Sunday, 15 January 2017


I have managed two new recipes so far this year. The first was for meat patties, chosen by Mr 3 - who didn't like them. (I wasn't surprised that he didn't like it, he generally likes the idea but doesn't like to eat patties).

Today, Mr 5 was insisting he wanted to make some 'concrete you can eat', and was dictating a recipe. (Hey, it's not a recipe I made up, so I'm counting it!). The first version contained chocolate for the stones, baking powder for the cement, and water. I had him try a little bit of baking powder to see what it tasted like, and he modified the recipe to use icing sugar instead. I asked what we would do with the concrete, and he decided it should go on crackers, so I found some Digestive biscuits.

The concrete wasn't set hard when we tried them for afternoon tea, but they seem to have been a success!

A photo posted by Sonya (@stringherder) on

Is it wrong that I'm thinking of doing some structural testing with different blends of concrete mix? (I think almond flour might make a nice sand substitute..)

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

The Wayward Blogger

Well, my reminders are back to telling me I haven't made a blog post for something like 42 years, so I guess it's time to give myself a good kick and get back to it. (Um, I think I need to also get rid of the reminders, as they appear to have an interesting view of time. I've just checked, and actually it's 46 years and 49 weeks. I have no idea how that calculation works).

So by those calculations, 23ish years ago (or last September by more standard measurements) the oldest boy started school and the youngest one arrived. I'm not entirely sure what has happened to time since then, but somehow we've arrived at the start of 2017.
I'm not really big on new year's resolutions, but I'm definitely hoping for a less crazy run this year. I'm still expecting things to be fairly busy between school, baby, and the easygoing stuck-in-the-middle 3 year old. My main plan is to hope that we all survive the year, and things get easier.

On the designing front, I have 3 things a good way through being done - but they have been for a fair portion of the last year and I just couldn't find the kid-free time/energy to finish them up. I hope to get those sorted out this year, and I'd love to make some progress on a few other designs too but I'm not going to commit to anything because I know I'll just end up disappointed.
I plan to make my knitting as relaxing as I can this year - I do want to knit things I can learn from because that keeps things interesting for me, but I'm fairly sure there will be some kid knits cranked out when the weather starts cooling down too.

By necessity I will be trying to get more sewing done this year. Over the last week I've made two new pairs of trousers for Mr 3, who refuses to wear shorts. (He can sometimes be convinced if he needs to change towards the end of the day, we're not going to be going anywhere, and he has no clean trousers left). As he has his mosquito allergy to contend with, I don't see any point in pushing the issue because this way he has less chance of being bitten. It does mean that he really needs some decent lightweight trousers though, so I'm working on getting a few more sorted out. He also much prefers long sleeves, and I have a couple of linen shirts that I started making a year ago for Mr 5 that will probably fit him fairly well.
I could possibly buy long clothes that are suitable for 30℃ weather, but I don't like shopping enough to want to go hunting. Instead I've finally given in and bought an overlocker, which will hopefully speed up the process of making up the quick and functional clothes.
We also have a wedding to go to at the end of February, which I need to make myself a dress for, and make sure the kids have some vaguely respectable clothes. After that I would like to make myself a few more things to wear too, my wardrobe is looking a little sparse.

I have three embroidery projects I want to get done this year - a sampler for the wedding in February, a stocking for R for Christmas, and ideally I'd like his birth sampler done by the time he turns 1. The wedding sampler is mostly done, I just need to chart out the names and dates, and order beads. The stocking is about 1/3rd done, so there's plenty of time left for that. The previous birth samplers were done within a couple of weeks of starting because they're small and fast, but it's not really a firm deadline on that anyway.

I am doing some bandwagon jumping, and joining in with Robynn on her 52 Recipes goal. I had something similar that I was trying to work on a few years ago, but fell out of the habit while dealing with food allergies. Mr 3 is now eating gluten, soy, and dairy in baking, and having occasional bits of straight dairy with no major disasters, so fingers tightly crossed we're near the end of the food allergy road.

Oh, and I'll try to blog more frequently. Preferably without reminders telling me that my last post was well before I was born.

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

The last few months...

