Tuesday, 2 August 2022

Babysuit and Hat

I've been knitting baby clothes, as my niece has had a new baby, and my nephew and his wife are also expecting. I thought I would have a go at knitting an all-in-one babysuit. I've not done this before, and am thinking I might have a go at a pattern. It was really quite a quick knit, and with wool left over I decided I would make a hat to go with it.

But what to do if you don't have a baby model? My first two models were considered a little creepy by my family, especially the doll. And although my cat was very patient, she does look a bit fed up. I did think a grapefruit might be good or even one of the pumpkins in my veg plot might work, but in the fourth picture I just padded out the hat with some tissue paper.

I've worked out this hat in three sizes, so there will be a bit more knitting before I publish the pattern. 

But this morning I got a photo of the perfect model!


Saturday, 30 July 2022

Garden Diary July


I wrote last month about a deer visiting my vegetable garden and raiding a lot of my plants and produce. The hanging CDs did not put the deer off, but we decided to go for all the senses. So as well as the sparkles, we have hung rags socked in diesel for an unpleasant smell, and also have a radio playing in the polytunnel. That combined with a spooky scarecrow, and we haven't seen the deer since.

Some of the things that I thought were gone have recovered. Although the beetroot tops were chewed, the beetroot themselves are fine. Roasted with thyme and olive oil, they are very tasty. (No horrible beetroot in vinegar for us!)

And although most of the strawberries were eaten, I had thought that the plants were ruined because so many leaves were chewed off, but they too have recovered, and tonight I found a single new berry.

We aren't going to have as many runnerbeans, but since we are still eating last year's bumper crop from the freezer, this is not so bad.

We have been struggling with space in our small freezer, so have decided to get a chest freezer, which is already filling up.

One new thing we have been growing is these patty pan squash. I love how they look like little space ships.


A few other things are still coming along - tomatoes, peas, celeriac, butternut squash, pumpkins and sprouts. We have eaten a few broadbeans, which although the plants are not as big as other years, they haven't suffered from blackfly. I am trying to pick the courgettes before they grow too big, and have made soup and last night courgette fritters. I keep feeling that we should dig the potatoes, as Monty was digging some of his, but we haven't yet.

One thing I feel this year is that we have had less weeds. Perhaps it is the hot weather, or maybe I have kept on top of them a bit better than other years. Hard to tell.

Finally two photos of the ruby passion sunflowers. They are not as tall, or as large flowers, as the sunflowers we grew other years, but they are really beautiful

Saturday, 23 July 2022

Drypoint and Collagraph Printmaking

I have just finished an afternoon course over several weeks in drypoint and collagraph printing. It was really enjoyable to learn something completely new. My main reason was to meet some new people, and I was slightly in awe of some of the talented printers in the group. 

I did not really get to grips with the collagraph. It involves cutting surfaces, and building up textured material, and I think I just wasn't careful enough. I prefered the drypoint, where you are scratching lines onto a surface. 

But in both techniques the skill really seems to be in applying the inks. Below shows how different the results can be from the same plate. This is a manga version of my son for his birthday card. In the end I gave him the top one, where I applied the hair colour with ink. The bottom one was a black and white print, with the colour watercoloured on afterwards.

It was fun to try something new, and I have signed up for linoprinting in the autumn with the same teacher.

Monday, 11 July 2022

Morris Traveller Pattern

Sometimes a pattern will just fly off the needles, and other times it is more difficult. But this one has gone beyond difficult into another zone. It has taken me over six months to get the final version, and I am sort of done with it now.
I knitted the first version, the black morris traveller, for my mother-in-law for Christmas. Actually that is my favourite one, and my daughter tells me it went well because it was made with love. But when I decided to do another test knit, the pattern I thought I had written up had gaps. The second version, the light green, is fine from the sides but just didn't look in proportion widthwise. So finally I have knitted the last morris traveller in burgundy, and I think at last we are there.

There are slight variations in the different models of morris traveller. Some have the front windscreen divided in two. But I hope I have caught the main features - the curvy bonnet, and the wooden frame at the back.

You hardly ever see a morris traveller these days. More often a morris minor might be about. So I am not really expecting this pattern to be a big seller, but sometimes you just have to make something for the love of it.

The pattern is available on ravelry and will be on Etsy later in the day.


Saturday, 2 July 2022

Garden Diary June

A little bit late with my garden diary for June, and as you will see the look of the vegetable plot has changed in the last day. I have realised from gardening the last few years that not everything is going to work out, and you have to not worry too much about the failures, but celebrate the successes.

So far this year that was going much as usual, something ate all the carrot seedlings. But some of the new things we are trying are doing well: brussel sprouts, beetroot and celeriac. But then a few days ago when I went to water, all the strawberries I had been so looking forward to were gone, the tops of a fair number of my sunflowers were bitten off. Then yesterday I noticed that quite a few runner beans were bitten off at the base, and the tops of the beetroots were really eaten. But not I thought the usual unseen minibeasts, as there were also some fairly large hoof prints in the soil. 

