Saturday, 31 January 2015

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but inside it's so delightful

Yes, we've actually had snow the last couple of days. Not very much, about a half-inch crust on Friday here in the Midlands, but that's enough to cause a certain amount of chaos on the roads because most people down here don't know how to drive in it. It's also been hovering around zero degrees Celsius which by southern UK standards is very cold. Having survived several years in eastern Canada, it doesn't seem too cold to me, but I'm still happy to stay inside my warm house.

This was the view from my train station on Friday, when I was on my way to work.

This week I took advantage of my 'free' train travel to London courtesy of my season ticket, and paid a visit to the V&A Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green to visit the 'Small Stories: At home in a dollshouse' exhibition.  As this is primarily of interest to miniaturists, I've blogged about the visit on one of my dollshouse blogs here.

On the trip I was working on my Mixalot Socks, which are a great way to use up scrap yarn but makes for a rather heavy project as you have to carry around all the small balls of said yarn. Each of these colours is from a previous pair of socks or shawl, and you can choose from four different simple lace patterns each time you knit a stripe.

This week I've also finished the right front of my Cabled Cardigan and I've started on the sleeve.

I also sewed buttons on the Machine Knit Baby Cardigan in fuschia, and am 2/3rds of the way through knitting a second one in denim blue cotton Panama yarn.  The second one is going much quicker now that I sort of know the pattern and how to knit it.  Another colleague has just announced she is also pregnant but she doesn't know what it is yet.  She's not due until the summer so no rush.

I've spent a lot of time this week trying to get to grips with my next bobbin lace class assignment.  It's a circle with leaf-shaped 'tallies', and I started it in class with the thread I had which was too thick, just so the teacher could show me how to do it.  At home I wound 10 more pairs of bobbins (20) in thinner thread, and started over again. That thread turned out to be also too thick plus I realised I had no clue what I was doing.

I wound 10 more pairs of bobbins in 50-weight sewing cotton thread, and spent about an hour and a half analysing the pattern diagram, looking up things I didn't understand online, and writing out step by step idiot instructions.  Today I started over again for the third time, and am now getting on fairly well apart from the fact that I'm still not very good at it so the tension isn't great. Also it's not brilliant for visibility to be using white thread on a white photocopy - I am going to order some coloured self-adhesive film to cover the pattern to give a bit more contrast.  In the meantime I'm using my glasses, a magnifying stand, and a daylight lamp in an attempt to fight back against my ageing eyesight deficiencies.

On the quilting front, I went back to work on my Christmas Table Topper, fusing on the 'ribbons' and finishing the raw edges with zig-zag, and now I'm adding the first of two red/white borders which are separated by a green stripe.

Not much noise from the studio next door this week, but I have now raised queries with the Council as to whether they have planning for their operating hours, and about the noise.

And no more news yet at work, although the rumour is that they are going to create one big team instead of all the dispersed current units around the UK.  We have a briefing scheduled for Monday to update us so perhaps there will be more news then on what's happening and what the timescale is.

Hope you are staying warm.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Special but not in a good way

It's been a bit of a stressful week, mainly due to my own nature which DH kindly deems 'special' but in the past others have not been so kind.  All my life I have been much more bothered by environmental stimuli such as temperature, noise, draughts, perfumes, bright lights, crowds, sudden noises etc., than most of the people around me. Several years ago I found out about research into the trait of high sensitivity and it was like a lightbulb had gone on -  finally there was a name for people like me and I wasn't the only one.

As an adult I can generally manage my exposure to my environment to cater for my own preferences. I've also managed to habituate myself to the stresses of an open plan office - it still makes me uncomfortable but I've learned coping strategies and am able to function, or at least pretend to function (team days, ick!), normally.

But this week I've been subjected to noise that is outside my control and that I can't get away from, which is the worst kind for me. We've discovered there is a recording studio next door to our new house that we didn't know about when we bought six months ago.  And what's changed is that they've taken on additional space in the little Victorian industrial unit next door, and this week started playing amplified heavy metal music in the new non-soundproofed space. It went on until midnight the first day, and most of the second day until I went round to complain.  Since then it's been  much better, although we had one more night where it was going on until 10pm. It will remain to be seen if that overt noise continues, and if I have to complain to the Council.

