Thursday, 17 November 2011

Au revoir

I have been dithering for some time about the blog and after much thought I have decided to put it into hibernation for now. Never, say never and in time I might come back to it but right now it feels like just another chore which needs to be done on my long long list of 'Things To Do'.

As every week rolls around with that guilty feeling of not having written a blog post I began to wonder why I was making myself feel bad about it. It felt like being back at school with that sense of undone homework hanging over you.

I'm a busy working mum and time to myself is scarce. When I do get half an hour to myself I would rather be knitting/crocheting or crafting happily withouth feeling bad about my pitiful lack of blogging.

I am still active on Ravelry and I know that a lot of you are linked in to me on that, so I am still around - just not here.

If you need me - I'll be over in the corner knitting - Au revoir.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Holidays and a sad tale

The Madmum household is back from a lovely half-term break in the Lake District. Staying in a favourite spot - Dunnderdale in the Western Lakes we had a wonderful relaxing break, with pretty good weather and some beautiful autumn foliage - before it was all blown off by the gale force winds.

The boys (now aged 5 and 6) conquered two more Wainwright peaks - Grey Friar and Harrison Stickle and had great fun doing so. We didn't get a great deal of photos as both myself and DH were busy holding onto a small boy to stop them being blown away by the winds but we did snap a few shots:

Please note, smallest son wearing his bespoke hat - "Mummy, I would like a hat with ear-flaps" - I couldn't resist the challenge.

So, where is the sad tale I hear you ask?
Just before we left for holiday I made myself a great pair of fingerless mitts which I was very pleased with. On our first days walking I realised that I had only packed 1 pair of boys gloves - gaaaah - and so to avoid tears and gnashing of teeth I leant DS2 my mitts. They covered his whole lower arm and hand and kept him nice and toasty. Somewhere between the summit of Grey Friar however, and our rest stop at Seathwaite Tarn he dropped one.

I now have 1 lovely mitt and need to hope that I have enough yarn left to make a new mate for it. Never mind, my mitt made a noble sacrifice in keeping a small boy warm and saved the day.

Monday, 17 October 2011

One a Day, but different

I am having a little break from my One-a-day project as I am starting to think that I need another lighter colour to balance out the darker colours I have chosen and I am reluctant to do too many more without assessing my options.

I have been spending far too much time online browsing the colour choices for Stylecraft Life dk, but after a few dodgy online purchases I don't entirely trust my laptop to show me an accurate colour. I'm thinking of a pale duck-egg blue or maybe a slate grey but I think I need to wait until I can get to my LYS for an up close and personal squishing (as it were).

So, instead I made myself a quick pair of cabled mitts using some Cascade 220 from my stash - a great little pattern and I was pleasantly surprised at how warm they kept my hands whilst doing the school run this morning.

And this little something is from my earlier Hexapuff mania. I was suddenly seized by the urge to start joining all the little hexi's together and hey presto - I am in love with these little squishy parcels once again. I was thinking about maybe making them into a little seat pad or cushion, but after seeking hubby's advice I am now going to go for the (lap) blanket option - it may just take me about 5 years to get there.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Blanket envy

Yes I know I should be working on my Shaelyn or finishing up a pair of little socks for DS2 (my first foray back into sock knitting after giving myself RSI earlier in the year), but the weather has turned cooler, the leaves are flying off the trees and my thoughts are turning to blankets - specifically these little beauties:


and this

and this

Now I do have some Noro Silk Garden in my stash but it is one of those brown/green/grey colourways which can look a bit muddy by itself. But I do have some King Cole Riot DK which was an impulse purchase recently. It has long colour repeats - like Noro and is single plied - like Noro, but the colours are a little less subtle - at least in this colourway.

The yarn is quite splitty to knit with and some sections are fairly loosely spun, but overall I quite like the effect. And if you are looking at something of blanket proportions, the King Cole option is decidedly more economical - always a bonus.

Anyway - a day off work sick with a head cold, some time on my hands and a new ball of yarn yielded this first attempt. I haven't really worked with mitred squares before and I love how quick and simple they are. One square like this is about 10 inches across so a blanket 3x3 would make a great cot/crib/pram blanket perhaps. I'm not 100% sure about the yarn yet but my sister is a childminder and her little ones aren't too fussy - lol.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

WIP Wednesday

I don't usually stick to set days for particular posts but I thought I would add my Work In Progress Wednesday post for a change.

My WIP is the Shaelyn Shawl which is running as a KAL hosted by Paula of the lovely Knitting Pipeline podcast. This a new podcast discovery - I have found some really good podcasts recently and have been having great fun listening to them. The KAL is a really friendly one with lots of help and support over on the Ravelry threads.

The pattern is very well written and I love that the designer has included an annotated photograph of the pattern - marking the design features and adding little tips to help you 'read' your knitting and save having to constantly read the pattern and count rows.

I am using Rowan Felted Tweed DK in the Scree colourway - a lovely blue/grey mix and I love the way it is knitting up. At the moment this is my 'must-do' project and it is flying along.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Tuesday Tally Week 5

Up to 36 hexagons now and going strong I am pleased to report

I am currently having fun playing with the colours and am tending to work with the same three yarns for a few days, playing with the different combinations and seeing how they each look next to each other. I am loving the vibrant green - it looks a little more muted in my photos but it is really fresh and bright against the other colours. Then, when I run out of colour combo's I sit down and work rounds 4 and 5 to turn them into hexagons. Lots of fun, and a nice alternative when my knitting isn't going too well (The Warriston is still in the naughty corner)

Sunday, 2 October 2011


Can't believe that it is October already. September has just flown by and here in the UK we are experiencing a most unseasonal burst of warm weather which is just joyous.

But it is October and that means just one thing to a knitter - Socktoberfest.

There is a Ravelry group, of course, set up for the purpose It isn't an official challenge/competition but more a general celebration of all things sock related.

I rather overdid things on the sock front earlier in the year and managed to give myself RSI, so I haven't made any socks for months. However I can feel myself being drawn back into the fold and find myself browsing socks patterns with a fury.

