William/blue faience hippo mitts are now available

The William It Was Really Nothing/blue faience hippo mitten pattern has just been released. Instructions are included to produce fingerless mittens as well.
Clicky, clicky. Watch for it to appear in my Etsy shop, soon.

The palm features a river plant motif, creating the ideal enviroment for any hippo looking for a nice place to lurk.
So that's it for 2010, then -- no less than 21 new SpillyJane patterns have been released this year. I can't help but wonder what 2011 will bring.

Everyday is silent and grey

So, yes -- the William It Was Really Nothing/blue faience hippo mitts are finished. I'm attempting to get up to the studio any minute now to polish off the pattern, but I keep getting distracted. Fear not; the pattern will be released today. You will be notified.

I just can't resist posting pictures of my new chairs, seen here in situ in the parlour:These were something of an impulse-buy -- yes -- but I could not bring myself to say no. As you can see, they are ready for the festivity of tonight's annual Fondue Feast.

So are the wee-tiny Narcissus noses in the blue-and-white china pot on the end table:
Because I know some of you will inevitably inquire about the bag and brooch in the top-most image, allow me to preemptively indulge you.
The bag was custom-made for me by bayan hippo and the brooch is a Petula Precious by Miss Zaza. I love them together -- it's like each was made for the other.

Finally, some knitting content:It's my Saroyan scarf -- a rare knit for myself. I'm about halfway done.

Apologies for the (possible) overuse of the Morrissey-isms; I must have the ol' Mozzer on the brain these days.

Attack of the blue faience hippo

Work continues on my blue faience hippo-inspired mitts, aka. "William It Was Really Nothing." I fear that name might very well stick.In any event, expect the pattern soon.

And yes, there will be socks.

William it was really nothing

Mittens with blue faience hippos on -- inspired by a chat I had with Kate Davies where we discovered that we share a mutual affinity for ancient azure apotropaic artiodactyls -- in particular, the Met's William and his brother at the Louvre.
I had the pleasure of meeting William in person this past summer. I was at the front of the queue and made a beeline through the Egyptian galleries until I found him.He looks good for being 4000 years old.

You will therefore understand my delight at discovering that the Met also sells not only reproductions of William (which I would love to acquire) but also various other William-shaped items including this 4GB flash drive.I rest easy knowing that my data will be protected in both this life and the next.


The holidays are over and I have a completed pair of Clerkenwell socks to show for it.This pair, destined to live in London with The Kid himself, were my constant companions over the past few days. They tagged along to all the parties and were the talk of the room. Everyone wants to meet a fancy sock.

All socks aside, I should warn you all that inspiration has been striking left, right and centre. Look out.


There are mince tarts in the kitchen, presents under the tree and a polite dusting of snow outside. A general sense of festivity is beginning to descend. Tonight is Christmas Eve.

However and wherever you spend today and tonight, may you enjoy it. 'Tis the Season.

Fear not, Mr. Turkey -- we'll be dining on perogies this evening.

Out with a bang

And here I was thinking that 2010 had had its say and was on its way out like a lamb...how wrong I was.

Meet my youngest (and hairiest) brother:Last Monday the little dude had to be rushed to the States for emergency gall bladder surgery (just as I was, six years ago.) These things really do run in families.

The next few days were sort of tense, to say the least. Happily, he is now fine and due to return home this afternoon.

So that's what we got for Christmas -- our little dude, again. We couldn't be happier.

The Old and the New

On a grey day in December half my life ago, then 16-year-old me (she of the cropped hair, plaid jacket and vintage pheasant feather cloche) bundled herself onto a bus and headed downtown. The purpose of this journey was simple -- to acquire a copy of Pulp's His 'n' Hers, their then-latest release.

I set my CD player on repeat and holed myself up in my room accompanied by a particularly trashy unauthorized bio of Mick Jagger ("All of [his] lives...in and out of bed, every which way,") and a deck of Tarot cards. I was psychically devastated in that typical teenage way. And thus, 1994 turned into 1995.

I have carried memories of this particular episode with me for the past 16 years. Whenever late December rolls around those scenes and that record float to the forefront of my memory and the only thing for it is to give His 'n' Hers one good listen -- all the way through -- for old time's sake. It's still as stylish, sexy and dramatic as it was back then.

Nowadays in my quiet(er) moments one is most likely to find me listening to The Real Tuesday Weld or various episodes of Melodica. My companions have changed as well, and they generally consist of yarn, tea, and my favourite piece of sodalite.

And of course, there's usually a new mitten or sock hanging about the place. Look, here's one now:
This is Juanita, the Official Mitten of NaKniMitMo 2011, which starts at the beginning of January. You can, however, get in the spirit by picking up a copy of Juanita right now, especially since she's on sale for $4 USD from now until 31 January 2011. Just head on over to Ravelry, click that wee button beneath her picture or swing by the ol' Etsy shop.

It's just that simple. Dispensing with 16-year-old memories, now, that's something else.


