Taking Stock – November

You might have to look at these for a minute to work out what they are. Clever eh? Saw in an Antiques Centre

Making : nothing. Sigh. Not a little fed up about it. Total craft ban enforced by Hand Therapist as it’s “too intense”. I can’t tell you how much I want to knit or crochet some winter woollies

Cooking : lentils, quite a bit lately. Spicy lentil soup. Cheesy lentil loaf. Chicken, BNS & Green Lentil stew

Drinking : little alcohol since Dry October. None until Christmas Eve

Reading: just finished The Seduction of Water by Carol Goodman. A book I picked up from a pile at a booky meet up and didn’t have any expectation of; I just thought I’d give it a try. Realised I’d read another of hers: The Drowning Tree, ages ago. I’ll keep an eye out for more. I like her style

Two perfect creations, thanks Delia

Wanting: to make something else woolly, I did ahem…begin another thing a few weeks ago, which I want to wear, but it was stupid and made my hand hurt. I grumbled and packed it away. (Confession: I did get it out again yesterday and considered rebelling again. But good sense prevailed)

Playing: Coldplay: A Sky Full Of Stars – loudly, it makes me spin around in a circle, fast

Deciding: to carry on blogging when I feel like it and not worry about no craft content. Still getting new followers, despite no wool! Hello newbies, welcome to the waffle

Wishing: for more sunny days like this. It’s lovely and crisp

Enjoying: twinkly lights everywhere. November is one of my favourite of the darker months

Waiting: for deliveries. Christmas comes in a van, aka Margo Leadbetter (tried to find a clip of that on You Tube, I expect one’s there somewhere, if you can find it…)

Liking: The Kominsky Method on Netflix with Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin. Love his work: dry wit and perfect timing

Wondering: when, how much longer

Loving: The Haunting of Hill House, also on Netflix. So gripping and made me wave my hummus bowl in the air last night in fear!

Pondering: family Christmas wish lists

Considering: mini sparkly things

Buying: the above for one who is developing has developed into a sarcastic, but funny with it, nearly-twelve year old

Watching: a group of Red Kites (Info here) circling and diving at each other above the nearby woodland

Hoping: it stays dry Sunday for walking

Marvelling: at my own organisation. There’s bound to be something vital I forget!

Well, it wouldn’t be a fully-rounded blog post without a pic of my sourdough, would it?

A homemade crocheted pot-holder I made ages ago for my friend’s canal boat and some starter for her to make her own loaf

When you’re hungry and it’s well past lunchtime and then the rain pours down, so you decide to shelter in a cafe. Cake & cappuccino is a balanced meal, isn’t it?

Cringing: at the news of 2 hour queues getting out of some supermarket car parks. Online groceries, folks!

Needing: hot chocolate with mini pink & white marshmallows

Questioning: how I’m going to cut down on sugar in January!

Smelling: orange blossom perfume

Wearing: scruffs

Following: well, this just changed as I went running downstairs because apparently a group of juvenile long-tailed tits were queuing up to use the dining room mealworm window feeder. I counted 5, it was marvellous seeing them swoop from feeder to feeder in the trees too (as long as they haven’t pooed on my pjs which are on the washing line!)

Knowing: I will crochet again one day, but April to …. is now months

Thinking: of all the things I have been enjoying: visits to The V&A, reading, baking sourdough bread for my loved ones, seeing friends who make me laugh, dancing to Coldplay, loving my nieces antics and humour, admiring all the Christmas lights

Admiring: my neighbours’ new and improved house, they’ve been living elsewhere since Easter while it’s added to and completely renovated. The first thing put on the new fancy kitchen shelves was a jar of Marmite! I like their style

Often get an ‘I’ve cut the new loaf’ lunchtime pic and this pinged in as I was walking past this new artisan bakery on Baker Street, London

Mid-November and London was all a twinkle. The Regent Street angels swoop the length of the road

I was lucky enough to get to go into The RSA for a meet up at the end of a Street Wisdom session. Isn’t this a great door-knocker?