We have sold our old house! Once we started looking at doing so everything moved much more quickly than we expected. We thought we'd just list it and see if there was any interest (nice old house, but badly damaged so needed the right sort of buyer). Within 3 days of listing we had an offer, and by the end of the week we had multiple offers - one of which was around the value we had hoped for but weren't sure was realistic. We had a hectic few weeks moving the last bits and pieces out, and the settlement date got moved earlier a couple of times as the new owner tried to work in with contractor work schedules and we worked out that we could get everything done by the requested dates. The new owners now seem to be stuck into the repair work, and had started getting the foundations leveled as soon as they got possession!

(For the record, I am impressed with how well our piano held its tuning after 5 years in a cold, drafty house. It's not perfect, but much, much better than I expected it to be).

In the last few months we have discovered a new set of allergies for Mr 2. We were aware that he reacted badly to sandfly bites, but that just meant a 15mm weal that improved with judicious application of antihistamines. While moving bits and pieces from our old house we also discovered that he has a mosquito allergy. The first weekend we guessed he had probably been bitten by something after his whole hand puffed up, although I wasn't ruling out the possibility of it being a nettle sting. To add to the fun, it was on the Saturday of a long weekend, so we spent a fair amount of the weekend debating taking him to an after-hours doctor. In the end we didn't, and just checked in with his regular doctor on Tuesday (it had started to get better by that point). From the photos, and seeing the few-days-later puffiness he thought it was possibly cellulitis, but couldn't confirm - and as it was getting better at that point he gave a prescription for antibiotics but instructions to only give them if it got worse.

The next weekend Mr 2 said he had an 'ouch' on his foot, and I saw the culprit fly away - a striped mosquito. We kept an eye on it through the day, but didn't have any antihistamine on hand so just gave it to him when we got home. The antihistamine seemed to have as little effect as it had the previous weekend, but this time we could go to the doctor on Monday and he confirmed that it wasn't cellulitis, and appears to 'just' be an allergic reaction - that doesn't respond to antihistamine.

That was the last weekend we spent at the house, and we'd hoped that it wouldn't be an issue again for a while because where we live now is a lot dryer. Unfortunately, a few weeks ago we had a last bout of summer - a week of warm weather with a bit of rain in the middle. That appears to have been enough that he somehow found something to get bitten by at home, and had another 3 days of itching and puffiness on his foot. He likes compression on it, so after the second round we stocked up on small bandages, and he seemed to be a lot less uncomfortable when he had a bandaged foot for a few days. (We've also got some new insect repellent, which we will be testing out when the weather warms up again - unfortunately, it only takes one bite to cause a problem!)

Saturday, 20 February 2016

New pattern - Vitus

I have a new pattern! I ended up making this 3 times, and might have to make it again sometime - maybe a huge superfine laceweight one?

Vitus is a top down triangular shawl, inspired by St Vitus Cathedral in Prague Castle. When we were living there I always loved seeing it on the skyline as we went past on the tram. I have a few more ideas in my head for other Prague-related designs too, although I have no idea yet how to actually get the effect I want for some of them!

The shawl starts with a no-pick-up garter tab (which will feature in its own blog post at some point) and a setup section, and then the column and arches charts can be mixed and matched to suit your tastes. The edging chart comes last, and is finished off with a delicate picot edging - have to get those spiky, knobbly spires in somewhere!

I have made two samples exactly to the pattern, in different weight yarns - the yellow is Zealana Kiwi Laceweight, and uses a total of 500m (2.5 balls), the purple is Skein Merino Silk Sport, and uses 330m (a full skein). The purple shawl omits the arches chart, and I really like how that emphasises the edging.

My first prototype was made for a shawl exchange, and uses 700m of Tri'Coterie Lace Merino Tencel, which is a true laceweight yarn. You can't tell in the photo, but it has hints of purple throughout the black. It is beautifully soft and drapey too. I almost didn't want to part with it!

Vitus is available through ravelry here, or use this link

Monday, 18 January 2016

Little bits

This morning I had a request from a small boy for jeans, I suspect because his big brother was wearing some. I had an old pair that I started mending a couple of months ago, when he decided they would be terrible, so I pulled them out again and finished the patches. He remembered that I'd promised elephants, so I had to dig out the elephant fabric but I also found some red with spots and tools (left over from his sun hat - he was a bit worried that I'd cut his hat up when he saw it!)