My Warriston is in the naughty corner - all done but sadly too tight across the shoulders. It fits everywhere else so I can only assume that I made a mistake in the yoke decreases somewhere. It needs ripping back and sorting out but it is has been too hot to pick up a mound of woolly jumper - so it will have to wait.

To amuse myself I cast on for a Shaelyn which is running as a KAL hosted by my latest find - a great podcast called the Knitting Pipeline. I am using some Rowan Felted Tweed from my stash in a lovely blue-grey (colourway Scree) but I need a small portable project too - hmm- maybe some socks would be just the thing

Friday, 30 September 2011

Damson disaster

It seems that I am fated never to have a Damson of my very own.

I must have knit at least 3 of these and each time, despite meticulous counting of rows and stitches I am always one or two stitches out at the end of the garter stitch section. This means that the lace portion doesn't line up correctly with the increases in the garter stitch and just looks messy. Of the 3 times I have knit this before, twice I have had to rip/tink back and re-knit the garter stitch section.

This time was no exception. Although I hadn't put a lifeline in. And I had had a glass of wine. And the phone range. And then there was a nasty incident with the cat which I don't want to talk about.

So I started with a ball of yarn and I have ended up with a ball of yarn - hey ho. Back where I started - this is a picture of the skein before I started messing with it - lol.

I really can't face all that garter stitch again though so I have been on the hunt for alternatives. This is particularly lovely - part of the shawl collection by Rose Beck which I have been coveting for ages. I may have to buy the e-book collection though rather than just the one pattern as I love all of her designs.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Tuesday Tally Week 4

Well, a Wednesday Tally but never mind.

I am up to 26 now, so slightly behind but in my defence I have several half-completed hexagons in the workbasket too. I am finding it easier to work a few of the first few rounds in a batch and then have a finishing off session with the final rounds 4 and 5. I seem to get in less of a muddle that way, which is always a good thing.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Tuesday Tally Week 3

Just dropping in to put up the (belated) weekly total: 21 hexagons done and a little bit of hooky time planned for this afternoon, all being well. The photo was taken a few days ago but hubby has gone to Berlin and taken our decent camera with him so I can only post an older shot I'm afraid.

Been a bit of a mad, busy week over at the Madmum household and all of my free time (such as it is) has been spent on the lovely Warriston sweater. I am doing the yoke part now, having joined on the sleeves so it is at the big, heavy and cumbersome stage but I am determined that when those crisp autumn mornings roll around I will be ready.

In other WIP-news, the Damson shawl for me is no more. A Damson disaster meant that I embraced the frog and it is now back to a ball of yarn. I will go into more detail at a later date but I need to consol myself with a yummy homemade chocolate fudge brownie and some soothing hexagon hooky.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Tuesday Tally Week 2

Tuesday Tally Week 2: I am up to 14 hexagons now and very much enjoying the process of making them. More so, I think because I am not putting myself under the pressure of working them on them all the time. I just do one and then put it down and work on something else for a while.
I find that I start to get a funny click in my wrist when I crochet for too long, so it is good for me to take frequent breaks and not get too carried away.

No photo's of hexagons this week, as they look much the same as last week so I thought I would share my share my knitting WIPs.

First up, we have a Damson shawl for me in some lovely sock yarn from Yarn to Knit - my latest sock yarn club acquistion. It is a great wool/bamboo blend with terrific sheen and was definitely destined for something for me, as opposed to a gift:

Then we have a Warriston (also for me) in Shetland Aran . I wanted a warm jumper for walking on cold crisp days and this is just the ticket. It is knitting up really fast and I am longing for the onset of slightly frosty mornings so that I can wrap myself up in this and go for bracing walks. Or maybe, a short walk and then retire to the fire with a hot chocolate!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Flying FOs

I seem to be going through a stage where FOs are flying off the needles. It is very satisfying and a pleasant change to have a few completed things to share with you rather than lots of half-finished odds and ends.

So, in order to ring the changes from an endless procession of hexagons, I present to you my recent FOs:

First we have a little top I finished weeks ago but have only just got around to blocking. The pattern was lovely and very easy to follow and used an amazingly small amount of yarn.

Next up is the Monkey Bread scarf from the very talented Anne Hanson.

It is knit in some lovely Shilasdair Luxury DK from my local LYS and was started back in March. We then had an amazingly hot spring and this was set aside but I always knew I would come back to it as soon as autumn rolled around. No sooner had we had a few chilly evenings and caught sight of blackberries in our hedgerows than it came back out of the stash cupboard. I was already three-quarters of the way through so it was easily finished in a couple of sessions and I absolutely love it. I was considering gifting it to my Mum for Christmas (along with the matching hat) but I like it too much. I may knit another one for her though.

And finally, another Anne Hanson pattern - The Hourglass Throw which was published in Brooklyn Tweed's recent publication - Wool People. This was knit in a gorgeous dark grey (Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran) and is intended as a gift for my grandma-in-law who needs to have a minor operation soon,.

Now, off to browse winter sweater patterns for me I think...

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Tuesday Tally

As part of the Ravelry One-a-Day group we are trying to keep a weekly tally of our progress on our chosen projects. I have no new photos to share today as a small person has moved/hidden/repurposed the little lead that connects the camera to the laptop. I'm sure I will come across it being pressed into service as a lead/whip/rope in a few days time.

The lovely Gingerbreadgirl is hosting a Mr Linky over on her blog and you can see a log of all the participants here - please do go on over and check out all the lovely projects we have one the go.

Tuesday Tally from the Madmum household:

Hexagons: 8
Hexipuffs: 45

I think the Hexagons will slowly catch the Hexipuffs up though as I am slowing up slightly on the Hexipuff production front.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Making Monday

Originally uploaded by l.tilbrook

In an idea shamelessly stolen from others on the One-a-Day CAL/KAL group on Ravelry I shall try to post a weekly update of my official One-a-Day project.

I started on September 1st and after 5 days I have accumulated 7 hexagons - I did a few extra as I needed the practice.

