After having been frogged a dozen times, I present: the Gaby from the Rowan Next Big Thing Book modelled by Jasper. This pattern is marked as one-ball difficulty however I found the cardigan a zillion times easier. But saying that I always find the hard su doku easier than the easy ones. I know I’m strange.

Here is a photo of my trainer complete with kitchen tools. Name them what you will.

Cat pins

I was tickled by the idea of cat pins. You’d be a bit surprised if you found these in your sewing basket.

Oh, frog-it!

I’d caught pao and MrsSJT’s lurgy so have been in bed today feeling sorry for myself. My fevered brain thought early on in the day that it might be nice to try and finish that Rowan Gaby hat which I’ve been struggling with for several days now. You see, Eileen, I’m not a quitter. I might put something to one side for a while but definitely not a quitter. I lost count of the number of times I’ve frogged the whole thing but it is probably in double figures now.

I’m now determined to see that beanie finished and on my trainer’s head by the start of the Knitting Olympics. I see it as a training exercise: building up my endurance skills.

I wish I could have taken a photo of the way I was pinned down in bed by four cats but as I was pinned down so I couldn’t move so that was impossible. But this photo has most of the culprits in it. Just substitute Ariel top right corner for Merlin and you’ve got my cat pins.

My neighbours occasionally put sweets through the letterbox. Today was one of those days. Isn’t that nice?

Kung Hei Fat Choi

Thank you to Christine for her post and New Year’s wishes. You are a very lovely lady! I loved your photos of the lanterns in Oxford Street and pao said we could go to London later this month so that I could see them myself! Hooray! I would have liked to have gone to see the dragon dancers in Chinatown but it is a bit cold and January has been a looong month cashwise.

I’ve got a nice day planned for February though. We’re going to Selfridges to see the city made out of biscuits and sweets and the Chinese-inspired window displays. We’ll probably go and eat dim sum in Chinatown and I can buy some of those weird and wonderful foods that I like which no one else seems to like such as haw flakes, kaya (coconut egg jam) and lotus seed mooncakes.

pao said that when we are in London we could go to Loop. Oh, yarn pr0n, here we come…

I was born in the Year of the Ox which apparently makes me a good leader, methodical and good at making things. pao is a Dog which makes him honest and faithful. What zodiac animal are you?

Jasper doesn’t think it is fair that there isn’t a Year of the Panther.


This just deserves to have a post of its own!

Just go on over to Peeve’s post and click on Eeeek about half-way down- it’s worth, I promise you’ll laugh.

Even if you don’t, Lulu the cat is pretty gorgeous.

So now you’ve seen it: Is it me or is that Michael Hasselhof?

The Manifesto

As pao was very unwell last night and has been resting in bed all morning, I took the opportunity to get the breadmaker and washing machine going, sit down with my beanie and listen to Brenda Dayne’s Cast-On podcast. Episode 2 has a Knitter’s Manifesto in which she defines really accurately why I knit/crochet/craft. It isn’t because I’m distinctly consumerist and love to shop for shopping’s sake which seems to be the world around me here in the UK seems to be going. I’ve become very anti-consumerist and although I’ve been spending money on materials, needles and patterns, I’ve really enjoyed producing something that is an outward expression of my inner creativity. I recently finished a beautiful Rowan cardigan which I customised to fit me as I thought the arms in the pattern were a little long and I only have short arms. I suppose I could have gone out and bought an off-the-shelf standard sized only part-wool cardigan for less than what pao and hmb paid for the wool but it wouldn’t have been as much fun for me to receive that. I would have had to roll the sleeves up or something rather than figuring out how to alter the pattern to suit me.

