Monday, 30 January 2012

On shawls, shoes, and (Marks and) Spencer

OK. So someone pissed me off sufficiently the other day that I got 2 charts of my shawl done and one and a half repeats of a third, and I am motoring on.
You can't see much, it's all scrunched up. It is a shawl though
I mean, I’m not sure it’s a sustainable situation, because, what will I do next time that person pisses me off? Knit a bigger shawl? Start a lacy car cover? On the bright side, I am now in a position to tell you that this shawl is nowhere near as hard as it looks, although the central bit on double pointed needles is a bit of a challenge and I had to unravel it once. But I was propelled forward by the force of, Grrrrr. So that is my advice to you, dear readers, if someone in real life ever pisses you off too, make lemons into lemonade and sublimate your anger by knitting something large and complicated, preferably with skulls on. Because not only can you then be smug in the knowledge that the person who has annoyed you would not be able to do the same in a month of Sundays, but also you can imagine jabbing them with your needles. Knitting: keeping people sane and not bitter since 1463 (or thereabouts).

I have a thrilling new job, go me, where I have to dress in black, so I have been looking for black shoes. Because, at the moment I am wearing some very cool ankle boots for work which are covered in silver studs, but I am worried I am following the letter not the spirit of the dress code (I am so crap at dress codes. All my instincts are off). I don’t wear black normally and I don’t have many shoes (I have been wearing either Birkenstocks or Uggs for two and a half years, you can do this when you are self-employed) and let me tell you, going into Marks and Spencer to attempt to buy some was a bit of a shock. Now, I am not going to diss Marks and Spencer because I actually think it is ok, and also my mother will ring me up and tell me off, but I am going to say this. You know how Marks and Spencer do that special range where it is all polyester and blouses, and looks like the clothes they wore on Ever Decreasing Circles? Well, for some reason, the Marks and Spencer in Cambridge has got rid of all its stock to concentrate on that range, apart from some Jeggings which they have placed carefully in a corner. Polyester pleated skirts! (Not like the ones that sold out in Jigsaw!). And those extra-wide fitting black shoes which lace up and make you look as if you have bunions even when you don’t! Which look as if they’re expecting to be worn with American Tan tights! Where has the Limited Collection gone, hey hey, Cambridge Marks and Spencer? That is what I would like to know. Have we in Cambridge been judged and found wanting in a sartorial fashion? And if so, why is this, because I would like you to know that I myself have read Vogue at least within the last 6 months and know all about colourblocking.

Anyway because of this shock I failed categorically to buy shoes from a shop (I know there are other shops), although I have ordered some online which may or may not fit, so I will have to wear my dodgy studs for a little while longer. Luckily I managed to get some skin tight black trousers quite cheaply, so now it will look like a deliberate aesthetic choice, albeit not really an appropriate one. Does the dress code say, inspired by Ozzy Ozbourne albeit a few pounds heavier and with odd bits of leftover wool attached? I think until my new shoes arrive we may have to pretend that it does.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Shiva's Shawl

This week, I am thinking about destruction, transformation, letting go, Shiva, the Tower card in tarot, that kind of thing. And I can't concentrate on knitting any of the sensible, useful things I've got on the go, because I want to knit this, which really does tie in quite well. So, I've bought the pattern and now I'm off to wind the wool.

Hold my jacket, readers. I'm going in.

Monday, 23 January 2012

These fragments I have shored against my ruins

I have been ill this weekend (nothing exciting) and haven't felt like doing anything demanding. So I whipped out my embroidery that mum bought me for Christmas.
I haven't done the back very well. But it's a cushion! No-one will see!
This is going to be a cushion cover. It has this flower pattern at all four corners. You do it in cross stitch and french knots, and it has the little crosses already printed so it is, and I mean this in a good way, satisfyingly mindless and lots of fun. You don't have to think, and that was what I wanted, sitting huddled miserably on the sofa under my rainbow blanket.

