Wednesday, October 31, 2007

From Grenoble.

I read Yvette's Blog every day. It's quite funny how we first got in touch...she bought a second-hand Louet S10 this summer and during her search for information on it stumbled across my post about mine. One chat led to another and then we discovered that not only are we both Scottish (though she lives in France) we used to both work for sister branches of the same company, Remnant Kings. She worked for Remnant Kings West, I worked for Remnant Kings East, which later got changed to Kings Fabrics. Coincidence or what? Anyway, we've got a lot in common, and that's a good reason to read her blog. And perhaps even meet up next time you're in Scotland, Yvette? See you at K1Yarns?

Anyhow, Yvette ran a blog contest in aid of her birthday (eirily close to mine, though I'm nine years older) and I was one of the lucky winners, yeah! Thanks to the Royal Mail though my parcel didn't arrive till last Friday, and because life has been hectic and I'm a terrible blogger sometimes, I only managed to get the pix done yesterday.

(Apologies for the quality, it's been driech here. No light.)

It's amazing what knitters can stuff into one small envelope. I don't do Secret Pals because I'm amazingly absent-minded, but when parcels like this one arrive it's just like getting surprise birthday presents.

Sock yarn. This Blue Faced Leicester from The Natural Dye Studio. I haven't encountered any of their sock yarn before. (Though I do have a lot of their natural dyed silk tops in the spinning stash.) Firm, sproingy and very soft, and in a beautiful colourway.I will take my time finding a really nice pattern for these socks, methinks.

Yvette also sent me some patchwork fabric!

And some truely wonderful stitch markers, plus markers for wine glasses..

See the little knitting charms? Aren't they cute!

You can also see in the top picture a wonderful little pile of patches, labels and what the sewer in me can only describe as useful bits. Mairi, who has started to make her own Barbie "clothes", has already pinched several of these for her growing stash. It does make a crafting mother very proud when her six year old daughter has already grasped the concept of building a proper stash!

And yes, there was chocolate as well. Was.....

A last look at the bottom one of these three patchwork pieces.

Now this made me laugh. It's always nice when you realise that someone has actually been paying attention while reading your blog. I've been drooling over Yarnstorm's Allotment Quilt ever since I first saw it. But having been out of the quilting loop for over twenty-five years (I still have half a handsewn quilt top up in the attic somewhere) I was at a loss as to how to track some of the fabrics. (Actually there were clues in the Yarnstorm post, but this particular blogger clearly pays less attention than Yvette.) Anyhow, after much searching, I finally identified the piece that Yvette sent me as being the Martha Negely Vegetable Stripe...and finding it has opened a real Pandora's box of new temptation, in the form of quilting fabrics. Did I ever mention I used to be a fanatical sewer and dressmaker? (Before the kids.) What else was I doing working in Remnant Kings all these years ago?

Thanks, Yvette. For both the parcel and for reminding me of a long forgotten but much loved hobby. And, given the amount of shopping for patchwork fabrics I've been doing over the weekend, for reminding me so much that I feel compelled to start a new quilt!

(Ohh, but the craft budget doesn't thank you!!)

Monday, October 29, 2007

For Hubby..

The words "Washing up" never occurred to me as I looked at this, honest.

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Having your cake.,...

You rather have to congratulate the designers of quilting fabrics. Not only do they (presumably) eat cake, they put it on their fabrics as well.

This one is called "Icing Stripe" and is by Martha Negley, an American designer who works for Westminster (Rowan) fabrics. (As does to Mr Fassett.)

There is a chocolate version as well....

Yeah, I bought some...well, some of the top version anyway, because I found it at £2 per yard. The chocolate version is too pricey for me, sadly. I've gone a bit doo-lally over quilting fabrics over the last few days. So even though I found a great USA Ebay shop that undercut UK prices by about 70% for the cream version (even with postage factored in) the craft piggy bank is looking a bit empty, alas.

But isn't it yummy?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Breast Cancer Awareness month.

Over at Janesprobablyknitting, Jane has finished and published her pattern for her "Have you Checked your Breasts" socks.

