Saturday, 22 September 2012

A burst of colour (contains spider!)

Just because!

It was our wedding anniversary last week and my mother-in-law gave us a bunch of colourful roses. Roses are so much fun to photograph:

They're a cheerful bunch of flowers on my kitchen windowsill but when you zoom in they become all romance-novelly and exotic-looking!

We're well into autumn now and the rain continues to be frequent but we're getting the odd day or few hours of sunshine and blue sky. I love sunny days in autumn, I love the cool brightness - today was such a day and I went out foraging. The brambles are far from ready yet, but I got some rowan berries yesterday and hoped to get some more today so I can make rowan berry jelly, but there aren't that many rowans near us and the berries on the one I found, though plentiful were not ripe enough. I'll try again next week. It was nice to get out for a walk though and to get a few pictures of the colours:

Meet my spider. Almost every day there is a spider's web between the trampoline and the washing-line - it's a spectacular feat of engineering and art, and yet very often I forget and blunder through it, and the poor old spider has to start again.

I was quite impressed when I looked at this photo and noticed how many patterns the spider has used - see the flattened hexagons that look like chicken wire? I love the details that come out in photographs which I just don't pick up on in at the time.

Still in the garden, the insects are feasting:

The mint is flowering (pics above and below)

And my very small buddleia-in-a-pot (Buddleia Buzz) has flowered! I planted it last year so this should have been its first year flowering but it's been so wet and murky I wasn't sure it actually would manage it - then finally the flowers appeared..

..and so did the butterflies! All of my butterfly photos manage to look fake, as if badly photoshopped, but they're really real!

I don't know if anyone noticed the splash of yellow in the background of the first mint-flower picture, but that's my anthemis tinctoria (dyer's chamomile) which has given the most colour in the garden this summer - it's been brilliant, completely unstoppable and the hoverflies love it.  As there's so much of it I finally got round to doing another dye with the flowers:

Once again though I can't get a photograph that reflects the colour accurately - it looks quite buttery there but is actually a stronger, slightly harsher yellow (almost with a hint of mustard?) - but the pictures make me so happy even if they're not accurate. The one with the sun on the wool is when I'd just rinsed it and had hung it over the kitchen tap to drip dry for a few minutes. I've got a very sunny sink obviously..

I'll finish with a poppy just for a bit of red!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012


Once upon a time, a long time ago, I read an article, probably in Smash Hits or No1 or some similar 1980s pop magazine, about the origins of band names. They ran these occasionally, presumably as a space-filler and also because there were some really odd band names so it was sometimes quite entertaining.  There were the usual suspects - Duran Duran (character in Barbarella), The Teardrop Explodes  (from a panel in a comic), Tears for Fears (some kind of psychotherapy thing), UB40 (benefit form) and so on.

And then there was Spandau Ballet - supposedly the band got their name from a bit of graffiti seen in a loo somewhere. Smash Hits/No1/whatever-mag-it-was then educated its readership by explaining that Spandau Prison was where Rudolf Hess was imprisoned until his death, ending with the comment "However he was not known for his dancing".

In 1941 Rudolf Hess parachuted into Scotland - he landed in a field at Floors Farm near Eaglesham and was taken prisoner. That night he was held in a hall just down the road in Busby. That hall is still standing and is where Miss Mouse has ballet classes (as well as cheerleading, tap and all the rest of her dancey stuff) and is where I have Zumba and Powerhoop classes. It's quite a surreal thought, especially when you're gyrating to Lady Gaga.

For a priceless Spandau Ballet moment, have a look at this Youtube clip from Never Mind the Buzzcocks.  Skip to 4.18  - it's the intros round and Martin Kemp (of Spandau Ballet) and Phill Jupitus are about to sing to the very tall comedian Greg Davies. I know it's incredibly tedious to be told online 'HAHA! THIS IS FUNNY!', but this is one clip I go to when I'm feeling low because it always makes me smile, so, in my very humble opinion, it's worth a look. Enjoy!

Monday, 17 September 2012

Making Monday: mitts

Yay! One Project Rainbow mitt, almost completed. I think I'll leave it like that until I've done the other one then do both thumbs at the end. I'm rubbish at thumbs so I'm hoping that doing both at the end will help.

