Podcast Episode 4: Daisychains and an intarsia conundrum


Welcome to the fourth episode which we talk about:

What I’m wearing:
* it’s still hot – no knitwear again this week!

What I’ve finished:
* Daisychain ABC by Alicia Paulson from Posie gets Cozy

What I’m making:
* Coinneach by Kate Davies from the West Highland Way in Milrocchy Tweed and Jamieson’s of Shetland Spindrift
*Heart and Sole socks
*Clamshell purse from Mollie Makes

And a conundrum:
* I need your help on the construction of an intarsia butterfly jumper that came from Spain; the inside is really clever, it’s survived both my girls and I want to know how to knit it!


Space for the Butterflies Podcast: Episode One


Knitting was my gateway into podcasts. Back in the day when you had to actively download them onto your iPod, I would load up every week and spend the commuting hours happily listening to other people talk about their knitting while tucking myself away in the corner of the train with needles and a ball of wool.  They kept me company on the long runs when I was training for a marathon (yes, really, it was that long ago) and I could plug them into my car speakers if ever we had to go on a long drive.  It was brilliant, and while perhaps knitting audio podcasts tailed off for a little bit somewhere in the middle, that’s certainly not the case at the moment; now there are as many knitting audio podcasts as ever, and, and there’s YouTube.

Because what makes even more sense than to talk about knitting but to actually be able to share what you’re talking about.  For me, as a craftaholic, it’s the ultimate show and tell.  And the more I watched, the more I thought, “that looks like fun”.

And as that was the precursor to learning to spin, crochet, quilt, embroider, play with textile paint, sew clothes, and go to sea on an aircraft carrier, we all know where this is going.

Yes my friends, on Saturday I gathered up all of my bits and pieces of current projects, banished everyone else to the ground floor of the house so they couldn’t see or hear me (although you can still hear Pip running around in the background at one point shouting “Daddy, I’m a gymnast!!”) and recorded the first episode of my brand new knitting and other crafty things podcast which is up on YouTube, and here it is:

In this episode we talk about:

I really hope you enjoy it; if you do have any questions or thoughts then please drop me a line in the comments here or over on YouTube, especially if there’s anything you’d like me to talk about in a future episode, and fingers crossed I’ll be pressing record again in about two weeks time for episode two!


Winter blooms {handmade}


It had snowed on the motorway.  As we drove west the rain that had fallen for a solid three days straight, thick, dark and heavy, finally petered out into a dreary mist that moved across us like a thick stage curtain, only occasionally allowing us to peek across the fields to see the dusting of white on the verges of the road build into a flawless winterscape away from the heat and dirt of a bank holiday’s traffic.  Winter returned to us once more.

But then we turned the corner to head south and although there was not a single break in the grey sky above us, the sky perceptibly lightened, the fields turned up their saturation as if in proclamation, and the thermometer on the car jumped six degrees in as many miles.

We stand on the cusp of our seasons, a late cusp I grant you, and even I was a little disappointed to see that Spring had only turned up for a settling in session and not to stay for the whole season, and I adore snow, but the warmth is unmistakably returning; those flowers in my garden that survived the repeated plunges into arctic conditions are slowly unfurling their petals and the blossom is peeking out from behind the blankets of its buds to see whether the coast is clear.

And with Spring has come a veritable burst of creative energy, largely channelled into knitting on a cardigan which I’m making for myself out of Jamieson’s Spindrift.  It’s a 4ply yarn, with side 3.25mm needles and there’s quite a lot of me so it’s taking a little while but I’m enjoying every stitch.  I also squeezed in a little sock knitting, and just as soon as I can get them off their owners’ feet I shall have to take some photos and show them to you all.

I’ve started to pull fabric for a block of the month quilt from the Quilter’s Planner, which I think will be all pinks, purples, peaches and mint, and probably for my littlest girl to match the colours of their bedroom.  I don’t really have too many pinks and purples in my fabric stash so I might have to add a few colours as we go through the blocks as I’d love to be able to sew it all without having to buy any more fabric; a true stash busting quilt. In the meantime I shall simply stalk the Instagram hashtag to see what other colour combinations are popping up.

And in between all of that, I’ve been embroidering.  One little stitch-painted snapshot of winter, finished before the last snow melted and now sat happily on my mantlepiece, next to my Flowers that Bloom in the Spring hoop just to remind myself of the order we’re trying to go in.

This is December’s Craftpod kit which plopped through the letterbox all the way back before Christmas but which I saved for many a wintery Saturday afternoon at the start of this year.  The box came with a kit for cutting rubber stamps which we all loved, as my planner pages, covered with prints of pine cones, kettles and tall trees will testify, some beautiful cards and stickers, which are almost too lovely to use (I’m currently saving them until inspiration strikes), a tiny bar of chocolate, a chai tea bag (which was surprisingly delicious, and I’m not a tea drinker), and this beautiful little hoop.

Almost all of my embroidery to date has been cross stitch; I’ve delved into a few different styles and I’ve taken a few sample classes with the Royal School of Needlework but I’ve always fallen back on cross stitch, so to be stitching virtually freehand was both new and exciting and very relaxing; there’s no such thing as a wrong stitch, it’s just what my tree looks like.  That is largely the reason why my branch is slightly sturdier than the original; I was just having too much fun to want to stop.

For a relatively simple design, there’s complexity in the pattern, and I loved learning the padded satin stitch, and choosing the direction of the berries to give the whole piece a 3D effect and a sense of movement.

And perhaps the most telling indication of just how much I loved this stitching is the fact that the Spring Craftpod is currently sat on my chair.  I’ve got one more sewing project to finish first and then I’m diving into some very Spring-like botanical stitching and I can’t wait.

