Wednesday 31 August 2011

Chuffed with cable

I have always admired the jumpers my Mum has been able to knit in cable, and had set myself a challenge to learn how to knit cable. With the Guild Challenge being brought forward to December, where we have to create a bag using spinning, weaving or dyeing, I thought I had better try and crack this nut.  The wool I am using is my first real attempt at spinning, ie once I had sussed out what I was supposed to be doing, and it has quite a bobbly effect, which is as much down to the wool as my spinning, and the wool is quite coarse,so lends itself to a bag rather well.

I sat down and googled "how to knit cable", and I was off!  I'm sure there must be some more complicated patterns, but I am really rather chuffed at the effect, and how simple it is.  Combine that with using my own wool, and my new wooden circular needles, this is turning out to be a wonderful experience.  I like the rustic effect that is being created, and am excited to watch this grow day by day.
The book I am reading is "The Miracle of Mindfulness" by Thich Nhat Hanh which I think is adding to the enjoyment of knitting this bag even more, as I am mindful of the stitches, of the wool, of the process of making the bag... can you tell I am loving making this?!

I thought I would join in with Ginny today sharing my knitting and reading, and the joy of both.

Saturday 27 August 2011


 Last year I bought some wool, a bit of a cheating kind of wool that would give a Fair Isle effect.  My plan for this wool was some wristwarmers for me.  But as usual, projects for me never seem to happen!  So, having been given a little money for my birthday, I decided to treat myself and buy some wrist warmers from a dear friend in Ireland. 
 Rosemary, over at Selkie Crochet, has filled her etsy shop full of all kinds of woolly wonderful-ness, and I know she spends so much time by the sea, the thought of some of her creations being made whilst sat watching the Atlantic Ocean role in, is really quite peaceful. I am looking forward to the days getting cooler so that I have an excuse to wear these beautiful wrsitwarmers.

Another wonderful friend provided Sophie's birthday card.  Shell over at Handmade Haven had some owl cards that I fell in love with the moment I saw them. I also got a wedding card, but as the wedding hasn't taken place yet I felt it unfair to blog it! She has so many wonderful things for sale, a multi-talented woman.
 I suppose, as we start looking towards the end of the year, and dare I mention it, Christmas, we start looking for gifts for people.  I know, whilst I am hoping to be able to create many myself, I know there are wonderful talented people out there that will be able to help provide gorgeous gifts for you to give, and help us all to work towards a simpler, homemade festive period.

Thank you Rosemary and Shell, your talents are very much appreciated.

Friday 26 August 2011

3 already!

 My littlest is 3!!  In one respect it seems like a blink of an eye since she was born, but it also seems she has been around for so much longer!  She had alot of experience of birthdays recently, so was very specific about what her own birthday was going to consist of.  One of those things was a "George" cake with Peppa, Mummy Pig and Daddy Pig on it.  So I spent the other evening despairing as to how to recreate 2D figures in the 3D, and they still be recognisable.  But I think we got there, and the important thing is Sophie was pleased with it!

After waiting a couple of hours for the rest of the house to wake up on her birthday morning, she opened her presents.  A Sylvanian family playground...
 A balance bike, which was ridden by much bigger children too!
 And a little bag I had been working on...
 ...filled with knitted animals, and an acorn, so she can recount her favourite story of Chicken Licken.
 We went out for a few hours, found a lovely little bistro place, which served the most delicious food, and were so accomodating with the children.  I can see us frequenting that place again.
 Sophie was insistent she wanted a pink cupcake.  The lady took her behind the counter, and got the chef to prepare a very fancy presentation of the cake.  Sophie, being Sophie, just ate all the icing, but it was lovely all the same!
 We then stopped off at Bidford-on-Avon, had a play in the park, and then headed home...
 ...for a birthday tea of jelly and of course cake!
(There was other food, but those were the only things Sophie was interested in!!)

Happy birthday Sophie. Our wonderful, funny, independent (when she wants to be!) 3 year old!!

Wednesday 24 August 2011


 It might have escaped your notice that this is a family that is keen on its games.  The other evening I came downstairs to a wonderful scene.  The boys were sprawled out on the floor creating a board game out of paper, and they then disappeared off upstairs to create another game from lego. 
 With rules and all, that only a seasoned table top wargamer could understand!
 The above picture is the game they were initially making.  Alec was in charge of illustration, Ethan was the overall decision maker, and Luke was the game designer!

Stuart and Luke disappeared off to a new game shop they found over the weekend, and came back with yet another game.  This one really appeals to the minds of all young boys.  It's name?  Poo!  You have a hand of cards, and see who, via their hand of monkeys, can fling the most poo at their apponents, but you can block incoming poo, suffer poo mishaps etc.. you get the picture!!  Fortunately it only involves cards and counters!  Although the the cry of "anyone want to play Poo?" has been shouted around abit!!

