Wednesday, 31 August 2011

What I got from "love wool uk" in the post!

LOOK at what arrived yesterday morning in the post!

When I signed up and they vaguely mentioned sending some sort of "pack" I thought perhaps some leaflets and info. on the series of month long events and perhaps something a bit yarnie but as well as a nice pen and the usual leaflets, a set of instructions and some wool to "felt"! hurrah!

Not sure what I'm going to do exactly! but I'm hoping something will inspire me ..

Monday, 29 August 2011

Knitting Progress : Tender Rowan Mag.50

Progress has been made and I'm very pleased with it so far - its a lovely and quick knit and the pretty bobbles at the top are delightful and make it just that bit more interesting (to knit) don't you think?

Finished, the back and started - the front!

close up of the bobble effect
I'm loving the colours and feeling inspired to do more knitting in colour!

I'm joining in with this KAL to knit these gloves starting (I think!/hope?) 1st October!  (also, I'm hoping I read right that this IS the winner! either way I've downloaded the pattern and will knit them anyway!)
My Sissal gloves are ripped back - I've decided that life is too short to struggle with complications I can't manage at the moment although the alterations to the pattern are very minor its more to do with how I'm finding it hard to "manage" remembering stuff and I can do without the stress at the moment.

Enjoying a catch up on knitting magazines this weekend - for some reason I occasionally end up with issues I've not read the minute they drop through the letterbox and then there is a rush to read before the NEXT one is due! I've a sneaky feeling another one or other is about due so best crack on, then!

One of my lovely little teddies was featured in this month's "knit" magazine readers gallery - I'd forgotten that Adrian had contacted me to see if I could send him a pic and when I opened the page and saw it the first thing I thought was : oh! look! I knitted one just like that! and then read that I did! bah! it WAS mine! duh .. silly moment ..  else where in print I found that one of my excerts from a bit on the charity knit event was picked out and included on the page for knitting as therapy too! weird "finding" yourself like that! (if I can find it again I'll link it!! but thats one topic am trying to address on my fave sewing forum - HOW to manage myself electronically! and sort myself out I mean sort my patterns and files! so far all I've done is sign up for and join in with squillions of stuff and hardly any of it is organised never mind sorted!).

Typical Bank Holiday Monday - the weather is grim and rather dismal - I've run out of space to put the washing in the house to hang about while drying which it doesn't! in this sort of inbetween not quite ready for central heating to go ON but not warm enough to dry anything.  The cats are miserable and to show their displeasure in the change of weather have each taken to deliberately walking IN the muddy patch and asking to come in and walking across the new carpet with their muddy paws .. dh thinks we ought to leave them outside until their feet are dry.  all that happens THEN is they jump up with their muddy paws and now our patio is full of paw prints .. and they STILL are muddy when we do give in and let them in only NOW are double cross on account of being kept out longer than necessary and walk MORE across the carpet to show their displeasure and squeaking at us to reinforce the message! you cannot win with cats!
this afternoon I plan to knit some more! and finish my magazines and because its "making monday" I shall make shepherds pie for dinner AND look through my book again to see if I can find something different to bake for pudding - like last week, if I do I'll edit the post and fling a pic up!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Pictures from my celebratory meal with family

It was a lovely occasion! both my brothers and one stepfather came along meeting up at our house and setting off in 2 cars the night extended well into the morning! and I paid for it yesterday with a full day of ectopics and Afib but it was WORTH it!  absolutely NO knitty chat just a selection of photo's from the pub ..
the steaks were lovely

meal portions perfect for hungry teens!

enjoying the ambiance!

enjoying the drinks!

dh and

dh not used to finding food in a glass!

chocolatey pudding! yum

me! happy birthday to me!

no.1.son and me

Friday, 26 August 2011

In memory of my late Mother

My Mother and my Son
Today is the 8th anniversary of my Late Mother who died on her 62nd birthday and would, had she lived, have been coming out with us tonight to jointly celebrate her 70th birthday along with my 50 of a fortnight ago.  Tonight we are going out as a family to both remember her, and celebrate other recent birthdays in our family during July and August enjoying, too, our son's achievements with their exams this last week for a meal to mark the occasion.
I chose this photo because it was taken during a family party to celebrate my son's birthday and was the last time that we all enjoyed a family party unknown to us she was already in her final few weeks with her cancer having spread to her liver.  She chose to keep this news from us so as not to spoil the birthday celebrations and its not hard to see how she managed to fool us - she doesn't look in the least poorly!?  We learned the sad truth two days later, and she died some 3 short weeks later on her own birthday and has been missed ever since ..
Our gathering later on is not going to be a sad occasion! rather I chose to arrange it on this day but we will be looking forward to happy and bright futures for our sons and its them that we shall celebrate.