Yesterday I was in the house but looked out to see the culprit strolling down the hill for some afternoon snacks. A very confident deer, who was not put off by my son picking cherries nearby. I shouted out the house, and he ran off, and then my husband spent the evening setting up a border of CDs, which we are hoping might stop the deer jumping in. They are quite shiny, and if they don't do the trick perhaps some hanging tin cans or windchimes might have to be added. I have also arranged as many covers as I can. Below is the celariac and beetroot under a wire cover.

In the polytunnel the lettuce are doing well, and the mini cucumbers which I am trying this year. Very pleased with the lettuce, which self-seeded from last years. We had put last years compost outside on the soil, and I noticed that little lettuce seedlings were coming up. I transferred them inside, and they are doing better that last year.

The courgettes are almost ready to eat, and this year I am going to pick them small, and not let them grow into marrows like last years.

Most of the fruit is doing better than last year. I am picking about a bowl of raspberries each day, which are heading to the freezer at the moment. I think they are doing better because we removed a lot of the brambles that were mixed in with them. Also there are a huge amount of cherries. We can reach some, but there are also masses higher up out of reach. My son and I have started some cherry wine. The apples, pears and gooseberries all look like they are going to be better than last year, but I am keeping my fingers crossed that the deer does not return and have an appetite for fruit.

Summer Mushroom Dressing Gown

Whenever The Great British Sewing Bee comes around I marvel at the contestants talents and nerve, and remember that I can sew, but just haven't done it for a while. All the finalists were great this year, although my favourite didn't win, I think because she just missed the brief on the final garment.

I bought the material for this dressing gown several years ago, and have finally got around to making it. I guess it is a bit unusual for a dressing gown, but I really liked it. There is a little bit left over, and I am trying to work out a good purpose for it.

I have used the same pattern that I used to make a winter dressing gown for Mr Ginx a few years ago, and now my daughter is saying she might like one, so I really will have got my  value out of this pattern



Saturday, 11 June 2022

Modern Knitting Illustrated and A Little Trip to Brighton

Last weekend I went on a little trip to Brighton with my daughter. She is going to study fashion and business studies there next year. On the first day we mooched around the town, sat on the beach, went and looked at the halls of residence on her short list (imagining what it would be like to live in each one), went to see the graduates show from this year (very impressive), and tried to soak up the atmosphere. 
I think it was well worth doing, as she is even more excited than before about starting her course. She has now heard she has a place in the halls she was hoping for, and also I will be able to picture her there.

On the second day we decided to go to a boot fair near Brighton Marina. I was really pleased with my £1 purchase, of Modern Knitting Illustrated by Jane Koster and Margaret Murray.
Published in 1948 this little unassuming little book contains over 60 knitting and crochet patterns, and although I doubt I will make anything from it, as most are 3ply or even 2ply, I have got a lot of pleasure looking at the patterns.

Apart from the design I also find some of the captions amusing. The girls in the pictures above and below are described as "smart girls". I'm not sure if this means they look smart, or that they are smart for making their own clothes.

This opera top "looked pretty enough to add to a trousseau".

This scarf and glove set reminded me of my Dad, who always wore a trilby hat until he retired, when he moved on to a flat cap. The caption says "the gay colour scheme would please most men".

And this hat and glove set remined me of Celia Johnson in Brief Encounter.

Just a few pictures from the many in this book. 
I didn't take many photos (as I have been told that my constant photography can be a bit annoying!), but here is a friendly herring gull from the beach, and we did a little detour to see The Long Man of Wilmington. The two little figures in the foreground show the size of this figure carved in the chalk downs.


Tuesday, 24 May 2022

Garden Diary May

So far this year I have not been keeping my vegetable garden diary, perhaps a little embarrassed by how far behind I seem. Two years ago we were so keen to get going, but also it was in the first lockdown, so there were not many other distractions and it was a great way to get out the house.  But my eagerness to get on with gardening, also led to a few diasters. I still find it hard to think about the late frost getting all my runnerbeans. So perhaps taking a bit more time is not completely a bad thing.


But I do have quite a few seedlings on the way. My method is to pop seeds in soil in a pot or tray, while my husband likes to put the seeds between layers of paper to get them going. Between the two of us we seem to manage. The pea seeds we saved from last year totally failed with my method, but he is having some success. 

Some seedlings are still in the polytunnel ...

... and some have made it outdoors

I have been reading about companion planting, and am going to try and mix in a few more flowers to the vegetable plot. The sunflowers and sweetpeas that I normally grow are started, and I have also planted some nasturtiums, cosmos and blackeyed susan seeds, and a few french marigolds plants. 

Potatoes and onions are on the way, and this year I have planted some beetroot. I have to admit that none of us really like beetroot, but I heard a programme on the radio about how good it is for you, and am determined to find a way to cook it that we enjoy. 

My other sowing which is not going well are the carrots. The first seedlings were coming up, but have now completely disappeared. A second lot have been sown, and I am worried they may go the same way. I don't know who is eating them, but also don't want to put any chemicals on our garden plot, as they will just go into the food chain. We are going to try a beer trap, but I am not even sure it is slugs or snails.

