Thursday, 28 March 2013

Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny...

I'm still plodding on with my book about Durham Cathedral and the two pink tops, but a trip to the library this week resulted in a few cheeky purchases from the "withdrawn for sale" shelf. Among them were this delicious book for Sausages, and a very peaceful collection of home knits, which have caught our attention this week. I think we must have ready The Tale Of The Monstrous Toad about a hundred times already. It's very charming. The work-in-progress is a Woolly Wormhead beanie from Simply Knitting magazine for Husband, because I felt a strong urge to knit for him this week.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

A Birthday Pledge

I'm very late with my Sunday post, but in my defence it was my birthday on Sunday, and I was very busy. On Saturday Husband and Sausages shut themselves in the kitchen for hours at a time. Then, on Sunday morning after nukkie-o'clocky they disappeared again and returned with...

...home made hot cross buns! They had spent the whole of the previous day making them! They are enormous, and there are enough for me to have one for breakfast every day this week! Bliss. I sat in bed drinking tea and eating my buns, watching the snow in the garden out of the window. Being able to see the garden from my bed is one of the advantages of the Bungalow that I am beginning to appreciate, now that I'm getting over the initial weirdness. I spent a lovely day playing with Sausages while Husband made unending cups of tea:

The boys iced a birthday cake and made a bus:

Can we eat it yet, daddy?

and some gannets came for dinner.

It was the best birthday ever. And it's not over yet, because the village knitting group are having a birthday meal for me on Wednesday. 

As you can see, I got rather a lot of lovely presents. The knitted hat is from Mother in Law. I have worn it every time I have left the house since I opened it! She also made the cake and left it with Husband when she was visiting last week. I defy anyone to have a better Mother in Law. The Debbie Bliss and Bergere de France yarn are from Husband. You have to be impressed when a man who doesn't know his angora from his alpaca girds his loins and orders yarn online. He has even specified what he wants me to make with it (a shawl for me and hand dyed socks, in case you're wondering).

These lovely presents lead me to my birthday pledge: I am going to stash bust. When we moved to the Bungalow Husband created a craft corner for me in the study/spare bedroom. I love my craft corner A LOT. But my stash, which was originally contained in a wooden chest approximately 18" cubed, has spread across two bookcases, under my desk, and on top of the wooden chest. I have patterns in mind for most of this yarn, but my biggest problem is that I fall out of love with patterns and in love with yarn very easily. My plan is to knit through as much of my stash as I can between now and the beginning of the boys' summer holiday.

There is one caveat, however. As part of our birthday celebrations, and because it's just around the corner from my cousin's wedding, Little Muv and I are planning on going to Wonderwool. My village knitting group friend Queen of Crochet is going for the whole weekend. The Outlaws have given me some pennies to spend on knitting. In the face of all of this encouragement, there is no way I will be able to resist adding to my stash on our Welsh weekend.

Have you ever done a serious stash bust? How did you do? Hope you have a lovely week.


Friday, 22 March 2013

Bargain Beauties

Last week Sausages and I tried to dye some cheap, pure wool aran yarn that we found in a cheapie-cheapie shop. You know, the kind of shop that sells short runs of bargain items, remaindered stock, last season's high street clothes etc. This particular shop had these lovely 100g balls of scratchy yarn for a couple of pounds each. I know it's controversial, but I just love scratchy yarn. If it smells a bit rough, even better. Somehow it makes me feel that it is less processed; more closely connected to the sheep. A few weeks ago I found pink and purple food dye on offer in the supermarket and had been itching to try it out as a yarn dye, so we decided to put the two together:

The results were a little disappointing. Our first attempt resulted in 300g of pink graduating into purple, but the purple did not stick well at all, so the colours are very subtle. The yarn in itself is beautiful, but not really what I was going for. To give the dye another chance we attempted 100g of graduated purple. This was more successful, possibly because I added more vinegar to the soak, and possibly because the purple was more concentrated this time. The colours are lovely, but we were hoping for something a bit more vibrant.

We decided to dye the last ball of yarn with the food dyes that we used for our first attempt at yarn dyeing. We were going for something that felt like spring, because it is still freezing and snowing here and we were feeling the need. We had quite a lot of fun; instead of painting the yarn as we did before, we just loaded up our brushes and flicked the dye at it! Thank goodness for our lovely wet room! We used yellow and green dye. Again the yarn did not hold the dye very well, and the end result is muddier and more muted than intended, but we have called it "Daffodil" in a very pretentious way, and are still quite pleased with ourselves.

Other highlights of the week include making a police car out of a plastic box and getting some help with the laundry. The usual! I haven't decided what to knit with the yarn yet. The 300g of graduated pink might be nice in a shawl...what do you think? I confess, I have never knit anything for myself, and the idea of a shawl of my own dyed yarn really appeals!

Have a lovely weekend


Thursday, 21 March 2013

Yarn Along

Joining in with Ginny at Small Things

At the moment I am still knitting the two angel tops for two little angels, and reading The Last Office by Geoffrey Moorhouse. The knitting pattern is one I have adapted and knitted a few times, and will no doubt revisit. The book on the other hand I will not be revisiting; we are not getting on at all! It's an account of the experience of the monastic institutions of Durham Cathedral during the Reformation. The subject matter is really very interesting. The first couple of chapters have looked in depth at the background and workings of the monastery and some of the personalities involved. It also contains photographs of documents, portraits and artifacts pertaining to the subject matter. However, I cannot get on with the writing style. This author seems to have very good reviews and be passionate about the subject, but his mind and mine are not running along the same lines. I have a personal rule about finishing books even if I don't like them, the only exception to date being Salman Rushdie's Midnight's Children, which remains on my bookcase to shame me when I see it. Therefore I will plough on with The Last Office. I know that when I finish it there is a selection of brightly coloured charity shop finds waiting to be chosen from, and this will hopefully spur me on!

