Sunday, 25 June 2017

Cool breezes

The heatwave is over, for now, and we are back to overcast cooler weather which is currently spitting rain. Hurrah, and long may it continue. We had a very pleasant visit today to some open gardens in Weedon Lois and Weston, which felt lush and green as opposed to arid and baked like the gardens we went to last weekend. We quite enjoy poking around other people's gardens in pretty villages which are open for charity under the National Gardens Scheme, especially when they include very posh places or in today's case, the lovely country mansion of a genuine Lady. And there is usually tea and cake on offer somewhere, today it was in a pretty little Baptist chapel. It's also a way to get ideas for our own garden - we were lusting after a pretty little pond today with surrounding planting.

On the way there I was knitting on my Rose Window hat , which is a free pattern on  I couldn't get the yarn they used here in the UK so I am using an Opal sock yarn (Fresh & Juicy 9365) with a black Cascade 220 fingering (which feels thin and I don't really like it).  The colours are coming out more citrusy than I would like, but DH is expressing interest so it may end up being for him. Luckily I have a big head so it will likely fit him as well. It's quite fun seeing the colourway unfolding and of course comes out differently on a hat circumference rather than a sock.

When we went to the boot sale last week I picked up a little shelf quite cheaply.

I gave it a lick of paint and inserted a backdrop of a picture of patchwork cut from a magazine cover.  This is going to be a little display shelf to house the needlework tools that have been passed on to me by older stitching friends who have passed or who are destashing.  I've cut a little piece of plexiglass to go on the front when I've stocked the shelves.

I've spent some time this week working on preparations for my next Bucks Point lace project.  I bought a pricking for a hexagonal edging from Irene Tomlinson of Shireburn Lace but to make it useable I have to prick every single hole first and there are hundreds ( possibly thousands).  So there are a few hours into it already this week carefully pricking each hole using a needle held in a pin vice and a magnifying visor for accuracy, and I am just over halfway.  I also need to wind 39 pairs of bobbins very full, which will also take quite a while.  I think this is one of the reasons I prefer knitting, you just pull out some yarn from the ball and cast on and you are away.

On the sewing front, I finally got my ancient Indigo Bear's Paw quilt to the top stage.  It's come out bigger than I thought, a generous double and I think could even be used on a queen size bed.

There was a bit of a debacle with one of the side white borders and I'm currently feeling not very happy with the whole quilt due to some puckers and distortion that still remain despite much remedial action. What happened was that I cut the final borders to size and pinned on the first one. I was aware that the multiple sawtooth patches were a bit fluttery even though they are on the straight of grain, but I foolishly thought my feed dogs would ease any excess in.  What actually happened on the first border was that the feed dogs stretched the patches and made even more excess, and no matter how much I tried re-sewing the worst segments, I couldn't ease it all in.  I had to unpick the whole border, which stressed the fabric even more and caused many of the sawtooth seams to start coming apart plus the white fabric started fraying as it is not a very close weave.  So I had to resew a lot of those seams, and then re-pin the border doing what I should have done in the first place:  smooth and pin the outer white border to the inner white border as they are both straight/flat, then pin in the fluttering saw tooths with a multitude of pins in the same way that you would ease in a sleeve cap in dressmaking.  This subsequently worked well on the other three borders, but by this time the first border was so abused and stretched that I still had to take in some of the sawtooth seams to reduce the excess and there are still some small pleats. And this is all before even worrying about whether or not I was chopping points off the indigo triangles.  Nightmare.  It looks good from a distance  :(   It's probably one of those things that I will forget over time and in a few years I will be happy again. Before I put it away, I need to cut some binding strips and decide whether to bind it in blue or in white.  I think probably in white because the indigo African fabric is fairly coarse and I would have to piece many short pieces to get enough length for binding so I think it would be difficult to achieve a smooth result.

Monday, 19 June 2017

I'm melting...

