Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Special Sophia

Baby Sophia Sienna Rowe has arrived, and she got a little wrap top with peach ribbons and some matching peach booties from her proud Aunty Charlotte (that's what I'm calling myself anyway).

The patterns were the Mason Dixon One-Piece Baby Kimono and Oh Oh! Baby Baby Booties and the yarns are GGH Big Easy and Scarlett respectively.

Nicky is my first close friend to have a baby and I have discovered that there is something incredibly magical about meeting the child of a close friend. I was utterly thrilled to see (and cuddle) Sophia on Monday, it seems only yesterday that her Mummy called me and told me not to tell anyone just yet, but she was newly pregnant.

Nicky and I have been friends since we were about 14, which by the way is only slightly longer than she has been with her (now husband) Rossy. I've never had any doubt that they would marry and have babies and I've always known (based the fact she is a calm, generous and supportive friend) that she would make a brilliant mother!

Of course Sophia cried when I held her, but that is because she doesn't yet know what a great Aunty I'm going to make!

Sunday, March 09, 2008


Several of my friends are pregnant (or indeed have recently had babies) and I've been struggling to keep up both with knitting gifts and with being able to empathise with a process that (right now at least) seems alien to me!

My friend Heather and her husband Sam had a baby last year and I failed to get anything turned out in time, so in an effort to make amends, I decided to make something particularly yummy, and settled on the Elijah elephant by Ysolda. I knew it was going to be a tricky project, but all the finished versions of Elijah on Ravelry looked so cute I decided I just had to give it a go.

It turns out that this project, in my opinion at least, is every bit as magical as being pregnant (and don't you dare tell me otherwise ;-), because you just can't help but marvel at your own cleverness for making something so special! And like any proud parent, I took a ridiculous amount of pictures to show off my skills!

Here is the head, in progress taken from the side so you can see her trunk. Isn't she cute? Who do you think she looks like? And this is the head from the back because I was so excited by the pinwheel that her head originates out of - despite it being a pain to cast on for. Don't you just want to sniff that darling baby (elephant) head?!

Now, this is the base of her body, because I was just as excited with the 'X' that occurs at the base ready for you to pick up and knit triangular legs into. Isn't that just the peachiest posterior ever?

So this is a picture of head and body from the side, and you can just about see the shaping that ends up in that X-shape. Ahhh, she's all dimples and curves!

And here she is with the legs added. Look at those chubby legs and perfect tiny feet!

And, drum roll please (in a slight change of colour - the pictures above are more true - because I got a new phone half-way through making her and I take all my images with the camera on my phone), here is my finished Lillyphant (named like the original Elijah Elephant after its soon-to-be owner Lillian 'Lilly' Murn), complete with French Knot eyes, in all her gorgeous glory. So, I had to learn a pinwheel cast-on, M1l and M2r (I had no idea there was any difference in M1s until this project), short rows with wraps and turns, and as if that wasn't enough for my poor brain (and fingers) embroidering French Knots! Goodness me, if that isn't a tricky labour, I don't know what is! ;-)

I have to confess that despite finishing her a few weeks ago, I have yet to manage to part with her; I had no idea the bond would be this strong! But I've written the card that goes with her and put a ribbon round her neck, so its only a matter of time before I fill in the adoption certificate - I mean customs form - and send her off to her new home in the US.

It just seems so horribly fast that babies fly the nest these days...

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Happy Mothering Sunday

My Mummy has one strict rule for Mothering Sunday: NO BOUGHT GIFTS!

I mostly observe this rule, and make or do something - although I don't think I ever did clean all the windows I once promised her I would. Last year she got a Simnel Cake, which involved a mad dash on the Sunday morning to find a blow torch to burnish my marzipan disciples! (which sounds painful now I think about it ;-).

This year, however, I whipped up a jar of passion fruit curd from a recipe in the back of How to be a Domestic Goddess and crocheted a small purple heart, using a crochet hook that once belonged to my Mother's Mother, for the front of a card. You can the curd and card both pictured below - although most of the passion fruit curd disappeared on Sunday as we all ate it over the meringues I had made for some guests of my parents' (who never arrived).
And actually the jar (which I adorned with fabric and wallpaper samples I ordered when I was decorating my flat - I didn't go with these colours, they were too red against my other furnishings) is sitting on a plate I painted for both my parents for the Valentine's Day before last. It is covered in hearts and on the front it says : 'hearts for you...' while on the back: 'for helping me mend mine'. Enough said really, Mummy (and Daddy) are always there when you need them, no matter what kind of mess you are in! (secret wink to my Mum! ;-)

Thank you! xxxxxxxxxxxx

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Ch ch ch ch chain stitch

I'm learning to crochet!

