Friday, June 29, 2007

Bump's Blanket

You may have noticed the shortage of knitting-related posts in the last few weeks. Well this is the reason. I've been working my little socks off trying to get this finished for Kathryn, who left today to start her maternity leave. Way back in April (remember how hot it was back then and no rain?) I had this wonderful idea to get everyone on the staff in school to knit a square, then I'd sew them together and a lovely blanket would be the result. I still think it was a wonderful idea, and I really love the finished result, but the bit in between has been a nightmare!

I never anticipated the hugely different tensions, or the inability to knit until piece measured 4". I've had 'squares' that were 5" wide, and some were 3". Some were a mere 3" tall and others were 6". One poor lady didn't dare own up to an inability to knit - she started with 25 stitches, and before long had 48 stitches! The Deputy Head had a blister after just 3 rows!

It has involved some serious jiggling about to get it looking like this! Then the border... oh that border went on forever! But it was so worth it. Kathryn loved it, Bump tried it on, and we all said farewell to our Knitting Club Leader.

Things will not be the same without you Kathryn. How will I manage to get C to finish a row, G to loosen her tension, A to stop tormenting her sister, B to calm down; will H ever return to finish his monkey, who will be the next victim to be tied up with finger knitting....? Am I going to go loopy? Er, loopier?

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Flower Festival

Mum and Dad came over to visit me today. Now I know lots of you may think that your own parents are the best, but sorry, you're all wrong. My mum and dad are definitely the best you can get. I returned from work at lunch time to find all the ironing done, the hoovering done (even the stairs!) the cleaning and polishing done and best of all, lunch waiting for me on the table! Now how fantastic is that eh?!

Their Church has just had its Flower Festival where lots of ladies make an arrangement based on a common theme. And this amazing piece of work is my mum's. She's never been trained in flower arranging, but has just picked it up over the years. I wish I had been able to see it in person (dad took the photo), because it looks pretty impressive to me even on this teeny weeny scale. The flowers are beautiful but for me the best bit of this is the crisp white cloth. The edging you see has been crocheted - I will try and get a close up of it one day. But for now you'll just have to admire it from a distance. It was bought from an antiques fair a while ago - neither of us know how to use the Dreaded Hook Thing.

Oh and incase you saw their house up for sale a fortnight ago here on this blog, well you're too late to buy! They accepted an offer today, have placed an offer on another house and have got the removal firm coming in next week to give them a quote. Not hanging around are they?!

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Many thanks for all your comments and encouragement. I frogged yet again last night, gave myself some serious talking to and look what happened! Yippee! I'm knitting lace!!!! And like you've said Dee, it is proving to be a bit addictive. But that's probably because the rows are so short at the moment. Aren't the colours gorgeous? It will go with practically everything in my wardrobe when it's all grown up.

Now I spent so long on this infernal machine yesterday that I got practically nothing done on The Cake. So I'm off now to see if I can at least get a few tins lined before tea time. Both children have got friends round for tea, so it's already very noisy.

Monday, June 25, 2007

From bad to worse...

Ooh, what have I done now? The picture's gone all small. I've pressed the wrong button somewhere again. Not for the first time do I wish I understood this machine a bit better!

And look here, I've got double spaces again. How? Why?

So Dee wants me to make a shawl with the yarn she sent, and we have opted for Forest Canopy. This is my first big venture into lace and so far I'm not impressed! This pathetically small sample is the result of a whole evening's knitting - it is attempt number 3, or was it 4? And even this one had to be frogged. I have made so many mistakes I'm feeling pretty useless. I think I need mindless knitting, not this complicated yarn over type. Give me fair isle or intarsia any day! But I will not be beaten. I will work this out. I will. I will. I will. I won't. (Said in my best Mrs Doyle accent.)

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Pink Packages

Sitting in school today, eating my lunch in the staff room, the secretary gave me a message that a Pink Package was waiting for me in her office. Now as many of you will know, Pink Packages can only mean one thing. Posh Yarn. I have never moved so fast in my life. I doubt Lynford Christie ever moved that fast. And look what was waiting for me. This was a present from Dee as a thank-you for a couple of cakes I made for her. Very simple, unexciting cakes but gluten free as the poor woman can't tolerate the stuff. I have definitely come out the winner here! Gorgeous and beautiful, soft wonderful Lucia. I am in love!

