Friday, December 28, 2007

Well, that was Christmas.

Jo and I did a Christmas Swap. I had her present under my tree from the beginning of December (metaphorically, you understand, the tree didn't actually go up until the 7th) and it was truly lovely to have a surprise pressie waiting for me that I knew was kitterly in content. The Lush soap smells delicious (good thing about Lush that, strong smells for my poor smelless nose). The yarn is great, don't know what I'll make with it yet, maybe a little blanket with mitred squares, i enjoyed those I made for Oliver's blanket so much :o), the planets I haven't had before but they are NICE (I do like chocolate, you know) and THE BAG! Jo makes the most lovely bags, the colour is 'me' (you know .. the purple thang) and the style is practical, I can see me using it, often. It made me laugh out loud when I opened it to find that we had both sent each other yarnimals.
I sent Jo some stitch markers very like these, but the one she sent me is a row marker and the clasp at the top (instead of a ring) makes all the difference when knitting lace. I am thinking lace at the moment, as I am working on an article for Kerrie's Yarn Forward mag and knitting a project to go with it. the yarn is Dee's Sophia and is gorgeous to knit with but I wont spoil the unveiling by giving any hint, so you'll have to wait, tease? me? Yes, mwahahahaha!

The rest of Christmas? A jolly time was had by all. Next year, less consuming and commercialism and more handmade - promise to self - all felt a little hollow somehow. But kids had a good one and everyone played nice :o)
New Years resolution? Do less and do it better. I have been chasing my tail all year struggling to meet one deadline after another and just getting there by the skin of my teeth. i want to enjoy my knitting so I need to be more choosy both about what I knit and also about what other commitments i take on. Less will definitely be more in 2008.
So first priority is to clear the decks of outstanding commitments, knitterly and otherwise.
In my next post ... a homecoming.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Secret Knitting isn't just for Christmas

Jo organised the mitt swap :o) but her mitts never arrived :o( so I thought I would do something about that :o) and I made her these. The pattern is from Anne's shop and she blogs about them here

I knit them in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino DK and they knit up in a flash and the yarn is lush! I like them so much I see some for me in my future. 1 ball DB Cashmerino DK, 3.75 dpn.

I liked the pattern so much I decided to make a neck warmer in the same stitch and I started with something like this in mind. As I got nearer to that idea, I remembered EZ's Dickies and I decided to add the extension at the base of the neck to keep those drafts out.
I really don't like being cold, you know, and it gets nippy up here :o) DH calls me 'Jacqui Two Coats'! Well now I am Two Coats and a Neck Warmer!

8mm KnitPicks Options, 1 skein of PY Helena Foxglove - colour really like this

lovely aran weight squooshyness. I made it too long so I can either wear it doubled over (for extra warmth) or scrunch it up (for extra warmth) - I like extra warmth. Pattern a combination of Anne's waffle rib and EZ's Dickey (neck warmer) from Knitting Around page 39.

In aran weight I cast on 76 stitches and knit 5 inches of 2 x 2 rib in waffle pattern, cast off 18 stitches at back (or place them on waste yarn) continue in pattern decreasing 1 stitch at each side on each right side row, slipping all first stitches, until 26 stitches remain. Pick up one stitch for each slipped stitch on sides and 18 stitches along the back. Continue in rounds of 2 x 2 rib. Increase half as many stitches again across the back to help the edge fan out and work a short row across the back to help it lie higher at the back. After an inch do that increase round again. Continue until you run out of yarn, cast off using a very big needle so it's nice and loose and stretchy. Wear it and keep warm.

Now to go cast on my mitts :o)

Dee had (another) good idea :o)

Favourite yarn
Have you seen my stash? It has to be Posh but which one? Er, Sophia 2 ply, no, Helena, no, Emily! No. Can I fudge it and have them all?

Favourite needles
KnitPicks Options, I always have the right needle, at first it was a little odd to knit lace on such slippery needles but I adjusted and now other needles seem very grippy. I also like the Addi Lace needles but haven't quite got them in all sizes yet so go back to the Options when necessary.

