Books · Crafts · Jottings · Knitting

A knitted square



If you have read my blog in the past you will have noticed spattered amongst the book posts have been some knitting (and other craft) posts.

What could be better than actually a post that combines the two?

Earlier in the year I was sent an email regarding reading a debut novel. The book in question is The A – Z of You and Me by James Hannah.

….tells the story if a young man, Ivo, lying in a hospice bed, his mind full of regrets over a trouble life and a lost love….

It sounded intriguing, I was in but the question also came in – could I knit?


Could I knit a square about 8″ square and send it back to the publishers for a project they are embarking on for the paperback copy of the book.

Well of course, why not, it wouldn’t take me too long and so with thanks to some needles and lovely Women’s Institute Wool (plus instructions) they sent me, a square was duly knitted and sent back:


Knitted Square

But why a knitted square? What can possible be the connection between such a simple item and a debut novel?

Well the only way to find out is to read this debut novel.

The A-Z of You and Me by James Hannah is published on 12 March in hardback. Pop back to this blog on the 12th March and read my review.

And as for the square when I hear anything I will let you know.

(Sorry Ben, I did not put a scarf in there – but I am knitting socks at the moment if that is any good)

Crafts · Cross Stitch · Knitting

Carry on Cowboy

Way back in September I posted about all my unfinished projects, my craft projects:

  • I have some cross stitch I have not picked up in months (if not over a year) and it has not that much to do on it but yet it remains untouched.
  • There is a bookmarker which I enjoy making which has yet to be finished. Trouble is I started another. I think I might need to sell these
  • An ornament I made just needs its ribbon re-stitching on there.
  • There  are some knitted hearts that I need to do something with
  • Knitted juggling balls just need finishing off and bells attached
  • A purse needs finishing off and the crochet by my mum needs attaching Cannot show a picture as it is a present for someone. 
  • A pom pom explosion has happened and I have had a fanciful idea of making a rug… it has waned somewhat.
  • Then I saw some entralac knitting and wanted to have a go….. The picture of this on my earlier post has been abandoned, it was my test piece. I have started another bit, but that is languishing. I might finish off the ball of wool and add it to my bag of test pieces! 
  • But I am in the middle of knitting a cowboy and here he is 

It started way back here


And then progressed to what you saw back in September

photo (35)

Luckily he is now able to speak and hear


Of course he cannot do much without the appropriate chaps!


It needs to be fixed on correctly all the way round


Although he will never be able to stay on his horse without arms

IMG_0597And to make him look like a rather sophisticated we need a scarf and hat to complete the ensemble


He is rather taller than other dolls that I have knitted, but apparently John Wayne did not wear hats like this!

I am pleased to have ticked some things of my ever-expanding list – so the list looks like this now

  • I have some cross stitch I have not picked up in months (if not over a year) and it has not that much to do on it but yet it remains untouched.
  • There  are some knitted hearts that I need to do something with
  • Knitted juggling balls just need finishing off and bells attached
  • A pom pom explosion has happened and I have had a fanciful idea of making a rug… it has waned somewhat.
  • Finish Entralac knitting square test piece
  • IMG_0625Finish the gloves which I started to  – A. to see if I can remember knitting on four needles and add a cable into the mix as well. B – to stop me snacking. Christmas present?IMG_0627
  • Of course I have a Christmas Decoration that needs finishing. A kit I bought when I went on my annual outing to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace. IMG_0628
  • I did but some snap fasteners at the show and have actually used some material I bought from a previous year and made two little purses. Rather pleased with these as I am not really a machine sewer and only tend to do the basic things.IMG_0629


So plenty to keep me busy and I must get on with it really so if you will excuse me………

Crafts · Knitting

Have you met?

Having just read The Ladies of Lyndon by Margaret Kennedy and the fact that the phenomenon that is Downton Abbey is back on our screens and I do love a big house in a story, I thought it was about time to introduce you to three ladies!

Of course these ladies are designed by someone else but they were created by me over a period of time. (I first had the idea in May 2013!)

In a big house you need to keep everything clean. I am not talking about the really dirty jobs, you probably have a daily in for that, but you need a maid for the more finer things. Of course she has to be dressed in uniform and have the correct underwear on and of course have shoes on….