Sunday, 17 March 2013

A weekend with the Outlaws

This weekend Husband's parents came to visit. There was top quality playtime with Sausages, inside and out. He adores his grandparents, and they must  like him too, because they frequently drive for three hours to visit him, then have to drive three hours home the next day. We're lucky to have such a supportive family, and people who love Sausages the way we do.

There was yet more garden activity, including the construction of my very own tree-to-tree washing line. When I was a little girl my mother made me a washing line by stringing some spinnaker sheet between two apple trees in our back garden. I had a beloved dolly called Susie, who had the most beautiful wardrobe of patchwork, spotty and lacy dresses, that would be washed outside on sunny days and pegged on my very own washing line. This new washing line makes me feel like I have fulfilled a childhood aspiration! Also causing me much joy is the prop for my line, handcrafted by my lovely Father-in-Law out of parts of a collapsed wardrobe. I feel like a proper mammy when I lift the line with the prop!

 Father-in-Law also built on our recent soft cheese making experiment by teaching me to make a hard cheese with vegetarian rennet. It didn't turn out as well as the ones he makes without my (ahem) assistance, but I'm pretty chuffed with myself! I can make soft and hard cheese! It's like a Lancashire in appearance, but it isn't matured, so the flavour is very mild. Tomorrow we will have to have homemade cheese on homemade bread: bliss!

Sunday was Father-in-Law's birthday, and last week I took Sausages to Studio Scribbles to make him a present. I let him choose the item and paint it himself. What does a two-and-a-half year old think his Grandad might like for his birthday? A ceramic spoon of course! He managed a brush for the front, but the back is mostly finger-painted. Grandad loved it, of course, and has promised to use it for his cheese making adventures. We've really been reveling in family life this week, and feeling blessed in each other. Does anything in particular ever prompt you to reflect on the same?


P.S. There was also lots of knitting, baking and yarn dyeing this week, but that will have to wait for tomorrow. A blogging cliffhanger, of sorts.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Mother's day weekend

This weekend has been a quiet, peaceful one in the bungalow. Husband made it out into the garden despite the snow. The birdies have been visiting Sausages' bird table a lot! Husband has continued to enjoy planning his new garden/self-sufficiency drive. I'm hoping all this planning and ambition will result in lots of lovely fresh food! We have been increasing our proficiency in growing-our-own over the last couple of years, although I admit Husband does 90% of the work.

The boys have been busy together putting together our new wardrobe, so we can finally put away all the clothes that have sat on our bedroom floor since we moved in a months ago. When Sausages saw daddy hard at work he had to get his tools out and join in. Such a helpful boy! He's also enjoying his World Book Day book; an author and characters that we know and love well from my own childhood. It's so nice to see Sausages loving the same stories.

There has also been home baking and knitting for me:

My usual sourdough, made with pumpkin seeds this week for variation. The sourdough provides all of our bread, and we have hardly bought any since my lovely Mother in Law gave me the starter. In the spirit of my mother, a great anthropomorphist, our starter is called Honore after the patron saint of bread. There are a few projects recently finished and awaiting making-up. I have to be in the right mood to make-up, don't you? In the meantime I have cast on the first of two long tops for two lovely little girls using yarn left behind by their great grandmother, which I consider to be a privilege. It also gives me an excuse to indulge in the pink and girly, which I need sometimes! The greenish jumper is for Sausages, as are most of my projects. I love to wrap my boy in hand-knitted love!

This morning I had a special mother's day lie-in. I could hear the boys whispering outside the bedroom door. Suddenly, Sausages bursts in wielding the card that he made with his childminder. "Happy birthday!" he cried, as Husband smacked his forehead in the background. Nice try daddy! Happy mother's day to all of you, be you mothers, step-mothers, supporters of mothers, or loved as mothers.


Monday, 4 March 2013

Dyeing Yarn

This week Sausages and I had some good adventures in yarn. The biggest was to dye our own yarn. We took a trip to the Craft Basket for pure wool yarn. I unwound it and soaked it in water with a little vinegar, squeezed it out, plonked it in a tub, and we were ready to go. We painted the wool with watered-down food colouring, then microwaved it to heat-set the colour. This is a top-quality toddler activity, especially for one who loves yarn! He thought his day was great when we went to the LYS; imagine his delight when he got to make his "very rown yarn!" In true toddler style we used all the colours we had, so the yarn is an interesting mix of yellow, blue, red, green and undyed cream. The messiness of it is part of the joy of toddlers! He has been showing it off (as have I) to anyone who stands still for long enough. I can't wait to knit it into something he can point to and say "that's my very rown yarn!"

First Post

This blog is my venue for celebrating my life and exploring my new opportunities. I intend to blog about some political, philosophical, and religious matters. If you choose to follow please be kind and polite. You are very welcome to share these things with me.

Having put my PhD on hold I am looking for something different. At the same time, I am recovering from a period of illness, and taking the opportunity to spend a little more time with my son, and focus on family life. We have just moved into a new home in a village we have lived in for less than a year; a bungalow in a quiet cul-de-sac, with a sweet garden and friendly neighbours. You can expect to see a lot of nesting on here I think! I love to craft, especially to knit. As a family we try to live a socially and ecologically just life, and practice gentle parenting. I'm sure we fall short, but these are our aspirations.