Monday, 31 December 2012

Out with the old and in with the new

Well so much for writing a post every day this month. Total fail. It's been a really hectic and full month of stuff. I am glad it's almost over.

So goodbye to 2012.  It wasn't a bad year really. The weather left a lot to be desired but it hasn't been as bad around here as in some places so mustn't grumble.

As usual been thinking about the year ahead and here's what is on my plan.

  1. Knit exclusively from stash (seriously I need to economise and yarn is stashed all over the place in this house)
  2. Declutter (do I really need to hang on to 5 year old knitting mags?)
  3. Rein in my finances and be more frugal
  4. Go to Scotland (this is in hand)
  5. Go to see a show or a concert
  6. Camp more often for odd weekends
January Challenge

Walk 100 miles.  I will walk 100 miles during this month.  Starting tomorrow.  Quite excited about this one.

Still pondering a challenge for February.  Will keep you posted.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

So I finished the mini Christmas stockings just about in time. Well about 10 pm! They are now hanging off the beams in two lots of twelve and looking very festive indeed. There are sweeties in them too as they are sort of a reusable advent calendar. Just lacking some numbers! Will sort that for next year. I think some little bells could be cute as well!

Watching a Led Zepplin concert on DVD with himself. Now they are rock Gods as we all know, and the performance is outstanding and everything, but oh how I will be relieved when it's finished! I only really know a handful of the well known songs and all the others sound the same to me. Himself claims it's because I am a girl! I say it' s like listening to a steel band. Fab for the first few numbers and then it all just sounds the same!

Signed up for the daily blogging again this month. I may not succeed as easily though because there are a lot of events coming up in the evenings. We shall see.

Friday, 30 November 2012

30 days

Of writing a post every day. I only missed one day (10th November if you are interested) but I think I can say that I did it!  It's been fun.  A bit like the 30 days of biking I did in April.  It's a challenge finding the time to write a post but somehow I have managed it. I wonder what else I could squeeze in if I really tried. We will just gloss over the huge pile of ironing, outstanding laundry and general untidiness around here shall we! Well.... something had to give now didn't it!

It's also the closing of Movember and there have been some interesting outbreaks of facial hair at work and around the place. I think it's a great idea and quite cool to see some fabulous moustaches around and about!

It's been a gloriously sunny and frosty couple of days. A welcome respite from all of the gloomy, rainy days we've had this month. I don' t mind scraping ice off the car and I love wrapping myself up in woolly cosiness - hats, gloves, socks, scarves, cowls - lovely.  My colleague jokingly suggested that I might have been wearing knitted knickers and was amazed when I replied that I did indeed have a pattern for such a garment. It's a vintage booklet called "Woolcraft" and features some knitted cami knickers and vest. I'll dig it out and post a picture over the weekend. I might just knit a pair for a laugh!

It was the official lighting of the lights in downtime Padiham this evening and as always, there was a spectacular fireworks display. It's quite a nice little event. The main road through is closed for a short time whilst Father Christmas arrives and sets up grotto in the Town Hall. There is a small fun fair, lots of stalls in the Town Hall and a countdown to the lights. A fun event.

It's beginning to feel a bit like christmas....

Thursday, 29 November 2012


Overall it's been a pretty nice day, if you take the discovery of nits in girls hair, having to go to work and himself flying over bicycle handlebars and bashing his face in out of the equation!

Ouch - bump on cheek the size of a second head!
Got a few cards and a few pressies so I can't really complain. This morning I was also amazed to see this....

My very own Google Doodle
...yes, my very own, personal Google Doodle. How lovely. It's tied to my google profile of course, but it was still a nice surprise when I spotted it earlier today.  It will be gone tomorrow of course!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Busy, busy, busy

Just a quick update as it is already almost 10 o'clock.

Firstly, the second SGC turned out perfectly and is wrapped up tight to keep it sticky! Accompanying lemon cake is baking as I type. Hopefully it will turn out OK.

Parcels were waiting for me at the post office and I was able to pay for them and get them posted. Phew!

It's been a long day. Been to Stitch and Bitch tonight as well.

Whacked out and righteously tired.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Alchemy and lunacy

It's a full Moon tonight. I should have known because I have been a walking disaster area all day! I'm sure I can't be the only one that seems to endure more mishaps than usual during the full Moon. I'm more clumsy and forgetful and just plain ditsy at this time. A bit of a lunatic in fact! The word lunatic derives from lunaticus meaning "of the moon" or "moonstruck".

Aristotle argued that the full Moon induced insanity in susceptible individuals because the brain, which is mostly water, must be affected by the Moon and its power over the tides. Scientists say that the Moon's gravity is too slight to affect any single person but despite that people still insist that admissions to psychiatric hospitals, traffic accidents, murders and suicides all seem to increase during a full Moon. Even though there is no scientific evidence to back this claim up, I believe it to be true.

Today I have been running around like a headless chicken from one disaster to another. Nothing has gone right. Amongst all the chaos two major events have stood out and they were the post office incident and the sticky ginger grand canyon cake.  Let me elaborate.....

At the post office, I had three parcels to send. Got some posting bags from the shelf there and proceeded to fill them and address them. Went to the counter to pay only to find I had no debit card on me and only about 7 pence in coppers. There was a MASSIVE queue of tutting people behind me as I was fannying about trying to see if a mysterious amount of cash, or debit card might be lurking elsewhere in my handbag.  It wasn't of course. As soon as I opened my purse and saw that the card wasn't there, I knew exactly where it was. In the pocket of the trousers I was wearing yesterday that were draped over the back of a chair in my bedroom. Fat lot of use it was there. But you know how it is. Even knowing that you cannot possibly change anything, you feel compelled to go through the motions of looking just on the off chance your fairy godmother has magically transported the darn thing back. She hadn't. Had to slink out of the post office with my tail between my legs leaving the packages at the post office until tomorrow. Hope to God that they are still there in the morning.

