Send more day light

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, Spinning, sweaters on November 5th, 2015

Time got away from me there, I’ve been spending more time than usual on parenting duty as it’s the time of year for viewing sixth forms. So far we’re up to three visits, with one school kicked out sight unseen and one more visit to go. In the time that slipped away since my last post I spun, plied, soaked, dried and knitted up the superwash and nylon fibre that I was spinning last time. It made a pair of socks with a little bit left over. They were a good match for the pumpkins, I went for a minimalist effort this year which I liked but have no record of. For the second pair of socks I picked out a ball of Opal which I thought would match the leftovers from the first pair. In my defence I would say that I made the selection under artificial light because in daylight you can see that they have very little in common.

I gritted my teeth and plodded through the shoulders of the baby jacket, I didn’t enjoy it and there was a considerable amount of ripping back to correct wrong side mistakes. I didn’t like knitting the sleeve either, it’s my own fault because I should have more sense than to be knitting black in November. You can see that the sleeve increases start off in a black section of pattern and that was my problem. The increases should be every five rounds but I couldn’t work out how many rounds I’d knitted because I couldn’t see where I’d made the previous increase. Once I’d got far enough along so that the increases fell in the light yarn it was altogether more of a pleasant knit. I’ve started the second sleeve while the pattern is still fresh in my mind and I know that I just have to stick with it through the difficult part. I’ve found what I want to knit next so I have plenty of motivation to get me through the first few inches.

I have been tidying up, I have 400g of this wool and I decided that it has hung around for long enough and it is time for it to move along. It’s going to be hats unless I think of something else before I finish spinning it, I’m only on the second braid so there’s plenty of time yet. There might even be enough time for a better photo, daylight permitting.




Pumpkin season

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, socks, Spinning, sweaters on October 16th, 2015

It’s turned cooler, not quite fire o’clock but running that way. This is my summer stick collection, I need to store them securely where they cannot be retrieved and cashed in again and the fireplace seemed as good a place as anyway. Pebble has never been a stick carrying dog, he comes from a long line of dogs bred for beauty and manual labour is beneath him. He also doesn’t really have the equipment for it – tiny teeth and next to no jaw. Over the summer when he was out for walks with WFB junior he started bringing in sticks, some no more than twigs and a few so long that I had to break them up to fit them in the fireplace. Some days he brought in three, other days he couldn’t find any that were worthy of his attention. The deal is that I get the stick and he gets the dog treat. At some point his hard work will pay off and he can laze on the rug warmed by his burning twigs.

The wool I thought I was going to spin turned out to be not at all what I was wanting right now. I kept looking at it and in the end I put away the rather boring lilac and blue and pulled out some colourful superwash merino and bright nylon instead. That was obviously the right project because it spun itself. This looks very like sock yarn, there’s just over 400 yards of chain plied yarn here with the colour repeats in the two smaller skeins being intentionally shorter than those in the big skein. That’s because this is not sock yarn and I’m planning on the small skeins becoming sleeves. This is probably going to be a little sweater rather than socks providing that there is enough of it, I can see it paired with a deep chocolate brown in something stranded that probably is going to look very like the black and grey one that I am still knitting.

That stopped being fun immediately after I took this photograph. You can see that I’ve cast off at the front neck so I now have to knit in rows rather than rounds which means purling in pattern. I’m telling myself that it’s only for a couple of inches and I have in the past knitted entire cardigans with patterned purl rows. The difference is that now I know that there’s an alternative to purl side rows and also my knit side rows are much more efficient because I can carry one colour of yarn in each hand. I have two hands that knit but I still only have one that’s smart enough to purl. I’m planning to weigh the body when it’s done and work out exactly how much yarn I used so I can see whether there is enough of  the handspun to make another of the same shape but with less pattern.

I enjoyed spinning the merino and nylon so much that I did it all over again, except that this is normal nylon rather than trilobal nylon so it’s not sparkly. I think I picked this braid of fibre because of the orange, it’s a very seasonal colour for the next week or two and in addition I had the idea that I could use it to stretch the kingfisher yarn just that little bit further in case there wasn’t enough for a sweater. That was the original plan anyway but as soon as the yarn was dry I cast on for a pair of socks. I regret nothing.

