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The word for 2015 – Open


Unravelling 2015

Over the last couple of years, I’ve finished the year with Unravelling by Susannah Conway. I find it really interesting to go back at the end of the year and see how much I have written down has actually happened during the year. I’m sure writing it down settles it enough in my brain to actually start things happening. It’s become part of my Christmas ritual, and I think it’s well worth the time I put into it.

This year my word is Open – I want to say yes more to my children, I want to break out of some ruts that I have going on, I want to be more flexible, and less scrunched up in how I go about things.

I read a quote in the last couple of days that really resonated with me, because frankly I feel compelled to write it after that last paragraph:

One thing I’ve learned: when people end whatever they’re saying with “idk, I’m probably not making any sense,” it usually means they are telling you something very close and personal to them, something that’s such an integral part of their being that they have trouble putting it into words that do it justice.


I often feel compelled to write things like that. I like to tell myself that it’s ok, because I’m not a writer (while stuffing down my secret hopes that actually I could be, maybe?)

But hey, I’ll be honest here a little bit. I want to be open to – for example – breaking out of my jeans and a tee shirt uniform, without breaking the bank, and while keeping my ‘me-ness’.

I want to be open enough to honour my children’s learning explorations, even when they feel overwhelming. I want to say yes, not just put off their requests to some point in the future.

I’m still trying to figure out how to hold myself accountable for the changes I want to make. Maybe I need to break them down more into do-able steps? Maybe I need to review the things I want to do regularly and work out what is working and what is not working?

I’m sorry this isn’t a ’10 steps doing doing whatever’ post. (I love those posts too.) It’s more a ‘here I am in the midst of it all, trying to work out how to do it too.’

Right now I’m using a habit tracking ap on my phone. This way I don’t have to keep everything in my head. (I talked about Bullet Journalling here – I’m getting better at getting things out of my head, and it definitely helps me get more stuff actually done, rather than just dreamed about.) I always have my phone in my pocket (except for right now, when FB is using it to listen to an audio book, while he plays with his lego), so I can go through my list several times a day, and use little pockets of time to get things ticked off before the end of the day.

I try to build in some slack though – I want to be able to count doing something 5 times a week a win, rather than reaching for 7, not being able to achieve it, and having to concede the win for the week. Doing something (taking my vitamins for example) 5 times a week, is better than quitting and not taking them at all, and the improvement I get (in my own head at least) of reaching high enough, without insisting on perfection), is better for it.

Again. I hope this makes sense.

So after a year of Brave (2013) and a year of Nourish (2014) comes a year of being Open.

It’s up to me to make it a good one.


What’s on the needles January 2015?

Kiri shawl wip Jan 2015

Kiri – This languished over the first part of the winter as I got on with Christmas things, but it’s Malabrigo, and I’m probably only about three pattern repeats from the end. The problem is that every time I try to knit it, someone wants to sit on my lap. But I just need to get it done, so that I can actually wear it while it’s still cold. And it’s mostly still cold. Especially when the wind is blowing as hard as it has been recently.


Sock – I bought myself some Regia for my Christmas Stocking this year, and promptly started a sock on Christmas day. This is my out and about sock, but for some reason I actually haven’t been working on it much in the last couple of weeks.


CP’s Cowl – I knit LR a cowl (to replace the one she snipped into last year – yeah it’s was pretty horrifying, but she was 3), in a single session while I was in bed ill, watching Leverage. W was adventuring at the University Museum. It was heaven and just what I needed. I started CP’s cowl straight after, because although she will probably only agree to wear it when it’s REALLY COLD (and who knows if it will get REALLY COLD this year?) but I wanted to have it done, then it’s done and then all three have cowls that will work for the next few years. And now I’ve stalled (because it’s not REALLY COLD and she is nearly 2 and probably will scream blue murder when I try to put it on her.) But I need to get it done.

stripey swatch

Stripey Swatch – The BFF destashed and I got the goodies, which is great because I can’t afford to buy garments worth of yarn right now. This was potentially going to be a stripey Effervescence Cardigan (assuming the swatch worked out) but the swatch was too stiff on the suggested needles, so now I think it’s probably going to be it’s own thing. I need to try the stitch pattern, with the striping to see if it’s really bad or not, and then go from there. (Yeah, I’m not sure what I’m doing, but the colours look really wearable, and I’m looking forward to another go-to cardigan for next autumn.


