It’s true that there are a thousand posts like this in the blogosphere. Here is mine.

I wrote this list acutely aware of the fact that, as I turn 38 next month, I have a ever-decreasing time frame in which to achieve all these things. With that in mind, many of the items are ‘smaller’ and more achievable; I’ll save the novel writing for the Before I’m 50 list.

When I asked friends and Mr Google for ideas, the same obvious ones came up. These include: running a marathon, climbing a mountain, swimming with dolphins, bungee-jumping/sky diving etc. Whilst I’m not totally risk averse and actually quite enjoy heights, there are many things ‘extreme’ that just don’t appeal. The List needed to be things I WANTED to do, rather than felt I had to. Plus, I avoid running on principle. It’s too trendy and bad for my knees. Besides, if nature wanted me to run it wouldn’t have built me so jiggly. Built for comfort, not for speed. There are some physical activities, I’m not totally lazy, but quite a lot can be ticked off whilst enjoying a sit down and a nice cup of tea.

Not all of the things on the list are firsts. But if I have done them before, its not been lately. There are experiences from my youth I’d like to relive before I’m scared of breaking a hip.

I have randomised the order from my original notebook so I didn’t get caught up on priorities. I go into this with a view to completing ALL items.

Without further ado….

 

The List

 

1. Reduce to part time working: This is a serious one, and its been part of my life plan for a couple of years. I resent leaving my children as much as I do. I love them and I miss them.  At the moment we can’t afford to drop a penny to meet our modest budget so I’m working all the hours, but I’ll get there.

2. Go glamping: Like, in a yurt or something. Somewhere I can sing round the campfire but still get a dry towel and charge my phone.

3. Dance until dawn: I’ve done this before, but not within the last 15 years or so. I love still being awake when the sun comes up, it makes me feel naughty.

4. Learn how to ride a bike: I can get on one, and peddle it forwards, but I’m screwed when I get to a corner. I’m not after a star turn in the Velodrome, but maybe a rental weekend and a ride in the country would be nice. Don’t judge me, I was a bookish child.

5. Host a swishing event: I’ve been looking for one to go to for YEARS in Birmingham but it appears no-one hosts them. I’m worried there’s a very good reason for that, but I’m willing to give it a go. There’s a couple of local charities I can support so I am thinking or organising it as a clothes swapping based fundraiser,  maybe Autumn time as people’s wardrobes are in transition.

6. Watch all of The West Wing: I’m two seasons in, but as its not currently on Netflix its at the back of my viewing queue. Definite cold weather viewing, I’ll get on this towards the end of the year.

7. Host a radio show: No idea how to go about this one. I just want to inflict my *cough* eclectic music taste onto someone.

8. Have an overseas family holiday: I was 23 before I flew on a plane, I want my children to experience this earlier. Will be looking at Europe breaks for next summer.

9. Go on a Murder Mystery weekend: Not a night, a proper full on weekend. These ones look brilliant!

10. Publish a knitting pattern: The only knitty thing to make the list, and admittedly a little reluctantly. I felt like I had to have one in there. I suck at designing, but I should nurture my creative spirit.

11. Decorate every room in the house: This isn’t as lofty an ambition as it sounds. We only have a small house, and I’m not including the kitchen and bathroom as they were done last year. So it’s only five rooms in all, and that includes the hallway.

12. Mow a lawn: Just because I’ve never done it. We have a lawn, but it’s normally Big G’s job.

13. Learn how to play chess: Really keen to do this, cause its like, intelligent innit?

14. Read the Lord Of The Rings trilogy: I couldn’t get into the films, but I have enjoyed the Game of Thrones books, so willing to give fantasy genre another chance. I live with a LOTR geek, so I have access to all the literature.

15. Sleep under the stars: Maybe I can slip out of that yurt one night.

16. Have a boudoir photo shoot:  OBVIOUSLY, I need to lose two stones first.

17. Win a TV quiz show: I now have one appearance under my belt, so the next step is to actually win one!

18. See a ballet:  Since I’m not sporty, I should be cultured. Opera is a step too far, but ballet I can do.

19. Learn how to make a signature cocktail: Because a sophisticated, ballet-going lady such as I should have her own drink.

