Shawl Knitting is Brilliant! And so is podcasting :)

I’ll start with a quick plug of my latest podcast episode (number 5)…..just in case you want to take a look! ……

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….I’ll put the show notes right at the end of this blog post……

……but if you’re just here for the blog, then here’s what I’ve been up to in the last few weeks……

Firstly, the weather has turned glorious and so the making of silage has commenced in earnest on the farm! Here’s one of The Men frantically collecting the cut grass from the paddocks before the rain came! I waved from my vegetable patch…..oh, to drive a tractor! It’s on my list…..(well, I’d settle for a ride on mower actually! Look at how much grass I had to cut this weekend! That’s only a third of it! Why did I tell the Estate gardener I’d like to cut my own grass?!)

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…..the guinea pigs moved into their summer residence, and settled in very nicely. They are really enjoying making tunnels in the long grass and doing alternate bouts of grazing, napping, grazing, napping! The operation was of course overseen by Charlie…..

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…..notice how I abandoned the grass cutting after not very much grass cutting at all?! If only I had twenty more guinea pigs and a couple of Alpacas, that would surely solve the problem!

I sowed a bed of cottage garden flowers…..here’s the project in the preparation stages….(this is no half-hearted attempt! I’ve got netting and everything!)

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…and here it is with seeds scattered and chicken-defence-netting in place!

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It seems to be doing the trick, the only thing I have to worry about now is slugs! I’m going to try nematodes! I dare not put down slug pellets as the dog might eat them (not to mention all the wildlife). Cross your fingers for me! I so want a beautiful bed of flowers here, to feed the bees and butterflies and bring lots of beautiful colour and scent into my garden!

Here’s what will hopefully spring up in the next few days…..

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These packets of seeds were only 99p each from my local farm stores! I picked my favourites…..I also have some sun flowers germinating in the greenhouse – they can go out when they are bigger!
I’m so excited to be out, working in the garden again….we have had to wait a long time this year in the UK, the winter was long and Spring took a while to arrive! But that all seems in the distant past now, with the sun shining and the grass going crazy! Next stop, vegetable patch! I’ve got beans, peas and chard to plant out! Hurray for summer!

I’ll pop a few more pictures of the garden and farm on the ‘Loop and bar Garden’ page (see in the menu bar at the top of the home page) – for anyone who may be interested to see more!

I’ve been busy with my knitting and sewing too! I’ve been really enjoying being part of the Mandarine’s Shawl KAL over on Ravelry……here’s how big my shawl is now…..

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I’ve made a lot of progress on this over the weekend, after a bit of a repeated stop-start! This is owing to the wonderful, magical super-brilliant using of the stitch markers after every lace repeat. Why oh why did I not take the advice of my lovely new friend and Canopy Buddy (That’s Antonella, of Diary of a Yarnaholic podcast), and Melody (advising another KAL participant) to place the markers at every repeat, right at the start? Who knows. All I know is, it’s the way forward and I’ll be doing this for every lace project I ever do in the future! It makes such a massive difference to the success of each lace row! I’m whizzing ahead now, nearly at the applied border – can’t wait for that:) This project is a great learning one for me, there are new techniques and stitches and I’m learning a lot about what effects different stitches give to a piece of work – especially now that I’m using the markers, as I can concentrate more on what the stitches are doing in the pattern rather than stressing about if I will get to the end of the row with the right stitch count!
I’m also loving the yarn now…….I was worried at the start of the project that I’d made a bad yarn choice for the stitch pattern (I’m using Sulka Nina by Mirasol) and I would choose a smoother, less ‘haloed’ yarn if I do this shawl again, as suggested by Melody in the pattern, but I think this has worked out ok, especially now that I have worked the longer sections of the lace repeats – the lace pattern can be seen more clearly now! I am really enjoying this pattern and the interaction on the KAL has been fantastic – lots of friendly people sharing their lovely shawl progress and helping each other out! It’s a great way to make friends in the knitting community. I may have to do another Canopy for the Autumn, in different yarn and colour, to add to my growing shawl collection……

…speaking of which……

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…Here is my second shawl project, and I’m loving every stitch of this one too! It’s the ‘Andrea’s Shawl’ and I’m knitting this in ‘The Uncommon Thread’ BFL single – I LOVE this yarn so much! I want to make everything with it! It’s working very well with the pattern although it is a lot finer than the suggested yarn weight, so I’m getting a much smaller shawl that the pattern would normally result in…but that’s ok. I now know that if I knit this again with a similar weight yarn, I can easily add in a few more lace repeats to make it larger.

