Sunday, 27 July 2014


Today I'm writing later than usual.

This morning's routine has been skewed slightly by a visitor. This lady makes my heart soar. She is a truly  inspirational woman who came and gave her time freely and with passion. She came to help Ben.

 I know he's mine and you may think I'm biased but bear with me for a bit. Ben is an intelligent boy who struggles with his handwriting. On a good day it's barely legible. It seems school doesn't teach penmanship any more. As a leftie, no one took time to teach him how to form letters the left handed way. I'm a leftie too, and I have tried. But as a full time worker, by the time I get home from work and make tea he's tired and he's had enough. On and off I've tried at weekends, but I'm not a teacher and it's been difficult.

This lady works as a volunteer and his school. She has always had time for Ben. She's encouraged him to read books that interest him, not just the stories given to him by teachers that don't fire his imagination. She challenged the year six  children to read 6 books in 6 weeks and write a report about them. Ben didn't want to do it, but she convinced him to give it a go. He read 5 non-fiction books in 5 weeks and thoroughly enjoyed it. His reports were brief and concise. Perish the thought he'd write any more than he thought he needed to. He hates to write. I mean he hates it! I'm sure he feels that writing things down shows the world how bad his writing is, so he'll do anything to get out of it.

It turns out though, that these reports have been a wonder. They've opened up opportunity for Ben we might never have had. This wonderful woman knows things. She knows people. She's given her time to try and help Ben and I'm so happy.

For too long I've felt that Ben's intelligence has been locked behind a wall so high it can't get out.
That barrier is his processing. Getting his thoughts down on paper.

Well no more! Ben starts a new chapter in his learning career in September and we're drawing a line under all that has gone before. He has a fresh start, a new page, new opportunities to shine.

So thank you Wendy. Thank you for seeing past the paper and recognising the potential of a young man who wants to achieve great things.


On a lighter note it's been a great week at Camp Aloha Friends too. Our swap partners have been announced I have been matched with two truly inspirational women. Both hugely talented. I'm in awe! Nan is an excellent seamstress who has raised a truly inspirational daughter ;-) I'm looking forward to getting to know her better over the next few weeks. I've also been paired with Deb. You guys may have heard of her. I've been following her blog for a while now. It's a lovely read. A World of Imagination is beautiful. I love the way Deb sets out her writing. Her photography is gorgeous. 

She has inspired me to better with my photography. I'm going to try really hard to avoid photos of my sofa or my carpet! Bear with me though guys. I'm not the most creative of folk! 

Camp this week has been all about fabric. Posting off our yo-yo's, making skirts or pillowcases or both, and what to look for in a sewing machine. It's been lovely. I'm not confident with sewing. I've done a bit while I was at school, but produced nothing I'd be happy to show anyone. I have a machine. Mostly it mocks me! I'm having none of it! From now on, I'm the boss! I'll show this machine who's in charge! ....... Well I'm saying now, but it's probably going to be in a week or so! I'm off then and I plan to make it a very crafty fortnight!  To that end I've been shopping. I've bought supplies for my skirt. And some thread to make Chinese knots. I've also bought some yarn to weave with. Now, don't get me wrong, I know I've got DK weight yarn in my stash, but it needs to felt a little and all my yarn is superwash! 

I'm so excited so it what's to come. This next week could seem really long as I plan my time off. 

Feeling the love - 

This week I've spun my heart out. I finished spinning the BFL/silk blend from last week. I've decided to keep it as a single. At the moment it's resting on the bobbin. Mainly because I haven't plucked up the courage to wind it onto the niddy noddy and start to full it! I think I'll do that next weekend. That way the energy from the spin should have settled a bit. I'm kidding myself! I'm just scared silly of ending up with 100g of barf!

My spinning mojo was strong this week. I started spinning the second of my Nunoco jewel bug batts. This one is the gorgeous orange to pink batt. I've not got much to show you, so I'll leave that until next week too. 

On the knitting front there has been highs and lows. I've worked a lot on the sun ray shawl but there is nothing to see. I'm crossing rounds off the chart, but the shawl doesn't seem to be growing much now. I'm still loving it though, and I'm enjoying each and every chance I get to snatch some time with it. 

I also worked on my RainShine shawl. I cast it on last week if you remember. I've been happily working on the stocking stitch body of the shawl. Now, don't ask me why, but yesterday I decided to look at the pattern again. It does say you can use any weight of yarn but your yardage will obviously change according to the yarn you choose. I suddenly realised I didn't have nearly as much yarn as I'd need. I'd taken the laceweight yardage and decided that's what I needed for fingeringweight too! What a clanger to drop!

