Tuesday, 16 December 2008

nice knitting...knitting with alliteration...

My darling Ms Reva fights sleep every night. I lie there beside her, wondering why the heck* this should be so, why should a tiny 6 year old who is quite clearly exhausted beyond belief both physically and mentally not fall to slumber with grace and ease. My wondering has thus far yielded no results. We have some of our oddest and most intimate conversations at this time of day. As well as some blooming irritating ones where she is obviously just racking her brains for anything to say to keep herself awake and I am like a broken record with my refrain (in increasingly stressed tone) of "no more talking now dear" (I don't really say the "dear" bit - I just put that in to make me sound nicer than I really am at that time of night after a long long day. I normally stop, sternly, after the word "now"). Anyway, I digress. One night last week it emerged that Ms Reva now knows all about alliteration, she's learned it at school. She delighted in repeating examples of said grammatical feature while I wondered about sleep deprivation and its long term effects on the under tens. And their mothers. It emerged she also knows all about similes now too. (Tautologies? no, I reckon I am safe... for now). Don't they grow up fast now though? I seem to remember learning this kind of stuff in secondary school at about twice her tender age.

So, in the spirit of alliteration, I share with you:

some fingerless mittens for Maaya (my lovely Japanese friend) who recently turned an age with a 0 on the end and threw a wonderful party

these are Evangeline (you need to be a ravelry member to access the free pattern I am afraid - another great reason to join eh?) knit in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino aran on size 5.0

and a capelet for Katy (I checked, as long as the sound is the same it counts, apparently) who is far too young and needs to celebrate a 0 laden birthday before I can possibly take her seriously^. Katy has been having a rather unpleasant time of it with a wicked teacher who ignores the needs of young children when it come to the notion of Father Christmas and so it was nice to (hopefully) cheer her up.

in Rowan Cocoon in kiwi on size 8.0

Great patterns both

I have plans for another capelet in a kind of purple, as well as some mittens for myself for those days I want to knit in the park, however I am in the throes of frantic secret gift knitting at the moment so those will have to wait...

I hope you are all bearing up well in this season of insanity (if truth be told I'm getting more manic by the day...)

*"why the heck" being Ms Bester's favourite phrase of exclamation which she reckons is just the right side of proper swearing to earn her no more than an indulgent tutting - I LOVE it!

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

a robot...an oversized urchin...and some frogs

oops, that was a bit of a long and unintentional break. Real life seems to be interrupting my crafting'n'blogging existence more than I would like of late. It's the day job, and the kids, and the need to sometimes go out and do other stuff...it all mounts up and gets in the way. Apologies to everyone whose blog I haven't visited in a while. I miss you all! Am hoping to get back into blogger/crafter mode properly again soon. Or maybe it just has to be like this for a while. Hmm, anyway, I'll be popping by again as soon as I possibly can.

I've been reading a bit more than usual of late, and so knitting less on the bus. I seem to bring myself to kind of crisis point with too many knitting projects on the go at one time and then need to take a break and read myself back to some semblance of sanity. I have completed two knits recently though, one of which I'll show you here and one which has yet to be received by its recipient and so won't be unveiled just yet. I've also just ordered some rather lovely Noro Silk Garden Chunky for my next project (never mind the 4 WIPs that are currently hugging various sets of needles, just ignore those)

But before all that...feast your eyes on this...

incredible isn't it?

my swap received from Jan in the DQS5 swap. I mentioned that I liked robots and Jan is obviously psychic and just knew I love stars and put them all together to create this stunning mini quilt

it has gorgeous hand quilting too, which I hope you can make out

I LOVE it. Thanks so much Jan. I now have to tidy my craft room so it can look beautiful on the wall.

Other news...I visited my new nephew Isaac in Geneva recently

we (well, me'n'my sis, not the babe, obviously) drank lots of hot drinks by the lake, and did those sisterly things (like wandering around looking in craft shops and at christmas ornaments and interesting teabags for hours on end) that I miss so much (oh come to London Kate, you'd love it!)

I brought lil Isaac along a froggy baby quilt - this was a lot of fun to make, such joyful fabrics.

