An Experiment in Knitting

A while ago I joined Carmarthen Library. I have been using the Cardigan one for several years and have found that I have read a lot of the non-fiction books that interest me. Carmarthen has a much bigger non-fiction section and, of course, almost all of them are new to me. I also discovered that there is a mobile library van which comes to my nearest village. It is the type of service which is under threat when economies are to be made and I wanted to support it. As it is quite easy for me to combine a walk to the library van with exercising the dogs it works well. The downside is that often I choose books online and request them without having been able to look inside. One of those was a knitting book which seemed to offer a different way of creating texture.

It is an interesting technique. You mark certain stitches by working them in the reverse of normal – so a knit where one would normally do purl and vice versa. A few rows on you pick up the ‘legs’ of the marked stitch and knit them together with a stitch on the current row making a fold. If the marked stitch is not directly below the one it gets attached to the fold is a dagonal and, as in cabling this may be to right or left. It is hard to describe but easy to do apart from having to knit one stitch through 3 loops (the 2 ‘legs’ and the stitch).

Using small amounts of leftover yarn I did some swatches to try out different arrangements of folds. The result is less ‘crisp’ than cabling and the first one I did had very wavy edges which would make it difficult to stitch pieces of a garment together. The next 2 I did with a garter stitch border which helped a bit.

So it was interesting to try but I don’t think I will be using it again. If you read my previous post you will realise that my crafting has been educational but not very rewarding lately!

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No Scrap Happy january 2023

The scrappy project I have been working on for this month has not worked well so I am not showing it to you. I will be taking it apart and trying again. Plus yesterday I saw another scrappy idea which i want to try.

However other members of the group are posting their successes so please take a look.

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, 
Jill, JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
ClaireJeanJon, DawnJuleGwen,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue LVera,
NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Carol,
Preeti, DebbieroseNóilin and Viv

Moving imto 2023

For some time now I have felt to be at a point of stasis, of transition. Not that I have been still; life has been full and busy. But of fidgeting on the spot, restless but unsure which direction to take next. I know the feeling well. And I know that there is no point rushing, trying to forge ahead down a new path which will probably prove to be the wrong one and result in an undignified U-turn. So I have waited, not patiently, for the direction to reveal itself.

This Christmas has been unusual. There was the long cold spell when for over a week I was confined by the ice to the house and garden. But the weather was glorious – cold, but sunny and clear, invigorating. Just as it was ending my son, daughter and her new partner came to stay for the weekend. The ice was melting by day, the rain was pouring down, and the nights were chilly enough to make the thaw slow. We stayed indoors and stoked the fire. They left and I dashed around re-stocking with food, and delivering a few local gifts and cards. Today is Day 3 of the Official Holiday as we have an extra day to compensate for Christmas Day being a Sunday. 3 Days of solitude (by choice – I had plenty of invitations to join others for Christmas lunch), walking the dogs and sitting by the fire. 3 Days of eating (especially chocolate), drinking (including more gin than I really should), reading, knitting, listening to podcasts and watching TV on catch-up and, most especially, reflection. And I think the way ahead is beginning to become clearer; plans and ideas beginning to coalesce. More of which in a future post.

Two books have been really helpful in this process.

In order of reading the first is ‘Hagitude’ by Sharon Blackie. It’s sub-title is ‘Re-imagining the second half of life’. Her thesis is that, culturally, we post-menopausal women are supposed to grow old gracefully, fading gradually into decrepitude and death, when what we should be doing is growing into elderhood and power and she shares myths and legends suggesting how that might manifest itself. Sharon uses different imagery but it brought to mind memories from way back.

Many, many years ago, when my children were toddling, I was warden of some sheltered flats for the elderly. I found an image came into my head of my residents as trees which had shed their leaves, revealing their underlying structure and shape. Some were graceful and elegant, some had been bent by the wind so that they were hunched and stunted, some had a tall and disciplined shape, others had much looser arrangements of branches. I reckon I have lost most of my leaves now. The leaves being the social constructs of acceptable behaviour to which we conform. They soften our edges, obscure our less nice bits, make us nicer to know, if less knowable. I am much less likely now to say ‘Yes’ when I really want to say ‘No’ though I hope I still (mostly) do it nicely and politely. I have always been a disappointment to the purveyors of beauty products. My wrinkles are free to sag at will, my hair is tabby – white bits, grey bits, brown bits – and I see no reason to dye it, my one concession to ‘looking nice’ being, since I had my long hair cut short for practicality, a good hair cut regularly. Now, it seems, life is encouraging me to prune away a few branches and allow some new one to grow. Another transition, metamorphosis. What will be revealed?

