"There is an Indian proverb that says that everyone is a house with four rooms. A physical, an emotional, a mental and a spiritual. Most of us tend to live in one room most of the time, but unless we go into every room everyday, even if only to keep it aired, we are not a complete person."

Rumer Godden 1907 - 1998

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Knitting as Normal

I've had a good two weeks away from work.

A grand day out with a friend, we visited a lovely stately home Wilton House, now how’s this for a coincidence… My friend lives in a village called Hambleden and used to work for the family of Viscount Hambleden, whose mother Lady Patricia was born at Wilton House. Lady Patricia’s home when she first married was a house called Greenlands which is the site of Henley Business School where I work!

The plants I showed off last week are now all planted, and I've had compliments from a couple of neighbours I know by sight. I get the feeling many of my neighbours regarded what I've replaced as an eyesore! All the pictures were taken using my iPad which washes out the colours somewhat.

My knitting hasn't been neglected either, 2013 is my year of knitting freedom. I like having lots of WIPs,  so I'm going to stop worrying about needing to have any kind of annual WIP down. Other people's stress abut WIPs isn't mine. My only rules for this year are to knit from stash and to try and use my library, more about this later.

Progress this month:

WIPs at end June: 14
Completed: 1
Cast-on: 9
Hibernating: 3
Total projects: 27

Yarn out of stash: 494 yards
Completed Unsinkable, there's a post about this a couple of weeks ago. Yarn used 440 yards
One skein of Super Bulky yarn, that I will never use in a month of Sunday's, destashed. Yarn lost 54 yards

Sweet Dreams for the Pick-a-Boo KAL, on final chart, 12 rows to work.  My Ravelry link is here, this lovely shawl has been a quick knit from one of my favourite designers. If I was a monogamous knitter it would be done, I'm going to see if I can complete this by the end of Tuesday, its unlikely but worth a try:

Passion Flowers for the Maiden Brooklyn Summer KAL, another of my favourite designers, link here. I've still got a month left on this KAL so I'm feeling positive I'll get this completed. Marissa's designs need a lot of concentration so this is not a knit for days when I'm feeling tired or want to work in a hurry:

I'm "designing" a shawl in the loosest sense of the word following Stephen West's Craftsy class "Shawlscapes". Essentially this is applying Stephen's increase and decrease methods to some knitting!
Here's mine so far:

I haven't really been interested in knitting socks for about 18 months, so I was really pleased to find my sock knitting mojo has returned unexpectedly this week. I have a lot of sock books on my knitting shelf from which I've knitted very few projects so I was delighted to rediscover "Socktopus: 17 pairs of socks worth showing off". There's a Ravelry group working on the designs during 2013/14, I've missed the first two KALs, one of which is a vanilla sock which wouldn't capture my interest, the other one I'll make a project bag up for and fit in when I have the inclination. My first sock for this KAL is Spring Shoots:

Finally, a sock that only needs me to be able to count, Short Row Shuffle. Deliberately chosen to help me use some of the many highly variegated yarn bought as part of sock yarns clubs that is sitting in my stash. This project will be ideal knitting for those times when concentrating on a pattern becomes a bit much:

Back to work tomorrow, knit night on Tuesday and quilt group on Wednesday. It's going to be a good week!

Sunday, 21 July 2013

Renovating a Garden

Not a knitting post this week, I've been on holiday from work for the last week, it's been blisteringly hot so my garden renovation has taken up most of my waking hours.

I should have taken a few "before" shots, so I'd remember how overgrown parts of the garden were when DH and I started work on the project to transform a rather neglected garden into a plant filled cottage garden. Renovating a garden sounds romantic if you read 'The Secret Garden' as a child, the reality is it is hard, dirty and at times difficult!

The garden looked ok in the photos shown on the agent's promotional details, which I reckon were taken over 2 years ago now. These lovely shots taken with a wide angled lens hid the many oversized plants that had taken over a relatively small garden. Every bed was filled with rocks, weeds, plants and fruit bushes which had been left to grow wild.

