Wednesday 29 July 2009

Knitting now

A few things have been completed on the knitting front recently. First of all this little jumper that took just one 100g ball of Opal sock yarn. It started out as travel knitting and has now been posted off to Jenny the Swedish blond I used to work with, she had a little boy a few weeks ago. Then a simple little cardy in Rowan dk that has gone into stock for now but should soon find an owner amongst the babies due in the next few months
Finally, thanks to the link to this site from Yarnstorm, I've produced a couple of squares for the Macmillan appeal. You can download the patterns and use up some yarn in a good cause, about 25 g of dk is enough to make a 20 cm x 20 cm square. I'm really enjoying producing these, quick results although the cable was a bit trickier. The heart square pattern suggested adding beads round the shape but I purled on the right side where the beads should have been for a similar result. I'm looking forward to using up more spare wool and watching the blanket grow though I'll need some new projects for the many days of travel facing me next week, best to take lots I think.

Sunday 26 July 2009

Le Weekend

Pam and Andrew came up for supper on Saturday evening. We'd made tentative arrangements for a barbecue and the afternoon weather wasn't bad at all so we set out the patio. However after a drink on the swing seat we all agreed it was too chilly to eat out so in the way of many barbecues the ladies retired indoors and left the men to the cooking.
As requested I made a pudding in one of my recently acquired family dishes. This was based loosely on Nigella's Anglo Italian trifle though rather than buy blackberries I foraged for summer fruits in my own garden and produced a nice mixture of strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, black currants and a little rhubarb, it worked just as well. There was a lot of holiday chat as we have now booked our ferries to and from the continent ready for the big drive to Italy. Pam and Andrew have a house in France and are regulars on the cross channel route so we bombarded them with questions as we've never taken a car abroad before. We now know what to take to keep ourselves amused, comfy and fed on the journey.
Pam's jumper is finished and was duly modelled. As I've said before I really enjoy working on other people's knitting, but I'd never ever let anyone touch my own. I have a few other bits and bobs hot off the needles to show you but I'm feeling exhausted today and haven't done much more than watch an exhilarating end to Le Tour de France. Brits Mark Cavendish and Bradley Wiggins both did amazingly well throughout the tour setting new records for UK riders with Mark taking the final stage victory today. Bradley finished fourth overall one place behind my darling Lance who didn't seem that thrilled as he took his place on the podium. Lance I know what its like to be tired, I may just have enough strength to finish off that trifle before I crash out with the Sunday papers.

Thursday 23 July 2009

Peaches and black currants

Hurray, K & S went off for a long weekend and left Peaches in our care again. Unfortunately the weather was dire, torrential rain most evenings which meant we didn't walk up or spend time sitting in the garden. Pity as someone had been reading this blog and left a bottle of white wine in the fridge in case we got thirsty, thank you. For once Peaches was telling the truth when she came to greet us crying the feeder hadn't opened though the bit about being starving may have been a little fib. Her parents had filled up the compartments with biscuits but failed to set the timer, not a great problem as we started visiting soon after they left, couldn't wait to get our hands on our little time share pet.
Because we had to play inside each evening we did make an extra surprise visit on Monday lunchtime, much to Peaches' delight. The sun came out briefly and I managed to take these photographs while we all took a turn round the garden and admired the progress made since our last spell of cat duty. There's something inspiring about this garden, it fills me with ideas and really lifts my spirits, or is that just the Peaches effect. I have been feeling a bit glum this week, I put it down to the constant heavy rain that keeps me indoors and the fact I spent the whole of Sunday picking black currants and making jam. I hate that topping and tailing business, love the jam. Mr FF sensibly took himself off for a days walking in the Borders and came home when it was all over with 16 jars were safely stored in the cupboard, less one that we left in Peaches house for K & S's return.

