An introduction to the Knitting

It’s not just knitting … it’s THE knitting.   I took this up in 2013 I think, after having learning to knit as a child, not doing any knitting for a very very long time and then with my previous rather energetic hobbies being now out of the question (although I do still live in hope of being able to run again – I don’t need a marathon, just even 5km or 1km would be a good start) I was looking for something else that was a bit more sedentiary.

Like photography, and the allotment, I’m not particularly accomplished.  I’m not even sure I’d go as far as saying that I know what I’m doing but it is enjoyable, relaxing and it does stop you going stir crazy when you can’t really get out and about.

So … I thought as an introduction, I’d just put up a few of the pictures of things that I’ve finished and introduce a couple of the projects I’m working on at the moment.

Lets start with the silly things – there have been a few toys knit (or crochet).   Dippy is one I’m fairly proud of, especially with today’s news that dippy is going to leave the Natural History Museum in London and go on tour.  I love Rhino’s as well so he just had to be crochet’d as well.

Thandi by HeidiBearsPuff (Dippy) the Magic Stegosaurus (Diplodocus) by HeideBears Girl Elephant by Little Cotton Rabbits

Then there’s the childrens clothes.  They are so nice and quick and easy to make.  That said I’m not very good at sizing so the little jacket being modelled was in a drawer for 6 months before it fit and the hat fits adults!

Baby Coat by Sirdar Rudolph and baby coat by Sirdar

Next it’s accessories.  The red shawl is one of my favourites, the hat was quickly knit last weekend to keep me warm and the stripy shawl has been gifted to a friend as I found it a little bit too pink for my liking.  I’m also not 100% sure about garter stitch.  Think I prefer stockingstitch.

Day-26 Earl Grey by Claire DevineBotany by TinCanKnits


Lush by TinCanKnits

I’ve even tried a jumper or two.  Only one is finished.  The other has been sitting since last April waiting to have the ends sewn in.

At the moment I’m working on an Aran style jumper for my husband.  It’s not very far along and has been sitting languishing in a corner for months as my brain has not liked cables.  The recent hat has just shown that I can try again so I may try and start this one up again.   Then there’s a shawl for my mum (another Tin Can Knits design), a pair of socks which I’m using the wrong yarn for as it doesn’t show off the pattern and a crochet turtle for the youngest.  I’ll blog about these separately I think.

So … my mix of knitting … it’s fun and I’m learning 🙂 and I think I’d also like to learn how to photograph them better as well!

p..s i need to work out the links things but will update them so the patterns can be linked to as soon as I can.

2015 Photo a Day Set 4

Into week four already and I’m starting to read the manual for the camera.  Quite handy at times but the pics have a long way to go.  This is a short one just showing the pics as I’m a bit later than planned and if I don’t just post I’ll probably not get round to it at all.

Monday last week was a lovely short walk by the river Itchen.  Someone appears to have been trained by the photographer as she sits and poses when the camera is out.  Photobombed by the dog!


Tuesday was sunrise over the local fields.  The colours were just captivating so I tried to capture them and failed to do it justice.   Need to work on landscapes – they’re a challenge.


Wednesday was a frustrating day, I didn’t have my camera when I could have had some fun photographing a heron and then meetings overran and and and and ….. by 9pm stuck in a rather unimpressive hotel in Manchester I gave up, used the iphone and snapped the light and shade from a rather odd looking wall.

Day 21

Then it was off further north to Scotland and there was snow :o)  (I love snow).  So many vague attempts to photograph snow and turbines, black sheep and snow, cool bridges and snow but the light wasn’t great and the clouds were actually the best image of the day.


The rest of the weekend I had my favourite muse …. at dinner, with her very first pair of new shoes and learning to use the telephone!

Day-23 Day-24 Day-25

But then of course – the Sunday selfie was a no show …. so here’s a Monday selfie – my new hat that i’ve just finished making (more about that in another post)


Wonder what I’ll photograph this week?

An introduction to the Allotment

I thought it about time to introduce the allotment to you.  It’s very much my thing in terms of the family.  In our previous house I grew veg in the garden, then in our current house I did the same and in November 2013 we were lucky enough to get to the top of the queue and be offered a half plot at our local allotment.

