The little black cat with the powder puff tail 

I’ve knit some more of the washcloth I started last week. Doesn’t the stitch definition look fabulous with the cotton? On Thursday morning I did some train knitting, surrounded by suits, laptops and newspapers. I will not be intimidated. I shall craft. 

And look! I’ve darned 3 1/2 ends in the Wave Blanket. I meant to do 10 last night; but had to put it down to concentrate on Who Do You Think You Are. It was Ruby Wax and her family’s story was making my eyes brim (then I kept gasping.) Maybe I’ll do 16 1/2 ends later to make up for it. 

I’ve felt better about adding parchment into my garter stitch blanket. It does look better than I imagined, with the blended yarns. Thanks for the reassurance Vikki. Last night I restricted myself to six rows only so as to keep my elbow happy. It’s hard to put something you’re enjoying down, isn’t it?

This is my third and last, for a while, zippy bag which I made at Sewing Club on Monday night. Next week I’m trying something different. I’m a bit slack on the prep and lack confidence about what to make. I’d prefer it if the tutor came with all we needed, did a tutorial and we went off to make it. Lazy aren’t I?! But it’s like Knit & Crochet Groups where you take whatever you want to make. (Though she does do a quick tutorial for various things which you can try at home. This week it was lacy knickers! We naughty ones sniggered seeing how tiny medium was and decided we’d just get a multi-pack from M&S!) Shelly sits across from me and is a machine. She always sits right down and starts sewing what she’s prepped beforehand. No faff, or excess chatter until she’s made a start. She’s sewn so many different items this term that I tease her about her work ethic, while feeling fairly rubbish about mine. She’s only little and wears quite high heeled stompy boots. When I said about wanting to try something new next week but not sure what, she marched across to my table and wrote in my notebook saying very firmly: “Bring four pieces of material cut to these sizes. It’s easier than what you’ve been making tonight. Just do it!” O.M.G. Right then. I’m far to scared not to do it!

Mum’s dahlias. Perfection.

Well here he is – that little cat I mentioned a few weeks ago. And oh, you did make me laugh. Occasionally I’ll write that I’ve got a bad cold, a real stinker, or that my elbow is sore. Once I remember reporting that I got out of bed and fell over as my knee had gone kaput. I don’t remember many comments about any of these, but I casually end a Yarning Along post with ‘I must dash, as I’ve got to take a little black cat with a powder puff tail to the vets’ and you’d think I’d said the sky had fallen down! The comments, private messages, both sympathetic and worried, really amused me! He was only going for a dab of this and a tablet of that. He’s young and is in very fine fettle, but I realised I’d worried the cat ladies! (But thanks for all the sympathy when I’m poorly, no really you’re just so caring.) So I took his photo for you because as I walked into Mum’s garden yesterday, to photograph the dahlias I saw him sitting under the apple tree. He was next to the shed where she was potting up hyacinth and tulip bulbs. Maybe he was being a guard cat?

This week I’m reading Ruby Wax Sane New World on my Kindle, which is why I particularly wanted to see her episode of WDYTYA. It’s interesting learning about mindfulness. And I’m also listening to the rest of the  Alan Bennett plays. I feel I might need to hear A Question of Attribution again. I was marching around the countryside when I heard it and think I missed some of the nuance. 

Do you listen to audio books or prefer podcasts? What are you watching on TV at the mo?


Yarning Along

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link to your post in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along. 

Yarning Along = yarny stuff you’re making and what you’re reading (‘a good yarn’) but let’s not get too bogged down…if you’re reading mags, gardening or recipe books that counts, as does sewing, jewellery making or whatever. Just tell us about what you are making and reading.

Yarning Along: a bit of this and that 

It’s definitely cooler and the urge to make lots of stuff has returned. This feeling is definitely seasonal. Although I crocheted my Wave Blanket during the summer,  I didn’t feel that I wanted to do it every day. Now I’ve gone back to wanting to craft every day and am suggesting meet ups with crafty friends.

