Off and on the needles – November 2017

A quick round up of the various yarny projects finished and started over the past few weeks while I’ve been absent from my blog.  Which turn out to be surprisingly numerous.  A reflection in part of many sleepy evenings spent on the sofa (hello crochet), and lots of time on trains (knitting, always).

An upside of feeling under the weather and not up to much is that I spent whatever energetic time I had doing what we call ‘STOing’ (sorting things out), and making cosy corners. A bit like my student days when, an essay urgently required, I would develop an equally pressing need to rearrange all the furniture in my room, last week I found myself single-handedly dismantling and shifting beds, boxes and all manner of other things upstairs and downstairs.

Another full size blanket completed and given away (thank you so much Lucy! so inspiring and her patterns are always easy to follow).  This one given to daughter-out-law as a 30th birthday present.  It’s Lucy’s Hydrangea stripe blanket, and I think it’s much my favourite so far – an interesting stitch visually, colours I enjoyed, and actually very very easy to do.

Much progress is also being made on a second such blanket, this one for me and made (mostly) with left over yarn.  I’m loving making this, choosing each colour as I go, and staying warm on the sofa as I do so.  Malcolm thinks I’m crocheting myself into a cocoon.  There’s a lot to be said in favour of that idea, especially at this time of year….

As you can see, it’s not yet finished and there are still all those pesky ends to sew in, but I’m pleased with the effect so far.

Socks both started and finished – not to be pictured here (yet) as they are destined to be Christmas presents.

Another cot/pram blanket being knitted for Bath City Farm to sell, again using up donated and leftover sock wool.  So far they’ve sold all of the knitted blankets, and I hope that the remaining crocheted ones were sold at the Christmas Fair.

On the worst day of the cold bug, I cracked the art of knitting whilst at the same time reading someone else’s blog.  With a cup of hot spiced redbush tea alongside, nothing could be more comforting.

A friend who is working temporarily in Shetland has brought me enough wool to enable me to finish another lace shawl, as we are to become great aunt and uncle a third time next year.  This one is already part done, and I’m looking forward to being able to complete it.

I have a LOT (truly, no exaggeration) of untreated pure wool left over from an eco business I set up and ran when our sons were babies and toddlers.  I’ve been pondering (on and off for the past 15+ years….) what to do with it.  If you have any suggestions for how I can use it, I’d be really interested to hear from you.  I have a mix of 2 ply and 3 ply.  It’s lovely to knit with, leaves your hands very soft.  Ideally I’d like to use it to raise more money for Bath City Farm.

You may not have come across the concept before.  Lanolin wool is wool that has been washed clean and spun, but not enough to remove the natural lanolin from the sheep.  I used it to knit woollen nappy covers (I think they call them ‘soakers’ in some places), the idea (and the practice) being that the lanolin in the wool reacts with the ammonia in the wee and neutralises it, creating a soap and water.  The wee is absorbed by the wool soakers, keeping the baby’s clothes dry and bottom skin free of nappy rash.  It sounds unlikely but is true that they rarely needed washing (about every 6 months or so) – we used 6 pairs in rotation and hung them to air in between uses.  Truly, they didn’t smell, and our babies never had sore bottoms.

Interestingly, I’ve since learnt that in earlier times woollen fleeces were left to soak in stale urine (called ‘lant’) in order to remove the lanolin before washing and spinning.

Having made and used these soakers for our babies, I sold knit-your-own kits and some aready-made ones mail order.  This was in the 1980s, before the internet, but when many of us were already questioning the environmental issues raised by so-called disposable nappies.  Though a bit ‘niche’, my ‘wunderpants’ went down well.  But then our babies grew to be young children and started school, and I wanted something more from my working life.  I wound the business up.  Hence the large amount of wool currently sitting in our garage waiting for inspiration.