In a way you could see anything where you follow a pattern/ guidelines as uncreative. Knitting pattern, sewing pattern, recipe, anything (and, just to get on my hobby horse one more time, this is basically the argument Germaine Greer uses in The Female Eunuch to show that all the things women do are rubbish and they should be doing something more exciting. Please don't make me dig the book out and quote properly).
A rook, basically just hanging out near the jobcentre
In another way, the presence of a structure doesn't mean the loss of creativity: it means creativity has something to use as a jumping off point. I see your argument Germaine, and I raise you Jacques Derrida's concept of différance. Besides, are we going to tell someone staging Tristan und Isolde that it's just telling people where to stand and picking a few frocks, and there's no creativity involved because someone else had already written it?

So I plough proudly on with my cushion cover (and thank you to the person who left me a comment about Sublime Stitching a while ago - I had not looked at their designs for ages and I like them very much. I am considering buying the sugar skulls one but I have not the first idea what I would embroider it onto. We don't have embroidered anything in this house. Pillowcases? A tablecloth? Answers on a postcard).

Saturday, 21 January 2012

How Aunty Kath unwittingly fed my addiction and now we are all doomed

You may not know this about me, but, I have a weakness for patterned ceramics (no, really).
Look! It's the Frankencrochet squares! I made a cushion for the kitchen! (Pine cones also courtesy of Aunty Kath)
When I say a weakness, I mean they make me twitch and reach out greedy grasping hands. I just love patterns. When I was young and we never had any money (violins), my mother would not let me buy anything with a pattern on because she said I would have to use it a lot and I would get fed up of it. Well mother, despite the fairisle cardigan incident where I do concede your point, you were wrong wrong wrong, and if you had let me buy that duvet cover I wanted in Atkinsons in Sheffield circa 1987 I imagine I would be an actuary with a labrador and an Aga by now. I love all pattern. I love modern Scandinavian. I love mid century modern. I love brown and orange 70s clichés. I love Denby Arabesque. More than all of those I love Orla Kiely. When I decorated the kitchen last year on 3p, a spit and a polish, I felt I was morally justified in buying new mugs and I wanted Orla Kiely ones. Readers, the moral anguish I went through trying to justify to myself the cost of those mugs. I calculated the cost many different times with my translucent blue calculator. I compared prices. I googled. I ebayed. I decided in the end it could not be justified and I bought coloured ones at a quarter of the price from John Lewis and I was almost content.
You see how the colours work together? I really really don't need to buy any more of the AMAZING PRINTED MUGS. Please stop me
Then at Christmas, Aunty Kath bought us two Orla Kiely mugs. Two mugs! I carried them home with pride and delight. What I should say to you now is, look how well those mugs go on the shelf with my coloured John Lewis ones which tone very nicely. Now my patterned ceramic itch is scratched and I will never want patterned ceramic mugs again but will be content and will turn my mind to higher things. I will read George Monbiot columns in the Guardian to the end and not give up half way through and make biscuits. This is what I should say. The unfortunate truth, however, is that Aunty Kath has, however innocently and kindly, provided the Patterned Ceramic version of Crystal Meth and now I want More. More! It is like Toblerones to Alan Partridge, Curly-Wurlies to the Vicar of Dibley, men who have married their own horses to Jerry Springer, turtles to that strange man on Emergency Vets. I cannot be trusted. I cannot leave well alone.
And actually, Aunty Kath also bought us that toaster
I convinced myself I needed a ‘special new container to put the herbal tea sachets in’. Readers: I did not need it. I wanted it. And now I find myself googling Orla Kiely mugs once more, in case in the year since I last looked they have fallen in price to 50p each, or in case there is a special offer of 80% off which is only available to, say, people who have successfully lived with medieval latinists for more than 10 years. They have not. There is not. But I do not think I am strong enough to resist buying another couple. So many wonderful patterns! {Twitches}.
I may need lots of little ceramic containers to keep all my spices in?
Besides, I just know that if I just collected a few more mugs I could give it up. I know I could. I just need those mugs first. And we’ll pretend I never even looked at the cute little red jugs because honestly where would it end? Rehab and embarrassment. ‘Hello. My name is Susie. I’m a mugaholic. I started off not being able to decide between patterns, and now we can’t get into the house and I’ve had to sell next door’s cat on ebay to fund my habit.’ Tears, outstretched arms. ‘I’m admitting I need help.

