Sunday, 31 July 2011

its not ALL about celebrating and baking! there has been KNITTING

trial pattern

Staci's pattern
Last week I watched Staci's latest video series on making gloves with special interest in knitting in the round.  I've made plenty of pairs of gloves, fingerless and full fingers - mittens and handwarmers but had not up to now knitted a pair of finger/gloves in the round!
I have an extensive stash of the lovely and now discontinued Rowan Scottish Tweed 4ply and it lends itself perfectly to nice gloves and although I love the pattern I've used in the past, I really wanted to knit these completely in the round and preferably with ML.
SO I started out by getting all excited over the link I found that lead me to the pattern generator for creating gloves!  which I would say is excellent! not least because its free! And the sizes that came out and of it based on my input demonstrate that it "works" but I didn't "get" the instructions in particular with reference to the placement of each finger - quite. in the same way that I do when knitting "fingers" using straight needles, flat.
The top pic shows that the gloves "fit" albeit a little looser than I would choose for another attempt, but if you look carefully you can just see a slight "pulling" where perhaps the stitches are not picked up correctly?  Of course as I often say, a blind man would be happy to see such minor discrepancy! BUT the point is, I want to knit them with confidence and some understanding of the process of the knitting. SO.  I decided to buy Staci's pattern! for the gloves. And you can see from the bottom pic, that I have got on well with those reaching the point where I commence the first finger which according to THESE instructions is the littlest finger - or "pinkie" and as the pattern accompanies the video segments with clickable links, I am going to knit these at the pc this afternoon and hope to SEE what the difference is and end up with a pair of nice GLOVES! hurrah!
I'l let you know how I get on!
I've joined Staci's group on Ravelry too.
Also, knitting wise: news!
As most of you know for some years now I have been suffering (and for as many years my friends have suffered WITH me! ha-ha!) from this - and I joined a group and hurrah! guess what? they are looking very seriously at engaging with knitters to form a sort of knitting group for charity fundraising and raising awareness purposes for the group. SO I mention it, because they have now been persuaded (by me!) to create a profile on Ravelry and would like to ask that fellow Ravelers might consider "friending" her and perhaps, in the future, when things are set up, join their "group"?
I know a lot of people enjoy knitting - and crafting - for charity purposes and often will look for areas to become interested in, if you've fancied knitting "for" a charity and fancy a go, perhaps you'd be generous enough to consider knitting something for "us" in the future?

I've cut and pasted below for those that might not have an account on Ravelry the information on their profile for your future interest:

About me

The Heart Rhythm Charity; Arrhythmia Alliance is a UK registered charity promoting better understanding, diagnosis, treatment and quality of life for individuals with cardiac arrhythmias.
Knitting is a great rehabilitation hobby for people recovering from blackouts or strokes. With this in mind we have recently launched a Knitting Initiative where we are asking groups and individuals to knit and donate a variety of knitted items such as teddy bears, hearts and character dolls to sell at future fairs and fetes to raise vital money for the charity.
If you are interested in knitting on behalf of the Heart Rhythm Charity, please get in touch either through Raveley or email

Old Fashioned Puddings

Next to knitting I enjoy baking.  To be honest I've never really into "cooking" much - other than I've always cooked (from scratch) for the family its generally been a bit of a chore, a case of cooking for them to eat to keep them going! but since our no.2.son developed an interest in baking I've found that I've become interested too.
Not very good for weight management! but I like the cakes and desserts and proper "puddings" and having exhausted my books of ideas and starting to feel a bit repetitive with turning out yet another steamed pudding in one variety of other, I picked up THIS book from the local branch of The Works!

I will let you know which of the recipes I make and how they go down with the family!

They had, also, some copies of Erica Knights book at, I think, around £2-99 however I didn't buy it on account of the one pattern  I did like I already have a couple of copies of in book and magazine format anyway!

Happy Birthday celebrations

no.2.son enjoying fresh fruit salad
 Yesterday we celebrated our no.2.son's 16th birthday with a bbq in the garden and family, we hoped for good weather and weren't let down!  The year he was born was one of the hottest days on record and the then "new" maternity unit had been upgraded to include air-con and it was needed then - if dh's memory is correct, he was born around 1pm. enjoying the sunshine

what? no money!
 You have to start the day with cards and gifts no matter what age! We are "lucky" in that our lads are not the demanding sort looking for expensive gifts or the latest must-have but it turns against us on occasions like a birthday!  What to buy for someone who at 16 already insists he doesn't "want" anything! well. clearly not "nothing - then?" that won't do!  We settled instead for usual useful gifts of clothes and have agreed he can have (another) new mobile of his choosing!

what we got here? then

toothbrush! just what I wanted!
 ok! I admit its not very exciting! but he needed a replacement head for his toothbrush and this model is now discontinued and a less than half price offer at Chemist meant a new brush was not that much dearer than a replacement set of heads would cost - practical? I know BUT when I mentioned to no.1.son that I'd got his brother a new toothbrush HE went in a huff and said HE wanted one! too! whats WITH our "children"? WHY are they not huffing and screeching about Xboxes and laptops? a TOOTHBRUSH! .. shakes head ..