IMG_0204Obviously all hair has to be kept up and the length of skirt must be appropriate.


Even though you have a uniform, you must keep it tidy, what better way than with an apron….


Of course it must be tied neatly at the back!


You certainly cannot go around without anything appropriate on your head and it must be tied on securely.


Then there is the final inspection


Of course this lady cannot possibly do all the work so they have employed a daily to come and ‘do’. Her standards still have to be maintained though with the correct colour underwear and something over her hair.


Matching skirt is ideal and you can have a pocket to keep your duster in and always to hand and you can show some of your hair providing it is kept swept up in a curler or two


Of course arms and hands will help with the dusting


And then when you are set you are ready to dust…..


Now of course we need to be doing all this cleaning and ‘maiding’ for someone, probably the lady of the house really. And she can wear whatever colours takes her fancy, but I feel this lady likes purple…

IMG_0478Matching skirt and perfectly coiffure hair.


A contrasting colour for the cape and of course a rather brightly coloured hat


And when you have money you can afford to have flowers in your hat!


And so here are three ladies. They don’t have names, although in the Jean Greenhowe knitting pattern book they are from, she has named them.

It was never my intention to actually write these posts, the story behind the photos is I take pictures as I am going along so my mum can see what I am doing. The wonders of the iPad means instantly she can see what I have made. So the photos end up telling a story of how they all evolved. The same is happening now with the Cowboy I am knitting, perhaps he might be coming to a ranch near you soon?

There was no other reason for knitting them other than to challenge myself and enjoy a hobby. So now what do I do with them?



Books · Cooking · Crafts · Cross Stitch · Jottings · Knitting · Witterings

Changes and Challenges

The readers of this blog may have noticed a new theme – bear with me, you may notice different ones over the coming weeks. I have yet to decide on the one that I feel comfortable with. The reason for this sudden appearance change, is no more than I feel like getting the broom out and sweeping through everything. I feel like I have many things on the go and nothing being accomplished.

For my reading world – The challenges I set myself at the beginning of the year are bumping along nicely. I seem to be lacking in the Wodehouse department, but I am reading one currently. The 12 random reads is over half done and I think it is a good way of reminding yourself what you have on your bookshelf.

I have my Mary Stewart book to read for Mary Stewart Reading Week which starts Sunday 14 September. I have perhaps foolishly, put myself in a position to read and review a book in a week.

Going into October is the Margaret Kennedy Reading Week and I have bought a book ready to go for that.

Plus I have my Book Group book to read and the November book also ready to go. I have just bought the new Hercule Poirot and very excited to be reading that. Trouble is I am already reading a book – The Mysterious Affair at Castaway House and it has just got good. I know as readers we all say SO many books SO little time but oh gosh it’s true.

I set myself the challenge to review every book I read way back in 2007 and in the main other than some rereads of Enid Blyton, I have done just that. Lately I have struggled mainly because I read so much during August and I felt I was never going to get on top of it all (I did and I have) but because I felt the reviews were rather lacklustre. I am merely no doubt just suffering from a bit of self-doubt and can’t see the light out of this particular tunnel. I have made a change and now have a little notebook which I scribble down thoughts about a book once finished, as it sometimes is a while until I get to write the review. This notebook has been a godsend as it is full of all sorts now – as I think of things and I need to scribble them down.

I point your attention to a new page at the top of my blog – Author’s List of Works. This is certainly a new challenge and work in progress. Because I read so many books by the same author, I wanted to consolidate that information into one place and so you will see that I will list their works and also with links to my reviews. Three authors are up there so far, but this will increase as time goes on. Do tell me what you think?

So that is the reading, but there is also all the other things that I enjoy doing. I have too many projects on the go and I need to start finishing them. Trouble is I see something and I want to have a go at that… then something else pops up and so on.

