Friday, 21 April 2017


In one hand is a bucket of pig nuts. In the other a bucket of ewe nuts. Tucked under one arm is my gardening kneeler pad. The mobile phone is in my pocket. If I had another hand I'd be carrying a mug of tea, but animal breakfasts always come first. The metallic scrape and twang as I pull back the gate bolt sets off the bleating. The bleating sets off the squealing and grunting. Wriggling weaners at my ankles, I throw pig nuts in the pig trough, losing at least a handful to the mud as nuts bounce off the heads and bodies now in the trough. Keeping the other bucket held high out of reach of Babette's greedy mouth and moving swiftly enough to keep myself out of reach of her front hooves, but not so swiftly that the lambs get left behind, I cross the field and throw the ewe nuts into the sheep trough. Feeding done, I do the round of water buckets. Watering done, I drop the kneeler pad to the ground, pull my hood up to protect my ears and neck from the nipping wind, pull out the mobile ready for a close up shot, plonk my butt on the kneeler pad, and wait for the lambs to put on a show. Bounce, bounce, bounce. A daily dose of lamb play. This is my therapy.

The older lambs, Bobby, Betty and Bonnie, now nearly two week's old, are the boldest, and their experienced mums, Babette and Babs, graze unconcerned, giving the lambs the freedom to chase, hump (each other) and jump. The younger lambs, Jake and Florence, really want to play too, but their mums, Bychan and Pascale, keep the apron strings tighter. Given that both are first time mums and both had difficult first time lambing experiences, their reluctance to "let go" is perhaps understandable. For the first few days after lambing neither would allow either of us anywhere near them or their lamb, heading determinedly in the opposite direction each time one of us came into sight. Hardly surprising - big lamb, small exit, long labour, hands in, messy birth, stabbed in the leg with a needle, enough said. Both have now regained their composure and dignity, so I can sit in the field with the flock once again, observing their behaviour, keeping an eye out for signs of fever and infection.

A game of chase

Pascale won't allow Florence to stray too far from her side, following Florence when she bounds towards the other lambs, intervening and guiding Florence away after a short play. Bychan goes a step further, not just following and intervening, but actively head butting the other lambs away from Jake. I've seen similar behaviour before, often by Babs if lambs of other ewes get between her and her breakfast, or between ewes when the pecking order needs to be re-established, but Bychan's instinct to protect her lamb can be noticeably more aggressive. The other day Bobby & Betty led all the lambs on a chase into the sheep run. Bychan followed and cornered them all at the end, against the fence. She nosed Jake, her own lamb, to her side, then turned on the others. All but Betty nipped round Bychan and got out, but Betty tried to escape by going through the fence, getting stuck at her shoulders. At this point Bychan turned nasty, continuing to butt Betty. Fearing Bychan would break Betty's neck, I jumped up to intervene, bouncer style, but Betty yanked her head back and out of the fence, and scarpered sharpish, going straight to mum for a comforting suckle. No harm done this time, but Bychan needs to chill out soon or risk being separated. And then who would Jake play with?
Bychan and Pascale turn to intervene as Babette, Bobby & Betty approach Florence and Jake

Babs & Bonnie waiting for the ewe nuts bucket to arrive!

Friday, 14 April 2017

Beginning with B

It started with the chiff chaff. It always starts with the chiff chaff. Followed by the cawing of the jackdaws carrying down the chimney and echoing through the fire place into the front room as they once again set about stuffing twigs, moss and general detritus down the chimney pot for their nest. Last week David heard the reeling song of the grasshopper warbler. A few days ago, as the sun shone strong and warm, I saw my first orange tip and red admiral butterflies. The white and buff tailed bumblebees are so abundant and busy that you have to be alert to the buzzing for fear of a head on collision. A pair of mistle thrush regularly have a noisy chest off with the magpies residing a few trees away, while another pair have set up home hidden in the tangled depths of ivy enveloping one of the ash trees in the corner of the sheep field. Their new neighbours appear to be the wheatears, but a more reliable identification with binoculars is required, instead of an "is it, isn't it" identification through two pairs of squinting, ageing eyes. I know the swallows have returned down the road at Pennant, but so far no sign of them here at Banceithin. I'm watching. I'm waiting. For swallows. For housemartins. For the cuckoo. For a lamb.

