Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Sad news

Happy times - me (left), mum & Laura

As some fellow ravellers might know, my lovely mum Viktoria Hoggan passed away on 17th November after a 7 month battle against cancer. The tumour began in her chest, growing very slowly over a number of years with no symptoms at all. By the time mum was diagnosed in mid-April the cancer had already spread to her lower spine & brain stem, meaning that at best all the doctors could do was slow the progress of the disease. Despite taking all the treatments recommended by her oncologist mum sadly lost her fight.

Mum was the absolute centre of our (very large) family. Any special occasion or family party, mum was right there in the midst of it all. Everyone descended on mum & dad's house at Christmas - me & mine, my brother & sister with their families, my gran, aunties, uncles & even my grown-up cousins & their kids. Some of us would have been there since lunch when it wasn't uncommon for mum to wind up making the full turkey dinner for upwards of 16 people! Mum loved to have people around her, especially the wee ones & absolutely doted on her grandkids (she asked me at my wedding reception when I was gonna make her a granny).

I can't believe she's gone. I knew (we all knew), soon as we heard that the cancer had spread to her brain, that mum wasn't gonna get better but I don't think any of us realised that she would be gone so fast. Mum didn't complain though - not once. There were tears of course but she never asked 'why me?' (although you can be damn sure that the rest of us were & still are asking 'why her?'). She never felt any self-pity & was more concerned at how the rest of us were coping with her illness than she was about herself. She was an inspiration to us all - as was my dad who nursed her at home until the last month of her life. When mum was taken into hospital dad ran himself ragged working, looking after the house & spending every available minute he could with mum, even if he was just sitting quietly watching her sleep.

I miss my mum every day - I can't see how this pain will ever go away. I keep thinking I'm okay, I'm getting along & doing the stuff I have to do then WHAM! it hits me again & I'm in bits. Keeping busy helps, as does planning fund-raising stuff (I'll be joining my sister & 2 of my aunties in flinging ourselves in the River Forth on New Years Day to raise funds for breast cancer research) but you have to rest sometimes & that's when the grief usually bites. Ravelry has been great - I've had lovely messages of support & sympathy from people I've gotten to know & when I can't sleep I can log on & spend a few hours aimlessly surfing the boards. In fact it's thanks to the generosity of some fellow-ravellers that I'm able to help my sister in some fundraising . . .


My younger sister Laura (the bridesmaid in the photo above) is doing a SOLO SKYDIVE on 7th February 2009 to raise funds for the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. Her target is £1000 & to help her reach this I'm organising a prize draw.


A number of wonderful ravellers from the UK Spinners forum have kindly donated prizes of -

1) 100g of Wensleydale roving, hand-dyed in shades of red & orange donated by Babylonglegs -

2) A $30 gift certificate for Spindlefrog on etsy donated by helix

3) A set of hand-made love-heart stitch markers donated by Wyndwitch -

4) 100g braid of blue superwash merino roving from Freyalyn on etsy donated by belaybunny -

5) A custom-carded sparkly batt or 100g of custom-dyed sock yarn donated by vampy

6) A $30 gift certificate for Shunklies on etsy donated by Shunklies

7) 'Flumps' yellow/pink handspun yarn donated by kraftykoala -

8) 100g of 70%BFL/30%Silk in ‘winter sky’ colourway - dark blue, mid-blue and grey donated by moggle -

9) A hand-made spindle/project bag from andsewtoknit on etsy donated by andsewtoknit

10) A braid of hand-dyed Falkland roving donated by Artis-Anne of Mam a Mi on etsy -

11) A braid of hand-dyed fibre or 2 sets of stitch markers donated by goldfishgirl of Wildcraft

12) Lornas Laces yarn donated by rdodo

13) Lornas Laces limited edition yarn in 'Irish Jig' donated by katt94 -

14) A $25 gift certificate for Needle Bling on etsy donated by Beth123B

15) 100g of natural coloured bamboo spinning fibre donated by Otiva

16) 100g of white bamboo top donated by Na-Na

17) 95g of BFL in Gathering Roses purchased from chrispindle on etsy donated by me*

18) A hand-made row counter pin & matching stitch markers donated by me

19) 100g of English wool tops KoolAid-dyed by me in colours chosen by the winner (I hope my dyeing skillz are up to it!)*

*If these are won by a non-spinner I will be more than happy to turn them into an approximately DK/worsted weight yarn on Daphne, my lovely Ashford Traditional wheel.


