≡ Menu

honey harvest 2014



Honey Harvest 2014

Honey Harvest 2014

Honey Harvest 2014

Honey Harvest 2014

Honey Harvest 2014

Honey Harvest 2014


On a very wet Bank Holiday Monday we did our honey harvest for the year (with help from our friends). Unfortunately we lost the weaker of the two hives last winter, and while we hoped the other hive would swarm so that we could repopulate the second hive, it didn’t happen. Maybe next year.

We had a good harvest regardless, while leaving enough to keep the bees fed all winter. Everyone pitches in, and while we all end up pretty sticky by the end of it, it’s very satisfying filling up the pots and jars, ready to eat and give away over the next year.

Watching the bees clean out the drum, once we’re finished with it, is possible my favourite part of the whole thing. (Not counting honey on toast!)


What I’m knitting right now.

secret project for my sister

I currently have two many projects on the go. And certainly too many projects not knit in OxfordKitchenYarn to be able to call knitting on them ‘work’. ;) But I thought I would show you the ones I have actually been working on this week.

Firstly the photo above is a sneak preview of the baby blanket that will be heading off to my sister in Ireland in the next couple of months.  I’m really enjoying it (especially once I put it on a better needle), and it’s knit in OxfordKitchenYarns Aran (milk, lemon curd, and pansy).  I’ll show you the finished thing, once my sister has it safe at her house.

more Sand Dollar Dish Cloths

more Sand Dollar Dish Cloths

more Sand Dollar Dish Cloths

Next up are MORE dish cloths.

These are knit in Louisa Harding Yarns ‘Noema’, which is a cotton, acrylic, polyamide blend (heavy on the cotton at 75%), with great variegated colour and a hint of shimmer to it. I’m getting two dish cloths to a ball, easily, and I’m really pleased with the finished cloths. (I might have to look more closely at what other colours there are in the range.

Remixed Country Kiddie

Remixed Country Kiddie

The final thing I’m showing you this week, is another Country Kiddie (I think I’ve knit about 8 now!), though this one is heavily remixed, and made bigger than the pattern goes to. It’s for FB, and it’s probably about 2″ from being finished. Poor FB, I keeping picking it up and telling her it’s nearly done!, and then getting distracted by something else that needs finishing first. Luckily I’m the driving force behind the project, rather than her, so she doesn’t mind really. She just likes that mummy is knitting her something.

Fingers crossed that she wears it.

(I can’t remember what the yarn is. Sorry.)


And just to bring a bit more reality to this post – this is what the rest of the table looked like. :)


I really love books.

No really.

I probably buy a handful of books a week (including ebooks.)

My happy place is a bookshop, which makes Oxford an ideal place to live since we have the sprawling, multi venue Blackwells, with it’s Bond villain lair ‘The Norrington Room‘. Plus a live in a bit of the city that is full of charity shops and people who read a lot, which means that a lot of our children’s book are second hand and we have stumbled across some great books that way.

Anyway… I’ve been wanting to add a bigger book element to the blog, and so I thought I’d show you some of the books that pass through our front door each month. They won’t be ‘finger on the pulse’ brand new stories, but they will all be books that we love and which I would happily buy for someone else.

I’m still trying to work out how I want to link to the books. I’m reticent to just link to Amazon (even though that seems to be the blogger standard), mostly because I have stopped using their main site, and have just stuck to using the smaller sellers in the Amazon market place, as well as supporting local bookshops.  After reading various reports about how they treat their warehouse employees I decided that I couldn’t buy things that went through their warehouses any more. However I’m not sure that just posting the title, author and ISBN is enough?

Readers – what would you prefer?

2014-07-24 10.12.56

2014-07-24 10.13.24

Off to Market by Elizabeth Dale (ISBN 978-1847804389) about a community of people who go off to market on the local bus, and a small boy’s compassion and cheerful spirit. This book made me smile and the illustrations bustle with life.


2014-08-20 13.29.58

2014-08-20 13.30.38

A Street Through Time by Steve Noon (ISBN – 978-1409376446) My friend N recced this to me for my eldest, since her eldest was enjoying it and I agree that it’s a great over view book. Again, the illustrations are packed with drama and detail, and it’s a good over view of life in different time periods. After studying Vikings for much of this last year with FB and LR, it’s been useful for showing them what came before, and what came directly after. I can see us getting our own copy once this goes back to the library.