But meanwhile, now that I know the studio exists, it has explained why we could often hear faint bass music reverberating the windows of our house. We thought it was some pub off in the far distance that occasionally had live bands. Now I know it is coming from the soundproofed portion of the studio right next door and it has been driving me crazy, thudding away just below the level of my hearing, all day and into the evening.  I don't know if they've stepped up their activity suddenly because I never used to notice it this much.  Of course, it's not bothering DH at all because the thumping is so quiet, and I'm sure a Noise Control Officer wouldn't think I had a case at all.  The studio's website says they're open seven days a week until 10pm, so I'm dreading that this is going to become the new normal.  Perhaps I shall get used to it. I suppose it is going to be intermittent depending on what clients they have in the studio.

The other thing that happened this week is that, before the dust has even settled on the last round of redundancies, we've been told at work that there will be more.  The company is still having financial difficulties and we've got a new CEO who has announced plans for major costcutting. It's too early to know yet what the impact will be on my team but it seems likely that we'll be combined with other similar teams and probably have to compete for our own jobs at some point in the next few months. All's we can do for now is wait and see.

The sane world of crafts

Thank heavens for crafting and the opportunity to use our creativity and relax.

This week I decided to paint our hideous dark brown MDF TV stand, that we bought cheap to use in the rental house and now can't afford to replace.  I had just enough chalk paint left over from painting the linen cupboard and hall table to give the TV stand a couple of coats, and I covered the flat surfaces in stick-on Fablon to resist scratching from the electronic equipment. Still not a thing of beauty but at least it looks less like a dark blob squatting in the corner of the lounge.

I found out at my next bobbin lace lesson that the book I was learning from at home was American and therefore I'd learned some incorrect terminology, so I've had to learn different names for the stitches.  She set us beginners an exercise to do a candle shape in Torchon lace.  I brought it home to work on but struggled because the directions aren't very precise and I hadn't thought of taking a picture of the original for reference. So I don't think the 'flame' part has come out the way it should have done, but I'll find out next lesson. I suppose I could have stopped and waited, but I wanted to move on and do some more practicing. I am going to make a cover for my second pillow today, so that I'll be able to work on a classroom project and my own projects at the same time.

On the knitting front, I had to pull out my first attempt at the Mixalot sock because I tried on the Medium and it was coming out huge.  I've started over and cut out a full repeat, and will try it on again when I get to a few inches.

I blocked my little machine knit baby cardigan and then gave it a steam press.

I've been sewing it together the last few evenings and it looks pretty respectable. I just need to press the last couple of seams and put some buttons on it. It's not perfect when you look closely but a reasonable first attempt as I try to get back into machine knitting.  I'm going to knit it again in 'boy' colours for an ex-colleague who is due in March. This is a first size, in a superwash 4-ply pure wool.

I've knit a bit more on the Aran Sampler jumper and have divided for the neckline now. I'm making the neckline deeper than the pattern's crew neck. I'm also halfway up the right front of the Cabled Cardigan, making buttonholes as I go.

On the weight loss front, I've made it back down to 11 stone (134 pounds) so I can now take my body measurements to fabricate the cover for my dressmaker's mannequin.  The idea is that you make a zip-on cover which is skin tight on you, then pad out the mannequin and zip the cover onto it to create your body double.  We'll see.  In the Craftsy video, they do it all with a skilled helper to take measurements and pin fit the cover on the model, which I think may be beyond DH's skill level.

Sunday, 18 January 2015

We return you to our normal programming

I've had a really crafty week.  The kind of week that used to happen a lot, up until two years ago when we decided we wanted to move house. With DS gone back to uni, and it being too cold to do much DIY inside or out, I've spent hours and hours just working on hobbies.  And it felt great, but a bit strange at the same time.

So this week I've done curtainmaking, started learning bobbin lace, sewed bobbin lace accessories, done handknitting and machine knitting. I've made loads of mistakes, learned lots of new things, and exercised parts of my brain that have been pretty dormant for a long time.

Bobbin Lace

Just before Christmas I heard about a short course introducing Bobbin Lace, being offered at a centre about eight minutes walk from my house. Bobbin Lace is something I've always wanted to try, and over the last 20 years I've collected parts from two Dryad starter kits (found at boot sales), several books, and some bits and bobs like spangle beads and pins. I had my first two hour lesson (of five) last week, and I really enjoyed it. There are five of us on the course, three continuing on from last term and two of us absolute beginners.  All the others had elaborate lacemaking kit which immediately awoke my gadget girl collector's envy. The teacher is really nice and showed us two beginners how to wind bobbins (she lent me hers to begin with) and how to do cloth stitch, and got us started on our first pattern which was to make a snake using cloth stitch. I did about an inch in class and then brought it home as homework.  I was enjoying it so much that I finished it the next morning.

