Monday, 2 September 2013


So in July Emily turned three:

And then a few days ago, Laura turned five:

And on Wednesday, I shall be dropping Laura at school and then taking Emily into the adjoining pre-school, and then walking home by myself. (!)

Everyone keeps asking me what I'm going to do with myself, during those nine hours (three mornings) a week that both girls are off my hands. On Wednesday I'm afraid the boring answer is that I'm going to go to the supermarket. But anyone with small children knows that doing that all by myself is, in fact, a bit of a treat! And hopefully once all the shopping is put away I will have time for a cup of tea before walking a mile back up the road to retrieve daughter number two.

We've had a lovely summer - I'm definitely a summer person and for once the weather has obliged, with lots of sunny days to spend at the park or in the garden. Being at home every day with two little ones full-time is pretty tiring though and I'm ready for the holidays to be over. But this may just be because I've forgotten what it's like getting everyone out the door and down the road in time for school!

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Diffusion Tee

It's very boring when people make excuses for not blogging, isn't it? So I won't.

I have something more interesting to talk about, anyway - I have another pattern in Knit Now magazine this month! And it's on the cover, which is super-exciting.

(c) Dan Walmsley for Knit Now 2013

It's called Diffusion, and it's a t-shirt worked with two strands of 4-ply yarn held together. The colours are changed one by one to give the ombre effect.

(c) Dan Walmsley for Knit Now 2013

Knit Now is out now and features lots of other lovely patterns and articles. There is also a supplement with many more patterns, and free stitch holders. Bargain!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Monday, 15 April 2013

Laura's Penguin Hat

Over a month. Oh dear. I had two magazine patterns to write, which I couldn't post about, and which took up a lot of time. Then I was ill. Then it was the Easter holidays. Still is, really, because it's an inset day and Laura won't be back at school until tomorrow.

I did manage to make at least one thing though! Laura wanted a penguin hat (long story) so we looked at patterns on Ravelry. Then I mostly improvised one for her. We went out to a local open farm the next day and Laura wore it all day.

Now Emily wants a toy penguin. I expect we can manage that.

Linking up with Handmade Monday, go and look at all the lovely blogs! So many beautiful things people have been making.

Friday, 8 March 2013

Red Nose Day

You might have heard that my sister was in a group that climbed Snowdon at the weekend for Comic Relief! Jen wrote all about it here. Their team has raised over £5600 so far and if you would like to sponsor them you can do so here.

I have also been doing my little bit (though not nearly as impressive as climbing a mountain!). Juliet Bernard asked on Twitter if anyone would be able to knit some Red Nose corsages. She sent me some yarn and I've done nearly 3 so far.

I know they don't look like much yet! But they will be lovely corsages that are being sold at Spitalfields Market in London on the 15th of March. I'm hoping to get a couple more done in time to send back to Juliet so I'd better keep knitting!

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Knit Now 19: Weald Oak Cushions

Today Knit Now issue 19 is out, and this is very very exciting for me, because it includes one of my patterns! This is my first magazine publication and I am over the moon about it. I think I finally feel like a 'real' designer.

This issue of the magazine has a 'Best of British' theme which made me think about the countryside and woodland and finally led to a cable pattern inspired by the bark and branches of oak trees.

(Image credit Dan Walmsley, Knit Now Magazine 2013)

I love that photo, and the pattern turned out just how I wanted, and the whole experience of working with the magazine was wonderful. The other patterns from this issue are all up on Ravelry now - I think I might need to make the Union Jack socks, and the fair-isle vest top is calling to me too! So many excellent designs and all from British designers, using British yarns. I'm so happy to be part of it.

Friday, 15 February 2013

Planting our carrot seeds

As you may know, Laura at Cupcakes for Clara recently started a little experiment, to see whether carrots would grow from the carrot seeds in some paper she made. She asked if anyone else wanted to try, and I thought it sounded like fun for me and my Laura, so I asked her to send some of the paper over.

