Holiday souvenirs

Posted by Caroline in Family, Knitting on January 27th, 2015

A quick look at the camera card reveals that we had a weekend away. The dog was exhausted by Sunday night after he had been faced with a non stop parade of squirrels, moorhens and ducks with the occasional swan thrown in for good measure. If you click on the photo you can see the squirrel with its offensive tufty tail to the left of the central tree, I could probably have pointed the camera at a window at random and had a squirrel in shot. You can see that the new sock went with us and I suppose that it is possible that it was really a pair with the other one worn on another day. I’m doubtful but until I start hanging socks to dry I can’t prove that he’s not been wearing both of them. I’m sure I’d be happier if I started making single socks rather than matched pairs but the last time I suggested this as an option it was shot down as being totally unacceptable.

I finished another Wild Iris (on the left), this one is in Apple Laine Apple Pie sock yarn (65% wool, 20%  mohair, 10% nylon, 5% silk). I left the button off this time because I found that the lack of a button (and therefore no designated “front”) makes it easier to fling on and as this is for me I can guarantee that flinging will be the order of the day. The yarn was not originally this colour, it may possibly have been “Arizona”, but I was planning on using stash beads and the yarn as it stood went with none of the beads I had. I went on to make another mobius with some pale green Kidsilk Aura that I picked up at a church fete last summer. I weighed it carefully and aimed to use up all of the second ball but the ball ran out with inches of beaded picot bind off still to go. Luckily I had four balls to play with so it wasn’t the end of the world. You may detect some proper photography at work here courtesy of my husband who was testing his lighting prior to photographing more interesting subjects.

I’m still failing with big knitting, I’ve swatched for two cardigans for my mother and failed to start either. One was derailed by the pattern of many errors and the second was doomed by me trying to use a bad choice of contrast yarn. I spent three days trying to convince myself that the two yarns made a harmonious pair when it was blindingly obvious to even non-knitters that the union had nothing going for it. My sweater is waiting for me to comb more wool and that’s on hold until I’ve finished the bit of painting in the kitchen because the last thing I want is dust on fresh paint. I’m done with mobius knitting for now (I have another to show that needs the ends sewing in) and everyone seems to have enough socks so I feel rather at a loose end. No doubt the right project will come along, until it does I suppose I could always get on with finishing those two baby jackets that I’ve been resolutely ignoring.

I have had a few days where I’ve been busy but had nothing to show for it when I sit down at the end of the day. I’ve been comparing exam boards for music exams, researching log storage, chalk board options and catching up with the mountain of laundry that we generate on a weekend away. It’s all necessary and time well spent but I’m left with nothing tangible. It means that I berate myself for doing nothing at all before realising that my “nothing” included three hours in the car, filling the freezer with food and the wardrobes with clothes. I decided that today I would spend some time making something visible and permanent. Where we were stopping at the weekend had a chalkboard wall next to the kitchen and we all had fun with that so I thought that we’d have one at home. My hint for the day is to have plenty of cloths because it turns out that this paint is very, very runny as well as being very, very black. Even if you are usually a mess free painter you may find that you’ve dripped it on the floor and flicked it down the kitchen cabinets and the opposing wall. Not that I did that of course, not that anyone can prove anyway.



Well hello 2015

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Family, Knitting, lace, socks on January 11th, 2015

I’ll say that I’ve been away because of Christmas, there were other reasons but let’s blame the season as it’s easier to point the finger at the festive time suck rather than anything else. Everything I was making was finished, although one thing wasn’t done in time to meet a present exchange. It was finished and wrapped for Christmas Eve though so I’m counting it as done. It would be appropriate to do a big reveal at this point except that I don’t have photos of everything I made. The socks I made have been through the wash and are no longer a pair but seeing as they are plain black when in shoes the one remaining sock will match all of the others that are black above the heel. The other is in the house somewhere and sooner or later the two will be reunited.

