Wednesday 31 March 2010

Not again

The forecast heavy and disruptive snow arrived as planned, but I never expected it to be so bad. These really are new photographs and not a repeat of ones earlier this year.Mr FF flew to Dublin on business yesterday taking an early flight, he was up at 5 am and fortunately packed wellies and a snow shovel in the car. During the day I kept an eye on the weather and sent him a few reassuring messages as the snow wasn't really settling. Around 6 pm the power went off and when I phoned the help line they said there was a widespread loss of supply that they expected to restore around midnight. This wasn't a huge problem as I had the battery radio, the wood burner and whilst it was light my knitting so I boiled up some pasta on the fire and settled in. The power came on at 10 pm, went off again for about half an hour, on again and then alternated between on and off for the rest of the evening.
Mr FF phoned me just after 9.30 pm to say his flight had arrived and that though there was a lot of snow around the airport he was going to try and get home. He phoned me again about 1.5 hours later to say he had managed to get onto the ring road, a couple of miles from the airport having dug the snow off the road several times. He phoned again to say he'd tried to book into the Travel Lodge on the ring road but it was full so he would keep moving. Cut a long story short, it took him 9 hours to drive approximately 25 miles home during which time he frequently dug himself out of the snow, met up with other travellers in the same situation including a couple from our own village, watched the snow ploughs putting down grit and salt but not clearing the roads that were full of various abandoned cars, buses and lorries.
Today I've been out clearing the paths again, the snow is very heavy and clinging, it's bent over trees and brought down some branches. The power has been going on and off again, the tv station is down as is the mobile phone provider, not that I mind any of that as long as we are home and safe. It is truly horrible and big setback for my springtime garden so I am going to concentrate on these tulips that Pam sent me after her party. I need to get my body clock back to normal time as we slept from 7 am till around midday, it's not just the weather that is confused. I thought March came in like a lion and went out like a lamb not like a big fat grumpy polar bear.

Monday 29 March 2010

Lovely arrivals

Lots of treats at my house on Saturday. At the same time as I was running my giveaway Marie was having her own event and I was lucky enough to win. This time the giveaway did arrive and the postie presented me with a package that contained a pretty card and lots of beautifully wrapped parcels.
Secondly my virtual niece Phoebe, now 4 and 3/4 years old arrived with her family for lunch as they headed north to Mull for a holiday. I had saved the parcels so that Phoebe could help me open them and very useful she was too offering lots of suggestions as to what they might be. We discovered lovely chocolate eggsa chocolate and a fruit flavoured face mask handmade soap, a lip balm and some hand creama gorgeous selection of seeds, including two packets of sweet peas which I love and some paeony flowered poppies a pretty tape measure that Phoebe found really useful for measuring every one's feet and a card of beautiful handmade buttons that give employment to women in South AfricaFinally and best of all Marie had crocheted me this lovely purpley scarf, I can't tell you how much I appreciate this, the colours are so me, thank you very much Marie for this and all my gifts.
We had such a lovely day and Phoebe went off with a few giveaways too, a pencil case with some stamp pads, chocolate eggs and of course a pair of socks that she modelled perfectly. She showed such an interest in knitting that I gave her a pair of large wooden needles and some chunky yarn. I cast on 6 stitches for her, helped her knit a few rows and she said she might make a scarf with the assistance of her Yorkshire granny.

Friday 26 March 2010

After a long pause

I hate it when those reality competitions on tv have such a long pause before they announce the winner where we watch anxious faces waiting for the result so apologies for the delay on my giveaway, I hope you didn't get stressed. I was out yesterday lunching with Helen, Mr FF, our celebrity draw master, was out last night dining with ex colleagues and today he had meetings. Finally the names went into the (compulsory for my age purple velvet) hat. and the winner is (insert pause to your desired length)
Mandycharlie at My Knitting and Allotment
Hurray, well done. I have already put a comment on your blog for you to let me know whether your want diy yarn or completed socks amongst the surprises. I was a bit disappointed to read so many posts from other bloggers who like me had been selected for a giveaway but never received anything. I promise a parcel will arrive very soon (but not that soon if I am to knit socks).
Thanks everyone for entering my giveaway and for all the lovely spring time comments.

