Listening to: Christmas music on CD. Yes, we’re old fashioned..

Reading:I’ve just finished Nation by Terry Pratchett. It’s not a Discworld novel, and I’d never heard of it till I found it in my library app. It’s well worth reading – perhaps not laugh out loud, but thought provoking about colonialisation, and r things.

Watching: we’ve enjoyed Alinka Echeverria’s The Art that Made Mexico on BBC4. I learned a lot, both about art and about Mexico. I’d love to go there if I could stand flying, but I can’t any more.

Making: it turned out that I didn’t have enough of the blue yarn to make a second pair of socks, so the one I had nearly finished has been unknitted and I’ve started another pair. I already know that I don’t have enough of this orangy-brown yarn to make a pair, so I’m eking the wool out with contrasting toes, heels and cuffs.

Progress on the band sampler has slowed, because it’s been a tiring week, but I’m still enjoying it.

Feeling: tired. For some reason I’ve been waking about 5.30. This was a sort of a good thing, as we needed to be up early most days, but not quite that early.

Anticipating: Christmas celebrations – Christmas Eve with the grown ups in the family, Christmas Day on our own, then Boxing Day with the (probably over excited) grands.




Listening to: Radio 3, as usual.

Reading: still Terry Pratchett. This time it’s Soul Music, which I don’t remember reading before. Lots of good jokes, although I wonder how many younger readers get some of them. (If you know who Blert Wheedown is, you’re old.)

Watching: we went to the panto last night. I’m not a huge fan of traditional panto, but this one was pretty good. A cast of hard working professionals rather than Z-list ‘celebrities ‘, and a version of The Twelve Days of Christmas which was the funniest thing I’ve seen for years. The grands adored it all, and that, of course, was the whole point. There is nothing like panto to enthuse children about live theatre: no other form of entertainment provides the spontaneity, the audience participation and the experience of being part of a large group of people having the time of their lives.

Making: I finished the last pair of socks and should have enough left to make another pair.

The band sampler makes steady progress, though it seems to be morphing into a journal as well. It’s still mostly patterns from Simple Stitch Patterns for Embroidery, with additions as I think of them.

Feeling: thankful. Today is Wensleydale’s 72nd birthday, and we have spent 45 years of that together, with relatively few cross words. I’m very grateful for that, and that the strength of our relationship has allowed us to face all the problems there have been this year with strength and, I think , courage. Thank you, W.

Anticipating: a quieter week next week, I hope.



Listening to: wind and rain. But fortunately we have no snow: commiserations if you have been less lucky. (The VHC would welcome snow, which he has never seen, but I’m a tad older, and the novelty has worn off.)

Reading: back to Terry Pratchett.

Watching: about an hour ago a fine dog fox crossed our back garden He was too quick for a photograph, unfortunately.

Making: I’ve completed one and a half socks. I’ve been doing a lot of embroidery this week, so the sock has had little attention. I picked it up again while watching ‘Witnesses: a Frozen Death’, but turning a heel then knitting a diagonal rib while reading subtitles tends to lead to errors. Fortunately there were a lot of silences.

The knitted hat is probably going to be frogged. I found this on Ravelry, and I know someone who would probably like a hat with horses on it, but I need at least one more colour. I am not going anywhere near the town centre till Christmas is over, (my dear, the noise, the people) so it will not be a Christmas present.

I gave up on the thermogauze French knots sample, which went very peculiar when I zapped it. So it and the rest of the thermogauze has gone in the bin. In its stead, and inspired by Anne Brandon Jones and Sharon Boggon, I have started a band sampler. Sharon’s was, the last time I checked, nearly 30 metres long. Mine is about 30cm, but it’s growing. I started by working Stitches from Brandon Jones ‘Simple Stitch Patterns for Embroidery’, but of course I have added my own ideas.

None of this is very original, but my creative mojo is hiding, and I doubt it will reappear until all the family trouble is resolved. But as I have to do something with my hands, simple embroidery is not too demanding, and the short rows of a sampler mean that I don’t get bored.