I find that the assembly line approach works best for me. I work the 3 rounds for the centre and then wait until I have a few before I tackle the final 2 rounds. As a crochet novice I find it hard to keep an even tension when I am doing the final hexagon 'points' so doing a few at the same time helps. A few are still a bit wibbly around the edges but overall I am very pleased with them.

In other news: the Hexipuff total has reached 40, although I must admit that the initial enthusiasm has waned a little. I think I may go for a squishy cushion sized project rather than a full on quilt - or I may just leave them in my work basket to play with - both my boys have taken to carrying one with them in a pocket for a little mobile squishing!

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

One a Day KAL/CAL

Tying in nicely with all the hexapuffing activity going on here recently, this new Ravelry group has been set up by the lovely Gingerbreadgirl to give a lot of like minded souls a place to share their progress on slightly more long-term projects and to try and provide a bit of support when the initial enthusiasm (dare I say it) starts to wane a little.

Obviously my hexipuffing fits into this category but I've been meaning to try a hexagon crochet blanket for ages - following this pattern from Attic24. My recent birthday meant that I had vouchers to spend so I splashed out on some Stylecraft Life DK in an assortment of shades and today I spent a happy hour or so making my first hexagon.

The edges are a bit wibbly but overall I am very happy with it.

My other purchase is very exciting but I will wait for another day to share it with you. It is a sewing machine - yippee.

Sunday, 28 August 2011


This beauty is brought to you courtesy of my two boys - aged 5 and 6. I turned 40 the other week and by way of celebration, with my husbands help they bought a huge chocolate cake, covered it in chocolate icing and then in DH's words - he stood back while they threw decorations at it.

There were so many candles I feared it would set our tempremental smoke alarm off, but it was a beautiful sight with two very proud little boys beaming at me.

The cake was delicious too!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

The perils of mobile Hexipuffing

I know you are all dying to know what pitfalls can befall the plucky knitter who likes to get her Hexipuff fix whilst out and about. What dreadful event could have left me with scraped raw knuckles, dishevelled hair and a slightly wild-eyed expression?

I always knew that DPNs were tricksy little creatures and normally I avoid them like the plague but such was my Hexipuff love that I overcame my DPN dislike and carried a little set of bamboo 3.5mm DPNs in my 'out and about' knitting bag.

Having dropped the children off at the holiday club I was enjoying a quick 10 minutes peace and quiet (coffee from my trusty Thermos and a Hexipuff) in the car before entering the usual mid-week work mayhem. All was going well and I had just finished a particularly lovely Hexipuff. So lovely in fact that I put my DPNs down in my lap and held up the little Hexi to the light - all the better to admire it.

It was this one:

In case you were interested - sorry but I have no idea why my PC has suddenly rotated it - never mind.

Busy admiring my little Hexi I failed to notice that one of the DPNs was slowly sliding off my lap. I looked down in time to see it slide gracefully down into the little gap between the seat and the front section of the car where the handbrake is. The gap is tiny but that didn't stop me trying to shove my hand down there to rescue it. I managed to get my finger to it and then, predictably, it slid beyond reach.

I am ashamed to admit that some cursing took place, at DPNs in general, at Skoda seat manufacturers in particular and at the fact that I had to endure 6 hours at work and then waiting to collect children from holiday activity du jour without any knitting.

It was not my finest moment.
On the plus side, I found £1.50 in change, a lost stitch marker and the partner to a small childs mitten which I thought had gone altogether.

In the end I was resourceful and merely used 2 DPNs and a 4mm crochet hook to make the next one. It was a little awkward and I think it may have produced a slightly bigger Hexi - but knitting peace was restored.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Not knitting

No new knitting to share today but just wanted to blow my own trumpet for a second for starting the Couch to 5K programme. Spurred on by some on-line knitterly friends on the Phoenix Forum I downloaded the podcasts from the NHS Choices website, dug out my trainers and went for it.

I have done two out of the three runs for Week 1 so far and have been surprised at how good I have felt. On previous attempts at starting to run I made do with timing myself on my mobile phone - which is fine except that it eeks out every second and makes it seem like a lifetime.

With the podcasts you just zone out, listen to the music and wait for the nice lady to tell you when to stop. Much easier and makes the time just fly by.

Off for run No. 3 tomorrow, or not, depending on how much wine is drunk this evening.

PS; Hexipuff total.....25.... just sayin'

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The addiction continues

My name is Madmum and I am a Hexapuff-aholic. The addiction continues unabated, the laundry is piling up around my ears and the Hexipuff population is well into double figures.

In an effort to regain some balance and so that DH doesn't think that I have entirely lost the plot, I am limiting the Hexipuff craze to when I am out of the house. Because of their eminent portability they have become my on-the-go project. I am seriously considering buying a  few more appropriately sized crochet hooks and DPNs so that I can have a bag in the car, a bag in my handbag, a bag in my enormous, wet-wipe filled 'mummy bag'. You get the idea.

Trying to remain consistent with my recently found monogamy, my in-house project is the lovely Hourglass Throw by Anne Hanson which was recently published in the fabulous 'Wool People' by Brooklyn Tweed. I am using some lovely, squishy Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran in a deep charcoal gray as a present for a great-gran who needs a minor operation soon. I originally bought the yarn intending to make Warriston - a great casual 'smock' for outdoor wear but it soon became apparent that the yarn was too soft and squishy for that purpose.

It is a lovely soothing pattern and the yarn is just right for the cabling detail - all-in-all - a very enjoyable project.

It just isn't a Hexipuff!

Monday, 15 August 2011


It started out so innocently. A quick peak at this gorgeous inspiring pattern sparked an interest in these cute hexagon motifs. But I closed the laptop and walked away - no harm done.

A few days later my interest was sparked again by a fun Ravelry discussion on the wonderful Knitting Goddess group and I accidentally downloaded the pattern, just to see how those cute motifs were constructed.

Then suddenly a few of these little cuties appeared,

and some more....

Oh dear - they really are remarkably addictive. I must step away from the DPNs and do the bare minium of housework!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Thrifty find

I would love to be able to claim the credit for this amazing piece of work but this was my latest charity shop find - for the princely sum of £2.

