Monday, August 18, 2014

August

My knitting is growing effortlessly. This is the front. It is such an easy and satisfying jumper to knit. 

I still have a white winter vest/jumper to sew together and knit the neckline of, and the second sleeve of my chunky jumper to finish. I think I have enough knitting to keep me going through winter. I'd also like to knit a cardigan or a dress for friends who are due a baby in November, but I'm not sure if I'll get that together. Could be a quick knit. I've really gone off knitting for other people! When I started knitting I only ever knitted for my Godson, Felix. That was the impetus for starting knitting, when he was born. I think the first cardigan I ever knitted was a blue cardigan for him, and I knitted FELIX in bright green into the back! 
I've been to see a couple of writers at the Edinburgh Book Festival. Above is AL Kennedy. I hadn't initially bought tickets to see her, as I've seen her a few times now, but when I went to see Rebecca Hunt a couple of days before I caught the 'Book Festival' bug and there were tickets left for AL. Both events were great. I miss being in that atmosphere of discussing ideas. That was the best part of the masters degree I did - spending a  whole year talking about writers and books and ideas. 
This is my funny brood of poultry friends. I have grapes in my hands, which is why Duck has jumped onto my back. The chicks are in amongst the older hens, but particularly now (a couple of weeks after this photo was taken) it's difficult to tell the difference in size. I often mistake one of the chicks for a similar-looking hen. And there is Swann, the goose, right at the front. I'm so glad we let her free range. We would probably have got round to releasing her much sooner if the other goose we rescued hadn't made such an upsetting run for freedom (she succeeded) just before Christmas, a day after we rescued her. Such a shame. Anyway, Swann seems happier and has various buckets and bowls of water that she guddles around in with her sticks and mud. 
This photo was taken soon after we released her from her pen. I was still spending a bit of time with her to encourage her to be anchored to the area/us.
We're still waiting to be revealed to us which chicks are hens and which are cockerels, but we think Bread is most definitely a cockerel. I've developed such a good friendship with him, though. He lets me pick him up and cuddle him every day. I pop him on my lap and he settles down and sometimes has a mini-nap and sighs and snores. I think he likes the warmth of my body heat. It isn't too long ago they were all still popping under Delphis for a cuddle/heat up.
We went to the Peebles Agricultural Show on Saturday. I was really looking forward to it, and we had taken a large group of friends and their associated children/relatives. I love the colour of the eggs above. We could definitely win with some of our eggs if we could encourage all of our girls to lay in the laying boxes! Squeaky Cheese's eggs are beautiful.
Always good to see the alpacas. Love the natural colour of their fleeces.
I've been missing Turkey recently. I often wonder what Turkey and Swann would have made of each other. Turkey wasn't keen on any new birds coming into her territory, especially if they were reddy-brown in colour (she particularly seemed to hate the Isa Browns, until they were fully integrated and then they were best buddies, sleeping next to each other on the perch). I think Swann would have won the pecking order game between the two of them though but I don't know. Turkey could make herself puffed up and impressive when she was annoyed. I particularly miss cuddling Turkey. For six months of the year she was in her cuddly phase. I liked putting my face next to hers because she was so HOT. The other six months of the year she skipped away when I tried to touch her. She was an absolutely beautiful creature. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Autumn

Spring and Autumn are my favourite seasons. I like the changes in the countryside, and the feeling of progress. The Great British Bake Off has started (two weeks earlier than last year!) and it is perfect viewing for knitting yet another TV jumper (an amended version of Sarah Dallas's jumper from Vintage Knits). I LOVE this warm yellow colour. 
I have an expensive new habit - teapigs earl grey. It is SO nice. 
Yesterday I spent a mammoth day digging up onions and potatoes. The potatoes were back-breaking: pulling the plants, trawling for the potatoes, laying them all out in the sun/fresh air to dry, dusting them off, bringing them inside and laying them all out again to further dry but not expose them to too much light so they turned green and poisonous, and finally sorting them into three hessian sacks - perfect, almost perfect, and scabby. We'll eat the scabby ones first. The scabby potatoes are edible but they don't store. All in all a much better crop than last year. I think we have a higher yield, and last year ALL the potatoes were scabby and after all the work we'd put into growing them it was quite upsetting when we pulled them and they looked awful and we knew they wouldn't store over winter.
The onions are a semi-success. They took up a whole bed and I think in total we have about 30 onions. Some of the sizes are a bit small. 
Now that the two beds are clear (we still have maincrop potatoes to pull up) I'm hoping to plant turnips, and wondering if I still have time to plant Brussels sprouts and even broccoli? Will visit the garden centre tomorrow.
Last Saturday my eldest nephew, Stuart, got married. His son, Calvin, is the boy on the left. And on the right is my other nephew's son, Keigan. They both look so cute in their kilts. They were most impressed with having a pretend dagger, which you can just see sticking out of Calvin's sock. When I look at Keigan I can see my sister, my dad and my grandmother in him. They all have/had a sunny disposition. Keigan's sister Lucy is the same. It was a great day.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Bread and Butter

This is Bread. I love him. We've got into a routine of having a cuddle on the grass when I get home from work. I pick him up, plop him on my lap, and he settles down and sometimes sighs. He's the sweetest chicken. 
I sewed together my Turkey feather skirt. It looks better than the photo shows. I'm really pleased with it, though it did take me six hours in total (and it was already cut out). I decided to do French seams as I'd seen them on the Great British Sewing Bee, but of course I hadn't factored that into the seam allowance, so it came out an inch too small in the waist and I had to unpick the WHOLE seams, both sides.
I just love this photo. A misty morning photo.
And this. I love spring and autumn, and am looking forward to the season changing.
Another shot of Bread, with Butter on the left. They hang around together a lot. Butter is such a shockingly beautiful colour.

