Knitting Poll

I've decided to do a monthly knitting poll on my blog. It's in the left column below. This month the question is "Knitty or Magknits?" Is that too controversial?

Some other polls might be "socks or sweaters?", "circular or straight?" and "Kim Hargreaves or Debbie Bliss?". Obviously any better suggestions will be gratefully received...

Picture of my progress on the very cute pink bolero!


I am down in the dumps, well as down as someone with the perfect husband, a lovely flat and plenty of friends can be. Basically the fact is that by now I expected to be ruling the world. Seriously, I was one of those over achieving idiots at school - top in every subject, lead parts in the school plays, and rubbish at P.E. I thought I was destined for great things, when in fact I spend 8 hours a day sitting in an office sending pointless emails and attending long and pointless meetings. My job isn’t bad; in fact it is pretty good. I’m not complaining about that, it’s just I expected something a little more… Well, actually I don’t know what I expected but I really did think I would change the world. Now I struggle through the day dreaming about knitting and opening my own knit cafĂ© in the crazy streets of Epsom. I’m 26, there are MPs younger than me.

Talking of knitting I am half way through the back of the bolero top now, sides left and right completed! By the way I love the Denise needles but more about that another time…

New Beginnings – Pure Silk

This is just a short blog to let you know what I have decided to knit next… the Tie Front Bolero from Debbie Bliss Pure Silk Collection.

I’m knitting it in Rowan wool cotton but I really want to try the pure silk and I have already picked out another design I want to knit with it.

I took a photo of my tension square yesterday to give an idea of the colour.

But then I managed to finish the whole left front and part of the right front. Monkey is so busy studying that he doesn’t notice that I’m actually spending my day on the couch, watching Ingrid Bergman movies and knitting rather than cleaning the flat! But don’t worry I always make sure his tea is on the table.

One more thing – another new Kim Hargreaves collection is out!! Have a look.

Buttons and Beads

I feel the need to accessorise! I’m planning a design for my own top and I think it’s going to call for some really special buttons. Obviously I won’t be putting these buttons where buttons normally go. I’ll post a picture of my design sketches as soon as I am a bit further on. In the mean time check out the lovelies above!!! I found them on the Nichols Buttons website. They have such an amazing selection - I challenge you not to be inspired.

To move on from buttons I’ve also been pondering on the subject of beads. I need some beads to go around the bottom of Flirt from Rowan 37 and I think that I will also put beads around cuffs of the purple wraparound top I’m making. So I’ve been investigating. Currently for flirt, which I’m knitting with an apple coloured trim rather than the orchid colour pictured in the magazine I was thinking of some semi-precious chips probably in green aventurine . Or these incredibly cute butterflies.

For my little purple top I want something more unusual, maybe in metal but I haven’t found anything I like yet. Suggestions gratefully received…

Still going...

I’ve almost finished the second sleeve of Charley – slipped it into the photo above. That means that by this weekend I will be blocking and seaming. Hurray! I’m a bit worried though about how little wool I have left, only one ball to go and I have to do the collar after the body is all put together. I will most definitely growl if I run out.

I have joined my first knit-along and I’m so excited. I’ve added a link on the left. It’s called the Year of the Sweater. Everyone on it seems really nice, I’m hoping that it will help me complete the challenge I’ve set myself to knit one top/jumper/cardigan every month. Only 8 days left to finish Charley (plenty of time!!).

My Denise interchangeable needles have arrived and they seem great. The case is so compact and they fit together really easily. I’ll make sure that I use them for my next project so that I can do a proper review. I have to say that the internet shop I bought them from is brilliant. I only ordered them on Sunday morning and they were with me by Tuesday evening. Well done to the Woolly Workshop, I’ll definitely be shopping there again.

Clever Monkey is out playing football tonight so I finally have use of the computer again, although at the price of the company I’m not sure it’s worth it!

It was my friend’s birthday on Monday and I’m meeting her on Friday after work but I can’t think what to buy her. I’m thinking of getting one of these really cute Wicker bags from Accessorize but I’m worried that it won’t be fashionable enough. Jo is so stylish, she always looks good and like she stepped out of a glossy magazine. Maybe I’ll get her a cook book…

The almost finished French Apple Tart Posted by Picasa

Denise interchangeable needles Posted by Picasa

Denise interchangeable needles.

Right I have taken the plunge! I’ve been thinking about it for a while and scouring the internet for reviews on them but I have finally ordered a set of Denise interchangeable needles. What do you think? Will they be worth it?

The review which clinched it for me was the one written by Amy R Singer the Editor of knitty. She even said that she had given all her straights away to her Mum after having this set for two years. I’ll let you know if I ever decide to do the same!

I think that these will mostly be used when I need circular needles in various sizes, as it always seems that I have to order a new size for every project. I think I already own straights in every size possible. These might also be handier for knitting on the train.

