Friday 31 August 2018

Eighth Blog Anniversary Giveaway And A Little Getaway

It's my big birthday on Monday, the big 5 0. I'm not one for parties, being the centre of attention or grand gestures, but I decided that I'd like to celebrate this birthday with my family around me, so Mick's organised a little getaway for a few days.

Daniel has been living and working in Surrey for the past couple of years and I haven't seen much of him. He's in the process of moving to Essex so that he can live with his girlfriend. He still has to work some days each week in Surrey but the rest of the time he's able to work in London, so he'll have to commute but he thinks it's worth it rather than seeing his girlfriend just on the weekends. It's hard living apart when you're young and in love!

So tomorrow we're heading down to spend a few days on the Essex coast. Eleanor hasn't gone back to university yet and Daniel and his girlfriend have taken a few days off work so it will be nice to spend a few days over my birthday with my family around me. Such a treat.

Tomorrow is the eighth anniversary of when I started this blog so, as is now a tradition on my blog anniversaries, I'm having a little giveaway. Meteorological autumn begins on the 1st of September so I've put a little prize together which will help you while away the autumn evenings as the nights draw in and the heating is needed once again.

A ball of Stylecraft Head Over Heels in the Eiger colourway. This yarn is durable enough for socks but it's also fine and light enough for shawls. There's lots of lovely sock patterns to be found on Ravelry and also shawl patterns which only take one skein so the choice is yours.

I love to cosy up and read when the evenings draw in so I've popped a book in the parcel. I've chosen a book which I haven't read myself but one which is on my list of books to read, The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan. I've read some good reviews of this book so I hope it's an enjoyable read. If the winner has already read this book then I'll choose a different one to pop in the parcel and keep this one myself, I really don't mind as it's one that I want to read anyway.

Something I love doing in autumn is planting bulbs ready for the spring. I'm not a lover of winter so seeing those shoots poking through the soil lets me know that spring is on the way and makes the coldest months of the year a little more bearable. I've included a pack of tulip bulbs, and also a Yankee Candle votive in the Winter Morning scent. I do love burning scented candles when the nights start to draw in.

There's also a selection of yummy treats and hot drinks for you to enjoy.

The giveaway is open to all readers of this blog, old and new, near and far. You don't have to be a follower but it would be lovely if you would click on the link in the sidebar or follow on Bloglovin'. Please leave a comment on this post by midday on Tuesday the 11th of September 2018, after which, a winner will be drawn at random.

All that's left to be said is Thank You. Thank you for visiting my blog, thank you for all the lovely comments you leave and thank you for the friendship. I really do appreciate everyone who takes the time to read my ramblings, especially those who leave comments so that we're able to build up friendships. I think I say this every year but the blogging community really is the best.

See you soon (on the other side of 50, eek!).

Monday 27 August 2018

Flax Light

The Flax Light by Tin Can Knits is available on Ravelry free of charge. It's another little garment that I've knit for Eleanor's friend who's expecting her first baby.

I actually ended up knitting this sweater twice over, the first time I misread the pattern and the garter stitch patterning at the top of the sleeves ended up being increased right the way to the raglan. It wasn't until I'd knit the whole body and rejoined for the sleeves that I discovered that the garter stitch patterning should in fact be a much narrower strip. I decided to leave the garter stitch pattern as it was up to the raglan and knit the rest of the sleeves in stocking stitch but it just didn't look right so I ended up starting the whole sweater over again from scratch.

Eleanor chose the yarn which I knitted the sweater in whilst we were on holiday in Cornwall. It's King Cole Big Value Baby Spot 4 Ply in the nectarine colourway. I can't say I'm at all impressed by it. First of all, there were knots which had to be cut out of the yarn, but my main gripe is about the dyeing.

When looking at the ball of yarn I bought, the flecks of colour look just that, flecks, however, as I worked my way through the yarn, the flecks turned into whole lengths of dye which has resulted in patches of colour in the knitting. Luckily, they're all on the back of the sweater, but I'm sure you can see what I mean. It's really disappointing.

I could have cut out these parts but I didn't have all that much yarn left as it was so hard to pull out my first attempt which had gone wrong that I'd cast nearly half the ball aside. I'd also already cut out numerous knots, so I was quite worried I'd run out of yarn. I complained to the company about it and they've sent me a replacement ball of yarn, but it was too late to knit it again.