20. Restore and revive a piece of furniture:  I’m thinking sanding and painting rather than replacing dovetail joints, but I’m openminded.

21. Perform on stage again: I’ve done quite a bit of amateur theatre in the past, but the time-guilt combo of career and parenting but a stop to it. I used to love it though, and hope to again.

22. Eat at a Michelin starred restaurant: Spoilt for choice in Birmingham, since we have more Michelin restaurants than any other UK city outside London. Maybe one for a special lunchtime.

23. Go bellydancing: Although generally exercise shy, I do love to dance. And I do have a belly.

24. Learn how to read Tarot: I think of myself as a healthy sceptic when it comes to all things mystical, but I do think card reading can be a useful way to self-reflect, providing you use them to clarify your own thinking and not see them as messages from the beyond.

25. Swim five lengths: As embarrassing as my cycling this one. I’m not a strong swimmer, and generally expend all my energy staying afloat. I’d love to learn a proper strong swimming technique. My daughter is a fish; I want her to see mummies can swim too.

26. Start a pension plan: So I said this list was all about WANT, but this is a NEED. Well, I have to be sensible sometimes, I am nearly 40.

27. Get a colonic:  Out of nothing more than gruesome curiosity.

28. Practice basic yoga:  This is something I should already be doing, I need to work harder at finding a local class.

29. Cook every recipe from a cookbook:  I’ve just bought Nigel Slater’s iconic Real Fast Food, and the recipes look accessible and delicious. Unfortunately there are also over 360 of them. That’s a meal every other day. I don’t even make toast every other day. I MAY revise this down to 100 recipes. Or something.

30. Go vegetarian for one month:  I did this in a half-arsed manner for Lent one year. I do worry about eating so much intensively farmed meat, and can see a veggie could be healthier for me, and almost certainly better for the earth.

31. Have my nails ‘done’ properly: My idea of a manicure is to trim my hangnails with the kitchen scissors. I see girls with glossy, glittery talons. I want a bit of that.

32. Play poker: I suck at cards, which I’m willing to accept as throughout life I have been blessed with wonderful luck in love. Poker rules feel like something I should know, though.

33. Drive on a motorway: I have a THING about driving. I need to get over myself.

34. Go to a high tea in a classy hotel: Like I said, a list of WANTS. I always want cake.

35. Read the 32 Books That Will Change Your Life:   From this list here. I have a head start having read 5 or 6 of them already.

36. Plant a wildflower garden:   Just because it would be so pretty! And it would mean less lawn to mow.

37. Visit Scandinavia: I hesitated to put grand travel plans, since I didn’t want budget restrictions to hamper my success. But the truth is I am woefully poorly travelled, and this is one part of the world I have long wanted to visit. It may well be a trip for my 40th as things stand.

38. Sew myself a dress: Sewing is something I feel like I should be good at given my knitting prowess, but its a skill I’ve never really nailed. I blame it on a sewing machine which has never worked properly. What do you mean, a poor workman blames his tools? (grumble, grumble).

39. Play with some kittens:   I just love them, and I haven’t cuddled any for ages!! I’ve had my babies, my life is devoid of cute. I need kitten cuddles and I need them now.

40. See a West End show: I saw Les Miserables about twenty years ago. I’m due a revisit.

It’s been a while since I posted about a charity shop haul, and although I have been picking bits up here and there, I enjoyed a rare targeted trip today.

I’m planning my wardrobe for a trip to Cologne next week, sans kids and husband, to visit a beloved old friend. Said friend is very glam, so I’m always a bit more sartorially aware when I see her. I was hoping to lose a bit of weight for the trip (cliché much?) but of course this hasn’t happened, and as I find myself heavier than usual at the moment my wardrobe options are looking limited.

Browsing during my lunch hour yesterday (I work in the centre of Birmingham, a city which markets itself as a shopping capital of Europe: nightmare), I saw this dress in cheapie shop, Select. It fulfilled my requirements for a new dress at this particular time: stretchy (read, comfortable), cheap and short enough to go over leggings or wear alone. The British summer has not played ball so far so I wanted to cover all bases.

At £15 its cheap enough, but then I thought maybe it was TOO cheap? Would this wash and wear for a long time? Did the design LOOK cheap? As I approach 40, I’m more aware that I can’t rock the pound shop chic look like I used to, particularly in styles like this that nod to the 90s quite so much.

