23 November 2015

Winter Woollies

Sloppy Sunday Cowl

Miss Read Mitts

Last March, I had a bit of a wappy and filled a big charity bag with, it has to be said, a large proportion of my winter wardrobe.  Anything I considered 'mumsy', I hurled into this bag.  It was all very liberating.  From what I've heard this is not a terribly unusual thing for a woman in her early forties to do.

I'd completely forgotten about said wappy until the recent chilly spell sent me hotfooting it to unearth some cosy clothes.  Oh dear.  It would appear that I'm more than a little bit lacking in the winter woollies department.

I will acknowledge, at this point, that the irony of the fact that I have enough yarn in my craft room for a hundred jumpers or cardigans is not lost on me.

I've never been one to wear huge chunky knits.  I find them too constricting and claustrophobic.  This probably dates back to the knitwear my mum forced dressed me in when I was a child.  I have occasional stiff and itchy oatmeal-flecked flashbacks that bring me out in a cold sweat.  As for thick polo necks?  Ugh, I'd rather go naked!  No, I much prefer to layer up.  Layering, however, is pretty difficult to achieve when one has disposed of the majority of one's clothes.  *sigh*

So here I am, freezing my norks off and on an impromptu mission to find a couple of new toasty togs.

I'm pleased to report, however, that my accessories drawer escaped the hormonal-fuelled cull.  I have more tights than Mrs Tights of Tightsville, socks-a-plenty and my box of crocheted cowls, scarves, hats and mitts is unsurprisingly quite well-stocked.

At least my extremities are all warm.

See that scarf?  It's one of my favourites.  It's shop-bought (from Accessorize if I recall) and I love the colours.  It gives me a rosy glow even if I'm having a pale and uninteresting day.  Which I do from time to time.  One day I'll be able to make my own version.  One day ...

The knitting pictured is my simple slouch hat, version 2.  Version 1 (in the Drops Big Merino pale pink) met an abrupt end.  Having removed the interchangeable needles and letting it rest for a day or three, goon that I am, I re-attached the wrong sized needles to continue.  As a result, it all went a bit skew-whiff.  No matter.  D took me to Festiwool last weekend (where I met up with the incredibly lovely Sandra and Sam) and, amongst other things, I bought a skein of plumptious worsted Blue Faced Leicester in a pretty raspberry colour, from www.nativeyarns.co.uk.  (Please forgive the glare; for some reason, all shades of pink and red are so very difficult to photograph at the moment.)  It's lovely to work with if a teensy bit sheddy.  I'm approaching the decreases and bind off so am stalling a little lest it all goes norks up.

I'm wanting to make a pair of knitted wristwarmers next.  The yarn that you see is too gorgeous for words.  It has sparkles!  I have absolutely no idea how it came into my possession.  The postman squeezed it through the letterbox a couple of days ago.  Peculiar but I'm not complaining.  ;-)

By the way, for those who have asked, I have definitely not deserted my beloved crochet.  I'm just really enjoying the challenge of learning something new.

Have a super week my lovely friends.  Keep cosy/cool (delete as applicable).


17 November 2015


A lady in a grey anorak gave me a very cheery "hello" this morning as we were climbing into the car to set off on the school run.  It was nice and put me in a good mood ...

Resilience - The ability to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.

Nothing has changed.  There is still joy to be had.  When our hearts have stopped aching for the loss of precious, innocent lives (and they will because, by our very nature, we are resilient), we will remember that there is so much more good in life than bad.

Be happy.  Be optimistic.  Be just the way you were.  Don't be afraid.  Because that will mean that evil has won.  And evil deserves nothing more than contempt.


9 November 2015

Smitten With Knittin'

Ugh.  It's grim out there today.  Swirling winds and frizz-inducing drizzle.  Foul I tell you.

The sky was simply beautiful at about 6:30am this morning but half an hour later it was grey and grey it stayed until the sun went down.  I'm feeling a bit grey at the moment.  Dull and uninteresting.  I'm ok, I'm just lacking witty repartee and va va voom.

I think my least favourite month is January.  Hot on its heels is November.  I'm not a fan of this time of year at all.  I feel like climbing into a clean pair of pyjamas and hibernating under my duvet, emerging only when the spring bulbs do.

That said, I'm not a total defeatist and have honed various coping techniques over the last few years.  One of which is to set myself a Winter Project.  This year's is learning to knit.  Properly.  In fact, my aim is to greet Spring wearing at least one thing I've knitted myself.

You might remember that I bought a pair of circular needles while visiting Bath last month.  Knit Pro Symfonie Interchangeables to be precise.  With hindsight, I'm not terribly sure why they appealed but they just did.  Crikey, they're brilliant!  Don't get me wrong, I haven't turned in to knitter extraordinaire overnight but they're so much easier to negotiate than the unwieldy sticks I've previously struggled with.

