Archive | March 2015

Introducing … Doody-doo

Ailbe loves soft toys.  It’s part of his morning routine to bring them through from his bedroom to start their day with us. It gives me an excuse to visit lots of charity shops, on the pretext of finding him a ‘new’ teddy to love.  He’s taken to rooting in my bag when I come home, to see if any new little friends are lurking.  I’ve learnt not to keep my woolly hat in my bag, after it was once mistaken for a toy.  Today, though, I remembered I had some fur fabric in my stash.  It’s left over from my school days, so I guess that makes it vintage!  Back then I made a teddy for my new baby cousin.  But now the remaining fluffy material has been transformed into a supply of Doody-doos, for Ailbe to play with and love.  Each Doody-doo has a cheeky face, made from felt scraps, some have a squeaker, and, the best thing is – they have no stuffing.  So when Ailbe gets a-chewing, the carpet won’t be covered in white wadding.

Ailbe's new toy - Doody-doo

Ailbe’s new toy – Doody-doo

Please remember to watch your dog when he’s playing with toys, in case of accidents or choking.

Ailbe graduates, too!

From the grandeur of the lawns at Kings College, Cambridge at our son’s graduation ceremony yesterday to the middle of a muddy Lincolnshire field today, as Ailbe received his certificate and rosette for passing the Kennel Club’s Good Citizen Scheme Puppy Foundation Assessment.  No, he’s not a puppy.  As a rescue dog, we cannot be sure how old he is, but thanks to the lovely trainer, Jane, Ailbe was allowed to join the class as an ‘honorary’ puppy and receive his certificate with the rest.  Considering the horrible start this lovely little dog must have had in life, we are so proud of the progress he is making.  Here he is back home in the garden sporting his rosette.

Ailbe with rosette

Well done, Ailbe!

Watching the eclipse made my Happy Friday

One of the reasons it’s so great to be back living in Lincolnshire is being able to enjoy the wonderful big skies.  We were not very hopeful, though, of seeing much of today’s solar eclipse, as it’s been a bit overcast all week.  This morning, however, was a picture perfect bright Spring day, so, armed with my home-made pinhole camera, I headed for the garden.

In good old Blue Peter style I used a cereal box for my camera and screen.  My pinhole was made using a number 12 knitting needle – of course!

Then I popped inside to see how everyone else was getting on with their sightings on Twitter and found this amazing idea of using a colander!

The light was eerie as the eclipse reached its climax and it did get very chilly for a while.

I was reminded of the eclipse in 1999, when the children were little and we watched with our pin hole cameras from our Kent garden.  That was a warm summer’s day, but the birds fell silent as the skies turned darker and a cool breeze blew.  Sadly, my son won’t have seen much today down in London, though my daughter, who is currently skiing in the French Alps, may have caught a glimpse from the top of her mountain.

My eclipse watching kit

Today's eclipse through a colander

For those who didn’t manage to see the eclipse – enjoy the photos and maybe consider moving to Lincolnshire?!

I’m looking forward to seeing what’s made everyone else smile this International Happiness Day over at Planet Penny.

Happy Friday Button 180px

Good old fashioned bakewell tart

Members of the Fenton Knitting Group will be enjoying a slice of the past this evening as they nibble delicious home-made bakewell tart alongside their knitting, sewing and crochet.  The recipe may be a blast from the past, but the tart was freshly made this morning!

The recipe comes from the Hamlyn New All Colour Cookbook, known by handmadebysoo and all the family as ‘the big red book’.  The book was a wedding gift from my husband’s aunt a very long time ago and has stood us in good stead over the years.  Our kitchen shelves are heaving with Jamies and Delias and even the odd Hummingbird, but the big red book is still our first ‘go-to’ recipe book when we want something hearty, warming and tasty or, like this evening, we fancy a truly vintage treat.

Both our children have their own copies – very useful for young people fending for themselves for the first time, off to uni or setting up their own home.  There’s a veggie version, too.


Hamlyn all colour cook book

Knitwear model, Ailbe, launches his career

On a perfect Spring day, Ailbe has decided it’s time for the world to see what a fabulous knitwear model he is.  Posing in the garden, wearing his handmadebysoo made-to-measure chunky rib knit polo neck doggie jumper, we think he looks as good as any top model on the catwalk.  He even seems to have perfected that gaze into the middle distance so favoured by knitting pattern models –  or was that just a cheeky chirpy sparrow on the roof that caught his attention?!

Ailbe models his jumper   Ailbe knitwear model   Ailbe jumper 1

And in case anyone is concerned about the practicalities of a dog wearing a jumper, Ailbe is happy to oblige with a sporty action shot!

Ailbe in flight 2

Good boy!

Pattern adapted from Side Button Greyhound Sweater: Copywright 2008 Terri Lea Royea.  April 2009 version available from


Knitter in residence – available now!

A friend is currently trawling job sites to find a new career opportunity and came across an ad for any knitter’s dream job – knitter in residence.  Imagine being able to spend the whole day knitting, teaching people how to knit or helping them get to grips with their knitty problems?  Well, it certainly sounds like the ideal job to me.   Where do I apply?

But, wait a minute, isn’t that pretty much what I already do … ?!

knitted kittens by handmadebysoo

Fenton Knitting Group reviews The Pink Suit

the pink suit

Virago Books have asked the Fenton Knitting Group to read and review a ‘remarkable’ new novel based on the story behind Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis’ iconic pink suit, due to be published in the UK on 9th April.   Author Nicole Mary Kelby has re-imagined the life of the garment which became emblematic of the moment the American dream turned sour.

In the story, Kate is an Irish seamstress working in the back room at Chez Ninon, an exclusive Manhattan atelier responsible for creating most of Jackie O’s wardrobe.  Kate and the First Lady share roots in rural Ireland and, although their lives could not be more different, Kate honours their connection by using the muslin toiles for each piece she sews for Mrs Kennedy to fashion an identical garment, in a different fabric, for her own niece.

Then comes the day that pictures of Kate’s needlework, splashed with the president’s blood, are beamed all over the world.

Members of the Fenton Knitting Group can collect their copies of The Pink Suit at our usual meeting this Tuesday.  We will be tweeting our comments as we read @ViragoBooks and our full review will appear here at

I can’t wait to start reading The Pink Suit.