Come on baby!

I just wrote half of this post on my iPad, and it was possibly the most frustrating thing I have ever done. And I teach Macbeth to inner city children who struggle to read modern English. Anyway. I’ve got my laptop now, so I’m trying again.

Hello! I haven’t posted for ages, again. I wish I had the energy and the motivation and something interesting to write about, but it doesn’t seem to have happened for the last couple of months. I have been crocheting though! C’s sister’s baby was due on Tuesday and still hasn’t made an appearance. I’ve been grateful for the extra few days because it’s given me a chance to put this together:

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Ahh! Want to see what’s in there? Before I show you, I thought I’d better say that it’s all Stylecraft Special DK, and I used a 4mm hook for all of it. Keeps it simple!

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First of all, this little guy. (I don’t know why he’s a guy, given that he’s so pink, but he is.) Someone in a crochet group on Facebook posted a link to the pattern on Bunny Mummy, and I started making it straight away. Actually, I was a couple of glasses of wine down when I finished, so I’m pleased it’s turned out so neat! The only change I made was to double crochet the two sides together through the back loop, which does create a ridge, but I like that, and it’s much neater than my sewing. I used fondant, apricot, lemon and spring, with white for the eyes. The beak is spice, and I’m not sure what the purple is – I’ve had it for ages. I lost the label, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t Stylecraft. The buttons are from Hobbycraft about a million years ago, left over from a hot water bottle I made for my mum. Next out of the box:

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Little booties! I just can’t find the pattern for these anywhere. I only made them a couple of days ago, but I can’t remember if I was looking at the pattern on my laptop, the phone or the ipad. I will keep looking though, because it’s a very nice pattern. The wool is raspberry, and the buttons are two of about thirty little wooden teddies that I’ve finally found a use for.

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More shoes! These are from 1dogwoof, and lovely and easy to follow. I particularly liked row 4! More lovely buttons on here too – a present from C’s mum. The colours are saffron, mocha and white, and I did an extra colour change (that’s the only change I made). I really love these – the strap construction is clever and unusual, and it’s sweet how they look like proper little shoes. They don’t look very tidy in this photo; I think they need blocking, but I don’t have anything suitable to put in them to make the right shape while they dry. They’ll be fine once they’re on, though.

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Next out of the box: teeny tiny cardigan. This will fit for about three minutes after she’s born, if I’m lucky. But I really wanted to give them something they could put on her straight away, and the colours are great. They’re shrimp, apricot, cream and silver. The pattern is lost forever, I suspect – I really can’t find it anywhere. I have to start using ravelry properly to keep track of what I’ve made. If you recognise the pattern, let me know so I can give credit here! The construction was fun – I couldn’t work out how it was going to come together until I split it for the sleeves, and then it just worked.

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By contrast, this is a ridiculously huge cardigan. I do have the pattern! It’s here. I don’t know what happened here – she gives loads of different sizes, but I still managed to make a stupidly huge one. And, frustratingly, it took a really long time – because apparently I was knitting for a one year old. Div. Anyway, it’ll fit one day, and if I don’t put it in the box, I’ll lose it, so in it goes! The wool isn’t Stylecraft, and I didn’t use a 4mm hook, because it’s knitted. It’s Patons Baby Fab DK in ripple. The buttons are from the jar that C bought me from Hobbycraft. On this cardigan, again, I couldn’t work out the construction before I started, but now I want to make one for myself. Imagine how bored I’ll get doing that!

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Haha, remember when I posted, banging on about pastel green and red together? It looked lovely – in winter! But I got it out to sew the buttons on last week and it just didn’t look right for spring! Pattern is here, and I did make a couple of changes. The bodice is garter stitch, not moss stitch, because I didn’t have the patience for moss stitch. I added some eyelet holes along the chest, to match the hem. And I added a crocheted border for strength around the straps. At first, I crocheted the colour straight onto the knitted edge, and it looked really messy so I thought I’d have to leave it. But I remembered reading somewhere about how to make neater colour changes on edges, and did one row of dc in cream around the edge first, then a row of purple. Much nicer! The colours are spring and cream, and that mystery purple again. And the buttons match perfectly! I do wish I’d used white instead of cream for a crisper finish though.

