Making Rules when there are No Rules

‘Allo there, how you diddling?  I’m diddling fine thanks so very much for asking.  It’s nearly the end of semester and that always feels like an achievement even when you’re not the one that is taking the exams.

Would you like to see where I have got to with my hexagons?


Definite growth.  Now given that I was hoping for a pleasingly random scattering of colour across the lap/cat/not-sure-of-the-finished-size blanket, one might think that I would be happy to just pop my hand into the jar when it came to hatch a hexagon.


I mean there are twenty something balls to choose from, there would be no need to impose restrictions would there?  Would there?  Hah!  How little I know myself.  I began to stress that the ‘pleasingly random’ that I desired isn’t truly random, for truly random would mean embracing the idea that I could end up with a row that was entirely pink.  Or entirely solid.  Or entirely variegated.  Or, or..  you get the idea.  Given this spread of colours:

I have imposed these rules:

  • Choose six colours at a time.  Why six?  I’ve no clue, something to so with the six sides of the hexagon?
  • Of these six, three must be solid, three must be variegated.
  • Close your eyes as much as possible when choosing colours to add some degree of pucker randomness.
  • Try not to over-analyse colour placement once you have chosen the six.  You won’t believe the problem I have with the over-analysis.  Well, given that I have imposed so many rules where others would have embraced true randomness, maybe you would believe that I have a problem with over-analysis.

I am pretty pleased with the spread of colours that the rules and the eye closing are producing:


If you’d like to join me in hooking hexagons it’s not necessary to take on the inspired weird polygon protocol…  Here’s a hexagon tutorial that illustrates a similar method to the one that I’m using.  To join the hexagons as you go I followed this YouTube video.

That’s about it for now, I hope that you have a lovely evening.  My better half has just informed me that he ate scotch egg curry  Scotch.  Egg.  Curry.  for lunch so I suspect that I’ll be crafting by an open window.





Posted in crochet, Natural Dye Studio, yarn | 5 Comments

In Search of a Sleeveless Shell – Diana Variation

I’m on a quest and I think dear Reader that I will need your assistance.  I’m looking for a pattern for the perfect sleeveless shell.  I want a pattern that uses maybe a metre or a metre and a half of fabric.  A pattern that can be used with my odd-shaped leftovers, my remnants and my impulse purchases.  It needs to work well tucked out as I’m a hang-it-out-er rather than a tuck-it-in-er.  There has to be a good balance of pit-podge-coverage and collar-bone-display.  It has to pass the Shelving Test:  I need to be able to heft a weighty tome onto the top shelf without fear of rip-age or kidney display.  Work and play appropriate.

I’m asking too much you say?  I say, that together, we might find the one.  The Perfect Sleeveless Shell.

I thought that I would start my quest with the patterns that are loafing about my shelves and in my stash cupboard.  Here is the Diana Variation from Famous Frocks – The Little Black Dress Book.


Why start with this picture?  Well, it’s the one that I like the best.  (Rather sadly) I think that this might be compelling evidence that my back side is my best side.  Which is rather a shame because all of the interesting noises come from the front side.  Although my nearest and dearest might suggest that that too is open to debate!

The ‘Diana Variation’ is a princess seamed sleeveless shell, I traced an extra small grading out to a small at the waist/hips.  It is made from Liberty Tana Lawn harvested from the scraps bag.  As the arm holes and neck are finished with bias binding I suspect that I might have used around a metre of fabric.  I’d say it was a weeny bit tight around the arm.  Also, something that I didn’t spot until I came to sew the side seams… the back pieces run shorter than the front pieces.  Design feature or error?  The line drawing doesn’t suggest a deliberate discrepancy and there is no rear shot of the model.  I guess her best side is her front side!


What do you think of this pattern?  If I had to rate it today, it might get a 7.5/10.  With a few tweaks I think that this could be a really useful basic.  I have at least three more stashed patterns lined up to Test for the Quest, but in the meantime do you have any that you can recommend?


Posted in fabric scraps, Famous Frocks The Little Black Dress, foraged fabric, Liberty, Sewing, Sleeveless Shell | 9 Comments

Stop Knitting at the Shark

Despite the perceived wisdom, research has shown that women are pretty good at navigating.  They just have a different approach to men, often relying on landmarks.  If I’m embarking on a journey that I undertake infrequently I certainly rely heavily on key physical features: The park, the petrol station, the shark in the rooftop.


