More Yarn Will Do The Trick

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Ghost of Halloween

Whoo... ooooooOOOOOoooooo, guess what I've got for for you today?... got it in one... a pattern for a knitted ghost... scary no!?!

A couple of days ago a chance meeting with Susie, a neighbour, fellow knitter and guitar picker, led to talk of Halloween. Susie mentioned she could tell me how to knit a quick and easy ghost, so as I've been signed up for trick-or-treating with my three little grand-daughters, my ears pricked up.

I couldn't wait to get back home to try it and I even had plans to make three at first, but as I'm not a particularly fast knitter, and my wrist is still not up to speed either, I decided I'd be satisfied with one.

So here's the pattern:

Size  approx 7in[18cm] x 7in[18cm]

I used Rowan Creative Linen (200m/219yds per 100g)
Scraps of black yarn (I used Rowan wool/cotton) for eyes and mouth

pair 5mm (US 8)
4mm (US G6) crochet hook
tapestry needle, darning needle
1 ping-pong ball

To make
Cast on 32 sts and knit 2 rows.
Next row knit
Next row k2, purl to last 2 sts, k2

Repeat these 2 rows until piece measures 6.5in[17cm], ending on knit row, then knit a further 2 rows and cast off.

Leave the tails at cast-on and cast-off edges to be incorporated into tassels.
Tassels - make 4
One for each corner, each measuring 3.5in[9cm] when finished. Measure out 16 lengths of yarn, each 9in{23cm) long and separate into 4 groups of strands. Insert crochet hook from back of ghost and pull one group of four strands through to WS, then put the ends through the loop this creates.

Press the piece then thread tapestry needle, insert ping-pong ball in centre, gather up underneath and do a running stitch around the base of ball. Gather stitches as tightly as you can then secure.

Then thread darning needle with black yarn and embroider eyes and mouth onto head.

Ta dah! With many thanks to Susie, I'm pretty pleased with my Halloween ghoul.

Arlo says 'Come on, what're you waiting for, it's Arloween!' :)

✺✺✺♥♥♥***HAPPY HALLOWEEN!***♥♥♥✺✺✺

Saturday, 26 October 2013

River reflections

Sometimes you just don't appreciate what you've got on your own doorstep. A couple of days ago when I was feeling at a really low ebb, I decided to put on a brave face and get some fresh air.  It was a beautiful day, not a cloud in the blue sky, with just a slight chill in the autumn air. So I persuaded P he'd also like a hike, swathed myself in my woolly creations and off we went for a walk along the river.

The Ouse is only a few hundred metres away, so we were quite surprised to see it was already threatening to flood after the recent heavy rain. York has spent much time and money on flood defences, so to see the river so high after not really a lot of rain was quite shocking.
There's a wide tow path, then usually a steep 2m/6foot slope to a narrower path and the river. But as you can see the lower tow path is completely submerged.
Good weather for geese though. I know they're a nuisance, but Canada Geese hold fond memories for me - when Izzi and Ava were tiny, we used to bring them down to the river to feed the ducks. The ducks didn't get a look in what with the geese and sea gulls, but the girls would whoop with delight when I tried to shoo them away.
Love the reflections of this medieval keep, coupled with the crisp autumnal colours...

... especially the ripple around this particular goose.
This is the view the other way, back to Clifton bridge.
And here's Lendal bridge, where we planned to leave the river and get some veggies in the market. In typically Victorian Gothic style, it sports an ornate parapet featuring the white rose of York, the crossed keys of the Diocese of York and the Lions of England.
The first bridge was designed by William Dredge in 1860, but in 1861 the bridge collapsed during construction and five men were killed. Thomas Page, who designed Westminster Bridge in London, was brought in to redesign Lendal Bridge, opening in 1863.
Before we left the tow path we were surprised to find that since we last passed this way, a new restaurant had popped up.  This was not just any old restaurant, but an impressive construction with raised terrace overlooking the river (suppose it would have to be to avoid the floods) - a fabulous meeting of old and new architecture.
Located in the old Engine House, lovingly restored by Andrew Pern, chef/owner of the Star at Harome, the new extension tastefully complements the older building, opening out onto a wooden deck overlooking the river towards Lendal bridge.
The menu uses the best local produce God's own country has to offer, served up with a large dose of all-important Yorkshire hospitality.
©York Mix
Back entrance through the city walls.
When we eventually dragged ourselves away, we wandered on to the market where the Food Festival was in full swing. Was rather taken by this Italian Choco Passion stall, until I saw that many of the chocolates came in the shapes of guns, knives, handcuffs and skulls - not my taste at all in chocolate!!
After buying some gorgeous black kale and purple sprouting broccoli we set off back past these lazily parked bikes that abound in York.
The Minster was looking suitably grand and imposing, bathed in the mellow autumn sunshine.
Rose Window was looking good too.
By the time we got back home, I'd shed some of the cobwebs and we were welcomed by two hungry cats reminding us it's teatime. We just had time for a refreshing cup of Earl Grey in the garden before the sun went down...
... admiring the pumpkins waiting for Halloween.