Bank Holiday - rotton weather AND a good old tidyup in sewing room!

WHAT a rotton day!  pouring with rain and forecast for more/worse - but then it IS the Bank Holiday weekend ..
Not as rotton as those in the way of the hurricane, mind!  I can't imagine what the experience and devastation must be like to live through and I'm hoping that my cyber-knit/sew pals and their families will be unaffected or at least safe!
ready to GO!
I've had a GOOD clear out! and decluttered my sewing room once more.  I did this exercise about 8 yrs ago after my late-Mother died and I inherited the contents of her sewing room and trying to pack in two room's worth of stash and machines was not going to happen!  Over the years I've managed to part with some things - and used/sewn/knitted some! and the biggest change I made was in NOT madly randomly and feverishly BUYING stuff!!  I'm much more discerning both in my purchases and in my projects and this latest exercise was two fold, firstly I wanted to clear some space in the room and "manage" ALL of my craft IN one room (I've spread out into the landing upstairs, the lounge and our bedroom! gulp!) and secondly I wanted to clear my WIP and all unfinished stuff with either a commitment TO finish OR to just say goodbye to it! once and for all! (not easy!).

First to be sorted was the fabrics - I've not sewn really for some years and it was relatively easy to get rid of some fabrics, particularly stuff I'd bought for when my lads were younger - raincoat fabric for instance! fleece and other outwear that I'd picked up when going through a phase of making waterproof coats for them.  Next was the lingerie and lace & stuff!  I've decided that though I enjoyed sewing outerwear AND lingerie, I've done it!  I did it, but I'm no longer likely to do it again!
This is the hardest part for me, in wanting to keep a reminder of things I've previously enjoyed and just in case I should want to revisit this area of sewing I've blocked up a whole area of space - for what? well! for "just in case"! and I've been completely ruthless and got rid of ALL the outerwear and MOST of the lingerie/elastics/notions bar a small container which is much more sensible and manageable.
For two days I pondered about my 4 large bags worth of "oddments" - pieces of fabric that I had kept for patchwork.  One the one hand it has taken me years to build up a useful stash of variety of cottons, but on the other hand in reality I've actually made very FEW items from it!
In the end I just gritted my teeth, refused to even LOOK inside - I just PUT the bags OUT! they are going! to the Charity shop and thats that!  IF I decide to do something quilty or scrappy, well! I'll just buy something!  The local shop sells lots of oddments and strips and rolls and scrap bags in themes its not like I can't EVER do this again ?
I sorted out the boxes of notions and general haby collected, again, over years and some of a mix of mine, my late Mother and even Grandmother's!  Some things - Grandma's leathercase of beeswax and Mum's very very super fine beading needles double threaded with yarn through an eye you can't SEE even under magnification and SHE was half-blind and did it through "feel" rather than sight! - I've kept.  But some of their things I have also let go too.  You can't keep EVERYTHING.  In fact, in keeping "everything" it sort of devalues the few items that do mean something, and you can't appreciate it when there is so much of it.  On the one hand I find it difficult to throw stuff out, I'd naturally err on side of keeping things BUT on the other hand I can find it easy to be firm about making choices and once I've decided, then I don't hanker after it, regret it or sneak it back again!

