A Bramley Shawl

I've been seeing in the New Year with friends who live in the village of Bramley in Hampshire and and it's inspired me to knit a shawl with some very special yarn that was hand spun for me a couple of years ago and was just calling out to be used. I spent several hours combing Ravelry for the right pattern but couldn't find something that really seemed perfect for it, because it's quite a variegated yarn, though I have been inspired by many different shawls, particularly the Textured Shawl recipe by Orlane (Ravelry link).

So I thought that it might be fun to blog the pattern as I knit it. Part public note of what I did, part pattern for anyone else who might be crazy enough to join me on a very random, but hopefully, simple, elegant and attractive shawl knitalong.

So here goes.

Use whatever combination of yarn and needles makes you happy.

I'm using 6.5mm and a handspun yarn that feels like heavy sock weight, possibly 4ply and intend to knit until I run out of yarn. I have no idea of the yardage but I've got about 140g of it.

Cast On 3 stitches (sts) Knit (k) 12 rows Pick up and knit 10 sts along long edge and 3 sts from cast on edge

This gives a lovely garter stitch border along the top of the shawl and is worth the fiddliness of the picking up and knitting.

K3, yarn over (yo), purl (p) to last 3 sts, yo, k3

Section 1

K3, yo, [k3, yo, k1, yo] x3 yo, k3 Next and all wrong side rows: K3, p to last 3sts, k3

Begin all right side rows with k3, yo and end with yo, k3

Repeat the following 3 times for each right side row K5, yo, k1, yo K7, yo, k1, yo K9, yo, k1, yo Etc.

The number of stitches in each repeat increases by 2 each row. Continue until there are 21 sts in each repeat before the spine [yo, k1, yo]

Section 2 [this section subject to change - it isn't working the way I hoped it would]

Knit 2 together (k2tog), yo to last stitch before the spine, k1 K1, yo, k2tog through back loops (k2tog tbl) to spine Repeat these two rows 4 more times

Section 3

(To Be Continued)

Pumpkin Soup

Roasted Pumpkin

In another time and another life, autumn became more than it had ever been to me. It became a magical time which meant shorter days, longer nights, chilly ears and, often, a sojourn to another country where there Americanisation of Halloween lent its magic to a (mostly) peaceful landscape where I could rest, read and recharge for a few days surrounded by a family that, though not mine, had nonetheless warmly welcomed me.

I wrote that a year ago, almost to the day, in a post on the (somewhat mothballed) previous version of this blog, entitled "Reclaiming Autumn", where I talked about how I came to love, lose and reclaim Pumpkin Soup as my talisman of Autumn.

I'd forgotten the exact date I wrote that, until I went to look for that post when writing this one, and had a bit of a laugh to myself, because it was exactly a year and one day later that I made Pumpkin Soup again.

This year's audience was mostly the same as last years (minus a brother-in-law to be) but the soup was extra special, because among it, was the pride of my foray into growing my own veg - a home grown pumpkin.

Pumpkin Soup (some assembly required)

Of all the veg I grew this year, the pumpkin was special. Yes, fresh salad is nice, home grown strawberries are lovely and eating baby sweetcorn right from the plant is fun, I'd have forgone them all for my pumpkin.

It's been sitting in the kitchen for a few weeks now, ripening nicely among its larger, shop-bought cousins (a pumpkin a day makes Ann a ridiculously happy girl, especially given their short period of availability) and part of me wanted to keep it, I'd spent so long growing this thing that I had to know if it was actually a real pumpkin inside, so with a wee bit of a lump in my throat, I cut it up, ready to roast, and thence, to become soup.

Ready to roast pumpkin

When I wrote about pumpkin soup last year, a few people asked for a recipe, and at the time I couldn't provide one, because I hadn't written down what I'd done, so this year, I paid attention.

I should point out that this is by no means a tested or scientific recipe. I don't tend to do weights and measures, so your mileage may very well vary.