Meanwhile I dug through my stash to pull together the long-hoarded bobbin lace kit.  Altogether I have 29 pairs of plastic or basic wooden bobbins, which all needed spangling - that's the circle of beads attached to one end which helps the bobbin lie flat in use.  So I spent several hours threading wire through beads and attaching it to the bobbins - but I had to go out and raid the local charity shops to find some more bead necklaces to break up as I was running out of big beads.

After that painstaking task, I sewed a cover for one of the foam Dryad flat pillows, and hemmed a work cloth to use with it.  To protect my newly-spangled bobbins, I sewed a bobbin-holding case which will hold 32 pairs.  I used curtain tieback Pellon for the stiff covers, and wide waistband elastic to hold the bobbins.  The binding is doubled French binding and I used the leftover binding strips to sew ties to hold it closed. I didn't have a pattern as such but I looked at a few online to see what others were using. It was good sewing practice as well.

Finally I was ready to try some more lace using my very own tools. I have a beginner's book called 'Lessons on Bobbin Lacemaking' by Dorothy Southard (Dover) so I started learning stitches out of that and had a go at a simple practice braid using different stitches.

I think Dorothy must be/have been American, so hopefully I'm not learning to do things differently than the teacher would have shown me. I'll find out at the next lesson! She seems pretty laid back so I don't think she'll mind that I've gone ahead on my own.

Having learned the three stitches (cloth stitch, whole throw, and half throw), I wanted to tackle my first piece of 'real' lace.  Dorothy calls this the Crown and Triangle edging, and it was really fun to do once I worked out which threads were going where and in which order.

I doubt this is going to become a main hobby for me, at least not to the point where I am going to spend £3.50-£10 collecting individual bobbins like the teacher. But I would like to be able to tackle some miniature lace for the dollshouse - I've got a book somewhere on how to do that and make little mats, antimacassars etc.  In the meantime it's been really fun to learn something new.

Curtainmaking is hard

At the opposite end of the 'fun' spectrum, I slogged through several more hours of seaming, pressing and hemming and finally finished the cellar stairs curtain.

Although the Laura Ashley book of furnishing describes this as a 'simple' curtain, it probably took me up to 10 hours to make and has wholly solidified my intention to pay someone else to make all the Roman Blinds we will need in this house. It's just really hard to wrestle a 2.2m square piece of heavy fabric, made heavier with a thermal lining and weights in the hem. It's hard to cut an accurate square that big in the first place - and my lining hem is wonky by about an inch because of that. It's hard to accurately press all the hems and seams, and it took about an hour just to handsew the bottom curtain  hem. The task was not made easier by  having to piece together three pieces of curtain fabric and four pieces of lining to get to the right size (the lining is my own fault, I didn't order enough).  But it's done, and it's doing the job apart from it doesn't hang right up to the walls very well because of the fittings supporting the pole. It looks pretty good from this distance  :)

Hand knitting

This week I finished the left front of the Cabled Cardigan and I've blocked it in preparation for marking where I want the button holes.  I was a bit stymied when I got to the shoulders and found the directions wanted me to keep knitting the neckband. I've not done a cardigan that way before, but I can see how it will work to flow the cable around the neckline. I've left the neckband stitches on a pin in case I need to make it longer or shorter.

Meanwhile I then needed a new portable project, so I started the Mixalot Sock by Rachel Coopey. This pattern has been featured in full page ads for a yarn company in UK knitting magazines, and is essentially stripes of different colours each featuring one of four lace patterns. It looked like a great way to use up my many balls of leftover sock yarn. I started it on my Wednesday commute but by Thursday I could see that the  medium size was going to be far too loose on me. So I've pulled that out and re-started with fewer stitches. Haven't photographed as it doesn't look like anything yet.

I finally finally finished the endless stockinette of the Low Tide Cardigan body in sock yarn. A really tedious knit.  I tried it on and I am not convinced this is going to be a success.  The v-shaped lace yoke is bulging strangely on my back. Other Ravellers have reported fit problems so I am not optimistic.  I've measured the armhole size and calculated how many stitches to pick up which is different from the pattern because the yoke is stretching on me. So I will have to increase as I pick up the live stitches.

I've knit a bit more on the Aran Sampler Pullover, but still on the section above the armholes. I will need to decide how I'm going to do the neckline soon, the pattern neck is too high for me.