Marimekko do mugs as well. I’m just putting that out there. Please someone, stage an intervention.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Crocheted glass (and you thought Wollmeise was hardcore).

OK. First wanted to say, thank you to Craft Corners for featuring me in their best of the web – go and have a look and admire how I am not very good at writing a blurb about my blog ;-), also the other blogs featured do look rather nice (one of them makes lingerie! I have on occasion made my own knickers but I have to say to you that mine are functional rather than attractive like that).

Second, I wanted to share with you an artist I discovered while I was in Derbyshire at New Year. I was sitting in the B&B one night, feebly eating a ginger biscuit and flicking through a little book on local artists and I thought, wait, can that really be… crochet rendered cunningly in glass? So I wrote the website address carefully down in my diary and checked when I got home and yes. This is Catherine Carr glass, and she makes the most beautiful things.
They are made from a recycled glass product and she actually crochets the glass. Her granny taught her to crochet (and these are her patterns!) and it’s a way of honouring her grandmother and keeping alive craft traditions, and also celebrating the history and skills of women workers in northern textile mills (Derbyshire is a big area for textile mills and if my dad had a blog he would tell you all about it). They’re based on pineapple crochet patterns, which I really like, and the skill involved in crocheting them out of glass must be amazing (my crocheting doesn’t look even like this when I’ve done it in wool and blocked it, thinks she looking ruefully at the cushion cover she has just finished).

I think these bowls are really wonderful, and I have added them to my mental list of things I will buy next time I have spare money, although that will probably also have to be, spare money and a table/ sideboard to display them on. Therefore, spare money, a table/ sideboard, and a house big enough that all flat surfaces are not immediately colonised by Partner ambling along with a pile of papers. But if the stars ever align and circumstances come together I would just love one of these bowls.

Thank you very much, Cathy, for letting me show your beautiful work. Next time I am in Derbyshire I will see if you are in any exhibitions near me and come and look (don’t be scared). Do have a look on Cathy’s website as it is all very impressive and there are many more pictures - for some reason I'm having trouble uploading today.

OK. Back to spring cleaning (I know it’s only January. I’ve been clearing out the cupboard under the stairs. Do you know how many empty jam jars we had got? I could have opened a shop. A very boring shop. This is what happens when you aren’t organised, you acquire duplicates, then 3 years down the line you end up on Hoarders in a room full of unopened boxes from QVC. Lucky I’ve nipped it in the bud, isn’t it?)

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Frankenknits number 2: Frankencrochet

If there's anything better for using up scraps than granny squares, I've yet to find it.
No, I know I don't deal with the ends in the most efficient way. I'm happy being faintly crap
This may be a cushion for the kitchen, I don't know. I'm making them from ends of yarn that are too small to sell on ebay and that normal people would just throw out. But I might get a cushion out of it! And I thought it would give me practice joining squares in any case, before I tackled the throw. (I'm in a granny square loop! Help! I may never get out!).

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Quick babbling about etsy shop, ++ a coupon code with a great big discount

OK. You may or may not know because I have been neglecting it a bit over the last few months, but, I have an etsy shop, yes I do, and in it I put stuff I make and it is lots of fun (I mean, for me it is). I would like to say, I have a kind of focus on modern patchwork, but first I need you to just translate that in your mind so it doesn't sound pretentious.
The middle bit isn't creased in real life. Why does it look like that in the picture? I am rubbish
Anyway, in the spirit of getting-everything-going-for-2012 (don't worry, I'm going to stop this soon and slump back into my habitual torpor ;-) ), I want to start building up new and exciting stock for my shop. Which gives me clearing-out-current-stock fever (look, this happens to me in January - I'm currently emptying the house of ALL THE THINGS), from which you may profit, if you wish. I have a coupon code for you - INWITHTHENEW - and if you enter that when you checkout anything from my shop, it will give you a massive and never-to-be repeated 40% off the price of anything in the shop, all of which items I promise you are lovely (well, I like them!), and it will also mean I can get some things moved out of our spare room and then I might one day be able to see the floor. And then another day I might work up to hoovering it (or possibly not, to be honest).

