Thursday, October 04, 2007

I had a dream........

Now this is wierd. I felt thoroughly freaked out when I woke up yesterday and thought of my dream. Although at the time, it was quite a nice dream.
I dreamt of Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mabley! And not in that kind of way. I dreamt that they were on Holiday in the UK (I think they actually live here IRL) and James' mum had won a competition to meet Kaffe. Anyway, for some reason they came and had tea at our house. How random is that?! And Kaffe gave me a copy of one of his quilting books and wrote a long message inside. I got chatting to Brandon, but I think my brain had made him up since I have no idea what he looks like.
Bearing in mind that I also dreamt about our office photocopier that night! It is incredibly temperamental and we have been desperately overworking it recently since it's the beginning of term. It frequently goes on strike. Anyway in my dream there was water pouring out of the copier and flowing down the stairs and out of the door. Odd.
I hope you don't think I've abandoned you. Where I'm living at the moment I don't have any t'interweb access and at work my internet settings mean that most of your blog posts don't show up. So bare with me, I check your blogs all in one go at the weekends! And I've added more links to my sidebar. Over there on he right. See? Go check them out!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I haven't disappeared!!

Thank you for all your sweet comments and emails. I'm settling in well at my new job. Everyone is lovely, it's a great team. It's just so busy! The students haven't started yet and already there's mountains of paperwork! It's all very alien to me, and I'm making it up as I go along. I am getting homesick being away from James, the kitties, Monty, home and my friends (in no particular order!). But everyone keeps emailing with updates and pictures so I don't feel left out!
I expected to have oodles of time to knit, since I'm living with my aunty (an incredibly hardworking consultant at a Bristol hospital) who's quite often out in the evenings. Although, I don't get home until much later than I would do in Nottingham. And then I have to cook, which I'm not used to, it's usually James who cooks. So, my evenings seem to fly by. Especially since I'm still tying up bits of my thesis, and I have that to do in the evenings. So. Not much knitting has been done! Despite several bags of WIPs on the bedroom floor!
BUT. I have visited GetKnitted! In the first week I was here, naturally. Luckily, they're open late on a Thursday. And I was not disappointed! Its huge! So. Much. Beautiful. Stuff. I bought some secret items, and spent an age perusing.... Lots of Lorna's Shepherd Sock. Drool. My favourite! And, I was looking for a Sirdar pattern, that I swear I saw somewhere. I described it to them and they had no idea what I was talking about. But, they went and got out their computer so I could search the internet and try to find it. So, so kind and friendly. Needles to say I shall be going back. Incidently, first rule of shopping, when you see something you want to buy just buy it, don't wait until another day. Especially if it's a paper pattern at £2.50.
I'm also deciding whether to join Secret of the Stole. After reading about the Mystery Stole 3 I realy like the idea. However, I can;t find any pic of her previous patterns. I'd like to see some before I start ona complex secret patterns. Although 500+ people have joined the group already! Ummm, I don't know..
I shall be back on the radar from now on I promise!

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Mirasol - A Fair Trade Project

Has anyone else seen this in their local John Lewis? Apparently its an exclusive. I just love it! Poor Julia in Nottingham's yarn department didn't know what to say as I gushed at her yesterday! The books and yarns are destributed by Designer Yarns, those behind Noro, DB and Louisa Harding.

I bought the accompanying book, which is full of Jane Ellison's patterns. She does a lot of work with Noro, and I've never really been interested in her designs. Maybe it's that I'm not a big Noro fan. This book is gorgeous. It was £10, but if crammed full of all sorts of stuff. Cardies, jumpers, tanks, hats, some interesting sideways knit gloves, scarves. Lots of patterns. I want to show you some, but the scanner is packed away. I have my heart set on a cotton blend (following your advice Pat!) fairisle cardy. Really simple, shown in blues and pinks. The yarns include 'Miski' an aran baby llama; 'Sulka', a merino, silk and alpaca blend and 'Cotanani', a cotton and merino blend DK. There is also this beautiul variagated dk merino, called Hacho. In gorgeous shades. I bought some!

