I love a good tick list, don’t you? I veer between wanting to cross the items off with a strong line through the words, firmly indicating that the task has been completed, and wanting to put a big tick in a box, often in a coloured pen so that it is very obvious how productive I have been, and today the box has won. Here’s my list of jobs that needed doing (actually, this is the edited version because you don’t need to see things like “clean toilets” and “take bins out” because you’ll see those on your own lists and they’re not exciting) so without further ado, let’s go!
Finish my Hartland Cliffs shawl. I have done just that in plenty of time for the end of the Blacker Pod KAL on 4 March and I am so so happy with it. It was gorgeous to knit (despite my inability to read the pattern more than once and discovering that if I don’t concentrate, I pick up the stitch underneath when I’m knitting in garter stitch) and I absolutely loved the yarn – Blacker Yarns St Kilda Laceweight (the colours are Stac an Armin and a natural undyed yarn).
The write-up on the Blacker Yarns website says that it’s a yarn with “plenty of bounce” and I would certainly agree with that – I think it’s the bounciest yarn I’ve ever knitted with and I’m especially impressed with how it handled the number of times that I frogged my shawl. In honour of this I have bestowed a new adjective upon this yarn – sproingy. I thought I was being very clever putting the words “springy” and “boingy” together to create this word, one which makes me think of bouncing lambs and Slinky toys, but it turns out that someone else has got there before me and it relates to the sound made by something suddenly springing. Undaunted, I maintain that this yarn is sproingy and very beautiful and I will enjoy wearing my shawl.
The construction is the clever part – deceptively simple with short rows and yet it looks very impressive with the triangular sections running at angles to each other. The short rows are not complicated; indeed, if you’ve knitted ever knitted a sock heel turn then you’ve done short rows without even thinking about them. Blocking photos are never particularly flattering but I wanted to show you this one so that you can see how the border on the left works. At first I wondered what the pattern was doing and it wasn’t until I had it stretched out that I could see. There’s a lovely undulating curve to it, a bit like the edge of a cliff, and it really sets off the triangular shape.
You can see here how the short rows have created the curved shape. Sonja, the Brand Manager at Blacker Yarns, who designed this shawl has done a brilliant job and I’m so glad I persevered with this.
It is quite tough to fit in knitting other people’s patterns as well as wanting to work on my own, but whilst I can find patterns like this that help me to understand construction and make me go “wow!” then I’ll keep finding the time.
I’m doing well with my Arwen socks. These are knitted in another Blacker Yarns yarn (the KAL has been a great excuse to use up some of my stash!) and they’re another one for my list of no-nylon sock yarns. The sheep breeds used to create this yarn have produced a beautifully soft and silky yarn which almost knits itself as it slides around the needles, and it should be strong enough to cope with being knitted into socks but there’s only one way to find out! I’ll be able to give you a full review once I’ve worn them for a bit. At some point I’ll put together a separate page with reviews of these yarns in case you ever fancy trying them out. I’m hoping that these socks will also be finished by 4 March for the end of the KAL … not long to go but we’ll see!
This pattern comes from The Sock Drawer book and it’s been surprisingly quick to knit. The lace looks complicated but is only six rounds and it’s also been easy enough for TV watching knitting.
Here’s a close-up of the pattern – you might be able to see it better once I’ve finished my socks and blocked them, but it’s very pretty.
I’m really looking forward to wearing these!
It’s the meteorological start of Spring today (1 March), as well as being St David’s Day in Wales. We celebrated the approach of the better weather yesterday with a day of snow showers; entirely my fault as I said the other daythat I thought the chances of snow were probably over. Anyway, here is some snow because I was complaining that we haven’t had any all winter. (The yellow shape at the front of the picture is what’s left of the mesh bag containing a fat ball for the birds. I have to peg them down with tent pegs or the bigger birds steal the whole thing and I don’t want to be responsible for someone getting a fright if it gets dropped on them from a great height.)