...and not from a bucket of water either - the UK is in the middle of a heatwave. It's been in the low 30s since Friday (around 90 degrees F) and very sunny. I can't cope with heat at all, so I am feeling  stressed and uncomfortable.  My part of the office is not air conditioned either so it was not fun today at work. And I haven't been sleeping well  even with a fan going.  At least with this old house, there are some rooms that stay cool (unlike our previous super-insulated new build which turned into an oven) so I may camp in one of the downstairs rooms until the weather breaks. My sewing room isn't too bad either so I've put in some hours working down there over the weekend. Apparently we are going to have an unusually hot summer which I feel depressed about but I expect some people are skipping around with glee at the prospect of a 'real' summer.

Last weekend I made another Pumpkin Basket, this one in Japanese fabrics as a gift for my m-i-l for her birthday in the autumn.

Then I made one more so that I could use the Tilly brooches I made a few weeks ago.  This is still the Pumpkin Basket pattern but I omitted the darts in the top to make it more of a bucket shape.

After the basket production line was tidied away, I got out my Indigo Bear's Paw UFO quilt.  According to the date on the project bag, I started this in 1998 so it's coming up to its 20th anniversary which apparently is either China or Platinum, lol.  After doing some arithmetic (shudder) and a fair bit of measuring, I added inner spacer borders then applied the sawtooth edging (in progress picture).  So now I just need to sew on the plain white outer borders and it's ready to join the waiting-for-quilting queue. I love this crisp white and blue. But I would like to quilt it with a hanging diamond grid which I can't do on my home machine frame, so it would have to be a walking foot job which will just be incredibly tedious to execute.

This week I also finished what I think is the 25th and final block of my 25 block hand applique quilt so after I finish the Bear's Paw top, then I can start trimming my 25 blocks to size. I appliqued the lattice with the 'freezer paper on top' method which I have to say I didn't like at all, it felt like the paper was really in the way and made it hard to get smooth curves.  Usually I draw around templates for needleturn applique but for such an intricate shape I thought I would try a different method. I gave up on it after I'd done the outer and inner edges and went back to my usual mark and turn process for the insides of the ovals.

Today I finished my Portsmouth Beanie hat from the Spring 2017 issue of Interweave knits, I just need to weave in the ends.  It fits really well but obviously in this weather is not something I will be wearing for a while!

I've done a bit more work in my second bobbin lace snowflake ornament, and I've ordered some hexagonal edging patterns from Irene Tomlinson for my next Bucks Point lace project.

And that's about it for crafting this week.  Hope you are managing to stay cool!

Sunday, 11 June 2017

I'll huff and I'll puff

It's been a week of very strong winds which have wreaked some minor havoc in the garden but the important thing is that our pergola did not fall down!  The trellis acts as a bit of a sail so I have always been a bit worried because our garden is generally a windy site, which is why we did our best to make the pergola quite strong with diagonal bracing and lots of rafters.  This week I've been watching our apple tree tossing back and forth, our pear tree shed some pear sprigs, the delphiniums have mostly bitten the dust because they weren't adequately supported, I've had to support the hollyhocks and some alliums and irises, and tie back in some wayward roses.  The clematis at the front which was just coming in to bloom has basically had those blooms shredded.  But the pergola is still standing which is a relief.  I've done some more digging out underneath to level the patio area but there is still lots more earth to shift.

As you will have gathered, housework is never high on my agenda, but I've spent some evenings this week doing some major tidying and cleaning to lay the foundations for some visitors over the next month including the dollshouse club and my in-laws.  So less crafting took place this week.

I did finish the Bucks Point bookmark. Mainly because I just got sick of lacing and un-lacing trying to get the tapered point to work out.  I just couldn't and still ended up with about 10 pairs at the point when I should only have had half that, but I  decided that life was too short, it's only a bookmark, I don't even use bookmarks, so I just did a different finish where you roll the pairs to one side or the other and fasten them in place out of sight.  It means the reverse isn't as neat as it should be but it's finished.  It was a bit discouraging but I guess this is where actually having a teacher to show you how to do things would help, you can't always work things out from a book. The main part of the bookmark turned out rather well and I'm pleased with it.  I took it along to the Saturday lace group yesterday to show people and it was complimented by some of the experienced lacemakers which was nice.

