Waste not, want not….

Waste not, want not….

I doubt if there are many knitters who do not have a stash of UFOs (unfinished objects) lurking in dark, dusty cupboards and little-heeded work bags.

It is easy to deny their existence – “Me? Of course I wouldn’t waste all that time and energy and yarn upon something that is never completed and never used.  That’s not at all thrifty!” Well…that’s what we LIKE to think about ourselves, but how many of us can honestly say that we really do finish everything we start?  And there MUST be knitters apart from myself who cheerily buy nice big bundles of bright new yarn for exciting new projects, whilst the old projects lie abandoned in overlooked corners – the Miss Havishams of the haberdashery world, left forever on the shelf.

(I don’t know whether knitting yarn is counted as haberdashery.  It’s just that I like the alliteration.)

Well…I am no longer in denial.  I am being big and brave and facing up to the forlorn fragments in the back bedroom, and I am doing something about them.  I began by making a headband from a strip of glittery blue yarn, whose original purpose I have quite forgotten.   I then remembered a jumper in lace knit that I began over three years ago.  The yarn was quite fine and I kept getting lost with the lace pattern – in the end, I grew frustrated with the project and gave up.  I was left with a completed front, and half a back, which I had at least cast off so that it wouldn’t fray into a jumble of yarn, only fit for a kitten to play with.

Yesterday, that abandoned jumper began to haunt me – so today, the two pieces came downstairs and they were turned into Useful Things.  The completed front proved to be adequately shawl shaped, so I simply found a flower brooch to pin it together, and that was one problem solved.

The smaller piece sort of made a kind of hat, but with quite a bit of material left over at the back.  Husband Phil (who is a weaver, and therefore, clever) advised me to make a braid to tie up the excess material.  I found some lengths of coarse yarn in colours that felt right, and then Phil led me into crafting activities that were entirely new to me…so it feels as if today has been a day of high adventure.

This is now the time to reveal just some of the strange artefacts that can be found in the Newton household.  Because Phil first of all produced a FRINGE TWISTER, which proved to be a very exciting gadget, with four clips that resembled pretty mean-looking crocodiles lying menacingly in front of a turny-thing (I expect there is a technical term for the latter – a handle, perhaps?)  Anyway, that was fun to use…and after that, the FELTING NEEDLES were placed before me to complete the braided effect.  So all in all, a good evening in.  Photo at the top of the page.

There are still plenty of UFOs lurking upstairs, so if you are one of my relatives, you may have lots of good things coming your way.  This Christmas, you might just be getting a toe nail warmer that was originally intended as a cardigan.  Or a fruit cosy whose original ambition was to become part of a sock.  Doubtless, it never before occurred to you that you needed these objects, but I can assure you that once they are in your life, you will wonder how you ever functioned without them.  I look forward to all your ‘thank you’ letters in the New Year…





Intrepid travelling mittens

Yesterday, I did one of my favourite things –  I packed my bag, and set off for a day of walking and knitting.  I took a mitten pattern and some bright red wool with me, and worked at various places along the way.

I began in Redland and finished at Southmead Hospital, where I had an afternoon appointment.  Nothing dire – simply Week Two of my CBT course.  I am trying to overcome a phobia of…well, getting locked in a loo…which as you can imagine is er, a little inconvenient from time to time.

There were good experiences along the way.  I enjoyed knitting in various parks and listening to the bird-music on offer.  In Alexandra Gardens, an invisible goldcrest was wielding its needle-thin song, whilst in Muller Road Recreational Gardens, a blackbird was a right diva, with a backing chorus of sparrows, a robin, some goldfinch and a blackcap.

And the world was filled with flower perfume!  I love the scent of roses, and the orange blossom really bowls me over.  I like privet too – it’s a very NOSTALGIC scent, reminding me of neighbourhood gardens when I was a child.  But I can’t cope with palm tree flowers.  They smell of calamine lotion and remind me of having chickenpox.

During my travels, I walked past Zetland Road Evangelical Church.  This is a conspicuous building  because it bears a huge sign, proclaiming to the world that ‘GOD IS LOVE’.  Yesterday though,  I noticed a small plaque attached to its exterior, which gave some of the history of the church.  There I learnt that the original building was in Stokes Croft but  sadly, that edifice was completely destroyed during the Blitz.  Well, not QUITE completely.  Just one part of it was salvaged – and that was the ‘GOD IS LOVE’ sign.  How beautiful is that?