Not up to me usual picture quality I know, but the double decker was moving and I was using my phone camera.  It’s mostly here to prove that I’m not making this story up.  Passing the Headington Shark signifies the end of my inter-site bus journey.  Time to stop reading my work emails and pack away my knitting.  Knitting?


Yep, still knitting this stranded snake of a scarf.  I started working with this yarn this time last year and I confidently predict that this time next year it will still be on my needles.  Of course what one needs to do if one is unable to get excited about a woolly project… is start another woolly project.  Here’s some crochet that has been occupying my evenings:

There might be enough for a blanket, I haven’t done the maths yet.  What do you think?

Posted in crochet, knitting, Natural Dye Studio, work in progress, yarn | 5 Comments

Pockets for Pleasure

Good Evening dear reader, may I ask you a question?  Does making make you happy?  Making makes me happy.  So much so that I have quite a few things on the go here at Start-A-Project-Central.  There’s a bit of knitting :

IMG_5907It’s a scarf and it’s a bit longer than this now but I have yet to reach the half way mark and I’ve stalled rather.  Mid-project ennui.  C’est la vie.  There’s no point in forcing these things, it’s supposed to be enjoyable?

There’s a strong urge to pick up a hook and fashion some more woolly eggs.  I really want some more woolly eggs.


I’d also like to start a granny square blanket and maybe some socks.  I know that I am really serious about the blanket because I’ve done a test square and ordered crochet hooks in the two sizes up from the one I used for the swatch.

Lovely as all these yarny things are, what has really been making my heart sing is this:


A trouser pocket.  From yet another pair of Simplicity 3850.

Try as I might I could not work out why the blue bed sheet and the scrap of Liberty Strawberry Thief in fuchsia and lime was making me smile so.  That was until today when I was gazing longingly at my neighbour’s cherry tree beginning to blossom against the backdrop of a crisp blue sky:  These colours remind me of spring!  And spring with its lengthening days and its buds and its blossom makes me happy.  So happy that I had to capture the moment to share with you, wobbling precariously at the top of the climbing frame I took these:

If you’ve just had the other equinox, here’s something to remind you of the pleasures of that season too:


Whatever the weather and whatever the season where you are I hope that you are well.  And happily crafting.  Px.



Posted in crochet, knitting, Liberty, Sewing, Simplicity 3850, work in progress | 5 Comments

Ash, azure, battleship

blue (greyhound), cadet, carbon, charcoal, cinereous, Davy’s, dim.

Dolphin, dove, dun, elephant’s breath,


eigengrau, fuscous, gainsboro, glaucous, granite, gray.

Gris, gun-metal, iron, jet, lavender, lead, midnight, mouse, neutral, obsidian.

Oil, oyster, Payne’s, pearl, petrel, platinum, puce, rocket metallic, salt and pepper, silver.

Slate, smoke, Spanish, steel, stone, stormcloud, taupe, thunder, timberwolf, whale.

That was Fifty Shades of Grey.  


Salutations sewing siblings, are you here for a sewing story?


Here I am this time last year looking rather eccentric (my children’s words) in Simplicity 3850 Mark Two, The Grey Flannel Version:  My first attempt at dispensing with the fly front.  Mark One were also grey.  Mark Three have a slightly better fit.  There may be a Mark Four in my future as I find grey trews jolly useful.  This pair have had that much wear that they are showing signs of wear.  Which is brilliant.  Why is it brilliant?  It’s brilliant because I have worn them.  Because I no longer even consider trying to buy ready-to-wear trousers because I understand my body shape (short legs, big bum) and how it does not conform to any ready-to-wear ‘standard’.  Even with my fledgling fitting skills trousers that I make are a better fit than any ready-to-wear I have ever owned.

Do you have tried and true (TNT) trews?  Let me know, maybe I can give them a try.


For my irreplaceable Dad who died at the end of January.  

Sharing terrible jokes and showing you the things that I have made are two of a multitude of things that I already miss.

