Monday, 7 August 2017


Beautiful beach at Woolacombe. As you can see we went to Exmoor.

View from near Dunkery Beacon towards Minehead

This year's holiday was a little different for us in several ways. Firstly we left our son at home - he is 18 now, and was very definite that he did not want to come. Despite my worries, he has not starved and the house is still standing. Secondly, we very sucessfully took my daughter's friend with us, and thirdly it was Rosie's first holiday. 

We had to be careful not to do too much walking, as Rosie is still a puppy. But she absolutely loved some of the country and beach walks we did, as well as having a larger, wilder garden to spend time in. The cottage was dog-friendly, and she did not seem to mind being crated at night, as we could not completely trust that she would not start chewing. Here are just a few photos that give a flavour of our break.
Rosie had a great time in the garden

We toasted marshmallows later ...

Walk from Malmsmead, setting of R. D. Blackmore's novel Lorna Doone ....

These are some of the alpaca from the farm where I bought my alpaca wool

View of Dunkery Beacon, and an Exmoor pony

Top of Dunkery Beacon - highest point on Exmoor

Somebody else had made this for Rosie to sit by

Walking down from Dunkery

A caterpillar of an Emperor moth

The cottage where we stayed for the week

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Baby Conker

I've made this conker and shell for a lady to give as a gift to her new granddaughter, whose pre-birth name is Conker. Did any of you have a pre-birth name for your babies? 

My husband and I used to refer to our son as Nobby (after Nobby Styles, the famous footballer), and then for a while as Clovis - just because we thought it was possibly our least favourite name in our book of potential names. (Apologies to anyone called Clovis out there.) But never anything as cute or apt as Conker. Our second baby was very briefly called "Baby Bee" after she was born, before we had settled on her actual name. She was our second, so "B-baby", and she had a cute little striped suit that made here look a bit like a bumblebee.

I would love to hear your babies' pre-birth or nicknames.

If you want to make your own conker the pattern is available on Craftsy, ravelry, LoveKnitting and Etsy, or if you would like me to make one for you, it can be ordered on Etsy.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

2CV Dolly

I had fun making this red and white 2CV for an Etsy customer. This model is called the 2CV Dolly. I have tried to find out why it was called the Dolly, but can't find any information. So if you have any idea I would love to know. 

This was going to be a Christmas gift, but the buyer says "... can't wait to give it to him, don't think I can wait til xmas. Here is a photo of the actual car that I worked from.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017


I've just looked it up, and the plural of one alpaca can be either alpaca or alpacas. I wish there was a more interesting collective word for a group of them than herd. Perhaps you can suggest one. But for now, as I have no better word, I have been knitting a whole herd of alpaca. This new pattern has now been thoroughly tested, and I am really pleased with the result. My husband keeps telling me that I should have made the necks thinner, but these are meant to be alpaca who are just about ready to be sheared. Sorry about the huge number of photos - I just can't make my mind up.

The very first brown alpaca was made with Bearhouse Alpaca mocha double knit, and you can see some more photos here. I made the second one with the same weight of wool, but this time Bearhouse honeycomb double knit. The smaller cream one is made with Bearhouse vanilla ice 4ply, as I really wanted to knit one in this shade, and it doesn't seem to come in double knit. I just reduced the needle size, and he has turned out fine, although I recommend the double knit on the pattern. This is quite a tight knit, with a small needle size, as I wanted to make sure that the knitting is quite firm and the neck doesn't flop. I am sure that there are other alpaca wools, but I would recommend this one which knitted up really nicely, as is 100% pure alpaca.

I just love alpacas. I have sat and watched a TV show about some alpacas near Oxford, which shows them giving birth. I definitely want to go on visit the alpaca farm where this wool came from on our next visit to Devon. I have some oddments left of all the wool, so may have a go at a piebald alpaca.

The pattern is available on ravelry, Craftsy, Etsy, and LoveKnitting. This was just one of those projects that I felt compelled to do.


Wednesday, 14 June 2017

"You Gotta Have A Dream ...."

I truly believe the lyrics of this song, you do have to have a dream. So I am going to "talk about things I'd like to do". My dreams have changed over the years, some of them I have achieved, and some I am still striving towards. The current dream, which I frequently natter on about, is to move to the country. There I will have a herd of alpacas, will spin the wool, still design my patterns, but also maybe run knitting workshops. My husband's dream is to have a small area of woodland, which he will stride around managing. I am not sure if we will achieve any of this, but as I started by saying, you do have to have something you think about when drifting off to sleep at night.

So perhaps I talk about this dream too much, which may be why my other sister-in-law gave me this lovely pure alpaca ball of wool for Christmas. The wool was from Bearhouse Alpacas, near Sidbury in Devon, and is doubleknit mocha. I have been working on this alpaca for many weeks, and in fact this is version three. Number one alpaca was too sheep-like, and Number two was really like some sort of mutant. So they both had to be unravelled. I am finally happy with Alpaca Number Three, but won't publish the pattern until I have tested it out a few times. So I am going to order a few more balls of alpaca wool, and get to work on creating my own herd.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Alan the Alpaca

I would like you to meet Alan the Alpaca. Alan was one of my birthday gifts from my daughter. She disappeared up to my sewing room, and the only thing she said she needed for my surprise gift was some stuffing. (I have been slightly obsessing about alpacas recently, and I hope to show you the reason soon.) 

