to be regarded...
to be clicked...


While chatting to Kate a few months ago, I happened to mention that I have an ickle hot water bottle that is very comforting without being quite as hefty and awkward as a full-size one.

errr, no, I'm not entirely sure how that came up in conversation. (I also ended up trying to remember the worst joke I've ever heard, and having to be rescued by R, who's memory for awful puns is second to none. The punchline of the joke is "WhataboutawaterbottleWaddle?" No, you really, really don't want to know the rest of it. It's truly dreadful and at least 20 years old.)

Anyhow. The upshot of the conversation was that Kate created the Toatie Hottie hot water bottle cosy kit. And sent me one in the Indigo colour option, because she's lovely and I'm a spoilt brat.

I finished knitting it this week - the kit includes two skeins of J&S Shetland Heritage yarn. It's a lovely worsted spun yarn which makes it really really soft and incredibly warm (incredibly - my hands warmed up noticeably while I was weaving in the ends!).

Toatie HottieOh, didn't I mention the pompoms? :D I appear to have made extra large pompoms compared with the original, but I think that probably bigger is always better as far as pompoms are concerned.

I loved knitting this project - fair isle is so much fun to work on and, as always, Toatie Hottie is a lovely design.

What's next? Divelish Mittens to go with my hat. However, I do have the cast on itchi-coos and I suspect I may have cast on at least one more project before the end of the weekend...



Divelishly fun

I'm so happy to have been asked to join in the blog tour for Fyberspates Jeni Hewlett's latest collection of designs - The Scrumptious Collection Volume 3. (I'm a little bit surprised too, looking at the date of my previous blog entry - oops! Hopefully this will be the push that I need to be a little bit more regular in my blogging habits.)

Click the photo to go through to the Fyberspates shop.

The book contains 13 most excellent knitwear designs, from some of the best designers in the UK, all photographed by the fabulous Jesse Wild (who holds copyright on the images).

All the designs, from the back cover

My part in the book's story is that Jeni once again asked me to do the book layout and design - as I did for the previous two adult Collections and the Scrumptious Baby Collection. My reaction, as always, was to squee loudly at her on Skype. Cool and professional, that's me.

This meant that I was lucky enough to be involved with the book from the very beginning right through to the point when the books were printed and sent for delivery to Jeni's warehouse - it's very satisfying to see a project from concept right through to holding the physical printed pages in my hand.

To begin with, Team Fyberspates sat down with many cups of tea and notepads to set a schedule for commissioning the designs, photography and publication. Once the patterns were written and the samples knitted up, I got to be properly hands-on - helping with the styling and photoshoots. The photos for this book were taken over two very (VERY) cold and windy February days at the English seaside in Lyme Regis, as well as a far cosier day spent in a beautiful house in Frome (thanks again to Pepita, both for the hospitality and the interior design inspiration!).

For the first time my sometime partner-in-crime Jen AC and I, managed to coerce Jeni to be one of the models (the other being the equally gorgeous Caroline White @diamondmagpie). They both did a totally stellar job. I thought I'd share a few outtakes from the shoot:


Keeping warm - it was a bit parky!Cosy - Rachel Coopey and Ashley Knowlton doing some last-minute knitting for CoopKnits SocksA rare glimpse of Jesse doing his thing.Once the tech editor (duties taken on this time around by Ashley Knowlton) is done with the pattern grading and checking, it's time for me to crack on with the book design and layout, edit all those gorgeous photos, and generally spend way too much time planning what I'm going to knit from the book and wishing that I could just KNIT ALL THE THINGS. Oh, and for this book, I take responsibility for the pattern names (they are all rivers or streams located along the English South Coast) - I actually love finding names for patterns, but don't tell anyone I said that!

The design that I was powerless to resist from this book (following my sneaky cast-ons of both Northmavine from Kate Davies' Colours of Shetland and Paignton from CoopKnits Socks) was, I have to admit, Rachel Coopey's Divelish Hat. It's a striking colourwork pattern - the sample in the book is knitted in Scrumptious 4ply in Slate and Natural (I used Dandelion and Burdock, deepest darkest purple, alongside a hand-painted skein of Posh Yarn Sadie Sock). I have to say that the Divelish Hat and Mittens samples are some of the most beautifully knitted items that I've ever seen. Just glorious.

Image courtesy of Jesse Wildah, yes, my OH's photography skills aren't quite up to Jesse's standards! And my knitting doesn't match the glory of the sample either.I really had to stop myself from immediately casting on the super-duper Iwerne cardigan, designed by Kyoko Nakayoshi in Slate Scrumptious DK - otherwise the book would never have been finished!

The book really is chock-full of gorgeous patterns - sweaters like the lovely retro style Hamble by Lien Ngo:

Or how about the chunky and very PURPLE Larigan cowl neck, from Amanda Crawford, guaranteed to keep you snug and stylish?

There are plenty of accessories too - from the complex and very beautiful Loveny mantle in gorgeous Wine Gum Scrumptious Lace, designed by Judy Furlong

to the cosy Scrumptious Aran hat and cowl set, Kenwyn, by Rachel Coopey:

There are so many more wonderful designs in this book, and they truly are all utterly lovely - honestly it's impossible to choose which to show here.