Earlier this year I dyed a jacket and replaced the buttons, he’s worn this so many times now that I wouldn’t mind if he never wore it again. He’s worn it with a T shirt and trainers, he’s worn it with a shirt and tie. At some point it will no longer fit him because he’s fourteen and still growing. I found another charity shop grey wool jacket, dyed it green and bought it new buttons. This one is a little larger and will last a little longer. I prefer the purple one, it was much lighter to start with which meant that it was a brighter colour after dyeing. Finding a jacket that is the right size, wool and a light colour is not all that easy so I bought the grey even though I knew it wasn’t going to give me the bright green I would have liked.

I liked this cowl so much that I’ve cast on for another for me. This is Wild Iris by Silvia Harding. It’s a moebius cast on followed by evenings of round and round tv knitting and a beaded edging to finish with. The pattern includes mitts as well but I wasn’t convinced that I had enough of the yarn to make those so I didn’t try. I spun the yarn in 2011 from a Juliespins Rambouillet braid (details here), there would have been plenty but I’ve already made a beaded something from it back in May. Fortunately I had some of the beads left over as well, the beaded edging only goes half way around the cowl so it needs fewer beads than you might think. I will confess that this was finished so close to deadline that it had to have a swift steam blocking over the ironing board.

I have had a longstanding love/hate relationship with our coffee machine, there’s something that I don’t do right and whatever it is I’ve been doing it that way for the last eight years. My husband makes espresso and it’s fantastic, whereas mine tastes of failure and despondency. The two variables are the amount of coffee that goes in the holder and how much you tamp it down. I’ve stood and watched him make coffee time and time again and although I think I’m doing exactly the same thing it’s obvious by the results that I’m not. I’ve been looking at domestic beans-to-cup coffee machines every Christmas and each year they are a little smaller and a little cheaper. This was the year when a machine that would fit in the space we have was less than £200 in the January sales so I bought one. Beans go in the top, water goes in the side and then all you do is press a button. There is no skill involved in pressing a button so after eight years of muttering and occasional finger pinching I can now have coffee whenever I want. There has been a lot of button pressing going on, so much so that I’m now buying beans a kilo at a time.

I like to have a fresh start to January, I threw away the to do list but I failed to complete everything that I had on the needles. I’m still looking at two baby jackets that maybe need an hour’s work between them, it feels more like finishing than knitting so it’s just not happening at the moment. I hope to start up the combing-spinning-knitting cycle and get my new grey sweater finished before the end of the season for wearing it. I’m certain that the first thing to be finished this year will be the cowl because little pretty things get my attention every time.

 

 



I’m making a list and checking it twice

Posted by Caroline in Family on December 20th, 2014

I have the normal to do list floating about, I’ve now started crossing off things that aren’t urgent, important or festive. I have another list that can’t be left in the open because it’s the secret special list with the present related stuff on. It also includes all the things that I’ve bought but that haven’t arrived at the door, happily the only one that had a delivery window as far as December 29th was crossed off early on and I’m down to one outstanding parcel. I have a third list that looks very like a Christmas/Boxing Day menu and a fourth list which is all the food items that I need to buy to make the third list happen.

I finished festive project number two (number one being the mittens), it involved a lot of pressing and some buttons. It’s a green thing with gold buttons and that’s all I’m saying. Festive projects three and four have been sat around for weeks waiting on a spot of fitting, thing three is now finished and waiting for a steam press (I don’t have the time for wet blocking now) and thing four needs some ribbing, some sewing and some more ribbing. That leaves me with a pair of socks as my last remaining knit and as both of them are past the heel and well on to the toe there’s a chance that they will be finished over the few evenings before Christmas Eve. I am quietly optimistic that everything is on track. I’m not entirely sure what I’ll be knitting on Christmas Day but I’m sure I’ll rustle up something.

It won’t be the green cardigan – I’m shelving that until next year. My in box this week had another set of pattern errata and I’ve decided to either go with “inspired by” and knit my own version using the rather pretty cables of the original or wait for a few people to finish knitting it. I have enough on my plate at the moment without reinventing a cardigan pattern or checking it line by line.