Laura was very excited!

She put the bits of paper in the pots and covered them with compost:

Then she gave them plenty of water:

And I put them on the kitchen window sill to get plenty of sunshine (you can tell this was earlier in the week, there's snow on the climbing frame!):

So thank you Laura (both Lauras!), let's see if we get any carrots! Laura (my Laura) says she might even eat them if we do.

(apologies for all the photos in this post, it was just starting to get dark when we had time to plant the seeds and my little camera didn't like it)

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Monday, 11 February 2013

Handspun Scarf

As I think I said before, one of the items on my Day Zero list was to spin enough yarn to make a scarf. I used the wool I bought at the Knitting & Stitching Show. And now it is finished!

I thought about spinning and plying all the yarn, then alternating skeins so that my uneven spinning at the start would not be as obvious. But I was impatient to start knitting it up and also I thought it would be a fun illustration of how much my spinning improved just over that much fibre. Which is the explanation for this, the starting end:

Very lumpy! But as I progressed I definitely improved. The first yarn was very overspun; by halfway down the scarf I was spinning much more evenly and the yarn was softer. I didn't separate out the colours, just span it as it came, which made it nice and tweedy.

The scarf is blocking now. It's not actually long enough for a scarf, so I'm going to sew it round into a cowl and add some pretty buttons. The blocking has made the overspun yarn bloom a bit and hopefully it will even out the width. But I'm pretty proud of myself! And I've even finished another item from handspun, more about that another day!

Linking up to Making Monday with Natalie and Handmade Monday with Handmade Harbour. Lots of lovely blogs on both of those so check them out!

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Saturday, 26 January 2013

Trying some dyeing

My Mum bought me some Kool-aid back from the USA a couple of months ago and I finally found a chance to try it. I had some blue 4-ply yarn that was hanging around not doing much; I want to knit a new pair of socks but I wasn't too keen on the colour, so I thought I'd try over-dyeing it.

I put a few spoonfuls of cherry Kool-aid in a plastic tub with some water. I skeined the yarn (I had to divide it into approximate halves as the ball was too big to do all at once) and put one skein in the plastic tub and zapped it in the microwave for two minutes. Then I took it out, swished it about a bit, and gave it another two minutes. Then I made up fresh Kool-aid and did the same with the other skein.

I haven't been able to get a good photo of the yarn wound up, with the right colours, but it has turned out beautifully. Squashing it into a tub that the yarn couldn't move around in very well means that is a gorgeous semi-solid, with shades of bluey-purple through to red. I am pleased as punch. And it smells pleasingly of cherries.

Now I can knit some socks!

Monday, 21 January 2013


One of the things on my Day Zero list was 'go sledging'.


(I promise Emily wasn't as squashed as she looks)

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

A Happy Thought for 2013

A lot of bloggers, and presumably a lot of people who aren't bloggers, like to choose a word for a year instead of making resolutions. I was having a think about this, and what word I would choose, and I couldn't think of one. Then last night I was reading to Laura from a book of poems (A Child's Garden of Verse by Robert Louis Stevenson - the copy we have actually belongs to my dad, I wonder if he knows we have it) and I came across this.

A Happy Thought

The world is so full of a number of things
I'm sure we should all be as happy as Kings.

So I don't have a word for 2013, I have a poem. One that makes me smile whenever I think of it.

Monday, 14 January 2013

Socks for Teddy

For all my talk, I did actually knit one Christmas present. Laura's Teddy developed cold feet in November, and was being dragged around everywhere in an old pair of her socks. I decided I would knit him a nice new pair of socks and sneakily measured his feet one day while Laura was at school.

After a quick look through some old knitting books I selected some garter stitch bootees from a Debbie Bliss book (Quick Baby Knits I think). I found some red chunky yarn, did a quick swatch, and found out that happily the bootees would fit Teddy as written, provided I made them a bit shorter in the foot.

