Knitted polo shirt No 8 (pattern and yarn by Debbie Bliss)


Regency Blossom by Ruth End ( a Cheltenham square in Spring)

Yes, it’s another outing for one of my very favourite knitting patterns. Why look for novelty when something ticks all the required boxes for a successful children’s jumper ? It’s not as if they’ve all been knitted for the same individual, which might be a bit sad, though I now I come to think of it I could live with that – each in a different colour and each with a different Fair Isle pattern! Umm tempting. Multiple buying of the same thing certainly works with shoes for me – I’ve never looked back since I discovered how well Skechers footwear fit and now I have boots and shoes for all weathers and (most) occasions, some of which I’ve been able to walk out of the shop wearing which had never happened before. But, back to the jumper; I know recipients’ mothers  love this pattern too and even ask for repeats – in fact daughter No 1 would like a repeat for the smallest person, who at 4 years old is well beyond the maximum size for the pattern. I shall have a go but it will take a furrowed brow and much pencil chewing during the scaling up.

Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino Bk 3 Polo shirt

However … after my sixth knitting of this jumper I came late to the realisation that the 4 balls the pattern required for size 18-24 months was not enough. At least 5 balls of yarn were needed and possibly 6. By the time I came to jumper number seven, I initially forgot this (having made no note on the pattern) but those 4 balls in the chosen colour suddenly looked too few and out of caution I thought it a good idea to go for contrasting collar, placket, cuffs and bottom ribbing. Before starting number 8, I had 4 whole balls and most of a fifth but I still needed to use another colour for the collar. The next thing I do will be to annotate the pattern accordingly…

Detail: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino Bk 3 Polo shirt

It’s daughter No 1’s birthday today. My birthday phone call caught her in the car on the way to  (or from) the council tip offloading rubbish while at the same time giving her younger sister driving practice, which is one way to spend your birthday. She knows I shall be making her a botanical wall hanging –  which I haven’t yet even started let alone finished – but the older I get the more I realise  you really shouldn’t let the birthdays of those you’re close to go by without sending them something, possibly something small but it must certainly be something lovely. With all the current pandemic emphasis on washing hands, we’ve turned our backs on liquid soap in plastic bottles and gone back to old fashioned bars of the stuff. Pears soap is one of our favourites but, as I pass Cologne and Cotton several times a week, I seem to have accumulated several really pretty boxes of their finest soaps. Now I know why for they make the nicest of special but not inordinately expensive presents. Happily daughter No 1 loved them and even said “they were just what she wanted”. Now the pinkest of pink boxes sits on a shelf in the pinkest of pink loos and all those little hands can come to the dinner table clean and rose perfumed. (Although I’m not sure the children have mastered the art of using soap to wash their hands without simultaneously flooding the floor and the soap shooting out of their hands into the most inaccessible parts of the room.!)

Detail: Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino Bk 3 Polo shirt

The lovely weather of Easter has given way to duller and colder days. This year blossom seems to have been early, to have been  battered about at its peak and so has not lasted very long. Forty plus years ago when I went into hospital to have daughter No 1, there was little hint of spring anywhere. Four days later, I went home with new life not only in my arms but all around me. In those few days trees had erupted with billowy blossoms, garden plants unfurled bright petals and green was lime rather than khaki of later in the year. Such a nice time to be born. Ruth End has captured the season beautifully in the picture at the tope of this piece. It sits on my bookshelves through the year and reminds me that winter will pass. My husband having just had his second jab, reminds us that other things should get better too.

Swatch Fair Isle sample (Mary Jane Mucklestone: 200 Fair Isle Designs. Design 194, p.192)

Note to self: Knitting pattern:Fair Isle Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino Bk 3 Polo shirt. Fair Isle pattern : Mary Jane Mucklestone: 200 Fair Isle Designs. Design 194, p.192). Yarn Baby Cashmerino Navy (008)  and Kingfisher (072)

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Whitework cushion with decorated letter B in William Morris style

Cushion cover with ornamented embroidered letter B (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

In England, lockdown eased on Monday and huge numbers of people lost no time at all in flocking to the country’s parks and gardens which immediately made the same places much less desirable destinations for the rest of us, who seem still to be quite happy to venture no further than what has become usual during the past year. On Monday I sent an SOS email to a local friend asking if she had a few strands of purple yarn to mend a jumper from the mending pile. Expecting a twist of thread posted in an envelope, I was momentarily taken aback when my friend said that she’d love to make use of  new freedom and would WALK down into Cheltenham to physically bring me a selection of yarns to choose from! Well, walk she did and we spent a wonderful few hours sitting in the garden in the sun with a pot of coffee, catching up on all sorts of things, taking conversational tangents, following  inconsequential thoughts and turning over distressing news that emails and even phone calls never quite catch the nuances of.  The thing about really good friends is that you slip back into amicable companionship, picking up threads and jollying each other along so that a whole year dissolves away and it’s just like you last saw them only yesterday. Exciting to think there should be more of this in the future.