A photo posted by Sonya (@stringherder) on

I was pleasantly surprised by a box arriving on my doorstep this afternoon, all the way from Switzerland! A delicious, delicious box full of yarn and chocolate, thanks to Robynn! I have only had a little look through, but I feel thoroughly spoilt. I will spread it all out and have a good look/play/sample tomorrow during preschool, as it's not something I really want Help with. I already have ideas for some of the yarn, and if it works I may have to hunt down more of at least some of it!

I have finally started on the border of my shawl, so in 18 more rows it will be done. I am about to start on ridiculous quantities of beading (something like 350 beads just in the edging - compared to 80ish in the rest of the shawl).

Friday, 15 January 2016

Sooooo tired

The last couple of nights have been exhausting, Anthony has been having some rough breathing, and today the doctor diagnosed him with bronchiolitis. Supposedly it is worst around day 2-3, so fingers crossed he is on the mend now.

Somehow this has resulted in me actually updating some knitting pattern related stuff. I'm not quite sure how that works, but when I need a break from tired menaces because I'm tired too then I put something on the TV (hooray for Bob the Builder!) and escape to do a bit of computer stuff. Yesterday I got the pattern it feels like I've been working on forever sent off for editing, and today I updated my knitting pattern page here and also updated the pattern listings at LoveKnitting. I hadn't bothered before, because (amongst other things) it didn't seem to be particularly effective for me, but I discovered after importing the newer patterns from ravelry that I actually sold a pattern there earlier this month! I guess it really is about being in the right place at the right time.

I have also just realised that I should add some links to other social media. I have started playing on Instagram, and to a lesser extent Twitter. Links should go directly to my feed, otherwise I am StringHerder in both places. (Twitter mostly gets links from instagram, or chat with friends). If you're out there and I haven't found you yet, let me know!

Sunday, 3 January 2016

The obligatory summing up

I have been reading a lot of blogs where people sum up what they did in the last year, so I thought I'd try to see what I have been up to. It feels like it has been a big year.

Right at the beginning of the year we flew halfway around the world. I'm pretty sure that counts as big.
There has been some diet experimenting for the 2 year old in the first half of the year, the end result was back to where we started with no gluten, dairy, or soy. We are all getting better at dealing with it now though.
We spent a few months looking at houses, and actually managed to buy a new house and settle our insurance claim on the old house. This was definitely huge (final settlement was more than 4 years after our old place was no longer livable).

I've just looked at my projects on Ravelry, and am surprised to see how many things I finished in the last year - 5 shawls, 7 pairs of socks, and a hat, jumper, singlet and pair of slippers for the kids. I hadn't realised I had knitted 5 shawls! I only managed to write up one pattern though, I'm hoping to do better with that in 2016.

I also finished embroidering my Christmas stocking, and managed to get all the stockings sewn together in time for Christmas, and also made A's birth sampler (still need to find a framer for that, I think the one I've used before no longer exists - and anyway, he is no longer just down the road).

The sampler is a modified version of the July birthstone sampler from the Sweetheart Tree. I added in 20 rows in the middle to give space for the name and date (the same number of rows I added to E's one). This meant I also had to rechart the flowers and beads in that area, and I'm pretty happy with the end result.

Finishing the stockings and sampler meant that I could pull out my HAED, Enchanted flute. I am reminded just how insane this project is, but I have managed to fill in all the gaps on two pages so far (out of 24).

As you can see, it's maybe 1/8th done. I don't think it will be finished any time soon, and I am already planning to work on something smaller for a bit after I finish the next page.

I have managed to get a bit of sewing done (some shirts and underpants for the boys, a couple of skirts and tops for me). Sometime soon I should take some photos of my nice new sewing room, which now has lots of shelf space. It is fabulous! My new sewing machine is still going nicely although I probably should swap it out for the old one again sometime. The old one is definitely better quality, but it does lack in stretch stitches!
I made some blinds for our west-facing kitchen (it had no window coverings at all, which was a bit of a problem around dinner-making time).

And this year? I have lots of sewing and knitting plans, as well as dealing with life as it happens. I've just realised that my 4 year old will be turning 5 and starting school in September, so I guess there is at least one big thing on the cards!

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Looooong time

I have a reminder set up to tell me when I haven't blogged for a while, and apparently it has been 45 years and 50 weeks since I last posted. I'm somewhat sceptical.