Posted in Sewing, Simplicity 3850 | 4 Comments

Buttons – Of the Saber Toothed Swap and Jungle January Variety

You know when someone offers to help just as you have wiped the last plate dry ?  Or when they ask “Would you like a hand with that?” but don’t either a) get up from the sofa or b) put down their wine?  Er.

Better late than never, I’m hoping that these buttons and the associated code might be of some use.

Saber Toothed Swap button

Saber Toothed Swap 2015


Saber Toothed Swap button – the raw HTML


<div align=”center”><a href=”; title=”Saber Toothed Swap 2015″><img src=”; alt=”Saber Toothed Swap 2015″ width=”200″ height=”200″ style=”border:none;” /></a></div>



Jungle January 3 button

Jungle January 3


Jungle January 3 button – the raw HTML


<div align=”center”><a title=”Jungle January 3″ href=””><img style=”border: none;” src=”; alt=”Jungle January 3″ width=”200″ height=”200″ /></a></div>


What do I do with the code?

 I can tell you what I do with the HTML in WordPress.  If someone would like to share how you use raw HTML in any of the other blogging platforms please feel free to comment. In WordPress I go to:

>WP Admin

> Appearance

> Widgets

>Primary Widget Area

In my ‘Primary Widget Area’ there is box where I can paste the HTML, which I do.  I then


The HTML that you need for the buttons begins with <div and ends with </div>.  I have the two [raw][/raw] brackets either side of the code so that it will display on my webpage. I hope that this makes some sense?

I always find Jungle January joyful and I hope that you do too.


Posted in Jungle January 3 | 3 Comments

My jungle has flamingoes*

How do you like your jungle flamingoes?  I like mine bright.  Lookee here:

IMG_7521Woah!  Bright, right?  And where to place said birds?  That not being a euphemism.  Although given that the flamingo fabric became the bodice section of a dress it could well become my next best euphemism.  “Grr, if only me birds would face the same way.”

I really did want them to face the same way.  The bodice is self-lined see, so there was a decision to be made about which flamingoes should be on top, the ones wading in water or the ones loafing about in lush grass.  The water on the left won out.

The bodice is from the ‘Liza’ wrap dress.  The ‘Liza’ wrap dress is a pattern for knits/jersey/stretch that can be found in the book Famous Frocks: The Little Black Dress: Patterns for 20 Garments Inspired by Fashion Icons.



I fixed the bodice to the skirt of a shop-bought jersey maxi:
Between you and I, you know how wrap fronts have a tendency to display ones birds when one is least expecting to display ones birds?  Well, I took precautionary measures.  I used some fusible knit interfacing on the long bias edges of the two front bodice sections and I secured clear elastic to the waist seam in the hopes of stabilising the layers of fabric.  And there are layers.  As I decided to self-line instead of edge with bias as suggested by the book there are five layers of fabric at that front waist seam.
Did these measures work?  Well, the above pics were the only two where my birds were tamed.  In the interests of keeping my personal flamingoes protected I suspect that mostly this dress will be worn with an underthing and maybe even an overthing.

The other ‘thing’ that is a necessity given the current ambient temperature here is a cup of warm cocoa.  In my favourite mug.

Boing, boing, boing.


Happy Jungle January One and All.


* or indeed flamingos. Po-taa-toe/po-tart-to.


Posted in Famous Frocks The Little Black Dress, jersey, Jungle January 3, refashion, Sewing, Stretch | 7 Comments

Wensleydale Waistcoat


May I have a moment of your time?  I’d like to alert you to the fact that I have knitted a garment!  A piece of clothing that I might wear out of the house!  This is a landmark moment for me, please be upstanding.  Or, if you read blogs when I read blogs, try to keep these words in focus as you lay exhausted in your bed at the end of the day and endeavour to catch up with your crafty friends by squinting, sleepy-eyed at the screen of your phone.  Don’t smart phones hurt when they slip from your grasp and clock you right on the conk* ?  Just me?


What is the name of the pattern that has tempted me to commit to knitting something other than an accessory? Well, it’s, are you ready for this?  It’s a truly memorable moniker.  The pattern is… ‘118-13 Waistcoat in “Muskat with patterned rib border‘.  I know.  Whilst I tire a little of the ‘pattern-with-a-female-first-name‘ thing ‘118-13 Waistcoat in “Muskat with patterned rib border‘ doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue.  Looking at the company (DROPS design)’s website I can see why they’ve adopted a numerical system, they appear to produce patterns on an industrial scale.

