A panoply of (sometimes) lovingly handmade crud.

Tag Archives: handmade

I feel like a broken record, but it’s been another busy week at work. Aside from that, I was mainly working on my Sinister Catdigan again. I forgot to take a photo of the wrong side last week. So pleased with those floats! I don’t trap them because it ruins the look of the design when you’re using high contrast colours.

I finished the yoke and grafted it to the body and sleeves. The grafting took 3-4 hours and used a lot of yarn. I thought I’d left a long enough section of wool (about three armspans) but I had to splice on some more.

I couldn’t wait to try it on. I’m pretty happy with the fit. I never button my cardigans so the width is fine. I’m a little surprised at how long it’s looking, but the neckline may bring it up a bit.

I spent over an hour picking up the stitches from the provisional cast on, and an evening researching knitting patterns for my neck decreases. I really can’t be bothered to try and calculate the decreases myself. I’m happy to pay someone who has already done it!

On Tuesday I made vegan cannelloni. It didn’t look that stunning but it tasted amazing- even if it took well over an hour longer than suggested in the recipe.

I also made a cake using some cheap rhubarb I got in Waitrose. It was delicious!

And I made french toast using my sourdough bread from last week. The bread was actually very tasty even if it looked a bit flat and the french toast livened it up perfectly.

Finally, I made some vegan mozzarella using School Night Vegan’s recipe. Yes I am obsessed with him. At first I was put off by all the speciality ingredients required for a lot of his recipes, but they really do make a difference to the texture. I now own psyllium husks, agar powder, potato and tapioca starch. Just as well I am not spending any money eating out at the moment!

If the sense of relief I felt on Monday was anything to go by, I made the correct decision in moving out of my place in London. I had two busy weekends of sorting and packing things, but all that work should make it fairly straightforward for me to move in once I find my next place, which I’m hoping to buy rather than rent.

I did have a little break from packing to darn one of my dishcloths before putting it into storage.

I also marked my compost bin in the hope that a new tenant will keep using it.

A lot of craft time has been dedicated to my Oran do Chaora/Sinister Catdigan again this week. I’ve finished both sleeves and joined them into the body, which has now been set aside.

I mentioned last week that I’d started doing the maths for the colourwork yoke. Well, unfortunately I made a really stupid error with that calculation that resulted in me spending about four hours reducing the body section by one stitch.

Slightly uneven blue stocking stitch

Slightly uneven knitting where I tried to fix the tension problem caused by removing a stitch

Fortunately I re-checked my sums before I did anything too major and realised my mistake. I’ve now picked that stitch back up and the numbers on my Oran do Chaora body and sleeves should match the numbers on the finished Sinister Catdigan yoke.

I’ve done the crochet provisional cast on for the yoke and the first row of cats has emerged! It’s quite hard work managing the tension with long floats and a slippery yarn but I think it’s going okay so far.

It’s funny that I was looking forward to knitting the cats and it’s only now that I’m recalling how laborious this kind of knitting can be. Working the fair isle requires quite a lot of attention. It’s very easy to make errors and I’ve had to do more than my share of undoing. But it is fun to see the cats emerge row by row- in fact it’s pretty addictive.

I’m already starting to think about how I will do the decreases for the shoulder section. I’m not that fond of the neckline of SC and I think it will look odd to do a saddle shoulder above the fair isle section. Some more planning and maths is in order next week I think.

I fed my sourdough starter again in preparation for making my first loaf. I looked at some recipes and started to get a bit stressed because of all the equipment needed. I don’t have a banneton, baking stone or a dutch oven.

The loaf is a little disappointing. I used a pan as a lid following some advice online and I think it actually restricted her growth. Now I’m contemplating investing in a Dutch oven.

This was another week of not really staying inside. I had to go to hospital for my plastic surgery follow-up, to another hospital for some work appointments, and I moved the majority of my possessions into storage.

