Tea cosy

I just finished the tea cosy for my sister! I cannot believe I left it so long when it was so quick to knit overall! I was a bit slower than I could have been as I was checking the tension at the back of the project after every change of colour, but it was very easy.

The biggest issue came when I looked into sewing the sides and used my Bodum tea pot to measure the holes… As Bodum tea pots do not have a “nose” to pour out of, I believe the cosy would get soaked whenever pouring tea! I may be wrong but I felt it would be safer to buy another tea pot for my sister as I am pretty sure that she only owns a Bodum one. Luckily I currently live in a country where you can find packets of 500 tea bags in the supermarket so tea pots are very easy to come by. And here’s the result! I am so very happy with it! Because of the running colours on the back and the resulting “waves” in the fabric, I believe it will be great at keeping the tea warm!

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This is a free pattern found here and the yarn is Cygnet DK yarn in the colourways 150 Heather, 159 Flesh and 1048 Lt. Mauve.

I guess this means I may have some time for cross-stitch this week! Unless I dig out another one of my old projects…  🙂

 

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Old projects

I have a finished object! I now have my very first pair of hand knitted socks! It has been a while in the making as I had made the first one about 18 months ago and I only just picked the second one up, but it was great to realise it doesn’t take that long to knit!

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I used the Knitmore Vanilla Sock pattern by Jasmin Canty. The yarn is Crazy Zauberball, colourway 2254 and I used 2.25mm needles. I have big feet so I cast on 80 stitches.

Since blocking these socks, I did some research as although these socks feel incredibly comfortable, I had some doubts about the size I chose to knit. I have big feet and calves and felt I needed more information before casting on my next pair of socks. So I bought Custom socks by Kate Atherley.

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When “looking inside” on Amazon, I noticed a diagram that shows measurements that do not appear to be taken into account in other books. Based on what I have read so far, I am not disappointed. There appears to be a lot of information, including a whole chapter on “adjustments for non-average feet”, e.g. how to make the leg wider, adjusting for high and low arches etc. Even if it turns out that my feet fall into the “average” ratios, this book details the yardage needed for a very wide range of sizes, including and way above my size 42 (EU) / 8 (UK) / 9.5 (US). Also, seeing calculations somehow makes me feel that this book will deliver on its promise. Yes, I do like my numbers… Something that may seem obvious to most knitters out there but that I learned from this book is that my socks should be 10% shorter than the actual size of my feet to allow for negative ease.  I suspect my first handmade socks will become very slouchy at some point!  🙂  

I worked quite a bit on the shawl by Anniken Allis from the August 2017 Let’s Knit magazine, number 121. I used the free yarn that was with the magazine, but as the rows were growing and growing, it became clear to me that: 1. The yarn was, as expected, very cheap and awful to knit with, giving me a pins and needles sensation where it touched my skin. 2. I did not like the pattern at all. So after getting to the point in the picture below, I frogged it, caked the yarn and put the yarn, pattern and magazine in a bag for one of the many local charity shops:

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I am working on another shawl though. This one is the Combinatorics mystery knit-along by Tetiana Otruta. Tetiana describes it on her ravelry’s pattern page as: “a slightly asymmetric triangular shawl worked sideways with two (or one color) color lace and garter st patterns”. We received clue 4 yesterday and this is the result so far:

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I am using Opulent yarn from Down Sheepy Lane, a blend of 70% baby alpaca, 20% silk, 10% cashmere, in colourways Fawn and Mustard. It is soooo soft! An absolute pleasure to work with!

The pattern itself is great, very detailed and with the expected number of stitches for every or every other row. I will definitely look at Tetiana Otruta’s other patterns as this one makes everything look so simple! I love it!

