Tuesday, 30 October 2012

The Stash

I love half term. I like all holidays, of course, because it means life slows down a bit for a while and we spend time, together and apart, doing the things we like rather than things we have to do. Half terms, however, tend to be more productive because they are only a week long, so we make the most of them.

The first thing I did yesterday was replace the zip in child #3's favourite ever PJs. These were a Christmas gift from his Auntie and he wore them as much as possible since the day he got them until they fell apart. It was nearly summer by then and getting a bit too warm for them so they sat on the shelf waiting to be repaired until yesterday. Replacing the zip was a little more complicated than I had anticipated but I got there in the end...

One happy dinosaur again...I think he got his PJs on at about 6pm yesterday too, without being asked to of course.

After lunch it was time to face a fear. I had put it off for as long as I could but I knew I had to do it. I took Child #3 back to the skate park! I think, despite pestering to go, even he was a little apprehensive about it. I sat watching him intently for the first 15 minutes but he was ok. He fell off once just turning a corner but got straight back on. We stayed for 90 minutes, even by the end of it, every time he went up the ramp he fell off a week ago my heart missed a beat and my stomach flipped. He was fine, obviously, and this time we drove back home without a detour to A&E.

I was in the mood for a bit of a sort out yesterday and consequently, after fixing the zip in the morning, I sorted out the little basket that sits on the shelf with cotton reels, tape measures, pins, buttons etc. This then led to sorting out the sewing box (because I had to put some stuff from the basket into it), and then this led to sorting out the 'work in progress' box because I knew there were things in there that were from finished items rather than in progress ones. While I was at it I decided I may as well round up a few similar things from around the house (like the left over Emily Peacock kit supplies etc etc). Inevitably this resulted in a few bags of wool that needed a home in the stash cupboard. Here I hit a problem. There was no room (whatsoever!) in the stash cupboard.

I figured I could just do one shelf, which would then make enough space for these new items. It didn't wok, there was only one solution...to sort it all out. So this is it...this is 'The Stash'. This may also help you understand why I think I may have hoarding issues...

Child #3 was minding his own business (writing his Christmas list with aid of toy adverts) however he looked over when I took the above pictures.

"What are you doing?"

"Just sorting out my wool."

"Why is it all over the floor?"  (having wandered over and looked at it properly)  "AND WHY DO YOU HAVE SO MUCH??!!!"


"Do you want me to help?"   "Because you can't do THIS on your own, can you?!"

"That would be great"

"...right then" (as he stood there looking confused, scratching his head and frowning)

It was one of those 'who is the child and who is the adult moments'. Child #3 and I often find ourselves in this situation, stood by lots of mess, not knowing where to begin, but its usually in his bedroom facing stacks of toy cars or lego. This one was new.

So I explained the principal - that we were going to bag it all up so that wool of the same type was together. He was a little confused about wool type to begin with - i.e. surely cream wool is just cream wool...why did it go into different bags but he now understands the concept of cheap wool and expensive wool, and he loves the feel of mohair (luckily I managed to convince him a mohair scarf was really not the thing for boys to wear in the end). He was genuinely a big help and I think he did quite enjoy it...

Within an hour or so it was all sorted, and nicely fitted back into the cupboard! So now I am on a strict wool buying ban (unless it is solely to use up existing wool)...let's see how long that lasts...I know my weaknesses!

Right...I'm off to knit then.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Cath Kidston Shoulder Bag

I really was on a roll yesterday. After I finished telling you about the cushion and tunic I carried on sewing. Do you remember when I bought these?...

Well, the 'Sew!' book came with a kit to make the little bag featured on the cover. Consequently the remainder of yesterday was spent making it. It didn't take too long either (which is good for someone that has 'issues' with finishing things). At 3pm it looked like this...

These were taken between sometime before 5pm...

I stopped for some dinner and then finished the whole thing, apart from the button holes by 7pm. I decided to do the button holes by hand partly because I knew that finding the right bits for the sewing machine would be a mission given the current state of the stash cupboard. This is where everything goes - I say everything, but its currently full to the brim and therefore everything that doesn't fit is scattered around the house somewhere. I occasionally worry that when I'm old I will end up on one of those hoarder fly-on-the-wall documentary things, having to climb in and out of rooms containing bags of wool, fabric, paper, buttons, beads and anything else I that I cannot bear to part with, stacked to the ceiling. I do hope not anyway!