I don't know whether to be pleased at my find, or heartbroken that someone has put all that time and effort into making such a beautiful blanket only for it to end up in a charity shop.

Anyway - it was spotted by my 5 year old (DS2) who fell in love with it. He has good taste.

He has been complained for some time now that his feet poke out of the end of his other handknitted blankets (as I made them when he was younger) when he watches Saturday morning TV in his PJs. I find it rather endearing that even though his TV watching is veering away from Fireman Sam and towards the horrors of Ben 10 and Batman, he still wants to watch them while snuggled up in a pink Granny Square blanket.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

O is for 'Oh no!'

I seem to be experiencing my first ever bout of RSI which has meant that the sock knitting A-Z challenge has rather ground to a halt. I have been having some aches in my wrists and hands at work (I do a lot of keyboard and mouse-work) but of course, never did anything about it. Anyway things got much worse last week although fortunately I had a few days off work and was able to rest.
My 2.5mm circular needles though were agony to use and so I had to spend a day or two Not Knitting - horror. I did some physio exercises and things settled down a little but anything smaller than dk weight yarn on 4mm needles isn't good at the moment.
I am just doing a little every now and again but have decided to stop the A-Z challenge for now. I will still carry on at my own pace later in the year - after all I have more sock patterns queued now than I did when I started!

Friday, 15 July 2011

The power of monogamy

In a strictly knitting sense of course.

I've always been a bit of a serial caster-on'er with no less than 3 or 4 projects on the go at any one time. But this past 2 weeks has seen me working on a single solitary project, finishing it and then moving on to another - strange behaviour.

I have to say though, that I have been mightily impressed by the speed at which I can knock out a finished object when my knitting time isn't divided between several projects. The baby blanket below was knit in an amazing 5 days. Granted, it is knit in aran weight yarn (Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran) and I omitted the time-consuming Honeycomb stitch that the pattern suggests (replacing it with simple garter stitch) but I was genuinely surprised by how quickly the thing flew off the needles.

Thrilled with my success I quickly cast on for an Olearia and this again was finished in a matter of days

Again, admittedly I knit the smallest, newborn size but even so the power of monogamy was impressive.

I'm not sure how long this phase of mine will last - probably until my friend finally has her baby and I cast on for some huge sweater project for me (only to run out of steam and start something new - my usual modus operandi). But for now I am embracing the monogamy!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Something new

There is nothing like catching sight of a new pattern to wake up a knitters mojo. At the weekend I caught sight of this little beauty - Widdershins - and it was love at first sight. I have some yarn that would be perfect, some Manos Serena in a lovely blue-green colourway and I downloaded the pattern faster than you could say 'cast-on'.

My deal with myself though is that I must turn the heel on my second Monkey sock before I cast on for it - so three guesses what I'll be doing with my lunch hour today.

Saturday, 25 June 2011


Apologies for the long absence, but in truth I am in a bit of a knitting slump at the moment and I didn't want to post anything too downbeat. The sock knitting proceeds as usual - currently on M for Monkey but to be perfectly honest the sock knitting enthusiasm is starting to fade a little. It isn't that I'm not enjoying knitting the socks but it is more the fact that I don't have time to knit anything else. I can manage the odd small baby garment or finishing up the odd WIP languishing in a cupboard. But my Ravelry queue is getting longer as I find myself spending many frustrating hours looking at all the projects I want to make but don't have the time.

... in fact anything from Ysolda's new book

Several baby blankets for friends who all seem to be due at the same time

I am also toying with the idea of a few designs of my own but don't really have the time to experiment and play. Consequently my head is whirling with lots of knitting ideas, mentally rummaging through my stash and matching yarn to potential projects - it's a bit like fantasy knitting I suppose. Either way, it's tiring and faintly depressing.

Anyway - sorry to whine. Maybe I should take myself off and do something small and fun, like a few crocheted granny squares, or some crocheted flowers. Or maybe I should just step away from the knitting for a day...drastic measures.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

The moral of the story

Off to work for a busy 4hr's of meetings yesterday I umm'd and ahh'd about whether to take my knitting bag with me. "I won't have any time" said the rational part of my brain". "Take it anyway, said my inner Knitter". And boy, am I glad I did.

5 hours spent sat on the A120 behind a jacknifed lorry!

I must have been the calmest person on that piece of road. I had food (my packed lunch) and water - although I shared some with the family behind me who had two small children. I had coffee and most importantly, my knitting. I started out working on a dishcloth but when it became apparent that we were in for the long haul, I cracked out my Whipporwill Shawl that I am making in the beautiful Manos Serena.

I knit away to my hearts content and got well over 20 rows done (and at 300-plus stitches, these are not short rows), safe in the knowledge that all I was missing was some boring meetings and being profundly grateful that I hadn't joined the road 30 seconds earlier and had avoided being caught up in the whole awful mess.

The downside - toilet arrangements. How does a lady relieve herself when all that is at the side of the road is a bare field and an army off truckers watching on? Not a tree in site. I'll spare you the details.

But the moral of the story is to always take your knitting, and buy a She-wee.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Tempus Fugit

Crikey - where does the time go? Half-term has whizzed by in a blur. Much fun has been had by all but sadly with very little to show on the knitting front.

A visit to the in-laws near Bath was great fun but my choice of holiday/away knitting was a very poor one. I decided to cast on for my L socks - the Lohengrin pattern in some lovely new yarn by Yarnscape - Footsie HT. The pattern is beautiful but has many twisted stitches and requires full concentration at all times. Not what you need when supervising two small boys in a house full of delicate ornaments and art-work.

After that, followed a short family break in the country so all in all, I came back with a grand total of 10 rows of the chart done on the first sock (plus an inch or so of ribbing). I will post a photo when there is a more respectable amount although I am sensing that these are going to be the sort of longer term project that I can pick up whenever I have some real quiet time (probably about once a week the way things are going at the moment).

