Sunday, October 28, 2007

Half-term pace

Finally half-term has arrived and goodness do we need it around here. A lovely week of doing very little, we have no plans to go rushing off anywhere, we will be staying in and doing lots of this sort of thing.

Charlie and Lola/Lauren Child are huge in this house at present and we recently finished reading this book.

Gosh it was good, I loved Pippi as a child and it was so good to be reading it to my children who were equally smitten with the red-haired heroine. Lauren Child's illustrations are perfect, we only wished there were more.

Tilly's winter wardrobe is developing. I just love the shape of these little dresses, based on a pattern from this book. You can see the Lauren Child influence in the floral embellishment on this one and I am so over excited about this. I already have a Lauren Child style butterfly cut out to be put on something, not sure what the something will be but if I don't find it soon the butterfly may very well end up embellishing something of my own.Re: Haloscan, seems to be working out for me so far, fingers crossed, some of you mentioned not wanting to lose old comments and this was my concern too, but they are all backed up so not gone forever which is a comfort.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Postman knocks twice

This week I have been very lucky in the post. Two wonderful parcels from two wonderful people.

First of all, from Cassie, currently blogless, but I hope we can persuade her to join us because she has some really interesting knitting projects on the go. She asked me some questions about Nora's Ink Flared Sweater which I made a while ago and I said that as I had yarn left over from the project I would be very happy to send it to her for swatching. This was really no big deal, I was happy to do it so I was completely overwhelmed when she thanked me with this lovely parcel, beautiful sock yarn in the most amazing tutti fruitti shades and this bubblegum pink cashmere (and it is so soft) scarf for Tilly, all wrapped up in tissue paper (tissue paper always seems to package the very best of presents) and tied with stitchmarkers. Tilly is delighted with her scarf and I have already cast on for socks. Yet more proof, if it were needed, that knitters are the very nicest of people.

Then the postman came again, this time with an exciting looking box from France. I won Yvette's "guess how many pairs of socks I could knit" competition and this incredible pile of goodies was my prize. The softest of sock yarn, in such pretty colours, assorted badges and toggles, the sort of thing we just love to have in a box ready for all sorts of projects and Dylan already has his eye on some of those badges. Wine glass markers, such a cool idea, a lovely pink brooch, these adorable little stitch markers, chocolate (and oh boy did the chocolate save my soul this week) and look at this velvet! Gorgeous, I am thinking a party dress for Tilly in Lola style, with a little solid coloured collar.

Knitters really are the very best of people and in a rather tough week these gifts have brought huge smiles to my face and made me feel all warm and fuzzy. Thank you so much Yvette and Cassie.

Some of you may notice that I am using Haloscan to manage my comments. I am hoping that this will make it much easier for me to respond to comments and I do hope that you all find it easy to use, I welcome any feedback you may have.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Something to play with

The Habu Kusha Kusha scarf was completed a while ago, I hurriedly wove in the ends and began wearing it immediately.

I love this scarf, I loved knitting with those threads, I loved watching and moulding the fabric created.

The pattern dictates light felting but I have not been able to bring myself to do this yet, it is so lovely as it is, I may yet felt, but for now I am wearing it un-felted. I am wearing it a lot, I love scarves and wear them often, the beauty of this scarf is the lightness of the fabric, light enough to wear indoors and out.

There is something addictive about this Habu stuff, go on, give in to the urge, knit with the thread, you know you want to....

Friday, October 12, 2007

Silk jewels

The imaginatively named silk carrier rods have become a necklace. I bought these at the Festival of Quilts in August and finally got arou
nd to playing with them. They are so simple to transform, you split them into layers and each one is a slightly different colour thanks to the dye process. They were then rolled, perhaps two slightly contrasting colours together, whatever your fancy. Secure with a stitch here and there, perhaps a bead and thread a needle with ribbon, before you know it, a necklace! Of course these have a multitude of uses, decorating gifts, a brooch, embellishing a bag.... Obviously I will need to buy more immediately. They are sold in various places, a google is sure to find you someone and they come in a myriad of colours including natural and are the by product of silk cocoon processing.

I really love how this necklace looks against the palette of my autumn/winter clothes, it really stands out against these darker backdrops and in the perfect note of cheer and colour on a grey day.