Inspired by my brother's fiance learning to crochet and then starting to crochet a dress for her own wedding (in just a matter of months), I decided I should at least give it a go, and it turns out crochet is a whole heap of fun!

I've been teaching myself using Ms Stoller's Happy Hooker, which I really enjoyed asking for in the book shop while standing next to an elderly man buying a crossword dictionary! And so far I've mastered several stitches and several shapes including circles...and (joy of joy) granny squares! I cannot tell you how thrilled I am at being able to do a granny square. I've wanted to be able to for ages and have had all sorts of plans for kitsch cushion covers and throws and now the only things standing in my way are a lack of crochet hooks and yarn!

I do know that my tension is a bit loose on both of these projects, and that is down to the fact I can't find a crochet hook in any of my local shops so I asked my Dad to get me a 5.5mm one when he was in John Lewis, deciding that was a good 'in the middle' size, but it turns out, just like with knitting, I crochet a bit loose. When I've finally got a few hooks I think this small glitch will be ironed out.

But despite that slight teething trouble, the rest of my experiments have been fun, fun, fun. And I'm happy to report that I ♥ crochet!
One thing with crochet patterns that keeps making me laugh though, and something I don't know why I'm sharing, is that that when I see 'ch' in a pattern (meaning 'chain stitch'), I get David Bowie's 'Changes' in my head, only it comes out as: "Ch ch ch ch chain stitch..."

Monday, February 25, 2008


Here's a little scarfidge for a Monday morning. This, finally, is me showing off my Amy R. Singer Montego Bay scarf (pattern from Interweave Knits, Summer 2007) in the Jorgenhurst Fine Fibers 100% mohair that Melinda gave me last Christmas. The really elegant colour change in this yarn just kept crying out for holes, as far as I was concerned, so it took me ages to find the right pattern and although Montego Bay is usually knit in a drapey silk, I decided the pattern would still bring this yarn to life - and I'm very happy with the results. The pattern is really easy and after a good blocking all the diagonal holes showed up beautifully. They also make it extra warm, so despite the fact its not a really long scarf, its an extremely effective neck warmer. In fact must admit I've lived in this scarf over the last few months. Its often over the back of the chair in my study ready to snuggle up to while I'm working, and as it goes well with all my clothes it gets taken out a fair amount too!I haven't managed to get a decent shot of the holes in all their glory, but here is another picture of it posing next to other treasured scarves in my bedroom.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Cupboard Love

Here's a bit of tea-time nostalgia...

My parents have owned this tea tin for as long as I can remember, but few years ago it moved to their house in Dorset and I missed it terribly. I don't really know why, I'm not even much of a tea drinker. Anyway, I moaned about missing it and guess what? It came to live with me instead! I don't know if I love it because its family stuff - I've often said how soothing I find the sound of my Dad stiring cups of tea in the kitchen - or because its so bright and boarderline hideous, or if its just because whether you're a big tea drinker or not, tea is always a comfort, but whatever the reason, I'm really glad its mine. I recently went all posh in the tea-taste department and will now only drink Earl Grey, which my parents hate and never have in the house, so I was doubly excited when my Dad picked me up this box of Selfridges Earl Grey tea bags the other day. Now, I know a tea tin is for loose leaf, and I promise to get some at some point, but when you are only a part-time tea drinker like me, tea bags do just fine. (Just don't tell my Mum I'm being so uncouth!;-)

Anyway, in further kitchen news, I just made this batch of Rocky Road because my Dad wanted to eat some and Melinda wanted the recipe.

Rocky Road:

125g unsalted butter

300g dark chocolate - the good stuff

3/4 tbs golden syrup

200g digestive biscuits

100g mini marshmallows (or the chopped up normal size ones)

1/2 tub of glace cherries, chopped

1 foil tray, 24cm or a paper lined tin
(some other versions inlcude raisins)

Melt the butter, chocolate and syrup in a saucepan over a low heat, stirring occastionally. Smash up the biscuits in a bag, but leave an even mix of chunks and biscuit dust. Take the melted chocolate off the heat and allow to cool before adding the smashed biscuit smithereens, marshmallows and chopped cherries. Stir to combine and pour into the tray. Put in the fridge for several hours until set - two should do it if you are desperate. Score the set Rocky Road and cut into even squares. The foil tray or lined tin should help you remove them safely. Dust with icing sugar if you wish. Keep in the fridge - if they last that long!

