Saturday, 27 March 2010


I've spent the week waiting to hear about a start date for my new job, but nothing so far.  Next week they have asked me to go on a three-day course to learn Sharepoint.  If I'm not on payroll yet, then they will give me the time in lieu later. I've felt a bit in limbo, unable to make plans more than a few days ahead in case I got a call.  It's also giving me more time to feel nervous about going back to full-time work.  I think it would have been better nerve-wise if I could have started right away while I was still on a high from getting hired.

I used some of the time to become better acquainted with my knitting machine, one of the hobbies that I wanted to get back into while unemployed.  I read through the manuals again, and re-discovered several things I had forgotten, including the fact that I have a colour changer and a lace carriage - somewhere in the knitting shed.  I expect they are in one of the drawers.  I knit up the back of a waistcoat in some Wendy's slubby denim cotton I got at a boot sale a long time ago.  Despite doing a tension sample and using a pattern from Ann Budd's handy book of patterns, it came out too big.  I also think I don't have enough yarn.  But I am going to unravel the back and have re-written the pattern to make it smaller, so will have another go and keep my fingers crossed.

I also knit a tuck-stitch blanket using a pattern that I discovered on the internet, using some 4-ply acrylic I had.  This is the smallest size, more of a baby blanket, at about 22" square.  I am going to try knitting the largest size next.  I blocked it by chucking it in the washing machine and dryer, but found the edges were still curling a bit so I pinned it out and steamed it a bit.  I ended up killing the acrylic more than I wanted to, will have to go more lightly on the next one.

On Sunday, DH drove me down to Cobham to a antiques fair specialising in vintage dolls and dollshouse items.  These aren't really my thing, as they are frequently out of scale, and very battered, but at one stall I picked up this gorgeous handmade quilt, pieced from individual tiny hexagons, for £1!!  Isn't it sweet?

On Thursday I had to get out the house as I could feel the onset of cabin fever, so I went on the train to Guildford.  I had been before, but never really looked around.  It is a really nice place, I was very impressed.  I went to the museum first, where they have an excellent collection of antique needlework tools, some samplers, and various examples of costume.  I picked up the Town Trail leaflet and followed it around all the historical sights such as the Castle, the 17C buildings on the high street, and also saw several excellent Victorian villas off on the side streets.  There is some really good shopping as well, and I tried on various clothing items but only bought a pair of linen trousers for the summer.  And a yarn shop, where I bought some buttons for the waistcoat.

Today (Saturday) I have been up to Birmingham on the train to visit Miniatura, the best dollshouse and miniatures fair in the UK (IMHO).  Although it did seem smaller this year than the last time I went.  I went with a list, and got several things for my Rik Pierce house, which I was working on earlier in the week.  I had several purchases from previous fairs to install, stain, glue in, shelves to fill etc, and it is now looking like someone really lives there.  It was quite fun filling up the kitchen shelves.  I am picturing it as a sort of hunting and fishing lodge on the edge of the estate, somewhere where the young owner can get away from it all and do for himself.  I also saw pieced hexagon quilts that were more neatly done but not as cute as my antique find, and they were priced at £75 - so I am treasuring my bargain purchase.

Keeping me warm (but not too warm) in both Guildford and Birmingham was my Rowan Scottish Tweed cardigan, now all finished complete with pockets.  I am quite pleased with how this turned out.  I copied the shape and design from another favourite purchased cardigan, so I really like the fit.  The buttons are great, handmade ceramic buttons that were a gift from my m-i-l.  Being a pure traditional wool, it is very light and yet quite warm.  I knit the fronts and the back on my Brother 260 on T1, then added the bands, collars and pockets by hand.  I did a little eyelet detail on the pockets and threaded through some ribbon.  I had to seam the back from two pieces as the machine needle bed wasn't wide enough at this gauge to do the whole back. 

Earlier in the week I finished the second BOM sample block.  This design was a traditional Cat's Cradle pieced block, which really didn't fit with all the other blocks people had contributed, which are all pictorial.  I was trying to think how I could fit it into the quilt (and was considering using it as a label on the back), and turned it sideways and realised that with some creative piecing it could be fish.  I've done a fairly small version, the grid is 1.5", so rather than piece really fiddly tiny pieces I have appliqued on the tails.

While rummaging through the knitting storage unit (the one my family thinks is the media unit, ha ha ha) I came across a knitting bag with my Noro Matsuri cardigan pieces, all fully knit and just waiting to be blocked.  I felt guilty and gave them a wash and blocked them to size, then seamed the shoulders and one sleeve.  The sleeve, despite being the size given in the Yarn Forward pattern I am using, seems tight, partly because I bound off too tightly.  I am going to open the cast off edge up and try binding off more loosely before I set the sleeves in.  I also think I need to press the knitting, as it seems to have gone very floppy now that it has been washed.  Love the colours though.

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