Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011 - the Curate's Egg

Bishop: "I'm afraid you've got a bad egg, Mr Jones"; Curate: "Oh, no, my Lord, I assure you that parts of it are excellent!"

Pretty much sums up my year.  I refuse to say it's been an annus horribilus... there have been some really excellent bits but sadly, there have been some not so good bits.  Much of it my own doing but not entirely... at least I don't think so. There has been over-reaction, a few moments of too much to drink and a bout of depression.  I am proud to say that even with all of that I am still not smoking.  Hurray for me!!  

But there was cycling, walking, camping, beach-combing, the two deer we saw in our garden this morning, birdsong, a cosy home, lovely children, a fantastic husband, good friends (even if I sometimes think that everyone hates me), lots of knitting and crochet, some good reads, a cow attack, laughter, tears, views, paddling, a new hairdresser that I really like and so many things that have slipped my mind at this moment.

Aims for 2012
  • attempt to use up stash
  • learn to sew properly
  • lose the weight I've gained since giving up smoking
  • more cycling
  • more walking
  • walk the dog every morning!
  • have an adventure
Well off to watch the hootenanny shortly

I wish you all a very Happy New Year!

Gloomy but we do love to be beside the seaside!

Oh how miserable the weather has been these holidays.  We were so full of plans to get out and about but it just isn't any fun at all in this incessant rain we've been having.  It makes the days short, dank, dark and strangely tiring.  We are all clawing the walls with a desperate desire to get outside.  Having to resort to checking out the IKEA sale as our only excursion of the day.... sigh...

However, having said that, we did get over to Morecambe to visit Nick's dad earlier in the week and decided to have a walk along the promenade. Despite the gloomy looks of the day, it didn't actually rain so we set off.  There's been a big project to regenerate the promenade that we didn't know about so it was a really good walk.  There's lots of bird-themed artworks to see and the Stone Jetty is full of interesting bits and bobs.

Love these bird posts
A rock island. Art Deco Midland Hotel behind
Boats on the Stone Jetty
Looking out to see
Colourful fishing boats
It was great.  Will go again with bikes as you can cycle right along the front to Hest Bank and into Lancaster so could be a good day out.  Ice creams, picnic, sounds like a plan!  Only when it's a bit better weather.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Early Christmas

Oh I have been rather spoiled this week.  I am taking part in a couple of swaps on Ravelry - the UK Sock Knitters secret santa and the UK Swaps Falling into Winter swap.

Both of my parcels have arrived this week.  Both left at oddball neighbours house who left them in vestibule without knocking or anything and therefore freaking me out a bit!  They are a funny bunch but that's a whole other story that I may tell one day...but probably not....

Anyway, the first parcel was the UK Sock Knitters secret santa....

Lovely Christmassy parcels

Willing opening package volunteers who know that sweeties are often involved in mummy's parcels!
Under such massive pressure from the girls opening had to happen straight away... no waiting under the tree until Christmas if sweeties might be involved... sigh...

So here's what arrived: some lovely mitts which have already moved into my coat pockets and are in use!  Two skeins of scrumptions sock yarn in colours I really like.  Old fashioned sweeties... yummy... all gone now! A little lip gloss/balm shaped like a russian doll.  A mini sock blocker kit and some stitchmarkers.  Awesome.  Feeling super spoiled.

 Been out and about visiting as usual on Saturday and found that my next lovely parcel from the UK Swaps Falling into Winter Swap had been hand delivered while I was out. I missed the lovely lady and am so sorry.  Very impressed with the dedication though!
What a lovely collection of treats. Enough sweets to open a sweetshop (according to the girls) lots of lovely yarn including some rather special hand spun.  Some jolly yarn for the girls too!  There was a delightful mini-shawl which has come in handy quite a lot of late.  A pencil case and contents.  A fantastic piece of hand made glass too which is difficult to see on the pic but very lovely and just needs a well lit home.  Utterly spoiled for the second time.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

First Snow

Just looked out and it's snowing.  Sleety snow but snow non the less!  Really feels like winter now.  Good job I am prepared and have knitted new hats and scarves! Yay!!

Also started an item for me.  A snug gilet in the nice James C Brett Rustic aran that I used for Little Friend M's cardie recently.  Same colour too.

Only problem is, there's no picture of the back and it's all textured so is taking AGES to knit.... sigh.... It will all be worth it I'm sure.  Eventually

Here's where I'm up to so far.  Just decreasing for the armholes.
Never ending back of gilet
This is described as "Rice Stitch" in the pattern. 

If you are interested it's a design from the Favourite Aran Knits 3 book by Sirdar.  Last design in the book.

Come, come thou bleak December wind, And blow the dry leaves from the tree

So said Coleridge.  Mind you there aren't many leaves left to blow off around here anymore.  It's been a dank and dreary sort of a day here in Padiham.  The only reason we got out at all today is because it's the annual Toy Service for the girls' school.  So we went to that.

Nick wanted to go out on his bike but the weather just deteriorated.  Lots of rain and hail today.  Really nasty stuff and no fun to cycle in.  So he's been like a lost little boy for most of the day.  Looking out of the window and sighing a lot.