Mine you I needed to stop crocheting last night when I was watching Strike. When he hit someone with his prosthetic leg, I had to put my pot holder down and concentrate! Have you been watching? It completely passed me by in the summer and so I’ve just watched the first three episodes on catch up. Strike is responsible for my biting my nails off last night. For the first time since last July, when I had a competition with my nine year old niece to see who could stop biting and grow the longest ‘white bits’. Drat! Now I don’t have fingers, I have stumps. And they hurt. I’d forgotten that happens. If you see me with my fingers anywhere near my mouth, you have permission to HIT ME. (Not too hard.)

So, this week I’ve been making: another pot holder just because it’s great cotton to crochet. I think a pair might be handy for taking things out of the oven, or maybe I’ll give this one to someone. A little zipped bag which I started at sewing club on Monday night.  I wrote about sewing club here. Looking at the pic, I just realised that pattern matching probably means the flowers should start in the same place after the zip, on both sides? I’m such a novice sewer. It was exciting enough that I managed to sew along a zip semi-straight, with a zip foot! Lastly, I was at Knit and Sip last week and decided it’s time to finish my Wave Blanket. Actually one of them said it’s plenty big enough for a two year old to snuggle under, which is what I wanted. I didn’t want to make a tiny baby blanket, as they grow so quickly and then it’s redundant. I’ve got to crochet one last finishing row, darn the ends then do a border. Then we wait for baby Winnie to appear. I think she’s due next month.

I started The Night Book at the weekend. I haven’t got terribly far into it, as I’m also reading the last few chapters of that Laurie Lee. Yes, the one I’ve mentioned for the last three weeks. I’m not entirely sure about The Night Book; I find myself cringing whenever Richard Madeley mentions sex or the main character getting naked. It’s not me, it’s Madeley. If you know who he is, you might understand?

What are you making? Is your book making you laugh, or cringe? Can you sew?

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link to your post in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

Wandering around 

On Monday morning I found myself wondering around my new home with a semi-dried bunch of chillies trying to find the best place to hang them. I soon realised this if this carried on much longer nothing else was going to get done! In the end I tied them onto the light cord of a lamp and got on with the heavy work of unpacking the kitchen. I didn’t stop for a sit down all day and then had to go and do some cleaning at the other house. One of my new birthday bottles of gin was opened at the end of the day… This one. It’s a goodie. 

Yesterday I’ve never been so glad to have had a long-standing appointment at the hairdressers, as I could sit down and not move for 1 1/2 hours. It was bliss and my back and aching shoulders thanked me. 

Now I’m trying for a better pace and keep reminding myself that not every box has to be opened in the first few days. I do need to search for a vase for these lovely flowers that have been delivered. Where on earth are they?  

As you see, I’m using the same book photo as last week; I haven’t touched my crochet. In fact it’s still in the boot of my car, but I’m halfway through reading Dear Lupin and it’s made me laugh out loud, many times. It’s a lovely book. 
What about you: have you been making much? Reading much? Wondering around trying to hang up a bunch of anything?!

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

Lists and boxes

We’ve been away again, and although this blanket travelled to Devon for a night and then to Cornwall for three, it came home without being touched. Too many places to visit and things to see! Since returning on Sunday evening I felt itchy-fingers keen to add a row or two, and found it a good way to relax yesterday. Life is very busy at the moment; I’m surrounded by flattened boxes, parcel tape and notebooks full of lists….

As for reading; I’ve just borrowed Dear Lupin by Roger Mortimer, a racing journalist, from the library. It’s the entire collection of letters he wrote to his son Charlie, over 25 years.  I hadn’t heard of it before but a quick flick through showed it would be a funny and warm read.  For the last few days I’ve been thoroughly enjoying The Summerhouse by the Sea by Jenny Oliver. I bought it on my Kindle while away in Falmouth. It’s perfect summer reading; well written with interesting characters and location. If you like Jenny Colgan, you’ll enjoy Jenny Oliver’s style too. 