Monday 22 August 2011

Clay and paint

 Luke had some money to spend in a local craft store, so he bought a whole load of clay. He had an idea in mind that he had seen on Art Attack.  So when he got home he set to work, not letting any of us know what he was doing. 
 A pizza, with toppings that can be interchangeable, and it's own pizza dish to go in.  It just needs painting up now.

On the same trip to the art store, Mum picked up some paint it by numbers for Alec and Ethan.  Ethan finished his pretty quickly, and did such a good job.  We just have to find a picture frame now!
 And here are some of Sophie's creations.  She piles all kinds of paint onto the clay shape and we let it dry.  Rather effective, and I can guarantee if I did the same thing it wouldn't look as half as good!

Saturday 20 August 2011

Trying to make sense of it all

2011 has in all honesty been a tough year for us. Starting with Stuart's brother being hit by a car, breaking ribs, pelvis and suffering a punctured lung. Many trips taking Stuart's parents down to see him in London, and a long slow recovery for him. I then had a health scare, involving a mole, which turned out to be not so innocent. In the midst of this being resolved Stuart's Mum died.

In the scale of the year's events, today's events pale in significance, but all mounded together they can bring an air of depression and hopelessness over everything. Today, our new kitten was taken to the vets because he had been being sick for a day, keeping nothing down, and I had never seen a cat of ours behave like this. I was shocked when he was taken in for emergency surgery for a suspected intussessption of the intestine, which if left untreated would be fatal. Fortunately, through the surgery they discovered that it was not what they had suspected, and was simply an inflammation of the intestine, probably caused by an infection. Gimli now has to recover from the surgery, and I cannot wait for him to be home, although that will present a new range of issues with trying to stop Sophiw from picking him up!!

Anyway, as I was saying, how do I make sense of it all? We often say to each other how we just want 2011 to be over with, and start afresh. I face the future with a bit of trepidation, wondering what else can be thrown at us to try to grind us down. But then if I look at the blessings, I can start to make a little sense of it all. Stuart's brother has recovered remarkably well. I am blessed that the mole I discovered was in an area I could notice it, and I am now aware of my body more, and keep an eye on it. Stuart's Mum's passing was desperately sad, but has shown us the value of life, how to live each moment, and to cherish family. To try to include some of the values she had into our own lives as part of her legacy. With Gimlli, we are fortunate it was not as serious as was initially thought. We can already see how he has become such a part of our family in the few weeks he has been with us, as he has been missed sorely today by us all. I am glad I listened to my gut feeling about his illness, even if it has resulted in an operation that could possibly now be seen as unnecessary, as if it had been what the vet thought it was (symptoms all the same) by the end of the weekend it could have been a completely different story.

It is through these unpleasant events that we grow, we appreciate the good things all the more, we become more compassionate to those around us when they experience similar events. So really, we should just count our blessings.

Thursday 18 August 2011

Custom bunting

 Made with more Per Una material from my neighbours sister, a lovely ethnic feel with the batik design on the fabric.  This was particularly appropriate as the recipient has spent alot of time travelling before the birth of her daughter Loes.
 I liked the effect of three different colours for the flags on the back, might try that one again.
Really enjoying doing these buntings, finding ways to make each one unique, and filling them with love, which I hope will be felt by the recipient.

Wednesday 17 August 2011


 All my uncertainty over the allotment has been washed away.  Our allotment is not one of the tidiest or weed free places, it does sometimes feel like a burden I could do without, and the things we produce are not going to win any prizes either, but my goodness, it is so much more than a source of food.
 I managed to convince the children to spend some time down there this week, and they were busy digging potatoes, picking beans, pulling up the spent broad bean plants, watering, playing tug of war with the hose pipe, and fighting with hoes and rakes!  We munched on plums, and raspberries and made the most of the blackberries that had overrun the currant bushes.
 After having had a rough week with my own head and emotions, the allotment was the salve my body needed, grounding myself, calming, and basking in the sun I have recently started to fear.

The promise of the bounty to come as we head towards harvest...
 And surprise successes, the onions I grew from seed, was late planting out, and thought if I got spring onions from them I would be lucky, but look, they are actually proper onion sized, not whoppers, but they'll do very nicely thank you.  I won't show you the courgettes or sweetcorn, as neither are amounting to much at all.
So I promise the ground I will nurture it over this next year, and as a friend told me, a gardeners motto is that "there is always next season!"  

Friday 12 August 2011

Starting but never...


This seems to be the pattern of my life at the moment.  Well, if the truth be known it is probably not just limited to this moment!!  I am very good at starting projects, having ideas for things, getting things started, and then I lose interest, or something more appealing comes along.  I have so many works in progress at the moment, it really is getting to the point of ridiculous.  I am knitting characters to make up a story bag for Sophie's birthday, crocheting a double bed sized granny stripe blanket, making a sack boy for Luke's birthday.  I started on the alpaca fleece yesterday, did 10 minutes, then went on to something else! 

At the end of the day the house can be a tip, not just from the children, but from all the things I have half done before getting distracted! 