It's my birthday on Thursday and providing cakes is what is expected at work. I usually make a couple of big cakes to take in. This avoids the whole picky git situation. There's always someone who doesn't like cream/chocolate/sugar/etc and I just can't be bothered with any of that. Making a cake shows that you give a damn, after all you went to all that trouble, so no-one can moan about what they like or don't like! It's easier and I am all for the easy life. I decided on a lemon cake and a sticky ginger cake (from now on referred to as SGC). Lemon cake will get done tomorrow but SGC needs to be done a bit sooner so that it can get nice and sticky.

SGC is a batter type mix. You melt brown sugar, butter, treacle and golden syrup with a small amount of milk until it's all blended.  Then it gets mixed into the dry ingredients (plain flour, bit of bicarb of soda, cinnamon, lots of ginger, a pinch of salt and a couple of beaten eggs.  Tip the lot into a lined loaf tin and bake for around an hour at about 150 deg. No problem I thought. Stupidly, and I am totally blaming the full moon for this, I miscalculated the time and took the cake out too soon. Up until this time it had looked marvelous. It had risen beautifully and the house was filled with the gorgeous aroma of cake and ginger. But alas! Almost as soon as it was out of the oven disaster struck. The middle collapsed immediately and there was a gaping chasm in the middle of my lovely cake. I was mortified. I couldn't for shame take it into work. So began SGC number 2. I am breaking off from this post intermittently to go and pace up and down in front of the oven keeping a close eye on the back up cake. So far it's looking good. It hasn't risen quite as magnificently as SGC number 1, but then that might be a good thing and an indication of a more robust rising. Fingers crossed.

On the plus side, I just had a slice of the weirdly v-shaped SGC number 1 and it tasted fantastic!

Baking is a wonderful thing but it does smack of alchemy. Even though we understand the science behind it all, it always amazes me when I watch cakes transform from sloppy mixture to cake. It's a little bit magical. I am still just as spellbound by the whole process as when I was a little girl making fairy cakes with my mum. It's domestic alchemy. Even if they turn out a funny shape, or collapse in the middle, it is so much more satisfying when you have performed that little bit of magical jiggery pokery and made your own. No shop bought item could ever match that I'm sure.

Right. It's time to go and test SGC number 2. Wish me luck.......

Monday, 26 November 2012

And the band played on

It is that time of year. Lots of preparations are in place for a variety of concerts for the girls and we are practising like mad. After a bit of resistance, I have got the girls to practice their brass band music together. It's been a bit challenging at time as they are both still beginners and it's tricky to play completely different rhythms when there are only two of you. We need to work on counting I reckon.  But they are really coming on and it's fantastic to hear them playing together.
Rainbow recorders
Littlest girl is in the recorder group at school and brought home some music to practice for the Christmas concert. Oh how I used to love playing the recorder. I played all through school and played descant and treble recorders (as I only have "likkle" hands I could never get along with the tenor recorder too well) in a range of ensembles. Littlest girl had brought home some different parts for one of the pieces so we had great fun playing together.

I've really enjoyed helping the girls to rehearse all the instruments that they are learning and I am so proud of their progress.  Biggest girl is becoming a beautiful baritone player and blows brilliantly.  Littlest girl is fast catching her up on the trumpet and after only 11 weeks is making fantastic progress. Much of this is down to the fantastic opportunities offered by the Lancashire Music Service. So many opportunities to learn an instrument and play with others. I'm very impressed with them.
Trumpet valves
I'm also rather grateful to the internet at the moment and I really do wonder how we ever got along without it before. Littlest girl did some messing about and managed to completely cock up one of the valves on her trumpet. Technical help was not at hand since it was Sunday afternoon and himself had gone out running up and down hills in the area. I turned to the internet and after much effing and jeffing, had removed them all, oiled the relevant bits and put it all back together. Music could once again return. So if you have any problems with your trumpet valves, then I am your woman!

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Finished and almost finished items

Finished my chunky cowl. The one that I spotted a mistake on and pulled back.
Properly executed cabling on this cowl now
It was worth it though because I think it looks great! It's supposed to be a gift for someone but I'm having second thoughts. I rather like it and it is soooooo warm and cosy on. Hmm, I may just have to keep it all to myself.
Big chunky cowl with fabulous buttons, looking quite purple in this shot
It's an odd sort of colourway called "Wild Pansy" and depending on the light can look anything from purple to grey and a myriad of shades in between. That's probably why I like it so much. Oh and the buttons, I really, really, really, really like them. They cost more than the yarn and are polished wood. So nice to touch. I don't think that the intended recipient will appreciate them. But, of course, I would definitely appreciate them. Absolutely, completely and utterly.
Close up of gorgeous button!
Looking a more grey colour in the bright sunlight
I can't swap them for cheaper alternatives because I can't find anything that looks as good. Difficult decision ahead.