I reckoned I could do better and boost my wardrobe from the chazzas with the same £15. So I set off this morning to ‘do’ Cotteridge and Northfield, my most local of Birmingham ‘burbs, and host to a plethora of charity shops. My brief: short dresses/tunics to wear alone or over my leggings/skinnies, and tops that might go with these. I bought them on a whim last month as they were comfy but I have not a clue what to wear with them. The baggy style of them make my bum look as big as Bulgaria, but despite the desire to go longer, I think short tops would give a more balanced silhouette.

And this is how I did. WITH CHANGE.
wpid-wp-1401551084732.jpeg

Not bad, eh? Here’s how they all came about

1) This Jasper Conran lovely came from a local CIC called Autism Birmingham. It’s owned by an old school pal, and raises money for a fantastic cause, helping local children with autism access much needed products and services. The shop is cheap and cheerful, with all clothes £1 or less, and is usually a selection of basics from the cheaper end of the high street. I popped in primarily to stock up on holiday reads, as their books are only 20p, but I couldn’t resist this. Jasper Conran! For £1! It matches the green trousers perfectly.

wpid-wp-1401564711122.jpeg

2) This it today’s star buy. I love the surfy-style brands but the stuff rarely suits me. I took this ONeil dress to the fitting room not expecting much, but it’s great! Perfect length to wear alone or layer, the faded green colour is one of my most flattering. I also like the neckline. I’m quite busty and find high necks feel a bit strangling sometimes. Mine for £5.

wpid-wp-1401564440531.jpeg

3) Whenever I go charity shopping, I often get some kind of ‘thing’ stuck in my head, and then I struggle to see anything else. It might be a certain type of garment, or an era. Or a colour. And today I was looking at ALL THE ORANGE. This little jumper isn’t for the trip, but it’s so soft I couldn’t leave it there. It fastens at the neck but has an open back which I found unusual. I’d never heard of the brand, Charlie and Robin, but a quick Google in the fitting room told me it was an Anthropologie, rare in the UK. Mine for £3.50.

wpid-wp-1401564717294.jpeg

4) Finally, this little cream top nearly passed me by, as its not a style I normally go for or a brand I knew. But I thought it would match the trousers so tried it. Peplum tops have been tricky for me in the past, but this was flattering, and a bargain at £3.
wpid-wp-1401564722198.jpeg

Anyone good at Maths may have worked out I’ve only spent £12.50 so far. Well, there were a couple of extra purchases.

wpid-wp-1401551102011.jpeg

I spotted these sandals outside one shop, where the sun appears to have melted the lining. I didn’t realise until I got them home and tried them, the lining stuck to my feet, yuck! I’m hoping the effect will wear off, but any tips will be gratefully received. I’m still happy I bought them though. Whilst not the sexiest ever, they are Clarks. And red! They are barely worn and the heel is pretty interesting. And best of all they were £1!!

wpid-wp-1401551090619.jpeg

My last purchase was this pretty beaded necklace, picked up for £1. Which left me with 50p for a Greggs doughnut.

Doesn’t look like I’ll be fitting into those old skinny clothes anytime soon………….

..or a rectangle, or an oblong (although I’m never quite sure what the difference is).

Most of our virgin knitting projects begin with a shape along these lines. Cast on, garter stitch, cast off. And no matter if you’re six or sixty, there is a great deal of pride to be had in the first piece of fabric you create.

I am teaching a Learn to Knit workshop at a LYS next month and was asked to come up with a functional first project idea. I started with the square: coasters, mitts, some kind of cosy?

I went with mitts, as I felt something wearable maximises the boast factor of ‘I made this myself’; it also gets the most out of the yardage, as the learners will be given one 50g ball of Debbie Bliss Rialto for the workshop. June may not the best time to be making woollen accessories but these are tiny mitts, and the more seasonal cotton poses too many tension pitfalls for the novice knitter.

What I came up with could hardly be called a pattern, although for the purposes of the workshop it is, with a pattern sheet and everything. For the more nervous student there is a completely garter stitched version

Image

 

And for the more intrepid, a mitt incorporating……………wait for it…………………the purl stitch.