 



I’m fresh out of normal

Posted by Caroline in Family, Knitting, socks, Weaving on July 1st, 2014

It would be tempting fate to say that things are back to normal this week, that would be begging for something weird and wonderful to happen. There are only three weeks of “normal” left before the school holidays start so it would be good to have everything dusted and polished before the long slide into summer chaos. Last week was a busy week, the husband was off work so we caught up on all those jobs that need two sets of hands but can’t be accomplished with conscripted child labour. The home office is finished, the carpet taken up, new flooring put down, new blind at the window, trim to the floor – it’s really finished as opposed to our usual nearly finished (I am ignoring the dangling alarm sensor for very valid and earsplitting reasons). It does look more like a woodland retreat than it did before, the mural paper turned out to be cheaper than the paper on the other walls and I’ve put it up so that it can be removed without wrecking the adjoining walls. If in a few years he’d prefer a sea view then we can paste that up instead. We cut off Christmas tree lengths from the top of the hedge and had two runs to the tip household recycling centre. I’d love to see a recycling project involving conifer, pink foam backed carpet and laminate offcuts but don’t think that is ever likely to happen.

This week everyone is back at school/work and I am just about caught up with the washing that I didn’t have time for last week. This is good because I have things to catch up with on the fibre front. The gap on the loom is waiting for me to plan a contrast stripe. I’d originally thought that the whole warp would be solid red but a dig in the cotton box revealed that I had nowhere near enough red but quite a lot of orange. The current plan is for a red and yellow (lime? black?) stripe and a black weft. It needs a bit of planning now so that the pattern is balanced across the full width and the contrast starts at the right point in the pattern. This is rather more planning than I usually do so I’m in foreign territory. I’ve been avoiding it for a couple of days but it’s not going to work itself out, I either have to do some number crunching or accept that the pattern falls as it will.

This is old ground, this is my third pair of socks out of this ball of orange yarn. I think I’m done with socks for a while now, it might be time for some lace. They don’t match but I accepted that they wouldn’t match at the outset when I started knitting from both ends of the ball. This is not a problem seeing as it’s not unusual for him to be wearing one green and one red sock. As long as he keeps his shoes on they are a pair, he doesn’t care and I’m trying not to.

That’s all I have time for today, there’s floors to clean, grass to be cut and I still have a zip to put in a cardigan. The fun just never stops..

 



Quick change

Posted by Caroline in Dyeing, Family on April 16th, 2014

Patience is a virtue they say so I will refrain from gnashing my teeth and ranting about the delivery performance of a large internet bookseller. I am poised on the edge of a deep, deep rabbit hole and the one thing that is stopping me from flinging myself into the depths of a new obsession is that I’m waiting for my book on tailoring. I have the idea, the pattern, the fabric samples, a book on pattern fitting, a sheet for the muslin and a waiting husband. What I don’t have is the book on tailoring that I ordered on March 27th. “Delivery in 9-12 days” my eye.

I left the jacket pattern where it was seen by other passing males and things quickly escalated from “you could make one of those for me if you like” to specifying the number of buttons and the colour. I’m reluctant to make things for my son firstly because he’s still growing but mostly because he has absolutely no idea of how much work is involved. I’ve been calling in at the local charity shop in the hope of picking up a suitable sports jacket that I could alter to fit him and this week I struck lucky. I found a lightweight wool suit that I thought would be about the right size, when I got it home it fitted perfectly. The pockets still had the threads where they’d been sewn up when new, there was no wear at the hem where it would have rubbed on shoes and it had the look of something that had been worn twice. The downside was that on one of those occasions someone had sat in crumbs of chocolate and it was the wrong colour (his preference being for purple or lime green). I ignored the dry clean only label and washed the trousers on the wool wash to see if I could wash it without it shrinking because I was hoping to dye it in the machine. The trousers were a 30″ inside leg when they went in the washer and a 30″ leg when they came out so I was confident enough to wash the jacket too. I tacked through all the layers before I did that so that it would come out the same shape as it went in. The chocolate stains came out after a fashion, there were still some faint marks on the back but you’d need to be me to find them.