How was your day mum?

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, Spinning, sweaters, Weaving on September 30th, 2015

Thank you for asking sweetheart, my day was good. I did two loads of washing, dealt with the recycling (as I keep telling you, there is no recycling fairy), ironed a score of shirts, walked the dog, did some boring banking stuff, bought your father’s Christmas present, acted as your agent and booked you on a workshop, bought a length of shirt material and buttons to match, vacuumed the floors and baked a batch of bread. Then I went to my mother’s and devised a series of tests to determine which part of the wire-handset-mower combination was at fault, causing her robot mower to not mow. When I got back I decided to ignore the dusting for another day and instead played with wool and did some thinking.

I’m plodding along with this, it will in time be one of those looped scarves that ends in a V. It’s not exactly flying along and that’s because of the multiple colours in the weft. It’s all stop-start and I don’t like that. It is using up odd bits of yarn so it is a worthy thing and someone will like it when it’s done, possibly even me. Sitting with it gave me some valuable thinking time and as a result I’ve decided not to beat myself up about the lack of progress on the big grey blob of a sweater. There’s nothing about it that’s making me happy, the knitting is boring, the spinning is ok but not exactly exciting and combing is not right at the top of my list of favourite things. I will not freeze this winter if it isn’t finished so what does it matter if it isn’t? I would rather spend my time on something that make me happy and the grey sweater isn’t it. This time I will pack the pattern with the sweater when I put it back where I found it.

The knitting that is making me happy this week is the little sweater that I started last week. I can be certain this time that we are looking at the front here, you can see that the central black pattern is starting to divide. In about an inch there will be a few stitches cast off and a steek for the neck opening. I’ve not made a neck like this before and that is the single reason that I bought the pattern. I had a bit of a yarn crisis with this, I decided that I wanted a grey, black and olive colour scheme and then google assisted me with choosing the accent colours. Where it went wrong was that when I went to the sock yarn bag there was a marked absence of undyed yarn. I buy it a kilo at a time and although I assume that the bag will always be full it stands to reason that there will be times when it isn’t. There was just enough yarn to dye the grey and the olive and then I had to ditch my carefully planned colour scheme and look at what yarn I had. The blue is left over from baby Sirdal and the purple was sitting about from the neckwarmer that I ripped back last week. It’s not exactly what I had in mind but “good enough” will do. The blue and the purple look to be more uneven than the black/grey, it’s not my knitting but the wavy twice-knit wool

Now that I have recognised that grey Wensleydale is not a priority in the spinning queue it means I am free to spin some pretty things that I actually want to spin into yarn that I want to use. This is superwash Cheviot and if it behaves itself it is going to become a pair of socks or possibly mittens depending on how I’m feeling when I get that far. It’s hard wearing and washable but it’s not the softest of wools so that knocks it out of the running for baby wear. Before I start I need to decide whether it’s going to be one ball that transitions dark – light or two balls (ideally matching) that run dark – light or whether I mess about with it for something more random.


The right sort of a carrot

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, Spinning, sweaters, Wensleydale, Wensleysweater 1 on September 23rd, 2015

After all that moaning I did about the boring, boring sleeve I managed to knit my way through the whole ball of yarn by Sunday. I am still out of yarn, I’m working on the combing but realistically a ball of yarn a week is all I can manage and that’s if I actually pull my finger out and get on with combing. If I pushed myself I could find the time to comb 100g a day but that’s a bad idea because when my attention starts to wander I find myself combing my left hand. Wool combs are sharp and pointy and you swing them about – it’s a painful combination that means that it is a really good idea to keep your mind on what you are doing. The house rule is to stop when you draw blood,  I’m aiming to stop before then which is why I’m only aiming for 50g a day. I don’t dislike combing but there’s some set up and clean up that I’m not too enamoured of – it’s always easy to say that I’ll skip it today because of [reason]. I’m hoping to have another ball of yarn by the start of next week so that I can finish this sleeve and probably start the next.