For me, fitting baking into my life is a delicate balancing act, as you can see from the picture below which is of my supplies cupboard! ;-) I have a big kitchen and barely any storage, so extracting things from this cubby above my cooker top is usually trickier than doing the baking itself!
But its worth it because I love making nice batches of treats, and if any of my friends get the faintest inkling that I've been up to a bit of baking, they are round like a shot. Especially that pig Georgie! ;-)

Monday, February 18, 2008


I've been seriously debating whether I should worry about the fact my brother knows what Malabrigo is?! I mean, he lives with his fiance, and near a knitting shop, and regularly has to hunt down his fiance who is of course always in said knitting shop, but does this all neccessarily add up to knitting knowledge? Well, I guess in his case it does, because he and his fiber-loving fiance got me this for Christmas (but I only just got it as we had a 2nd Christmas when they both arrived from Canada in early Feb):

Behold the Malagrigo in all its precious purpleness. I swear it literally glows! At the moment I can't even bring myself to knit it up because I'm in awe of all its purple potential. To make it feel at home it is on a purple metallic box on my purple sofa next to a purple sheep-skin hand muff and a purple feather boa - obviously just things I have lying around!

Anyway, I've decided not to over think it as they both just got back from the South of France and where Nick bought me a solid rose perfume from here, which is utterly divine! Boy that boy knows me well!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Happy Valentine's Day - I Heart YOU!

On Ravelry you can add people’s work to your ‘favourites folder’, which means they get a little heart next to that project on their own projects page and you can regularly gaze at their piece from your own ‘notebook’. I cannot begin to express how proud I am of the 11 hearts – and counting - I have been given for my modified cupcake, or the also 11 hearts I’ve so far received for my Central Park Hoodie. To me, its like having someone come over and air-kiss you backstage at the showing of your latest collection, at New York or Milan maybe (I'm clearly fantasising), while saying ‘I’m just loving your work dahhhhhling’


Since getting on Ravelry I’ve been having a creative epiphany because you can wander through so many different styles of creativity in one place, and although I’m always hearting people’s work, I think its about time I started having a round-up on my blog and saying it more loudly. In view of the fact it is Valentine’s Day, which is one of my most favourite times of the year (whether I have a boy to spoil me or not) because all the shops fill with hearts and everything is red and pink and purple, I’m sending out some love y’all! So, to the following craftsters I’m saying: ‘Happy Valentines, I’m just loving your work dahhhhhling! xxxxxx’

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

In no particular order I bring you:

Greta the Pup by Roman Sock aka 'Wibit' on Ravelry

Its crochet for heaves sake! How??? (image belongs to Roman Sock)

Absolutely anything by Little Cotton Rabbits aka 'bunny knitter' on Ravelry...
...especially, the rabbits! (image belongs to Little Cotton Rabbits)

Blossom Cape by 100 Mile Fiber Fest aka 'AlphaMango' on Ravelry. You'll need to follow the link for this one. She knows I hate her because I told her so already! ;-)

Doll Knits by Two Swallows aka 'twoswallows' on Ravelry I don’t have a doll, but I do have a thing for mini-stuff! (image belongs to Two Swallows)

A 'freeform' crochet Travel Case by Janice Rosema aka 'janro' on Ravelry.

Freeform, as I understand it is working without a pattern and just letting your imagination take over. I've lifted this picture from Ravelry for those who aren't on it, as there is no link to this project on her blog, which I hope is ok?! (image belongs to Janice Rosema)

Betz White’s Cup of Joe pin cushions I loved the cupcake versions and I love these. I think they are all sold, so you can’t rush and get me one, but you can join in the applause! (image belongs to Betz White)

There’s so much more to talk about, but this will have to do for now…

You’ll note that in accordance with my efforts to keep abreast of all that is new, exciting and just damned delicious in the world of crafting, I’m making more of an effort to keep my ‘Blogs I Like’ list up to date. I would like to apologise however to Purl This and Roxy Knits for the fact that I’ve of course been pals with you both for a while, but completely dropped the ball when it came to listing you. And I should also say that Purl This (aka 'Ladylungdoc' on Ravelry) is an absolute gem for always sending me links to things she thinks I’d like and generally keeping me abreast of all things knitterly. Just because I don’t always manage to put all your project suggestions into action doesn’t for a second mean I don’t LOVE receiving them or love spending hours, when I should be PhD-ing, perusing online yarn retailers to ponder my future purchases.

