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    On and off the needles

    I managed to get quite a bit of knitting in over the holidays. I'm trying to finish some WIPs (Works in progress) and the first two I finished went to my Mum as late christmas presents: 

    The hat was requested to replace the one I'd knit for her in Woolyknits Aran a few years ago. It's a Sideways grande cloche, knit in Malabrigo Silky merino, in Blackberry held double. It took less than 2 skeins. I hadn't used the yarn before - but I will again, it was lovely.

    The socks are in lovely hand dyed sock from Fivemoons yarns that I bought at Wonderwool Wales 2014. I started the first sock straight away with an improvised simple slipped stitch pattern. I was so in love with the yarn that I ignored the fact that the sock was really a bit too small for me. I got onto the foot on the second sock before I accepted that the stitches I somehow lost on the cuff of the sock were really fairly critical and I had to rip back, almost to the cuff. I lost interest & they languished in the UFO (unfinished object) pile until I picked them up again this year. They were a really quick knit & I'll make them again. Next time I'll start with 66 stitches instead of 60. Luckily, they fit Mum perfectly.

    While I was on a finishing roll, I repaired a pair of favourite socks. There was a massive hole in the toe, so I cut the toe off, picked up the live stitches & reknit the toe with a different yarn. I didn't have any of the original, so decided that visible mending was the way to go. (Pattern is Pointelle by Cookie A. Sock perfection!)

    I also darn my handmade socks in contrasting yarns. I like the idea that something I've made has been worn so much it needs mending & I don't want to hide that. It's also easier than finding the original yarns! Have you been busy finishing things? And do you repair what you've made, or throw it away?

    There's more that I've made this year, including my zipped cardigan. I'll tell you more soon xx


    Finished objects and photos 

    There was so much I made last year that I didn't show on the blog. This was partly down to having a microscopic attention span, but also because I didn't get modelled pictures of a lot of things. A lot of those things have been worn to death, but a) it's hard to take pictures of yourself and b) I hate having my photo taken and tend to be hypercritcal of how I look. But not everything needs to have a modelled picture, does it? I'd rather post about something I made and show a picture of it folded up than not post at all. So that's what I'll try to do this year :)

    Having said that, remember my Icelandic lopi sweater? I wear it a lot, and love it. We went up to Scotland to visit friends on boxing day last year, before heading to Yorkshire for New Year. Neither place is known for their warm winter weather. And my coat didn't get packed. Luckily I had the sweater with me, so I got myself swathed in knitwear & ventured out with everyone else for a walk at the nearby country park & beach.

    The wind was chilly but I was ok - but felt the cold around my neck. Got that sorted for the next day though.

    Now an oversized hoody under my lopi sweater is not the most slimming outfit I've ever worn,  but since Scotland had gifted us the most spectacular - if cold - day I was not going to be stuck inside. I was toasty warm, and in no danger of being missed! 

    Lots of us are a bit scared of choosing colours for jumpers like this, or fairisle designs. But if an image appeals to you, why not try picking colours out of it to put together? I've got loads of inspiration from the beach that day.

    All of these photos have the blue of the sky & sea and the earthy tones around. But there's also the hit of white, and the zing of yellow or acid green to liven the whole. I'm sure these will make it into my knitting some day. You might even get modelled photos - but don't count on it!!


    New Year, new resolutions?

    Happy New Year dear readers!  I hope you had a lovely festive season, celebrating however makes you happy.

    We had just the 5 of us on christmas day & it was absolutely lovely. No stress, no squabbling, time to enjoy our gifts, play new family games & just spend time together. Although our favourite game, Cards against Humanity, is hilarious but not wildly family friendly. Slightly eye opening, the concepts 13 year old boys are familiar with these days! Despite discovering that my children know what anal beads are, the game was played pretty much every day with assorted friends and family. A little censoring the cards before playing meant it was kind of suitable for all the ages we encountered. It also meant that a 12 year old girl was allowed to drop the f-bomb without parental censure. That put a major smile on her face!!

    I've never really made New Year resolutions. September feels like more of a resolution time to me, but I don't really make them then either! But this seems like a good time to think about what I want to do more of - or less of - in 2015. We have the ongoing battle to keep Matt in his special school so I'm not going to put any more pressure on myself with deadlines and goals. But this year I would like to do more of these:


    • Wearing clothes I've made myself. I did more garment sewing last year than I have done for a long time. I haven't blogged about them particularily as I am dreadful at taking photos when I wear stuff. But I really enjoyed wearing the things that I have made - whether knit, sewn or crocheted. Some of the things I made were just perfect. Others not so much. But I've had more wear out of them than other clothes and I've enjoyed wearing them. I like to wear things I've made when I teach, or work in The Wool Stop. It's good for people that I'm teaching to know that handmade clothes are wearable outside of the house, can be comfortable AND look good too. So more clothes to be made & worn by me and for me. Very happymaking!
    • More exercise. I started off well last year but was hit by a series of bugs & stopped exercising. I do want to lose weight, but more importantly I want to look after me. My body has been good to me depite all the abuse I put it through, and I want to start looking after it a bit better.I am not a naturally sporty person & would love to find a class or activity that just feels good. So that's what I am going to try to do. In the mean time, I am going to go back to walking a few times a week. I know it takes a chunk of time out of my day, but I know it makes me feel better once I've done it. So I'm going to stop making excuses and get off my backside a few days a week.
    • Say yes to opportunities that excite me, but continue to say no to things that are not kind to me. At the moment, my creativity is at a low ebb. I know that once I know what is happening with Matt it will come back. But at the moment, deadlines & putting pressure on myself to submit for magazines, to do a book proposal, to say yes to any work - they're not good for me just now. The world won't end because I don't submit to magazines - I learned that last year when I decided that deadlines were causing more problems than I needed.  So I will carry on being kind to myself and knowing that I'm lucky to be in the position where I don't have to hustle for every bit of work, and the work I do will be so much better for it.


