Monday, 31 January 2011

'Those' Days.

I don't believe in having 'one of those days'. Today was one regardless! I think being a parent is the best job in the world, but possibly the hardest too.  Today was definitely a day I think I should have had double pay!

However, some highlights:

Visiting a friend in a lovely new house, in the middle of nowhere, and having a little taste of peace and quiet.

Bonding with another good friend over the (really rather difficult) putting up of a cot/bed in my Son's room after discovering that he had learned how to escape his last one!

Watching E's resourcefulness in coming up with 'play-things', as he sat in the laundry basket and used the rim as a Train Track!

The peace and quiet of a toddler fast asleep in his new bed, and knowing that today is a new day.

Good Night!

Saturday, 29 January 2011

Take three, and lots of tractors and trains.

These past few weeks Elyseé has decided that he really rather likes colouring.  For some reason this particularly delights me, and it's lots of fun cooking dinner with him colouring (or telling me what to draw) in the kitchen with me.  At first there were quite a few flowers and butterflies, but now we're pretty much down to Tractors and Trains most of the time.

So, the knitting-in-the-round saga continues, but I am determined I shall get there eventually.  After doing about 14 rows of lace pattern down the sleeves, I discovered that I seemed to have been decreasing (quite evenly) row by row - or at least every other row! Quite how I was doing this remains a mystery, but I'd imagine it was as I finished off a round, I missed out on a Yarn Over instruction or something.  I was tempted to leave this, but decided this would annoy me whenever she wears her cardigan.  So. Another laborious unpicking and re-knitting session ensued.  It is particularly difficult to evenly pick up all of the stitches a) in lace knitting generally and b) in the round! Still.  I am now counting my stitches every row, and have done 12 rows without decreasing.  I have however noticed a small area rows and rows back where it doesn't look quite right, but I don't think I can cope with redoing that one again!

Hopefully one day I'll finish the sleeve!  It's Saturday night, and Al and I are both fairly exhausted, so a film, a spot of knitting (for me!) and a good night's sleep is in order I think.
Enjoy your Sunday.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Home made pizzas and knitting in the round.

Last night a friend and I made the family home-made pizzas.  It's such fun, and nice to get individual  "orders" and make everyone their own special one.

Al ordered one with an egg on top....!

They were yummy.

My friend has been staying for the week, and she's been re-learning how to knit. After having a little trawl of we found a fun pattern for a type of knitted headband- called "Calorimetry". She finished it today and modelled it in the cold weather...

The body of the Lucille cardigan is now complete, but I am finding the knitting in the round a challenge! I started trying to use circular needles, but I gave up after a while, and I am currently progressing on smaller DPNs.  So far this has been the most challenging bit of the cardigan, (and I have been tempted to knit it 'straight' and sew a seam down it!) but I am determined to conquer this!

Any tips for knitting on circular needles are always welcome!

Wish me luck! Enjoy your Friday- it's nearly the weekend!

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Today I am....

Perusing a book lent to me by a friend, which has lots of fab suggestions for saving money and living thriftily (I recommend it!).

Knitting with an old friend over cups of tea and Chocolate crumb cake.

Laughing at our cat's ridiculous sleeping positions.

And cooking shepherds' pie for dinner. What are you doing today?
Happy Tuesday.

Saturday, 22 January 2011


With the knitting of my lucille cardigan I have been living in fear of making a mistake on the lace patterning.  It's not that it is ridiculously complicated, or that I don't know how to correct myself when I go wrong (a skill I have only honed in the last year or so!) but it's just that the wool is pretty thin (4 ply), the needles likewise (2.75mm) and there are 281 stitches in the row.  With a pattern that is essentially a repeat of about 6 stitches, it is not an utterly absurd thought that I might miss one stitch, and, then.... a lot of correcting will be needed.

Last night the dreaded occurred and after finishing a row and looking at the emerging pattern, I discovered that I had gone wrong about a quarter of the way along the previous row. Ugh. After undoing a portion of the previous row (which in itself is quite a laborious job given the amount of fiddly knitting involved!) I reached the rough area from where the problem had originated, and a good 30-45 minutes of trial and error correcting followed. I think I managed to sort it all out though, and so I am quite buoyed by the whole experience, as I was thinking that I would have to resort to undoing reams in order to correct any mistakes I'd made (and part of me wondered if I could really do it at all!).  Now that I'm about 8 rows into the lace work, the pattern is starting to emerge quite nicely...

Yesterday a lovely friend gave me a home grown hyacinth.  It's a fabulous pink colour and adds cheer to the more grey of the January days.

Also adding cheer to most days is Elyseé (my cheeky, incredibly talkative, energetic and mischievous 22 month-old little boy).  He was entertaining himself for a long time in the garden this morning with our playful cat, Stencil. 

Now however, is one of those precious moments when he is catching a few winks, so I shall go and enjoy the luxury of a little more knitting before he wakes up and gets going again.

Enjoy your weekend.

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Cold and Crisp

Today I have made two fish pies. I never used to be into them particularly, but I have developed a love for them in recent years, and even more so during this pregnancy (in the early days I had major fish and prawn cravings!), but I am still experimenting to find the perfect recipe! Holly, the cook at a local Children's' centre makes an amazing one, but says she makes it up as she goes along. Hmm. Today's ones are smelling good though (with smoked mackerel in them for a change), and one is about to be delivered to a friend who has just had a second little baby- Hooray!

The teacup cushion cover is taking shape nicely, and I am enjoying rediscovering blanket stitch...

My two baby cardigans are progressing well, if rather slowly (perhaps because I have several projects on the go!).  I haven't yet got to the more tricky lace knitting bit of the lucille cardigan...