Favourite new pattern
Irtfa’a Faroese Lace Shawl, by Anne Hanson at Knitspot. This will be done in 2008, promise, as soon as I finish that Fair Isle cardi. I have ordered the same yarn as the model one is knitted in. But I am not confined to admiring lace in black as in 2008 I also want to do my first Neibling and that princes shawl. I guess it's safe to say the lace obsession passion continues.

Favourite project
Has to be the Spring Things like forest canopy it is a well written, easy to follow pattern and my joy in seeing it develop was added to by feeling that the variegated yarn didn't overpower the design and by the wonderful reception it received when I gave it to my best friend.

Favourite knitting blog
Dee for her regular posts (it's good to be able to rely on things and Dee is one of the things I rely on) and thoughtful discussion of all things knitting, and for an insight into a world of reading that I do not belong to, Soo for her inspiration to try difficult things, Annette for helping me not to be the only one who falls over too often (or feels like I might), it is a good thing not to be alone :o) I do hope you are well enough to blog again soon. Yarn Harlot, for leading me into temptation :o) Angel Yarns Forum for sharing and encouraging and enabling my passion for all things knitting. Oh dear, was I only supposed to choose one? And I could go on and on and on ... Ravelry? Still learning how to use it, haven't quite decided if it's a tool or a time suck.

Favourite new technique
Magic cast on for toe up socks Finally I get the 'sock thing' and I want to do more now i don't have to worry about running out of yarn :o)

Favourite knitting website
erm ... all of them? No wonder I have no time to knit!

Favourite knitting book
Victorian Lace Today & Heirloom Knitting the first for making me want to knit every pattern in it and for being beautiful and the second for making me want to design and for making me believe I could. But it's a hard choice as I have a book thing going on along side my yarn thing. Hmmm, maybe I should prune the books too. The only book I haven't been grabbed by is the new Cat Bordhi one, can't get my head round that one, need to spend some time learning how to read her work as the results look really good but the style is a barrier for me and I may decide I haven't the necessary capacity. It is such a shame that something she does to make it easier for new knitters makes it harder for me. *sigh* But I can't leave the subject of books without a special mention of everything Elizerbeth Zimmermann, all great books - if you were only going to only get one Knitting Around is a goody. Taught me it's ok to have a sense of humour about it all, and she's very clever and can do things i would never think of.

Favourite knitting spot
Anywhere where there's just me a very hot coffee and chocolate cake, er too much food in there? Actually, I have to confess to liking to knit in public, I take socks to fostering support group meetings, partly for the reaction :o)

Favourite knitting partner
Yarn Snob a virtual friend, and an occasional lunch partner (let's do that again in 2008?) :o) But a favourite because she trusted me when she didn't know me and introduced me to the great world of KnitPicks before Get Knitted started selling their stuff here and when they wouldn't export to the UK. All knitting people are such lovely people.

That was fun but choosing is hard, and I didn't really choose just one did I?

And what did I get? Er. well... 2 of poppy and 3 of holly, still got too much stash :o) but no extra purple, yet. VBG

Done some knitting but it's under wraps until i hear it's arrived and been unwrapped so can't show you :o( maybe next time?

Friday, December 14, 2007

Named & Shamed


er, I've been 'outed' :o)

Ok, I admit it, I ave a thang for purple but actually I am really liking the greens and blues too *shock* might just have to be really naughty and buy it all!

No, really, don't tempt me - I am saving myself for the sales :o)

But, hey, go look - it's beautiful, b e a u t i f u l.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

End of year reflection

At this time of year I am usually feeling rushed and hassled - and this year is no exception.

But this time of year is also a good time to pause and reflect. I really feel that I have no time to knit at the moment. But when I look back over the year I am amazed at how much knitting I have done this year, so for today's post I thought I'd do a little gallery of finished projects.

Maybe I have done quite a lot of knitting after all? :o) And I didn't even make a full week without blogging *rolls eyes* but I did manage not to feel bad about not doing it every day.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

When is enough really enough?

Now! OK I have too much stash, there I've said it!