So, back to the bag, by about 9 ish it was finished...

I was quite proud. I don't do that much sewing because I'm often too lazy to get the sewing machine out and faff about with things when I can, instead, just grab some wool and a hook or needle and get going but I think I should make the effort to do more. They do make for quick 'finish in a day' projects too!

Sunday, 28 October 2012

In Bloom Cushion


It's finished,  whole 2 months ahead of target! I admit that I did get a little obsessed with finishing it though (noted by Child #1 'that's all you ever do these days!'...a little harsh I felt really, I did go to work, eat and sleep too!) Anyway, that's another finished project and now my two Emily Peacock cushions nicely brighten up my window seat..

However, not only did I finish the cushion but, since I had the sewing machine out, I figured it would be a good time to finish this one too...

Always handy to have a new summer top when snow is predicted I find! (Serves me right for leaving it unfinished for 4 months I suppose)...I'll just have to layer it for the winter!

Right, I'm off to carry on being productive...on a roll it seems. 

See you soon.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Hooks and Ripples

Hello! Well a whole week has passed since my last update and I'm pleased to say that Child #3 has almost completely recovered and is pestering to get back to the skate park. We don't have many plans for this half term yet but I will muster the courage to take him back there at some point I'm sure.

This week has been busy but thankfully I now get a week off to do what I like with. Work was a little stressful due to the end of year audit but despite a last minute hiccup it all went ok.

To keep myself sane during the audit I did make sure that I spent a bit of time each evening working on either the 'In Bloom' kit (which will be finished way before Christmas now) or my new project. I was itching to start this one since the Knitting and Stitching show when I bought this gorgeous, soft and bright Alpaca wool...

It was only £2.20 a ball from a little company called 'The Crochet Chain' in Essex. They have also been really helpful since then when I need to buy a bit more, so I will definitely be using them again.

Another reason I wanted to start this one was to try out my new hooks. When I learnt to knit about 5 years ago I initially used metal needles but then saw some bamboo ones in the shop and had to have them. Since then I've never knitted with anything other than wooden needles. When I started crocheting this year I went and bought some wooden hooks however someone told me that metal hooks are easier, especially with the smaller sizes, but I still didn't want to hold a metal hook. Then I found these at the show...

Best of both! Having tested them out I do agree that the metal hooks are nicer to use too. I didn't have a specific design in mind for the new wool and I did spend a bit of time on Ravelry trying to find some inspiration but in the end I decided to do some more ripples with this one too. It's just such a relaxing and therapeutic pattern and I wanted to perfect it too as the ripple blanket does have a few mistakes (especially at the start!).

I made a start, but it will take a while as I'm using a 2.5mm hook so these ripples are much smaller but so far so good...

I will keep you posted with our half term antics this week...keep reading!

Saturday, 20 October 2012

BMX 1 : Child #3 0

Well the day started well. It was sunny and warm for this time of year and consequently I was awake quite early but the wonders of technology mean that I can do my weekly shop under the warmth of my duvet at 7:15am while I wait for the heating to come on at 8 ish.  I was feeling quite organised today and 3 of us were out shopping in Chester by 10am with quite a random list to buy. Cushion inners, a bread knife, and beads amongst other things.

I promised child #3 that we would shop in the morning and BMX in the afternoon so while he ate cheese on toast I managed to finish this (that's why I needed beads)...

So there it is...another finished project. This does mean, of course, that I can now begin another (I finished the Vivod decoupage too remember). The next project will use the rather gorgeous Alpaca wool I bought last week which I have been itching to use ever since then.  I just need to decide exactly what I am doing with it but I think it will be another crochet project.

After lunch, with new wool in tow and a BMX, child #3 and I set off to the usual skate park where I knit/read etc and he throws himself off ramps. Literally today. All was good...I watched him riding around, in between testing crochet patterns and talking to the rest of the nest by text. All was good until child #3 misjudged the ramp, and landed head/face first on the concrete almost under the bike and apparently knocked himself out briefly. Within 20 mins we were both in an ambulance back to Chester...child #3 far less impressed by this ambulance than he normally would be by emergency vehicles. Smiling was clearly not going to feature any time soon either....