yet to be sorted
Its made my working space SEW much clearer and will inspire me to use my room more now that I've got SPACE in it!!  Nearly everything is sorted through and put away, yet to tackle are my stash of magazines and this box and three bags of "knitting" stuff, patterns and projects OTN's for example.
For the sewing projects I've sorted just one or two pieces that I intend finishing and all the rest I've thrown out! 
I find it very lowering creatively to be reminded and surrounded by the evidence that the things I started out with enthusiasm are just hanging about half done! waiting to be finished! and if I'm completely honest, MOST of what I'm looking at I have no real use or purpose for it when it IS finished! so? whats that all about? hmm. Apparently I just like "doing" things. "trying things" and having a go! joining in and doing what others are enjoying! well. thats FINE. but when its MOSTLY what I'm about, its not so good!  I resolve, therefore, to change! hurrah! how about that? what are my chances?
I'm not sure quite WHEN I changed.  In the very early days I defnitely wanted to "learn" and find out ways of doing things and looked for challenging techniques and it was always important to me that the dressmaking projects both FITTED me AND were sewn "well"; but in those days I did get it DONE.  I had a need to sew for instance, a skirt and top so I sewed a skirt and top.  These days although I probably still have the same "need" I don't have the same enthusiasm and commitment TO sew the skirt and top.  I'd rather faff about blind hemming and roll hemming and perfecting my stitching with one of my many machine feet .. sigh .. playing. thats what I like! playing at the craft. 
NOTHING wrong with that.  but somewhere along the years, I've slid over to more "play" than actual achievement of finished item and scarily I'm starting to do the same with my KNITTING.
Here again. A change.
YEARS ago, I knitted because everyone else in the office was knitting, so we'd all sit in the lunch hour over a sandwich and knit and pop down en masse to the LYS to pay for the next week's balls of "wool" set aside by the shopkeeper and it was ONE knitted jumper after a cardigan ..
The bargains to be had in the sales with double discounts bringing down discontinued yarns in particular to really SILLY prices, eg 10xballs of Rowan KSH for £10 10x balls of Rowan Fine Milk Cotton down to just £10 .. I could go on? .. I've got BOXES of the stuff! and have I knit it? well no. but do I want to buy MORE? .. well yes.  well NO. alright. yes AND no.  ok. I can't afford to turn down a "bargain" and these days I'm more focused on mostly buying what I know I would want to knit and generally have an idea of a pattern in mind - eg the fine milk cotton for the Arielle project that I had coveted for months before the offer of double discount yarn IN the colourway I wanted just threw itself at me while browsing the wool dept one day .. how could I NOT?

I am resolved now to FINISHING the projects I have on my needles before starting anything afresh.
I am also resolved to FINISHING the sewn/quilty projects before starting anything else.
The only exception to the above one, is the little nursery bag I shall make to accompany the baby knit I shall do that is the exception to the first - bah - see? how DIFFICULT it is? already? I'm making "excuses" for "exceptions"? shall I ever change? should I expect to? or just do the best I can?

halved the storage of stash

decluttered by 50% the shelves

EMPTIED the fabric boxes!
SO. I've ended up now with a good working space that is not looking so cluttered as before, I've halved the amount of storage units and created room to fit boxes and bags of things like toy filler and wadding to be tucked away in the corner that is hidden by my Horn cabinet when opened for sewing and the shelves are now much neater and easier to sort through now I've been ruthless and got rid of 50% of the contents.  Best of all I emptied the complete built in cupboard storage space of fabric and patterns and managed to contain it within a few boxes and given me SPACE to put my books and my knitting and beading within it!  hurrah! ok. I've still got "stuff" on the floor. I can't help this, I don't have room to put it anywhere else but it is manageable in the corners and from my families point of view the BIGGEST advantage is that I now have NOTHING outside on the landing!  gone is the drop leaf cutting out table! GONE is the set of storage units for "cardmaking" and GONE is the 4boxes and bags of YARN and GOING is the huge stash of magazines (once sorted!!).  phew! I could almost have a housewarming party to celebrate! except that its all still HERE.  temporarily! until we get to take it to the Charity shop.  which being the bank holiday weekend will likely be middle to end of next week.

Next week I'll blog an update on what I plan to finish sewing wise and do a knitty round up on progress on projects.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

More good results! and some knitting on the go and in the planning!

FIRST of all! so PLEASED that along with bragging unashamedly about no.1.son's A level results last week, I can do the same for no.2.son and his GCSE results from this morning!
They both work hard and we appreciate that we have the sort of son's that have taken to "school" and exams etc it makes OUR life much easier given the competition for places in FE these days that both our lads now have the "pick" of their choices!
No.2.son achieved 3xA's, 2xA* and 5xB's and easily meets the requirements at his first preference of college - tomorrow when we all meet as a family to generally celebrate both the occasion of my 50th, remember my late-mother AND our lads' results and enjoy their successes it will be a very happy time for us all as a family!

Knitting is coming along nicely! the newest OTN's are baby socks! in left over "Harry Potter" sock yarn from Opal - two pairs for the newest baby that I'm knitting for ..

2nd pair of baby socks

first pair of baby socks
As well as socks, I'm planning to knit another cardi from the Sirdar book which has proved to be a good buy as I've knit 4 items so far and well worth the money and this will go OTN's tonight (while no.1.son and I watch the live final of "show me the funny") (slight argument with no.2.son and dh who wanted to watch the NUFC match earlier this evening but I managed to win on account of basically you don't want to cross me!! lol!! they will watch the first half and then tape the 2nd, watch it after we've watched our programme .. I would point out that this is a "regular" game and not a special or important one, had it been so I would have agreed to their watching it, but frankly EVERYtime the tv is turned on there is some sort of football and/or cricket, golf ON and it gets a bit boring after a while .. zzzz).

