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Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Cushions, crochet and other thoughts.

One reason I do not go to yarn shows like Unravel, Wonderwool is because there is so much yarn in my stash, because I have plenty of projects on which I’m working, like two Attic24 blankets, a second pair of  Tramlines socks by Maria Higgs, and so far two new crochet cushion covers using Rowan big wool and 7mm crochet hook.  Crochet eats up yarn, especially Big Yarn that is just what I need to clear my stash with the intention of just buying yarn for the next project.

These cushions are for our kitchen chairs to replace some purchased through eBay chosen for their swan silhouette design, the fabric has worn, different colours and designs have been used for the crochet covers, linked by use of treble stitch each time, the design is governed by colours of yarn available. The blue cushion fits the kitchen colour scheme - so what - for the golden one and others yet to be made rogue colours add some fun. The starting chain was about 70 stitches.

So what else has been happening at Pixie Towers? Marmalade making, about 20lbs of oranges have been purchased, 5 batches have been made so far,  maybe one or two batches to finish for this year depending on quantities of lemons added.  This year I’ve made the marmalade thicker, not so runny more set. As we made many jars of damson jam last summer more jars were required for marmalade, we cleared Staines branch of Hobbycraft out of these jars. These have ounce markings in the glass, 12 oz at the top although they will hold a greater amount than this.

Must add, we’ve started digging into this jar, I did fill it right to the top, tastes even better when spread on bread made by Ian. 

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Tying up the ends

Well, tomorrow it’s Epiphany, back to normal day and for us the day our lovely decorators arrive at 8am to paint our kitchen, ceiling, walls and woodwork. These two brothers have been smartening up our home, this and the previous one for well over 30 years, we have recommended them to friends, family and colleagues in all that time, they are trustworthy with work of high quality.

Christmas, we spent Monday to Friday morning in Dorset with DD and S-in-L, seeing very much wider family before returning to London for our family visit to Kew Gardens lights.  Although the lights were excellent it is my opinion that the walk was just a little too long, maybe I’m influenced by having an almost three year old and a four and a half with us and the parents didn’t bring the push chair. We’d been good people, travelled by public transport, not ok from Richmond station, no trains to our station, just two or three down the line, nor the one bus route that takes us just around the corner. Given the late hour, two tired children and two people who were driving back to Dorset we ended up with two taxis, reaching Twickenham just before thousands were pouring out of the Stadium after the double header rugby games.

Some photos,

 The Advent calendar made for me by DD, DGS was puzzled that the numbers were not in numerical order, I adore the randomness and workmanship of it.

DH and I in Dorset on Christmas Day, I’m wearing my qiviut cowl.

DGS intrigued by constructing this marble run and best of all we have over half of this cake left, I enjoy Christmas pudding, cake and mince pies.

Saturday, 21 December 2019

Reasons why.

There are many reasons why I haven’t blogged, main one is we have been busy helping family, DS has been away from home for work so we have tried to help DIL with childcare and domestic stuff. Important work, here is Ian dealing with bedtime reading, important as GS at 4 years, 4 months has suddenly cottoned on to phonics so reading is beginning to take off although he seems to prefer STEM topics, surprised his reception teacher by recognising a hexagon, although not taught that concept at school.

Knitting and crochet continues apace, still working on second pair of toe up socks for Ian, progress has been made on the two Attic 24 blankets especially the Moorland for DIL as grandchildren like to help by holding the yarn, sometimes a bit too tight whilst we talk about colours and stitches.

I have a new project, our kitchen chair cushions have become worn, I have quite a quantity of Rowan big wool so I’m crocheting new covers using trebles, 6mm hook so the fabric produced is quite dense, work grows very quickly, should wear well without needing lining and I’m using up lots of stash. 

It will be made up envelope style, maybe if it is a bit narrow for a 40cm cushion I can add a border to frame it. Colours look a bit dull in picture, when complete will attempt to photograph it in daylight. 

Mmm, should I mention Christmas? Although a religious festival I dislike the intense commercialisation of a Christian festival, let the Solstice and coming longer daylight be celebrated by the non-Christian. It is not easy for me to just switch on a happy and jolly gene for the sake of it, I visited a lovely great aunt on Boxing Day to find  her dead in her chair, my Father-in-law died on Christmas night 35 years ago. With black humour DH says at least he waited till the credits went up on Raiders of the Lost Ark at 9.50, as requested the hospital had rung DH, he and his brother then had a 2 hour drive to Kent to break the news to their mother.  My father died suddenly 33 years ago today. 

It is not just these anniversaries, it is the big build up beforehand, then after Christmas nothing 'happens as all celebrations are before the event. Twelfth Night is just a date by which decorations come down, of course one could leave them up till Candlemas on February 2nd. I worry and become stressed over the most silly things, even to whether the Christmas card is right for the intended recipient, the printed words seem hollow for a recently bereaved friend, ‘merry’ to me implies rather tipsy, jolly or enjoyable Christmas would be an alternative.  

Don’t wish to sound miserable or Scrooge like, I’m saying how it is for me, a feeling going back to childhood when I remember being bored by TV so would be knitting or reading, the extra work load on my mother who stayed up late on Christmas Eve knitting dolls clothes for my sister’s new doll. I must have been an odd child, I had a doll too and used to wonder what I was supposed to do with it! 