I’ve been sewing too……

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I ordered labels……

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…..and made more project bags! My new favourite thing….apart from shawl knitting and stitch markers, that is…….

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I didn’t manage to get any really decent pictures of the bags this morning, in a bit of a rush as usual, so I will show them in the next post (or you could take a look at the latest podcast episode and see them on there!)…..but here is one of them…….

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…..and it’s housing my Mystery WIP!……..

I’m working on a small project that I’m calling the Mystery WIP – I’ve showed it on the podcast, but wanted to share it here too……when I came across this pattern I just absolutely HAD to make it! I am using the beautiful Jamiesons of Shetland spindrift yarn for this, because I love this yarn and there are so many colours in the range – it was ideal for getting the colours to match those in the original pattern.

The idea of the Mystery WIP is simply that I’m showing a WIP but not telling what the pattern is until I show the finished thing! Just a bit of fun! Maybe you can guess what it is going to be? Here it is so far…..

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The main part of the item is knitted in this beautiful peacock blue colour, in two parts, and joined at the top. I will be joining on the next colour after this row. You may have noticed a cheeky little novelty yarn in the picture! Does this give any clues? Any ideas, anyone?

I will of course give full pattern details and credit when I show the finished item in the next couple of posts / podcasts. I can’t wait to finish it! Watch this space :) ……

……and finally……….

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….the big rug re-make is complete! Shortly after taking this (slightly fuzzy and out-of-focus) picture, as predicted, Charlie came in and plonked herself down on it and went to sleep! So it’s being put into immediate use by it’s previous owner, who seems very happy to have it back (albeit in a different shape!) I love this rug now – it’s really squishy and a much closer gauge than it was previously. I really do prefer the colours in blocks as they are now, rather than in one-row stripes – it was too busy before. I’m really pleased I did this and enjoyed working with my giant crochet hook again! I may need to make another in the near future!

Podcast show notes:

Welsh Word of the episode:
Gweill – knitting needles (plural)
Gwaell – one knitting (singular)
Nodwydd – sewing needle

Shawls:
Andrea’s Shawl , knitted in Mirasol Sulka Nina, colourway ‘Bark’
Canopy, being knitted in The Uncommon Thread, BFL, colourway ‘Attic Room’

Knitting shop mentioned: The wonderful Loop in London……www.loopknittinshop.com

Addi Click review by Sarah from Crafts From the Cwtch……the review can be seen here

Podcasters mentioned:

Shara from What Shara Made (podcast) and website/etsy shop

Antonella from The Diary of a Yarnaholic podcast

Melody of Mandarines podcast

Mystery WIP – yarn: Jamiesons of Shetland spindrift – I want all of the yarn from this website.

The Cutest Buttons In The World and Podcast Episode Three!

The dress is finished, here’s the last detail shot….the buttons were the only thing left to do……..

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I chose these adorable pearl shell buttons for maximum comfort and because they look so lovely with the fabric…….but these (beautiful as they are) are not actually the Cutest Buttons In The World…….

…..these are The Cutest Buttons In The World………….

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These little donkeys look so happy!

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I found these amazing little fellas on the Skein Queen website…..a very lucky find! She has the most beautiful collection of buttons for sale and stocks hand dyed yarn and lots of other lovely yarn related stuff!

I’m going to use these buttons for my friend’s baby (due in June) – I’m knitting the Puerperium cardi, in linen this time. I’ve steered away from wool for this one, as it will hopefully be warm by the time the baby arrives! The best thing is, my friend has two donkeys! So these buttons could not be more perfect! I’m pretty sure she’ll squeal (like I did) when she sees them!

I’ve also been busy with the rug re-make…..lots of pulling down and steam ironing……

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I’ve started the process of stitching the strands together end-to-end to make them into one continuous strand. I’ll be crocheting these back into a rug in the next few days! So the next picture you see will be a finished rug! It is actually taking longer that I had anticipated, but I think it will be worth the effort – I’ll have a rug that I’ll want to use instead of a rug that I don’t know where to put in the house!

I also bought new yarn……..

