Friday, May 26, 2006

Attention, Attention, we have a finished object

Now some of you may have been thinking that for a knitting blog I don't seem to finish a lot of knitting and lately it feels as though this has been rather true, at least, anything I have finished I haven't been happy enough with to share, for example the Debbie Bliss silk top. However, here is proof that sometimes I do finish things. I started this Birch on 10th May (this year) and finished it yesterday. Somehow the weather forgot to rain yesterday so Birch did manage a little photo shoot in the garden, the light was rather poor but I thought it best not to risk waiting until today and how right I was because the weather pulled itself together overnight and started raining again.

This is my second Birch and I found it much easier this time, I used stitch markers from the start and at no point had to rip a whole row (and tear out whole handfuls of my own hair as a direct result). I have knitted on and off ever since I was a child but didn't seriously get back into knitting until about 4 years ago when I discovered Rowan yarns and Debbie Bliss patterns, I turned out baby knits like there was no tomorrow and then about 2 years ago I felt confident enough to move on to adult items but I would never have believed back then that I would end up knitting lace. I will never be a great lace knitter but I am learning as I go and improving all the time and I find it incredibly relaxing.

Anna wrote some time ago about knitting lace as therapy and The Champagne Bohemian wrote a beautiful post regarding her lovely Ene's Shawl. I find knitting lace absorbing, I can't whizz along paying little attention, the pattern requires a little more thought. As I get into the swing of it the repetition becomes soothing and as I watch the pattern emerge I feel enormously satisfied. The summer edition of Interweave Knits has a short article by Amy R Singer (of which mentioned the princess diaries, wow, what can I say, I guess there is a whole lot of therapy in that shawl. I would love to knit something like that but I don't think I'm up to it, there are definitely more Birches in my future though and I am very taken with Katherine's beautiful Fibertrends Lace Leaf shawl, the idea of knitting lace in Kid Classic is very appealing.

This Birch is intended for a very dear friend. She recently had her second child and I hope this will help her feel pampered and comforted. Her first child has just turned two and is very lively. Those first few months with the second baby and a toddler can be so tiring and leave you with very little time to yourself so she deserves something special. We go to visit this weekend and although I am pretty sure she will like the shawl I am a little nervous too.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Here comes the rain again

It is still raining here and so grey. The blossom has been blown off the trees the garden looks green but not much else. All this wet weather seems to have us craving sugary treats. On Friday I made a Honey Ginger Cake, from the River Cottage Family Cookbook, it's one of those cakes that needs to be left for a day or two to get really good, but that is asking a lot in this house and luckily it is pretty tasty when fresh too.
On Saturday the children spent a hour playing with play dough making pretend dinosaur biscuits and then we washed up the cutters and made the real thing using a Nigella recipe. On Sunday not only did we have Sticky Toffee pudding but Marcus was allowed to use the kitchen (under my close supervision) to make toffee with the children. Needless to say I now have furry teeth and a bit of a sugar headache but it has helped to distract us from all this rain.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

My Intrepid Explorer

Yesterday Dylan (age 6) told me he was leaving home. Initially I was a bit panic stricken, I mean I know I've had a lot of knitting projects on the go at the moment but surely I hadn't neglected the children that much! No, nothing we had done apparently, he just wants to experience living in the wild (actually, how he put it was, "I just want to live the wildlife" but through further questioning we managed to ascertain that he was referring to wild nature rather than wild debauchery). An every attentive mother I photographed his progress.... Above you see him dressed as a pirate clown (your guess is as good as mine). He took his tepee, no food because he plans to live by a lake and eat fish, I'm so pleased my healthy eating nagging has had an impact. I opened the door for him and commented on the rain (which let me tell you was not "soft rain" but more like and cats and dogs rain), I mentioned that the tepee might not be waterproof but he said he would just have to manage. He put on his wellies and stepped out onto the step. I said goodbye. A few minutes later I heard him kicking off his wellies, the tepee was abandoned in the porch and he ran upstairs to play with his sister shouting that maybe he would go tomorrow instead.

On the knitting front I am feeling rather headless chickenish at the moment. I have too many things on the go and many of them are for other people so panic has set in. Nothing seems to be getting finished, I need to calm down and focus on one thing at a time.

Last Friday I visited Abakhan Fabrics for cushion pads (obviously you all know I left with more than cushion pads but my husband reads this...). When the sun shines we like to lounge outside on piles of cushions and it seems you can never have too many. I love this floral fabric, it makes me feel instantly cheerful, I covered this big pad and plan to make a few more, in fact I have acres of this fabric (from an earlier visit to Abakhan) so I'm playing with the idea of making new curtains for the dining room or would that just be too much I wonder, the husband shuddered when I mentioned it but it wasn't an outright no.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Soft Rain, Soft Flowers

Today is what we call a day of "soft rain" back where I come from, a romantic sounding phrase which doesn't sound so bad but in fact refers to one of those grey, drizzley days. The rain never really gets going enough to require an umbrella but it is too wet to dry the washing and my hair frizzs just thinking about it. In fact it is the sort of day which features all too often in the weather of Ireland, Wales and I suspect (though do not have first hand experience so my apologies if I am doing you a diservice) Scotland. It is distinguished from a grey day in winter by the temperature, again, not warm enough to dry clothes but too warm for a fire to make things feel cosy. Every once in a while a cloud forgets itself for a moment and we have a peep at the sun but it never lasts for more than a few moments. As I write this I am listening to the radio news telling me of the proposed drought order in the South of England.