Feeling: The troublesome family member has gone quiet recently, and I think we are nearing the end of the legal process. However we had some rather depressing news on another front this week. Nothing life threatening, but it has meant we have had to do some rethinking. We are on to plan B now, which, as always at Cheese Acres, is preparing for Plan C.

Anticipating: another busy week, but it culminates in a visit to the panto with the grands. Should be fun!



Listening to: silence

Reading: some new old needlework books I’ve bought. (One of the drawbacks of online used book shops and insomniac nights.) Published in the 20’s, they are by Anne Brandon Johnson, who had some interesting suggestions about design.

Watching: about a dozen blackbirds hopping round the garden and squabbling over who gets to eat the windfalls.

Making: I’ve completed one sock. Having spent too much money on Cecelia Compochiaro’s Sequence Knitting, I decided it was time to experiment with some of her suggestions, which is where the pattern on the leg came from. The generic sock pattern is from the app Biscotte Knitting Patterns: despite me thinking that the length it suggested for the foot was too long, the first one fits perfectly. Unfortunately the patterns are only for hats or socks.

Speaking of hats, mine is on time out on the knitting basket. It’s worked in short rows, and after 4 attempts on one short row section, I gave up until I’ve got the brain space. It’s not the pattern, it’s my counting!

For Year of Stitches, I have made one sample of French knots, and anticipate one more before I run out of ideas. For the first one I used an idea from Anne Brandon Jones ‘ books – more information here. The second is not because I have more ideas, it’s because when I fished out the thermogauze to experiment with, I found a piece I’d made earlier which seemed to lend itself to French knots. (I still haven’t solved the problems of thermogauze destruction, but this piece hasn’t been soaked in tea so if it melts more easily, I’ll have identified the reason.)

I revisited a long lost interest by going on a macrame workshop with a friend. It was good fun, although I don’t think I’ll be doing much of it – standing up while wrestling long cords was hard on the back. We made hanging plant pot holders – all I need now is somewhere to hang it and a plant to put in it.

Feeling: a bit miffed that Letterspace, the app I used to use for writing these posts, has ceased to function on my iPad and is now only available, at a price, in the US. I’m experimenting with Simplenote, and so far it seems OK. Most notes apps offer too many options for what I want to do, but this one really is simple.

Anticipating: another busy week, with extra grand parenting, again.



Listening to: Radio 3’s Sacred River, 6 hours of continuous ‘music and sound inspired by sacred music’, which so far has been beautiful.

Rereading: back to Terry Pratchett. I’m realising there are a lot I’ve missed along the way, although I bet elder son has all of them.

Watching: the first 2 episodes of Witnesses on BBC 4. Improbable, cold, but engrossing. So much so that I abandoned the ‘simple’ shawl pattern I’d found to do while reading subtitles, because I kept getting the striping wrong. And I even had to restart the ‘I can knit them in my sleep’ socks I started to replace the shawl, after rapidly finding some wool in the break between episodes. Because I have to have something to do with my hands. Thank goodness I sorted out my knitting yarn recently so I could find something easily.

Making: the hat is still in progress but I’m waiting for the right sort of TV to knit it to – i.e. something I don’t have to read. Hence the socks.

I think the exploration of couching is coming to an end. I have a few more ideas, but after that it’s on to the next stitch on my list, which is French knots. I’m not expecting to find lots of variations in those – size, number of wraps, thread, how sloppy they are – so perhaps they’ll be done by Christmas? (Sorry about the stray bit of tacking thread on there!)

I’ve completed (maybe?) the contents of the first page of the amulets book, top image. I tried 3 alternatives before I was happy with the way I’d stitched down the big shell, so although it looks minimal, it took quite a lot of time. And getting rid of the layer of thermogauze I’d used to try to give a distressed look was not as simple as the instructions implied. Anyone know if thermogauze deteriorates with age, because I’ve had this a loooong time?

