Tag Archives: knitting

Behind the Scenes: A book and beyond

 

Well, hello, everyone. It’s been a while. In fact, it’s been a very long while.

Over the last few days, the blog has been on my mind a great deal.

The last time that I checked in, I had been spending a great deal of time of the allotment. The weather was good; Britain was not only in the grip of a pandemic, but also a heatwave. I was able to go to the plot, and do a fair bit. I had dug over the beds, and even sown seeds.

Then life became busy, with my counselling practice and teaching. It has been a very fast, very busy ten weeks and my feet have bare touched the ground.

So, this week, I am playing catch up.  I am also trying to have a rest, by shifting down a gear. I am trying to get some semblance of balance. I did have a fair dose of allotment guilt; a lot of sadness, actually. I popped down to the plot, to see how the plot had changed and to cut some roses. This, in itself, was a very grounding process. I even found some tomatoes. This was much needed. A bit of pottering, smelling the roses, to become grounded.

Social distancing still exists, and quite rightly so. And when not able to go the plot-there has been that much rain, when the sun isn’t shining. I’ve been otherwise occupied, beyond working and counselling.

Socks.

Yes, at the beginning of lockdown, I learned how to knit socks. I started with flat needles, and have since graduated to circular needles. These, I do believe, make the process, easier. It is also a lovely opportunity to relax, experience mindfulness. To ground myself, and do something that isn’t energetically demanding; is wonderfully calming and therapeutic. As such, I now have four pairs of needles with as many cast on socks. As you can see, this are not boring socks. Colourful and comfy, I’m really very proud of my creations. I have enough wool now, to be really quite busy. It is really quite easy, to be seduced by pretty yarn. And the socks are all mine; there is no one to inflict them upon.

Talking of creations. There is a new writing project on the desk. All being well, that will be released next year. This has already spent a year in the pipeline, and is very different to what I’ve already written. A series of short stories, all inspired by the City of Birmingham. You’ll have to watch this space, for further details.

Chatting with @TheOrdKnitter

You may have read the post about socks; how I’ve learned how to knit them.

I wouldn’t have got that far without a little help from my friends, not to mention a book of patterns.

Well, I was kindly invited by The Ordinary Knitter, Heather, to share my experiences of knitting socks on flat needles.

I’d asked Heather for some advice on how to start, and she was great in walking me through a pattern.

You can hear the full podcast with Heather here.

 

socks

These are my current projects. Two stripy pairs for me. An experimental Dad  sock, and even one on a pair of circular needles. These, are the ones that I still need to reflect upon a bit further.

 

The book that I’ve used is by Alice Curtis Knit your socks on Straight.

Apple and Socks…

I forget which week we’re on, but the lock-down measures remain in place. All for good reason; safety is paramount.

This week, has been about reflecting, about getting my hands dirty and also learning new skills.

The allotment has been on my mind a great deal. There is a lot to do, the plot has been left unloved for sometime. This, does feel rather overwhelming, as I have mentioned before. As such, I want to do little bits at a time, as much as I can.

I have an apple tree on the plot. In fact I have two. One is a Falstaff, the other is Braeburn. Both are currently in beautiful bloom with lovely pink and red blossom. The Falstaff is safe, secure, growing well. The Braeburn on the other hand, would be eight foot tall. However, due to storm damage,and not being staked properly, it is now growing bent over backwards, much like a fictional Japanese willow over a stream. I spent some time this week, propping it up. There was no way, no how, it was going to snap up straight. It is actually wonderfully well established, and happy too. I’ve never seen so much apple blossom on one tree. So rather than work against the tree, I want to work with it.

That was fun. Apart from falling over a raised bed and getting bruises.

Bruises, which didn’t help shoulder strain.

And where did I get shoulder strain from?

Well. Knitting.

I’ve been knitting for ages. Never purposefully though, and never actually finishing anything. So when a colleague told me about her sock knitting, with a member of the ‘Grape Gardening Family’ signposting me towards a book for knitting with flat needles, I had a ‘oh, yes?’ moment.

