Friday, 28 January 2011

Not Pebbles, Stones!

Well just one stone actually,

this one...

I'd been working on that stone backwards and forwards over Christmas for quite a while and this week as my tippy toes touched the scales I knew I was in with a chance of success, which proved to be correct. I have stuck my certificates on my study wall for when desperation strikes and I can gaze at them for inspiration.

And the other good thing about achieving the landmark of a stone,

Is a received another sticker. I like stickers..

I have a very long way to go, but I am enjoying the journey.

Three things I have learnt from Slimming World.

1. Generally people take longer to lose weight than you might imagine, although there will always be the stars of the group who manage to somehow drop lots of weight every week, generally it comes off very gradually, a pound loss is a great loss if your dieting every week.

2. I need the discipline of weighing in, it sharpens the mind when the mouth is grazing. (or longingly looking at treats that would send me into a catastrophic whirlwind of events that would end very sadly)

3. That it is good fun. I know that is shocking isn't it?! But you would be suprised about the laughs we have. Whether its about the friendly time you had with a bottle of red, the long term relationship you have with a bag of sherbert lemons. Are you a nutaholic? or a crispaholic? or maybe you love the sweet things in life. There are commiserations and celebrations, its all there at SW.

Right, I am off to make some homemade leek and potato soup, followed by a roasted pumpkin risotto. Yum, yum.

A New Years party.

Kenilworth Knit and Natter celebrated their second New Years Party this week. It looked like everyone was having a good time.

It was a nice way to mark the turning of the year with a celebration. There was knitting, fine dining and wonderful conversation, what more could a knitter want.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

22nd Wedding Anniversary.

We have just celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary, how time has flown. I know this is a cliche and when you are younger you just don't realise quite how quickly the years will pass by. I don't consider myself as anything older than my mid twenties, and am often shocked by my creaky knees and wrinkles that are growing slowly deeper.

Hubby had booked the day off, which is a good thing as he was deep in sore throat and snuffly nose territory. So any plans were quickly curtailed and it was decided that we would take the day very gently. Although come the afternoon hubby, just as I was engrossed in reading hopped into the car and disappeared. He came back with scones, clotted cream and strawberry jam and some beautiful red roses, all 22 of them. We had a lovely cream tea and then hubby departed up to his bed. Leaving me to gaze at these beautiful roses,

and whilst I was gazing at them and thinking what a daft sod he was to venture forth, I noticed,

that there was one rose that had a double crown,

which made it looked heart shaped! I have never seen anything like that before and it tickled me pink.

Such beautiful roses, we are so lucky to be able to record such beautiful moments, it was only fifty odd years ago that colour film came in for home use and then it was expensive, all hail the digital age.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

A reptile hatches!

Whilst making the front door curtain and realising that it was indeed a couple of inches too short many memories came to the front of my mind of my childhood, one which was basically and in a word cold, it wasn't just me, it was the way it was then, no one or not many had double glazing, or central heating. Perhaps a snake would solve the problem of drafty moments and cold hallways. And I must say this before I start to tell you how our own friendly snake was born, I have never known my study and hallway quite as warm as this. Perhaps this is a little something we should be teaching or making for our offspring or friends, those that live in slightly drafty homes.

Firstly I have befriended local firms that make curtains, soft furnishings and sofa's. They have given me some of their sample books of which I have been very grateful. So when my thoughts of how to make our snake, I knew exactly where to turn.

Firstly I measured my doorway, and then knowing exactly what measurement I was working to I started with the slithery underside,

and played with the materials available, cutting and sewing to make a stripey effect.

Then, and this I had the most fun with, the colours that I love so dearly love.

reds and golds for the top. And I was very lucky indeed to find a very large sample that would do very nicely for the head.

the two sides together just after pressing.

and then I cut out a snake (well almost) shape.

popped that on top of the underbelly and cut them out again.. And then I realised there was one thing missing...

a forked tongue. Well all snakes have one of those don't they?, even friendly snakes.


Sewn together and waiting to come alive..