Now I need to decide what to work next. I think it's time to go large and actually make something I can use. It's a bit intimidating because anything larger is going to take many more pairs of bobbins which equals many more hours of work, and it could easily turn into a project which takes me a couple of years to finish. However, I have many such projects :) so that shouldn't be an issue.

One example would be my 25-block applique quilt which has been going on for about 10 years now.  I've finally started what I think is the 25th and final block (that's if I've counted properly, never a certainty) so I may soon be able to move onto the next step which will be attempting to trim all the blocks to the same size.  I think they were all meant to be 17 inches square but I'm pretty sure there is an assortment of sizes in reality. Which reminds me of my 20-block GAAA Afghan  which is currently hibernating waiting for me to join all the knitted squares together.  We're going on a short holiday in the summer so joining the blanket squares might be my takealong project.

A fun thing I did this week was to make this basket:

This is made from the Pumpkin Basket pattern by Beth Studley which is the pattern I bought on sale last weekend.  She is also the designer of the Honeycomb Basket which I made a few months ago, and this pattern is quite similar so I was already familiar with the principles and how to make it more efficiently than how the instructions tell you to do it. The William Morris print is a teatowel I bought in the V&A gift shop, and the lining is leftover quilt fabric from my William Morris grid quilt. I enjoyed making it so much that I am now making a second one out of Japanese prints which will be a birthday present for m-i-l.  I might make a third one out of fabric to match the Tilly fabric brooches that I made last week, then I can sew the brooches on for decoration.

Yesterday we went to a church fete and I snapped up this handcrafted tote bag from the jumble table.  Somebody has cut squares out of vintage and new embroidered linens and sewn them together in a patchwork onto a calico backing, quite a clever idea which I thought was worth sharing with you.

TV knitting this week has mainly been the purple lace shawl from Victorian Lace Today, which I started quite a while ago and then it got pushed to the bottom of my workbasket and I forgot about it.  I found it a few weeks ago when I was having a tidy up.  I've also picked up for the sleeves of my top-down leaf yoke jumper so I can knit a few inches on each of them then I can test the fit before going any further.  In commuter knitting I have started the Portsmouth Beanie hat from the Spring 2017 issue of Interweave knits, which is a solid colour beanie hat featuring a wave pattern created from twisted rib and moss stitch.

I had an email from a Canadian friend this week which started out with "Craziness in the world these days" which is certainly feeling true.  Some awful events here in the UK, but equally so many tales of heroism and compassion.  And now of course the election chaos with looming Brexit.  It all makes the future seem very uncertain but I suppose all's we can do is keep carrying on with our daily lives and hope for the best.

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Pergola finished

We finished off the pergola today.  We are pretty pleased with how it's turned out, given our limited technical abilities.  It's a bit wonky here and there but it's pretty sturdy, and the inside feels shaded and private.  I would love to have the patio done so we could sit in there, and so I could get the planting in.  But I have to be patient.

There will be a path through this arch leading around into the pergola.

The inside. Still more digging to do, to level out the floor.
Shady inside. I want to put a water feature where the pots are. The round topped bench isn't staying there, it's only temporary.  There should be room for a dining table and a couple of small sofas inside the pergola.  I'd like to grow a rose and a clematis up the trellis.


While there has been some attention this week to main projects, I have to confess to getting distracted onto a couple of frivolous sidetracks. 

I was sorting my knitting patterns in an attempt to tidy up my craft room when I came across this little watermelon purse, which was a fun little knit out of scrap yarn.  I lined it with watermelon fabric. Unfortunately the zip tends to get stuck on the knitting so it isn't the most functional purse in the world. But it looks cute  :)

And currently I am playing with a Tilly kit which makes three fabric brooches, which was an impulse buy very cheaply on sale.  Not sure what I will do with them, I can't see wearing them on my person in public. I shall likely pin them onto a storage basket in my sewing room as a pretty decoration.  Maybe on the cute pattern for a storage basket that I picked up at the Poppy Patch sale, along with six half metres of assorted fabrics which were 50% off.