It hasn't turned out to be the best thing I've ever knit but babies tend to go through so many clothes in their early days that I'm sure it'll be fine to keep her warm at some point.

Eleanor went to her friend's baby shower at the weekend. She'd made up a lovely hamper full of goodies, everything from toiletries to nappies, bibs to muslin squares, and a first book to some little outfits (not photographed). She popped the Flax Light in there as well as the Seamless Yoked Baby Sweater which I'd knit a little while ago, and her friend was thrilled to bits with it all.

It's been lovely knitting some baby garments for a change.

Friday 24 August 2018

I Must Stop Buying Yarn...

...but what am I to do when one of my favourite Etsy shops is having a sale?

I love Elm Tree Yarns. Dianne dyes up some wonderful colours and the yarn is beautiful and soft. When I saw that she was having a sale there was no way my credit card was going to stay in my purse.

The first colourway I saw was Sunflowers. I'm such a big fan of yellows at the moment so this was love at first sight, I couldn't resist. I don't buy many blues but I loved the subtleness of Blue Fairy. This is from Dianne's Wish Upon a Star range from Pinocchio. Cherry Blossom is just so pretty and both this and Blue Fairy are on a silver stellina base for a bit of sparkle, though you can't really tell in the photos.

Ali from the Little Drops of Wonderful podcast is hosting a Strictly Come Dancing knitalong and I thought the twinkly Blue Fairy might be the perfect yarn to cast on with.

As I've said before, I love buying from Etsy shops as the yarn dyers are always so friendly and they usually pop little extras in the parcel too. There was a little handwritten note on the back of Dianne's business card, a sachet of tea and a little packet of sweeties.

This isn't all the yarn I've received lately though. I was also the winner of Donna's sock knitalong on her In A Pickle Knitting podcast. I was lucky enough to win a ball of Lang Yarns Jawoll Color Superwash. It's in the most gorgeous jewel green colourway. This yarn comes with a spool of thread to knit in with the yarn on heels or the places which need a little extra strength, isn't that a clever idea. Donna also popped a cute little stitch marker in the parcel. Thank you, Donna. If you haven't checked out Donna's podcast I would urge you to do so.

I just need to find a pattern now for the Strictly Sockalong and then I'll be all ready to cast on during the first show.

Tuesday 21 August 2018

Christmas Cracker

Eleanor's still got nearly five weeks before she goes back to university but I'm already organising things for when she's home again. She breaks up for Christmas later this year than she has done in previous years but she'll be home just in time to see Northern Ballet's The Nutcracker before it ends its run in Leeds.

It's many years since I've been to see a ballet and it's something Eleanor's never seen before so we're both really looking forward to it and it will get us in the spirit in the run up to Christmas.

Have you got anything in the diary yet for the time leading up to Christmas?

Saturday 18 August 2018

Twice The Fun

I've shown the beginnings of my knitted scrappy square blanket on my blog before. I'm following The Coziest Memory pattern by Kemper Wray with a 46 stitch cast on and using 2.5mm needles.

I was going to mix indie dyed yarn with commercial yarn in the blanket but then decided that I'd keep the two separate and make two blankets instead. I've actually got a bit further with the commercial yarn blanket.

It's fun working with scraps of yarn from other projects, it does bring back lots of memories. There's yarn already in this blanket from the first pair of socks I knitted and yarn from socks I've knit for other people. It's such a fun project.

There's various ways in which the blanket can be constructed, with the lines which the centre double decreases make all facing one way, making a chevron pattern, or as in the case of my blanket, making a cross in the middle and then radiating out.

I shall be looking to pick up some mini skeins to add in to the blankets as well as using up leftovers from other projects but they're going to be very long term projects.

Wednesday 15 August 2018

Seamless Yoked Baby Sweater

This is the Seamless Yoked Baby Sweater by Carole Barenys, a free pattern on Ravelry.

Eleanor's asked me to knit a couple of things for her friend who is expecting her first baby and when I was looking for patterns on Ravelry, it was the Seamless part of the name which grabbed my attention. I hate sewing things up so I try to knit everything I can in one piece, it's just so much easier for me.

I used Stylecraft Wondersoft Baby Double Knitting in the Humpty Dumpty colourway, a yarn which Eleanor chose when we were on holiday in Cornwall. I wasn't sure about the colours or the patterning in the yarn but I think it's knit up rather nice.