The rug – I stalled. Mostly because having a toddler around it a bit like having a cat around, when it comes to having a box full of actively-being-used yarn around. But it’s good fun knitting something this big, and it will look great when it’s done, and most of the yarn is sitting there waiting to be knit up. So mostly it’s about getting my evenings back to work on it.

(Also – wow there is a theme there isn’t there, now that I can see all the photos together.)

I wonder what I can get finished before my ‘What’s on the needles February 2015?’ post next month?

What’s on your needles right now?



Is it too late to say Happy New Year?

Book 'The Shortest Day' and zebra socks on a purple blanket

Wow. So Christmas happened! We had the usual lurgy filled early December, but W had holiday to finish up from work, so there were often the two of us around, which was novel.

Christmas itself was spend at home, skyping with family members spread far and wide, taking family walks, and eating our amazing Christmas cake, (you can compare it to last year’s cake.)

Since the new year we have been to the Panto (which was particularly good this year), and now we are back to our day to day lives of work, learning and trying to get the washing dry.

I have high hopes for 2015, but before I tuck 2014 to bed, here are the things I found that really stuck with me last year:

  • Dobble (aka Spot It – in the US) – Various blogs I read talked about this game in the run up to Christmas and I got it on a whim, but I’m really glad I did. I now keep it in my bag so that I can pull it out if we’re out and about. Plus it gets plenty of play at home too. We got the standard version, which it recommends for 6+ but my 4 year old is fine with it. (There are a ton more versions of it in the US including educational ones with letters, numbers and even sight words. There are also rugged waterproof outdoor sets, and character themed sets, like pixar and disney themed ones.)
  • Milly-Molly-Mandy by Joyce Lankester Brisley (ISBN 978-1447273066) – I never read Milly-Molly-Mandy as a child, and picked up one of the books randomly at the library. We read through that in about two sittings, (in fact we probably could have done it in one, since all three were asking for more), and have since gone back and read through the rest. In fact as well as the original books, I have some of the seasonal collections on my phone, in case I need to whip out a story on the fly. They are simple enough that my (bookworm) nearly-2 year old will sit through a story, but engaging enough that FB (who is 6 now), asks for them too. And if you like them, then you should also try Bunchy (ISBN 978-1903252222) which is by the same author.
  • Community (NBC years and now yahoo screen) – I am so late to this party. I am notoriously late to most parties, but since having children my finger is usually off the pulse, and only prodding from the BFF will get to watch something. Luckily she has great taste, and has got me into shows such as Leverage (which you should also check out if you haven’t before now), and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (ditto). She lent me the first four seasons of Community, and then sat patiently while I found the time and the head space to watch it, knowing that when I did I would be texting her to rave about it. (Which I totally did.) She told me it was basically an american ‘Spaced‘, and I didn’t believe her, because I’m a fool, and she was totally right. (Dan Harmon has admitted as much.)
  • Sarah & Duck – Everyone in our house is a bit in love with the cartoon Sarah & Duck. It’s just funny and strange and sweet. And short. It’s our go to programme when I need to brush CP’s hair, (why yes, our nearly 2 year old has hair that reaches more than halfway down her back now, and doesn’t like having it tied back), or where there is time of one more tiny programme while I serve up dinner.  The narration is done by Roger Allam. Having grown up listening to Cabin Pressure, my eldest two don’t bat an eye. I could listen to him talk for hours (though I’m still not going to listen to him read bloody Jeffrey Archer on audible. That would be going too far.
  • Bullet Journalling – I have kept notebooks off and on since I was a teenager, and as a mum I tried various types of To Do list, but after coming across the Bullet Journal video last summer I gave it a go and it’s stuck. It doesn’t keep all my plates spinning, all the time, and not everything that gets written down gets done, but it’s made me a hell of a lot more intentional and productive, and I’ve stuck at it, and don’t plan to stop any time soon.
  • Project-Based Homeschooling Master Class – After doing the Journalling for PBH week long class in the summer, I did the PBH master class last autumn and it was outstanding. Lori is a thoughtful, caring and attentive course leader, full of good ideas, honesty and solid support. I need to go through my materials and put myself through the course again in my own time to be honest. I think I’ll find just as much to learn the second time through.
  • This amazing comic about teaching art by diaemyung – I only found this yesterday, but relates to ‘teaching’ and I found it really inspiring and a Home Ed parent.
  • Junto by Basement Jaxx – In the late-90’s, when I was a student, I lived in Brixton around the corner from a club that Basement Jaxx regularly played at. Or so my housemate told me. I wasn’t cool enough for that. And I was listening to a lot of Belle and Sebastian, and Suede. Now I go running to Basement Jaxx and it’s like pure sunshine in my ears.
  • Wittertainment on Radio 5 – because who doesn’t want to listen to a load of movies I’m not actually going to see, interspersed with old-married-couple arguments and in-jokes from Mark Kermode, and Simon Mayo?
  • Running – As someone who has never enjoyed doing sport, it amazes me that I actually completely the couch to 5km program last year. But I did. And it was fantastic. I really enjoyed it. And then I hurt myself. And then winter came. BUT… the thing it that I know I can start back at a level I feel comfortable at and work my way back up again. And that feels revolutionary.

