Half FO – baby sweater

If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I’ve been knitting a very squishy and very pretty sweater with the aim of having it ready for some professional pictures that we’re having taken ahead of Mabel’s first birthday.

They were taken a couple of weeks ago and the sweater was…kind of done? After staying up until 1  a.m. knitting and distracting Mabel with Strictly Come Dancing in the morning, I just got it into a wearable state 30 minutes before the photographer arrived & sewed on a button while she set up. A victory of sorts, though annoyingly she only just fit into it and taking it off was a challenge. Oops. Also, the neckline just didn’t work, possibly because I was literally knitting fast and loose. Suffice it to say yesterday was not my best day. There may or may not have also been tears of mum guilt in the afternoon for prioritizing knitting over, well, everything.

She did look very cute, though, so I am going to persevere with trying to correct/modify it. Blocking it post-photo session made a massive difference, though the neckline is still a mess. I think I may try to block it again as well; it still looks a little short to me.

I am unsure what to do about the neckline. Starting over might be best. It was definitely the hardest part to knit, but somehow it hasn’t turned out to be the right shape. It is the cable pattern, just knitted on larger needles sideways using short rows. The stitches kept slipping off, partly due to my speed which made my tension go off kilter and partly due to extremely slippery needles.

Faults aside, it is quite a pretty sweater and I’m glad I made it!

FO: Baby blanket



Hello, everyone! It’s nice to be back on the blog, though I’m not sure how often I’ll be able to update it in the next few months. I won’t apologise – looking after a newborn apparently means having your hands literally full most of the time! And when they’re not, there’s a choice between sleeping, eating, and doing stuff (including writing blog posts). In the interest of my sanity, I nearly always choose sleeping, though it does mean the house is a state and that I am neglecting my blog & crafting. I’m sure I’ll learn to balance things eventually.

I did want to write up the baby blanket I made for Mabel nonetheless. It was my first attempt at knitting from scratch rather than using a pattern, so it was particularly challenging. In the end I wasn’t entirely happy with it, but I’ve been told it’s the thought that counts. 🙂


The yarn in the center of the blanket inspired the whole thing. I bought it at Unravelled in Farnham several years ago with the intention of making a shawl. However, the more I looked at it the more I became convinced it would make a beautiful baby blanket, so I’ve been saving it. According to the label, the wool by Little Owl Crafts is:

Organic Devon Wensleydale

Hand dyed and handspun in Devon

Colorway: Dawn Chorus

There were 120g and 220 meters, which meant making anything would be a real challenge. Making a central block and working my way out seemed the most sensible plan.

After looking through Barbara Walker’s Treasury of Knitting Patterns, I settled on Indian Cross Stitch. I wanted to maximize the size of the blanket by using lace, but because parts of the yarn are quite chunky, a traditional lace pattern didn’t look right. This stitch seemed like just the right compromise, and I’m glad I picked it.


Then there was the border, knitted in a mystery undyed yarn (merino?) I bought at Wonderwool Wales back in April. It took 2 skeins. I spent ages looking up how to do mitered corners. But as you can see, I didn’t end up doing them (which is the main reason I’m disappointed with the blanket). I didn’t know how many rows I would need and instead of sensibly swatching I kind of gave up and opted to pick up stitches all around instead, which means it isn’t really a rectangle.


I added a few inches of seed stitch to add some size, then used a Victorian edging pattern to finish it off. Unfortunately I can’t remember/find the one I used, but it is similar to a lot of the ones found on this website. Funnily enough, I had already added the three rows of eyelets, so this pattern was a natural fit.

Overall, I think the blanket is quite pretty, even if I’m not thrilled with it. I suppose the moral here is to always do a trial run! I haven’t decided yet whether I want to have another attempt at it & write up a proper pattern (something I’ve never done, but that might be a nice challenge).

Work in progress: baby blanket update

The center of the baby blanket is done! As you know, I’ve used some special yarn: hand-dyed and handspun in Devon. This means there’s not much of it, though, so I wasn’t able to make an entire blanket out of it. P1090723

But isn’t what I have so far pretty? I used the Indian Cross Stitch. It seems like the ideal solution to wanting some openness and yet having yarn that doesn’t really suit a lace pattern (I tried several, and none looked right).


And I love the colors so much! They are soft & perfect for a baby without being wishy washy.

The next step is to block this, and ideally condition it to make the wool even softer. Does anyone have recommendations for something to soften it?

Now the big challenge is picking out a border. I’ll be knitting it in an undyed yarn, and it should be a really nice contrast. The hard part is picking out the pattern! I borrowed a book of edgings from work and have narrowed it down to about 6 choices, but I’m really struggling now. I really wanted to ask your opinions, but I had to return it on my last day (I’m on maternity leave now!!) and forgot to take pictures – though I did remember to photocopy the instructions, never fear. I couldn’t find pictures of most of them online. I guess I will just have to cope with the stress of decision-making this time, and you will have to be surprised. Though if you do have any favorite stitch patterns, I’d love to hear them.