It was a little bit overgrown and looking a bit sorry for itself.

Allotment 2013:2014 - 01

Thankfully many of the weeds were easyish to pull out and with the exception of bindweed everywhere (that will be a battle over many years I suspect) it’s been ok.  It took a while but we got the plot mostly cleared.

Allotment 2013:2014 - 14

To my joy there is a well established raspberry patch in two rows which form a perfect divider for the plot and some shelter for my fruit bushes.  We’ve focussed more on the bottom half of the plot near the shed and had a productive year last year with potato’s, lettuce, more lettuce, courgettes, wonderfully stunted carrots, runner beans, lovely dwarf french beans and a few other things.   The strawberries and raspberries were abundant but the apple and plum lost their fruit to wind and the fruit bushes got chewed on by the dog.

DSCF4556 DSCF4551 DSCF4381 DSCF4384

I had harboured dreams of the whole family enjoying being at the allotment and sunny days spent pootling around but it’s not to be.  Everyone loves having the fresh fruit and veg to eat in the house which is great.  The boys will come up and help dig or harvest if asked – they work for a bacon sandwich or a BBQ but they don’t enjoy being there that much so it’s mostly my husband and I popping in and out.

We had some fun undertaking construction projects as well.  There is the beginnings of a fruit cage round the raspberries but the most fun bit was painting the shed.

Allotment 2013:2014 - 24

Allotment 2013:2014 - 35

Apparently it’s not normal to paint a shed multiple colours but it’s just so cheery.   It certainly created a talking point at the allotment and we are now known as the people with the stripy shed.

Geeky moment – we were aiming for fibonacci type stripes using the boards of the shed as a guide (where you add the last two numbers together so 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 etc) but we got to three and then realised we could do 5 but not 8 so stopped at three and reversed back to one (1,1,2,3,2,1,1) followed by a kickboard at the bottom in the darkest colour.

The half plot we have has been a little neglected since last August when I had a bit of a relapse.  We managed to keep harvesting most things but that is about it.  We’re now slowly clearing the plot again – thankfully this time it’s the remainder of last years plants rather than a weed fest.  I can manage about 30 minutes of gentle pootling so my husband is doing all the hard work digging and I get to do things like cut out the dead raspberry canes from last year and little bits of weeding.  At this time of year, 30 minutes once or twice a week is ok and fingers crossed that by the time things start growing I can do 30 minutes four or five days a week.  Little and often is key and focussing on what we have achieved, the to-do list is still there the next time!

This year, I’m hoping we continue growing a variety of things.  More successional sewing to avoid a glut and still growing mostly from plug plants to make things easier for me.  Sunday’s highlight was the first daffs of the season – just lovely.

Day 18

2015 Photo a Day Set 3

Set three already in these photographs.  Wow.  Suppose I better get started then.

Day 12 was damp, dreary and going outside to take anything interesting in the gloom was just not happening.  Instead I’d like to introduce you to trouble (T) who was oh so patient posing for me.  I don’t have a flash so had fun trying to play with the ISO and aperture to get the shutter speed fast enough in the rather poor lighting to stop it blurring.  Not the worlds best photograph but fun to shoot.

Day 12

Day 13 – the sun came out and I wasn’t really for moving from the warmth of the house.  I was given an orchid a couple of years ago now which seems to flourish on my rather haphazard watering scheme.  The sun was shining on it and I spotted that it sparkles so just had to try and photograph it.

Day 13

Day 14 – with work I’d had to go to Oxford so dutifully took my camera and then completely failed to capture anything of interest.  I thought another electron microscope so soon was overkill and taking an image from a speeding taxi or train proved futile.  No matter – I had a very rare evening all to myself so sat down, cast on some stripy socks and drank tea.  It was bliss so has been recorded for posterity!

Day 14

Day 15 – was just fun …. out with the dog sitting on the park bench and throwing stones.  There’s too much light pollution to get good star shots, although the aircraft are fun so another T shot instead.

Day 15

Day 16 I said goodbye to my lovely fabby and wonderful car.  Moving to an automatic will help make things easier for me and it’s also part of the grand plan to start positioning myself to sort out work life balance and hopefully get to a better position health wise.  I had to photograph her before saying goodbye.

