Wednesday, 12 December 2012


My word for the day is Fabulous...

And with these little smashers it is hard not to smile, whatever the weather.


Aren't they fabulous.

I must 'fess up here and admit that I didn't buy them, but rather I won them on a facebook competition on the YHA website.

But they are so amazingly comfortable that I may well buy more pairs in the future.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Normal service is resumed

A bit of knitting to share with you today - the crochet blocks being on the back burner for the time being.

With Christmas rapidly approaching and no sign of the missing yarn I have on order to finish mum's sweater I decided that a Plan B might be a good idea in case it doesn't turn up in time. I have no desire to be blocking the thing with a hairdryer on Christmas Eve, and I can always re-purpose it as a Mothers Day gift later.

Sometimes you see a pattern that you want to cast on immediately and this one did it for me. The Crosswords at the Coffee Shop Shawlette was designed by the very talented Karrie of the KnitPurlGurl podcast who tragically passed away very recently. A KAL was being held in her honour over on Ravelry and it seemed like the ideal way to join in the celebration of her life, as well as mourn her passing.


Using just 1.5 skeins of Cascade 220, this little shawl/shawlette knit up in a few evenings and it is perfect for my petite mum. Large shawls and scarves can swamp her but this is perfect to just drape across her shoulders or to wrap once around her neck for a cosy scarf.

I haven't knit much lace with heavier weight yarns before this, but I can certainly see the attraction. A very quick and satisfying knit - so much so that I'm tempted to make one for myself. Next time around I might just start off with a few rows of garter stitch to prevent the predictable curling that occurs at the bottom of the lace section, but otherwise, this is perfect.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Bitten by the bug

Yes, I know that I should be industriously working my way through a pile of Christmas gift knitting, and that I still have two sleeves to go of a sweater for mum, but some chance wandering around the web lead me to this rather wonderful group: SIBOL (International Sunshine Blankets of Love).

Am amazing and inspiring bunch of crafters who create lovely crocheted and knitting squares to be sewn into blankets and given to elderly residents of care homes, some of whom have little outside contact and few friends and family to provide comfort. I must admit that I was rather touched and more than a little motivated to browse their patterns and lovely, friendly ravelry group.

Next thing I knew, I had a crochet hook in hand, and guided by this fabuluous tutorial and I was cranking out Granny Squares like nobodies business,


I must admit to feeling rather pleased with myself. My previous attemtps at crochet have not been without their problems and although I have done a simple Ripple Blanket before - a la Lucy of Attic 24 fame, my previous Granny Squares have been decidedly mis-shapen and often, not very square which is a bit of a problem when making a blanket.

But this time, something clicked and I was away...

Now I really must get on with the Christmas knitting!

Friday, 23 November 2012

FO: Little Clouds

Just a quick FO for today:

22 Little Clouds by the genius designer behind Hitchhiker.

The pattern is a free download from Ravelry and knitted up remarkably quickly. The pattern called for a dk weight but I used some Knitting Goddess cashmere sock yarn and love the drape of the fabric.

The ruffle is small but effective. Ruffles can be deceptively time consuming but at just 4 rows, this was over before it got too tedious.

One more for the Christmas present box - now for a bit of selfish knitting for me.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Knitting in public

Originally uploaded by l.tilbrook

A rather manic week in the madmum household has meant a lot of knitting in public (or KIP'ing) and very little knitting-in-front-of-the-tv-with-a-cup-of-tea.

The places I have managed to KIP this week include (but are not limited to):
School playground
School hall (waiting for parents evening)
Traffic jam (engine off, I hasten to add)
GP surgery
Waitrose (very long queue)
Sports hall (waiting for two small peeps)
Birthday party (as above)

This week has brought it home to me just how much time I spend ferrying people around, driving to and from work and other appointments and a particularly nasty tailback on the motorway reminded me of the importance of keeping knitting about my person at all times.

Such mobile knitting has pros and cons though. I need a simple project that I can just grab and go - hence the finished blanket. Unfortunately that means that the complicated sock pattern I am working on and which is destined for my father-in-laws Christmas present is no further forward than it was a week ago.

