Sunday, July 30, 2006

Some Knitting

This is Arabella. Knitted in Cotton 4ply as the pattern states. In spite of being 4ply this was really very quick to knit. I made it longer than the pattern states but have to say it is still a little too short to wear with my favourite jeans (two nine and half pound babies have left my reasonably flat stomach somewhat puckered and I prefer to keep it under wraps).

I actually finished it several weeks ago but have only just taken the photographs. I am particularly pleased with the crochet trim as this is my first real attempt at crochet and it took an absolute age. I do like this vest and am wearing it with a vest underneath to solve the tummy problem, I would consider making another one but perhaps adding some waist shaping this time as I am finding that knitted garments with a little shaping are much more flattering to my rather boyish shape.

Look, look, look what joy the postman brought on Saturday. This was accompanied by a break in the recent hot dry weather, making the browsing of autumnal knits all the more enjoyable. It's a good one, I need to study it more in depth but there is one sweater in particular which I am aching to knit and some exciting looking new yarns. I will provide more details later in the week when it is up on the Rowan site and I can provide appropriate links. Sunday night lies ahead with sofa, tea and Rowan 40, what could be better?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Summer Bag

I made this bag a couple of weeks ago but have only just got around to taking the pictures. I used some old linen which I have had stashed for a few years, and the flower was my first ever attempt at hand embroidering (apart from primary school). The stitching is pretty terrible on close inspection but I am still pretty pleased with the results. I made the bag to accompany the dress I planned to wear to Chester Races but of course ended up wearing something else at the very last moment so the poor bag hasn't been anywhere yet. I'm not quite sure what to do with now but a girl can never have too many bags I guess.

The weather is still hot and dry here and my garden is rather wilting, we are not in a hosepipe ban zone but I try to be thrifty with my water all the same, I water vegetables but never grass. We have however filled the paddling pool.....Here you see Cap'n Jack sailing his boat, watch out Jack, I think I see the deadly Pirate Queen Grace O'Malley on that island over there.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Afternoon Tea

Last Wednesday's Women's Hour programme on Radio 4 discussed the rise in popularity of Afternoon Tea. They had a gentleman from Clarridges who brought the "tea" and tea consultant/writer Jane Pettigrew. Apparently afternoon tea is more popular than ever and establishments like Clarridges and The Ritz are booked weeks in advance. I have been longing for some time to take tea at the Ritz and now it seems that should the opportunity arise I probably won't be able to get a table, typical huh... I should have known it was becoming the "in" thing, a well known author with whom I am very slightly acquainted, in a friend of a friend type way, recently held her book launch party there; a sure sign that it is the "thing to do".

I haven't always been a tea drinker although I have never objected to the accompanying scones and cakes. As a student, some years ago, all I drank was cheap Cabernet Sauvignon and occasionally we sipped tea in the Chinese restaurants we used to frequent in London's Chinatown. Later when frantically climbing the career ladder in a busy media type company I survived on buckets of very strong coffee and the odd martini or 5, it is only in my current reincarnation as a Mummy that I have come to truly appreciate the restorative nature of a nice cup of tea. Nowadays I drink only one cup of coffee a day and that is first thing in the morning, I don't intend to ever give it up although I consciously took a decision to seriously cut down on my caffeine intake. My morning coffee is to be savoured, I drink it in the few minutes after the children have finished breakfast and been sent upstairs to start getting dressed, I sit for a few minutes to drink my coffee, maybe read some emails or flick through post and it ia pleasurable few moments. Tea has taken over as my drink of choice but I am fussy. I have discovered that I like my tea without milk and I am particularly fond of Green Tea, my current favourite being Jacksons of Picadilly Green Tea with Jasmine. My favourite cup of tea is the one which accompanies a slice of cake, lemon drizzle being perfect.

We do not regularly indulge in a full afternoon tea although we do manage a teabreak with some sort of baked item most days. This Friday we celebrated the start of the school holidays with a full and proper afternoon tea. We had cucumber sandwiches, scones with rasberry jam and clotted cream and of course some cake. A fresh white table cloth made it feel all the more enjoyable. Tea for the adults and Rasberry Milkshake for children. Our world slowed down for a few minutes while we took our time to enjoy and it was widely decreed that it should be a weekly event. Guess I had better work some extra steps into my week then if I'm going to keep that clotted cream off my waistband.