Now, I don't want to bore you on my blog too much with stuff about the shop, because I imagine you mostly come here for the cats and the drawing naked people and stuff like that, why would you not. So can we say, if you're interested in new stock, coupons, discounts and general UBD (Useless Beauty Designs!) news, could you email me on uselessbeautydesigns [at] and just say Subscribe in the subject line (you don't have to say anything in the email unless you want), and then I'll put you on a mailing list and you'll be the first to know. (Apart from Partner, and he isn't very interested). I can promise that the chances of me spamming you are zero. Zero, people. Newsletter once a month or so, and I definitely won't pass on your address.

Now. Who else has an etsy shop? If you leave me a link I can come and spy on you and add you to my contacts (don't be scared. I don't bite).

First WIP Wednesday (for me) of 2012

Right. This is my first WIP Wednesday post of 2012, indeed I have not done one for a very long while. As ever, thank you to Tami for hosting WIP Wednesday, that triumphant union of alliteration and a great meme idea, and, if you go to Tami’s blog you will find lots of other posts, and who knows, you might find inspiration or a new favourite blog.

I am afraid this post is just going to be a great big pictorial splurge of everything I am currently making and my random thoughts about it all. (Although, just think, we may have a WIP in the future which is a drawing of The Erotic Line, wouldn’t that be exciting. I have looked through my stuff this morning and I have found a sketchbook! God knows how I have acquired a sketchbook, but that is making it all look much more promising. I could frame my sketch if I did one, and put it in the living room! Anyway on with WIPs).
It will be ugly, but, it will go through the washer
First, a confession. God. After everything I have said, everything I have written, etc etc, in the darkest days around November/ December I became seduced, like a thunderbolt, by the Lizard Ridge Afghan, and I bought a couple of balls of Noro Kureyon to try out a few squares. Now I really, really, don’t want to sound like I’m damning this pattern with faint praise, because, I’m really not. It’s a beautiful pattern, simple to knit, really effective, and the Kureyon looks just beautiful – I think I can hand on heart say I love every one of the billion or so projects on Ravelry. But I got half way through one of the squares, and I thought, what the hell am I doing? I hate short rows, and I’m going to end up with a great big hairy blanket I can’t wash very easily (Kureyon isn’t going through the washer on a wool wash any time soon, trust me on this one) and £150 lighter. Because however much I might have told myself I was spreading the cost over a year – and I was – that’s how much it would have cost. And I had a slightly tragic evening where I made a mental list of what else I could spend £150 on, from the gas bill to raised beds for the garden and a new bra that doesn’t make me look like Brunhilde (or, you know, ALL OF THOSE THINGS AND ENOUGH LEFT OVER FOR A HOT PIE,) and it became clear to me that I would rather spend £150 on almost anything else than wool for a blanket I would have to handwash and keep away from Partner, who spills. So I am going to sell the leftover wool on ebay and pay for a yoga class – hooray! And I have dug out my granny squares, and I am going to make a blanket I will be able to drag into the garden and sit communing with nature under. Cost of blanket so far = £0. All from leftovers (although I’m sure I’ll need to buy a few balls at some point).
Gosh, is it an accurate representation of the New York skyline or is it a knitting needle case
This is a patchwork needle case I designed and made – with embroidered stars! I’m hoping this is going to be published somewhere so perhaps forget you’ve seen it for the moment ;-). There may be more embroidery on this blog in the future. In fact I may even drag out and finish my Subversive Stitching cross stitch which says Bite Me, as I gave up on it because it seemed daft, but now I have heard Penny say Bite Me on the Big Bang Theory so I know what it means (I think it means, like, Sod You or something).
