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Friday, 19 May 2017

Doodles in tapestry wool ...

It's exam season ... <groan!> 😩 And, if there's one thing worse than having to go off and sit a whole bunch of exams yourself, it's going through the ritual of exam season second-time-round with your kids. We've had a busy old time of it recently catching up on spellings and grammar, arithmetic and mathematical reasoning for Emi's SATS exams, and now he's headed for his end of year exams in all the other subjects.

To keep hold of my sanity when my interest in spotting adverbial clauses was waning, I dug out the little bit of tapestry wool left over from my last project. And sitting there in the quiet as Emi studied, I thought about a beautiful clematis, deep purple blossoms and waxy green leaves, coiling its way up a bamboo support.

My inspiration came from a recent gardening triumph of my mother's. Now I have to explain that my mum is the most green-fingered person I know. She has a really special gift for getting things to grow from cuttings and seed that she handbags on her travels. And, yes, that really is a verb! Over the course of my lifetime she's carried home most of her large, colourful garden in her handbag.

 She recently blew my socks off by growing the most exquisite clematis from a cutting that she took from my uncle's garden. Last time she showed it to me it was gorgeous: all healthy green leaves and swollen buds breaking out into showers of impossibly-exotic purple blossoms. I was deeply envious.

And so, sitting there in the kitchen with my son and a stack of SATS papers, I found myself day-dreaming about glamorous purple clematis vines. My left-over threads didn't run to the exact colour scheme that nature had created; I didn't have nearly enough deep purple, but I improvised and this is what came out:






Sunday, 7 May 2017

Growing Mint ...

Fresh mint is one of my go-to herbs. I love mint tea of an afternoon, I'm partial to a nice Mojito, I'm a fan of chopped mint with new potatoes and I love a good Tabbouleh. So, all things told, I'm a major consumer. Through the winter months I purchase lots of little pots of fresh mint to keep on my kitchen window. When I'm done with them I plant them outside, and through the early spring and summer I'm pretty much self-sufficient.



Monday, 1 May 2017

How to tailor your tassel ...

Gosh that title sounds a bit dodgy ... but I'll bet it grabbed your attention πŸ‘€

The purpose of this strangely-named post is to explain how to make luscious tassels. Let's be honest, there's nothing quite so under-whelming as a half-hearted tassel. You might as well just not bother if you're going to put some limp, skinny, under-weight effort on the fringe of whatever it is you're trying to embellish. Save the wool, and do something else! Sew on feathers, or add some sequins. Do something else, because tassels should be opulent and extravagant. They have to be full-bodied and curvaceous to be tassel-tastic!



On my recent Queen of Hearts Stole I chose to go a bit overboard with some really lux tassels. I used over 80 g of wool making 30 tassels to sew on either end. It was very extravagant as I'd only used 540 g to knit the entire stole, but the investment really upped the wow factor of the finished item.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Queen of Hearts Summer Stole

I'm an optimist at heart. I believe that summer will finally come, although looking out at the hail showers today you'd be forgiven for not keeping the faith. Still, even when it does show up, it's got this habit of not always staying constant to its billing here in the UK. Without too much notice it can turn on a sixpence and go all chilly and grey-skied.

So a wrap of some sort or other is a pretty useful addition to any girl's summer wardrobe, and ta-dah! - I give you mine:



 It's knit in our own-label Costa Brava merino double knitting yarn in Buttered Caramel. For a scarf (including tassels) with a finished length of 194 cm/ 76" and a width of 40 cm/ 16" I used 620 g/ 1240 metres of yarn. This gave me a tension, working in pattern over the length and width of the stole, of 30 stitches x 28 rows for a 10 cm x 10 cm square.

 Just read on for the pattern:

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Aphid Invasion ...

πŸ’• I really, really πŸ’– my roses. πŸ’•



As a result I get seriously annoyed by pesky little sap-sucking aphids, who blow into town with an overblown sense of entitlement to munch whatever they land on. A dark cloud descends, my blood boils and I go into a full-blown psychotic rage. It's not pleasant. It's not pretty. It's all-out war! No way, Jose, are those gormless little green bugs going to munch their way through my patch... .

Whilst I may be hopping mad, and ready to decimate the entire West London aphid population, I still don't like to stray too far from my normal, natural, organic approach to gardening. Can't think why that sentence made me think of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde! πŸ€”  I've got children and pets to worry about. They play in my garden, chase footballs and roll around on the grass. I've also got an abundance of wildlife that I positively want to nurture and encourage, so I don't want to nuke the rose bushes. Honestly, I'm a reasonable person ... all the way up the moment when you start eating my roses ... ☠️.

So here's my solution: I cook up a bug-blasting concoction using readily-available household ingredients that won't turn the back garden into a toxic wasteland or trigger a nuclear winter. Just read on for my recipe ...