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….. Making pretty things
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Three children (17, 15, 12)*** Two parents *** one dog *** Country loving *** Cottage dwelling in the South-West of the UK. That’s us!

We’ve been blogging since January 2010, about everyday happenings that bring us joy.

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Raspberry waistcoat – Yarn Along

It is Yarn Along again. Time to share my current read and knitting, and I’m a tad excited to share my book this month. It is my sister’s book. I don’t mean a book that I found on her bookshelf. No. I mean one she wrote.


This one is special” (affiliated link) is about her family’s journey along the less frequently trod path that a family takes when one of them is disabled. Her son, Tim, was born physically and mentally disabled. Anyone, who has had a child that defies diagnosis and cure, will be able to relate to the miles of hospital corridors they treked, in those early days, looking for answers. The book follows Tim’s story, but also theirs as a family and how they learnt to trust their intuition and dreams.

I love how the blurb puts it on the back of the book:

“In the first year I looked to doctors.
In the second year I looked to holistic practioners.
In the third year I looked within.”

I am biased. Suzanne, as my older sister, was the first person to tell me stories, right off the cuff, to entertain me. I still half remember a story about little people who lived among the flowers, including a family called the Periwinkles. I was about seven. Unknowingly, that was my introduction to oral narrative or traditional storytelling, which I have entertained my own children with. Stories that appear from thin air.

Suzanne can tell a good yarn, but she can also tell real stories.

It’s not her first book. She’s a writer, editor and former journalist. I’ve read a few chapters of this latest book already. It is a raw read at times, but most definitely uplifting too. I’m looking forward to reading the rest. I think the story will touch everyone who reads it.

(affiliated link)

My other book, this month, is one to dip into, but is also uplifting. Charlie Mackesy’s work is everywhere at the moment. His delightful drawings and thoughtful words are reaching out to people. I couldn’t resist buying a copy of “The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and The Horse” for our coffee table.


Moving on to my current knitting. I’ve picked up a work in progress, after saying that I wasn’t going to knit anything big, for a while. It is a long waistcoat (with pockets!). Pattern is King Cole 4750, knitted in King Cole merino blend dk. The colour is raspberry.

When I say it was a work in progress, I actually frogged the lot and started again. The cast on specified a thumb cast on, but it left it too loose. Instead I redid the lot with a two needle cast on. I’m much happier with the result.

I went out and bought bamboo needles to do the lacey part at the bottom of the waistcoat. I’m finding it easier to knit the intricate stitches with needles that grip the stitches more than a metal set would. It works.

I’ve knitted the two fronts and I’m working on the back now.

Joining in Anne’s Bookworm’s Monthly link up and Ginny’s Yarn Along.

Red cardigan is finished – Yarn Along

I’ve finished my red cardigan. Final stitch completed last night. Needs to be blocked to stop the hem curling and sort out the shaping, but it is done. If you can hear the hint of weariness in those words, then you are spot on. This cardigan has started to zap my enthusiasm.

Previous two versions of King Cole 4076 (jumper and cardigan) have taken a matter of weeks to do. They were straight forward. No frogging (unravelling) required. With this one, I’ve had to redo the whole of the left side, the collar and the button band. Silly mistakes. I don’t know why. It is the same pattern. I knew what I was doing. Maybe knitting three items in a row was just too much.

With this one, I did want to sort out the problem with my curling hem, that the others both had. They were missing the weight that ribbing gives at the bottom of a jumper or cardigan. In all fairness, blocking and wearing them, has reduced the curl over the months, but I remembered a tip that I received years ago from a blogger in the know.

It was for a different cardigan and she suggested adding crochet stitches at the bottom of each seam to give it weight. At the time, I couldn’t crochet, so I didn’t test out the tip. Roll on several years, to this red cardigan. I can now crochet. Could I add weight by crocheting a few rows of single crochet? Like a retrospective ribbing.

So I gave it a go.

It does seem to work. The back, if anything, curls inwards, which is perfect. I’m sure blocking will give this cardigan the shape I need. Slightly kicking myself that I didn’t go the whole hog and add 2×2 ribbing to start with.

The only other adaption I made, if you can call it that, was adding a piece of ribbon down the button band. I’d noticed that my previous purple version of this cardigan, kept on losing buttons. It also might help with the shaping, in a small way. I love the ribbon. If I had more of the same ribbon, I would have added it to the buttonhole border too.

I have built up a good collection of odd lengths of ribbons and it is rather pleasing to find a good permanent use for one of them.

Today is Ginny’s Yarn Along, so here is my current read. (affiliate link)  Hello World by Hannah Fry. I’ve watched several TV programmes presented by her and have liked her approach. She also happened to present The Royal Institute’s Christmas Science Lectures, this Christmas, which is a must watch for our household.

I bought the book last year. I have a background in Artificial Intelligence and maths, so this book sounded good. The first program I wrote, printed “Hello World” on the screen, just like every other programmer I’ve ever met. I am a geek.

Saying that, this book is not just for geeks. The author writes in a very easy style. Yes, there are techy bits, but it is not a stodgy read. It is fascinating to see her take on the data gathered on us, every time we use a computer, and how it is used. How machine learning is being applied. I was banned from reading out loud anymore bits about data and marketing. It is relevant to everyone and she is challenging some of my ideas.

Nothing on my needles now, as I finished the cardigan last night. I think I’m going to do myself a favour and knit something simple like a pair of socks. I need a gap before I tackle anything jumper related again.

Joining in with Ginny’s Yarn Along. What are you making at the moment?

Never ask a crafter if they are ready for Christmas

Here it is. My red cardigan. Still not finished. It’s true. Doesn’t it look tantalizingly like it will be ready in two shakes of a reindeer’s snow covered tail? It could almost be worn, you’d imagine. Just the ribbing for the opening to do and a few buttons to sew on. Oh, and that bit at the bottom, with the rather awkward knitting needle sticking out. Shouldn’t take long now.

Sadly, appearances are deceptive.

For the last week, my unfinished cardigan has been sitting in the naughty corner. Sulking, I like to think. We have fallen out.


Sadly, I’m destined to unravel the neckband and the right front. There is a mistake. The pattern calls for a vent/slit at the side seam hem.  The front is shaped, at this point to allow for it. Unfortunately, I put the shaping on the centre front rather than the side seam.

If I was sewing, I could cut off the fabric and resew it in place. Knitting is very sadly, unbelievably unforgiving. Chopping into it with scissors would be a disaster. Stitches would unravel, as if it was a fictional jumper in a child’s story book, with the yarn caught on tree branches, so that the heroes could find their way home through the deep, dark forest.

I was looking more for a cardigan to wear rather than a route finder, to be honest.

Deep breath.

I undid the bottom of the front to see if I could reknit it upside down, but, deep down, I already knew it would show. There was bound to be a tell tale line across it. So only other option is to redo the right front, and the collar ribbing, to prevent it looking an utter mess.

I made the discovery about a week ago. I did the only sensible thing. Threw the unfinished cardigan in the corner, cracked open a box of Christmas chocolates and started a new knitting project.

Do you blame me?

So, yes, never ask a crafter if she is ready for Christmas. Behind the scenes I’m busy sewing and sticking, pinning and tacking other secret projects. I’ll be doing that all the way up to the twelfth hour, because there is always something else I can make. Can’t show you yet. The cardigan I can show you. It is for me. Nothing secret. Should have been finished months ago, but here we are, still looking at it’s unfinished, sorry state.

It’s OK, I’ll get there. I’m calm now. It will be worth the extra effort in the long run.


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