Much under the breath muttering

I thought the iPad keyboard was working. It doesn’t appear to be. So again, this will be …succinct.

That’s the first thing that has made me mutter under my breath. The second is the lack of tension in the luscious Princess Franklin cowl.

Sorry to start with the punch line, but those of you who have been paying attention will know that I was making this exciting accessory for Steve rather than for me. Anyone who has seen him will be able to appreciate that his head is at the top end of the size scale. Although he’s a modest chap temperamentally, his head looks quite large compared to his body – to the extent that my sister cautioned me against marrying him in case head size was hereditary.

It’s fair to say that I didn’t consider this a good enough reason to not pursue the relationship.

At this point, though, it’s importance has shot up the scale.

unwoven cowl

I followed the instructions: I made the cowl/collar the length it said in the picture before joining it in the round. I got Steve to try it on. It was a bit snug, but ok. That should have been the alarm bells moment.

snug collar on steve

This pattern has you weave over the top of the lovely stretchy garter stitch with less stretchy straight thread. I was conscious of this, so made sure to thread with plenty of ease.

Three full evenings of weaving thread through garter stitch later, it turns out, there was no such thing as loose enough with a collar of this circumference.

This collar is now mine. I’ve said I’ll make Steve another, bigger one, but I won’t be able to face it for some time. Maybe in time for next Christmas…

Competitive nature thwarted by nature

This is a plant based disaster.

It’s not responding to water. The plant has decided that its stem needs to point across. It will decide later whether any vertical action happens.

We may have to judge on length of stem rather than height. Or aesthetics.

Especially when Lily’s plants look like this.

(Although, to be honest, I think hers look a little dry…)

Big fat failure

A year ago I impulse-bought some sale yarn. Sirdar sirocco is a cotton/linen blend which I thought would make a lovely summer top. Indeed, I bought two packs and made my sister something first.

I’d seen this Dolan Beret on Ravelry and wanted to try to recreate the top that was probably “model’s own”. I couldn’t find a pattern that I felt was close enough (and here’s where the alarm bells should start ringing) so I decided to try to create my own pattern.

shape swatches

I wanted the vertical “folds” of the button band to blend seamlessly with the slight shawl collar at the back. I devised a “clever” construction where the top is knit up one side, round the neck, then down the other, making the front knitted across from the middle out, and the back top-down. I even swatched to try to get the angles right for where it opens up at the neck (see above), then straightens out to go over the shoulders. I was happy with how to do the square neckline at the back. Basically, my plan was to knit the button bands and collar as one, then fill in the fronts to the side using short rows.


Aside from the ridiculously long rows this plan generated – akin to the last few rows of a shawl – the plan otherwise went well. I did the collar, filled in the fronts, then worked down the back. I had a happy plan for top-down set-in sleeves, having read a description of how this might be done – clearly that’s enough, plus again I did a little swatch to see how it worked in practice. I planned, then executed.

In some ways, I should have known it was all going far too well.

I sewed up the sides, having cast off the rows – I’d left them live in case there was some 3-needle bind-off to be done, but that was clear reasonably early on that that wasn’t going to work. Still, it meant I didn’t have to plan how many stitches the sleeves would cover until I did them, so it wasn’t *such* a silly idea. I made ties to be able to pull the top in under the bust – garter stitch, and not too long. It looked rather good, although I managed to drop a stitch along the way…

dropped stitch

And then I tried it on.


Oh dear.

Can I point out, because I know some of you will be thinking this, that I measured myself and I swatched before getting my calculator out and working out how many stitches to cast on and have between increases and decreases.

However, this top is pretty much a failure on every level.

It’s not big enough round my boobs. This is not a surprise, but given that I measured and allowed for my matronly rack, it’s a little disappointing. See how I’m having to place my hand to avoid the site being dubbed NSFW.


Rather than draping flatteringly over the folds of my stomach (I’m working on getting rid of them, please refer to my runkeeper account, however, still very much a work in progress) it clings to and accentuates them.

And, in a manner least pleasing of all, it slides off my shoulders like I was cone shaped.


I’m clearly missing a fundamental principle of knitwear design somewhere. I could fix the width problem by knitting more width. It would mean re-working the sleeves which I’m not sure I’m up for, but I can see how it could be done.