Still, hubby is out tonight with work colleagues so I have the TV remote control, boys on their way to bed and a mug of tea ready for some cosy knitting-in-private!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Autumn days

No knitting today. Just some photos from our lovely autumnal walk yesterday. There are some days when you wake up to a cold, clear and crisp autumn morning and you feel you have to make the most of it.
It was very tempting to let the small peeps lounge around in PJs and to get some sneaky Sunday morning knitting done, but no. Boys were chivvied, hats, gloves and other warming items found (not always matching) and the family stuffed in the car by 9am. Hubby had to be provided with a bacon sandwich en route but once he woke up and saw the gorgeous views he soon perked up.



Brisk walk, and then a spontaneous pub lunch on the way home - fabulous day.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Felted Noro Coasters

Felted Noro Coasters

I found myself at a loose end and with half a skein of Noro Silk Garden and a crochet hook I decided to whip up a few coasters and have a playful evening.

My crochet skills are variable to say the least so I tend to favour projects that can be felted - thus neatly hiding my mistakes.

I have a love/hate relationship with Noro but I love how the felting process merges the colours and that the set compliment each other without being perfectly matching.

download now

Thursday, 25 October 2012


I seem to be on a bit of a roll with finished objects recently, although in truth I finished this a week ago or so and have been waiting for good light and a willing DH to help with the photography.

Neither were available so I just had to do the best I could:


It is the well known Cobblestone pattern by Jared Flood but sized to fit me. Although it is quite a simple knit I am ridiculously pleased with it. It is the first time that I have successfully managed to alter the size and gauge of a garment to end up with something wearable. I do love that feeling when you manage to produce something exactly how you pictured it in your head.

I used some delicious Rowan yarn: Rowan Pure Life British Sheep Breeds dk which is a lovely marled effect yarn. It is quite thin as far as dk goes but it knits up beautifully on 4mm needles and manages to be both soft and pleasantly sheepy smelling at the same time. I did think it might be a bit rough for wearing next to the skin but after washing it is lovely and soft with no itching at all.

I knit the 3rd largest size in the pattern, as the original called for aran weight and at a gauge of 22 stitches to 4" I worked out that this would yield a final chest measurement of 38" I normally wear a UK size 10 (34" chest) and this gives just the right amount of slouch without being too baggy. I had to adjust the depth of the yoke a little and I didn't want the neck too high so I bound off earlier than called for in the pattern.

On the last few rows of the yoke I tried it on a lot, which was a bit of a faff, slipping it onto waste yarn and cables, but it was worth it as I got the exact fit I was looking for. off to wear a jumper and go for a healthy outdoor walk before the fog descends here again.


Wednesday, 24 October 2012


Just time to show off a little FO before we dash off for a half-term break.

My niece is mad about owls and all things owl related. Her mum mentioned that she was in dire need of a warm winter hat and this pattern was too cute to resist. Why are owls so darned cute? There is something about these squishy little cables which are such fun and so addictive to make. The hat literally took an evening to knit, and it took much longer for me to sew on the little beads for the eyes. My finishing skills always leave a little to be desired and my procrastination got the better of me for a few days whilst I dithered - eyes...or no eyes...?


But, on the whole I think it looks better with eyes. And the thought of the squeals of joy from my little niece made the hour sitting with tiny beads and needle and thread worthwhile.

I had plenty of yarn left over so I did a quick pair of fingerless mitts too using this pattern


Tuesday, 23 October 2012


I have been fairly frugal recently with my yarn purchases. The weight of the stash has been bearing down on me and I've been feeling the urge to use up some of my lovely yarn, rather than squirrelling it away in the spare bedroom. It has been a very satisfying feeling to go for a rummage amongst the boxes and bags - not quite as organised as I would like I fear - and emerge, flushed but victorious, clutching a perfect skein or two for that next project.

But, the sock yarn stash was a little depleted and in a weak moment I treated myself to some new beauties:


From left, we have some beautiful SuperKnits Bessie sock yarn in the Your Woman (Green) and Silcone Heaven (Grey) colourways. I have been meaning to try this yarn every time I hear it mentioned on the A Playful Day podcast so I thought, why not?