Stuffed, - I've been asked about stuffing so although I have some expensive stuffing which is used to stuff childrens and babies toys, hubby and I trundled over to our nearest supermarket that is Very Cheap, that sells pillows and we bought several of them. It worked out much cheaper, I would say half the price for the same amount of stuffing and its light, it has all the required kite marks for fire resistance and we didn't pay postage. This snake took three pillows worth of stuffing, but he is quite large. On the other hand, if I was giving to a baby I would use (just to be absolutely sure) the stuffing that is safe for babies, one can never be too careful. But again on the other hand babies must sleep on pillows, so it can't be that bad.

I started to think about eyes, and then,

I blanket stitched them on with a bright green and a saturated teal embroidery thread.

And snake then came alive,

and during his first words he said that he quite liked the name "Snake" probably because I chose that word during his embryonic stage! Snake decided that he would like a little look around,

he slithered down the banister which he completely adored,

wandered around the living room and rested on the buffet,

whilst examining the hall and his nest to be peeked out from under the curtain,

showed me how proud he was of his underbelly,

and finally settled on his home, of which he found he was a perfect fit.

Snake settled for the evening, he has told me he is most happy here.

Good night Snake, happy dreams.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Chores.

Whilst rummaging through the materials remnant section in John Lewis on Sunday we found a two metre piece that we both liked that would suit our hallway. We looked at each other and confirmed that it would make an ideal curtain for our front door. You see our front door is a wooden stable door which we both adore, its perfect for when you have dogs as it keeps them secure when people come to the door. Even without dogs it adds an extra feeling of security when opening the door to strangers as the bottom half is securely locked. As much as we love this door and would never consider changing it, (unless we were upgrading it for an oak stable door!) it can be a bit drafty depending on which way the wind is blowing.

Before the days of UPVC doors and windows it was common place to have a heavy curtain at the front door along with friendly snakes or sausage dogs at the bottom of external and some internal (notably the living room) doors. Hubby and I had been chatting about the merit of reintroducing some of these ideas during the latest and quite severe cold snap.

So we happily purchased material and thermal liner as well as all the necessary bits and pieces and set off back home. During the journey, I said to hubby "You do realise as per my New Years resolutions, I won't be able to start this until about March, I can't start any new projects" His reply, "Its not a project, its a chore" Which made me giggle and gave me the loop hole I required.

Now I have never made lined curtains before, I have made curtains and liners and put them together so that if necessary the liner was easily removable. But not lined curtains, so I studied a few in John Lewis before I left.

Right sides together I pinned and sewed one length, having first made sure your top of the material is straight.

Next I pinned and sewed the other side. But you have to wiggle the liner across as it is smaller than the material which is just what I wanted.

Before turning clip into the edges every so often to prevent the curtain from twisting, which will allow it to hang straight. (I do love the internet)

Turn inside out so the right side can be seen and wiggle the curtain around until you have equal amounts of material on both edges and press a seam into it.

Header in place and sewn. I hand sewed the hem at the bottom, making sure it was straight.

and hubby came home and fixed the rail in place. The curtain is slightly shorter than we would have liked, but that has a bonus in that doggy paw prints or muddy shoes shouldn't make it filthy at the bottom.

But it has left me with another chore to do, *grin* I can hear him hissing as we speak.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

A balaclava and doggy tails.

During one of our many chats on Facebook whilst temperatures were absolutely freezing, son no.2 asked me if I would knit something to completely cover his head as his morning walks to uni were leaving him frost bitten around his face. I should clarify that his halls are about two miles from uni and in the first week he waited hopefully for a bus, which just sailed by without stopping as they were full, so after discussion as to what the best course of action was, whether he should leg it to the next main road which runs parallel and has buses which go in the same direction or should he bite the bullet and walk it. He decided after a couple of trial runs that he would walk. But this decision was made in the autumn. Come the sudden drop in temperature he started to feel the cold and when the snow and ice mixed together to form minus ten Celsius, he moaned ever more loudly for a balaclava.