Giving up my room wasn’t an easy decision to make, even though it makes sense. I’ve had assurance from work that it’s very unlikely that I’ll have to have to do any face-to-face work for the foreseeable future, but everything still feels uncertain. I wish it was possible for there to be more clarity around what’s likely to happen in the coming weeks and months, but I know it isn’t.

In craft-related packing, I took my sweaters out of the freezer and put them back in. I discovered some moth damage on my Better Breton sweater so I iced all the woollen items that I had stored in the same drawer. I’ll have to do some mending once my stuff is out of storage.

As the restrictions eased, Virtual Yarns starter operating again. I jumped on the opportunity to invest in a kit. I’ve been inspired by @cleocmc on Instagram, who makes a lot of Alice Starmore garments. No photos as yet but I’m sure I’ll be writing about the kit and projects soon.

This week I finished sewing in the ends on my Somewhere socks. Can’t see myself wearing hand knitted socks any time soon!

I also got a lot of work done on the second sleeve of my Oran do Chaora/Sinister catdigan. I have used one whole skein of yarn. It’s pretty exciting that soon it will be time for me to start work on that sweet sweet cat yoke! I started thinking about some of the maths and calculations since I’m moving from one pattern to the other 🤓

All in all I can’t wait for this packing to be over. Moving is such a pain. BUT I’m very exciting news, I’m hoping to buy a flat this year. Honestly if I’m able to do it that will level my life up so much. So fingers crossed all of this annoyance will be worth it in the end.


Another week where I haven’t had that much craft time. I’m moving out of my place in London for the time being. It just doesn’t make sense to pay rent when I don’t need to be here for work and I can’t even enjoy the city.

Here I am enjoying my local area. I was out collecting food from Island Ting Kitchen, a small black-owned vegan business near me. One action I’ve been taking is supporting Black businesses. I’m enjoying it! I highly recommend ITK if you’re in west London.

Vegan peach cobbler with melted cinnamon ice cream

This peach cobbler was a revelation

I also ordered some mind-blowing vegan doughnuts from Tastopia. Supporting these businesses feels like such a win-win. They get to do something they’ve chosen and I get to enjoy delicious food. I’ve been so happy to see how many black-owned vegan businesses there are in particular. The vegan community is pretty whitewashed. I will support these businesses as much as I can. I really hope they thrive.

Last Sunday I ripped out the second sleeve of my Sinister Catdigan/Oran do Chaora. Not only was the ribbing visibly larger, I had somehow done way more rows on the second sleeve than the first and it looked shit. Since the tail on my cast on was barely long enough, I just started over. I used this tubular cast on (twisted the knits on the second foundation row). I am working the ribbing on a 3mm needle. I don’t know why I did the number of rows of ribbing that I did on the first sleeve. It bears no resemblance to the pattern. Possibly I just got bored of doing the twisted rib. Either way, I will count the number of rows properly so I can match the second sleeve.

I actually had to rip out some of the sleeve a second time because they still weren’t even. I’m happy enough with how the two sleeves are looking now (no photo soz).

Predictably, as soon as I wrote about my struggles with my starter last week, my efforts to get it going bore fruit. The starter finally started to double in volume and I successfully made a crumpet!

Although you can cook and eat the excess unfed starter before it matures, I wouldn’t recommend it. Whatever you make will be very gummy. While I ate it for several days with no ill effects, I have a pretty strong stomach. There was a world of difference in my pikelet in the 24 hours before the starter began doubling and after. It actually smelled of bread while it was cooking. I couldn’t see anyone online addressing this issue so I hope my experience helps someone.

Creating the starter was a bit of a journey of self-discovery. Things I was pleased to be reminded of: I’m scientifically minded. I did my research and that helped me to figure out why the starter wasn’t rising. I am learning to be patient. I didn’t just throw it away when it didn’t go to plan.

Things I still find difficult: not being perfect. In the picture above, you can’t really see how much of a difference there was between the crumpets I made a week apart. That’s because I engineered the top photo to look better than it was by tearing the crumpet rather than biting it. The former made it look like it had a decent crumb structure while the latter revealed it for the mess it was.

