the “things were going so well” cardigan

I come to share photos of my second ever finished knitted garment – yay!

It’s far from perfect, believe me, and when you scroll down, you’ll see some very ugly seams.   I had such fun knitting this  though and my confidence had come along in leaps & bounds as I knitted up all my pieces.  I even quite enjoyed learning to knit buttons bands, and making my first ever button holes.  The not such fun part began when I came to the sewing everything together.  And that’s when the “things were going so well” cardie almost ended up in the bin.  Even the husband took one look at it and commented on what a mess I’d made of sewing on the sleeves.  Seeing my glum face, he tried to back track with a “it’s a shame because your knitting is nice and regular”.  Oh well.   I won’t learn if I don’t try, and believe me, I do try.

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Anyway, here it is.  I used a cheap acrylic yarn bought years ago in a “discount” shop.  Pattern was a free download and is called RUE designed by Martin Storey for Rowan.

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It looks okay(ish) lying flat, although in first photo you can see sleeves aren’t lying quite right. That’s not an optical illusion, it’s my sewing that leaves much to be desired and plenty of room for improvement.

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And because I feel it’s important not just to show things from the best angle . . . this is the messy/ugly part (on both shoulders)

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Anyway, the big question is, of course: does it fit?  Well it does, and it doesn’t.

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It looks more or less like the photo on the pattern (true colour being in first 3 photos). Sleeves are the correct length.  Buttons are all placed at even intervals.  And I can button it up or leave it open.

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It feels a bit too snug around the arms for my liking though.   In fact, the sleeves were so snug at first, they felt like a second skin, but have loosened up a bit after wearing.  I don’t think the snugness is  anything to do with my knitting, simply the style of the sleeves.   I suppose one of the other things I need to learn is how to choose a pattern and avoid slim sleeves in future!

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When I first tried it on, in its finished state, all I could see were the messy shoulders.  I felt very frustrated that a knitting project which has taken me months to complete was let down in the final stages because of messy assembly.  However, since it was finished, I decided I might as well wear it indoors or under a coat, when walking the dog or chatting to my hens.  And, as long as I don’t catch sight of myself in a mirror, I can forget about what it looks like and simply be pleased that I managed to knit my first ever cardigan!

I had had great plans of moving on to an even more challenging project after this.  The husband picked out a men’s Stylecraft pattern and DK yarn that took his fancy, so “the plan”, once I finished the cardie, was to start work on that!  However, the husband agrees I still need a little more practice with my seams, and since I won’t get much practice if I keep on knitting adult sized items . . . my next project is going to be a small cardigan for one of my dolls.

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ScrapHappy # January 2019

It’s 15th of the month . . . time to link up with Kate and Gun who organise a monthly ScrapHappy post, to encourage fellow crafters to use up those scraps!

My, very quick, project this month is really only half a scrappy project I’m afraid.  Not even sure if I’m not bending the rules a little, but hey, rules are there to be bent, aren’t they?   I found myself in need of a few cards at the start of this year.  And, since I needed to get them posted asap, I didn’t have time to do anything very elaborate.  I therefore delved into my dwindling supply of pre-cut aperture cards (that’s where I’ve bent the rules somewhat) and then had a quick rummage in my scrap fabric bags for some pretty prints.

Double sided sticky tape, wadding (from scrap bag) and a very short time later . . .

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My favourites are these

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I’m now going to visit other Scrappers to see what they’ve been up to.

Titti, Heléne, Eva, Sue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan, Karen,
Moira, Sandra, Linda, Chris, Nancy, Alys, Kerry, Jean, Johanna,
Joanne,Jon,Hayley and Dawn

SAL update “Bag Ladies” #5

It’s time for our regular 3 weekly SAL update!  The first one of 2019.

I started stitching on “Bag Ladies” a couple of months ago, and my last update was

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Since then I’ve been flitting here & there . . . gradually filling in bags, and making a start on two future cats.

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As requested by Kate, I also added backstitch detail to the black & white cat . . . that mouse/hamster had better hurry up and hide.  I think at least one cat has spotted him!

Time to do some blog-hopping and see what other SAL members have been up to.  If I remember correctly, from last time, there will be a few ladies starting on brand new projects this time.  We welcome back Mary Margaret and also give a big warm welcome two new members:  Renne and Jenny.