I picked up the buttons on a recent visit to York. Duttons For Buttons have just about every colour and shape you could ever want. I wasn't sure which colour to go for but in the end I went with Aqua. I'm pleased with my choice.

Babies tend to grow rather quickly but as this is a size 0-6 months it should last a little while before she outgrows it. I'm enjoying knitting some baby garments, they're an easy knit and are really cute when they're finished.

Sunday 12 August 2018


I spent Friday afternoon in A&E where it was discovered I have a broken toe. To be honest, I knew before I got to the hospital that something was broken as I heard it snap.

I was having a shower on Thursday when I realised that I'd left the big window open in the room downstairs so I quickly finished my shower, wrapped a towel around myself and managed to bang my foot on the sofa as I went to close the window. I heard a horrible snapping, well actually it was a crunching, noise in my foot.

Though my foot hurt when I put pressure on it, I waited until Friday to go to the hospital to have it x-rayed as I thought the pain might subside but when I got up on Friday morning, I found my middle toe to be bruised right the way around and I couldn't put any weight on my foot.

The hospital have said that it's an intra articular oblique fracture and it will take six weeks to mend, but I'm sure it will feel better long before that. Meanwhile, I can't stand any pressure underneath my foot so there'll be no driving for me for a little while. It's not painful unless I try to put my weight on it so I'm hobbling around a bit at the moment.

I was told to sit with my foot elevated for two or three days so I'm spending the weekend being waited on whilst I amuse myself with knitting, blog reading and TV watching. I've got my Kindle by my side too. It's a good job that Mick didn't have a cricket match yesterday, though I know he'd have definitely preferred to be there than fetching and carrying for me.

Thursday 9 August 2018


It's taken quite some time but Boxy by Joji Locatelli is finally finished.

I cast this on for Eleanor right at the beginning of the year on the 1st of January. It's taken quite a while to get it finished but in my defence, there have been periods when I haven't picked it up to work on at all for weeks at a time, and periods when I've been waiting for Eleanor to come home from university to try it on before continuing on the knitting.

It's quite a big undertaking though, there were nearly 400 stitches on the needles and as it's knit in 4 ply, or fingering weight yarn, it grows very slowly. A boxy style which is knit in stocking stitch, it's a great project for TV knitting or for working on whilst chatting as you really don't have to concentrate on it.

Eleanor chose which colour she liked from the Drops Baby Merino range and I think she made a good choice. This is Light Grey.

I've got a couple of gripes about the sweater, the first being the hem. It tends to curl upwards and I was worried the whole time that I was knitting the sweater that it would curl when being worn. I knew about this problem before I started the sweater so I knit double the amount of rib that the pattern instructed and this, along with a good blocking, has just about cured the issue but many people have highlighted this problem in their notes on Ravelry so I'm surprised that the designer hasn't looked at this and solved the issue. The second gripe is my own fault. There's a bit of an issue to the side of the neckline where I picked up stitches and though I knew about it after a couple of rows, I couldn't be bothered taking it back as I just wanted the sweater finished by this point. It's only a little untidiness and when I showed Eleanor she didn't know what I was fussing about, and to be honest, it's much less noticeable now that the sweater has been blocked.

I like the yarn I've used, Drops Baby Merino is really soft, it was nice to knit with and has made a lovely drapey fabric but I think it will be prone to pilling, time will tell.

I'm pleased to have finally finished this project, I like the finished garment, I think it really suits Eleanor and Eleanor's very happy with it.

Monday 6 August 2018

The Ballroom

I often read book reviews on blogs and many of the books I read about end up on my list of books I'd like to read. I'd never have enough time to read everything that makes it on to the list, however, sometimes I do get round to reading a book I've read a review of. The Ballroom by Anna Hope is one of these books.

'1911: Inside an asylum at the edge of the Yorkshire moors,
where men and women are kept apart
by high walls and barred windows,
there is a ballroom vast and beautiful.
For one bright evening every week
they come together
and dance.
When John and Ella meet
it is a dance that will change
two lives forever.

Set over the heatwave summer of 1911, the end of the Edwardian era, THE BALLROOM is a historical love story. It tells a page-turning tale of dangerous obsession, of madness and sanity, and of who gets to decide which is which.'