The idea is to support the children looking after alpacas in peru. A percentage (although no-where seems to say exactly what that is...) of each sale goes to building a school, amongst other things.
I think this book is great. This kind of project has a tendancy to be a bit 'earthy' in terms of design, for my taste. But this is great. Some real classic designs with a bit of interesting fair isle thrown in. And good for JL for scoring something new and interesting...

SP Goodness

Well, today I feel totally spoilt, again! Thank you so much Chocolate Gerbera. Once again you are spot on with your choices. This is a great package, full of really interesting textures. This really cheered me up after I spent yesterday at work saying goodbye to all my colleagues. Strangly it was my supervisor saying 'I'll just say bye for now, I know you'll be back' that got me started!! I walked out of his office and burst into tears. His secretary Sheila just handed me chocolate. Good girl!

A little package of desk-y items, a stapler (my colleague and I have a joke about me needing to buy one of these - perfect), paper clips, sellotape and a rubber. Awesome. Already packed in my box of desk items to take tomorrow..

A great shoe shaped keyring. Perfect. I love me some shoes. Somehow this got missed of the pic.
A box of great fruity teas, one of my faves. That too is packed for my new office already..
DB Alpaca silk in choclate - this is truely one of my favourite yarns, but I've not tried the DK yet. It seems even softer then the aran.
Sirdar bamboo in a creamy colour. My first go with Bamboo! I have lots friends about to have babies, so this will come in very useful. I feel a hat or booties coming on. It's so soft!
A great selection of brown ribbons. Velvet and satin. Just gorgeous. I love interesting trims.
Thanks so much CG, you really have my colours worked out! And I think I may have worked you out.......

Thursday, August 30, 2007

My Knit-Friends!

Tuesday Night, Monica kindly hosted a knit meeting at her house. Well, more of a party really with lots of delicious food. Including the best pineapple and coconut cake any of us have ever tasted!! Lots of gossip, witha little bit of knitting for good measure. I'm going to miss you all terribly.....

Left to right, Pat, Bev and Linda.... I've said it before, but Pat has really helped James and I feel at home here. When we bought the house, she put us in the car and drove us round pointing out all the ins and outs of Sneinton. And she was poorly at the time. Thank you Pat! She has also provided much knitting and sewing support, helping with heming two dresses so far....

Baldeesh, going some actual, bone fide knitting! Baldeesh came to the knitting and Stitching show with Sarah and I last year. Lucky she did, she kept feeding us sandwiches and Pringles all the way there!

And Sarah (who to be fair, is knitting too....) and Monica. Isn't her conservatory beautiful? I was Sarah' bridesmaid (see my pic, top right?), we met at Uni. I was thrilled when she came to me saying she'd bought wool and could I teach her. Look at her now, a cardy in 4 ply!! Monica, I originally know from work. I was shocked when I joined a knitting group and there was a colleague!!

I really will miss these people. One of the topics of conversation on Tuesday was the lovely people you meet through knitting. So true..

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Malabrigo Shawl

Thanks you all for your thoughtful and helpful comments on my last post. No new news but I'll keep you posted. (PS Annie, if we make it to the States, you bet we'll come to Boston!!)

Todays been a bit of a down day, I left the house very slowly this morning! Yesterday I went for a meeting with my new employer and colleagues. It was great, I'll tell you about it soon. So I got home, feeling very excited and I think, today, it's dawned on me that I still have lots to do before I can give my new job my full attention. To cheer myself up I made some new cards - you can see them there on the right. I think they came out well.. Off to see John Travolta making a fool of himself in Hairspray tonight with the girls. Should cheer me up no end!

As requested, here are some pics of the shawl. It's not growing quickly (lots wider than I planned), but I like it. It is such a soft, drapey fabric, just yummy.

And, just so you know, cats love gym bags.......

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


So really, I DO knit. I've got back to Bianca, and I just love her so much. The fabric is just great. However. She seems to be enormous. I knitted up the medium, since those were the correct measurements. And anyway, I always knit stuff to small. I've got the correct gauge. But for some reason she just seems big. The arm holes are too long, but I think that's my fault.