Lambing has been the usual waiting game, although this year the twin technologies of scanning and crayon have at least narrowed our watch and wait window to a workable two weeks as opposed to the long drawn out six weeks of lambings past. There is a pronounced path across the field in a diagonal line from the gate by the house to the stile in the corner. To and fro. Checking. Feeding. Watering. Last Friday, Babette did her usual trick of slipping out twins early, unseen and unaided, presenting us with two licked clean lambs at the morning feed. A ram lamb - Bobby. A ewe lamb - Betty. Babette, Bobby & Betty. A lovely family trio. 


The ram had clearly been having a good day because within the hour, in the time it took me to go back to the house for a quick breakfast and return to check Babette, Babs popped out a single and immediately set to work cleaning her up. Usually when the umbilical cord breaks as the lamb leaves the ewe, the "tail" left at the lamb's navel is short, about 2 inches or so, or if it's longer the ewe might nibble it shorter. Babs, however, left her new born with a two foot long, dark red, slippery monster of a "tail", as thick as a finger at the navel. Standing for the first time within minutes of birth is miracle enough, so to expect this lamb to do that with an umbilical snake tripping her up at each attempt was too much. Tap, tap, tappity tap on the internet forums ...... carefully tear it away at the correct length was the advice. Yikes! A smallholder is never too experienced to face another new experience! Pinching the cord tightly closed with one hand, David pulled away the rest of the snake. Yuk. That felt instinctively wrong. But a quick spray of iodine, back to mum, and she's up and suckling straight away. A bonnie wee ewe lamb with floppy ears. Bonnie. The miracle of life.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Uninvited Guest

You work tirelessly to provide your family with sufficient stores to get through winter, but food is now scarce. Your stores are low when spring arrives. The work to keep the family fed begins all over again. Every day you're out there, bringing home what little you can find. Now is not the time to be entertaining any guests, and especially not an uninvited guest. Worse still, your uninvited guest is a hungry one who eats not only your food, but also the cupboards you store it in and the walls holding up the cupboards. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, the mouse.
A couple of weeks ago, I inserted inspection boards under each of my four beehives. As you know, I treated them in mid-winter to reduce the levels of varroa infestation. The purpose of the inspection board is check the extent to which varroa mites could be building in number again within the colony. Even though I hadn't yet opened the hives, I knew each colony must have brood (bee larvae) as on warmer days the bees were returning with full pollen bags (brood food). The female varroa mite lays her eggs within a brood cell, so her babies hatch out with a pupating larva on which to feed. A growing brood nest brings with it the risk of a growing varroa mite population. Mites that die, or are dislodged from busy bee bodies brushing up against each other or during grooming, fall to the floor of the hive, through the mesh and onto the inspection board. I count the bodies.
Last week I removed the inspection boards to do just that. As I pulled out the first board, varroa was immediately of secondary concern, for there, to the rear of the board were bee body parts and mouse droppings. #@!*&💀↯

I whipped out boards two, three and four. More body parts. More mouse droppings. #@!*&💀↯#@!*&💀↯
To add insult to injury, only a few days earlier I'd washed and patched up my nearly new bee suit after discovering it had been a winter home for a nesting, nibbling, peeing, pooing mouse.

Perhaps, being smarter than the average mouse, that same mouse made the connection between bee suit and beehives, and swiftly abandoned its cocoon in my suit to sniff out my apiary. Such a shame he didn't meet Steve, Nessa or Charlie on route and become the dinner not the diner.
Colonies 1 and 2, my strongest colonies going in to winter, put up a fight. Their uninvited guest appeared to have pooped and left, for there was no sign of comb chomping. Colony 3 was less successful, with one frame eaten through and a pile of dead bees amongst the comb crumbs. Colony 4 fared the worst, with three frames tunnelled through and a greater number of bee body parts (mainly heads and legs, the crunchier and less nutritious bits). No sign of the twitchy nosed intruder himself.