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And last, but certainly not least, is this blanket! Look at all those hexagons. I love a hexie blanket, and I love these colours – pale rose, mocha, graphite, silver, cream, and parchment to join them.

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It was such hard work though. I think I made the African flowers back in January, from HeidiBears’ tutorial. But by the time I’d done twenty, I was seriously flagging. All those ends! Five rounds per flower meant two hundred ends to sew in already! So I had a rethink and came up with another plan: fill the gaps with one-colour hexagons. Phew. I hunted for other hexagon patterns and just couldn’t find anything that I liked. So… I wrote my own patterns! That was a mission. I’m going to try to write them up and do a separate post for them. I don’t think I’m up for a tutorial – I don’t take enough photos – but I’ll see what I can come up with. I made three different types – a granny hex, a solid hex and a circle hex. I ended up with 80 hexagons – 5 of each colour/shape combination. I used 79 of them in the end! Two day of joining, three days of sewing in ends (THREE! I was so, so bored. It took a serious talking-to from my mum to get me to finish it.), and one day of border later, it was done!

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I really, really love it. I’m actually really sad it give it away – is it bad to be protective over it? If I keep something I’ve made, I can make sure that ends stay sewn in, and it doesn’t get dragged around the garden. I guess that’s just part of giving a gift!

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I had to get a photo of all the button loveliness that’s gone into this box 🙂

All that’s left… Is for the baby to arrive! She’s got a name, she’s got a home and now she’s got a box of woolly things waiting for her. Come on, baby!

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What is a locking wheel nut, anyway?

Oh I’m so spectacularly bored! I’m at the garage waiting for my car to be fixed. I should be in work, but the car wouldn’t start this morning, and if I don’t get it sorted now, I’ll be done for all week. Does it sound like I feel guilty for not being in work? I do! I haven’t had a day off sick for about four years. 

So I’m in the waiting room at the nice shiny garage, and the mechanics are lovely but keep asking me questions I don’t understand, and I have to reveal my ignorance about the car I drive every day. I think I was just asked ‘Do you know why you don’t have a locking wheel nut on the rear off side wheel?’. Of course I don’t know – but if you’ve dropped any stitches, I’ll be happy to pick them up for you! My feminist senses are tingling, but it’s ok because C doesn’t know anything about cars either, so I don’t feel like a ‘useless girl’. 

I’ve done all the work I can do remotely – lots of emails sent and records updated this morning. But now I’ve got no work I can do here, and I’ve committed the yarner’s cardinal sin: I have no WIPs with me. I’ve got about 20 at home, but that’s no use to me now! So to pass the time, I’m going to try to do an inventory of all the WIPs I haven’t got round to writing about here yet. 

1. Baby blanket of African flowers. 

2. Cream and green dress that needs buttons. 

3. Pink baby cardie that needs about 4 inches of boring stocking stitch, and which I think will be absurdly huge. 

4. Blue hand warmers that I started, but the first one is too small, so I need to frog and restart. 

5. Pink hand warmer – only one because I did the first one and got bored. 

6. Crofter hand warmer – exactly the same circumstances. 

7. Beige hat for C’s mum. 

8. Baby blue crocheted crescent shawl. 

9. Grey and orange sock yarn cowl. 

10. Granny squares blanket in Cath Kidston colours. 

11. Cushion covers – one needs the ends sewn in (20 million of them) and one needs the cross stitch design finishing. 

12. (Oh god, they’ve just asked me another difficult question!) A crochet purse my for mum that I really need to finish before Friday. 

