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Saturday, 24 March 2018

Saturday

Phew, what a busy week it's been!  I was away for a few days last weekend and as much as I loved and appreciated the rest, it does take a few more days to get back into the swing of things, doesn't it?  This week seems to have passed by in a blur of laundry (why does it seem to be a rule that however long you go away for, there's always six weeks' worth of washing to do when you come back?), dog walking (he was sulking when I came home so I've needed to make it up to him), knitting (because four days away with nothing else to do other than knit just isn't enough time) and planning (there's nothing like a bit of distance to give you perspective!).  

This morning, small daughter was out at an event so I decided not to waste my time driving home and back and instead sat with my knitting in a cafe and watched the world go by.  I had a lot of practice at doing that last weekend but it's one of those skills that unless we work on them, it's easy to lose and we get fooled into thinking that we should be rushing about instead.  I'm doing quite well at not rushing so much this year, although it is only March (nearly April) so I'm going to reserve judgement on whether I've really got the hang of it or not.



I mentioned last month that I was giving bullet journaling another go and now that I've got my head around the fact that it is just a book of lists, I'm well away.  I like lists.  I like to write things down and tick them off.  Sometimes I like to write things that I've already done onto a new list so that I can tick them off straight away.  It's taken me a short while to get over the need to leave sufficient pages in my notebook to fill out - bullet journals use an index so there's no need to leave space; you just start on the next page and list them in your index so that you can find them again - and I'm still not tempted to buy stencils or doodle with watercolours (#bulletjournal on Instagram if you want a rabbit hole to fall down) but actually, this is working pretty well.    



My current list is all about the garden - specifically the seeds that I want to sow this year.  This is my flowers list and I'll be writing up a veg one later (oh, the joy of pages of lists!) When I was away last year, I spent some time at the gardens at Kiftsgate and RHS Hidcote and took LOADS of photos to give me some inspiration for re-vamping the borders.  Back home, I tracked down seeds for some of the plants that I liked, and also trawled the internet for ideas for slug-free borders.  I don't think I'm ever going to get rid of the slugs and snails and to be honest, life's too short for me to be leaping around the borders at night with a torch flinging them into a bucket of beer (although it wasn't at one time ... :) ) and I'm really lazy about emptying slug traps so I'm going to plant things that they don't like to eat instead and hope that they move on to tastier pastures.



I always used to start my seeds off in February but found that the light often wasn't good enough and I'd end up with windowsills full of leggy seedlings that couldn't go outside because it was too cold.  My Dad's view was that seeds planted later will always catch up so it's better to hang on for a couple of weeks.  I found this blog post recently from three years ago (three years?!) and my seedlings were well on the way by this time (ish) but I haven't even started this year.  Well, until today as I've now got my sweet peas in this tray ...



I used to save my seeds every year but eventually came to the conclusion that they are so cheap and easy to get hold of that it made more sense to buy a new packet every year.  I like to chit my seeds before planting them so have soaked them in this seed tray with some newspaper.  It's quite usual to soak sweet pea seeds overnight before planting them, but I like to wait until there's a shoot appearing before I put them into the compost.  If I'm using a smaller tray I'll use kitchen paper but newspaper works very well with this one (all of my smaller trays had drainage holes and I was avoiding a mess!).


Once the peas are safely on the newspaper and have had a good soaking, I put another layer of newspaper on top and I'll make sure it doesn't dry out.  In a few days, with any luck, the seeds will have swollen and there'll be signs of life.  The good thing about doing this is that the seeds are already becoming seedlings by the time I plant them and it also shows me how many are going to germinate before I plant them so that I'm not waiting for seeds that aren't going to grow.


I've sowed some of the seeds that I showed you just now and they're safely in the propagator as it's not that warm at the moment.