Day 16

Day 17 – sunrise.  It was beautiful.

Day 17

Day 18 – this should be a Sunday Selfie and there is one below taken from my half hour at the allotment.  However … I much much prefer my first daffodil of the year photo which I’ve included as well.  I can’t believe there are daffs out already!

Day 18 selfieDay 18

Another week – another random selection of photos.  I’m realising that I don’t seem to photograph people and I find landscapes challenging.  Things I need to work on!

2015 Photo a Day Set 2

Just to be clear.  This is not a New Years resolution.  I don’t do resolutions as they tend to be broken.  A challenge however … well that’s something to rise up to and have fun with!

The photos this week are a bit of a mix, one I’m quite proud of and some of the others are a bit middling.

Day 5 was back to work so it felt fitting to take an image on my work environment.  Sitting on my bed with the dog keeping me company.  As I continue to recover I look forward to moving back into my office and my swiss ball for a chair and a proper keyboard and monitor but until then, when I’m not actually physically moving about to do something, this is where I can be found resting.


Day 6 I was lucky enough to get out to walk the dog at lunch.  There was a break in the rain so we pootled out to local fields for her to have a bit of a run.  I liked the contrast of sunlight and rain clouds.


Day 7 was a trip up to the office.  We have some old kit that unfortunately is going to be a struggle to revive – it’s between 20 and 30 years old now so the sad decision was made to scrap it.  For anyone that’s interested – it’s an electron microscope, used for looking at things that are too small to see using optical microscopes.


Day 8 – back out on a dog walk (I try to do two a week).  I was wishing I’d brought my 70-200 (equivalent up to 300 I think on my camera) lens as I saw a bird of prey (probably sparrowhawk) take down a pigeon – it plummeted from the sky, as if from nowhere and then settled in the field to feed, the pigeon did not stand a chance.  Unfortunately I only had my 18mm lens so scenery it was.

Day 8

Day 9 relates to my last blog post – a sneaky shot of my cookery day out.

Day 9

Day 10 is from Winchester where I live in the UK – there is an old watermill right in the heart of the city which has been brought back to life by the National Trust.  I’d actually wanted to take an image of the bridge and the lovely old building but the sun had gone in, it was Saturday afternoon and there were too many people and cars to get a nice clear shot.  Time to look for something else … this image is taken from the mill race, the water level is high so it’s flowing very very fast.  I didn’t have a tripod so braced against the metalwork and am delighted with the result!

Day 10

Day 11 is a Sunday selfie.  I don’t like photographs of myself so my sub challenge is photographing myself once a week on a sunday!  This week is a cheat – I’ve started by photographing my hand and knees.

Day 11

Cookery School

Hello, how are you doing?  I hope you’ve had a good week.   I’m not going to witter on about my Monday – Thursday working but I was lucky enough to have a voucher (from Christmas 2013) to attend a day at a *brand name* cookery school in London yesterday.  Now I will confess that after a pretty hectic week, I was tired and not particularly enthusiastic to attend but, it surprised me with how good the day actually was!

We arrived to find tea, coffee and breakfast laid out.  Most of the 20 of us were there on our own so it was a time to meet people and work out who you’d be partnered with.  Then …. it was off to be introduced to the kitchen and into the theatre for the first demonstration.

It was a fish cookery course and first of all we were making deep fried seabass fillets with a mango, carrot and herb salad, an amazing chilli caramel sauce and some deep fried onion and garlic crumbled on the top.  Watching the chef was impressive, even just how to chop things, then seeing how to gut a fish (ugh) and then fillet it and do all the stages.  The dish created was stunning in terms of presentation and then we got to taste and give it a go ourselves ….

seabassIt turned out better than I thought it might and tasted lovely.  The crispiness of the seabass and the sweetness of the mango went lovely together.  Filleting the fish was a bit of a challenge though, one side is definitely easier than the other and I am afraid to admit I passed on the challenge of gutting it to my partner.

