Monthly Archives: April 2015

Knitting with Memories

I do a lot of lace knitting. I also knit a lot of fairisle. Both types of knitting are characterised by repetitive patterning across each row, typically following a chart to use the correct lace stitch or colour. On any one row, one may be required to repeat a specific sequence of stitches 20, 30, or more times, and keeping track of where you are in the pattern can be difficult without some assistance. I use stitch markers to help me work such patterns.20150404_074556

There are many kinds of stitch marker available, from a short length of coloured yarn twisted into a loop to an elegant silver charm. I have bought a few markers in the past, but when I realised how simple they were I decided to make my own utilising my jewellery making experience and skills. I had been sorting through my jewellery box with a view to pruning my collection of cheap and cheerful earrings, when I had a lightbulb moment – dismantle the earrings, attach them to new 8mm silver jump rings, and turn them into stitch markers. This worked surprisingly well, each pair of earrings yielding 7 or 8 markers. My hubby applied his electronics soldering skills to close the gaps on the jump rings, making them perfect for trouble free knitting.wpid-20150402_143331.jpg

My idea had been successful, but I wanted (and needed) more markers for large complex shawls, so I again raided the jewellery box, this time looking at old unworn pendants and charm bracelets. Mum and I each had a charm bracelet back in the 1960s,  when such things were fashionable, but neither had been worn in decades. Some of the charms, such as the silver scooter, were too spiky to be useful in knitting, but most of the others were perfect. I cleaned them all in silver polish, and made them up as for the cheap earrings. They are great to use, but I was unprepared for the emotional side effect. Each time I used one of the silver charms or pendants, it triggered memories of mum, of my childhood, our holidays, celebratory meals out.

In use on my latest shawl is a filigree ball, a St Christopher,  a pair of engraved teardrop earrings,  and half a dozen silver bracelet charms. Every one brings back strong memories and adds an extra dimension to my knitting. I am literally knitting with memories.wpid-20150401_221157.jpg


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Betty’s Birthday Breakfast

Betty was a little nonplussed by the attention, but when she realised that we were not offering her treats in order to lure her into an unwanted cuddle, she relaxed and tucked into sultana and pine kernel muffins and juicy diced grapes!


The rest of the flock were also suitably impressed with the unusual birthday spread laid on by the mad woman who lets them out in the mornings.


Betty is eight years old today. Happy Birthday, lovely Betty!


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Year of Knitting Lacily: April update

So far so good! I completed the first shawl in my challenge in eleven days, and here it is pinned on the blocking mat:


It has turned out very well, I think. The pattern was sufficiently varied to keep my interest, the yarn (Wharfedale Woolworks Zen Garden BFL sock yarn) is gorgeous to work with, and I thoroughly enjoyed myself knitting it. There are several sections to the pattern, each separated by a few rows of garter stitch. The first section, on the nape of the neck, represents The Wall.

Winter is Coming, showing the small amount of yarn left

Winter is Coming, showing the small amount of yarn left

The second section represents Snow, either the character John Snow or the cold white stuff I am not sure. This is followed by Waves, the sea dividing the various kingdoms, and the mottled effect of the semi solid colour highlights the effect of water crashing on rocks. My favourite section is the Dragon Scales, such a simple stitch but so effective. The last section is named Stakes and Icicles; stakes because of the grisly end awaiting those who displease the king, and icicles underlining the theme of Winter is Coming. I thank Sally Cameron (Pink Haired Girl) for designing this effective shawlette. I know I shall have great pleasure wearing it. For the technically minded, I used 4mm circular bamboo needles, and I had a small amount of yarn left over from 385m.

April’s challenge is to knit Crushed, from the Lovelorn collection of shawl patterns by Rachel Henry. This is a heart-shaped shawl, and I shall use Poppies, another semi solid in reds and pinks from Wharfedale Woolworks‘ Flora Sock Yarn Club 2014. I love the colours in this yarn, and I want to do it justice; when I first saw it I thought of romance, and while the sentiment behind the design is one of loss and sadness I think the beautiful shape and delicate tracery of the pattern fits the yarn very well.


The pattern is knit on 4.5mm needles and should use 356m, so it may be touch and go for a loose knitter like me!

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Betty’s Big Day

Today is the birthday of Queen Betty of the Coop. We wish her majesty many happy returns of the day.

Of course, Betty is really just a hen, but a very special one. She is eight years old this spring, but since she was hatched at Storrs Poultry I do not know when exactly she was born, so I have designated the 1st of April as her birthday.

Betty, on the day she arrived in our lives

Betty, on the day she arrived in our lives

We acquired Betty and her Black Rock sisters, Hetty and Letty, on Sunday 2nd September 2007. They represent our very first foray into chicken keeping. They were all supposed to be point of lay, and Letty did indeed lay her first egg later the same day, with Hetty laying her first a week or so later. Betty, however, was in no hurry to start and it was nearly eight weeks later that she produced a tiny egg. It was quickly apparent that, despite her relative youth, Betty had become chief chicken, and she kept the other hens in line with well aimed pecks. Despite her age, she is still quite capable of keeping the others in line, and new hens quickly learn that they eat her treats at their peril!

Betty in October 2008

Betty in October 2008

She developed a liking for sunflower seeds almost immediately, and to this day comes to me each morning asking in her inimitable way for her favourite treat. She likes them so much that she once got a seed stuck up one nostril; it gathered so much dirt that it distended her nostril and affected her breathing. It took a while to soften and remove the lump, at which point it became clear that she had attempted to snort a sunflower seed!

Hetty, on the right, about to clean Betty's beak!

Hetty, on the right, about to clean Betty’s beak!

Betty has a very distinctive voice, a high pitched ‘meep,  meep, meep’. I don’t have to be able to see her to know where she is!


Betty in Summer 2014

She has the most beautiful plumage: a very glossy black, which sometimes looks bluebottle purple and sometimes beetle green, and under her chin a bib of glowing russet red feathers. Despite seven moults she looks the same today as she did all those years ago, when she and her sisters came into our lives and changed us forever.

Happy Birthday, Betty!



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