26 November 2017

Allotment Dreaming

Greetings! Today we have visited our local allotment association and after waiting for a plot for five months, I have signed a tenant's agreement for a five rod (roughly 5m x 25m) plot . Until the end of the year the plot belongs to the current tenants who need to remove all of their property from there. At the moment there are blueberry and blackberry bushes, some lavender plants, sage and rosemary and quite a cure green shed with tiny patio made of stepping stones. I would be quite happy if all of these items stayed where they are but to be honest, I am so excited that even if the plot was covered in waist high weeds, I would still be jumping with joy.

Even though it was a cold November day and the water in the barrels was covered with a layer of ice, there were still some plants with flowers on and vegetables growing. This is one thing that I like about mild English winters.  When we got home and had some lunch I went through my big box of seeds and wrote a plan of what to sow when and when to harvest it.

At the moment is all green and brown and grey and large portion of the beds is covered with black plastic, but in my head I can see how amazing this piece of land can be, with all of the greenery, flowers, veg and fruit bushes, bees buzzing around and birds chirping and in the middle of all am I sipping a cup of tea and observing it all, being a part of it. I look forward to feeding us better and feeding Rocket better and spending my Saturdays outdoors with other creatures rather than watching telly at home. And the best of all - the management is ok with me building a temporary tortoise run for Rocket, so even when we don't have a garden where we live, she can be getting her UV light whilst I am growing us both some food. It's a win-win.

12 November 2017

Fourteen Stitch Knitted Blanket

Happy Sunday evening to all! After a really busy week this weekend was like a gift to the soul. I slept, drank a lot of tea and coffee, we visited family and did stuff together and there was lots of sitting down and watching "Stranger Things" and most of all knitting and taking pictures of knitting.

Just before we went away to Lulworth Cove, I started a new project - a knitted fifteen stitch blanket. I have never been much of a knitter, all I could do were squares and rectangles (like the ones for my friends' baby blanket) until one of our friends visited and in an afternoon she taught me all about knitting and purling and following a pattern. Pinterest then threw this free pattern for a "ten stitch blanket" in my path and I was intrigued.

I must admit, it wasn't easy to begin with, after knitting an initial square comes literally the hardest part of the pattern - knitting a corner and then straight away another corner! I did a training piece with some leftover old yarn just to practice and stayed up until after midnight on the day before the holiday - I knew that if I went to bed, I wouldn't fall asleep because it would bug me so much. Every row is only ten stitches wide and joining them onto the body of a blanket was another tricky bit for me - the pattern describes two different ways that create different effects, but I was so lost that I had to go on Youtube and just watch some videos of other people knitting it. I am quite pleased with what is coming out. As the blanket grows the corners get further apart as well, which makes the whole task easier and even the corners are now beginning to feel familiarly repetitive - ideal to enjoy whilst listening to something good and drinking coffee!

So, having my practice piece done and roughly knowing what I'm doing, we stopped at Hobbycraft on our way to Dorset and I bought a couple of balls of Sirdar Hayfield Spirit yarn (20% wool, 80% acrylic). I wanted to make a blanket in colours of autumn and I wasn't particularly pleased with the blues and greens, but that was the closest they had to what I wanted and I went with it. Now that a big chunk is done, I think they look great in there.

The instruction on the yarn suggested that I use 4mm needles but because I like my knitting dense, I went with 3mm ones. Also, the pattern is called ten stitch blanket, but I changed it to fifteen. With a yarn thin as this I thought the rows might look too narrow. I am glad I did this, because this pattern needs quite a lot of turning around, since the rows are so short. However, as you see in the picture below, I must have dropped a stitch somewhere, because there are only fourteen on the needle. I have literally no idea when this happened.

I regularly take my blanket to work to share progress with my crafty colleagues and sometimes, just for the sense of achievement, I put a stitch marker into the first row I knit that day and at the end of the day I marvel at how much I have done (which is not that much at all compared to what I did on holiday).

I would say so far it is looking great. this is the blankie on our dining table with barely two balls of wool worth of knitting. The loose ends will be woven in later. I have also discovered a Tunisian crochet version of this pattern, which I am sure I want to try in the future (it has the added bonus of only working with one tool, not having so many loops on the hook most of the time and no turning at all!).

On one hand I cannot wait for it to be finished so that I can just wrap myself in all of the colourful warm fluff and on the other I want it to take as long as possible to savour every single day that I spend working on it, because I am really enjoying it.
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