What brought this realisation home yesterday, was looking for some green yarn. Hi Jo *waves* Jo organised a mitt swap I was in on the AY forum. Sadly, for a reason as yet unknown, Jo's own swap mitts never arrived :o( But as I think it's a good idea having a swap angel who will step in when this happens (and sadly it often does) I have volunteered to knit Jo a pair of mitts. It's ok she knows they will be green... all other details remain a secret and will continue to do so ... shhh!

Anyway, as I said I was looking for green yarn. I found some, well, I found several somes. And I also found lots and lots and lots more. Since baby arrived knitting productivity has slowed somewhat (understatement, ha!) so stash usage has dwindled. I am frightened by the amount of stash I have, and annoyed when DH points out it is flammable *shock* at this stage I think he is just thinking of the fire risk not planning to torch it! *shock* But the comment did lead me to pondering which skeins I would save in an emergency,

Forget the kids, save the stash!

Oh dear! I think it's time to have a sale - happily not a fire sale! Not yet anyway!

So my task for the new year, should I choose to accept it, is to sell surplus stash.

There will be no PY in this sale (I couldn't, I just couldn't, don't ask me to, I couldn't) but Ambermoggie is destashing PY for a very good cause, so go support her by adding to your stash :o)

And the yarn I have just bought wont be in it either, that's the fault of Anne and her beautiful designs.

In another blog related development I have decided I also need to blog and surf less, and knit more :o( If time is limited I can't justify using it for surfing when there's knitting to be done. A dilemma here, without the surfing I risk loosing the 'community' of knitters who have made my return to knitting such a pleasure, risk missing the buzz that led me to Hemlock, socks and other group enthusiasms. But I have enough patterns to last even more lifetimes than the stash will last, and I don't like the competition for my time between internet knitting and real knitting when the time allows. So less really is more; less blogging and more knitting, hopefully.

Finally, I aim to blog once a week for a while to see how it goes. The light is against me anyway as I had a lovely photo planned of the baby knits that I have finished recently, bootees to go with the mitts and hat, but the conditions are pants, as my teens would say, so I'll save that for another day.

For now, then, I'll miss you (sob) but I'll hopefully have more to show you and DH wont be tempted to set light to my stash.

BTW yarn for sale will be offered on the forums so see you there :o) and I'll be here to blog all the lovely knitterly stuff next Sunday. Well, it's a plan of sorts? Hugs

I wonder if I can stick to it?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I'm Loving This

Kilcarra of Donegal Tweed Yarn from Irish Yarns and Crafts. Excellent price, excellent service and most excellent yarn, yum! I bought lots *blushes* and it's all for me. Mine, mine it's all mine Mwahahahaha.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Squares and buns

Over on her blog, the Stash Basket, Michaela has been asking for donations of squares to help make a blanket to raffle to raise money for Oliver. I have been meaning to make some for ages but for some reason couldn't get my head round how exactly to do them!

A short while ago posted a link to where there was a simple way to knit a square on the bias, cast on 3 stitches and increase on every row until the sides measure 4" then decrease every row until 3 stitches remain, cast off! Easy right?

Er, no! OK, so I learnt that I do not cast on and cast off to the same tension :o)

I finally realised that a four inch square is actually the same as a tension square- doh! Why I didn't figure this out before is a mystery to me. *rolls eyes* If the yarn is 28 stitches for the tension square then I can knit a tension square (i.e. a 4 inch square for the blanket) by casting on the same number of stitches. Add the EZ info that if you knit the same number of gs rows as stitches and you'll get a square, and, away I go 28 stitches 28 gs bumps (56 rows) = a square.

Once I finally had the basic idea I was able to do a few more :o) and, when that got a little old, I tried a mitred square or two.
so now I am ready to make my own blanket vbg, maybe, but not right now. Anyway, these will be in the post on Monday and I've bought my tickets, how about you?