  • I have some cross stitch I have not picked up in months (if not over a year) and it has not that much to do on it but yet it remains untouched.
  • There is a bookmarker which I enjoy making which has yet to be finished.
  • An ornament I made just needs its ribbon re-stitching on there.
  • There  are some knitted hearts that I need to do something with
  • Knitted juggling balls just need finishing off and bells attached
  • A purse needs finishing off and the crochet by my mum needs attaching
  • A pom pom explosion has happened and I have had a fanciful idea of making a rug… it has waned somewhat.

photo (37)

  • Then I saw some entralac knitting and wanted to have a go…..

photo (36)

  • But I am in the middle of knitting a cowboy

photo (35)

I think I need to finish some of these nearly finishes!

I need to treat it all as mini challenges. But I am sure as the nights draw in and there is more interesting things on the TV (well I can dream) I can concentrate on some of them.

Another challenge I am working on in the latter part of the year is to lose weight. It is not something that I ever if at all go on about on here, but I am trying and so far so good. Breaking away from a well known slimming group and going it alone with a group of friends, still following the same principles in two weeks has worked out quite well. Early stages and I want to get to the 6 week stage, as I know a lot of it is to do with habits and breaking them.

With the push for weight loss, comes the change I need in my exercise routine. I am stuck in a rut with it and whilst I enjoy it, I need to do something else as my body is becoming too used to it. So I have decided to change it around, and mix it up and as of this morning, puffed my way round a little circuit in the gym, something I have not done for ages and ages. I will push myself swimming and concentrate on not lifting my shoulders out the water and breathing correctly and not straining my neck.  So far so slowly, however I have noticed that my neck is not so strained but I keep holding my breath!

Sometimes we need to just shake everything up a bit and as you may have noticed I have not exactly set myself anything specific, just sorted of laid it all bare for me to see (and you if you have read this far). I wonder how I will feel in a few weeks time? In the meantime ….. ever onwards.



Variety Knitting

I love variegated wool. It draws the eye somehow. It can make something simple look spectacular all by the colours.

I have used it for lots of things on the last few years, but one of the things I have made is the Clapotis shawl. This pattern raised an eyebrow or too as you have to drop the stitches and both my mum and Nan were aghast at such things. Before spending a lot of money on especial wool which is recommended for the pattern, what better way to start with some double knitting and variegated wool.

Double Knitting - Practice
Double Knitting – Practice

Everyone watched as it grew and the stitches were dropped. I gained confidence and once complete it became a Christmas present for my Nan and I embarked on another one with the recommended wool. Very different from double knitting and yarn you cannot get any more sadly.

Silk Aran weight Yarn
Silk Aran weight Yarn

I am not sure what this wool was called. But it was in the main pink with white and chocolate brown. It was lovely to work with and money being no object I would have bought more. Once complete I promptly went onto make another one this time in blue for a friend.

This was all many years ago. Knitting was still not really as big again as it is now. However as time passes and my Nan sadly passed away I was reminded of the original test version I made as she had it with her in the home. It came back to my mum and she has used it ever since.

I wondered whether I would be able to knit one again. Mum was keen on a ‘lighter’ one. There is a lot of knitting there and it becomes quite heavy. I found a selection of wool for her to choose from:

Variety Wool Selection

And started knitting the shawl pattern until the point where you drop the first set of stitches, so you could see how the wool and the pattern would work out together. It knitted to this point a lot quicker than I thought. Then it was up to my mum. I had a favourite, but it did not look right with the pattern but it was not my choice.

The choice was:

Crofter Wool
Knitted up, having yet to drop the stitches.

Close up with the stitches dropped:

Close Up
Close Up
Another Finished Clapotis
Yes it is that long!

It is lighter, my mum likes the colours and I had enough wool!

At the moment it is far too hot to knit, I have something on the needles but more of that another day.

Books · Cooking · Crafts · Jottings · Knitting · Witterings


I could have done an A-Z of general stuff and chit chat before, but my head seems to be full of numbers at the moment and not just work related either.  So here are a few, numbers…

1 Mile – before number 2 came about I managed to shave just under a minute of my time. I had built up to it all week and I was very pleased with myself. I better say that I mean my swimming! 64 lengths is a mile.

2 Colds/cough in the space of 2 months. This is very unlike me. The latest one has left with me with a croaky voice, I sound worse than I actually feel. My sinuses were visible apparently and my ears blocked. Which made me grumpy because I was not well enough to go swimming.