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

Yarning Along & the magic of plywood

On rainy Sunday I sat and crocheted on and off for several hours, this means I’m now wondering how much more to do. It’s a baby blanket, as you probably recall, and now measures 28″ by 31″. It’s obviously going to be wider than 28″ with a border, but I’m not sure how much longer it needs to be; as I always think that to be properly useful a baby blanket could be big enough for when they are a toddler, and can to snuggle underneath.

I thought I’d tell you about Friday, when I met a friend in London for the day. I’d suggested we visit the Museum of London as I’d seen they have an exhibition all about junk and recycling, which highlighted how previous generations fixed, saved and valued household items. This Guardian article made it look really promising, and we both thought it sounded like a winner. Nowadays, we tend to judge visits and outings by three main criteria: are they better, equal or worse than the Thames Barrier Experience, the Fan Museum or the Home Sewing Exhibition that I once went to visit, with great anticipation. I won’t spoil the first two by revealing our rating, you’ll have to visit them yourselves and work that out for yourself. You’ll probably experience them differently. Anyway, when we got to the museum we soon realised there were only three scant cases of exhibits (semi-broken pottery and tatters of leather; once shoes) and some information on the wall panels. And that, as they say, was that. The main exhibition adjacent to the cases was London Through the Ages. This hasn’t seemed to change for years, since I recognised most of it. I realised that my friend was slowly moving around and dragging her feet and when she said “I feel like I’m on the school trip” I realised just how un-fun it was and that she really wasn’t enjoying it. Nor was I really, but I didn’t like to say in case she was really into it. I have to say that they really need to up their game, because it could be a fantastic informative and fun museum. As she says, it’s like stepping back into our school days where museums were dark, dingy and unappealing, without any interactive or imaginative displays. You would trudge around after the teacher, clutching your a clipboard and pencil on a string, completing the most boring worksheets.  The most exciting part was eating your packed lunch afterwards! (To my foreign readers; does this also sound familiar?!)

The MoL really doesn’t compare with The V&A, they are absolutely poles apart in terms of enjoyment, learning and fun. Last time we went was at the end of April, when as part of the Friday Late activities we ended up in a yurt, lying on giant beanbags in the dark howling with laughter. It was set up so that every time someone tweeted, the lights inside flashed. It doesn’t sound funny but, trust me, it really was! (We were alcohol free, just in case you’re wondering.) On Friday afternoon we popped into an exhibition about Plywood, to fill some time while the demonstrators set up their interactive displays for the evening. Yep you read that correctly, it’s all about Plywood. We smirked about it, ready to write the day off as being one where we’d tried to do interesting and fun activities, but failed. But how wrong we were! Plywood! It’s absolutely fascinating! You learn how it’s produced, how it can be moulded, about its strength and durability, its lightweight nature, the inexpensive way it can be produced, watch historical and contemporary films from around the world showing it being made and fashioned into all kinds of items. There are scale models put forward for patents for different items, the current innovative ways of using it and the laser cutters which I didn’t really know anything about… I never realised plywood had such a varied history, or has so many uses. It’s just not something I’ve ever spent much time to dwelling upon. I guess you haven’t either have you? Here are a few uses: post-war housing, aeroplanes, tea-chests, Singer sewing machine cases, surfboards, speedboats, chairs, tables, stalls, beehives, sports cars, car parts, and many many more…Check out this Time Out article about the exhibition if you don’t believe me. It’s on until the beginning of November, if you can get to it. It’s free and well worth allowing a good half an hour, or more, if you like to watch all the films and read everything.

As for reading: I’ve been listening to The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce as I’ve got the sequel The Love Song of Miss Queenie Hennessy, but it’s been 4 years since I heard the first. I couldn’t remember much about how it ended. I started listening to the first chapter on the way into London on Friday, intending to jump to the last one after that. But I was gripped and am now an hour from the end. I’ve listening to it in 10 minute bursts whenever I can and while I crocheted on that rainy Sunday. It’s a truly beautiful story. I wonder if anyone has replicated Harold’s pilgrimage? I bet they have somehow! I should Google it.
I always have an audio and printed, or e-book on the go, and I’m reading My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell. It was a Kindle Daily Deal for 99p, the other day. It’s funny and well written. I can’t help picturing the actors from the TV series, although some are very different to those described, but it does bring it alive.