So there you go. Thanks 2014. You were a tough year in many respects, but there was some really good stuff there too.

In 2015 I’m planning more dyeing, more patterns (VAT be damned!), and more writing here.

What lit you up last year?

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Pin wheel blanket for my nephew

Pin wheel blanket for my nephew

Pin wheel blanket for my nephew

Pin wheel blanket for my nephew

At the very end of November, my sister had her first baby, a little boy. It’s exciting to see her and her husband become parents, and we’re looking forward to seeing them all in the spring, when the come over from Ireland to visit. In the meantime hand knits, including this baby blanket have been made, and sent over in time for his arrival.

We have a good set up going, my sister and I. Each of my children have a knitted baby blanket from me, and a stitched quilt from my sister. (You can see FB’s quilt here, and LR’s apparently still needs photographing, but that’s ok, because it also needs a wash, and so I will photograph it and post about it while it is blowing outside. but it is amazing, and has kept us warm for two winters now.)

Anyway the set up still works now that she is the one growing her family. They still get a knitted baby blanket from me, and a quilt from their mum.

This one was knit in OKY Aran, about 300g of ‘Milk’, 100g of ‘Custard’ and a small amount of ‘Pansy’. It’s a pinwheel blanket, with a knit-on border, which gives it a lovely stretchy cast off, but I have to admit, was a bit daunting to knit. Knit on borders always look amazing but feel endless while I’m knitting them. Luckily this one seemed to get quicker and quicker, the more I knit it (funny that, I know!) and suddenly, just when it seemed the blanket would never be done… it was.

Hopefully it’ll keep my sister’s beautiful baby warm and comfy through the winter.


The Banner Scarf Kits are in the shop ready for Christmas!

Banner Scarf

Banner Scarf

Limited Edition Banner Scarf Kit 1/15

Limited Edition Banner Scarf Kit 1/15 £34

Limited Edition Banner Scarf Kit 2/15

Limited Edition Banner Scarf Kit 2/15 £34

Limited Edition Banner Scarf Kit 3/15

Limited Edition Banner Scarf Kit 3/15 £34

Limited Edition Banner Scarf Kit 4/15

Limited Edition Banner Scarf Kit 4/15 £34

Limited Edition Banner Scarf Kit 5/15

Limited Edition Banner Scarf Kit 5/15 £34

Limited Edition Banner Scarf Kit 6/15

Limited Edition Banner Scarf Kit 6/15 £34

Limited Edition Banner Scarf Kit 7/15

Limited Edition Banner Scarf Kit 7/15 £34

The Banner Scarf started life as a way of showing off all the small test dyes I did while I was working up to starting OxfordKitchenYarns. It became the banner for my first show. However so many people tried in on, and wanted to make their own that I finally knuckled down and wrote up the pattern, including a full alphabet of letters that can be used to over-stitch your own banner, or whatnot.

Which of course brought me to kits.