Machine knitting

I have persevered and completed the two fronts, and two sleeves for the little practice baby cardigan I am knitting in fuschia pink.  Today I tackled knitting the front buttonhole bands, which took ages and was exhausting.  There are some things which just aren't that easy or quick on a machine compared to handknitting.  I also re-learned how to use my Hague Linker after a few false starts - that's a machine that chain stitches live stitches down onto the knitted fabric, to give a neat finish to the folded knitted bands.  Now I just need to do the neckbands, darn in some loose ends and then I can block the pieces ready for seaming.  I haven't photographed them yet as machine knitting tends to curl up a lot more than handknitting so at the moment they just look like fuschia pink sausages.

Hopefully I will end up with a cardigan that's reasonably adequate to give away to someone.  Then I am going to knit something for an ex-colleague who is pregnant with a baby boy. I need to have it done before the 15th of March when she is having a baby shower.  I'm not going but one of my current colleagues will take the gift along for me.

Edible craft

I made my first bubble tea at home today!  We like it so much when we have it at Oxford that I looked up how to do it.  I used this recipe here, and some boba pearls that I  mail ordered from an online Asian shop. I used Jasmine Green Tea bags, and flavoured it with fresh squeezed lemon juice.  It was pretty good!  Will definitely make again, and would be so refreshing on a hot day.  Today it is hovering at freezing but it is lovely and sunny.

Hope you've had a good week too!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Faux paper tiled fireplace hearth

In which I apply dollshouse techniques to the real world  :)

The cute Victorian cast-iron fireplace in my bedroom had been given a quite ugly makeshift hearth by the previous owners, who had just stuck down some slate tiles and put a wooden border around them.  We had that pulled up and I scraped off the tile adhesive, but that left me with an unattractive concrete slab flush with the floorboards.

For a while I thought I was going to re-tile with some replica Victorian tiles, but once my bedroom was finally re-painted and the furniture arranged, the hearth has ended up right in a traffic route leading to the ensuite.  Tiles would raise it up to toe-stubbing level above the floorboards.

Eventually it occurred to me that the only way to have 'tiles' that were level with the floor would be to use a faux decoupage tile glued to the hearth slab.  This is the technique we often use in the miniature world, to create an effect that looks in scale.  I spent some more time looking for gift wrap or wallpaper featuring tiles and although there are quite a few designs, I couldn't find anything I liked.

I eventually realised (yes, slow thinker here) that I could just make my own tiles. I cut out a portion of a mosaic image I found online, made it square using Photoshop, and printed out lots of copies on my inkjet printer. I let them dry then sprayed them with a coat of clear sealer. Then I  cut out individual tiles with the help of a paper cutter. I left a sliver border of white around them to help with spacing.

Meanwhile I painted the concrete slab white with three coats of smooth masonry paint.

I 'tiled' the hearth just like you would with real tiles, cutting the end tiles in half to get even spacing across the hearth. I painted the back of each tile with PVA adhesive using a foam brush, and the neat trick of using a new clean page in a magazine each time as a glue palette.  The PVA stuck the 'tiles' down really well.  When I got to the curved bits around the cast iron, I creased the paper with my finger nail then cut it to shape with scissors.

The end effect does look like tiles from a short distance, although I did have a bit of trouble keeping the 'grout' lines even.

It helps a lot that my inkjet printer is a bit knackered so the colour on random tiles is a bit mottled.  After taking this picture, I let the tiles dry overnight then gave them three coats of Ronseal Clear Floor Varnish left over from refinishing the floorboards downstairs.

Humorous aside: DH was really confused when I showed him my 'tiled' hearth because he couldn't remember when we had bought those ceramic tiles.


I finished the back on my Cabled Cardigan.  I really like this Eco Debbie Bliss yarn, it's soft and yet has good stitch definition.  I've started the left front now and am halfway to the armhole.

I've made it past the armholes on the Aran Sampler pullover.  I decided to give it a modified drop shoulder as I know the pattern's drop shoulder would be really unflattering.  I'm also leaning towards doing a plain back and plain sleeves, because I think if I do the whole pullover in this bobbly pattern then I am going to look like I'm wearing a fat suit.

I've done a bit more machine knitting, completing the two fronts for the little baby cardigan I am knitting.  They went much better, it's starting to feel slightly more natural.  Although the on-board sensor still seems to be working because the exact moment I started thinking "Hey, this is fun!" then I immediately dropped the stitch I was moving to a new needle to decrease, dropped the stitch I had already decreased and suddenly had armageddon on the armhole.