Maybe things aren't too bad after all :)

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Down in the dumps

Been feeling low lately after finding out I've contracted a bout of shingles.  Had been wondering why my hip was burning and sore for about five days and found the rash while looking for bruises - thought I'd been rushing around as usual and run into something and not noticed... apparently not this time.

I remember my mother having shingles and could never understand why they were said to be so painful... now I know.  But at least now I've discovered what it is that's been making me feel like crap, I can hopefully start to do something about it.

Doctor prescribed a week's course of antivirals to stave off PHN (post herpatic neuralgia) which sometimes sets in for months or years after. I'm taking vitamins and olive leaf complex to boost my immune system, in the hope that I'll get away with a mild dose. Starting to feel like I'm falling to pieces recently! :(

However, one good thing is that my wrist has been signed off at physio. Although still not 100% or even 80%, I've been told to keep doing the exercises and it'll eventually come good. Honestly, between the pills and the exercises there's barely a chink for anything else.  I realise it may just be that I'm not well and I know I'm not a good patient (impatient is a better description), but it's hard at the moment to focus on anything.

Enough of my grumps, but just writing it all down makes things feel better. Hope you'll drop by again and better still leave a comment.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Jean Moss Handknits shop on Etsy!!

Yaaaayyyyy!!! I've just uploaded the first ten patterns to my new shop on Etsy -!  I joined a couple of years ago, but until now, I've never had enough time to actually explore and suss out how to build a store.

Hope you'll all drop by and browse the store - just click on the link above or on the Etsy icon at top right of the page. I'll be listing some readymade items of the above designs in the coming days, but meanwhile if there's anything in particular you'd like to see in the store, just let me know.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Knitting & Stitching Show, Ally Pally & Great Little Gifts winner

The winner of the Great Little Gifts to Knit giveaway is ....  drumroll.... da, da, da, da ... da...da... Eileen Maga!  Many congrats, Eileen, as soon as I get your snail mail address the book will be on its way.

I enjoyed my flying visit to Ally Pally for the Knitting & Stitching Show on Saturday, despite the East Coast train service.  Just before P and I were due to arrive at Kings Cross, apparently there was a complete power failure at Finsbury Park so all the signals were down. After about an hour the driver decided to cautiously backtrack the 2 miles to Alexandra Palace station, where there was said to be power and we could await further news out of harm's way.  When we got there I mistakenly thought that we might be allowed to disembark, but no, the guard said the platform wasn't long enough for a high speed train so the doors remained firmly shut.  Out of the window, a stone's throw away, was Ally Pally, the place I should have been -  on the GMC stand meeting knitters and signing books... very frustrating!!!
Jolly taxi parked outside, sadly not ours
Beauty on both sides
After about 90 minutes we were told we could proceed to the station, then we hopped in a cab and got there half an hour later... better late than never I suppose :)
GMC stand
Ally Pally was as bustling and frenetic as ever, with thousands of happy crafters making their way to this 4-day bonanza of knitting and stitching heaven.  It was great chatting to knitters, leading the Make & Take and afterwards having a couple of hours to explore some of the other exhibits.

Here are some of my fave images from my bus-stop tour of the show.

Knitting with recycled materials
Craft + activism = Craftivism 
Love that equation!  A large stand in co-operation with Traid, a charity working to wear out poverty by taking practical action to stop clothes being thrown away in the UK. It tackles poverty, wages, toxic pesticides, child and sweatshop labour and dangerous working conditions in the sweatshop industry, demonstrating how to recycle old clothes into new.
A workshop in progress, learning recycling skills
This stand was rocking all day!
There was lots of brave new work by students in the Knitting Textile Awards... I particularly loved these as they're funky but wearable...
These are slightly more out there
...and there were lots of vibrant young companies like Wool and the Gang.
Wool & the Gang
Beautiful and creative textile art abounded -  it would take all four days just to see it all...
Margaret G Nicholson
Susan Chapman & Terrie Hitchcock: Evidence of Bodies
Dorothy Caldwell
And the little ones were well catered for also, with Toft Alpacas fabulous display of soft toys.
I love this huge elephant head, good for old and young kids!
But if you want to know what my absolute fave is... it's people watching. There were many super-creative individuals attending the show and for me they help make it a real feast for the eyes.

We had a jam-packed day of Ally Pally sensory overload

We departed at closing time through the glorious Palm Court, a Victorian conservatory that is Ally Pally's grand entrance hall, with its imperious sphinxes overseeing proceedings... exhausted, but happy.

I was so relieved that we didn't have to get back on the train that evening.  Instead we were met by our friend Peter and taken off for one of the best Indian meals I've ever tasted. We spent a lovely chilled evening catching up and putting the world to rights, before steeling ourselves for the train home in the morning.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

Making education fun!

