167 Islands in the cream

Skyskrapa (rav) is off the needles, and OMG is so cute I can’t wait to make another one. I recommend the addition of back neck shaping to this garment. Suzanne Bryan has a very good video on this technique.

This weekend I’ll be working on a hat called Road to Duchess County, by Will Gillespie, and I am obsessed with Will’s method of knitting tails in the round. It would have saved so much time if I had known about it prior to knitting Skyskrapa. Better late than never. His video on the technique is here.

Music: Jim Fidler, Merrigan’s Reel; Katy Wehr, When You Are Old; Music used in Sixty Six Coupons was found on the Internet archive.

If you like what you heard in this podcast, I hope you’ll consider becoming a Patron, or buying me a coffee.


Greetings, knitsib! How ya doin? It’s been a good week here at Casa del Cast On. Our Thanksgiving dinner was an unqualified success. Little wobble in the morning with the vegan butter pie crust, which mixed fine, and rested well for a half hour in the fridge, and rolled out like a perfectly normal pie crust, lulling me into a false sense of security, before utterly falling apart in the move from countertop to pie dish, splitting asunder Pangeia-like, breaking apart in a limp, floury version of continental drift. In the end, I knuckled the naughty crust into the pie dish with vigour, and forced its compliance with a blind bake. And it was all alright. Top vegan butter tip, use less water than you’re used to. It’s a learning a curve. 

As ever, the first weeks of December are filled with knitting in my annual sprint to get Christmas parcels to the US into the post. As usual, I started late. Why do I always start late? Why? Why? It’s a mystery. 

I finished knitting David’s Skyskrapa sweater on Sunday, and spent most of Monday weaving in one million ends. Tonia has been working away from home one or two days per week, lately. It’s nice for her to connect with co-workers and to do more of whatever it is she does. Is it weird that I have no idea what she actually does? I do feel a bit odd about that, however, “IT” as a descriptor is quite broad, and my eyes glaze over whenever Tonia tries to explain how it applies to her work. Much like Tonia’s eyes glaze over when I talk about knitting. And a good thing, too, because if Tonia had wanted to understand knitting, there might never have been a podcast. 

As Tonia was absent from home a couple of days this week, I had the house to myself, and it was bliss. I wanted to strip off my clothes, play Edge of Glory at full volume and dance naked through the house, but instead I sat in the living room, and wove in one million ends, listened to audio books, watched a movie and drank endless cups of tea. When the last of the ends was finally tidied away inside the wee sweater, I gave it a bath and got out the blocking wires. The sweater was challenging to block, because the wires are long, and the sweater small, but I got there in the end. That moment when you stand back, admire your work, and see that it is good, well, that moment is an occasion.

As you’ll recall from the last podcast, the pattern for this wee delightful jumper is Skyskrapa, and I think it’s overall a very good pattern. My only disappointment is that there isn’t short row shaping at the back neck written into the pattern, and the garment really does need it. There are images of the sweater in the show notes, and if you look carefully, you’ll see that I blocked a lowered neckline into the sweater front, and this gave the edge of colourwork section a bit of a curve. It won’t be noticeable when the sweater is worn, I’m positive. It’s a toddler sweater. It’s fine. It’s just that there was a little question mark in my head while I was knitting. Just a wee warning bell sounded as I finished the ribbing and moved into the raglan increases, and I wish I’d payed better attention to it. A few short rows at the back of the neck would have made it perfect. 

There will be another Skyskrapa on the needles very soon, and I will absolutely add short rows to the next one. I found a good youtube video about adding short rows to the backs of top down sweaters, and will link that in the show notes. 

With Skyscrapa off the needles, I’m in a mad panic trying to bust out a hat and some fingerless gloves, with a single day for each. In my head this is perfectly reasonable. I’m using the left over light worsted weight yarn from David’s Skyskrapa in a beanie hat for his David’s daddy, my son Chris. So, the yarn weight is good for busting out a hat. Plus, I found a magnificent beanie pattern for using up worsted weight scraps. It’s called Road to Duchess County, designed by Will Gillespie, and the pattern has many features to recommend it. I looked at a Tonia of hat patterns before finding one that I could bust out in a day, so you don’t have to. If you have leftover worsted weight, you can knit this quickly. 

The beanie starts with a 2×2 ribbed brim, after which you switch to colourwork. There’s a consistent background colour, and the colourwork all happens below the crown, which should make finishing fast and easy. Finally, the pattern calls for multiple colours of scrap yarn, and helpfully provides the yardage needed for every section.