Image

The workshop is only two hours long, and the brief is that attendees will be picking up sticks for the very first time, so I’m not anticipating FOs in class. I hope there will be just enough time to introduce the basic techniques and get everyone knitting with confidence.

The yarn is a delight. Though a little splitty for newbies, it lovely plump merino-ness is very forgiving and will even out some tension issues. The mitts pictured are unblocked, and not looking too bad. The duck egg blue shade for these samples was provided by the LYS. Personally, its amongst my least favourite colours. Duck egg to me is often dull, uninspiring and overused (in decorating circles at least). But it does have the virtue of being light in colour; whilst students will be able to choose whatever shade they like from the LYS staggering range, I’m hoping they follow suit as it’s so much easier to knit in a paler hue.

It’s also a great colour to match the Birmingham skyline this late spring afternoon; check out this picture from my office window.

Image

Maybe mitts in June is not such a bad idea after all!

The Christmas Jumper has seen something of a resurgence in recent years. Previously, it’s reputation had been so poor that only weather forecasters and Noel Edmonds dare go near it, but it’s now travelled through the seas of hipster irony into (dare I say it, passé?) Primark territory.

This winter just gone, you couldn’t glance at Facebook or trip down the high street without seeing multiple reindeer and snowflakes in vibrant red and green gracing people’s chests. Thankfully, there has also been increased interest in more tasteful Fairisle/Scandi styles too. The Christmas jumper was to 2013 what the onesie was to 2012.

The office I work in has taken part in Save The Children’s Christmas Jumper Day the last couple of years, a lovely gentle fundraising idea that everyone gets involved in. Incidentally, this website has a couple of free knitting patterns for tiny jumpers.

Awful photo of a photo; I am in the middle wearing the orange Gap affair.

Awful photo of a photo; I am in the middle wearing the orange Gap affair.

To my slight embarrassment, I have worn (gasp) a shop bought jumper both years. And though I do believe the trend to be on the wane, stylish hand knitting never goes out of fashion, right? Therefore, I have started knitting my Perfect Christmas Jumper!. I love this look of this design. I’m more vintage-inspired than true-vintage though; I’ll probably do a less flamboyant sleeve top. At just 5′ 1.5″ tall, padded/dramatic shoulders seem to wear me rather than the other way round. The 40′s style waist does suit me however, I’m quite short-waisted and most tops are too long.

perfect christmas

I was inspired to start this project thanks to a KAL suggested by Andi over at the Untangling Knots group on Ravelry. She proposed a breakdown of garment parts throughout the year. I’m currently on catch up having bought my yarn late, but hope to post some progress pics soon. She’s even produced a badge for those of us playing along.

The yarn I'm using is Cygnet wool-rich 4 ply. It seems fairly authentic for the period, and to be honest I couldn’t afford the kettle dyed type indie yarn I usually buy my fingering weight in. I’ve gone for Geranium, a very Christmassy red, although a little blue toned for my usual taste! It’s pair with a cream to soften it a little.

I’m hoping knitting throughout the year will provide inspiration for me to avoid the crazy November rush in other areas. I’ve had ropey Christmases the last couple of years. Like most women I take on the primary role of festive organiser, despite working more hours than my partner. Gift purchases I tend to have a handle on; internet shopping truly is a beautiful thing, plus I work in a city centre so can pick things up as and when.

Where I have disappointed myself has been the entertaining/decoration side. For two years in a row, late December has seen me in tears because I am working right up until the day and I haven’t saved enough annual leave to get things going (this is despite the fact my workplace is VERY quiet that time of year. Remember the Robot?). My holiday allowance is woefully low, and I often need to take days for childcare etc, so its often unavoidable.

I am in a constant quandary with my work/life balance thing. As a natural extrovert I struggle with the reduced social time my working and family responsibilities now afford me. In truth, I rarely entertain at home. When I do try to arrange visitors it feels like I can’t get arrested at times; I guess because its so infrequent that I extend an invitation. Consequently I don’t make a lot of effort to make the home as nice as I can; we’re so rarely there.