I am halfway through another pair of socks for himself. One sock complete and the other about halfway down the cuff. It's a bog standard 68 stitch sock in plain stocking stitch. The fancy self striping yarn does so much of the work for you that there is simply no need for any fancy knitted patterning as well. It's a bright Regia Jacquard colourway called Florence and he likes it even though it has some girly pink stripes in it!
Bright and cheerful Regia Jacquard sock yarn
I am also crocheting like a mad woman whenever I get a few spare minutes. Little crochet mini Christmas stockings. I'm aiming to turn them into a reusable advent calendar. Got five done so far, so another nineteen left to go. Got until Friday to finish them off.  Wish me luck!
Cute little Christmas Mini Stockings

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Blooming silly season

December is almost upon us and silly season is about to start. So many things packed into the next few weeks to interrupt normal life and activities and induce panic and stress.

The big C is looming, of course, and all the cost and hassle of that is a big deal in these cash short times. It's a time for family and being together which is great when all is well. However, when there are any falling-outs or difficulties then it can make for a lot of heartache, disappointment, and bitterness. We are just going to take it easy, and not worry about the shoulda, woulda, coulda. That path can only lead to madness, and madness is not invited for Christmas dinner in this house!

Lots of concerts and activities are lined up for the girls too. A music centre concert for brass and samba ensemble, school Christmas concert, trip to a pantomime and a Christmas fair. All got to be fitted in with everyday life and routines. It's a bit bonkers for a while and we will all be glad of a rest and a bit of slobbing around come the holidays. Except for himself who will no doubt be out running up and down the local hills at some godforsaken hour in the morning! We girls will most likely still be in our nighties, munching toast and watching Phineas and Ferb.

Been doing the usual Saturday hanging around and errands today but forgot to get some flowers. I realised that there is no use in dropping hints about how nice it is to receive flowers anytime since they are only ever forthcoming on birthdays or other special occasions. I just have to buy them myself. I look forward to picking out something lovely to look at for the next week or so. A bit of colour to brighten up drab winter mornings when I am eating my breakfast. Only I forgot today because I got sidetracked by buying cards. Doh!  Last weeks roses are just about hanging on but are looking a bit faded now. I might get another couple of days out of them and then I'll be bloomless until the weekend. But it is my birthday this week so maybe I'll be gifted some....
Pink roses looking more like Miss Haversham than Estelle at the moment

Friday, 23 November 2012


It's Friday. 'nuff said.

Got beer, got knitting, gonna chillax!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Spoiled Rotten!

It's been hideously rainy today. Flood alerts are rising in number all the time. The roads are full of water and spray and it's never really got light all day. Not an altogether great start to the day really. I was anticipating another soaking due to lack of parking spots but was pleasantly surprised to find myself spoilt for choice with at least 3 decent spots up for grabs. I waltzed into work with a spring in my step almost completely dry. Much better than yesterday.

Had an averagely ok day at work and left early as we had stuff to do tonight. I also received a text message to let me know that a parcel was ready to be collected. Very exciting. It was a parcel I was very much looking forward to as it was coming from a fellow knitter as part of the UK Sock Knitters Secret Santa swap. It would definitely contain knitterly pleasure - of that I was certain.

My swap partner had used a courier service that delivers your parcel to a local shop so that you are able to pick it up at much more convenient times, such as evenings and weekends. I thought that was a great idea and will definitely consider it next time I send a parcel anywhere. You get notified by text when it's sent, when it arrives and when it is collected. Brill!

I rolled up at my local shop and asked for my parcel. It wasn't there. In fact, the man claimed that nothing at all had been delivered that day. I was disbelieving. I showed him the text. It was delivered at precisely 12.16 that day. Where was it? Was he sure it wasn't hidden from view somewhere? I was getting a bit cross and a bit upset and a bit stampy-foot-y about it all. Then I looked again and said that I was not impressed with this so called "Top Shop" one little bit.  He told me that I wasn't in the "Top Shop" at all. Oops. Silly me. I apologised profusely and left the shop with my tail between my legs. Off I went to the right shop where my parcel was indeed waiting for me. The system works brilliantly if you pay attention to the actual address and don't assume you "just know" which shop it is.

The lady in the "Top Shop" got out a box of photocopier paper. I looked at her blankly. Then I realised that this was my parcel. Blimey! I was expecting a shoebox or a jiffy bag. This was much bigger and quite heavy too.
My swap parcel - wow!
Once home I cleared the table and with the willing help of my two "assistants" got the lid off for a first peek.
First peek
Straight away it was apparent that there hadn't been a mix up and it wasn't photocopier paper, it was indeed beautifully wrapped goodies. And such a lot of goodies. Honestly, they just kept coming. It was all descending into chaos and little hands had to be swished away to prevent them from getting carried away and opening anything
Hands off!
What a haul of goodies. 
There are a few things for the girls in there too which they are really excited about opening but we have agreed to wait until December.  There are a couple of advent candles in there which the girls claim are Babylon Candles.  (Babylon candles crop up in the film Stardust which we all love and are used to teleport between distant locations).
Definitely "Babylon Candles"
I am pleased to tell you that I have been strong and not yet opened a thing. There has been a great deal of squidging and feeling of the little packages but I will try and hold out as long as possible to open them all. Ideally I should wait until Christmas Day although I think I might just be a bit too weak to manage that. I'll do my best.

While we were out and about we visited a few shops that were open late and my lovely husband bought me a new winter coat for my birthday. It's so toasty and cosy. Very chuffed. Then we went to have a look around the Range for a few bits and bobs and I got a new tablecloth. It's not cloth, it's actually PVC but looks like oilcloth. Very reasonable at £3.50 per metre.  I fell in love with this retro diner design. It certainly lights the place up and makes me smile every time I look at it.
Jolly new table cloth

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

In a bit of a mood

I don't know what it is.  Maybe it's the time of year, or the dark mornings and evenings, or the miserable weather, but the whole world just seems to be in a bit of a mood today.

