Saturday, 29 March 2008

The Sock I'd like to Stab

I know this is wrong and children must never try it at home, but its how I feel because getting the size right with the available yarn has so frustrated me. I eventually cast on 44 stitches, worked out the heel and gusset shaping myself, which I agree was a good and useful exercise, and ended up with an ordinary acceptable sock. But the journey, every weekday night spent knitting and unknitting and all because I didn't work out the tension before I started. Now I have to make the second one and I can't wait for it to be finished. I may never bond with these socks, we have too much history.
Lets be more positive, look at these lovely lambs, fibres of the future. They live down in the village beside the main road and are attracting lots of attention. As soon as I went to photograph them this morning they all came trotting over and posed so nicely. I may be a farmer's daughter, I can recognise a Swaledale or a Leicester (the latter because when I had my 1970s curly perm my brother said I looked like one), but I'm not sure what breed these are, may be Shetland, I'll try to find out. Whatever they are, they are adorable and have so much potential, my love affair with yarn certainly isn't over its just a little tiff.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

I think I've lost it

I thought I was on a roll after knitting two pairs of little socks and using up a couple of the part balls of wool cluttering the stash. I found about 120 g of dark blue 5 ply Guernsey pure wool that seemed ideal to knit socks for Mr FF. I am now into day 4 of knitting and version 4 is on the needles. The first attempt with 64 stitches was far too big and using up far too much yarn, I stupidly started again with 60 stitches, ditto 56 - same problem every time too much sock not enough wool and not once did I really look at what I was doing until I had turned the heel. I am now knitting with 40 stitches and telling myself I am making socks for me, the poor wool doesn't know whether its coming or going and neither do I. Why do I persist with this, why don't I give up and pass the wool to the charity shop? Its the same when I read a book, no matter how bad it is I have to finish it and I can't be beaten by 120 g of Guernsey. Even worse, when I was having a rootle about in my wool store (a large old wicker laundry basket just like the one that the dead guest gets put in on Fawlty Towers), I found a whole carrier bag of part used balls of Opal that I'd forgotten about and now I'm feel I must use that up too. Lets hope the weather is good at the weekend, I need to get out in the garden because my battle with odd balls isn't going to make good blogging.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Ennui at Easter

I didn't blog over the Easter weekend as nothing happened. I don't work Fridays and I went into the office today to help redress the holiday deficit, so really it was just a normal weekend for me. No bunnies, no chicks, no egg hunt. There are some pretty lambs down in the village that I meant to photograph but every time I stepped outside the snow came down. Very little gardening done and while I did go out with my camera to record progress, there was none. I noticed today in Edinburgh that lots of blossom has come out since I was there last, but here at sleepy hollow time is standing still.
I have been reading, knitting more little socks and carrying out my domestic duties. And I had a big bake in on Friday, quiche, bread and rock buns - even they look a bit dull.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Little and Large

This photo doesn't really show the scale, but the grey socks are for Mr FF's size 10 feet and the orange ones for a three year old. I knitted the large pair in the gray Araucania Ranco and topped and tailed them with the purple I used for the Hedera socks as (a) I was concerned I didn't have enough wool and (b) I thought it made them more interesting, I'm delighted with the result. I decided to knit the little ones as I have quite a stock of left over Opal from making girl size socks. I have knitted a few pairs of fingerless gloves but some of the colours are a bit limiting, children's socks are a fun and quick way to use up the wool. Two wearable items and all that knitting entertainment from one 100g ball is such good value, how easily pleased I am.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Garden Weekend

Its been full on gardening this weekend, Friday Saturday and Sunday I've managed at least a few hours outside and today the weather was so good it was almost warm. I could practically see the daffodils cracking open, they are showing yellow if not quite out, unlike the rest of the UK I know. I've finished cutting back all the old foliage in the herbaceous borders, front and back, revealing lots of new growth and plenty of weeds. I top dressed the hostas with compost from the heap. Its like mining for gold digging into the pile to find well rotted crumbly goodness that went in as lawn cuttings, weeds, leaves and a bag or two of shredded paper from my office. I do sometimes wonder if I might come across a mouse, or worse a rat, when I'm delving in there, not that we ever put food waste onto the heap, so far its been clear of vermin.
Joy of joys, the sweetpeas are up, at least 24 have germinated so I just need to keep those going until around the end of May, which is the earliest I can safely plant them out. The dahlias are all spouting, which surprised me as I just bought a few plastic packs, buy one get one free, in the garden centre. The tubers looked old and dry when I planted them and I didn't hold out much hope. Just goes to show what a bit of bottom heat can do. Today I've sown peppers and sunflowers. Such an exciting time, this weekend has really re-charged me after a miserable week at work struggling with spreadsheets, graphs and charts. More of the same tomorrow I expect but my goodness the garden looks good.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Farm Yarn