Last night we had some friends over for a meal. Actually it was an old uni friend and his new girlfriend. She was lovely. I’m so pleased for him, it’s always so nice when your friends meet someone who is obviously so right for them. We had a really great time. I made French apple tart using a recipe of my Mum’s. It was very tasty - I’ve taken a photo but there isn’t much left! (Very easy)Recipe below:

French Apple Tart
6oz plain flour
4oz unsalted butter
6oz caster sugar
1 egg yolk
2lb cooking apples, peeled and chopped into big cubes (take the core out too!)
2 dessert apple (e.g. braeburn)
lemon juice
1 tbsp apricot jam.

Rub 3oz of the butter into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs.
Stir in 1 tbsp of the sugar.
Turn into dough by adding the egg yolk and about 1-2 tbsp of cold water.
Leave in the fridge.
Melt the rest of the butter in sauce pan; add the cooking apples and half of the rest of the sugar. Cook gently for about ten minutes with the lid on. The drain and save the juice and mush up the rest to use as the filling.
Slice the dessert apples and sprinkle with lemon juice to stop them going brown.
Roll out the pastry and line a greased flan ring (around 7inches). Prick the bottom (of the pastry).
Add the filling and arrange the sliced apples on top.
Melt the jam, remaining sugar, lemon juice and apple juice together in a pan use to glaze the sliced apples.
Bake in pre-heated oven at 200C or gas mark 6 for 30 minutes (check after 20 just to be careful!).
Serve with clotted cream (or custard and ice-cream as one of my guests had last night…)

I'm back!

I’ve been away from my blog longer than intended. When Monkey and I got back from holiday I pressed the ‘go’ button on the computer and nothing. There was no flutter and purr. Luckily Monkey being the Clever Monkey he is, went out and bought a new power supply unit and fixed the computer all by himself (picture of the removed part above!) – although I did sit around and help. Actually most of my attempts to help were stopped with yelps of “don’t touch that!”

We had a great holiday. There was lots of sport on the TV so Clever Monkey watched that and studied. I knitted and knitted and knitted but even with all that effort I still have half a sleeve of Charley to go.

I bought the Debbie Bliss Pure Silk pattern book and it is amazing. The patterns are so stylish but classic at the same time and I love the colours available in the yarn. My mum bought me the Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino book as she wanted me to knit a gift for someone but she was so impressed with the book that now she is thinking of knitting it herself. I hope that she does it would be brilliant if my Mum got interested in knitting again.

I've added the Debbie Bliss website to my favourite links on the left.

I also bought loads of Rowan wool cotton that was above in a really nice colour (see above). Not sure what to knit with it yet...

By the way, I want to recommend the wool shop in Bideford North Devon just in case you are ever down in those parts. It is really well stocked and the lady who runs it is really friendly. I don't know about you but there do seem to be quite a few dragons running knitting shops out there so it is nice to find someone friendly!

Hurray, Hurray, I'm off on holiday!

Well almost, Monkey and I are going home to Exeter today to see my parents. The only downside is I have to go to the dentist tomorrow morning. I know it's ridiculous to go all the way to Devon just to visit the dentist but do you know how hard it is to get a dentist in Surrey!!

Anyway, it means I get to see my wonderful parents and my cute little grandma. Plus there is a bonus this weekend because my Mum has decided that we should all go and stay in a fancy hotel. It is very beautiful and by the sea - I'll take lots of nice photos.

It also means I get to do lots of knitting. Maybe I could even finish Charley?

I’ve spent the morning looking at other people’s blogs. There are such talented people out there!

I’m going to take the new Rowan magazine home to show my Mum. My Mum is the one who taught me how to knit, sew, embroider, crochet and probably everything else too. She can plait sawdust to borrow a phrase of my Dad’s.

Charley update

Look! I've just reached the armhole shaping on Charley (Rowan Magazine 37 see previous post). It really is such a nice knit. I haven't knitted with All Seasons Cotton before but it is fast becoming a favourite. It is so smooth and knits up so quickly. Do you like the jumper so far? It is a bad photo but I'll try and get some nice ones in daylight when I get a chance.

I'm trying to decide what to start making next, I know that I still have the sleeves to knit but...

There are 3 top options at the moment, no wait a minute 5.

1. Finish Lisette (Rowan 36). This is my guilt jumper that seems to be cursed. Seriously I've never known a piece of knitting to fall of needles so much. I've had to firmly fasten it down with elastic bands.
2. Flirty (Rowan 37) - so cute.
3. Butterfly (rowan 37)
4. Charleston (Rowan 39)
5. My Kim Hargreaves kit jumper that I got for Christmas. Which reminds me I ought to post a picture of my Kim Hargreaves hat I've knitted. It is so cute.

If anyone could tell me how to add finshed projects link to my website I'd be eternally grateful.

Knitting makes me car sick

Just got back from Kingston and look at the goodies I've bought! I love kidsilk haze, although maybe I should have bought the blue? It knits up so quickly and it is so soft. Going to go and design the elephant valance in a second, just wanted to show off my purchases.