Two weeks, were spent, in between teaching and counselling, knitting like there was no tomorrow. I kid you not. I had the same brain fury that happens when I have a writing project that is all consuming. I pull the same thinking face too.

Flat needles. I’ve always knitted with these. I do have some circular needles, but they are still a bit abstract; I’ve yet to wrap my head around those. I don’t use DPNs-double pointed needles. That would also be a stretch of the visuo-spatial sketchpad.

Immersed and enthusiastic. I sprained my arm. There was three days sulking, and I have resumed knitting. I will also venture back to the plot too, at some point.

The socks, a pair, were completed. Yes, they are wonky, with one bigger than the other. But I have a pair of socks! Two weeks ago, I couldn’t read patterns, never mind knit socks.

(Yeah, Mama F has been helping too. I sat elbow to elbow with her, explaining the pattern. She’s a much more proficient knitter and crocheter than me, she can knit with her eyes closed. Doesn’t ever use patterns. But socks were new. She has since knitted a beautiful pair, that really are a piece of art.)

I’m really very proud of my wonky socks, and I have three more experimental ones in my needles. I’m using a mixture of bamboo and metal needles. The bamboo are less heavier, more warmer. Smaller metal needles do help with precision and better fitter socks.

 

 

 

 

 

Magic Squares and Chillies #gdnbloggers

The chillies have had something of a spurt; with the low light levels and lack of direct heat, they have become leggy. When leggy, seedlings stretch towards a source of heat and light, stretching upwards and being at risk of keeling over. This can be quite disheartening when you really want seedlings to grow.

Of the forty something seeds grown-scotch bonnet yellow, purple haze, cayenne, jalapeno and purple haze-we have approximately 15 seedlings that are some wiry, tall and gangly. I would rather they didn’t keel over. so I have decided to pot them up today. Using multi-purpose compost and some 7cm pots, chillies are being made a little more comfortable.

 

You can also find the video here

For me, this is the first transplanting. There may be another pot change, before they end up in their final pots in a at least three months time-ish. After that, any surviving plants will live-hopefully-in the poly tunnel. As you can imagine, this is something of a lengthy process, and we are only at the very start of the growing season.

Currently. the weather-in Britain, at least-is fairly hit and miss; it is cold outside. I, like many other Britons, scraped frost off the car windscreen this morning. This directly impacts upon all the tiny, dainty seedlings that might have already taken up space upon the window sill. I am keeping my chilli seedling away from the window pane. They will still get light, they-hopefully-will have some protection against the drop in night time temperatures.

With the heated prop empty, I have sown an emergency batch of about a dozen cayennes; it all felt a little thin on the ground. I shall monitor these over the next week to see what happens with them

So, seeds have been sown, they have germinated and grown. I like that feeling of new beginnings, as we look forward to the new growing season. I have written before, that allotmenteering and GYO both impact upon mental health; for me, that is really important. Least of all, because I teach about it, I am a trained listener and currently enrolled on a Diploma for Humanistic Counselling; the plot has a profound effect on me, my wholeness and the way I view the world. It all helps me to obtain mindfulness and improves my mental health.

You may have seen that I rather like colouring. I also knit.

Couldn’t be more different from gardening, could it?

For the last year, a knitting project has been on pause.

blankettwo.jpg

With the chillies adjusting to their new pots, I quite fancy a couple of hours revisiting knit one, purl one.

 

blanketone.JPG

#NABLOPOMO: Hello November, Hello again NABLOPOMO

NaBloPoMo_2015

It’s been a whole year since I first participated in NaBloPoMo. It was a really interesting experience, sharing plot adventures to an entirely new audience. An audience who wouldn’t perhaps ordinarily be reading about the adventures of an allotment holder in Great Britain. Throughout NaBloPoMo the blog audience grew, and it was amazing to see just how far the blog was going.