As it is now December we have put the Christmas tree up.  The usual routine ensued.  Phil Spector's Christmas Album and plenty of chaos.  But it's done and we all think it looks lovely.
Typical Christmas tree silliness
I even managed to crochet some little stockings for the tree.  There was meant to be 24 of them and they were going to make up an advent calendar but I didn't do enough of them in time so we'll just gloss over that one shall we.  Pattern courtesy of the lovely Monde de Sucrette blog.
Cute crochet stocking
Another cute stocking
Despite all of the festive stuff, it was still a pretty dull old day.  We should bake a cake was the general consensus.  However, we were a bit short of ingredients so we managed to cobble together a ginger cake.  Total comfort food fix.... it's got treacle, golden syrup, dark brown sugar and oodles of ginger in it.  A sure fire winner.  We had it with some custard and it was most definitely comforting....
Mmm... sticky ginger cake

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Birthday Bag, Industrial Action and finished items

Well it was my birthday on Tuesday.  Beginning to get to a point in my life where I only take notice of them every 10 years now!  Marking off decades rather than years.  No matter, it was a very nice birthday as it happens.  Out for lunch with my lovely family on Sunday, cards from some dear friends and family and a new bag.

Oh how I love my new bag...

I really, really do....

It's a Cath Kidston oilcloth daybag.  It's great.  Just roomy enough for all of my stuff plus a small knitting project (socks, mitts, that kind of thing). Younger daughter rather likes it too and apparantly I am to leave it to her when I die (also got to leave her my bed!).

Got some money too which I have unashamedly spent on me for once! Got a couple of new tops for work and a big ball of the aran that I used for Little Friend M's cardie to make a gilet for myself.  Gets pretty chilly in my little office and it's nice to have something to slip on when it gets uncomfortable.

I also made Knitcol Hat number 4 - for me this time.  It's lovely and as I have a small noggin it is being modelled admirably by younger daughter.
I'm developing a bit of an addiction to Adriafil Knitcol at the moment. It is just soooooo gorgeous.  The colour combinations are delightful and I don't think there is a single combo that I don't like.  It's merino so is amazingly lovely to squish and is a joy to wear.  Have been out on a cold, dark morning wearing it and it was fab.

Just look at the lovely colours...mmm...
I am also having a bit of a mitten fest at the moment.

This pair was knitted in Stylecraft Life Special DK.  Cast on 52 stitches, alternated 4 rows of knit and 4 rows of purl to make the springy wrists.  Followed guidelines in the "Knitters Handy Book of Patterns" by Ann Budd.  It really is a handy little book too. Highly recommend it.

Today was the national day of action and I took part as did many other public sector workers.  It also very handily coincided with the all day knit and knatter at Pendle Stitches so I showed my solidarity to the cause by sitting in a nice wool shop, crocheting tiny festive stockings and eating some fabulous home made biscuits from Sue's Mum. Thanks they were really delicious and sooo crisp.

December tomorrow.  Where has 2011 gone to already?

Wednesday, 23 November 2011


There's a great scheme to get really cheap tuition from the Lancashire Music Service for primary school kids at the moment.  Natasha went along to see what was on offer and decide which instrument she fancies having a go with.

It was a fun chaotic evening with lots going on and I assumed she would go for something popular and 'girly', like a trumpet or a clarinet.  Oh no, not Natasha.  Here's what she brought home...

It's a euphonium and it's almost as big as she is.  It's what she fancied the most and is happily parping away on it! Quirky child!

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Feeling Better

Well it's been a week of lurgy here.  Girls off school and then bug kindly passed onto me.  Spent almost all of Friday zonked out on the sofa, groaning,  wrapped in crochet blankets.  Too rough to even knit...sigh.

However, all is much better today.  One of our neighbours was clearing out the guttering along the street so we all grabbed brooms and swept up the debris.  It was a real-feel good thing to do.  It's nice and sunny and it only took about 5 or 10 minutes between us.
Ladder up to nicely cleared guttering
Also finally sewed on the button for the Tree Cardigan I made for friend M across the street. Pattern from the lovely Petite Purls website. Very pleased with it and it fits just right.

It's a really nice pattern.  Knitted in one piece from the bottom up.  Only a teeny bit of grafting to do under the arms.  Used Rustic Aran by James C Brett.  A really nice yarn to knit with.  Surprisingly soft - sometimes the "big" balls of aran you can buy are a bit stiff.  Love the colour.  It's kind of greyish, purplish, brownish and should go with lots of stuff.

Monday, 14 November 2011

Some Knitted FOs

I've been quite productive of late.

Hats - 3 hats made from the gorgeous Adriafil Knitcol.  Two the same for the girls and one for Baby O who is now 1 - blimey, where did the year go??

Knitcol Hat

Isn't he adorable?  Can't believe how quickly they grow.  Had enough for a bobble on his hat.  Again used lovely Knitcolfor this one too.

School Christmas Fair is looming and items need to be donated to the stalls.  The colour scheme for our stall this year is black and white so am knitting up 2 hats.  Hat number one is finished.  It's black and white.  Hat number 2 is on the needles and is white and black.  Photo to follow when done...