Then we have some delicious yarn from Sparkleduck, first a skein of Galaxy in the Neptune colourway (a lovely blue-green) and then a skein of Spirit in the Duckwing colourway (a rich blue-purple)

The colours are fabulous and I am dying to see how they knit up. Just need to get some WIPs off the needles and I can dive in!

Sunday, 14 October 2012


Now I am not normally a yarn snob. Stylecraft acrylic nestles next to Purl Alpaca and Rowan Kidsilk Haze in my stash, but much more of knitting with this gorgeous yarn and I could become a convert.

The lovely skein of cashmere I won the other week from The Sheep Shop was just begging to be made into something squishy and luxurious.

Initially I tried for a mobius cowl and was very chuffed with mastering the Cat Bordhi cast on, but then there followed a rather unpleasant incident with a broken KnitPro needle which is no longer referred to in the madmum household (husband sat on it). There was much frogging, some tears (I won't lie) and a few glasses of red wine.

Then I calmed down and in true knitterly fashion cast on for something nice and simple: The Honey Cowl.

I've made one of these before but for this one I just cast on 120 stitches to make a nice simple loop and knit merrily away until I had a smidge of yarn left - just enough for the cast off as luck would have it.


And there we have it. Simple and effective and something that I can see myself getting a lot of wear out of. In fact, I haven't taken it off much since I cast off :)

Saturday, 13 October 2012


So much knitting, so little time.

A lovely weekend away in Buttermere (and the resulting laundry mountain) has slowed down my knitting productivity somewhat this week. Well, that and the fact that I have a job to go to and DH was packing for a 10-day trip to the US. Just as an aside, I wonder why men are unable to pack their own belongings by themselves and why every drawer and cupboard in the house must be turned inside out in the process. I know that I don't go away from home very often (in fact I would kill for a night in a swanky hotel - just me, a bathrobe, glass of wine and TV watching in bed) but I wouldn't generally need my spouses assistance to locate sufficient clean underwear for the trip.

Anyway, we had a lovely weekend, plenty of walking and great autumn weather which made the 12-hour round trip well worth it. Note to self: really must try to relocate further north at some point.


Morning light by the lake


DS2 enjoying a biscuit break on the descent from High Stile


A fabulous view of Crummock water

And then I came home to this little beauty:

Two skeins of Fyberspates Scrumptious aran in the Slate colourway. I've never used this yarn before and it is gorgeous stuff, so much so that I couldn't wait to cast on. Like many other knitters I was smitten with the BFF cowl pattern in the most recent Knitty and have joined a Ravelry swap with this group. My swap partner is using the Rose Pink colour which is equally lush and pretty soon we should have ourselves a fab new winter cowl each. Just in time for my next trip to the Lakes...hopefully.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Happy Sight

As knitters we do our fair share of knitting for others, as well as ourselves. If you are anything like me you churn out the socks, scarves, hats, blankets and baby things for our nearest and dearest without a second thought, whilst that lovely cabled cardigan you picked out for yourself languishes in the WIPs basket. I always seem to be promising myself some selfish knitting time but there always seems to be a new baby arrival, or a birthday or a gift needed. Not that many of these are specific requests, but I always feel a sense of satisfaction at being able to whip out a woolly gift and see another little newborn head off into the world with a nice warm noggin.

Anyway, coming downstairs the other morning this wonderful sight made my knitterly heart sing:


Two small boys, sharing blankets, cuddlies and Saturday morning TV cartoons.

Please excuse the hurried, slightly shaky camera-phone pic. I kept out of sight whilst taking it as, if they had caught sight of me the spell would have been broken and I would have been inundated with requests for snacks, refereeing over minor disputes and ownership of the remote control.

Friday, 28 September 2012

FO Friday

It isn't that often that my projects co-incidence with blogging tradition and I don't often do an 'FO Friday' post, but a week spent pretty much in bed with good old-fashioned flu (boo) has resulted in plenty of knitting time and a new FO to share (hurray):


I used the Fuss Free Blanket pattern again, but this time in a solid colour and a dk weight in order to get a smaller pram/crib sized blanket for an imminent new arrival.


I also used a small 2-stitch picot bind off which I was very pleased with. Although if I had known at the outset how long a picot bind off takes to do I may have had second thoughts. Still, I like how it turned out and that the edges lie flat and neat. Next time I will be forewarned though and start the picot bind off with a flask of hot coffee, chocolate and a good film!