I also think we may get a few strawberries from the planting last year. I have cut up some felt tree matting to put under them, as straw tends to blow away in our rather exposed garden. 

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Having A Snooze

Found my little old lady cat having a nap on the wool for my next project.

Saturday, 14 May 2022

Morris Traveller Number Two


It seems a long time since I wrote about the morris traveller that I made my mother-in-law for Christmas. You can read about that one here.

I thought the pattern was almost ready to publish, and have taken a break from the granny squares to do another test knit. Thank goodness I decided to do this, as while knitting this second version I have had to make changes and additions. I somehow had lost my instructions for the wings, so had to work this out again. I have spent a lot of time looking at this little car with my husband, and discussing the curve of the bonnet, the depth of the windows, is the back boxy enough etc. etc.

I am fairly happy with the result, except that compared with the first car this one just seems a bit too wide, and the back view (which I am not going to show) doesn't seem right. So there is going to be a morris traveller number 3 (perhaps I am think blue, or maybe burgundy). Hopefully this next one will be perfect, and I can publish the pattern.

Saturday, 7 May 2022

Brewing and Bottling

My husband and son have spent some time bottling our homebrew blackberry wine. I had the idea to try and make some labels, but when I showed my daughter my efforts she was very harsh with the criticism. She didn't like the layout, font, artwork .... If it was "The Apprentice" I might have thought she was setting me up to blame for the failure of the project. She was right though, as my efforts weren't very good, Then by asking me want I wanted in a label (rustic but not too complicated or fussy) she got working on some designs. Here is a little video of the labelled wine. So rejected from the marketing and production departments (although I did pick a lot of the berries last autumn) and have decided to move myself to tasting!


But with the demi-johns empty we decided to start a new brew, and this time are going for the slightly more unusual dandelion flower wine. Plenty of dandelions in the field. Thank goodness, as on the first attempt I did not read the recipe properly. Only the yellow petals are needed, as any green included can make your wine taste bitter. So after one false start the dandelion wine is now bubbling away in the airing cupboard.

Sunday, 1 May 2022

Granny Chic (and Crochet Technique)


I have been busy making some granny squares, as my daughter has asked me to make her a top. She sent me this photo, to give me a bit of an idea of what she was thinking, and at the moment I am just working on lots and lots of squares.


We have a joke that her style is granny chic. We both enjoy a charity shop or boot fair, and recently she seems to go for clothes that we both call granny. (Beige jackets, embroidered cardigans, you know the sort of thing. (I hope this doesn't sound like I am being rude, as I am old enough to be a granny, although will nover be a chic one.) At first I would try to put her off, but somehow she seems to be able to put these clothes together in such a way that it turns into "granny chic". It makes me a bit sad that my mum is not still alive, as I think they would have a great time comparing their Edinburgh Woollen Mill tops, and sensible rainwear.

So if the granny square top works out, this will just be part of the granny chic look ...  I will keep you updated.

I do occasionally crochet, but really I am a knitting gal. Part of the problem is I don't crochet enough, so every time I decide to have a go, I have to get my books out and reteach myself the basics. The other problems are I can't follow a diagram pattern, and I am really, really slow. 

But this time I decided to use Youtube to remind myself how to make a granny square. Here is a link to the tutorial I used. It was really good, but what I realised on the first run through was that I was crochetting as a knitter - wrapping the wool around the hook, instead of hooking it. Kept having to pause the tutorial, as I was probably going at less that half the speed. I don't think I had realised this from following instructions in books, so am a real convert to the youtube tutorial, and am trying to work on my technique. When this top is done I may try and branch out to another sort of block. If you can suggest any for a learning novice I would really appreciate it.

I wonder if someone who regularly does crochet, knits in a different way. Hmm ...


Sunday, 3 April 2022

Icelandic Pullover

At last my husband has got his Christmas present, this Icelandic pullover. He has been very patient, and for once I think it is actually something he will wear. 

The pattern I found on ravelry, and it is called the Anniversary Sweater and designed by Védís Jónsdóttir. The pattern was free, and comes in lots of sizes, but I knitted in XL, I also ordered the recommended wool, Lopi Lettlopi, which came from Iceland. It was not cheap, but is really beautiful wool, and I wanted to try and make as authentic an Icelandic pullover as I could. He picked the colours, and although I was a bit worried it was all too brown, and think it looks really good.

Knitted on circular needles, for me this was unusual, as I tend to like to knit flat and seamed. But I found it okay, and enjoyed making the patterned sections.

My husband was a slightly reluctant model. The first picture was at the beach at Widemouth Bay, but then we went for a few action shots by the wood pile. 

We had to have several ash trees cut down near the road. It makes me sad when I see ash trees dying, and for us this was expensive, as the road had to have traffic control while the tree surgeons were working. But on the plus side we now have a lot of wood for the wood burners, with which we can keep the heating bills down for quite a few years. I would also really like to do something creative with the wood, and would welcome any ideas.