No smiling....sympathy please!
We spent a couple of hours in A&E...not bad really I guess. I think we would have waited less had child #3 not concerned the staff by falling asleep so much and refusing to smile or walk unless coaxed into it! So the rest of the day was taken up by child #3 reading and reiterating the 'Head Injury (child) Information' leaflet the doctor gave him to anyone that would listen. His somewhat superficial grazing also seems to have earned him explicit use of the TV over his sisters - which he is milking entirely. He also, of course, has me wrapped around his little finger and attending to his every need...and then some.

Boys will be boys I guess! 

Thursday, 18 October 2012


One of the best things about working in education is the random events that take place throughout the year and I've been a little bit excited about this week for a while. In case you didn't know, this week is 'International Wool Week' and I was asked if I could spare some time to help students learn to knit this week. Unfortunately I hadn't planned on Auditors being in this week as its usually carried out nearer the beginning of October so sadly I couldn't spare much time. I did, however, pay attention in SMT this week when 'Live Sheep' were mentioned (its amazing what appears on the Agenda sometimes). None the less its true, yesterday we did have real sheep in the Art building!! They didn't look very happy to be honest but then again what does a 'happy sheep' look like? I had to go and check these out for myself so imagine my delight at not only finding sheep but also an entire spinning guild set up in the gallery!!! 

Despite having a to do list that still doesn't seem to be reducing at all I just couldn't resist  asking for a quick spinning lesson and it was so much fun. I was completely rubbish at though but I was wearing inappropriate footwear and finding it impossible to just 'relax and let the wool slip though your fingers', as I was advised. Every muscle was tense no matter how hard I tried not to be but it is one of those skills you just need to practise for hours to get it right.  This is me, 'attempting' to spin some wool...

The lady that was showing me was so patient and understanding too, and she gave me my efforts to keep...

I don't think it would knit up very well somehow!  Of course I am now spending a little time here and there searching ebay for spinning wheels.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

A little decoupage

I've been busy. I started these yesterday evening and I'm really pleased with them!

I nearly had a go at decoupage last year but for some reason I changed my mind. When I found these MDF letters on sale yesterday I just couldn't resist making this. 

So here is how I have spent the last few waking hours of my life. The letters were 3 for £10 (or £4 each) hence there is a heart too. I wouldn't have thought to add it without the offer but I'm glad I did now.

Once I figured out which order to use the colours, and watched a couple of You Tube videos to check that I was doing it right, it didn't take long to get the first letter finished....

That was finished at about 10:45 pm. Having got up at 5 am I really should have gone to bed but I just couldn't help myself...

So I did the 'I' too before bed! This morning I finished the rest off in a about 3 hours...

Now I just need to figure out where to hang them and how to hang them. I'll think of something. So that's another finished project, if I complete another then I get to start one of the others I bought yesterday too. I'm feeling very motivated all of a sudden.  I do also have a LOT of glue and paper left over from the letters above so any object I consider 'dull' around my house better watch out!

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Knitting and Stitching Show

Today has been a fantastic day!  It started a bit too early for a Saturday but it was worth it. I was up at 5 am so that I could catch the 6:21 am train to London! (£13.50 fare rather than £40 upwards at a more convenient time of day.)  It was cold, dark, raining and miserable but I was in such a good mood I didn't care.

To get into the spirit of things I crocheted all the way to London so only another 46 little squares to go now too. The journey was good, and straight forward despite the Victoria Line being completely shut all weekend (resulting in lots of very grumpy people it seemed). The best bit was probably the short bus journey from Wood Green station up to Alexandra Palace. The queue for the free shuttle bus was immense so when a normal bus turned up many of us jumped on that one instead, ('many' being about 80 women). There was a lone man sat at the back at the time minding his own business, upon being joined by so many knitting 'crazy' women he just couldn't stand it any longer and left pretty quickly to stand near the door (still surrounded by more crazy women though). I think he was slightly concerned that he may have got ambushed into the knitting show which, it appeared, would have been a bit of a nightmare for him! His loss...he didn't realise what he was missing.