I finished the first bobbin lace snowflake.  On the one hand I've done a terrible job, this wiry DMC metallic embroidery thread is almost impossible to tension properly so the lace is really untidy.  On the other hand, I'm pleased with the overall wrought metal effect and I think it makes a nice ornament.  By the end I was getting better at wrangling the wiry thread.  I'm going to make a second one for m-i-l and hopefully will do a better job on that one.

I'm still trying to untangle the failed attempt at tapering the end of my Bucks Point lace bookmark.  I've sorted out one side of the taper and am currently reverse-lacing on the other side.

I've also finished my William Morris grid quilt and I'm quite pleased with it.  I loved working with these rich fabrics and the intricate border print.. I wasn't working to any particular size but it's turned out to be a really good sized double and looks good on DS's bed (which is also the guest room).  This summer, once the DH club visit is over, I'm going to dig out the machine quilting frame and see if I can get it set up somewhere, probably in the dining room.  Then it can stay up for a few months while I re-learn how to use it and then quilt my way through a couple of year's worth of quilt tops.

The photos I took of the quilt don't get the colour balance right, in person it is more blue-grey and the values are not as evident because the prints merge more in a kind of watercolour effect.  But I couldn't get the camera to cooperate, it kept reading everything as lighter in colour. I tried a few different settings but no good.  It's nice to finish something, I'll have to think what to do next.  I should probably go back to my indigo Bear's Paw and get the borders on to it.

The garden is looking lush thanks to a nice mixture of sun and rain.  The delphinums, which are supposed to be under the apple tree, have grown so tall this year that they have grown right up through the tree.  I'm a bit worried that they will suffocate the tree but I suppose the tree roots should be a lot deeper than the delphiniums. And eventually the tree may grow bigger.

yes, there is an apple tree in there somewhere.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Pergola time

This week has been mostly about the pergola.  If you prefer to read about needlecrafts then skip further down the post, I don't mind :)  Last weekend we managed to get all six main posts concreted into the ground, more or less level, and spaced to allow for the trellis panels to be fitted at a future date. We gave up trying to be clever about the sloping ground and just leveled every post to the first post we put in.  The consequence of this is that we now have to manually dig out the slope to level the site.  As it is almost a foot higher at one end, this is going to be a lot of bags of dirt going to the dump.  This weekend is a long weekend, so we got the main beams installed yesterday, and started on a production line of cutting the rafters to size and screwing them in place with four brackets each.  Each bracket has four holes and we have settled on having 11 rafters so that is 176 holes to be drilled and screwed while balancing on a rickety stepladder on the uneven ground.  We've done eight so far and it's looking surprisingly good considering our lack of expertise.

Last night we christened the future patio by setting up our little barbecue underneath the pergola and cooking dinner out there, but it was too windy to actually eat under it.  I never heard back from patio guy so the patio is still a mythical concept.

Meanwhile, on the knitting front, I finished my Reaverse slippers.

They're cute and fit well, but the finishing looks sloppier than the ones in the pattern picture. Now that I've made them once and understand the somewhat sketchy pattern, I know I could do a better job if I ever made them again.  The pattern calls for making 2-stitch I-cord in aran yarn for 1m 40cm for each shoelace. I decided life was too short and dug out my Magicord machine and cranked off two lengths in a crepe machine knitting yarn.  Meanwhile the weather has turned warm and sunny and temperatures have shot up to almost 30 degrees on some days, so I don't actually need slippers any longer until next autumn probably.

I also finished off my Fair isle Socks from Folk Knitting in Estonia by Nancy Bush.  I haven't blocked them yet  - blocking will help even out the stitches. They fit well, although you can feel the difference from having stranded yarn for fair isle in terms of reducing stretch, even though I was careful about not pulling too tightly. These are in Lion Brand Sock Ease that somehow found its way into my stash.