(You might also note that I’m becoming a bit promiscuous – on the craft front that is – and I’m listing blogs by crafters whose work I shall probably never be able to emulate, which reaches into sewing and all sorts – but its all about keeping my inspiration levels up and simply being in the loop/in love ;-) ♥)

Monday, February 11, 2008


I forgot to mention that just after Christmas I treated myself to some cute 'hand knitted' labels from Woven Labels UK. You can sort of customise them in that there are a choice of fonts and colours and little motifs - obvsiously I chose a heart - and they came out really well. Here's one proudly attached to Lucy's Birthday Scarf!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Birthday Magic Ball

This was lots of fun...I bought a Be Sweet Magic Ball from Loop in Islington for my friend Lucy’s birthday and gave her the gorgeous skein (I should have taken a picture of it in all its glory) with a note saying either I’d teach her how to knit it up or I’d do it for her. I was thrilled to receive it back with a command of ‘knit it now!’

The ball is made up of all different yarns and knits up super fast. The only downside is that the knots aren’t that secure between each yarn - especially the ribbon yarns - and tightening them myself didn’t make me entirely confident. There are also some knotty/knobbly bits in the yarn which I first thought were mistakes and nearly unravelled, but turned out to be a feature (you can see them in the picture), and which actually look lovely once the scarf is complete.
I used size 8mm needles and cast on 140 stitches to knit it lengthwise (as instruced at Loop so that the changing yarns would work well), which gave me a long thin-ish scarf - about 4 1/2 inches across. I think casting on about 100 to 120 stitiches would make a slightly wider scarf that is still long enough, but I think this one works well as it is.

Its pure girly froth and perfect for its owner…

Friday, February 08, 2008

Fluffy Flowers

The other day I saw this and just had to join in, so I did this:

I found old and indeed odd (as in single) green knitting needles that used to belong to my Grandmother, and attached what were in fact ready-wound mini yarn balls from my little stash of leftovers.

Clockwise from top left we have some magenta acrylic I bought to play with when I first decided to have a go at this knitting malarkey; then there is the pink texere chunky I used for Jess' Juliet; below that is bit of my Central Park Hoodie and Georgie's One Skein Wonder; and finally there is a ball of Rowan plaid which was left over from my first proper knitting project, a poncho I didn't do a tension square for, which turned out to be a bit on the large side! Now they are all prettying up my mantle piece - as if it needed it what with the flocked heart wallpaper and masses of red and pink glass ornaments - reminding me of projects past, without wilting, genius!

Monday, February 04, 2008

More Stuff I Made Folk for Christmas

Lots of knitting is and has been going here in the Purple Palace of cfknits, but due to my ravelry addiction, I keep forgetting to blog about it. So here, in February, are a few shots of some other Christmas presents I made.

First, we have Juliet, a pattern by Zephyrstyle, in Texere Chunky, which I made as maternity wear for my darling Jessica who lives far too far away from me, in Chicago. I met Jess when I did my MA and after initially freaking her out in a seminar with my colour change nail varnish (it went different colours according my body heat), we became very close, and now that she and her husband are back in the US (she is American he is English), I miss her terribly! :-(

Anyhoo, to remind her how special she is to me she was sent this cute chunky lace capped-sleeve cover-up.
I even went to LIberty to find pretty buttons and came up trumps with these black flowers, and then I added shirring elastic (rather than the specified crochet) loops, so there was bust ease for a pregnant lady! Unfortunately I don't yet have a picture of Jess wearing this, but she assures me that it went straight on the minute she unwrapped it, so if I'm lucky she might send me one at some point.
Next, we have Georgie's One Skein Wonder, a pattern by Stefanie Japel. Georgie helped me sooooo much with my training for my trek and is never far from my side when I have needed a shoulder to cry on or indeed someone to moan to over the last few years, and when she went crazy over a washcloth I knitted her last Christmas, I knew she deserved something bigger and better this year.
As you can see, like me, she has a fondness for colour - indeed there is quite a bit of cross-over in our respective wardrobes, which isn't helped by the fact after me, she one of our big customers at the boutique I work at - so using up the spare skein from my Central Park Hoodie yarn seemed the best option.
She has already sent me several pictures of her wearing this on several different occasions, and I already knew it went with half her stuff, so I think I did good. You can't see in these pictures from over Christmas, but she is actually wearing matching purple tights - a girl after my own heart!
Now I just have to get to work on the presents for next Christmas!