Sunday, 27 November 2022

Sunday 27th November - Pause for Advent 1

My Oma and Me at someone's wedding, 1960s

When I was little my grandmother used to tell us stories all the time, and never differentiated between Fairy Tales (The Three Little Pigs) or Bible Stories or stories that she had heard as a child or made up.

Here's one of them, as best as I can remember;

There was a man who was shipwrecked and found himself washed up in a strange country. He had nothing but the clothes he stood up in, no money, no food, nothing. So he walked inland up the beach and headed inland. By and by he found a road, and followed it. There was a coin lying there, and no-one around, so picked up the coin and thought he might be able to buy some food.

After a while he came to a tiny village, with just a couple of shops. He went into the first shop, and discovered that he and shop keeper could not talk to each other - neither knew each other's language. But the stranger was able to point to some bread, and he put his coin on the counter, hoping it would be enough to pay for it. To his astonishment, the shopkeeper started shouting at him, swept the coin onto the floor and put the bread back on the shelf, before driving the stranger out of the shop.

'What happened there?' wondered the stranger. 

He tried to buy bread at the next shop, and exactly the same thing happened - all went well until he tried to pay for the food. By now, he was feeling desperate, but hardly dared enter the last shop.

But this time, the shopkeeper was all smiles, and accepted the coin in payment, and handed over the change, placing each coin carefully on the counter. The stranger noticed that the shop keeper turned all the coins so that they were showing 'heads'; the picture of the King.

.... .... .... 

Here the story stopped. 

.... .... .... 

I have wondered about this story for maybe 55 years. What does it mean? 

Was it to do with showing proper respect for the King? Who is the King? 

Or does it mean you present yourself 'King side up'. But what does that mean? 

All the best stories leave you pondering. 

Saturday, 26 November 2022

Saturday 26th November - Dusk is falling on an eventful day

This birthday has been special for so many reasons. Actually, each birthday is special in its own way.

Breakfast in bed is now a normal part of my routine, but breakfast in bed with presents is something else!

As the day went on there has been a steady stream of visitors, bringing presents, cards, flowers, a complete meal in a bag, as well as the deliveries by post and by van today and the preceding week.

I'm quite bowled over by everything, and am enjoying re-reading cards and looking at the pictures on them (especially the one of a lady wearing lycra, clutching a glass of wine and watching her washing machine go through the spin cycle - securely taped to the machine is her fitbit step counter... 'another few minutes and that should be my 10,000 steps done' - SO true!)   

and looking AT my book 'The Kitchen Cabinet' but trying not to start it before January, as it goes through the culinary year from January to December... I think I WILL start it in December though... and read it through the year to next November!

I have received a Jacquie Lawson Advent calendar - part of our traditional Advent now. I really don't mind giving it a plug here as it is so lovely. Possibly even better than a chocolate Advent Calendar. 

Each day there is something new and delightful to see when you click on a bauble, but while I am waiting I can click on the star and find all sorts of activities - a word puzzle, jigsaw puzzle, Christmas Bauble smashing game (yes please!), patience and create a snowflake. I know from past experience more will be added as the days go by.

I have just investigated the trial Christmas cake. Unfortunately, even if I cut out the middle I don't think it can be saved. I can hear Paul Hollywood's voice 'It's underbaked, nearly raw'. Oh well. I have tried just saving the edges, but even that's not great. But  - oh - the flavour! I shall bake it again tomorrow. At least, with it being so small it is not a hugely expensive undertaking.

Tomorrow is the First Sunday of Advent. Seems so early - still another couple of days before we can start opening all the windows...

Advent Cowl Preparations - these are the final instructions

 Here are the final instructions (I hope!) for getting ready for the Advent Cowl project. I have finished knitting up the prototype, and am about to start knitting another as a daily Advent project (can one have too many scarves and cowls?)

The first instructions should appear in this blog on 1st December, and the blog post will be headed 'Advent Cowl'

I will repeat the warning - this is the first time I have attempted to do something like this, as in designing and writing up a pattern, and it has been a bit of an adventure. I hope I have incorporated all the lessons I learned along the way but apologies in advance for anything... !

These photographs show the wrong side of the cowl, and my gauge;

21 stitches to 10 cm on 5mm needles (more than the ball band suggestion of 17 stitches for 10 cm - this could be due to stranded colourwork making a denser texture). Second time around I shall try and knit a little looser. This is the back of the cowl.

and the front, showing stitch count.

here's the row count; 26 rows to 10 cm on 5mm needles (ball band reckons 22)

So, in other words, if this matters, do a swatch, preferably using two colours. You can try a simple pattern such as alternating main and colour yarns, as in M, C, M, C or MM,CC,MM,CC etc. But measurements are not critical - so long as it will go over your head and cover up all your face...

INSTRUCTIONS FOR ADVENT COWL - 2-colour fair-isle style.

Finished size – 15 cm by 56 cm. This fits like a fairly loose collar of a jumper. For an even looser fit around the neck, add stitches in multiples of 8  


I used 45g / 65m of Drops Alaska Aran weight in dark blue for my main colour, and 20g / 42m of Drops Alaska Aran weight in off-white as my contrast colour.

Gauge on ball band was 17 stitches and 22 rounds over 10 cm.

The ribbing was worked on 4mm circular needles, changing to 5mm circular needles for patterns. The needles have to be 40cm or 60cm long. (the stitches are a ‘cosy’ fit on 40 cm, and more spaced out on 60cm needles). You could use dpns; I personally find circulars much easier.

You will also need a marker to mark the beginning of a round – I use a loop of entirely different yarn.   

You can use a mix of colours for main and contrast to use up scraps – just join at the beginning of the round, and weave in the ends at the end. If you don’t have enough of the main colour, you could use a contrast for the ribbing.


Read charts from RIGHT to LEFT starting at the bottom.

Each day has one or two rounds. Always slip the beginning of round marker. I find it convenient to stop one stitch short of the round, otherwise the marker falls off the needle overnight.

Blank squares are main colour and * squares are contrast colour.

Repeat the pattern to the end of the round. Patterns repeat over2, 4 or 8 stitches.

Do not break off the contrast yarn between patterns but carry it up between rounds. Usually the floats, where the yarn is carried loosely along the back of the work, will never be more than 3 or 4 stitches.

You will find that the pattern will not match neatly where the rounds meet, because you are knitting round and round in spirals rather than rows. Once you have finished the whole cowl, you can sort of gently pull and encourage the knitting at that point, especially if it is wet, and persuade the pattern to line up better.


K – knit.     P – purl

K2tog – knit two stitches together to decrease.

Ktfbl  – knit through front and back of stitch to increase, or use any method you prefer.