They're lovely socks and the pattern is free...however Jane has also set up a voluntary donations button for donations to Breast Cancer Care and asked that you consider making a small donation to this very worthy charity in return for downloading the pattern.

Also, the socks are knitted from a new colourway of The Yarn Yard sock yarn, and Natalie is going to include a free mini skein of the raspberry yarn used for the ribbon detail in this pattern with every skein of yarn or roving ordered, in any colour, not just this one. So even if you don't like this colourway of sock yarn you could customise your own colour combination, or even spin your own sock yarn. I've seen The Yarn Yard sock yarn and rovings, btw, and they really are gorgeous stuff.

The Plaid.

Remember my Rowan Raindrop, in Lavender Mist Plaid?

It was one of the WIP that I'd targeted to finish this or next month, before I started anything new. So as part of my stash sorting this week I dragged it out of its dark corner, sorted out all the pieces, found the pattern, needles etc, basted it together and tried it on.

Um. No. Thing is, I've lost three stone (42 lbs) since I first cast it on and because that's less of me widthwise, the heavy yarn and loose pattern combine to d-r-a-g the whole thing down. It goes down to my knees, in fact, now that there's not so much of me to hold it up. On a six foot tall willowy young person this might look very appealing. On this stumpy old lady? It looks like I've wrapped myself in a holey old cat blanket.

NO! No pictures! Here's one of the back and front instead, taken while I still thought it was a goer. But you're going to have to imagine it stretching to twice the length when you hold it up...

So now, after a fun twenty minutes with the ball winder, I have ten balls of Lavender Mist Plaid back in my stash. Am going to make the 3timesChic sweater from Knitty instead from it. It looks a fast knit, and I need a thick sitting-around-the-house sweater. More than the cats need another blanket anyway!

*Sigh*. I loved Raindrop. However it has been on the needles for two years now, and it wasn't going anywhere. There are times when you basically have to call it a day on a project. But I don't think I've ever frogged an almost complete sweater before now and I'm rather resenting the waste of time. On the plus side, anything that knits at 3 sts to 1" is not exactly a big waste of time, and unlike a sewing project gone wrong at least you get the yarn back and the fun of knitting it twice, lol.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007


This is really a post for thereyougothen, who was interested in learning more about my trailer tent. But anyone is welcome to read along. I don't think you have trailer tents in America?

Anyway, this is mine, an eighteen year old Conway Camargue. Bit of an old lady, but quality counts in trailer tents and she's good for at least another ten years yet.
From drawbar at the rear to sun canopy at the front she measures about 21 feet, and across she's about 14 feet.

View into the awning, with kitchen area to right side. If you look right along to the left under the table, you can see our blue camping fridge as well. (Runs off gas, electric or 12v.)

View straight down into the living area, with me standing under the sun canopy. The front wall of the tent unzips and can be rolled up out the way, for coolness. There's normally a groundsheet down here, but in summer we don't bother with it if the grass is good.

The kitchen unit close up. When travelling, this unit bolts onto the back of the trailer unit.

The main trailer unit. This carries the main cabin frame and canvas, plus storage boxes/seating each side of the trailer well. You have to step up into this area, as the trailer floor is about 18 inches off the ground. You can use this cabin section without the main front awning attached, for overnight stops. The two double beds extend out along each side of the central area. Mairi usually has the one on the left.
(And yes, that's my knitting bag up on the shelves. Untidy? This IS tidy!)

Close up of the master bedroom, with electric hook-up and en-suite computer.... Sorry about the gloomy photo which doesn't really show the full size of this area.The bed area here is 6`6" long x 4`6" wide, thus standard double bed size. It has a foam mattress on top of a solid base. Quite firm, but you could add a mattress topper.

I don't have a pix of Duncan's bedroom, but it's under Mairi's bed and accesse is through this little zip door. . The head hight is about 3 feet there, and there is a fully lined undertent which hangs from beneath her bed base. You can fit two kids or two friendly adults in here. There's a corresponding undertent under our bed, which we use for storage.