Clearly something happened to make me knuckle down and get on with the boring sleeve and it’s not snowed so it isn’t that. I found the right motivational tool in the purchase of a new pattern because there’s nothing like the promise of a new start to make me get a move on and push through the boredom. This is the very start of a Dale of Norway pattern, it’s a Geilo in the twelve month size. I’m doing the sweater rather than the cardigan because the neck treatment will be new to me. The black edge will be only half that length, there’s a picot turn hiding in the middle of the hem and when I’ve sewn it to the back it will stop rolling up so I can actually see what I’m supposed to be knitting. This is the centre of the front or maybe the back, you can see that the diagonals of the pattern are reflected around that central blob. The next pattern doesn’t do this and I can’t wait to get there because I am not coping well with this reflection business. Maybe at some point my autopilot knitter will figure out that there’s an intentional change in the centre but at the moment she’s screaming ERROR when what I’m counting doesn’t fit into the space that I have. There are only a few rows left in this section, I don’t think I have enough time to get the hang of it before the pattern changes.

Sometime this side of Christmas I will need a gift for someone I don’t know very well, I’ve seen a photo of her but that’s all. I’m running with the idea that everyone has a neck (I’m certain she does, it was in the photo) and that you can’t go wrong with soft and fluffy. What I thought I had in the bag was a hundred grams of cashmere but when I came to open it the label (in my handwriting, there is no excuse) said 30% cashmere, 70% merino. I wasn’t expecting to get it all on the bobbin but a positive mental attitude (also known as “stubbornness”) did the trick. There are about four hundred yards here which will certainly be plenty for a little neck thing. I have to decide whether it’s going to be a beaded thing before I decide what colour it is because I have bags and bags of beads that I’ve bought for projects and then not used. I’m going to shop the stash and then dye the yarn to match the beads.

Return of the prodigal sweater

Posted by Caroline in Spinning, sweaters, Wensleysweater 1 on September 18th, 2015

The blog has not seen much of the Wensleydale sweater started last autumn and it’s not alone in that, neither have I. Each year when the Christmas tree goes up the spinning wheel comes down and because I’d knitted the last of the handspun I packed the sweater away too. Time passed, seasons changed. The pattern was living under the coffee table and whenever I came across it I had a vague feeling of unease because I wasn’t sure where it was that the sweater was living. I didn’t hunt for it because that would be admitting that I’d lost it but as the year went on I’d reduced the search area so that if I did need to search for it I knew the places where it wasn’t. I cleared out the spare bedroom while I was getting ready for a spot of quilting and it wasn’t there, we emptied the assortment of random stuff out of the cupboard under the stairs and it wasn’t there. I’d looked in my wardrobe, on top of my wardrobe and then I was out of ideas. It was September and nine months is a long time for a sweater to hide. I was out of ideas and so I came clean about it being lost.

My husband suggested that it might be in the drawer under the bed. He meant well but it was a daft idea as that’s where I keep the sock yarn and you’d think I’d have noticed a big lump of knitting in there. In the interests of marital harmony I went and looked and that’s where it had been all of the time. I looked for the pattern because I knew exactly where that was, except of course that now it wasn’t. I will never know the detail of the notes I made on it because it’s gone, I’m assuming I told myself what I was doing when I ignored the directions to knit the sleeves first and then pick up for the body. Providing it fits when I’m done it doesn’t matter if I changed track part way through, at least I’m sure what size I’m knitting and what needles I’m using and the rest is minor stuff.

The one thing that I managed not to lose was the spinning sample so I was able to make a skein of yarn that looked just like the last one I made before Christmas.  I decided to ignore what I had been doing on the body and start with a sleeve mainly because I could start from scratch rather than having to figure out what adjustments I’d started to make for the body. When I’ve knitted all of this ball I’ll have a clue how much more yarn I need to finish the sweater, at the moment I’m thinking it’s another ball for the other sleeve and two more after that. I’m not worried about running out of fibre, no doubt I will be at some point but not this week.

