Monday, June 30, 2008

UK swap question 3

Is there a TV programme you watch religiously?
What TV programme(s) do you avoid like the plague?
Is there a TV programme that you find works particularly well for knitting along to?
What was/is your favourite kids TV programme?

I always watch Project Runway (or Catwalk - both UK and US versions work for me!). I am in awe of people who can produce a couture garment in 8 hours when I would still be cutting out the material!

I avoid "games" shows and anything with the word "lottery" anywhere near it. I hate television that screams all the time.

For knitting along, I need something that I can follow without looking at it all the time - so maybe just a music show or a rom com chic flick.

Favourite kids tv? I always loved serials: those week by week Sunday night at 6pm-type classic dramas, or Jackanory.

Friday, June 27, 2008


This week, my little girl has been attending induction sessions at secondary school, in preparation for next term when she "moves up". My son has started his Higher Grade coursework. (For non-Scots, Highers are the qualifications you need to get into University.) It feels significant. I feel older! No more babies in my life and a different sort of mothering required.

So it is appropriate that I finished my son's first sock last night. The model (FL) is too thin to show off the stitch pattern - it is much more apparent on my son's wider foot. Lots of stretch - I recommend this pattern for a bear-footed male! It is Colonial Rib (a free pattern from Cider Moon here.) The yarn is Online Sport Color (from my multi-pack bargain) and I like it very much indeed: rich colours, clear stripes, strong and reasonably soft (it's a wool / nylon mix.)

Obviously I need to crack on with sock 2 for this pair and for FL's Crosswalkers (in that order).

But I am deeply immersed in forward-planning as the summer holidays approach. We aren't going away this year so I am hopeful of long knitting sessions in the garden. I organised my Ravelry queue yesterday (I am "Roobeedoo" if you are a member and want to look me up over there!) and it is now pretty accurate.

So... watch out for sneak peaks of knitting progress over the next few weeks. I won't be blogging as regularly, but I should have more to show you when I do.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

UK Swap questions and answers

I am a bad lazy swapper! I read question 1 for the UK Swap a little bit late and didn't respond straightaway so it has taken the provocation of Question 2 to get me to answer both at once!

Question 1: Saturday 14th June is World Wide Knitting in Public day.What are you doing to participate in WWKIP day on Saturday? What is the strangest place you have ever knit?

I didn't knit that day - I missed the occasion entirely and was out of the knitting groove. The strangest place I ever knit? Probably in Accident and Emergency when I took FL in to hospital for the first time last year, not yet knowing what was wrong with him. I got some very strange looks from the assembled crowd in their various states of disrepair! My sock gave me something calm to focus on, and I like to think the steady rhythm might have brought a little peace to the Waiting Room!

Question 2:
Which three guests (alive or not) would you invite to a dinner party and why?

Oh my. I tried very hard to think up a creative and witty answer to this, but the truthful response just kept surfacing, so it has to be: FL's three adult children. Because if I could just get them round a table with good home-cooking and a few bottles of wine I reckon we could break the iceberg and be friends. Before it is too late.

You can see I am feeling contemplative today!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Duvet day

A wet and wild weekend, in which the kitchen skylight gave way and emptied a waterfall over the welsh dresser and new cooker. Grrr. And the front door lock has dislocated itself (nobody admits slamming it) so won’t close properly. Grr some more. I love my house I really do!

But in between mopping activities, I made a duvet cover for grandma’s visit!

Two pure cotton “vintage” sheets from Ebay were washed to remove an enormous amount of starch – with extra rinses to clean out the machine afterwards. Then some research in my daughter’s book collection. We both love Lauren Child’s illustration style, so I decided to use this as the basis for some appliqué. Scraps of Liberty print from my two Millie tops, plus the leftovers from my Clothkits skirt lining made a little flurry of butterfly / moth / hearts, plus one dragonflyesque butterfly and a doily flower.
It took a lot longer than I expected, especially as my sewing machine didn’t like sewing densely woven cotton onto loosely woven cotton: lots of feed-dog jamming incidents. But I like the overall effect. Then sewed the two sheets together, removing an 8-inch border at the top and both sides to make a duvet-sized envelope. A mixture of odd red vintage buttons from the button box to fasten the bottom. Some very uneven buttonholes – especially the one where the quick-unpick slipped… but they are strong and functional.