I had hoped to throw the lot in the washer with a dye designed for use in washing machines but all the machine dyes say that they must not be used with wool. Having already ignored “dry clean only” I would have ignored this too but I watched my machine wash on the wool cycle and I suspect that it wouldn’t have worked well. There’s very little water in the drum and it’s a short programme so I don’t think that there would be enough time for the dye to take or enough water for it to colour evenly. I don’t have a big enough pan for the suit to go on the hob so that was out, to get an even colour it would need to swim in lots of water. Patchy yarn is appealing when knitted but I can’t see a patchy jacket being as desirable. At this point I was stuck and then I remembered the solar dyeing I did for the first pair of stealth socks that I made. After seven years and countless wash cycles that yarn is still orange and yet it didn’t get much in the way of heat. Sitting in a jam jar in the greenhouse worked as well as simmering in a pan on a gas ring so maybe I could get away with using hot water rather than a heat source?

This is where I feel there should be a flashing sign like the ones on the television “Caution, these stunts are performed by professionals under controlled conditions. Do not attempt anything you see here at home” except that I’m not a professional and I was attempting it at home. Seriously, what’s the worst that could happen? The suit cost all of £10 and if I learned something and got some nice felt out of the process it would have been cheap entertainment. I dye a lot of wool so unlike tailoring I’m not reaching for the stars from a zero skill base. I knew that the lining and stitching would probably stay grey as they were not going to be silk or wool but I could live with that.

I bought a sixty litre storage tub rather than a barrel because the spare bedroom looks like the wardrobes have exploded so I have an immediate use for another storage box. (Next week’s job – tidy wool room) There was a chance that it might leak so I stood it outside near the drain so that I could empty it easily when I was done. I took the buttons off so the fabric under them would dye evenly, soaked the suit in warm water and then gradually added water firstly from the hot tap and then from the kettle so that it came up to being bath water hot without a sudden temperature change. Many of the dyes you can buy for wool have the dye and the acid combined. That’s not what I wanted for this. As soon as you have heat, dye and acid the dye will start to bond with the fibre and what I wanted was for the suit to become evenly saturated with the dye stock before it started to strike. I added the dye when the tub was about half full and then after I thought the suit was thoroughly soaked in the dye stock and I’d turned it several times I started to add the citric acid solution. After that I just l left it to cool, moving the clothes about every ten minutes or so. The magenta didn’t exhaust (does it ever?) so then it was back in the washer on the wool wash.

The result is evenly coloured, it’s still suit shaped because of the tacking and the added bonus is that the zip on the fly and both of the linings took the dye as well. The stains on the back have vanished altogether and the inside leg measurement is still 30″ so there was no shrinkeage. I forgot to take the buttons off the trousers as my focus was solely on the jacket so I know now that it’s not worth trying to dye the buttons. I will be consulting over button selection, I need eight small ones and three big ones so there’s a chance that it will double the cost of the jacket. I don’t expect him to ever wear the trousers and I doubt he’ll wear the jacket more than twice but then I will have proved beyond doubt that he’s not a jacket wearer without the effort of making him a jacket or the expense of buying one.

I am beyond pleased with the results and would certainly attempt this again although I would not be saying this if I’d done the dyeing inside because the storage box did leak. I’ve looked on Ebay and light coloured wool jackets are cheap and plentiful so if he does wear it there’s a good chance that I might do this again some time in the future. I think I struck lucky with this in that it’s a very light weight wool, I think that a thicker fabric would be harder to dye evenly and it would certainly take more drying.

There will be modelled shots once it’s dry/I’ve pressed it/it’s got buttons.

 

 



Spot the spinner

Posted by Caroline in Family, Knitting, Spinning, sweaters on March 23rd, 2014

If you’ve been here a while you’ll know that I’m not a big fan of making up. Once I’m done knitting, I’m done. I’m much better than I used to be, I used to stuff bags of knitting in the bottom of the wardrobe and ignore them for decades and I don’t do that any more. You could look on it as a sign of maturity, it’s partly because I recognise my weakness in this area and look for patterns that don’t have a lot of sewing up. You can’t get away from the finishing though, it just comes around in a different form. That’s ok because it’s sewing seams that I avoid, I can sew facings and pick up stitches with the best of them.