In the time since, I have also participated in the April NaBloPoMO too. That was an additional learning experience, especially as the theme was ‘Grow’. Seemed apt given the nature of the blog.  Plus, it was the start of the growing season, and sharing the start of the growing season was really very useful. Since then, both the November and April NaBloPoMo’s the allotment plot has changed, grown and developed a great deal. There have been the usual slug, snail and crop dramas. As well as the qualified and unqualified successes.

You can see from the gallery just how it has all developed. From the tranche after tranche of runner and climbing beans-ma got fed up of freezing them-the potatoes. I really recommend Pink Fir Apple, for being such an abundant cropper. Chillies, that were hit and miss, with the tomatoes really struggling this year. There was home made ice cream, when there were lots of home grown strawberries.

Whilst there was a lot horticultural allotmenteering happening. There was also another project that started out as something of a whim at the start of the summer. I remember saying to my sisters, that I really fancied writing an ebook. Also, I had written some guest blog posts for World Radio Gardening, so this seemed something very natural to do.

So I did. I wrote that book. Over the course of the summer, between work and the plot; I wrote the book. My book. One of the NaBloPoMo prompts from last year, was whether or not one had book within. At that point, I didn’t think I could have. Writing the book really was process. From writing down chapter headings, writing in my notebook in blue ink, to listening to my mum dictate recipes. I cannot describe the feeling of words and ideas surging around in my brain and wanting to exit onto the paper. This book really wanted to be written. I would be lying if I said this was an easy process. It wasn’t. It was hard for hear about feedback, for example. It wasn’t bad feed, it was feedback to help me make the book better and from cheerleaders. Cheerleaders. These are very important people. People who have faith, inspire you, encourage you. Not the sort who huff, puff, and tell you that what you have done, isn’t worth the paper that it is printed on, or the e-ink it contains. Good people, and the feedback was important. It came from the right place.

The book was on kindle at first, and it took a while for me to pluck up the courage and then put the book into print. After all, not everyone has an e-reader. I am also a book worm, and books have always been a part of my life and my job.

What started with the book, has diversified. You all know petal, she’s the avatar, the logo, the brand that is on the logo. The figure holding carrots. She is all mine, and perfectly sums up the blog. So, putting her on a bag and a logo, seemed a good thing to do.

Beyond the plot, there has been a spot of mindfulness. The magic square project is still going, alongside the johanna Basford ‘Secret garden’ colouring book.

Knit witz-Not just for Granny

I’ve just seen this on the BBC website, the Banksy of Knitting was the headline that caught my attention. I don’t often listen to Radio 4, it’s just something I would want to listen. Except when I want to learn about something!

Knitting at the BBC

The piece touches on a number of areas. Street Art, the knitting Nanas, even maths. The lady interestingly states that it’s not just older ladies that to do. Gentlemen too, knit. We just don’t assume that they would. Bit of a social stereotype there.

Then I found this.

A gripping yarn

It’s a rather broad documentary, and who would thought that knitting could offend people? And no, I don’t think about the sheep to needle process. There is a whole word of history of knitting. Knitting whilst milking a cow, features. Oh, and the American Civil war, who would have thought that this was a political plotting circle.  The most suprising for me, was the prisoners knitting. Who would have thought it? Then there is guerilla knitting. Have heard about it, but never quite got my head around it.  I really didn’t know about how knitting one, purling one, could have political ramifications.

Knitting has had something of a boom and rebirth. It has become fashionable and bit of a vogue thing. There has beeen a charity initiative for charities supporting older adults. The Philanthropic nature of craft, is not something that you would otherwise think about.

No longer something for the mature, Granny and Nana lady. I’m not yet either one of those. I was taught many years ago by paternal Granny. My memory is making a long pink scarf. Took me a while, and I would always do my best to not drop stitches. I still drop stitches, and make things bigger than they should be. I can’t read patterns, but probably should learn to read them.

That is the Magic Square project. I have been knitting that on and off for over a year. All panels have seven or fourteen rows. Each stripe has either seven rows in stocking stitch or three in the other one- No, I don’t know what it is called. The aim is to get it big enough, may be with another half a dozen or so panels, and then trim  it with knitted and beaded border.