The Royal Festival Hall, on the South Bank from Hungerford Bridge. Popped in and caught a steel band and dancers performing for a while

Sorting: receipts

Getting: sellotape and wrap ready, knowing my grand plans to wrap early always, always go astray and I’ll probably do it on 23rd…

Bookmarking: podcasts. Discovering some goodies. Btw: have you heard Simon Mayo’s Books of the Year podcast? Pick an episode with an author you know, to try first. There are lots to choose from now. (Link for Android users here)

Coveting: a new bit of expensive technology

Disliking: the way Apple slow down iPads at a certain age, it’s wrong

Opening: new loose leaf lemongrass tea my friend Phil gave me. I liked the spearmint one a lot too

Giggling: at I’m a Celebrity Get me Out of Here. I prefer it presented by Holly and Dec

Feeling: happy

Snacking: on a Cox apple. So juicy it’s running down my hand, right now

Helping: buy presents on someone else’s behalf this week

Hearing: a bird chirrup

Mixing: socially

Worrying: there’s no point. What will be, will be 🎶

Waddesdon Manor, National Trust, Christmas House, Market & Light Trail

Want to visit too?

Sparkly and sumptuous, Waddesdon Manor always looks beautifully dressed at Christmas. The garden light trails and the Christmas fair were the best ever this year too

Slicing: carrots, cucumber, red pepper and radishes for hummus

Celebrating: family time on Sunday, all enjoying spending time together. Playing a Kids’ Charades game was really fun. We all seem to have a thing for starting a scene with opening and closing a door. Neat framing or pedantic weirdry?!

Forgetting: what?! What?!

Winning: something with an order I placed this morning, it’s random but I can’t tell you what as I’m going to pass it on…

Pretending: to consider what to read next, but knowing it’s likely to be Bleak House. Dickens is perfect reading this time of year. Last year it was The Old Curiosity Shop and Great Expectations. A Christmas Carol the year before.

Sneaking: nothing. Honest Guv’

Embracing: sugar! Hurrah!

How are you? Was your November a good one too? I hope so – you’re too nice to have a rotten time. But if it’s not been the greatest, let’s cross our fingers December’s better.

Is that a drum roll I hear?

A finished thing? Yes!!!!

Making:

I used Emma’s pattern (thank you, clever you) for the linen stitch stripy inspiration and shaping, but then diverged because I needed to make it slightly wider to fit my bottle. So, I crocheted twice around each piece. I double crocheted around the sides once, doing only single crochet at the top and bottom as I didn’t need to add to the overall length. Then all around once more with half treble stitches on both sides and double crochet at the top and bottom. After double crocheting the pieces together along the sides I worked 8 or so rows of DC back and forth along the bottom of the back piece to make a flap. I didn’t want to stitch the hot water bottle into the cosy by crocheting it all together. I know what I’m like; I could easily spill some hot chocolate on it and have to cut it all apart to wash the cover! The flap is tucked up inside. That might be enough without any fastenings, since the bottle’s unlikely to work itself out of the cover and you tend to carry it holding onto the neck.

I made the collar long enough to come 1/2” / 1.5cm above the top of the top of the bottle. I prefer the look of the right side of the crochet on the outside so didn’t make the collar long enough to fold over.

I’ve got to confess that I don’t think I’ve used a hot water bottle in bed since I was a child. I think I might have when I lived in Australia in winter though. The houses were ideal for staying cool in the summer, but were often really cold in the winter.

I did use my HWB in the spring when my hand needed heat treatment initially as it felt really stiff and sore, then alternated it with a cold pack to aid healing and relief.

It would be nice to snuggle up with on a very cold day, when I’m snuggled on the sofa. It’s just been a pleasure making something again, albeit in short bursts. It’s my first finished item since July when I blocked my Edenvale cowl.

The cosy is really warm and lovely with the yarn’s wool content. I much prefer the feel of Stylecraft’s Life Aran with its 25% wool blend, compared to the 100% acrylic version. I’m going to look for something else to make with the remnants I have from the slouchy beanies I made for a friend. Here’s the first. And the second, I really like the maroon yarn.

Reading:

This week I’m reading Moonfleet by J. Mead Falkner and listening to I Found You by Lisa Jewell. They’re completely different books, but both are equally as compelling as the other.

Moonfleet was published in 1898. The story begins in a Dorset village in 1757. It’s the tale of young John Trenchard who becomes involved in the smuggling trade.

I Found You concerns a man found on a beach, by Alice who lives nearby. He has no memory of who he is, or where he has come from. Another man (or is it the same?) has not returned home from work to Lily, his brand new wife. This is an audiobook I’m finding it hard to turn off. I’m actually pleased when I wake very early in the morning, so I can listen to some more! I love it when you can’t put your book down, either reading or listening to it.

Made anything from start to finish lately, or have you bigger things on the go? What are you reading? Do you like audio books?