My two girls got involved in fabric and pattern choices and Isaac's mum seemed to like it.


Baby quilts really are lovely to make, especially when you get to work with frogs and polkadots!

(forgive the awful colours in this photo - not sure what happened)

However on the way to Gatwick airport I managed to leave my Le Slouch from last year on the train (my sister says I must never travel on trains with anything connected with handknitting again, as I always suffer a loss. I say I should just start taking a bit more responsibility for my belongings and stop daydreaming so much!)

Anyway, this latest knitting/train fiasco lead me to make this little number

it's an urchin, intentionally oversized (so as to slouch) in Rowan Cocoon Bilberry.

It is soft and warm and I love the colour. I just need to make a felted corsage with which to adorn it next. I may even make a non-oversized urchin too, just for the heck of it!

Hope you are all well and enjoying the lead up to the festive season. Take it easy and have plenty of cups of tea. It's cold out there

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

on staying warm...or, I do like a cup of hot coffee on occasion too ...

Contrary to popular belief it is not all tea round here. From time to time (read that as every day at 10am) I like to make a cafetiere of coffee and indulge myself in a blast of hot strong caffeine but all too often my pursuit of this little indulgence gets interrupted (spouse/children/work/doorbell...you get the picture) and I get back only to be faced with the disappointment of a luke warm pot of coffee and a choice between throwing it away or microwaving it. Neither of which pleases me.

Obviously something needed to be done...enter the cafetiere cosy

I made this in less than twenty minutes while also watching Ms Bester do some drawing, so it really is a very quick and simple project (that may just revolutionise your life)

Here is how to make one:

From your collection of felted sweaters choose one whose colour fills your heart with joy.

For a small cafetiere (bodum one cup for example) you’ll get away with using a sleeve, for anything bigger you’ll need part of the body.

Measure the distance between the top and bottom of the handle (by eye, measuring tape, bit of string, holding a section of the felted sweater (whose colour makes your heart sing) up against it – these are all permissible techniques) and cut a long rectangle from the sweater. Make sure it is long enough to go all around the body of the jug and have a little bit (say two inches) to spare.

From your collection of beautiful wools and flosses select one whose addition to the felted sweater will enrich your warm coffee experience as much as you can bear. Use this to blanket stitch all around your rectangle.

Then choose a couple of nice buttons (from your extensive button collection) and cut slits in one end of the rectangle of a size generous enough to accommodate those buttons. Blanket stitch around the slits to make pretty buttonholes.

Attach buttons to opposite end of rectangle in the right places so that they meet the buttonholes when the rectangle is stretched snugly around your cafetiere.

Embellish the cosy to your hearts desire.

Put kettle on. Make pot of delicious hot coffee. Apply cosy to said pot using pretty buttons to secure.

Snuggle up with great book/the newspaper/a craft project/your darling/whoever was at the door (maybe omit the snuggling for this last one, unless you know them well of course) and forget about it for a while.

Remember the coffee, pour into your favourite cup (milk and sugar as you wish) and delight in the fact that is still toasty hot when you finally take a sip.


Am off to Switzerland on Friday to check out my new nephew (and hopefully drink lots of nice hot coffee with my sister!).

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

you know that your child has been living with a blogger for too long when...

...the first thing she does upon receipt of some postal goodies is dash off immediately in search of the best available light and arrange them ready to be photographed...

...goodies from Helen at Angharad, there was also an old fashioned peg ready for some peg dolly action but the apprentice blogger decided to omit that for a reason known only to herself...

I had no idea what Ms Reva was up to, quite thought she'd lost her marbles in fact (now I know how my overmilkwood-mates must feel about me on a regular basis) until the penny finally dropped. Then I just felt an overwhelming sense of pride...(ahem, you know I'm kidding, right?...right?)

Thanks Helen, for the unexpected goodies for the kids as well as for my lovely giveaway prizes, which I have so far managed to keep for myself, thanks in no small part to the distraction of the peg dolly goodies.
If you planned it that way it was both cunning and immensely successful!