    Not very deep and meaningful really, but there you have it. Handmade clothes, exercise, be kind to myself. I think those are the kind of resolutions that I can keep. You can borrow them if you like ;)

    Happy New Year, and I hope you have a truly happymaking 2015

    Jacqui xx


    By the way - I'll tell you the story of this next time



    Free pattern - Christmas Snowflakes

    I designed this snowflake for a crochet class, and have really enjoyed making them for the christmas tree & to give to friends. So I thought I'd give my readers a little gift and share the pattern with you!

    They are quick to make and only use a little yarn so there's plenty of time for you to whip some up to gift. Make them teeny tiny in lace weight or as a window decoration in bulky yarn. The one pictured was made with Rico bamboo yarn - dk  - with a 3.25mm hook.

    6 point Granny snowflake:

    Rnd 1: Into magic loop, 3ch, 2tr, 2ch, (3tr,2ch) 5 more times, sl st to join (6 clusters)  

    Rnd 2: sl st along to ch sp, ch3, 2tr, 2ch, 3tr into 2 ch sp, (3tr,2ch,3tr) into next 2ch sp 5 times, sl st to join (12 clusters)

    Rnd 3: sl st along to ch sp, 3ch, 2tr, *picot, 3tr into 2ch sp, sl st into sp between clusters, (3tr,*picot,3tr into 2ch sp, sl st into sp between cluster)  5 times, sl st to join. 

    *Picot: Ch4, sl st into back of 4th st from loop, ch4, sl st into same st as before, ch3, sl st into same place. Yes, I know that looks wrong - but it makes the most even looking picot loop.

    Hanging chain: For one of the picots, extend the centre ch4 to around ch25 (you don't need to be exact, just long enough to be a practical loop) before working the sl st into the same st as before.

    To stiffen decorations

    Decorations are best made at a tight tension. Use a smaller hook than recommended for the yarn.

    For the star shown I used clear children's glue. I got a pack of glues from the pound shop & one of the clear glues had a small circular sponge applicator which makes it quick to apply the glue exactly where it's wanted with minimal mess! PVA glue works well - dilute slightly to make it easier to paint on. I sprinkled some fine silver glitter over the stars after glueing & pinning. Because - sparkle!!

    I used some dense foam chilled food packaging as my blocking board for this, not wanting to get glue on my good blocking mats. I also found that the foam discs from pizza packaging works well :)

    Other ideas:

    Spray starch. Quickest option. Spray starch onto surface of decoration and press with iron. Most suitable for natural fibres - it is easier to melt synthetic yarn! Several thin layers are easier and more effective than saturating then ironing. Remember to spray both sides.

    Sugar solution. Make a concentrated sugar solution by heating a small amount of water in a saucepan and adding sugar until no more will dissolve. Soak decoration in solution, pin & leave to dry.



    New crafts & new traditions

    Just over a week ago, I went on a workshop. It was lovely to be a student - I love teaching workshops & classes, but haven't really been on many workshops myself. I went on a Christmas Glass workshop with Caroline Lambert at Kingshill House and it was fab. I've never done anything like it before and (typically for me) wanted to try both the techniques that were available. Who knew that soldering was so satisfying! I really loved the process of the copper foiling technique. I had less time for the fused glass, but it's faster to do. I had to wait for the fused glass to go through the kiln before finding out how they turned out. So here we are - 3 christmas decorations and a year round decoration.

    It was lovely to dive into something completely out of my comfort zone (not a textile in sight!). I've since found out that a surprising number of my friends have kilns, and one has the soldering equipment - so I think there will be more colourful glass things in my future!

    Do you remember my advent solution last year? December has a a habit of taking me by surprise, and last year ws no exception. By the 10th when I had failed to get any advent calenders and the only ones left were 50p Disney princess ones, I improvised a solution with my sewing machine, some sweets and some white A4 printer paper. 

    This year - the boys asked for the same advent calender. This year I bought some festive paper napkins, and (with the help of one of my sewing class students!) had the packages ready to fill on Dec 1st. Progress! I actually got round to filling them today. Percy pigs feature heavily! They look more christmassy than last year, and the boys are happy. We just don't need to mention it to the orthodentist!

    I have been informed that this is how advent calenders should be. I love that improvising as a result of my disorganisation has resulted in a new tradition! 

    Do you have any new traditions, or any that came from mistakes?

    Back soon xx