No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better...

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Butterfly brain

When I was 11, I went to a school where the head nun had a special name for the flighty girls under her care (the ones who were giddy little things who were always getting into trouble).  She called them 'féileacán' (pronounced a bit like fail-uh-cawn (as in yawn)), meaning 'butterfly'.  Today, I have a butterfly brain, and Sr. Benigna would definitely not approve.

Firstly, I am sick.  Not properly sick, as in dying, but sick enough to stay at home.  I went to the dentist yesterday.  This involved laughing gas (wheeeee!) and a general anaesthetic.  I now have stitches in my mouth and am on a diet of mush.  I think anyone on a diet of mush can't be expected to behave seriously in a serious job with serious people.  So I am playing hookie.  (In truth my mouth hurts like hell and I keep telling my tongue not to go rooting at my stitches and the anaesthetic in my system is making me a bit dizzy, so I'm not entirely on the skive.)  Anyway, this means that I have lots of time to do stuff.  But I can't settle to much.  I have finished a book called Room by Emma Donaghue which is just breathtaking.  Such a powerful story told by an original voice.  It's had lots of publicity so I suspect you may already have read or heard about it.  And I don't want to ruin it for you by telling you the story.  But please please please rush out and buy it.  Immediately.

I have also been opening and closing the fridge a lot trying to figure out what I can eat.  Mr. P has come into his own, making leek and potato soup (pureed of course).  And he has bought me flowers.  He buys flowers on occasion when I'm not sick too, but it was just lovely yesterday to wake up in the afternoon to these... my favourite jug...

AND this rather splendid specimen...
... now living next to the parrot (an incense burner, which isn't usually my cup of tea but was too difficult to resist...)
So there you have it - homely Spring daffodils and a delicate hothouse flower, which together perfectly match my butterfly mood.

This afternoon, I have plans to crochet.  This doubtless means I will fall asleep in front of an old movie instead....


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

More blue than blue...

Thanks so much for all your lovely comments on my bag.  I still haven't quite got over the fact that I made it, and have it hanging by my bed so that I can see it when I wake up in the mornings.  (I used to do that with shiny new shoes when I was a kid...)  And welcome welcome to those who have visited noknittedknickers for the first time in recent days.  Lovely to have you here.

So, after the excitement of the bag creation, I thought I'd update you on progress with my granny squares.  (Spurred on by my fab new hook roll, I had a go at ripple at the weekend, but made the foundation stitch too short to be much of anything, so will not be blogging/bragging about that just now...)

I couldn't figure out why I wasn't as enthusiastic about the granny square business as I might be.  I thought it was because the inner circle is still a bit of a struggle, and I've had to rip each centre out and start again several times before it feels right.  (I really need to sit down and watch the videos again.)  But then I worked 6 centres one after another a couple of weekends ago until I got the hang of it, so I knew that wasn't really it.  In truth, I was having doubts about my colour choice.  Somehow, it looked a bit, well, lacklustre to me.  I was wondering about adding the odd splash of red or pink to liven it up - sooner or later red or pink creeps into pretty much every colour scheme in my house.... But then on Saturday, I spied this bright light blue yarn  (centre right)...

... among the more sedate blues and greys in the yarn shop and I knew I'd found the solution.  All that was needed was a pop of colour to set off the more reserved palate.  Before I knew it I'd finished off the 6 centres and finished my first ever ball of white (see it looking a bit lost and forlorn in the top left of the picture?

So, now I'm back to feeling enthusiastic about it all.  Doesn't it look suspiciously like the beginnings of a blanket?  And isn't that bright light blue just the thing that was needed?  I think so.

I have 17 squares now.  Not brag-worthy, but maybe the beginning of something big.

And no need to remind me of my bragging about sewing in the ends.  I've promised myself I'll do that when I finish my first white ball of yarn... (no, really...)

For now, I'm quite happy to make a pancake stack of the squares and marvel.

My new favourite...
The bright blue is Cascade 220 in Anis (colour code 8908).  And it's delicious.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Cue drum roll...

Ta- Dah!

I'm so bursting with excitement and general pleased-with-myself glee that I'm not sure where to start.  Or what to say.  I made a bag.  Not just any old pillowcase with a drawstring bag.  A sturdy bag that stands up all by itself.  One that I can throw in the mashing machine when it gets grubby.

THIS bag....

...with inside AND outside pockets, with a magnetic snap....

... a fully reversible bag..

I made that.  From scratch.  Me.

