap construction, and a patterned toe. I'm knitting it in Colinette Jitterbug in colourway velvet leaf, a really rich green colour. The photo is subject to the usual winter light problems, but the yarn somehow always looks at its best when I'm knitting in the car.


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