Friday, July 21, 2006


Today is the last day of term and a momentous one for our family in several ways. Tilly will attend playschool for the last time, in September she begins "big school", I felt a little emotional as we dropped her off this morning, it has been such a lovely happy place and Tilly has really enjoyed her time there, she has made friends, baked cakes, made soup, planted seeds, painted pictures, and so many other things. When first moving to this area I despaired of finding a playschool I was happy with, Dylan attended a Montessori Nursery where we used to live and I longed to find something similar, I was over the moon when I walked into this place and quickly new it was perfect for Tilly. Her move up to "big school" means we don't have a baby anymore I suppose.

It is also a big day for Dylan, in September he will begin Year 3 in a new school, he has been very happy in his present school but we moved out of the area in October and have been travelling in all this time, we now feel really settled out here and with Tilly begining part-time school it makes sense to move them to a closer school rather than add another 15 mile round trip to our day. The school Dylan currently attends is bi-lingual through the medium of English but the new school will be bi-lingual through the medium of Welsh, we are all a little nervous but love the feel of this small village school and hopefully it will be a good move for all of us.

Dylan drew these pictures and I machined them, the sewing is poor, I have never attempted anything like this before, but I am still rather pleased with the results and Dylan was delighted, they are his gifts to his wonderful teacher and her assistant.

Now I'm off to make the most of my last childfree day for weeks and weeks by finishing this little pile.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

One Skein Treats

The postman brought me another package this week. Its arrival aroused my usual reaction of childish delight and excitement, I just love getting parcels in the post. I made myself a cup of tea before opening just to prolong the whole event and slowly began to open before, of course, breaking down and tearing gleefully. Ta da, my One Skein Exchange gift for this month. Oh it was lovely to unfold the tissue paper and discover the softest of yarns in this beautiful pale heathery shade.

The yarn is Artesano Alpaca, Inca Cloud and it is fabulously soft and light. But look, what are these things attached to the yarn? My Pal made me a "magic ball", just for me, wow! I have heard about these before and am overwhelmed that someone went to the trouble of making one for me, such a lovely, thoughtful gift. There was also an adorable little mini pink clothes peg clipping the ball band to this brilliant Loose Knits card. The line reads "She dreamed of a wild, dangerous life tinged with anarchy" which made me giggle and I am also intrigued by the lovely cable knit this feisty lady is sporting, yes, I know, I am a true knitting nerd.

I know I have said this before, but it is such a pleasure to take part in these exchanges and receive such thoughtful, tailored gifts. I hope to send of my Rowan Exchange gift this week, I just have seaming to complete but this hot weather seems to slow me down rather a lot. My One Skein package is ready to post too, I do hope my recipient is as happy as me.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Catch Up

I am so behind with my blog and indeed with reading blogs. My father came over from Ireland and spent a week with us which has been fantastic but it feels like ages since I sat down at the computer for a little blog time. It is so lovely to read the comments on here and I can't even begin to describe what a thrill it gives me when someone takes the time to comment so if I haven't replied to your comment please accept my apologies, I should be catching up on everything this week.

The week started with some rather chilly and definitely gloomy weather but more than made up for it by midweek. We did some sight seeing of course, firstly the obligatory tour of our neigbour's garden.

We also went to Portmeirion. This was my very first visit to Portmeirion and we almost didn't go, we were setting out later than planned and I wasn't sure the children would enjoy this village but we made good time through the mountains and decided to give it a go. I was so wrong about the children, they loved it, this place is sort of like a gigantic adventure playground. The weather was perfect and we had some great games of hide and seek.

Sailed a (stationary) boat.

And played pirates on a fantastic desert island beach.

The children have made me take the pirates oath to return soon and we definitely will. It is always strange to see a place with which you are already very familiar via media images and sometimes the real thing can be disappointing but this was a great experience even without the appearance of Number Six.

I did manage a little sewing and knitting, more of that tomorrow as blogger is unwilling to allow me any more photographs this evening.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Sweet Things

The excitement of a package in the post never wanes for me and indeed when I am expecting something I am often to be found on tenterhooks awaiting its arrival. I was very excited when on my return from the school/nursery run I found an unexpected package awaiting me on the doormat. Hmmm, I wasn't expecting anything, what could it be? I began to boil the kettle trying to prolong the whole experience, going through my recent purchases, no nothing outstanding, slowly I began to open and then unable to hold on any longer I was ripping at the jiffy bag.

Oh wow, just look at the beautiful gift inside, my Rowanette Exchange Gift is the most perfectly knitted hot water bottle cover (hot water bottle included might I add). The colours are perfect for me and the yarn is beautiful, not one I have come across before, Diakeito, a Japanese yarn, very soft and as I hope you can see from the photographs beautifully coloured. Kathleen has added a lovely co-ordinating velvet ribbon.