If anyone else out there is gluten-intolerant, let me know and I'll give you a recipe. The secret is in the mixture of flours! Now does anyone out there know the secret of making 24 hours last for 36?

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Return of a friend

Remember the frogs? Well my children have assured me that this is Dang who has come back to say hello. They 'found' him whilst hunting for a tennis ball a few minutes ago. Which no doubt means that they have squashed loads of plants, uprooted some others, trodden on any bits of exposed soil, knocked lots of plums off the trees, got their trainers covered in mud (needed for school PE lesson tomorrow), lost yet another ball and created general havoc in the previous tidy garden.
I am a firm believer that you're told all the wrong information at ante-natal classes. They stop at the bit where you hold a clean, pretty, gift-wrapped baby in your arms (which incidentally is a lie) following an easy painless labour (ha, another one!). They tell you nothing about the tantrums of a 2-year old; the years of sleep deprivation; the wee, poo and sick which regularly ends up on the carpet; the attitude of a 6-year old and how bad it can get at 12 (tell me it doesn't get any worse?!). And the frogs. They never once mentioned frogs to me, let alone tadpoles hiding in the cupboard. Why not? They never ever told me that my garden would be wrecked by constant attacks with a football, tennis ball, basket ball, cricket ball, rugby ball, any sort of ball. They certainly never mentioned the huge increase in washing, cooking or cleaning.
There is so much you never get to find out until it is way too late to send them back!
Arghh! Children. Love them!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


Thank-you, oh Powers That Be - the weather was perfect for our class trip today! We went to Welney - an area of wetland. We did lots of different things, exploring using our senses and finding nice places for little ducks to live. All very sweet, and just right for our class of 4 - 5 year olds. I just wanted to stay in one of the hides though and look around for all the different birds. One of the children even saw a Penguin, very rare in the wild in this particular part of the country. Very rare indeed!

I loved the room where we had our lunch. It was decorated as if you were in a pond, as in at the bottom of the pond. This newly hatched dragon fly was just above my head - the picture doesn't do him justice, as he was actually about 3 foot long. There were frogs on the walls as well as snails, fish and frogspawn hanging from the ceiling. There was even a huge (and I mean really Huge) heron's head coming out from one of the walls, eating a fish.

Now you know those blogger surveys you can get, has anybody done the 'what yarn are you' one? I'd be interested to hear what you are. Both Dee and I are apparently dishcloth cotton. How wrong can that be?! I'll try and find a link, but don't any of you hold out any hope for it working... sorry, can't do it! But go to Sharon's blog and it's there on the side.

Monday, June 18, 2007

More Cashmere

Mum and dad came over yesterday (it was Father's Day so I did lunch - roast pork with all the bits and chocolate mousse, creme caramel and fruit salad for pudding). But it was a sad day. I had to say farewell to the shawl. Mum loved it even more in real life so it looks like it has gone to its new home for good.

But my wonderful mum volunteered to knit one for me too and just look what I found lurking in the Stash Basket. More of Kerrie's cashmere (all say Happy Birthday to Kerrie). Yippee!! I bought this well over a year ago to knit a gansey with. I've started the gansey, but it's so complicated and the pattern just doesn't show up with this variegated yarn so I've given up. I've never had the heart to frog it though - maybe that will be tonight's project - ooh, do you want to see it before I do? OK, hang on while I get it ...

So there it is, you can't see the cables let alone all the complicated stitch patterns, so I feel it has to be frogged. There's so much there might even be enough for a pair of socks one day too, unless mum wants to make a mega-huge shawl. Or maybe even 2 shawls. Any other ideas?

Oh and when I said I like summer rain, I really didn't mean all the time, so please can you make it stop now. Pretty please? Especially for tomorrow as we have our class trip. Thank-you.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Being English...

Would you just look at this sky - taken yesterday afternoon. Blimey o'Reilly, there was some rain that came down from this cloud. We were OK but some parts of the country had flooding. We are very low-lying here in the Fens, but thanks to a clever Dutch man a few hundred years ago the dikes take care of a lot of the water. We have had so much rain in May and June and not a drop was shed in April.

Regarding weather, I am very English. When it's hot, I want it to be cold so I can wear my thick woolly jumpers, and when it's cold, I want it to be hot so I can wear a t-shirt. It is rarely ever right. At 41, I am already a grumpy old woman!