It all went quite quickly once I did a bit of arithmetic and got the chart sorted out in my head. I'm not great at following charts - not cable/lace ones anyway, Fair Isle ones are no bother - and there was a certain amount of head-scratching and thinking it through before it made sense. Having said that, when I got to putting the thumb stitches onto the wool scrap I found I'd ended up a stitch short on the hand somehow..

I've also made the mitts a bit longer than the pattern suggests, partly through misreading the pattern, but actually that's fine because I like a longer cuff and I have biggish hands so the longer the palm part the better really.

The cable and lace panel was, in a way, more straightforward than I was expecting providing I concentrated and didn't panic - 'What? I have to do cables and lace and an increase for the thumb gusset all in the same row?'  It was all a bit like patting my head and rubbing my tummy at one point, while holding three DPNs and a cable needle and shuffling stitch markers of course. The wool (Yarn Yard Clan, 100% merino) is very smooth, almost like cotton, so at times I felt I'd have got on better with a more 'grippy' wool, but I think the smoothness works well with showing off the cable/lace panel. Or will once it's blocked anyway. It looks a bit wonky at the moment.

So now to cast on the second one!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Warning, may contain traces of beans


Dyeing with beans, black beans. There has been a long thread on a dyeing group on Ravelry about dyeing with black beans so I thought I'd have a go.

Sooooo.. here's what I did. I had about 50g of aran-weight wool, mordanted with alum and cream of tartar. So far, so normal.

Dyeing with beans is quite different from what I usually do because there is no heating involved at all as apparently heat kills the colour. So instead there's a huge amount of soaking. I soaked the beans in cold water in a jar in the garage for several days, topping up the water from time to time as the beans seemed to absorb a fair bit. Then I drained the liquid into my usual dye-pan and added the wool and left it to soak in the garage again. Various people in the Ravelry thread talked about letting the beans/wool soak in the fridge but I didn't have space in the fridge so chose the garage as it's cool.  Meanwhile I put the drained beans back into the jar and added more water to see if I got any more colour out of it.

 This is what looked like shortly after I added the wool  - absolutely gorgeous!

 I can't remember exactly when I took this picture unfortunately, but it was the same day as the picture above so you see how quickly the colour was taken up.

After a couple of days I added the second lot of bean water and left for another two nights.

And here's the result:

And I am so happy with it! Mostly blue with hints of green. I really should have taken note, but this was my slowest dye ever having taken well over a week what with all the soaking, but it was very much worth the wait.

 And in a ball:

From what I gather it's not particularly light-fast so it's one to use with caution I think, but that's fine with me. It's blue! Bluuuuueeee!

Meanwhile at the other end of the spectrum here's what I'm knitting at the moment - my mitts. Although it's quite a small project it's pushing me quite a bit because it contains cables and lace, sometimes in the same row (with increases for the thumb on some rows too), both of which I've done a bit of but not at the same time, plus following a chart which isn't my forte.

There has been a lot of muttering, scribbling, stifled swearing and a bit of undoing a couple of times, but I think I've got the hang of it now. I'm moderately pleased with this!

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Favourite tree

My Favourite Tree hasn't made any appearances recently I don't think, so following a trip to Kittochside for the Country Fair today, here it is: 

 Favourite Tree and Nora Louise (one of them - there have been several).

Saturday, 1 September 2012


I've been meaning to do a bit of blogging since the schools went back (middle of August) but somehow I've had nothing coherent to say. Also I've been So Tired - I think the summer took it out of me.

But now it's September, we're back into our routine and I've cast on something red for a Rainbow knitalong.  It's on the Yarn Yard group on Ravelry and the idea is to knit a bunch of things in Yarn Yard wool, with the rainbow as the inspiration. So September/October is RED.
Looking through my Yarn Yard stash I found one 65g skein of Clan which is going to turn into Dalkey fingerless mitts from Carol Feller's book Contemporary Irish Knits, which I got at Glasgow School of Yarn last year. I've been meaning to make these mitts since I got the book but just never got round to it what with one thing and another (and another ands another..).

Some people are doing quite big projects (after all there's two months to do it in) but I know I'm a slowish and easily distracted knitter so I'm making sure I don't bite off more than I can chew while still choosing a project I can learn from.  Better hide it now before the cats chew on it..