13. A hat for my sister that should have been finished more than a month ago. 

That’s all I can think of. Now, WIPs that only exist inside my head so far:

1. A blanket made of nine giant solid granny squares, in Ice magic light, possibly with a white border. 

2. A peaked hat with two buttons in dark grey and probably red. 

And finally, a show and tell:

I made about five purses last summer, to keep ‘in stock’ as presents. And last month I needed a little purse, and suddenly remembered them! It’s a bit ropey because it was the third thing I had ever crocheted, but I love my little nautical purse 🙂

“But you have such a glowing complexion!” said no one

I’m not into much of a skincare routine. Sometimes I moisturise if my skin feels dry, and if I remember to leave the moisturiser next to my bed, where I can reach it before I fall asleep, but apart from that I don’t do anything. I stopped wearing make up last year, so don’t even use the cleansing wipes that I used to.

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I have always felt guilty for this – I enjoy not wearing make up, but I feel like I’m somehow betraying my future self by not doing anything to my face all day. Like in 50 years I’ll look in the mirror and curse 28 year old me for being lazy about moisturising. Also, I read in a blog post somewhere that using moisturiser without getting rid of dead skin cells first basically glues them to your face. Yuck. So I made a belated new year’s resolution, to wash my face occasionally.

I know – radical.

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But I really hate washing my face… It’s boring, and an extra minute between being standing up and lying down. And I always end up with soap in my eyes. And nice face wash is expensive, and I have a thing about flannels. You use them once, they’re damp and no longer fresh, so next time you need a new one, and before you know it, you’ve got an enormous pile of damp flannels. (I know there is an obvious solution to this problem, but I always forget to throw them in the washing machine.) Anyway. I needed something to make face-washing fun.

Step in, crochet!

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I’ve been making little face cloths – seven so far, until I ran out of yarn. They’re about four inches across, just the right size for a quick face wash without dripping soapy water all over my pajamas. The patterns are from various places, which unfortunately I am too useless to have saved in one place. I think some of them are on my Pinterest board, but because they’re smaller than the average granny square, I haven’t done all the rounds of some of the patterns.

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They’re just made of plain white kitchen cotton from the market near my parents’ house in Cornwall. A 100g ball made seven cloths, and now I need to get some more, because I’ve really enjoyed making them! For ages I’ve been wanting to make a round basket out of cotton, so I think I’ll make one to hold the clean cloths in the bathroom.

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The next solution I need is a towel arrangement. I also have a thing about drying my face with already-used towels, but it is utterly pointless using a new towel every time. I’m thinking about getting some muslin squares, and giving them a crocheted edge to fit in with the theme…

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435 words about face washing and cloths. I’m sure my friends have never been so grateful for the blog, because otherwise they would have had to sit through that conversation!

Radio Silence

The truth is… I’m a teacher. Not only a teacher, but a brand shiny new teacher who just finished her first term in a secondary school. Wow – I didn’t manage a single blog post in all that time! And it’s even taken until the end of the Christmas holidays to wrap my head around posting anything now. I loved blogging over the summer, but as soon as term started, I lost my ‘voice’ (actually, I lost my literal voice quite often, too).

Still – it’s a blog, and there aren’t any rules about how often you have to post! I don’t do new year’s resolutions (apart from retrospective resolutions for things I’ve already completed – brush teeth, eat breakfast… helps the sense of achievement), but I do hope I’ll manage to escape from the real world into blog world a bit more often this term.

I have been reading other people’s blogs though, and obsessively scrolling through Pinterest when I’m awake at 4 a.m. thinking about marking exercise books. I think I’ve gone all the way back to the beginning on Attic24, Cherry Heart, Coco Rose, and lots more. I’m an avid reader of fiction (guess what subject I teach), but just haven’t been able to concentrate on a story for long enough before I fall asleep over the last few months. Blogs fill that gap tidily – a little bit of happiness and escapism before dropping off at night. The only other thing I can manage is dystopian teen fiction, but they started giving me nightmares. So thank you to the bloggers who do manage to get through the day-to-day and still find time to give me something to read – it is very much appreciated!