I started with the easy bits of sewing, there’s a facing on the body and on each of the sleeves but there’s nothing that shows on the outside so it doesn’t need to be perfect. After that I ran out of knitting and sewing because to do the button bands you need to do the collar, to do the collar you need to have joined the shoulders and before you can do that you need to cut into the sides. Everything was dependant on me getting out the sewing machine out and stitching down the sides so that’s what I did. The lines of stitching look wobbly because I used a shallow zig zag so that the knitting can stretch without popping the stitching. I’d marked the side seams as I was knitting (you can see the the orange threads on the previous photos) but the unknown was the depth. I measured the sleeve twice, cut once but I was prepared to cut twice if needed. I could make the openings deeper but not shallower so I cut just a smidge shorter than I thought I needed. I then ignored the sleeves altogether, sewed the shoulder seams and knitted the collar. It now looks much more like a sweater than it did before. Next up are the front bands and then finally the sleeves. I can’t kid myself with that, it is genuine sewing but it will be the very last thing I need to do to call it finished (apart from the buttons but they don’t count)

This also looks like a sweater because it is, buttons and all. I’ve knitted this several times before, it’s great fun and forgiving on sizing because garter is stretchy. This is DROPS b14-27 in undyed sock yarn and a two ply handspun superwash bfl and nylon. As before I changed the sleeves to eliminate any sewing up (no surprises there then). Instead of casting on at the start of the sleeve, casting off at the end and sewing it up I started with a provisional cast on and did a three needle cast off with the live stitches at the end of the sleeve. That means there is no sewing up at all, the only thing you need a needle for is to weave in the ends (and a different needle for the buttons).

The stretchy drive band for the wheel is over seven years old now and you can see that it’s yellowed and is full of tiny cracks as well as the big crack at the join. It stopped being stretchy a long time ago but it’s been doing the job. It’s hanging on but only just and when it parts it won’t be worth sticking back together. I’ve spun one bobbin this week (my excuse being that it’s been a busy week on the parenting front) and depending on the arrival of the post, there may be a gap until I get to the second bobbin. This is not the most relaxing fibre to spin, the combination of chaff, hay and second cuts means that it’s all stop-start. I like the colour and I knew that it was full of VM when I bought it (why yes, it was cheap as it happens) so I’m happy to plod along with the remainder.

Saturday was a red letter day, one of those very rare days where I have no responsibilities to small dogs or children. It doesn’t happen often, the son and heir had a two day rehearsal that included an overnight stay and my mother took the dog for the day. The two of us slipped away for a day out at Pemberley Chatsworth, I’ve been around the gardens many times (funnily enough always when there’s been a brass band playing outside) but the last time I was in the house was in the summer of 1976. This was the second set of Fates I found on the ceilings, I looked for them because if you’ve a ceiling bigger than a tennis court to fill with mythological figures then the Fates are likely to creep in somewhere. (as with all the photos, click on it to see it larger) The trio in the Painted Hall were sporting the usual combination of spindle, distaff and shears but this set won hands down in terms of equipment because they had a niddy noddy. I don’t know how many years you get on a two yard niddy noddy (that’s what it looks like) but unless it’s fifty years a turn someone there is about to get cut off in his prime. They’ve clearly worked out how to keep fibre from clinging to their clothes, the rest of us use an apron but I suppose this works as well.