But I love rain in the summer. I love splashing in puddles, with or without wellies. I love walking in the rain with a brolly, listening to the drops on the tight fabric. I love watching the streams of water coursing down the road, pouring down the drainpipes, cleaning the dust and dirt from the sun-baked ground. And I always sing Chris de Burgh's 'Summer Rain' as I'm watching it. Very badly!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Name dropping

Have you seen this book? Nicky Epstein's Knitting Never Felt Better. It's great and is a must have for all of us who don't have enough knitting books. Personally I have loads of knitting books, but they look so nice on the shelf and are so very lovely to look through. I often browse the bookshelf and decide what to cast on next. More often than not I forget, or find something else the next day, changing my mind more often than I care to think. Fickle, that's me.

I love Nicky's books. I feel I can be informal and call her that rather than Mrs Epstein as she spoke to me once. Kathryn and I went to the Knitting and Stitching exhibition at Alexandra Palace and she was there signing books. Didn't buy any then - spent all money on yarn - but Nicky (there I go again!) admired my scarf. How kind, I thought, that this lady is admiring my clothes. It wasn't until we left the stand that Kathryn told me who it was. I had no idea she was a famous VIP, didn't recognise her. But I will next time Nicky, promise. I will be suitably awestruck in the presence of such greatness, I will creep and grovel and might even buy a book from you. Providing there's room left on the shelf of course!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

The Elms

This is where my mum and dad live. It is not a good photo, I don't have the skills (or the super duper camera) of Picperfic. This bungalow is beautiful and the garden is stunning - over an acre of land. It's in a quiet, pretty village in Norfolk and is now up for sale. Anybody out there want to buy it? It would be good if you want to 'Escape to the Country'.
There are a lot of memories at this house. I got married from here, the drive was a mass of pale purple petunias - I walked to the church with my dad. When our dog died, he was laid to rest in the back garden, a blue flowering bush planted on top which will always be known as 'Fennel's Bush'. Both my children were Baptised in the local church. I've helped mum and dad do loads of coffee mornings, Christmas Fairs and Flower Festivals. My Grandma stayed here (she never did teach me to crochet) so did my Auntie Joan (knitter extraordinaire) - both sadly no longer with us.
We shall all miss the house and village, but it's now time to move on to somewhere a bit smaller. If only someone would buy it! It's only been on the market for a week, but impatience runs in the family!

Monday, June 11, 2007

Shh, keep it quiet...

Goddess of all things wonderful and woolly - Kerrie - came to see me today and look at this for a present that came with her. 44 skeins of wonderful hand-dyed wool all the way from somewhere in Germany. Lucky, lucky me! I just can't decide what to make with it all. Flowers? Bags? Embellishments? Sleeves for a cardigan? Front of a waistcoat? (I never have been one for under-stated and pale clothes!) There's over 400 metres of wool here! I think that for the moment I'll just admire it, put it in a little wooden bowl - er, big wooden bowl - and gaze fondly at it! Maybe give it the occasional stroke as I pass by...
She also brought some other yarn with her, which of course I had great trouble refusing to buy - pictures of that another day when husband isn't looking!

Saturday, June 9, 2007

At last - knitting news!

Way back in the mists of time, I bought some cashmere sock yarn from Kerrie, gave it to my mum and said 'here you are, you'll like knitting with this' and gave her a pattern. And here's the result! Mum did the main body of the shawl and I made the edging and blocked it. It's the first time I've ever blocked anything - very scary indeed, how that crumpled wet heap can resurrect itself into this finished object is beyond me. The shawl is huge and I love it.
There is, however, one big problem. I felt sure mum would say 'No, of course I don't want it. I have no use for a shawl. You must keep it for yourself Darling Daughter.' But not so. My mother wants this for herself - and she hasn't even seen it finished yet. Pah. Perhaps I'll get her to make one for me now.

This yarn is gorgeous - I never thought anything so fine and light could be so warm. But that's cashmere for you I suppose! (I'm only joking mum - if I had a hundred cashmere shawls, I'd gladly give you every one... well perhaps 99...)

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Tea for how many?

I've not shown you a cake for a while now, so here's one I've been working on this week. Not very exciting, but I'm hoping it will go down well. My next cake (so far) is a biggy. A real biggy. So big infact that I'm already worrying about it. Won't tell you any more about it, you'll just have to wait for a month for photos. I don't want to tempt fate.
Nothing interesting to report today so I think I'll go and have a cup of tea and a piece (or 3) of Cadbury's Dairy Milk chocolate. Anyone care to join me?