So. Wool. That’s why we’re all really here, right? (I do know that there are people for whom wool doesn’t play a huge part in their lives, but… Those are the people we knit for.) I have managed to pick up needles and hooks now and then – mostly for Christmas presents which have now been dispatched. Luckily I did have the presence of mind to take a few photos before wrapping them. Not great photos though. Wales in winter does not provide much natural light.

Hand warmer 1

Fair Isle handwarmers for C’s lovely sister. These were from a kit with a magazine – and in case you think I’m cheap for giving a present made from free wool, bear in mind that I bought the magazine for the wool! I haven’t really done Fair Isle before, but I enjoyed it. Well, I enjoyed the first one – the second one was a bit boring. They actually taught me a lot about my Fair Isle preferences. I already knew about catching the wool in the back, and holding the dominant colour above the non-dominant colour, but I found out more about how to make Fair Isle convenient. I’m planning to do this pattern again for myself, so more then! Worth mentioning the value of blocking these – I just steamed them with the iron then pulled and patted until they looked right. See the difference?

Hand warmer 2

Mitred granny square bag

Mitred granny square bag for my lovely sister. I don’t know where I got the idea for this – certainly Pinterest for the granny square structure, but I must have seen the mitre pattern on another project and decided it would work well for diagonal granny squares. And I think it does! My sister is a fan of bright colours, so that’s what she got. I also found the perfect material to line it with – tape measures! Actually, I think my mum was more excited about the lining than my sister was. Attaching the lining was a giant pain in the bum, but the bag is so much better for it.

Ruffled bags

Ruffled handbags for C’s nieces (and one for my friend’s daughter). At what point do his nieces become my nieces too? When we’re married? They call me Auntie, which is very sweet! They are 5 and 8, and definitely girly girls. These bags are lined too, so little hairclips and things don’t fall out. The most exciting thing about the pattern for the two matching bags is that I made it up completely on my own. C and I were in the caravan in the summer – no internet, just me, a hook and some Stylecraft. I’m really pleased with how they turned out, particularly that the fronts and backs all match up! The girls were pleased with them – lots of cuddles for me! Unfortunately, I completely failed to write any of it down, and can’t for the life of me remember what I did. So, I guess I won’t be making these again! The round bag, which isn’t finished in that photo, is just the first few rounds of Attic24’s blooming flower cushion. I want to make it in actual cushion size at some point, but couldn’t see how the pattern made what was in the picture (my fault, not Lucy Queen of Crochet’s, I hasten to add!). This mini version helped me figure it out. This is the lining, captured in a really terrible photo:

Ruffled bag lining

Snowflakes

Sequined snowflakes for C’s parents. Although because of the light, you can’t see the sequins. And I made eight for them, these are the three I kept for myself. Actually, I was going to make some for my parents too, then my mum came to visit in November and showed me the ones she’d made using exactly the same pattern 😦 I guess I still could have, but it wouldn’t have been as exciting. Anyway, I made these using some lovely sequinned Bergere yarn. I picture them on a tree or along a mantlepiece, reflecting the Christmas lights. Or they might end up forgotten about next year, I guess!

Hat

Hats for men. Three men, to be precise, but I only managed one photo. This one is C’s, in double moss stitch. I love double moss, but hate actually knitting it. Too much back and forth. So this is a testament to how much I wanted to make a nice hat for C. The other two hats used the same basic pattern and structure, but I changed the double moss section. Instead, I did stocking stitch for three rows, then a K1 P1 row. Might write a pattern for that, actually, because it looked good! The reason I chose that pattern is that one of the men is my sister’s boyfriend, and my mum knitted him a jumper in that pattern (actually, does it have a name?). And I thought it would be the funniest thing in the world for him to have a matching jumper and hat. Just me?!

