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This Time Last Year: A Moving Experience!

I can’t believe that exactly a year ago our daughter bought and moved into her first house! It’s not far away so we still see a lot of her (she misses the dog!), but she has her own space. After a year she’s had time to get everything exactly the way she wants it: the house is looking lovely. I’m really proud of her!

C’s new living room, shortly after she moved in, complete with knitted accessories.

In the run up to the move, C had been collecting items for the house. She’d seen some lovely knitted pouffe/footstools and was wondering if it would be possible to make one. I thought the biggest issue would be the filling, but C had an old vinyl covered pouffe in her room filled with polystyrene beads. This would make a perfect base, almost firm enough to sit on or rest a tray on. We topped it up with more polystyrene beads from an old beanbag cushion.

I knew we’d need a load of super chunky yarn and C wanted grey to go with her furniture. Quite by chance we found some very reasonably priced yarn in B&M and bought the lot – I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to get any more if we ran out!

I had a look at loads of patterns on Ravelry but the most crucial thing was getting something the right size to cover the existing inner pouffe. It would be knitted in garter stitch, with the cast on edge long enough to reach from the top centre round to the bottom centre of base. Using the recommended 10mm needles and multiplying the tension square dimensions up from the from rows/stitches given on the ball band, my initial attempt was going to be too baggy. I hadn’t factored in how stretchy the finished knitting would be, so I made shorter test strips, casting on fewer stitches – it sounds time consuming but the yarn was so thick it didn’t take long to work out the right number.

I continued to work straight in garter stitch until I had a rectangle long enough to fit all the way round the “equator” of the pouffe. To finish, I sewed the cast on edge and the cast off edge together to make a tube, then ran a length of yarn through one of the free edges, gathering and pulling it tight to close that end and sewing it to secure. The cover was then put on the base, ensuring the gathers were even, forming a rosette at the centre of the base. The other free edge was drawn up and secured in the same way. at the top centre.

I think it looks rather like a cactus!

There was a small amount of yarn left so I suggested a matching cushion – Caitlin wanted two so we found some similar yarn – this Robin Super Chunky.

I worked some squares incorporating a simple cable pattern to fit some cushion pads I already had. C thought she ought to do her bit, so she knitted the cushion backs in garter stitch using the new yarn.

Super chunky garter stitch cushions under construction.

With everyone helping, the move went really well. We spent a weekend assembling flat-pack furniture and our garage gradually emptied of boxes – enough for K to find his fishing tackle anyway.

C was happy with the way our work turned out. Since then, the knitted cushions have been joined by some teal and white satin ones which add a contrasting texture and a pop of colour. It’s looking good! C loves her new home.

Have you ever made home accessories for a daughter or son? I’d love to hear about them so please let me know by adding a comment or a link to a blogpost.

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Songs and Carols to Light up the Bergen Christmas Tree

Photo courtesy of Newcastle City Council

What a lovely evening! So proud of my fellow choir members (we are all past and present Newcastle City Council staff). Despite scheduling problems, limited rehearsal time and various coughs and croaks (we were passing round the throat lozenges like they were sweets) we totally rocked the Yorkshire version of “While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night (to the tune of (“On Ilkley Moor”). It looked like The Lord Mayor, who’d requested that particular carol really enjoyed it.

Full details of the event and more of the excellent official photos from the Newcastle City Council’s City Life News can be found here

The evening began in the Civic Centre with some wonderful Christmas music from Tyneside A Capella. (you can hear their voices on the official link above). It was lovely to see an old friend, who is part of that group. We took part in the short carol service (and sang our special request). Our Norwegian guests sang some Norwegian carols too. Several of the ladies, including Bergen’s Mayor, were wearing beautiful traditional costume.

Photo courtesy of Newcastle City Council

After the service we all went outside. We sang another carol. Both mayors addressed the crowd and after countdown, the lights went on – and it looked lovely!

We went back inside for refreshments and more entertainment from the two choirs. Tyneside A Capella performed some amazing versions of pop classics. We got to sing “Lulla Lully Lullay” (new for us this Christmas – I absolutely love it) and our reindeer herding song, “Ole le loila” – we learnt this a few years back and it’s great fun to sing. I can’t see a reindeer now without feeling the urge to sing this!) One of these days I’ll learn how to add audio to the blog and you can actually hear us!

It’s a lovely event to be part of and it really signals the start of the Christmas season.