3 Episodes of Jamaica Inn, I sat through them all, with the sound up, I did not get as far as the subtitles, it never occurred to me but I was disappointed with the BBC. I know this was such a long time ago now, but it still bugs me, because I really think this may have put people off reading her work.

1 weekend to go until we get another bank holiday. I really do think this country needs a couple more spread throughout the year, movable perhaps depending on when Easter falls. I cannot wait for a lie in or at least to get up and make a cup of tea and go back to bed with my book!

Apparently I am currently 2 books behind with my reading to aim for 100 this year. I am not overly worried as there is always going to be more time to read when the World Cup Football starts. I have also just finished writing 2 reviews and I have 2 more to do.

Take 3 Hollywood actors and just watch this – I love it .

finished shawl for my mum which I have been knitting and I have yet to blog about it. I promise I will do it soon.

2 knitted toys made. Another one started. I seem to be on a roll and it means I have not been picking so my weight is going down.

weeks since I baked anything. Although I have made some jelly sweets,but that does not count.

I have not done any stitching for ages which I must rectify. I have been out twice to dinner, both times to cracking restaurants. I spotted myself on the Antiques Roadshow. I am off out to another NT Live production. I have a 13th birthday party to attend, a picnic, a hen weekend, a colour run, a Summer Ball. I am booked to go to some events at the West Meon Literary Festival in July. Then further afield there is my sojourn to a spa in August, tickets to see Jeeves and Wooster at the theatre in November.

So much going on and do you know what – I am loving it! Life is too short and remembering the young Stephen Sutton who lost his battle with cancer this week, life is also precious and fragile. Enjoy every bit of it.

Crafts · Jottings · Knitting · Witterings

Knitted Garden

Do you fancy a walk round garden?

It will take a car journey, a park and ride scheme, a ferry and a bit of walking to get there? At the end there might even be a hot drink and a bite to eat?

Interested, then off we go then.

Car to the new Portsmouth Park and Ride. Which seems rather pointless to be honest, when you live in Portsmouth but having whims and fancies as my mum does (and no doubt where I get it from) it is new and we wanted to see what it was like. Surprisingly good, especially if you want to get to The Hard or the Historic Dockyard, where parking is of a premium and rather pricey. As we were heading for The Hard, it was a good option.

It is years since I have been on the Gosport Ferry, and this was part of the excitement of the day out. The ferry gives a link between Gosport and Portsmouth and has been running since 1840. Though the ferry we were on, was slightly more modern! It takes about 5 minutes to cross and they run every 15 minutes. If you went by car, it could take you upwards of 30 minutes if not more if the traffic is bad and you hit it at the wrong time of day.

So off we went. You can see in this photo, Old Portsmouth to the left of the picture and Gosport to the right and two Isle of Wight Catamarans.

Gosport Ferry

A short walk up the high street, took us to the real reason for our epic trip – to visit The Blooming Marvellous Knitted Garden Project.

An intergenerational community knitting/crochet project, made by over 2000 volunteers, culminating in a knitted/crocheted 3D garden which climbed, creeped and blossomed over three floors of Bourenmouth Library and is now on tour around the UK for its second year.

More information can be found on the website here.

My mum, took lots and lots of photos, in fact we spent nearly 40 minutes in there. It was just simply one room and there was so much to see. There are lots of photos on the website, but I am going to share a few of my favourites on here.

It involves lots of knitting and crocheting and as we wandered round, mum recognised lots of the patterns and now wants to spend more of her time knitting and crocheting. It did inspire me as well. Trouble is it is finding the time to fit it all in with all the other interests I have. Enough of the chatting…..

Flowers, Vegetables and a Cat!
Flowers, Vegetables and a Cat!


Flower Display - no need for watering
Flower Display – no need for watering


But if you need to water, here is a means to do so.
But if you need to water, here is a means to do so.


You need bees to pollenate the flowers
You need bees to pollinate the flowers


But you are always going to get other forms of wildlife.
But you are always going to get other forms of wildlife.


Always make sure there is time to sit down and eat!
Always make sure there is time to sit down and eat!


You could always get your own gardener....
You could always get your own gardener….