Monday 20 July 2009

A place in the sun home or away

I bought these two little wire and bead creatures at the gardens open the other weekend. The owner of the business, whose sister lives in the village, set up a stall at my brother's, did good business and gave a generous donation to the charity fund. Far Away Finds based in Yorkshire has a large range of garden sculptures imported as part of a reciprocal trade programme to assist and develop local art and crafts in South Africa. I thought the geckos would look lovely climbing up the terracotta coloured wall of our house in Italy, sparkling in the sunlight. They've looked equally lovely sparkling in the Scottish sunlight and moving round the garden chasing the rays. However they haven't been so happy in the recent torrential rain so maybe they are destined for warmer climes.
We've more or less agreed that we will drive to our house in Lazio next month and pack the car with various items. The house has been rented out for the past three years to an American couple working in the area, their contract and the house lease are almost finished. Whilst I relish getting our house back and the chance to take things from here, replacement linen plus items that will be useful to leave in the house like books, clothes and a teapot, I really am not looking forward to the three day drive to get to Lazio. I'm trying to concentrate on three days of travel knitting rather than three days of motorway but it does seem an awful long time for a girl who gets impatient on a three hour flight to Rome.

Thursday 16 July 2009

Knitting now

I haven't given you a knitting update for a while, blame the lack of progress on the hot weather, the long light evenings and pure idleness.
Good news is the alpaca baby blanket is finished, its actually a pale leafy green, see below, not the dull grey it looks in this photograph. Bad news is for some reason and under certain circumstances it feels a bit scratchy despite being 50% alpaca 50% merino. I first noticed this as it got larger and was resting on my chest and later my legs, occasionally a bit of fiber would stab me quite sharply. This is a worry as I don't want the little baby to be uncomfortable. I've been testing it on the characters from the car boot mobile, they have no complaints but I've already warned the mum to be that it would be best until the bambino can communicate that it isn't placed against any delicate skin.
I have almost finished a little baby jumper that started as travel knitting when we went down to Yorkshire and I am also about to tackle this
Pam an occasional knitter started this jumper, a Kim Hargreaves pattern, then decided it might be too small and asked me to either finish it or make something else. I've taken a look at it today and after holding it against myself I think it will be fit her, she's done such a lot of work it would be a shame not to press on. I actually quite like sorting out other people's projects, besides the yarn is Rowan kid classic, very soft and less likely to attack me.

Monday 13 July 2009

My flawed selling strategy

Big excitement in the village on Saturday, not one event but two. You need to know that in a little place that has no shop, pub, cafe or even a public toilet, any event is something special and to have two on the same day had the whole place jumping. In the morning there was a car boot/table sale in the village hall and in the afternoon jumble, cream teas and an auction in the church hall.
Pam had taken a table at the morning session and asked me if I'd like to keep her company. By the time I got down there the place was heaving, plenty of stalls and possible punters milling around. Immediately my strategy failed because Pam's biggest customer was me, her sales assistant. It must be something about sitting behind the counter contemplating the merchandise because I bought, and I won't bore you with pictures of everything -A tea and coffee canister set above
A stretchy bracelet also above
Another bracelet with tiny pearls and amethysts
A pretty red and black devore wrap
A pair of red sheepskin slippers
A file for taking the hard skin off your feet, one of my favourite pastimes, one of Mr FF's least favourite of my activities
A colourful fish dish
From another stall I bought a Winnie the Pooh mobile that plays a tune, for an expected baby not for myself, and from the church auction a couple of paperbacks. My total spend was £13. Mr FF dropped me at the hall in the morning and went off to buy some building materials, as soon as he saw what I had purchased he said 'this means we will be taking the car to Italy'. We are currently toying with the idea of driving to Lazio in August and taking various items for the house, it seems my suggestion that some, well actually all, of my purchases would be ideal to keep in our holiday house has settled the matter.
The auction was still going full strength when we left, anything that wasn't sold was being put into the next lot so someone wanting the set of Wedgewood plates found they also got a large chest of drawers. Just as well we didn't linger, I needed to come home to rethink my business model and there is a limit to what we need in Italy.