Quirky contrast stitching! You eat your heart out, Phoebe Philo
OK, this is going to be a skirt (this is my design). My other thing I have been thinking is, when I make things for myself to wear, I don’t always finish them and value them properly. When I make things to sell or for other people, I weave all the ends in, sew in a nice label etc etc, go the extra mile, but, for me, I whip it out from under the sewing machine and start wearing it with my oldest jumper with holes in to take the rubbish out. So, what if I made a few things for myself and finished them carefully, label and everything, then wore them as if they were expensive designer pieces, i.e. ironed, and styled, with accessories? Just to see if it felt any different. And this skirt is my first experiment. OK, it looks odd now. I shall show it to you again when it’s finished and we’ll see what it looks like then. I’m making this from leftover black jersey and tshirts which would have been donated, so cost so far = less than £5 (I had to buy new overlocker thread), although I may have to buy some fabric for a waistband, I’m not sure.
2mm needles. You could take an eye out with those, you know
My Odi and Amo mittens! (These are my design too). They got neglected in the Christmas knitting, but, I’ve dragged them out again, and I’m halfway done with the first one. I think I’m going to have to do something to highlight the ampersand (on the front - this is the back) a bit better, but, when I’ve testknitted my first pair, I shall see what I think (I’m trying to avoid stranding three colours. I’m not going to manage it). I shall keep you updated,
Do you know how much fun it is to try not to twist a 288 stitch cast on? It's no fun at all
And, my Anne Kingstone vest. This is a new WIP. You may remember (you don’t have to. I don’t make you take notes), last year a mail order company sent me a dead cockroach (by mistake) and gave me some compensatory hush money, which I spent on a knitting kit which I had a bit of trouble ordering but got eventually? (I don't necessarily recommend this as a method of affording yarn, but sometimes the stars align). Well, this was the kit, and I have started the vest, which is A Great British Knit, which used to be the Knit Camp Vest but which understandably Anne has renamed (if you have not discovered Anne’s patterns, she has got some really nice ones, you might want to have a look). I am on the corrugated rib at the bottom, and it is quite slow going so far but I am enjoying it. I will be honest and say that I think my chances of knitting this thing successfully are not high – I am mostly worried about gauge, and I am suspecting I will get 10 inches in and have to unravel the whole thing and restart with a smaller size, and that will be a Hideous Performance and I will be very sad and depressed. But we’ll see, and I don’t know unless I try, and there’s no rush, is there? And I’m not going to get a wonderful quasi-ironic nerd-chic woolly tank top with sheep on unless I knit it myself, am I now? I mean, the new Boden catalogue has just come through the door and I could check, but, yeah. I’m pretty sure there are no fairisle sheep in it. (Flexes fingers). Perhaps I should just knit it, see what size it ends up, then either lose weight or put it on to fit: altering my own gauge, so to speak. That might be a better option for all we reluctant swatchers.

OK, going off to do useful things (ha). Do have a look at the other WIP Wed participants, and enjoy the sunshine!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Things that are utterly misconceived, 2012 edition

Occasionally I think, hmm. I should get out of my rut. I should do blue-sky thinking (that's a link for my photo)
There's blue behind the cloud. Look more carefully
And I should try something new.

I am kicking around the idea of trying 12 New Things In 2012 in a wild, feel the fear and do it anyway kind of vein (bearing in mind that I think I am being adventurous when I go to a different Co-op, so please don't be expecting things that you yourselves would think are exciting. You have to lower your excitement threshold here so it is almost on the floor).

