Thursday, October 30, 2014

October 2014

About 2-3 months ago I noticed I could no longer read close-up. I thought it had happened suddenly, however when I went to get my eyes tested a couple of weeks ago the optician told me I was typical for a woman in her 40s.
I have wanted glasses since I was three years old, when my best friend and next door neighbour at the time, Julie McKie, had to get glasses after crashing her face into a glass table in our house. The two events may not have been linked but in my childish mind they were, and for a time afterwards I wondered if I too could get glasses by colliding with the table. I didn't test my theory.

Hagos came with me to the optician, and photographed me trying out lots of different frames. I was beginning to think the perfect frames may not be out there for me, but then I tried on the above pair. As soon as I put them on they just looked right.

Also - PURPLE and GREEN! My favourite, and default, knitting colours. These glasses are so meant to be. My reading has increased as a result of having the glasses, which is great. Reading had become a strain. I still have to master reading-in-bed-with-glasses.
We held a Great British Bake Off final party. I thought I had photographed the table full of cakes, breads and fudge, but could only find the above cake my friend Lynsey made. I don't remember the name, but it is the torte that the bakers had to grill, layer by layer. I was so impressed. It was a fun night, lovely to have all the kids over and excited about baking, and everyone brought a bake. Sadly my attempt at macarons went awry and I had to quickly whip up a batch of chocolate pistachio fudge on the night.
We also had Cider Day weekend before last. I started picking apples at 10.30am and stopped as the light faded at 6pm. I really enjoyed it. Initially I thought the boys had the easy part of staying in the kitchen drinking tea :) but changed my mind when I saw Hagos's black hands from prolonged apple juice contact and realised the scale of how physical the job of macerating and squeezing the apples actually was. I went to bed around half ten; Hagos and Will were in the kitchen until a quarter to midnight.

Hagos bottled half of the cider a couple of days ago and I think we got almost 40 bottles, all looking lovely with green bottle tops. So impressive. 
At the end of October/beginning of November I love the anticipation of winter and Christmas. I go through a brief nostalgia and want to watch Christmas films (above: Meg and I enjoying Elf), read Christmas magazines, look through M&S Christmas food and drink brochures and daydream about my ideal Christmas time. Usually by mid-November I feel a sudden repulsion and revulsion for the gluttonous aspects of Christmas. The over-spending, over-eating, over-drinking, generally over-consumption. At work I introduced the Make-it-Yourself Secret Santa, where we make a present for someone. I used to do this when I worked for Norfolk Constabulary. It's a surprisingly great thing to do and I have to say my new(er) colleagues have taken to it with relish and have been incredibly inventive over the past couple of years.

I've been off work with a sickness bug this week. I can feel I have more energy today than the rest of the week. I hate being ill. I am always busy either with things I have to do, or things I want to do. And being ill means I can do neither. I can't read, or knit, or sew. The TV becomes a noisy annoyance. So, I'm looking forward to feeling healthy again and having energy to do stuff.   

Sunday, October 12, 2014

New phone case

My old phone case, on the left, was beginning to look threadbare, so I decided to sew a new one, on the right.
It took hardly any time. I love this bright pink toggle.
This is the lining - old on the left, new on the right. I thought I might be able to re-use the lining but it, too, was past its best.

The new case is a wee bit tight, but it'll do until I need a new one.

I have so many sewing plans. For my next update I'll show the dress I want to make with material I already have. 

I've been feeling so tired this weekend. Just absolutely washed out. I slept for 11 hours on Thursday night. We've had a run of being busy - work, obligations - no real days off where I also don't have to clean the house and try to establish order for the coming week (clothes for work, etc). I have some days off in December and I'm so looking forward to letting it all go for a bit. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Making the Purse

I find sewing to be a great leveller emotionally. Especially when I'm making something I've never made before. It's so absorbing I don't think about: work, the referendum, friends who are having marital problems.