Alan is very soft and cuddly, and when I asked where she had got the material to make him, she said "Oh, I cut up my dressing gown". I should be cross, I know. But as I was shown the dressing gown with some alpaca-shaped holes in the back, we had to laugh. I have a plan to fix the dressing gown, with a interesting new panel. I could not really be annoyed, as she had been so ingenious, making Alan without any pattern. She has always had that confidence when making things - just to go for it.

Friday, 26 May 2017


I'm not sure what is happening with me. This is rapidly becoming a dog/poetry blog. A few weeks ago I posted a poem that my mother had written "If in April", but since then going through her things we have found this clipping of her only published rhyme. It was printed in her local paper, The Orpington Times, back in 1982. The trolley pound system is pretty universal now. Perhaps my mum's poem did something to help. The poem is a little dated, as pound notes went out of circulation long ago, but she did have a good way with words.

Saturday, 13 May 2017

My Scarf of Many Colours

I got some really lovely gifts at Christmas. Nothing nicer for me that an interesting ball of wool or two. My sisters-in-law both gave me wool, and I thought for a long while what I could make with them.

One gift was a brilliant ball of Riot Chunky by King Cole, Shade 623 Rainbow. I love the subtle colours, but what to make with just one ball of wool. I toyed with the idea of a hat, and also even started trying to knit a cowl. (I would love a really cosy cowl, but half way through I realised that it was more of a collar or necklace, and was going to look a bit silly, it was so small. I would end up looking a bit like Howard Wolowitz wearing a dickie. You will need to google this if you don't know what I am on about.)

So in the end a simple scarf seemed the best idea, and I decided to just mix it up a bit with sections of stocking stitch and moss stitch. But when it was done, it just wasn't quite long enough. So I had the idea to knit two end sections in mock cable stitch with this Sirdar Snuggly Doubleknit wool. Great stitch, which looks like cable, but is much easier and you don't need a cable needle. The colour, which I think was Wobble 403, matched really well, but it was not as thick as the Riot Chunky, so I knitted it double - two strands. Do you like the end result, which is a little unusual, but I think will be great for next winter?

But now I still have other sister-in-laws gift, which is completely different - a ball of real alpaca wool. Now what shall I do with that? Hmmmm ......

Thursday, 4 May 2017

"The Cupboard Was Bare ..."

I had the idea to knit a toy for our new puppy. The family scoffed. Given the rate that she is chewing through shoes, they did not think that a knitted toy would last more than a few minutes. But I was sure I knew better.

I found some wool that seemed like it will be hard-wearing, and then had a scout around ravelry to see if a bone pattern exists. Of course it does, so I downloaded Fetch! by KrisKnits and got going.

For my first bone I followed the pattern exactly. It seemed fine when I started knitting, but puppies grow very quickly (or perhaps I knit slowly), so by the time I had finished it seemed a bit small. So I had a go at a larger one, just by increasing the cast on and adding in a few more rows. And when middle bone was done I thought I might as well use the remaining wool to make a really big bone. So here are the bones hot off the needles, before being given to the dog. 

She had a huge amount of fun playing with them. She really did seem to really like them. Especially the largest one.

But annoying the family were almost right. As this picture below shows what I was left with after a day of chewing. (Don't worry I did keep a good eye on her, that she didn't eat the wool or stuffing.) Middle bone is the worse for wear, but the big bone and little bone have just about survivied. I still think it is a good idea, and might work as a more long-lasting toy if I could use string or nylon twine. So you never know I might have another go. But for the moment it is probably back to the plastic chewy toys.

Saturday, 29 April 2017

"If in April"

If in April

If in April snow still lies upon the ground
With icy patches on the path,
You slip and bruise your knee
But still can struggle up and say
"I know that Spring is on the way".
Then you've got guts, my dear.

And if a gale has roared for days
And all your shrubs have been uprooted
And half the fence has blown away,
So last year's gardening was all in vain,
Yet you can say "I'll start again".
Then you have pluck, my dear.

And if the rain is pouring down
And your garden's one gigantic puddle
With all your seedlings washed away,
But you can calmly say
"I'll have to sow again".
Then you are brave, my dear.

But if in April, inbetween the showers
You see a patch of bright blue sky
And smell the scent of newly opened flowers
And see the shoots are breaking on the bough
It's then I know that you will say
"Spring at last is here to stay".

Peggy Watkins (1920-2017)

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Puppy Dream Cushions

I can't believe that it was back in 2014 that I wrote a post about some cushions I made with fabric from sample books that a shop near me was discarding. I showed pictures of some of the other fabrics, with my plans for more projects. But just typical, I didn't get round to any of my great plans.

But recently I noticed my knitted cushion covers have got very tatty, so I have finally used my free fabric to sew some new cushion covers. 

This material is so velvety, and what I like is I would have never thought to combine the colours and patterns in this way, if I had not got these sample pieces. I did have to buy some zips (thank you Fabricland), and some backing material.

So although I know this is not the way to keep your new cushions in good order, they are clearly soft enough to let a puppy have sweet dreams.