Take this morning.  Had to get Big Girl to school early as her class were on a trip and the coach was setting off at 8.30.  All started well but soon descended into chaos.  Got to school on time and that bit was ok.  Had to hang around in the car for half an hour with Little Girl though as it was chucking it down with rain which was a bit boring but not enough to put me in a bad mood or anything.

However, on departing from school hit lots and lots and lots of traffic.  it just wasn't moving.  Earlier good mood began to erode.  It was unavoidable.  An accident on the motorway.  Nothing I could do about it.  I managed to talk myself into a stoical acceptance of the situation.  The traffic began to move again and all was beginning to improve.

I was running a little bit late so the prospect of a parking spot at work wasn't looking up to much. Began to get a bit grumpy in anticipation and I wasn't disappointed. There were no free spots. Not even the spot under the tree with the bird with loose bowels, or the "buddy" spots were left.  Drove round and round and round to no avail. There was no mistake, a free parking spot was just not to be found. Then, hallelujah, a figure walked up to a car and got in. It looked like there might be a spot after all. I shot round the car park again and hovered, hopefully, near the potential spot. All might be well after all. Then the woman put her coffee on her dashboard and proceeded to make a call on her mobile phone carefully managing not to make eye contact with me. I hung on for a bit.  She put the phone away.  This is it, she's definitely going. NO! She sat there sipping away on her damn coffee not looking at me. I had to admit defeat and drive away, only the torrential rain stopping me from getting out and pounding on her bonnet. In the end, had to park on another car park some distance away. Arrived at work half an hour later than I intended and rather soggy only to see that that bloody woman had since driven off to leave a gloriously empty space. Oh how I cursed her!

The day passed rather well despite all of this and I was in a much better mood on the way home. It turns out I am not alone. Himself had a grumpy demeanour and lots of grumblings about his day. I escaped to stitch and bitch where to find yet more grumpiness which almost turned into fisticuffs!

There must be something in the air today.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

These go to eleven....'s one louder.

I am having a well deserved five minutes peace. It's been a long, day and finished off with manic children on a high after getting stuck into a frenetic samba session at the music centre. They are so full of joy and life but incredibly loud. As they get more and more animated, it just gets louder and louder. I think I may need to get some ear plugs! Oh, to have just a teeny, tiny bit of their energy and get up and go. All I want to do right now, is flop on the sofa and veg out!

Ripped back cowl is almost reknitted so I am hopeful of finishing that off tonight. Piccies at the weekend. I want to make some little crochet christmas socks as seen on the Le Monde de Sucrette blog. I'm aiming to make 24 of them to form a kind of advent calendar for the girls. I'll get a bunch of sweeties and tiny treats to put in them as a change from the usual chocolate calendar they get. They are really quick to do and an excellent way of using up all those bits and bobs of leftover yarn that I seem to be incapable of throwing away. Honestly, it's stashed all over the house in a range of tote bags.

Lots of events are beginning to stack up before we all break up for Christmas. A few concerts for the girls, christmas shopping and lots of other last minute bits and pieces I'm sure. The Christmas tree will be dragged out and put up again soon. I am following Father Christmas on twitter for the girls (they are enjoying seeing what he is up to) and I saw the first illuminated house of the season on my way home. It seems that even the immense hikes in the price of electricity can't keep the Christmas spirit down for some folks!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Rip it up and start again

A perennial problem has happened again. I finished something, stepped back to admire my work and spotted a mistake. Not a massive mistake but a mistake none the less.  The more I looked at it, the more it mocked me with it's ever so slight wrongness until I couldn't bear it any longer.... And ripped back.

This is something that totally baffles anyone who is not a knitter I think.  The mistake was imperceptible to most mere mortals but the cable was wrong, wrong, wrong and the more I looked at it the more it annoyed me with its brash mistakenness.  It had to go.

So here I am reknitting it and making sure that I mark off each and every row so that it will form correctly.  Now that the decision has been made and I have restarted, calm and peace has been restored. I am once more zen like and mistress of my knitting. The universe is unfolding as it should and all is well.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Sunday Afternoon

The weather today was a bit changeable and the ground is still really soggy and saturated from the super wet summer we had so a walk around our local greenway seemed like the best option for a stroll about. Off we set and Littlest girl brought along her iPod to take pics and make little videos. This meant fairly slow progress at times but what the hey, we had nothing to rush around for.
Setting off up the main road
After a quick blip up the main road you are out of the town and walking in the countryside. It's great and means that you don't have to go all that far just to get away from it all for a while. We carried on and turned off onto the Padiham Greenway. The old railway bridges have all had a new coat of paint recently and are looking very smart indeed. They were somewhat rusty and neglected before.
Heading towards the smartly painted bridge
We are coming to the end of autumn now and winter is starting to cool things down. There are still little pockets of glorious colour to be had. I especially love the reds that zing out at this time of year.
These red berries really lit up a dark little corner of dead and dying foliage
Love the drop of water just about to fall from this rose hip
Other than the odd bunch of berries, everything is looking decidedly bare and wintry along the greenway.
Winter is almost here
Leaves all gone now
Back up through the park. Passed lots of people walking their dogs and Sallydog had a good old grump at some of them. You know I am sure that she really doesn't think she is a dog so gets most offended when she is approached by any other dogs! What a little madam.