Feeling: cheered by the sunshine, not so keen on the cold.

Anticipating: a busy week, with extra grand parenting.



Listening to: a piano recital on Radio 3. Not my favourite instrument, but it’s the Early Music Show next, which should be more to my taste. Unless it’s a harpsichord. You may spot a pattern here.

Reading: just for a change, I tried a Ngaio Marsh, Overture to Death. I find many of the so-called Golden Age detective stories ridiculous at best, and unreadable at worst, but this one wasn’t too bad. Still racist, sexist and classist, but I didn’t guess the offender before the denouement.

Watching: not a lot, as usual.

Making: I decided much as I loved the colours of of the Colinette, I didn’t think the fabric was right for a waistcoat, so I’ve put it on one side. In its place I’ve started this. This is not mindless knitting. My brain hurts.

My year of stitches is still the months of couching. I got sidetracked from the little samples, and made a book cover (above). The idea was that I would make up a piece of strip patchwork on the machine, quickly couch along the seams, and then go back to the samples while I thought about what to put in the book. It didn’t turn out quite like that. When I’d chosen the colours and made up the patchwork I realised that a) there were quite a lot of seams to couch, and b) I didn’t have nearly enough thread that was suitable for couching in the colours I’d chosen.

That led to an outbreak of cord making. I started with my favourites – stuffed knitting ribbon and twisted cords – but they seemed too predictable, so I made some machine wrapped cord as well. First a pipe cleaner, then some string. Well, rather a lot of string, because it needed using up. About 20 metres of it. I’m sure I’ll find something to do with it all.

Then I remembered making finger cords when I did C&G, so I found some instructions I could actually understand, and tried some of those. And some plaiting and finger weaving. All of which took quite a while and reminded me why I prefer stuffed ribbon and twisted cords. I refused to even consider doing some kumihumo, lovely as it is, because it takes for ever and I don’t know where my kumihimo disc is.

Adding the cords to the cover took longer than I expected, so overall the book cover took longer than expected. Especially after I decided it needed some beads as well. The next step is to make the contents. It’s going to be about amulets, which influenced the symbolism of the cover.

After the distraction of the cords, I am now being distracted into making Tyvek beads, which may or may not be used in the books. I may also try some other types of beads. Procrastinating about knitting that hat? Me? At least I’m using up some of my stash.

Feeling: still up and down. We’re back to solicitors for round 2 of the family disagreement, which should be more straightforward but probably won’t be.

Anticipating: renewed nastygrams.


Listening to: the Early Music show on Radio 3. It’s the Tallis Scholars. No more to say, really.
Rereading: still Terry Pratchett, though for some reason I’m finding The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents hard going.
Watching: not a lot, as usual.
Making: our Stitch a Tree trees are up on the wall of the Discovery Centre: the VHC’S work is the header image.

I finished my scarf, but forgot to photograph it. In search of something else to do,  I found 5 well-aged hanks of Colinette Tagliatelle in my stash, but then realised that the waistcoat pattern I had lined up for it was for a thinner knitting ribbon. There was nothing suitable on Ravelry, even for ready money, but my friendly local knitting designer sketched me a modular plan in her notebook, and I’m winging it. So far, so good, although I keep making a mess of the modules. It’s not really my usual colours, but I love the combination. Colinette is sadly missed.

After a fallow period with the stitch samples, I’ve been on a bit of a roll with couching. My new favourite stitch dictionary, Anne Butler’s Encyclopaedia of Embroidery Stitches, has at least 30 different versions, and I’ve thought of around 20 different things to couch down, so I have quite a lot of ideas.
Feeling: unsettled. Half term was good but disruptive of our routine, then Babybel was quite ill last week, which means we haven’t got back into the usual term-time pattern yet. But we seem to be moving forward in the matter of the disruptive family member: the first area of dispute has been settled out of court, albeit at the last minute. Now on to round two.
Anticipating: light at the end of the tunnel.