Saturday, 23 September 2017

New and Old

I spent a few hours this morning wandering around the V&A in Kensingston, while my daughter was doing maths. I stumbled across the Woman's Hour Craft Prize Exhibition. (Click here if you would like to see the other finalists.) In case you don't know, Woman's Hour is a radio programme on Radio 4, and to celebrate its 70 year anniversary it has run a competition to celebrate the most innovative and exciting craft. 

I was of course drawn towards the textile designer, who uses darning, knitting and embroidery. I think here the important thing is the story behind the garment. Clothes are such a personal thing. I wandered off to walk around Hyde Park, thinking about how we have very much become a throw-away society.

So with this in my head I also thought you might like to see the work of Phoebe Cummings, who creates temporary sculptures. The clay is not fired, so this beautiful sculpture will just last for the time of the exhibition, and will be then squashed down to clay - that can be reused.

I enjoyed looking at all the exhibits - furniture makers, potters, bicycle, jewellery, glass. A little voice in my head kept saying that perhaps we should stop making everything into a competition. Am I being a big old grinch - I just don't know how anyone could compare and judge such a variety of crafts. Just glad it is not my job.

New entrance to the V&A

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Fair Isle Beret and Waistcoat

I have been working away at this project for many weeks. I started the beret as my holiday knitting. Perhaps fair isle is not such a good idea for knitting in the car. It is a present for my great niece, who lives in Ireland, and has just turned one. But having finished the beret I thought it would also be nice to make a matching waistcoat. 

Both are now off in the mail, and I am hoping they fit her, and I will get some photos of her wearing them. But until then my model is Clopper, my daughter's toy. Clopper has appeared on this blog once before, when he went on holiday and met a Dartmoor pony. He seemed more or less the right size, although I am sure my niece is not as tubby as him.

Both beret and waistcoat are knitted from a book I bought in a charity shop Bright Knits for Kids by Debbie Bliss. In the pattern the beret was knitted flat with a seam, but I decided to knit it in the round on 4 needles. That was fine for the lower section for which there was a chart, but I may have got slightly muddled at the top, where the instructions were written out with knit and purl rows. I sometimes forgot to convert this, as in the round you are always on a knit row. But I think it looks OK.

I also found adding the buttonband to the waistcoat difficult. It is a little puckered. It shouldn't have been hard, but it is a long time since I have made a garment in this way. Then I accidentally sewed up the side seams, before adding the armhole bands. So instead of unpicking I knitted these in the round as well.

Knitting fair isle is extremely satisfying. The end result is so pretty, but running in all those ends was very hard work.

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Big Blixten - Little Blixten

So Little Blixten has arrived in Sweden, and as promised here are some photographs that the happy owner has sent me of the little knitted bus, with Big Blixten. 

I think both these photographs are so clever, especially the one of the campervan resting on the bumper. The bumper sticker just adds to the photo. If you want to read more about making this little knitted bus, you can here.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Blixten - A Swedish Hippy Bus

This is the owner's own wonderful drawing of Blixten

Wheels with red centres

I got a message from Carl, who says he is a Swedish hippy! Could I make a knitted version of his hippy bus - Blixten? (Blixten means Flash in Swedish, which is also the name of my cat, who I now call Blixten sometimes if she is dashing around.) But I digress, Blixten is an old Opel Blitz van from 1968, turned into a camper van - or "hippie bus". 

I was up for the challenge, and I have been working on it all week,. I thought it would be fun to show you in photos some of the process. You can also see lots more photos of the real van and family on Blixten's very own blog. They are clearly in love with Blixten, and have a lot of fun family trips. The inside is really cool too.

Planning out the side panels on grid paper

Side panels knitted

Knitting a central panel - front, base and back of van

Starting to come together, with icord for the thick red stripes and embroidery for the thinner one

The front wheels have rims also made from icord

Some more detail on the back doors

Side view with the roof and wheels added

This was one of the hardest parts to knit. The ledge and back bumpers

The back is complete, and the air vents have been added on top

My favourite view is the back, because of all the details

The front also needed details: bumpers, lights and numberplate

All completed - I am now off to mail the van to Sweden. 