I managed to finish the machine knit baby dress in four-ply acrylic.  Basically I made a pig's ear of this but managed to camouflage the many mistakes so I think the non-knitting recipients will be happy with it.  I took it into work on Friday and handed it over to the husband. I was disappointed that he just thanked me warmly and didn't take it out of the bag to look at it but DH said that's a man thing and doesn't mean he didn't appreciate receiving it.

On the bobbin lace front, I started over on the silver snowflake decoration and it's going ok.  The thread I am working with, which is a DMC metallic embroidery cotton for the workers, is probably not the best choice as it is very stiff and a bit rough so it's hard to tension. But the colouring is effective.This is an earlier pic and I am about 3/4s around the snowflake now.

I've sewn most of the diagonal rows together for the William Morris grid quilt but not all of them.  I've also printed off descriptive labels for all my dollshouse collection and mounted these on card, ready to display for the club visit.  It looks like around a dozen people may be coming, which will be easier to deal with than all 20 or so members while still making it feel like my effort is worthwhile.  DS has announced he is coming back from uni prior to the visit so I've had a discussion with him about a) keeping the house tidier than normal once I've cleaned up for the visit and b) assisting on the day.

Yesterday I got my summer clothes out from under the bed, and swapped them over with my heavy winter clothes and jumpers.  Does anyone else do this?  It's not that I have a huge number of clothes as I'm not much into fashion, but I never have enough room to have a full four season's worth of clothes out at once, plus I don't like having things in the way that I won't be wearing for several months. I want to be able to grab things quickly and get on to more interesting things like crafting.

The cat is still under the weather.  We had an interesting few days where the cat bite on her back, which got infected, was 'weeping' which was pretty disgusting.  Particularly as she thought she would do me a favour by keeping me company at my sewing machine and rolling around winsomely on her back so I would pet her stomach - leaving behind disgusting smears which I had to immediately wipe up before anything got on my fabric.  And the last few days she has started sneezing and snuffling like she has a cold and her eye is watering so it's back to the vet she goes this afternoon. I like having a cat round the house but sometimes I do feel a bit ambivalent because of the expense, the maintenance, the paperwork, the cat hair, having to keep all the internal doors shut, not to mention trying to get pills into her etc. I feel like most of this sort of responsibility falls on me, although DH does more of the day to day work like feeding and cleaning up after her. In theory she is DS's cat, and he loves her dearly, but of course he's not here most of the year.

Saturday, 20 May 2017

Nice weather for ducks

The garden was previously suffering as it has been a pretty dry winter and spring, but now we've swung the opposite way and it's been raining almost every day for over a week.  The lawn now looks lush and needs a cut but it's too wet to cut it. At least it's a lot warmer. Tomorrow I'm going to plant out the plug plants I've been growing on because hopefully we aren't going to have any more frosts.

Last year I took part in a seed distribution programme and tried to grow several things from seed.  Some were a qualified success: I had several salvias that bloomed and some have survived the winter, I've got three Hydrangea Paniculata growing in pots, and the Mexican Fleabane has been a delight.  I also had a single Lily Martagon which survived the winter and started growing quite vigorously over the last several weeks.  I was quite pleased and looking forward to some lovely flowers. It kept growing taller and throwing out more stems with no sign of flowers, until it was about three feet tall.  I was still hopeful, until I noticed the exact same plant growing out of cracks in the pavements in the neighbourhood and in rough verges and I realised I had been tricked - it's a weed.  I doublechecked online and sure enough my plant looked nothing like Lily Martagon. So I pulled it up. It must have snuck into the pot somehow while the real seeds didn't grow, and I've been carefully nurturing it like a cuckoo in the nest. DH thinks this is quite funny.

Today we dug three post holes in between rain showers, and cut the first three pergola posts to length.  Tomorrow if the weather cooperates we will have a go at concreting them in.