If anyone is reading these scribblings may I wish them the opportunity to enjoy Christmas in the manner they would most enjoy and appreciate, thank you for commenting on my blog, I’ll try and return the compliment.

Monday, 18 November 2019

End of the marmalade

It was a sudden revelation that this was the last jar of 2019 marmalade, and a tiny jar at that. Although fifty plus jars were made back in January clearly this was not enough to last until next January. There are options to solve this, damson jam is eaten instead, we buy shop marmalade or purchase a can of Marmade (think that is the right name) to make a pseudo home made product. In reality  marmalade maybe home made from charity stalls at Christmas lighting up events or winter fairs would be a tastier option.

As long as I’ve had my own home I have made a Christmas cake, usually  using the recipe from the Stork cookery book from school, this year albeit a bit late to allow for maturity I’m doing the same. The fruit has been soaking in brandy, hope I wasn’t too heavy handed with the liquor and today, after a dental checkup the creaming, beating and baking will begin.

This glass bowl has a history, when DS was at play school there was the inevitable fund raising, this bowl, filled with ingredients to make a Christmas cake, was the prize, this was either 34 or 35 years ago. No clingfilm used, this cover reminds  me of shower caps, they are for food use to cover bowls, can be washed and reused, Ian bought them as part of our efforts to be eco friendly.

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Heaven in suburbia

Life in suburbia has been fairly routine, nothing exceptional to record, day to day decisions about choice of meals, knitting groups, one at garden centre, one at a coffee chain, Pilates, a small move around of furniture in the lounge/back room/sitting room/snug to allow for the gas fire to be lit, ironing so yesterday was different for me. Met up with a school friend, we sat next to each other in sixth form so have known each other a long while, as we are both Friends of Kew Gardens we chose to go there, wow, it was a still morning so the ponds and lakes were mirror like, I didn’t take many pictures, will add them to the end of this waffle. Also for me there was the bonus of being out in the fresh air, walking for a couple of hours with pauses to admire the vistas, as friend said we are so lucky to live near to a world famous garden. I know I don’t have enough exercise so this was a good thing, as Sellers & Yeatman would say.

The first and third photos of the leaves were intended to show Ian what can be planted under trees, I didn’t think to find a label. Should have photographed the wildlife, plenty of coots, moorhens and swans.

Saturday, 26 October 2019

Saturday evenings

A very long time ago when I was growing up my Mother regularly baked a cake on a Saturday evening, as my sister and  I grew up we would make cakes too, I’ve never stopped making home made cakes although the procedure hasn’t often been on  Saturday nights more when I’ve felt like it, we don’t live by regular routines any more! No need.

As I was making a sponge - vanilla Victoria sandwich if you are curious, Ian chose it over chocolate - that regular routine was brought to mind, how I appreciate changes in those years that make he task easier, prepared cake tin liners, electronic scales, silicone scrapers, handheld mixers, we did have these at home in later years in the form of a Kenwood chefette. I’m using Mason mixing bowls, imperial measurement and  licking the bowl still, yes I know it is raw egg but such a minute quantity.

Once cooled will be sandwiched together with homemade blackcurrant jam, not made by us but bought to support a charity, not sure which one. 

Jammed together eventually, half watched programme about Australian railways whilst working on sudoku from today’s paper, seem to have most success with those from Metro, so far have completed ‘gentle’ and working on ‘moderate’. Often if I’m struggling the best answer is to leave it till the next day and the correct answer will appear. 

In spite of the grey, wet, cloudy weather it has been a good day, our daughter’s birthday, couldn’t spend it with her but FaceTime helps to bridge the miles, England winning the rugby semifinal against New Zealand, we watched most of the match at home, listened to the last few minutes on the radio in the car. The roads to Kingston were delightfully empty, I didn’t wish to be late for Knitting 🧶 & Crochet Guild meeting in John Lewis. That store is demonstrating the financial struggles the partners are having, lifts and escalator not working, loos closed, doubts whether we will be able to continue to meet in the Community Room, an air of shabbiness, fewer tills so longer queues. It wasn’t all bad, I spotted a John Lewis brand coat 🧥 in fabric and style I liked, after the meeting it was tried on, approved and purchased. Now my old coats can be donated to WrapUpLondon to keep someone else warm. 

Monday, 21 October 2019

Still here

Just a brief hello, Ian and I have been suffering from the cold/virus that has been sweeping the country, Ian phoned surgery as he was feeling so grotty, GP said his was eleventh call that day. What is so annoying is that gradually one feels better then suddenly symptoms come racing back.

Not much news on the knitting front, I’m working the third side of first round of the Sweet Pea borders, the Moorland blanket is progressing slowly, we are away from the sludgy colours to the mauves, plums and purples. The Qiviut scarf is knitted and blocked, lovely Jean is going to join the ends so it becomes a cowl, no worries about losing what is a short scarf.

Another pair of socks for Ian has become my portable project, much progress was made last week when I travelled to St Albans by tube and train to meet a friend for coffee and lunch.

Bottom corner of Sweet Pea blanket, need stitch markers to show where to miss two stitches, much concentration needed here.

The scarf measures 33 1/2 x 4 inches. 

Not the original stitch pattern, just original colour sequence, both blankets by Attic24.

All photos just taken by iPad rather than from online album.