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.



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 Radio 3 on ‘earworms’. I may come to regret this.

Reading: taking a break from Terry Pratchett (only another 55 books to go from the library e-book stock). I’ve switched to Lindsey Davis temporarily.

Watching: looking forward to the next episode of Lucy Worsley’s programmes on opera. I’m not a fan of opera, but this programme put it in a social context, which made it more interesting. Still not sure I could sit through one, though.

Making: I decided that I would cast off the shawl after the next repeat, but now I’ve got to that point, I’m procrastinating. The fact that there are nearly 300 stitches may have something to do with it.

I’ve finished the running stitch samples for now. The fringed one, on rug canvas, prompted some 3D experiments. No photos yet, I’m not sure they are ready for publication. 

The next lot of samples are couching, one of my favourite techniques, because you can experiment with all sorts of odd threads.

Feeling: so-so. We had an enjoyable outing last week, which cheered me up. We went to the ‘Radical Craft’ exhibition at Walford Mill, which was interesting and inspirational, had a pleasant lunch, then on to Kingston Lacy for an installation called ‘Exile’, and, of course, tea and cake.

Since then I’ve been sleeping badly and brooding about family problems. 

Anticipating: going to see the Kaffe Fassett exhibition at Mottisfont. We got as far as the cafe a couple of weeks ago before being called away for a family problem. Better luck next time, we hope.



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: Choral Evensong on Radio 3. It’s from Manchester Cathedral where several of my 19thC ancestors were baptised or married. If that sounds like I come from a posh background, it’s actually the complete opposite – I’m told that it was the cheapest way, as the Cathedral offered mass weddings and baptisms. 

Reading: Ian Rankin’s ‘Rather Be The Devil’. It’s Rebus – what more is there to say?

Watching: an excellent programme last night on BBC2 about WH Auden. Somewhat unexpected for a Saturday night, but even more welcome because of that.

Making: another shawl, I think I bought this yarn about 20 years ago at an exhibition at Sandown. I wouldn’t buy it now, because it’s acrylic and I’ve turned into a yarn snob, but I like the colours.

It’s been a shitty week, so I’ve done more knitting than embroidery. (I find knitting more soothing.) I finished last week’s tree for the ‘Stitch a Tree Project’, and made 1.25 kantha stitch samples using some hand dyed silk from the scrap box, all running or straight stitch.

Feeling: don’t ask. More irrational outpourings, upset family members, and poor sleep. 

Anticipating: things can only get better. Can’t they?