Overall, I am very happy with the finished item.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Liberty bodice

I cut out this top a year ago. Then FL got sick, the weather changed, and I could see no place in my life for a skimpy cami! But I have been wearing its long-sleeved cousin quite a lot at the weekends for those “smart casual” occasions (also known as picking my daughter up from tap dance classes) so I thought I ought to get it made.

The material is “Milly” by Liberty and it is very fine cotton lawn. I hadn’t really appreciated the difference that good quality cotton makes until recently. (Perhaps because I only ever bought cheap stuff!) Liberty lawn is very fine but it doesn’t crush within seconds like cheap cotton. It drapes beautifully and is really easy to sew. This was a remnant from “Little Treasures” at Ebay.

The pattern is from this Japanese pattern book, the fourth garment I have made from this book – so a good buy! It is just a simple vest top, but it is made special by using home-made bias binding on the neck and arm holes, and by the three lines of shirring elastic just below the bust. These are stitched using the sewing machine, with ordinary thread up top and elastic in the lower bobbin – scary! But not as hard as I expected – you just have to make sure that you hold the material taut for rows two and three and make sure you tie off the ends of elastic really securely.
I added the cotton lace with black velvet ribbon insertion to take the attention away from the bust. I am not used to appearing quite so well-endowed! It makes the neckline stick out a bit, but not enough to be a problem. Great with jeans on a hot summer day.

Monday, June 16, 2008


The Queen Anne Lace scarf was finished on Thursday but I needed to wait for daylight to photograph on my 12-year-old model. (12! How did that happen?!)
As you can see, one skein of Malabrigo worsted plus a 3.5mm hook make a very long skinny scarf. I love it! My model said it should be worn with black skinny jeans and Converses. By an art student. So that’s me told.

I like it so much so that I thought I would start another one straightaway – this time in Hipknits aran silk. The texture was lovely and a 4mm hook (found in the depths of my old knitting bag) was just right… but I didn’t like the colour. Not at all. The orange flashes were just too distracting. Lurid. So I ripped it out and put the yarn away. I think I might have to buy some Fyberspates Scrumptious instead. Mmmm.

Also this weekend, I taught my daughter how to make bread. She made light rye rolls with caraway seeds through them. I made a mixed grain loaf with dried cranberries through it. Both were improvisations around the basic bread recipe, both delicious!

And I did some sewing. I’ll tell you about that

Friday, June 13, 2008

The makeover continues

Thanks from FL and my daughter for the birthday wishes!

I finished the scarf and started another – pictures will follow along with other crafty goodness!

Segwyne asked if our cooker was the usual European size – and made me look at it properly for the first time. No - it isn’t! It is much narrower than the average, and this explains why I can’t boil pasta next to the big pot of spaghetti sauce – I was blaming the size of the pots! I suspect that FL bought this cooker for a caravan he used to rent out to oil workers and moved it up to the house when the caravan fell into disuse (oil workers these days live in luxury steading conversions!)

So anyway, there I was last night, mentally measuring the cooker as I waited for the kettle to boil, switched the back ring on to cook the peas and …. BANG! There was an almighty “gunshot” and a puff of smoke! The back ring had exploded! I think I need a new cooker… it must have heard us talking about it!

Also last night, we drove through the country lanes with our dodgy old trailer to collect a pine bedstead for the “spare room”. (We will get a new mattress but a second-hand frame is fine.) All went well til FL took the wrong turning and ended up in a dead end – and he no longer has the flexibility to turn in his seat to see to do a complicated reverse round a corner with a trailer, so we had to get out, unhitch the trailer and turn it by hand, turn the car and reattach it – oops! But the bed is great, and the start of preparations for my mother coming to stay for a week in July – gulp! We just need to gut out the “spare room”( aka “the downstairs study” aka “FL’s junkroom”) – major clutter clearance and a coat of eco paint required! And the carpet. I think I had better rip up the carpet. Bare boards would be an improvement.