Although Christmas has come and gone, I've decided to make a table topper from a book called Deck the Halls - Quilts to Celebrate Christmas by Cheryl Almgren Taylor (That Patchwork Place). I'm actually combining two table topper designs, using the appliqued 'presents' from one and the candy cane border from another.  I'm still having trouble sewing an exact seam allowance, I'm wondering if my quarter-inch foot has gone out of calibration. It was fun going into my 'walk in fabric closet' to pick the fabrics for this project, that part of my new sewing room is working really well.

But today I put the christmas project to one side (well, actually I put it on the floor because I am short on table space) to start sewing a curtain to stop the drafts coming up the cellar stairs.  I'm making it out of the final remnants of about eight miles of Sanderson Morris 'Willow' pattern fabric that we inherited with our first house almost 25 years ago. In its time, this fabric has been drapes, sun canopies in the garden to protect the baby, upholstery fabric for an Ottoman, lining for handbags, and there was still just enough left to piece together into a 2.2m x 2m curtain.  It sure is awkward trying to wrestle that much fabric on and off the ironing and sewing tables though.  I've bought some combined lining/interlining to use, to make it thermally efficient, and I'm just going to do a simple bagged lining. The hardest part is doing all the calculations, hopefully I've got it right and it will be the right size.

The house is ours again

We took DS back to Oxford today and moved him back into his room.  Much as we love him, it feels nice to have the house back again. I should have more time now as well, less cooking and picking up after him. After we took him to lunch and forcibly bought him a new pair of trainers to replace the ones his toes were hanging out of (I made him wear the new ones out of the shop so I knew the old ones had gone in the bin), we had a lovely long walk.  All along the Thames on the opposite side to the boathouses, with lovely views across Christchurch Meadows to the colleges. Then back over the Thames on the Doddington Road, and back into Oxford on the Iffley Road arriving eventually at Magdelan College. It felt like several miles and it was a lovely sunny day.  We rewarded ourselves with a nice glass of Bubble Tea at the peaceful sanctuary of Formosa Tea Room, then headed home.

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Waddling into the new year

Happy new year and best wishes for 2015. I don't go back to work until Wednesday so I still feel a bit like I am on holiday. However I'm conscious that the couple of weeks off have not been very good for me.  I weighed myself as I still try to do every few weeks since our diet in 2014, and I've put on six pounds (over 3 kilos) after all the good (bad) eating in December.  Time to cut back but it's hard to do until DS goes back to uni in a week because he keeps wanting sweets and biscuits in the house and we have no willpower. At least we have finally eaten our way through all the Christmas food and chocolate.

The other bad habits I have fallen back into, are staying up and sleeping in really late. I've been galloping through the Game of Thrones series catch-up which was screened on Sky Atlantic over the holiday, watching three or four episodes a night while I knit.  I'd only seen series one before  we switched away from Sky a few years ago and lost access to Sky Atlantic.  I'm now midway through series three and really enjoying it. Although I'm trying not to get too attached to any of the characters because DS (who has read the books) has warned me that the author likes to kill off his main characters.  No spoilers please.

I've also become re-hooked on my son's video game 'Skyrim' on our ancient Xbox 360. I started a new character who mainly uses magic, which makes it quite a different playing experience from my previous character who was a walking  tank.  So a typical holiday day has been getting up at 9 or 9:30am, doing a bit of work during the day then settling down to Skyrim for a few hours in the afternoon before spending the evening watching Game of Thrones and going to bed around 1am. No wonder I've put on six pounds!  I need to phase back in early mornings to get ready for the 6:30am start on Wednesday, groan.

I went to the doctor again about my wrist, and we now think it's actually Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Which is a heck of a lot better than rheumatoid arthritis.  I've got to have a nerve conduction test at the hospital before they can decide treatment - apparently you start with a steroid injection and if that doesn't work then surgery.  Meanwhile I've discovered that if I sleep with a brace on my right hand, it reduces the severity of the symptoms considerably.  So I'm back to lots of knitting, hurrah!