There are 15 Limited Edition Banner Scarf Kits, each numbered and carefully photographed. The one you order is the one you get. There are each slightly different, and given that you can choose your final order, each final scarf will be a one of a kind.  Once the kits sell out, there won’t be any more till next November. So get them while stocks last, and all that. :)

Each kit has the 20 mini skeins you need for the squares, and a larger 25g skein of OKY DK ‘Milk’ for over-stitching the letters. You get a printed copy of the pattern, and a code for a free .pdf of the pattern via Ravelry.

Alternatively you can buy a copy of the pattern from Ravelry (£2.50) and use up your own precious bits and pieces you’ve been saving.

Banner Scarf Pattern


Shop Update!

OxfordKitchenYarns Aran 'Ivy'

OxfordKitchenYarns Aran 'Midnight'

OxfordKitchenYarns Aran 'Marmalade'

OxfordKitchenYarns Sock 'Sky'

OxfordKitchenYarns Sock 'Evergreen'

OxfordKitchenYarns Sock 'Marmalade'

New Aran and sock yarn in the shop!

I’ll be back on friday for a couple of special announcements!

Knitsonik Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook
It’s worth pointing out that I’m pretty biased about the author of this book. Felicity Ford and I were both part of the Oxford Bluestockings stitch n bitch (up until I had FB back in 2008), she was the first person to buy any OxfordKitchenYarns, and when I told her my plan to start my naturally dyeing business she replied “fantastic!”

She even drove my stock and me to my first show in 2007.

And now she has created a book and put it out into the world. If it wasn’t very good I probably would have bought it anyway, but not talked about it on the blog.

But the reality is that it’s clever, and thorough and heartfelt and really creative and while I’m writing this I have no idea what images I’m going to post from it, because I want to choose all of them.

 Knitsonik Stranded Colourwork Sourcebook

And she did it from start to finish in a year!
I think colour work is both fascinating and daunting. It feels like there is a lot of work between having your idea, and actually picling up your needles. But Felix grabs your hand and enthusiastically leads you through finding inspiration, creating colour work patterns, creating a pallet that will work, playing with colour in swatches, and after all that gives you great pre-designed colour-work and accessory patterns in case you want to jump right in.

It’s all clear, and friendly. And you’ll come out a better knitter. Or at least I know I will.

So there you have it. I backed her on Kickstarter and it was so very worth it.

And if you want to see it for yourself, you can find out more here..

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Circle Time Basket – Autumn 2014



(Precursor – We are currently a home educating family, mostly because we can be. This is the start of our second year, and we are really enjoying it. And while this isn’t strictly a home ed/homeschool blog, I will probably share things about this part of our lives here from time to time. Particularly when it comes to books. But you already knew I was crazy about books. ;)

After a break of all of the summer I’ve restarted circle time/morning meetings and I finally gathered everything together into the basket I used last year.

Here’s what’s in my basket at the moment:

  •  October song (find link from pinterest)  This is slightly pre-emptive since FB has only just started reading, but he is interested in how words are spelt and LR loves songs and months are something that hasn’t totally clicked. So I’m giving these songs a go.
  • What to look for in Autumn by E. L. Grant Watson (ladybird 072140099X)  We read this last year and it really informed our family walks. It’s dated but given my children’s love of historical farming, that doesn’t much matter.
  • Year Round things to do (aka something to do – puffin 978-0140302370 ) (folio society – doesn’t have an ISBN weird.) This is a great book full of Shirley Hughes illustrations. Each month has sections on key (christian centric) festivals, british historical dates, a bird, flower, and pet of fhe month. There are seasonal outdoor and indoor activities, recipes, gardening information, games, songs and poems. Again, old fashioned (first published in 1966) but full of good stuff.
  • The singing year by candy verney (hawthorn press 1903458390) I love this book. I have the companion book ‘the singing day’ too and they are both great. They are full of seasonal poems as well as songs so we do a bit of both.
  • Autumn (wynstones press 0946206481) I find the songs from these books tricky because i don’t sight read music cold. (i wish someone would record the songs – maybe they already have? I should check.) but the poems are great. I tend to crack it open at random and read whatever I come across.
  • Usbourne Internet Linked First Atlas (usbourne 9680746053454) my mil gave us this book and I’m letting the children pick a double page spread they want me to read. We already have a wall map so they have a basic understanding of the world.
  • Usbourne travel activity pad (usbourne 9781409561910) My god mother brought this for FB when she visited in the summer. I am planning to do a page or two from it at a time. It’s got a nice mixture of activities and is encouraging FB to do some letter and number writing practice, without feeling too worksheety.
  • The Squirrel Book by phyllis kelway (collins) Another vintage book I picked up at Oxfam. (This time from 1944). I haven’t read any of it yet, but the park opposite us is full of squirrels so it’s at least relevant. I’ll let you know how we get on.
  • Bunchy by Joyce Lankester Brisley (jane nissen books 1903252229)
    We are in the middle of a Milly Molly Mandy kick at the moment, which everyone is thoroughly enjoying (except daddy who things they are too repetitive.) I never read them when I was a child and so I’m enjoying them for the first time right along with the children. This is written by the same author, about a girl who lives in the countryside with her grandmother and who has to literally make herself some friends. We read the first chapter this afternoon, it was lovely and the children have been asking for more ever since. I’m guessing this is about the move into a bedtime book and I’ll have to find something else. Always a good sign. :) (Expect a post about Joyce Lankester Brisley – there is one in the pipelines!)
  • Autumn by Gerda Muller (floris 9780863151910) and Jamberry by Bruce Degen (harper 0694006513) are there for HB (who is now 19 months) either to look at or read as something her-centric to mix things up a bit.
  • Taking Turns (cherrytree 9781842344989) and Owning Up (cherrytree 9781842344965) are part of a series of books W’s aunt bought FB when she heard we were home edding. They are what used to be called PSE (personal and sociel education) when i was at school).
  • (not photographed because it was a late addition to the basket) Wildlife Watch from the wildlife trust (which my mum sends the childen). These magazines get looked at a lot but not really read so I realised we could read a bit at circle time and get more out of them.
Important! We don’t do everything every circle time! We just do a bit. As an illustration, this what we did today:

– 2 songs from The Singing Year
– 2 small mazes and a number problem from the Travel Activity Pad
– 3 pages from the September chapter of Year Round Things to Do
– 2 pages from First Atlas about how maps work
– October Song
– 1 chapter from Bunchy
– 3 short poems from Autumn

That still sounds like a lot doesn’t it? We were probably there for half an hour, but since we were hanging out on the double bed, we were comfy. And if they were getting wiggly I would have stopped sooner.

I really like circle time because it ticks a ton of boxes for me as the (home ed) parent. I know I have read to them, and touched on a number of interesting, seasonal things that might then turn up in our day to day lives. (For example LR pointed out rose hips in a front garden we passed, on our way to our friend’s house, and told me we had learnt about them in a book. Which we had. At circle time.) We have done a bit of maths and literacy so I can basically consider the ‘schoolly’ bit of the day done, leaving plenty of room for interest led things and play. Plus curling up with my children and reading stuff is just fun.

And when the ‘omg am I doing enough?’ panic sets in (which obviously it does for me, just as much as with anyone else), this and my home ed journal are my life raft.


New in the Shop (and at Darn it and Stitch)

in the shop - 5th Oct 2014

OxfordKitchenYarns September 2014 whole order to Darn it and StitchSo after a short, unscheduled breaks, when my computer finally died and had to be replaced, there is great new yarn in the shop, and at Darn it and Stitch.

Also, if you want to be updated with OxfordKitchenYarns as they come into the shop, on your Pinterest dashboard you can join the OxfordKitchenYarns board.

Now the weather is getting cooler (a bit cooler, anyway) I’ve been knitting up some small projects in OxfordKitchenYarns which I’ll start posting next week.

Happy October everyone!


New in the shop!

shop update 17th Sept 2014

shop update 17th Sept 2014

shop update 17th Sept 2014

There is new yarn in the shop!

More sock yarns, plus the start of the DK, Aran and Chunky yarns.

A very pleasing early Autumn spread of yellows and greens. :)

More very soon… (as well as the using crafting, and book posts.)

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