And finally, what does it look like all packed up? Well, this is it at the back. And if you look at the suspension on that car at the rear, you can see why we chose the mighty Mondeo as a tow car....

It's the bikes on top that are weighing it down, of course. A trailer tent is pretty easy to tow compared to a caravan. It has a low profile and weighs a lot less, around 500Kg. Of course, you still have to obey the lower speed limits and sundry other restrictions that apply to towing any trailer, but you'll know all about that.

A Conway trailer tent of this vintage and in this condition would normally cost about £400-£500. They do hold their resale value, however. We bought the sun canopy as an extra, but you can be lucky and get one included. The electric hook up unit and the fridge are seperate items and would cost about another £200. Cheaper than a camper van, especially if you have a towball already and a driveway to store it.

Cons and pros? Reduced towing speeds as you know, and also the set up time. You can get the cabin section erected and pegged in 20 minutes, but the awning takes at least another 40 minutes and that's with two of you and practice. However, that's comparable with the erection time for a large tent, and the setting up of the inside is a lot easier, as the beds and kitchen are already there. And you have a HUGE amount of carrying capacity inside the main trailer unit, for chairs and table and bedding and such.

Any questions? You (Thereyougothen you, not the rest of you!) can come and see it next spring, next time we go camping in it, okay?

Monday, October 22, 2007


Oh b*******s, how did that happen? And after all my good intentions of yesterday????

Nice beads though, don't you think?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Declaration of intent.

Okay, it's getting onto the end of October. I've made one pair of socks and two singles, a felted bag and a basket, and several small skeins of this and that plus two project sized skeins. (Will do spinning roundup post with pix later.) Reasonably productive month. I intend to finish the second of the Anastasia socks and hopefully cast on the second of the Regia Cotton Color socks too. I'm off to the SECC Hobbycraft Show in Glasgow next Saturday, and need something plain to knit on the bus.

So November? I feel I'm well ahead of the Pair of Sock Per Month Challenge, if I've managed two and a half pairs, no? So in November, I'm going to give myself a different challenge. Finish up two UFOs...

Bettna. I have knitted all the pieces, yup, and it only requires blocking, sewn up and the front bands added. Not major work in other words. But I've stalled. However, this is the time of year for a Noro jacket, so I want to finish it. And I want to start another Noro project soon but I feel I can't while this one is still a UFO.

Rowan Raindrop, in Plaid Lavender Mist. (Scroll down a bit.) I have all the pieces knitted for this also...and it just need blocked, seamed and the band added. I've clearly got a block about this stage of finishing!

Doesn't sound a lot, does it, once I've written it down? Trouble is, I have other projects "calling" to me....

Party Lace Scarf, from Magknits. I have handspun waitimg for this, for Gawds sake. I have even bought beads. They're sitting on my desk taunting me.....

The Forest Canopy Shawl. I haven't even spun the yarn for this yet, lol.

And Sahara, from Stitch Diva. I do have the yarn for this, yup, not handspun, but some very snuggly RYC Soft Lux in Amethyst that I found at £1 a ball (plus postage) from my current Ebay Seller I Most Love.

Judith? I have stalled a bit on Judith, after knitting the hood. It's not the time of year for knitting Summer Tweed, I suspect.

So I have Too Much Knitting, Not Enough Time. The socks first, Bettna, Raindrop...then I can choose. Party Scarf or Sahara?

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Cupcake yarn.

I went to the Edinburgh spinning Guild today, and most unexpectedly met Natalie of The Yarn Yard there. It must be well over 18 months since we've both been at the same meeting, and since then The Yarn Yard has really taken off from modest beginnings to being very well known both here and abroad for her luscious hand dyed yarns and rovings.

I scrounged a tiny sample (3g!) of what she had on her spindle. No idea of the nigh on edible colourway, but it reminds me of spring crocus. (I predict an expensive trip to her online shop in the near future...)

I was determined to make the most of it, and eventually persuaded the Louet to spin finely enough to give me 14 yards of this light sock weight.