So now I'm back making it up as I go. I'm keeping a note of what I'm doing and I hope it will all come good in the end. The fabric I'm creating thus far is lovely. 

The sheen given by the silk and BFL are stunning and the cashmere content give a luxurious softness. I love this base!  The colours aren't bad either are they?!

My fyberspates gleem is undergoing another transformation. It seems like it didn't want to be Almost Autumn any more than it wanted to be Peacocks Feathers. Now it's going to be Heliophysics. 
With any luck the third time will be a charm and this will be the last pattern for this yarn!

Last night we went out as a family. It was the Penrith Agricultural Show yesterday. It's a big thing locally. Friends of ours always finish off the day with a barbecue. I took a huge dish of Bombay potatoes and some knitting! The potatoes went down a storm and I made great progress on Ben's socks while chatting. 

The weather here has been glorious all week and yesterday was no exception. I got 3 loads of washing done by mid afternoon. 


The curse of the British barbecue is not to be trifled with. By 9 o'clock the rain was dancing 2 feet off the pavements! It was REALLY wet! And not overly warm either! But on a positive note I did get to the heel turn of the sock before we lost the light completely. I sat this morning and turned the heel. 

On the Horizon - 

I'll work on most projects I'd say. I'll be gearing up to leave the dispensary for a fortnight, so I'll be spending a lot of time tying up lose ends and making sure that everyone knows what needs to be done while I'm away.  Hopefully despite all of this I'll have some good crafting time too. And looking even further ahead, I'll have 2 weeks of crafting to look forward to! 

It's my birthday soon. I've asked my other half to build me a summer house. I'm hoping that he can find the time to build it sooner rather than later. I'd love to have some space to call mine just for my crafting. I can't wait! Fingers crossed people!

So, have a great week folks. 

Until next time

Ellen x  

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Oops I did it again!

Once again I must seek the forgiveness of the collective!

I missed blogging again last weekend! In my defense, I was a tad pre-occupied!

It's been a difficult fortnight. Friday was the end of the school year and marks the closure of a big chapter in my son's education. He's finished primary school now. It's very exciting for him to be moving schools and heading for the big smoke. He'll be going to a huge secondary school in town. There are more children admitted each year to his new school than there are in the whole of his old one! 

His new school is great. They put a lot of time and effort into making sure that the transition is as smooth as possible. Teachers go to the primary schools and do sample lessons, the kids go to their new school to experience a school day and meet their new classmates. Ben has been excited about this for months. But when it came to the crunch of going for the whole day, he had a bit of a wobble! Who can blame him? He's going to be a teeny tiny fish in a huge ocean!  In the end, he had a great day and all was well. His enthusiasm for moving schools has returned. Praise be!

Leaving his old school was stressful too. Not for him, for me. I won't bore you with the details. Suffice to say I'm also glad he's moved school. 

I have relied on my crafting to keep me sane over the last two weeks. I've achieved much. 

So let's get to the nittygritty. 

Feeling the love - 

Gosh, where to start!?

Well needless to say, the fyberspates gleem lace I unraveled in the last blog was quickly cast back on as Almost Autumn by Booknits. The Close to You collection it comes from is truely stunning and inspirational. I want to have ALL the shawls NOW!!! I was so taken with the patterns I may have bought her other collection too it's called the In Love collection and the shawls are as beautiful.


On a more mundane front I've picked up, worked on, and put back down many of my WIP's in the last two weeks, my sock yarn and spiral blankets have both felt some love. They're getting big now, so a lot of time working produces little visible progress. But sometimes I like to mindlessly crochet so they will continue to see action for a while yet. 

Ben's socks have had some progress made. Mainly because he asked me how they where going and I had done nothing much with them since ripping them out! I took them with me to a production the school put on. Dear lord help me it wasn't good. It's was like interpretive dance. It mostly washed over my head. Essentially I think the point of the production was that the school had looked into what makes girls girls and boys boys. It's odd listening to a 5 year old explain what they understand of gender stereotype. I mean, does a 5 year old really need to be posed these questions at this stage of their life? I'm not sure. But at least that hour or so in the hot, sweaty and frankly smelly hall allowed me to make good progress on the foot of his sock. I'd say I'm probably about halfway towards the heel. 

The sun ray shawl has seen lots of action. I've completed chart C and now I'm racing to the top of chart D. I say racing, it's all relative really. The transition between charts saw the stitch count rise to 640. So one round takes quite a while to complete now. But I love the yarn, I love the fabric I'm producing and I love the pattern, so slogging my way through each round isn't a chore still.

