Thursday, 6 August 2015

Tickling my creative side

Life’s been a bit rubbish chez Gingerknits so in a bid to cheer myself up I bought not one, but two crafty kits. I have some knitting projects on the go but fancied a change.

Project one is making a lampshade, something I’ve wanted to try for ages as shop bought ones are pricey plus it is a nifty way of using my fabric stash.

Project two is making a pair of knickers. Again with the fabric stash.  Also I want to improve my sewing skills but get nervous about cutting fabric. I’ve got my mum’s sewing machine at the moment, it’s a 1980s Toyota which needs a bit of a service, but will hopefully improve with a bit of a clean and oiling.

I’ve had a bit of a sneaky peak, both kits are beautifully packaged with clear instructions. I’ve got the day off work tomorrow so I’m going to give at least one of them a try, though I imagine I’ll start dithering over which fabric to use….

Monday, 2 March 2015

A good mental workout with a hint of emotion.

Back in November my work friend Tim was wearing a beautiful Aran cardigan, albeit a beautiful Aran cardigan which was full of holes.

We got chatting about the cardigan as I was admiring the cables. Tim said his Gran had knitted it for his Grandad in the 70's and he enjoyed the continuity of wearing the cardigan, especially as his grandparents are no longer alive. Tim is also into sailing and wears the cardigan a lot on his boat, 'tis a very warm garment.

I couldn't let this beautiful piece of knitwear stay in its holey state, so I offered to fix it for him.

I took the cardigan home, which felt a little bit like taking the class pet home for the weekend, there was definitely an air of responsibility.

On closer inspection, as well as a few large holes, there were several small areas of wear and tear all over the cardigan. I didn't count them all but I think there were about 40 in total.

I didn't fix this all in one go - that way lies madness. I worked on this on and off over the Christmas break and January, finding I had to be in the right frame of mind to tackle it. Some holes were easy to fix, just anchoring a loose thread on cable or ribbing and reinforcing it.

Other areas took some engineering, including undoing seams, ripping back, and re-knitting. I really enjoyed this process, both understanding the stitches, and repairing the work of a skilled knitter who is no longer around. It was a good mental workout with a hint of emotion.

Some areas of cabling had worn out so I did a little faking it. In these sections I pulled back the loose cable stitches, repaired the underlying fabric with (reverse) stocking stitch, then made a fake cable over the top with a crochet hook or needle and yarn.

On other sections I used straight forward darning, which I found the hardest, rebuilding row after row.

A few sections had been previously mended using cotton and to use a technical term, bodging. I considered undoing the fixes and repairing with wool, but I figured they are also a part of the history of the garment and they seemed pretty sturdy so I left them.

I finished the fixing in January and returned the cardigan to Tim last week. He was a little apprehensive and excited. I hadn't told him I'd repaired the cardigan in pattern.

Rather than describe Tim's reaction, here's a photo.

and here's a bonus picture of the back.

I've told Tim if he spots and areas of wear in the future, bring it in asap! While I enjoyed fixing this, it is so much easier to repair a small area if you catch it early. But you knew that already, didn't you.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Finishing. Starting.

Finished: Book

photos for blogThe Circle by Dave Eggers.

I thoroughly enjoyed And you shall know our velocity by Dave Eggers, so when my work friend Nick was reading this I asked if I could borrow it.

I tend to read borrowed books faster than my own as I feel the impetus to return them before they get lost in my piles of book. I had no trouble finishing this and found it compelling from the start.

I won't say much about the plot (I hate spoilers and hardly ever read the blurb on the back of books which seem to give away half the plot) but it starts with a young woman leaving her dull hometown job to work at a googlesque company, Circle.

I work in digital communication which may have piqued my interest but if you use the internet (and here you are dear reader), you should read this. Heck, I'm not even sure I should be blogging after reading this book.

Started: Allotment 2014

photos for blog We headed to our strip of land on Saturday.

Most of the work was wedding, pulling up an excess of strawberry and anise plants which had continued to spread through the mild winter.

I also admired the bare stems such as these wintered chive heads.

However there was some bounty. Red chicory, a turnip, lettuce and Jerusalem artichokes had grown well and were ready for the eating.

Finished: Chicory and lettuce

photos for blog

Started: Garden

We now have a small garden all to ourselves. It's pretty unkempt at the mo and there are some minor jobs such as weeding and pruning as well as the possibility of total overhaul. The brickwork is pretty crumbly and I'm not keen on the paving stones. There's a fair bit of work to do in our new place too, so we'll see which gets done first.

photos for blog

Started: hot sauce

photos for blog

Hot sauce recipe. I've made this before. Scotch bonnets are a pretty fierce chili (hence the gloves on the left) but they mellow into a tasty, zingy, sauce with this recipe from Epicurious. Stage one involves roughly blending the ingredients and letting them ferment for at least 12 hours. I'll finish the sauce tomorrow evening.

Almost finished?

photos for blogAnd finally, knitting!

Of course, it's socks.

These have turned out to be pretty international. I bought the Norweigan yarn (Drops) in Sweden before Christmas. Cast on in Ecuador, knitting a bit more on my flight home via the USA - including a stop in Atlanta to see my in-law in laws - knitted some more in France, and almost finished them in Yorkshire last weekend. I've got one more toe to do, then they're off to my mum (back to Yorkshire) for Mother's Day.