Avis Gun, Carole, LucyAnn, Kate, Jess, Sue, Constanze, Debbierose, Christina, Kathy, Margaret, Cindy, Helen, Steph, Linda, Heidi, Jackie, Sunny, Hayley, Megan, Catherine, Deborah, Connie, Clare, Mary Margaret, Renee, Jenny

We’ll all be back on 3rd February, so hope to see you then!

what I’ve been up to since Xmas

I’ve been enjoying reading blog posts of everyone’s New Year resolutions.  Always happy to encourage and cheer crafters along, it’ll be interesting to see how people do (you know who you are!) as the year moves on.  Age has taught me that it’s pointless me making any resolutions as I never keep them.  Hence 2019 simply started as it will carry on: with me just picking up what I fancy, when I fancy.  There will no doubt be lots of starts this year, and hopefully, many finishes . . . but the plan is to enjoy what I’m doing and not set myself up to too many deadlines.  I suppose that in itself is a resolution? Please note, I say “not too many deadlines” – ha!  I’m not ruling out giving myself deadlines when there’s a very important & urgent special occasion on the agenda.

Anyway, since xmas, I haven’t done a huge amount of crafting.  There has been some patchworking (F2F blocks which I can’t reveal just yet);  a little xstitch and some crocheting.  My cardigan is awaiting the final stage of sewing together and knitting of button/button hole bands, but I’ve been having too much fun with my hook to even think about knitting.

monster WIP

This is my current crochet project.  Doesn’t look much at the moment as there are still quite a few small pieces to make (arms, legs & teeth for instance) but it is definitely taking shape already.  This will be a “Little Ella in her monster suit” (design by Little Aqua Girl) when finished, and is one of the many colourful projects published in “Amigurumi Monsters”.  The pattern is really well-written and crocheting keeps me quiet in the evening.

Other crafting going on here is

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“Chicken Sampler” a kit by The Stitching Shed, which Avis gifted me this Christmas.  It’s a lovely, simple design which is very relaxing to work on (a bit of light relief from my SAL project)

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It’s actually the choice of colours which makes this such a fun design, although I’ve already made a few changes along the way.  Anyway, almost 4 chooks stitched although mine don’t have eyes yet.  Another reason I love this kit (apart from the fact I’m stitching chooks) . . . The Stitching Shed is a small UK company, based in Morecambe, Lancashire.  A totally useless fact you didn’t know about me is:  I lived in Morecambe for a year during my student days!   I was a student at Lancaster University and during our second year, students had to find digs off campus.  So I lived in Morecambe for a year, with my friend Janet, in a little basement flat.   It was in the 80s, so decades before The Stitching Shed came into being but, seeing their postal address on the chart brought back some fun memories.

curling up with a good book

I am avoiding making any “to do” lists for 2019 in the crafting area.  I’ll just be stitching, crocheting, sewing, knitting etc as the fancy takes me.  However I have decided to share some book titles with you on a more regular basis this year (hoping to make it the 1st Friday of each month).  Quite a few of the blogs I follow include book reviews and I always find it helpful, to discover a new author (not necessarily “new” but unknown to me) or title, and those reviews do encourage me to keep my eyes open at the library or, sometimes to go on-line and treat myself to a new novel.  I used to be an avid reader, but these days reading time is strictly reserved for bed-time reading (or hospital waiting rooms).  Anyway . . .  I want to share two recent reads with you for January.  These two, picked up for 1€ apiece at a local car boot sale.  I read French translations (which explains book titles in photo) but I’ve given the original titles below.

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“I LET YOU GO” – Clare Mackintosh (2014)

(summary from back cover)

In a split-second, Jenna Gray’s world descends into a nightmare.  Her only hope of moving on is to walk away from everything she knows, to start afresh.  Desperate to escape, Jenna moves to a remote cottage on the Welsh coast, but she is haunted by her fears, her grief and her memories of a cruel November night that changed her life forever.  Slowly, Jenna begins to glimpse the potential for happiness in her future.  But her past is about to catch up with her, and the consequences will be devastating . . .

This book had mixed reviews but I found it totally gripping.  I don’t want to give too much away, but we follow Jenna in her escape from a past life and her attempts to wipe the slate clean and start afresh.   The author doesn’t give away much in the first part, and leaves the reader guessing what happened in Jenna’s past life, trying to piece the puzzle together with what information Jenna shares.  The first part of the novel is written in the first person narrative, from Jenna’s viewpoint.  Where the novel really has you hooked, is in the second part when the author – still in first person narrative – switches to a different character and we find ourselves in the head of the man Jenna ran away from.  Lots of twists and turns.  A very satisfying end . . . and I’ll admit to having gone back and read the first few chapter again (on finishing) because I really didn’t see it coming.

