Friday, April 18, 2014

Excited about Andover Fabrics

It's been years since I've been excited about a fabric range but during a recent scouting mission to John Lewis haberdashery several fabrics caught my eye and I discovered they all belonged to Andover Fabrics. I bought the cat fabric to make myself a new toiletries bag, but I've already decided I want to buy more to make myself a skirt.
I also want to make myself a skirt out of this egg fabric. The eggs remind me of Turkey's eggs.
I like this too, but there are other prints I want to buy to make more skirts. More cat prints.
This was my washing line last week with all the current fabrics I have to make skirts out of. It was good to get them all washed. Now I just have to sort out all my patterns then I'll be ready to cut and then SEW!.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

HALT!

My knitting progress was halted about a month ago when, as I was sewing together my orange and blue sock, I noticed a DROPPED STITCH!

Now, I knew I had dropped a stitch somewhere as I was knitting the foot because suddenly there were only three knit stitches before the rib, whereas there should have been four. I looked and I looked but I couldn't find the dropped stitch until I came to sew the sock up and there it was, in the heel. Short of unravelling the whole foot the only thing I could do to save it was to sew the dropped stitch and weave it in. So that's what I did.
A hole.
The finished result is - okay. I think if the blue had been deeper I might have liked the colour combination better. Not sure I still have the enthusiasm to knit the second sock though.

And on the subject of knitting socks - my colleague Fiona recently brought out from her bag one of the knitted socks I'd made for her Christmas. She had already rung slight alarm bells with me when she said she had used one of the knitted socks for her cat's Christmas stocking, to put his treats into - (raised eyebrows). But this was nothing to the maltreatment the sock had since undergone. It had been washed (agitated I later found out) and it had felted. The entire foot had shrunk, as had the cast on row at the top where the foot is inserted (no adult foot would ever get in there again). And that it was being used as a temporary phone cover. Needless to say, there will be no more sock knitting for Fiona. I resignedly came to the conclusion it was like knitting items for children - once handed over I have to relinquish any interest.
Some gratuitous shots of my feathered friends. Turkey is entering her egg-laying, broody phase. We've yet to find a Turkey egg. She hasn't really established a nest yet this year. She's acting like a moody teenager though.
And my lovely wee pals. I do love the chicks. Well, I love them all, but I still think of the chicks as the babies of the bunch, even though they're not. They fly onto my shoulder fairly regularly, which I love. 
And this is Delphus, our adopted hen. The photo doesn't capture her spherical-ness. She's a big ball of feathers. I've become quite fond of her too.

We have two new hens, Marmite and Twiglet. They are Isa Browns and they're gorgeous and sweet and have cat-like natures. Will upload photos of them soon.

Tuesday, March 04, 2014

The first sock in the sockstravaganza :) Knitting during a car journey to visit my mother-in-law.
I've had this material for such a long time, and haven't felt very inspired by it. But an urge to sew something quick and easy meant these pyjama bottoms got made, and now I really like them! And really like the material. I'm tempted to find more cheap cotton from Ikea to make more pyjama bottoms.
I love this photo of the glaced fruit ingredients for Hagos's birthday cake. His favourite is Bishop's Cake from a recipe given to me by his mum. We've never managed to get hold of angelica before, but Hagos ordered it online (is there anything that can't be bought online?). I love the colours all together. His mum told me it's called Bishop's Cake because when you slice through the cake it's like a stained glass window.
The finished cake! It was rather big. Hagos said we should put it next to Arthur's Seat for scale :)

I had a lovely few days off. I have a couple of three day weeks in April. Looking forward to that. 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sockstravaganza - and other things

I decided to have an ongoing project of knitting socks. Lots of socks. Lots of colour combinations. Knitted with a mix of wool and tweed (above). 
So I've been to John Lewis a couple of lunchtimes and have bought odd balls I like. All Rowan Pure wool 4 ply (and Rowan Tweed) so far but I do want to branch out and knit some chunkier (and faster) socks. I did try to buy more of the alpaca 4 ply from the yarn store near my work, but they had none of the £5 balls left, only wool and alpaca that cost between £13 and £20 a ball, which is prohibitively expensive. Who can afford to buy a ball of wool for £20? Especially if you want to knit a jumper and would need ten balls!
Above are odd balls of 4 ply I have left from other projects. I still miss the Jaeger wool. I have some of it left - amazing elasticity and durability - and it was only £3 a ball! 
I finished my add-on sleeves and attached them to my jumper. I'm very happy with the result. Haggis still thinks it's bonkers. At least I can get some wear out of the jumper now, instead of it looking lovely in my wardrobe.
I bought this material years ago, soon after buying the hippo material from Ikea, to make more pyjama bottoms. Today I got round to washing it and was planning to cut out two more pairs of PJs but didn't quite get that far. I've dug out the pattern so will pin and cut out hopefully some time in the week. I don't like the material as much as I like the hippo material, but at £3 for 3 metres I couldn't resist! I should get two pairs of pyjama bottoms out of this. I might edge the bottom with contrasting material like I did with one pair of the hippo PJs, just for fun.
This is the pattern.

The Great British Sewing Bee is back on TV and it's so great to see it again. I've already watched the first programme twice. There's a woman who has chickens and two black goats so I like her. I'm glad they have more contestants this year, it means the programme will last longer. Eight weeks instead of four. Woohoo.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Books, husband, blue egg, coffee, rolls, eggs and MEG!