A word about the fabric in the background there: it is a piece of 50s barkcloth I managed to pick up in Jubilee Market one Monday morning - I LOVE 50s barkcloth - we had a wooden holiday chalet on the Irish coast in the 1970s which was still rigged out from the 50s with curtains and cushions etc in this and it always takes me back to those really happy times - if anyone knows a good source for the stuff PLEASE let me know...(cos, like, I really need to start collecting something else you know...)

Apart from photo shoots with the baby blogger I've been engaged with making a doll quilt for the Doll Quilt Swap No 5 (first one I've joined in with)

I used some of my favourite fabrics and made an attempt at a flying geese pattern. Don't look too closely though as if you do you'll see my geese are a little random and not so keen on flying in military style formation

Pesky birds!

I enjoyed making it though and have great plans to make quilts for the girls, and even one for my own king size bed one day. Whoa...hold on there girl...

(you can see more DSQ5 pictures over on flickr)

What else? oh yes...every cloud has a silver lining...as you may recall I lost my fancy dangled harmony option needles on a train from Liverpool and so have been a bit stumped on the knitting front (well, until yesterday when the replacements finally arrived - Hallelujah!). I was forced into using some old plastic ones from the days I used to buy up lots of vintage knitting needles on ebay which brought me the very pleasant experience of knitting with red malabrigo on pretty green needles...

...was almost worth losing the needles to enjoy those contrasting colours together...

In the background there you can see my lovely Cath Kidston bag sent by my even more lovely friend Katy when I moaned about not being allowed to be in her draw due to being a UK resident. Always worth a little moan I reckon. Thanks Katy. Mwah!

The knitting ended up as a tea cosy for my old school friend Siobhan. She had requested a red one as recently as November 2007 (my ability to procrastinate knows few equals) and I managed it in time for a belated Birthday Present this year. Happy Birthday dear hope you like it!

The weather in London this month is a strange mix of beautiful, clear crisp Autumn days and dark days of non-stop miserable rain. Last Sunday was one of the former and we got out to the woods, taking coffee and bagels with us.

It was a lovely little excursion and one I hope to repeat often this Autumn and Winter.

Hope you are managing to enjoy Autumn (or is it officially Winter already? I always get confused) wherever you are, or Spring I guess, if you happen to be down southerly ways...

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

the robot vanishes...or, how Apryl got two pincushions

I was doing this Robot swap with Apryl. I'd left it quite late, but so had Apryl so that was ok. We both knew what we were doing. I worked on my swap package over one weekend and was pretty happy with what I'd made. Apryl had requested a needlebook as she has just taken to the dark art of sewing and I was happy to oblige. Got some pretty fabric sent from Japan and rustled it up. Had a few other bits and pieces to throw in too and decided to make a little robot pincushion to accompany the set. That was fun. He was the tiniest creature I'd made but I loved him nonetheless. The girls adored him and played with him relentlessly. I worried about getting him out of their grasp long enough to parcel him up and send him off but they understood he was for Apryl so I knew it would be okay. I left him in Ms Bester's clutches and went gaily (well, you know what I mean) off to work. Returned that evening and no sign of Monsieur Le Robot. Searched high up and low down, still no sign. Interrogated poor Ms Bester almost to the brink of tears, still no clues. Ms Bester, being the mischievous minx that she is, kept saying she knew where he was but she wasn't going to tell us. This was her strategy for days 1 and 2 at least. After that she capitulated and confessed she had no idea but was really sorry anyway, cue many tears. I decided I could deal with the stress of the search, the tawdry accusations and the ripping apart of my family no longer and made Apryl another, far less interesting to my mind, pincushion.
Just as it was bundled up and ready to be sent what did I spy poking out from underneath the vegetable rack but a tiny (and I mean tiny!) polkadot foot. Oh we yelped with joy when it transpired to be attached to the rest of the errant haberdashery chappie. We whooped with glee and danced around the kitchen. Then we stuck pins in the blighter and took photos of his plight

before bundling him up

and despatching him to deepest Derbyshire.