I have also dug out the tea cosy I had started knitting as a Christmas present for my sister… a few years ago. I had already finished one side of the cosy panels and was a quarter into the second one, but I frogged it and restarted it to have a consistent tension,  if not between both panels, at least throughout each panel. I started it on Monday and although I felt it was slow going as I was adjusting the tension of the yarn at the back at each colour change, I finished knitting it on Thursday. Now I just need to sew the sides up and finish up. The pattern is the Grannie’s Traditional Tea Cosy by Tea By The Sea and I am using Cygnet DK yarn in the colourways 150 Heather, 159 Flesh and 1048 Lt. Mauve. I love the colours! This picture shows the back and front of the panels. Because of the construction, it is so squishy! It will definitely keep the tea warm!

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I have not worked at all on my cross-stitch projects, partly because it feels quicker to pick up the knitting needles than everything needed for cross-stitch. I do want to organise myself so I find it easier to cross-stitch, but I do want to finish the tea cosy first as it is such a long overdue present…

I sent the Neptune cardigan to my friend, together with an alpaca soft toy and an alpaca card bought when visiting the Butler’s Alpaca farm in Essex. My friend was so happy! It made it all worthwhile! 🙂

Last but not least, I would like to mention the Wool n’ Spinning podcast. I have only watched the first ten episodes so far but I love it. Rachel is a very friendly host, gives tons of useful information about spinning and provides very clear tutorials. I do not spin at the moment but am considering taking it up at some point. I have a spindle I have not dared using yet, and I want to try it and get more confident in my knitting before considering adding a wheel to my craft tools, but I feel that Rachel gives great advice and info. She also insists about how much practice is needed before managing to spin in a consistent way. I would strongly recommend her podcast, it is very refreshing!

That is about it for today. I did buy some more yarn and another book but I will detail them when I use them rather than making a list of everything I buy!  🙂

Have a wonderful weekend!

 

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The Shadow Hour by Kate Riordan

The Shadow Hour by Kate Riorda, read as a paperback, has 505 pages.

From the back cover:

Harriet Jenner is just twenty-one when she walks through the gates of Fenix House. Reeling from a personal tragedy, she doesn’t expect her new life as a governess to be easy. But she certainly doesn’t foresee the spell Fenix House will cast.

Almost fifty years later, Harriet’s granddaughter Grace follows in her footsteps. For Grace, raised on Harriet’s mesmerizing stories, Fenix House is a fairy tale; a magical place suspended in time.

Now its grandeur is faded and, as the holes start to appear in Harriet’s story, Grace finds herself in a place of secrets and shadows. For Fenix House hides truths about her family, and everything she thought she knew is about to change.

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It took me a month to read this book, but I can only blame the fact that I didn’t put time aside to read. When opening it, I found myself annoyed when I had to come back to reality.

The Shadow Hour is built with two parallel stories, which seems to become quite a trend – or it is something that I unknowingly get attracted to.

I enjoyed the writing, the characters, the scenery. I got very engrossed in the plot too, although I figured quite a lot of it early on. I did not expect the final twist though, even if it feels to me a bit too much, like an attempt to ensure the readers do get surprised even if they (very likely) guess the rest.

I thought all the characters had their rightful place in the story; my favourite however was the scenery: the house, the garden and the “Blue” are an integral part of the narrative and are described in a way that made me feel I had actually visited them.

All in all, I would say it is by far not the most intriguing or surprising story, but I found it a very enjoyable read.

 

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Neptune cardigan

I finished my first garment! Granted, it is a 2 year old size, so quite small, but I did finish it! There are a number of things I am not too happy with, in particular the seams but the overall result looks ok when it is flattened. It is now wrapped and packed, ready to be sent to a friend tomorrow. I hope that it will get some wear, if not by my friend’s son, then by someone she loves!

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I bought the pattern for this cardigan at the Knitting and Stitching Show in London in March I believe this year. You can find it here. It was knit in Purl Alpaca Designs yarn, 100% alpaca, shade Grey / name Storm. I used about 2 2/3 balls of 50g/116m each.

I had to go up 0.5mm in the needles sizes as I tend to knit quite tightly.