Carl has said he will send me a photo of the two vans together - real and knitted, which you can see here.

Monday, 7 August 2017


Beautiful beach at Woolacombe. As you can see we went to Exmoor.

View from near Dunkery Beacon towards Minehead

This year's holiday was a little different for us in several ways. Firstly we left our son at home - he is 18 now, and was very definite that he did not want to come. Despite my worries, he has not starved and the house is still standing. Secondly, we very sucessfully took my daughter's friend with us, and thirdly it was Rosie's first holiday. 

We had to be careful not to do too much walking, as Rosie is still a puppy. But she absolutely loved some of the country and beach walks we did, as well as having a larger, wilder garden to spend time in. The cottage was dog-friendly, and she did not seem to mind being crated at night, as we could not completely trust that she would not start chewing. Here are just a few photos that give a flavour of our break.
Rosie had a great time in the garden

We toasted marshmallows later ...

Walk from Malmsmead, setting of R. D. Blackmore's novel Lorna Doone ....

These are some of the alpaca from the farm where I bought my alpaca wool

View of Dunkery Beacon, and an Exmoor pony

Top of Dunkery Beacon - highest point on Exmoor

Somebody else had made this for Rosie to sit by

Walking down from Dunkery

A caterpillar of an Emperor moth

The cottage where we stayed for the week

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Baby Conker

I've made this conker and shell for a lady to give as a gift to her new granddaughter, whose pre-birth name is Conker. Did any of you have a pre-birth name for your babies? 

My husband and I used to refer to our son as Nobby (after Nobby Styles, the famous footballer), and then for a while as Clovis - just because we thought it was possibly our least favourite name in our book of potential names. (Apologies to anyone called Clovis out there.) But never anything as cute or apt as Conker. Our second baby was very briefly called "Baby Bee" after she was born, before we had settled on her actual name. She was our second, so "B-baby", and she had a cute little striped suit that made here look a bit like a bumblebee.

I would love to hear your babies' pre-birth or nicknames.

If you want to make your own conker the pattern is available on Craftsy, ravelry, LoveKnitting and Etsy, or if you would like me to make one for you, it can be ordered on Etsy.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

2CV Dolly

I had fun making this red and white 2CV for an Etsy customer. This model is called the 2CV Dolly. I have tried to find out why it was called the Dolly, but can't find any information. So if you have any idea I would love to know. 

This was going to be a Christmas gift, but the buyer says "... can't wait to give it to him, don't think I can wait til xmas. Here is a photo of the actual car that I worked from.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017


I've just looked it up, and the plural of one alpaca can be either alpaca or alpacas. I wish there was a more interesting collective word for a group of them than herd. Perhaps you can suggest one. But for now, as I have no better word, I have been knitting a whole herd of alpaca. This new pattern has now been thoroughly tested, and I am really pleased with the result. My husband keeps telling me that I should have made the necks thinner, but these are meant to be alpaca who are just about ready to be sheared. Sorry about the huge number of photos - I just can't make my mind up.

The very first brown alpaca was made with Bearhouse Alpaca mocha double knit, and you can see some more photos here. I made the second one with the same weight of wool, but this time Bearhouse honeycomb double knit. The smaller cream one is made with Bearhouse vanilla ice 4ply, as I really wanted to knit one in this shade, and it doesn't seem to come in double knit. I just reduced the needle size, and he has turned out fine, although I recommend the double knit on the pattern. This is quite a tight knit, with a small needle size, as I wanted to make sure that the knitting is quite firm and the neck doesn't flop. I am sure that there are other alpaca wools, but I would recommend this one which knitted up really nicely, as is 100% pure alpaca.

I just love alpacas. I have sat and watched a TV show about some alpacas near Oxford, which shows them giving birth. I definitely want to go on visit the alpaca farm where this wool came from on our next visit to Devon. I have some oddments left of all the wool, so may have a go at a piebald alpaca.

The pattern is available on ravelry, Craftsy, Etsy, and LoveKnitting. This was just one of those projects that I felt compelled to do.