Pixeldiva's Pumpkin Soup


Pumpkins (I used 3, around 1kg each) Shallots (5 medium sized ones) Garlic (1 bulb) Stock (I used chicken, but you could use vegetable, if you're that way inclined) Herbs de Provence (about 2 teaspoons) Cumin (about 2 teaspoons) Cinnamon (about 1 teaspoon) Salt Pepper Butter Olive Oil Double cream (for serving)


Cut each pumpkin in quarters, and scoop out the gunk in the middle. Then cut each quarter in half again, so you have eight pumpkin wedges per pumpkin. Lay these out on a baking tray or roasting dish, and scatter about a bulb's worth of garlic cloves around the pumpkin. Drizzle some olive oil over the tip, scatter some salt, and put in an oven that's been pre-heated to 200°C for about 30 minutes, or until nicely roasted.

Finely chop the shallots, and gently fry them with a wee bit of butter and olive oil in the bottom of whatever pot you intend to make your soup in.

Peel the skin off the pumpkin (it should come off reasonably well with the aid of a reasonably sharp knife) and put the mushy pumpkin bits in the pot with the shallots. Then grab the roasted garlic cloves and squeeze their innards into the put too.

Throw in some herbs de provence (or mixed herbs), cumin and cinnamon and mush the whole lot up, before adding enough stock to cover the mush, plus about half an inch of water above (sorry, I know that's not a very exact description).

Let this simmer for a while until it goes even more mushy, and then taste. Season with salt and pepper (and more cumin or herbs) if you feel it needs it. Otherwise, get your hand blender out and try not to cover the kitchen in soup while you get carried away with the joy of blending.

Serve with a dribble of cream and a grind of black pepper, and enjoy.

This makes enough for four people, with enough left over for a large bowl later, when lunch or dinner is a distant memory and handknit slippers and crocheted lap blankets (or your equivalents) aren't quite enough to keep you warm.

Late evening snack

Hand-written Business Cards

Hand Written Business Cards (v2) A few weeks ago, just before I headed off to Bristol, I decided to go a bit earlier, and catch FOWD Bristol.

Then I realised that I was running out of Moo Cards and had absolutely no time to order any more.


After casting around a bit, I remembered that I have craft supplies and quite the collection of pens, and decided to just make something.

I grabbed my hypotrochoid art set (which I did actually buy from the SFMOMA gift shop (I love a good museum gift shop, oh yes…)), some white cards (I think they were supposed to be place cards for a wedding or somesuch), my round corner cutter and my set of Stabilo Pens.

That was the easy bit.

Deciding what to draw, where, using what colours was the easy bit. I grabbed a bit of scrap paper (back of an envelope I think) and tried out a few patterns until I found the one I liked best. Then I chose the colours. Purple first (because its my favourite colour), granny smith apple green next (because I have developed an inexplicable fondness for this most difficult of colours) and finally, pewter grey (because I like it more than black). Sorted.

I'd decided to make thirty cards, ten in each colour, but hadn't considered the possibility of cramp from doing so many spirals. My hands and arms started to cramp up by the fourth card. Doing thirty perfect spirals is harder than it looks.

Once the spirals were done, I realised that I needed something more and added the "Hello!" and it was then that I hit upon the idea of using the fold in the card to get around the problem of figuring out which card to give people at these kinds of events, business or personal. I used to carry around two sets of cards, particularly when I worked at RNIB, and was never particularly comfortable with the decision making process of who should get what card when the event wasn't strictly a work event. It didn't get any easier when I went freelance either. I have a set of Moo cards that I made when I first set up my business site, but I then changed the branding so I couldn't use those, and anyway, I'm more than what I do for work.

So, whatever I did needed to work as a business card and a personal card. A me card, if you will. Some people might want to know more about my work, some people might want to know more about me. Some people might go from one to the other. Best to give them the option rather than making that god-awful networking deliberation about how "useful" people might be in terms of giving you work.

It was at that point something went ping in the back of my head, and I remembered having books which could be read from either side. One story started from the front, one from the back. To read either, you just turned the book around and started whichever one you wanted.