Bringing more colour to my days is my copy of The Gentle Art of Domesticity. My book arrived last week and I have been dipping in and out ever since. This is a visual feast, colour and whimsy abound and it is a great addition to my library of inspiration books. What makes this book a little different to some of my other "picture" books is the wealth of written content. I was pleased to see that this is not one of those books full of beautiful images but very little content, there is plenty of reading here too. It is very much in the style of Jane's blog and many regular readers there will recognise some of the topics and discussions revisited and expanded upon here. I have read many criticisms of this book and the lifestyle it seems to support and some of those criticisms have just been unkind while others have been well considered and written intelligently. Whilst the book would seem to suggest that Jane has a lovely home and can afford to knit with luxury yarns and quilt with expensive fabrics it seems equally obvious to me that these very Gentle Arts which Jane is enjoying to do not require vast sums of money or as some critics have suggested, the financial support of a very wealthy husband. As far as I can tell from reading, Jane does not suggest that women should stay at home to practise these arts, that may be her choice but it is perfectly possible to practise the domestic arts of an evening, after work and many people do, Jane in no way that I can see, suggests that this is undesirable. Rather, her book is a celebration of those arts, a lovely positive, uplifting read, encouraging anyone, whatever your circumstances, to enjoy these crafts and giving them the recognition they deserve.

Some critics have objected to the lifestyle that the book seems to portray, I really do not object to this and do not for one moment suppose that Jane's life is all roses (or rather, all tulips in this case!) and indeed I do not want a book which depicts those dreary, grubby parts of life, why would I pay to look at those? Plenty of them for free around here! One particular critic lumped Jane in with Nigella's latest television show and I have been curious about the criticism for this this too. It is a cookery show, not a fly on the wall documentary! Accusations of "faking" made front page news on one of
our tabloid newspapers the other week, how terrible that something like that should be front page when people are dying in the world, have we all become so obsessed with reality television that we have lost our powers of imagination and fantasy? Am I crazy for thinking that it would be very bizarre if anyone thought that this show was for real, surely it is obvious that most houses, even very nice Eaton Square ones, are not suitable for the demands of a television production crew? And as for the bus thing, did anyone really expect it to be real? Do these same people think that The Queen Vic is a real pub?

I am sorry, I am ranting a little, but front page news?!! I will open my beautiful book again and be transported to a place of calm, carried away by beautiful colours and intelligent, amusing and sometimes ironic words.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

More treasures of autumn

When walking off the roast dinner on Sunday we stumbled upon a crab apple tree in the woods, I immediately began to fill my pockets wit
h these waxy jewels. It was unexpected, we were looking for conkers, and in today's grey light these little bursts of colour give me huge pleasure.

Their simmering scent filled the kitchen while I made myself comfortable at the kitchen table yesterday morning and welcomed Jane into my kitchen (by way of radio). It was wonderful to listen to Jane talk about and defend her book on Woman's Hour, it felt as though she was defending me and my own life views and choices. I sat at the table and enjoyed the thought that other women like me were sitting in kitchens around the country (actually, the world I guess, given Jane's wide audience), perhaps drinking tea, perhaps some knitting or sewing to hand, and listening. All of us united for a moment. I often have to defend my decisions, my lifestyle, so listening to Jane yesterday and thinking about who else might be listening was a wonderful, comforting thought.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Seasonal tastes

Cinnamon and Cardamon Buns from the wonderful Falling Cloudberries.

What I want to eat is often very much influenced by the seasons and this applies to both savoury and sweet foods. Baking at this time of year experiences a subtle change in flavours and perhaps colours too. Is it a coincidence that so many of the ingredients I am reaching for at present echo the colours appearing outside? Cinnamon, ginger, golden syrup and so on. Since the children returned to school the teatime treats have included golden flapjacks, rockbuns studded with red cherries and treacle coloured raisins and autumn plum cake topped in crunchy demerara sugar.

There is something about the baking smells filling the kitchen that is so very autumnal too, as I breath in the heady sweet and spicy scents of nutmeg, ginger, cinamon, allspice and clove I feel warmed and exhilarated by the rustling of the leaves falling outside.

Autumn moves in to my crafting life too. The evening's knitting is made all the more pleasurable when there is a crispness in the air, so cosy to curl on the sofa, warmed by the woollen fabric pooling on my lap. I finally pulled out these silk carrier rods to work on, bought at the Festival of Quilts, back in August but now suddenly calling on me to be turned into something beautiful. I like Autumn, I met The Technical Advisor in Autumn and it always seems a good time of year to me, full of colour, perfect for long walks and long evenings, full of crackling promises for the months to come.