But this year, I have decided you will definitely know it is Christmas Chez Minx. My early ideas are, like the jumper, vintage inspired. Now that car boot season is underway I have started to keep an eye open for vintage baubles. My main idea is an Edward Scissorhands tree. No, not black and spiky, I mean the 80′s-does’50′s version Kim decorates in the rather excellent movie

Edward Scissorhands

We already have a white tree, and the red bows look simple enough. I’m thinking a Pintrest wander might through up more ideas. Pretty soon it may even be time to crack open my Delia’s Christmas Collection book. As it happens, I’m not much of a cook, but man do I like reading cook books. I like Delia’s no nonsense style, and this tome is old enough to be edging towards retro (if not vintage) territory. I may not be at the menu planning stage, but its all about the ideas right now.

It might seem odd to be contemplating Christmas so soon after Easter, with the promise of summer round the corner, and I don’t want to wish them away. Maybe its a knitting thing to think of the long game? We are not into instant gratification after all. Plus, with a career background in retail, I’m used to thinking a season ahead. What do you reckon? Do you think about Christmas throughout the year? What are your plans?

image_31767_medium2

This is another project that’s been finished a while, but the writing up and photographing seem to take an age! In the end, I have opted for this very natural photo taken in the pub by my pal last night. We were there for the pub quiz, the England flag was flying to celebrate St George’s Day.

We lost the quiz. I think it was my fault. I don’t expect another invite.

I was distracted as I took some more knitting, the first cotton garment to grace the needles in a while; I have plans to make a few this year, in anticipation of a hot summer. A post for another day I think, back to the cardigan.

I chose this pattern, Marion by the ever so talented Andi Sutterland, for my Knitting Goddess Movie Stars KAL project for April, based on Anthony Hopkins.

The link? Well, he starred in a 2012 film called Hitchcock, playing the famous director. Hitchcock directed one of my favourite films of all time, Psycho, in which a character called Marion Crane is killed in the infamous shower scene.

The movie is one that has always been there, THAT shower scene iconic enough to be familiar even in childhood, when I had nightmares about Norman Bates hiding in my wardrobe. It was a student that I began to appreciate the true genius of the film. As part of my Theatre Studies degree at Liverpool Hope University, I took a film module and wrote an assignment on the evolution of the horror film; specifically slasher flicks. It was 1995 and Scream had just been released, which satirised the usual formula and piqued my interest. I wrote about that film, and traced the genre back through the heyday of Halloween to Psycho, considered by many to be the forerunner.

More recently, the TV series Bates Motel has reminded me how much I loved the original, as well as providing me with my new fashion icon. Unfortunately, the second season is proving a little lack-lustre, so I turn again to the original to be scared and entertained. Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates is just one of the best cinematic baddies ever.

images_medium

*shiver*

Onto the pattern itself. I love Andi’s designs, having previously knitted a Miette and a Stray. This was just as well done as the others; clear, simple and just my style! The rope-type cables put me more in mind of a medieval Maid Marion, perhaps the original inspiration for the design. I chose some Classy from stash, in a lovely russet brown which will match a lot of my cross-seasonal wardrobe. I fretted about finding five buttons to match from my eclectic tin, and opted for mis-matched vintage ones in the end. You can see from the photo that they ended very high on the button band, and I could’ve done with just three. I may remove the two erroneous buttons, but I will keep the remaining ones odd I think. It adds to the handmade look I like, plus I abhor all finishing and like to minimise it where possible!

Next month is Maggie Smith. I already have something up my sleeve (or on my head) for that……….

I can’t quite believe this has happened to me again. It has, in fact, happened so many times that I couldn’t begin to list them. I do know that  this is the third time I have been upset by it.

I felted a handknit.

Actually, that’s not true. A handknit was felted, but not by me. My lovely husband, seemingly breaking the lacklustre homemaking habit of a lifetime, decided to wash ALL OF THE CLOTHES this weekend. Of course in our house (for reasons to be explored further), dirty clothes are not limited to the laundry basket, but may be found loitering in unusual places: the car, the kitchen table, the magazine rack, and the stairs, where they sit for days waiting for someone to carry them upstairs to the empty laundry basket.