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Lilac cloud

Originally uploaded by l.tilbrook

Baby knitting seems to be a bit like buses - nothing for ages then three come along at once.
This is another cute free pattern that I came across on Ravelry. I found some Stylecraft Luxury Merino dk in my stash which worked really well with the pattern and gave a nice drape. The pattern does say this will fit a 1-2 yr old and it is a bit on the large side for a newborn baby but heck - she will grow into it.
Having said that, it was such a fun, quick project that I'm thinking I might make one in 4ply yarn and go for a smaller size.

Sunday, 22 May 2011

Baby knitting

Originally uploaded by l.tilbrook

Taking a break from the sock projects, I had time to whip up a couple of quick baby knits. This cute little pattern worked up in no time - Hello Baby from the wonderful Spud & Chloe blog. Why is it, that as knitters, we feel compelled to knit for every new arrival even if it means dropping all other projects to get it finished in time. An assistant at my son's school is expecting her first baby and as she had been so helpful with my two sons, I wanted to be able to gift her something small and cute to say thank you.

The yarn is Rowan RYC Cashsoft Aran, which in hindside was slightly too heavy for the pattern - maybe I should have done it on 5.5mm needles rather than 5mm. The fabric is OK but a little on the heavy side - with not as much drape as I would have liked. Still, it meets the cute criteria and hopefully she will like it.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Not a pair of socks

Originally uploaded by l.tilbrook

Instead I am proud to present my very own 'Ta-da' moment a la Lucy of Attic 24 fame. I used her wonderful Ripple tutorial to finally master the art of the ripple blanket and I am so proud of myself. Crochet and I haven't always seen eye to eye but her step by step tutorial is spot on and tells you everything you need to know including photo's of exactly which loop that darned hook needs to go through.

The socks are still progressing nicely. I can't believe that I am almost half-way through the A-Z challenge and still keeping up.

I did run a critical eye over my WIPs though and a few were frogged. A Maile cardigan that I cast on for and then lost interest in and my Japanese Garden Shawl which I was desolated to realise I had made a crucial error in the set-up row. I only noticed it after knitting about two-thirds of it but it made such a difference to the overall appearance that I decided to frog it.

Never mind, my WIPs are reduced in number,my knitting basket (ahem, corner) looks slightly tidier and I can think about casting on for some lovely new projects.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Holiday Knitting

Originally uploaded by l.tilbrook

You probably guessed, due to my absence of late that like many of us Brits, I have been taking advantage of the two 4-day weekends and the unseasonably glorious weather. A truely wonderful holiday was had by all, and the memories will sustain me during the horrible wet weather which is sure to arrive when summer should be here.

What is it about holiday knitting? For some reason I pack enough yarn to keep a couple of dedicated knitters in business for a fortnight. I have visions of myself lounging around with a cup of coffee/glass of wine, churning out the handknits. The reality is somewhat different - hours spent on a muddy riverbank watching small boys throw stones - this can occupy many (many) hours - and an equal number of hours spent cajoling said small people into walking up yet another mountain. Hint - jelly beans work very well for motivation.

I had great plans for my holiday knitting but suffice to say that I managed to finish 1 sock (Hermione's Everyday sock - sock H in the A-Z challenge). The other sock languished until we were home and I was working my way through the washing pile!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Pretty yarn

Just had to share a picture of this little beauty. A lovely hand-dyed skein of BFL sock yarn from the wonderful Abstract Cat.

I came across a mention of this indie dyer on a new UK podcast called A Playful Day and of course, like the true yarn addict that I am I had to pop pver to take a look. Somehow a skein hopped into my online basket -willpower and I are total strangers when it comes to all matters yarnie.

I have been admiring the skein for several days now. I keep it on the upstairs window ledge on the landing and pet it every time I go up and down stairs. I wound it into a ball last night, fully prepared to cast on for my H socks at the weekend - Hermione's Everyday socks, and now I have a dilemma. This yarn is far too pretty to be hidden in my shoes. I want to make a beautiful shawl/shawlette/scarf but seriously, how many shawlettes can a girl have? I could gift it to someone else but it's mine (all mine).

This is why I end up with so many skeins of beautifully dyed sock yarn in my stash - I just don't want to 'waste it' on socks.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

G is for Glynis

Originally uploaded by l.tilbrook

Yet another Cookie A pattern for my A-Z challenge. I can't quite believe that I am keeping up the the 'pair of socks per fortnight' rate but I am, and with days to spare. I have to say that I did struggle with this pattern though. The lace repeat is very short and I found it very difficult to 'read'.

I would have finished it several days ago if it weren't for the endless tinking back. I must have knit at least an extra half of a socks-worth.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011


Well, I didn't do too well on my challenge did I? Three days consecutive blogging and then nothing...zilch. Life just got in the way, nothing major just your run of the mill stuff which somehow conspired to mean I had no free time, and when I did another small person was more than happy to fill it for me.

Whilst I enjoyed taking part in the blogging event it did make me realise that I'm not very good at blogging 'to  order' or at sticking to a schedule. It was interesting to think about topics that I wouldn't normally blog about but to me it did feel a little artifical and not really 'me'. I did enjoy reading the posts of others and I found several new blogs that I'll certainly re-visit.

So I'll revert to my usual semi-random and haphazard postings for now and hopefully you'll stick with me.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Tidy Minds, Tidy Stitches 2SKCBWDAY3

This will be a short post for me I fear. I would love to be as superorganised as I am in my professional and home life but sadly my knitting stash does not benefit from the same principles.

I do my best to stuff it all into boxes to protect from dust and the dreaded winged beasties but apart from that - it's every skein for himself.

The only exception is my beloved stash of laceweight yarn - none of which I have used yet. I keep it in a pretty box and take it out to stroke it sometimes.

I use Ravelry to keep a track of my projects (both real and imaginary) but that is about as organised as I get. I'm looking forward to reading about others organisational tips though - and plan to even implement a few of them.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Day Two: Skill plus 1UP 2SKCBWDAY2

My new skill for this year would have to be crochet. I am by no means an expert now, but compared to where I was a year ago I am so much more proficient and confident. My previous crochet attempts had been limited to some very wobbly granny squares and practice squares which always seemed to end up triangular, as I managed to lose stitches with each turn.

