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: 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.



Listening to: evensong on Radio 3. There was a fascinating programme on the BBC last week about the origins of evensong – which I have never thought about. I rate documentaries on how much I learn (and how few speeded up clouds, or dodgy dramatisations there are) and this scored highly on all counts. Plus lovely music!
Rereading: back to Terry Pratchett – ‘Reaperman’ this time. 

Watching: the BBC’s Reformation season has been very good so far: I’m hoping that the remaining programmes are as good.

Making: I’ve started another scarf, which is not as bright as it appears in the photo. Judging by the amount of wool I’ve got left it’s not going to be a very big one.

Then there are more couching samples and my final tree. If the VHC finishes his, we’ll drop them off at the Discovery Centre this week. He enjoys embroidery, but he was so busy telling me that he is going to be a world famous embroiderer when he grows up, that not much actual embroidery got done.

Feeling: stressed. 

Anticipating: half term. We haven’t managed to pin the grands down as to what they actually want to do, but they’ll undoubtedly think of something.



Listening to: ‘Fleshmarket Close’, an adaptation of the Ian Rankin novel, on Radio 4. It’s much lower key than the TV versions have been, not that that’s a bad thing, but some of the performances are a bit iffy. 

Rereading: lots of Terry Pratchett, having discovered that I can borrow ebooks from my local library. I need cheering up, so who better than Pratchett?

Watching: not a lot.

Making: still on the shawl.  I decided this morning to read the end of the pattern, to find out how to finish it. (When all else fails, read the instructions.) It says to knit until there are 226 stitches, after a garter stitch stripe, then cast off. The problem with that is that, although when I started it I counted carefully after every pattern section, after a while I forgot. When I finally remembered, the count was out, but I couldn’t be bothered frogging back. So have I got too many stitches, or too few? 

I could knit on until the yarn runs out, but the ball doesn’t seem to be getting any smaller, so it might end up enormous. Perhaps the best idea is to knit on till I’m bored? 

I’ve made another tree for the ‘Stitch a Tree Project’, and finished more running stitch samples. Not much to show for a week’s work, really.

Feeling: better than yesterday, which started OK and went downhill rapidly. We had a pleasant visit from two family members, and cheered ourselves up by having a good laugh at unpleasant family member’s (UFM) latest emails. (I knew the silence was too good to last.)

Anticipating: a better week. Please!



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.