 

 



Out and about

Posted by Caroline in Family, Weaving on September 15th, 2013

I didn’t put the sewing machine away when I finished the bunting because I knew that I’d be needing it again straight away. Dan is now playing with a group that needs its players to bring their own music stand so now it gets to leave the house occasionally after years of living under the settee. Neither of us realised that it was going to be so difficult to carry, the top section has a tendency to flop about and poke people in the legs. When he got back at the beginning of August I said that I’d make him a bag for it before he needed to carry it anywhere again. I’ve spent the summer thinking about a doubleweave pick up creation with a musical motif but realised that this was silly for two reasons, firstly because there are only three days where it needs to be carried and secondly that at some point he’ll want a more serious looking (=black) stand rather than the bright red one that was the best choice for a seven year old. There was the other consideration that he needed it for Saturday and I didn’t start cutting out until Thursday.

He would have managed with a plastic bag and an elastic band but where’s the fun in that? The fabric was the result of some selvedge and speed experiments back when I first got the floor loom. My beaming wasn’t as good as it could have been and that made a fabric that looked like a scarf but had more skips in it than I fancied fixing. It was the right width to make the bag and I have about 8″ of fabric left from the length, enough for a pocket on something. This is the first bag I’ve made with a zip, it was straightforward enough although I’d have made a better job of it if I’d have taken the time to find the zipper foot for the machine. I think there may be a run of zippered bags coming up soon now I’ve worked out what I’m doing.

The result was fit for purpose, you can see that the stand was under control and had no opportunity to flail around and he had a free hand for opening doors. I learned about inserting zips into lined bags and got rid of a substandard scarf so all in all it was a total win. I need to buy a few zips, find the zipper foot and then see what fabric I have that is waiting to become bags. I also need to sew the sleeves into the cardigan body, zips are much more exciting than sewing up.



Single and double

Posted by Caroline in doubleweave, Family, Knitting, sweaters, Weaving on August 7th, 2013

The weather has cooled off to the extent that I can think about touching wool again and so I’ve been back to knitting and weaving. I’ve now finished the back and both sleeves, not as big a job as you might think because it’s a short sleeved cardigan and I think I had to knit less than four inches before I started decreasing. I had planned to knit both fronts at the same time because it would make keeping track of the waist shaping much easier but I thought it would be sensible to start with just one front until I’d got the hang of the pattern panel. The pattern is mirrored on the other front and I thought it might be asking too much of my overheated brain to start off knitting both. I’m struggling because the pattern is written rather than charted, I did think of looking for the graph paper but the stitch count changes and it was too hot to think about graphing anything with “no stitch” squares. I would like to say that I’ve now got the pattern nailed but that’s not yet the case.

This might look like a rug but it’s really a sample. I once bought two kilos of yarn on ebay that was poorly photographed and poorly described. Not surprisingly there was only me that was interested in buying it and I bought it for not much more than the cost of the postage. It is very rough and definitely came from a carpet sheep but that’s fine because every sheep has a purpose. This is my doubleweave experiment, the rug is about 29″ wide which is just a bit wider than my loom. I wanted to see whether I could weave two joined layers without making a total hash of it and whether I ended up with a very obvious fold line.

The first piece of good news was that I managed to not join one side of the V to the other except at the edge so it did unfold into one wide piece as it was supposed to. You can see in this photo that the fold was much more visible as the piece came off the loom and I did wonder whether the magic of wet finishing would work this time. Now that it’s been washed and dried it looks much better, the fold is running along the line of the knitting needle in the first photo and I can see it but I doubt that a man on a galloping horse would. I have enough wool left to make two more this size and sooner or later that’s what I’ll do with it, something in orange, ochre, dark brown and navy would look better under the dog because then I’d be able to see him.

My last post ended with my son being away from home for a week – it all went well, he came home with all the clothes he went with and he had a great time. The only thing that he was missing turned out to be a tennis racquet and to be honest that was never going to feature on my packing list for a music course even if he did actually own one.

 



Hot and not bothered

Posted by Caroline in Family, Knitting, sweaters on July 25th, 2013

I thought I’d do so much this week. This is the one week in the year where I’m freed from meal preparation and I’m alone through until 10pm so I can leave my toys out all of the time. My son is away on a residential music course and my husband is out all day on a different music course so it’s just me and the dog between breakfast and bed time. My dream was that by now I’d have the carder on the table and a rug on the loom but so far there’s no sign of either thing happening. It’s still too hot for me to even think about wool so I’m passing up the opportunity of my own personal wool retreat in favour of lazing about with a book. I’ve not been totally idle, I managed to come up with a packing list to send a teen off for a week away on his own and seeing as he hasn’t rung me up yet to complain about a lack of vital supplies I must have done that right.