Hmm, that turned out to be a bit of a diversion from what I’ve been knitting and crocheting recently and now, into what I knitted 20 odd years ago, and what I might be knitting some time soon…

Meanwhile, the cold bug gradually (oh too slowly) ebbs awat.




About deborah @ the magic jug

Now I've passed 60 I'm still doing all sorts of things I haven't done before, as well as carrying on with the things I already love. I live a happy life with my long term love Malcolm. In my blog I explore local and low tech ideas, food, growing, making, reading, thinking, walking, and lots of other words ending in 'ing'.
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11 Responses to Off and on the needles – November 2017

  1. Rupali says:

    Very inspiring!


  2. pelagia5 says:

    Haha, I can so relate… I don’t think my kitchen has ever been so clean as it was when I was writing my Master’s thesis :D! As for the soakers, I think that idea would be a great business idea even today – there are a lot of mothers returning to reusable nappies, and more sustainable options. If you don’t want to put too much time into it yourself, maybe you can find a mums’ group in your area to help you with that?


    • Yes, one of my abiding memories is finding myself sitting in the middle of my part-rearranged chaotic room at 3am to finish writing a college essay with a 9am deadline!! The follies of youth….
      Thanks so much for the encouragement with the soakers. I’m tentatively looking into it, but your idea of getting together with mums’ groups is a great one and hadn’t occurred to me before. I’ll add this to the list to follow up.


  3. Sharon says:

    The wunderpants seem like a very 21st century idea and DIY craft kits are very ‘now’, perhaps sell at the farm, alongside the pram blankets? Your blankets look beautiful.


    • Aw, thanks Sharon.
      The wonderpants are indeed a very C21 idea, but they are undoubtedly much bulkier around the bum than ‘disposable’ nappies are, which many parents might find off-putting. But they work well, and are pleasingly low tech.
      I’m exploring some ideas for selling some things through my blog (with money going direct to the farm accounts, to avoid any doubt about my intentions!), so watch this space!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. wish I could crack the art of reading and knitting at the same time – any tips?


    • Yup – a strategically placed cushion or pillow (to rest the laptop or book at the right angle) and knitting that requires no thought (which for me means socks or blankets). Good luck! (I guess with a book you might need to weight the pages too – my friend has a great device for this, which I suppose is like a long thin bean-bag)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Marian says:

    Beautiful blankets, Deborah, both the knitted as well as the crocheted! And I love the coined “STOing” — I recently came across the phrase “productive procrastination”, which is something I could completely relate to. It does feel great to get things sorted and organized and (hopefully) purged and lightened!
    I used cloth diapers for my babies and had NO CLUE about woolen covers! I imagine those would have breathed so much better than the plastic covers I used…
    (Severely lacking imagination) the only thing I can come up with for your leftover yarn is to use it for its intended purpose. Have you considered re-opening your business (just until the yarn is gone) by offering either the kits or pre-made covers in the Farm store, or by setting yourself up on Etsy?

    I hope by now your cold is completely gone; take care, Deborah 🙂 .

    (This may be a duplicate comment. I wrote one a few days ago only to have it disappear somehow. Feel free to delete this one if the first did actually make it to you!)


    • Thanks so much Marian, and my apologies for delay in responding. The cold has at last gone, and I’m working through the resulting backlog of things not done.
      Yes, I’ve been thinking about maybe making up some nappy covers and see how they go. My Danish friend also suggested knitting up small blankets to go under baby and over the sheet – we used these ourselves and they do a good job in stopping bedding getting unpleasant, whatever kind of nappy is used.
      I’m taking some tentative steps to open a kind of online shop by setting up an additional page on my blog to display what I have on offer – my thinking is that people can order through the blog and send/make payment direct to the Farm (to avoid any doubt there might be about where the money is going!), and I can then send goods direct. I’ve got to clear it with the farm manager and our Chair of Trustees, and if they’re agreeable I’ll go live with it some time in the new year.
      Thanks for the encouragement, as ever!


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