Cute or what? Real little yarn cupcakes. Ohh, and these colours!

Bl**dy cats...

One of the *&^%£* cats brought home a dead rat tonight. I found it lying on the dining room floor, dead but otherwise unmarked. It was quite a young rat in that it was about nine inches long, but it was still a rat. Yuck!

Now the cats have got pretty good at this rodent/bird murdering thing. We get a lot of voles and mice, some common shrews and a sprinkling of starlings, sparrows, blue tits and robins. Sometimes all we get is a tail and small pile of rodent insides. Or feathers. But usually (up to five or six times a night, sometimes) we get a proud and very distinctive "meiow" from the hallway and it's a small rodent. For us.

Dead ones get flushed down the toilet and live ones that look in reasonable condition get taken back over to the park and released for the next round. The unfortunate inbetweens get killed either by me breaking their necks or Hubby flushing them down the loo to drown. But rats? I can cope with a dead rat, though they're too big to flush. (Double bag and dustbin.) Now though, the prospect looms of a half-dead rat offering, or worse still, a very live rat that does a runner somewhere inside the house. Yuckyuckyuck!!

Okay, who did it then? And to think I gave you a big bowl of chicken scraps each only an hour ago!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Progress to date.

Progress so far....

I finished the first of the Regia Cotton Color sock...

That makes FOUR socks this pair and two singles, unfortunately. I got sick of the Anastasia socks (see previous post) and was seduced into Second Sock Syndrome by the above. However I AM going to cast on the second Anastasia sock tonight. FOR DEFINATE!

Why? Because I knitted the Regia sock above on 2mm dpns. Yup, this was okay, I can handle dpns...but they're not half as nifty as two circs, not for me anyway. So today I took a little trip to HK Handknit, which is undoubtably the most interesting yarn shop in Edinburgh. I bought two pairs of 2mm Addi Premium Turbos, unfortunately, but these looked more interesting than the bog standard Inoxes so I thought I would give them a try. Unfortunately I can't of course use them for the second Regia sock, because my tension/gauge would undoubtably be different. And the Anastasias are knitted on 2.25 Inoxes or something similar, so I have to use the same needles. And frankly, if I don't do the second Anastasia now, it's doomed. I can only hope that the interest of doing the second spiral in mirror image plus being back on circs again will see me through.

Then, of course, there's going to be the second Regia sock to finish. On dpns. Urk. Cunning plan here though. I'm going to knit a different colourway of the Regia, same pattern but on the Addis. If they measure close enough to my singleton above, I can knit the second one on Addis too. If not? Well, I like this colourway. I'll make the second sock, dpns or not. I'll use it as my in car project.

It's all getting a bit complicated, no? It gets worse. I bought this at HK.

Nice sock yarn or wot? It's Araucania Ranco Multi, from Chile, and for 100g/375g it cost a most modest £7.95.It's quite a firm spun yarn, but cushy and soft too. I think it would be better knitted on smaller needles than the recommended 3.25mm (6sts per inch) but then again, I'm a sloppy knitter. Incidentally, Jean remarked here that while she was winding the same yarn she thought it felt very familiar, and I can now see what she meant. It's possibly only hand-dyed in Chile? Or uses a base yarn from Chile that's also the base for another common brand. I only have STR, LLs and Claudia from the USA in stash at the moment and it's none of these. Similar, but slightly looser spun. Anyone got any ideas?

Oh well, off to cast on a sock....

Monday, October 15, 2007

More socks....

I finished the first of my Anastasia socks.

Fun to knit, nice simple and easily memorised pattern and I LOVED the Magic Cast On.I made the leg a little shorter than the pattern, but I prefer that given my short legs. The second sock will be knitted in mirror image, using ssk instead of k2tog.

So why, instead of casting on for the second sock, did I end up casting this on instead?

This is a plain old vanilla top-down sock from the Violet Green Sock Calculator, in Regia Cotton Color 5407 Istanbul.