Saturday, 22 September 2012

Autumn Equinox

A lovely bright crisp day here - perfect for celebrating the Autumn Equinox. After this the nights start to draw in and there is a noticeable crispness to the air today. Time to dust off the slow cooker and start thinking of lots of yummy casseroles. Must remember to go and check the nearby hedgerows for blackberries - there is nothing my two boys like more than blackberry and apple crumble with custard.

The boys spent the morning at rugby training and then just as long again foraging for conkers at the base of some lovely old horse chestnut trees.

This is truely a smug time to be a knitter. The other parents were shoving hands into pockets and shuffling to keep warm. I had a yummy cowl and some fingerless mitts from last year which I was very glad of this morning - plus the yummy hot chocolate in a flask was a big help too.

Then I came home to find this ball of cashmere gorgeousness from the lovely Sarah from the Sheep Shop in Cambridge. My lovely winnings from her recent hexipuff prize draw. It is 175m of pure 4ply heaven.

I'm thinking cowls...a  little bit of lace...mmm...maybe finally get round to trying a mobius cast on...

Maybe this time next week I will have something super stylish on the rugby touchline!

Friday, 21 September 2012


Please forgive the tinkering over the next few days.

With the changing seasons I feel the need for a bit of a blogging facelift, time for a bit of a change and a spring clean to tidy the blog up a bit and make it more readable hopefully.

Please bear with me if a few things move about or appear out of thin air :)

Sunday, 16 September 2012

A bit of fun.

This didn't start out as a Pattern, but rather it was my solution to the perennial problem of wanting to knit a blanket in the round without having the fiddly start with small numbers of stitches on DPNs.

I wanted to knit a square blanket, but for reasons of portability I wanted to be able to knit it on circular needles rather than flat - also I can knit faster in the round and I was in a hurry. Normally with this type of construction you start off with a few stitches (say 8) divided over 3 or 4 DPNs and you knit into the front and back of each stitch for one round and then knit one round plain. Then you alternate an increase row with a plain row. To my mind this always means a fair bit of faffing around with DPNs - shuffling stitches around and adjusting until finally you can get the blessed thing off onto a circular needle and away you go. I'm not a fan of DPNs just in case you were in any doubt.

So I started off by knitting a plain garter stitch square and then picking up stitches around - ha - genius. Instantly enough stitches for a 60cm circular needle and no need for DPNs.


A few people asked me how I worked the increases so I wrote it up as a free pattern to download and have fun with. It is very adaptable - make it with any weight of yarn, either solid or stripes as the fancy takes you. You just knit until you run out of yarn (or out of patience).


download now
(if you like, obviously it isn't compulsory)

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Highly satisfying

It seems as though it was ages since I last finished something so it is with a great sense of satisfaction that I present my latest FO:


Admittedly, it is only a baby-sized hat but it represents my first forays into the joys of colourwork knitting. Inspired by this group on Ravelry to tackle new challenges head-on and based on advice from the group members, this baby hat pattern was suggested as a good place to start.

It proved to be a really enjoyable and addictive knit once I got into the rythmn of knitting with yarn in both hands. I was quite sad to cast off and am already looking for more colourwork patterns to stuff into my already full queue.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Back into the swing of things

Just popping in to say hi although not much knitting related chat to speak off. We took a late summer long weekend break before the boys went back to school which was fab but then meant several days of combining the 'back to school' chaos with the 'back from hols and a pile of dirty laundry' chaos.

But a great time was had by all - good walks (Buttermere in the Lake District), good food and a great place to stay. It was our first time staying in a Youth Hostel and it was amazing. Such good value for money, friendly people and a bar :) We are definately converts and are planning another shorter weekend very soon.




Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Not for the faint hearted

Apologies for the brightness of the latest FO on offer:


A bit of a departure from my usual colour palette but these were commissioned by a neighbour who has a love of all things Rastafarian.