So I turned the card around and wrote "Hello!" on the other side. It felt like it needed a bit more, so I added the little arrow.

At this point, I started getting that little buzz of "y'know, this might just work…"

It was decided. You could open the card from either side and get either my work or my personal contact details like one of those start from either end books.

Then I got to the hard bit. The actual words. This probably took the most time of the entire process. Even though my handwriting is terrible (as a result of typing for a living for more years than I care to count), it actually took longer to decide what the words were going to be than it took to write them out twenty times. You'll notice that number differs from the number of cards above. That's because it hurt my hand so much that I just couldn't write any more. So I left the apple green ones and figured I could find a quiet moment to write them up at the conference or whenever, and anyway, I wasn't likely to hand out more than twenty cards, even taking into account the speed networking session.

Job done, I took a photo and uploaded it to flickr to try and stave off any chance of me deciding, in the cold light of day, that they were crap and should be consigned to the bin.

Business Cards (for FOWD Bristol)

Happily, they went down quite well, and to my immense surprise, I actually needed the apple green cards. So much so that by the time I came back from Bristol four weeks later I was all out of cards and needed to make some more.

I'm not sure these cards would work in all situations, and I may yet wind up getting "proper" business cards printed up, but for the moment at least, I think I might continue to use these for situations where the lines between business and personal aren't entirely clear.

Knitter, Printer, Candle-in-a-cup maker

I made this!

I went to a Soya Teacup Candle Workshop at The Make Lounge and came home (slowly and very carefully) with my first handmade candle.

You'll notice I say my first, like I'm going to make more of them.

I probably will.

I just haven't told my other half yet.

It might need to wait a little while before I tell him I've got another hobby to add to the list.

The Make Lounge is a fabulous place to spend a few hours. The space is great and the atmosphere is warm and friendly.

I heartily recommend booking yourself on a workshop. I know I'll be booking myself on a few more in the coming months.

Tour-de-Fleece Spinning Week 1

Tour de Fleece Spinning (Week 1)

I've been spinning. A lot. Almost every day (except the weekend, which got busy with other life type things).

My goal for the Tour de Fleece is to spin enough laceweight Merino Tencel to be able to make something reasonably substantial out of it. Possibly a Clapotis (because apparently, I didn't get it out of my system the first six I made).

Other than that, I've been spinning on a new spindle and I took a bit of a non-laceweight break on Friday night to spin some Yarn Yard Shetland into DK/Aran weight singles, because my hands were cramping up with the fine stuff and I just needed a break.

I'm going to try and get as much spinning in as I can today and tomorrow, because in the wee hours of Wednesday morning my wee sister arrives along with her husband and my 22 month old niece, and I suspect that spinning might well be off the menu once they arrive. I haven't seen them in more than six months, and my niece is, by all accounts, very much her mother's daughter, so will, I imagine, be into everything.


It started innocently enough. A little puff of fibre on my desk, which I rolled between my fingers into a ball. A thought, a splash of water, more rolling, tiny felt pebble. Hmm.

Before I could stop myself, I'd grabbed a bowl of warm soapy water, some roving from the stash and I was making felted beads (some more successfully than others).

Felted Beads

I was originally going to just make a bracelet's worth, but I couldn't stop at just those and kept going for a while longer.

Which is when I realised that my palms were feeling distinctly bruised and painful.

They're still a bit tender and even a bit swollen today.

Note to self: enthusiasm is great, but tone it down when felting.

Perpetual Motion

I've had a stressful couple of weeks, and in times of high stress I turn to spinning, as the one thing that I can do that seems to work off my excess nervous energy. It's not really a time for fine spinning, so first of all, I took the Yarn Yard June Club fibre - Wensleydale (I love Wensleydale!) - and turned it into fairly even DK/Aran weight singles. It went really quickly too, an hour and a half for 200g!

I'm really pleased how it came out.

