Haps Are Happening – Nut Hap

I like deadlines, not in the way Douglas Adams did, with the ‘whooshing sound they make as they fly by’ but because I really am so liable to go bimbling off on a tangent, doing something I shouldn’t really be doing,  that a deadline is a good point to concentrate on. I very rarely miss a deadline (I feel quite mortified if I do).

The deadline for the Haps Are Happening KAL – run by Jen Arnall-Culliford and ‘Veuve Tricot’  for the Kate Davies Book of Haps – was 8th August 2016. I looked at the timescale and thought that was a totally do-able schedule and,  to my surprise, I managed to produce not one but two haps during this KAL (though I did put aside all other knitting – poor old Stonehenge – what did I say about going off on a tangent…?).

I’m going to talk about my second Hap first – the Nut Hap;  a completely brilliant piece of knitting design and engineering by Jen, which includes really concentrate-y stuff; you need two super long needles, it has a tubular cast on! it has K1P1 rib with short rows, it has tucks, it has five colours, and you have to graft it at the end The challenging bits are interspersed with nice television friendly easy knitting (in this case the television was Being Human – the first two seasons are the best, IMO).  I like this kind of thing – you get to use your brain and then rest it for a bit.

So it went a bit like this (look! I have done you graph…). The bit where the stitches supposedly being HELD BY the back needle FELL OFF the back needle was my favourite part:


I posted a lot of pictures of my knee and my knitting on Ravelry and Instagram, which made a quite pleasing sequence.:

I finished with one day to spare – though I confess when the finished photos were taken this Nut Hap may have still been slightly damp. It’s also a rather warm accessory for an August modelling session.  I’m really looking forward to wearing it on a European or Canadian mountain in the winter and if I think about this enough maybe it’ll actually happen.

[ an aside – notice how the cat is barely able to feign interest in this Hap, when I hear of other people’s cats they seem much more interested in the knitting than Boris is].

An idea given to the Nut Hap knitters – the original pattern has its colours based on those of the nut hatch –  was to choose a different bird for inspiration . Just a couple of days before the KAL started I happened upon a news story about the Red Faced Liocichla. This bird was though to be locally extinct in Eastern Nepal (it hadn’t been seen for 178 years) but has recently been found alive and well, and apparently breeding – such lovely news when we’re losing so much every day. So I chose this bird for my colour inspiration:

These bright colours will be a boost in the winter, when this Hap will come into its own. I knitted it in Cascade 220 Sport Superwash, which is a light worsted 100% yarn; super warm and yet not super heavy, and comes in about a bazillion colours. I really love this yarn – I made a jumper for my husband with it last year – it washes brilliantly with hardly any colour bleed. Also it looks really good draped casually over my favourite turquoise garden chair:


Next time (or next time but one, I haven’t decided yet) the marvellous Montbretia Hap!



It Doesn’t Always Work First Time

I’ve been watching The Silk Road on BBC4. The fascinating story – squashed into three hours of television – of this ancient trade route from China to the West  was told by Dr Sam Willis who, as well as being an engaging presenter,  has the most beautiful handwriting.

I was left with several things buzzing about my head after seeing these programmes, among them:

  1. I really must take a long holiday to all the places mentioned (better start saving up! Better get the child used to camels!)
  2. I have coloured pencils, squared paper and, really, SO MUCH yarn…I could create a knitted textile with a paisley motif. Yes.
  3. Add some books to the book pile on this subject, and also read them.
  4. Don’t let’s lose the BBC shall we?

I’m tackling  number 2. first.

As the journey reached  Yazd in Iran we learned about the Zoroastrians and their eternal flame, which some say the flame shaped Boteh/Paisley motif represents (or it represents a pear, or other fruit). I have always loved paisley, so off I went.

I did some colouring in. Colouring in tiny squares is becoming a favourite thing of mine, especially since I found my ‘antique’ Caran D’ache pencils!:


[the other day I was in WH Smith where I found almost an ENTIRE WALL of grown-ups’ colouring books – who’d have thought it five years ago! – trying to distract me from the tiny squares. However I remain faithful to the tiny squares. Though I did buy more coloured pencils, because the antique ones are not all there, and mainly very little] I digress…


I cast on some lovely red and blue yarn, and lined up some golden yellow for the middles of the boteh motifs. I knew this would involve intarsia, I didn’t know how much  gin and swearing it would also involve.

As you can see, I also tend to change things as I go along…

It started well enough, I did two repeats with steeks between each, as knitting on a circumference this small I find a challenge (unless it’s vanilla socks). I could have sworn I had a picture of that first few rounds but it has disappeared into the internet or something. Here’s the top corner once blocked. The colourwork is fine..


But then the intarsia sections are just awful. I had forgotten until I was a little bit into it that, when you do this in the round, you need to shift the stitches about and knit the intarsia sections back and forth (or, that’s how I’ve always done it).

