Thursday 26 February 2009

Everything I wanted

A grand day out yesterday when Mr FF had to go down to England for meetings and kindly dropped me off in Darlington for a few hours. The sun was shining, the temperature in double figures so I had an enjoyable walk round without the need of a jacket, a couple of coffees and a lot of fun. It was a bit disappointing but probably just as well that the wool shop was closed all day and I'm pleased to report that despite spending time on the Clarins counter in House of Fraser and receiving an application of their new foundation for mature skin, I didn't spend. However, I came upon a really smart kitchen shop full of Bridgewater pottery and of course the new Garden Scheme mugs. The sales lady was as enthusiastic about the range as me, we had a good long chat about Emma's mugs and I had to buy the tulip one, its even more beautiful in real life and has already been used.
The three hour car journey meant that at 7 am I could start another sock, perfect travel knitting and I'd been longing to get the next pair onto the needles. Trillium is finished and just needs stitching up so I didn't break my one at a time rule.
We left Darlington just after three and took the scenic route home, over the switchback roads of County Durham that brought us to the pretty little town of Corbridge where we spent half an hour browsing in RE, a wonderful mix of desirable 'stuff'. I loved the beautiful selection of pressed glass, cake stands, jugs, beakers and vases but didn't buy anything. I'd already got what I needed.

Saturday 21 February 2009

Spring may be sprung

This week I've had two really bright sunny days in the garden and two not bad at all days. Now the snow had gone its fascinating to see what was happening under the big white blanket, lots of new growth and no damage at all. There's a real spring feeling about though I 'm conscious it could be a false start, we've some way to go yet especially here in Scotland.
On the days when I couldn't work outside I've been in the greenhouse. I washed down all the glass inside, a horrible job that involves clambering about under the staging and removing a lot of green slime but really worthwhile as the more light I can get in there the better, its the lengthening days that encourage new growth.
I got out the heated propagator and I've started off my sweet peas and a selection of tomatoes
I try to buy my tomato seeds in Italy, always a good choice and if they don't know about the pomodoro who does. I got these at the end of last session, they are still viable for this year and the ones from the Co-op were both organic and in the bargain bucket.
I picked up a couple of other interesting packets that I'll sow a bit later.
I've had such a great gardening week and made a big difference to what I see from the windows of the house. This is my first spring as a retired woman and I'm loving it.

Wednesday 18 February 2009

Knitting now

This is Trillium by Erika Knight from the new Rowan Magazine, number 45. I'd been thinking for a while I needed to start a bigger project and something for myself. I liked this pattern as soon as I saw it, quite Katherine Hepburn I thought and great to wear in summer with wide legged trousers though not necessarily whilst dragging The African Queen through the swamp. Mr FF might like that, its his favourite film ever. The instructions call for Rowan Fine Milk Cotton, but I had a bag of unidentified yarn in the stash that looks like mercerised cotton but could just as well be something man made. Its knitting up nicely but for some reason I wish I was knitting socks.

Speaking of which does anyone else wind their skeins using their feet, obviously my feet are normally further apart to hold the yarn tight, I couldn't get far enough away to fit them into the photograph without moving them closer.

Sunday 15 February 2009

My funny valentine

The Daily Telegraph commissioned Wendy Cope, my favourite modern poet, to write something for Valentine's day.

Another Valentine
Today we are obliged to be romantic
And think of yet another valentine.
We know the rules and we are both pedantic:
Today’s the day we have to be romantic.
Our love is old and sure, not new and frantic.
You know I’m yours and I know you are mine.
And saying that has made me feel romantic,
My dearest love, my darling valentine.

That sums it up for me too. After being together for over 40 years Mr FF and I don't really celebrate Valentine's Day but I did bake him some cheese scones and he came home with a new bird feeder for me. We know each other so well.
I bought these two cards last year in France, I thought they were sweet. When Mr FF saw the price, approximately 60p each, his reaction 'that's a bit steep for two squares of cardboard'. The romance never dies.

Friday 13 February 2009

Oh Emma

I don't like the term collectables, it makes me think of those adverts for overpriced plates on the back of TV listing magazines that feature wide eyed children, fluffy animals or royalty through the ages and ask you to commit to the full set of at least 12. I know people enjoy collecting, pottery frogs, pencil sharpeners and the like, I just don't understand it. So its not easy for me to admit that I collect Emma Bridgewater mugs but I love them, I use them every day, they don't sit in a glass case so they can't possible be collectables.
I've always had a love affair with sponge ware, especially the old stuff or as Mr FF would say when I brought some treasure home 'not another cracked pot'. Over the years I have bought my beautiful Emma mugs from various places to celebrate various events, like the one with yellow daffodils that I got at The General Trading Co in London after a visit to the Chelsea Flower Show.
I have several Scottish themed ones, I may not be Scottish but I do appreciate where I live
So I was delighted to discover today that Emma has produced a collection of six mugs to celebrate the National Gardens Open scheme.
My sister in a law told me yesterday that this summer about a dozen gardens in her village in North Yorkshire will open for visitors in aid of the Church, including the one at the farm where she and my brother live and where I was born. I'm really excited about the event and hoping I'll be able to go down for the weekend. What nicer way to mark the occasion than to purchase this, it takes my breath away.