On the Bobbin

Wensleydale Yarn - Chiminea

That wasn't quite enough for me though, so I took some of the sparkly batts I bought from FeltStudioUK and they become bulky singles, spun fast and loose, without stopping to worry about lumps and bumps.

Sparkly yarn

I'm not sure the finished yarn does any justice to how lovely the batts were before they were spun up, but it was interesting to spin without worrying about bumps - something I'm usually quite pedantic about - it was quite liberating, not to mention a lot speedier.

Speedy being a word I can't really apply to my current project. I'm participating in the Tour de Fleece this year and spinning the limited edition Yarn Yard TdeF fibre, which is a base fibre of Merino Tencel in a gorgeous neutral in shades from silver to hematite via pewter and with sherberty bright contrasting fibre alongside.

Tour de Fleece Fibre

The neutral is well on it's way to becoming laceweight yarn, which is my goal for the TdeF. I want it to be more even and fine than I've ever managed before, and I've managed to keep it up for five days so far.

Merino Tencel Laceweight Singles

I love how it looks on the bobbin, and I'm really pleased with how fine and even it is, but I can't help but think that the plying is going to be a total BITCH. Time will tell.

Further Evidence

They say the first stage of recovering from addiction is admitting you have a problem.


I'm Ann, and I'm a fibre-holic.

Knitting, crocheting, felting, dyeing and spinning just weren't enough for me.

So I bought a loom.

I unboxed it and assembled it:

Loom Unboxing

Then I warped it and started to weave on it:

From Warp to Weaving

It took me a long time to get set up, but when I'd got it all set up, I produced a piece of weaving that's 11 inches by 9 inches in a couple of hours, and that was with all kinds of newbie mistakes and a total lack of any kind of weaving skill.

This shit is FAST, and crack has nothing on it in terms of addictiveness.

It totally rocks.

More Fibrelust

More Fibrelust

I've been having some fun with the dye pots over the last couple of weeks, and this is the result.

Left to right and top to bottom there is:

Wensleydale x 3
British Merino
Wensleydale x 3

I might put some of these up on Etsy later this week, if I can figure out which ones I can bear to part with.

The Natural Way

I heard about Sheep and Wool Day at the Vauxhall City Farm via Ravelry, but didn't hold out much hope of making it along, what with it being on a Saturday, K and I both having hayfever and K being allergic to most furry animals and dust, but without having to do anything in the way of arm twisting, he agreed that we could pop in to see what was going on.

We must been there later than Jane was there, as the sheep that we saw being sheared was white, and considerably less than happy to be suddenly naked than one might expect, given the warmth of the day.

If I'd been less hayfevered up (all hail the great God Clarytin for allowing me to get out of the house) I'd have taken my camera with me, but I wasn't so I don't have any actual pictures from the day (0 out of 10, MUST try harder).

I did take some pictures the last time I was there though, with my niece (who was maybe 14 months old at the time and fell soundly asleep in the car, and remained so during the time we were there, only to wake up on the way home - typical!) and took the following photo and posted it to flickr earlier with the intention of including it with this post. Now, having read Jane's post, I wonder if it's the same sheep she saw being shorn? (or maybe Lamby is the straw covered mop top I posted about months ago?)


Sheep aside, I had a great hour there, chatting to spinners (Hi Helena!) and dyers, and getting predictably excited about the potential for using natural dyes rather than the acid dyes I currently use.

After talking for a while I'm still unconvinced I could get away with natural dyeing at home, but they do have a group who meet (and spin, dye and weave) every Saturday and since the bus goes from here to there directly, I plan on doing my best to get there and get involved, not just for the chance to play with dye, but for the chance to learn from people who clearly really know their stuff.

I left with a gift - a cutting of woad seeds.

Woad seeds

Okay, so I'm probably never going to get as far as growing the plants and then using them to dye fibre while in this house, but the idea of a Scot (who was probably descended from Picts, who allegedly used woad to paint themselves when going to war a la Mel Gibson in Braveheart (ish)) growing woad in a flat in Brixton just appealed to me.