Hattata Flatatta

New finished project!
Well, new-ish. The Offspring year-end class project was on WWII, specifically the evacuation of children. The final day of the project involved them living as children being evacuated, beginning with them being delivered to the “evacuation centre” in the morning, in period costume, and being issued with their ration cards and gas mask (previously created in lessons).
The Offspring decided he needed me to knit him a proper flat cap, sooo…. He already has one, from Cheryl Andres’ Inishmore Cap pattern, but could we find it? So I made another, in some Aranweight natural Herdwick I have lying around. No biggie. He also wanted an authentic vest -preferrably Fair Isle, the picky varmint – but I said nay. I’m not making a Fair Isle vest in under a week. Instead I put him in his old Bam-bam vest (a modified Sherwood by Angela Hahn), banking on Aran-ish patterns being sufficiently common by the 1940s. I made this for him when he was about 4, but with added length in hopes it would last a while. He’s now 10 1/2, so it worked – although the collar is a bit on the tight side. It does look a bit skimpy, but we were going for the impoverished inner-city rapscallion look anyway. Ahem.
At the end of the day, parents were asked to collect their children (their own children, mind) in period costume as their evacuation foster parents. Now my wardrobe is severely lacking in utility frocks, but I looked up how to do Victory rolls in my hair. Sadly, I do not have 1940s hairspray either, so this was a bit of a flop. They just about stayed in at the front, so I wore a headscarf a al Rosie the Rivetter to cover the rest. My frilliest blouse, baggiest workman denims and wellies, and I was a Land Army gel! I thoroughly mortified the poor child by marching in as “Captain Bagshot”, checking teeth and muscles on the ‘malnourished city boys and gels’, and demanding to know what each of them knew about ploughing and calving before making my choice.
Asante sana Squash banana, as they say, or: My work as a mother is done…

Well.

Now I’ve calmed down a bit – 

I’ve just spent a lovely long weekend in Belfast. The Mighty Offspring saw the dinosaur exhibition at the Ulster Museum and the movie ‘Brave’ and was generally spoilt rotten. Due to his habit of “remembering” (i.e., making up) what suits him, I missed the exhibition, got hilariously lost, and was barely able to move by the time I found my way back to Ma-in-Law’s, having walked about 8 miles. Strangely, it seems to have helped. Okay, I stiffen up if I stop moving for more than 5 mins, there are twinges and owies and an alarming crunching noise from my right ankle, but I am standing straighter and taller than for a long time. 

On Saturday morning, I went to St George’s Market in search of Lighthouse Yarns, and was disappointed. No sign of them. Of course, they may only be there Sundays, though I thought – oh well. I got a book on vintage knits and a gorgeous hand-tooled leather notebook, which I’ll be using for designs. There were a few yarn stalls, but nothing spectacular. Some interesting clothes stalls, too, vintage, handmade, etc. Sunday I sidetracked from a school shopping trip to Primark to check out The Wicker Man. They have a small but worthy range of Cushendale Woollen Mills and Donegal Yarns wool, and seem to stock Knit Picks/KnitPro needles, and will be running knitting classes from September. They also have some Aran knits, sporting a tag about how Willie John “Paddy” MacBallix was the first man in Ballyarsebackwards to wear an Aran jumper, to the official reception held by Finn MacCool (sicto welcome St Patrick to the oul sod, blah, blah, blah. 

Back home to some not-fun stuff occasioned by the fact that my family doesn’t listen to me and was unaware that we’d gone to Belfast, despite my several attempts to tell them. At least, I’m pretty sure that telling them that the Mighty Offspring was going to see the dinosaur exhibition and I’d be doing a bit of shopping (and that I’d have to fill the car with petrol before I left) is enough of a hint that those activities might be done together and/or in proximity to each other. Sheesh.

But! The big fun news! I got free yarn! Donegal Yarns Aran Tweed, #4803. It is better than I hoped. A deep, peaty, almost purply brown, with orange nepps. Loads of other nepps, but it’s the orange that stands out. I swatched up a bit overnight, and even with less than ideal blocking at Ma-in-Law’s, it is all froofy and soft. Delivered to the end of the road by the boss, how is that for service? Didn’t even have to blag my way to an invitation to the mill, it was offered up front. Possibilities of collaboration, etc., etc.

