Sunday, 30 December 2012

A load of balls...

Right back at the beginning when I was just experimenting with blogging to see if I could, I posted about the ball cushion I made for Tiny Boy and the one I had started for myself. Then I got distracted with sewing, and emigrating, and all manner of stuff, but when I was hunting about for a little project for the journey here, I rediscovered the flowery ball cushion and decided it was high time it went from a UFO (un-finished object) to a thing of competedness. Well, I finished the crochet part on the ship and then got distracted again with our new lives, and Christmas, and yet more stuff. But yesterday I spotted the poor thing languishing on a shelf just waiting to be stuffed. I hauled out the pattern for the inner that I had made before, tweaked the size a bit, and set to with the sewing machine. I raided my stash and discovered that my supply of stuffing was woefully inadequate but supplemented it with the insides out of a cushion filler that I didn't like because it too lacked a plump fullness that I think is required for a good cushion, and well... Ta Da!

The construction is just like that of a football - 20 hexagons and 12 pentagons cunningly arranged. When I made Tiny Boy's cushion I made the shapes different colours so they were really obvious, but this time I wanted the flowers to stand out and the hexagons and pentagons to fade into the background.

I love the crazily bright colours. They lift the mood and fit with the concept of a spherical cushion very well I think (and after all, it is my opinion that counts!). Tiny Boy immediately tried to steal it having decided that red white and blue was sooo last year, but I stood my ground - this one's for me.

Finishing a project is always a mixed blessing I find. While it is fab to admire and enjoy the latest creation, it does leave the hands a little idle. And idle hands don't seem to suit me too well. I started flicking through knitting and crochet books, looking for something to entertain and occupy me until the crochet books that Santa promised finally arrive, hopefully on the next ship.

The Mason-Dixon books were a Christmas present several years ago and I have used them a lot. For anyone who doesn't know, they are written by a pair of obsessive knitters in the states who also have a fun blog. They are very chatty in style, don't take themselves too seriously and have great, interesting patterns that are fun to knit and fun to own.

There is a whole chapter devoted to log-cabin knitting - a concept inspired by log-cabin quilting. One look and I knew I had to have a go. I had a couple of hand-wound, dense and solid balls of yarn that I picked up at a yarn sale from a lady who was clearing out her stash. They have no labels but I am guessing that they are at least part silk by the feel, and are about 'chunky' in weight. I have no idea how much yarn is on them but they weigh a ton. The beauty of log cabin knitting is that you can just stop knitting when your cushion cover/blanket/throw is as big as you like, or you have had enough of knitting it, or you run out of yarn.

The yarn is one of those that changes colour as you knit so begs for a very simple pattern. It is too thick to make anything I would actually wear. Lovely as they are on the shelf, chunky hand knits make you gain 10 pounds in one fell swoop, something I don't need help with! But it is perfect for a blanket. A blanket! Who has the patience to knit a blanket (other than the speedy knitters who are the Mason-Dixon ladies)? Well, despite my reservations, I appear to have started a blanket. What with that and my crochet plans, 2013 could be the year of the blanket.

I have to say, an obsession seems to have gripped me. I knitted late into the night and again this morning whilst still in my pjs.

Here's progress so far...

The idea is that you start with a rectangle then add a strip on each side in turn. The strips get longer and longer until you change to a circular needle and take an evening to do one row!

The balls were the same size when I started so I don't know how big a blanket I'll end up with, but a blanket it will be.

Good job my blanket obsession has coincided with moving to a warmer climate... Hopefully they'll be finished in time to move back to chilly Northumberland!


Friday, 28 December 2012

Walk on the wild side

Just before Christmas we hooked up with some other St Helena newbies and had a fun walk and picnic round and up High Peak. I thought the pics might give you a taste of how varied the landscape is here.

Peeking through the New Zealand flax towards Sandy Bay and the ocean.

Wild flowers!

Lot's Wife in the distance.

Sandy Bay.

The part of the island pictured here goes by the name of Levelwood!

Sandy Bay from our picnic spot.

Looking back along our route.


You can just see a cottage down this track. 

Our picnic spot was on the peak in the middle of this photo.

Looking south from the top towards Sandy Bay and Lot's Wife.

Looking North from the top over Horse Pasture (where there are no horses).


Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Christmas Eve Parade - Jamestown

Since there is nothing to do here, people make their own entertainment. Consequently there is loads to do! Christmas Eve saw a parade through Jamestown. Lots of Santa themed costumes and cars decked out with tinsel and lights. I thought you might enjoy a few of the best bits...

Happy Christmas from St Helena!


Friday, 21 December 2012

A few of my favourite (Christmas) things

Despite this year's evidence to the contrary, I am not a big fan of tinsel - not on the tree anyway. The Smalls of course consider this to be a huge character flaw but my tree - my rules!
What I really like on a tree are hanging ornaments. Preferably ones with a story, either given to us by someone special or bought on a special occasion. I thought I'd show you my favourites today.

An elephant from a Secret Santa present at an annual Christmas party with a very special bunch of friends. I received this a couple of years ago.

This is Ingrid - she was bought on holiday in Sweden when visiting my real friend Ingrid. The real Ingrid is having her own southern hemisphere adventure this year with her family in Australia.

and this is Petter, Ingrid's husband.

This bauble is one of two we received as favours at the wedding of Alison and Andy several years ago. The other one is shinier and I couldn't take a picture of it without my weird reflection showing.

This is the first Christmas decoration Tall Girl brought home from school when she was very wee.

This little cow bell was given to Tiny Boy by my in-laws when they came back from visiting friends in Switzerland where they used to live.

I bought this little chap from a wood turner at at a craft fair last winter.

The two crocheted snowflakes came from Cathy, an old friend from Uni who discovered the delights of crochet way before I did and makes fabulous weird and wonderful creations.

Tiny Boy painted this pine cone at a St Helena Christmas bazaar this year.

A toy like this one was given to each of the Friday Coffee babies last year by the lovely Claire. This is Giant Baby's favourite.

Do you have favourite decorations?


Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Trial by tea cosy

I decided just before we came away that I would use a free tea cosy pattern that had come with a magazine to learn to cable. The required needles were on the ship but I bought exactly the yarn suggested (I didn't want anything to make it more challenging) and stuffed it in the suitcase.

Once our stuff was all here and unpacked I thought it would be a quick little project to do in the evenings. I should have become suspicious when I realised that although the picture clearly showed the bottom edge to be ribbed, the pattern was definitely not going to make rib. I decided to go with the rib and charge on up to the cable panels - they were after all the point of the exercise.

Sadly the 'unrib' was not the only error. With hindsight I think someone has renumbered the rows half way though writing the pattern but had not been consistent so when that said repeat row 6, what they meant was repeat row 5. And when they said repeat row 4 they meant repeat row 3.

Now being a cable novice it took me a while to realise something was wrong. I ripped it back and tried again thinking I had made a mistake. And ripped it back again. And again, trying to work out whether a row was missing or what.

I must have ripped it back about 10 times before I worked out what the problem was then had to limp along trying to check that each row was doing the right thing as I knitted it but not being totally sure what the right thing was. As well as the errors in the pattern there were also typos and missing instructions.

All in all it felt like a marathon! I am very please with the result but am disappointed that no one had proof-read the pattern, and definitely hadn't proof-knitted it.

Making magazine please try harder next time...