Sunday 29 November 2009

Can't stop I'm knitting

It seems the more Christmas gifts I knit the more I need to knit. I've been making lots of little extra gifts to put into parcels and its turned into a knitting frenzy. I used up quite a lot of three ply pure wool on lacy scarves and some unidentified yarn produced an interesting texture using just stocking stitch. With scarves I just knit until all the yarn is used up, I don't think they can be too long or too short and it gives the wool a purpose in life.
I've made another pair of fetching fingerless gloves, I never tire of this pattern
and two pairs of socks with wool that was on offer in Lidl, much cheaper than Opal, same 75% wool content, though perhaps not quite such interesting patterns.
Now I'm thinking Amelia might like a little cardigan, my brother could do with some socks, must make something for Mr FF's stocking, it goes on. Still the fire is lit, its too cold to be outside, in fact we might even get a light dusting of snow later, so back to the needles, Santa would be proud of me.

Tuesday 24 November 2009

Bringing down Borders

Yesterday Mr FF needed a haircut and I needed to go to the post office so at lunchtime we popped down to our local town. I called in at the charity shop that was having a book sale, normally their paperbacks are around £1.50 but yesterday they were 50p and hardbacks £1.50. I managed to find a great selection, based mainly on the reviews on the back. I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to book reviews, anything from The Times, Independent, Observer etc is fine but if one of the, in my mind, lesser newspapers or gossip magazines suggests the book is a good read, I assume its not for me. Anyway all these came with comments like 'tender and insightful', 'brilliant ... very funny', from approved sources. Driving home clutching about £40 worth of paperbacks that I'd paid £2.50 for I heard on the radio news that Borders bookshop chain in the UK has appointed advisers to try to find a buyer for the business. The report said WH Smith walked away from a takeover deal on Friday, and that Borders UK could go into administration soon without a sale. 'That's a shame' I said to Mr FF 'I always spend time in Borders when I go to Glasgow, its the only place to get Vogue Knitting and Interweave magazine'. Mr FF asked me if I ever bought anything else and I had to admit only the odd card or a newspaper. He commented that Borders had probably put small local bookshops out of business and now they are going out of business themselves. 'And' he went on 'its people like you buying all your books at charity shops who have caused that'. Guilty as charged, sorry Borders, and I will be taking the books back to the charity shop when I've read them which compounds my crime.

Saturday 21 November 2009

An unseasonal post

I don't enter into the Christmas spirit willingly and I've already had a big rant about the festive lights being switched on far too early in city centres, but guess what I have made my cake
Mr FF was away on business for the first half of this week, giving me lots of time to myself, it was far too wet to be outside so I thought I'd crack on with the cake and it is a nice feeling to have it wrapped and tucked away in a tin to mature.I also made this Christmas tree hat for Amelia, it is an appropriate shade of green and not the blue it looks on the photo. I'm not sure if it isn't wrong to make a newborn wear something so ridiculous but I'll send it down to her soon in case she is one of those people who likes to start the madness early.
So now just the cards, shopping, wrapping, delivering, decorating, menu planning and getting into my usual bah humbug state of mind - Christmas is sorted.

Monday 16 November 2009

Belated birthday report

It was my birthday just before we went off to Italy but lets not make a big fuss about it, its the 61st one I've had, they are so routine. I received lots of lovely presents, yarn, bamboo needles, some great paperbacks including The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews which I devoured on holiday and can thoroughly recommend, toiletries from the Naked range, which I recently discovered and love because everything is 97% natural, British made, inexpensive, available at Boots and totally good, spring bulbs, plants and many other lovely things.
I wanted to show you this birthday card featuring a knitted James Dean, its from the Knitted Icons range, apparently there is a book that has patterns for 25 celebrity dolls, Elvis, Ghandi, Jackie O, Chairman Mao are a few that feature. I'm busy with socks and scarves for stocking fillers at the moment so I don't suppose I shall be making any dolls but wouldn't a little Johnny Depp be nice to keep me company while Mr FF is away on business for a few days.
I must take my cards down now, it seemed fair to have them up for a while since I missed the first week they arrived. I suppose I should take the 60 off my sidebar too, one of last years cards, or maybe I can still be 60 just a little bit longer.