But perhaps all you can manage is a hanging basket
But perhaps all you can manage is a hanging basket


Always grow vegetables if you can
Always grow vegetables if you can


And of course a garden is a great place to dry your washing
And of course a garden is a great place to dry your washing


We Will Remember Them
We Will Remember Them

What an enjoyable trip and an enjoyable exhibition, I hope you have enjoyed the photos I have shown you.

So we had to complete our journey away from the knitted garden in reverse. However there was a delay on the ferry coming back….we had to wait for another vessel to pass….. glad we did as this one was much bigger than us….

HMS Illustrious
HMS Illustrious – coming up behind us
And having gone past
And having gone past

The ship had not been away for a long period of time, it was a Friday lunchtime and was more than likely coming back in from a weeks exercise. I have lived in Portsmouth all my life and have seen many ships come in, as has my mum. However, there is something magnificent about her (any RN ship coming into the harbour) and I was fascinated when I turned round; everyone on the ferry was watching, many taking photos and filming. Looking out across the harbour, The Round Tower (a synonymous place for waving ships off) was full with people watching, as were the tourists on HMS Warrior who were all watching her go into the dockyard. I would say that they should consider themselves very lucky as HMS Illustrious is the oldest ship in the active fleet and is due to be decommissioned in the very near future. They have said it is going to preserved for the nation as opposed to being sold off or scrapped, I just hope it can find a permanent home in Portsmouth, especially as ship building is on its way out of the area now.

It was a fully packed few hours, which we finished off with a hot chocolate and half a hot cross bun each – we know how to live mum and I!

Now what shall I knit first?


Crafts · Knitting

Knitting Memories


When you are first starting knitting, you normally knit simple things like squares and scarves. All easy knitting to get you used to the wool, the stitches etc.

But these squares are different, they are a joint project. Myself and a few friends decided that as we were unable to help a friend of ours, through her illness, we would make something which she could have with her, so she knew we were with her when we weren’t.

So started the blanket in September 2013. Knitting squares gave us something to do but also used up wool and helped practice the knitting. As the weeks went on, we gathered our squares.


Until we thought we had enough and my mum declared that we did and would bring them all together. We had lots of colours, lots of ways of putting them together and lots of different knitting styles. Everyone knits differently and that can make it difficult in joining these together – 4 different knitters and 4 different tension styles.


Time went on and mum changed a few squares, made some herself and started to put it together.

However, time ran out for our friend. She lost the battle and we were all bereft.

The blanket was not finished in time. It sat unfinished in a basket.

We were unsure what to do with it. Do we finish it? Do we give it away? Do we raise some money for the hospice in memory of our friend?

Christmas and New Year came and went.

Mum helped me with my blanket I had knitted. It spurred her on to finish these squares.


But still we were not sure what to do with it?

Why not keep it and use it as a comfort for us, for those who need it when perhaps life is not being great. To be passed around, kept in a special bag with a book for memories. That way our friend is with us.

20140302-193938.jpgI can’t think of a more fitting tribute.

Crafts · Knitting

Basketweave Blanket

I need to take you back four years (yes it has taken that long!) to when I actually started this project. The idea having moved into my own place I wanted to a nice homemade blanket to adorn the back of a chair and that could be pulled over you when it was cold, damp and chilly and when you needed some comfort.

Shock horror after four years I have only gone and finished the thing!!


The pattern came from an Afghan book and was a basketweave pattern. 4 Knit, 4 Purl and then the opposite on the way back. It is a fairly easy pattern in a block of 14 rows and was ideal for when watching the television. I started by randomly buying the purple ball, and decided that as I was making strips rather than one big piece of knitting, I needed a contrasting colour – in stepped the cream!

Picture 071

And so I knitted…..and then got distracted by other crafts….went back and knitted some more…..2010 went into 2011…..and I knitted some more….finished a purple strip, a cream strip….got distracted by stitching….knitted some more….2012 arrived….and I knitted, stitched, felted, painted, decoupaged and we were in 2013…..and it sat on the sofa in the spare room….and I moved it off the sofa…back on the sofa…knitted some more and then 2014 arrived. I had only a few rows to go and …….I finished it. 6 strips in total.