I had some gin. I carried on, the intarsia didn’t improve.  What happens is you  get a ‘back and forth knitted panel sitting on top of the colourwork’ sort of thing, it’s very hard to do this well, I fear:


The small boteh motif I kind of got away with [no you didn’t, says a small voice], the large one is dreadful! Puckered and loose simultaneously, the motif is much too wide to cope with the colourwork floats in any sensible way:


It actually looks much better on the back, so this suggests I’m pretty good at stranded work, but  – as I realise now – I need to work on intarsia. Quite a lot.


Here is the whole swatch, The colours I love, and I’m pleased with the design too. The execution makes me unhappy. I’ll start again. That’s the whole point in swatching though isn’t it.


We all learn by our mistakes eh?  Now I’m back to colouring the little squares, drafting a new, more stranded colourwork-friendly design. And also practicing my intarsia.


As I write the whole series of The Silk Road is still on the BBC iPlayer – along with some half hour programmes called ‘Handmade on the Silk Road’ covering the work of 21st Century craftspeople along the route. Brilliant programmes all. Here’s the link:


Sam Willis kept a journal as he went, you can see it – with the beautiful handwriting – here.

More on Boteh /Paisley:




Bang Out A Sweater – It’s Finished!.

I have knitted a jumper in a week:


Which is a thing I find quite astonishing.  I don’t think I’d have Lett Lopi-ed at all without the ‘Bang Out A Sweater’ KAL, and now all I can think about is Lett Lopi, or maybe some of the Einband (laceweight) and what I could make next. Also, when can I go to Iceland? I am becoming distracted…

Here is my Stopover rundown:

I made it in ‘natural’ colours  – though I am not sure what is dyed and un-dyed in these Lett Lopi yarns, they all look quite sheepy to me. It’s not a colour palette I would usually choose due to being almost completely transfixed by blues and greens, but it really was time for a change.

This sweater is knit in the round from the bottom up  (no sewing apart from the grafting of the underarms). I did it entirely on really not very marvellous aluminium circulars, but they were the size I needed and were In The House. The sleeves and yoke were magic looped due to lack of dpns in the size needed, and also I have never dropped a circular down the back of a sofa cushion for it never to be seen again…

Stopover did knit up really quickly, and was also (sleeve and body wise) the kind of knitting you can do while simultaneously watching a BBC4 documentary about the brain* and having a conversation with your spouse. I like to multi task. The colour work is like a reward (I love doing colour work) at the end of miles of round and round plain knitting.

I added three short rows in the back, and did a rolled stockinette neck rather than ribbing (I hate feeling even vaguely strangled). I finished with a whole ball of my main colour to spare, as well as the contrast leftovers I was expecting.

Here is it unblocked, I tried it on and it felt a lot shorter than I’d usually wear, though not unwearably short, if you see what I mean:


After blocking – this yarn really does change completely after a bath, and I gave it a good old stretch about – it’s a little longer:

Aviary Photo_130995120771520944

Aviary Photo_130995121761828587

I have absolutely loved this project, a big thanks to those Mason Dixon ladies for the enabling. THANK YOU!

To make things even better I finished the husband jumper too (the seaming! the seaming!) so that was two jumpers done and it was only Tuesday. I can feel a hap coming on.

*the series is written and presented by David Eagleman, and the episode was, by happy coincidence, about how we learn to do things without thinking about them: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06yjrdp (I think this went out on PBS in the U.S.)




Bang out A Sweater 1.

Just quickly –  this Bang Out A Sweater KAL is so much fun.

So many sweaters*, so many lovely colours, so many knitters, and such good advice coming from a lot of them. For Example:  I have never spit spliced anything in my life before now (yes, it is a little bit as gross as it sounds, avoid eating toffees/Skittles just beforehand) but this LettLopi yarn just kind of joins itself together once a little moisture is introduced, hence hardly any end weaving, hence more speed!

I have never knit something so fast in my life. I calculate (via watched length of Netflix** shows and 2 x BBC history documentaries***) that about 8 hours into this I have a whole body of sweater and part of an arm. Amazing.


 I have also, while I knit this distraction from The List, managed to get the husband jumper blocking.


*I know, it’s a jumper really, but the event  is called ‘Bang Out A Sweater so I’m going with that.

**Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries mainly. They have some very lovely knitwear in that show. The other day Det. Insp. Jack Robinson was in a very Edward VIII tank top (vest) and extremely dapper he looked too (he always looks dapper really).

*** One on Elizabeth and Mary, one on Ada Lovelace which I had seen before but well worth seeing again

Zuzu’s Petals

Let me say first of all, lace and me, we don’t get on *that* well. However, Zuzu’s Petals looked fairly straightforward and I really need to get through some of my stash of small amounts of lovely yarn. I have a lot of yarn which falls into this category, either given as gifts (and you know, I don’t mind that AT ALL, yarn gifters!) or purchased by myself thinking a little bit won’t hurt, but now I find myself with piles of scarf or hat sized amounts of beautiful yarn (and it’s usually discontinued, so I can’t add to it to make larger garments).