The second book is ‘The Salt Path’ by Raynor Winn. I picked up her sequel ‘The Wild Silence’ in the library as one of my random choices and immediately I had read it requested this one. In one week her husband was told he had an incurable neuro-degeneratiuve disease and their home, which was also their business, was reposessed. As two adults with no dependents they were low priority for a Council house, they didn’t want to sofa surf knowing they would soon be intrusive to, and resented by, their hosts however old the firendship, so they set off to walk the South West Coast Path wild camping all the way, giving themselves time and space to find a way forward. I still have a couple of chapters to read and then I need to digest what it means. I am not sure why it was so important I read this book right now but know that it was. Maybe something about letting the last few leaves go? Being willing to embrace the radical?

It looks as though 2023 will be an interesting one for me. Some endings, some beginnings. (And before anyone panics neither a literal long distance walk nor wild camping are in prospect!) I hope you will all keep me company on the journey.

Scrap Happy December 2022

This is the day when Kate, Gun and the rest of us share something we have made from scrap. My offering this month is a bag I have made for my Granddaughter for Christmas. She is doing Art at College so I thought a bag for all her equipment would be a good thing to make for her. My plan was to do a Multi-Tasking Tote from Lisa Lam’s book. I made one years ago for myself and it was very useful.

But I know G can be very particular so I checked with my daughter. Yes, a tote bag would be great but only one pocket and on the inside and plain calico would be best. Oh dear! I like colour and pattern! But ho hum it is for her so….

To my amazement I had virtually run out of calico but I found a small piece of heavy-ish weight which I used for the outside base. I think it may have been left from a loose cover I made for a sofa 30 odd years ago. The rest of the outside is a linen mix left over from a shirt I made for my husband who died 11 tyears ago and the inside is some medium weight white cotton left from who knows what! The base is stiffened with plastic mesh, there is one pocket inside and I added a ribbon lanyard with a small carabina on the end for keys (every bag I make has one of those).

Weather permitting my daughter is visiting me this weekend and will take it back with her. I can show it to you now, even though it is a Christmas present, because I know G doesn’t read this blog!

You can find loads more ideas for using scrap of all kinds by following the links

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, 
Jill, JanMoira, ChrisAlys,
ClaireJeanJon, DawnJuleGwen,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue LVera,
NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Carol,
Preeti, DebbieroseNóilin and Viv

Brrrrr!

Some of you will know that the UK has been having what is being described as a ‘cold snap’. Most unusually for this early in the winter the temperature here has barely got above freezing since the end of last week and is expected to stay the same until next Friday. So not a very snappy snap! Some places have had snow and we had a couple of light dustings. The water supply to the utility room is frozen and my next door neighbour came over to ask for water this morning as his supply is frozen too, but mine in the house is still running.

My driveway and the road just beyond it have been sheet ice for days. I thought that the road higher up was clear but this morning Laura tried to drive to work and had to turn back – higher up the hill there was thick ice from verge to verge probably because of water running off the farm yards. She slid back down to the farm lane above my garden and abandoned her car there. She warned me that it would not be possible to get out even on foot. So I have no choice but to hunker down here. I have plenty of supplies of wood and food. There is nothing I absolutely have to get to so it is no great hardship.

My new woodstove is keeping me toasty warm in the sitting room and is much appreciated by the dogs. My coffee this morning was made with water boiled in the kettle on it and my luchtime stew will be heated through on there too.

For the last 3 days Laura and I have been working on the trees which were once a hedge on the opposite bank of the stream. It was lovely to be outdoors in the sunshine and keeping warm by being active but today I am glad to rest indoors. We have cut a quite impressive amount of wood and the dogs thoroughly enjoyed playing together, snuffling around following fox and rabbit trails, exploring the nooks and crannies under the low branches and, of course, supervising us! This wood will be for 2024/25 and if this week is a foretaste of winters to come we will need a lot!

This feeling of being cut off, isolated, but perfectly safe is actually one that I enjoy. Time out from ordinary life. No doubt if it went on much beyond the weekend I would start to get cabin fever but for now I will make the most of it.

Progress Report

Roo here again. Mum has been too busy to write anything for ages so I have felt obliged to take over. Standards must be maintained. Her busy-ness is all because of Evie (well quite a lot of it is, trueMum) who is having to be taught how to behave. I am doing my best to help by demonstrating what the commands mean (Actually you just want to make sure you get as many treats as she does).

I am having to spend far too much time in the workroom because if Evie gets in the sitting room she looks for things to chew. Logs and pine cones make a mess but Mum got really cross when she found her chewing a box of matches which she had thought were out of reach. I only chew bones. (You chewed lots of things when you were a puppy – you just conveniently forget that). In the workroom the shelves are barricaded and the laptop is put away when not in use after she chewed through the wire of the mouse. And when we are all in the sitting room in front of the new woodstove she takes up a ridiculous amount of space on the rug!