Inspection complete, I closed up the hives and pinned a mouse guard to each entrance, the sound of tens of thousands of tiny voices shouting "too little, too late" buzzing in my ears. Never having suffered a mouse intruder before, the guards have sat for years unused at the bottom of my kit box. Lesson learned. Just because it hasn't happened, doesn't mean you shouldn't protect against it happening.
There is a happy ending to this tale of whiskered woe, for the bees, though perhaps fewer in number, seemed none the worse for hosting a mouse. All queens are present and laying, the new season's brood nests are starting to expand across the frames. The only sting in the tale was the sting in my finger.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

A Place in the Sun

Having guests is good. Happy guests are even better. Guests sitting out, mug of coffee in hand, faces turned up to the sun, eyes closed, listening to bird song. That's a wonderful thing. I love to do the same, and my heart swells just a little when I see others pausing a while to do it too. But who wants to share that special holiday moment with the owner sat next to them? I certainly wouldn't. Being that owner means I go somewhere else for my own moment of reflection. Sometimes I sit in the field, my back against the veg plot fence, my bottom on damp grass. I've been known to lie on my back amongst the sheep, staring up at the sky. On a sunny morning, if a cottage is unoccupied, I might be found on the patio, still dressed in pyjamas, fluffy socks and dressing gown, sipping tea, counting under my breath timing the visits of the house martins to their nests. At the end of the day, once chores are done, I drag a deck chair from the wood shed and set it up between the compost bins at the back of the house, where the setting sun warms a patch of grass before dipping below the towering row of beech and horse chestnut trees.

I know I'm lucky to have those moments, and those places to sit, and the fluffy socks (once my favourite purchase from Ethical Superstore but now no longer sold - sob), but it's not enough. Besides, most of the veg plot fence has rotted away, the compost bins make poor company, and owner or not, stealing a chance to sit in a cottage garden feels a little like sneaking into a neighbour's garden, never quite at ease for fear of being spotted.

After creating the cottage gardens, we ran out of steam for our own, and the rear of the house has remained the most neglected patch of land ever since. Every year, for the past six years, when spring turns to summer that fades into autumn, I have declared the coming winter to be the time for things to happen, that there will there no more summers without my own place to sit. Somehow there has always been a more pressing project, fencing to erect, willows to plant, a tree house to be built, a fire pit to dig, a different itch to scratch. This winter there was a tractor shed to build. Building the shed meant building up a flat solid base, which meant having earth moving equipment on site. Watching the big orange caterpillar in action gave me an idea.

After the big orange caterpillar left, I surveyed the sea of mud with its flotsam and jetsam of rocks and miscellaneous unidentifiable metal pieces and plastic tatters that had once been an earth bank, and wondered if perhaps my idea had been more bad than good. Be careful what you wish for. A winter of staring at my mud sea through the landing window, trundling past it on a daily basis with a wheelbarrow of wood for the boiler, and I still couldn't see my end game. "Tell me what you want and I'll build it", Dave promised bravely. The vision wouldn't come. The internet is awash with inspirational outdoor creations, but I couldn't conjure up an image of any one of them atop my sea of mud. "Just build me a sun deck. With a pergola. And a swing seat to hang from the pergola." So he built me a sun deck. Without a pergola. And an imaginary swing seat.

Don't think I'm not grateful. For a man with a bad back, helped by a mother with a bad back, a father with a dodgy leg, and a wife with an attitude, building a deck from scratch in two days without ever losing his temper is no mean feat. And let's not forget Alfred, who saved the day by being the only man I know who would just happen to bring his circular saw with him on holiday.

I have my place in the sun. I have a lonely deckchair. If I ever get bored, I also have a venue for impromptu theatrical performances, a stage upon which to strut and fret. Now all I have to do is create a path across the mud to get to my deck and a garden around it to soften its edges, all before the brambles reclaim their territory. I think it's time for a cup of tea and a sit down in that deckchair.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

Pictures of Cheese

In this household a cheese free 24 hour period is a rare thing. Cheese on toast for lunch. A slice of Hafod cheddar for a pre-dinner snack. Sprinklings of Grana Padano (the poor man's Parmesan) in risotto or on pasta. A smear of goat's cheese on a cracker for a post-dinner snack. A full blown cheese board, the stinkier the better. We love cheese. Except blue cheese. Dave loves blue cheese and it is a source of deep regret to him that I have a deep and abiding dislike of blue cheese. Bleurgh!

After buying cheese and eating cheese, the next logical step from liking cheese is making cheese. That step would be immeasurably more logical if we had a house cow or indeed any milk producing livestock. I don't count the sheep as I have no intention of trying to milk one of our flock. I've looked deep into their eyes, and am pretty certain that not one of them would be accommodating. But which comes first anyway, the cheese maker or the milk maker? What if we invested in a house cow only to discover I'm lousy with the curd? We've been here before. At least the bread proving baskets can be hidden away on a pantry shelf, whereas neglecting a cow by pretending it's not there could get me into trouble. The fact is, cheese making feels like one of those skills a smallholder must try her hand at. Call yourself a smallholder? Prove it! Show me your soft cheeses. Serve it to me from your hand woven willow basket. Serve it with the spoon you whittled yesterday. Ta da .........!