FO: Maile baby cardigan

P1090510Finally, I’ve accomplished something knitting-related this year! This week I finished the Maile cardigan from What to Knit When You’re Expecting. This isn’t for me, but for a friend who had a baby in June. I knit it using Rico Baby Dream DK, which is one of the most gloriously soft & smooshy yarns I’ve had the pleasure to knit with. Technically this cardigan’s meant to be in 4-ply, but I had this yarn on hand & it turned out just fine, if possibly a little bigger than intended. The buttons are vintage cloth-covered ones that I had in my stash already.


This was a pretty straightforward knit, but I’m not sure I’d knit it again. I prefer top-down cardigans; this one had slightly odd construction. To her credit, the author does acknowledge that it’s a difficult sleeve join & offers tips (i.e. the magic loop method) to help. It was still a faff, though, and resulted in some awkward seaming.


The best thing about this knit was that it was my first knit using my set of interchangeable Hiya Hiya super sharp needles. And they were delightful! It was also a novelty to have spare cables, which meant I could just slip sections onto a spare cable & reuse the same size needles, rather than needing either spare needles or scrap yarn (which is useful, but I do find transferring the stitches back onto a needle annoying because I am terribly lazy).P1090511

Making something new: a baby blanket

p1080848.jpgThis is a project I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. Isn’t this the most stunning yarn? I bought it about 3 years ago at Unravel. It’s handspun and hand-dyed Devon wool, in a colorway called Dawn Chorus. There was only one skein of it at the stand, and though I’m usually not an impulse buyer, I spent all day thinking about this yarn and knew I couldn’t leave without it.


The warm colors reminded me of sunrise, and I originally imagined myself wearing a shawl made from it, drinking a cuppa on my imaginary porch. But the more I admired/stroked/fondled it, the more I realized that actually this was the ideal yarn to use for a baby blanket. It is a little fuzzy, but very soft, and absolutely gorgeous. So not long after buying it, I tucked it away, to wait until I knew I was going to have my own little one to make a blanket for with it.


And now I’ll finally get to use it. It was a little over a year ago (June 21) that I found out I was pregnant for the first time, and while that ended in a miscarriage just a month later, I am so pleased to share that R & I now have a second chance – we’re due early November and all seems to be going well. I never did get this yarn out last year, and retrospectively I’m glad as thinking about everything that happened last summer still makes me unbearably sad; it would have tainted this project a little. For now, I am happy and relieved and a tad overwhelmed by this pregnancy, which, at the risk of sounding melodramatic, really does feel like a tiny miracle. Sharing the news is a little scary, to be honest, because though I’m well into the pregnancy now, everything still feels precarious. I hope this blanket will give me something to focus my energy on.

I have a few days away in Cornwall coming up, and I’m planning to test a few lace patterns to find the right combination for our little one’s first handknit. There isn’t much of this yarn, as you can see, so I’m going to use some of the undyed yarn I bought at Wonderwool to supplement it. I’ll let you all know what I end up choosing.

Wednesday yarn-along no. 8

P1010527*Photo to come soon!*

I am away from home for work and, alas, didn’t bring my camera cable to allow me to upload a picture.

What I’m reading:

I’ve got 2 this week: Gideon Smith & the Mechanical Girl and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

Gideon Smith is a classic steampunk adventure book. I love a bit of steampunk, sci-fi and fantasy! This takes a lot of common tropes and puts them into the same book, with mixed success. I won’t give everything away, but I will say Bram Stoker is a character, penny dreadfuls play a significant role, and there are dirigibles & automatons. It does feel a bit over the top at times, to be honest, but it is also a good, absorbing read. Gideon Smith was a nice comforting read, and I would recommend it.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is an old favourite. It’s about a 12-year-old girl growing up in Brooklyn in 1912. Betty Smith published it in 1943, and it really hasn’t aged at all. The characters are well-rounded, and you really come to care about them. I last read it over 10 years ago, so I am looking forward to seeing how my perceptions of it change.

What I’m knitting

The lace/cable jumper is marching on! I’ve now finished the back, and cast on for the beginning of the front on the train yesterday. I am quite pleased with the back, so am excited about getting the front started. To be honest, it’s coming along a lot quicker than I anticipated, so I am hoping to finish it by the end of May (best not to be too ambitious!)

So what are you working on this week? Any big projects on the go?

Wednesday yarn-along no. 6


I’ve gotten a bit behind with this blog, but I’m determined to keep it up. It’s really helping me focus my mind a few evenings a week. Plus, in some strange way it’s keeping me motivated to go read other people’s blogs. Is that a terrible reason to keep doing this?

What I’m knitting: cable jumper

You guessed it, it’s the same one I’ve already written about. I’ve spent very little time knitting this past week; I found The Cuckoo’s Calling quite absorbing and read it a little obsessively. As a result, I had less yarn time. But what I have done so far is turning out reasonably well. I am enjoying it so far. It’s an 8-row pattern, so it’s not actually as complicated as I initially thought.