The credit to my new found skills must go to the amazing Lucy (of Attic24 fame) whose well-written and clear step by step tutorials were just the thing to get me hooked - sorry couldn't resist the pun.
Ripple - first attempt
The Neat Ripple blanket pattern was my first project and by jove, it worked. I was rippling away with the best of them. The project isn't quite finished yet - it started as a stash buster and then I realised how much extra yarn I would need to make more than a dishcloth-sized blanket. But it is growing slowly and I'm very happy with it.

My first official crochet FO is a little circular placemat I made, again following one of Lucy's tutorials. Just a little hooky something to brighten up a dull little windowsill. The circle is a bit wobbly in places but I am very happy with it.
I'm not sure that crochet will replace knitting as my 'go-to' hobby for relaxation and therapy but I found it very enjoyable nevertheless and one day...I will finish that blanket.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Day One: 28th March. A Tale of Two Yarns.

The challenge for today is to review two yarns, one which is a favourite and one which is the opposite:

When it comes to yarn I am a fickle creature I'm afraid and my current yarn is often 'my most favourite ever'. I am currently using some Shilasdair Luxury dk yarn for a scarf and it is wonderfully soft with an amazing drape and feel. I don't have enough experience of it though to declare it a true favourite...yet.

Trying to come up with my favourite yarn sent my poor head into a bit of a spin - which to choose? My favourite luxury yarn, favourite work-horse yarn, favourite sock yarn? Decisions, decisions.

In the end though, I settled for my beloved Rowan Felted Tweed. What is not to love about this yarn? The colour palette is deliciously muted and I am a complete sucker for anything tweedy. Although, unlike some rivals, the tweedy flecks in this yarn are subtle and work well with this base yarn rather than jumping out at you in a rather alarming manner. Admittedly it isn't the cheapest of yarn, but I have made the Gathered Pullover using just four balls of yarn - complete bargain. Another slight drawback is it's response to vigorous washing - as the name suggests - any mishandling or maltreatment of the beloved item and it will start to felt (ask me how I know!). But as long as you are nice to it, treat it well and wash with care it will reward you by looking good long into the future. My Gathered Pullover has just finished it's second winter, with frequent use, and it still looks good.

Now for the worst yarn.

In some ways this is more difficult. It would be easy to pick on some defenceless, nasty acrylic that I bought on an ebay impulse and then regretted ever since. Fun fur, really cheap, harsh acrylic, pom-pom yarn - all have entered my stash at some point. Mostly it was destined for the local charity shop once I came to my senses.

Instead I have gone for a yarn that I had really high hopes of and which disappointed me on many levels. It is another Rowan yarn, and as the many project pages on Ravelry atest, it is very popular, but it is not for me. I'm talking about Rowan Calmer.

Some time ago I fell in love with a Nora Gaughan sweater, knitted in the said Rowan Calmer. Being slightly skint at the time I tracked down a bargain pack of 10 balls of the stuff in a lovely soft pink shade, from the ever reliable BlackSheep wools website. The yarn duly arrived and in a fit of enthusiasm I cast on (to hell with a gauge swatch). A few rows in I started to notice how the yarn felt in my hands - and not in a good way. I have no idea why,but something about the way the yarn passed through my fingers was setting my teeth on edge, in the same way that fingernails down a blackboard used to wind my younger sister up. I ignored it and ploughed on, past the several knots that I found, until I had finished the first ball of yarn and approximately 5" of sweater front. At this point I looked at the piece of fabric and realised that it was wide enough to fit an average hippo - it had definately grown on the needles and I would need to go down several sizes to stand a hope in hell of getting a wearable garment.
I duly frogged the piece but then couldn't bear to pick it up again. Having read a little about the yarn I now know that a gauge swatch is essential to see how the yarn behaves (before and after washing) and I know that that bit was my own fault, but the feel of the yarn was something that I couldn't get past and in the end I sold the yarn on ebay - hence no photo of the offending item.


Tuesday, 22 March 2011

A little challenge to me...

A little challenge to myself next week.

My cunning plan is to use this event to try and improve my blogging skills somewhat and to perhaps focus on some aspects of my knitting life that I wouldn't ordinarily touch on.

We will see how it goes anyway.
Day One: 28th March. A Tale of Two Yarns.

More details can be found here

Monday, 21 March 2011

F is for...

F..........Flipping boring sock. So boring in fact that I haven't been motivated to blog about it and certainly can't bring myself to photograph it. It isnt the fault of the pattern - Faux cable socks - but the yarn is a dull nasty brown and is anything but inspiring.
It was an impulse ebay purchase and in my defense - the colour looked much richer on the monitor. The perils of online purchasing! Having said that the intended recipient is my father in law who seems happy to wear grey, beige and brown without complaint, and is so keen to get his hands (?feet) on handknit socks that I think he would wear them in any 'male' colour. I can't see him in pink socks, but you never know.

So spring has sprung and I am dying to cast on all manner of prettily coloured projects but I have been very good and plugged away at these until I had completed the heel turn and gusset decrease on the second sock. Knowing that I only have a few more hours knitting time on them meant that I felt completely justified in casting on for this beautiful scarf:

Monkey Bread by Anne Hanson
Yarn: Shilsadair luxury dk

I am on a bit of a free pattern binge at the moment but fell in love with this great scarf pattern, as well as the name. As with all Anne Hanson patterns it is beautifully well written and includes instructions for two different scarf dimensions, an infinity version and a matching hat - bargain!

The yarn is a dream to work with as well - a blend of cashmere, angora and merino lambswool, it is as heavenly as it sounds. More importantly, in a luscious shade of purple it is anything but brown!

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

E is for Embossed Leaves

E is for Embossed Leaves
Originally uploaded by l.tilbrook

The sock madness shows no signs of abating - E is the latest sock off the needles and I have several candidates lined up for F.

The bad news is that the Abotanicity is languishing in my knitting basket. I have reached the lace portion which I was really looking forward to, but I'm not finding the pattern very intuitive. To make matters worse there are lots of yarn overs at the beginning/end of pattern repeats which makes the use of stitch markers problematic. Each row seems to take forever (although every other row is plain knit - for a bit of a rest) and much concentration is needed to get to the other end without dropping a clanger.