I've spun some too. I'm halfway through a naturally coloured BFL/silk blend. I bought it last year at Woolfest, it's a commercially produced top which was sold from a huge bag you just ripped off as much as you wanted. I neglected to weigh the top before I started, but I think it's 100g. I weighed what's left this morning and I'm at 50g. I'm now stuck. I'm not sure if I want to carry on and spin the lot then chain ply it, carry on spin the lot and then ply it with a completely different and colourful single, change bobbins and do a simple 2 ply or spin the lot and leave it as a fulled single. 

Do you know? I'm going to make a poll on the knitstostaysane rav board. Let me know what your opinion is!

I've spun on my little spindles too. My Turkish lives at work and I'm loving how my turtle is developing. At home my alien spindle is bedding in. I'm still not overly happy with the length of time it spins for, but it spins fast and you can't have it both ways. So for spinning as thin as I want to go, it's fine and I'm enjoying it.

Friday just gone was particularly difficult. Lots of things made a particularly rubbish day. So I cheered myself up by casting on a new, beautiful project. What's one more WIP between friends?!

I'm using a beautiful yarn by Nimu. Now I'm telling you how gorgeous this yarn is, but the snag is you'll only get it in a de-stash right now. Sorry!

The lovely lady (who's name escapes me sorry!) who runs Nimu has essentially closed her shop. She's gone back to university. She now only dyes sporadically. She did offer a summer club to those who are on her mailing list. I can't recommend enough to you guys to sign up to that list, the opportunity to get your hands on some of this yarn can't be missed. 

Any hoo, I'm working with her Isel base. It's a fingering weight BFL/silk/cashmere blend which is pure joy to use. The fabric it's producing is nothing short of divine ! The lustre  and softness combines with stunning colour saturation to make for a wonderful knit. I knew this yarn must be
something special. So I cast on another Booknits creation. This time is Rainshine. I can't wait to see this finished. But equally I don't want to have to stop knitting this yarn and cast it off! It's lovely.

In other news, Camp Aloha Friends continues apace. Since I last wrote to you I have mainly been making yo-yo's. I may be a little obsessed with them now! 

As you can see, I'm well on my way to filling my second vase. We will have a little swap shortly so I must reign in my desire to use all of my circles. I need to pass some on to my swap partners! 

Craftiness know no bounds at camp! The main reason I didn't blog last weekend is because I spent the time I'd usually write to you making beads. It was such great fun. 

These cute little critters will be stitch makers soon...... Hum, maybe I'll do that this morning after I've finished my house work! 

There are many more things for me to do, I need to get my finger out and make myself a loom. It's so clever the way it's done, I just need to sit for a bit, collect my ingredients and crack on. The fabric we are going to weave will be needed later, so I'd like to make a start soon. 

Speaking of ingredients I cooked up a storm last weekend. I made ganache puddings, s'more clusters and a lovely vegetable soup. This weekend I think roast strawberries have been mentioned in camp, so I'll have to investigate that recipe too! Nom nom!!

On the Horizon - 

I have 2 weeks to go until my summer holidays start. I can't wait. I'm starting to get tired! So I'm counting down the days. 

On the crafty front, I'll see what you guys think about that spinning project.
I'll work on all of my WIP's. 
I'll crack on and finish processing that yarn I recycled a while ago. I sat and wound 1000yds onto the niddy noddy last night and there was no visible change to the ball!

I need to get on with it as I need it to be relaxed by September. I'll be starting a new KAL.  It's another Susan Pandorf pattern. This time we'll be knitting her In Dreams creation. You can find information about the KAL in the Evenstar KAL group on Ravelry. It's being organised by Annagret and CODfishh, if you want to join us, check out the thread on the group. The Evenstar KAL was great. A lovely group of people supporting each other with no pressure. 

So, enough pontificating. I'm off to get this day started!

Until next week (hopefully!)

Ellen x 

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Sometime you gotta do whatcha gotta do

Good morning readers.

Welcome to another sunny day on Planet Earth. 

I hope the weather is treating you well wherever you are. For those of you in the US, I hope Endurance wasn't too destructive. 

This week has mostly been about clean starts. 

My evil cats from hell have mostly been bringing catches home and wreaking havoc in the house. We've had a rabbit, a shrew, a mouse and 2 birds. The only saving grace is that they do eat their catches. At least they aren't wasted. The snag with that is that I have to clear up fluff and feathers regularly! I should have stuck with the rats. Much less mess to clean!