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I need to take some yummier pictures of this gorgeous yarn, so this is just a peak, really. I’ll talk about it more in the next post, and what I am going to make with it. Or if you are impatient, like me, you can always just watch the podcast (below) and find out there! The yarn is BFL Singles by The Uncommon Thread and it’s very beautiful! I really can’t wait to start knitting with it. I have more yarn in the post (what happened to my resolution to only use stash yarn for the next few months?) for an exciting KAL that I’m taking part in over on Ravelry…..the Mandarine’s Shawl KAL is taking place throughout May and is the perfect opportunity for me to knit a shawl I’ve had my eye on for a long time…….more about that in the next post also!

…..and whilst not knitting, Charlie and I have been helping on the farm…….

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Here’s Charlie, checking that they’re all in the right paddock!

It is sometimes our job to follow the heard to the paddock after milking, and make sure the cows all get there happily! We have to close the gate once all of the cows are in the paddock, to stop them from wandering down to the village, or roaming around the farm! We like this job very much! The cows are such beautiful, friendly and curious animals – I love to be around them and they really like Charlie!

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The heard, very content, that’s what we like to see :)

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We live in such a beautiful place and I feel so lucky to be here, surrounded by all of this amazing landscape!

I’ve also been busy recording a third episode of the loop and bar podcast! I’ve had some lovely comments so far, which is very encouraging for a newbie! The knitting podcast world is so friendly and it’s so much fun podcasting and interacting with others out there! Doing the podcast has actually made me more active on Ravelry too, which is great! So if you are interested in taking a look, if you haven’t already, just scroll down for the loop and bar podcast episode three, in which I talk a little bit about my week in Wales, share some of the things in this post (and a bit more), show a favourite thing from around my house, and give a very mini welsh lesson! The pod notes are below it, for links to people/websites/patterns I’ve talked about :)

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Podcast notes……

Bits about Wales….

The Wonderwool festival in Builth Wells, Wales – how did I not go to this?! I’ll put it in my diary for next year……
My lovely resident Redstart …tweet!
The Llangernyw Yew

Patterns mentioned….
The Sunburst Granny Square (from the blanket) – I’ve linked here to the original place I found the pattern and this is the one I used, but the Sunburst Granny Square is available on Ravelry also, just put it into a search and you will find loads of versions.
Puerperium Cardigan – that’s the tiny blue one with the rainbow buttons :)
Andrea’s Shawl by Kirsten Kapur on ravelry

Yarn and buttons mentioned………
Lang Yarns – Carpe diem (how do you say that?!) – seriously gorgeous yarn, super soft with a very high squish factor! I got mine from my local wool shop, ‘Ar Y Gweill’, but they don’t have a website so I’ve linked to an online source instead.
Sirdar Snuggle Baby Speckle – from the tiny blue cardi :)
Drops Belle Uni Colour yarn
Jaeger Matchmaker Yarn DK – sorry, can’t find a good website to link to for this – I got it from my local wool shop in N.Wales
Debbie Bliss Rialto DK – Circus colourway
The Uncommon Thread – BFL Singles, colour: Attic Room
The lovely donkey buttons from Skein Queen :) Big smile!

Crafts people mentioned…..
My beautiful mug in this episode…..Jenny Murray ceramics available at Cwt Tatws, North Wales (among other places)
My little houses :)

Podcasts mentioned…..
The Gentle Knitter
Brooklyn Knitfolk

A re-make project, some sewing and another podcast!

I have been unravelling………

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….I’m re-making my rug. It requires quite a bit of pulling, sorting and ironing before I can get the crochet hook back out!

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….the circle wasn’t working for me and neither were the stripes. I’m going for a rectangular shape and blocks of colour and I can’t wait to reinvent this lovely rug into something lovelier! If you want to see the rug in it’s original finished form, you can take a look here (scroll down quite a bit)…..the post I’ve linked to is actually (coincidentally) very appropriate to this particular project, as it reminds me of how indecisive I can be when it comes to choosing colour arrangements!

anyway…….I just need to make this into something that fits into my house better! I found that I have moved this circular rug from one room to another, trying to find it’s place, before realising that it’s the wrong shape and the colour arrangement is a little too busy for my liking after all.

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It’s fun to work with this big wool again. I am steam ironing it and re-winding into large balls before I re-work it. I’m so looking forward to the crochet part! And Charlie is looking forward to being able to sleep on it again! Watch this space…….

…..in the meantime, she has been test-snuggling my cosy memories blanket! Thanks Charlie, I think it gets the seal of approval!