I've been inspired by this oooh, aaaaah. I have to knit one of these :o)
Rainy Saturdays mean baking, so here are the chocolate buns, awaiting their icing, no point trying to photograph them afterwards, they don't stick around long enough :o)

Friday, November 16, 2007

mittswap 2

Originally uploaded by Jam_mam.

and I received these from Kirsty, thank yiu :o)

swap mitts

fetching 014a
Originally uploaded by Jam_mam.

i made these for Bee :o) Fetching from

Monday, November 12, 2007

Back to Knitting (Phew!)

Now, where was I? Ah yes, Heirloom Knitting Lace Yarn, how fine? Very!
Pattern arrived today, how complicated? Very!
Meanwhile i finished the fingerless gloves for the swap - photo to follow once they arrive at their new home :o)
The second of the first pair of toe up socks is finished too.
I'd like to cast on the second of the HipKnits Project Club socks but i need to get started on the club's next project, the fair isle cardi. this one may prove a challenge, I haven't done fair isle before - but at least that means that if I can do it anyone can. And the aran silk is lovely colours.

Foster Carers Care for families too.

Whilst writing the previous post I realised that I have never blogged about another aspect of fostering that was unknown to me before i became a carer, contact.

Contact between fostered children and their birth families is very important. Many fostered children return to their birth families and regular contact between children and their families helps an eventual return to be successful. Contact also provides an opportunity for Social Services to observe interaction between children and their parents, siblings and other extended family. Sometimes these meetings take place under the supervision of Social Workers, their support assistants , and, increasingly the contact is supervised by Foster Carers.

Contact can take place at Social Services Offices where they have special family rooms with toys, equipment and furniture, sometimes schools host contact at the end of the school day. Often contact takes place in the homes of Foster Carers, especially when the fostered child is a young child or a baby. The length and frequency of each contact varies from case to case. Small babies often get lots of contact; contact is increased when the plan is to return a child to it's birth family and is gradually decreased when it is planned to place a child for adoption. Sometimes it takes what seems an age for decisions to be made, plans to be formed and for the court process to ratify or reject that plan. In the meantime the foster carer may well continue to supervise contact. Sometimes birth families graduate quickly to unsupervised contact, where they collect and return the child. Sometimes contact is deemed detrimental to the child and it is decreased.

Supervising lots of contact in your own home is perhaps, the most challenging part of fostering very young children. Usually birth families see the Foster Carer as somehow separate from the 'system' and are not hostile. Often they want to see you as a 'friend' and as someone who can provide them with support for their needs as well as taking care of their children. But you are part of the system and supervision also means filling in reports for the child's Social Worker as well as keeping the child safe. You may feel huge sympathy for the family or, on the other hand, you may feel annoyed at their inability to prioritise their children's needs. Either way your role is to look after the child not to judge, chastise or befriend the adults. It is not an easy role if you confuse this distinction and contact can be difficult for everyone. After all, this is your family home and it is very tying to have to be available on schedule and to have contact with people you otherwise would not associate with. But it is part of the job of fostering.

I try to approach contact by treating other people in the way I think I would want to be treated if I were in their position. If they treat me and my family and home with respect I will do the same for them. They are not in a pleasant position (whatever I may or may not think about why they are there) and as well as providing the best possible care for their child I will try to ensure that their contact will be the best it can be. When both parties look back on the time that the child was with me, I want them to feel (at best)that I made the experience less painful than it might otherwise have been, or (at worst) not make it more painful than it need be. They can see their child in a happy family environment, where they are cared for by people who will treat the child's birth family fairly too. Sometimes families cannot bare to see their child being looked after by someone else, it is too painful. I hope that will never be because I have deliberately made it so.

Baby has contact 5 days a week.

And you thought fostering was just about looking after kids!

Where did that week go?

Well, part of it went on settling in our new arrival. I wish I could show you a photo :o) but, sadly, I am not allowed to share a photo of fostered children with you, which is a great shame as the new baby is gorgeous. But then at 4 days old today all babies should have someone who thinks they are gorgeous :o)

What I can share is a very touching act of kindness which completely took me by surprise. Kerrie sent us a present :o) A lovely card three pretty girly babygrows and a lovely vintage embroidered cot sheet, very sweet. Thank you, Kerrie, such lovely surprises restore my faith (which is sometimes
tried by other aspects of fostering) in the goodness of people.