One of the nice things about living in Cambridge is that there is always something going on so I am in a good place for trying new things. I have been out today and I have been snapping possibilities.
I am sure Hoopla Impro are very good, but improvisation is what they will make me do in hell. Then they will bring on the black granny squares for me to sew together

This makes me want to say something flip but I can't think of anything. If I'd done an improvised comedy workshop I'd be able to, though
Readers: I cannot do comedy improv. Please don't make me. For those of you who have seen The League Of Gentlemen, Legz Akimbo casts a terribly long shadow, also I used to hyperventilate in Drama lessons at school. And I am not sure I fancy a talk about anti-capitalism. It is bringing back terrible memories of the time I attempted to do an MBA and found myself in a tutorial on branding saying to everyone imperiously, what, have none of you read No Logo? (I don't have an MBA).

So, I wondered about trying a life drawing class. I have looked at the website and I could do it on a Monday morning. I have to be honest and say that my current finances would naturally propel me more towards being the life model than paying to draw the life model, but that may be a New Thing too far. We might have to work up to that one. Perhaps next December. Oh God, can you imagine seeing the dimples on your bum rendered in 20 different versions of pink pastel? I would have to be knitting quite a bit more lace to get quite a bit more self-esteem before I attempted that.

So what do you all think? Should I try a life-drawing class, and report back? I thought I might go for The Erotic Line one at the end of January, as then I wouldn't have to engage with colour and also presumably I would only have to buy a pencil. In fact, I might already have the right pencil! And then I wouldn't need to buy anything at all. Or do you think a life-drawing class on a Monday morning in a community centre in January sounds as if it might be a bit awkward generally? (Goosepimples. And I can't draw, in case you were wondering).

What do you think? Would you be interested in a report if I did it? Because I could probably brave embarrassment, dimply bums and penury for the sake of an anecdote...

Monday, 9 January 2012

A Rave From The Grave

I'm procrastinating trying to translate some measurements for a quilted Thing into metric so it can go in a magazine (I can only quilt in inches, I'm monolingual) so to take my mind off things, I was thinking. Rachel over at Growing Things And Making Things did a really nice post about her year in review, and I thought of doing one, but then I got a bit sidetracked (I managed to thread my overlocker, I lost Partner's favourite bootleg tape, I was mobbed by pigeons, Stuff Happened). So instead I thought I'd show you my favourite post I did last year (I mean, show you again - you've already seen it once).

I'm not sure this was anyone else's favourite post, but look. It rhymed. It amused me. It was part of the 'try something different' day of Blog Week, and I remember quite a few people doing really good posts that day, so if you search by the tag in the title (the funny letter thing) you will get lots of other posts on the same kind of them and you will probably find some fun things, and then we can have more Raves From The Graves popping up! (Are we having another blog week this year? Says she with interest, fluttering eyelashes at various people).

Do any of you other bloggers have a favourite post you did from last year? Post yours! (It's alright. We can do retrospection in January, it's in February we have to snap into line and look resolutely forwards).

Saturday, 7 January 2012

When I am rich...

I will not need truffles, champagne, luxury leather goods or adoring acolytes drinking sloe gin from my stilettoes. All I will ask for is the joy of never having to put together a flat pack anything ever again.

Because our house is very small and has a lot of books and mad knitted/ crocheted/ quilted items, to keep things under control I have decorating rules (no, honestly, I do). So we have: white walls throughout, beige curtains throughout, and Sculptural White Light Fittings throughout. The other advantage of all these things is that they are cheap, i.e. there is a limit to how much you can pay on a beige curtain even if you are getting it from somewhere posh (I am not). Anyway I bought a Sculptural White Light Fitting by these people at a vastly reduced price on Amazon and it nearly broke me.
Not quite a bud, more of a hot mess
I thought I would have to box it up and send it back to Amazon with a note saying, I am returning this because I am just not clever enough to put it together. I thought I had served my apprenticeship with the ones I put together from Ikea but clearly this was not sufficient. Please in future add the minimum intellectual baseline one would need to meet in order to assemble this item to your listing, as I think this is vital information and would prevent Fury, the chewing of white plastic, and swearing at loved ones.
No, that is what it's supposed to look like, I checked
Anyway I got there eventually. I think it looks ok. I'm not sure how secure it is up there, but we'll be fine unless I have to change the bulb before I've recovered emotionally. That might make me a bit grumpy.