The blue that was briefly a striped cardigan didn’t all get packed away. This is a dickey to go under a sweater with a wide neck, I’ll need something like this to wear with the Wensleysweater as I think it’s going to itch. At the time the photos were taken it had a flaw that you can clearly see here – the top button is too big for the space it is in and it’s sticking up above the fold of the collar. I liked the buttons, they were exactly right or at least they would have been if the buttonholes had been in a different place. As it is they are not going to work and are coming off. I cast on for with another cowl come dickey and got very near the end of it before deciding that I’d rather have the yarn than the finished object. It didn’t sit right on the shoulders and I knew that I’d never wear it.

The only knitting that I have now is the sweater and it is such a mind numbingly boring knit. There is one interesting cable set in acres of seed stitch with a pair of decreases every three rows. If I didn’t have so much time invested in it I’d rip this too but I know that I’ll wear it once it’s finished and I just have to survive the sleeves.



Surprise cardigan

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sweaters on August 27th, 2015

We’ve been away on holiday to Northumberland this year (it’s on the right hand side just below Scotland for those of you living further away from it than me). It’s somewhere we’ve driven through on the way to/from the Highlands and we’ve said that we’d visit and then done nothing about it. This was the year when we went down the road less travelled (by us at least) and went somewhere new rather than fighting our way into Devon. It was a good move, there were miles of yellow sandy beaches with very few people on them and it made a refreshing change not to be kicked to death during the height of holiday season. It’s an area known for its dark skies but the weather put paid to any chance of star gazing, the skies may have been dark but they were also covered in cloud. I will accept that the brisk, cool breeze may also have had something to do with the lack of people on the beaches, further research is necessary and we’ll be going back next year.

I had a problem with choosing holiday knitting this year as the only thing I had on the needles was the baby bog jacket and it was close enough to the neck for me not to be certain of having enough knitting for the week. I didn’t feel like knitting lace or socks so I took a risk and decided to start a new cardigan. As I was packing I printed off the pattern, spent a bit of time with the swatch, calculator and a tape measure and came up with a plan whereby I would end up with a cardigan that would fit by using totally the wrong yarns. I set off on holiday with no other knitting and no tape measure which meant that when I came home there would either be a lot of progress or a major ripping incident.

I am four big stripes along although it’s a bigger four on one side than the other. Don’t panic, this is intentional. When I saw the pattern it was a must knit, not because I had the yarn, needed a cardigan or thought I would look good in it. It was a must knit because it looked as if it would be fun to knit. So far it has been entertaining, twenty rows is just long enough before a colour change. It’s twenty rows on one side and four on the other because of all the short row action happening around the back. Had I had more time I might have overdyed the blue with a little green to make a teal which would have been perfect with the brown but time was something that I didn’t have. The blue is fine and good enough will do.

The baby bog jacket is nearly at the point where everything unfolds and sleeves appear. This is the point where I’ve knitted up the back, across the shoulders and I’m now knitting downhill. There’s a bit of scrap yarn knitted in for the neck and it now has two clearly defined fronts. They may be small but I’m working on that. I hope that I have enough of the solid blue to add an edging when I’m done, I’ve been using it to add extra stripes to the patterned sock yarn but I may well have added too many stripes. It’s probably going to get much longer today as I can see that I’m going to need some relaxing knitting because I know that there is going to be a scene. At some point during the night the dog has decided to sleep next to the euphonium case, like you do, and the music on the floor has needed softening up. When my son eventually makes it downstairs he’s going to find that one of his pieces of music has been totally shredded. He can’t blame the dog for knocking it onto the floor as part of it is trapped under the case which is probably how he’s managed to shred it rather than scratching it across the floor. It’s not actually a case of “the dog ate my homework” but it’s as close as I’ve ever seen.

Edit to add – my mediation skills were not required, there was no drama but a surprisingly mature attitude to the destruction of personal property. Phew.