Then we were back in for dish two – pan fried scallops with a butterbean and chorizo stew – from Thai to Spanish cookery.  This seemed much more approachable and the time flew by as we prepared the food


and then tucked into plate number two.  The stew had aioli through it (now that is something I want to try making at home) and I think we had a little much as it was soooooo garlicky.   The chorizo with the scallops was a lovely combination.
scallops Finally it was time for “lunch”.  As if we needed any more food after the first two courses.  This last time it was learning how to fillet a flat fish – plaice, then skin the fillet and make a mussel beurre blanc.  I enjoyed filleting the plaice more than the sea bass.  Not quite sure if it was practice or just that the flat fish was flatter so easier with the knife and that we didn’t have to gut it this time.  We steamed the plaice in little parcels, cooked the mussels in white wine then used the fish juice and some fish stock reduced down with melted butter whisked through it to make the beurre blanc.  Considering how unimpressive it looked, it was seriously yum!


By that point, I’d reached my energy limit and knew it was time to go so as not to need to spend the weekend in bed.  A much better day than I expected and it certainly has given me confidence on ways to cook fish.  Something I would recommend.

2015 Photo a day, set 1.

Isn’t this exciting, a second post!

One of the things I am trying to do this year (it is not a New Years Resolution) is to try to take a photograph every day of the year.  The main aim is to try and improve my photography as it’s interesting but also, from trying this for 30 days last October, you end up looking at things differently, especially when you are less mobile.  I found myself looking for beauty in the house and garden and appreciating the last autumn flowers more (for example) and that is inspiring in its’ own little way.

So … once a week (or so), you will find a blog with the run down of my week’s photographs and why I’ve taken them.

My camera is a FujiFilm X-Pro1 so not a point and click but also not a super duper fancy thing that the photographer (eldest stepson) owns.  I sort of know how to play with the aperture (to let more or less light in and to change the depth of field), the shutter speed and if feeling adventurous, manually focus.

Day -1 (31st December 2014).  The family were up in Aviemore, the skies were patchy and the stars were outstanding.  As in see the Milky Way outstanding.  So …. I tried to take a picture using my not very impressive gorilla tripod (i just like the bendy bits for attaching to fence posts) and it turns out that the sensor on my camera is pretty good for this sort of stuff ….

Day -1Day 1 – A Ponsettia.  It was cold, wet and miserable and I didn’t want to go outside so the flower was pretty and inside.

Day 1

Day 2 – A baby blanket I’ve just finished.  It was still dark outside (and cold and wet) so this is taken without flash but with the room lights on.  Not the best photo but it will do as I don’t have a flash. Anyway, as soon as the photo was taken, it was wrapped and delivered.

Day 2Day 3 – It’s January, cold and wet and miserable is going to be a recurring theme so the fire was cosy and warm and welcoming.

Day 3Day 4 – You know how there are all these trendy colour co-ordinated Christmas trees out there.  Well ours is definitely not like that, each year a new ornament is added to the collection and it’s a clash of styles, ages and taste.  This is a selection of my favourites before they were packed away again for another year.

Day 4So that’s the first few days … more soon :o)


Well hello there.  What’s this you’re thinking, yet another blog?  That might actually be the case but I’m hoping you’ll find it amusing, possibly even interesting and enjoyable.  Grab a cuppa, some cake and have a read. A new blog deserves an introduction so here’s a little about me (oh where to start).   I’m Mhairi, in my mid 30’s and am in the middle of switching my life up a bit.   The stable things are my family and a rather daft but loveable dog.


(I wish I could claim credit for this pic but that honour goes to my eldest stepson who is a photographer)

Beyond that, things are a bit changeable.    I developed a chronic illness approaching 3 years ago and my previous hobbies of mountaineering, running, cycling and swimming and anything outdoor are not really an option now.  So … I’ve taken up knitting, baking, photography, growing veg and switch between them depending on the weather, my mood and current physical abilities.


On top of that, I am looking to change my health/life/work balance and have started thinking about a move away from my current career which involves a lot of travel, stress and long hours to something more flexible and home based which will hopefully mean I get to do more than work. So why blog?  I like writing informally and wanted to create an opportunity share not just the highs and lows of my current knitting projects, my photo a day for 2015 challenge or the overgrown disaster that is currently my allotment but also what it is like to develop a new skillset to change career path, hopefully start up a business and see where life takes me. I hope you enjoy reading :o)