Have you been to any interesting exhibitions lately? What are you reading and making? Do you find you’re less productive in summertime?

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

A long weekend away

We’ve been away again for a long weekend in Lincolnshire, which included a night’s stay in Lincoln. After walking around admiring the cathedral, pictured above, we had an interesting audio tour at the Medieval Bishops’ Palace (have a free year of membership of English Heritage, hurray!) A drink in Widow Cullen’s Well pub after all the walking, including up Steep Hill and exploring the old part of the city, was definitely restorative. That evening we had what turned out to be a mega dinner at Ribs ‘n’ Bibs. The beef ribs were gooood, but we couldn’t finish our food. A plateful for one, would actually be plenty to share.

I also got another fix of the seaside, albeit courtesy of the North sea. It is not, it has to be said, as pretty as the Atlantic sea which surrounds West Cornwall, but it is good to walk along to Sutton. I certainly felt I needed to walk at least 5 miles! We walked 8 by the end of the day.

 If you grew up with traditional English bucket and spade holidays, like I did, then Mablethorpe is your place for an enjoyable day out. I doubt it’s altered since the 1970s. There is a small fairground, arcades, cafes, ice cream stands, rock and sweet shops, souvenir shops and donkey rides on the beach. We’ve been popping there for years now and it doesn’t seem to have changed in a single way. Did you spot a Mum being buried in the sand?!img_3470 My cousin hosts several BBQs from early summer to mid-autumn for family and different groups of friends. We try to go to one, or maybe two, each year. They’re always good fun, with everybody mucking in. The informal rule is that every time you go to and from the cottage, across the tiny lane to her field, you take something. I have to admit that the (huge) glass of champagne I had on arrival went straight to my head, so the only thing I initially managed to take across was another glass of champagne! But if this was hash-tag land I’d probably be typing #winwin.

As far as stereotypes go the men conformed and ruled the two barbecues, there’s always one for meat and the other strictly for veggie foods. I grabbed my chance to cook, when someone left their post to top up their glass of red. I enjoyed flipping a batch of home-made halloumi burgers. (Recipe here, but made with some grated carrot, not heaps and no courgette as we found before that it’s too ‘wet’.) Apart from that I did a lot of chatting, took some photos and nibbled delicious food. That was all fine by me!

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I’ve had a week’s self-imposed ban of no crochet or knitting, to rest my elbow. It flared up in irritation at all the long rows of knitting I’ve been doing. I’ve tried a few rows of both knitting and crochet and it’s a feeling bit sore again. It’s definitely the knitting, as crochet has never really affected it. I’ll concentrate on finishing the Wave Blanket, then go back to the Garter Stitch Blanket and see how it goes. It’s not the end of the world if I just add a row or two a week. Or every other week. As you know, I started it to use up odd balls of DK yarn, and to have an easy project for pub knitting with the girls. It doesn’t matter how long it takes to finish. It’s a shame though as I have enjoyed adding to it and blending the colours.


My library books this week couldn’t be more different; Sweet Temptation was total fluff, but quite enjoyable. It tells the stories of three women who are overweight and become friends through joining ‘Fatbusters’. Ahem…I’ve glossed over the homeward bound visit to Melton Mowbray, home of Pork Pies and Stilton Cheese, but I’m back on lots of fruit and salad now! Vinegar Girl will be my next read; it’s a retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. It’s ages since I read an Anne Tyler novel.

What have you been eating? Do you use your local library? Have you seen the sea lately?
If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

 

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Summer days 



Wow, I’ve just noticed that WordPress is telling me this is my 573rd post! I never take much notice of numbers; I just plod along and throw up something, either when I feel like it, or on a Wednesday (or in this case on Tuesday, ready to appear tomorrow morning, for the sake of being precise) as it feels like a nice mid-week thing to do. Plus I do enjoy the communal aspect of sharing what we’re making and reading.