Earflap hat

Hat for a boy – I haven’t actually given this one yet. I’m not sure it’s going to fit. Fingers crossed! This pattern was an amalgamation too – standard beanie, then I stole the earflap bit from another pattern. Then I taught myself to crochet an i cord! (Sounds like an Apple product.) I have an aversion to dpns, so it’s nice to have a different method to make i cords. Why are they called i cords?

Round slouch bag

Round bag for C’s other lovely sister. Oh boy, I definitely used a proper pattern for this (OK, I did change it slightly because I used chunky wool and needed fewer rounds), and I can’t remember where I found it. If I find it, I’ll update this. The star is another Lucy pattern from Attic24, and I made a little matching purse based on a pattern from a Nikki Trench book. It used exactly one ball of wool from B&M!

Stocking

Stocking for C. This is the only photo I have of this stocking… He’s still got it in the hope I’ll put presents in it again next year, so I’ll get a better picture. The inspiration for this came from the Hobbycraft magazine – no pattern, and I changed the construction of the toe, but it was really simple. The ends were a pain though… I have to admit, I committed a cardinal crochet sin and just cut some of them off without sewing them in properly. It’ll probably fall apart before next year. I lined this too, so weirdly shaped presents don’t stretch it out. He doesn’t know yet, but I’m going to make one for myself to make sure I get lots of presents next year!

Purse

Purse for a friend who may or may not like handmade gifts. It’s a gamble… I haven’t given this one yet either, so we’ll see! Although she is always polite about them, so maybe I won’t see!

What else? Well, I did get some excellent woolly presents too! C, setting the bar very high for boyfriends of wool enthusiasts everywhere, took me to a lovely wool shop in Cowbridge – La Mercerie – and let me choose my own presents! Actually, I think he just takes me here for some peace and quiet; they’ve got a sofa and newspapers, and I entertain myself for… an embarrassingly long time. I did have a budget of £20, which made me think very hard about what I wanted. Something special, obviously, that I wouldn’t usually buy for myself. Something I would actually use. Something I could even use as soon as I opened it! I spent Christmas day impressing his parents (first Christmas at their house – it was lovely) by knitting a hat with the Crofter DK he gave me. In fact, useful tip for people trying to impress in laws: kicking ass at Articulate while simultaneously knitting a hat from a pattern you can remember by heart goes down very well. My mum gave me a set of pom pom makers so the hat was topped with the biggest pom pom I could make. Actually, it’s too big – I can feel it nodding around on top of my head when I walk down the road. Still, I like it! And there’s enough wool left for handwarmers – I’m using Sandra of Cherry Heart’s excellent stripy mitts pattern because I want something that matches, but isn’t matchy, if you see what I mean. Mixing knitting and crochet is excellent for that. Also, I understand that Crofter DK is not exactly a luxury yarn, but I rarely spend more than the cost of Stylecraft Special on anything for myself, and that’s £1.79 for 100g.

Crofer DK hat

C also gave me two lovely laceweight yarns – a pale blue and a warm cream. They’re soft and squishy, and they scare me. I don’t want to mess them up, or choose the wrong pattern, or accidentally mutilate them. What I’ve got in mind is a long, crescent shawl. But a shallow crescent. Possibly knitted, using the blue. And then a big, ruffly, lacy edge in the cream on the long curve, crocheted because knitting lace is scary – there’s too much to keep an eye on. Hopefully an edge with lots of increases and repeats so I can get a really good ruffle on. And then one single, thin line of blue on the edge just to finish it off. The only problem with this plan is that, of course, I can’t find a pattern like that. I’d even pay for one, and I’m a notorious cheapskate (I get it from my mother). So the laceweight can lace-wait – it deserves the right pattern.

And lastly from C, this some soft variegated DK – my favourite of the three. This will be a scarf with interlocking strands to fasten it at the front. I know exactly what I want with this one! Sort of. All the patterns I’ve seen are plain, and I want a little bit more interest. And I need to work out how much scarf length I can get from 100g. But apart from that, I know exactly!