A rather decrepit shed and a sad greenhouse were hidden in the trees at the top of the picture, the greenhouse must have been too dark to use. And to the right of the little chicken house was a large pond. There's also a 15 foot rise from the patio to the top of the garden, with a right leaning camber!

All of that said, this garden has potential! Since we moved in last May we've been cutting down, hacking back and removing everything that was largely overgrown to try and see what if anything could be salvaged. So far only a small border directly opposite the front door has passed our exacting standards, even so this border needs to be thinned out, which I'll do in the autumn. In February I started working on a long raised border beside our drive, which was absolutely choked with ivy, couch grass, a huge horrid pampas grass left over from the 1970's and the remains of plants totally unsuited to chalky soil. The end nearest the road was "finished", I use the term loosely, with some rubble, so with a bit of muscle and guidance from my DH I now have a small retaining wall holding back the soil.

We've visited a couple of nurseries this week and have started buying plants for it. My collection so far taken from several angles, including a couple of gifts:

Sunday, 14 July 2013


My knitting year has a rhythm all of its own. I'm not one for holiday gift knitting or knitting along with major sports events other than the Olympics. I knit for me.

Every year at some point between May and September, I get startitus. I'm not talking about casting on a handful of projects. This year I'm talking about casting on 11 projects at a rate of 1 or 2 a week since the end of May, and I'm still at it! I have at least 4 more projects lined up in my head waiting to go and I'm now at the point where I'm starting stealing needles and interchangeable tips from other older projects to satisfy my startitus.

September and October sees the start of the frogging season, which will involve me going through all my cast on projects and selecting those that I've started in a moment of knitting madness and frogging them.

In November I suddenly realise I'm going to end the year with lots of WIPs, and I want a clean slate, so finishing projects becomes the order of the day and I work like fury on what is cast on in the vain hope that the "big four" that pre-date the start of 2013 will miraculously complete themselves so I can have a clean slate. Sadly my normal tactics for achieving this are to work the smallest projects or those closest to completion, this year one of the "big four' might make it into that category:

This beauty, designed by my friend Felix and knitted in Toft Alpaca is a scarf for DH. When I run out of one of the two dark colours it'll be time to put on the top garter border and work garter borders on each side. I'm getting very close to using the dark colours up. Maybe I start 2014 with "big 3" instaed of "big four".

I do also finish projects; Unsinkable, is done and looking great. I'd really recommend it as a pattern to showcase a single skein of luscious fingering yarn. Kristen Kapur has done a great job with the design.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

A Knitter's Week

My Year of Projects started with 3 new knitting projects. Starting my list for the Year of Projects helped me work out how best to order these projects, the cast-ons were going to work like this:

Monday, cast on Renaissance MKAL and Unsinkable
Tuesday, knit night, work on Echo Flowers
Wednesday, wind yarn and cast on Sweet Dreams
Thursday, cast on Resolute Shawl

This will teach me to make plans, by Tuesday night I'd cast on Unsinkable and had made some progress with Echo Flowers, Renaissance MKAL had been started!

Wednesday night things started to go awry, the first clue on Renaissance MKAL didn’t look quite right so it was pulled out, restarted twice before I was happy with it.

Thursday I managed to wind the yarn for Sweet Dreams, then I worked on Unsinkable, the picture below gives an idea of progress and after playing around on my Ravelry forums, I found yet another group with a good-looking KAL to join in with. So time was spent deciding what would be good to knit

Friday, men’s semis at Wimbledon, decided starting Sweet Dreams and working on Unsinkable was my best bet for tennis drama knitting!

Saturday about 3am, everything I'd knitted on Unsinkable had to be ripped out! It amounted to 3 inches of stocking stitch. I'd miscounted the stitches at the start of the short rows. It took me most of Saturday on and off to get to the same point.