The pattern is for beginners, but I felt some understanding of knitting was needed as the pattern called for basketweave pattern with the explanation of this pattern for multiples of 8 sts, although the actual number of stitches is not a multiple of 8, which means you had to inverse the purls and knits on the even rows. Also, there appears to be an errata on row 2 of the left front for 1 year and 2 years, where [k4, p4] should read [p4, k4].

As my next “knit to be gifted” project, I have a tea cosy that I was planning to give my sister… two and a half years ago I believe… I will update the WIP page with a current picture once I have dug it out of the box where it currently rests.

It is nice to finish something for once and definitely motivates me to finish other objects! I will pay attention however in the future to notes about the construction of the garment… I have a feeling I may prefer top down / on circular needles / anything that prevents sewing the different parts!  🙂

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Apologia – Trafalgar Studios – London

Apologia is currently running at the Trafalgar Studios in London from 29th July to 18th November 2017.

A play by Alexi Kaye Campbell, with Stockard Channing, Freema Agyeman, Desmond Barrit, Laura Carmichael  and Joseph Millson, directed by Jamie Lloyd.

From the Trafalgar Studios website:

Kristin Miller is a firebrand matriarch and eminent art historian. A birthday gathering should be a cause for celebration but the cracks in her family relationships are brought to the surface by the recent publication of her memoir. As the evening progresses questions are asked about the sacrifices she has made and about the price paid by those she loves.

Apologia is a witty, topical and passionate play about generations, secrets, and warring perspectives.

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I booked a ticket for this play early this week when I received a theatre email advertising it. I had seen Stockard Channing in The Good Wife and other roles and always wondered where I had seen her before and thankfully the email mentioned that she was Rizzo in Grease, which finally gave an answer to my long-lasting question!

I cannot praise this play or this cast enough. I absolutely LOVED it. The play itself is fantastic and the performances were incredible all around. I went from laughter to tension to laughter to feeling on the edge, to relief when the interval came up, back to laughter and a tear in the last minute. The second act was certainly less tense than the first one, but I don’t think I could have taken any more of it!

I cannot really say more about the story than the above synopsis without revealing too much. I thought it was very well written, entertaining and gripping.

I heard someone behind me say during the interval that the American accent by Laura Carmichael was not quite right, but I personally didn’t pay attention to that. She is supposed to be American, I didn’t question anything else. As English isn’t my native language, I am not overly annoyed by this as I am just happy to understand! 🙂  I may be exaggerating a bit as I am fluent and there are some accents that I can now recognise, but definitely not all of them! One of my favourite accents though is that of David Tennant on TV. He seems to tone it down when on stage, certainly in Don Juan de Soho that I saw a few months ago (twice!) where he was incredible in a role that took me by surprise.

Anyway, as mentioned above, I thought the cast was great. Stockard Channing has an amazing presence on stage, she was most definitely the strong character. Joseph Millson was fantastic as Peter/Simon, both with very different traits and attitudes. There is no better way to assess an actor’s abilities than when seeing him perform two roles in the same play! Freema Agyeman and Laura Carmichael were also very good as well as Desmond Barrit, with a role that was a bit in the background but whose interventions were like gold.

I would most definitely recommend it to anyone!

 

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New acquisitions

The last couple of weeks were very much up and down and I have made a few steps back with handling my depression, but despite the drama that went with it, I did face up to things and dealt with the issues at hand, so I guess it is progress in a way.

My crafting and reading suffered a bit from all this, but I still have some progress and some acquisitions to report.

I started reading The Shadow Hour by Kate Riordan on 23rd July and have sadly only read 170 pages so far, but when I do read it, I am quite enjoying it. I “just” need to give reading more time…

Last weekend I worked on the Neptune cardigan and sewed the border. We could not venture very far as many roads were blocked in the area because of the Prudential 100k ride race so I went to Polesden Lacey, a National Trust estate. The weather was gorgeous and it was an absolute delight to “work” on the cardigan with this amazing view in the background:

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I still have to add the buttons, but I am worried my border seam may be a bit too wide. I wanted to “hide” the side stitches as I did not find them as “clean” as I would have liked them, but now I fear the seam has grown too big. I will try to flatten it a bit and see if it will be ok this way.