Needless to say - a house full of small people and husband means that I don't get much dedicated knitting time. I will get there in the end I'm sure but it feels a bit dis-heartening at the moment.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

How long?

Baby Wraplan
Originally uploaded by l.tilbrook

For some strange reason it seems to have taken three whole months to finish this tiny cardigan- some quirk in the space-time continuum surely! I had somehow managed to finish the whole thing, including buttons, weaving of ends and some nifty embroidery but had procrastinated and still had 1 sleeve stitches on DPNs.

It is a testimoy to my deep loathing of using DPNs that I left the poor little thing lying in my workbasket for 3 months rather than spend the 10 minutes needed to finish the sleeve and cast off.

Still it is done now and it can go into the gift basket with a rather smug feeling until an emergency baby gift is needed.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Hard decisions

My recent post about pattern thrift has been prompting me to go through my Ravelry library - taking a cold hard look at the patterns I have bought or downloaded and what prompted me to do so. I discovered another nifty Ravelry feature - to think I have spent so much time on the site but yet can still find 'new' things. In the library feature you can look at downloads you have actually used - so you can look at a particular book you own for example and see what patterns you have made from it. My 'top purchases' are:
Last Minute Knitted Gifts - 5 patterns
Favorite Socks - 5 patterns
Whimsical Little Knits - 4 patterns (admittedly 1 pattern used 3 times for the wonderful Hap blanket)

Whilst I can't remember the exact price I paid for these books I am guessing it was in the order of £10-15 each, which approximates to £2-3 per pattern used.

This compares against my stack of Yarn Forward magazines which I have an annual subscription for (estimated annual cost of £45) and I have getting for 3 years worth. Of these I have knitted a grand total of....ta da.... 1 pattern ... and that one ended up being frogged.

Whilst I love getting a magazine through the post every month and I do love the articles - do I love them enough to justify the exepnditure. On balance - probably not. It makes far more sense to buy an independently published pattern book knowing that I will knit at least a couple of patterns from it.

The wonderful new Ysolda book is calling to me - and £45 will give me enough to buy the book and enough yarn to make one of the projects if I shop wisely.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

D is for Diagonal cross-rib socks

Diagonal cross-rib socks
Originally uploaded by l.tilbrook

I am really pleased with my sock knitting progress so far on the A-Z challenge. I am really enjoying the challenge and the deadline is helping to keep me on track and prevent too much distraction.

If I concentrate fully on the sock I can finish it well before the next letter is due to start and then this gives me a few days to pull out another ongoing project and work on that.

I really must get back to the Abotanicity sweater but I'm at the stage where I need to put all the stitches onto waste yarn and check the fit before starting the lace skirt. For some reason the thought of putting over 350 stitches onto waste yarn and then putting them all back on the needles is putting me off slightly - can't think why (lol).

Monday, 14 February 2011

Pattern thrift

Inspired by a recent podcast by Hoxton Handmade I have been busy browsing my saved patterns and library on Ravelry. Her insightful and though provoking podcast centered on the issue of paying for patterns and value for money. I am the first to admit that I often spend a few pounds on a pdf download (almost without thinking) but then the file sits there in my library, neglected and unused. A quick look at my pdf store shows that I have 56 pdf patterns, a grand total of 0 of the are queued or in progress and a paltry 9 have been converted into actual finished items.

In my defence I would say that some of them were free downloads and some of them I have paid for but knit more than once - Ishbel and Damson both spring to mind - but even so I have to question why I have so many files downloaded that I haven't knit.

I already have a lot on the needles at the minute but am browsing patterns for a friend who is expecting her first baby. In the same way that I intend to 'shop the stash' for suitable yarn, I will try to do the same with my pattern stash and come up with something to knit, rather than buying or downloading yet another pattern.

The Ravelry search function comes into its own again with the 'in my library' option which allows you to filter your search to give you all the patterns you already own - a darn good idea and one I intend to put into practice very soon.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

C is for Cusp socks

Cusp socks
Originally uploaded by l.tilbrook

Continuing with the 2011 A-Z sock challenge, the C socks are officially finished. They would have been done a few days ago if I could have put the Abotanicity sweater down long enough.

In truth I wasn't that happy with the lace pattern on these socks and I'm not sure how comfortable they will be. Having said that they did even out a lot during blocking and they look much better now, so we shall see.

Now to decide on a suitable candidate for D.

So far I have Devon - yet another Cookie A and Django, or I could go for the Diagonal Cross-Rib. This is a favourite of my mother-in -laws due to it's super stretching properties, and it is her birthday coming up.

Time to go for some daughter-in-law 'brownie points' I think.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Too ill to knit

Yes, it's true. On Sunday I was officially 'too ill too knit'. I had picked up a stomach bug from one of the boys and for the first time since having children (nearly six years ago) I was literally too ill to get out of bed. My OH hoped that if he left me to my own devices I would be able to pull myself together and join them downstairs - he even tried to tempt me by bringing up my knitting bag and leaving it at the side of the bed. But by midday it was clear that he was on his own parenting-wise.

When I shakily emerged after tea-time the house looked like a bombsite. It wasn't that DH hadn't been hard at work cleaning, feeding, entertaining etc it was just that 'stuff' was everywhere. It made me realise how much I (and all the mum's I know) pick up and tidy as we go. We really do multi-task without even thinking about it. I never leave a room without something in my hand destined to go in another room - I guess the Flylady mantra's have stuck with me more than I thought.

Anyway, my horrible tum meant a day off work on Monday and of course, plenty of knitting to make up lost time. I finally divided for the sleeves on Abotanicity - sadly it still isn't very photogenic. And I finally managed to begin a Ripple crochet blanket after lusting after those on the Ravelry group for ages. It isn't perfect but I am enjoying the soothing rythmn of the hills and valleys.