I suppose I also like the surprise that I feel when I’ve finished something as I can sit back and be proud of what I’ve made. It is like the loaves of bread dough which have been churning away in the breadmaker this morning (yes, I know it’s not completely creative but when pao has bought me a breadmaker, I should be grateful and use it – and pao, after two years I’ve finally come round to liking it but only for its dough). I love put the ingredients in and hearing it going round and round whilst I knit and listen to Brenda. Same goes for the washing machine, too. After a number of rock-like loaves with indents in the bottom from the breadmaker dough paddle, I’d decided that there had to be a better way of making bread so a couple of weeks ago I got out Nigella Lawson’s book ‘How to be a Domestic Goddess’ and looked at the plain white loaf recipe. I put all of the ingredients into Bertha (well, the breadmaker has got to have a name and well it looks like a Bertha because it is really big and that was my objection to her when she arrived – we do not have a big house) and left it to do its thing. I took it out and left it to rise once on the boiler in the kitchen and then put it in the oven. We had a nice enough loaf of bread but it wasn’t as light and airy as I would have liked so I made a second batch but divided the mixture into two loaf tins and rose these until they were double the size again. Hey presto, bread I like!

pao’s grandmother asked me for a brown loaf the last time we saw her so I’ve been making that this morning but I have really gotten into bread today that I’ve made three batches of bread and there is a fourth (yes, fourth) batch churning away in the breadmaker. The brown bread didn’t quite turn out as risen and pretty as the white so I feel I’m going to have to experiment with that some. Enough with the dough-version (get it, ha ha.. yes, I know I’m not funny).

I guess what I’m trying to say is that Brenda has managed to capture the essence of what I’m like. I have a decent job now (albeit with a whole bunch of student loans which I needed to get where I am) but I don’t take it for granted. I like to think that I’m not mean with money but I see it as wise to be careful especially when you don’t know what life will throw at you next. I’m not big on gardening but I did enjoy having an allotment when I had one probably because I was growing something which I could use. I am certainly not big on growing flowers but I will happily grow things I can make something out of. I will certainly miss making the warm broad bean salad with the really sharp vinegary, mustardy sauce with broad beans which had been picked and hulled moments before. It is pretty cold and bright today and I am tempted to go and dig over part of our tiny garden so the frost can get to the soil but I’ve got a loaf to deliver in a short while and I’m pretty relaxed sitting here listening to Brenda (and Bertha) at the moment.

I love the simplicity of making things and seeing the joy that things I’ve made for other people has given them. Even if it is just a loaf of bread to have with some carrot soup I made.

So to the knitting news: I’ve been working away on the Gaby hat in the Rowan Next Big Thing book. I can’t say that I think it resembles anything like the photo in the book at the moment but that may be because I decided just to do it in one colour and it is not finished yet. Here’s a photo – judge for yourselves.

I started on a simple garter stitch scarf using the beautiful Wendy Frizzante which I posted about a while ago (look here for a photo). I’m making it a lot wider than the last one because it I think it is quite lightweight and might make a nice throwover the shoulders type of thing. Thank you to Chris for the suggestion and the info on Brenda Dayne: I’ve been having a lovely day.

Update: pao is too unwell for us to visit grandma so I’m in for a happy afternoon knitting and listening to Brenda probably. pao discovered that Ophelia has gotten between the curtain and the lining in the bedroom to make herself a kitty warmth tent as the sill is above the radiator.


pao and I went to the cinema tonight to see March of the Penguins. If you haven’t been to see it, I highly recommend it because it was one of the most poignant and beautifully shot films I have ever seen. I’ve always imagined it is pretty hard being a parent but the Emperor penguins really have a tough job. Not only do they live in conditions where the warmest it gets is -58 but they also have to travel over 70 miles to get to their breeding ground. They don’t just make this journey once but several times just so that they can have baby penguins. The fathers don’t eat for about four months and endure some very severe weather as they remain in one place to keep the egg incubated whilst the mothers have their turn at getting some food.

It is a pretty amazing film. pao is very keen on penguins and we had gotten as far as him applying to go to Antarctica for two years at some point last year. I was struck by how lucky he would have been to be there and how lucky I am now that he’s not there.