Joining in with Ginny’s November Yarn Along

Taking Stock – October

Making : a hot water bottle cosy. One half done. I started the other yesterday, but you really don’t get very far along in a 10m session, and I’m not up to everyday yet either. Try setting a 10m timer for the fun of it. It goes so fast. Then make yourself stop. It’s really hard!

I did feel like whooping yesterday when I posted this pic on Instagram. It was fab to have something to show and join in with the buzz of all the Autumn making 

Cooking : sourdough pizza last night, on a Sunday night. I hadn’t made any since August, it was time

Drinking : peppermint tea, Stoptober still going ahead here

Reading: The Music shop by Rachel Joyce and Never Greener by Ruth Jones, I’ve got a bit caught up in both

Wanting: a positive outcome to my appointment with the Hand and Wrist Consultant and Hand Therapist this week (i.e. no nasty injection or talk of surgery again)

Playing: some of The Music Shop book’s playlist

Deciding: not to try anymore crochet for several days now, as hand is sore 

Wishing: for a car to fall in my lap, I can pay but I just want someone else to find, test and choose!

Enjoying:  sunny blue skies and crisp weather. Driving to Birmingham, on Saturday morning, I noticed an orange snowflake appear on the dashboard to indicate the outside temperature. It had dropped down to 4°. It’s 7° today, crisp and bright – basically my favourite type of autumn day

It’s Christmas in Selfridges, Birmingham. I know it’s really early but actually I got swept into the joyful atmosphere

Waiting: for a telephone call from a company

Liking: thinking about which soup to make next

Wondering: what to have for dinner

How pretty are these Lola’s cupcakes? (Also in Selfridges, Brum)

Loving: seeing everyone’s colder weather makes on Instagram (I know some of you are in the southern hemisphere and I do like seeing your flowers and garden pictures too!)

Loved having a legitimate colder day to wear my Mock Cable mitts last week. You can knit some too

Pondering: natural ways to keep those limescale and splash marks off the shower doors, without resorting to nasty chemical sprays that you’re not meant to wash off. Any suggestions? I’m thinking of something like you rub on half a lemon and a bit of white vinegar in a half-hearted kind of way. I’m not sure if either would be effective Considering: going for a walk in the sunshine

Buying: frozen butternut squash, it’s a great standby for soup making

How white is this dog? She was eye catchingly pretty. Her owner said she’d just come from the groomers; she’s a perfect ad for their services! I had to ask if I could take her photo for my blog. She’s called Molly and posed like a true professional. My friends know I’m much more of a cat than a dog person, but she’s clearly gorgeous

Watching: I’m still working my way through Stella. I’ve just finished Series 4. So far series 3 has been my absolute favourite; it was so funny. She and ‘Michael Jackson’ were brilliant together. 

Hoping: no one tells me what happens at the end of series 6

Marvelling: at the range of items we can borrow from our libraries. I’m working my way through all the library’s Stella DVDs after getting hooked on the first two or three episodes for nothing on Amazon Prime, but then they wanted a lot of money to rent or buy the series. No way! I can reserve a DVD for £1.20 and borrow it for a week for another £1.20, then it’s 30p per every additional day afterwards

Cringing: at how bad you can feel during your period some months. It’s awful and you can’t really explain how fluctuating hormones can make you feel and react so emotionally to what you’d normally shrug off, or suggest discussing sometime over a burger and a milkshake. I think it can sound like an excuse to anyone who doesn’t experience it, but it’s very real. Afterwards you hardly recognise the emotional mess you became for a while

Not your usual charity shop find is it? No, I didn’t buy them!

Needing: to water my plants

Questioning: why the boiler keeps making that odd noise despite a recent service

Smelling: rose perfume oil, mmmmm

Wearing: jeans and a t-shirt with three-quarter length sleeves, it’s warm behind glass in the sun

Crossing the bridge over the lake, looking back towards the obelisk, Blenheim Palace in the autumn sunshine

Following: some incredible new designers that seem to have suddenly snuck up during the time that I haven’t been knitting and crocheting

Knowing: designing is probably never going to be my special talent, but I do love writing

Thinking: about my rumbling tummy, I always seem to be either hungry or thirsty when I write these posts

Admiring: some crochet jumpers and cardies

Nala the cockapoo, one of the salon dogs relaxing on the hair-wash chair. She’s either resting her head on your knee asking for love, or curled up on a chair. It’s clearly a hard life. Cora her Goldendoodle half-sister is often asleep by the front door, waiting for the postman who always brings treats. They are probably part of the reason why I’m so much more comfortable around dogs. I like my hairdressers a lot, so it wasn’t a difficult choice between leaving because of the dogs, or staying and getting used to them. This year I’ve patted them both once. This might not seem impressive, but believe me it is!