Last night, I grafted the shoulder seams and pinned the side seams to check how it was before I knit the sleeves. And well, it's too big, but wearable too big, I think. I'm thinking maybe when i wash it it'll shrink a teeny bit. At the moment, for the fabric to look really good it needs to be blocked out a tiny bit more. But if I do that, it really will be too big. So maybe if I wash it a teeny bit too warm (a swatch first, of course)maybe it will all contract a bit. You know like when you wash soemthing wool and it is just that bit smaller when you next put it on. A fudge I know. But as we all know: Nell. Does. Not. Rip.

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Nottingham, PA

I haven't been doing much crafy stuff this week, a bit of knitting in the evenings, picture of the growing shawl soon. I made this on Tuesday, for my friend Karen, the daughter of a Devon dairy farmer! It's her birthday today. I've also listed one on Etsy.

Randomly today, I came across a map of Delaware and Pennsylvania. I was searching for something totally different. And guess what was on it? The town of Nottingham, in Pennsylvania. James and I are half planning a trip to the States next year. A fly-drive-go-where-the-mood-takes-us kinda trip. Maybe we should go to Nottingham, PA. It sounds very different from the original (which as I'm sure you've heard me say is the world's best city!). I suppose there is no reason for them to be at all alike, my Notts is, of course, a big city, not a small town. Nottingham, PA, has less than 5000 people, 99% of which are white (there was also a category for 'Hawaiian', which I don't really get!) unlike the hugely ethnically diverse Nottingham, UK. Only 5% of Nottingham, PA residents are between 18 and 24, whereas in Nottingham UK it's about 25%, thanks to the world's best university! And, look what I could buy in Nottingham PA for the same money as our house?? This beautiful, Victorian farmhouse. Gorgeous.
Funny, it's got me thinking about the world, and how I really want to see more of it. Not just tropical, holiday destinations, but other people's home towns.....

Saturday, August 04, 2007

SP Goodies

Check out this little lot! Received today from the mysterious Chocolate Gerbera........ How did she know that M&S Percy Pigs are my favourites? Yuummmmy.

Two balls of RYC Luxury Cotton DK in a lovely neutral colour, a bit hay-like. Very appropriate.
A ball of Rowan Scottish Tweed dk in a rich chocolate - I have the accompanying book already!
Some Scotland Souvenirs....... a clue??
A really cute clover phone charm, with a diamante
Lemon and Ginger tea, which is already helping me get down to work!
...all wrapped in purple tissue.
Thank you so much CG, you are so kind, everything is right on the mark!

Thursday, August 02, 2007


In recent weeks, I haven't been doing an awful look of knitting (although I'm getting into the pink lacy scarf!). However, I have been doing odd bits of craftiness, such as this. I bought a linen jacket from Primark (or Primarni as my sister calls it!) and the buttons promtly fell off. Well, what did I expect for £12. So anyway, I made some replacements with fabric left over from a custom shop order. I just love it!! Great customisation for only half an hours' work!

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Malabrigo. Laceweight

So. I buckled. I bought some delicious Malabrigo Laceweight. The colour is Holyhock. It's for a scarf for a friend, and it's not really the colour I wanted, getknitted had sold out of grey and cream by the time I talked myslef into it. It's a good colour though. And this stuff if SOFT. It is seemingly great value too, at just £6 a hank. Although, I suppose that's just 50g. For soem reason, it seems great value if you get 400yards, but not so much if it's less yardage but the same weight of a bigger gauge yarn. It feels lovely to work with although I worry it will pill. The wise knittyheads have warned me of this. I didn't have a pattern in mind, so I posted on the knittyboards if anyone had any ideas. Loads of great patterns were suggested, many of which I have book marked for later. For some totally unknown reason, I decided to come up with something of my own. This is going to be slow going. If it ever gets finished it will be a miracle.

Isn't it funny what you come up with when you sit down with some needles and spare yarn and just 'play'. I'm sure there's some sort of psychological meaning in it.......
And if any of you were in any doubt that I-like-brown, here is my latest purchase. 10 hanks of DB pure silk, half price in the John Lewis Sale. What to do with it I have NO IDEA. Stroke it. For a long time. I imagine.