I spotted this lone little chap (or chap-ess) making a break for it across the grass – the rational explanation is that a bird or a squirrel dropped a bulb on the grass last year, but I prefer to think that this snowdrop thought there was a better party across the garden and decided to join in.
There is a pretty large snowdrop party going on over here, so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility!
Elsewhere in the garden, the daylillies are starting to sprout and are already providing a tasty treat for something. I blame the slugs and snails but I haven’t seen any in action so far. It’s usually the slugs and snails when things get munched in our garden.
The hellebores are in full bloom now. I love hellebores and have a few different varieties. This is Helleborus orientalis or Lenten rose …
and this is Helleborus foetidus or stinking hellebore. This one spreads like mad in my garden and I find it growing all over the place. I haven’t noticed it to be particularly stinky, but I do like the green flowers.
I also like these jewel-bright beauties and really need to get them out of the container I bought them in and into my planters. You can’t beat primulas for bright spring colour – and luckily they survive unexpected snow falls too!
And look at these! I didn’t think we had any crocuses left in our garden as little mice like to eat the bulbs. Perhaps our cats are useful around the garden after all!
Before we head back inside, I wanted to show you this. It’s a squirrel feeder box and I bought it years ago from this company when I saw them at the RHS Tatton Show. It was just before we moved to our house in Winwick and I wanted to feed the birds but knew that there were squirrels around so I asked the man at the bird feeder stand what his advice was. He said that whilst you can buy anti-squirrel bird feeders, in his opinion the best thing to do was to give the squirrels their own food supply and they would leave the bird feeders alone. It turns out that (in our garden, at least) this is absolutely true. It doesn’t take long for the squirrels to work out how to lift the lid to get the peanuts out and because they’ve got their own easy supply of nuts they leave the birds to get on with their own birdy business. Clever, eh?
I also like watching the squirrels helping themselves to the nuts. Yes, I know, rats with tails, but as long as they’re not in our roof space then I like to see them!
This is a job that’s needed doing for some time, but I’ve put it off because refilling bean bags with polystyrene beads can be a messy job and it wasn’t until I put the blankets in the wash today that I noticed just how flat the bean bag had got.
Oh dear, I did feel like a very bad doggy mum! In my defence, the dog does sleep on a thick mat and three blankets as well as his bean bag so I don’t think that it’s been entirely unreasonable that I’ve missed the fact that his bean bag is now just a bag. I think I was hoping that if I ignored them, the beans would all pop up again shouting “Ta-dah! Fooled you!”. Sadly, this has not been the case and today has been the day for it to be done. It’s not a big job, only a case of unpicking a seam, tipping more beans in and then sewing the seam back up again. I’ve got a sewing machine, I’m quite capable of doing this. It’s a ten minute job, tops.
It’s never ten minutes, is it? Yes, there was a spillage and yes, my kitchen … living room … hall … thanks to the epic static qualities of the little
blighters squishy little things … is covered in polystyrene beans and looks like a film set from a Christmas movie. It’s a wonder that any beans got into the bean bag at all once they’d all started pinging off in different directions that didn’t include being inside the bag. Small daughter appeared, under the pretence of helping to clear up. No, I don’t know how long it’s going to take to get them out of her hair, and I’m pretty sure that we eventually got them all off her clothes and her socks as she thought they were great fun to stand on – I hope so at least, as I don’t know what the washing machine will make of them. I don’t know if the vacuum cleaner will ever recover from being filled with polystyrene balls either.
Anyway, it’s done now.
Eagle-eyed readers may wonder whether I have over-filled the bean bag slightly, and it’s true that it is currently more trampoline than mattress and the dog has to perch a-top the trampo-mattress, clinging to it like a shipwreck survivor on a life raft, but he’ll squash them down soon enough. And I didn’t need any more of those little balls around my house so it’s much better to have them safely contained (and hope that the bag doesn’t burst). I’m feeling quite pleased with myself. It only took an hour.
Just when I was congratulating myself on getting rid of the last of the Christmas tree pine needles.