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I love working on this, it’s perfect ‘telly knitting’ – no need to concentrate too hard on the stitches and no pattern to have to keep track of. I am having to restrain myself from buying lots and lots of lovely Unicorn Tails to put in this blanket – I adore them so much! I am trying to stick to the ethos of the project, which (I believe) is to use up scrap yarn…..which I have done, to a certain extent….but I have allowed myself a clause – that being, for every scrap yarn (or stash yarn) I use in the blanket, I am allowed to buy a new yarn for it! Ha! Perhaps it is time for me to join a yarn swap!

On a very exciting note, a new little person is about to join the family, making me an aunty again! Hip hip hurray! So, naturally, Aunty Kate has been knitting…….

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I chose yarn that my sister can chuck in the washing machine….I’m sure she will appreciate that with a new born and a four old! It’s also guaranteed to be soft against baby’s skin, which is essential. It was so quick to knit, with it being so tiny! Will it really fit an actual (albeit tiny) person? It’s so small!

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All I need to do is sew on the buttons……can you guess, boy or girl?

And baby’s big sister is getting a new dress……

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Here’s a little sneak preview – I’ve been sewing this all week, it’s the Pumpkin Spice dress from Heidi & Finn. I have made it a couple of sizes larger than the pattern recommends for Evie’s measurements, as the size they recommend would have been way too small. So it’s the size 5 year old (she’s nearly four). I will put ties on the sides so she can tie it at the back if it’s a little roomy.

I didn’t dare attempt to machine sew the binding onto the little armholes! I’d come too far to mess it up! So I indulged in a few hand stitches…….

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..and oh, how I love them! I made the sleeves slightly puffed, so they look even cuter and give a little more room…..

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I so hope it fits her! Just need to hem it, do the buttons and ties and knit her a cardi to go with it! Hope she likes it!

That’s not the only sewing I’ve been doing…….I made my first ever knitting project bags! I chose to make them with drawstring closing because I didn’t want my yarn to get caught in any zips! Also, it reminds me of the P.E. bag that my Gran made for me when I was in primary school – it was a red and white gingham drawstring bag, just the same shape but bigger and had my initials stitched in navy blue! I may put my initials on these!
I love having these! I’m so motivated to work on the projects in them! They hang on hooks in my sewing room (just like my P.E. bag used to hang on my peg at school! – lovely memories!) And I got to use some of my favourite stash fabric, including one my sister printed….(it’s the beautiful pale green fabric on the left)

project bag

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…..and what’s in them? Well, this is one of the projects I’m working on……

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…It’s the Woodland Tales Mittens by Mandarines

I’m joining in with the Pom Pom mag spring KAL on Ravelry with these mittens, which I’m enjoying being part of – it’s a great way to make a few more connections with other knitters, you get to know a few people on Ravelry who are into the same kinds of things, so it’s great! I’m making two pairs, one in this lovely pale yellow and the other in an earthy purple….and what’s in the other bag? I’ll share that in the next post!

Aside from all the knitting and sewing, we’ve been glorying in the spring sunshine at last! And so has the garden…..

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I am so please with this planter I found in the woods by my house…….I don’t know what it was originally, but it makes a beautiful flower bed in my garden!….

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….and the hellebores are still in full bloom, I love them so much because they have flowered all through the winter and can now enjoy this lovely spring sunshine……

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…..and as well as all the knitting, sewing, gardening (or more precisely, hacking up clods of grass from the veg patch with a giant pickaxe!)….I have recorded another podcast, episode two! It’s actually been on You Tube for about a week now, but I’ve only just had the chance to do this blog post and include the podcast notes in it! So if anyone is interested and hasn’t already had a look, just scroll down for episode two and the notes will be below it :)

Loop and bar podcast episode two……

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Notes: links to websites/patterns/yarn mentioned…..

Fabric mentioned in project bag : Cloth & Clover (oh, how I love this company!) and Tilda fabric
Wren and Ivy – my friend’s lovely (online) shop for beautiful customised homewares and (I think) fabric
Laxtons – they sell undyed yarn for hand dyeing (UK Based)
Mandarine’s – a wonderful knitting blog and podcast
Pom Pom Spring KAL on Ravelry
Hat WIP – Fidra by Gudrun Johnston
Cosy Memories blanket (or the version I have used) – here

Knitting podcasts mentioned:

Daynamyte
A Wee Bit Knitty
Inside Number 23
Charlotte & Gus

Big wool in re-make rug project from Ingrid Wagner
Evie’s dress: Pumpkin Spice Dress