Listening: to Rachel Podger’s choice on Radio 3. Gentle and beautiful.

Reading: Kirsty Wark’s The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle, from the library. It is excellent – moving and life affirming. Just what I need at the moment.

Watching: World Track Championship cycling.

Making: the oversize cowl was finished, washed and blocked in time for the snow – (here in the Deep South it arrived later than elsewhere).

So now it’s on/back to socks. I let Wensleydale have his pick of the sock wool, but after days of overcast skies, it’s only today that we’ve realised just how bright it is. Doesn’t worry him though, and as he always wears Docs I’m probably the only one who’ll ever see them.

I’ve felt well enough to resume samplering, so some steady progress has been made. I’ve finished the fly stitch variations I tried for Beyond TAST, so I’ll be back to Anne Brandon Jones when I’ve completed these not quite accurate daffodils for St David’s Day.

Feeling: still up and down. The uncooperative family member is no longer a family member, but that hasn’t made them any more cooperative. They seem to think that the court orders which accompany the divorce don’t apply to them, despite the part at the bottom which states that failure to comply is contempt of court. We may be about to find out.

On the other hand, the flu is definitely improving, we didn’t have to go out in the snow and don’t until Monday, and it’s thawing.

Anticipating: two more sessions of cycling, today and tomorrow..




Listening to: a time shifted ‘Late Junction’ on iPlayer – the usual combination of interesting, eclectic, and sometimes downright bizarre music. And if there’s something that isn’t to my taste, something better will be along soon.

Reading: still ‘A Handful of Honey’ by Annie Hawes. Although it is not ostensibly a political book, I’m learning a lot about the politics of North Africa – as they were 8 years ago. I am shamefully ignorant, and need to research to find out more.

Watching: I’ve just watched the women’s World Championship road race, which was exciting, and had a worthy winner in Chantal Blaak.  The relentless march  of Dutch victories continues.

Making: the bouclé cowl is finished. Please overlook the mistakes. Bouclé is a bugger to knit at the best of times, and difficult to unknit. Black bouclé is even worse. Add aging eyes and stress and mistakes are to be expected, which I couldn’t face unpicking. Hopefully the worst will be hidden when it’s scrunched up round my neck.

I have varied the Year of Stitches a bit: same stitches but different fabrics, different sizes, and a new purpose. 

I’d finished off a brayer-load of paint on this bit of the boring evenweave, so I added some organza ribbon and some running stitch to that. 

The image at the top of this post is of  an experimental sample from (I think) the Foundation Degree: hot glue on hand dye, with a rub of Treasure Wax. It looked like it needed some appliqué and running stitch as well, so that’s what it got. 

And then I came across the ‘Stitch a Tree Project‘, and given the purpose (supporting refugees), and the local connections, I had to participate. So I’ve started a tree. I’ve used running and straight stitches, so it fits in with my sampling. I was thinking about the strength and resilience refugees must need, and tried to show the strength and resilience of a wind blown tree, but I’ve failed dismally, so I think I’ll have to make another one, when I’ve finished this.

Feeling: generally better. Things are making slow but steady progress, and all we can do is hope for the best. 

Anticipating: the men’s road race tomorrow. After that – who knows?


Listening to: ‘Private Passions’ on Radio 3. Not a programme I usually enjoy, but Chris Hadfield is more entertaining than many contributors.

Reading: ‘A Handful of Honey’ by Annie Hawes. Having reread and enjoyed ‘Extra Virgin’ I lashed out on two more of her books. (We already had ‘Ripe for the Picking’ but I’ve put it in a in a safe place and now I can’t find it.) This one starts, rather surprisingly, with Annie imprisoned by the Salazar regime in Portugal, but is moving on to North Africa via Spain.

Watching: not a lot. We tried ‘Black Lake’ last night: I was underwhelmed, but Wensleydale found it suitable to fall asleep in front of.

Making: the linen stitch scarf is finished. My cast off is a bit wavy, but I can’t be bothered to pull it back, so I’m hoping blocking will help. The fringe also needs trimming.

I’ve started a cowl with some bouclé from my stash. It’s a bugger to knit, and to count rows, but I will soldier on.

(If you think I am making rather a lot of neckwear at the moment, it is because I am working my way through the smaller quantities of yarn in my stash, and at Christmas the products can probably be passed on to some more or less willing recipients.) (Sorry to mention the C word, but there’s stuff in the shops already.)

My Year of Stitches embroidery is still running. It’s not really this yellow, it’s not a good light for photography today.

I’ve got a bit bored with the evenweave fabric I’ve been using – it’s difficult to work on if you want irregular stitches – so I’m going to put it on one side for a while and try something different for a base fabric. 

Feeling: still up and down. The unhelpful relative has gone awfully quiet, which is worrying, but may be due to their solicitor pointing out that sending 100s of nastygrams (literally!) s probably not a good idea. We have a date for the first court hearing, at the end of October, which is scary, but unfortunately the only solution we can see to extreme  and completely irrational unhelpfulness.

Anticipating: just the cycling World Championships next week. And no improvement in the cold, wet and windy weather.


Listening to: ‘The Early Music Show’ on Radio 3.