I’m not too sure how much more to say about this. I don’t want to be giving away trade secrets. It’s kind of like blogging, now that I’m mainly doing designing rather than knitting or adapting patterns by other people. In my older, funnier blog, I could document the trials and tribulations of the Serious Knitter. The uncooperative yarn. The bewildering instructions. The ill-advised modifications, the attendant injuries, the misread deadlines, the ungrateful recipients, and the photo-shoot foul-ups. I could hold forth on the insanity of the pattern designer, the process, and the finishing. Now, I have to stay quiet, especially about anything that is being published elsewhere. Which is most of them at the moment! How can I be funny with no material?!?!?!

I had a Chicken Tarka Masala once. It’s like a Chicken Tikka Masala but just a little ‘otter…

I made a new knitter…

And here he is:
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So proud of his work –
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About a fortnight ago, my son, aged 2yrs 8 months, demanding to “do knittings”. I grabbed the camphone, then got out an old pair of needles and my bag of scraps (priorities, m’dears, priorities). He picked the “lello woo” himself because it looked like Josie Jump! He’s still asking for his knittings occasionally, though we’ve moved on to pink wool after an unfortunate potty-related incident with Josie…

DSC00424DSC00441As to my knitting, I have finished yet another couple of pairs of socks for my Blondy Bear. I got a variety of colours of 4-ply Teddy Enriched 25% wool in the Bullring and hope to make as many combinations as possible.

So far, I am tackling the light blue and claret shades, which are coming up at a gauge of about 12st / in. The first is the striped pair: just 4-row stripes, one of which is split across the heel. Both colours are held together on the heel and toe. I’m planning to make two more pairs in this colour combination, one of which is almost finished – again stripes, but in the combination AABAA BBABB. These are the strip colours of Aston Villa, a football club here in our fair city of Birmingham. A few years ago, The Villa were going through a reversal of fortunes – good or bad I can’t say – and there was a slogan about it – again it may have been coming from disappointed fans or enraged supporters of other teams, I don’t know. The slogan was “Sh*t on The Villa”, from which I named this project “Socks on The Villa”. I’m such a wit.

The second pair is in the light blue only, with a little mock cable running down the sides – k through back of 2nd stitch on left needle, k through front of 1st stitch and 2nd stitch and remove from l needle. The next pair will be in claret, and I’m toying with making them ribbed on the leg.

DSC00413I have started a little jacket for him as well, purely because I fell in love with the yarn… And it’s variegated!! Quelle horreur! Teddy Colorama Colour Keyed Chunky. Actually, I fell in love with the DK, then noticed the same colourways were available in chunky. It’s a simply beautiful melange of greens, creams and browns, some long runs and some short giving stripes, spots and chevrons. Of course the gauge is all off. The pattern calls for 10st x 13r on 9mm needles, which would be too large for this yarn, which is on the low end of chunky. The ballband recommends 3.75mm needles (15st x 20r) – ridiculously tiny for chunky yarn. I’m getting 14.5st x 20r on 6mm needles. I also decided to Zimmermann it – knitting seamlessly. Except for the pockets which I didn’t stop to understand – they’re attached at the bottom as per pattern (but there’s a BO edge in the body), and at the top as per a sort-of 3-needle bind-off of mine own devising which isn’t BO but instead melds into the body. If I had taken time to understand the pattern I would probably have done some sort of pick-up and bind off to anchor the side of the pocket, and possibly a Fig-8 cast-on onto a dpn at the bottom to knit the whole pocket attached, which would have the added advantage of not interrupting the striping-ness of the yarn. Sadly, it was all on my snazzy new computer which decided to die, so I’m a little stalled until it’s fixed.