One of the roles of foster carers is to gather and guard the mementos and minutiae of their foster children's lives and to keep such small ordinariness safe. A little box of treasures from her time here will go with the baby when she goes to her permanent home, wherever that may ultimately be. A box of photographs, cards, clothes and keepsakes. Partly these things are for adopters but mainly they are for the baby as part of her history. All the things your Mum and Dad could tell you or I, she will have to either deduce or have documented for her. As well as a box of little treasures she will have a life story book which will give her as much detail about what happened before and whilst she was here as I can glean for her.
Kerrie's gifts become part of her heritage and I, for one, am delighted to be able to show baby that someone else cared enough about her to think of her and to send a present. Thank you, Kerrie, from both of us. :o)

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Annette's was closest

but no one got it exactly right, which is reassuring really, the error is obviously not as horrible as I thought it was and random strangers passing by will not see my socks and run screaming from the room "That woman has a mistake in her cable!"

I did one too few rows between the arrowed cables so they are a little too close together. *sigh!* I spotted it almost straight away too but I just couldn't be bothered to run the cable stitches down and pick them back up the right way round. Plus if I had, the outer travelling stitch would have been out of true and not following the rest of the pattern. Which all goes to show that I shouldn't sweat the small stuff!

Talking of small stuff, baby still isn't here as she refuses to come out until she is good and ready, and that is not yet! Still time to finish the pink mitts and booties to match the hat :o) Just need to finish my swap mitts first :o)

I want to cast on a shawl/stole/wrap thingy but this is NOvember so no new cast ons! Blah!

Meanwhile Mr Postie has delivered the fine, fine, oh so very fine Jamieson cone of yarn. OMG it is fine, I'll take a piccie tomorrow to share this fineness so you can wonder along with me, at the amazingness of ever entertaining the thought of knitting with such delicate nothingness. What was i thinking? :o)

Friday, November 02, 2007

Does blocking show up errors?

I am supposed to be going out to night for the first time in ages and ages but I want to stay home and knit socks! I think I may be obsessed.
I need to make the other sock! Can you tell I like this pattern? I do!
The cables are lovely and not too complicated (haven't done any for good few years).
The heel is lovely, just enough texture and look at the little line of holes made by the gusset shaping very elegant.
The magic toe cast on is wonderful from the front you just can't see the join, try it, it's nifty.
The only part I am slightly unsure of is the rib on the cuff, it does evolve from the pattern row beneath but it isn't even, I might change that on a different pair. The sewn cast off was also relatively new but works well leaving a stretchy edge that will fit almost anyone.

See the error yet?

Thursday, November 01, 2007

HipKnits Project Club Socks

Yay! The lady from HipKnits she say "yes!"

The eagle eyed amongst you will spot my deliberate (ok, not deliberate just incompetent) mistake.

I thought I'd have a little fun so if you leave a comment correctly describing the fault you could win a mystery skein of sock yarn from my stash. I'll get one of the kids to pick a name at random on the 5th of November.

Heirlooms and socks.

Pressing on with the HipKnits Project Club sock I am nearing the finish of the first sock and just waiting for Kerrie's go ahead to share some photos with you, it's a lovely sock too, full of firsts for me so I look forward to blogging it more thoroughly.

I have finished my first ever toe up sock with the Very Berry Posh Yarn and the pattern from Interweave Knits Summer 2007. (The light is rubbish today Bah!)

The yarn is lovely and soft, I love the colours and despite not liking this cast on (I found another one via Dee's blog link to a pattern with another link to the cast on - interweb wins again!)

One side of the sock the heel is pants so, of course, this is the other side, Question is, do I match the pants side with sock number 2 or now that I know what my mistake is do I do it right for sock 2? Will the recipient ever know anyway? :o)

The cast on with the pattern is ok but needed darning to remove the tiny holes so I prefer the alternative cast on.