Photo courtesy of Newcastle City CouncilNewcastle City Council Choir

Are you involved in any special Christmas events where you live or work?

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Scone of the week #2

How cheesy is this scone?

This week found us snacking at Nelsons at the Park in Swarland, Northumberland. in the heart of the village, overlooking the children’s playground and sports field.

We opted for our favourite cheese scones, though the cakes on display are very tempting, Here the scones are generously proportioned and exceptionally cheesy, with a deliciously crusty outside and crumbly centre. To drink, I had a very indulgent hot chocolate (chocolate orange flavour), topped with lashings of whipped cream, a little bucket full of marshmallows and a couple of chocolate orange segments. Mum had a filter coffee. As always, one of the friendly team at Nelsons came over to offer her a top up.

It was a perfect way to cheer up a dull, wet November afternoon,

What’s your favourite scone?

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Knit and Natter Friday #3 – 29 November

More lovely knitwear for our charities.

Those attending today’s Knit and Natter group at Alnwick Medical Surgery, once again brought along an impressive haul of beautiful handknitted items. The little angel tops for premature babies are proving popular with some of the knitters, along with hats, baby cardigans and bootees. The item in the foreground is one of the “fish and chip baby” tops that we’ve made for a maternity clinic in Zambia, Knitted items were needed because newborns were being wrapped in newspaper (like fish and chips) to keep warm. We are grateful for all the donations of yarn and knitting needles that have been donated to help us make these items.

Over the weeks we’ve also swapped knitting and crochet patterns, taught each other new techniques and made some good friends. Sometimes there’s more nattering and laughter than knitting!

We were all pleased to see that the refurbishment of the room where we meet is going well – we now have new lighting and windows!

The practice staff are very supportive and have totally embraced knitting too – here is Jon, who managed to find a spare moment to knit in a break from officiating at a swimming gala.

I wonder if he read my post Where Do You Knit?

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….and the Mystery Object is….

My knitting bowl

Welcome back. The mystery object is a knitting bowl or yarn bowl.

I’d previously seen mass-produced ceramic ones in Flying Tiger and drooled over very nice, but expensive, hand turned wooden bowls at a wool festival before I became the proud owner of this beauty.

I was very lucky to get it. I’m not sure what kind of wood it’s made from, but it’s beautifully hand-made and very smooth, so my yarn will never snag on the inside. One of my lovely knitting friends very kindly asked her husband to make it – he has a woodworking shed in the garden. She jokes that she likes to give him things to do to keep him busy and stop him getting under her feet! I’m very grateful that he was able to do this. He’s very talented.

The idea is that the yarn you are working with sits in the bowl and feeds through the slot. The spiral stops it jumping out. This keeps the yarn clean, and stops the ball of yarn rolling on the floor, picking up dust and fluff. If you have a pet, it’s great for keeping their hair off your work (our dog moults a ridiculous amount of thick black hair that is impossible to avoid!) He has also been known to do this…..

Fortunately Buddy the labrador doesn’t steal yarn very often!

If your dog or cat steals balls of yarn for their own recreational use, the bowl really helps!

I find that it works best with round balls of yarn that have enough room to move freely and unwind within the bowl.

When I’m not knitting and the bowl is empty (It’s the only knitting accessory that stays out on display), it’s a useful place to put those random little items you find when tidying up, like pins and stitch markers.

Do you have a favourite knitting accessory?

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Mystery Object

Do you know what this is and what it’s used for?

If you know and own one, I’d love to hear about it. If you haven’t a clue what it is, have a guess just for fun. I’ll be back to tell you about it tomorrow.

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My newest sweater. Valdres in DROPS Karisma

I do love a big slouchy sweater at this time of year, with plenty of room for layers underneath when it gets cold. This was my most recent big project: the Valdres sweater from DROPS. – I took a break from it a few times to knit other things but kept going back to it. I like to start something like this early in the year, take regular breaks to do other things and work through the summer so it’s ready to wear in the winter, without having to hurry.