Life has been very busy over the last few months, and is finally settling down a bit now, just in time for Christmas/summer holiday madness. Since July we have:
  • bought a house
  • been pregnant
  • had a miscarriage
  • moved house
  • had 2 months of no phone or internet
  • got the boys settled into their new preschool and playcentre
  • organised a bunch of renovations
(When I write it in a list like that it doesn't look like all that much, but I guess some/most of those are biggies.) With any luck we shouldn't need to do anything else major any time soon.

As part of the moving process, I managed to break my sewing machine.  It was on my sewing desk, we moved the desk, and the cord caught on something and snapped the bracket that mounted the motor.  Thanks to my brother-in-law I now have a new bracket, but it triggered the purchase of a backup machine.  I got the better of the two Brother machines that the local Warehouse had, and it has been going very nicely so far.  There are definitely a few things that I didn't realise were features until I didn't have them (variable foot pressure, for one!), but for how much the new machine cost I'm not going to complain - and it is nice having some stretch stitches to play with too.

I have got a craft room set up now, and have made a board that is now covered in knitted swatches, it's nice being able to look at them for ideas!

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Things that have been happening

Rather a lot, really! We are well into house shopping mode now, which is taking a fair bit of time and energy, fingers crossed we're not too far off done now though. (We are planning to go to an auction this week, and have picked out a few other options if that doesn't go our way).

There is now a 2 year old in the house, who is incredibly good at saying no to everything, and he has stopped napping. It took a while, but the lack of naps now means he goes to bed by 8 instead of staying up past when I want to be asleep! Occasionally he even sleeps past 6am, but that can never be relied on, except to know that it won't happen when you most need it! He has been having a few gut-related issues over the last few months, so we have just moved him back to being gluten free (as well as the no dairy or soy). He had his first gluten free bread today, and he seemed pretty happy with it, which is a relief. At some point I will start experimenting with gluten free baking, assuming this actually helps resolve the things that aren't quite right.

I think I've done some knitting and sewing since I last posted, but with everything else that has been going on I've lost track of what I was doing then! I have definitely been doing some spinning recently, joining in with the Tour de Fleece. I have also made progress on my Christmas stocking, I have now finished the cross stitching around the heel, so just the rest of the foot and toe, then most of the backstitching left. With any luck that means I should have enough time to finish and sew up three stockings before Christmas.

My most recent knitting was a hat for little Mr 2, from some handspun (mostly spun in the TdF two years ago, just before he was born). He hasn't been convinced to wear it yet, of course, but I will keep working on it. It used just under half my skein, the rest is destined to be a little matching scarf.

A photo posted by Sonya (@stringherder) on

(I did manage to get the hat on to check for size before finishing it off, proof shown here. Note the knitting needles poking out on top of his head...)

Monday, 30 March 2015

In a sneaky naptime moment

Somehow I have managed to get two small children asleep at the same time, so I am trying to do too many things at once to make the most of it. (It's not actually entirely surprising, apparently having a ride in the pram after walking a mile, playing for a couple of hours, and visiting the library is somewhat sleep-inducing. Thankfully!).

I have started work on typing up my next shawl design. I have knit one prototype, but it is for the ravelry shawl exchange and I haven't sent it yet, so no photos. I want to change a few things to make it a bit closer to my original vision, so I will be knitting another one soon, in a completely different yarn. And then maybe another one in a heavier yarn...

I have also been participating in sock madness, and am nearly halfway through the second sock of the pair for this round. Unfortunately my hand is starting to complain a bit about too much sock knitting in too short a timeframe, so these may be my last socks for a while.

On the sewing front, I have just cut out a long sleeved shirt for the monkey, cut down from an old one. This is my first attempt at upcycling in this way - I have preserved the button bands and sleeve plackets, shortened the cuffs, and will work out how to use the collar mostly as-is when I get that far. I think with the effort I have put into doing all those things it would actually have been easier to do them all from scratch, but never mind. I have also just made some size 3 overalls, from a self drafted pattern. The basic block was roughly copied from a Burda pyjamas pattern, and tweaked a fair bit. There are a few changes I need to make, but I'm pretty happy for a first attempt, and there will be more in the future.

We bought a marble run in the weekend, and some junior meccano (bigger, with plastic screws). They have been a great hit so far, apart from the rule about having to pack up one before the other can come out!

Photos of everything to come. Eventually. Well, maybe not the toys...