Must say, I love this yarn. It's cool and light and the colourway is gorgeous, like fresias or sweet peas. I have more in a pinky-orange blend, called Jazz. It came from an amazing Ebay bargain, where you bid for pot luck on a random selection of colours of Cotton Color, your only guarantee being that you got your yarn in pairs of balls. It eventually worked out at £1.50 per ball (!) and I struck really, really lucky in the two colourways I received, I think. They've been sitting on my desk for a week now, begging to be cast on. So I did.

Now bearing in mind I declared I was going to go on a learning challenge with each pair of socks I knit over the next year, what have I learned/intend to learn from these socks? Well, it's the first time I haven't cast on my second sock straight away, so I may be about to learn all about Second Sock Syndrome with this pair, no? Also, this is the first time I've had to go down to 2mm needles to get gauge/tension of 7.5 stitches per inch. I've had to revert to an ancient set of No14 UK/2mm/Size 0 USA dpns found in a charity shop because I don't have circs in this size, but it's been interesting to note that after several socks knitted on circs, the dpns are still smooth for me. And this is the first time I've used a cotton blend sock yarn. Very pleasant, have to say. I might try some of the Regia Bamboo sometime.

And I've also learned I really like knitting plain vanilla socks. Very relaxing. Well, if it's good enough for the Harlot, it's good enough for this Fishwife, no?

PS. Many apologies if I owe you an email that you haven't got yet. It's not that I'm ignoring any of you lovely people, just that what with the party, party preparations and a very exciting but exhausting Saturday (more on that later) I was fit for nothing on Sunday except lying on the sofa and knitting socks. I'll get to grips with the backlog asap, I promise!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Old Frank Herring wheel.

There's an old Frank Herring wheel on Ebay....

It's a wee bitty knackered looking, but it IS a Herring and I've got a soft spot for Herrings...I already have one Herring wheel. Frank Herring have made a number of unusual wheels over the years, and I do like the quirky ones. This old boy is just a traditional Norwegian wheel, but I feel sorry for him. So I'm considering buying it, if it doesn't go too high.

Anyone have any opinions on this? Are there any obviously missing pieces? I can see the footman, the missing maiden and what I think are the flier supports in the pile. It's obviously a double drive, so the drive band can be made from a piece of string. And yes, I can see the drive wheel is in back to front! As I said, I rather fancy this one because I feel sorry for it and have a yen to restore it to working condition. It does look as if it could be very beautiful with a good clean and some TLC. I've always fancied the big Norwegian wheels. And it might even be a good spinner!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Mair Cakes.

Since you were all so impressed previous cake post I thought I'd show you some more cakes. I haven't had so many comments for one post in ages, lol.

Better one of today's cake. (Party is this afternoon.)

Third birthday...(real stripper b**bies here, no?)

Fifth birthday (I was ill around her fourth one, so she got a shop cake.)Take note of what I said in the last post about no Barbies with long hair and accessories. This is the cake where I discovered why not.

Incidentally, no Barbies were harmed in the making of the above cakes, and they still have an honoured place in daughter's Barbie box.I don't mutilate Barbies. Daughter wouldn't like it. If you make the cake wide enough, the Barbie can go in at a sort of semi-reclining angle.

Duncan's eighth, if I remember rightly. What is it? It's a treasure chest filled with sweeties, of course. (He had a pirate theme party.)

This one was for his nineth. We had a LOTR treasure hunt party at a local park. It's supposed to be an orc fortress (!?). Actually, it had to be the sickliest cake I've ever made. The pallisade was made from mini Mars Bars welded round a pile of cakes stuck together with buttercream, then about a pint of melted chocolate poured over it.

I can't find any more pictures...I expect they're over on Hubby's pc files. There has been the usual assortment of butterflies, hedgehogs, dinosaurs, trains and such. Above ones are my favourites though!

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Doing a Yarnstorm.....

Just to show that even these of us without either the artistic or photographic skills of Yarnstorm can still enjoy a little domestic satisfaction now and again.........