Pattern: Into the Groove
Designer: Knittingtastic
Yarn: Drops something or other 4ply
Needle: 2.25mm (my first socks on chiagoos, mmmm, so smooth)


2013, where did you go?

Last year was stupidly busy and I think it's OK to accept that sometimes some things have to give way. I my case it was this little corner of the internet, as well as a lot of crafty time, that was sacrificed for other things.

What other things I hear you cry? Well without banging on too much they were moving house and my job. It wasn't all work and new home hunting. I did cram in a fair bit of travel and adventure and if I find the time I'll do a spot of retrospective blogging about that.

Where does that leave me now?

Over the last few months I've felt the urge to blog, so I'm starting here. I also occasionally feel a tad hypocritical as my day job is running a blog site, and I don't want to lose touch with the insight I get from keeping my own blog.

Hopefully this won't be one of those "I'm back" posts followed by weeks, if not months, of silence. I've had a weekend at home, which has been a rarity over the last five months, catching up on my allotment, a spot of knitting, as well as some well needed down time reading a book. Yes, a real life paper book. I've got a few things to say about all of that so... watch this space....

Monday, 11 February 2013

Plastic fantastic?

Just a quick post to say I spotted this challenge for Lent

On first glance it looked fairly easy, on closer inspection it's very, very hard. I'll be following Emily's progress and while I don't think I can quite match her in cutting out plastics from my life I'm going to try and reduce the amount I use.

Good luck Emily!

Sunday, 16 December 2012


MrG and I went out for a nice stroll this afternoon, along the Thames from Wapping and its expensive warehouse apartments to Tower Bridge and St Katherine's Dock. We had fun trying to stick to the Thames in Wapping, including turning down a side street heading down to the river to discover steps leading into it. A bit too much Thames for our liking!

Thames steps

Our reason for heading to St Katherine's Dock was a replica pirate ship was moored there and was free to visit. According to MrG it was featured in Hornblower and the crew would try and sell you onions? - can you tell I wasn't paying much attention and was just along for the ride? Anyway, just as we arrived at the dock the ship was leaving so while we didn't get to poke around the galley and splice the mainbrain (or somesuch pirate speak) we did watch it carefully manoeuvre out of the dock back to the Thames.


 We also discovered The Honesty Shop housed in an old routemaster.

  Honesty bus

There was a little bit of British merino yarn, knitting kits and John Arbon socks (I highly recommend these, I have a couple of pairs, they're toasty and wash well) as well as lots of lovely gifts.

Woolly goodies

We then headed over Tower Bridge to South Bank and the We Make London Christmas market. I picked up some tangy raspberry curd and gooey, delicious Somerset goats cheese and stopped by to see my friend Julie and her Tilly Flop Designs stand. I love Julie's work which has a witty take on knitting jargon and the frustrations that many of us crafty folk face with her "Oh how I'd rather be knitting" tea towels and cards.

Tilly Flop Designs

After a good catch up with Julie I spotted these cards which put a grin on my face. There's something about cats being humiliated in headgear.

Cat in figgy pudding festive hat © Jo Clark designs

I bought a selection from Jo Clark Designs for my friends and family who are also cat people. She's got some great prints, including a sloth, which I would have snapped up if I had wall space for it.

We rounded our outing off with some quality coffee and a chilli hot chocolate infused with ginger and cinnamon as well as chilli for a tasty kick.

Saturday, 15 December 2012


I went to Stitch London's Christmas meet up on Monday night. As well as catching up with old friends and meeting some lovely new knitters there was a raffle.

Now I used to run lots of raffles when I organised p/hop and as I was the organiser I couldn't enter. I din't mind this as the money we raised helped MSF's incredible work, though I did covet some of the prizes we were donated. So it was with some excitement entered Stitch London's raffle buying a few tickets as the money was going to Great Ormond Street Hospital, my old workplace. I'd entered their raffle last year too but didn't win anything so wasn't holding out much hope.

Low and behold my name came out of the hat bag not once, not twice, but a cracking seven times, including drawing my own name three times. While I was pretty pleased by this it did seem excessive so I turned down some prizes when I drew my own name out plus gave one away. However, with some encouragement from Deadlyknitshade, I came home with some pretty nifty swag.

Raffle Swag

First up is this delightful woodpecker badge made by the talented Teasemade, perfect for me as I'm a bit of a closet ornithologist. The colours are beautiful and capture the essence of the great spotted woodpecker beautifully.

Raffle Swag

Next is this inspirational card from Craftivists with this spot on message:

Raffle Swag

And finally the yarn. Oh, the yarn. You might be aware that I've been on a yarn diet this year. While I have indulged in a few items I've only bought one skein of sock yarn all year so this was very exciting.

Raffle Swag

It's from new dyer Trailing Clouds. The yarn is called Mind the Gap and is, drumroll please, self striping! I'm saving this for when I catch up on The Killing III over the Christmas break as I can only knit plain stocking stitch when reading Danish subtitles.

How do you say "ssh, I'm knitting and reading subtitles" in Danish?