Don't look at the basket too closely. It's a first attempt and a story for another day.

But seriously, I really, really want to make cheese. Yes, I know we can never be self-sufficient in cheese. Yes, I know the numbers don't add up. No, I don't care, I just want to make cheese.

My cheese making started with a book. A book that was given to me for Christmas, and I'm not talking about the one just past. The book put me off. So much kit. So many do's and don'ts. The dreaded "L" word. Listeria. The book sat on the shelf. Between "Crochet for Beginners" and "The Forager".

Then I met two home cheese makers, a hard cheese maker and a soft cheese maker (the cheese not the maker), both making perfectly good non-lethal cheeses in their own kitchens. Nevertheless, I'm far too cautious of nature for monkey see, monkey do. I'm more of a monkey see, monkey go on course person. So it was that last summer I found myself in the kitchen of a complete stranger in an end of terrace house in Brentford. This was no ordinary end of terrace house, this was Sara's house, known as Hen Corner, and we (for I had to drag along my best friend under the guise of "it's your birthday treat", despite knowing full well that cheese making is not high on the life skills agenda of a city loving girl) were there for "Cheese in a Day" - start the day with a bottle of milk, go home with your own camembert, mozzarella and feta. What better way to persuade the cheese wary to throw away the scary book and get her hands curdy!


Aside from the fun of meeting new people, fellow curd nerds, and making a mess of someone else's kitchen knowing I could leave the mess behind, the real beauty of a course like "Cheese in a Day" is learning by seeing, because if I hadn't seen Sara's curds I would have been horrified with what I ladled out of the maslin when I tried the recipes again at home. I certainly would not have attempted mozzarella at home without having seen her plunge balls of curd into hot whey and then do the stretchy stretchy thing. Sara was right too, when she promised I would go home with three cheeses, and not only three cheeses, but three cheeses, a loaf and biscuits. I think that qualifies as a picnic. Though only the mozzarella was in a snackable state as my cheeses and I boarded a train and headed back west. My introduction to the world of curd was complete. Now it was up to me to take the next step.

As with many hobbies, the next step inevitably involves parting with more cash and acquiring more kit. There are some things David can't whittle or otherwise knock up out of scrap from behind the shed, and that includes cheese moulds (plastic shapes not fluffy coatings), cheese mats, cheese cloth, starter cultures and rennet.

My first task in my new incarnation as home cheese maker was to recreate the cheeses tried at Hen Corner. All of those cheeses were eaten. None of them killed anyone, nor, so far as I am aware, caused the slightest ripple of nausea. That said, given the appearance of each cheese, consumption was an act of faith. That does not reflect badly on Hen Corner, as it doesn't take a cheese scientist to realise that a six hour journey by train, tube, train, train, car, from Gipsy Hill in south-east London to Bethania in West Wales, would not be the best start in life for a ripening young cheese. 

First I tackled the feta. This was made with fresh raw milk from a Jersey herd down Pembrokeshire way, producing curds and whey of a creamier, yellower white than the Abel & Cole milk we used at Hen Corner. The first lesson I learned was that water that is too warm kills rennet enzymes, and no enzymes means no curds. The second lesson I learned was that one cheese mould is never enough. The third lesson I learned is that balancing bags of flour and cans of beans on top of wrapped curds is neither a sensible nor safe method of cheese pressing. Despite all of this, I did manage to make a respectable, though not especially tangy, feta. The secret to the tang is lipase. The tang is less appealing when you discover that lipase is a pancreatic enzyme that aids the digestion of dietary fats and is usually "taken" from kids, calves or lambs to create lipase powder for use in cheese making. I don't like the word "taken" in this context. Interestingly, lipase should be present in raw milk, but can be effected by the health and diet of the animal. So for now I shall steer clear of lipase powder and seek out a tangier tang by experimenting with different raw milks.