Maybe this will say it better than I can...


Saturday, March 26, 2011

And the winner is...

Hello there,

Great excitement in the house of no knitted knickers.  We have chosen a winner for the thread cutter.  I would show you all the folded up paper with individual names of those who entered, but there isn't any.  Ours was a far cruder method of selection than that, involving Mr. P writing numbers from 1 to 21 on a piece of paper and me with my eyes closed stabbing at the paper with a pencil and drawing a crude cross.   (Not a very photogenic process...)  And the winner was no. 14.  As the 14th comment was from Jo of The Good Life and Through the Keyhole, she wins the grand prize.  Jo, if you could email me with your contact details, I'll get this in the post to you.  Congratulations!

In case anyone wants to buy one themselves now that they've realised they can't be without it, I bought my thread cutter here.

And of course, I need to tell you that I am the proud owner of a new bag.  BIG ta-dah moment in the next post.  But maybe just a sneak peak now...

I am stupidly proud of my achievement.  (And I'm hoping that the bright colours and happy pattern will mask the wobbly lines of my school girl sewing...)

Hope you're having a lovely weekend.


Friday, March 25, 2011

Packages (1)

I absolutely love receiving a parcel through the post.  Sometimes I like to be surprised, but if I know one is coming my way, I fizz with the thrill of anticipation.  Recently, I won Andrea's fab giveaway of a lovely crochet hook roll that she'd made herself.  Such a pretty roll with lovely colour choices and fabric.  So I knew I was in for a treat when a couple of days ago I opened our post box and there was a squishy brown envelope inside.  And inside was a lovely neat package tied up with string (all the best packages are, you know...).  And inside that, was this beauty...

But what I wasn't expecting, what I'm completely blown away by, were all the lovely treats inside.  LOOK!

Fab fab fab selection of lovely coloured hooks of every size.  AND the cutest little scissors.  And pink measuring tape.  I had been feeling like a fraud winning this because I am so new to crochet and only have two hooks.  But now - now I am a crochet queen.

Andrea, thank you thank you thank you.  I am feeling completely spoilt on this cold but sunny Friday morning.

Hope you all have a lovely weekend.  (Last sewing class tomorrow - can't wait...)


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Giveaway - last chance!

Hello there,

Last chance to enter the great giveaway for the thread-cutter.
It really is a nifty little thing.  A few of you have been wondering about travelling with your crochet on planes.  I had no problem with my kit recently when I went to Australia (four flights - four chances to have it confiscated).  Of course, I put it all down to the nifty thread-cutter...

If you'd like to enter, just leave a comment on my post of 17 March.  Entries close at midnight New York time tomorrow.  Winner announced over the weekend.  Really, you won't know how you ever lived without one!

Good luck.


Bear with me...

Last weekend, I decided that it was about time that I started labelling my posts.  And I'm not very good at remembering to do it, so I thought if I went through the laborious exercise of labelling all my earlier posts, this would teach me to remember from now on.  So I started with the very first post (First, the name) and wasn't sure I could do this without having to publish it again.  It seems you can't so I published it and then quickly deleted this bcause it seems a bit silly to be talking about the name of the blog after two months.  But then I found that the post had disappeared completely.  I was a bit miffed, because after all, it's my name. I made it up.  I've come to like it rather a lot....

So, I went on a trawl and found the text of the first post today.  And because I clearly don't know what I'm doing, the only thing I can think of is to publish it again, so that at least it's there somewhere.  With apologies to those who already know why I called my blog noknittedknickers, here again is the explanation (complete with labels).  Lesson learned.

First, the name...

My New Year's resolution is to make things.  To some that might not be a very challenging or specific resolution.  If I 'make' beans on toast, does that count? But to be frank, I wanted to be free to bake/sew/knit/crochet/cook/photograph/write myself into being creative, without the pressure of needing to have re-covered the sofa or made a whole new wardrobe by the end of the year.

And I've never been much of a diary keeper but I thought it might be fun to write about my attempts, however pathetic they turn out to be.  And maybe even get some tips from people along the way. 

So, I was wondering what to call my blog.  All the good or obvious names were taken - Look What I Made! and Here's One I made Earlier were favourites.  Made by Me seemed factual but a bit lacking.  And then I started thinking about what it wasn't going to be about.  And I have no aspirations to become a paid-up member of the knit-your-own-knickers brigade.  So there you have it -

If you're in any doubt, have a look at these howlers.