The neckline on top of that, though, is something of a deal breaker. I have no idea how to fix that. The top and the remaining yarn are busily gathering dust in the corner of the living room while I come to terms with the situation and come up with a plan. It saddens me, because looking at these pictures, I can see that the top has some potential.

However, one of the possibilities remains “bin the lot, and move on”.

Wrong size sticks

A while ago, I made Steve a woolly wormhead hat using the pattern Vlora. Given his big head and luscious hair, I made it big. Given my love for him, I got nice yarn – I can remember what it is, but its a lovely nutty grey and is wonderfully soft and smooshy. Having looked it up, it’s Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran

I made this hat about 2 years ago and it’s never been right. I think the pattern, which Steve was hoping would mimick a flat cap, needs a yarn with less drape & more structure.

With this in mind, I’m turning it into a nice snuggly beanie. I found another wormhead pattern, Dylan’s Hat, and cast on, frogging Vlora as I went.


Sadly, I got quite a bit further than this before the sneaking feeling of incorrect gauge overcame me. I got this far on 4.5mm needles. Vlora was knit on 4mm. This is rib. I’m thinking 3.75mm is the way to go. So, on the train this morning I’ve turned the above back into 2 balls of yarn.

This is the right decision – I will end up with a better hat in the end. Why am I not pleased? Because all of my 3.75mm needles are AT HOME. Grrr.

Late night slog

At the moment each row of this is taking over half an hour. Clearly this designer* doesn’t have a clue what she’s doing. I just hope the end result’s worth it.

* It’s me, and no, I don’t. Just a desperate aspiration…

Ow ow ow ow ow

these are not rhubarb and custard

I’ve eaten too many boiled sweets.

How many is too many? Well, given that…
1. I technically don’t own any boiled sweets, so they are all stolen from the mouths if babes
2. I’m a 40 year old woman
3. I’m on a diet
4. My teeth are on borrowed time and starting to fidget round the edges

…that many is too many. However, it turns out that rhubarb & custards are so tasty that even when I’m conscious that they are making my mouth sore, I keep eating them.

And it’s exacerbated by the cold I’m not-going-to-have-not-a-little-bit. Which means that the whole roof of my mouth is swollen like a big balloon.

I’m not taking paracetamol for the cold (which I’m not having and *certainly* not suffering from), I’m having to take it for my mouth so that I can get to sleep and so that I can eat.

We had nachos at a sporting event we went to last night with 2 kinds of (totally plastic) dip – cheese and salsa. Which do you think did the most pain-related damage?

WRONG!! It was the cheese.

I appreciate that when you have a really sore mouth, asking for spiky chips with spicy dips may seem unwise, but I’m a sucker for nachos. And to be honest, the spikes were the least of my problems.

Ah well, onwards & upwards – I’m sure it will all settle down in a few days…

Testing times

Having previously done about 3/4 of the first sleeve, being back here:


…is a little depressing. I discovered I’d decreased by a stitch at the end of the ribbing, which I was prepared to overlook. But then I apparently gained a stitch while shaping the armhole, and that was one mistake too far.

Better, in the long run, that it’s right, I thought. In 2 years time I will have forgotten I had to do this. Although, knowing me, there’s every chance it will still be festering. Less than if I hadn’t, though, I like to think.

Habit – ramps


Getting over the ramp was a lot easier once she stopped braking on approach. And yes, for the first time ever she is helmet-less. We forgot to wear it. 🙁

Christmas crafts

Thanks to @antikaggs, Lily had some origami animals to make. She didn’t want to use up the “proper” paper yet until she has the hang of it, so we used some of the plain white paper grandad gave her…
Behold our antarctic animal display!


The next step is a box, currently being prepared, so that they can be displayed in 3-D glory…

In other update news, we had a really excellent Christmas dinner cooked by my wonderful mother in law, a day only slightly marred by lily throwing u as soon as we got home. She appears to have a bit of a bug as she’s still not right today and has only really perked up thanks to the magical power of origami!

And on the knitting front, now that I’ve taken the time to work out how to blog properly from my new toy, I can work through the Christmas gifts I wasn’t able to blog about before they were given away!