 Another thing we resolved to do this year was use the BBQ more!  We generally make our own burgers and do the usual sausages and (unpopular) salad stuff looking miserable and wilting in a dish but THIS time we resolved to more challenging recipes including FISH and a "warm" veg.salad.
After several days of searching we eventually found some we all liked and I have to say that they went down very well and we would certainly look to cook these again.

waiting for food!

the weather was glorious!

dh - happy to hear is driving, not drinking!

dh at the BBQ
 We flung on the bbq: pork ribs, popular with everyone even I enjoyed this one and well worth the length of cooking time and all the different processes of glazing.  chicken for us, and cheese stuffed and bacon wrapped chicken for no.2.son who doesn't like spicy food.  fish too was on offer, a mix of fresh tuna and salmon and - finally - a potato salad with added asparagus.  slight dodgy moment when one of the family mistook the black olives for grapes and got a mouthful I mean a surprise when he discovered what they WERE! ha!
relaxing over a pint

and a glass of wine!

Happy birthday - cheers!

celebrate with family

getting stuck in!

food was delicious

fresh fruit salad

no.1.son enjoying icecream
We finished with the obligatory "chocolate" cake which I've not photographed because its basically the same cake we do all the time!
this time we added some small "fudge" pieces to the "chocolte, fudge filling" but it hardly counts as "different" cake!  We didn't have room spare for the cake during the celebration, so my stepfather and brother went home with it wrapped in clingfilm and kitchen roll like a "goodie bag" you used to angst over as mum of toddler hosting birthday party and expected to come up with original ideas more sparkling than a couple of chews, mini size tub of sweets and a 10p lolly and some "toy" from toysRus in a pack of 500 for £1 ..?
FRESH fruit salad with a good icecream went down well and is always popular - I looked to enhance ours last min, but discovered about the only alcohol I had in the house apart from beer, wine and gin was the sets of minatures of JBean and Baileys! in the end I settled for lemon juice and caster sugar!

The WEATHER was fabulous and the whole day extended to the evening and no.2.son and I rounded it off by eating half of box of maltesers, a cup of tea and watching a Harry Potter film!!  Shortly we will go as a family to watch the current HP film - like others have said, we've "grown up" with HP and both no.2.son and I are currently rereading the series of books - I'm about to start 2nd book and he is half way through the 4th ..
Slight disappointment was that we'd hoped my brother's former gf would arrive as her parents are local and she'd promised to pop by on her way home - however she had NEWS .. her sister (whom we only know slightly, but who is a good friend to my brother) had been rushed into the local Hospital and was safely delivered a beautiful baby daughter! her first baby and the first "grandchild" in their family and makes our friend a proud "auntie"!  even BETTER news, she confirms her sister IS very much a "pink and girly" flavour and WOULD welcome anything IN pink and with frills! hurrah! at LAST! I can gorge on the fluffiness of something frothy and PINK in tiny sizes and softest baby-yarns!
So its congratulations all round this weekend!  and with my birthday shortly - this year will be by 50th! - say it QUICK and I hardly notice! gulp! the celebrations will continue throughout the summer a little longer ..

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Shaun the Sheep cross stitch - finished!

Shaun the Sheep!
 FINISHED! at last! my Shaun the Sheep : Exercise Time x-stitch kit for £5 - apart from a few errors I think this is just about spot on!  For a first attempt, I'm pretty pleased with it!  where I've gone wrong, I at least KNOW where/why and for what it is and what I'll do with it (prolly nothing!!) its fine by me!  I've enjoyed this and am now looking at kits to explore this further! but NOT white on white!!

Back! finished
 I've finished the back of Arielle and commenced the hem panel for the front.  Unfortunately I seem to have misplaced my smallest needles - IF I ever had any!  I've looked in all my bags and needle rolls and can't find a pair of tiny needles so have just gone ahead and knit with the 2.25mm's and I think my gauge is about right to match that of the back hem!  I'm still enjoying this knit and would look to knitting more with this yarn.

the Kate shawl
I've decided to start doing the extra increases on alternate purl rows to bring about a deeper section at the back of this lovely shawl pattern.  Eleanor on the kal that is running with this pattern has been very helpful with suggestions on yarn and needle choices, sizes and variations and I'm still knitting away and finding as it grows it chomps on the yarn but I'm still only on my 2nd ball of felted tweed so plenty still to use before I reach the half way point and head for the finish!