Miss Bossy Pink Sparkles will be six next week. It's the school holidays and most of her friends will be away, so her party is tomorrow. This means I have to drag out the cake tins and my venerable Kenwood to make a rare cake. I'm not bad at baking, have to say, but it's death to diets and whatever I make only seems to last a nanosecond round here, so I don't do this very often.

However I firmly belive that birthdays are one of these times to make this rare effort. Incidentally, I'm not the least bit artistic but I know what Miss likes...and what she told me she wanted.

So first you make a vast rectangular Victoria sponge cake, coloured pink. I forgot to take a picture of this, alas.

Then you buy a suitable Barbie. Trust me, you don't want one with long hair. Or a big floaty skirt. Or accessories. Get a cheap basic one.

Then get a piece of paper the size of your cake, cut it into two triangles and work out how big a board you'll need. Search the house for an appropriate piece of stiff card or wood. Give up and wrap a well scrubbed chopping board in tinfoil.

Cut up your cake, following the paper template. In this case all I had to do was cut the cake in two, with a little shaping. I used the offcuts to make the middle.

Mix up a vast bowlful of buttercream icing, coloured pink. You are looking at approximately 3,000 calories here, folks.

Disguise your "fairy wings" as a pair of lungs.

Add some sprinkles (Remember that paper template? With holes cut into one side? Stencil???) Don't forget a bit of bling/some silver balls.

Attach the unfortunate Barbie to the cake with a large blob of buttercream icing up her skirt.

Remember Mr Fassett`s thoughts on colour...if in doubt, add more. Works for pink bling as well.

Now, it's not a particularly professional cake (and the photography is terrible, sorry) but I do know that my daughter and a room full of six year old girls will LOVE this. And that makes me happy. I'm no domestic goddess as anyone who's seen my house will testify, but some things are worth doing. My kids can remember every single one of their birthday cakes, lol. So why do some women feel so threatened by stuff like this that they have to start looking down on it, a la the yarnstorm furor? I know I'll get at least a couple of comments from other mums tomorrow along the lines of "Oh, I could't be bothered with doing that...I'm far too busy." Bah...

I'm away to put my masterpiece in a cat-proof place. That buttercream has 8oz of best unsalted butter in it, and the cats like butter, even if it is pink.

PS. I just remembered...I made pink sparkly cupcakes for the party. And these marshmallow thingies with a dod of chocolate and a Smartie on top as well. I'm doomed, aren't I?

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

And for my next trick.....

Today was my regular day at the Haddington Spinners. We moved upstairs a couple of sessions back to the relative warmth of the upholstery and weaving room on the first floor of the Granary, in the old Poldrate mill.

Looks good, no? I love the old stone walls. This photo reminds me of an old painting. Just change the clothes and it could easily be 100+ years ago.

More wheels and industry...

On the personal industry front, I finished the Fulled Lopi Tote.

Before...(cat for scale.)

After...two runs through the washing machine at 60`C with an old cotton rag rug for the necessary pummeling. Like the vast majority of UK washing machines mine is a front loader, but I think this worked out quite well. It's about 12" high and fairly solid.

I`ve also started a baskerweaving course...this is my first FO.

I'm very pleased with it as a first attempt, especially after only three weeks.
It's fairly even and though there are a few gappy spots it's perfectly usable. I have a lot of willow growing on the allotment courtesy of some cuttings I planted two years ago after going on a one-day frame basket workshop. This basket is made of commercial willow, of course, but I hope to be able to use some of this years cut in the spring.

Incidentally, if I had a cat for scale in the lower picture you'd see this basket would fit Missy almost perfectly. I think I'll have to make a felted liner for it so she can get comfy...

However I'd better finish what's on the needles first...a scarf in fun fur, for my daughter's toy rabbit......

Have you ever seen anything like it? Perfect Halloween yarn, even in the ball. This stuff is seriously scarey!

(Sirdar Gigi, 100% nylon, 10p for this ball from the Scrap Store. So at least it was cheap!)

Monday, October 08, 2007


You really have to admire the different ways folk can come up with to fill up their blogs, no?

S P I N letter n letter i N G

F Ii S H W I F E/Jefferson Electric Company