I found it in a magazine but the pattern is available free online on the DROPS website. I used the recommended DROPS Karisma yarn (100% wool DK) which was lovely to work with and feels quite soft against the skin compared with some pure wool yarns I’ve used. This was worked in the same main shade as the pattern illustration (Light Oak -77) but I used different contrasting colours (Dark Purple – 76, Cerise – 13, Blue turquoise – 60)

The sweater is knitted bottom up, in the round – Nordic style, and alternates colour work and texture patterns – perfect for people like me who hate sewing up. If you haven’t tried this construction before, there are three sections, knitted on circular needles: the body (large tube) and two sleeves (narrower tubes). The components are eventually combined on one large circular needle to work the yoke, decreasing to form a raglan, up to the neck (leaving out the underarm sections, which are sewn closed at the end) – love it.

I knitted it a size larger to accommodate t-shirts underneath. The only downsides were that the sleeves were quite long even though I’d shortened them to accommodate my short arms! – The pattern charts vary for the different sizes. Maybe I misread the pattern! Also the neck opening is quite large, so I usually wear a scarf with it – I have a cerise one that is perfect! You also need to make sure that the colour work sections are not worked too tight – the pattern recommends using a larger needle size to overcome this.

It was fun to make, once I got the hang of reading the the colour and texture pattern charts. It really kept me engaged as it changed from colour to texture. That also provided plenty of milestones along the way to look forward to (my heart sinks when a pattern tells you to continue straight for 40cm!). As I like to take my knitting out and about, I found the body got quite bulky to carry round as it grew, so I started a sleeve for knitting on the go – much more portable!

I’ve worn it loads, getting a lot of compliments which always feels good!

Do you have a new favourite sweater?

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I really do knit by the sea!

a spot of seaside knitting today.

It finally stopped raining so I joined K and the dog at Alnmouth today. I’m not good at walking on sand so decided to take a few pics for the blog. I love to sit and watch the sea (sometimes knitting at the same time). The view changes so rapidly. The carpark at Alnmouth overlooks the beach so it’s a perfect vantage point. We love it in the winter as there are fewer picnickers (Buddy the labrador is very greedy).

The sea was rough today and the tide was in. Usually there is a good view of Coquet Island from here but the weather was too murky to see it.

Tank traps from WWII

The waves have washed a lot of sand away and the old tank traps are easy to see here. These concrete cubes are found at lots of places along this coast – they were defences against enemy landing craft, left over from World War Two. Today some children were having fun climbing on them. In summer they are a great place to dry wet swimming towels, but nobody was venturing into the water today!

I’m on the next stage of the stash busting blues project, having done lots of maths last night to work out the transition from the collar to the body and the shaping increases for the next part of the pattern. It’s pretty straightforward for the rest of it if all goes to plan, so it was bliss to just be mesmerised by the waves and get on with my knitting!

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Knit and Natter Friday #2

The knitting group at our local GP surgery was meeting this afternoon This amazing selection of hats and baby clothes have been made by members and friends of the group in the last week alone. I can’t take credit for any of this I’m afraid. I will try and make a contribution soon.

The room where we meet is being renovated, so we had no lights today. One of our group members has kindly donated some plastic crates to keep the knitted items in (we’ll send them off to the relevant charities when we have a big enough batch). Now all that beautiful knitwear will stay dust-free during the renovations.

As it began to get dark this afternoon, rather than try to knit, it was a good opportunity to wind some wool off a skein – and I had help from a lovely lady who was telling me all about how she did this as a child – she and her sisters used to wind wool for her mother, who was a very keen knitter. I love to hear her knitting stories.

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Scone of the week #1- Rocking Horse Cafe

I mentioned in my last post that I drive my Mum to the supermarket on a Thursday and sit in the car, knitting while she shops . We usually go out for a snack after that. Here in Northumberland we have no shortage of places to go for a cheese scone (we both love these) and a coffee.

This week we visited one of our favourites, The Rocking Horse Cafe, at Rock Moor. We had excellent coffee and scones, which were served warm with proper pats of butter (no fiddly foil packets), It felt really cosy today: the log burner was blazing and it was the perfect choice for a cold November day (though there is a garden with plenty of seating to use in warmer weather).

It’s a small very friendly place – in some ways more like going round to someone’s house for coffee than visiting a cafe. It’s also extremely dog friendly – in summer there is even a dog agility course set out in the garden.

Of course there is a rocking horse at the Rocking Horse Cafe

There is a vague knitting/woolly connection here at the Rocking Horse Cafe . There are two very friendly resident Border Collies – the sheepdog breed of choice here in the UK. It would also be a rather nice place for a small knit and natter group!

Do you think I should make Scone of the Week a regular feature of the blog?