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Scrappy Cabins

Have you seen the Scrappy Cabin Challenge at Melly and Me? I've been having a go, sadly ignoring the knitting for a few days and giving my undivided attention to the sewing machine and the iron. I've never done patchwork in this way before and I'm hooked now! I've got loads of material just waiting to become little cabins.

It's that 'starting things' problem again though isn't it? I must get very easily bored. But no, I don't, I never get bored. Ever. There's far too much to do. Perhaps that's where my problem lies. I have too much to do. Advice to self - slow down, take things easy. Yeah, yeah, yeah, as if!

Kathryn (I think you ought to get yourself a blog - Warren would be in his element designing for that!) has lent me the most recent copies of Simply Knitting, and amongst them is quite the most hideous knitted thingy ever - a sort of wrap around, low neck strappy waistcoat affair. Just horrid! Does anyone actually knit things like that? What's the most hideous thing you've ever made? Are you even going to admit to it? Mine was a cardigan using the now discontinued Colinette Chrysalis. I ended up frogging it. And I never frog. It really was so bad it was embarrassing!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Pride and Prejudice

So Dee likes to listen to audio books. Yes so do I (Stephen Fry's Harry Potter versions are my favourites) but I prefer the dvd's. I have watched these two more times than I care to remember. I don't really watch them anymore, just listen to them, knowing what's coming next, anticipating the next scene. I love Pride and Prejudice. Or is it just Mr Darcy I love?
But now here's the thing, Who makes the better Elizabeth? For me it has to be Keira, she seems much more 'believable' (and so much less make up!). In fact, I prefer all the goodies from this version (although Bingley should not have red hair) and the baddies are much better in the BBC version. Mr Collins and Lady Catherine a la BBC are just so horrible they're brilliant. And Jullia Sawalha's Lydia is inspired.
But Mr Darcy? Oh Mr Darcy. Heavy sigh. I love them both. Colin Firth is so very much the English Gentleman, whilst Matthew Macfadyen is so misunderstood, I just want to beat Elizabeth up and tell her to stop arsing around. He loves you woman - are you blind?
So who's it to be? Jennifer or Keira? Colin or Matthew? Come on all you lurkers, show yourselves - decide!

Monday, June 4, 2007

Roses round the door

I wish you could smell this rose. It's beautiful. On its own, the scent is gentle, but when you get the whole plant, it simply oozes delicious rosy wafts all over the garden. We planted this (it's called City of York if you're at all interested) a couple of years after we moved in this house, which means it's now 8 years old. It is so lovely, we bought another one to go on the other side of the corner - you can just see the flowers starting to peep out.
Our house is about 200 years old, and at this time of year I love everything about it, the garden, the coolness of the solid walls, all the light coming through the windows, the quirky little steps dotted around the inside. We shan't think about the damp autumn days just yet...
We have done a lot of work to get it looking like this, when we first moved in, the front garden was a massive rockery - this turned out to be the old roof with a bit of top soil and a few plants stuck on. We cleared 8 tonnes of rubble from the front - the back was something else! Undiscovered jungle comes to mind!
We've had huge problems and huge bills, but it's been worth it. I love our house. And I always dreamed of having roses round the door.

Friday, June 1, 2007


My two children decided to do some baking today and this is the result. Clever eh? I washed the car and left them to it. Big mistake.
Mum this says icing sugar, but it looks like flour will it do instead? No. Where's the golden syrup - this is in the same sort of tin, will it be ok to use? No. That's black treacle. Have you got any beaten eggs? No, you have to crack one and beat it yourself. What do you mean beat it? Smash it up. Oh. Is this a teaspoon? No, a tablespoon, big difference. What are rolled oats? Where's the cocoa? Do we cook the biscuits in the pan? No and you have to mix all the ingredients together first. Tell me when 10 minutes is up. Is it up yet? How about now? LOOK AT THE CLOCK WHY DON'T YOU?
I was eventually presented with these beautiful plates of goodies.
Mum when's dinner, we're starving?
I looked around at the room that used to be my kitchen. The mountain of washing up. The dropped ingredients on the floor. The cupboards opened and things piled up in front of them. The completely empty cutlery drawer. The rag rug covered in chocolate. An assortment of baking trays piled high so even Sir Edmund Hillary would have found the assent a challenge.
Dinner? Not just yet boys. Not just yet....