I bought the yarn here - "playful pink" and the buttons too as always excellent value and terrific fast service it arrived yesterday after ordering it late on Monday afternoon.  I think the shade is nice - I wanted to knit "pink" but not the usual sugary "baby pink" and was pleased to see this was one of the discounted colourways, even with the postage costs added, it was way cheaper than buying from shop! I ordered 3 balls as plan to knit a "mini teddie" too - naturally I will be sewing one of Jan's famous "nursery bags" and filling it with usual baby toiletries - fabric still to be purchased but likely from here.
Further on the knitting/charity front: the lovely pattern that will be available to download soon - is looking LOVELY! I'm proud that my photo's have been included and can't wait to see the variations knit from it over the coming months - next month sees the "Event" launch both the pattern and the initiative and I'm hopeful that it will be a success!!

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

I made it Monday - and recipes!

Well I did take photo's but ran out of time to edit yesterday's post in part due to getting carried away with sorting out sock yarn for "new baby socks" AND ordering something snuggly for a new project for the new baby I mentioned ..
AND poor dh went out for a game of tennis with another group of players for the first time in months (one of his regular team-mates is currently recuperating following operation) and promptly slipped - did the splits - done his back IN (again).  He has a dodgy back anyway and I'm constantly nagging at him suggesting that he adjust his posture in order to nag at him to help him better manage his pain; he spent the entire night in agony and clearly didn't remain in bed the whole night & this morning when I got up early and showered thinking I'd be set to take him to the GP - he's gone! to work. one presumes.
The trouble with dh (and most men?) is that they shriek about a minor cold and expect hot toddies and be let off washing-up duties but when they ARE "ill" or have an accident, they steadfastly refuse to accept its happening and carry on regardless.  He's clearly raided the cupboard looking for pain-killers and the problem with THAT is that as he never takes them even when under instruction by a Dr to, he's got no idea what to take - when to take them - and more importantly any "dangers" OF taking them.
My box labeled in pen "VERY VERY strong tablets ONLY for me for when my PAINFUL frozen shoulder becomes SO unbearable without taking these I'm going to SHOVE you out of your own WINDOW if you try and stop me" is left ominously EMPTY on the kitchen counter.
hmm. this means EITHER he's high as a kite and like as not wouldn't notice if HE fell out of a window OR I'd kept the box, empty, as a momento and reminder of this terrible painful experience ..
Either way, dh is NOT here and neither is the car .. which must mean he's gone to work .. and THATS another thing.
(sorry. its turned into a rant.  I'm like this.  End up going off on one. skip to the pics if you prefer, I won't mind!)
Like a lot of men (of his age) he WON'T take time off work.  Not even when "ill" - in 27yrs I can honestly say he has rarely taken any time and while ok, he has rarely HAD to take time being as he is generally "lucky" to enjoy excellent health - he wouldn't even IF he really ought.  And I do think that doing the splits and wrenching his back and possibly putting something "out" on the tennis court at his age ought to mean he'd be better off at the GP Surgery seeking advice on "managing" his back and getting his own suitable tablets and resting at home until his back goes away .. ?
And another thing! like as not he'll come home in agony, but insist is ok to go out for his regular snooker night! hows that going to help? bent over the snooker table with a dodgy back? its not, but if I try and say so it will be me "nagging" again (and spoiling his life) .. bah ..
quiche for dinner
Quiche from Delia smith's book.  The only problem I seem to get is that the pastry is inclined to come away from the container at the blind-baking stage prior to the filling/cooking in parts - unfortunately I forgot to take a photo of the entire quiche and only remembered later on in the evening that I was supposed to have photographed it! and this is the last bit left in the fridge for today's salad/lunch and thus is the bit with the missing pastry and slightly dodgily overdone bacon which makes it look like announcing "hurrah! its QUICHE for dinner!" is not a good idea if am expecting a positive response back of "hurrah!" BUT to be fair, we ate the better parts and this left over is somewhat a treat for anyone who might be wishing they'd had more.
(to be fair, its not often that anyone ever does wish they'd had "more" but there are some meals I cook which are more popular than others; and there are SOME in my family who respond rather less well than the rest on some things I fling their way.  We had a dodgy moment at the weekend when after some couple of weeks of "busyness" meant I did a few not especially healthy veg filled meals in a row and THEN presented no.2.son with a roast dinner including both broccoli AND peas with his carrots he promptly proceeded to nip at the edges with his teeth in manner of presented with poison and HEAVED into his plate .. this is VERY offputting to everyone including our son and I did think we'd got over this stage and that I'd learned my lesson following one memorable occasion when he heaved the entire dinner of shepherds pie back onto his plate after a mouthful of broccoli.  but WHAT AM I SUPPOSED TO DO?  what I do do, is that I find the smallest most complete sprig and ask that he nibble around the edges a bit to show willing and then we're both happy that a/ I have tried (my best) and b/ he has tried (his best).  QUICHE is generally popular with no.2.son and as its served with chips and baked beans for him and thus let off the horrid broccoli gets eaten and enjoyed - we eat quiche around once a month and I always do the same version and I always get the same resulting falling away bit but otherwise my pastry is improved & all the better from the practice!).

