Archives for category: Family

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.

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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.

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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?).

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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.

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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!

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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

It was a tense Sunday evening Chez Minx. Moods swung wildly between anticipation, anxiety and abject horror. No, our overwrought emotions weren’t a result of Downton Abbey’s rape storyline (although, WTF?); I was washing The Blanket for the first time.

The Blanket is probably the biggest achievement of my knitting career thus far. It’s definitely the biggest FO. Consisting of a gazillion* squares, it took me the best part of two years and one pregnancy to make.

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I knitted it from Shelly Kang’s rather excellent tutorial, and it’s a deliciously simple way to use up all the scraps of fingering weight yarn one accumulates from too much knitting. Whatever that is. I am a pretty prolific knitter, but it was too grand a challenge even for me to accrue all the yarn needed for a blanket this size. So I entered into lots of swaps with other knitters, and even a couple of ‘bouncing bags’; where you receive a parcel of scraps in the post and replace anything you take out before posting to the next address on the list.

Therefore, the provenance of some of my yarns is unclear. Most of it is sock yarn, of that I am confident. Generally a mix of wool and nylon, it was in the main washable. But there are some rogue squares of luxury/handwash/rubmeupandIgofunny yarns too.

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I have avoided washing this blanket for a looooong time. I made it as an investment piece. I hate to use the word ‘heirloom’ on my own projects, it sounds so pompous and loaded with the misplaced self importance some knitters give to their work when it is largely unappreciated by others; but I did knit this with the hope that it would be a fixture on the sofa for a while. And it has proved to be very popular indeed. With The Boy. He sleeps under it, and over this long hot summer he used it in lieu of a quilt when the temperature hit its lowest points overnight. Which is lovely and all that; except he sleeps in the nude and has the hygiene standards you associate with, well, a seven year old boy.

So wash it I had to. But how would it react? It’s not only the fabric content that concerned me, but also how the blanket construction would hold up. You see, I can knit. MAN, can I knit. Quite fast, and very often. I can cast on several projects in one sitting. I even finish some of them eventually. But I am a terrible finishererofferer. My attention span just doesn’t seem to hold until a project’s end. The Blanket has fared better than most, since it was mainly knit-on construction (yay!), but there are the odd mitred squares at the side which were sewn on, and I could only hope they still would be after a spin in the machine.

Because of course this was a machine job. I threw a couple of Colour Catcher sheets in the drum. I’ve no idea why as I’m not even sure what they do or if they work but hey ho. One gentle wool cycle later………

Yes, they are a couple of casualties. One yarn in particular that formed a few of the larger squares has definitely felted, but The Blanket is big enough to be forgiving and you can’t really tell. As for the finishing. Well, I’m not going to show you the back. It looks like a rave in a worm colony. But structurally it is sound. There are a couple of holes where squares have become slightly unattached, but no dreaded unraveling.

But the real test? One little boy gave it his seal of approval

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*Square count is estimated.