Wednesday 11 February 2009

Its a matter of balance

Last night I watched those British wan.. oops bankers on the news apologising for their part in the current financial cock up. The Royal Bank of Scotland which has been my bank since I moved to Scotland 20 years ago, paid Sir Fred Goodwin as chief executive £4.4m per annum, yes that's four point four million pounds a year. Another of the financial fools is still being paid £60,000 per month as a consultant. Its obscene, obscene that anyone should consider themselves worth that much money, obscene to accept that much money yet fail in your responsibilities and totally obscene to offer a pre-rehearsed PR primed apology whilst being bailed out by ordinary tax payers who now wait to find out if they will still have a job.
So I make no apologies for purchasing yet another ball of sock wool, this I got from Iris who was having a declutter and getting rid of some of her stash (words that don't sit easy with me). Its beautiful and I can't wait to get started though for now it can join the Opal installation.
And finally these I made from the last of the pink Rowan, the pattern is from Zoe Mellor's 50 baby bootees to knit.
Now which little ballet dancer might like these I wonder.

Monday 9 February 2009

The other girl made me do it

When Steel Kitten first asked me to post photographs of my stash I refused but she shamed me into it recently by displaying her own collection. This morning Mr FF went off to Manchester for meetings and I thought today would be a good day to get out all my yarn, do a little stock take and take some pictures. How wrong I was, its been quite stressful with a few surprises when I rediscovered some really nice yarns I'd completely forgotten about. So here we go
Part one lives in the bottom of the airing cupboard
Part two lives in an old trunk in the hall
Part three lives in an old wicker laundry hamper in the room off the kitchen (which I've explained before we pretentiously call the morning room because of its relationship to the sun in the morning). Obviously I'm only showing you the top layer of each box, they are about 18 inches deep and believe me both completely full of wool.
Finally, and this is more an art work than a stash, there's the sock wool that because its so beautiful and cheerful lives in a basket and is out on display.
I'm hyperventilating now thinking about all that yarn and realise that knitting up a few children's clothes, socks etc isn't going to reduce the mountain. I also realise that explaining how most of this stock came either as gifts, from charity shops or sales and that I had been collecting for my retirement doesn't make the situation any better. I need a big think about some big projects, though at the moment I'm far too stressed so everything has gone back into its respective storage department and the doors have been closed. I'm off to make a strong coffee, browse through the Rowan magazine and consider opening a shop.

Friday 6 February 2009

Just quickly

I know another snow post, we are all at it, but I just wanted to show you the view this morning from the kitchen window. Who's a lucky girl.
And while I'm here I'll show you what I've knitted for Pam's granddaughter, Fearne Isla. Now I can't decide whether to knit more little things to use up my scraps or start a bigger summer project from the new Rowan magazine, I'll let you know.
That's all, enjoy your weekend.

Thursday 5 February 2009

Wanted man

First of all Mr FF told me not to blog this but he's away for a couple of days so I am.
At the beginning of this year he received a letter from the car hire company we use in Italy enclosing a notice from the Italian police. Apparently he had driven through a red light in Fasano, Puglia last August and the police had traced the car to Avis who had passed our name and address back to them. The notice was dated early December and said that they would be contacting us to claim the 150 euro in fine, which is quite steep now the exchange rate has gone through the roof. Mr FF checked the date, time and the location to be sure he was the culprit, he was definitely there. So far we haven't heard anything, not surprising. I suppose we still may though we are hoping that the police will take the view that we were holiday makers in a strange town, easily confused and dazzled by the sunlight.
We mentioned this to our friend Franco in Rome who said he'd be happy to take up our case, not that we really have a case to plead. In the post the other day we received a lovely parcel from Italy, it contained nine packets of sweets with a note saying it was from the Fasano Police with apologies, it was of course from Franco. I intend to reciprocate with some Scottish cheeses and ask him to pass them on to the police for us.

Monday 2 February 2009

February finished article

I used the left over wool from Phoebe's jumper to make this little top. I actually found it quite a stressful knit as I wasn't sure once I got started if I'd have enough yarn. When this happens to me I tend to knit really quickly in the hope that I'll finish before the wool does. In the end I found some other machine washable pure wool that makes a nice contrast, I'm happy with the result and there was a small amount of yarn left over.
The pattern is from this 1980s book that was in my £5 Christmas stocking from Mr FF. I didn't write about our gift exchange this year because I didn't do too well on the shopping front and didn't think that the tube of superglue and Sainsbury's bag for life that were in my stocking actually constituted gifts. Anyone who knows me is aware that I already have three of the Tesco Cath Kidston bags, though I admit the Sainsbury's one lives in the car and has proved useful and capacious.
I'm knitting again today, Pam's daughter had a little girl at the weekend and I found some suitably pink wool in the stash. Nothing else to do as we await the exceptional snow event that is forecast for later this evening. We already have some snow here but I've got fuel in for the stove, cleared the drive and fed the birds, I just hope we don't get a power cut as so often happens in this weather.