dough mixture
to be fair, I tend to use my food processor for most baking and in particular for pastry and dough for biscuits etc largely because its quicker and easier & any disadvantage in making it this method vs. the "proper" by hand rolling kneading and encouraging adding stuff like eggs and water drip by drip  is knocked out by the cooking anyway!  I can't blame the oven anymore on account of having a new super-duper one I have to instead accept that I'm not a natural "cook".
Looking through my books to find something I could make yesterday FOR the make it monday challenge suiting the ingredients I had in the kitchen made me try out two NEW recipes! for biscuity thingies that apparently require very little in the way of ingredients, making up of! baking therein! (and possibly "taste" too?).
and thus I baked:
melting moments cooling before being filled
THESE! "melting moments" or yo-yo's.
the ingredients and method in my book is very similar to this except mine were "filled" and paired with a butter/icing sugar with vanilla extract mixture which unfortunately I made slightly too runny and they have to sit in the fridge to harden and then get eaten rather quickly before the filling runs and the biscuit melts - one of my son's took rather too long pondering over whether it was SAFE to try and nervously took a small bite whereupon the filling ran down his throat and the biscuit melted sticking his teeth preventing him from swallowing giving him an unpleasant experience with a sneezing nose and several tissues ..
my other son on the other hand declared them yummy! bite sized HE bravely put the lot in his mouth in one go and just waited for the meltingness to process around his teeth before swallowing it with the filling no doubt helping if only a little ..
melting moments & almond shortbread drops
INSPIRED by the fact that apparently with the right book to hand one can bake anything out of nothing I decided to do a batch of almond shortbread drops (but without the almonds).  I did! however! have a bottle of almond extract! and can confirm that this really DOES enhance the flavour of the nothing-much-in-way-of-taste-ingredients but to be fair you need to LIKE almond-flavour)
The link is quite similar but mine is even more basic using only butter, flour, rice four and icing sugar but adding the almond extract omitting the actual almond works quite well.
As my son said, at least they are small enough to pop into mouth in one go AND can be swallowed quickly and they don't hang out melting around your teeth ..

I'm glad I gave it a go and tried something new - perhaps next Monday I will be better organised and able to gear up to making something else and blogging again possibly joining in, too!  I've not linked my efforts to the list, instead I'm sort of doing it on the quiet! shhh! ;-)

Monday, 22 August 2011

Making Monday

For some time I have been following the Making Monday as set by Natalie and listed here and kept trying to join in!  but wouldn't you know it! every Monday SOMETHING happened!  I really thought the previous Monday I was on to a winner when I'd started "making" something but "popped out" to the GP for a routine appt, and ended up in A&E for the entire DAY!! bah!  although I had taken my wool and dpns with me and WAS able to knit several hearts I wasn't able on the DAY to take the step by step pics and thus announce it AS my "made it on monday" entry! bah.

SO. today I am going to:

MAKE from scratch a quiche lorraine for tonight's evening meal and will try and edit this to add the pic IF I a/ can and b/ remember!

To be honest, I usually "make" stuff on most days, and actually "monday" is the day I normally reserve for other more domestic stuff and since redecorating the lounge "monday" has become the day I spend cleaning it and turning the cushions on the new sofas! BUT with this in mind (and that today is dh's last days "holiday") I did the housework YESTERDAY!  DOUBLE bonus - I managed to persuade dh that it was in HIS best interests that HE clean the bathroom as well! (to save me a job! cough) luckily he bought it and obviously didn't have his full wits about him to SEE through my frankly dodgy theory that IF he did the bathroom it would be doing HIM a favour as it would release "today" as a "free day" - this is ONE advantage of his getting up at 4am to take no.1.son to work - his brain doesn't work properly due to lack of sleep!! ;-)

This does give me the whole day to make the pastry, rest it and blind bake before putting together the quiche and I might well look and see if there are any other "pastries" I can make alongside - I sort of fancy eccles cake?  Today I will be in the KITCHEN ..