Perfectionism is a double-edged sword. I don’t think I’d be where I am in life without my relentless striving for better. I know that it’s impossible to be perfect, I know it’s irrational, but that doesn’t stop me from wanting to be perfect. Perfectionism makes me pick holes in everything I do, and struggle to acknowledge my achievements and strengths. It makes me feel like a failure. It makes me feel like I can never be good enough, and that’s really hard. I’ve been working for a long time on being less hard on myself, and I think I’m getting better but it’s still a struggle.

I didn’t have time to try making a loaf during the week, which is a bit sad after all my work making the starter. I actually have more ideas for the excess than the starter itself. I’m dying to try focaccia and I’ve seen an amazing cracker recipe on Instagram. I’m a little apprehensive about making a proper loaf- it all seems to technical! Although I am looking forward to being that person who drops words like levain and autolyse into everyday conversation.

My mind is blown that this has been going on for twelve weeks now. This week I finally cast on the second sleeve for my Sinister Catdigan, I’ve been reminded that I need to take much better notes. I always assume that I will remember everything and that is simply not the way my brain works. I can’t remember whether I knit the ribbing on a smaller needle to the stocking portions of the other sleeve and body. Not a huge deal in the grand scheme of things but I’d rather the two sleeves be identical if possible. This will be the project I work on during calls.

Inspired by last week’s crafternoon rainbows, I made a birthday card for one of the girls.

I sent it with Joy mitts I’d made for her. Double rainbow FTW. I blocked them using my sock blockers since I don’t have my matts here. I tried to shrink the larger glove using some boiling water but that didn’t seem to have any impact. It was easier to block the smaller glove fairly aggressively. They’re still not exactly the same size but hey ho. Predictably I failed to take a photo before wrapping them up (in reused paper of course!) and sending them off.

I’ve sewn in all the ends on one of my Somewhere socks and a few on the second. This is a task I’m trying to do while listening to an audiobook (currently The Hate U Give, which is incredibly emotional to listen to at the moment).

Work was bananas this week so I’m relieved that I was able to have a quieter day on Friday. I bought everything to have a go at School Night Vegan’s sausage rolls but didn’t have a chance to make them until Friday. They were so good! And didn’t contain too many obscure ingredients. I’ll definitely make these again.

My sourdough starter has stalled big time. Apparently this is not uncommon if the comments on a post about troubleshooting are anything to go by.

I think I may have accidentally over-fed the starter at times (feeding 100g+100g rather than 50g+50g) because the weight was way off. This may have been part of the problem since I wasn’t feeding it enough- and indeed it started smelling of acetone, which is apparently a sign that it’s hungry. I felt weird discarding so much of it so I compromised and now discard and feed 150g total. I’ve been eating some of the discard in the mornings because I hate throwing away all that flour. I make a kind of freeform pikelet, which is ok if a little gummy, like the crumpets I attempted last week.

I need to call it something other than ‘discard’ because that makes it sound gross. I just read someone calling it excess unfed starter so I’m going to try that.

I’m also keeping the jar in a different room because the kitchen is quite cold. I actually put it in my bed during the day. All in all I’m frustrated with the starter. I was led to believe that it was pretty foolproof so I feel like an idiot not being able to mix flour and water properly. I’d actually planned a whole meal around a sourdough focaccia which is far from possible at this point. Oh, the hubris.

I didn’t write a post last week because I wasn’t able to stay inside. I had to travel back to London for a couple of essential work and health appointments. I did collect some more craft materials to bring back down with me. I also knitted a swatch to test out some techniques for my sinister catdigan.

This week has felt extremely exhausting. I think a lot of that is due to the global black lives matter protests and uprising. While in some ways it’s been positive to see a lot of support and allyship, it’s also traumatic to be bombarded with posts on social media. It’s a constant reminder of the existence and experience of racism that I face every day.

I have still been knitting. I’ve now finished my Somewhere socks. I still have a lot of ends left to weave in.

