Read the flippin’ instructions

Spice of Life blanket – my colours

I’ve just had a few days off from the shop to re-charge my batteries – as I’m never not knitting/crocheting, I spent much of my break sitting on my tushie, working on my blanket and doing a spot of *WIP clearing.

The blanket is repetitive and soothing – there’s a colour stripe sequence that I know by heart and I could most likely make shells in my sleep by now, but the knitting is a tad more challenging.

I’m trying to put together a lace sock pattern for some beautiful plain sock yarns in the shop and I really wanted something that was pleasingly textural and maybe a wee bit challenging – but not too intimidating for a novice sock knitter. It also had to be easy to distribute over three needles (when knitting the leg and cuff) and two needles (when knitting the heel). I know from sweaty-handed,-panicky-experience, that knitting a lace pattern is hard enough knit flat: knitted in the round on numerous pointed needles, it is not a recipe for F.U.N.

rainbow socks
West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4ply

Anyway the pattern is nearly done – there is a stray stitch in the count that needs to be worked into the pattern instructions at some point, but it’s kinda there. For you, knitting the pattern should be fairly relaxing. For me it was a wee bit more challenging requiring several sketches, six samples, two complete rip backs and a ‘sod the bloody thing’ moment

FullSizeRenderMeanwhile in the blue corner, there’s a cotton sweater that I’ve been working on all summer. I started it with the usual enthusiasm that comes with a new project, but as the summer has become more like an extended monsoon season, my hands became more and more reluctant to knit the thing and eventually it became one of those projects that every knitter has – an embarrassing  bag of yarn, needles and a half-finished back, usually destined to be tucked behind the sofa.

This weekend I decided to seize the nettle and get back on track. After a bout of sock-wrangling, I decided that soothing stocking stitch was the ideal Netflicks accompaniment. Which it was, until I got to the shoulder shaping. I glanced at the instructions,  poured another glass of the white and got on with knitting.

After a while I cast off the neck. I held it up to the light and thought, that doesn’t look right at all. I balanced my glasses on my head and peered at the instructions. I had just successfully completed the instructions for the front neck & shoulders on the sleeveless top. Which was fine, but I was supposed to be doing the back shoulder shaping – on the top with sleeves.

Sometimes, knitting isn’t as relaxing as you’d think. I undid thee hours knitting, wound the yarn back into a ball and went back to the crochet blanket, defeated.

*WIP = works in progress

*sock pattern status – I have to write the instructions and chart them…..this may take a while

Never not knitting


roses‘I don’t have time to knit’

Ah, if only I had a pound for the times I’d heard that phrase – I’d have, oh, at least 38 quid by now.

My current job gives me ample time and access to yarns of course, but I used to knit when I had a ‘proper’ job too. It just didn’t take up quite so much of my time!

I knit in the shop of course, and I knit in the evenings in front of the TV, on holiday (especially in the UK, especially if it’s raining outside…), at the weekends if I can grab an hour that’s not devoted to family or house maintenance. I knit in the car when I’m not on driving duty and on trains so I can watch the scenery speed by. I can knit while reading my kindle (I find paper books a bit trying) and when I couldn’t knit due to airline security, I discovered that it was possible to crochet instead.

I knit because of its creativity of course, but it’s also a protective hobby. I am the sort of person who fiddles: beer mats are never unshredded* when I’m around, pens come apart (springs everywhere), I doodle on napkins and rearrange the cutlery until it’s just so. It’s also handy as a guard against overeating and having more than the odd glass of something: you need two hands to knit or crochet and if one is ‘spare’ you can bet it’s got a glass or a Mars bar in it!

I had my knee ‘done’ a few years ago and it was invaluable in hospital and recovery: reading takes concentration and quiet, two things that are in short supply when you’re on a busy ward and stuffed full of strong painkillers. Subsequent outpatients visits have been less of a trial when I can knit a sock while waiting (and waiting and waiting).

As the Yarn Harlot, a favourite knitting writer, has observed (catch her here and here), knitting can help you keep your sanity and patience and help to make you a better human.

Of course daily life makes demands on your time: you might have a job, the kids need a chauffeur/chef/housekeeper/entertainer, your partner expects you to keep a bit of spare time for them too. But if you are sat in front of the telly for a couple of hours, waiting around in a busy GP surgery for far too long, or stuck in traffic (and not on driving duty) you have time to knit – and honestly, it might make you a better person.

burnley hat
Burnley hat pattern WIP – btw Burnley won! Against Liverpool!!!

* I’ve noticed that many pubs don’t have beer mats any more. I hope it wasn’t because of people like me leaving trails of shredded paper behind them.



Summer colour at Chez Village Woolly

Recently my best beloved and I were off out for a ‘date night’ – I choose a reasonably ok outfit (and left the floor and bed strewn with clothes that didn’t make the cut) and then peered out of the window. Miserable, cool and with a 75% chance of rain (i.e. a typical UK summer night). I decided I needed a jacket.

I ransacked my wardrobe again…. nothing appealed so I opted for an old faithful cardigan, accepted that I was not going to hit the heights of stylishness for the 50th year running. I vowed to get something in the Trafford Centre the following week.

Friends, I spent 5 hours in the TC and bought a basket for garden shoes, a metre of the grooviest fabric you’ll ever see and nowt else. Every shop had either moved into Autumn/Winter mode with lots of lovely warm woolly coats, or they seemed to assume that everyone wanted a short, fitted, pleather biker jacket. I did try on a fake suede version (fuede, pleude?) but I basically ended up looking like a suede-wrapped sausage.

The problem (well one of them) is that I am as follows: my bosom is a reasonably plentiful size 16/38D, my waist is a …mumble mumble (oh, ok, its a size 18…) and my hips are a fairly slim12/14. I’m bit of an apple, in short and clothes are not made for items of fruit. I’m also not quite ready for elasticated waist pants and a sensible sweater, nor am I able to rock anything too ‘young’ anymore. It’s a conundrum.

Obviously I am extremely well supplied with woolly things: from socks to hats, the knitting has got that literally covered, but I am at the mercy of manufacturers for other bits and bobs. Or, well, I was.

I’ve always owned a sewing machine and I recently bought myself an overlocker and I’ve been trying to re-discover the art of dressmaking. As a teenager and student I was a decent sewist and even made myself a lined, fitted, tweed jacket with bound button holes. I wore it to interviews and it was my go-to smart outfit.

But as they say, use it or lose it: my sewing skills are still pretty creaky but with the help of the websites like this, this and this, I can at least begin to see a future where I won’t have to wander the malls of the UK looking for that elusive apple shaped jacket. I may even make some jeans one of these days.

Knitting and crochet update. Still crocheting this –

Spice of life blanket 

with these…


… finishing off two pairs of socks and thinking about a pair in this… or possibly this?

And meanwhile attempting to put a pattern together for this….

pattern pending…