Thursday 12 November 2009

Home from Italy

I am so happy to be back in a home that is warm and cozy with carpets, hot water and not a tiled floor in sight. Yes, it was brutto in Italy and the Italians though as welcoming and charming as ever had all resorted to wearing many layers of clothes under bulky padded jackets and staying indoors as much as possible. Our house is not well equipped for winter weather, fabulous in summer but on a day when the mist is down it is grim living on the side of a mountain, and we all know that I hate low cloud, this was the view from the terrace. The house was cold when we arrived and ever optimistic we lit the fire which proceeded to provide plenty of smoke and precious little heat. I know it looks cozy but believe me it wasn't and the only way to benefit from all that fuel was to stand with your bum up the chimney.We had a very mixed time, just a bit of sunshine which was lovely and very cheery but lots of really wet weather and many days of frustration. We spent a lot of time chasing about, for example we wanted to reinstate our direct debit to pay the electricity account, we stopped this during the three years our house was on a corporate let. You might imagine you could complete something on line, return a slip included with your bill or call in at a local branch of your bank, none of the above. We had to travel into our bank in central Rome, about 1.5 hours each way. The branch we use had been taken over and the business but fortunately not the grumpy staff transferred, no signs in the empty windows to indicate this of course and since the bank is actually only open for 50 minutes in the afternoon blind panic set in but eventually we found the new branch round the corner and were able to complete the paperwork.
We looked for a wood burning stove with some success, a new septic tank with no success at all, didn't get the boiler maintenance contract sorted or resolve the problem that causes the shower suddenly to turn cold despite paying 60 euro in August for repairs, got the window man to come and price for new double glazing, did a bit of decorating and Mr FF did something to the irrigation system. We watched an awful lot of news as that seemed to be all we could get on the tv, ranted copiously and were so glad to have hot water bottles and extra blankets that made getting into bed one of the highlights each day.
Does all this sound ungrateful I don't mean it to, we know that the house is cold in winter so we don't let it out then but we had hoped it might be tolerable for us in early November. Wrong. We won't be going back now for a while, possibly in March by which time I will have forgotten about this chilly visit and be keen to get back again, at the moment just writing about the last week is making me shiver.

Tuesday 3 November 2009

The ring of happiness

This is a story I've been wanting to share with you for months and months but I needed it to be complete before I did so, and that happened today when my relatives came up from Yorkshire to stay in our house while we are in Italy for a week.
When I was 13 years old my mum gave me the gold signet ring that her father had given her when she became a teenager. I loved the ring, it was the first piece of real jewellery I had and a connection with the grandfather who died about a year after I was born. I wasn't allowed to wear the ring for school but I did put it on as often as I could and wore it constantly during school holidays. After a couple of years I lost the ring. I was in the harvest field with my dad and my youngest brother who was a toddler, I bent to pick him up and the ring must have caught on his clothing because it fell off my finger into the stubble. I searched for a long time but it was an impossible task and finally I gave up. I made a note of the location by counting the number of trees in the arcade of chestnuts that ran alongside the field and the number of corn stokes in the opposite direction. I went back again on other days to look and my cousin, who sadly died three years ago, helped in the search. My dad looked when the field was ploughed but the ring never turned up. Over the years I often felt sad to have lost this ring, I did think about buying another but it wouldn't have been the same.
Early this year I had a phone call from my sister in law, who I'd told the story at some stage, to say that a man had been metal detecting in the field and found a gold signet ring with the initials EL, my mum's. He was anxious to try and find the owner and had phoned my brother and his wife to see if they could help. They checked with me and I confirmed it was the one I lost 45 years ago. The metal detector man (MDM) lived about 50 miles from my brother so it was decided not to risk posting the ring and he delivered it to the farm when he was there again a few weeks ago. I'm sorry the photographs are rubbish, I need to read my camera instructions but I also need to pack.
I can't tell you how happy I am to have it back, I never ever thought I'd see it again. My mum died almost 30 years ago, I wish she knew, I wish my cousin knew, and I wish MDM knew just how wonderfully kind he has been, he could so easily have cashed the ring in for scrap value. I'll write to him as soon as I get back from Italy and tell him how overjoyed I am, and I truly am, it's a dream come true.
So early in the morning (6.30 am flight apparently) I'm off to Italy for a week, for safety I'll leave the ring at home. Be back soon.

Sunday 1 November 2009

For Amelia

On Tuesday, only a week old, poor little Amelia was back in hospital with jaundice. She was placed under and over special lamps to cure her, Mum and Dad stayed at the hospital too. Not an ideal start but after 3 days they were all home again, the little dot is doing well and putting on weight. So I have been busy knitting as you can see. I made the larger of the wrap cardigans this week, the smaller is one I gave to Pam's new granddaughter when she was born, she has outgrown in now and Pam kindly got it back for Amelia. That's the kind of recycling we like. There's also a little hat to keep her cosy.This is the cardy for which I lost the final and essential ball of yarn. Kate, The Graveyard Gypsy read my blog and contacted me to say she had some of the same leftover from the same project. The parcel arrived in the post this week, in some lights there was a slight difference in the shades but since most of the lighter one was used for the collar I thinks its OK and enabled me to finish. Thanks Kate, how kind of you, I will be looking out for a special reward for you when I'm in Italy later this week, though I understand if I don't find anything suitable, I don't always get to many shops apart from the builders yard, chocolate is acceptable.Though I love knitting socks and I will be making them for Amelia when she gets older, I couldn't resist these little cotton ones in John Lewis, £5 for 5 pairs, so sweet, so pretty, just like my little (great) niece.