Elsewhere I'm looking at knitting mittens and hoping to do so alongside crafty pals in an informal KAL, easily distracted my queue is now filled with all sorts of (mostly) novelty knits that I've no doubt I'll NEVER actually knit thanks to the thread on Ravelry I think I've frightened at least 2 members of the family and a couple of non-craft pals with some links!! ha-haa!!

FINALLY the other bit of "news" worthy a mention, our no.1.son.18yrs has got a JOB!
A temporary job - for the summer - for the purposes, mainly, of earning some money ahead of his going to Uni in the Autmn.  dh secured him a position via an agency at his place of work which unfortunately means that HE has to fetch/take him due to in part the unfavourable hours - 6am-2pm and also the distance involved and lack of public transport links. 
We feel it will be worth "our/his" while in doing this "taxi" service for our son not least for the cash we hope he'll earn over the summer!  Yesterday was his first day after an initial day of induction, training and the obligatory health and safety sessions .. the alarm was set for 4.15am and it was a LONG DAY! .. zzz .. he came home via the train/s and poor dh used his lunch break to taxi our son to the station and it still took him 2hrs to reach home! (no direct line).  Poor lad was exhausted as this is a physical job, as well as the early start - all he could do was mumble something that sounded like "go away! leave me alone! wahhhh FEEED MEEE ..."
He has a "day off" today and I've left him lying in until about 11am and now he's having a relaxing day in the house ahead of another set of long days wed-fri!!  (poor dh went to bed himself at 9pm and went straight to sleep!!! - it was a long wait from 6am to 8.30am for his start!).

Kent Lent Pie

Kent Lent Pie
On Sunday I decided to look for an alternative to the "usual" sponge pudding - zzz and came across two or three I fancied but this one required no additional shopping for ingredients!
To be fair its not the best of puddings I've baked and dh is gamely joining in with munching his way through it but the lads took one sample bite sized piece and announced they'd rather go without!!
My brother had called round and stayed for dinner, so got trapped into eating some - with custard - but couldn't be persuaded to take half home!! We're down to the last pieces now - I hate waste and throwing food away, and while its not the best of puddings, there isn't anything "wrong" with it and it might just appeal to someone??

175g plain flour
150g butter
100ml milk
25g ground rice
50g sugar
2 eggs
1/4tspn grated nutmeg
25g dried fruit
(I sprinkled some toasted almonds atop just because .. )
Make the pastry with flour, salt and rub in 75g butter and cold water sufficient to bind the mixture to a dough, leave, then roll out to line an 8" flan tin.
Bake blind at 200c/400f/gast6 for 10-15mins
Meanwhile, put the milk and rice in a pan and bring to the boil, stirring continuously, until the mixture thickens.  Remove the pan from the heat and leave to cool.
When the mixture is cold, cream the remaining butter and sugar together until pale an fluffy.  Beat in the eggs one at a time, then add nutmeg and rice mixture.
Mix together and pour into the flan case.
Sprinkle the dried fruits - eg currants
Bake at gas 5 as before, for 40-45mins until firm to the touch and golden brown, serve pie warm.

Sale bargains and a sobering experience

Cats Corner
 As you can see from the photo's above and at the end, the cats are enjoying and more importantly USING their platform!  Surprisingly, Bertie plays with it more than Lilly, who uses it mostly as a base to sleep on (while waiting for us to leave the room then she leaps onto the furniture - which we suspected would happen and the white fur confirms this each morning!).  They've yet to use the tunnel or hammock but they do hide and retrieve "mousey" inside.  Bertie particularly likes the pom-pom and has bitten through the elastic already and had to be knotted - a bargain at £30 off the full price and good all round buy!
New Lamp

Creates an ambiance

with a nice effect
 BEST BUY however has to be the lovely upright lamp with lime green shade that we bought at a "works sample sale" last weekend for just £10 (normal retail price = £100)
It fits perfectly into our corner which is waiting for a piece of furniture or shelves, but we've yet to decide how to finish this and in the meantime the lamp is in situ.

50p! wine?