... and I have just learned how to 'insert' a pocket into the Debbie Bliss cabled cardigan.

Right. That's about it on the craft side of things today. I am enjoying a few more minutes of peace before I go and get my energetic toddler out of bed.  Today we had a rather long walk into town, as I decided (given family resolutions to be more thrifty this year) that I was not going to pay the exorbitant parking prices to get into town, but instead I was going to walk from the nearest possible free parking (about 1 hour round trip once we had gone to the one shop we were going in for).  This was a lovely bit of exercise on an absolutely beautiful day (cold and crisp- my favourite!) but my back is now suffering a little with the extra weight that one gets 31 weeks into pregnancy. Oh well- I think I shall need to do a bit of taking it easy for the rest of the day (as if!).

I hope you are all having a lovely week. I'm off to deliver fish pie, and to hopefully glimpse a wee new baby for a moment or two!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Knit-chat and Nappies

Today has been a day full of nappies. I hate landfill, so I try to do my part with washable nappies, which I generally get on very well with.  I do not however, like the days that are full of nappy changes and today was certainly one of those days.  They are usually impeccably timed so that we are just about to leave the house when there is that tell-tale smell, and then coat and shoes need to come off as well.... Ho hum. Part of daily life at the moment!

On a similar theme, I finished the portable changing mat, and am pleased with how it looks...

A good way to utilise some of the spare oilcloth, and it's nice and cheery as well as being small and light enough to pop in your bag to take out with you.

On a less nappy-related basis. The cheesecake is yummy, and in case you followed the link to the recipe I posted yesterday I meant to add that  I usually double the cooking time to about an hour (at least, depending on how you like the end result), and I double the amount of base suggested (the base is clearly the best part, no?!). A slice of it, alongside a cup of tea was good fuel for an afternoon of perusing some other lovely crafty blogs and musing over what my next sewing project was going to be...

In the end, I decided that I fancied doing a little appliqué (I have been meaning to try this for a while) and I remembered seeing a few people with very nice cushions that had tea cups appliquéd onto them and I thought I'd set about making something similar.  Recently my Mum readjusted curtains from our previous house to fit our new bedroom windows and that involved cutting quite a bit off the bottom.  I used this curtain and lining material as a basic cover for the cushions.  I have drawn a teacup template and traced it onto some bondaweb, and am now cutting out 9 patterned teacups.  The case is finished, but the appliqué shall begin in earnest tomorrow I think.

My evening has had the nice and unexpected twist of a neighbour popping by with a stair-gate she is kindly giving us that she no longer needs.  She is starting knitting, and so after asking how it was going, she went and collected her needles and yarn, and we sat and had a good natter whilst she learned to cast on and remembered how to knit.  I do like it when you get to know people better through crafting!  I am currently working on two cardigans- one I have shown in previous posts and another that I was inspired to try after a friend, Fay, had a go and documented it on her blog (which I highly recommend).  It's freely available through Kelbourne Woolens and I am currently working on it in a nice purple 4-ply wool.  It grows slowly, but is lovely to knit.

I hope you are having a lovely week.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Waste not want not.

This new year, I am resolving to waste less and use what we have more carefully.  This is partly due to the constraints of being on Maternity leave, but also because we seem to live in a throwaway culture, and I want to try and not conform (I regularly slip up here, but I am trying anyway!).

So. We were given a lovely gingerbread house before Christmas, and ate some of it, but inevitably some of it got left, and started to go hard.... so what better way to use up the spare than by making a Cheesecake and using the gingerbread house as the base?

This is one of my favourite recipes, and I have used it many times before- a Chocolate Cheesecake by Mary Berry, that a friend copied out for me about 5 years ago (which, as you can see, is rather battered, bruised and chocolate covered!).  It makes me think of her every time I bake it, and it is great as a 'snack' option to stay in the fridge and munch away at, or as something a little fancier to take out to dinner with you.

It's very quick to make, and super economical too (I used basic ingredients for everything!). It also looks rather lovely when it is cooked.

Also, along the lines of being thrifty this new year, one of our Changing mats was starting to break, and rather than throw it away and buy a new one, I bought some oilcloth (at rather a bargain price) and covered it.  The new one is rather more robust now, and a nice pink polka-dot pattern! (As modelled here by William)

I think I shall use some of the spare oil cloth left over, along side some of my fabric stash (and a 20p bundle of polka dot ribbon) to make a little portable changing mat too...

Fun, and not very pricey. What are your money-saving crafty ideas for the new year?
Happy Monday.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Can a girl have too many shoes?

Since getting my new sewing machine, I decided that I needed a little project to get started on it.  I chose these lovely baby shoes from "Handmade beginnings" by Anna Maria Horner (who, if you are interested, has a lovely blog).  I made them in 0-3 months size, and used a Cath Kidston fabric with a white floral print inside, finished with a lovely big chunky button to adorn them.

In addition to this, I made a pair of little garter stitch silk slippers from Simple knits for cherished babies, in some 4-ply wool I had left over from a project a while back.  I decided to add a couple of odd buttons to give them a little feature.

The pattern is really simple, and they can easily be completed in an evening.  I enjoyed making them so much, that I thought I'd adapt the pattern to use moss stitch instead of garter stitch, and I used the slightly larger Debbie Bliss Cashmerino wool (which is oh so lovely to knit with!).  I was particularly pleased with the result...

Nice, and again quite simple, but in need of a little extra something, which was provided with a little bit of stitching around the edges...

So. There are still 10 weeks left until number 2 arrives, but she already has a growing shoe collection. Well, start as she may well go on I guess.....!
Happy Weekend.