DSC00442Finally, for a colleague who’s going on maternity leave soon, there’s a Presto Chango, one of the cleverest ideas I’ve ever seen for babywear. The body is in blue Robin Bonny Babe Aran, and the insert(s) is (are) a mystery Aranweight cotton found in the Bullring. I just have to knit one more insert, for which I’m checking through my Aran pattern books. She’s expecting a boy, and the pattern’s lace insert looks a bit girly to me… Not that she’s likely to put it on the child – from the sounds of things, the sprog won’t see anything less than Armani. And that’s just the nappies.

I had a clever idea, aka hints n tips, recently. Using i-cord to re-create the effect of Aran barleytwists if you don’t do Aran knitting, or to create your own non-canon shapes and designs. Just make huge quantities of i-cord (a job for a child with a new French Dolly?), lay it out in the shape, then sew to the knitted piece.

Gosh I’m good.

Tra
K

BS Johnson, socks, and a hoodie

What a boring title.
This afternoon was British Summer Time, so I forced my significant Creature of the Night out of his tenebrous cellar, blinking and meeping, into the lacklustre light to model his Bloody Stupid Johnson hat. But it was worth it: despite his wailing and chittering, and his frequent swinges into the shadows to check for tell-tale signs of ash forming on his pallid skin from the influence of the evil Day Star, the cables showed up well.
As for him – anyone would think I’d asked him to bathe, for sheeshs’ sake. Honestly.

Also forthcoming, more pics of the Ba’s socks. Not a lot to say here – they’re based on Lion Brand’s Child’s Solid Socks pattern (you might have to register to look, though it is a freebie). Not having Woolease within several thousand miles, I’ve been using what I have to hand – DK in the case of the beige ones in the previous post (Robin DK) and the dark brown (Patons Fab) and red (mystery) pairs here, and 2-ply pure wool, double-stranded, for the striped pair. Even in the DK pairs, there have had to be slight alterations as none of the yarns are the same gauge – brown and beige were 24st per 4in, close enough that I could use the pattern sizes given, but the red yarn was 26st/4in, so I had to go up to 44st cast-on.

At this point I unvented a 50-50% rule for turning the heel – half the stitches are used to work the heel, short-rowed down to a quarter overall. It may not be pretty, or anthropometrically accurate, but it works. The blue and yellow striped pair had a gauge of 32st/4in, even with the yarn doubled, and follow this rule. I have a Fibonacci striped pair on the needles right now, blue and yellow in alternating 1,2,3,5, and 8-row paired stripes, with the final 8-row split across the heel in the other colour, then 5,3,2, and 1-row paired stripes down to the toe – though I’ve had to do 4 rows of alternating-stitch colour changes to make the footbed long enough.

That turned out to be more than I thought. I’m planning to make a few more pairs.

I also got round to making His Wee Nibs’ Sirdar Bigga weskit. I’ve called it the Bookem Dano, as it is the Hawaii colourway (groan!). It took almost 2 balls. I hadn’t intended to put buttons on it, but I think I might try a duffle set, with a loop instead of buttonholes. I’ve unplied the remaining yarn and am hoping it will be enough for the Berroco Kap with a bit of fudging. It’s like the hat worn by Grandad Tumble, from the Mr Tumble series on cBeebies, which HWN loves, and I’m hoping he’ll like a Grandad Tumble hat…

One last thing: my niece Ava’s Little Pink Riding Hoodie, from Drops Design, using that weird pink mystery yarn I got in the Bull-ring. Quite a quick knit really, slowed down by my crappity attitude towards the sewing (~shudder~). The first pic shows it right side out, the second inside out, and the third is a close-up of the hairiest part of the sewing (~shudder~) around the armhole. Just to show that, actually, I am not such a crapilicious seamstress* as I fear myself to be. Go on, find a stitch. Yeah, you. See any? Do ya? DO YA? No.