Lots of noise was coming from the cemetery that is right next to the park so we decided to investigate.  It was the Community Payback people. They were in the graveyard strimming, cutting back and gathering up fallen leaves.  Community payback is the new name for community service, so these workers were people who have committed a crime and have been sentenced to work on community projects as a way of paying back society for their crime. They are all wearing high-vis jackets with community payback emblazoned on the back. I spoke to the men that I passed and congratulated them on a job well done. I don't know if they were offenders or supervisors but they were genuinely doing a good job.  It is making a huge difference to a sadly neglected and unmaintained cemetery.
Community Payback van
My favourite picture of the day.  Looks like a ghost is tidying up!

Ta Da ~ Finished Objects

It's a rainbow kind of day today.  One moment we are having intense, glorious sunshine and then sudden downpours a minute later.  You are most definitely taking your life, and your knitting, in the hands of the weather if you are trying to take some pics!

Luckily, I did manage to avoid any misadventures with the precipitation, so here I present to you the fruits of my labours this week.

Sweetheart Dress by Tora Froseth
Little Sweetheart dress finally cast off and buttons attached.  It's super cute but I had to abandon adding more hearts to the hem as I kept cocking it up and having to rip back.  In the end I think that the plain garter stitch is just as pretty.

Boys sweater from "Cosy Haylofter Knits" by Sirdar
I cannot tell you how pleased I am with the little sweater.  Oh how I cursed all the moss stitch on the bodice and sleeves.  It just seemed to go on and on and on and on and on and on......
Lots and lots of Moss Stitch
...but, now that it's all finished and sewn up, I like it a lot.  Not sure I would knit another one though.  I would probably pick something a little plainer.  The cable and rib section was a doddle in comparison.

I also enjoyed the collar on this sweater.  It's picked up from the cast off edges and knitted in ribbing to be quite long.  It's then folded over and sewn down before picking up the horizontal edges for the buttons.  Looks great I think.

Finally the super quick, almost supersonic, Poodle scarves.  Poodle is a new scarf yarn from Stylecraft. One ball makes one scarf and there are only 3 stitches per row. Mega easy and really speedy.  Ideal for last minute gifts (or school Christmas fairs).  I've made 2 of them.
"Poodle" scarf - in pewter colourway
"Poodle" scarf - in lavender colourway
Still knitting mittens and socks but hope to finish them this week.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Productive day

The school Christmas fair is fast approaching. Donations of items must be made and, even though it's not as if we don't know it's coming, each year I find myself knitting like a madwoman to get something together. Not this year though, oh no! I have got my act together, swalloweed my knitters pride and knocked up a couple of novelty yarn scarves. And, dear reader, I have to admit that I rather like them and am almost loathe to part with them. I think they will fly off the stalls. Colour themed stalls I might add. Black/white for Little Girl's class and purple/silver for Big Girl's class.  They are simply perfect.

Knitted in a funky loopy yarn by stylecraft called "Poodle". I knitted them both in about 2 hours. Great stuff and now I am feeling pretty organised, supermum-ish and smug about it. Just need to get some choccies for the chocolate tombola and I am done and dusted. If only my own Christmas preparations were anything like as organised. I have done absolutely nothing yet. Nothing! Ab-so-lute-ly NOTHING! Closes eyes, clenches fists and only a supreme effort is stopping me from running around the house foaming at the mouth and banging into walls with panic!

I feel the need for a calming image so here is something that does exactly that. Just in case you ever wondered what dollies get up to when you are not looking.....
Hidden camera footage reveals dollies taking five whilst everyone's back is turned!

Friday, 16 November 2012

You know you knit too much when...

  • You start looking through bags and find almost completed projects that you made for your kids that are now at least 2 years sizes too small.
  • You find yarn you have absolutely no recollection of ever buying
  • You find little nuggets of yarn you don't even like that much but thought you might use somehow
  • You find yarn you have bought more of because you forgot you ever had it in the first place
  • You find 8 pairs of 4mm knitting needles
  • You find every bit of free yarn that you ever got with a magazine even though you don't have the magazine any more
As you have probably guessed I've been having a bit of a tidy up.  I am quite astonished at what I have got.  I'm beginning to think that I might have a bit of a problem!!!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Feeling Proud

Littlest girl made her debut as a concert pianist tonight.  She's been taking piano lessons for a few months now and the music school had a pupils concert.  She was the first performer to take the stage and played on a grand piano for the first time.  I was so proud of her.  She played her piece perfectly and the smile on her face when she finished and everyone clapped was priceless.  I almost burst with pride!  It's a really big deal to perform in front of other people on an unfamiliar instrument when you are  one of the youngest ones there.  She was chuffed to bits with herself and rightly so.

I still have no voice and am having to whisper most of the time which is a bit of a pain.  Hope to be vocally restored over the next day or so.

Finally cast off Sweetheart dress.  Just the mittens to go and I'll be all caught up with my knitting (well nearly, there's always something on the go)

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Bit under the weather

Lost my voice today.  Bit of a bummer when you are delivering some training!  Got croakier and croakier as the day went on.  I think some kind of lurgy is trying to take a hold. Feeling weary and sorry for myself. Off for a lie down.

On a positive note.  I did manage to sew up the never ending moss stitch sweater and add the buttons too.  It looks great an I am so pleased with it and myself.  Pictures to follow at the weekend.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Washing day

On my way to pick up the girls from Music Centre tonight I heard Accentuate the Positive on the radio.   Bit of a coincidence when I quoted from it in yesterday's post.  Tuesday is one of those hanging around waiting for stuff to finish/happen kind of days like Saturday, so I'm always glad of the radio while I am to-ing and fro-ing.  As a bit of a treat I am now sitting at the computer listening to the Jamie Cullum show.  The girls are back, changed into pjs and enjoying supper elsewhere in the house. A bit of a chill time.