Set of cheese boards

And a chopping board!
 For just £1 each, I picked up some boards, we're using the chopping board and will probably keep one of the cheese boards and fling the other gift-wise to someone - for just £1 you can't say no, really?
 Our no.1.son loves marmite! for 50p dh picked up a marmite mug and its just as well he did - yesterday one of the cats jumped up on the kitchen counter, sent our son's tea-mug crashing and smashing to the ground - naughty cats! its the rain! they don't like all this dismal weather and end up chasing each other and pestering each other to relieve the boredom!
50p minatures & glass
 Well for 50p its worth it just for the lovely little glasses!  Of course a drop of baileys in coffee and some bourbon in tea will also be welcome!
 For £1 a set of four oils with spices infused, and 10p for pots of spice and a lt of finest olive oil for £1 dh was pleased with his selection and they are now sitting on the shelf in the kitchen looking pretty!
pots of eye make up!
 which is exactly what I shall look like! PRETTY! with all these lovely eye shadows for 50p! who cares that they aren't Clinique or Estee Lauder, my usual preferred choice, at this price I can afford to be fashionable with the latest shades?  Not sure what the family will think when I come down stairs glowing and glittering in peacock blue and lime green, but I will at least match the new decor!  I best not sit under the glow of the new lamp!?
Cats Corner
This time the Management decided to relax their rules and allow employees AND their spouses to attend the regular sample sales.  this was good in respect that dh was allowed to have a chance at grabbing a bargain or two and also good that he wasn't stuck in the car park for 3hrs waiting for me!
In the past I've always attended in his place mainly from the point of view that I am the better "shopper".  On the one occasion when  I wasn't able to go, dh went and came back with a huge bag FILLED with something or others of minimal interest and a load of pants.  TANGA pants. to be precise.  WHY? I asked, did you BUY all these??  A bargain! he said! yes.  but will you WEAR them?  oh! yes! .. yes? hmm .. no.  apparently.  once he'd opened them and seen what they were ..

He fared slightly better this time, but not in the clothes department.
Two too-small shirtstyled jersey tops with 3/4 sleeves and collarless design in white and black - I MADE him put them ON and even he had to confess this was a big mistake and if he dared to wear he'd be arrested for crimes against fashion.  The lads declared they'd leave home if the shirts were to stay! they are now in the charity bag!  Two more slightly dodgy tees including one which I pointed out seemed to have some semi naked image of a woman in fishnet stockings astride a large motor bike? cough ? which apparently he'd not noticed and had to clean his glasses and stand under the lamp to SEE .. hmm .. and WHEN? do you plan on wearing THAT? then? .. in the house. he declared.  for decorating? I said hopefully? .. (next = the dining room) 

I bought a few tops and a skirt and some slippers for myself all at greatly reduced prices, not the best of sales we've experienced, but the lamp made it I think.
Which is just about what we did - just ABOUT MADE IT!
Its a very scary thought that through no fault of your own, and completely by chance one can be caught up in someone elses bad judgement & how quickly your life could be changed for ever or even taken away?
Driving down the fast country roads there are some very sharp bends and tricky corners but after 20+ years dh knows this route like the back of his hand and with confidence he generally drives at some speed; luckily for us on this particular day he had slowed considerably and we'd just time to sit and register the fact that ahead of us - from nowhere! - in a single split second - a white van appeared! headed straight toward US and fully on OUR side of the road!
Thats how quick it was, thats how fast he was going - the first we had chance to SAY "look out!/ did you see that? " was AFTER he'd HIT US!
For what has turned out to be a non-crash in terms of damage etc, it was one HECK of a bang enough to send the car shooting to the side and blasting our wing mirror but it was all done from start to finish in less time that either of us were able to process it!  Another 2-3seconds ahead, dh felt that it would have been a lot worse - for us! I feel that the fact the driver WAS going so fast, was in our favour? he literally came at us hurtling like a bomb blast! and cannoned off the side of us as he'd tried, we presume, to straighten and get onto his own side of the road?
Anyway, apart from the damage to the car which is slight, by comparison to what it could/should have been, the event was rather unsettling all round not least the realisation our lads could well have been orphans in one go OR we could have been stuck in Hospital for some time and then what would we do?
You can't dwell on what has happened nor worry about what might have happened any more than you can change what did, and with that I'll leave you with an inspiring last comment made by dh's Neice who says it all here ".. no time to dwell on what I can't do!!"
And its lovely to see her exploring a crafty side, too! this definitely needs following up!!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

I flung my heart at the Cardiologist - luckily he got it (eventually)!

pink fabric close the ends

My hand made sample label to good use?