I've also come to a major decision. Do you guys remember that shawl I've been knitting since January? Well I've been working on it all week. I mean religiously. If I've wanted to knit, I picked it up. I've completed half a repeat this week, which is no mean feat when you think that a pattern row and a purl row now take me 1/2 an hour to work. 

I discovered yesterday that somehow or other I'd managed to muck up this repeat, I'd worked the same pattern row twice. I don't know how I did it and keep the stitch count correct! But by the time I'd noticed the mistake was about 6 rows down and I wasn't about to tink back to fix it. No worries, I thought, it will be a longer leaf on this repeat. 

Well, last night I let the rats out for a run, and went to sit next to the cage with them. I took my knitting too. As I sat down, I yanked a load of stitches off the needles. Those stitches took one look at
me and ran for the hills. Me? I cried a little inside and then ripped the whole thing off the needles. I
decided it was a sign. I had been knitting venom into that shawl for months. I didn't enjoy the process of knitting it. Don't get me wrong, I loved how it was turning out, it's just that the process was sapping my happiness. I'm very much a process knitter. I think that's why I give so much of what I make away. It's the thrill of making the item that makes me happy.

So this is the peacock's feather shawl this morning. 

But I'm not glum. The pain, disappointment and frustration of frogging is soothed by the thoughts of a new project. This yarn is too lovely to languish in a ball for long. Yesterday there was a truely stunning shawl on the front page of Ravelry. It was a beautiful white lace affair made by Izi. The pattern was called Snow Angel and it was from a collection called Close to You by Boo Knits. 


I had to buy the ebook there and then. A measly £9 got me 5 stunning patterns. Truely beautiful works of art.
And so the Peacock's Feathers will become Almost Autumn. 

Feeling the love - 

Clearly the Peacock's Feather has been given a lot of attention this week, but next to no love!

But all is not lost. I have worked on other things. 

My sock yarn blanket continued to grow. I made myself promise that when I finished the ball I was working on, I'd put it down and work on something else. It has been absorbing most of my time for a while now

I was a good girl, I joined a new ball and set it aside. 

The desire to crochet all the blankets was strong, however!  A trawl through Pinterest (and another hour lost!) saw me try to figure out how to make a spiral blanket. You must understand, dear readers, that crochet is not my natural state! It took a bit of working out, but I'm rather pleased with myself!

As you can see, it's a tad frilly in the middle. I was increasing too many stitches in each round to start with. I've settled in to 8 increases now, and I'm hoping that the excess fabric will stretch out a bit as the blanket grows. I'm using four 400g balls of acrylic/wool blend. It's cheap and cheerful and ideal for blankets that are going to be lived with. 

The rest of my crafting week has been focused on what promises to me my latest obsession. 

Those of you who are at Camp Aloha Friends with me may have an idea already. 


No! Not the spinny things on string! 

Yo-yo's! You know, little pieces of gathered fabric

Get me?! Fabric!!!!

The lovely Deborah from WhipStitch has shown  me the light. Now, I'm not saying that from now on my sewing machine and I are going to be best buddies (it's mocking me from where it's sitting on the living room floor as I write!), but I'm really enjoying this project. 

The joy of camp is that I'm getting to try out things I'd never even contemplated before! 

So, do you remember a while ago I decided to make a project bag? I started out by trying a dummy run with recycled jersey material - FAIL! Well, since then the beautiful fabric has been sitting on my work box sighing at me. Longing to be made into something lovely. 

Then along came yo-yo's. I bit the bullet and cut up that lovely fabric into 120 circles. I also may have bought a couple of fat quarters from Woolfest to complement the fabric I already had.

That also got chopped up giving me a grand total of 180 circles measuring a stunning 7cm high!

I started to stitch. I quickly realised I'd made a boo boo. Once my yo-yo's were made, you couldn't see the lovely patterns. 

But I like the colours, and at least the fabric is being used rather than sitting in a carrier bag. 
My first evening saw me make a good handful

The project suggested for us to make is a shadow box to hang on the wall. Wall space is at a premium in my house, so I lost another hour on Pinterest (sigh!) and came up with the cunning plan of a cushion cover. I also saw a stunning method of storing my lovely yo-yo's 

Flowers are a rarity in my house, so I think this is a much better use of my vases!

On the horizon- 

More yo-yo's!

A new shawl!

Crochet blankets-arama!

I think I'm going to rip out that sock of Ben's that was too small and start again. 

So, lovely readers - have a great week. 

PS - here's what I've been listening to while I wrote to you this morning!

Ellen x