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On


Summer Rain {handmade}


If ever there was a project named for the very opposite end of the season to the one in which it was finished it would be this shawl.  The final stitches were cast off as snowflakes peppered down against the windowpane in what should have been Spring and has in fact been deepest darkest winter. Again.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved every single flake of snow, celebrated and cherished each new weather forecast, and revelled in fully smothering every member of my family in handknits, but it was a funny old finale to a summer shawl.

This shawl is the smell of hot tarmac drenched in a thunderstorm, it’s rivulets of water droplets caught running down the windows by a light that promises that the squall will soon be over, and the silky feeling of damp grass around bare ankles.

The yarn is Fyberspates Scrumptious, a delicious merino/silk blend that once upon a time I bought to knit one of my little ones, Elma I think, a pair of adorable knitted dungarees.  She grew, Pip never stayed the same size for more than a moment and as I sat in my deckchair in our camp away from home last summer reading my Taproot magazine I knew that when we eventually moved into our new house and the boxes came back out of storage I already had the perfect excuse to cast on a real treat of a project.

I’ve little but effusive praise for the yarn; it’s soft, silky without being too cold, and has a beautiful drape to it.  The colour is called Water but it’s more than mere water, it’s the colour of a wet slate roof in the evening sunshine, or the sea under baffled grey clouds, sometimes a faded hydrangea, sometimes steely grey depending on the light.  To knit with it was a joy and to wrap it around me is a pleasure.

The pattern is trickier.  I’m glad I knit it, I enjoy the finished object, but I’m not sure I’d recommend it to anyone else.  The first hitch is that it is not written particularly well; there were errors in the cast on and the chart pattern lacked any key, relying on the knitter to figure it out by process of elimination along the way.

I fudged the cast on count, fudged a few rows until the stitch count came good and figured it out.  Even then, the shape is a shawl that is very deep but not very wide.  I’m 6’0″ and it runs all the way down my back, but I feel I’m snatching at ends when I try to wrap it around my neck to be a scarf.  It works best as a sitting up in bed sort of shawl, the sort where you don’t exactly need anything around your neck but something across the shoulders just helps everything feel cosy, and so I’ve largely kept it on my bedside table as an extra layer on the coldest nights, and if summer does ever turn up it’ll be just the thing for evenings spent sat out in the garden.

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On


Start Bay from Craigallian {handmade}


It’s snowing outside. Tiny iridescent drops of snow, no bigger than a moment, flung violently through the air as they surf the storm that surrounds us.  This isn’t the Christmas card version of snow, all gentle floaty flakes that fall almost as if they might be in slow motion, but a driving winter fury that hurls its way into the gaps in our window frames, invidiously burrowing into the folds of my scarf and mittens as I walk through our village, marching its way in through the open carriage doors to land on heads and boots and books as we huddle into the train. It’s icy cold but it’s glorious too, there’s a rawness about it that reminds me of the winters of my childhood, when the gales would come racing in over the sea and set the chimney howling in sympathy.

I wore two jumpers today, one of which was hand knitted, and mittens, a scarf and a wooly hat pulled down low over my ears, and though my cheeks were snow blasted until they stung a bright rosy red, it’s felt a cosy sort of day; the perfect day to tell you about a hat.

It isn’t my hat, and far from being a new finish, it was actually off the needles and in the birthday post a month ago, but I have a little catching up to do so with a hat we shall start.

Craigallan is the first pattern of Kate Davies’ West Highland Way club, inspired by the path that runs near her home in Western Scotland.  It’s one of the ‘long walks’ like the Coast-to-Coast that stand as a challenge to a long distance walker, and, along with the Coast-to-Coast, something that is definitely on my list of “one day” adventures, which generally means when the children are big enough to walk it with us, any for now, thanks to their Christmas present to me, I’m more than happy to daydream my way along the route accompanied by gorgeous patterns, and Kate’s essays about the spots we’re passing.  They are all, without exception, absolutely gorgeous, and the biggest challenge to date has been trying to decide in what order I should be knitting them, but I started, at the beginning, with Craigallian.

Kate suggests four seasonal colour ways to show off her gorgeous new Milrocchy Tweed yarn, but as soon as she started to talk about the landscape that inspired the pattern, I knew that I needed to use the colours of the landscape that inspires me, and so the West Highland Way came to meet the South West Coast Path, large chunks of which I could all but walk in my sleep, and in particular, the colours of Start Bay.

Space for the Butterflies - Siblings

Right now I’m reliably informed that it has been buried in an unusual but fetching cloak of white, and the blown spray that makes white horses across the sea is matched by the plumes of powder that dance and swirl from the hilltops, but I choose the colours of warmer times, colours from long summer days when the pebbles grew almost too hot for your feet, and the most comfortable place was to be found lying in the shallows, letting each wave gently roll you ashore and tumble you back into the sea again.

The sea is there in sunshine and in shadow in Lochan (dark blue) and Ardlui (teal), and Smirr (pale grey-blue) is the crash of a wave as it bites into the beach, and the whipped wave caps of a summer storm.

For the shore, Buckthorn (burnt orange) is our tin-rich ‘pink mud’ flecked with slatey pebbles and Garth (green) is the deep green of a bracken frond fully unfurled and basking in the sunshine. The Milrocchy Tweed is a singles yarn, equivalent to a 4ply, so it makes for a lovely light hat, that is also incredibly snuggly and warm.

I love it, and I’m making a cardigan with echoes of the same colours because this one has gone south, all the way home as a birthday present for my Dad; we’re going walking in Pembrokeshire later in the year so it seemed an appropriate present, and I know that it will have been doing good service in the last few days.

Joining Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday and Frontier Dreams for Keep Calm, Craft On

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