With the formal identification out of the way and as I am in the company of friends, I hope that we no longer need to stand on ceremony.  From now on we can refer to her as my Wensleydale Waistcoat.  Not just because I’m a sucker for gratuitous alliteration but because she’s made from Wensleydale Wool.


How did I find it?  Well, the pattern was pretty easy to follow with both written instructions and charts.  The waistcoat is knitted from the bottom up in one piece.  You make the button holes and the button band as you go and the only seaming needed is the front to the back at the shoulders.   There were enough changes of pattern and pace to stop me getting bored and not so much that I got lost and gave up.  The giving up is quite likely given how slow I am at knitting, I need to see shape and results pretty quickly.

Look at this:


This is my first attempt at blocking.

What again?

‘What’ again?  What does it look like on me?  Oh, well, it’s very cropped and snug even after I blocked it.  Really, given it’s promo pic, I should be wearing this when I have cause to waft dreamily about my local sandy beach.  At the very least I could don a fabulous, floral frock and hope that I capture the essence of the queen of killer knitwear – Bernadette from The Big Bang Theory.

What we actually have in terms of modelled images is me in me thermals making do with the camera and timer in a few square feet of sunlight.  I climbed into the border for you guys!


I will at some point update my Ravely notes.  Until then, you have the most up to the minute info. right here.

Happy Tuesday one and all!

*nose, what were you thinking?


Posted in knitting, Wensleydale Longwool, yarn | 11 Comments

Forget-Me-Not and French Lavender

Looking a little like French Lavender?


French Lavender and Forget-Me-Nots?  Admittedly a very stylised row of stalk-less Forget-Me-Nots.

What I love about knitting and crochet is that when you realise that what you are working on isn’t working you can undo your workings.




On what are you working?

Posted in knitting, Natural Dye Studio | 7 Comments

Cat Chronicles – The Official Complaint


I would like to lodge a formal complaint.  When exactly can we expect normal service to be resumed?  We are creatures of habit the large one and I and, quite frankly, lately, things have just not been up to scratch.  Absolutely no pun intended, scratching is a fundamental feline right and I will not have it mocked here thank you so very much.  And of course it falls to me to make the complaint.  I mean look at her:

St Gertrude knows I love my sister but she’s not exactly the sharpest needle in the pincushion so it falls to me to raise the issue.  Just look at me.


Consigned to the hard wooden chair beneath the kitchen table.  You don’t think that looks so bad?  No?  Regard my sister and I in these shots:

This is where we should be right now, on top of the wool.  Or, at a push, atop some newly laundered fabric.

When, may I ask, can we expect full-scale crafting to begin again?  We require pattern paper to lie upon.  We require you to sit at the machine-that-makes-a-noise-but-I-don’t-hate.  I need to be on top of the kitchen table watching the bobbin whirl and batting the seam ripper to the floor.

I mean we have seen glimpses of normality.  There was wool at the weekend, there was wool at lap-time (19:30-19:45 GMT precisely).  But there was moaning too.  Something about knitting four rows and then having to undo ten when she realised that she had made a mistake late last week and isn’t that just a metaphor for how life as a whole has been recently and why don’t I just buy everything off the internet like a sane person anyway.  And she gets so tetchy when we play catch the loose yarn.  Why play with two separate coloured balls of wool if you don’t want me to catch both colours?  I am hard-wired to seek, locate and destroy moving objects.  Fairisle my furry ****.


May I respectfully suggest that as the youngest has fully integrated into big school and as the older male has returned from his travels (smelling of hotels and airports) that you, older female, you i) adjust to your new job and your new hours ii) yarn-bomb the desk-of-your-own-for-the-first-time-in-a-decade and iii) carry on sewing.

We await your answer.  We await outside in the wet, on top of the fence, accumulating droplets of water like some sort of cloud, waiting for you to stop using the machine-that-I-hate-with-every-fibre-of-my-being.


Regards, the-smaller-of-the-two-felines-that-share-your-property.




Posted in Cat Chronicles, knitting | Leave a comment