Oh – and I got bargain tiles for the bathroom floor! I wanted rubber eco-friendly ones, but those cost £10 a tile and are mail-order only. These were £2.50 for a pack of 7 (half-price clearance!) and are like looking down into a swimming pool, guaranteed for 7 years – perfect!

And did I tell you I have booked an appointment to get my hair cut?! (Not til 11th July – they are fully booked til then!)

The frugal makeover continues.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Birthday season

It is birthday season chez Roobeedoo. Today is FL's birthday - he is 73 today!
Tomorrow it is my daughter's birthday - she will be 12.

Our cross-generational family confuses people. FL's doctors think I am his daughter. My daughter's teachers think FL is her grandad.

It is almost a year since FL was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, and we haven't forgotten that the GP gave him a 2-year prognosis. Of course, we could argue statistics and say that some people last ten years, others just a few weeks, and he might be one of the lucky ones to beat the odds and stay well for years and years. But we are holding on to the "2 years" as our touchstone - anything more is a bonus!

It has been a crazy year - like some elaborate and cruel team-building exercise! And I think we are stronger as a "family". The kids still see their father, and enjoy their trips to London to visit him. But they have come to appreciate FL, and dare I say to care about him too. Their tolerance of "the older generation" has certainly improved in the four years we have lived together. I won't pretend they enjoy repeating themselves 5 times with ever-increasing volume and clarity - who does? But they do now volunteer to fetch the newspaper / cup of tea / glasses when FL heaves a great sigh and starts to lever himself out of his chair to retrieve the item he had forgotten. They recognise that he is frustrated by his illness and that actually, it is not his fault. They have friends, social lives, activities and interests: they are becoming their own people.

As for me, I am content. FL says he doesn't believe me, but I am happy with him. OK, we won't get the farm operational again, and he probably won't live to see the house completely renovated. But we will have many lovely meals together, and many evenings cuddled up on the sofa, me with my knitting and he with a crossword. And that is appropriate for the people we are today - we can't turn back the clocks to when we were first together, full of youthful energy (!) - when we thought we could change the world. The time is NOW. That's good enough for me. Happy birthday FL!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Work in Progress

When I wrote about my "holiday home", you perhaps did not hear the irony!
Here is the new dresser - this is the new, sparkling, smart end of my kitchen. Lovely, isn't it?

Dappling sunlight - ah lovely!

And here is the view from the kitchen window at about 7pm last night.

Ah - lovely isn't it?

And here is the rest of the kitchen...

The basic structure gives me hope. I love the little window in the back door - it opens now! There is another little window above the sink (which doesn't open) and a big window to the left. Oh - and a skylight. So lots of light. And I like the high narrow shelf that runs along the top of the wall.

But the "fitted kitchen" was installed when FL moved here in 1972, and is in a sorry state. The drawer fronts are falling off, and the cupboard under the sink has to be held shut with a stool at night to stop the mice getting in - they seem to have an entrance under there somewhere! The "retro" cooker does the job - but I am not sure for how much longer!

And I hate the clutter on the windowsills and worktops. FL has a tendency to pile tea towels and newspapers on every surface - on top of empty food packets and dirty plates so you can't actually use them to dry dishes. And sometimes the things underneath get swept onto the floor because he didn't remember they were there. And the floor is littered with various buckets, baskets and bins. Some contain washing, or recycling. I have plans for these: a new set of labelled recycling bags has been installed to the left of the dresser and everyone has been provided with a laundry bag which I only want to see on Friday evenings, when I start the weekend washing marathon. So the plans are in place. But this is very much a work in progress!