Apryl also received some chocolates, a robot bookmark and a bundle of fabric scraps to play with during her indulgence in her new found vice.
I believe she liked them (although I suspect she may have questioned my sanity as she received ever more frantic emails from me accusing my entire family and all the neighbours of dastardly deceit and kidnapping of soft toy/pincushions during the height of robotgate)

Monday, 20 October 2008

tea, buttons, original beauties...

First, the tea :: gift from my lovely friend Clare who was lucky enough to be whisked off to Paris to celebrate her dear love's birthday and who managed to drag her mind from thoughts of romance, wine, riverside walks and other such Parisian delights long enough to buy me this tin of truly delicious tea. I don't think Clare reads this blog but if she does :: THANK YOU CLARE!

Someone mentioned they liked the button's on Isaac's Kimono cardi.

Well, let me tell you, those are some very fine buttons and they are from creamrose if you fancy scoring some for yourself. I happen to know that incywincy does some lovely fabric covered buttons too (thanks again Apryl!)

Now, I got myself to Origin at Somerset House last Friday (before attending a leaving do for my lovely friend Ellie at work at which copious amounts of bubbly were consumed - just as well I didn't hit Origin after lunch - I wager I would have managed to offload some serious cash (or rather credit) had I done so)

And these are some of the things I'd have invested in had I done just that (all these images are from the designer's own websites):

A Globe ring in cellulose acetate and silver from Lesley Strickland, probably in Oyster Pearl...or maybe in Deep Ocean...then again possibly in...

A waffle blanket from Wallace+Sewell :: warm, very tactile and beautiful colours - what more could a girl ask for in a blanket?

A teapot and maybe some nice cups from Virginia Graham who recreates beautiful vintage china but with a very contemporary twist

Something pleasant for my wall from Gina Pierce whose "Peeling Paint" digitally printed fabric panels quite made me swoon. They recreate the effect of walls in the process of being restored, with hints of peeling paint and wallpapers layered over each other.

I love the hint of history, the patina of age and suggestion of lives lived and gone that this design suggests.

Finally I would have certainly picked up a pre-official publication copy of Sew It Up by Ruth Singer.
I flicked through this new sewing manual at the show and was really impressed by the quality and extent of the illustrations. I think even an instruction-phobic like myself would be able to follow these and had I not already been burdened by a pushchair, a recalcitrant 3 year old and a shortly approaching date with Ellie and the prosecco I'd have hefted it home there and then. Ruth is doing signed copies from her blog even though it doesn't hit the shops until the end of the month.

Now, I just have to get my darling beloved reading this post in advance of the festive season. Ahem...

Thanks to everyone for the commiseration on the knitting disaster. No sign of the bag so I have officially given up and am trying to piece together its contents again. Could have been worse, could have been my forecast in there (yes, still going since last March...that's bad eh?! second thoughts maybe I should hope it will be lost...)

PS Jane (who was supposed to accompany me to Origin but got unhappily detained elsewhere on a less pleasant pursuit involving the outpatients department at our local hospital) I hope you are feeling better now, shame you missed it!

Saturday, 18 October 2008

a short post about knitting...

Here is the great reveal of my nephew Isaac's knitted gift as he has now received it all the way over there in the land of Switz...it's a kimono cardi (I call it) based on this baby bulky asymmetrical cardi pattern (scoot down the page a bit and you will find it - is a great pattern) The yarn is blue sky alpaca organic dyed cotton, in Fern and 'twas knit on 6mm (harmony options) needles...

apparantly it is a big hit with the little tyke...

awh shucks...............

I have some bad news to report on the knitting front however.I was at a conference in Liverpool recently and brought another kimono cardi I was working on with me to while away those train hours there and back ( this time in a lush purple bamboo yarn...oooh, my mouth waters at the memory). I made it back to London only to find that I'd left my knitting bag on the train somehow (it was late, the train was crowded, I was tired). Numerous calls to various lost property departments have yielded nothing and I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that I've lost an almost complete cardi, along with a couple of sets of harmony needles and cables, and various bits of knitting paraphanelia that happened to be in the bag (that I have lovingly accumulated over my knitting career).I couldn't bring myself to report this until now as it would have ended with me bawling and wailing over the computer. I've gotten through this post without drowning the laptop in tears so I must be coming through it at last (excuse me while I run outside and scream, LOUDLY)

Ahem, back now. Thanks for waiting.