Though these rather lovely creations are almost enough to make me change my mind.

(incidentally, if anyone knows a whizzy way to label old posts, I'd be delighted to hear from you...)


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

When only a pork pie will do

We love living in Manhattan.  Five minutes from our door there's a row of restaurants selling pretty much every cuisine under the sun.  We are utterly spoilt for choice when it comes to eating out, and the only taxing part is the choosing, and having the discipline to stay in once in awhile... 

But every now and again, maybe on a cold or rainy day, or maybe when one of us is feeling a bit homesick, or maybe just for the hell of it as we did last Sunday, we will find ourselves by 'accident' in the West Village at a shop on Hudson Street that's done out like a 1950s English grocers.

Forever England...

To give you an idea of the kind of territory we're in, the West Village is not just any old run of the mill neighbourhood; the grocery shop is a couple of streets away from this:

We're talking seriously chi-chi.  But Myers of Keswick is resolutely, self-consciously, old world.

I could tell you we go there for the tea...

... or the sweets we used to eat as children...

 ...or the rather fab brown betty teapots...

... or the inevitable tins of beans...

... or the syrup and treacle....

...but none of that is quite it really.  We have our own private dance in this shop, Mr. P and I, where I will tell him that I'm there for the Fairy Liquid (I find the washing up liquid here a bit cloying) and he will tell me that he's there for the marmite.  But we both know why he's really there.  And that's just fine.

Me?  I'm there for the custard....

(And just in case you're curious, we have no affiliation with the store, but I really feel we should have.  For the amount we spend in there, we must be entitled to some shares by now...)


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Thanks so much to Gillyflower

A huge thank you to Gill from Gillyflower for thinking of me and noknittedknickers for the Liebster Blog Award.  I am delighted and flattered and not a little amazed.  Two months ago I had no idea how many talented women were out there creating the most fabulous things and sharing them with others.  You are lovely and amazing and I am so so pleased to join your gang.  I have such a long way to go in my creative endeavours and your comments and feedback ( and this award) all chivvy me along to keep trying, keep creating, keep writing about it all.  Thank you thank you thank you.

There's still time to enter the giveaway for the thread cutter (another thank you).  So glad all those who commented already realise that this little gizmo is all that's been missing from their lives to date... :)  All you need to do is leave a comment on my post of 17 March for a chance to win. 

A big hello to all those who've dropped by for the first time in recent days, and to those who are coming back to check in on noknittedknickers.  Lovely to have you here.

I gather that the Liebster award is all about paying it forward to other new and small blogs.  I am discovering new and exciting blogs every day, so this is a tough one.  Also, the rules seem a bit flexible on who should be included.  Anyway, I have randomly selected a cut off of blogs I like with less than 100 followers.  So, here, in no particular order, are my choices:

These represent to me what is best about blogging: creativity, flair, sophistication, a sense of humour and engagement with community.  An inspiration.

Back soon with more creative endeavours.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Woman meets machine


I made that.  All by myself.  No need to rip and start again.  First time.  With a sewing machine and everything.  Me.  Yes indeed.  I'm so clever I could skip.

Okay, now that that shameless bragging is out of the way, let me tell you.  I went to my sewing class yesterday all excited.  I got there 20 minutes early and hung around outside nervously waiting to be let in.  Everyone arrived and we all settled down while the teacher went over everything she'd already explained about machines last week.  (The woman has the patience of a kindergarten teacher.)  She gave us scraps to practice on first.  I would show you this practice piece if my sampler looked like the woman's next to me, with neat rows of all the machine's stitches as she went through the settings one by one.  My sampler looked different to that.  A bit challenged really.  Random bits of stitching all over the place.  Still, I got there somehow without injuring myself or breaking the machine.  And then at some point the teacher told us to take out our fabric that we'd cut last week and start to sew the bottoms of the fabric for the inner pockets together.  So that's what we did.  After that, it went by in a bit of a blur with only the odd hiccup.  (Note to self: never sew with the foot raised.)  And by the end of class I had this:
I could tell you the million and one things that are wrong with it and what I might try to do differently next time.  But mostly I want to come round to your house with it so that you can see it for yourself and  ooh and aah and tell me your stories about how you learnt to sew and what a lovely bag this is going to be.  Oh yes, and how clever I am...

Of course, this is only the inner lining of the bag.  The apple print fabric will be on the outside with the dotty fabric making an outside pocket.  But when I open the bag and look inside, this is what I'll see:
The dotty lining with two apple pockets.  Sweet, no?