Finished is good

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing on August 13th, 2015

I have been doing a fair amount of hand sewing in the evenings, I’ve hemmed a dozen hankies and sewn bindings on two quilts. When I’ve run out of sewing I’ve had a big slab of garter stitch to fall back on. This is sock yarn on a 3.25mm needle and before I’m done I’ll probably have used all of the ball and some leftovers as well. This will become a baby bog jacket, the last one I knitted back in 2007 was a smaller size, bigger yarn and bigger needles but I remember it as being much more boring than this. I have learned from last time and now if anyone asks me what I’m knitting I demonstrate by tearing and folding a sheet of paper. The orange waste yarn is where I will separate the sleeves from the body, fold the outside edges inwards to make the fronts and fold the top edge down to make the sleeves. I also sewed a few ends in, knitted a collar, found four buttons and finished another baby sweater. This is Drops B13-12 except that I ignored the striped pattern because I had a big bag of sock yarn leftovers to use up. It didn’t use up all of the leftovers but I didn’t enjoy trying to knit random rows so I didn’t feel like knitting another. I started it in March but compared to some of the other things I’ve been finishing lately it counts as a speedy project.

The thing in the wardrobe is now a thing on a bed, it took a ridiculously small amount of time to quilt once I had decided on the motif to fit into the trees. My quilting improved somewhat but it still wasn’t as good as the quilting in the sashing. I was moaning about my loss of skills to my husband and he worked out that the initial quilting would have been done on the Janome rather than the Bernina. I’ve swapped the machines around and he is right, the tension is far better especially on the swooping curves. The Janome has now been promoted to the sewing cabinet and the Bernina will now be the dining table machine. That will teach it to mess with my tension.

Flushed with success I set about quilting the cabin wallhanging for the top of the stairs. I went with something freeform that looks like wind and that was even faster to finish because I twirled my way across from one side to the other. That’s now bound and hung and it fits in the space I have so I didn’t do anything silly with my initial calculations. The small squares are four inches so the whole thing is less than a yard square. At the moment the wobbly edges aren’t bothering me enough for me to take it down, soak it and block it flat. I am really pleased with myself for finishing this, it deserved better than being stuck in a box in a cupboard. It goes without saying that I have other boxes in the cupboard, hopefully I’ll get to those before I run out of steam.

Next in the quilting queue was the larger of the two tree skirts, I was hoping to have it finished by now but I ran out of thread and enthusiasm at about the same time. I didn’t have time to get the coffee table moved, the three layers smoothed and the whole thing pinned before Mr Fluffy came back from his morning walk. He was a Good Dog and settled down to supervise with his chin just on the edge of the sashing. I went to get a cup of tea and give my knees a rest and when I came back he had settled down for a snooze on the section that I hadn’t pinned. It’s not far off being finished now, I need to bind the centre, stipple the white areas around the boxes and decide what I’m doing about fastening the open edge. I’ve quilted Christmas trees and holly leaves in the green star, outlined the presents and I spent two evenings sewing the binding. I’ll probably do exactly the same things with the smaller tree skirt too except with it being smaller I have a chance of getting it basted without canine assistance.


The thing in the wardrobe

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, lace, sewing on July 23rd, 2015

Looking back through the blog it seems to be six years since I cleared out the front bedroom so I shouldn’t be surprised that it took me so long to get down to floor level this time. It’s done now (hopefully for another six years), I can get in there to sew and I even dug some yarn out to make a warp. I’ve now got a queue of things to quilt – there is the tree skirt I made recently, the cabin in the woods wall hanging, the tree skirt I found in the wardrobe last week and a quilt made of trees. There is a certain tree theme here, it’s not intentional but just the way it worked out.

I knew this was in the wardrobe, it’s been in there for decades. I won the tree blocks back in the early days of the internet, they were paper pieced so I had hopes of them all being the same size but it was not to be. They were supposed to be 8″ finished but there were multiple makers and slightly different sizes and they were not going to play well together. I framed the trees with the light brown fabrics and squared it up as I went along making it less noticeable that some of the trees are significantly larger than others. Phase one of quilting was along the blue lines of the sashing, I had a long repeating leaf and vine motif running from one side of the quilt to the other and a shorter repeat in between. It’s more visible on the back, you can see the way that the leaves are currently framing a square of empty space. At that point my bright ideas stopped and the whole thing went into the wardrobe for a decade or so. When it came out of hiding for phase two of quilting I used some of the leaves to fill in all the triangles around the outside of the quilt and I bound the edges. That left me with the trees themselves and I was stumped. I tried a few things such as echo quilting the tree shape and a circular wreath of leaves but I couldn’t come up with anything I liked the look of so it went back into the wardrobe again.