The fact that my (well rather Katy's) teacosy was featured on cuteable this week has helped in my recuperation...thanks Lynsey

I'll be back shortly with a report on what I liked at Origin, which I dragged a rather unwilling Ms Bester around yesterday morning...it was fun, in that unique way that craft shows and irritated (because they are not at a playground or eating icecream) small children can be...

Monday, 13 October 2008

melancholic robots...they may be sad but hey do they rock...

thanks Apryl. What a joy to receive this parcel last Saturday morning. Mr Robot may look sad but he is actually extremely happy really he just doesn't want to let anyone know...Robots are weird like that you know. Ms Reva claimed the cushion and set up the shots for photographing

Ms Bester claimed the painting and marvelled at the fact that such lovely teas were included too (she knows how much her mammy loves her tea).

They claimed a button each but happily left me with the rest. I LOVE these buttons. I also got to hang onto the gorgeous wool. Mmmm hmmm.

Thanks again Apryl - I am almost finished my parcel to you and it will be winging its way real soon now.

Oh, thanks to Claire for organising this swap too. It's been fun (although I know we've been tardy!!!)
I'll post what I've made once I know Apryl has received it. Once I've finally sent it that is!

Sunday, 5 October 2008

October is a pleasant, pleasant month...

Figgy Goodness from Borough market...

following a trip to the Rothko Exhibition at Tate Modern...

(for once I agree with the hype... "Rothko is the must-see exhibition of the year"...it is quite something)

Ms D and the Wolf were good enough to take our delightful children overnight Friday (so we could party) and all day Saturday (so we could recover) and so we managed to fit in a fine day out Thameside. Crowded exhibitions and Borough market are so much more fun without smallfry, I have to say it!

October also brought me wonderful gifts from Katy...

Ms Reva is besotted with the "bambi" fabric in the centre - it's super cute

there were also a couple of gorgeous tissue holders (which are now masquerading as a doll pillow and a receptacle for sundry small items while the running noses go unchecked) and two wonderful wooden dolly making kits...all squirrelled away now far from mummy's prying lenses...

but best of all...

A new son, Isaac, for my sister Catherine...(officially part of September but artistic licence permits inclusion in this post)

parcel of knitted goodness is on its way Kate, hope you like it

i LOVE October!

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

fancy meeting you here...

that was a rather random break...bet you thought I was gone for good...no chance!

there were some minor technical hitches chez milkwood, then a bit of difficulty getting back into the swing of things after the summer that never was...

Autumn is drawing in, the evenings are getting shorter, it's time to think about coats and boots, hats and scarves again. It's a little depressing given that we didn't actually have a summer this year and the thought of heading into a winter without the lift that some warm sun on your face has given is a little grim.

However, we shall not dwell overlong on such unsavoury topics. Winter does provide a useful call for knitted items after all and the needles have been duly dusted off and fired up. Mostly for baby kimonos right now (watch this space for details of my new nephew - due this week...very exciting)

In the meantime, let me share with you pictures of the lovely things I got in the post lately...

bought from Syko - some beautiful liberty fabric (the one in the foreground was a gift - thanks again Kajsa) which present one and only one problem... deciding what to do with them

some very pretty vintage sheet FQs from Oh Fransson's swap...aren't they gorgeous?...ditto the problem though...still, it's the best sort of problem to have...

and finally, these beautiful photos from Diane as part of the scentofwater photoswap, theme this time was motion and Diane captured that perfectly...I particularly love the washing line shot, while the kids are drawing lots to see who gets the deer on their bedroom wall...Thanks again Diane (Diane also included a very thoughtful tea sample which was the first cup I had when I got home from my hols...bliss!)

now, who could be fed up with all that loveliness sloshing about...not me, that's for sure...roll on winter, that's what I say...