So, it seems to be another week of summer. It’s lovely today, with a gorgeous breeze blowing through the house. I sat outside for a while, adding a few more rows to my Wave Blanket. I’ve got to take it steadily as I think lots of knitting has aggravated my silly elbow. (I just had to delete another ‘So,’ I know that ‘although’ and ‘though’ seem to be other repetitive words, which I try to guard against overusing in one post. But I wonder how many times I’ve used them in the other 572 posts?) Also (ha! It sneaked in under the cover of Al!) I’m on a self-imposed knitting ban for the week and will try not to do too much crochet either, apart from at Knit Group; if it goes ahead tonight. It seems that some of the Stylecraft Blogstars have gone down with food poisoning after their jolly at the weekend, which is rotten.

When we went away my sweet-peas were pretty pathetic and I kicked myself that it had taken me so long to plant out the seedlings. However after 10 days of sunshine and some good watering, they were three times as tall and blooming when we came home! This is the first posy I picked, there are more every day and the highly scented variety I chose are just that; delicious. Growing sweet-peas makes me feel green fingered, albeit it in a tiny way. It’s the growing from seed and then having something to pick which does it.

Apart from basking in the sunshine, reading and crocheting, it’s that time of year for cocktails. This was gin and prosecco based. I thought it looked perfect with the juniper berries bobbing merrily alongside the pink grapefruit and mint leaves. I gave it a stir with my straw, just because, then decided to be a wee bit sad and photograph it. After sharing a bottle of champagne with the other three, before arriving at the restaurant on Friday, I felt I needed to herd the berries back into place with instructions to “Go a bit to the side, come on you need to follow others!” Oops. Then one of my quite old bracelets broke with a tinkle of beads bouncing from the table, hitting the glasses and falling down onto the tiled floor. I was then on my knees trying to gather them all up, while the others carried on talking as if nothing out of the ordinary was occurring. That was a fun night. I just hope no one went rolling across the floor on one of my errant beads.

As for reading; despite having already seen the film Lion, the book has still made me cry. I’m reading it really fast too, I can’t put it down. Do check out this moving, true story of Saroo and how he became lost in India on a train, then found his family again, a quarter of a century later.

If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading every Wednesday too, leave a link in the comments. Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

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Yarn shopping 

My wave blanket was meant to be a stashbuster, to use up various balls and half balls which were mainly leftovers from my first Spice of Life blanket. I had no particular plan for it, I thought it would end up with the charity Knit for Peace, but while we were away last week I read of an acquaintance’s tragic loss. Her father’s death was really sudden and the family are in pieces. I also found out that she is pregnant, the baby’s due in a few months. I really wanted to do something to reach out to her, rather than just leave a comment on her Facebook profile. So, I sent her a message asking if she’d like me to finish this blanket for her baby, a girl. This is part of her lovely, typically eloquent, reply:

‘I would be honoured to have your beautiful blanket- I think X would adore this and it will no doubt bring some brightness to us.

Thank-you so so so much xxxx’

So of course I can’t just add in any other leftover colours. I don’t think I would have been able to anyway; as I like this combination so much. These are the best reasons for breaking my do not buy any yarn rule. Now I’ll go back to only buying for specific projects, as usual. I just seemed to make blanket after blanket for several years, each with wildly differing colour schemes, as you can maybe tell from my Garter Stitch Blanket.

I’m so delighted to be making this for someone I know. It’s just not the same when you don’t know where it will end up, although I will continue sending items to Knit for Peace. 

I’ve just realised I photographed the wool I bought for my Cottage Garden CAL 5 years ago in the very same park, actually it’s probably almost in the same spot. And look who commented and liked the post – there are several lovelies who I’m in touch with and who still comment now. 