Hello Nice People,

I'm taking a break from working on all the Things that I'm supposed to be working on (and there are more than a few,) so I can get a word in before I get distracted by something else and the New Year sneaks up on me and the mood is lost, etc., etc.

'Tis the Season for lots of lovely Things, but for me this time of year's always been about contemplation and self-reflection. Maybe that's what happens when I spend too much time indoors, I don't know. What I do know is that I'd like to thank every one of you for another wonderful year (possibly the most wonderful yet, if the truth be known,) both personally and professionally.

This year arrived replete with both challenge and opportunity, and at times it was quite the wild ride indeed. The former was overcome (thankfully) and the latter was taken (gladly) and here we are at the end (for now,) and all the wounds have healed. A couple of scars are even evident here (the absence of posts from April 2010, for instance,) but let's not worry about that too much. Onwards and upwards -- yes -- and on to bigger and brighter things in 2011. Join me, won't you?

I leave you with a snippet of wisdom gleaned from the collection of the American Folk Art Museum:
Until next time, I remain.


ps--> Expect replies to your comments more often in 2011. ~j


There is something cruel and unusual about tiny needles. This might sound strange coming from me since they are both my constant companions and a vital component of making the things that I often make. But somehow it's different when one is working something like a scarf; when one is going for length; when one just wants to shout "Oh my crap, get on with it already. GROW."Still, one can not argue with the overall effect that working with tiny needles affords. Adding tiny repetitive patterns and fine yarn to the mix just heightens it. I had forgotten how enjoyable lace knitting can be.

And speaking of forgetting things, it seems that I had also forgotten that patience is a prerequisite when it comes to knitting. I'm trying to remember.

Fancy another peek?

I'm sure you all remember the sneaky peek I offered the other day of Juanita, the Official Mitten of NaKniMitMo 2011? Well, after hours of intense discussion and deliberation my Assistant and I have determined that we shall permit another wee peek at this Mitten of Mystery.My Assistant, as you can see, is currently hard at work up in the Stu-gee-oh, ensuring that no yarn goes unnibbled.

In any event, on to that wee peek. I give you the thumb:I love this thumb, probably more than a thumb warrants being loved. It is unlike any other thumb I have ever worked before and I strongly suspect that it is destined to crop up again. Of course, you realize that I'm speaking more of texture, rather than structure. Don't expect any revolutionary construction techniques or other potentially nasty surprises. We're all about keeping it simple, folks -- simple, but never boring.

We could never abide that.

A Sneak Peek...

January 2011 may seem ages away, but in reality it'll be here in a double-handful of days. Before we know it, it'll be time for National Knit Mittens Month, now going into its third year. My, how the time does fly!

I shall be reprising my role as the contributor of the Official Mitten Pattern (you might recall Anna's Mittens were the OM in 2010.)

As for the new 2011 mittens, they're finished and ready to be unveiled...but not just yet. At present I can only offer you the sneakiest of peeks......which might help you out (or not.) What I can tell you is that the pattern is called Juanita (that's "Janie" en espaƱol,) and that it's knit in a selection of Sunday Knits yarns, but primarily in Nirvana 3 ply (the cashmere blend.)

In any event, allow me to encourage you to join this month-long mitten KAL. I've taken part myself for the past two years and it's always been great fun. There's an enthusiastic NaKniMitMo community on Ravelry to help and cheer you on as you meet all your personal mitten-knitting goals. Still not convinced? Will prizes help change your mind, because those are up for grabs, too. In fact I'll be donating some of my mitten patterns to the prize pile myself.

And for those who are curious about that elusive new mitten...you'll get to meet her here, soon. Stay tuned.

Our friend the vulture

Nothing tempers the saccharinity of the holiday season like a wee memento mori. Here is a fine one, courtesy of our friend the vulture.

I happen to be a great fan of vultures -- I think it might be the neck ruff that does it for me.

A conversation with Kate

I've been a fan of Kate Davies and her blog needled for quite some time now, so I was honoured when she asked me if I'd like to do an interview. I said "yes," of course.

You can read the conversation that we had (about mittens, buildings and the design process) here.

Patience is a Virtue

Here it is, 1 December and here it is, the first snowfall. The local weather deities must have been watching their calendars.
It is quite pretty, the snow drifting down in large, fluffy flakes. What I don't much care for is the way that it's settling on my poor, empty garden.

A mere handful of months ago this plot yielded tomatoes of unrivalled deliciousness; bunches of sweet, sweet onions; the spiciest of red-hot chilies. And now all that's left is a sad clump of chives, the ever-present rambling thyme, and the strawberry plants bent on world- (or at least yard-) domination. I know that patience is a big part of gardening, but I can not wait for spring. The nice people at Veseys know this (and clearly have no shame,) which is probably why they sent me their new 2011 seed catalogue this week. Summer has never felt further away.
Still, I am enjoying the myriad delights of this time of year: staying inside with the snow falling outside accompanied by my knitting,
my new Pewabic mug in the perfect shade of William the Hippo faience-blue,
and Greg Thomey dressed as a gargoyle.

...and then I just got worse.