Next up, camembert again. For this one I tweaked the recipe with some tips from the Curd Nerd and, courtesy of one of those inspired ideas that tend to pop into David's head when watching me struggle to achieve a simple task, added a new cheese-making tool to my collection - the whey syringe. No more spooning out drained whey with one hand while, with the other hand, simultaneously tipping the tray and trying to stop my cheese moulds from slip sliding away, spilling their precious curd cargo out of their bottoms. 


Camembert is an attention seeking cheese. Drain it, turn it, wipe its box, pat its downy white fluff, give it a little squeeze. The camembert is also a sensitive cheese, needing the right balance of temperature and humidity at the right time for the right bacteria to do its thing whilst holding back the work of the bad bacteria. The trouble with all of this is that until you learn the signs of over-ripening, what's on the outside conceals what's really going on on the inside, until you open the ripening box to be greeted by the distinctive whiff of ammonia, rush to Google for advice and know for sure that your cheese is literally melting from the outside in inside. 


If you put a peg on your nose it's still edible. At least it's easy to spread too. Another important lesson learned this time round was that putting a home made very ripe camembert into the oven does not produce a baked camembert. It produces a cheesy water bed for fairies. Not even David, with the constitution of an ox and a love of cheeses that honk to high heaven, could stomach a cheese milkshake.

More tap, tap, tapping for more cheese wisdom and I produced a new plan for my camembert ripening schedule. This time I used different raw milk, switching to Penlan Y Mor, a farm set up on the coastal fields south of Aberaeron, overlooking New Quay. I had the added bonus of a private tour of the dairy too, and a peak at some young calves, and got to practice my rusty learner's Welsh. The paltry scale of my cheese making attempts is never going to keep a business afloat, but I can't deny that my first trip to Penlan Y Mor left me with the warm glow of having done a good thing, a reaffirming (if it were needed) of the importance of supporting small family dairy farms, a hope that there will be a source of raw milk here for me for years to come, though if the investigations of Gareth Wyn Jones, BBC Milk Man, come even close to the difficult truth, that cannot be taken for granted.


However, a warm glow does nothing to help me achieve the perfect camembert, so it was back to the cheese drawing board and the third attempt. This time I would be taking detailed notes because somehow Father Christmas had known to bring me a new notebook for that very purpose. It pleases me immensely that a cheese notebook has been added to my notebook library.

I duly followed the exact same recipe as before, this time tweaking only the ripening process. I noted down pantry temperature and humidity. I recorded the number of turns. I logged the date of first fluff formation. Rate of fluff development was documented as an aide memoire for future reference. God damn, I had high hopes for camembert number three. Tasting day, exactly four weeks from date of pantry to fridge transfer, was marked on the kitchen calendar. Despite this, David regularly asked "can we try it yet", a day later, "can we try it yet". You can't rush a work of art.

At last the day dawned. The free range bacon was ready and waiting in the fridge for the bacon and camembert lunch time butty. We bought a President camembert for a compare and contrast tasting. We lined them up on the counter, bringing them up to room temperature for maximum creamy tastiness.

The moment came.... a slice of each .....

David closed his eyes for a blind tasting. Which to give him first? I popped a wedge of Banceithin camembert into his mouth. "That's yours!". Dammit. He'd seen the initial slice. He knew mine was more granular, the curds less uniform and creamy. I resisted the urge to throw the slice of President at him, and popped it into his month grudgingly. "Yep, that one is definitely the commercially made cheese." He sat down for further reflection and pronounced the home made camembert to have a "more complex flavour profile" (he listens to Kitchen Cabinet on Radio 4) but with a more bitter edge to it. I'll take that! But most annoying of all, despite careful planning of the ripening schedule, my cheese still suffered from slip skin, ripening too quickly under the skin yet again. If at first you don't succeed...... keep making cheese until you do.

Mozzarella is the showy cheese. The making of mozzarella is a performance, a display of dunk and stretch, dunk and stretch, with your hands sweating inside Marigold gloves dripping with near boiling whey. Oh, but it's fun. If you're into instant gratification, this is the cheese for you. Don't do what I did though. Don't invite an ex-Neal's Yard Dairy Maitre Fromager (fancy name for a cheese expert, like a sommelier is to wine, but disappointingly not known as a cheesier) to watch and help. Her mozzarella balls will only embarrass your mozzarella balls.