2014-07-24 10.13.35

2014-07-24 10.14.12

Actual Size by Steve Jenkins (ISBN - 978-0547512914) i really like Steve Jenkins’ work (we also have bones and there is a Prehistoric version of Actual Size that I know will be a hit in our house.) This book show things the actual size that they are, which is great for allowing children to compare their physical selves with other animals. We spent a lot of time a gape while going through this book. :)

2014-08-20 13.25.54

2014-08-20 13.25.45

I am blessed to have a BFF who is an educational librarian, (actually I’m very lucky she is my BFF for countless reasons. The librarian bit is only one small one. ) This means that visits sometimes include books she has picked up for us, all of which (seriously) have been excellent.

She brought Shaker Lane by Alice and Martin Provensen (ISBN – 074452234X) the last time she visited,  and it turned out to be a wonderfully simple but nuanced book about class and community.

2014-08-20 13.31.05

2014-08-20 13.30.57

I want my hat back by Jon Klassen (ISBN – 978-1406338539) is another of her presents, and her first reading of the book to the children sticks in my mind, and is the basis of my readings of it now. :) I love picture books that tell you the story without actually telling you a story.


So there you go. :) Do you have any children’s book recs?




New Pattern: Sand Dollar Dish Cloth

Sand Dollar Dish cloth


Sand Dollar Dish cloth


Sand Dollar Dish cloth

Sand Dollar Dish cloth
Sand Dollar Dish Cloth Pattern £1.50


This is the Sand Dollar Dish Cloth. I’ve been knitting and using these cloth for about a year and I’m still completely addicted to them. They use about half a 50g ball of DK cotton* so you can get a nicely matching pair from one ball, or just use up those bits and pieces of DK cotton that seem to collect in everyone’s stash.

There are knit from the outside in, which means that seem to speed up the more you knit them! No. More. Boring. Dishcloth. Knitting!

The trickiest bit is the cast on, and making sure the first row isn’t twisted. After that it’s a race to the end. :) They’re perfect for carrying around in your bag, or car knitting, since the pattern is easy to read once you’ve established it. And the finished cloth is the ideal dish cloth or wash cloth size.

They have become my default dish cloth, as they are the perfect size for getting the washing up done, and when they need a thorough cleaning they machine wash and wear really well.

I hope you enjoy knitting them. I can’t wait to see what they look like!





*(I know! My first pattern that’s not free and it’s not even in OxfordKitchenYarns yarn!)


Oliver and S Rollerskate Tunic


Oliver and S Rollerskate Tunic

After the Festival of Quilts last Saturday, I was itching to try out the Oliver and S Roller skate dress pattern I picked up. I couldn’t use any of the new fabric I bought because it was all drying on the line, and I wanted to check the size and fit before committing new shiny fabric to the pattern so I looked through the stash and found these two fabrics, plus an old shirt of W’s for the lining. The pattern came together really well, and it was the first time I’d done a notched neckline.

I’m really pleased with the final top, and LR has worn it twice an really likes it, even though it’s not a colour she would usually pick. So I’m calling it a success!

There are more of these in my future, I can see, and I’ll be picking up the bigger sized pattern too, since LR is going to size out in the next year or so.


Festival of Quilts 2014!

The post-festivalof quilts fabric wash

The post-festival of quilts fabric wash

This year was the first time in 6 years(!) that I was neither pregnant, nor had a small baby with me at the festival of quilts. It was strangely liberating. :)

After all this time, Jaq and I have our trip down to a fine art. We arrive as the show is starting on the saturday, we don’t buy a programme so we have no idea where anything is, we go up and down the aisles, and take photos of the booth numbers when we find a place we want to go back to, we ignore the quilts completely (sorry!), and when we arrive at The Eternal Maker‘s booth, we spend a bit of money, and then stop for lunch. (In the last couple of years we have learned to take a packed lunch with us. This saves time, and money.)

Then we carry on where we left off, looking at the rest of the booths, then we go back and hit all the places we want to go back to, including dropping more money at The Eternal Maker. If we need anything from Doughty‘s then we do that last. At about 3.30pm we look at each other and say ‘are we done?’ and then we go home. We get home before W and the children come back from whatever they are doing, have a drink and a snack and a sit down and go through all the things we have bought.