Another pair of Clerkenwell socks completed......as modelled by Mr. Difalot and select members of my collection of mineral companions. These socks will be taking wing as soon as the current pair is completed and duly documented.

Time to dream.

Everything's coming up golden...

Can I go out on a Saturday evening without looking as if I'm about to board my barque for a moonlit cruise down the Nile?Probably not.

New mittens: Zarzuela

I don't know if you noticed, but these snuck out late-ish on Monday evening. As I spent the entirety of yesterday in (the other) London, I wasn't able to announce them until today.
Regardless, meet Zarzuela -- back:
and palm:
As you can see, she's a pretty folky mitt bedecked with spirals and an elaborate cuff. If you'd like to see her fingerless, well, she's up for that too (instructions, as usual, are included.) Work her up in the recommend Sunday Knits yarns (which include cashmere and angora blends) for an extra-soft treat.

Find her here, on Ravelry, in my Etsy shop (soon, and I mean it,) or click that wee button up there beneath her picture.

As for me, I must be off. I've got work to do.

Delights, of all sorts

Monday morning dawned bright but pleasingly damp, bringing with it myriad sensory delights:

The sight of a freshly-painted bathroom ceiling (in Pink Sea Salt) and a newly-installed porcelain light fixture:

The scent of the first newly-opened Meyer Lemon blossoms:

The sound of this week's Melodica:

The luxurious feel of working with angora (and cashmere:)

And last, but by far not least, the taste of Victoria Teas' Clock Tower Blend:...which I could do with another cup of. This is not going to sit well with the moderately-sized bird who is attempting to nap on my leg.

Love, sans idleness

Deadline met -- just popped these two pairs of Clerkenwell socks in the mail this morning. They should be beginning their transatlantic journey any minute now.Cupie and Sloth were both on hand to see them off and to allay any fears of travel-by-post. Cupie, having come from the Antique Beat Boutique himself, was able to assure them of the loveliness of their destination.As for me, I'm enjoying some well-deserved Idleness.

No pressure, really.

I'm operating under something of a fairly strict Knitting Deadline but I just had to post these before I, erm, post these. Their ultimate destination is the Antique Beat Boutique, which is a lovely place run by lovely people where lots of lovely things end up.These are the Clerkenwell socks, size Women's Medium, in the alternate blue colourway (which I'm really starting to warm up to.) I love these socks and since they're in my size (and impossibly comfortable) I'm finding it especially difficult to say goodbye. But part we must. Perhaps you might like them to join you where you live? That can be arranged!

I should also mention that another pair of Clerkenwell socks, size Men's Large, in the original River Fleet-green colourway will be these ladysocks' Travelling Companions. I'll let you know once they arrive.


...is a good way to describe the task at hand. "Prohibitive" may very well be another. All I know is that there is an antique medicine cabinet under there, and I'm going to find it.This in-progress picture is admittedly terrifying, but it gives you the idea of what I'm up against (five layers of paint at least.) What's even more terrifying is the knowledge that at one time this poor cabinet had a green door and red-and-white-speckled mouldings. Scary stuff, indeed.

Labour + Love

I have always loved the packaging of Bull Dog Steel Wool, which has remained virtually unchanged from its inception in 1933. You could imagine my joy when the current bathroom renovation project required me to pick some up last night. The design, the fonts and the dog (of course,) are all singularly delightful and wonderful when combined. So much more elegant and stylish than some of the packages that one sees in shops today.

And yes, I've already tried my hand at spinning it. The resulting steel singles didn't turn out that badly.

When I lived in London (the other one,) one of the highlights of taking the train home to Windsor was the fact that the tracks pass right by Thamesville Metal Products Ltd., the home of Bull Dog Steel Wool.While this might say more about the lack of interesting scenery along this branch of the Quebec City-Windsor corridor, I should remind you that I've always had a soft spot for quality industrial architecture.

As for those of you who undertake home restoration, I have nothing but respect for you. If nothing else it is a difficult labour of Love.


The best part about living in a Century Home (aside from the large windows, antique woodwork and deliciously creaky stairs,) is the fact that the edifice has had 100 years to settle upon its foundations. This means that there is a distinct lack of potentially creepy house-noises that remain to be made. Of course, the other side of this coin is that when noises do happen they're about three times creepier than they should be. It's a bit of a trade-off.

Another good thing is the knowledge that (and this is especially useful when watching particularly dark storm clouds rolling in,) the house has seen more (and worse) weather than one has and has continued to stand through it all. This is a comforting thought to think when one is returing from a weekend abroad and hoping that one will find the house and not a smoking house-shaped hole where it once stood. So far, so good.

And one can't help but wonder what the house would say (if it could speak in a conventional sense,) about all the vintage fixtures and renovations that one is inflicting upon it. Is it enjoying this return to the 1930s around its kitchen and bathrooms or is it saying "Oh no, not one of those again!" Does it even matter if it is? When one loves one's house the house can tell. One is sure of it.

Today I am sure of one thing: if the buds on my lemon tree don't burst soon, I'm going to.