A teacher friend has a blog with her class and every year in the autumn term, the school has a competition for each class to get as many hits from overseas as possible.

There are interesting posts with lovely pics, such as a visit to the Castle Museum with a workshop on Victorian Medicine, picking fruit in the school orchard in preparation for making cakes and pies for their MacMillan coffee morning, and a funky video on spelling - yes, spelling!

They get a flag every time someone from outside the UK logs on and they're aiming for 100 by the end of the year.

I'm blown away by how different education is from when I was at school - what a lovely environment for learning. So please, if you're reading this from anywhere in the world except the UK (although you can still enjoy the blog but your visit won't count in the competition), help keep the momentum rolling - log on here.

Monday, 7 October 2013

Great Little Gifts to Knit giveaway

Happy Monday! With the gift-giving season fast approaching, to help you along, today I'm giving away a copy of Great Little Gifts to Knit. All you have to do is visit the project gallery then come back here and let me know your fave and why.

Next Saturday I'll be signing books and hosting a Make & Take on the GMC stand (F5) at the Knitting & Stitching Show at Alexandra Palace, London. Come and say hello if you're planning to be at the show and join in the knitalong of one of the projects from the book. You can read all about the making of the book in my interview on the Crafts Institute blog.
Cuddle Cocoon with matching hat, swirl rib for
intermediate knitters, plain rib for beginners.
One of the things I was asked was how difficult it was to edit the projects down to the final cut for the book. I love to play and explore the myriad different possibilities of each design, so within the boundaries of a very tight schedule, I tried to take each piece to the limit.  I wanted to give my readers the benefit of this, so the book ended up with several colourways of many designs, some have two yarn weights and some even have two styles, like the Odalisque Hat & Turban.

Odalisque Hat & Turban
Also I'd like to welcome all my friends on the brand new Jean Moss Handknits Ravelry group, a place where all who enjoy my designs can chat, get latest news, join KALs, help each other and share useful tips.  Why not drop by and join us?
Wensleydale Tea Cosy
The winner will be announced here next Monday,  Goodluck everyone!

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Glorious autumn colour in Mid Wales and Woodland Knits winner

Congratulations to Knittingdancer (Rav ID), your lucky number must be 4, the number picked by the random number generator, and yours was the fourth comment. Woodland Knits will be winging its way to you just as soon as you send me your snail mail address to send off to the publisher.  Well done, I'm sure you'll love the book, jam packed with magical knitting!  So sorry that all who entered couldn't win one :(
Talking of magic, we arrived in Wales last night in the dark, so straight inside trying to warm up the house and get some food in the oven. What a surprise when I looked out the window this morning and saw the dazzling display of autumn colour - rust, red, burgundy, golden and lime green leaves, and all shades in between, rose hips, grasses, fuchsias, hydrangeas, asters - a veritable rainbow of vibrant hues, all vying for my attention in the wet autumn light... enchanting!
I was so excited that I dashed outside in the rain with my camera, still  in my pyjams to capture the colour of the euonymous alata from the terrace.
View from bedroom window
Euonymous alata close-up
I just love, love, love autumn. People say you always prefer the season you're born in and that's certainly true for me, though I couldn't imagine not loving it even if I was born in spring. A time for tucking in in preparation for the winter, lighting the woodstoves and candles indoors and sitting around bonfires and chimoneas outside. And best of all, for using the bounty from garden and hedgerow to fill the larder with pies, chutneys, pickles and jam.
Pity some rotten apple (greedy magpies are suspect number one)
had stripped all the Bramleys from our tree
And what an amazingly satisfying feeling to stand back and admire all the bottles of home produce on the counter when you're done. Homemade preserves make perfect gifts too. Don't know anyone who'd refuse a jar of apple chutney!
Capers from nasturtium seeds are a fave for spicing up spaghetti sauce
When the kids were little I used to make syrup from rosehips (great source of vitamin C), now they're grown I just enjoy looking at them.
The birds love the berries on this prickly pyracanthus
Mid Wales is big on hydrangeas and whilst I do like the hortensia mopheads...
Especially this one with its delicious multi-coloured blooms
I just can't resist the lacecaps with their more delicate flowers...
All hydrangeas are supposed to be deep blue on acidic soil, but I can never get ours to be blue enough -working on it though :)
Little asters add a touch of blue to the deepening reds
Cotinus Grace with dogwoods and ferns
So bring it on autumn, more colour will certainly do the trick.

Before I finish I just want to tell you all what a wonderful, if painful, physio session I had yesterday. Five weeks after the cast came off there's still swelling, pain and stiffness in my wrist. I've been feeling pretty down about it and in a nutshell, I was beginning to think it would never heal. So imagine my delight when the physio managed to get 10% more movement back, and best of all he said it'll all be working normally eventually. Had to stop myself from jumping up and kissing him :)