Just in case you thought I had achieved a miracle and had a dream kitchen - not yet!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

My holiday home

I drove home on Friday evening, set the dinner to cook, and sat down with my crochet hook. I was so inspired to start my Queen Anne scarf, that the presence of 5 teenaged boys camping at the treehouse (bonfire, marshmallows, accordian, guitar and all!) barely phased me. (FL might dispute this, because there was a bit of manic racing backwards and forwards to give instructions about fire safety, how to do the toilet in the countryside and respecting long-eared lolloping neighbours!)

I love this pattern! I was completely hyper on Friday evening when I realised I could follow the written instructions, and therefore could combine this with the chart to teach myself to "read" crochet! A whole new world of Japanese crochet patterns opens up before me!
In one evening I crocheted a couple of feet of scarf. Exhilirating! It is Malabrigo Worsted, colour Geranio. I am using a 3.5mm hook, which gives slightly too tight a gauge, but the only other hook I own is miles too big. (I feel a purchase coming on!)

Most of Saturday and Sunday were spent gutting out the kitchen. Gone are the warped 1970's chipboard cupboards, the 30-year-old dustballs, out of date food and disgusting brown plates which lurked beyond my reach. In their place: a gleaming eco-painted wall, and a second-hand pine welsh dresser.
As my daughter put it "It looks like a holiday home now!" I even cleared the back door of all the "stuff" which hung on it and I discovered that the little window opens! So I sat down with my crochet, the evening breeze on my face, watching the sun set over the mountains and the leaves fluttering on the trees.

Friday, June 06, 2008

New inspiration

When I answered my UK Swap Questionnaire I said I didn't do much crochet. The biggest thing I ever made was a purple rasta beret out of fake acrylic "mohair". And last summer I churned out a pile of felted flower brooches for my friend's charity sale. I bought "Crochet Me" and sold it on again at Amazon within weeks because I just didn't think I would ever feel enough love for crochet to justify the expense of the book.

But today I have been struck down with adoration for a crochet scarf, and all other projects will be cast aside while I indulge myself!

Here's the Ravelry link to MK Carroll's "Anne Scarf": US version and UK / Australia version.

You want one don't you?!

I first spotted this project at a new-to-me blog : My Art is My Outlet. Crikey, this girl makes some lovely things! I also followed her link to an Etsy shop to buy some cute little Japanese rubber stamps - oops!

I am feeling totally energised - it's either Jade's blog or the coffee!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

The Lady Gardener's skirt

In case you thought I was getting lazy in my old age, here is evidence of recent activity!

(I would show you my beautifully eco-painted bathroom walls and ceiling but I don’t suppose you'd be interested! What a revelation – paint that doesn’t smell evil and brushes that can be washed under the tap!)

My son’s stripey socks are underway. The pattern is “Colonial Rib”, available free here (pdf file). He chose the colour (more Online self-striping Sport Color) and I decided to use a rib for a bit of extra stretch. Roo suggested Retro Ribs (from "Favorite Socks" ) but I thought the texture would get lost in the stripes. So I chose this pattern to add just a little bit of interest.

And I have been sewing too. Another pattern from my Japanese skirt book. The material is a lightweight chambray / denim which was described as “vintage 1970’s” on Ebay – the 1970’s are “vintage” already? I feel old!

I decided to make my own bias binding for the hemline, to make the most of the reverse colour of the fabric. I had thought about having “inside out” pleats, but changed my mind. Then I was gripped by what I would like to call “inspiration”, and used some quilting fabric to applique “seed packets” here and there, as if I had dropped them and they had stuck to the skirt as they fell. Well, that was the idea. Then I spotted a couple of butterfly sew-on embroidered patches, so the idea expanded to include them. It is my spring garden(ing) skirt!

The jury is not impressed: my daughter says it is “err… creative, I suppose”; my son says it is “horrible – what’s with the patchwork?” and FL stared for a while before saying “Well if that’s what you wanted… You’re not planning on wearing it to work are you?”. Pooo! He later said it was "very you"... which I think is a grudging coming-around-to-it comment!

Sunday, June 01, 2008

UK swap questionnaire

I am joining the UK swap - woo hoo! Why don't you?