I understood his pain as I remember the very cold winters of my childhood, when ice was on the inside of our single glazed windows an inch thick, until March. I particularly remember one hedonist winter where my nan had knitted me a black balaclava which I absolutely adored as I was so warm whilst trotting down the road to Junior school - she made me some bottle green gloves too! Such pleasures I still dream of.

I finished son no.2's balaclava just under the wire, it was more knitting than I had imagined and he has taken it with him as he's gone back to uni today.

The pattern was written by Bonnie Lang called a helmet liner which she has kindly donated to Citizen SAM. As the US forces are no longer accepting knitted helmet liners as the military have started to issue their own I don't feel guilty about using this pattern for my own son.

I used Rowan Pure Wool Aran in Grey and used nearly two balls. I lengthened the neck ribbing from 6 inches to 8 inches as I wanted it to have enough length especially when it was being used to cover his face.

And it seems to be a nice fit for him.

He rather liked this idea until he quickly realised that his glasses steamed up,

so he went for this look instead. I think he rather likes it. I've had to advise him to take it off before entering a building so as not to scare people in case they think he is a criminal or perhaps a member of SWAT.

And I hope he's not going to be pulled over by the police and searched, that they will understand its just a boy wearing a hand knitted garment over flowing with love from his mother. (such is the world we live in that you have worries like this!)

Son no.2 was recounting a blog that he reads, well he was trying to tell us but was laughing that heartily he couldn't get his words out. So he decided to show me, and I have to tell you that this blog is quite hysterical. Hyperbole and a half One blog post tells the tale of how intelligent her dogs are. Years ago I can remember different ways that people used to test Gun dog puppies to see if they would make the grade in the field., so we thought we would give it a go. Although I knew it was a forgone conclusion that Charlie - golden retriever extraordinaire would beat paws down Pip the lurcher who you can hear the wind whistling between his ears.

First test, throw a blanket over your dog and see how long it takes for the dog to remove itself.

Pip, shook himself free within 25 seconds. Charlie will be quicker than that I thought.

But no, Charlie just stood still, whilst gently wagging his tail. He was not troubled, we've played silly games before, he trusts us - it is not because he is a dog of no brain. 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, seconds passed,.. the boys started laughing triumphantly,,,, I was squeaking "he's brighter than that lurcher, come on Charlie!" Eventually, 44, 45, 46, Charlie free's himself to much applause.

We have a second game. This time you hide food inside an upturned beaker. And the dog that is most intelligent will be the first to turn the beaker over to eat it.

On your marks, get set, Go !!!

And what does my highly intelligent (honestly, he is)retriever Do... He lays down and looks at it, because he is a dog of manners and has been taught not to snaffle food on the ground. The boys were in hysterics as the dog of no brains, but is cheeky where food is concerned, stole the food right under my golden boys nose.

All I can say is humph!

Saturday, 1 January 2011

Happy New Year.

What was the year of 2010 like for us. To be honest it was pretty miserable at one stage, but the second half was much brighter.

I did knit though.

And I made lots of socks, scarfs, shawls and hats, a baby cardigan and baby blanket, a thick winter cardi come coat and a summer top for me. I finished knitting the lizard ridge squares - I have to sew the ends in. I learnt to crochet!!! - and promptly made a baby cardigan. And I have sewn just a little.

And I became a Godmother to the adorable Kitty. Who really is quite the sweetest baby and it will be an absolute pleasure to help bring her to adult hood. Actually I am just looking forward to playing with childrens toys again, although I might give the roller skates a miss this time! But you know those huge trampolines that are popular these days - I'm in!!!!

I have taken to casting on something beautiful for me on New Years Eve, and this time it is a beautiful cardigan for spring. I think this will become a tradition for me. Why am I telling you this small detail, well, its because of my New Years resolution of which there is only one.

From the 1st (which is today) is not to cast on anything new and only finish projects until they are all finished! No excuses.... (apart from that I have already booked to start a block a month for this year - but as its in the same colourway as last year, well, I think we can sneak that one in)

Lets see how long I can last before a sock that is soothing to the soul is cast on.

I have lots of beautiful projects that are half way through, and I really need to get some of them finished.

Happy New Year Everyone.