For Road to Duchess County, you need about 40 yards for the brim, 80 yards for the background, and 10 yards for each stripe of colourwork. There are six sections of colourwork, worked in a vaguely abstract wavy pattern, and as it happens, I have about 20 yards left of each of the six colours in my mini set. I found a nice safe cream for the background, and for the brim, I’m using up the very last 20 grams of the Bowmont Braf yarn that I bought at Wonderwool Wales about 15 years ago.

Back in the day, I bought 500 grams of this breed specific wool that was developed specifically for the Welsh climate. It’s a merino cross shetland cross merino, and the wool is a natural cream. I dyed it myself, using dark wine acid dye, followed by a dip into indigo, with knots tied in the skein, then a final dip into black, with knots tied in the skein in different places. The result is a really lovely kettle-dyed, glazed yarn that I absolutely love. 

I knit a cabled skirt and a hat from it, and had saved a last, precious, 20 gram leftover after I knit the hat. It’s enough for the brim of this hat, with a small butterfly leftover for darning my skirt, should that ever be required. It makes me so happy that I get to use this last little bit of Welsh yarn in a hat for my son. The colour works very well with the Autumn rainbow mini skein set, and it will tone with the Riverfront scarf I knit for Chris earlier this year, without being too matchy.

I’m not only loving the amazing hat pattern, but Will Gillespie also has a really cool method of knitting in ends in the round so that there are no ends to weave in later. He has generously taken the time to make an excellent video tutorial of the method. This method is different than the one I used for Skyskrapa, which was fiddly and not very efficient. Will’s way is much better. 

Weirdly, the Road to Duchess County hat pattern has fewer than a dozen projects on Ravelry. Inconceivable. Let’s show this pattern some love. Give it a heart. Bust out a hat for Christmas, or stick it in your queue for later. Links, as ever, are in the shownotes. 

I am knitting this hat in a mild state of panic. I checked the Royal Mail website yesterday and the last date to post to the US in time for Christmas is listed as 14 Dec. I don’t think I can believe that. To be safe, I should post early next week at the latest. Again, totally doable in my head. It’ll be exciting to see how this plays out in real life.  

My hat for Chris is about a third complete. The mini skeins still contain a goodly amount, and I believe I can get a rocking pair of fingerless gloves from these, if I use the leftover minis for the fingers, with each finger a different colour. So David’s Mommy can have some this yarn too. I’m thinking I’ll use the pattern Knucks for these. This is a knitty pattern from summer 2006.

In my head, I will do nothing but knit this weekend. This will not be a hardship. I figure a day for each project, then on Saturday I should be able to pack parcels, weigh them, buy postage online, and drive them to the post office on Monday.

Once the parcels are gone, I can get started on the other Skyskrapa, for my little Lilly Bean, and then some dk weight socks for Zach, by request, and maybe another pair of Knucks for Laura from the leftover minis from Lilly’s sweater. And probably a third pair of Knucks for Tonia’s sister, yarn to be determined later. 

The inception point of all the Knucks knitting is that my friend, Katie, gave her pair of Knucks gloves to Tonia last weekend. Tonia’s arthritis has flitted this week to her thumbs, and to one index finger, and wearing fingerless gloves helps keep her fingers warm. Tonia’s arthritis is so capricious. Where will it go next? Always a mystery. 

Poor Tonia was left this week with virtually no opposable thumbs, yet still managed to climb a ladder yesterday and add some paint to some of the side of our house. The side of the house is still two different colours. Country Cream, and Cotswold Cream, both of which are yellow. One is more orange than the other, but ask me which. 

We’d left all the high bits of painting for Geraint to do, and he’s been dabbing away at them when the weather has been cooperative. Meanwhile Tonia has dabbed away below, as the weather forecast allowed. As a result there are islands of Country Cream up high, surrounded by Cotswold Cream down low. Islands in the cream. That is what we are. And this morning we discovered streaky islands, because it rained overnight, and much of the paint wound up on the sidewalk below. And all over the kitchen window. Such fun. Cleaning up paint in one’s dressing gown at 8 in the morning. 

December is already crazy this year. Knitting! Painting without thumbs! We’re selling a house, and shopping for a new one! Madness. It’s ridiculous. 