The funny beige patch is a carpet sample of the carpet we are hoping to get. We are just waiting to check the prices in other places first as I'm guessing John Lewis isn't the cheapest place to shop. However we do want to buy a good quality carpet, apparently it’s all about density. The denser it is the less often you have to Hoover - sounds good to me.

I've bought the Tuscan Retreat book but I think I won't be making anything for a while; it costs a fortune with the amount of wool each project takes. So Monkey suggests I finish some of my other knitting projects before I buy any more yarn. I'm wondering if there is something cheaper I could substitute it with. I'll investigate.

Feeling a bit sick as I was knitting in the car. It never used to make me car sick but I guess now that we hardly ever go anywhere in the car I'm not used to it.

Knitting Shopping Trip

I'm excited. Clever Monkey has promised to take me shopping to John Lewis today. This means I can spend ages wandering round the fabric and craft departments. I can’t wait; I've got loads of ideas for new projects. I'm going to buy some thick crochet cotton and make an elephant filet crochet valance for our kitchen window; some sort of powder blue fabric to make a bias cut, strappy, summer dress; and the new Rowan pattern book Tuscan Retreat, I love the cover jumper (see picture above). No doubt I’ll be picking up some nice yarn too. We hardly ever go shopping, seriously! Although, I suspect this is a good thing because it means that we have better things to do and it means we don’t spend quite so much money!

I have to admit though I do like internet shopping. I have my eye on this dress at Warehouse at the moment but I keep wondering whether I would be better of just making myself one?

Clever Monkey’s jumper is coming on fine and I reckon I’ll be on the sleeves soon. His birthday is at the end of May so I will be finished in plenty of time. I have so many exciting things to knit after that, I can’t wait.

The Princess Of Mantua and this weeks other books

The three books I am reading this week are proving really good. I started Collapse by Jared Diamond first. I'd been reading a blog at work by a scientist visiting Antarctica and he had referred to some examples from this book that had interested me. It is basically about what has caused civilizations to vanish in the past. The major examples it uses are Easter Island and the Norse societies in Greenland and Iceland. A lot of it comes down to sustainable living, which anyone who works in government will know is the concept of the moment. I would recommend this book because it is very readable and contains enough anecdotes to make the societies come alive in your mind. It will also make you think about where our societies are currently heading and what we should be doing to change this.

Book two is The Line of Beauty by Alan Hollinghurst. I got this as one of the Booker prize job-lots from the Book People. They do them every year for the short list. I don't know why I haven't got round to reading this until now. I guess that the subject matter didn't interest me immediately (gay youth in rich 80's political society...), however, now I've started reading it really is interesting. I particularly like Catherine or "The cat who walks alone", she reminds me of a lot of girls I have met in the past; uncertain, insecure and making all the usual mistakes.

The third book is by a French author, Marie Ferranti and it is based on the story of the life of Barbara von Brandenburg (see picture above lady looking to the right standing behind the dwarf). The Princess of Mantua is beautifully written in a very sparse style. Marie Ferranti lets you see the more emotional and everyday life of a fifteenth century family of high standing. I especially like the excerpts of letters included in the book which show Barbara to be a mischievous woman with a good deal of wisdom.

Favourite knitting websites

I thought I would just add a post listing some of the best websites I know for knitting info/shopping in the UK and beyond:

- The knitty magazine is brilliant! It has loads of free, fashionable patterns and with its links to some of the designers’ blogs it opens up a whole new world of yarn. Check out the photo of Tempting that I knitted using Jenna Adorno's pattern from the archives.
- Ok I’ll admit it, I am a complete yarn snob and practically all the wool I have ever bought comes from Rowan. If you love knitting then you should definitely join. You get an amazing magazine twice a year and the website has some free pattern downloads.
- My favourite online kitting store is Angel Yarns. They sell almost everything you could want.
- And the best site for gifts for knitters has to be Curious Yarns. I’m including this in case my husband logs on to my blog. I really love their sock kits and the cute little stitch markers.
- And of course there is Kim Hargreaves. No comment necessary!

Lazy day

Hurray!! I have a day off work! After two weeks of my boss being off work I decided that I needed a break, so here I am on a Thursday morning in my pink, fluffy, dressing gown. Last night I nipped into Sainsburys and bought all the required items for a truly lazy day at home. I have malted milk biscuits, hot cross buns and real ‘hack a slice of the loaf’ bread. When I originally took this day off it was in order to bring comfort and solace to my amazing, genius of a husband while he studies for his actuarial exams. Unfortunately being the all round star that he is, his work have cancelled his day off and asked him to solve all their problems and save their entire business. This leaves me all alone at home with the previously mentioned packet of biscuits. Such is the life of the Super Hero's spouse.

Anyway with the Clever Monkey out of the way it gives me ample time to concentrate on finishing his birthday jumper. This is from issue 37 of the Rowan magazine but in a much manlier colour. Pictures do nothing to show off this manliness as I’ve had to resort to modelling the work in progress on my dress maker’s dummy - Monkey being at work and all.