"Tender" my new autumn knit from Rowan mag.50

I'm knitting this from Rowan's magazine: 50 and Rav'd it here.
Although I've got two or three current projects OTN's and had resolved to finishing those before starting anything "new" two things made me cast on this weekend:
1/ X factor started! and I needed something nice and easy to keep track knitting while watching this with no.2.son (and we're steadily working our way back through series of 24 with no.1.son 2-3 episodes at a time to get through as much before he goes to Uni in Oct!) and what better a knit than one with blocks of colour in and a dead easy pattern!?
and 2/ I really REALLY want to wear this new seasons pattern NOW - THIS season! and not in 3yrs time! bah!
the back
I'm loving the colours, it looks totally different to the book but I think this will be great for me! Just about to change colour again and continue with the shaping at the back, hope to get this done over the next few weeks ready for when I might need to wear it!! x

I am RUBBISH at finishing.
I think I am a process knitter.
I love having things OTN's and enjoy starting new projects, love the challenge of learning the new techniques eg ML and 2AAT but really I should just buy 2skeins of yarn and knit a handful of SAMPLES?  bah!

I wish I were quicker at knitting - I can be quick to knit for example when knitting the baby-knits earlier this year (but then again, tiny baby knits ARE quick to finish on account of teeny-tiny!!).  I've another new baby to knit for - the of my has become an "auntie" - her sister whom we've only met a few times but enjoyed her company each time has had a gorgeous baby girl! AND hurrah and thank GOODNESS she likes PINK'N'FRILLS!! phew! about time!!
Need to get cracking.  And order something in PINK to knit from my book.

My Sissal Gloves are on hold.  temporarily. but might be ripped back.
I feel there are errors in the pattern and am waiting to hear corrections before deciding but in addition to this which has put me off, I'm really finding it a STRUGGLE to keep track and "remember" the key and sequence of the colour changes.
I'm finding this a particular neuro-problem since my incident during catheter ablation last Sept and it is worse when doing this type of "remembering".  Poor old Portree has had to go on to a cable for holding and thats only got TWO colours for the same reason.  I feel if I'm going to "struggle" with this type of knitting, I'd be better off "struggling" with Portree .. ?

ALSO I do NEED to knit more fingerless gloves and this will be a good way to use up my stash of 4ply wool and perhaps I could find a simpler pattern?

Arielle is also temporarily on hold.  This is another reason for starting my "winter" jumper knit NOW - before I actually NEED it -  "needed" Arielle "now" in this summer! but knitting it IN the summer is no good, particularly on teeny needles - I'm still loving the pattern and enjoying the knitting and will carry on but in the meantime I'm resolving to complete the Kate shawl and this new jumper.

This week we get our no.2.son's GCSE results and we hope to be able to celebrate his achievements along with his brother's A levels on Friday with a lovely family meal out to celebrate the occasions of my 50th and my 2nd brother's birthday, remembering, also, our late Mother who would have been joining in with her 70th birthday - THAT will nicely wrap up and complete the "summer" for us!
from SEPTEMBER it is time to take stock and start planning & making CHANGES!
(I say this every year, its sort of taken over from "new years resolutions" and yes, just as unsuccessful!! but I remain positive that ONE DAY I will find the answer and discover HOW to create more hours in the day to be used productively and creatively while maintaining my ENERGY!).

Thursday, 18 August 2011

A chocolate cake to CELEBRATE the terrific A Level results

you have to be QUICK in our house to grab a slice!

a slice of chocolate cake!

a slab of cake!!