Also an NB: Tink at Master of A Thousand Things is having a giveaway to celebrate her blogiversary - you might want to go and have a look - it's a skein of yarn from Candy Skein, and it's open for another week or so (go Tink! And congrats on your blogiversary!).

Thursday, 5 January 2012


I'm not going to suggest to you that I think this is pretty.
Actually I do think this bit is quite pretty, it's the rest of it that's questionable
But it is the first Finished Thing (TM) of 2012, so I'm putting it on here. I seem to find myself, readers, with a bit of a stash of yarn that has built up, mostly leftovers from projects, stuff that was misconceived, that kind of thing. And I hate having leftover yarn hanging about in bags! Hate it! So, in an occasional series of Frankenknits, I shall try and use it up over this year in useful objects. Because, this shawl may look bright and mad to you now
OK, yeah, but, imagine this: hot night with a breeze, outside an expensive restaurant, white vest top, tasteful gold jewellery, silk palazzos. Better? And now I've got the shawl, I just need the rest of it
But I think it will be useful in summer for sitting outside (in fact, if you remember my post on how to wear shawls, I am envisaging this shawl in the first of these scenarios). In any case, it is more useful as a shawl than it was in the partial skeins of Kureyon Sock and sock and mitten that didn't quite work and which I have unravelled. And there is enough left to go in a pair of Frankenknit socks at a later date. Go Frankenknits! Where normal aesthetic rules do not apply and Thrift is our watchword! Like the turkey leftovers of knitting!

(Pattern is the Holden Shawlette - it's free, and very easy, good if you want a first lace project and also simple enough that it won't look too mad with variegated yarn - I did a couple (2) more repeats of the lace pattern, and I think this is a decent size shawl).

OK, off to pick up the dustbins. It's windy! Is it windy where you are?

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Throws I love, reprise

Just wanted to add a throw to my previous list of Throws I Love - look at this one, isn't it amazing.
Look at the colours! Amazing. Photo/ project by franknjim i.e. not by me, I am not sure I am clever enough at crocheting for this yet
This is the Cathedral Rose Window Afghan, and this lovely version is by franknjim on Ravelry, thanks franknjim for letting me use your photo! The pattern is available here, and it's actually based on a window in Notre Dame, Paris. This means that my mother, who went to Paris with me this year and has also been telling me how she has not got a crochet throw, ought to start work on this one immediately. If I might recommend Stylecraft Special DK, mother, and a 4mm crochet hook, and we will all admire the finished article when you send me a photograph. I would have thought you would have had it done in a couple of weeks and it should certainly take your mind off your labyrinthitis (poor mum has got labyrinthitis, it's very nasty. What she needs is a good complex crochet project. Cures all ills).

Here Be Dragones

Picture heavy - apologies for those of you on slow computers like me!

Partner and I are back from the wilds of Rural Derbyshire where we have been visiting my family.