There are worse binges, right??

Whose terrible idea was a PhD anyway? I'm finding it stressful at the moment. I had a bit of a moment on Friday and I had to give up for a couple of days. So far, I haven't had to do any all nighters, or work from the crack of dawn, but the stress of having it hanging over my shoulders is enough to make me crazy. I gave up and left the office on Friday morning and came home. What makes it worse is that when I'm not working, I feel guilty. I've not done much work since then, although today I've got back into the swing and I feel much better about it. I've been quite productive, for a Sunday.

So anyway, on Friday I went to ASDA on my way home and bought these.......I suppose I could actually re-title this post 'A few of Nell's Favourite things'. Who cares. If I've learnt one thing in the last 25 years, I know how to cheer myself up!!

Friday, July 20, 2007

My Colleagues

And what better 'colleagues' could I have these days, whilst I am tucked away in our home 'office' working away on my thesis......

Monday, July 16, 2007

Knitting Lingerie Style

A book review! I saw this book whilst blog surfing a while back and ummed and ahhhed as to whether to buy it. Imagine my absolute delight and surprise when I received a electronic amazon voucher, for my birthday, from the lovely, kind, generous and beautiful Annie, someone I consider to be a great friend (and not just because of the book voucher!) So I went ahead and bought the book. Appropriate to buy a knitting book with a gift from a knitty friend!
Knitting Lingerie Style
Joan MacGowan Michael
Stewart, Tabori and Chang; 2007
Let me say, I love this book, I was not at all disappointed. I have scanned a few of my favourites, but believe me, this book is stuffed full of great designs, I couldn't list all of them!
I love this bra set. I'm not sure I would knit it, as I don't think it would be very wearable. I have a minor criticism of this book, in that Joan seems to have used DK or Aran weight yarns when a finer weight, such as 4 ply would have been better. I think currently this pattern would be too bulky to be practical.

This top, I will definately make, I just love the bust darts. I think in a darker colour with a lacy camisole underneath it would be great.

And as for these dresses, I just wish I had ocassion to wear them. Thi sfirst one, well I change the skirt to be a fish tail or something more long and floaty. The bodice is gorgeously simple. well, if I find a ball to go to, maybe!

This one Joan has described as a nighty. It reminds me so much of when James and I saw a Midsummer Night's Dream at Stratford. Just beautiful. Maybe for the next wedding I get invited to. Although, I'd change the skirt to be less nighty and more formal, and wear something underneath the bodice!!
The pictures in this book are not particulary imaginatively shot, but they are good, clear and pretty. For some of the patterns, pictures of the detail are lacking too. Overall the book looks lovely, with great design. I have heard there are errata somewhere too. If you like the underwear idea, this book is a must. Even if you don't there are cardigans, socks, lacy t-shirts, something for all. I think, aside from being on our coffee table, it will get used a lot!! Thanks again Annie!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Nick Nacks

As my parents used to call them when my sister and I were small. These I've made for a knitting friend's birthday next week. As a kind of joke. I think she'll find it funny, she is my best friend....

Pattern: Lacy Thong by Laura Rintala, IK free web pattern

Yarn: A merino / silk blend from

Needles: Various, 3.75mm Boyes straights and 4mm pony circs

Time: Oh, a couple of evenings

I just love this pattern. So quick, I love the finishing feeling as much as I love the cast on feeling! The silk blend is lovely, very soft and good for stitch definition. The merino makes it a teeny bit fuzzy, but that's OK. Whilst knitting these, I was sceptical, they really don't look much like knickers until you block them. Everything including the great crochet picot edge comes together. I am tempted to do them again for me, and I'd have to do the large and I'm only a UK 10. These are the small, and they're very small. That's OK, cos my friend is a UK size teeny weeny (if very tall). To make these wearable (let's face it they're just gimmicky!) I think I'd modify the thong portion too, the pattern doesn't show that it's actually just a crochet chain! I am tempted to make these into lacy big knickers!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Birthday Booty

So, it was my birthday last week. Thanks everyone for your kind wishes (and for your kind wishes on my health too - I'm fine now, I think!).