and a tray of choc chip cookies!
You do have to be quick, generally, in our house to grab a slice of cake before I eats it all!! and with CHOCOLATE cake even quicker on account of no.2.son is very quick!!!!
Yesterday, part in post celebration of my recent birthday in which I ran out of time to bake myself a cake on the day and no.2.son declared himself unable to face baking (one for me!) I decided to bake a celebration cake from the new book I got recently - and THEN asked dh would HE like to make it?
Ever since he nearly retired he has been saying he'd like to start cooking and I thought baking a nice cake would be a NICE thing TO eat I mean cook!
SO. with a brief glance at the instructions, a bit of a sort out of the ingredients list to check we had everything IN I failed to spot the "SERVES 20" and poor dh set about flinging saucepans bubbling over with LITRES of chocolate mixture screeching about how to CONTAIN it all ..
turns out this "family chocolate cake" is meant to feed the extended complete family including inlaws and kids and neighbours and feed the pets too.
this is just one HALF! (the OTHER half is cut in slices and buried in the freezer!!!!)
note to self : in future read the entire recipe including the number of servings especially in a NEW BOOK!!
anyway, its a lovely cake - I wouldn't bake it again as I've done other chocolate cakes far easier method than this complicated one of the bubbling boiling and leaving for 3hrs to cool and cook for 50mins .. sigh .. BUT it is rather yummy!
too bad our no.1.son doesn't eat chocolate cake!
HE has had a terrific result this morning with his A Levels and confirmation of his first choice place at Uni for the course he prefered - 3 grade A's! in Politics, Geography and History! hurrah!!
He has done particularly well as he'd had a set back last year with his Geography and had to resit the paper which we did wonder whether or not to bother/pay for but now, of course, we're glad! This year he had another minor set back with a History paper and when initially he got his "results" via the pc this morning, he was rather glum in announcing that he had achieved 2xA and 1xC .. which to US is brilliant what ever the grade on account of between us we manage a handful of "o" levels and RSA's for typewriting BUT it appeared it wasn't enough for his preferred course at his first choice of Uni.
HOURS of trying to log on to the wretched and complicated system OF checking had he been offered a place and failing we finally decided to bundle him in the car and dh ran him up to the College armed with phone and paper to try ringing about to find out WHERE he could go to, then, in October ..
20mins after he left - the POSTMAN arrived! with two letters for him - immediately we rang him and got his permision to open/read said letters which confirmed he'd got his PLACE! phew!

Poor dh had in the meantime LEFT him at College - set off for home - got home and had to turn round and pick him up!! there was no one at the College the place was deserted! 'cept for a handful of students and tutors he didn't know personally. the one GOOD thing to come out of it, was that he visited one of the advisors who congratulated him on his 3XA's!!   it turns out our son had been looking at the WRONG section - the "expected" grades and not the "actual" grades that he HAD achieved ..
stress and over excitment in the house promptly resulted in poor Bertie coming over all funny and was found heaving and hiccuping in suspicous manner in the lads' bedroom - HE was put outside and the door shut.  LILLY meanwhile managed to trip everyone up and generally get under our feet and on our nerves SQUEAKING pitifully and "begging'" for "meat" so SHE too got flung out and they've since spent most of the day curled up fast asleep and IGNORING us!!

While most of this was going on, I meanwhile had shot down to frighten the GP further with my fast HR and we did decide between us that provided I came home, had a rest, and resumed my meds I could probably get away with improvement sometime next week .. bah!!  slightly sidetracked into screeching a bit about the unfairness of this we had a sort of mini argument about whether MY theory of leaving myself with a fast HR was a good idea or not and IF not - then WHY NOT?  the poor GP obviously couldn't think of anything accurate enough to threaten me with without FRIGHTENING me with possibilities and he latched on to my proposed suggestion that maybe I was "wearing my heart out" then? by letting it run away at top speed? .. he DID seem to regret this swift approval of theory when I ventured, then, to ask well how LONG will I have LEFT, then? IF I use up my alloted HR's at double speed?? it doesn't, apparently work that way.  bah.
TRYING to get an answer out of a Dr is like trying to listen to an interview on the News with a Politician.  I keep trying to understand, but end up getting on no.1.son's nerves when I fail to grasp the concept of the political theory being put forward.  (although. it doesn't HELP when to ME as an "ordinary" middle aged "mum" I can't help but think, but wouldn't it be EASIER to just do a/b or c/, then? .. then again I'm not with one with bits of paper saying A .. ).

GOT to end the post with saying how pleased PROUD (and relieved!) both dh and I are of our son and now the next hurdle will be in saying GOODBYE to him as he embarks an independant life at Uni away from home!! I'm sure I'll be blubbing I mean blogging lots about this in the near future!
I do hope that others are also celebrating their children's achievements and enjoying seeing them progress with their education and next week it will be no.2.son's turn when he gets HIS GSCE results ahead of attending College for his shot at the A Levels next month!
WHO said it gets "different" not necessarily "easier" as the "children" grow up? different ages, different challenges? but all stressful and exciting for us as parents nonetheless! xx

Sissal Gloves - LoveWoolUK

OTN's as of yesterday: the super pattern for Sissal Gloves designed by Jamison & Smith for Love-Wool-UK which you can download for free upon registering.
I like the look of this pattern and it suits my stash of the lovely (but now discontinued) Rowan Scottish Tweed 4 ply that I bought at half price plus a markdown a couple or three years ago and SLOWLY I've been knitting gloves and mitts in assorted colourways - THIS should clear a few of them!!