It was due to this lack of clear demarcation that I pulled this sorry looking affair from the washing machine. Yep, just washed. Not even tumble dried. It’s TINY! Of course, even if it were big enough to fit my 4 yr old daughter, it’s stiff as a board and unwearable. The kitty scores another blanket for her bed.

wpid-wp-1398160214074.jpeg

This was the cardigan that I had whispered about on  this blog before, so nervous was I about its future. I knitted it in part to atone for another disaster, my Blackberry Cardigan of 2011.

Image

I love woolly, sheepy, PROPER wool. The above FOs were knitted in Rowan Purelife and Knitpicks Wool of the Andes. However, I (and my husband) clearly can’t be trusted.

As much as I love knitting, I’ve always hated laundry. Life is too short to iron, and our lifestyle means everything gets thrown into the machine, and the machine is always on. I try and keep handknits in the cupboard, they don’t need washing really, but it seems I dropped the ball here.

So what’s the problem? I’m a big subscriber to personality type analysis, particularly the Myers Briggs model (Take a free test here), and I think the way hubby and I see the world has a lot to answer for*. We are both heavily Intuitive over Sensing; meaning we’re better with ideas and concepts, than you know, umm, real stuff. I think this is why I like the process of planning projects, choosing yarn and then knitting, much more than keeping or wearing the items very often. We are also both much more Perception over Judging. I like to think of this as meaning we are more open minded, journey not destination, easygoing people. In reality, it means we like having fun and not clearing up.

While its nice to have a label to put on things, I have never been in any doubt as to the way I roll.

1) I have had (and lost) more purses, umbrellas and keys than you have had hot dinners.
2) An old nickname was ‘Wheresmy’ because I started every sentence with it.
3) Despite charming the pants off housemates, I ended up in spats with each and every one due to my slatternly ways.
4) I regularly shiver whilst I am out, having forgotten to bring a hat/scarf/gloves, despite having knitted hundreds of them.

Ridiculous, isn’t it?

Over time I have developed coping mechanisms, and can pull a pretty good impression of an organised and together woman; even though my natural preference is probably more like that woman Ross dates in Friends with the messy apartment, and I by no means use personality as an excuse. I have to make more effort, I do, but I get that being flakey is not ditzy and cute when you’re 37 and a working mother.

Perhaps what I should have done is married a very S/J kind of guy. To balance things out. Instead, I fell in love with quite possibly the only man in existence less practical than myself. Who is wonderful and I shan’t bad mouth him. Even though he is in the Bad Books today, as I have one less cardigan in my wardrobe.

From now on, I ONLY buy superwash wool. Seriously. If you catch me sniffing the sheep stuff, pull me away.

It’s the children I feel sorry for. During Sunday’s Easter hunt, my daughter was having problems finding all of her eggs.

‘Look in the place where you keep all of your clothes’ I suggested.
‘What? The floor?’  she replied.

Still, with parents like us, what chance does she stand?

* For anyone into this stuff, I’m ENFP and he’s INFP.

My little girl impresses me every day. She’s 4 years old and approaching the end of her reception year. As one of the younger children, we had our reservations about her going to school, but she loves it and is learning so much; every day seems to bring something new.

She’s developed a real love of drawing and colouring, and its turned into a nice activity for us to do together. I was reminded of my old hobby via a thread on my Pregnancy and Parenting Forum. Like all children her age she loves to run about and has boundless energy, but when it comes to ‘chillout’ time you can find us crowded over one of her (or my *cough*) colouring books.

Here’s our latest pic (can you guess who sits on which side?).

wpid-IMAG0328_1.jpg

My favourite colouring-in tools are felt tip pens, in particular these ones, but of late, my little artist and I have been using colouring pencils more. I like the subtley of shades, the finished effect is somehow more sophisticated.

I’m all for bright colour, but also enjoy variations on the theme. My latest project is a pair of Mixalot socks. This fab pattern allows the knitter to mix and match stripes and lace sections, and seems to be to be made for lots of confusing colours.

I am using a mini skein set from The Knitting Goddess in Blackened Rainbow. I find the darker shades much more interesting than an ‘inyerface’ rainbow spectrum, and I’m loving how it’s knitting up. I am slightly concerned about running out of yarn, as the set is only 70g. As a UK size 4/37, I should be OK, although I may have to make compromises about stripe selection. I think I may just go random on the second sock, rather than matching, as it allows me more leeway. Plus fraternal socks are kind of cool.