Please excuse the slightly blurry photo. But this is the pile of knitting. Somehow this had to get to be a blanket. In steps my mum……


……with the crochet hook and she put it all together for me and also crocheted a nice scallop edge which I now realise I have failed to take a picture of.
imageAt last a finished blanket (a joint effort of course) but here it is on my settee. It is lovely and thick and warm, a really comfy blanket to get under and snuggle down whilst reading a book, watching the television and even doing more knitting….. I wonder if the next project will take me near on four years?

Crafts · Cross Stitch · Jottings · Knitting


It is a yearly outing in October that mum and I head to the Knitting and Stitching Show held at Alexandra Palace. I have mentioned many times on this blog and looking back it is almost like Groundhog Day.

2010 Visit

2011 Visit

2012 Visit

I won’t bore you with the same old details – but rest assured there were some very familiar noises on the coach. The two ladies adjacent to us, commented on every bit of driving, direction of travel, journey, the M25 and gave the poor coach driver earache no doubt. These coach drivers at the particular company we use have the patience of saints. They did come unstuck at one point when they were asking him personal questions and he said he did not see his children anymore…..silent did ensure….but no for long. Their main complaint was that there was not enough cross stitching.

Well to be fair to them, they were correct. However, everything has fads and is cyclical I am sure and therefore if you know that is the case then don’t bother coming if only to save my ears! In the years that I have been going I have seen it decline, and it is definitely knitting and other wool related crafts which are coming back in fashion. One particular stall used to be huge, as they sold so much cross stitch material, both aida and evenweave. Now though you could have walked past them and not noticed, it was that small and also they had branched out into selling other things. The lesson is if you want to stay in business then you have to go with the changes and what the market wants. The market wants at the moment, wool and material.

I will say there was a plethora of sewing machine stalls, nicely complemented by where you could by plenty of material and some wonderful material at that. I blame the Great British Sewing Bee and in fact one contestant (male) was there from that programme. I am sure this has something to do with the current economic climate and in trying to make do and mend, or create something which is unique.

Creatures of habit we did exactly the same thing we do every year, go round the outside then up and down the stalls in the middle and then split up buy what we want and then meet back together and get a second opinion on some of the things we have seen.

I know all you want to see is what I have bought, so here is the obligatory photo

photo (9)

So what do we have –

To the left of the picture there are some weaving boards. You wind the wool round the jagged edges then you weave with something contrasting. I have made an attempt but I want to get it right first, as one of them is going to be a Christmas present. There is also some lovely Oliver Twist threads there too.

Then following across the picture is a pin cushion from Sue Hawkins who has been a favourite of mine (and mum) for many years. It is thanks to here I have made oodles of the bookmarkers she does that have been sold and also given out as presents for many years. I have got many of her items over the years, and this is another one to add to the collection, which was bought for an early birthday present.

Then it is a plethora of felt. Two bundles of different felt sizes in different colours. Felt Fantastic is a book I have had my eye on for a while as it comes from the lovely people at Blooming Felt. There is also some felt bird shapes, a bag of felt balls and a felt iPad cover.Not sure if you can see the little black dog at the bottom right of the picture – he is a Scottie dog. He could look good on my  cover although not to be mistaken for a Radley I am sure. I need to get on the website and buy some more stuff with the 15% voucher I got at the show too! I need to buy some more red circles to make poppies with. I like the felt things, although I am not interested in needle felting or sticking my knitting in the wash to felt that up.

Not bad considering, but what I have come away with is oodles of ideas and an itch to want to try them all. Always the way, but in the meantime I will keep plodding along. I have some items that need finishing and I must crack on with the Christmas presents for this year to.

I did make a list of things to look up at home, one particular stall there sells all the wonderful Lizzie Kate, Waxing Moon Designs, Twisted Thread, Pine Mountain designs as well as many other American designers. Trouble is they are priced quite expensively and the two ladies that run the stall are very snooty – they always look down their noses at you and it puts me right off! They are a bit pushy in their sales technique. It is funny what puts you off buying from different places.

I wonder if the show in 2014 will be exactly the same? Of course it will.