Part One: Crafting

Do you knit, crochet, or both? Knitting is my thing – I know how to crochet but haven’t got beyond felted flowers and a rasta hat.

What do you like to make? Socks, socks, socks… and the odd hat.

Do you have a favourite project? I was very pleased with my Manon because it was a full-sized garment and involved learning new techniques. My Clessidra socks turned out well too. But I haven't actually worn either of them - oops! Gretel (hat) and Jaywalkers (socks) are the most-worn.

Do you have a favourite type of fiber or brand of yarn? Natural fibres – organic merino is the best!

Do you have a least favourite type of yarn? Anything scratchy or acrylic

Do you do any other crafts? I love sewing – especially using Japanese patterns

Do you knit in public? If so where do you like knitting and what is your "portable" project? I knit in hospital waiting rooms – usually socks.

What do you carry your "portable" knitting in? A little bag made by a very kind blogger friend.

Are there any knitting gifts (book, toy, yarn, item, tool) that you have been lusting over? Point protectors or one of those things that holds sock needles and part-knit sock safely in a bag. Soak! A shawl pin. As far as yarn goes, sock yarn would be my ideal - I'd love to try Apple Laine or Noro sock or Fiesta Ballet.
Part Two: Your Favourites

What is your favourite colour? That would be purple. Deep, dark, regal Cadbury's-type purple.
What is your least favourite colour? Anything pale and wishy-washy – beige / pastel
What scents/smells do you like? What don’t you like? I love lavender and citrus smells. I don’t like “perfume” or rose-based scents.

How do you like to pamper yourself? (bubble bath, hand creams, massage, manicure) I don't really bother. That's why my hair is so long, my nails so short, and my socks so thick
What goodies do you like to eat? (chocolate, biscuits, sweets,crisps etc) Dark chocolate. I don’t really like sweets or crisps.

Do you prefer tea or coffee while you knit? Any particular kind? Lady Grey tea or a lovely latte
Do you listen to/watch anything while you knit? (TVshow-Along, movies, music, podcasts, audiobooks) Richard Curtis films, Projects Runway or Catwalk, Radio Classic Novel serials on a Sunday afternoon – but only if the kids are out, otherwise I can’t concentrate! I have never tried an audiobook, but I can see this might be the answer to interrupting kids - the pause button!
Part Three: About you, Living & Pastimes
If you were a specific kind of yarn, which brand and kind of yarn would you be (and why)? Something handspun with tweedy bits and the occasional sparkle – because I don’t really subscribe to mass-produced fashion / brand name culture and I tend to like classics with a twist!
Where do you live in the UK? (General idea not address) North East Scotland
Have you always lived here, or did you grow up somewhere else? Born here, then moved away for University to Yorkshire (4 years) and for work to London (almost 20 years!)
What is your favourite place in the UK? West coast of Scotland
If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go? Iceland!
What other hobbies do you have? Herb-gardening, reading
Part Four: The Theme
As part of this swap we are asking you to post (or link to) a picture or photograph you like. Your swap pal will use the photo as a basis for a themed item or parcel.
OK this is an odd one. I have just discovered that I like Jane Austen, after finding her incomprehensible for years. "Miss Austen Regrets" was a revelation. This is a still from the film which probably sums it up.
See the intelligent wit in that woman's smile? I know she is an actress, and not Jane Austen herself, but you asked for a picture not words! This facial expression really appeals to me - she is witty, intelligent, and it is likely that the other two women in the picture are laughing about something else entirely.
I also absolutely LOVE the gauzy fit-and-flare overlong sleeves of this dress. It's the same aesthetic as over-the elbow gloves or detached sleeves and a cap-sleeved t-shirt. (Jane Austen was a punk rocker?!) I have no idea what my swap pal will make of this, but this is the image which is inspiring me right now!
Final Part:Any allergies/preferences (fiber-wise or treat-wise)?
No allergies.
Anything we missed that you’d like your partner to know? I can’t think of anything!
That was really quite hard work - especially choosing the image!