Inspiration struck last week while I was making the bed, it’s been warm and we’re sleeping under a quilt that I finished in 1996. I looked at the quilting design in the corner block which has no resemblance to the tree quilt other than it is square but instantly I could see how I could fill those empty tree blocks. I drafted the pattern and then later that day I moved the sewing machine cabinet and found the pattern I’d used for quilting the sashing back in the 1990′s. I’m tracing the pattern, sewing through it and adding the wandering vine around the outside as I go depending on how much empty space I have. It’s going well so far, one block takes me about ten minutes but I’ve had enough after three of them. I’m hoping that by the time I’m done I will have recovered my machine quilting skills or at least clawed some of them back.

This has been my take along knitting project for a while, it’s been to music lessons, Saturday morning music centre, anywhere where I need to sit about. It started out as a skein of white yak/silk that I spun sometime in the past, the label said that there were 420 yards but it didn’t give a clue as to the date. I think it’s probably this one from 2012 that I spun as an attempt to forget all about junior’s audition. I dyed it a while ago but then couldn’t find the right project. In the end I grew tired of looking at it and decided that what it really wanted to be was finished. It is now a cowl, it comes to waist depth on me and will make a soft and warm Christmas present for someone. I will block it properly before I wrap it, it will get wires and steam to make the points pointy, I just soaked it and laid it flat to dry in an attempt to move it from the coffee table into the present cupboard.

My evening job this week is making more hankies for Christmas, he’ll get half now and half wrapped up later. The blue elephants were considerably cheaper than the yellow ones for reasons that are not at all clear to me. I would expect yellow to be discounted because it’s never a popular colour but the blue was less than half the price of the yellow. I bought a metre and it will make a dozen hankies. Sewing them is very relaxing, right up until the moment when the thread gets tangled after which it’s not relaxing at all. My other evening project has been, as always, socks but that has been derailed as I’ve reached the toe and despite counting, checking and counting again they don’t look long enough. I tried them on and they’re too big for me but not enough “too big” for me to be happy about knitting a second toe. The feet don’t return home until Saturday so until then the socks are on hold.

If I manage to quilt four blocks a day then there should be a finished quilt to show next time, I’m confident now that its future is on a bed rather than in a wardrobe and that it will be finished this time rather than stuffed away for another ten years.




Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, socks on July 14th, 2015

I’m popping in while I have a cup of tea, this is my break between phases three and four of tidying up in the spare bedroom. It’s needed doing for months but I really want to be able to get to the sewing cabinet so now is the right time. It’s coming up to the time of year when I have a week with no cooking and where the house stays tidy, where I’m nearly home alone all week. It would be a shame to have so much free time and not be able to use it to best advantage. The dog is happy with my progress, when I pulled the cabinet away from the wall to pick up all the many things that had fallen behind it I found what I remember as a puffalasauraus. It was one of my son’s toys some fourteen years ago. The dog is exactly the right age to enjoy it, it took him a while to find out how to make it roar but since then there has been nonstop roaring and barking. The lolling tongue indicates that he’s been working hard on subduing the dinosaur, at some point this afternoon I’ll confiscate it and he’ll collapse from exhaustion.

What have I been up to since I posted last? I drove Master WFB to an audition and out of desperation pulled off my best parking performance in years. It’s amazing what you can do when time and parking spaces are short, needs must when the devil drives (and parks). The results of the audition are not until mid December which is too long to be distracted with a diverting project (like last time) so I’m aiming to go with plan B which is to ignore it altogether. We also had a surprise! invitation which means he’s missing the last four days of school to go on a residential music course next week. The camera card reports that I have finished a pair of socks and made another bow tie. This one matched my son’s purple jacket, it’s a perfect match because I made it out of the trousers that I dyed at the same time as the jacket (really, it does match even though the two set of photos would say otherwise). It’s like the other one I made in that it’s hand tied (rather than folded and sewn) but opens at the back with a hook and eye and there’s a slider to make it adjustable. The socks are made from leftover sock yarn, there were still a lot of leftovers leftover so I immediately cast on for another pair. They will also be having an orange stripe because why not? He complained that he ended the day with striped feet but seeing as I didn’t dye any of the yarns in these I didn’t feel in the slightest bit guilty.