I also hosted a crafternoon for some friends. I wanted to choose an activity that wouldn’t require anyone to buy anything (especially from Amazon). So I asked them to collect paper from their recycling bins and we each made a rainbow collage.

This week I also put together a sourdough starter. I used this post for guidance. It began really well but it hasn’t seemed that active for the past day or two. I’m hoping it’ll perk up soon because I’m keen to try baking with it.

I already had a go at making some crumpets with the discard. They were a bit doughy- presumably because the starter is immature- so I’ll try again in a couple of days.

This is the second kit I’ve made by Becky Hogg after attending one of her workshops at the Royal School of Needlework. A little fun fact is that Becky actually sent me this kit for free in exchange for giving her some tips on making timelapse videos after she saw the one I made for my song thrush on Instagram. Sometimes the internet is pretty cool.

It actually just occurred to me that it’s pretty fitting to be making a Hastings mackerel while I’m staying inside in Kent.

I decided to follow Becky’s advice and bind my embroidery hoop. I found with my last project that the linen was often coming loose in the hoop, which was a bit annoying. I’m hoping this will help. I followed this tutorial using some 11mm cotton twill I bought on eBay.

To be honest I’m not totally sure how much difference the binding made to the grippiness of the hoop, but it gave me something to do.

This kit involves some techniques that are new to me, including appliquéing two different kinds of fabric (leather and the gauzy material).

I’m not as in love with working on this project as I’d like to be. But I am looking forward to learning how to mount my little fishie. I have a long-term goal of making some kind of awesome goldwork dragon so it feels like that’s a step on the way.

Since I’ve nearly finished the body and first sleeve of my blue cardigan, I decided to buy the Sinister Catdigan pattern so I could start thinking about the yoke. And I discovered that SC is knit from the top down. I don’t quite know how I managed to overlook this when I was researching the pattern but hey ho.

Just as a warning, this is going to be a pretty technical knitting post.

I’m certainly not going to undo all the work I’ve done making the body and sleeve, which I did from the bottom up. I started to think about whether I would be able to graft the top-down and bottom-up sections together.

I did a bit of research online and couldn’t find that much information- possibly my fault for using the wrong search terms. But from what little I could find, I felt hopeful that I would be able to graft together two stocking stitch sections. From what I read, it might cause a half-stitch jog that should only be visible at the edge of the piece. Since the Oran do Chaora pattern has a single stitch selvedge and picked up button bands anyway, a slightly messy edge shouldn’t matter.

Now, you may be wondering why I didn’t simply convert the fair isle chart to be worked from the bottom up. That would be much easier than knitting it in the opposite direction to the rest of the garment right? Right. BUT the genius of the cats chart is that it uses the properties of the stocking fabric to give the sharp points on the ears. I didn’t want to sacrifice the cuteness of the design.

I’m so pleased with my decision to buy the pattern rather than trying to reverse engineer the fair isle pattern from pictures. I would never have noticed that the chart is designed to be worked from the top down and would likely have run into problems as a result. Just the reminder I needed of why we pay designers to do some of the thinking for us.

I decided to knit a swatch to test out the method I had in mind. That plan had the added benefit of enabling me to check the exact gauge I would get in the fair isle section. I used a provisional cast-on because I intend to knit the remainder of the yoke from the bottom up. I think this will give me more control over the shape of the neckline and a better finish overall.

I’m looking forward to knitting the yoke even more now, even if I’m a bit concerned about the lengths of those floats in such a slippery yarn. I was worried that my gauge in the two yarns were quite different but actually the cat section was just curled due to pulling the floats too tight.

Once I’d finished the fair isle chart, I cast on the same number of stitches in the body yarn and worked in stocking stitch for a few rows. I joined the two sections using standard Kitchener stitch and it worked perfectly!

I picked up a button band at one side to test the impact of the jog. I’d considered adding an extra stitch to the selvedge but I don’t need to bother. I just need to be mindful of where I pick up the bands.