I've read such great reviews of this book and though I did enjoy it overall, I found it quite slow in places, especially in the first half of the book. The story is told from three people's perspectives, Ella, a mill worker who is sent to the asylum for breaking a window, John, an Irish man who was admitted to the asylum from the workhouse, and Charles, a doctor who worked at the asylum.

The character I enjoyed reading about most was Charles, the doctor. He brought music to the wards of the asylum whilst he worked on a paper to present to the first International Eugenics conference. A complex character who's desperation to prove himself shapes Ella and John's future.

I would recommend this book, however, be prepared for the story to build gradually.

The setting of the story is Sharston Asylum but it was clear to me as the story progressed that this was based on the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum which was opened in 1888 and later renamed Menston Mental Hospital. In 1963 its name was changed once more to High Royds Hospital and this is where, in 1985, my grandpa died after being transferred there as he was suffering from dementia. The hospital closed in 2003 after it was declared to be outdated and unsuitable to modern psychiatric practice.

Anna Hope's great-great-grandfather died in the West Riding Pauper Lunatic Asylum in 1918 and whilst looking for more information about the place online, she came across photos of the beautiful ballroom and knew she had to write about it.

It's sad to think that people ended up in asylums through poverty or petty crime as well as mental health problems, and of their treatment in places such as this.

More information about High Royds Hospital can be found at and photos of the magnificent ballroom can be found here.

Friday 3 August 2018

Works In Progress

It's funny looking back at how I used to knit one project at a time and ensure it was finished before I started something new. These days I have lots of things on the needles at any one time and I really enjoy knitting in this way as it allows me to work on whatever takes my fancy at the time. Sometimes I want to have something to do with my hands whilst I'm watching TV or chatting, it's at times like this that it's good to have some plain knitting which doesn't require any concentration, whereas I like something a little more challenging at other times. Having different projects on the go means that I usually have the perfect project for what I want at the time.

I have a few pairs of socks on the go at the moment. I think I tend to favour a textured sock, I enjoy knitting them and I love the fabric that's created. These are Petty Harbour by Rayna Curtis. It's an easy four row pattern. I'm using The Yarn Tart yarn in the Playground Politics colourway and this has to be one of the softest yarns I've ever used, I can see more purchases from this dyer in my future.

I'm really enjoying knitting the Woodland Walk Socks by This Handmade Life. This pattern is different from any sock pattern I've used before as the pattern is charted but it's very easy to follow. I'm using Tamiwicolors yarn in the Beth colourway, it's so pretty.

Mick's become a convert to handmade socks so I thought I'd get him a new pair knit up ready for the colder weather. I've used the Vanilla Latte Socks pattern by Virginia Rose-Jeanes many times previously, it's my go to pattern when knitting for other people as these socks seem to fit feet so well and owing to the ribbed pattern, are quite forgiving. They tend to grip the feet well but have some stretch too so it's a good pattern if you're not going to be trying the socks on a foot as you knit them. I'm knitting these out of West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4-ply in the Bullfinch colourway. I'm a big fan of this yarn as it holds up well to everyday use. I wash socks knit in this yarn in the washing machine and they're always fine.

This is the Seamless Yoked Baby Sweater by Carole Barenys. Eleanor's asked me to knit a couple of things for her friend who is expecting her first baby so we chose some yarn together whilst we were on holiday in Cornwall. This is Stylecraft Wondersoft DK in the Humpty Dumpty colourway. The pattern is easy but the directions are not always very clear, you do have to use your own intuition in places. I like the fact that it's knit in one piece, it means there's no sewing up at the end which is a big bonus for me. I've just got the sleeves to knit and then this will be finished.

Eleanor also chose some King Cole Big Value Baby Spot 4 ply in the Nectarine colourway whilst we were on holiday in Cornwall, I'm using it to knit a Flax Light by tincanknits, another little garment for Eleanor's friend's baby. She knows she's having a girl. I'm just at the place where I'll split for the sleeves so it should be straight knitting from here on.

I'm still continuing to knit hats for the homeless. I'm using up yarn from stash and knitting a variety of patterns. I'm hoping that I'll have quite a few ready to donate to a homeless charity ready for the colder weather.

As you can see, I've got a few things on the needles at the moment, and there's the scrappy blanket too, but I have managed to finish the Boxy by Joji Locatelli which I was knitting for Eleanor, I'm quite pleased to have that off the needles and I'll tell you more about it another time.