That is not half bad for an awkward seam in a bulky, 6wpi yarn. I kind of mattress-stitched it from the right side, using a nylon-y fibre with cellophane strips which I unplied from the yarn itself. Y’see, I really can sew. I know all the moves. I know lingerie techniques lost before La Revolution. My homies called me Madame St Cyr down le ‘Ood. I used to have a little notebook with beautifully stitched and pinked samples of my needlework. Exquisite, it was. Of course, for every charming little gingham sampliaire in it, there were twenty blood- and tear-stain’d rejects, pin-rusted and spraying pulled threads, lying in a bin somewhere…

Now I just have to screw my courage to the sticking place and line the blasted thing.

Ta-Ta
K

* – Having started the post with the Terry Pratchett-inspired hat, I feel I should probably point out that when I say ‘seamstress’, I do mean the female personages wot sew, not the ladies of negotiable affection

ETA: I have Kool-Aid! w00t!

I should probably post more than once a month…

My dad died a year ago. We were not close, and disagreed about most stuff. I don’t recall him ever calling me by my name, and he certainly didn’t know where I lived – not just that he couldn’t remember my address off the top of his head: he didn’t know what country I was in, let alone what city. He only began to warm up a bit when my son was born, the image of him as a child. There was no broken home or damaged relationship to explain this. He simply wasn’t interested in his daughters. We were the waste product of having real children – sons. My sister lived nearby and was able to force some recognition out of him. In many ways I regarded him as a rather eccentric relative that I didn’t see much. I was fond of him and recognised his good qualities, even though I knew they would never be applied in my direction. He was a good man, loyal to a fault, kind, tolerant and good with children. I wasn’t terribly upset, just shocked when he died. Now mostly I’m angry at him for dying at only 69 and denying my son the chance to get to know him.

Mum is lonely since he’s gone. She has a lot of support in her church, and always had a life apart from him, so she is bearing up well. But she doesn’t have to run around after him any more – checking that he’s taken his pills, has his wallet, isn’t eating junk (he was a diabetic), etc. – and is a bit lost. They spent a lot of time together and they talked about everything under the sun. Except food. Dad could get her to stay off the subject of food for hours – I wish I knew his secret. She was on the phone daily over the anniversary weekend of his death, even though my brothers and sister were there for her. Not to talk about him – she didn’t mention his name once, even when she phoned minutes before the actual time of his death. I can’t have been much comfort, I just let her blather on.

Tiny Husband is in a poor way atm. He fell over in the car park at work a fortnight ago and wrenched every joint in his body and a handful of ribs. He had spectacular bruises from wrist to elbow on both arms but otherwise was okay (!). Then his calf muscle began to hurt. It bruised and swoll up about twice its size. He went to the Haemophilia Unit several times and was sent away because it was clearly a bruise, not a bleed. Finally they gave him Factor, crutches and 3 different painkillers including codeine phosphate, and an appointment for physiotherapy. It looked like it was working, but over the weekend it swoll up again: he spent Sunday at the unit, and had to go back the following morning. They didn’t keep him in then on condition he went home and rested. So he lied to them and went to work anyway.

Today at work, he had Disability Awareness training on blindness – how not to be patronising towards disabled people. Though come to think of it, One is not sure how he can tell people are blind over the phone. The chap had the grace to look embarrassed as he delivered his spiel to the guy on crutches…

It’s been a knackering few weeks. Emotional turmoil, and the bulk of the housework, shopping and childcare to do as well – TH is very useful about the place, deffo no Elektra complex in this marriage. However, I’ve managed to do quite a bit recently.

I’m just finishing a third pair of socks for Ickle Baby Cthulhu. They’re just quick acrylic knits. His feet are very broad but not big, so it’s a struggle getting his (shop-bought) socks on. I’ve been using DK yarn, but that’s a bit bulky. I’ve some 2-ply pure wool I might try next.

I also made a Bloody Stupid Johnson hat for TH for our wedding anniversary. The pattern’s not 100% clear here and there, and I goofed a bit on the crown. Also, the head band is supposed to be grafted but with the cabling that’s just as messy as sewing it. So I did. It turned out fine, a bit better if anything as it’s longer to the crown than it should be. Just like TH.

I really ought to have finished the Drops Hooded Cardigan from the Bullring mystery cotton blend for my niece, but decided it really needed to be lined. And that, as we know too well peeps, means sewing (~shudder~).