Friday 10 July 2009

Treasure rediscovered

While I was down in Yorkshire at the weekend my sister in law, Val, generously asked me if I'd like to take any of the family glassware, items she had inherited as part of the house contents when she and my brother moved in after our parents died. I remember there was a quantity of pressed glass, which I've always loved very much in fact I have collected a few pieces myself over the years. We had a lovely time together looking through the collection with me remembering and chatting about my life as a child.First of all I had to take this one, not because it's the most beautiful but it's the trifle dish we used every Sunday teatime, and sometimes in the week too. Its a good solid dish that is definitely over 50 years old, I'm thrilled to have it.
This pretty set, a large dish and 6 little ones all matching is lovely. My friend Pam looked at my treasure this morning and has already requested a pudding served in these next time she and Andrew come to dinner. There was another set that I can remember we used lots for fruit salad but only three of the small dishes remain.A sweet cake dish with three short stubby legs, we used this all the time for home baking.Finally this oval dish that I really like too, again it was used for cakes and iced buns.
I didn't want to be greedy and take too many things but Val assured me that they weren't getting used and I'm sure she'd happily have given me more, there were at least a dozen pieces left. I can't tell you how overjoyed I am to have these things, I will use them regularly and treasure them like the family heirlooms that to me they are, thanks Val.

Tuesday 7 July 2009

All things bright and beautiful

Our visit to Yorkshire and the gardens open in the village were hugely successful. 12 families opened their gates in aid of church and local hospital funds including my brother and his family, the only working farm to do so. These photos are of the front and back of house where I was born, my family have been tenants of this farm for many generations. I stress that we are tenants in case you get the false impression that I come from some line of landed gentry when revolting peasants is probably nearer the truth.
My brother's immaculate and much admired vegetable garden
We had a plant stall at the farm, stocked and manned by my youngest niece's boyfriend, you can imagine how delighted I am that she has a serious gardener in her life.
Friends and other family came to visit and Mr FF and I went off with them for a tour of the village, which actually took us about 5 hours with a couple of stops for delicious tea and cakes. There was a lovely craft stall where this adorable elephant was purchased for a granddaughter. I'd have bought it myself if someone hadn't got in first, I must make an effort to knit some toys.
One of my favourite gardens which I remember being a productive cottage vegetable patch
Another farm where I used to play as a child, the house and land have now been sold off separately. I had a wonderful time, meeting so many people I've known all my life who always remember me though it may be many years since they've seen me. The day finished with a service of thanks in the beautiful flower filled church, I felt inspired by all the hard work that had gone into the whole event.
The pigs on my brother's farm had a good day too and enjoyed having so many visitors.

Friday 3 July 2009

Lazy hazy crazy days of summer

Wow its been hot here, some days the horrible harr (a sea mist) has come in from the coast more than 20 miles away but mostly we've had brilliant sun and a couple of short sharp showers that have settled the dust and cleared the air. Perfect flip flop weather for me though it has made me very lazy, even more than usual.
Its a year now since I finished work, a mite quicker than I expected when I was immediately put on gardening leave, but no regrets. I'm amazed how quickly the time has gone and apart from making great progress with the garden, how little I've done. I thought I would have read much more, the average has stayed the same, I started a piece of patchwork that is still in the early stages, I thought I would learn to crochet I haven't and I don't think I'm knitting any more than I did. I am however relaxed beyond recognition, am currently sleeping really well, haven't had a migraine for over a year and don't miss the old job one bit. This morning I woke just after 6, opened the curtains and the french doors to beautiful weather, made tea and read for a while, then went back to sleep until around 9, bliss. We've been eating all our meals outside, quick easy food like salad or pasta, and I can't keep Mr FF off the swing seat that he declared would be nothing but a nuisance, having to bring the cushions in every night and moving the damned thing to mow the lawn.
Best of all the strawberries are ready. It's the first year this has happened when Wimbledon is on, generally we see everyone tucking into their expensive little dishes while we are still waiting. I'm picking a bowl full every day with plenty more to come and they taste delicious. We are going to Yorkshire this weekend, to stay with my brother and his family and help out with the gardens open in the village. Family, gardens, home baked teas, Yorkshire, I can't wait. Have a lovely weekend.