Luckily for ME the colours in the pattern are handily similar to those in my stash! I did try and "do a sally" and make my own colour scheme up, but it looked rather like something the cat had icked up with sludge brown shades of grey x3 and a sort of orange that isn't .. bah ..

Anyway, its now OTN and I'm knitting them one at a time due to a/ not being bothered to sort my 100cm cable and a bit of not being bothered to wind the wool into separate batches oh and also not being completely sure I could manage to knit fairisle in the round 2AAT and do a "left" and "right" glove ..

Looking forward to knitting these, I'm already thinking ahead and pondering whether I could make "fingers" and thus knit them into gloves - what do you think?
Using my lovely knitpro needle which I have to say I'm loving albeit I still think the lace addi turbos are the best for smooth joins and ease of sliding through sticky wool - I'm knitting with the best of both needles, knitting as I am WITH both sets of needles - my kate shawl is now chomping on yarn and 2nd side is shaping nicely!
Decided not to do the mystery shawl KAL in the end for the JL store (but thats not to say I wont in the future, just for now I have too much OTN's to be starting anything "new" and next to go will be the lovely jumper from 50!)

dh and no.1.son and I are currently rewatching the series 24 from scratch so there is a lot of knitting going on as we're watching 2 episodes at a time!  Doesn't "Jack" look fit! I mean YOUNG! in series 1!? lol!!
On Sat no.2.son and I are looking forward to the X-factor starting - again! (so SOON? where does the time go! - it IS Xfactor starting?? lol!!)
We like the autumn tv best, and are currently struggling a bit with Torchwood but enjoying The Killing and looking forward to one or two other old favourites coming back - Spooks!

The summer is a slow time for me and this is quite productive as normally I get caught up in family activities but for some reason I've managed to knit right through the summer, but I do find that I knit rather less while the summer holidays/lads home in our family.

Monday, 15 August 2011

"come knit with us" the Heart Rhythm Charity, launches a knit Event 10th Sept

FINALLY I can announce with some enthusiasm and pleasure the launch of a new knitting for charity venture that Fiona from the Heart Rhythm Charity, Arrhythmia Alliance is hosting at John Lewis store, Solihull on Saturday 10th Sept, 9am-11am at The Place to Eat, with Rowan yarn - a ticket event/£3 with all knitting on the day to help support and raise funds and awareness for this worthwhile Charity.

Unforunately I can't work out how to attach the flyer that promotes details of this event but if you contact Fiona either through Ravelry or by email I'm sure she'll kindly send it out to you electronically or in the post if you prefer.

I've posted on Ravelry for SK readers who might have unwanted free-gifts in need of a good home to support this new venture by donating small knitty/haby notions and would be pleased if knitters could knit and donate some felted heart corsages from the super pattern that the lovely Ben has designed on behalf of the Charity for its exclusive use.
Please contact myself or Fiona for the pattern ahead of it being added to the Ravelry pattern database OR wait until it is available to download for free.

For some weeks now I have got behind this venture putting together quite a lot of information and introducing people and helping to form contacts and do hope that the venture takes off and is successful, a newsletter will be published and, again, if you would like to be included please contact Fiona for details.  Don't forget to remind her from whom/where you learned of this.  I am trying very hard to get a good Ravelry presence as I feel that this is the perfect and indeed only! place that brings together such a terrific bunch of knitting, knitters and resources in one completely brilliant forum and format.  If you are a Ravelry member already, kindly "friend" Fiona as she is hoping if it creates sufficient interest a Heart Rhythm Charity "group" will be created on Ravelry to provide one single place for all interested parties to share information and join in with future fund raising ventures.  And! if you are not! yet? then WHY not! hop over and JOIN! its FREE! its FUN! and its THE place for knitters!!

Ok, the pattern is in the final stages of being "poshed" up to a fab PDF format and will be available very soon - in the meantime here are some photographs I took to help illustrate the various stages of the knitting, felting and finishing of this super Felted Heart Corsage pattern:

knit till central 3stitches

repeat until 3st remain
"roughly square shape" pick up stitches over top two sides
distribute sts evenly with central one at top corner
work the first "bump"  before repeating to create second "bump"
work both "bumps" then cast off (or draw up using yarn threaded)
I chose to thread yarn and "gather" each "bump" for ease of shaping
stitch to secure the bump into a rounded shape
then continue to stitch down rolling indented part inwards slightly
completed knitted sewn heart
"felt" the heart in washing machine to produce solid fabric
embellish to taste
sew a brooch bar at back to finish
create several using oddments of "wool"
have FUN with beads, ribbons and threads!
 And then, of course, send them to Fiona! happy knitting xx