Monday 22 March 2010

The party

Friday morning I was down at Pam's helping to get the barn ready for Andrew's birthday party. They had arranged for an Indian chef to come along and cook a selection of curries for about 25 people. Fairy lights and decorations were hung, balloons blown up, a beautiful sari draped over more fairy lights and I personally rolled and tied with ribbon the silver napkins. The chef and his assistant were bringing various table decorations and would finish off the setting on Saturday. I was feeling a bit out of sorts and Pam mentioned that I looked quite pale, she fortified me with a bowl of her delicious soup and home baked bread and I came home for an afternoon of gardening.
Saturday was lovely and I went out for some light gardening duties but soon developed terrible stomach cramps. I could hardly walk when I came in and took myself off for a lie down. I soon started with a headache and nausea, I hadn't had a migraine for nearly two years and believed I might have grown out of them once I'd retired. The thought of being in the same room as spicy curry was unbearable and I had to give the whole event a miss. Mr FF went down for the meal and stayed on chatting till around midnight. Andrew wore his new socks though not the jumper which apparently is very warm indeed. Mr FF had an early start yesterday as he was in Perthshire walking with his group and as I was home alone K & S who had also been at the party took pity on me and invited me for tea and homemade Madeira cake, plus some quality time with Peaches which was all very cheering. It did me good to get out for a walk and a look round their garden where it was sunny enough to sit outside for a while. Meanwhile down at Pam and Andrew's some of the party guests spent Sunday recovering by carry telegraph poles through the woods and across the stream to form a new bridge, hangovers obviously are for wimps. Photographs 2 and 3 are courtesy of Pam.
There is still time to enter my giveaway, it closes on 25 March.

Wednesday 17 March 2010

My insignificant spring fling giveaway

I'm not big on marking notable dates. Birthdays, anniversaries etc are quiet affairs round here, Mr FF and I would rather do something nice together, or possibly nothing at all, than thrown a party and celebrate with crowds. So my various blog landmarks have passed by unnoticed but I do think that it must be my turn for a giveaway. Actually I have a strange relationship with blog giveaways, the two that I won outright I received absolutely nothing, the first time I emailed twice in case my address had gone missing, the second I received an acknowledgement and confirmation that a parcel was on its way, nothing came. The only time I did receive a lovely giveaway was here when Helen who can now be found at A Time to Dance took pity on me and awarded me a runners up prize, thank you again Helen. So to my giveaway. As a little thank you for reading my blog and all the lovely comments I receive, I would like to offer someone either the yarn to knit a pair of socks or if you are not a knitter I will happily make you a pair once I know your size. There will also be a few other surprises in the goodie bag. To qualify I'd like you to tell me what signs herald the arrival of spring for you. The ones I look for each year are the re-emergence of my dogs tooth violets, spotted at the weekend
the return of pretty lambs to the field behind our house

that some days I can just see from the kitchen window

and the ability to put the washing out on the line, again happened at the weekend.
As my spring fling giveaway celebrates the fact that the worst is over and there is no turning back to winter I will draw the winner on 25 March, when we will definitely and officially be into spring. Don't forget to leave me contact details if you don't have a blog link. I am happy to post overseas. Good luck.