This is very easy. Just go to Laura's JustGiving page & make a donation. For every £2 donated your name will be entered once into the prize draw. For each multiple of £2 your name will be entered the appropriate number of times so £4 will get you 2 entries, £6 3 entries & so on. Anyone who donates £10 will receive an extra entry - 6 for the price of 5. Then just PM me on ravelry (if you're a raveller) or add a comment on this post (if you're a non-raveller) to let me know that you have donated & I'll do the rest.

IMPORTANT - DO NOT TICK THE GIFT AID BOX. The charity can not claim Gift Aid on any donations made in the hope of winning a prize so ticking the box means I will be unable to include you in the draw.

This draw is open to everyone, everywhere - I will happily pay international postage on all prizes mailed overseas. For non-UK donors there is an info page here.

The raffle will be open until 21st December & will be drawn on 22nd December by Alison, owner of The Mad Crafter. Prizewinners will be notified by 23rd December & a full list will be posted on this blog. I will wait until after the New Year to mail out prizes as Royal Mail is in uproar just now with the Christmas rush but prizes will be mailed before mid-January :0)

I'd just like to add a huge thank you to all the lovely people who have donated prizes for this & also to all those who have sponsored Laura so far.

I think that's all folks - thanks for reading if you got this far & the best of luck,

S x

Edited 07/12/08

I just want to add a wee bit here.

I am absolutely overwhelmed by the kindness & generosity of fellow ravellers. When I originally decided to do this I posted on UK Spinners to ask if people thought a draw for some braids of hand-dyed fibre would be likely to get any donations for Laura. I had no idea that anyone would donate prizes. I have no words to express my gratitude to all those people who have donated prizes and who have sponsored Laura.

Thank you all,

S x

Friday, 14 November 2008


I have a very bad habit of not watching where I'm vacuuming. Jigsaw pieces, crayons & more have all disappeared into our Dyson never to be seen again (mainly because I'm not trawling through all that dust & fluff to retrieve a wee bit of coloured wax).

Well this time it was the turn of one of my spinning accessories, namely my orifice hook (yep, I vacuumed up my orifice hook - sounds painful eh?). It's just a wee length of metal, curved at one end & is supposed to hang from a length of ribbon tied to the mother-of-all. Why it was on the floor I do not know but I suspect Mhara & Rowan have something to do with it. However it happened I caught sight of it out the corner of my eye, just before it disappeared with a horrible rattling noise :0S

I've had a look & can't find it so guess what's on the agenda for hubby this weekend? Don't worry though - I've heard Dysons are easy to take apart.

In the meantime it's given me an excuse (like I need one) to have a fiddle with my beading stuff & I'm now the proud owner of this -

orifice hook

It was great fun to make & I suspect there'll be a few more to come.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Free pattern - Rowan's Wristies

I've been asked for the pattern for the fingerless gloves I made for the DCs while on holiday - a very gratifying experience :0)

So here's the first, modelled by the astonishingly cute Rowan.

Rowan's Wristies

rowan gloves

Size: Toddler - 1-3 years
Yarn: James C Brett Magi-Knit With Wool DK
Hook: 3.5mm
Gauge: 18 sts & 14 rows to 10cm in pattern
Please note that pattern uses US terminology.


Chain 8.
Row 1: 1 half-double crochet (hdc) in 2nd chain from hook, 1 hdc in each chain to end (7 sts).
Row 2: 1ch (does not count as stitch), 1 hdc in back loop only of each st to end (7 sts).
Rows 3-14: Repeat row 2.
Break yarn & either sew or slip-stitch foundation row to last row to form ribbed cuff.