Reading: ‘Farthing’ by Jo Walton. It’s a detective story, set in an alternative reality, where the UK made peace with Germany after Dunkirk. Different, and unsettling, especially in an era where the extreme right appears to be resurgent. 

Watching: The Vuelta, and Inspector Montalbano on iPlayer. Just like last week, and the week before. It’s the last day of the Vuelta, which has been very exciting this year.

Making: the Year of Stitches stitch is still running. The sample on the left above is a leaf print with some almost invisible kantha-ish stitching, that on the right is of various appliquéd materials, including bubble wrap. There seems to be a trend for stitching on bubble wrap at the moment. I don’t know if you are meant to do it without bursting the bubbles, if you are I failed.

 The linen stitch scarf is progressing slowly, as linen stitch doesn’t grow quickly. The pattern, I realise, doesn’t tell you how many rows to knit, so it may be finished soon, or it may not.

Feeling: up and down. The unhelpful relative isn’t giving up without a fight. 

Anticipating: not much. No proms any more, no cycling for a while, it’s cold, wet and windy, and the weather seems set in for a while. I never did like September.



Listening to: ‘Songs of the Baltic Sea’, sung by the National Youth Choir of GB. One of those CDs we can’t remember buying or why, probably because we heard an excerpt on the radio. Very calm and melodious. 

(I spoke too soon. The children have just arrived so it’s got a lot noisier.)
Reading: ‘The Chapel on the Edge of the World’ by Kirsten McKenzie. I haven’t really got into it yet, so the jury is still out.

Watching: The Vuelta, and Inspector Montalbano. Just like last week.

Making: the modular scarf is finished, finished, washed and blocked. And provided you don’t look at it too closely it looks good. It ended up over 2 metres in wingspan, so I could have stopped a row of modules earlier and saved myself a lot of aggro.

The second scarf is making good progress, as the knit one, slip one purlwise is now implanted in my brain. (The pattern suggests working all rows from the same side, which means there’s only a knit row to automatise.) Both scarves are darker than they appear in the photos: Wensleydale says this one is mediaeval in colour. 

Still sampling running stitch – I’ve been on a roll this week and completed a whole page. Still plenty of ideas. 

Feeling: better. Progress is definitely being made on the unhelpful relative front. They don’t like it, but it’s happening.

Anticipating: live coverage of the Tour of Britain starts tomorrow. 


Listening to: ‘Floodplain’ by the Chronos Quartet.

Re-reading: ‘Extra Virgin’ by Annie Hawes. Good escapist stuff, almost literally. I’ve been meaning to reread it for ages, so grabbed it on my way out to a trip with the kids where I knew I could sit, read and drink coffee while they created havoc played. 

Watching: The Vuelta, and Inspector Montalbano. Odd how fiction about murder can also be escapist – and how I tolerate it even though it’s so sexist.

Making: the modular scarf is finished. Thank goodness. I started the last motif 5 times before I got it right. And then there were the 90+ ends to darn in: 2 per motif, 45 motifs… Now it just needs blocking. Unfortunately Amazon decided that my new blocking mats were ‘undeliverable’ so it’ll be a while before it gets done.

Long live the scarf: a big, linen stitch scarf to use up a mixed bunch of hand painted wool which doesn’t really go together, but might if it’s mixed up enough. I needed something mindless to knit while watching TV: linen stitch turns out to be not quite mindless enough for reading subtitles, at least until my fingers learn the pattern. I have made a couple of mistakes, but I am not pulling back 5 rows and casting on 400 stitches again, just because of minor errors in the second row.

Still sampling – here’s more running stitch. Yes, those are tile spacers. Yes, I’m strange, though not original. 

I came across a great quote about sampling from Nigel Hurlestone in ‘Machine Stitch Perspectives’: ‘if the first one is a bit boring, by sample 10 you are getting a bit confident. And by sample 25 you have actually broken some type of new ground. Then you worry less about limitations, you get caught up in possibilities’. He also comments on the way that books about machine embroidery focus on ‘the way to the perfect outcome‘ and on product rather than ‘opportunities for surface making’. I suspect if I’d been taught machine embroidery by Hurlestone I might feel more positive about it than I do. Perhaps when (if?) I finished the hand embroidery samples, there might be time for some machine experiments.

Feeling: better. The sun is shining, we have a week off from the kids (I love them to bits but they’re hard work!) and there have been no nastygrams for a couple of days. What could be better? Well, quite a lot, but always look on the bright side of life.

Anticipating: the rest of a quiet week.



Listening to: Robin Huw Bowen

Reading: still The Painted Kiss, by Elizabeth Hickey. I remembered after I’d posted last week that the dress in Klimt’s portrait of her is what inspired the best things I made when I was doing City and Guilds, the two cushions above.

Watching: the only thing we watched all week was CBeebies – or rather, we watched the VHC watching it, sitting on the floor, straight backed, with his legs crossed as if he was in school. He loves the factual programmes. 

Making: still plugging on with the modular scarf. Still making mistakes.

Still sampling – here’s some running stitch. Sorry about the slightly blurry photo.

Feeling: much as usual, just more tired, as we had the little guys all week. (I’m going to have to find something else to call them as Babybel is now only half a head shorter than me.)

Anticipating: the Vuelta which starts tonight. Well, it started this afternoon, but it’s on TV tonight.