I'll need to think about sowing my veg seeds soon as well.  I'm going to have another go at sprouts this year but I will need to keep them covered up after last year's caterpillar massacre.  I'm thinking I'll use a light mesh netting to let the light and the rain through but not those pesky butterflies.  I'm all for supporting wildlife but it was like "Invasion of the Caterpillars" last year even after I'd picked loads of them off the sprouts.  After they'd eaten everything on the plants (and I mean everything), they all started moving very determinedly towards the house in something reminiscent of a horror film (Never mind The Birds, this was The Caterpillars) and climbing (crawling? caterpillaring?) up the walls and windows to the eaves.  It was most peculiar and more than a little eerie, and I am not keen to relieve that particular experience.



On to less-caterpillary things ... let me show you how the Christmas IOU socks are getting on.  Big daughter's are almost finished - one sock done and just the toes to be finished on the other one.


You've seen that I've made a start on the Ginormous Socks too (they're the ones with the mug of tea at the top of the post), and they're knitting up nicely.  The yarn is West Yorkshire Spinners Candy Cane (I did point out that they weren't going to be Christmas socks but the pair of them still wanted it) and it does knit up quickly so that's something to be grateful for.  

I've nailed down the final pattern for the new book which is a bit of a relief - I'd had a few ideas which just didn't work out when I came to swatch them, so when this new pattern introduced itself to me I was a bit nervous until I started knitting.  The new book is all about building on the skills learnt in Super Socks (which is now available at Wool Warehouse as well as Amazon, here on the blog and a few local yarn shops) and will have both tutorials and patterns in it.  It's at that stage at the moment where I think I've pretty much got everything that I need for it but now need to sit down and start putting it all together.  My plan is for it to be ready for Yarndale so I've got a few months to work on it before I start to feel my deadline looming - if I keep telling you where I'm up to then that should keep me on track, shouldn't it?  I am sure you'll be able to keep me accountable!  There's not really anything to show you just yet but I'm sure I'll be able to share some pictures as I get a bit further down the process.

It's later now than I expected it to be when I posted this - dinner's in the oven and we've got a family night with a movie in front of the fire planned ... and more knitting of course!  What about you?  Anything exciting?  Have a great night!


54 comments:

  1. Off to the garden centre tomorrow. Planning on sewing some mint seeds and chives. Love the candy cane socks! Happy film watching xx

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    1. Thank you! We watched Hampsted, it was lovely! xx

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  2. As it happens, I'm knitting my second sock using your excellent Basic socks pattern!

    Valgerdur in Reykjavik, Iceland

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    1. Ooh fabulous! I expect you've finished it by now! xx

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  3. We visited Hidcote in October 2016 and Hidcote and Kiftsgate in May 2017 - both such inspirational gardens! I love to read about your gardening - our plot is very small and after 32 years in this house quite organised - although we keep changing little things - we planted a Prunus Incisa Yamadei yesterday - but what you are doing is what my sister is doing in her 3 acre garden in Kent! Lots of hard work and a battle against the pests! But so much fun too and very rewarding. Spring is definitely here despite snow forecast for Easter!

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    1. I don't envy your sister her 3 acres - I certainly don't have that, but I do have a big mess to tidy up! :) Your Prunus will be gorgeous in the spring xx

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  4. Good morning Christine, hope you enjoyed movie night. Great gardening tips, I thought I'd missed the boat with my sweet peas. Exciting hearing there's a new book on the horizon. I am so enjoying your pattern from the Let's Knit magazine, nearly finished my first pair. The candy cane yarn is adorable isn't it, it's on my shopping list, would make great wrist warmers too! Although I'm more than ready for spring, fingers crossed it's just around the corner now. Best wishes with your bujo! Gez xx

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    1. I'm glad you're enjoying the pattern, I really enjoyed writing them! Jane Burns has designed a pair of fingerless mittens called Bubble and Squeak which use the Candy Cane yarn - they look fab! xx

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  5. Will we be able to pre-order your new book in due course?