Friday 12 March 2010

Knitting now

I've been busy knitting a commission, not of the 45% kind in my previous post but a request from Pam to knit something for her husband's 70th birthday next week. She wanted a simple round necked jumper and chose the lovely Pure Border Leicester from Blacker design that I used a while back. As ever it was a joy to work with and kept me cosy and warm as it rested on my lap while I knit. I've also made a little present to complement the jumper which I'll give to Andrew next week with maybe a bottle of something nice. Apparently he's quite particular about his socks and usually wears plain subdued ones so it will be interesting to see his reaction. I wonder if he might wear them for his party a week on Saturday, more about that as it happens, Pam and Andrew's parties are legendary.
Pam called round to collect the jumper today and brought me this lovely little box of muscari, the grape hyacinth. They are sitting at the front door at the moment with a couple of pots of crocus all of which can be planted out into the garden later and should grow and increase over the years.
Now I'm knitting a little cardy for Amelia that is well on the way to being finished, I'm just itching to get back to socks and items for my stall in May but I'm also planning a sock related give away soon, watch this space.

Saturday 6 March 2010

Fair trade

Last December a friend suggested that I contact a gallery that was looking for a local knitter to provide items for sale. I thought about this for a while because I wasn't sure if the things I made were saleable or if I wanted the pressure of knitting regularly for sale but the kudos of having my work in a smart gallery beside some beautiful art and jewellery did appeal so I sent off some photographs of samples with an email. It took another email, a phone call, a visit and a reminder before I actually got any response though during the two months or so I was assured that the gallery was interested in my work. I eventually got an email asking me to take along some items to be selected for a new exhibition, starting in about 10 days, and telling me that the commission would be 45% plus VAT. It didn't take much working out to realise that for every £1 of work sold I would get 48p though I would be providing the not inexpensive raw materials and doing the work. I said I wouldn't be taking the matter further.
I know the gallery has its own overheads but does anyone else think that 45% commission (plus VAT) is a lot. I did a Google search and found rates varying between 10 and 50% and it seems the crafts person takes the hit as the price is the same regardless of whether an item is purchased direct or through a middle man. Assuming that the yarn costs about £7 for a pair of socks, and its probably more, I would expect to sell them for around £15, the commission (plus VAT) would be £7.80, leaving 20p per pair for me, that'll be right.
I'm a bit disillusioned about the whole business of so called fair trade having seen on the television that the Co-op, whose strap line is good for everyone, pays its milk producers the lowest rate per litre of any of the major supermarkets, probably below production costs. Every week another UK dairy farmer goes out of business while the supermarkets continue to make huge profits. Milk from the supermarket goes against the grain with me when we are fortunate still to have a milk delivery every other day, a service that has never failed us despite some truly appalling weather.
All is not lost with the knitting however as there is to be a market in our village hall in May where I will be sharing a stall with my friend Pam for the princely sum of £5. I intend to produce socks, gloves and scarves, I've already got a few in stock. I realise there are copyright issues so I shall invent some simple patterns for scarves and gloves and make socks from the standard recipe, I don't think anyone has a claim on that as it's far too old. I'm not desperate to sell my knitting or wanting to start any kind of business but I'm looking forward to seeing how the market goes and so far enjoying filling the basket with bits and pieces whilst watching the stash reduce slightly. If I don't sell anything I shall have quite a lot of Christmas presents already made.

Monday 1 March 2010

Blue and white

A fantastically sunny day today the contrast of snow against blue sky is so cheering. It makes me realise why blue and white china is so sought after, pure, bright and uplifting it is the most popular colour combination all over the world from antique to modern pieces. I'm quite partial to a few blue and white pots myself, I have a small collection of plates that my Mum gave me many years ago, that hang on the dining room wall
a couple of modern pieces I've picked up myselfbut this piece of Wedgewood is my very favourite .Many years ago, maybe 30 or so, and a few years before she died I was watching an antiques programme on the tv with my Mum where they showed a lovely little tureen. I said how much I liked it and Mum said she had received a similar one as a wedding present, back in 1947. That same day she managed to find the tureen packed away in the attic and gave it to me. It was in perfect condition then but unfortunately a stray cat came into our house through the cat door and knocked it off the window cill chipping the saucer slightly. That was a shame but things happen, I just turn it round and admire the perfect side. It sits on a shelf in our family room and I see it every day, I never tire of looking at it and I'm so pleased it's mine.