Tell you what - head over to the book's Ravelry page to see all of the designs, along with lots of info about yarn weight/quantity and all that jazz. Volume 3 is available as a printed book or as an ebook, both priced £12. If you purchase the printed book from the Fyberspates online store, just include your Ravelry name and Jeni will gift you the ebook. There is also a passcode (details are on p55 of the print book), if you purchase it from elsewhere - just email Jeni with the code and she'll sort you out.

Please do follow along the rest of the blog tour - the talented and funny Belinda Boaden, of TrueBritKnits, has already written about her design process for the fabulously wearable (and GREEN) Rosemorran Cardigan.

Celtic Cast On has reviewed the patterns far more thoroughly than I appear to have done, plus she has a giveaway - all you have to do is tell her what Scrumptious yarn and pattern you want to knit most from Vol 3 to get a chance to win your own copy.

Today there are also reviews from Platinum Knits and Inspiration Knits and I plan to head across to read them as soon as I finish blethering on here!

Carol Feller (stolenstitches) will be posting her thoughts on 26th January, as will Ashley Knowlton, who did a super tech-editing job, and the Knitgirllls will give us a mention on their podcast.

On 28th January, Rachel Coopey and Jen AC will both give us their stories, followed by Stitched Together, Kyoko Nakayoshi (cotton and cloud) and A Playful Day on 30th January.

Phew, if you're still with me, I think you deserve a cuppa. As do I.

Till next time. ;)



Cheeky Little Aunty Brown...

says hello!

I've had a busy couple of weeks and the blog is suffering again!

So for now, a little postcard from Cheeky Little Aunty Brown, a sweet hedgehog who lives in the woods and tends her garden of flowers and herbs. She headed off on her travels this weekend to live with my sis (who already lives with the real-life beautiful Cheeky Little Aunty Brown).

Pattern: Little Oddment Hedgehog by Little Cotton Rabbits
Yarn: Rowan Chunky Pure Breeds in Mid Brown Jacob and Steel Grey Suffolk
Mods: I knitted her in the round, using the Disappearing Loop cast on (link is to the TechKnitter tutorial)


A Northmavine Tale

I promised knitting, so knitting there shall be!

You may recall, from the mists of time, that I've been knitting a Northmavine Hoody for quite some time - one of the many beautiful designs from Kate Davies' Colours of Shetland book - using wonderfully sheepy Jamieson & Smith Shetland 2Ply Jumper Weight in a selection of really very lovely colours.

Northmaviine hoodyWell, progress has been intermittent - it wasn't actually a slow knit at all, but I got to the point above, where the next stage involved cutting along the entire length of the front of the cardigan, and then had a large attack of the chickens! This held up proceedings for a while. Quite a long while. I eventually followed Kate's magnificent steeking tutorial and crocheted either side of the line to be cut. Cue another few weeks where I pretended that I wasn't scared (I was scared).

The Northmavine Gimp

Until one balmy, glorious, July evening, I girded my loins, retired to the evening sun of my garden armed with scissors and a bevvie of lovely Twitter-cheerer-onners, and proceeded to live-tweet my steek adventures...

First, gird your loins and sharpen your scissors...Carefully snip, snip, snip.... et voila!I admit at this point I heaved a huge sigh of relief and accepted the cheers of the live-tweet crowd (I say crowd, it was approx 3 or 4).

The next stage was to pick up stitches on the back and the front of the steeked front to create a 'sandwich'.

That's a LOT of stitches. No, I didn't count them.Followed by acres and acres of soothing i-cord bind-off...

Enormously pleasing i-cord bindingWhich is where our Northmavine Tale comes to an end for now. All that is left is a little more i-cord bind-off on each sleeve, closing up the underarms and *gulp* sewing in a chunky zip. Can you guess which of these tasks is causing yet another delay?! I'm going to try to finish this at the weekend... stay tuned! ;)


Evenings on Porlock Bay


Well, that was a rather lengthy gap - I do apologise. I lost my blogging mojo in a very big way, apparently!

This week I'm in Exmoor. On Sunday it rained. On Monday, the heavens opened and it poured. A lot.

Tuesday was a nice day. In the evening we took Maisie for a walk along Porlock Bay and it did this:


Nice, eh? Porlock Bay is a Site of Special Scientific Interest that's gradually being returned to natural salt marsh. The bay is protected by a large ridge of large (and very beautiful) pebbles, which is around 4km long. This was breached by a storm tide in 1996 and since then, instead of repairing the ridge, nature has been allowed to take its course. In 1999, the bones of an Auroch were discovered in the exposed silt - it pleases me no end that Aurochs used to live in Porlock.

on Wednesday evening, we took a little bike ride along the bay in the other direction, towards Bossington - a tiny, National Trust-owned village that has a rather lovely tea-room (always something that will give villages extra credit from me and mine!), and then on up Selworthy Hill to the old Coastguard Station. It's often too windy to stand on the corner of the hill there for too long, but it was a completely perfect August evening and the light breeze was welcome after our climb up there.

Round the rugged rocks...

... the ragged rascal ran.The Bay from Hurlstone Point.Another stunning sunset. So. That's what I've enjoyed this week so far. I didn't enjoy so much tipping an entire mug full of hot coffee over my laptop yesterday - my poor computer is now "o"-less, so I hope there aren't too many missing from this post.

More posts to follow - lots of knitting to report on...