This week I found a place that I felt was a good candidate. I’ll spare you the full run down of features and benefits, because we’re not buying this one, and cut to the chase. Three beds, two baths, and a sort of fourth bedroom slash office room at the end of the hall off the kitchen that would be an excellent studio slash guest room. Closer to Zach and Laura. In our price range.

I put this house on the shortlist, shared it with Tonia, and was quite excited about it. It’s not a charming stone cottage, but it’s a nice house built in the 1930’s. Over the next few days I thought about the house, and the number of rooms. Most of our friends around our age who have moved in the last few years have moved to smaller homes, not bigger ones. This house on our shortlist is a home I’d have loved to live in 20 years ago, when Zach was still living with us and going to uni. It is, in short, a home for a family. In my 60’s, this house with its enormous living room, over grown garden, and many many bedrooms, means a lot more dusting. And I think we all know who does the dusting in our house. 

And yet, Tonia needs a work from home space that isn’t in the living room. I would like a space large enough to contain all my work, without spilling onto the dining table. A room large enough for a cutting table would be grand. Tonia has a decade left before she retires. I don’t plan to retire for at least 100 years, because I’m living to 200 in order to knit through my stash. We have family and grandchildren enough to fill a larger house, and maybe the smaller home for our retirement is still a decade or so away. We were thinking this would be our last house, but maybe it isn’t. There is still much to consider. 

One thing I do know for certain is that despite the fact that every single estate agent we’ve met has said that Boxing Day is the biggest house hunting day of the year, getting our house ready for listing before the end of the year is an unrealistic goal. It was a mad plan, having little to do with reality. I see that now. A very wise friend remarked this week that if we miss the big Boxing Day deadline, our house will still get sold. That was a loving reality check that arrived exactly when I needed to hear it, and for which I am truly thankful.

As I have mentioned, December is a month of busyness during which much knitting happens. Last year I decided to make December a bit easier by diving into the Cast On audio archives and sharing some old favourites, and I thought I’d do that again this year as well. It’s been great fun going through the archives of my past work, most of which I haven’t listened to since I released it.

This week’s choice was prompted by the fact that Tonia and I are just finishing up a rewatch of Foyle’s War. This is a drama set in Hastings, on the south coast of Britain, during World War 2, and it is a series I would recommend just for the period correct knitwear alone, but it’s also actually excellent telly drama. With excellent knitwear. Especially those worn by our favourite character, Samantha Stuart, also known as Sam. 

In honour of Sam’s fabulous sweaters, this week I want to share sixty Six Coupons, which was created for the Make Do and Mend Series in 2008. It ran just after the financial crash, in a time of great uncertainty, not unlike the past two years. It feels like a good time to share this one again. 

Production: 66 Coupons

Thanks this week to my amazing patrons, without whom these podcasts would not be possible. Thanks and welcome to my newest patrons, Elaine, and Sandra. Thank you, Jeny, for being the voice of wisdom this week. And thank you, my dear knitsib, for squandering another perfectly good half hour here with me, when you could be listening to literally anything else. I’m so happy that you’re here. I hope your holiday knitting is on track, and not making you crazy. I’ll talk to you next week, and in the meantime, if you’re cold put on a sweater. That is what they’re for. 


I’m a serial maker of podcasts, and many things that are not podcasts. I love playing with yarn, fibre and cloth. I will never accept that furniture in my living room only goes two ways. Almost every night, I dream about houses.


Can’t find Cast On in your usual media player? The new feed is here:


Copy and paste the URL into the media player you use, and all will be well. I promise.

it is good to be social


Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. 1.10.22
    Linda Morris said:

    Love your podcast. When will your next podcast be posted? Your voice and delivery and logic so positive to me My daughter told me about your podcast many years ago. Just now tuning in. Have you moved yet? We are in the midst of doing the same and what a challenge. Thanks Brenda for your knitting voice!

  2. 4.12.22
    Tammy W said:

    Hi Brenda. I LOVE your podcast, and I am slowly working my way through from the start. I first heard about you on Patty Lyons’s youtube. I did just want to mention that the method of weaving in tails as you go is the standard way that everyone teaches. I actually first learned it from an Interweave video that Patty did about 10 years ago, but she didn’t say she made it up. I went to the video link to see if Will had some new and different way to knit in the tails, but it’s just the same as the way I learned a decade ago. Just didn’t want people to think Will invented it (I’m sure he wouldn’t want people to think that either).