I've wanted to make purses for years and have never got round to it. I bought an empty kit from U-handbag, which provides the pattern, the padding and interfacing and frame, but nothing else. I have so many scraps of leftover fabric it's ideal, I thought, I can make lots of purses! 
So reading the instructions is crucial. When it says, "Use lots of pins," it really meant it, but of course sewing the first side I didn't use lots of pins and it was really fiddly. I tacked the second side and that was easier, and the third side I used lots of pins and that worked a treat.
See, more pins.
The most difficult part was gluing the fabric to the frame. I did it late-ish at night. I could easily have researched the best way to do it online, or even watched a U-Tube clip, but I just bashed ahead, got covered in glue, SWORE at the purse (I always know a situation has deteriorated when I swear at inanimate objects (or Phyllis, our chicken)) and was thoroughly ANNOYED with the whole thing by the time Hagos arrived home from a gig.
If you ignore the glue on the frame, which will apparently come off, it isn't so bad. And I've LEARNED a few valuable insights for next time.
I love this time of year. The changing of the seasons. I love slightly cooler weather. I don't mind smirry rain. I love the colour of the leaves, the hoards of blue tits in the garden, Mr Pheasant who comes for his breakfast to the hen house every morning (no sign of Mrs, masters and misses Pheasant this year?), having a hot water bottle in bed at night, the hens going to bed earlier and coming home to light a log fire and cosying up on the couch and reading a book, and knitting, and spending time with friends and family. And looking forward to Cider Making, and Halloween, and Bonfire Night, and my friend Lynsey's birthday, and going to the Country Living Christmas Fair in Glasgow at the end of November, and having quite a lot of time off in December and Christmas and New Year. And all of my sewing projects and knitting projects and all of the books I want to read.

I have been feeling unsettled in the approach to the referendum on Thursday. I felt I had just got into a good rhythm with work (dropping a day) and it being much less frantic for me, and feeling I have much more head space and energy as a result and the work/life balance finally balanced. And wanting to live a peaceful, productive life where I can enjoy all of the above. And now there is an important decision to make. And I have much more research to do (trying to find actual answers without spin or someone else's agenda attached) and worrying about the impact and repercussions of a Yes or a No vote. Not wanting it to have a negative impact on Scotland or England.

So, over the next few days I plan to start work on a proper patchwork quilt. It's another project I've been wanting to do for a while and have never attempted. I don't have the patience to do hexagonals - oh no! For my first quilt I plan to do blocks of rectangles (probably 8x4") from all the leftover fabric I have. So the quilt will be made up of material I've used to make other things. I plan to make it for our bed, but I'd also like a quilt for the couch. I have sourced the wadding and will then just have to decide on the backing material and the bias binding. A long term project.

Saturday, September 13, 2014


I have cut out the outer fabric for the Fortune Cookie Clutch purse. Tomorrow I'm hoping to cut out the lining, interfacing and fleece. I'm looking forward to getting to the gluing stage. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

A new item to make

As if I don't have enough knitting and sewing to do, last week I ordered this purse-making kit from U-Handbag. This is the same company I bought my bag handles from. I reckoned I would need a purse to match my handbag (once I get round to making it). It's been a while since I made a new pattern so looking forward to trying it out. I got fabric glue as well - something I've never used.
I cycled to Tesco today to buy essentials (chocolate and cat food). There's an almost direct cycle path as I'm not keen to cycle on the road. I love cycling, and it gave me a chance to use my bicycle basket. 

I had a lovely three days off. Looking forward to next Thursday night.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sewing Frenzy

Today I decided to sew together all the outers for my four skirts. I'd already done one, and spent the morning sewing the other three.

I think the material above is my favourite. 
Though I like these orange trees as well.
I'm not so keen on this material, even though it is in my favourite colour combination - purple and green. I bought it because it was half price. A skirt for £7, what a bargain (not including zip and lining!).
I felt like I'd set up a production line. 

Inserting zips into skirts provokes a similar reaction from me as sewing together knitted jumpers - I hate it! Actually, the three I did today are probably three of the best I've ever done. Perhaps I finally have a winning technique. It usually bulges where the seam meets the zip, but today I changed a couple of things and they are all almost perfect.
My first attempt at inserting the zip on this had me sewing it onto the wrong side and having to unpick. It has been a while! 
And to finish, a gratuitous shot of a perfect paw. I have so enjoyed being at home for the past two weeks and being close to my animal friends. I just love my animals. 

I'm back to work tomorrow and am feeling trepidatious. I just have to remember I have every Friday off from now on, so that's a bonus. 

I got quite a lot done in the house, creatively and housework/admin type stuff. And saw friends, went to a few events at the Book Festival. It's been so nice letting my brain wander. And not just have to wade through a load of stuff I had to do. Looking forward to Friday already.

Monday, August 18, 2014


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.