This is my first week of working four days a week. I dropped a day. I have to keep reminding myself I only work four days now. I feel like I've been in a work tunnel for the past two and a half years, so I'm ECSTATIC I have an extra day off a week. Hoping to redress the work/life balance. I also moved to a new office and so far I'm really enjoying it. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Driving Knitting Egg

Yesterday we drove through to see Hagos's mum in Ayrshire. I have a thing where I like to have easy access to my current projects. So when I'm on the chaise longue at night, watching TV with Meg on my lap, I like to have my laptop, knitting, reading book, notebooks and pen, and a small plate with two pieces of dark salty chocolate within easy reach. Likewise when I travel I put most of the same in my laptop bag. I used to have a similar thing when I toured. My projects would be found stuffed down the side of my bunk bed. I think it's my version of a security blanket.

So, yesterday on the 3 hour round trip, I cast on and started knitting the TV jumper. I LOVE this colour of wool. It's so gorgeous. And much as I like the quick results of chunky knitting (see below) I think my preferred wool weight is 4 ply. It's just so satisfying.
I finally picked up and continued my chunky ribbon jumper again last weekend. I knitted one whole sleeve in two evenings of TV-watching. So quick! Oh, and also cast on the second sleeve, as you can see. This is exactly the same as the jumper I knitted my friend Lynsey a couple of winters ago. And the same as the green version I did for myself a few years ago too. 
When I've finished the whole jumper and sewn it together, I'm planning to dye the whole thing BLUE! I had thought of doing the same to Lynsey's jumper. This white/pink/blue combination isn't my colour scheme at all. But when I finished Lynsey's I didn't have the courage to dye the jumper in case the whole thing felted, which would have left me present-less (I think I made it for her birthday). But, with my own jumper it doesn't matter so much. I think a deep or petrol blue. I'll post the results! Should all be finished in time for WINTER.
And this is a gratuitous shot of an egg. Isn't it a beautiful thing to find first thing in the morning? Perfect in its imperfection. 

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Wool Scones Chickens

I've had my eye on this wool for a while. I love this part of the colour spectrum - yellow, warm yellow. This will be my winter TV jumper. I ordered it from a company called Love Knitting, and I love that it came in this gauze bag. Little details like this make a difference. I would definitely order from this company again. 
Today we had no bread so I quickly baked scones to go with our soup. It was either that or nothing. And I love my own scones. They're light and delicious just with butter.
I've been spending a lot of time with my animal friends lately. The new chicks, and Swann (our goose) take a fair bit of attention, but I like to make sure the old girls are given special treatment too. This is Yoko, one of our original girls. 
But the chicks' antics are very entertaining. This is Bread. We think Bread is a cockerel. He's a beautiful creature. Amazing colouring. Bursting out of his body. He reminds me of the Incredible Hulk because I can almost see him expand, he's growing so quickly.
This is Delphis and her wee family. They're so cute when I see them coming towards me. I just love them. They are mixing well with the other hens and goose. I'm so impressed by Delphis's qualities and dedication as a mum. And they love her so much.
This is The Secret Herb Garden in Damhead. A new place we were told about. I loved it, particularly the shop, which sell such diverse items as bee suits and glassware, pencils, soap, chocolate honeycomb… I particularly covet The Tub/The Hub? I don't remember what it's called but when Virginia Woolf wrote about A Room of One's Own she could have been writing about this. A gorgeous room, with a desk, a window and two armchairs. I want it, badly.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A finished jumper!

I finally finished my Rowan Tweed jumper. The above photo doesn't capture the colour. It's much more of a lush, deep green. It didn't take long to sew the final sides and arms. I didn't try to do it with any kind of delicacy - it was more like sewing fabric together - there is a seam! I'm really pleased with it. And glad it's finished.
I'm in an intense period of work at the moment. Colleagues on holiday, a new colleague just started and staff movement. My brain was so tired by the time I left on Friday, and I have another two weeks of the same! So, apart from yesterday where we went out to McDonalds for my Godson's birthday, we have been hunkering down and not doing much. I actually got a fair bit of housework done this morning, without it feeling stressful, but the rest of the weekend has been spent on the couch, under a blanket, sewing together my jumper, watching old episodes of Strictly Come Dancing (a great series from 2011!), reading Famous Five and Donna Tartt, and also re-watching The Sopranos. It's felt so good.
I could do with another few days the same. Looking forward to my 2 weeks' holiday in August.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Weight

Life has been far too serious recently. We are in desperate need of silly, lighthearted fun. When I feel stressed I distract myself by thinking about knitting and colour and texture and fabric and patterns.
I'm planning next winter's mittens. I'll probably go with the reindeer/moose design in the first photo, but really like the 'Dancing Grannies' design above.
We met my parents, sister and brother-in-law in Moffat for lunch at the weekend. Of course we had to go to the sweet shop (great sweet shop) and buy Moffat Toffee. It is an amazing sweet. There were lots of exciting sweets in the shop, but we restrained ourselves.
And this is Lollipop! The chicks are growing so quickly. They FLY out of their bedroom in the morning (into an enclosed run) and are exuberant and sweet.