Last class next week where we make the outer bag and the strap and put it all together.   So expect more shameless bragging then.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Just a little something - Giveaway

This week, I have reached over a 1000 hits on the blog.  Even leaving aside my Mum and my sisters and Mr. P and randoms people I've pestered at parties to take a look, that still means that total strangers are checking in to see what's going on.  And I'm chuffed to bits about that.  Either it's lots and lots of people having a look once, or the same 5 people lots and lots of times.  Either way, I'm happy.  And so I wanted to say thank you in the tradition of Blogland by having a giveaway.  Now, I know that I'm supposed to make something to give away.  But you will know that I have yet to make much of anything, let alone something all you talented people out there might want.  So, my giveaway is a bit different. 

A thread cutter!  Those of you who followed my progress through Australia may remember the fiasco of my wool-buyer expedition to Morris & Sons in Sydney and how they wouldn't allow me to return everything when I realised I could get it all for a fraction of the price back home.  Anyway, because of this, I ended up with not one but two thread cutters.  One thing you should know about me is that when I take on something new I go for it with all the zeal of a convert, and buy lots of gadgets and gizmos that aren't strictly necessary.  I half thought the thread cutter would be one of those things.  What's wrong with a scissors, after all....

But believe it or not, this little thing is amazing.  I can take it on a plane without freaking out the security people.  It doesn't have any sharp pointy bits to stick through the seams of my wool bag or take anyone's eye out.  And it saves my wool from being pulled apart by my fists.  In short, this is my new favourite toy.  So, I thought you might like one too.  And you can even wear it round your neck if you want so that you always know where it is when you need it.

I do hope you'll think it useful too.  All you need to do for a chance to receive this is to leave a comment on this post.  I'll keep it open until Sunday 27 March.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A house by the sea

So, I think it's time I began to tell you about our house by the sea.  About a year ago, I had a flash of genius.  Well, to me it was, anyway.  To you it will be perfectly obvious.  I have owned a flat in London for years.  It was supposed to be my first place of my own.  A starter flat.  Not a forever home (to use Kirstie and Phil speak).
photo from here
(Sorry, I actually quite like Kirstie and Phil, but this was such a hideous photo that I just had to share it with you...)

But life happened  and I have held onto this flat far longer thank I'd intended while I went walkabout.  Other people lived in it and gradually it stopped being my flat and became just an investment (a laughable concept for me given my profigacy, but that's what it turned out to be).  I never stayed in my flat when I went back to London to visit.  Every now and again I'd check in on it, and once or twice I gave it a lick of paint, but otherwise it suffered from benign neglect. 

And then one day last year, I woke up to the brainwave that I could sell this flat and buy a little house by the sea.  Somewhere where tourists would come and rent it so that I could pay a mortgage, but still be a place where we could come to on holiday and eventually settle in. 

It has taken until now to sell my flat.  We found a buyer 7 months ago, but then days before exchange in October, the buyer demanded changes to the lease.  And then my neighbour demanded that the exclusive right to their garden be clarified....  On and on it went, so that it was only last week that we completed on the sale. 

So, it's only now that I can dare to believe the house by the sea is actually real.  We've even chosen the place and the seller has been good enough to wait while we faffed around.  A bracing part of the English coastline.  No soft options here...

image from here

Last year, I spent weeks after I decided on this cunning plan surfing websites for everything from curtain fabric to sofas.  (I really really want this one from Rose & Grey ...
... but will probably end up with something sensible from Ikea.)

But then, with all the complications, I gave up because it was just too depressing.  But now, I can have free reign. 

It being by the sea and a holiday home, I want a nod to the nautical, but I don't want to drown in it either.  And I want it to be fun (if that's not too Boden-speak...).  And today, I have come across this...

by Jonny Hannah from St. Jude's Prints which works well.  (I'm glad I tracked it down.  I saw something similar in a dress shop in Devon last year but couldn't find it for ages.  And this...
... from Rockett St George which I absolutely love.

I'm sure there'll be plenty of stripes and ticking and colour.  (Back to the old fashioned deck chairs...)
 And it may be that I never get around to buying these prints.  But for now, it's nice to be able to dream about it again. 

But first, we need to get all the boring bits out of the way - solicitor, surveyor, mortgage, builders.  So you see plenty of time yet to choose a colour scheme... 

And I think that that's what the sudden urge to craft is all about.  Nesting.

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