Saturday, 5 February 2011


Originally uploaded by l.tilbrook

Officially still in love with this project. The colours are wonderful and it is a very relaxing knit but my - the rows are getting very long now. I think I need to end up with about 450 stitches before dividing for the arms and each row takes well over 15 minutes. However, I am trying not to think about rows and time spent and just enjoy the zen of it. Over on the Phoenix Knitting Forum we recently worked out our 'stitch per minute' (SPM) rate for fun. I think that I came out about average at about 30 SPM - I'm probably much slower in rib.

I did think about working out how much longer it would take to finish the yoke of this sweater but then I decided against it. There is the possibility that it would prove to be way too depressing - sort of like looking at Scarfell Pike (in the Lake District) from the bottom and knowing that you have to climb all the way up it and back down before you get your log fire and glass of merlot!

Embrace the peace and quiet of 2x1 rib and a glass (or two) of merlot and forget about stitch counts. That's my philosophy anyway, and I'm trying hard not to notice that the sweater looks much the same when I put it down after four hours of solid knitting.

Monday, 31 January 2011


With amazing service from Meadow Yarns my 3.25mm KnitPro tips arrived safely and very speedily. By happy co-incidence it was also my day off work and the two boys were safely installed at school. Yes, I know that the kitchen floor needed mopping and I really ought to sort out that slightly fuzzy something wrapped in clingfilm at the back of the fridge, but I felt the urge to cast on for my new project immediately.

Housework is definately overated anyway. After 5 hours of blissful knitting I realised several things:
1. I love the colours of the Trekking XXL
2. This project is going to grow very...very slowly, and as such will not make the most exciting of bloggable projects.
3. A new project is like a new relationship. Currently I am in the Infatuation stage - the project and I just wanted to spend all of our time together.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Travelling Scarf

Originally uploaded by l.tilbrook

I just wanted to show off my completed Travelling Scarf from some lovely people on the Phoenix Knitting Forum here in the UK. It was a year long project and we all knit one section per month on a scarf, then sent it on to the next person on the list until finally it arrived back home with the person who cast it on.

I love it, not least because it is a beautiful reminder of the lovely people I have 'met' through the forum and a great expression of our craft.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

The right tools for the job

I have finally caved in and bought the 4 x 100g balls of Trekking XXL required to make Abotanicity. I chose shade 419 which is a lovely muted range of heathery tones, great for casual wear with jeans, leggings etc.

Excitedly I sat down with a fresh cup of coffee to cast on and suddenly - horrors - I don't have the right sized needles.

Now I have been knitting for over 2 years now and during that time have acquired an impressive stash of Addi Turbo's, in addition to which my lovely OH bought me a set of KnitPro Symphonie interchangable needles last year.

I have 3.0mm needles and 3.5mm ones but do I have 3.25mm ones - No. I'm tempted to wing it and just go with the 3.5's but then it is going to be such a lot of knitting that I really don't want to have to re-do any.

Will just have to bite the bullet and wait a few more days before casting on.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Contenders for the 'C' socks

For the 'C' socks of the A-Z challenge I've narrowed the contenders down to the following:

Circle socks
Court Line

As you can probably tell, I am torn between something more elaborate and Cookie A related (for me) or something more sensible and manly for one of the several men in my family who have birthdays in the next few months. Unfortunately, like many men, their taste in footwear is rather conservative and they have large feet. I've wanted to make Cauchy for some time now but I'm not sure how stretchy the resulting sock will be - something important when it comes to gifts. Court Line looks very smart but most of my man-friendly superwash sock yarn is in quite dark colours and I'm not sure how visible the pattern will be.

On the other hand I have some lovely Lorna's Laces sock yarn in a beautiful yellow/green shade which is just crying out to be made into Cusp or Clandestine.


Sunday, 23 January 2011

B is for BFF socks- finished

BFF socks
Originally uploaded by l.tilbrook

My 'B' socks are now finished, and very pleased I am to see the end of them. The good news is that I am now very happy with cabling without a needle and my, weren't there a lot of them in this pair of large men's socks. The bad news is that I didn't really take to this yarn. It was Regia Extra Twist merino sock yarn and whilst wonderfully soft and squidgy, it was more splitty than a very splitty thing - sorry but I can't think of a suitable 'splitty' analogy.
Now I have a few days to tackle those WIPs languishing in the knitting basket, before starting on the 'C' socks. Hmmm - maybe I'll just go and browse a few patterns first!

Saturday, 22 January 2011

More sock yarn

I seem to be obsessed with mammoth sock yarn projects. Projects involving mammoth amounts of sock yarn, rather than sock yarn specifically for large woolly beasts.

The plan was to rid my stash of the many skeins of sock yarn that have languished in there for far too long. Now I find myself obsessing over this project. For some reason I didn't really notice Abotanicity when it was published in Knitty some time ago but when the lovely Hoxton Handmade featured it on her blog it made me sit up and take notice.

The rational part of my brain is screaming "It's a sweater knit in sock yarn" "A large part of it is knit in rib" "You are certifiably mad"

The knitterly part of my brain is making me scour online knitting stores looking for the perfect shade of Trekking XXL.

At this point, it's 50/50 which side will win.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

B is for BFF socks

For my B socks of the A-Z KAL I have gone with the lovely BFF socks from Cookie A. I need some plain-ish man's socks for an impending birthday present and in a lovely muted pale grey yarn these will be perfect.
I decided to use the new Regia Extra Twist merino for these but, although the colour is lovely with a faint subtle colour variation, the yarn itself seems very splitty and I'm only on the cuff. This doesn't bode well for all those cables, particularly as I plan to do them without a cable needle.

Hmmm, this could be interesting

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Castiel: Finished and ready to go

Originally uploaded by l.tilbrook

This great little hat knit up very quickly - just a few evenings was enough to give me a lovely warm squishy little number, and giving some beautiful NDS yarn from my stash a much needed outing.

The problem? Until recently it has been colder than a polar bear's cold bits around here. Now that I have my lovely new hat, the temperature is into double figures and the morning school run on Friday with me in my usual handknit items, turned me into a sweaty dishevelled mess - typical.

Still the British winter is nothing if not predictable. It's just lulling me into a false sense of security. But never fear - when it snows at Easter I'll be ready!