This year (probably due to it being just the two of us, as I said), felt really relaxed. The walk ways between rows of booths felt wider, and though it was busy it didn’t feel squished. We both bought great stuff – I got some great pompom kits for the children (which I’ll do a post on after I give them to them), and Jaq got a brilliant ruler and foot set for quilting.

As for the fabric – the yellow flowered piece is going to be a curtain for the back room, there are camera and Charlie Harper trousers for FB, a toucan dress in the pipeline of LR, and a snail top for HB. Plus honey bee’s and princess’s and peas, and grey and yellow linen that will be made into good things over the next year.

It’s always so exciting to go to the festival for me. I feel like a buyer for my own tiny home label – it really is a good 80-90% of the fabric I’ll be using for the year, it’s the trousers and shorts and dresses that my children will be wearing in the next year or so, and most of it is picked in a frantic 20 minutes in The Eternal Maker booth. I love it! And I can’t wait to do it next year!


(Note for readers – I’m not affiliated with any of the companies I’ve mentioned. I don’t make any money off them. I just really like them. )








updated exhibit poster

(I really liked it.)


updated exhibit poster

Rachel setting up at Oxford Cathedral

Rachel setting up at Oxford Cathedral

I don’t do many commissioned dye lots right now, as a general. It’s something I stopped advertising through the shop* once life here started getting filled with small children.

But every so often a request comes through that is too interesting to turn down.

Would I like to dye nearly 11,000m of yarn for an artist who is exhibiting at the Cathedral? YES!

So off to the woad pots I went on a wet sunday afternoon, and tonight I get to see what has become of the yarn. It’s very exciting, especially having seen the test pieces, and wallowed in the colours (oh woad, I do love your magical soul!)



*Shop update: having currently neither the time nor the patience for zencart I have moved OxfordKitchenYarns to etsy. I’m planning to open the shop in the next month. More news to follow.


It is what it is.


2014-06-28 16.10.02

Poor OxfordKitchenYarns. With small children to look after, family has had to come first this year. The last few years have been a cycle of dyeing while pregnant, going on maternity leave and then coming back to restart things (yet again) but with the added excitement of another baby to add into the mix.

This is not a precursor to announcing I’m pregnant by the way, it’s a just a reflection on the fact that in November OKY will be seven years old (!) and, here I am, feeling like I’m (re)starting up again.

Regardless of all the starting and stopping, and the wonderful and exhausting chaos of family life with three children under six, I’ve never thought of giving up. The idea of not dyeing, not exploring all the amazing and surprising things that come out of my dye pots, has never struck me as an option. I love dyeing yarn. I love making things from my yarn and selling my yarn, and seeing all the things that other people make from it.

So yes, it’s been a hard winter, a wet winter full of many niggly small child illnesses, back to back grown-up colds and not enough time at the dye pots. It’s been a spring that’s flown by in a blur. But now it is summer, and my baby is now a small person in her own right. The sky is mostly blue, and there are designs on the needles, and yarn in the dye.

I’m starting over yet again, a little older, and little wiser and still in love with my tiny yarn business.

Thanks for sticking by me. I’ve lots of fun things to show you.


Merry Christmas!

Wow December has been a battle of lurgy verses Christmas preparations. Ultimately lurgy pretty much won, throwing down a vomiting bug that took out 4 out of the 5 of us last week and meant that most of our cards have not gone out, including all the local ones.

Plus the only parcel that needs to go out hasn’t even really been started.- The cake that’s supposed to go in it isn’t even baked, so that’s something that will happen next week and get to my great aunt between Christmas and New Year.

But there are presents and food in the house, we don’t have to travel anywhere, and hopefully we’ll all be back to 100% by wednesday, so maybe, in the end Christmas has won after all!

Two bits of Oxford Kitchen Yarns newsDarn it and Stitch are getting a regular and stable supply of Oxford Kitchen Yarn into their shop, so right now, if you want some OKY yarn then they are your best bet.

(There isn’t much of the Chunky left for this year, so if you want some of that, better get their sooner rather than later, because I think I have about 5 skeins left to give them till next winter.)

And, in the new year, I’ll work on getting a new and improved online shop open, and regularly stocked. Finally! (again.)

Many thanks to all my customers, both old and new! I really appreciate you supporting my business, especially through another funny year of having a baby. I’m excited about all the new dyes (and YARNS!) I’ve got in the pipelines for next year.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...