A Marvelous Day

All last Saturday afternoon I did something I like best, surrounding myself with lots of wool. It hasn't been like that for a long time because work was so stressful lately that I wasn't only too tired after work and spending the weekends trying to recover but also worrying too much about what I would need to do on Mondays. There comes a point when you need to destress in order not to become ill. Therefore I had to come up with a plan:

  1. When thinking of something work related while off work, I write it down immediately as a to do list for the next day or Monday. That way I know I can't forget it and I don't need to go on constantly thinking about it. Means I stop worrying.

  2. I come up with a few time saving measures, mainly changing from paper based to IT based processes. Work that is not knitting. It meant putting in some work and therefore potentially getting more stress at the beginning but it should pay off later. Also saves lots of paper.

  3. I asked my boss to get me an assistant. The temp started on Monday. She is an absolute star.

  4. I get knitting however tired or stressed I may be. That relaxes and makes happy.


My Saturday consisted of winding the yarn of someone's UFO into balls. I bought it in a charity shop some time agoa and painstakingly frogged it in intervals. The yarn is a lovely fluffy 100% alpaca by Anny Blatt that had been knitted into a 1980s 'accident'. There was so much wrong with the UFO I could see why they had abandoned it. Now I have about 450g yarn available for I don't know what at the moment, but inspiration will hit me.

mottled black and white

Then I finished frogging a black and white mottled M&S jumper. It's a silk and cotton yarn mix that should turn out well as potholders and cleaning cloths. Yes, luxury silk cleaning cloths, mind. But the type of cleaning cloths I knit are sensationally good. At least I think so and so do my mum and my friend Siobhan. I did a little swatch that I tested on my dishes this morning. Tea stains in mugs vanish in split seconds.

green cowl RK

And I started a cowl - it's winter after all and pretty cold already - mixing the yarn of a frogged cashmere and silk jumper, Rowan Kidsilk Haze and Lurex yarn. The jumper was originally grey. I hated the grey so much that I dyed it green with kelly green food colouring. It turned out a slightly yellowish green (silk) and dark turquoise (cashmere) that I found to go very well with Rowan Kidsilk Haze in Alhambra. And just for the festive touch I added some Lurex in light blue that my mum had lying about for at least 20 years, if not longer. The stitch pattern is a reversible honeycomb cable. I like reversible patterns for cowls and shawls because there is no unsightly wrong side. Am now half way through the cowl.

I had a marvelous day.

Nothing That Can't Be Fixed

After I screwed up my son's Funky vest and for a long time couldn't bring myself to fix it, last Sunday the day came that I could overcome my psychological blockage. I frogged it down to where I thought I could fix it without frogging it further, meaning without going to the point where I had actually made the mistake of increasing one stitch too many (yes, one stitch, I'm a freaking perfectionist). I left half a pattern repeat almost intakt and only completely opened up the purple frog (my son likes to call the pattern Frogs Flying Together) that actually contained the mistake. So here the frogged piece with the whole purple frog on the left hand side removed. I had to also partly open up the pink frog.


And below the fixed purple frog. It wasn't easy because at first I couldn't quite figure out how to correctly draw the purple yarn through the loops of the pink frog to get the correct twist of both yarns at the back, and had to open that lower part up twice again before I got it right, but that was certainly better for my psychological wellbeing than having to open up everything down to the mistake.


I'm so chuffed. It took me less time than reknitting half the pattern repeat would have and I can now, at last, finally and again knit. Yes!


Plastic Free July

Knitting isn't going well these days. Actually I think I can safely say I've got knitters block. I was working on my son's Funky vest when I noticed a serious mistake about 55 rows further down. Oh no! I thought I could sort it out without opening everything up again, but realised very late that that isn't the case. It so depresses me that I have to open up that much again that I put the whole thing aside. I know the feeling will go away and until such time - and the warm weather isn't an incentive for knitting for colder days anyway - I do other things.


I pledged to do Plastic Free July because Siobhan, my lovely colleague and friend, partners in crime (in a positive sense of course) on the Department of Sociology Green Team, practically coerced me into it by forwarding me the confirmation email from the Australian Marine Conservation for her own pledge. Just to make my life that much more difficult after having given up eating free sugar. But what is giving up things in my life against the oceans getting dirtier and dirtier, which would ultimately kill me and the rest of the Planet?