The other item I worked on is a sock. I had already knitted the first about 18 months ago, but never got the second one done. I am not sure that my tension is quite the same so I may have to frog the first one and redo it once I have finished this one. I had to frog and reknit the heel a few times as I was looking at the wrong instructions… Oh dear… 🙂  The pattern for these socks is the Knitmore Vanilla Sock by Jasmin Canty, and is free on Ravelry. As I have big feet, I cast on 80 stitches (ouch) and am using the rounder heel from the Socknitters. The yarn is Crazy Zauberball 2254_ Cloud No. 8 75% Virgin Wool, 25% Nylon.

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As mentioned, I did get some new items that I am really looking forward to putting to good use:

A knitting bag with a matching little case from Krisscraft on Etsy:

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From Purlescence, I bought The Scrumptious collection volume 2 as I fell in love with the Lyde beret. I also bought some ChiaoGoo RED Lace needles, which I had heard about on the Revelations of a Delusional Knitter podcast and thought I would give them a try. I started watching this video podcast a few weeks ago and absolutely love it! Angela is very engaging and talks about spinning, knitting, books and patterns found on Ravelry.

And I obviously bought some Scrumptious yarn to make the above beret. I cannot get the right colour on the picture, but the colourway is Olive and is the one that was used for the beret:

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I also got some more yarn, this time from Abstract Cat Crafts on Folksy. All three skeins are a 70% baby alpaca/30% silk mix and from left to right: 100g/800m lace in the Orange Sorbet colourway; 100g/400m 4-ply in the Lime Fizz colourway and 100g/800m lace in the Bell Heather colourway. Absolutely gorgeous and so soft!

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I also got myself this cross-stitch kit (because I don’t have enough to do already). I had a gift voucher on Amazon and as much as I dislike Amazon and the way it is taking over the world, a voucher has to be used!  🙂  I do love coffee, so this will be a perfect statement to have in my flat!

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And the last thing I received (at last!) is a couple of bread bakers from LittleWrenPottery on Etsy. They are gorgeous and will go very well with the canister and yarn bowl that I had already bought from her. Even if the yarn bowl is not normally in the kitchen  🙂  I cannot wait to use them! I think some bread will have to be baked this afternoon!

 

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Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain by Barney Norris

Five Rivers Met on a Wooden Plain by Barney Norris is a 288 pages paperback.

From the back cover:

‘There exists in all of us a song waiting to be sung which is as heart-stopping and vertiginous as the peak of the cathedral. That is the meaning of this quiet city, where the spire soars into the blue, where rivers and stories weave into one another, where lives intertwine.’

One quiet evening in Salisbury, the peace is shattered by a serious car crash. At that moment, five lives collide – a flower-seller, a schoolboy, an army wife, a security guard, a widower – all facing their own personal disasters. As one of those lives hangs in the balance, Norris draws the extraordinary voices of these seemingly ordinary people together into a web of love, grief, disenchantment and hope that is startlingly perceptive about the human heart.

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When I read the first five pages of this book, I wondered why I had picked it and felt boredom invade me. So it was with amazement and great delight that I started the next chapter and as it turned out, I loved this book!

Five characters, five stories that are linked one way or another, five completely different styles as each chapter is written in that of each character. I loved how distinct these five voices are, each with their current struggles and hurdles, reminiscing their lives, and fighting to find a way to move on. We learn indirectly that things might not go quite as expected, as life tends to get in the way, but I loved that the “follow-up” was written as a non-important detail of someone else’s narration.

I loved the construction of the book (I do tend to enjoy stories that intertwine this way), the tone, the resolve and determination of the characters. It is a great reminder that you never know what is happening behind the masks of the strangers you meet every day. Would definitely recommend!

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