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    1. Do you know, I hadn't thought about that at all! I don't see why not - that's the joy of being self-published! xx

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  6. You keep making me want to cast on another pair of socks, but I'm cross stitching and banner making and blanket hooking and mandala designing and need to sow my sweet peas seeds......and the rest. I think socks will need to wait....but it doesn't stop me really wanting to do it!!xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

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    1. I think you always need a pair of socks on your needles - but then, I am rather biased! :) xx

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  7. caterpillar massacre had me in stitches

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    1. Ha! It really wasn't funny at the time! :) xx

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  8. Glad to know I'm not the only one that puts finished tasks on lists so I can tick them off! Uber satisfying... x

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  9. We're (by that I mean I'm) determined to get the greenhouse up and the new veg garden started this year. Just need the weather to co-operate lol

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    1. I think sometimes you've just got to get out there despite the weather, although it's not helpful if it's snowing. It is very nice being in the greenhouse in the rain, though! xx

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  10. It's so easy to be over enthusiastic and sow seeds too early, isn't it? Well done on holiding back, later sowings usually catch up anyway. I used that same WYS yarn to knit myself some Christmas socks except I used the red for the cuffs, heels and toes. I'm a big fan of WYS yarn.

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    1. I think this yarn works beautifully with the contrasts, it makes them look so Christmassy! Having said that, I'm still wearing mine (and big daughter and her boyfriend will be wearing theirs or else!) so it looks like Christmas extends all year in our house now! :) xx

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  11. I'm crocheting a blanket for a surprise for a friend. It's been a well since I picked up my hook so am having to take it slowly so my shoulders don't cramp up too much - the perils of crochet!!

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    1. It's always a good idea to take a rest and stretch your muscles out - something that I'm not always very good at remembering to do! There are loads of websites showing stretches specifically for crafters which are worth looking at xx

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  12. How many stitches did you cast on for the socks? Love your blog.

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    1. I cast on 84 for these socks and I'll go down to 76 for the foot - he's an American Football player and has big calf muscles so when I did my stitch calculation I measured his calf as well as his foot and compared the two. One was bigger than the other so I just adjusted the stitches to fit - that's the beauty of hand-knits! I also knit the heel flap longer with this sock (I make it 3") so that there's a longer gusset and the sock fits better xx

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  13. Since I have started knitting socks I take them everywhere with me. Every opportunity I knit them - waiting for appointments, sitting as a passenger in the car, lunchtime when working etc. Often a stranger will comment on the socks and a conversation will start. On many occasions older men have commented their mother completed different types of craft. It is wonderful that something such as knitting in public can spark memories for others, encourage conversation and and on some occasions encourage others to start knitting.

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    1. It really is, isn't it? I know you get some daft comments sometimes, but I think that's just someone's way of wanting to start a conversation. I love the idea that someone might go home and dust off their needles because they saw you knitting! xx

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  14. It sounds like you've had so much fun with knitting and planning your flower garden. We don't have slugs here but we do have snails which are a never ending battle. Too bad Lilly doesn't like snails so she only hunts for geckos! Have a lovely week dear friend, Pat xx

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    1. It's probably just as well that Lilly doesn't like snails, they can cause diseases in pets that eat them! We don't have geckos here (not in the wild, anyway) although I'm sure they'd keep our cats amused for hours! xx

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  15. Not only do I tick things off on a list Christine I highlight it too so I can see how much i’ve Achieved. Look forward to seeing the new book,

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  16. Hi lovely your updated on the new book - can’t wait for it. Got Two pairs of socks on my needles at the mo and wool for a very large pair for my daughters boyfriend - size 14 too but am putting off starting them!!
    Thanks Jacqui

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    1. The big socks really aren't that bad once you get going - the biggest section you ever have to knit is the gusset as that's where the most stitches are but it's also one of the shortest when you compare it to the foot and the leg. I can definitely recommend using "interesting" yarn - I'm not sure how I'd have got on with plain colours! xx

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  17. It was very sad to see your sprouts. If you fancy another go this year have a look at flower sprouts. I grew them for the first time this year and they have only just finished. They are a cross between sprouts and kale, grow like sprouts only much prettier and less 'sprouty' in flavour. Do net them though!