New year's resolutions

Do you make resolutions?  And do you follow through with them?  I rarely make them, but I was thinking about it today because I was listening to some podcasts while I was quilting and they were all talking about plans for 2015.  Obviously we need to keep working on the house, but I think this year I would like to learn to take better pictures for my blog.  Generally when I finish something, I just want to quickly snap a photo to make it official and it isn't until later that I notice all the wrinkles in the item, the distracting background, the shadows, bad lighting, blurs etc.  I've been reading articles online about photographing knits, they all bang on about using natural light without giving much real advice on how to do that in grey rainy England when typically you are photographing things indoors.  Also they advise to use neutral or white backgrounds, with side light. We don't have any empty walls that have a window to the side of them. For smaller items like dollshouse miniatures, it looks like good advice to create a homemade 'light tent' to give diffuse light so I might have a go at that.

This could also be the year we both look for new jobs with shorter commutes, now that we are settled in the new house. I still need to lose some more weight (plus I need to lose the extra six pounds!).  And I want to use up stash in all my hobbies over the next few years, either making it into things, selling it, or giving it away.  A house move really focuses the mind on how much stuff one has, and as a natural hoarder I have a lot of things 'just in case' that realistically I am never going to use or that aren't even my taste. Our new garden needs a complete redesign, and while we can't afford to have any professional work done, we could do a lot ourselves once I work out what I want it to look like. So lots to look forward to in 2015.


I finished my Itineris Shawl early in the week.  It's such a simple design yet fairly effective even though my two yarns have low contrast. However, I was on the home stretch of the side border before I suddenly realised that I've been doing the stripe pattern wrong the whole time.  I thought it was 'six fat stripes, six skinny stripes' when actually I should have been knitting 'seven fat stripes and five skinny stripes'. It's probably a good thing though because I ran out of the Socks That Rock yarn an inch before the end tip, and had to go back and change some fat stripes to thin stripes to introduce more contrast yarn.  If I had been knitting seven fat stripes I would have run out much earlier. The shawl, being garter stitch, has quite a heft to it and is fairly warm, while the side border helps reduce the 'giant arrow pointing at my bum' effect of a triangular shawl.

I've started a new cabled cardigan by Debbie Bliss, using her Eco cotton yarn in dusty pink from my stash and a pattern from her Eco Fairtrade Collection book. I bought the yarn years ago when she spoke at the I-Knit Weekender event in London.  The I-Knit shop took a break from events for a few years but has now announced the 'I-Knit Fandango' weekend 15-16 May in London, I've booked my ticket already.  The Weekender used to be a nice event, a good size yet with a really friendly hang-out feel. Anyway, I'm enjoying knitting with this Aran weight yarn after the sock yarn shawl.

I've done some more quilting and finished the final two blocks for my Star Sampler quilt.  These are the Indian Hatchet design. I still feel really out of practice though, nothing is very precise and I'm having to deal with lots of floating points plus a few cut off points.

This means that all the blocks are pieced now and I just need join them together and fill in the inner and outer borders in the same background fabric.

I also made a basic sewing machine cover for my Janome 6500 because it's never had one. I used some fabric that's been in my stash for ages because it was too good to use on other things. I had some leftover dotty strip from the binding, so I made it into a fabric rosette as an embellishment.

I'm  trying to re-learn how to machine knit, a very frustrating process.  It's terrible knowing that you used to be quite good at something, but now you are fumbling the most basic techniques.  I sat in front of the Brother 881 and worked my way through the manual, trying out various things. I ran into an immediate problem with my carriage which has gummed up, meaning one of the cams doesn't want to relax from KC back to normal knitting.  It took me about 30 or 40 minutes to work out why my carriage was repeatedly jamming and now I still have to take it off the rail and push the cam open with my finger when I switch from patterning to normal knitting.  I've put some oil on it so hopefully it will loosen up. This equipment is probably 40 years old or more now so it's all wearing out.

So I'm starting with a basic baby's cardigan with a picked up picot hem, just to practice the basic techniques like casting on, decreasing, picking up stitches, knitting on bands etc.  It took me two attempts to make the picot hem but I managed to finish the back today. I'm using a Forsell Superwash wool 4-ply in fuschia pink.


There's a new antiques centre opened up in town, which we stumbled across on a New Year's Eve afternoon walk.  I picked up some very cheap vases and a bowl, and some lovely chintzy plates. Then I spotted this amazing beaded embroidery, very Victorian in style although I'm not sure how old it is.

Everything that isn't green in the design is actually beads.  Most of it is in quite good condition, but some of the threads are broken and I will need to repair it. An amazing piece of work. I wonder what talented woman stitched it in years past?

I'm not sure if we will use it on a mantle or I might use it in my bedroom once it is repaired.

With best wishes to you and yours in 2015.

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