I don’t know why, but I just wanted to show you my new bag from the National Trust shop at Trengwainton, Cornwall. I really liked the blue zip thingys and strap, and the splash of orangey-red on the back. I can’t resist a new bag! 

What have you bought lately?

West Cornwall


Walking part of the south-west coast path, taking numerous photos some in the same spots as last year and the year before: “But it’s so beautiful”, staring out to sea watching gulls drift slowly along the coastline, pasties and cake or an ice-cream for lunch, stopping for an afternoon pit-stop of cider and snacks, guessing how many steps we’ve walked; then checking the pedometer, planning which fish or seafood to buy for dinner, making G&T in slightly too small glasses, swigging the leftover tonic from the can, looking at the OS map and wondering what the weather will do, crocheting in bed in the morning while looking out to sea and listening to an Alan Bennett play….

Holiday.

Hotter than Ibiza

My friend just sent a photo on WhatsApp of her legs up in the garden, with a glass of what she claims is water. It looks suspiciously like a vodka tonic to me but I don’t blame her if it is; as today it’s been hotter than Ibiza, Paris and New York, to name a few. 31 degrees! That’s hot for a country whose houses are all well insulated against the cold, where most people have wall to wall carpets and noooo A/C.

The frogs (we think, though maybe they’re toads and we’ve mistakenly identified them for years?) are taking it in turns to bask on the edge of the water tank in the garden. This is a tiny one. The bigger one was there yesterday and you can see s/he here

I tried to do some crochet, but it was really too hot and I had to give up when I realised the yarn was actually squeaking through my fingers….that’s pretty gross isn’t it?!

Instead I used my Nespresso machine and aeroccino to make iced coffees for the first time. Oh yes, there will definitely be more of these scrummy drinks.

For one iced coffee: make 40ml of espresso coffee, 90ml of cold frothy milk and 1-2 tsp of sugar syrup. Pour the hot coffee over lots of ice, mix in the sugar syrup and then stir in the milk.

I made a jar of sugar syrup for cocktails a while back and was so glad it was already there sitting in the fridge. I reckon an iced coffee habit is impending, so I’m sure I’ll have to make some more!

Waving


I’ve had terribly itchy fingers lately. I just really wanted to do some crochet, anything just to do some. I did have a good search for Log Cabin type blanket patterns. I might make one sometime, but for now I decided I wanted something I can pick up and add to whenever I want to. I don’t really like the way it looks when you add stitches along the sides of the central square. I tried a few patterns. The Wave stitch suits me better at the moment, and I like the way the colours flow.
 This is also another way to use up some of my leftover Stylecraft yarn from other blankets. This Wave Blanket is just going to be a small one, and will probably end up going to Knit for Peace with the last Star Ripple I made, as I don’t know anyone that needs them. Etsy is flooded with crocheters selling blankets, so I doubt it’s worth adding them. I enjoyed getting into the rhythm of the wave pattern last night, as I laughed along to an episode of Graham Norton.
I picked up A Ghost in the Machine by Caroline Graham yesterday at the library. I’ve never read or watched any of the Midsommer Murders but I read the first page to see if I liked the writing style and it looks good. Hopefully I won’t miss anything having not read the previous six. Before I go I have to highly recommend my last library read: The Woman Next Door by Yewande Omotoso. It’s witty, thought provoking and a perfect length. 


If you’d like to share what you’re making and reading this week, leave a link to your post in the comments and I’ll add it here. (Still haven’t found a DIY Linky thing which works with WordPress blogs, but I’ll keep looking.) Don’t forget to link back to this post on your blog, and use #yarningalong on social media, so others can find us and join us in Yarning Along.

I’ve had quite a few people say they’d love to join in but they don’t read fast/much/at all. Books are books, and non-fiction counts! Recipe books, craft, gardening etc etc, I just like to see what others are reading. 

1: Vikki Bird Designs

2: Wooly Cakes and Wooden Spoons

3: One Creative Cat

4: Mossy Road

5: Simply Summer Street

6: Kneedles and Wool