While I was at it, I also tested undoing the provisional CO and knitting up. I’m thrilled to say that that worked perfectly as well. Incidentally I’m in love with the way the two shades of turquoise look next to each other and I may need to incorporate that into my design.

Overall my swatch was an unremitting success. I can start the much more unwieldy task of the full cardigan safe in the knowledge that these techniques should work. It’s been fun to try out some new-to-me applications of technique too. Sometimes I feel like my knitting skill has plateaued because I believe that I could hand knit any pattern. Doing things like this is a reminder of the knowledge and expertise I’ve developed in my decade plus of stitching. I also enjoy the mental exercise of solving these engineering problems.

This week was especially tiring because it was the last week of the half-term. My body is still responding to the rhythms of the school year although I haven’t stepped foot in a school in over two months. Half-term won’t be much of a respite for me. I have a couple of appointments that require me to travel. I haven’t been further than the supermarket since I came down on 20th March.

My work on my Somewhere socks continues apace. I finished the first sock in less than a week. This is the project I tend to work on in calls 🤫

My Joy mitts are finished but I still haven’t managed to weave in all the ends on the second one. That’s always a task I find pretty tiresome.

Khaleesi kindly offered to help me take the photos.

I also resumed work on my Hastings mackerel goldwork embroidery after a long hiatus. I’m not feeling that inspired by this project but I’m looking forward to learning how to mount an embroidery. Might help towards my distant dream of a goldwork dragon brooch.

I had another very tiring week at work so I was very grateful that it was only four days long thanks to the bank holiday. I had hoped to get a few things done- particularly some exercise- but I also need to be careful with myself and if my body is saying I need sleep, I ought to listen.

Funnily enough, the day after writing the above paragraph (and sleeping for over ten hours), I unexpectedly ran my first 5k in under 30 minutes. I’ve been struggling towards this goal since I resumed running six weeks ago and felt like I’d plateaued. I knew that I had my goal pace in me; I actually ran 5k in 30:01 when I did my first 10k in December 2018, then went on to run the same distance again. But maybe at 33 I couldn’t do it.

Distance running feels like more of a mental challenge than physical for me. I always have a voice in my head telling me that I need to stop. Sometimes this voice is telling the truth- like when I’ve timed my run badly and not eaten enough, or if I’m just having an off day. But normally the voice is lying and I am capable of running more. My body is a much better barometer for what I can do than my mind, and I’m learning to listen to her. And I think that’s what helped me to achieve this goal. I listened when my body said I was too exhausted to do my previous run on Thursday and I rested. I allowed myself to sleep more when my body told me to. And then yesterday I found myself with the energy and grit to keep going.

Anyway, on to my weekly update.

This week I finally cast on the second Joy mitt to match the one I started in Africa. God, that seems like a lifetime ago. I’m very grateful that I was able to go and have such a great experience. The mitt was also an enjoyable knit after working in long rows or rounds of plain stocking stitch on my last project. Looking at this photo, I’m not sure why the second mitt is looking bigger than the first but I’m hoping I can even them out with blocking.

I have run out of Buachaille so work on my blue cardigan is on hold. I’m probably going to go back to London for a few days (or longer, depending on what happens with work) in late May so I’ll have access to my stash. It’ll be time for me to do some proper planning for the yoke of this cardigan, which should be a lot of fun.

After spotting a gorgeous pattern on Instagram, I decided on the spur of the moment to invest in some rainbow mini skeins from Mothy and the Squid. I’ve been following her for a while so I’m glad to have bitten the bullet and made an order. I’m a bit ambivalent towards hand knitted socks. I don’t like wearing them in shoes because I find them too thick. However, I really enjoy making them and I like them as objects. I’m going to try wearing them as bed socks I think.

This week I baked some vegan pasteis de nata. I’ve had the recipe pinned for ages but never got around to making them before now. I posted about making pasteis de nata many years ago- reading this old blog post was such a blast from the past!

I could have done much better with my vegan custard but this is a great jumping-off point.