More specifically it means finding something to line it with, which translated into a couple of weekends bombing round the Rag Market. Then a few more weeks umming and ahhing as I tried to figure out the best way to line it – before or after assembling the pieces? during, whilst sewing it into the seams? and when should I knit (and line) the hood – before or after or…? Oh the dilemma. Trilemma? – there are 3 options. See how I suffer for my art? Oh the PAIN!!!!!!!!

Cillian’s Trellis Cardi is also finished, apart from tidying up the ends from sewing on the buttons. As he’s now 15 months, this may have to become Adam’s Trellis Cardi – depends on which size I made. Durned if I can remember. I also have a crocheted knitting-needle roll (OH! the irony…) almost done, just a closure to do. I also found this very, very old (well, from just after I restarted crafting) project lurking in plain sight on the Baba’s bedroom floor: a rug crocheted from old sweatpants*!! My sister sends me these things even though she knows I don’t wear them (?!?!). So I cut off the cuffs and waistband, slit them up the inside leg and one side-seam, then cut them up into a single strip about 1″ thick, which I crocheted up with the thickest crochet hook I had – an 8mm I think. It would have looked neater if I’d rolled the strips so only the ‘knit’ outer was visible, not the fleecy lining, but PATIENCE IS NOT MY VIRTUE DAMMIT!!!!!!! The Ba used to lie on it for his kicky sessions before he was mobile – more comfy than the hardwood floors. Now he uses it to slide along the same floors, wheee!

What else? Plans for making a bunny from a swatch. Oh yes, and I’m now a Proper Ol Designer, Ravelry-accredited n evrathang! My totally amazing scrunchie pattern has been downloaded loads! LOADS! more than I thought it would be… both from my Ravelry Designer shop and from the linky on the sidebar here. Well, shucks. Thanks to all the lovely people who thought it worth the bandwidth. Srsly! Now I’ll have to put some more up. TH has been on at me to write up the pattern for my Corset Cosy, and there’s the neck-warmer thingy, maybe the toddler gloves

More pics to add later!
Kxxx

* aka fleece-lined track suit trousers. Aka Fat Couture. Aka Oxfam-bin fashion for the woman who’s given up the struggle with weight, pregnancy, baby puke, personal hygiene…

The Staff of Life

Or not, as the case may be. If you can’t eat wheat, does that mean you’re dead?

A departure from crafting. But not from creating…??

I can’t eat wheat. I’m not coeliac, it’s just IBS, but I do often eat gluten-free products for coeliacs. However, I’m violently allergic (projectile vomiting, as opposed to the flu-ey symptoms I get from wheat) to buckwheat, a major coeliac staple, especially in brown, high fibre and multigrain baked goods. For some reason, buckwheat is very occasionally listed by other names, including its name in other languages. I recently had a horrific experience thanks to Doves Farm’s Plain White Flour, which lists buckwheat as ‘sarrasin’ – the French word. Oddly, they call it buckwheat on the Brown Bread Flour. Thanks, Doves Farm! Also, as I learned to my cost – or rather my mum’s cost, since she’d bought the stuff in advance of my visiting – these days, not all coeliac foods are wheat-free: those clever clever food scientists have worked out how to remove the gluten from wheat, which can then be used to make gluten-free foods! Great for the coeliacs, not great at all for me. And tbh, the stuff looked as bad as the wheat- and gluten-free food.