There was also a pair of 6ply socks for Nick

And another Noro striped scarf for me.  Used James Brett Monsoon this time.  Love how the stripes worked out.

Little Knitters


My girls are getting to grips with knitting at the moment.  They are both having a go at knitting a scarf for one of their toys. They are concentrating so much here .

They have joined the knitting club at school too so it's all very much the rage.  They have their very own project bag to keep it all in (well.... to keep them off my stuff really!!)

It's very sweet to watch them.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Thunder. Enter the three witches

Double, double toil and trouble
Fire burn, and cauldron bubble
All ready for a Halloween party.  
Vampira and Witchy Gaga

Crochet Crazy and a bit of a ta da!

Ooh control yourselves!  Yes some actual crafty content.  I have been having a few mad dos on things lately.  Crochet is at the forefront and I am slowing covering almost the entire house in bright crocheted stuff!
Square in a square cushion.  Pattern by Sarah London. Love it.  Love the regularity of the squares.  Love the neatness of it.  It's great!
Fab! I think there will be many more of these to come!!

Then I got a couple of round cushion pads and here's what I did.

As I've used relatively inexpensive acrylics for this, I haven't bothered to make an opening.  Just crocheted the 2 sides together.

Like it... it's cheerful.

Then I decided to do a granny circle for the other one. Using a combination of Andie Hanley's granny circle and Crochet with Raymond's mandela.

Hmm... it's ok but it's not as cool as the square in a square one.  So after lots of faffing about I give you .... ta da!... my circle in a circle! It's not quite finished yet but I have taken copious notes and will post full instructions shortly!

Can you see how it goes with the square in a square.  All the clusters line up in the same way and it looks very pleasing to the eye.  I'm very excited about it.

There are also blankets.  Lovely, lovely colourful blankets.

Finally - the finished Granny Stripe
Dog and daughter hijacking bright ripple

Wycoller and the Coppice Walks

It's been really rather pleasant weather wise in October this year and we got out and about aplenty.

At the request of the girls we decided to revisit Wycoller and the Atom panopticon.  It was a lovely chilly, hazy, sunny afternoon so the ruins of the old Hall were looking especially spooky and atmospheric.  It's said to be the inspiration for Ferndean Manor in the Charlotte Bronte novel Jane Eyre.

Just up the hill from the village is one of the East Lancashire panopticons.  This one is called the Atom.

You can walk around and inside it.  It's fun.  Sadly the large metal ball inside it seems to have disappeared.  Don't know why. It's nice to sit in the windows and admire the view.

It must have been pretty mild because on the way back to the carpark we saw about 40 ladybirds. Just kept spotting them on the brambles and nettles alongside the footpath.

A week or so later another nice day turned up so we set off for another favourite local haunt, the Coppice in Accrington.  A pleasant walk around the hill and then a little sit on the memorial at the top to admire the view.  It's had a clean up recently and all the graffiti is gone.

Zoo Keeping, hiking, and a bit of gardening

Wow! Half term really was an adventure packed time for all of us.  There was a day zoo keeping for the girls, hill walking for us and a garden clearance.

My mum entered a competition in her local paper earlier this year and won a day zoo keeping for the girls at the South Lakes Wild Animal Park.  What a great day they had.  It's a fabulous place for just visiting but to get the chance to go behind the scenes is just awesome.  They went on their own but got so embroiled that we don't have too many pics of their actual keeping.  They fed penguins, polished and dusted the giant tortoises, fed the tapirs and the giraffes and handled a 14ft long python.  I'm sure there was much more but that was all I could coherently get out of them!  They were both rather smitten with Nathan the zookeeper and he was a major topic of interest!!!
Feeding the Giraffes
Nathan, 14 ft python and the adoring girls!
Holding the snake
While all this was going on Nick and I were having an adventure of our own.  We went for a good hike up to High Street from Haweswater.  High Street is the site of a roman road (you've got to admire those romans - it is high up!)
Setting off purposefully at the end of the Haweswater reservoir
It was a little dull but fine at the start. Another one of those glorious autumnal colour schemes.  Greyish cloud really setting off the rich orange tones of the grass and the trees.  Fabulous. Took a ridge route up and it was rather windy but not quite as bad as the Wernside walk.
Bit of a scramble on the way up
Sally the dog was in her element.  I think there may be some mountain goat in the mix somewhere she is so nimble and had virtually no problems getting up some pretty big scrambles. It was probably the smell of pies in the rucksack that kept her going
Please sir, I'd like some pie!
Haweswater  in the background
Got to the top and the weather started to gradually improve and got quite sunny on the way down. Walked round to Mardale Ill Bell and then came down
Mardale Ill Bell

Glorious autumn colour on High Street looking down over Blea Tarn to Haweswater reservoir.

Also got a bit of gardening done over the break.  Bought a few primroses, violas and pansies to add a late splash of colour.  The old fence has totally dropped to bits so got some lonicera plants too to hopefully form a decent hedge in the not too distant future

Surprisingly now that the fence is gone we don't miss it.  It's a bit like having an infinity garden in that you can't really tell that the back path is there and it all seems to carry on forever into the wood beyond. Quite like it.