Last week, I completed my first ever colourwork project: the Soldotna Crop by Caitlin Hunter (Boyland Knitworks on Ravelry and Instagram). I used Stylecraft Special DK as I find this to be the nicest acrylic yarn with lots of colour choices, and I didn’t want to spend too much on yarn for a project that could have gone disastrously wrong. I made it for Faye so she’s bound to have grown out of it before too long.
I knit the XS size and used the following colours: Graphite, Silver, White and Mustard (1 x 100g ball of each) and I had lots left over in each colour.
I really enjoyed knitting this. I’ve only started knitting in the round on circular needles this year. It’s been a revelation to knit to a length rather than counting rows – I just love that. Although colourwork is slower, it is just knitting. Almost like following a cross stitch pattern! And once I got into a rhythm with changing the yarn around so I didn’t get myself into a knot, I found that I speeded up a bit. Around working and other commitments, I finished it in just 11 days which is I think is a record for me and a garment! I think that proves just how much I was enjoying myself.
The best part about it was that Faye was desperate for me to finish it. I just managed to cast off in time before we headed out to see an amateur production of ‘The Vicar of Dibley’ at one of the local theatres (which was hilarious!). I’m not sure she has ever been so enthusiastic about a knitted jumper! She had picked the yarn colours herself, going for a Hufflepuff colourway. We are both massive Harry Potter geeks (as if you didn’t recognise that from the names of our pets!!).
I bought an advent calendar panel from the NEC Knitting and Stitching Show this year (on reflection, I think the name has changed now… possibly to the Creative Craft Show… my memory fails me). I made one in 2012 for Faye using a panel…
This year, we have finally redecorated our living room and I wanted to make a new calendar to match… What really happened is that I saw the fabric panels at the show and bought one with the excuse that we had our living room decorated!
I’m not the best sewist, although I hope to improve in this area, so it is a bit rough but it will do the trick.
I used to fill the little pockets with handwritten scrolls of Christmassy activities that we would do each day but it was a lot of work and sometimes I had overplanned and it became a teeny bit stressful to fit in, especially with birthdays and unexpected Christmas activities at school or with friends.So a few years ago, we decided to do the Christmassy things still but not on a schedule and just eat chocolates like normal people do!
Last year I joined in with Helen Stewart’s Knitvent. Helen is Curious Handmade and creates beautiful knitting patterns which she sells on Ravelry. She has a sock society and shawl society and every November, she releases a set of 6 mystery patterns that are released each week in the lead up to Christmas. From last year’s set, there is only one project I haven’t yet knitted up, so I decided to join in again this year.
The first pattern was the beautiful Bide Shawl. You can see my progress above. I didn’t have any bulky or chunky weight yarn in my stash (it’s not a very extensive stash), so I ordered some lovely West Yorkshire Spinners Retreat in the colourway ‘562 Escape’. I have ordered 4 balls as I’m knitting the large size.
It’s a lovely project to work on. I take it to work each day and knit on it in my lunch break.
Another Knitvent 2019 pattern! I haven’t knitted socks in DK yarn before but I had some Socks Yeah DK in stash and couldn’t wait to cast on. I’m making these for Faye (her first pair of knitted socks) with the plan for them to go in her Christmas Eve box. Inevitably, she has seen me knitting on them as I need her to try them on for size but I’m sure she’ll have forgotten about them by 24th December!
I haven’t managed to work out socks on circulars yet so the trusty DPNs had to come out. When I first started knitting socks a few years ago, I hated it. I loved having a pair of knitted socks but the DPNs constantly stabbed me in the palm of the hand. Then somebody pointed out (pun totally intended!) that I was knitting them inside out and it all became clear! There is much less hand-stabbing going on these days!
Rob’s Crofter Cowl
My lovely Rob actually requested a knitted item. He never does this so I felt honoured… perhaps he has decided that my knitting is now up to muster, or maybe he was just humouring me. I knit him a beanie hat using Sirdar Crofter DK yarn in 2016. I also made Faye one…
He asked this year if I could knit him a cowl to match. Unfortunately, after visiting my local yarn shop, I discovered that the colourway had been discontinued. So I opted for a lighter shade in the same colour. He didn’t mind at all; he said he just wanted a warm neck! I’m making it up as I go along but he asked for a snugly fitted cowl, so I cast on 114 stitches on 4.5mm circular needles and I’m doing a 4 x4 rib as the hat pattern. I’m knitting and purling until I get to a length where it looks good folded double and then I’ll loosely cast off and hope for the best!
Victorian Christmas Cake
I don’t normally bake fruit cakes except for the odd Christmas cake or rock buns. However, I made a bit of a gaffe at work. A client changed the venue a few days before a training course and I missed the email and sent my lovely tutor off to the wrong place. It all worked out in the end and no delegates were left without a trainer, but not before I sent said trainer around to a different hotel and venue, and then had to get his handouts taxied across Birmingham in a big rush which caused him a lot of unintended stress (I’m normally very organised, but this is all probably too much information – the cake, the cake!) So, to cut a long story short, I asked him what his favourite cake was and baked him one. Ta dah! He’s not adverse to cake bribery and loves me again now…
Rob and Faye were not too happy that I spent all of Saturday morning baking a delicious smelling cake only to be told: ‘Mitts off!’ So I also made them…
I hadn’t tried this recipe before but they were lovely little coconut biscuits, perfect with a hot cup of tea.
Both recipes were from my very well-loved baking book: Mary Berry’s Baking Bible
I only went back to work full time in February this year and as a result my gardening time has taken a big nose-dive. Quite honestly, my garden looks a big mess right now. I still have things that I should have pulled up. The two new rabbits, Remus and Sirius, love digging and have made a mess of the lawn, and my raised beds are empty. My polytunnel has almost fallen down and we plan to take it to pieces next year and save up to do the job properly.
I did manage to grow my best dahlias this year. I still think I could do much better but over the last few months they have at least obscured the horrors of the rest of the garden!
Last weekend, I cut them back, carefully dug them all up, shook off as much soil as I could and have left them drying out in the polytunnel for now so that I can store them for the Winter.
Thanks for reading and I hope to see you back here soon xx