Finally. My lovely mum. She came with me and my friend to Bristol Wool Fair last summer, and paid very close attention, because she chose the exact wool I wanted – a purpley yellowy primrose affair. But instead of getting a ball of wool and knitting me something with it, she bought unspun wool (loose, dyed sheep, essentially), learned to spin it, made some of it up into a lovely bow knot scarf, and then knitted some more into a little bag which she then felted. She even made the button for the bag. She really is a very excellent mum.

So. Enough? It’s like the floodgates opened! I really am going to try to write more often, if only to keep track of what I manage to make! Back to school on Monday – a colleague and I have been talking about starting a knitting club (I work in a reasonably tough city school. Should go down well.), so we’ll see how that goes!

Happy New Year 🙂

Hats

In other news

Ahoy! Two posts in one day. Must be nearing the end of the holidays, and I haven’t managed to get all my thoughts out of my head yet. Five things to tell you:

1. I have a Twitter account! I think I’m going to use it for stuff that’s too brief to go on here. And I’ve got one of those twitter feed things on the side of the blog, over there -> I’m @woolheadknits 🙂

2. I did some entrelac and it worked!

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I have always thought of entrelac as being well beyond my capability. But six weeks ago I got a pile of knitting books out of the library, and just got round to reading this one:

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The instructions were so clear, I found it really quite straightforward. As long as you can keep count of your stitches (or can work it out from how many are left on the needle) while you watch Downton Abbey (just me?), it’s fine. I found that, instead of reading the instructions and working out what would happen next, I had to just get on with it and it would become clear straight away. I was thinking about doing one side of a cushion cover in entrelac, but my sample was in dk and it took quite a long time, so I’m going to hang on until I’ve got some chunky wool so it goes a bit faster. Also, I thoroughly recommend the book – loads of information about how you can go a bit more freestyle with your knitting, which I’m finding very exciting at the moment!

3. My button box arrived this morning. I ran straight upstairs to sort out my buttons 🙂

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I love them all sorted by colour! Had a chance to play around with combinations – I’m thinking about some knitted flowers with these at the centre.

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4. I have officially taught myself to crochet! It was my summer project, but I was keeping quiet about it because I’ve tried it once before and it was too difficult for me. So when I was in Cornwall, my mum helped me to count the chain and showed me where to hook into the chain for the first row. Seriously – it was just the first row that I couldn’t do!

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So I did a rectangle.

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And I pinned it and blocked it.

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And I made up a border and sewed on some buttons.

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Worked out what it is?

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A hook holder! The lining is really badly sewn – it was the first thing I did on the JL Mini, so I was still figuring out how to do stuff. It’s made from scraps (yes, I have a material stash too); the blue flowery fabric is part of a sleeve from the size 26 dress of a few posts ago. I used some of the Stylecraft – bluebell, lime and cream. I love the hooks, which C gave me for my birthday. For some reason, it seems to make him really happy to see me using them! He’ll soon learn the dangers of a relationship with a knitter/crocheter (not least, the easy access to pointy weapons).

5. I have some new WIPs! Now that O’s hoodie and the blanket are done (BEFORE the deadline!) I’m allowed to start some new things 🙂 sneak peek:

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That’s some more crochet going into the blue bowl… The cream and lilac are sitting there waiting to be decided on (but don’t they go nicely with the blanket?)… And the zigzag ribbed cushion back has been measured up for its partner 🙂 exciting! So I’d better actually get on with it, instead of just talking about it.

Edit to add: I just thought of another thing to tell you – very important that this is made public knowledge.

6. C said that I can have a knitting room when we move in together! Hahaha, the fool has no idea what he’s let himself in for – a whole room to fill with wool?! Seriously, don’t tell him what a huge mistake he’s made 🙂 all I did was show him one picture on facebook of one craft room, and straight away he said I could have one too (one day). Now you know why I needed to record this information!