I knitted a pair of these before as a gift, and am pleased that I’ll get to keep these ones! I estimate I keep only 5-10% of the socks I knit, and my underwear drawers are woefully sparse.

I have modified the pattern slightly. I started knitting the medium, but it looked very baggy on the leg, so decreased to 60 stitches for a size small foot. The shape is now rather slouched, like the socks we all went crazy for back in the 90′s.

wpid-IMAG0326.jpg

I’m hoping my gauge hiccup doesn’t cost me too dearly in yarn (always swatch people!), thankfully the lovely Knitting Goddess sells individual skeins in odd colours should I need to make up the difference.

My daughter has been eyeballing them and has requested a pair. Maybe they will be next on the needles!

My lovely husband and I made a big decision last night. Something we’ve been saving, but both felt now was the right time. It’s not a decision taken lightly, given the commitment, but all our friends reassured us it was the right thing to do.

We’ve started watching Breaking Bad.

I like to knit in front of the TV, but find myself in between projects. I wanted something relatively simple, since one always needs to concentrate during those scene-setting first episodes, and I wasn’t really in the place to sort out something big and complicated.

My daughter had been playing with a wooden bangle of mine earlier in the day, and as I looked at it, I remembered some intentions to knit a pattern from an old issue of Knit Now.

wpid-IMAG0281.jpg

I can’t imagine I infringe any kind of copyright by referencing this pattern: essentially, it said ‘cast on, knit chart, cast off’. Helpful. I’d never knit colourwork on straights before, so figured out the purls myself, but it was relatively easy.

In fact, the project didn’t need a pattern at all. It’s just about knitting a swatch and then sewing round a bangle. I’m thinking of developing it into a class, one with graph paper and felt tip pens. Yay!

wpid-IMAG0284.jpg

Here’s the result. It used miniscule amounts of my large scrap sock yarn collection, and I think it has a trendy ‘ethnic boho’ feel, similar to the style story I’ve seen in stores such as New Look. I think it would fit in quite nicely with their Desert Dreaming look.

What do you think?

wpid-IMAG0272_1.jpg

Whether it’s the millions of daffodils everyhere, the re-emergence of the sun after a particularly dull and dreary winter, or the many bananas that how recently eschewed sausage sandwiches as my breakfast of choice (I’m on Weightwatchers), I’m finding it very hard to avoid yellow at the moment.

And avoid it I did, for years in fact. Like lots of other people, I thought it wouldn’t suit me, would make me look ill. Having read more about colour since, I realise that to a degree I was right. Shades of pastel yellow, primrose and lemon for example, do bring out my slightly sallow tones. But other, richer gold type yellows I can wear in abundance. Luckily, mustard and ochre shades have seen something of a resurgence over the last couple of seasons, and I have embraced it fully as fitting in with my Autumn palette.

However, sometimes I worry I take this colouring thing too far. When shopping (whether for clothes or yarn), my mind screams ‘AUTUMN’; to the point where I seem unable to buy anything NOT rusty or yellowy green. Its something I am noticing even more at the moment as the shops inevitably fill up with those ice cream pastel shades of lilac and pink that I can’t bear.

Which is why I am confusing myself over my latest yarn crush. Baa Ram Ewe’s delightful Titus 4ply is a yarn I’ve yet to knit with personally, although all I see are rave reviews and it’s definitely on the shopping list. One of the more recent colourways to have been added to the range is Filey, a buttery yellow that I simply have to have.

filey_large

I don’t know why. I haven’t felt this way about a yarn since The Knitting Goddess made Bella’s Truck. It’s a very weird compulsion thing. It may well make me look jaundiced, I’ve yet to see, so of course the sensible thing to do would be to make something that will not be worn near my face.

But, I want to make a hat. Despite, by my best calculations, having made six hats for myself over the last year alone, I couldn’t find one of them this week. Knitwear seems to fall into some sort of twilight zone in this house; or I leave them at friends, like some odd calling card. The weather is still chilly, and even as I hope to ditch my winter coat for jackets over the next few weeks, I expect I will still need hats and scarves for some time yet.