You will now work in the round, working stitches around the posts of the hdcs along the edge of the cuff.

Attach yarn at any point on cuff edge.

Row 1: Ch 1 (does not count as stitch). [1 double crochet (dc), 1 extended single crochet* (esc)] around the post of each hdc along cuff edge (28 sts). DO NOT JOIN
Row 2: [1 esc in next dc, 1 dc in next esc] to end (28 sts). DO NOT JOIN.
Row 3: [1 dc in next esc, 1 esc in next dc] to end (28 sts). DO NOT JOIN.
Rows 4 - 5: Repeat rows 2 & 3 once each.
Row 6: Repeat row 2.

Work thumb hole:
row 7: [1 dc in next esc, 1 esc in next dc] 6 times, chain 3, skip next 5 sts, 1 esc in next dc, [1 dc in next esc, 1 esc in next dc] to end. DO NOT TURN.
Row 8: [1 esc in next dc, 1 dc in next esc] 6 times, 1 esc in next ch, 1 dc in next ch, 1 esc in next ch, 1 dc in next esc, [1 esc in next dc, 1 dc in next esc to end (26 sts). DO NOT TURN.
Row 9: Repeat row 3.
Row 10: Repeat row 2.
Slip stitch into next stitch. Fasten off yarn & weave in ends.

Make another :0)

* Extended single crochet - insert hook through next stitch, yarn round hook & draw through stitch (2 loops on hook), yarn round hook & draw through 1 loop (2 loops on hook), yarn round hook & draw through all loops on hook. There's a good video of this here.

This is a really easy & fast glove pattern which can be customised to fit anyone using just about any yarn (I know - I've made lots). To make it wider just increase the number of cuff rows. To make it longer just work extra rows both before & after working the thumb-hole. To make a bigger thumb-hole just skip more stitches (always be sure to chain 2 less than the amount of stitches you've skipped).

This is the basic pattern sized up for a ladies glove & with a celtic knot motif added to the cuff & a picot edge - very simple but very effective -

gloves for Hilary

Thanks to Hilary for use of the photo.

Some hints -

This works well with the jacquard-print yarns that are usually designed for knitting rather than crochet - just make sure you start each glove at the same place in your yarn or the pattern sequence won't match up.

Use fingering-weight yarn for a lacier look or aran/worsted -just be sure to use an appropriate hook for heavier yarns (you wants a nice cosy but not stiff fabric).

Add different edgings for more girlie gloves; picot works well - [ch 1, 1 dc in same stitch, ch 3, 1 dc in first of 3 ch, 1 dc in next stitch] repeat to end.

Finally, have fun & please be sure to let me see pics of your finished gloves - I can be found here & on ravelry; just search for cherryred :0)

Here's the legal bit -

This is a free pattern, for personal use only & was created by & belongs to me, Shirley MacDonald. You may use this pattern to make items for your own use or for gifts. You may not sell this pattern or use this pattern to make items for sale/profit. If you would like to use this or any other of my free patterns to make items for sale for charity, please contact me first. If you do use this pattern please give me design credit, linking to my blog where possible.

Thanks for visiting my blog & happy crafting.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Swap time again

I just finished another ravelry swap (yeah, I know - surprise :0D). It was a winter warmer swap with a celtic theme. My partner was the lovely Hilary, who lives in Germany.

The parcel arrived in a HUGE box & weighed a ton - at first I thought Iain had been ordering stuff without telling me (this does happen occasionally, although usually it's me ordering stuff without telling him). Mhara & Rowan got very excited as they helped me unwrap it & as usual insisted on sniffing everything as it came out of the box (dunno where they've picked up that habit from ;0P).

There was a beautiful bag -


Inside which was lots of KoolAid (including green, blue & yellow - squeee!) . . .


. . . fabulous handmade stitch markers with real garnet beads . . .