So, here I am.  Knitting.  Kind of.  I'm very slow and careful and concentrate so hard that I'm in danger of biting my own tongue off, but hey ho.  Oh, but I'm enjoying it so much.  Really and truly.  I'm smitten.  Smitten with knittin'!  :-)

I spent the first few days, practising and practising, row after row of garter stitch.  When my tension and rhythm improved a little (my stitches were so tight at first I couldn't physically move them along the needle!), I allowed myself to progress to joining new colours.  I've been researching some of the different cast-on methods and now I've rewarded myself with making my very first 'thing'.  Keen to try knitting in the round, I found this simple slouch hat pattern


So far so good.  I'll keep you posted.

Other than spending obscene amounts of time browsing far-too-difficult-for-me patterns on Ravelry, I've been loving huddling under the covers and watching knitting podcasts most evenings.  I'm pretty sure this explains my renewed desire to be able to knit.  Do you watch any?  I'd love to hear your recommendations if you do.  My favourites are ...

How are you coping with this season, my friends?  Are you zooming around in colourful handknits with eyes a sparkle or do you have to make slightly more effort at this time of year?


1 November 2015

Autumn Scape

We went for a walk around nearby Bradgate Park this morning, D, Bertie and I.  We walked for as long as it took the sun to burn away the pockets of heavy low-lying mist and to paint the scape with honeyed hues.

I could quite easily have stayed cocooned in the warmth of my duvet like most Sundays but I'm so glad I didn't.  I'm pretty sure we witnessed the season's last, loveliest smile.


20 October 2015

Favourite Bits

When my children were much younger and used to share a bath, I'd sit on the hard tiled floor with my back against the radiator and, either before or after 'Cafes', we'd play the 'Ask Me About My Day" game.  It always consisted of the same questions,

"What was your favourite bit today?"

"What was the worst thing about today?"

"What made you laugh today?"

I mentioned it to my daughter and she laughed and then reminded me of the fourth question which I'd forgotten about.

"Who was your best friend today?"

A favourite bit could just be a fleeting snapshot that's away before you know it or, if you're lucky, it could be a lingering and downright delicious stretch of something wonderful.  But, as I always used to tell them, even stinky-horrid days can have favourite bits.

Now that they're 16 and 14, we don't play it any more.  I miss it.  Squeezing any information out of my children now is not unlike getting blood from a stone!

It's half term this week and one of my favourite bits of each day, without fail, is taking my first cup of tea back up to bed and sitting, crocheting.  I always open the window to let the day in and have the radio on quietly.  I absolutely love that precious hour or so.

Another of my favourite bits can be cooking supper.  I say 'can be' because it's not always.  It very much depends on what I'm making or whether we're eating in shifts.  Sometimes though, I really enjoy pouring myself a glass of wine and taking my time peeling, chopping, grating, stirring, seasoning.  I love the challenge of a new recipe and I love the familiarity of a favourite.  I love the windows getting steamed up, the kitchen getting cosy and the delicious smells wafting up through the house drawing the children downstairs like a magnet.

If I am sitting at the kitchen table with my laptop, Bertie will nearly always come and lie in the shaft of sunlight (if there is one) near my feet.  Turning his face up to the sun and soaking up its warmth, he looks as near to 'blissed out' as a spaniel could ever get.  Bless him.

Prompted by my spotting a small silvery moth strolling around in one of my baskets of wool, I had a mammoth yarn sort out and tidy on Saturday.  I bought some cheap plastic drawers from a DIY store and neatly stashed away my precious booty.  My favourite bit of the whole exercise was making pretty labels for the drawers.  Oh how I enjoyed that.  I do so love a bit of whimsy.  

As for today.  My favourite bit might just be what we had for supper.  A warm salad made up of Sunday's refried roast potatoes, crispy pancetta, spring onions, tomatoes and parsley tumbled over spinach, rocket and watercress.  Or it might just be the heavily rose-scented bath I'm running.  I'm feeling chilly tonight, really chilly.  Is there anything nicer than climbing into a hot heady bath when even your bones feel cold?


12 October 2015

Catching Up

The surveyor has just left.  Him, his clipboard and the funny blue plastic bags he popped over his shoes to avoid dirtying our carpets.  We accepted an offer on the house a few weeks ago and things are progressing nicely.  The buyers don't actually want to move in for a while so it looks like we'll be renting our own house for six months from them before having to find somewhere else to live which is really rather perfect.  Odd but perfect.

D and I are flying to southern Spain next month to look around a few properties.  We're wanting to rent a small beachfront apartment.  Not to live in (yet) but as a bolt hole; somewhere we can readily and regularly go on high days and holidays.  It's one of our new life plans.  I've been going to Spain since I was about 12 years old and love everything about it - the people, the way of life, the weather, the diet.  Everything.  I'm ready and eager for it to start playing a bigger part in our lives.