Nowadays it’s a lot better for me. At least now I can buy gluten-free food in supermarkets, rather than having to trek into the city centre to go to the big Boots, and food labels now list wheat in the short health warning section of the label. Of course they also plaster the shelves with Look! Gluten Free! signs. My poor mother (who ought to know better, she’s a Trinity graduate, ffs) has been robbed blind buying special gluten-free apples, chicken, lettuce and sellotape for my visits. Recently though, I’ve been getting fed up with the stodgy fare available to me, happy as I am that it’s there. But sometimes I want soda bread. Or a sandwich bread that doesn’t need to be toasted (although I sound a rousing hurrah for Sainsbury’s part-baked baguette). And I’ve never found anything, buckwheat-filled or not, that substitutes for the dense nutty brick that is the Irish Wheaten Soda. Thing is, I’m not a great baker, and I don’t enjoy yeast baking. Stovetop cooking generally I’m fine at, and I’ve mastered roasts now that I have people to cook for, but the results from the oven are disappointing. My cakes, buns and breads don’t rise well, although my pastry and biscuits are surprisingly good considering these are supposed to be harder to make. I used to have a very basic bread machine, but results were not great. When the element died, I didn’t bother replacing it.

However, I’ve heard great things about the Panasonic bread machines, and there are now dedicated cookery books for gluten-free bread machine baking. I ummed and ahhed for a while over the price – £70+ – and then LIDL had a Bifinett bread machine on offer for only £25 which appeared to be more or less identical to the Panasonic in function. So I dispatched Tiny Husband to purchase one, and yesterday I gave it a trial run using Dove’s Farm White Bread Flour (“sarrasin”-free!) and quick acting yeast, and the basic bread-making programme No. 1 as per the recipe for breadmakers on the Dove’s Farm pack, selecting a medium-coloured finish.

The result was fabulous. A squarish well-risen, easily-cut loaf, moist, with a defined but not overly chewy or crispy crust. The centre is not dissimilar in appearance to the sliced pan loaves of my Irish childhood, Knutty Krust and so forth, with medium-sized air bubbles, but with a firmer texture closer to that of British pans (KK slices were sadly limp). It ate well straight from the oven, cooled with butter and with butter and jam, and toasted and buttered this morning. The butter sank in nicely instead of melting into a puddle on top to splatter my work blouse minutes before I have to lasso the baby and run out the door. A little crusty this evening, but I had left it out on the counter, uncovered, since I took it out of the machine.

I’m really impressed. Especially so since the programme I used wasn’t even the gluten-free programme! The only thing that’s inferior to the Panasonic machines is that there’s no facility to add fruit or nuts automatically during baking, though you can set it to beep at the right time. However, this feature has only been present in the last two Panasonic models anyway. I’m looking forward to trying out other recipes – maybe even trying the pasta programme!

Fibre crafts wise, Cillian’s Trellis cardi is finally done, blocked and sewn, and is only sans buttons. It’ll need a re-block. Boobie #2 of the Silk Slip is almost done as well.

TTFN
K

 

Mistah Death and the Aran Blankie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A while back I mentioned a rush job for Halloween, and then totally forgot to post about it.


Hubby’s workplace does a lot of charity work – in fact they’re set up as a non-profit-making charity. He’s done a 30-mile walk for charity with workmates, including the CEO who lent him suitable socks; once a fortnight he spends an afternoon of worktime helping in the Birmingham Children’s Hospital school, and was their Santa this year; and he participates regularly and enthusiastically in their fancy dress / dress-down charity Fridays, as you can see to the right.Here it is! Based on Knitty’s Jackyll & Hide pattern.

The cloak is borrowed, and the plastic scythe came from a charity shop. I didn’t bother with the mouth as a) I had no time, b) it involves ~shudder~ embroidery, and c) hubby promised to do it then wimped out.

The yarn used (Ben Nevis Aran 25% Wool) is a bit rubbish* – very furry with no density to it – so I used it doubled on 6mm dpns and circulars. I had it in with the idea of making an heirloom Aran bedspread, over a long period, using 12in x12in ‘swatches’ whereon I would practice various Aran stitches that took my fancy – swatch 1, to the right, is a rather dense honeycomb pattern from a stitch dictionary which doesn’t exist according to its ISBN. I reckon it would take about 42 such swatches – 6′ wide x 7′ long – for our double bed, maybe 63 or 72 for a more luxuriant look. Though a major part of the appeal of this is that it should be machine-washable, so I may have to sacrifice opulence for being able to fit it in the machine…
TTFN
K

‘* – Cheap, and available in VAST quantities.