It was distinctly un-yarny this birthday, but I am not complaining in any way, I was thoroughly spoilt. James gave me some beautiful earrings. Long and droopy and made from smokey quartz. He knows I 'love brown'. I haven't taken a pic, as I don't have a very good zoom on my camera and I wouldn't do them justice. To give you an idea, they came from Stoned, an independant jeweller in Nottingham. What a great name for a Jeweller, eh? Here are some pics of a selection of th ewonderful goodies I received....
My work colleagues (including best friend Karen), gave me a bottle of perfume, which I just love. Nina by Nina Ricci. Isn't it just the most gorgeous bottle? Great design. The girls also satisfied my love of chocolate (the stash will keep me going for a while!!!). Speaking of girls, my other close friend Sarah and her hubband, Duncan are taking us to see the Scissor Sisters as my present. End of July, I cannot wait.

My sister and our mum came and took me for lunch at the Cast Restaurant at the Nottingham Playhouse on my actual birthday. I had smoked haddock lasagne. Sounds horrid but was actually very light and delicious. My sister gave me a great selection of crafty papers. Gorgeous.
Also arrived, through my door, on my birthday was this character.

The label read...
'Baaaa- I wonder if a kind, clever lady who lives here would look after me? I was found in Ashbourne but originally I came from Peru. Could ewe give a home to a sheep?' How cool is that! Of course, I took her in. Thanks to my great friend Pat, the founder of our group, who has introduced me to so many great people over the last few years, and helped make Nottingham home for me.
Last but by no means least, James' mum gave me these roses. I love flowers, but I don't buy roses, as the good ones are so expensive. Thanks Joan!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

We had a bit of a panic here last night. I was eating supper last night when I had some unbelievably excruciating chest pain. The long and the short of it was an ambulance (although no trip to hospital, thank goodness), two extremely nice paramedics, a cat chewing a heart monitor, a trip to the GP, two EGCs and a blood test. And absolutely nothing is wrong with me. But I tell you, it was frightening. It was so painful that James couldn't get me out of the door and into the car to take me to the hospital. Anyway, I've slept today and feel much better so don't worry. Anyway, in some ways it has been positive. I had a blood test. Remember my meme? I'm terrified of needles and have avoided blood tests thus far. When the GP told me she was going to take blood I burst into tears. The poor woman looked so hurt and assured me I needn't have it if I didn't want to! But, I composed myself and for some reason found myself telling her to just do it. I hadn't had a week to build myself into a spin (what usually causes my fears to be at their worst). I think I surprised myself. She was very kind, was really quick and assures me she took as little blood as possible. Well, anyway, it wasn't nice, but then I suppose it wasn't going to be was it? But it was OK. Believe me, the stabbing pain of last night was far far worse.

So, I've come some way to conquering my fear. And once again I find my self feeling unbelievably priviledged to have the NHS. How fortunate am I to live in a society where an ambulance (and two cheerful paramedics) turn up in just a few minutes, when you're struggling to breathe, and then spend half an hour or so making sure you're OK. I appreciate lots of people in the world are not this lucky. I then get to see a doctor and a nurse within half an hour, the next day. Not to mention the fab dental treatment I've also had today (I know, all in one day!Woe is me!!).
Thank you too for everyone's kind birthday wishes on Monday. Here, on facebook and by email. More about that later!

Friday, June 22, 2007

Daphne is an Amy Butler ho!

Our cat has taste. Check this out. Some of you will remember that she lurves Lorna's Laces, but she also loves Amy Butler. And she managed to choose a fabric that co-ordinates with her tabby stripes!! Clever cat.

I have been meaning to post these for ages too....... gifted to me by the lovely Linnea. They're very accurate too, just like the real thing. Bay with a tiny white star on their faces. Thank you Linnea!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


If you're going to a wedding soon and need a handmade card, check out the etsygreetings (a group of etsy card makers) wedding promotion here.