When it comes to using plastic I'm not a saint. I do use a fabric bag for shopping and transporting my lunch to work. Indeed, wherever I go it goes with me, just in case I need a bag. I dom't use plastic bottles for drinking water. And I only very rarely buy tea and coffee on the go (those paper mugs have a thin plastic lining on the inside). But otherwise it looks pretty bad.

I make at home and bring in my lunches most times but sometimes I either run out of time in the morning or have forgotten to go shopping. In these cases I tended to buy ready-made salads in plastic bowls from the supermarket. Well, not anymore. That takes a bit of organisation and preparing food the evening before when I know I won’t have much time in the morning, but it has turned out not to be too difficult. I have found I quite enjoy pottering about in the kitchen in the evening preparing my lunch. It takes out the hurry of the morning.

I also try to buy more stuff without plastic packaging. It’s relatively easy to do for fruit and veg, but other things are simply not available without plastic packaging, and if they are available without plastic packaging it has a very detrimental effect on my budget… and life in Cambridge isn't cheap. A realisation that has knocked me a bit. An unpackaged shop in Cambridge would be nice but we do not have one, well, not that I know of (if anyone in Cambridge is looking for a business idea, this is it). So, for this month I aim for a reduction in plastic packaging and see how that goes and what is possible in the future.

But I don’t want to end on a not so positive note. Two weeks ago a friend of mine gave me a fabric bag from Kyrgyztan (above). It’s very spacious, but it didn’t have an inside zipable pocket so I inserted one. I now use it as my handbag, but it would also serve well as a shopping bag.



Machine broken

I have no new pictures because my sewing machine broke last week. I was so unhappy about it I cried when it happened. The pedal was suddenly not working anymore. Actually the machine is running without me moving the pedal which I've learned is a serious problem that needs repair by experts. Now there are a few problems here: I don't have a car and the machine is so dead heavy that I can't transport it by bike to a repair shop. The machine was getting on my nerves anyway because it doesn't have a reverse stitch, for example, and there are other things that I don't like.  So I thought a bit about it and am now resolved to buy a new one. Which also means that I'm a much happier bunny.

The Next Bag

My son favours the grey colour scheme. So I made a start with this one.

the next recycled bag RK1

For the flap I lined a piece of narrow pinstripe with the glittery jumper. I had to sew the lining together from two parts because it wasn't a very big jumper in the first place and after the felting even smaller, of course. The front I put together from the backs of the wide pinstripe trousers so that I could include the little back pocket of the original trousers (top right). The side panels and back are one piece with the stripes rotated by 90 degrees. The piece that determined the size was the flap lining. I didn't use a pattern. I just cut as I went along trying to fit things together. It's a bit frightening but also weirdly liberating. Now I need to find some material to stiffen the trouser fabric. Although originally labelled as needing dry cleaning, the trousers repeatedly resisted being felted in the washing machine. I don't want to make a floppy messenger bag.

Colour combinations

Funky is not going well. I'm doing the back in plain green and somewhere I must have dropped a stitch or not increased one, one stitch is missing and I can't make out where and it's driving me bananas, because I'm such an idiotic pedantic when it comes to knitting. I wanted to do the back in just one colour but it's hard for me to do the increases without the hounds tooth pattern, which turns out to be a great help figuring out where I am and how many stitches there should be. And I don't seem to be able to knit much else other than the jumper I made for my mum's birthday which I forgot to photograph her in so that I can't even show you that and I now got all distracted by making bags. I got completely hooked by the multitudes of possibilities making a recycled bag that I can't think of much else. So, finally, I have given in and although this blog is supposed to be about knitting I will explore the bag making a bit more (erm, I don't like knitted bags). After all it's also about recycling and you have to follow your heart, don't you?

recycled messenger bag colour green RK

So here three sets of possible combinations of materials for more bags. From left to right an old green woolen skirt, a shrunk turquoise angora jumper, some lining fabric and a pair of old linen trousers garnished with a collection of zips I could use.

recycled messenger bag colour purple RK

Here a purple combination consisting of two woolen jumpers that I felted in the washing machine for a different project that never took off and parts of a sari with a flowery pattern and two zips.

recycled messenger bag colour grey RK

And the last one a muted colour scheme of old pin stripe trousers, a glitter angora jumper (trust me it's glittery) that I once tried to unravel but that doesn't lend itself to unraveling (such jumpers exist), a leather belt and a zip.

Not sure which one I will do first. It depends a bit on the interfacing I will need and I don't have a lot of choice. Which colour combination do you like best?