When I finish this I shall get my headphones on and listen on the iPlayer while I do a bit of ironing.  Makes a dull job pass much more pleasantly and I look respectable at work to boot!   Blimey, don't I sound like a domestic goddess?  I'm not really, the ironing needs doing because I have nothing decent left to wear - it's always in the wash. On the laundry front, I accidentally washed a memory stick in the pocket of Nick's pants. Oops!  Happily, I am relieved to inform you that it still works.  Isn't technology marvellous!

Knitting update - weelllll my dears, I still haven't quite finished one or two things.  So nothing new then, I hear you cry, and you would be absolutely right.  I have got four main outstanding items and am hopeful of finishing and taking some pics at the weekend.  The cowl I just cast on is really fast as it is knitted in Wendy Pampas which is a super bulky yarn. I'm using 12mm needles which after finishing some socks feels like I'm knitting with a pair of oars!  It is super fast to do though and is almost done.  Got three simply gorgeous oval, wooden buttons to finish it off.  They cost more than the yarn but we'll just gloss over that factoid I think.  The little dress is almost finished and I got a cute pair of pink leggings to go with it (just in case it's too short, the leggings will be great if it's more tunic length!) and the boy sweater with the never-ending moss stitch is about 2 cm short of a finished collar.  Will just have the seams to complete and I'll be ready to send the off to their new homes.  Not sure about the cowl.  It was intended to be a christmas gift but I'm quite sure that the person I was going to give it to will almost certainly never wear it and it will be a total waste of fabulous (and expensive) buttons! Maybe I will just keep it for myself and give her some chocolates or something instead!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Accentuate the positive

You've got accentuate the positive
Eliminate the negative
Latch onto the affirmative
Don't mess with Mr Inbetween

So I was going to post a highly self indulgent missive full of woe and angst.  I was going to bemoan the people in this world who have slighted me, denied me and just been downright mean to me.  But then I thought what would the point of that be?  What would it achieve, and would I look back on this post in the future and feel proud of what I wrote?

There is an indubitable truth in the saying, "you can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family", however, this doesn't mean that you have to like them particularly.  I am a bit of an oddity.  I am an only child of two only children so there has never been any sibling rivalries, squabbles or jealousies to contend with.  Growing up, I did sometimes wish for a brother or sister and felt a bit envious of friends with larger families.  I thought maybe I was missing out on something.

Having 2 girls has broken the "only" pattern.  It's been a real learning curve for me.  Sibling rivalry rears it's ugly head pretty early on and is a massively shocking thing to a singleton like me.  It ranges from the petty, "she's got more sweeties/biscuits/icecream/ etc. than me",  to heartbreaking accusations of parental preferences,"you're always telling me off and not her - you love her more than me".  It's a real eye-opener.

Also, there have been some "issues" at large in the wider family.  It's all been a bit unpleasant and quite upsetting. I feel pretty miserable about it all because I am the one that set it all in motion. Just one little comment misconstrued has blown up and taken on a whole new life and direction.  So much so, that sadly, it would seem that my apology isn't enough.   There's been no acknowledgement of it at the time, or for the following apology some time later.  This is difficult to deal with.  Surely an apology should be acknowledged even if it's to decline to accept it.

Now it's all very awkward.  Other people in the family seem to know all about it and it hasn't come from us. It's verging onto farcical at times.... oh my god, look who's here, for crying out loud don't say a word! So no one mentions it and important information is now found out via social media.  Round robin announcements deliberately miss us out.  Seriously, it's school ground behaviour really and yet there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.

Oops, I said I wasn't going to whine and moan and that's exactly what I am doing.  Enough.  I am done worrying about it and going over it all.  It isn't going to help.  I will simply let it all go. There aren't really any positives so I will have to move onto the second line of the song and eliminate the negative.  I will just get on with life.  My little branch is now a cutting and is taking root all on it's own free from the dead wood that was beginning to drag it down.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Charity Hat How To

I've made four hats so far and a fifth one is currently on the needles. Some gorgeous Knit Pro fancy wood DPNs that I treated myself to recently. Lovely to handle and hold and sooooo purty!

Anyhoo, onto the hats. I got a few balls of King Cole Merino blend yarn from the prints range. It's a 100% wool yarn and is self patterning. You can get a hat out of one ball with just a few yards left over so it's been ideal. The first hat (dark blue one) that I made, I cast on 96 stitches and it came out a bit on the small side. After that I decided to use 104 stitches instead and they came out a much better size
Cute hats for Operation Christmas Child
The hats are knitted in the round so no need to sew any seams. I used DK weight yarn and 4mm double pointed needles. If you want to make some here's what I did.

Cast on 104 stitches

Ribbing   K2P2 rib for 14 rows.  (To make it look a bit nicer I knitted through the back leg in the ribbing section so if you want to do the same it would be K2tblP2 rib)

Main body of the hat 
28 rounds stocking stitch

K6 K2tog around
K5 K2tog around
K4 K2tog around
K3 K2tog around
K2 K2tog around
K1 K2tog around
K2tog around

Cut yarn, thread through remaining stitches, pull tight to close the hole and darn in ends.

Should you decide to make hats smaller or larger you will need to decrease or increase the cast on by 8 stitches.  You could embellish the hat if the fancy takes you.  You might add a pom pop or make it a stripey hat.  It's up to you really.


Friday, 9 November 2012

Friday Night

Well I've finished off my third Shoebox hat and have just cast on the fourth one.   It's a bit addictive.  I might get a couple more done before the weekend is over.  The fact that I can predict this to be the case surely indicates my typical weekend.

