Archives for the month of: March, 2014

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.

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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!

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…………..

This is not a typical Minxymuses post. For a start its about baking, which is not something I make a habit of doing. And secondly, its about baking which turned out edible, which in my case is rarer than hen’s teeth! It was my lovely husband’s birthday this weekend, and we went away to spend the night on a farm, the absolutely perfect Green Farm in Worcestershire to be precise. Not too far from home, this little idyll was just what we needed to recharge the batteries and spend a little time together. We slept in the Tallet, an old word for hayloft, and it was wonderful. Breakfast was taken in the main farmhouse and prepared from local ingredients including amazing jams and honey from the farm’s own orchard and beehives. We certainly picked a good date, since it seemed this weekend that Spring had definitely sprung! On returning home Sunday, Gareth inspired to go straight into the garden and start digging, whilst I baked a birthday cake. I kept things simple, and used this basic Victoria Sandwich recipe, multiplying by 2.5 so I had enough mixture to make 5 layers. Seperating the mix into bowls, I added a little Sugarflair paste to each one. Then, when baked and cooled, I sandwiched together with Betty Crocker Fudge icing. Told you I like to keep things simple. Little Daphne added the Smarties decorations. cake Taste wise it was nothing special, but they do say you eat with your eyes, and the look on Gareth’s face when he cut into it for the first time was something special. And here’s the lovely Green Farm. Already thinking about our next getaway. wpid-IMG_20140309_105030.jpg