Each bootee took an evening and they were both wrapped up under the Christmas tree on Christmas morning. Unfortunately one of them didn't see out January (it's either at Milton Keynes shopping centre or somewhere in Costco) but I had nearly enough yarn to make one more, and they now have hair tie garters holding them in place (it had to be finished off with some different red DK yarn held double, hence the slightly different-coloured patch on one heel).

And Laura has declared that Teddy needs 'more clothes'. She thinks a jumper next. And that Emily's teddy (which, happily, is much smaller) also needs jumper. And then her teddy needs a hat. And probably some more things she hasn't thought of yet. It's a good job I love knitting for my girls.

Friday, 11 January 2013

Still spinning

At the Knitting & Stitching Show I bought two 50g-worths of wool roving in the same colourway. I'm now getting close to finishing spinning up the second one.

The single-ply yarn is still not amazingly consistent but it's getting better, and my spinning feels more fluent as I do it. The spindle still goes flying across the room from time to time though. Last night I managed to bend a fingernail back as it did it, still not quite sure what happened there.

I also decided to try chain-plying this yarn, and found it a lot easier than the two-ply I'd made before. Only having one ball of single-ply helped a lot and also it made it easier to control the amount of yarn I was working at one time. This little skein is chain-plied and I'm going to do the rest of this yarn the same way.

My goal - which is one of the ones on my Day Zero list - is to spin enough yarn to knit a scarf. I think I'm well on my way! Now I just need to find a simple stitch pattern for the scarf and do a little swatch.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Friday, 4 January 2013

New Year

I took a look back at last year's New Years Resolutions post to see how I got on. I think I did OK. The kitchen and new bits of the house have definitely been settled into, and I think they still look pretty good. I have done a fair amount of baking and certainly plan to do more this year. And I think the only days I haven't done something creative or crafty were the ones were I was either out of the house all day, or too ill to get out of bed. I can't remember if I did the ironing but I'm going to assume that happened.

While looking back I also realised it is nearly my five year blog anniversary! I will need to think of some way to celebrate that.

Inspired by my sister, I created a Day Zero project list. It is supposed to be 101 things in 1001 days, but I could only think of 33 things so far - I may add more as I go along or I might not! Some are projects that need finishing, some are goals, some are just things I'd like to do. So far I'm 15% complete which is brilliant and keeps me moving forward. A thousand and one days is two and three-quarter years so it seems like a good amount of time to get things done, while still being a small enough amount of time that you actually need to get on with things.

So happy new year everybody, I hope it's a good one for you!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

I never came back to say Merry Christmas, largely because on Christmas Eve I was struck down by a terrible lurgy that is just now gone. A terrible sore throat, fever, aching, and headaches that meant I could barely lift my head above the pillow have been my festive season. But! Christmas itself went well (fortunately only I was ill on the actual day and I wasn't essential to the meal preparation or anything else on the day) and everyone else had a good time. Laura was ill before Christmas but had recovered in time for all the food and presents and excitement. I'm not sure if Emily knew what was going on but she liked it.

We did finish the gingerbread house before Christmas though. I made the pieces using the templates from the Tesco recipe but I used my own gingerbread recipe and made sure it had cooked long enough to be a bit hard and crunchy. I rolled out the dough straight onto the baking paper so that once I'd cut the pieces, they didn't get out of shape. The coloured windows are boiled sweets put in the window hole during baking.

I stuck the pieces together using royal icing made from royal icing sugar (next to the normal icing sugar in the supermarket, you just add water, it's brilliant) and it worked really well. The level of faff was quite acceptable.

The day after I'd stuck it all together, I made up some more royal icing and Laura helped me decorate it. Chocolate buttons and dolly mixtures worked well, heavier sweets like jelly beans didn't stay in place very well and we had to wait until the icing had dried a bit.

And it was very tasty too! I'll definitely be making one again next year. Or this year, I suppose it is now! I am going to do a proper new year post, later this week. I need a bit of time with a working head to get my thoughts together.