In my bid to clear space in my head, I am going to finish the works in progress before anything else gets started (well, I think the crocheted blanket will have to overlap with some new projects, as I have Christmas things that I need to get a start on!)

It's not just crafting projects and housework though, I go through real fits and starts with many ideas I have.  I wish the enthusiasm would last long enough to complete each project, rather than it all becoming a chore.  I think I will have to do some serious work on my mindset, as it really is not a good example to set the children, and not a really good outlook to have on life in general. 

I was wondering whether it is my version of consumerism, collecting ideas and projects, ticking boxes, being able to say I've been there, done that, and move on to the next thing.  Perhaps I just have to be more organised, another area that I lack in! Or learn how to find joy in things I have lost the enthusiasm for. 

Right, better go and make a start on this pile of half done projects.  See you in a year or so!!

Thursday 11 August 2011

Indescision and a birthday

I tried to impose a month long ban on myself from using the computer, which lasted all of about 4 days!  My will power is shocking!!  I enjoyed having some time just to read and craft, but the need to interact with people is obviously rather strong, and with children who are thoroughly enjoying being at home and not wanting to go out anywhere, I figure the computer does serve a purpose.  The reason for my ban was to give myself some headspace, lots of things going on that I didn't want to be part of, and lots of things happening at home that I did want to be part of!  The few days that I was away did do me some good, perhaps I was being a bit harsh on myself to deny something I enjoy for a whole month, but I do need to look at how the computer seems to creep into my life all too insidiously, and before I know it, it has taken over!!

We had the second birthday of August on Monday.  (We have four birthdays in total in 5 weeks starting from the beginning of August!)  I like to play down this one, a sign I am getting older!  Had some lovely books by Thich Naht Han, and some circular wooden knitting needles, and some bamboo straight needles.  So all I need now is a month or so to secrete myself away and read and knit to my hearts content!!

For a few years now I have wanted to visit Kinver Edge, so the trip out for my birthday was to see the rock houses there. Unfortunately the rock houses weren't open to the public on the Monday, but we were able to see them from outside, and the boys were once again talking about hobbit holes!!  Apparently 11 families lived here, and the last one moved out in 1967.  The National Trust have restored them, how wonderful to have been able to live in one of these.

 There was plenty of moorland and woodland to explore too.

A lovely birthday topped off with a trip to the Harvester restaurant, not as relaxing as it might have been with Sophie in tow, as she was not in the slightest bit interested in sitting down to eat (until it came to ice cream sundaes!)

I have been umming and ahhing about the allotment too.  Whether I can realistically keep it going.  The children don't like going down there, and my first visit was the other week for well over a month, what with all the coming and goings we've had happening.  Is it realistic to be able to run a household with four children in it and keep an allotment?  Each year I vow that this year will be different, I will dedicate more time to it, but every year, life seems to get in the way.  Whether it be illness, weather, or stubborn children, I never seem to manage more than a trip a week, if that.  This season will not be our best, I know that, but I will wait and see how much I can do in the lull period once Sophie has started pre-school.  Hopefully then I can really get my teeth stuck into it, but if it doesn't work out, perhaps I will have to admit defeat.  A shame when I really do enjoy it, but I suppose only time will tell.

Tuesday 2 August 2011

Double figures!

 This is what birthday mornings are all about for our smiling, lego mad 10 year old!!  Although he did actaully abandon it for a little while to go and check out his other presents too!  He was perfectly happy to stay at home all day and play, but we eventually managed to think of somewhere he could go with his broken finger, that didn't involve trying to keep Sophie quiet for 2 hours, as would have been the case if we had gone to the cinema! 

So we went to a nearby craft place, where we had drinks and icecream, sat outside in the perfect August weather, not sunny, but warm with the slightest hint of a breeze. All of us were admiring the location and talking of hobbit holes again!
 We had brought some bread to feed the ducks, but it was actually the fish that ate most of it.  We then saw some horses and went over to have a look.  There was a man tending to them, and he was telling us about them.  He then asked if any of the boys wanted to it on "Roxy" a beautiful, 7 year old, Gypsy Cob.  Ethan was very eager, but when it came to it, decided not to.  So Alec took the lead.  He thought it very strange having her skin twitching to disturb the flies.
 Ethan then decided he would like a go!
 And even Sophie joined in, and looked quite at ease.  (Luke was too heavy to lift over the barbed wire, but I think he was grateful for that excuse!)
 This photo doesn't do the place justice, but it really was beuatiful, and so relaxing.
 We returned home to a birthday tea.
 And some playing, in our newly cleared out conservatory.
 Did the necessary cake stuff!
 The boys were suggesting I should do a portfolio of all the cakes I have made, perhaps one day, if I have nothing else to talk about!
 And then, to top of his birthday, what would a ten year old request as a snack at bedtime, whilst reading his new Beano annual?  Grapes, raisins and cucumber of course!!
Our lovely, smiling, lego mad, funny, sweet, always wanting cuddles, Lally is 10!! Happy Birthday Alec!