So here we are - Alexandra Palace - Knitting and Stitching show 2012...

I did feel quite a home very quickly when I found this within the entrance area...

So...maybe, instead of getting annoyed with my unfinished projects, I should just turn them into an art form as they are?! That's exactly what was inside there - lots of unfinished work with the stories that went with them. It was fascinating but I think I will stick to my original plan of actually finishing mine.

The above picture was taken about half an hour after the show opened. Within an hour you couldn't move it was that busy - I was slightly amused by those people that were irritated by the crowds...what were they expecting?!  This is the picture I took while eating a blueberry muffin for lunch (er...diet?! hmmm)...

So much wool...in so many colours...

There was some completely stunning quilts that I wasn't allowed to photograph but we were able to take picture of these ones, below. They are good but not as incredible as the others.

These quilts were about 5ft square so still reflect substantial effort.

I will tell you why this is here in a later post...

Finally, on the way out I found this. I've been to a couple of model villages in the past but nothing quite like this before...

I'm sure child #3 will be overjoyed when he gets knitted model railway stuff for Christmas!...maybe not :-( ...still tempting though!

Amazingly I was really good and stuck to the budget but that still meant that I left the show with at least 4 new projects. I am planning on making a start on the first of those right now and I'm not telling you what it is just yet either. I knew I wouldn't be able to resist a new start today but I am technically allowed 1 new project so all is still good! This one is something entirely new too...I nearly had a go at it last year but never got around to it.  Here goes then!

I'll be back soon.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Chickpea Curry

I've been getting into the winter spirit today! I think this was because when we left the house this morning at 7:40am the world looked like this....

Cold, dark and very very foggy. I was very tempted to put my scarf on too but I decided that early October was just too soon. Anyway the weather did improve, thankfully, as the day went on.

I've been trying to keep on top of things at home and therefore, having got home from work early today, I decided to make tomorrow's dinner a day early. This dish is one of those that always tastes even nicer the following day. It is a lovely wintery meal too...and good comfort food without loads of calories (yes, I am actually more committed to the diet this week...well so far anyway).

Having spent a couple of years trying to follow recipe after recipe in an attempt to find a good vegetarian curry, only to be disappointed, I discovered this one without following anything but simply chucking lots of stuff into a big pan that I thought might be nice. It was, and even the nest agreed! (They are't usually that great with the hippy style stuff.)

So this is it...it looks bad I know...but tastes delicious.

So, just in case you fancy giving it a go this is what I throw in it:

1 large white onion
2-3 cloves of garlic
About 8-10 new/baby potatoes with skins
2 pints of veg stock
A decent amount of hot curry powder
An average amount of ground turmeric
An average amount of ground cumin
Quite a bit (because I love it) of ground coriander
a few bay leaves
about 4-6 fresh tomatoes chopped into 8ths
2 tins of chickpeas
3 or 4 handfuls of red lentils
half a big bag of baby spinach
If I have any in the fridge I also add some cauliflower too and fresh chilli.

I fry the garlic and onions, and then add the potatoes for a few minutes before everything else gets added. I then leave it all to simmer for about an hour (ish - there's no real science to it). We eat it on its own, or with some rice or flat breads. It really is my kind of cooking - minimal effort...maximum taste. 

Give it a go...dare you!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Jam Tarts

Yesterday was lovely. I didn't go anywhere or do anything spectacular, it was just a nice family day at home with my youngest. We watched TV, did our own thing, and baked some jam tarts. I've not attempted pastry with any of the nest before (partly because I only learnt to make it last year!) so I wasn't sure how he'd get on but I was pleasantly surprised as his baking skills. I barely did a thing to be honest.

He thought I was crazy to suggest he used his hand to mix it but he soon got into the idea...


They were a bit scrummy! We ate them with custard after a delicious Sunday dinner (at which child #2 was present and content to be there!).

I also made a start on these this weekend...

They do form part of an existing project so all is good. Well it was until I calculated that I needed to make 54 of these! Oh well...they keep me busy and away from snacking  anyway. I didn't really commit to the whole diet thing last week, partly because the kitchen was full of home baked sugary stuff until Wednesday! So this week I am going to be far more dedicated...maybe.

See you soon.