Cushion cover with ornamented embroidered letter B (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

This ornamented and embroidered B is to be a cushion cover for an old friend I’ve fairly recently got back in touch with. When my family and I lived in Chiswick she and her family had a house nearby and our children (my 4, her 2) were in and out of each other’s houses regularly. She was always very kind, especially during those important life occasions when you just need to leave your children somewhere safe while you are needed elsewhere. We laughed a lot and spent many happy hours sitting in our  tiny London gardens with a glass of wine in hand putting the world to right while somewhere in the house the children banged about dressing up in preparation for some dramatic show to be performed before anyone was allowed to leave the house, let alone be  put to bed. The family also adopted one of our litter of kittens which I think they came to love – she was thoughtful enough to remind me of him when we got back in touch years later. I’m not always keen on all of William Morris alphabet letters but I do find the  curvaceousness of the B lovely, so I was very happy to have re-found someone whose name begins with B for whom I could embroider it.

Detail: Cushion cover with ornamented embroidered letter B (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

Good Friday is the most sombre day in the Christian calendar.  But Easter Sunday too is always a bit of a difficult time for my husband, as both his father (also an Anglican priest) and his first wife, died on Easter Sunday. Fine weather is inordinately helpful and happily today is a day of glorious sunshine with the promise of more of the same until Monday.

Detail: Cushion cover with ornamented embroidered letter B (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)

As any reader of this blog knows, I have a deep attachment to my daily newspaper, The Times, whose articles challenge and inform me, make me laugh out loud and sometimes even amaze me. This week it carried a piece of local news  which has made me smile. At first I thought it must be an April Fool piece – but no, it was only 31 March.

I have cut some text but the following is a direct quote.

Three men broke into the Cheltenham Tweed Company shop on the town’s promenade on January 9 this year and drilled their way through the dividing wall in the basement to get into an antiques and jewellery shop next door.

Their raid on Promenade Antiques backfired when the alarm connected to a safe went off and they were seen running away covered in dust.

Gloucester crown court was told that David Newman 42, Mark Rabjohns, 34 and Peter Fitzharris, 42, all of Cheltenham were caught nearby.

Tabby Macfarlane, for the prosecution, said that after a passer-by spotted the men, Inspector Marcus Forbes-George was quickly on the scene.

Within seconds he spotted Newman stopping in ‘mid-run’ and then acting in a nonchalant manner, which he assessed as being rather suspicious, he said. He noticed that Newman was covered in brick dust, which gave him cause to arrest him.

The officer then noticed muddy footprints leading to a nearby van parked next to a compound. He went to investigate the area and found Rabjohns lurking in the corner inside the compound and he arrested him.

Meanwhile PC Birch found Fitzharris lying in a narrow drainage channel on the roof of an adjoining shop. Fitzharris was wearing just a T-shirt, which the officer found unusual as it had been very cold at the time . He was also covered in brick dust and his arm was grazed all over. He was also arrested.

Keith Graham, owner of the Cheltenham Tweed Company discovered that they had removed most of a wall to access the antique shop safe. A bag of silverware was found in the basement.

Graham said that a member of his staff recalled three men coming into the shop in December who did not seem to be checking out the products but the layout of the shop itself.

TimBurrows, in mitigation for Newman, said “They were all flummoxed by the safe. It was while they were trying to gain entry into the safe that the alarm went off”

Judge Ian Lawrie QC interjected: “They behaved like three buffoons with utter incompetence in carrying out this burglary. I don’t think the three men visiting the clothing shop were really interested in adding tweed to their wardrobe when they went on a scouting mission in December.”

Fitzharris, Newman and Rabjohns all admitted burglary. Fitzharris and Newman asked the court to take into  consideration an antiques shop burglary in Stroud, Gloucestershire last year.

Judge Lawrie jailed Fitzharris for two years and seven months and Newman for two years and eight months. Rabjohns was sentenced to 18 months, suspended for two years, and ordered to complete 150 hours of unpaid work.

Judge Lawrie told Rabjohns” You were a complete idiot to get involved in this burglary. You need to take greater care who you mix with in future.”

Priceless – a prosecuting counsel called Tabby, a defence counsel employing the word ‘flummoxed’ to assist a plea of mitigation, a near naked fellon and a judge who condemns the criminals before him as buffoons! I was once a witness at a trial where the judge in his summing up told the defence lawyer to go away and learn the Theft Act. It’s tempting to think in this case the burglars needed to go away and learn how to burgle – except of course, we don’t want them to do that!

Cushion cover with ornamented embroidered letter B (hand embroidered by Mary Addison)


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