The genuine Bakewell Pudding is a bit of a shock if you're not used to it. I've existed solely on refined sugar since the middle of November so I'm fine
We stayed in a very nice B+B down the most unspeakable road I have ever encountered. I am a city driver right to the bone: I can park in tiny places, I can gesture at taxi drivers, I can navigate a one way system, I can do U-turns on a pin and I can do emergency stops when big fluffy cats decide to wander across the road aimlessly. I do, however, like there to be flat tarmac, a line down the middle of the road, and lights (you know, every mile or so). Our B+B was across a moor. Apparently 5 minutes from my parents’ house and the whole thing turns into Wuthering Heights, who knew. Luckily Partner (who does not drive) was able to keep up a helpful and encouraging commentary during our slightly tense journeys, which were made even more exciting by my having a sinus infection which brought on a migraine and meant I could not see properly. ‘It’s all fine, Susie! I don’t know where we are but we can’t have gone far wrong! Gosh that fog came on rather suddenly didn’t it, perhaps put your fog lights on? Oh, they are on. No, it’s fine, I can see at least a foot in front, keep going – look, it’s lifted a bit! Now I can see a 50 foot drop on this side, ooh, that’s pretty – no, don’t worry, there’s a small dry stone wall here so you’d hit that before you went over, and I don’t think 50 feet would kill us anyway – oh, ok, there’s no wall here and it is quite sheer, just keep over that side a bit, you’re absolutely fine – look, it’s the fog again! Do you know, I don’t think it is fog, I think we’re actually driving through a cloud!’ Sympathetic face: ‘You seem a little bit tense, Susie – are you alright? Now, come on. It’s not as bad as that time we got lost in Suffolk’. (Actually it wasn’t as bad as that time we got lost in Suffolk. I thought I might never get out of Suffolk).
A cloud on a hill. It looks pretty now, imagine driving through it at midnight when your navigator's hyped up on Homity Pie
Anyway, I have unclenched now (almost), and I am going to show you my Stuff I Made before I move on with the new year. I have a list of Stuff I Am Going to Make in 2012 but I will reveal that later (I mean, don’t lose sleep. I just enjoy making lists). Now, in this after-Christmas time of year, normally there are slews of people on message boards whose Homemade Gifts Have Been Dissed. This serves as a pairing to all the articles we get before Christmas about How You Should Not Make Homemade Gifts Because They Are Crap And Cheap And No-one Wants Them. Perhaps the former recipients write the latter articles, I do not know. However, I am very sorry to disappoint anyone who was hoping for some scandal, because, everyone was very nice about my homemade things and I think they liked them! So, thank you family for being open minded and not making me have to do a blog post about How Handmade Is Not Always Appreciated (hmm. Connection?), even when I presented you with glittery fudge. This is what I made:
Look, I hadn't pulled it straight. I was knackered
Can ya tell what it is yet? It's a graphic equalizer!
Dan’s crocheted throw, using this pattern from The Gingerbread Lady. It's a graphic equalizer! It's ironic retro cool! In crochet! Readers, this damn near killed me. It was not the crocheting, it was not the sewing together: it was the black yarn. If I ever do anything in black again, I will do it in July, or, I will do it when we have paid an electrician to wire up high-intensity halogen spotlights which will all be trained on me while I sit on the sofa crocheting and watching repeats of The Big Bang Theory (please all go and watch The Big Bang Theory if you haven’t seen it already. I keep asking Partner if he has ever met anyone who later went on to write American comedy because Sheldon is so like him, and he says, no, but he is a bit worried about one of the characters in The Archers).
Look how nice and soft it looks, like the ears of a friendly Husky
Aunty Maureen’s candle flame cowl, ends woven in, go me with my tubular bindoff and cast on, go me x 100.
Socks to wear while feeding chickens or chasing Ginger Cat round the back of the radiator
Aunty Kath’s colourful Noro socks. Aunty Kath says she is going to have a pedicure before she wears the socks, tell her she does not need to bother! (Also, Aunty Kath, forgot to say: wash on a wool wash, dry on the radiator).

Come on Kirstie Allsopp, let's see you make some mittens with gnomes on them, lady
Pixie hat and mittens for Dad. Pixie theme for reasons we will not go into,
With recycled buttons. Never let me see you throw away a button! Hoarders be damned!
And cabled socks for mum (mum, you will have to handwash these, sorry).

++ I made little food hampers with blackberry vodka, chutneys, coconut ice, and glittery fudge, which was useful, because when we were driving backwards and forwards Over The Wild Moor, I was reassured that if we broke down we would be able to survive for a week although we might have had a bit of a sugar rush and been quite drunk. But now we look ahead to 2012. What will it bring? (Apart from the credit card bill?). Will it bring crafting success, money, the ability to do a provisional cast on, the ability to thread my overlocker without tears and the aid of Pat from Sew Creative down the road? Or will it bring miles of black acrylic and despair? Which will it be?

Onwards, onwards into 2012, and let us find out!