I did some bobbin lace this morning, trying out a pattern for a Christmas snowflake, but I had to undo everything because I realised my thread is too thick for the pricking.  I've enlarged the pricking now and I'll have another go.  A few days ago I finished my sample of Bucks Point gimp fingers.  It looks nice but each 1/4 inch took about one hour so I can't see myself ever making anything usable in this pattern. I have mixed feelings about Bucks Point lace. I really like how it looks - to me it looks much more like 'lace' than the more geometric laces like Torchon.  But it is so incredibly slow to work, at least for me anyway.  It's also very complicated, I've only done simple patterns so far and there is so much more to learn, and I do not have a good memory.

After finishing this sample, I took the cover off my styrofoam pillow so I could wash the cover before moving it onto the replacement pillow I bought at Peterborough last week.  I was amazed at how shredded the old pillow had become. The middle, which takes the brunt of the lace pins, was basically loose crumbs.  I've realised Bucks Point lace must be particularly hard on these cheap pillows because you use so many pins set so close together.  But the advantage of these pillows is that they are very lightweight and portable.  I've got a better one which is the big circular pillow I bought for making the Idrija doiley, but it's quite heavy.

I joined together the pieces of my machine knit baby dress successfully, and I just need to knit the collar on now.  It looks alright although it would have looked better if I had done fully fashioned decreases along the raglans instead of just leaving them plain.

I've also sewn all the diagonal rows now of my William Morris grid quilt so the next job will be to sew them together into a top. I had originally planned a random mix of blocks but the value range is so wide, from very dark to relatively bright. In the end I decided if you can't beat them, join them, so I arranged some dark blocks into a square on point and filled in the middle with the brightest blocks.

At my age I need good light to see things, and I've struggled a bit with the light levels around my sewing machine because the overhead light fixture casts shadows.  I've got a clip on IKEA light which helps, but then I saw a great idea online to fix self-adhesive LED lights inside the throat of the sewing machine.  I ordered from the same supplier here.  It's hard to take a picture of because the camera is reading the light levels and darkening the machine.  It's almost too bright now under the machine, I've actually had to put some black electricians tape along the glossy machine
bed because it was reflecting the bright LEDs into my eyes. The LED strip cuts to length to suit your machine and then has its own power cord.

I'm still knitting my Reaverse slippers. I couldn't knit for a few nights because my RSI flared up in my right hand after all the pergola painting and stained glass renovating last weekend. I forgot to blog last week that I finished my Outlander socks. The designer based these on the books by Diana Gabaldon which are set in Scotland, which is why I chose a tartan-like colourway and have finished the cuffs off with stag's head buttons.  These fit well and the cuff actually helps them to stay up.

The stained glass panel had to cure for a week lying flat after I applied the cement last weekend.  So today I put it into the frame I made for it and mounted it in my bedroom window.  I really like it.  Yes there are some broken panes but I feel like I saved it because it was in pretty bad shape when we bought it at the Newark Antiques fair.  As well as looking pretty, this gives me some additional privacy as there are flats to the left that have an oblique view of this side window.  Now that the light is streaming through the glass, I can see some areas where I need to do a bit more cleaning and tidying but overall I'm quite pleased with it. Something a bit different which is what I like. I don't think I'm much of a decorator but it seems that if you keep buying things you like, somehow they mostly look good together.

On Thursday I heard a short but violent cat fight in the garden then our cat streaked in through her cat flap. I looked out and saw a much bigger cat strolling off.  Our cat seemed fine but then she went off her food on Friday and still didn't eat anything today. I suspected she had an infected wound so we hauled her off to the vet who confirmed the cat had a fever and also a bite on her back. The vet shaved a patch around the bite so we can keep an eye on it, and jabbed the cat full of £75 of antibiotics.  And of course the excess on the pet insurance is £80 so we can't claim. That cat needs to get a job. At least she hasn't gotten trapped in next door's basement for a while.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Dial-a-builder advice line - why doesn't this exist?

I've spent a lot of time this week researching online trying to figure out how to put up our pergola posts and I'm still not there yet. I need some kind of dial-a-builder advice line that I can call. The problem is basically how do you install metal post supports into concrete-filled holes resulting in three posts that are all vertical, in a line so the slot-tops all line up to accept the top beam, spaced accurately within 1cm so the trellis panels will fit in between the posts, while at the same time achieving an appropriate height for each post on sloping ground so that the top beam comes out level - and I can't just chop off the tops of the posts to achieve level because they have slotted tops.  Added to that is the question of whether the metal sockets should be flush with the future patio surface or sitting above the future patio surface [which would result in having to pour concrete in mid-air which isn't going to work, duh]. Sigh...