. . . and fun stuff too - temporary tea tattoos & sheepy stickers -


There was fabulous sock yarn -


Tea & caramel waffles (these are the most gorgeous things I've ever put in my mouth) & the piece de resistance - a tea-pot with hand-knit cosy & matching crocheted hot-pad all wrapped up in a lovely scarf -


This is the parcel in all its glory (minus the 2 bars of hazelnut chocolate which sadly didn't last long enough to be photographed) -

Celtic warmers parcel from HilaryGermany

My parcel is on its way to Hilary as I type & if she likes it half as much as I love mine I'll consider it a job well done.

Thanks again Hilary - you've been a fab swap partner :0)

Tuesday, 14 October 2008


We've been on holiday; for the first time ever Iain & I took all 4 kids away for the week.

To a cottage by Loch Ness.

Well, sort of.

We booked by email, explaining that we have no car so was it feasible to take 4 kids (2 of them toddlers) by public transport. Och aye, comes the reply. So we book a week in a cottage just outside Drumnadrochit. We get there only to discover that said cottage is a mile above Drumnadrochit & there are only 2 taxis. One of them is booked solid & the other is on holiday.

We did attempt to walk up with all our luggage, but it got dark. So Jo, Mhara, Rowan & I waited in the dark halfway up the hill while Iain & Abi struggled up with the case, getting lost & chapping on doors until some kind stranger traipsed out in her car to pick us all up, saving me from the trouble of a nervous breakdown.

This is the roof of our cottage here, just peeking out from the dell (just look for the red arrow)-

And this is Jo phoning a friend - the only place we could be sure to get a signal -

We had a great week wandering the hill -

Throwing rocks in the river (5 minutes after this was taken, Rowan lost his balance & tipped headfirst into the water - his dad managed to grab his feet as they came up & he was left doing a head-stand in the river) -

Looking for Nessie (Mhara & Rowan think this is the real deal) -

Conquering Urquhart Castle -

Waving to boats on the loch -

And generally having fun -

I took 2 WIPs, 4 extra balls of yarn, a hook & extra needles with me & came back with 7 (that's right, seven) FOs - just goes to show what I can do when I don't have the PC to distract me :0D There's a neckwarmer & 2 washcloths for Christmas pressies, 2 pairs of fingerless gloves for Mhara & Rowan (I had these done by Tuesday & they wore them the rest of the week) & 2 things that have to remain secret for now as they're (overdue) swap gifts.

Here's Mhara & Rowan showing off their gloves -

The cottage was gorgeous & we had a lovely time - we just had to make sure that we booked a taxi in the morning if we wanted to go down to the village or else we were looking at an hour & a half to walk home (I know this for a fact as we did it on the Sunday & once was definitely enough for me).

Saturday, 13 September 2008

This is just so Kool!

When I first got back into knitting & crocheting I had zero interest in spinning my own yarn; I now have a spinning wheel, a handmade (by me) drop spindle & a turkish spindle. I also had no interest in dyeing yarn but now . . .

I've been playing with KoolAid.

This stuff is fabulous! All I need is some KoolAid sachets, cling film, medicine syringes (borrowed from the wee ones' Calpol) & the old steam sterliser & I can do stuff like this -


These are all English wool tops which started out a creamy white & I used just 4 flavours to get all these different shades.





The bottom one is called Strawberry Toffos (anybody remember those?) but the rest are all nameless as I have no imagination for stuff like that :0S

I can't wait to see how these spin up!

In a spin

I've been taking part in the second Spinners Swap on ravelry. I had been really miffed at missing out on the first one (too many commitments at the time to guarantee it the attention it needed) so I was really chuffed when vampy decided to do another so soon.

I've been dyeing, spinning, washing & whacking like mad for the last couple of weeks but I can't post any of the stuff for my partner Claire yet as I still haven't mailed off her package (who would have thought yarn would take so long to dry inside - this miserable weather's getting right up my nostrils). I can however post pics of the parcel I received from Gina aka Norfolkknitter. Take a look at this . . .