What I’m reading: Sew Your Own by John-Paul Flintoff

This is another random library find, this time in the 646s (where you’ll also find dressmaking books). I only started it yesterday. However, while I find the concept interesting, I am reading this with a bit of cynicism. I’m not overly impressed with the writing so far (it tries too hard to be amusing), but I am really looking forward to learning more about how Flintoff came to the conclusion that he should make all his own clothes. So far I’ve only read about his experience with ultra-tailored suits and New York sweatshops and it’s already convinced me to look at buying off-the-rack clothes differently.


I know I’ve been neglecting Pastry & Purls slightly, but I am finally getting started on my circle skirt, which means there’ll be a new sewing post soon!

Wednesday yarn-along no. 4


Work is still very busy, and R & I currently have 500+ items listed on eBay, so this week taking time to read/knit is both important and difficult. Luckily I have managed to do a little of both on the train. Yesterday I finished The Virtues of the Table, and I’m happy to say that I can recommend it. While the logic (from my non-trained perspective) isn’t infallible in a few of the chapters, overall it presents a balanced view of lots of the issues around food & eating – organic, GMO, solitary eating, balanced diets, weight loss, etc – by linking them to virtues Baggini feels people should exhibit – for example, justice, compassion, conviviality, amongst others. While Baggini draws his own conclusions, he generally presents arguments on both sides, with evidence, so you could theoretically draw your own. Plus, I love that it has both a footnotes/references section and a bibliography. Referencing for the win!

What I’m knitting: Lacy jumper by Alison Robson

I’ve had my eye on this pattern for well over a year. It’s in Knitting issue 96 (December 2011), which I found in a charity shop for 50p. I’m excited to finally be using it. The Rowan fine lace yarn I bought recently seemed perfect for it. However, the pattern uses 4-ply while my yarn is 2 ply, which means I’m having to swatch to make sure I still manage to get the right gauge/tension. The needles in the picture are 2.5 mm and are still too big. Using teeny tiny needles means this project will be a long-term one, and I will probably end up taking a break from it at some point. I still think it will be worth it, because I think this sweater is just stunning. As for using such a dramatically different yarn? Well, I think it’ll look nice, plus there was also a review of Rowan Fine Lace in the same magazine, so I think it’s meant to be. 😉

What I’m reading: Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

This is my bedtime reading, because what better way to calm down at the end of the day than with a bit of humor? Pratchett’s one of my favourite authors, too, so I read pretty much any books by him.

What are you reading or knitting? Do you prefer long-term or short-term projects, or a bit of both like me?

Wednesday Yarn-along 18 Feb

This week’s entry is going to be quick and brief. R and I are selling a ton of stuff on eBay to raise money toward a house deposit, so the next couple of weeks are going to involve a lot of typing and addressing post. I’ll try to post over the weekend as usual, but Pastry & Purls will need to take a bit of a backseat while I focus on this.

Granta Books
Image taken from Granta Books website: http://grantabooks.com/The-Virtues-of-the-Table

What I’m reading: The Virtues of the Table: How to Eat & Think, by Julian Baggini

Yes, this is a book about the philosophy of food, written by a philosoher. Man, that sounds pretentious! This book wasn’t a particularly deliberate choice – I spotted the spine in the library and was intrigued. When I looked at the cover, I realised that I’d seen Baggini give an introduction to a film in Bristol a few years ago. He was a good speaker, and it turns out he is also a good writer. I’m not very far into this book. However, I’m already impressed by the clarity of the writing and the way he has integrated research into it. I am really not a lover of philosophy generally speaking, so I also appreciate the way he firmly ties philosophical theory to practical application (in relation to food, of course). Fingers crossed it stays good all the way through.

What I’m knitting: —

I’m cheating by doing a yarn-along, I guess, because I’m actually between projects. I sewed up my hat today and am still deciding on my next project. There’s a lace jumper I’ve had my eye on for a few years now, and I think it might finally be time to attempt it.


Wednesday Yarn-along


This week’s reading and knitting are quite relaxed. Work’s pretty full-on at the moment, so I just want to work on quick projects and escape a bit with my books.

I’m reading: The Wind in the Willows

I don’t think I read The Wind in the Willows as I child. I suppose I may have, but I certainly don’t remember it. Shocking! I spotted it on the shelf at the local Oxfam bookshop where I volunteer & borrowed it to decide if I want to buy it (that’s one of the perks of  being a volunteer!). Days are getting longer, and this makes a nice read on the train in the dusky light. Rat & Mole have just met Mr Badger, and I’m looking forward to seeing what happens next!

I’m knitting: a hat

A colleague gave me about 8 balls of gorgeous bulky Icelandic wool several months ago, but I hadn’t used any of it until now. Though I like the look of bulky yarn, I rarely use it. However, as I was in the mood for something quick, this seemed like the right time to get started. I chose to start with the red, and am going to make this herringbone hat. You can’t go wrong with a red hat, can you?

Don’t forget to visit Ginny’s page for more literary and fibrous joy. 🙂