Sorting: my shredding and coming across all sorts of funny notes, including one I wrote to Someone who was on a conference call: ‘We have a situation in a k cupboard, I think it’s contained…. but I’ve left the bin outside the front door.’ 

Getting: a new mini sieve at Birmingham’s Rag Market, to try to make even better poached eggs

Bookmarking: articles about psychology and friendship

Coveting: new clothes 

Disliking: shopping for ‘em!

Opening: the veg drawers and finding a half rotten cucumber I’d forgotten about

Giggling: at Celebrity Goggle Box in aid of Stand-up for Cancer on Friday night. Danny Dyer and his daughter were hilarious

Sewing with my Mum. Just like old times: “You don’t need to stand over me, go and find something to do.” At least she didn’t tell me to “Go and have a run around the garden!”

Feeling: relaxed

Snacking: on nothing at the moment

Helping: my friend enjoy her holiday without guilt for having fish and chips etc. Life is too short, have some family fun and healthier eating can wait for a few days 

Hearing: bugs ding into the window outside

Mixing: lemon, ginger and honey later for a warming drink

Worrying: about something it seems I can do nothing to resolve. It takes two to tango/ talk 

Favourite lunch: toasted crumpets, avocado mashed with a little salt, poached eggs and homegrown cherry tomatoes

Slicing: that rotten cucumber, I’ve salvaged half. Hate throwing food away 

Celebrating: autumn 

Roses & orchids, amazing. Yes, spoilt

Forgetting: lots! It’s my age dear

Winning: £8:60 on the lottery a few weeks ago

Pretending: I’m a calm, wise and mature woman, not an emotional soggy mess on occasion

Sneaking: M&S Butter Mints from the car 

Embracing: my beloved in his new cashmere jumper 

~~~~

Hope all’s well in your world. What are you up to?

“I hope you haven’t done too much!”

I know, me too, but I had to try.

I saw Emma’s Hot Water Bottle Cosy earlier and thought it might be a good thing to try testing my hand out again. I’ve noticed a *slight* improvement this week, so I galloped upstairs to my stash of yarn and dug out my 5.5 mm hook. If I’m going to be honest I tried six places before I found it. I’m usually ‘a place for everything, everything in its place’ type, so when I couldn’t immediately lay my hand on the hook I could feel myself getting almost frantic, tempted to throw everything over my shoulder. Never the wisest choice, is it? Who’s got to pick it all up again at the end?! Deep breaths. And guess what? It was at the bottom of the first bag I looked in. Typical.

I planned to do only 10 minutes crochet, as advised before things got very painful. And so I did. I set an alarm actually, in the style of a sensible adult. It went off and I thought I’d just finish the next row, which I also timed. And then I wiggled my wrist, flexed my elbow and thought I could probably get away with a little bit more…always a risky strategy, isn’t it? Like deciding you’ll read one more chapter before lights out, and finding yourself finishing the whole book at 3 AM.

As you know this is the first craft of any kind I’ve done in weeks and weeks, and before that it was only a few times from April onwards. I’ve felt bereft at times, but I have perfected my Sourdough bread as I can make it one handed!

Last night I was looking for some bits for my sewing machine, as I’ve lent it to someone, and opened up a box full of various crafty things: pom-pom makers, Tunisian crochet hook, DPNs, vintage patterns, the lace tatting shuttle I bought in the sale at John Lewis a long time ago and have never even taken out of the packet, darning needles, stitch holders, spare crochet hooks etc and honestly it was like opening someone else’s kit. It feels like another life now.

I’m going back to see the Hand and Wrist Consultant and a Hand Therapist next week. It’s been so weird being one-handed. Now I’m trying things like picking up fairly lightweight items, opening door handles and taking small items, going carefully testing how it feels.

Anyway, I really enjoyed crocheting with this wool blend aran and a 5.5mm hook. It’s soft and cosy. Because the starting chain is only 20 and it’s aran yarn, it grows exponentially. That’s perfect if you’re limited time-wise or just want to see something grow quickly.

Next week I’ll be back with my monthly Taking Stock post and hopefully after that I can show you a crochet update. That’s almost a magical sentence. A Crochet Update!

Cross fingers and toes for me please.

Oh, the book has a playlist on Spotify if you want to play some of the music featured in the story. That’s pretty cool, huh.

Joining in with Ginny’s October Yarn Along.