Duty calls, my next job is to sweep the floor now that I’ve uncovered it then there will be some packing away of wool, folding of fabric and admiring of progress. Next time I’ll probably be looking at What I Found In The Wardrobe (circa 1994)



Good from a distance

Posted by Caroline in Knitting, sewing, socks on June 23rd, 2015

I decided that the time was right for making that tree skirt that I never get around to making. One of the reasons that I’ve been putting it off for so long was that I needed to enlarge the pattern which is easy with squares and more of a challenge with diamonds. I suspected that it might need the use of GCSE trigonometry and I was right. Fortunately I have an occasional GCSE maths revision session when I have to attempt to explain the trickier questions of junior’s homework so it wasn’t as challenging as it would otherwise have been. I scaled up the pattern, dredged out the scrap boxes and then lurgy struck. All I wanted to do was to cough, sneeze and moan about my sore throat but when the dining table looks like the photo on the left then stopping is not really an option. I made some really stupid mistakes when I was feeling rough, including cutting off the piece I’d just sewn on, sewing wrong sides together and not making an allowance for a seam. It took far longer than it should have done and there was much unpicking and muttering.

The wrapping on the presents is made from leftovers from the scrap box pieced onto a foundation of paper, I mostly used the offcuts from the Pokemon quilt I made in 2006 (there’s a photo at the bottom of this post) with a few other random bits as the mood took me. I pulled out two possible whites for the background but when I looked at them I didn’t think that I had enough of either to make eight blocks so I decided not to risk it but to make four blocks from each of the white fabrics. I am not at home to Mr CloseUp today because I absentmindedly took the paper off the first set of boxes before I’d sewn the background fabric to the sides. Without the paper to stabilise them the bias edges run amuck and the first four boxes are bigger than they should have been. The second four boxes are smaller than they should have been as I managed to allow for a seam allowance on only two sides rather than four. I think I’ll get away with it because of the sashing, in addition anyone wanting to have a closer look is going to have to get on their hands and knees and do battle with the lowest branches of the Christmas tree. It needs quilting but for that I need the sewing machine to be in the cabinet which means I need to tidy up. It’s only June, there’s plenty of time yet.

This is the second pair of child socks, it wasn’t until I came to take the photo that I realised that I’d managed a perfect match without trying. I was going to keep them for when I needed a bribe but he smiled and asked nicely so I handed them over and off they went to school. Note to self – do not leave potential gift socks in plain sight. The leftovers have gone straight into another pair, they are the third stripe from the cast on in this weirdly coloured photo. These are a pair of scrap striped socks, I’m knitting both at once because I’m expecting to run out of yarn multiple times. When a ball gets really small I’ll rewind it into a centre pull ball and knit from both ends  so it will end in the same place in both socks. There may be a random orange stripe once I’m past the heel, I haven’t quite decided yet. What usually happens when I’m using scraps in a project like this is that I pull out lots of little balls of sock yarn and then when I’ve finished I find that there are enough leftover leftovers to make another. In my dreams it makes a big dint in the pile, the reality is a different thing.

These trees don’t look all that significant but they are to me (in case anyone is wondering, yes, they do have a seam allowance on all four sides). Back in 1998 I joined in a round robin swap and when the box of blocks and fabric came back from its world tour I didn’t really know how to tackle it. I could add as many blocks as I wanted and make it whatever size I wanted, seeing as I didn’t have a clue what it was that I wanted I packed it away for another day. I now know exactly what I want, I’ve worked out that I need to make five blocks and these are four of them.

(Elizabeth – if you’re reading this, brace yourself for the sight of your sixteen year old blocks)