Seven Things

I was tagged, ages ago, and I can't even remember who by. Sorry to whoever it was, but I finally have some time whilst some samples are cooling (from 580 degrees c!) in the lab. I hope these are things you didn't know....
1. I am relatively interested in cars. I have to qualify that, I am not a weekend machanic by any stretch! I have a vague knowledge of how they work, but, my interest is purely an aesthetic one. Many people would sniff at that, but I think it's a totally fair standpoint. Nothing beats a well designed German classic for example. James an I aspire to have one of these one day. I'll let him worry about the specifics. I also saw a Bugatti Veyron in the village where Mont lives at the weekend. Apparently you can count on two hands how many of these are in the UK. When I left uni, I bought this beauty. In all reports, the Vauxhall Calibra (A Cavalier underneath) was not a great car. But I'll gloss over that. She is a thing of beauty. I no longer have her, she slowly disintigrated. However, every time I see one on the road I pine. My totally reliable VW pales in comparison, in terms of looks.

2. Following on from that, I enjoy a weekend at the touring cars. We live near one of the best circuts in th UK, Donington Park.

3. I really enjoy dressmaking. I haven't done any since starting this blog, but I made this one. Just mine I hasten to add, not all 5! It also became a tradition to make my balldresses whilst at uni. I am an impatient seemstress though, and I am keen to improve the quality of my finishing.

4. You probably know that I am a PhD student, I work in poultry nutrition. However, I also have a BSc in Nutritional Biochemistry.

5. Although I work in agriculture and live in the midlands, I am, technically, a Londoner. I am fiercely proud of my background, the way and place I was brought up taught me many wonderful things. Just don't expect me to ever go back and live there.
6. When I was 19, I spent two months on a whistlestop journey around the world, with my first love, Mackenzie. We spent our gap year working hard, and carefully saving. We then went to Thailand, Indonesia, Australia and then America on the way home. These are some of the happiest memories of my whole life and will stay with me forever. They make up for the holiday we had the year before in Mexico where we had dyssentry and were then nearly killed in a minibus crash. Yes, that is a story for another day.
7. Between the ages of 20 and 23 I wore a fixed brace on my teeth. This was all done free on the NHS and I am eternally grateful. For that (and the fact that breast screening and immediate action by the NHS saved my mother's life, again another story!) I will not hear a bad word said against the NHS (although, let's not get into that arguement here, I know they have their minuses). The reason I had to wait until I was 20 is I have an irrational fear of needles. I had to go through careful sedation and all sorts to have teeth removed.
So there you go, I hope you now know 7 new things about Nell!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Sewing Practice

I'd like to have more sewn things in my shop, but I worry about me skills being upto scratch. I'm not sure my items look professional enough - I'm a bit of a perfectionist! So I've been practising!!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Thesis here I come...

So, I really have to get my thesis written and submitted soon. Why? I've got a job! Hooray! And guess what? I'm am lucky enough to have gotten my dream job. As of September the 3rd I will be a Lecturer in Equine Science at Hartpury College, the University of The West of England. I can't tell you how excited I am! It has really motivated me, I was so productive the end of last week. It will mean moving away during the week, and going home at weekends, which James and I are not happy about, but for this job, we'll cope. 170 horses, on campus, international competing arenas, and research facilities that I couldn't even imagine. And, as a bonus, this man, my idol Carl Hester is a guest trainer. Wooo!

Sorry, I'll stop gushing now, just thought I'd let you all know.... :)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

West Cork, Ireland

So, at last here are some photos. This was the first morning, on Barleycove beach, just outside Goleen, where Sheila lives.

I think you can see James' mum Joan (right) was very pleased to see Sheila.

As I sat knitting in the window, this was my view, out over the Atlantic. Unfortunately yarn shopping oppertunitites are few and far between in Ireland. But I did do some actual knitting. For those of you who are familiar with the Shipping Forcast, in the distance is the Fastnet Lighthouse. We had a clear view from the house, but it's too far off for this pic.

It was lovely to go up and see Elli and Eddie in Galway. They met 5 years ago when Sarah, Elli and I were travelling in Ireland (sorry for the grainy pics!).

This is my favourite view, just outide Killarney, when we were driving back from Galway.

And, I really wish I could have bought this......

A great trip, as ever, I love Ireland.