I have no sense of direction and often walk round in circles.  But I did eventually find myself in Downend Road and that filled me with joy, because I knew there was something worth visiting there.  I walked until I reached October Lane, turned into it – and there it was.

Downend Farm is a beautiful, gabled 17th century building that only exists because some local folk fought valiantly to save it.  During the Civil War, some Cavaliers sheltered there and painted a mural above the fireplace, depicting the Bristol battle that they had just fled from.  Unfortunately, it was painted over by some workmen who didn’t realise its value, which is such a shame.  But at least the farm building still exists, and I love to come across it in its hiding-place at the heart of suburbia.

I knitted outside the main entrance of the hospital, and fell into conversation with a fellow-patient.  I asked him if he had a story for this blog, but he simply looked very dejected and told me that nothing exciting ever happened to him.  That decided, we then fell into general conversation where I learnt about some of the exciting events of his life.  As he said, “I guess we all have a story to tell, even if we don’t recognise it.”

Week 2 of the CBT class was good.  There is one problem, though – the loos in the building where we meet epitomise everything that terrifies me about toilets.  But one of the facilitators turned it into a positive and said that we could use it as a training ground for me – I could lock myself in there for two seconds…then a bit more…and so on.

“If I can achieve that”, I declared, “I shall celebrate with chocolate!”  In fact, I felt so excited that I decided to start work immediately after the session.

We finished.  I passed the toilets, thought, “Hmm…maybe next week” and went on.  But do you know what?  I still celebrated with chocolate.  Because at least I THOUGHT about doing it.  And thinking is, after all, half the battle.

And by the time I had reached home, I was ready to start shaping the thumb on the first mitten. Yes – yesterday was a good day.



A curious encounter with knitted critters…

I have just returned from a coffee-drinking session with an old friend.  A fairly ordinary occurrence and not particularly newsworthy (although of course, very pleasant!).  But something so odd happened during that time that I decided it needed to be blogged  – in fact, it needs to be relayed to the entire known universe (and the unknown one – the dark matter needs to know as well.  Plus any parallel universes that happen to have an Internet connection).

As we approached the coffee shop, we noticed that there were lots of beautiful knitted objects adorning the threshold.  Flowers, more flowers, bees, ladybirds…

“That is so weird..”, I said to my friend.

Several years ago, my ex father-in-law rang me and told me that he had found some of my belongings in his attic, and would I like to collect them?  So I paid a visit to my old stamping-ground and found a small heap of miscellaneous objects waiting to be reclaimed.

One of the items was a Woman’s Weekly magazine, dated 1983.  I flicked through it and found some wonderful knitted patterns for critters – bumble bees and ladybirds and the like.  So I decided to use the patterns.  Before long, I had produced a veritable menagerie and I began selling my creations at local fetes.

Well…looking at the bumble bees and ladybirds on display, I became certain that they were mine!  I can only surmise that somebody bought them years ago, and then decided to use them this week.  Of course, it could also be a crazy egocentric thing going on, that has convinced me that my life has had a far greater impact on the world than it really has.

All the same, I decided to ask the lady who served us what the knitting was all about.  “We have been yarn bombed”, she replied.  I explained the kinship that I felt with certain objects.  “Can’t tell you who did it, can’t direct you to the person to ask”, she said.  But I sensed she was hiding something…

“Shall I give you my phone number, and if the yarn bombers want to contact me, they can?” I offered.  She assented to this, but insisted there were no guarantees that it would work.  I then spent several minutes looking for my number before giving up (technology is not one of my strong points).  Then my friend found it on her phone, although I almost accidentally copied down the wrong details.  I think the number I almost mistook for mine may have belonged to her dentist.  Imagine how worried he would have felt if he had heard a gruff voice  inviting him to meet ‘The Hood (knitted in cable) ‘ at such and such a time and place.

Anyway, the phone number has been passed across and it would be so good if someone did  contact me.  What will happen if they do?  Will I be instructed to wait inside the dimly-lit snug of The Dog And Duck at 19.37 hours, wearing a (knitted) red carnation?

And of course, if I am contacted I will not be able to share it on this blog because it will be a secret society.  So wish me luck before I go under cover…