All in all I like this as a quick knit, they don't look much unblocked but a quick stretch with the improvised sock blocker and hey presto! It might have been easier if they hadn't been a surprise so I could ask for foot measurements, but I have guessed that she has smaller feet than me because she's quite a bit smaller than me :o)

I have been spending money *blushes* in an attempt to not buy any more yarn *sigh* I have bought a pattern, but what a pattern! Then the yarn jumper in the basket, I couldn't help it! Once again I can blame my yarn purchases on someone else :o) This time it is Bronte's fault that last night I had to buy this and this. I hope this baby (who is still reluctant to put in an appearance) is a good sleeper :o)

I have also been finding out more about Tuggle - a UK alternative to Etsy shall I join?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007


No new projects will be cast on in November *shock* Initially I said NO new projects apart from Christmas presents but that allows a lot of wriggle room so I am going to be strict!

So here's the beginning of a round up of Works In Progress (WIP) which I will be finishing off during NOvember.

Firstly the next project for the HipKnits Project Club is due out on November 1st and although Kerrie didn't need a test knit for these I have begun the first of the pair of socks to better be able to help out any new sockers of the blog. So far so good. It has been useful too as I have a few ideas that I hope will help knitters who are tackling their first socks with this pattern, and the yarn is lovely. It's not a colour I would have chosen but I am enjoying knitting it and using the chart, etc. but I mustn't give too much away before the launch date :o) so here is a picture of the sole of the sock to show off the yarn without letting you see the pattern (me? Tease?)

Next another pair of socks that I am making for my Support Worker who has been an absolute treasure whilst we have been going through the adoption process for little Miss 4 years. Her belief in us as the right parents for this child and her empathy with our feelings of powerlessness has been one of the few good points of the last year and 10 months since we initially said we wanted to be considered as little one's 'forever family'. So, the least I can do is knit er some socks! The yarn is PY Lucia from the sock club, please don't ask me what colour :o) and the pattern is from the summer interweave knits and is my first go at a toe up sock. I prefer toe up as I have no anxiety about running out of yarn. Just weigh the ball and cast off when I've used half. Simple. This is another great yarn to work with from Dee, soft and squoshy and beautiful colours, just my palette and SW's too I hope.

Finally I have found a pattern for the bootees in Debbie Bliss' Simply Baby book which I picked up for £4 in a remainder store. I also got a couple of other pattern books, well, they were a bargain so I couldn't leave them behind, could I? So although I haven't actually cast on for these yet (I need the Project Club sock's dpns) I am including it in WIPs as I have already done the hat they will go with (see? Wriggle, wriggle). Whilst talking DB I usually like the way she calls her yarns what they are, e.g. Silk DK, cashmerino Aran, etc. But this pattern calls for Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino so I am hoping (from the tension 27 sts & 36 rows to 10cm) that it's 4 ply because that's what I am using :P

As I type this the postman arrives with the kit for Tulip from Socktopus - am I doomed to failure in NOvember? VBG

I unpacked the Tulip Kit and I need more of this yarn, it is superb! Hmmmm! Yummmmmm! I originally saw the cardi on Yarn Harlot's blog and then Kerrie mentioned getting the pattern and it's so nice to see something on an overseas blog available here too. I wouldn't buy all those yarns individually but as they came in a kit, well I couldn't resist. I doubt that baby will be here long enough to grow into size 6 - 9 months (but you never know the ways of Social Services grind exceedingly slow) so I wonder if I can do it smaller? Or should I play safe and stick to the kit size? Hmmm! *ponders ability to resize project* I haven't taken the yarn out of the bag yet and I am already in love, it looks gorgeous and soft. I'll give it a cheek test and let you know.

A nice little surprise with my first Socktopus order was the addition of some sachets of fabric conditioner and a little luxury chocolate. Way to a girl's heart, or what! They know me so well, already VBG. So if I can't resist casting this one on I need to do it before NOvember so that only leaves me 2 days to get cracking :o)

Tomorrow WIP (not new ones *rolls eyes*) and btw my kids don't like posh chocolate - I have them well trained, this is gown up choc! Almost too pretty to eat? Almost!