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Thursday, 30 January 2014

This week

The weather ...  cold, rain and so grey. When out and about recently I was struck how most winter coats appear to be black, navy or grey, few bright colours and my mind goes back to the Kaffe Fassett exhibition which exploded with colour.

I am wearing ... pale blue polo neck cashmere and wool jumper, Gabrielle pattern cardigan I knitted and navy blue trousers

I am reading ... The Sense of an Ending by Julian Barnes, this is for reading group, my bedside book is Jim Pym's Listening to the Light. In between I have been dipping into Life below stairs, in the Victorian & Edwardian country house. It's a National Trust book, bought for £5.00 from local library authorities online sales. The book cost £20.00 in 2011, was borrowed twice in that year, once the following year, I suspect it would have been cheaper to have bought 3 copies from Amazon and given them to the borrowers! The book was held in one of the many small branch libraries, surely the days of a small library within a mile of each borrower has to go, a London borough should have say three good size libraries  so eleven copies of a popular book are not bought for each tiny branch. I am thinking multiple copies of biographies of the latest star, especially those barely into their twenties.

I am creating ... hexipuffs, I am working on the 330th, so 50 or so to go. As a change I'm crocheting a cushion cover using half trebles, size 5 hook and Rowan big wool in various colours. Not as portable as hexipuffs but something fast growing to pick up at odd moments.

I am listening ... to the clunk and whirl of my laptop, the Toshiba will be seven years old at the end of May, I am being persuaded that an update may be a good idea. Words like Apple and Mac have been heard.

I am watching ... the Design programme on BBC2, yes another lifestyle competition, but these programmes give information too, both about the properties, their history, about design, for example where raised panels are not placed equally between dado rail and skirting board but using a golden ratio. For once thirties properties were not decried but their advantages explored for modern living.

I am enjoying ... the dreams of visiting more National Trust properties this year, reinforced by the arrival of this year's NT handbook.

From the learning rooms ... one thing I have learnt is is an electrical appliance is making a noise or buzzing as one of our standard lamps did, the answer is to turn it off then back on again. Thought that rule was just for computers.

On the menu ... I'm not good at planning ahead for meals, although today did make two cottage pies, one has been eaten and the other is  for daughter and her young man tomorrow evening. Planning needed urgently for weekend meals

On the calendar week is Local History Society - I think talk is about local Suffragettes;  I shall be going to U3A knitting group, taking with me some patterns for toe up socks, the start of which uses the same process as the start of hexipuffs. Maybe when hexipuffs are finished I will try toe up socks, I gather it is easier to fit as you go.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

More garden changes

To keep my readers up to date with the garden saga at Pixie Towers, this is to record last week's changes to the back garden. Briefly, the high winds at the beginning of the year damaged the fencing so all of ours has been replaced. The left hand side is not our fence so it continues to lean and wobble, we did tell the owner about our plans but the letter was ignored. Kingston Garden Services who tidied the garden at the back end of last year carried out the work, our next project is to replace the green moss and weeds known as the lawn.

then the result, after much problems with some areas being rather waterlogged, the water table was very near the surface.  I was a bit surprised, according to the Ordnance Survey map we are on a contour line so higher up. Joking of course, even though we are on gravel there is a limit to how much water can be drained away, but it made it difficult for the guys to concrete the posts in along the back of the garden.

Not only was fencing replaced but at the same time the guys cleared and tidied the garden too even though that wasn't in the specification.

Friday, 10 January 2014

New term

We are gradually starting to find a routine for 2014, back this week to the fortnightly term time U3A knitting group, am now working just on the hexipuffs. The red lace wrap has been put on one side, I have to undo it as I have one extra stitch on the needle so the pattern could go wrong, haven't made enough to see how it works, nor can I spot an error. Have completed 317, my aim is to complete 384 to join together to make a 3 x 4 foot quilt before the end of this new year. Off to another knitting group on Monday so more hexipuff knitting, problem is there is a meeting of the Reading Group earlier in the day, haven't read anywhere near all of "Winter in Madrid", C. J. Samsom's book. Doesn't really grab me, bit depressing, and I need to mug up on my Spanish history too.

Talking of knitting, in an obituary in yesterday's Telegraph of an agricultural historian , Joan Thirsk [who] united her own interest in knitting with her rural studies, challenging the notion that knitting did not develop until the 16th century by pointing out that the chain mail of medieval armour was “in fact, a knitted garter stitch”. ..      She combined scholarship with a love of domesticity, often treating her students and colleagues to bread and cakes she had baked herself, and sending hand-knitted garments for their newly-born offspring. 

Not often one sees detail about knitting and knitters in an serious obituary, it connects with the discussions about domestic chores such as ironing, crafts like knitting and crochet which are seen as beneath professional and academic women, on the contrary most of the women who post in Ravelry appear to be very clever and articulate. Many run successful businesses from home, dyeing yarn, designing patterns most of which appear to require great mathematical skills to create.

In spite of Ian's third level course being just 30 points towards his degree it appears to require as much study as a 60 point course, doesn't help when an errata is issued whilst one is working on an assignment. Ian had planned to stop at a diploma last summer but then he passed both his exam and the course he took when he stayed a week in Nottingham University so he has decided to press on for the degree. So I have attempted to assist, no not with sums, but other activities like cooking so made supper last night, a cauliflower and celery soup with cheese for lunch today. A shortage of yogurt after Christmas, especially in  large pots, led me to resurrect our yogurt maker. Overnight two pints of blue top milk became a litre of fairly thick yogurt thus:-

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Little things mean so much ....

A while back in our local, independent stationers I bought a bag of tiny white labels to tie round circular knitting needles where the size has worn off. The labels are a little larger than from top of thumb nail to joint.

Like many households we have plenty of cables for all our electrical toys, so much so that it is becoming quite confusing, especially where Father Christmas has added more to the pile so I have found another use for these labels. Each cable has a label, even if it is obvious that it fits an iPad or iPhone.

Another pleasing event is that the German clock, brought back from Hamburg around turn of the twentieth century by my maternal grandfather seems to have sorted itself out. It kept stopping, went to our local repairers where it kept going on the wall, it was returned with no charge as they hadn't done anything but for some time it still kept stopping when here. Now,since just before Christmas we seem to have cracked it, don't know what we did, or didn't do, I'm so pleased to hear the gentle ticking and chimes in our dining room. Even better when both our chiming clocks do so simultaneously.

Third little thing is one of my Christmas gifts are LED clip-on glasses lights, bought in Tiger for me to use whilst knitting in poor light but proving much more useful than knitting. For example if I'm typing on my laptop don't need to put lights on, as a touch typist just require to check numerals and symbols as keyboards vary. There is a clip to attach to the arm of specs so the light is facing forward in same direction as lenses.

Doesn't take much to please me.