My idle boast in the pub about being able to knit any colour of socks was nearly my undoing though - who knew how hard it was to find suitable clear, bright colours in a dk weight yarn, suitable for men's hard-wearing boot socks. I really wanted to have all the same yarns from the same range to try and avoid any problems with washing but it proved to be very difficult. Some of my old favourites just didn't have the right colours and finding a good green was a particular challenge but I got there in the end (almost). Patons Diploma Gold dk provided most of the colours needed in the end but my LYS didn't have their red in stock - but I think that the King Cole merino blend is a pretty good match and I was pleased with how they turned out.

In fact, I have enough of the colours left to do another pair - just as soon as I summon up the willpower.

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Hardknott Socks - finally

It seems as though this design has been in the pipeline for ages so I am pleased to finally have the pattern published: Hardknott Socks


I used the lovely superwash sock yarn from the Knitting Goddess and I love the way that the simple cables really pop - the stitch definition is fabulous.

The cable design is straightforward and easy to remember and the pattern is given in two sizes - for a medium (UK Size 6) and a large (UK Size 10), although due to the nature of the pattern the stitch count could easily be adapted to fit a range of sizes.


In case you were wondering, Hardknott Pass is a narrow winding road which connects two valleys in the Lake District. My husband loves driving over it and I loathe it in equal measure. With its hairpin turns and 1:3 gradients I always need a stiff drink after navigating it.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Garter stitch goodness

Maybe it is the post-Ravellenics lull or the full on frenzy of school holidays as a working mum** but I have had a sudden urge to indulge myself with lovely, soothing gartery goodness in recent days.

**I do dislike the term 'working mum' as I'm yet to meet a mum who doesn't spend most of her day working (either inside or outside the home). I work 4 days a week and am lucky enough to have a reasonable flexible job.The children are happily ensconced in a holiday club while I'm at work - and they love it which helps to alleviate a little of the inevitable mummy guilt - but with packing lunches, packing bags for 'outings', usual work/home stuff and then desperately trying to fit in the odd play date or two - the summer seems even more frenetic than usual.

Either way, when all is going to hell in a handbasket I can rely on a bit of garter stitch to sooth and relax when my poor frazzled brain needs a rest.

I have cast on a garter stitch baby blanket - in sock yarn (I never said I wanted a quick project)


I also started a pair of these cute garter stitch mittens by the incomparable Ysolda Teague. They are worked side to side using some clever short row shaping and the first one took a little over 90 minutes and approx 10g Rowan Felted Tweed - genius


Monday, 13 August 2012

Romping home

The Water and Stone cardigan is now done, thanks to the wonders of the Ravellenic Games and of course the real Olympics. This project would still be lounging in the WIPs basket if I wasn't spurred on by all the TV excitement and I'm sure that it really did help to focus my mind on Getting It Finished.


Overall I am very pleased with how it has turned out. DH was a bit bemused by the asymmetry of it - there is a front cable on just one side, and the cable at the rear is also left of centre - but I love it.

It has been hanging around for a few days waiting for the perfect photographic combination of good light and husband present - so I have taken an imperfect, unmodelled shot to be getting on with. I did try to get my 7 year old to take a picture, but lets just say that the results were less than flattering and were speedily deleted.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Hexipuffs completed

Not the whole blanket obviously, but the 17 I had pledged to make during the Olympics are done and sitting looking suitably squishy and cute.


They really are amazing addictive and fun to make but with my flea-like attention span I find that my enthusiasm starts to wane round about number 15 or so. Hats off to those fabulous people who have made entire blankets out of them - they all look stunning - but I couldn't even make it as far as a cushion cover :)

Monday, 6 August 2012

The final hurdle

Some people suffer from Second Sock Syndrome. For me on the other hand, my personal nemesis is Second Sleeve Syndrome. I'm sure I can't be the only one who suffers through the second sleeve of a garment - even baby sized sleeves fill me with dread and boredom in equal measure.

I have done the body and 1.5 sleeves of my lovely Water and Stone cardigan and then...nothing. It is sitting in the WIP pile pleading with me to be finished off and in truth there is probably less than 2-3 hours knitting left but I have hit a brick wall.

By way of bargaining I have picked up an even older WIP - a stash busting blanket started ages ago for my DS1. The colours are chosen by him - don't blame me for the eye-searing yellow. It isn't my usual colour palette but he is happy with it.


It is a square blanket knit in the round, after picking up stitches from a central knitted square - I struggle with a central cast on with small numbers of stitches on DPNs so I came up with this more humane method, which works for me.