For my most recent cheese exploits, I went off piste with another batch of Penlan Y Mor milk, trying my hand at halloumi, the squeaky cheese. This time there was no previous experience to judge my results against, just the recipe and a knowledge of how a block of halloumi should look, cook and taste. Lack of proper curd draining moulds and a cheese press were the major stumbling block. My curds wouldn't knit under the weight of two tins of beans and a stone pestle and mortar. The other mistake I made cannot be blamed on lack of kit and was down to simple stupidity. Halloumi is made by cooking blocks of curd in whey kept just below boiling point. When you buy halloumi, you buy a block of this cooked curd. You then slice that block, and griddle the slices to eat. When you make halloumi, you cook a block of curd, you don't cook a slice of curd. I skipped the block stage going straight to the slice, and cooking slices of curd in hot whey gives you melted slices of hot curd. Doh!


The situation was not irretrievable, the halloumi unattractive but not inedible. Of course, the ultimate test of a halloumi is the squeak. If it doesn't squeak between the teeth, it cannot go by the name halloumi. Did it squeak? It sure did!

Making halloumi has the benefit of being a two cheeses from one batch process. The first curd makes the halloumi, and the second curd from a second "cooking" of the remaining whey with a dash of vinegar and a sprinkling of salt, makes ricotta. This would be obvious to any Italian speaker. Ricotta. Re-cooked. One of those slap the forehead light bulb moments.


None of my cheeses have been perfect, but I set out wanting to make cheese, and that's what I've done, and will continue to do so. My cheese moulds will not yet be joining the bread proving baskets on the out of reach pantry shelf.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Needles but no pins

In primary school, I was the girl who sewed her stitch sampler to her trousers, spending play time back in class as teacher unpicked it to release me from my chain stitch prison, while children more skillful with needle and thread played What's The Time Mr Wolf outside.

In secondary school, I was the girl struggling to complete the knitted clothes hanger cover when the rest of the class had graduated to jumpers, and still come end of term resorted to stretching an incomplete cover over the smallest hanger I could find in my wardrobe.

I have the blanket crocheted by my grandmother. I have the blanket crocheted by my mother. My childhood teddy bear wears a dress, duffel coat and scarf knitted by my grandmother. On my mantel piece sit an owl and a pig knitted by my mother.

Curtains, cushion covers, felt birds, all sewn by my mother, all part of what makes the cottages a family affair. So what happened? Did the knitting gene skip a generation? Is there no needle and thread in my blood? Unconvinced by my protestations of ineptitude, my mother spent an evening teaching me to crochet a granny square. A full size blanket was my goal, my third generation contribution to the family's woollen inheritance. 18 months and 13 squares later, I completed my sofa back cover and packed away the crochet needle.

Since then, I have had the pleasure and privilege of meeting (in life and online) a number of women who are skilled with needles of all shapes and sizes, and my social media news feeds showcase their creativity and inspire mine. Through these women I was invited to join a "Hook Up" at The Make It Shop in Chorlton as part of the Sixty Million Trebles record breaking blanket attempt to create the world's largest crochet blanket and, at the same time, create something that could be de-stitched into individual blankets and donated to refugee charities. This was the prod I needed and, excited by the prospect of a trip to The Make It Shop, I dusted off my yarn bag and hunted out my crochet needle. The mind went blank. Not a clue how to begin. Off the shelf came the "Learn to Crochet" book. Still none the wiser. Stupid book. Stupid needle. Stupid me. Back in the bag go needle and yarn.

Luckily for me, a granny square tutorial was promised once I made it to Chorlton. Luckily for them, I ended up not being able to go to Chorlton. Disheartened by this turn of events, I wandered into Red Apple Yarn in Lampeter one day and enquired about knitting classes. Luckily for me, there's a beginner's class every Saturday afternoon. Unluckily for them, I turned up two weeks ago.

I am now the proud owner of not one but TWO pairs of knitting needles, and the not so proud owner of two rather unfortunate looking pieces of knitting.


I am very good at increasing. Start me off with 20 stitches, and within 2 rows I can present you with 25 stitches. My knitting breeds stitches. And I tend to forget if I should purl next or knit. Practice practice, practice, knit, purl, knit, purl. I'm almost at the point now where David can talk to me while I knit and get a response. Almost. Nevertheless, spurred on by my best friend and fellow beginner (but already far too good) knitter, I have started my first project. A scarf. You can never have too many scarves. She plans to have completed four scarves by March. I hope to have completed one scarf in time for her birthday in June, or maybe a wrist warmer.