I have to admit that there has been progress though. My efforts are bearing fruit. She can now come out and help us in the garden without having to be tied up. This is good because she kept chewing through her leads! If she is not within sight we know where to look for her – she will be in the porch with her nose in the feed bins or snuffling through the compost heaps. Really she is so greedy! And her table manners are terrible! (Who was it pinched a slice of pizza from our neighbour’s bag when we called in the other day?) But it does mean that we can be outside more. And yesterday we went along the right of way through some fields and once the gate was shut Mum let her off the lead. I have to admit that she ran faster than me. After all I am a mature and slightly sedate lady now. Whereas she is a young thing with MUCH longer legs! She has to learn to get in the car without fuss and then we will be able to go out and see people again which will be nice.

ENOUGH! Don’t listen to that old grumpy guts. Evie here – I am taking over to get my side of the story in. I have been working very hard to learn all about this living in a house stuff and my brain aches! My legs ache too! There is so much sitting involved! Sit to get a cuddle, sit to have the lead on or off, sit when we are out for a walk and a car comes past, sit to get a treat or a meal. And I have to walk on a lead which is boring! At last, yesterday, I was able to have a run which I am very good at and Roo actually played tig with me until she was puffed. She is a bit old and fat really. I am a growing girl which is why I am always hungry and cat food is just soooo yummy! But I haven’t chewed anything I shoudn’t for hours! So there! I am a good girl, I am beautiful and I can’t help being big with long legs.

Hopefully I will get to write a post of my very own soon and normal service can be resumed – Mum

We are Outraged!

Hi everyone, Roo here. The cats and I have decided you have to be told the terrible thing our Mum has done and as the brainiest I have taken over her clickety clack machine to do it. After Orchid disappeared we managed very well. We gave her lots of company and trained her regularly especially in the matter of keeping us well fed and supplied with treats. With our friend Lindy’s help I took her to the beach and out to cafes for lunch because I can be trusted to behave well in all situations. And then, after a particularly nice trip to Haverford West we went to a place with lots of dogs and other animals and spoke to the staff there. I assumed that Lindy, who is always very pleased to see me, had decided she wanted a dog of her own and I was there to help her choose. I was introduced to a young lady called Eden who was a bit of a pest but I thought could be acceptable as a friend to visit and share trips with when necessary. I allowed her to share the back of Lindy’s car and was polite when we got back to her house. Then, to my horror Mum put her in our car and brought her home! She has no idea about civilised behaviour and is always in trouble for chewing things and eating the cats food. I suppose we are getting lots of walks and treats (she was not house trained or any other kind of trained – Sue). At 7 months old I am sure I knew better but Mum says I was a handful too – such slander! Anyway her name is now Evie and it seems she is here to stay. The cats and I are doing our best to train her and she is quite quick to learn but it is wearing us out. We are outraged that we have to put up with her! (Evie is a 7 month old Labrador cross – but crossed with what is not known. From the look of her I think probably a greyhound or lurcher. She is a sweetie but Roo is quite correct – she is hard work! Which is why I have not had time and energy to write a post for a while – Sue)

Evie at Lindy’s on her way home with us

Scrap Happy September 2022

It is the 15th of the month so time to join Kate, Gun and the others to showcase making things from scrap. Click on the links below to be inspired.

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, 
Jill, JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
ClaireJeanJon, DawnJuleGwen,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue LVera,
NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Carol,
Preeti, DebbieroseNóilin and Viv

My offering this month is a pair of jeans bought from a charity shop (thrift store) which were comfy and a good make but very plain. So I patched them with small pieces of scrap fabric and some crochet thread I was given.

Scrap Happy August 2022

It is time to join Kate and the others to show what we have made from scrap and hopefully inspire you to have a go too.

First off I would like to ask you for feedback. Now that all 6 chairs for Mrs Snail’s shop (follow the link to Jan in the list at the end of this post to meet the Snail of Happiness) I wonder which is your favourite?

Jan very kindly put them all out in the shop and took photos from different angles. I have started on the curtains for the upstairs store room / teaching room but those will take a while before being ready to show you.

I didn’t just take stuff to her – I bought as well. Her table of fabric offcuts was just too tempting to ignore! Apart from small pieces my stash is now down to the tatty and the sludgy colours. I wanted to make a new bag to replace one which had disintegrated and there was nothing suitable in any of my boxes so I indulged. The royal blue cord is for the outside but I couldn’t choose between the others for the lining, pockets and trim so I bought them all! Some of the pieces are quite big so there was plenty for other things as well.

The last few days have been hot so I have stayed indoors in the cool and decided to use the time to play with my new purchases. I didn’t have the interfacing I need for the bag so I chose to start with a Japanese crossover apron using a pattern from the book ‘Sashiko’ by Jill Clary which I had borowed from the library. Once I started I discovered how rusty my dressmaking skills are – then realised it is about 40 years since I sewed any clothes! It is wearable and I will just have to practice but probably on things like more aprons which don’t have to be perfect!

For more ideas for scrap follow the links below. Not everyone posts every month but all the blogs are worth looking at for inspiration, education and amusement.

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
ClaireJeanJon, DawnJuleGwen,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue LVera,
NanetteAnn, Dawn 2, Bear, Carol,
Preeti, EdithDebbierose and Viv