No partying or painting the town red for me these days.  I will be catching up with washing and ironing, doing a "big shop", hanging around for a largish portion of Saturday waiting for girls to take part in various activities and that's about it.  Him indoors is working this weekend so won't be able to nip out for a bike ride or anything either.  It's an indoors and chilling type of weekend I reckon.  Knitting will therefore slot nicely into all the waiting around and finishing off of chores.

Weather permitting, us girls will probably nip out for a walk around and about.  I may be able to get some nice photos if it doesn't rain too much.  Maybe we will nip to Clitheroe for a wander around the lovely shops and stop for a coffee ( for me - big creamy hot chocolate with all the trimmings for the girlies).  That sounds rather civilised to me.  I quite fancy a trawl around the charity shops - you can often get really decent things there.  There's also 2 wool shops, a fabric shop and the fabulous Exchange Coffee. I need to nip in to pick up some bits and bobs for a swap I'm taking part in.  I think there may also be a Food and Craft fair in the area this weekend too.

Tonight we have got a funny film lined up to watch and some beer so it's not all work and no play for us here and the weekend is looking like it's going to be a decent one.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Hats, hats, hats

Okay, this is a short post. I feel I have to honour my NaBloPoMo commitment and post something today.

I am currently in the throws of a hat knitting frenzy.  I've just finished hat number two and intend to knit a couple more in time for Monday.  I might manage a few more if I find enough spare yarn.  This is for the shoeboxes that we are putting together at work.

Off now to cast on hat number three!

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

I'm just a girl who can't say no

It's coming up to Christmas and the lovely people where I work are once again getting lots of bits and bobs together to fill shoeboxes for Operation Christmas Child as they do every year.  I got collared in the corridor and shamed into volunteering to knit some items.  I did manage to talk them out of scarves and have agreed to make some hats instead.  I really don't think people realise just how long it takes to make just a plain scarf (no pun intended there honestly!)

I also have a knitted dress and sweater awaiting finishing off, a pair of mittens, a dolly waiting to be sewn up and stuffed, the second legwarmer of a pair, some socks for Nick, and I still keep wanting to start more things.....

And then there is the notion all us knitters have that we can knit presents for all our nearest and dearest for Christmas.  How daft are we?  When I was teaching myself how to use Microsoft Project, I decided to create a Christmas knitting project.  I dutifully worked out roughly how long it took to knit various objects, how much spare time I had, who I wanted to knit for and had a deadline of the day before the last posting day for Christmas delivery.  This was done round about the middle of October.  On completing all the necessary data entry it turned out that it was only possible to complete everything if I started knitting at the beginning of February!  Despite this, I still find myself at a very late point in the year thinking that this is something I can achieve!  When will I learn?

It is the eternal curse of the knitter.

From now on, if anyone asks me if I knit, I will stick my fingers in my ears and go la la la at the top of my voice until they go away.  Once more I am resolving to finish something before starting anything new.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Who could hang a name on you

Word cloud created on Wordle

It's Tuesday.  I'm not good at Tuesdays. Tuesday is not the beginning of the week, for which I am usually ready. Nor is Tuesday yet halfway through the week. Tuesday is most definitely not the joyous approach of the end of the week. Poor Tuesday, it's a nowhere day.  It's a tough day. Maybe it should be renamed Toughday.  I seem to spend an inordinate amount of time hanging around on Tuesdays waiting for stuff to happen.  In fact, I am beginning to dislike Tuesday so much that I almost feel sorry for it.

Today's Tuesday is a real damp squib of a day.  It's a wet, dreary and gloomy kind of day.  Not a day to fill me with enthusiasm and vigour in the least.  So I got to thinking about how to describe it and ended up losing a rather pleasant half an hour absorbed in thesaurus and dictionary. This let to the lovely word cloud above which I feel is a pretty positive way of portraying an otherwise rather mood flattening kind of day!  If you fancy having a go then check out Wordle.  It's quite addictive!  

Monday, 5 November 2012

5th November

Lots happening today.  It is, of course, Bonfire Night.  There are still plenty of fireworks about but I reckon most people celebrated on Saturday.

It's the presidential elections in America.  Barrack Obama is campaigning for a second term.  It seems such a different feeling then the last election with all the economic gloom and recession that has hit us all. What was hailed as an inspiring, optimistic, historic and important result may not be repeated this time. Or it may. It's a close call.

Over here in the UK, I am simply watching it all unfold.  I'm a bit fed up of all the news programs over here asking people how disappointed they are in Obama rather than looking at what has been achieved. It's just so negative and typical of the current journalistic trend here in the UK. I don't much care for that kind of reporting although, sadly, it does seem to be the norm these days.  I don't really know anything about Mitt Romney.  He does have a silly name though.  

It's a sad state of affairs that here in Lancashire we know more about the USA presidential candidates than we do about the nominees for the upcoming local police commissioner election.  I haven't had a jot of information about who the candidates are or what they are proposing.  To be honest, I don't really see the point of all the expense of setting up a police commissioner.  Isn't the Chief Constable supposed to deal with all that kind of stuff.  Complete waste of time and public money.

Half term is over and it was my first day back at work after a nice lazy week off.  It was also my first drive home in the dark.  The clocks changed during the holidays so it was a bit of a shock to the system to be driving home in the dark again.  I really don't like it.  For some reason, the dark nights seem to encourage some extraordinary examples of complete and utter driving muppetry.  I have been cut up, tailgated, dazzled by wrongly adjusted headlights and that was before I even got a mile down the road. Drove past 2 accidents as well. I was grateful to get home.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

To make you smile

Have you ever seen a place name and a public building so well suited?