Look what the postie brought me. 5 balls of Farm Yarn natural organic British alpaca wool. I got it on ebay and its just yummy. I was a bit concerned to read on their website that often in South America the alpaca are slaughtered for their wool, thats a big price to pay for supersoft yarn but they stress that this certainly doesn't happen in the UK. Makes me happy on a day when I'm a bit feeling sad.
I went to the greenhouse this morning to find that one of the woodpeckers that visits our feeders every day was dead on the path. I heard a crashing sound when I was drinking tea in bed this morning, the poor creature must have flown into the glass. I feel responsible that I encourage birds into the garden and this is what happens. Mr FF says it may have been a new woodpecker that hadn't visited before and was confused, usually they flit around the garden so safely. I did hear drumming in the trees so there are other woodpeckers around but am still sorry to lose this one. Not a positive post this morning, lets hope the weekend improves.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Happy bunch

These are not just daffodils, these are Marks and Spencer's British grown, hand elastic-banded not wrapped in cellophane daffodils. Lightly dressed with garden-picked twigs of twisted willow, the plump golden buds slowly open flooding my kitchen with their generous springtime glow. 99p and worth every penny.

Saturday, 8 March 2008

You're my favourites

I foresee a series of blogs where I regale you with details of my favourite garden plant and change my allegiance with the seasons. At present, much as I love the snowdrops and crocus that I was desperate to see flowering, my favourites now are the hellebores. These hardy perennials are putting on a stunning display despite the changeable weather, today we’ve had sunshine, hail and sleet. Most of my hellebores are grown towards the back of the garden in a woodland area where they are shaded in the summer. They seem very happy and though I can’t see them from the kitchen window I’m not keen to have them in the mixed herbaceous border.

There has been some self seeding going on and apparently some cross breeding as this year for the first time two of the youngsters have flowered each producing a few blooms in differing shades of their pink or purple parents. Self seeded plants generally take two or three years to reach flowering stage so I’m delighted with this small success.
I once visited a garden open under Scotland’s Garden Scheme that had a wonderful display of hellebores. Because the flowers tend to hang down you have to tilt them gently upwards to see the delicate colouring inside. To avoid hundreds of people manhandling the plants, the garden the owner had provided small mirrors on canes, angled so that the mirror could be positioned under the plant to inspect the flowers.
The Garden Scheme is a great way to find out what does well in your area and as there’s often a plant stall, a good way to buy locally grown plants. Sometimes there’s tea and home made cakes too with a percentage of the admission fee and sales profits goes to the charity of the owners choice. I’d like to think I might reach the stage of having my own garden open one day but certainly not until I’ve been retired a while and maybe not ever then unless I work really hard.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Seasonal pots

Did I mention that I like to have a selection of cheery seasonal pots at the front door? I should have kept quiet, tonight those on the balcony look like this. The ground was white over when I woke this morning and around 3 inches more snow fell during the day. Fortunately the roads have been kept clear and the forecast is for better weather tomorrow. Just when you think spring has arrived.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

A day in bed

The migraine fairy called by this weekend, firstly on Friday when she gave me a light tap that caused headache but nothing I couldn't cope with. I managed my yoga class just fine and even pulled myself together to attend a social gathering of our old tango class. I didn't feel like eating or drinking but Mr FF and I had a few dances, the basic steps came back to us if not all the fancy moves we'd been taught. We both enjoyed the evening and seeing our classmates again.
Saturday morning I was floored, splitting headache and nausea. You know how you fantasise about having a day in bed and when it happens its because you are ill so you can't do any of the things that you imagine you might, like reading, knitting or just feeling relaxed. Its particularly unfair when this happens at the weekend, and it was a while before I came to terms with the fact there was nothing I could do but live through the attack. I lay in bed with the curtains drawn, attempted to eat a quarter of a slice of toast and promptly brought it up again. I eventually surfaced around 7 pm mainly because I couldn't bear the prospect of staying in bed any longer.
Today I feel so much better, rested in the way you do when you haven't eaten for 24 hours and happy to be up and about if in a subdued way. I was out in the garden for an hour or two, until the snow drove me inside. Its a pleasure to see the progress the garden has made over the last week. This episode serves as a reminder that I normally enjoy good health, I've never had any major illness in my life, and the day off makes me appreciate all the more my home, my garden and my well being, all of which I was desperate to return to.