My package also included a box of Scottish chocolates, which I will testify are scrumptious, this lovely card and a cute fridge magnet which made me laugh. This is my first ever Rowanette Exchange and I am so glad to be participating. In fact this is the first time I have ever received a handknitted gift and it is so overwhelming to receive something which has obviously had so much thought and work put into it, Kathleen must have paid careful attention to my likes and dislikes and the colours she chose are so lovely, very like my beloved Clapotis in fact. It turns out that Kathleen has my dream occupation, she owns a yarn shop. Yes readers, contain your jealousy, I know all us knitters harbour yarn shop dreams. Kathleen's shop is called Fankle and is to be found in Troon, Ayrshire, so now I am picturing her surrounded by dramatic scenery and all shades of wool. The shop sounds lovely and I do hope I have an opportunity to visit one day. Thank you so much Kathleen and now I only hope my recipient will be as happy as me.

Friday, July 07, 2006

It's not that I've forgotten my knitting

Another sewing post. I feel rather disloyal to my knitting but I still knit every day and can't imagine sitting on the sofa of an evening without my knitting to hand however I can't talk much about my knitting at the moment as it's my Rowan Exchange gift, so I'm being secretive. I have been frantically trying to finish it inspite of other ideas on the part of the knitting, it has been causing me lots of problems and there has been fair bit of ripping but I think I'm nearing the end now, the finishing will take a bit of time but hopefully it will be a success otherwise I will be seriously panic knitting an alternative.

I have been having much sucess with my sewing though, it is lovely to see a project come together so quickly. I started this Amy Butler Madison bag last weekend, as soon as I finished the Hustle in fact, and it really didn't take long to complete. I am so glad I did this project as I have lots of ideas for my own bags but really wanted to follow a pattern to get my head around the details. This was a very straightforward pattern and taught me plenty. I didn't use a very stiff interfacing as I wanted something squashy and instead of using velcro as a closure I used this magnetic closure which was very simple to apply. I am delighted with the end result and indeed it is in use already. My next sewing project is a bag to take me to Chester Races next week, fingers crossed that it comes together in time.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Do you want to watch me hustle?

Ta da! So, I saw the skirt on nikki-shell's site on Saturday of last week, ordered the pattern from the lovely Miss Twiss the following day, it arrived on Friday which I think is pretty good going all the way from Canada to our far flung hillside in Wales. I went fabric shopping immediately and started cutting the moment the children went to bed on Friday night. I finished the hem on Saturday morning and was wearing it on Sunday.

I love the pattern, I really like the quirky bustle and it was so simple to do. I left the ruffle off because I felt it was too much with this particular fabric but the next one (yes, there will definitely be more) will likely be ruffled. Not only was the service very speedy but the pattern is so beautifully hand drawn on good heavy paper making it possible to reuse it over and over again, if anyone is hmmming and haaaing about making this then I urge you to procrastinate no more, just go for it, imagine the pleasure of sewing something wearable in a matter of hours, and I even took the time to press seams and all that.

I have used an Amy Butler fabric this time which I think gives it a lovely summery look but I am already picturing a tweedy hustle for Autumn.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Sunshine and Fabric

Yesterday I popped (30 miles) to Abakhan Fabrics for the first day of their sale. I got there about 10ish but it was already busy, I was amused to notice a number of abandoned husbands sitting in the sunshine by the coffee shop, most of them seem settled in for the morning with crosswords underway, Abakhan is not a place you visit quickly. My day was already off to a good start before I even arrived as I met the postman on my way out and he handed over my eagerly awaited Hustle Bustle Pattern and an Amy Butler pattern. I headed straight for the special offer hut, and snatched up a couple of meters of lovely scarlet jersey fabric for about 75pence per metre. Looks like there will be a lot of red T shirts in this family's future. Then I went to the "by weight" remnants department, there are always treasures to be found here and I had to take a deep breath and restrain myself at one point. As more and more people arrived I began to get a little panicky and was actually hiding things I couldn't carry/make my mind up on in fear that someone else might have them instead, I know it sounds crazy but things can get a little nasty in there, you should never, ever leave your choices unattended.... I am really pleased with everything I got and actually have intentions for pretty much all of it, well maybe not the polka dot cord but how could I refuse polka dots?

Friday night saw me already getting to work on the Hustle, in fact I finished it off this morning but I will post properly on that tomorrow.

We have had much warmth and sunshine for the last couple of days and one of my more popular Abakhan purchases was a hammock. You see it here being put to good use this morning, Dylan and Tilly used sticks as oars and went sailing down the Amazon.

Tilly soon realised she may as well let Dylan do the work.

Later there was even time for a little hammock knitting. I think this was money very well spent.