These boots are made for walking

Walking on a bronze carpet
The weather is rather mixed up at the moment.  It has snowed in places and over the weekend we were treated to some hefty hail downpours at times.  However, despite all of the dire forecasts, today decided to defy them all and we were presented with the perfect autumn day.  Sunshiny and chilly.  Simply gorgeous so what else was there to do?  We wrapped up, got our boots on and headed out and about.

First stop was the delightful Grove Plantation just across town from us.  It's hard to believe that there was lots of industry in the area at one time.  Mostly mining.  There is just the odd remnant of the pits that used to operate.
Grove Plantation with colourful autumnal leaf carpet
There is a little path with some wood sculptures and poetry on the rails here too.  The girls just had to pose next to the Green Woman.  Can you tell which is which?

It's quite a popular spot and we passed lots of people out for a walk like us.  With and without canine companions, cyclists on the road alongside, people putting seed out for the birds and some people out for a ride who just happened to take the same turnoff as us.
Letting the horses pass
We carried on up the hill and around the farm at the top of the hill.  Just marvelling at the fact that we live so close to some beautiful countryside.  We are pretty lucky to live where we live really.  There are lots of "nicer", or more upmarket, places I am sure, but we are just so well placed to get to anywhere else.  Three National Parks are within 90 mins drive from us, and just a few minutes walking or cycling takes you into a rural setting.  It's great.

After a short walk down the bypass we veered off again into another little wood with a brilliant name.  Fiery Wood.  I love the name of it.  It sounds like a location in a Harry Potter novel or something.  It's a bit more sheltered than Grove Plantation and is not yet as autumnal.  Still lovely though.

Fiery Wood
Other news for the day.  We bought the first lot of coal for this winter and lit the fire.  Oh my we are sooooo toasty now!

Saturday, 3 November 2012

You just gotta ignite the light

Bonfire Night is on Monday, strictly speaking, but most "official" bonfires are happening tonight. Sadly, there is no fire at Clitheroe Castle this year owing to some disagreement between the local council and the organisers. Its being blamed on over-zealous 'elf and safety'. So this meant we had to seek out an alternative.

Just up the road in Higham was the venue. Gosh it was a chilly evening. We got there just before they lit the fire and had to hang around for over an hour for the fireworks. It was also a bit of a quagmire as well - ended up ankle deep in mud at one point. Fortunately, there was a children's play area with a decent surface so we hung out there most of the time.

Highlight of the fireworks was the one that sent down lots of little parachutes which all the kids went mad to try and catch. Unusual!

Back home smelling like a bunch of kippers and straight into a lovely hot bath!
Firework display at Higham
Girls enjoying watching the fireworks with a friend
The bonfire - bit of a blurry shot but I quite like it!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Made me giggle

I pass this sign a lot as it is on the route we take to the shops in Padiham.  It's not meant to be funny but I like the idea it gives me of a play area just for old people!

On the needles

Just a quick update really

Decided to make a little sweater for a cute little boy in the family.  Got all inspired and decided to knit a cable and moss stitch affair for him.  Didn't really think this one through.  Moss stitch is the devil's own stitch pattern and takes years to knit!  Also has the really annoying effect of making me unable to count to 2.  Seriously.  It is also an unwritten law that mistakes in the pattern are only spotted immediately before you are about to joyously cast off, where upon much grumbling and pulling back ensues.
Back of sweater - if you spot any mistakes - I don't want to know!  It's too late now
Anyhow, I have completed one back and one front.  Just cursing and muttering my way through the sleeves which apart from 8 rows of ribbing at the cuff are entirely in moss stitch.  What was I thinking? At least it's only an age 4-5 size and not for a great big hulking chap.  I should be grateful for small mercies really.
So pretty but so time consuming to knit!

Out on the wiley, windy moors

Ah yes the hauntingly shrill vocals of Kate Bush.  It's been a favourite in the car lately so after detailed and lengthy discussion of the meaning and origins of the song it was decided to take a trip to Haworth to visit the Bronte Parsonage and find out more. It seemed a perfect trip for a dismal half term day out.

The Bronte Parsonage
It was wiley and windy too.  Stupidly we hadn't checked the opening times before we left and find that nothing much is open at all until around 11 0'clock.  This meant almost an hour of wandering up and down the deserted main street like a bedraggled trio of Cathys wailing about being so cold and could someone let us in please!

Main street in the Bronte Village. NOTHING open!
Our trip was the day before Halloween so the only thing to do while we were wandering up and down aimlessly was to admire all the seasonal decorations around the place.  We were pretty impressed.
Shop shut (grr!) Halloween decs spooky (argh!)

Amusing sign outside shut shop!
When it was finally time to head back up to the museum we decided to head past the church and graveyard en route.  We were in a spooky and gothic mood after all that wandering round desperately trying to get into places!!

Dark and sinister looking church tower.  The weather was turning a bit and it was wet and cold now.
Wonderfully atmospheric and spooky graveyard
Hooray! The museum finally opened and inside we went.  Warmth and interesting stuff to find out about.  It's quite a homey place and we all felt like we could definitely live there.  We really liked looking at all the papers, sketches and writings of the Brontes.  Particular favourites were the incredible tiny books filled with tiny writing.  All the stories and such that they wrote together as children.  Really dinky!

Amazingly, after leaving the museum it seemed that life had returned and a few places were now open. had some lunch at the  Stirrup cafe and then a look around some of the shops before heading home over those wuthering heights back to Lancashire and home.

A fun day out.  Will go in the afternoon next time though!