If I’m going to start giving books stars, I’ll give this one 5 stars (out of 5).  It had all the ingredients I look for in an excellent read.  Characters I could become involved with; a police investigation running all the way through; well written narrative & dialogues and beautifully described scenery . . . plus lots of suspense.

* * * * * * * * * * *

The second novel:

“CHAOS” – Patricia Cornwell (2016)

Now, I’m not even going to bother giving you a summary of this one.  All I can say is: don’t bother!

Such a disappointment!  I read all of Patricia Cornwell’s first Kay Scarpetta novels, and they were excellent.  I picked this one up (24th in the Scarpetta series)  expecting it to be another great crime novel, full of forensic science and autopsies . . . and quite frankly, it was a waste of 1€.  No idea what Patricia Cornwell was playing at with this novel.  Nothing happens.  For over 500 pages.   I did read it from start to finish although I’m darned if I know why I wasted my time.  So bad, I won’t even give it a star.

what Claire received for Christmas #2

This is the last batch of photos, to show how spoiled I was this Christmas . . . this time by family. 

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From Lindashee and Mr Lindashee:  Season 7 of my all-time favourite TV series “Call the Midwife”.  It was Lindashee who bought me the first season, a few years ago, and she’s been buying all the new seasons as they come out, for me.  Story (for those who don’t know it) begins in the late 1950s, in London, with each season dedicated to a new year (season 7 takes place in 1963), following the lives of a group of midwives/district nurses.  First class acting, lots of medical goings-ons, and all with the backdrop of London in the late 50s early 60s.  Lindashee also sent me something to keep my hands busy while enjoying some good British drama . . . so many fun ideas of mythical creatures in this book, including a Loch Ness monster which will probably be the first project I tackle.

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From the Viking family, a new baby doll.  She’s a little girl doll, full vinyl, closed eyes and open mouth so she can suck her thumb.  She measures 52cm at the moment.  I’ll be pulling her to pieces sometime this year, making her a cloth body . . . and playing with my new baby doll, who I have called Phoebe.

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From Eldest Son – some yarny supplies.  The pattern is a free pattern by Rowan.  And in the bag: enough King Cole Aran to knit myself this lovely turtle neck sweater. 

Continuing a new family tradition, begun only last year . . . part of Christmas Eve saw us sitting out in the kitchen, while Eldest Son stuck a needle in me over and over again lol.  And I have my second tattoo!

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Another cat head in the same style as the first one.

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So, that was lots of lovely gifts from our three children . . . I bet you’re wondering what I received from the Husband? 

Well, the really BIG present wasn’t actually a surprise.  It was something I saw on ebay way back in October.  The Husband gave me the green light.  The very large box was then hidden away in the cupboard when it arrived and I wasn’t allowed to look until Christmas.

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It’s a very large doll.  Actually from the Masterpiece Gallery, by a German doll maker called Monika Levenig.  This is a “Chantal” doll.  She’s approx 90cm tall (can wear age 3 years clothes) and is a limited edition.  My “Chantal” is n° 11/350 of the European Edition series.

I’ve renamed her Daisy.  She’ll be keeping me company in my sewing room, where I hope to get busy and make some clothes for her.  I think she’s lovely, but everyone else seems to think she’s a bit spooky.  Not to worry.  Anyway . . . the Husband also got busy before xmas and made me a bead necklace

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AND . . . .

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A wooden stand for Daisy.   It’s a recyling job but completely custom-made for Daisy.  She can stand on her own but, with 3 cats charging around the house, it’ll be safer to use the stand. 

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best layer of the month # December

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Ooops, I almost forgot to tot up the egg count for December!

Total egg count was slightly down in December because Miss Moneypenny decided to have a massive moult.  There were feathers everywhere, for several weeks, and she was walking around looking somewhat naked until the new feathers grew.  With the cold spell we had, I was slightly worried she would catch cold, so have been giving extra treats and vitamins to help.  Miss Moneypenny is fully-feathered again, but all her energy went into growing feathers, so she only laid 4 eggs this month.  Miss Plumpton and Mauricette (above) did very well though.  Miss Plumpton (the Sussex) laid 22 eggs and Mauricette (our French blue) laid a grand total of 30.  Which means 56 eggs were collected in December.

And just because I like statistics . . . I  went back over archives for 2018.  Miss Mauricette may have been our best layer for the past few months, but Miss Plumpton wins the crown for Best Layer of 2018.  Miss Moneypenny laid a total of 194 eggs in the past year: Mauricette 316 and . . . drumroll . . . Miss Plumpton laid 333.