view from the back
I knitted this pattern a while ago for the AFA Charity when they were looking for "heart" knits to decorate their stall at a local wool fayre for fund raising and awareness purposes and it was very well received as a novelty so thought I'd knit one for my Cardiologist and flung this version at him yesterday at the end of another appointment.
I flung it - he caught it - I waited - HE enthused for several seconds sounding quite excited at getting a knitty-gift, before ruining the moment by adding : ".. err what IS IT? then .. ? "
errrm .. a HEART .. its a HEART, knitted - of course .. ? (thinks: damn! I bet its nothing like a heart!)
aha .. its a HEART! (he gets it!) he turns it over and starts mentioning hearty stuff like atrias and veins before turning it back, holding it up, and asking: "yours? .. or mine? .. then?"
he doesn't get it.  damn. NOW he thinks I've sent him MY heart.  too late! I've drawn his attention to the LABEL declaring hand made WITH LOVE .. blast.
no. I said. umm. noONES hearts. just err - A heart - knitted - from a pattern .. ?
he looked a bit confused - I thought he'd  "get it", he obviously didn't.  to further confuse matters I chucked a chill pill at him .. have a chill-pill I said? .. not sure he got that either but his reactions are quick - he caught them both without moving his eyes! And then I fled.  (before he no doubt aimed at the bin .. he-hee)

Arielle is knitting up nicely, I've got the back almost finished - its a slow knit because of the size of the needles, but its a satisfying knit and the pattern is interesting enough to keep me going through the tedium of the small needles but easy enough that I can just sit and knit (and watch tv etc) and the pattern is such that I have it written out in "blocks" that are soon ticked off and progress through the pattern is easy to follow.

We were going to visit a new LYS last weekend but what with one thing and another it will be another week but in the meantime I've enjoyed reading another Raveler's account of her recent trip and thinking, now, that maybe I ought to buy this book! (before they all go!).
another book I am looking forward to is the winter Rowan Magazine, 50 which will be a good choice I think/hope based on the previews I've seen ahead of its official release in the shops which I think is any time soon!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

The end of an era! no.2.son and his PROM

Cake! to celebrate?

Prom cake

Birthday cake

Greeting the arrivals

no.2.son arrives in uncle's car

the reception

let me out!?

no.2.son arrives at his Prom

my friend in the background

no.2.son chats with friends

excitement before the Prom

no.2.son looks headachey!

catching up with friends

no.2.son waits to go inside

posh arrivals

oversized arrivals!

PINK arrivals!

my friend's no.2.son same yr group as ours
Well its the end of an era!
This week saw our no.2.son enjoy the celebration of their School Prom night at the local Hotel and not just the end of an era for him but for US too! no more school! and some tears from us parents as we shared our children's lovely event we reflected on the years we've known each other and watched our children grow up and become young adults off on their next journey largely independant from us!!

Some of the parents (and children) we've known from pre-school and many we only ever see at functions like this and I expect it will be big changes too for the children as they go their separate ways to different Colleges in the Autumn.  Our son is wavering between his favoured choice of College and that of the popular choice of his friends.

We noticed this year a lot more people arriving in poshed up "family/friends" cars! and indeed we gave our son the choice and approval to book a limo which seems to be the thing they do for these events, with his group of friends but for some reason this didn't happen for this lot.  Maybe its the "credit crunch" taking effect? a bit of 2nd/last one done it all before? In the end I asked my brother who has a posh sporty car would HE drive him the two mins down the road and deliver him!
getting IN is not that easy!

posh red leather interior

Proud owner!

I've done it! I've got IN!

view from the back

attempt to get OUT!
Recently my brother splashed out and bought himself a posh car (PLEASE don't ask what it is, I errm don't exactly know! other than it is small and posh and VERY fast!)
this car at least does have some sort of nod toward seating in the "back".  but you need to be very small. and it has a roof unlike his previous sporty model which was a topless variety.
As you can see I've not done a brilliant job of selling it to you but I'm sure you appreciate how hard it is to get INTO and OUT OF such cars - happily our no.2.son managed it with style!
this set of pics are a few months old, and taken when my brother drove straight round to show off his new car and we all had a "turn" driving round the block and you can see why we asked HIM to do the driving!

It was a long night! dh, my brother and I headed off to the pub for a couple of pints to reflect over the long hard 16yrs so far (!) and compare to the slightly tame and somewhat dodgy "school disco" of our era.  dh reported they didn't even do that in his time! AND he left at 15 going straight into work! how times have changed?  Education seems to last longer these days and our young adults are expected to continue their education ..

Yesterday was my brother's birthday so we combined it with Prom night and no.2.son baked a yummy chocolate cake with chocolate fudge filling and topping as a "thank you" and "birthday" cake, and I baked the usual popular Victoria sponge with raspberry jam and fresh cream .. cake! always cake! got to have CAKE ..