I did venture out this morning just to inspect the greenhouse seedlings (you should just see my hair now, remember Crystal Tips) and gathered some cheering lilac. We have one bush in the garden proper and several growing wild in our little woodland area. Now that the bulbs are over and my beautiful camelias just look soggy and somehow tawdry these are the only things flowering at the moment. The bushes are mostly rather leggy and mishapen but they make up for that with their wonderful scent. I didn't have my secateurs on me but on impulse just pulled some off anyway and they are now doing a marvelous job of cheering up my kitchen with that heady scent and such pretty shades of lilac.*

In the last week I've had news of my One Skein secret pal and my Rowanette Exchangee. I haven't taken part in anything like this before and have been ridiculously excited but now that it is actually beginning I feel a little nervous, I hope I haven't bitten off more than I can chew. I have one skein in my stash that might be suitable for my One Skein pal (if I can bear to part with it of course), the skein pictured here is laceweight silk from Curious Yarns. The colourway is Tired Roses, such a beautiful name. I treated myself to this at Christmas but as I haven't yet managed to knit anything with it maybe it should be re-homed with someone more deserving.

* While waiting for my photos to download I went blog reading and discovered that the lovely Yarnstorm also has a lilac led post today. It seems it is a day for lilac wherever we are. That Lorna's Laces looks so soft and sumptious.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

More Kidsilk Haze

I have a definate weakness for Kidsilk Haze. I love the soft, floaty, fluffiness of it and mostly I love the colours. This is not my usual colour range, it is very difficult to photograph but it is an incredibly vibrant reddish pink, almost on fire, but somehow cool rather than hot. It is destined to become a Birch shawl for a friend who recently had her second baby. She has the most unusual colouring, beautiful porcelain white complexion and several feet of fantastically thick orange hair. She looks fabulous is clear bright colours and as someone who always feels the cold I am hoping a Birch will be just the thing for summer evenings.

I finally finished my ribbed silk cardigan, I'm not happy. The sizing is terrible and it gapes at the back, I don't know what to do, I suppose I should rip but I can't bring myself to do it just yet. Perhaps I will photograph it and post at a later date, I can't bring myself to look at it right now. I needed some replacement tv knitting and had some 4ply cotton lurking in my basket so I began this last night. I can't wait to finish it and then dance around Italian streets with a hunky Dean Martin lookey likey, I expect to be transported back to 1950s Italy the moment I put it on, I wonder if I'll drive a scooter or a lovely old convertable? Ahh, I love fantasy knits.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Sunshine in the garden

The sun has been shining in our peaceful corner of North Wales for the last few days (in contrast to the forecast offered by the the two online weather services we checked). This has resulted in a burst of gardening energy from somewhere within me and much as I would have liked to sit down with my knitting while Tilly was busy washing up dishes in the sunshine, notice I sneaked a few plastic plantpots in there for her attention, I decided to make the most of it and answer the call of the wild.

Dylan was busy in a field with a stick, he has spent the best part of the weekend out there, not sure what he is doing but, I am brotherless so many of the doings of little boys are all new and mysterious to me.

And I have been trying to tame parts of the garden. Many of the seeds I sowed with such enthusiasm are now making a jungle of the greenhouse. It seems everything needs doing at once, potting on, hardening off or planting out. I am not very good at thinning out, it seems so wrong somehow, but I need to be more heartless. I now realise all the errors I made when eagerly sowing my seeds all those weeks ago. We'll never eat all those beans and while we enjoy pasta pesto as much as the next family, I wonder if it may actually be possible to overdose on basil? Yet I seem not to sown nearly enough potatoes or carrots and I am beginning to learn the importance of never ever forgetting to label!! My new mantra will be "write a label, you will not remember what it is, it is not obvious, your mind is like a sieve".

I did manage to find a little window of opportunity though, outdoor knitting, ahhh, does life get any better?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Flowers, Cats and Cakes

Look who I spotted about to pounce on her shadow...As you can see today I made a Pointy Kitty from the clever pattern on the lovely Wee Wonderfuls site. I love this quirky little kitty although I haven't added any features yet. I love the creations on this site and will certainly be purchasing the pattern book when it is available.

I've been gathering in the garden too, the weather is grey and stormy but this pretty posy brightens up the windowsill and smells fantastic too thanks to the heady scent from the Forsythia. I popped some ivy in with the bunch but had a little shiver of horror while cutting it thanks to Carols comments on my blog the other day. She told me her neighbour had warned her that the rats liked to hide in the ivy. I was pretty quick with my secateurs once that thought entered my head. By the way Carol, if you're reading, I am delighted I have you craving flapjacks and will be making more later in the week, I'll post the recipe then but if you can't wait I am happy to send you the recipe by email but have no contact details, you can email me, there is a link in the sidebar.

Dylan had a school friend back for tea today and I made my favourite apple cake for desert, happily the cake was a success, our little visitor had two slices. I always feel nervous feeding other people's children, sometimes they just don't seem to like anything I offer and I feel awful sending them home hungry.

I tried my best to photograph the cake for blog purposes but while my back was turned the husband started picking bits off! No patience. When I chastised him he replied that he is usually home too late and never gets to sample my baking straight out of the oven, I guess there are some childhood habits that just stay with you. So these are the shots I managed to get in quickly before the thing was totally demolished.

On the knitting front I am finally reaching the end of the Debbie Bliss wrap top, just the sleeves to go and they are very small. I have found this ribbing very slow going, I still love the yarn and the colour though which is a good thing, all too often the longer a knit drags on the more I go off the whole thing.