I'm finding my reading list difficult to keep up with. No sooner have I (almost) finished one book, and the next has to be started for the following week. I feel like I've been going to the class forever, but we are only on week five - halfway through. And as fascinating as I find all the books, and all the techniques, this week I found myself longing to just read a story
So when I saw this in Tesco's on Friday I bought it. I love Pride and Prejudice. I re-read it at least once a year and forever find deeper nuances in the text. I think Jane Austen is incredibly concise and packs so much into her sentence construction. Even when I'm re-reading the book, I re-read paragraphs within the book because I get so much out of it. I would love parts of the book to expand, so I can enjoy more of it. So when other writers try to expand the story themselves I'm always interested. Not that it ever turns out well (Death Comes to Pemberley by PD James - urgh - SO awful in every way). But I remember reading about this book somewhere ages ago and as it's from the perspective of the servants and I expect only intersects with P&P at progressive narrative points I thought it might do. 
Last night my husband came home from tour. The first tour of the year always takes a bit of getting used to. Over the winter I get used to him being at home and we get into a routine of comfortable companionship: keeping warm, watching DVDs and TV series, doing our chores, seeing friends, spending time with our animals, etc etc. I always feel lost the first day he goes away, and then I get into a rhythm and work on my own projects to keep myself occupied. But, it's so nice to have him home again. 
This, I hope, is a better photo of a blue egg. We think both Rosie and Pig (Cream Crested Legbars) are laying. Duck (the third Cream Crested Legbar) isn't as developed as Rosie and Pig. Her comb is under-developed, though it has got redder in the last couple of days.
A spontaneous purchase. When I drive to visit my parents I always make a half-caf cappuccino to take on the drive. It's one of my favourite parts of the trip. I love caffeine, and the effect it has on my mood, and that coupled with the stunning views of the trees and the Devil's Beeftub are just lovely. I often also listen to the audio book of Pride and Prejudice. I really should get another audio book. I make the cappuccino in an ordinary cup, and though we have a cup holder in the glove compartment, I'm always conscious of having to drive carefully while drinking it, so I'm hoping this cup will make spilling the coffee less likely.
My recent favourite thing to bake is rolls! I just use my normal, simple, bread recipe, but shape them into rolls instead. When Hagos was on tour I froze them and took one out a day for lunch. Simple pleasures.
These are today's eggs. We've had the chickens for almost two years now, and the wonder and thrill of collecting the day's eggs never lessens. I really feel like I'm collecting precious and beautiful jewels. I love the different shapes and colours. I love knowing which chicken has laid which egg. And there is something purely delightful about collecting a still-warm egg from the laying box and holding it in my hand as I walk home. 
This is my and Meg's Saturday morning ritual. After feeding all the animals (if I'm on duty) we cuddle up at the kitchen table and I drink half-caf cappuccino and look at beautiful and inspiring blogs, and she sleeps and dreams and twitches and snores on my lap. I love her.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Jumper conversion, and other things

So, I finished one of my short-sleeved conversions! I love it. It is a bit bonkers, as Hagos said, but it works really well. I decided to attach the red sleeves to the green jumper, as I found almost-matching blue wool to attach to the blue jumper, in the previous post.
This is me and my little friend, Duck. She is a Cream Crested Legbar, that my neighbours hatched from an egg. She's the least developed of her three chick sisters - her comb hasn't grown and turned red yet. Every day when I open the feed bin she jumps up onto it and I have to spoon, or hand, feed her. This day she jumped up on to my shoulder, to my absolute delight. She's so beautiful.
Today I had an entire day to myself and it was lovely. I am at my happiest when I spend half of my time by myself. The balance is currently out because I'm working full time. So I had a leisurely morning drinking coffee at the kitchen table, cuddling Meg and reading other knitting and sewing blogs; then this afternoon I finished the jumper conversion above, as well as baking some rolls. I've had a hankering for home-made rolls for a few days now. I'll keep them in the freezer and take out one a day.
The most exciting news this last week has been that one of Duck's sisters, Rosie, laid her first BLUE egg. It's the bottom middle egg in the photo. I'll take better photos and post them next time. Amazingly exciting. And so beautiful.

I've had such a lovely day today. Could really do with a repeat day tomorrow.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Raspberry Red

This is my jumper amendment that's going on at the minute. The jumper on the bottom is acting as a template against which to measure how long I need to knit the sleeve. The jumper on top is, of course, the short-sleeved jumper the sleeve will be knitted onto. When I told my husband what I was doing he was sure I must be pulling his leg!
I'm loving knitting in this raspberry red colour. It's so jolly and cheerful. I never knit in this colour scheme. The closest I get is a warm yellow/honey colour. Mostly I go for blues, which I know suit my hair and skin colouring, and greens, which I also love. I might have to knit a whole jumper in this wool.

I've been feeling particularly off-kilter since Boxing Day, when I came down with a cold. We had some pre-Christmas animal loss, which I always find difficult. A goose escaped, and then one of our chicks was killed by a visiting dog. As soon as I take on responsibility for an animal I feel an absolute attachment to it. Of course, I'm fonder of some than of others, but I still find it difficult to watch an animal in distress. The goose and the chick winded me, and then there was all the Christmas shenanigans to contend with, and so my immunity was low when my great-niece Lucy coughed all over me on Christmas Day. And I haven't felt quite at full robust-ness since. 

My first 'Experimental Fiction' class was really great mid-week. The tutor had an understated, laid back, but still knew what he was talking about style, which I liked.