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    1. Not netting them was definitely my downfall - I didn't even think about it as I've not grown sprouts before. Daft, really, as I net my beans so you'd have thought I would have done! I'll have a look at flower sprouts, thank you! xx

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  18. Thanks for the links to the socks. Do they all need cable needles? (Don't have any!) Hope I'm not bugging you!

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    1. You can knit socks on DPNs if you'd rather, although some people find that a bit fiddly. Knitting socks on circular needles does make life a bit easier so it's worth considering them if you think you see lots of socks in your future! There are patterns around for socks on two needles but they all have a seam in them which has never appealed to me! xx

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    2. Thank you. I really like your Sockalong, and I will invest in cable needles as soon as possible. Any suggestions on good wool shops in the Lancashire area?

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    3. Hi Chloe, it depends on where you are in Lancashire - I know of Northern Yarn and Freehold Yarn Co in Lancaster but there are plenty of others around. The website www.knitmap.com can be helpful but you do need to check that the shops it offers are still trading as it can be a bit out of date xx

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  19. Copper pennies can keep slugs and snails away, I've heard. They don't like the copper. I don't like to kill snails or slugs, then again it's not my lettuce being munched! They're only hungry.:)

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  20. And can I order free samples of wool from you or anyone else?

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    1. I don't have any wool samples and generally, I don't think that yarn shops or manufacturers offer them either. If you have a look at www.blacksheepwools.com or www.woolwarehouse.co.uk you should find some cheaper yarns there, but it's worth spending a little bit more to get a decent yarn otherwise you might find that it's not so easy to knit. I usually recommend West Yorkshire Spinners to beginners - depending on the size of your feet you may well get two pairs out of the ball which makes it good value xx

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  21. You've been very helpful. Thank you! :)

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  22. Socks looking good. My husband likes to do jobs, then write them down and tick them off. I prefer him to concentrate on my list, ha ha. Oh well. Cathy x

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  23. I really have trouble with sizing the socks. Have you got any advice? I'm a shoe size four. Many a sock or slipper project has failed due to American terms and unclear instructions. (Your sockalong gives me courage to try though!)

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    1. Hand knitted sock size is based on the width of your feet, not the length which is easily adjusted. If you read the tension tutorial, there's a stitch calculation which will help you work out how many stitches you should cast on for your feet. Also, if you're on Facebook, there's a lovely group called Winwick Mum Sockalong where you'll get real-time help if you're stuck - even if it's the middle of the night! :) xx

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  24. Thank you, you've been nothing but helpful. I will continue to read your blog every day. I will get started on the socks. I'll stop cluttering your comments now!

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    1. It's no problem, I'm always happy to answer questions :) xx

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  25. How do I donate products to animal shelters, and what sort of projects would I do for that? I intend to work as a vet when I've got all necessary training, but I wanted to help animals now.

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    1. It's probably best to contact your local animal shelters and ask them what they want. Some want blankets for cats and dogs, some want knitted mice for the cats to play with - there's often a request on social media for items but it's probably worth checking locally before you cast on xx

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    2. Thanks. The mice for cats is a good idea! Cats are my favourite animals. Slinky, beautiful and elegant. My Smokie was anyway. She passed in 2015, older than me, but she remains my BFF!

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  26. What are preemies?

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    1. Premature babies. They're usually very tiny and need special care so preemie baby clothes and hats are designed to fit them as standard baby clothes won't xx

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  27. That's such a nice idea! Perfect project for me, because I'm good at doing things in miniature, usually hats for cats, or collars. They just love that, LOL! :p

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