I promised myself that I would do 2 or 3 more colours on the blanket and then switch back to the cardigan. Hopefully I will get some serious knitting done on it tonight and then be re-invigorated tomorrow for the last leg (sleeve).

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Going for gold

Originally uploaded by l.tilbrook

Spurred on by my Hitchhiker sucess, it's onwards and upwards. Digging out this Water and Stone cardigan (started on Jan 1st 2012 - to my shame) has made me realise how much I liked the pattern. Veera Valimaki's patterns are always very well written and the garments themselves deceptively simple and very wearable. I'm going to cheer on the cyclists this afternoon and see if I can get to the ribbing section at the bottom of the body - go Team GB!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Sprinting for the line

I am pleased to announce that I have crossed the finish line for the Single Skein Sprint with the fabulous Hitchhiker scarf. I am baffled as to why I haven't made one of these before. The pattern is genius - simple, straightforward and practically zero waste. I think I had about 2 metres of yarn left over after I had cast off.


By the laws decreed by the Knitting Gods however, this lovely squishy, sparkly scarf is not destined for me but is to be a gift. Anything I plan to knit for myself inevitably ends in tears and recriminations at the minute, but knitting for other people is fine. I think it must be a curse.

But, no matter. I am determined to end up after the Ravellenics with a wearable garment for me. So I am off to WIP-wrestle with my much neglected Water and Stone cardigan and rescue it from my work basket.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Finally underway

2 Hexipuff's down and 15 more to go. Managed to do one whilst watching the opening ceremony with two over-excited small peeps. Had to stop at one though as I had a glass of fizzy stuff after they went to bed and as we all know - knitting and alcohol is a combination that often ends in tears (or frogging).

I also managed to make a start on my Hitchhiker scarf in some beautiful sock yarn from Solstice Yarns. It is slightly sparkly with beautiful shades of blue. Truely gorgeous to work with and I'm having a lot of fun with the pattern.
Looking at the 'Finish Line' for the 'Single Skein Sprint' on Ravelry though I am watching in awe as folks are churning out finished scarfs and shawls already. Such speedy knitting I can only dream of. Then again, with my two boys around I count myself lucky to grab half an hour or so to myself during their waking hours :)

Still, I will go for slow and steady rather than a full on sprint

Friday, 27 July 2012

Final preparations...

Time to fly our flag with pride...

A re-do of the nail art I originally had done (by a very talented neighbour) for the Jubilee.

Good luck one and all in your Ravellenic endeavours

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Ravellenics of course

Of course the non-knitting world is obsessed with the Olympics but for us more enlightened folk it is all about the Ravellenics games. For weeks now we have have been planning our projects, assessing our stash (this took quite a while), tagging our pages on Ravelry and hanging out with our team mates.

The more energetic amongst us have even done some training (swatching) and a bit of gentle limbering up ready for the mass cast on at 9pm BST.

And so we sit, needles poised....

I have several projects lined up, the first of which comes under the Charity rowing banner. The lovely Sarah of The Sheep Shop, Cambridge is organising a charity Hexipuff quilt for a fundraising event and is asking fellow Ravellenic competitors to knit/crochet 1 hexipuff per day during the Games.

Now, it's been some time since my Hexipuff mania subsided (see previous posts) but I couldn't resist digging out some mini-skeins and getting them all ready for the off:

Don't they look cute - all nestled in their little bowl.Waiting patiently to become little hexi's

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Back again

It's been good to have a break but it did reveal that actually I do quite like blogging and I do quite miss it. I just don't like the self-imposed deadlines.

So, here we go again. The same old me, just a bit more relaxed and but still just as mad about the knitting.

Another change - for the better I hope - is that I am dipping my toe into the waters of sock design. I have started out in a small way with a design for a simple toe-up sock with a central cable: Whinlatter socks

I like that it is simple and plain enough to suit a mans sock but that, with a lovely skein of handpainted yarn it would make a great pair of socks for me too.

It is a free Ravelry download and although it has been test knit I would be happy to receive comments and feedback on it.

Another sock is in the pipeline soon along with the Ravellenics projects so drop by again soon to see more knitting progress.