Some evenings have been less sticky than others so the cardigan has moved forwards a little. I was all prepared to moan about how long it was taking then I had one evening with a perfect combination of decent tv and a cool breeze and I found myself well on the way to the shoulder. I started the back first because I knew that it would be big and boring and that if I left it to the last I wouldn’t want to do it. The sleeves are tiny and the fronts have a pattern so it is just the back that has tedium written all over it. I have knitted an adult sweater on 3.25mm needles before but that had a pattern and variegated yarn so even though this one is smaller it feels much bigger.

This is my son’s room for the week, with four teenage boys in it I suspect that it’s less tidy than this right now. I needed to spin a pile of wool to see me through his audition and I knitted a hat to get me through the wait for the results so I expected that I’d need plenty of wool therapy when it came to the time for him to go away for the week. The longest he’s been away before is two nights so five nights is a bit of a step up. I thought I’d spend my days worrying about the food, the accommodation, how he’d cope being in the middle of sixty strangers and whether he’d manage to listen to a single thing that was said to him. To my surprise I’m not missing him at all which is a good thing seeing as it’s too hot be consoling myself with wool.



Awesome hat (or so I’m told), duff cake

Posted by caroline in Family, hats, Knitting, Weaving on March 24th, 2013

This is the first year that we’ve seen snow on D’s birthday. I’d like to think that in years to come we’ll be trying to remember that one freak year where there was snow on the ground because I’d hate for this to be a regular thing. I thought that this was maybe down to the curse of the thrummed hat and that if I finished that then there would be no more snow this year. I’ll let you know how that one works out for me. It’s taken so long to finish because knitting thrums has the same appeal for me as adding beads with a crochet hook, it makes knitting into a stop-start process and is no fun at all. I might have stuck it out if I had thought that I’d look stunning in it but I don’t care how cold it gets I’m never wearing it. This does not matter as it was immediately taken from my hands and adopted. I did try to take another photo showing the flaps up but that resulted in a continuous cry of “coldearscoldearscoldears” so I gave up on that one. It’s not entirely finished, I still have to trim the fluff bits and then bash them with a brush to encourage felting. Should you want to knit one of your very own it’s the Cocoknits fleeced earflap hat except that I knitted mine top down in doubled handspun with a blatant disregard for the stated tension. As an aside – see how much lighter the thrums look than the sweater – they are both from the same bag of fibre.

There was a setback with the cake. I’d planned to make a square cake then cut it and reassemble it into the shape of a creeper. The key element to this was the purchase of green and black ready to roll icing but the only colours I could find were white and pink which made the whole thing a non starter. This required a fast switch to Plan B which I’m calling “Minecraft Inspired”, the translation of which is “bears no relation to that thing that you were aiming at”. It was a chocolate and mint sponge cake and tasted very good even though it didn’t bear much resemblance to grass. We had a major icing fail, the plan was for the three shades of green frosting to emerge randomly from the icing bag but that didn’t happen, if I could turn back time I’d have frosted the top and covered it with the same crumbs as the sides thereby making it a dirt block cake. The good thing that came out of this was that I learned that freezing sponge cake makes it much easier to cut into shape and to frost and that if you bash chocolate coated chocolate chip biscuits they make a beautifully textured coating. The trick with freezing the cake is something I wish I’d known years ago – how could I get to my age without knowing that?

It looks as if the purple gradient yarn will indeed show a gradient once on the loom, this is the wound warp with the weft yarn sitting across the top. It’s been sitting on top of the loom for a couple of days now and it is showing no sign of threading itself so I suppose I’ll have to do it. It’s not made it onto my to do list though so officially it doesn’t exist.