I cast on and finished this in a week, and then my mother stole it from me.

This is the colour it really is, round the neck of Mum

The yarn I used was shiny and cosy Debbie Bliss Alpaca Silk Aran [discontinued] in a pale cyan/aqua shade. I intended to knit the  large yarn/fewer repeats version of this cowl, but after a while I realised there was no way it would fit over my head, so I did it in the large yarn with all the repeats intended for the ‘smaller’ yarn (I’ve lost you haven’t I…?). This did the trick.

Once I had got over the odd cast on (totally made sense when I just went with it) found all the stitch markers I needed (a lot)  and my inability to count properly, it flew along, .

Mum encountered this first in its unblocked state and immediately had it round her neck claimed as her own. I insisted it would be even more lovely once blocked so it went on a pillow well away from The Black Cats:

Darkish, early morning photography, it’s not this colour at all.

By the magic of blocking the pattern is revealed (the Yarn Harlot has been writing about blocking this week ):

I am so pleased with this that I may need to knit another, or something similar. I have some delicious coolree yarn I picked up at Knit and Stitch the other week, just the one skein…

A new obsession or three…

Obsession 1:
 I got a loom for Christmas – I knew I was getting it because the postman delivered it when I was in, rather than hiding it round the back of the fence as he is wont to do…but that is actually better than the traipse into the parcel office with no parking for customers, even those with heavy boxes to carry.

Anyway, it’s an Ashford Rigid Heddle Loom (800mm) and just completely fantastic:


I have woven A Thing:

Practice Scarflet

It’s not really long enough to be anything (maybe a wraplet/scarflet/??) but was a practice run. Yesterday night I warped the loom up with an approx 2m warp by using a chair back rather than the warping peg on our not very long table. I have no idea how far I walked while doing this but it felt like MILES.

I am going to cruise through my current stash at record speed if I keep this up [husband heaves sigh of relief, and thinks he will regain the underneath of the bed ‘storage area’…he is so, so, wrong]. I wait to see if using the deconstructed (shiny) Guardian Saturday Magazine for keeping the rolled on warp threads at tension will work….

Obsession 2:

 This cardigan out of S2 E1 of ‘The Bridge”. I must have it. Which means I must work out how to make it OR go to Sweden and buy it. The latter is on the cards so we will see. I totally love The Bridge (and all Scandi- drama) though maybe not as much as I love ‘Sherlock’ – which had added Scandi Baddie in the last episode of course…

Obsession 3: 

How does one get tickets to see Mr. Cumberbatch in Hamlet???????

Twelve Owls a Hooting…

My friend the patchworker put in a request for a cardigan version of Kate Davies ‘Owlet’ for her daughter, who has a great dislike of having anything put over her head (not uncommon in very small children). So I went on Ravelry and found a modification involving a steek, and that’s what I decided to do.
I started on Friday 13th December,  possibly not an auspicious date to start, especially after a post-midnight KFC, four hours sleep and too much science based excitement the night before with which we celebrated the husband’s birthday. And indeed, things did go a teeny bit awry…

OWLETS showing no sign of PTSD* (unlike me) *post traumatic steeking disorder
I realised when I started the steeking that I have been spoilt by Too Much Shetland yarn (which is, surely, velcro in disguise) resulting in a steeking ALMOST DISASTER on the slippery-slippery Debbie Bliss Rialto Chunky I knit this in. It did not stay put with a crocheted steek, and of course, even as I crocheted the steek I knew this would be the case. I didn’t listen though, did I, yarn gods?
I used sweary words that should not be spoken over a small child’s cardigan, drank some wine (a lot of wine, rather inadvertantly it turns out) and then came back to it a day later. I had to machine sew the steek, which didn’t exactly look neat, but has the effect of stopping the entire garment from falling to pieces in my hands.
I hoped I could  hide the crappiness behind the zip, or in a facing of some kind. At this point it was 23rd December and I still thought (why?) that this child would have an Owlet for Christmas. She didn’t though, because wrapping and last minute trips to the shops got in the way. Such is life, and I think she probably won’t be any the wiser…
I didn’t trust myself with Christmas Day knitting, what with the pre-9am Bellinis and then the wine and the G&Ts during Dr Who. So let’s fast forward to 27th December.

I blanket stitched the steek, then I picked up and knit ribbing on the front:

I think I got away with it

I tried to put a zip in but it looked completely hideous. So replaced the zip with poppers, one at the top of the neck and one in line with the owl feet:

I sewed on 24 buttons, 6 during ‘Death Comes to Pemberley’ none during ‘Bill Bailey, Qualmpeddler’ (I was laughing too much, ironically, during a sketch about rescuing a live owl  from the menu offerings of a Chinese restaurant in Gaung Dong Province) and the rest during Mark Gatiss’s BBC4 documentary about M.R. James – which may be why I imagine these owlets’ eyes follow me round the room…

‘Hoot’ said the owl…

She finally got her owlet on 30th December, which is really only five days later than intended. What a hoot!