Meanwhile we continue to paint the second coat of dark brown stain onto the components, which is a form of productive procrastination I guess.  DH is just off to buy the fourth can of stain from Screwfix and that will be the last one we need.

Crafts are so much simpler.

I've sewn all the triangular setting blocks for the William Morris grid quilt and have begun sewing diagonal rows together.  Once the middle is all sewn together then I will work out how to do the four corner block and which fabrics to use.

Last week I did some research online on how to restore a stained glass panel.  Cutting glass to replace the broken bits is outside my technical abilities (and comfort zone) but I did watch a useful video on how to secure the glass inside the leading with 'stained glass cement' so I sent off for some of that and the accompanying 'whiting' which helps the cement to set.  On my day off I cleaned up the panel, brushing down the lead and scraping off old paint and putty. Then I applied the cement which is basically oily black goo that you force into all the cracks and crannies between the lead and the glass.  You let it set for several hours and then you clean up by scraping along each lead line to neaten the result.  I've done both sides and now it needs to lie flat for a week to finish hardening before I can mount it.  Already it feels much more like a solid panel, instead of a wobbly framework of rattling glass pieces, and it looks a lot tidier.

I knit up the faux fur headband kit earlier in the week, and have worn it a few times on the days where it's too warm for a full hat but there's still a biting wind making for cold ears.  It's knitted in Wendy Eider and creates a convincing and extremely soft faux fur.  The yarn was easier to knit with than I expected, I just had to keep the stitches well separated so I didn't accidentally k2tog, but inevitably I dropped a stitch which just vanished into the pelt and took some doing to recover.  This yarn might make a nice cowl as well.  It is rather static-y, I usually get a few sparks when I take off the headband.  I can see this yarn used as a trim for a collar on a garment knitted in some other yarn.

After the headband was finished, TV knitting went back to the Reaverse Slippers.  I've knit both soles and knit the first sock but haven't done the laces yet.  You can start to see what they will look like if I pin the sole on. These are knit in Aran merino wool.

I had another go at the machine knit baby dress and to my relief the sleeves were fairly straightforward.  I've blocked the pieces then will need to press out the hems, button bands and waistband to 'kill' the acrylic so it lies flat.  Then there is a two piece white collar to knit.

Also to my relief, when I got out the super-duper illuminated magnifying lamp and sat down with my Bucks Point gimp finger sample of lace where I thought I had gone wrong, it turns out that I hadn't and things were ok. So that was good.  Less good is trying to work out how to do the tapered end on my bookmark.  I've made several attempts at puzzling it out and keep having to undo.  I was sort of getting it on one side but that's gone wrong as well.  This is where a teacher might come in handy.  I know I need to throw out pairs as the bookmark tapers, it's just working out which pairs that is the problem. I shall persevere. I think you learn more if you try to work it out yourself, within reason. I've met lacemakers that just obediently wait to be told what to do next by their teacher and wouldn't dream of tackling things on their own in case they make a mistake.

I've spent some time this week typing up short explanatory notes to accompany my dollshouses, in preparation for the club visit. I am thinking I will print them out onto either cards or, for the bigger houses, A4 sheets in plastic sleeves, to go with each house. DH has accused me of over-preparing for this visit.

Remember patio guy?  He did actually come back after a week or so with two quotes. Unfortunately neither of them is what I asked for.  I had showed him pictures of patios  in aged pinkish brick, laid in various patterns and edged in black brick - the idea being that it would match our existing Victorian brickwork and look a bit interesting and vintage.  He has now quoted for a patio in modern black sandstone (???) and for a patio all done in one colour of terracotta paver with a border around the edge in black.   It's a bit like dealing with Baby Groot if you've seen the sequel to Guardians.

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