One of my favourite designers, Rachel Coopey, has recently released a fabulous book called ‘Toasty‘. Comprising 10 accessory patterns, it uses exclusively Titus yarn, and quite frankly I WANT TO KNIT THEM ALL. I was very pleased to see this book. I admire Rachel’s often poetic use of travelling stitches and less obvious pattern repeats, which in the main she uses on socks.

Now, I have knit socks. I like to have a few pairs knocking about to stuff inside my Docs or to wear with my PJs, but I favour plainer patterns. Some of the intricate designs on Ravelry look like little works of art, but they just don’t float my boat. Complicated sock patterns are just something I don’t GET, along with the offside rule, the French subjunctive, and Keira Knightley.

I enjoyed Coopknit‘s earlier release Winter One for it’s accessory patterns, and can’t wait to get stuck into this one. The patterns are all named after places in Yorkshire, a nice link with the yarn itself, which is spun in the county from 100% British wool with alpaca, making it perfect for accessories.

The patterns themselves are very hip and modern, modelled beautiful by the stylish girls in the book. At the same time, they manage to be wearable and not at all ‘mutton’, a concern for this frumpy mum who hasn’t been ‘bang on trend’ since 1998.

Catterick_COOPTOAST1-06_medium2

I haven’t quite decided which one to go for. I adore Northallerton, but am not ready for more colour work just yet. Most likely, I will go for a Catterick (above) or Ripon (below). In that Filey yellow, of course. Although I might buy a skein of the Parkin colourway too. Just to be safe.

Ripon_COOPTOAST1-08_medium2

wpid-IMAG0246_1.jpg

Its been a fabulous weekend filled with family stuff, knitting and planting, all against the backdrop of truly stunning Spring sunshine. A trip to the local garden centre meant new flowers and herbs to plant into my container pots.

I am a VERY inexperienced gardener. Whilst its something I always imagined I’d enjoy, year after year I have to fight against the urge to stay indoors knitting; I am coming to accept that I’m not really the outdoorsy type. I’d also like to throw in the excuse that working in the city and having small children, I don’t have the time…….except that line is often the one offered to me by people ‘who would love to knit but…’, and it makes me groan. I mean, if you love to do something I believe you will always find the time. Don’t you?

And finally of course there is my arachnophobia, which is at least (very) real.

So my lovely husband takes control of our 120ft jungle, growing some tasties for our table in between mowing the lawn etc. I contribute a few pots, and instead turn my attentions to knitterly things. I am really pleased this weekend to have finished a layette for a colleague’s impending arrival. I finished the cardigans a few weeks ago, and entered my Womb Twitchers for the Ravellenic Games.

wpid-IMAG0226_1.jpg

Its the hats that have been causing me the most hassle really. Its been almost five years since I had a newborn, and I cannot for the life of me remember how big their heads are. All I know is that every free Rav pattern I tried didn’t look quite right, and my own improvised attempts all looked too big or small.

Thanks to my husband’s rich genetic soup both of my children have big noggins (in fact the first thing my mother-in-law did was apologise for this family trend when she visited us on the post-natal ward), so I worried I was overthinking it; babies are something of an unknown quantity aren’t they? In the end I knitted three hats in varying sizes to suit for the first couple of months. The pixie hat (free Ravelry download) is the smallest, and the square hat (another freebie) the largest. The striped hat I improvised, casting on 64 stitches on 3.5mm with a 2×2 rib. The picture below is filter-free in the beautiful Sunday morning sunlight.

wpid-IMAG0257_1.jpg

My friend is due in a couple of weeks, so starts her maternity leave very soon. I am excited for her having a Spring baby, I think its an extra blessing, particularly for a first child. My son was born in September, meaning those first earth-shattering, axis-shifting months were spent mainly inside, alone, and in the dark. Whilst early motherhood is universally challenging, there is something about being able to get out for a walk in the fresh air which is so good for wellbeing.

With the warm weather in mind, I chose a washing-machine friendly cotton/acrylic mix. Sirdar Baby Speckle doesn’t have the softest hand, but it promises to become floppier on washing, and the gently variegated fabric looks really modern and classy. Best of all, it was a bargain £1.69 from the absolutely wonderful Kemps Wool Shop. They have a wide palette of colours; I may buy extra.

But then I need more babies to knit for. Thankfully when you’re a woman in your 30s, pregnant friends are never far away…………..

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 48 other followers