There was a gorgeous skein of superwash BFL handspun yarn - if I ever manage to spin like this I'll be over the moon -


BFL/silk in 'Blackberries' -


A wool/kid mohair/silk batt from Wildcraft made with wool from Buffy (I love being able to see who the wool came from - that's brilliant!) -


And a silk hankie (just *look* at the colour of that!), a bag of luscious silk fibre, a wee lavender bag & scrummy lavender & rosemary soaps -


I've been totally spoilt & I'm so, so happy with my goodies - Gina was wondering if she may have gone a little overboard on the silk but I'm not sure that's possible.Mhara & Rowan helped me unwrap the parcel (they insist on squishing every bit of fibre that comes into the house) & now they keep raiding my basket for the bag of silk so they can fondle it :0D

Thank you again Gina - it was a wonderful gift :0)

Thursday, 4 September 2008

I'm (almost) published!!!!!

Back in February/March I took part in a fingerless glove swap on ravelry. I wanted to knit gloves for my partner rather than my usual crochet but couldn't find any patterns that had a little bit of WOW! but were easy enough for a knitting numpty like me to work up.

So I designed my own.

Once they were done I was so chuffed with them that I posted pics in my projects. Which prompted a message from another raveller who said that her friend was putting together a whole book on fingerless gloves & would I be interested in publishing my pattern.

Would I? Hell, yes! And if you take a look at the cover of Off The Cuff you'll see that Signs of Spring are not only in the book but ON THE COVER! Sorry for shouting there but Gordon Bennet - my glove is on the COVER of a book (it's the yellow one on the bottom right in case anyone was wondering). And not only that but the lovely lady got me to design another 2 variations of the pattern too!

So if anyone is interested in fingerless gloves I urge you to check this book out. It's a how to design your own gloves book with a generous helping of ready to make patterns too & they are gorgeous - just head on over to the site & scroll down for pics of some of the gloves. I'm already mentally cataloguing my stash to see which yarns I can use for my favourites.

Sunday, 24 August 2008

Ravelympics entry - Disorganiser Tissue Box Cover

So I've been taking part in the Ravelympics. Lots of people have been creating beautiful shawls, cosy socks & sexy skirts & what did I create?

An imp with a winky.

Yep, I decided at the last minute that what my cute wee imp needed was a set of family jewels. I think it finishes him off rather well. It damn near finished my FIL off too since he couldn't stop laughing - I love old men with a sense of humour.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

The Pratchgan 2008 - MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!!!

The Pratchgan was handed to Terry in the foyer tent at the Edinburgh International Book Festival today at 1:00pm.

He was rather pleased, as you can see here -


& after he'd stopped laughing he had a good look at all the squares -




He was especially tickled by [skimo](/people/Skimo)'s librarian square - we all know what a soft spot Terry has for orangs - but he loved all the squares & was pointing out different ones & having a snigger -


There were loads of people going past & I could hear people gasp when they saw us (dunno if it was Terry or the Pratchgan that was getting the gasps). dh says loads of folks were taking pics of the Pratchgan from behind Terry.


I had a wee bit of trouble folding the darn thing back up -


but eventually it was back in the bag & able to be handed over -


along with all the letters -


& then Terry was kind enough to sign my copy of Thud! with a personal message - To Shirley with thanks -


before heading off to get miked up for his reading.

Funniest bit was just as they left - there was guy of about 17 or so standing just behind them & he turned to me & said 'he was just, like, *there!*' in a thunderstruck voice.

Terry loved the Pratchgan - he said it must have taken a thousand seamstresses a long time to make. He said it's outrageous & over-the-top & brilliant & he's gonna put it on his bed. Just before he left he said '& I still aten't dead' :0D

The reading was fabulous. Terry talked about Nation & read some of it (he read a bit that required him to sing!) & also about the new Discworld novel that he's working on - Unseen Academicals. Nation isn't a Discworld book so I wasn't going to buy it but I will now 'cos it sounds fab. Someone asked Terry who his fave character is & he says it's Vimes - squeeee!

I got a text from Rob on the way home - I've to email the pics to him so he can put them on www.terrypratchett.com !

I'm so relieved that The Pratchgan is now with its new owner. I have a wee bottle of wine here so I can celebrate properly tonight.