Anyway, my daughter tells me it's half term next week.  Already?  Surely it's only ten minutes since the beginning of the academic year?  Goodness, October is hurtling past.  I seem to have been so busy but, on reflection, doing I'm not terribly sure what!  I feel like I've been snatching moments to crochet.  My Happy Scrappy Scarf is still unfinished and sitting patiently in its basket.  I'll do a catch-up post soon.  It's not the most portable project simply because of all the different balls of yarn I have to cart around with it.  I've made a couple of Sloppy Sunday Cowls though.  I just love that pattern.  It really is one of my favourites.  (Am I allowed to say that about one of my own?!)  I used Drops Big Merino for both; D's is plain grey and mine is marble, lavender and light pink.  They're so soft and squishy and as cosy as can be.  Really they are.  I don't know if you went to Yarndale and saw the Plump yarn on the Mrs Moon stand?  I fell madly in love with it but had run out of money by that point.  I can't help thinking it would make the most divine (but pricey) Sloppy Sunday Cowl.  We'll see.

In other crochet news, I have also just made myself another pair of Rosie Mitts.  I've decided that mitts are to crocheters what socks are to knitters - we must always have at least one pair on the go!  I followed my own pattern but made a couple of colour changes and slightly altered the rose design.  The pattern itself remains the same.  I've detailed what I did differently in my Ravelry project notes and on the Love Crochet page if you've bought the pattern and fancy doing the same.

I have a couple of other hooky-type things on the go which I hope to be able to tell you about soon.  One is a small commission for a very exciting new project but it's not for me to share news of that yet.  I'm sure you'll love it though.

Last week, D and I went down south for a couple of days.  We stayed in Bath (what a gorgeous place, I desperately want to go back again and have a more thorough look around very soon) and I got the chance to meet up with my friend Cuckoo.  That girl is a delight.  Beautiful and bonkers with a heart of gold.  We chatted, coffee'd, shopped and lunched and it was over far too quickly.  I bought a new cup from Anthropologie (Vanessa, that shop so makes me think of you!) and some circular knitting needles from Wool.  Ha!  See how seamlessly I slipped that in?!  I'll be honest, they're still in their sealed packet and are frightening the bejesus out of me.  As is the fact that I've just bought a shawl knitting pattern on Ravelry.  I'm sure it's because I've been watching too many knitting podcasts.  I'm waiting until I have an hour or two spare and nobody is watching and will just see what happens.  I'm not optimistic but nothing ventured … ;-)

That, my friends, is my whistle-stop catch up.  I do hope you're all well and have been finding time for the things that make you happy.  For the first time in ages, I have a deliciously quiet week lined up so hope to be back again very soon.


29 September 2015

Stash Enhancement Etc

1.  Drops Baby Alpaca Silk. (I forget the name of the stand at Yarndale but readily available online.)
2.  Alpaca/Merino/Silk (Century Flower) by www.fleabubsbylala.co.uk
3. Merino Sock Yarn (Century Flower) by www.fleabubsbylala.co.uk
4.  Frozen Queen (Twinkle) by www.easyknits.co.uk
5.  Baby (Splendour) by www.easyknits.co.uk
6.  Wool/Silk by www.weaversloft.co.uk
7.  Luxurious DK by www.facebook.com/wildwoodwool
8.  Chameleon Sock (Not All Mathletes Are Treated Equilaterally) by www.purlescence.co.uk


Thank you for your lovely comments in response to yesterday's Yarndale post.  I'm delighted you enjoyed the tour!

I have loved photographing my Yarndale purchases to show you.  Aren't they just heart-quickeningly beautiful?  The girl done good, hey?!  I've included online links to the suppliers just in case you're tempted.  This, I think, renders me an 'enabler'.  Sorry about that! ;-)

A podcaster I came across once, I forget who, used the term "stash enhancement" for new yarn she'd purchased.  It made me laugh at the time but, you know what, I've decided to adopt it too.  Don't you think it sounds far less self-indulgent than "lovely stuff I've bought for myself"?!

A few weeks ago I treated myself enhanced my gadget arsenal (!) with this yarn swift in readiness for Yarndale …

(Honestly, it's so nicely made, I wonder if I could pop a pretty tray on the top and use it for serving crudités?!)

I once rather stupidly tried to crochet directly from a skein but got into a terrible tangle!  I'm presuming that I can use the swift with my wool winder and ball up my beauties in no time at all.

Anyway, I haven't quite decided what I'll be making with my yarn yet.  I have a few ideas but think I shall just stroke it for a little longer while I decide …

Before I close, I just want to tag on a few pictures I took on Sunday.  It was a glorious day so D and I went for a gentle walk around Swinsty Reservoir, which is between Harrogate and Skipton.  It was blissfully peaceful, particularly after such a frenetic day on Saturday.

We came across a small group of excited twitchers with telescopes and binoculars trained skywards and there above us was a circling osprey.  They're quite rare here in the UK so it was an added treat.  I didn't get a picture of it unfortunately but it was a pretty special way to end a wonderful weekend.