Sunday 30 January 2011

This weekend I've mostly been good

What a nice weekend, so far -
I took a bag of stuff to the charity shops and brought nothing back.
I made my marmalade, 12 jars now in stock.
I enjoyed a film evening at Pam's when we watched the funny and visually delicious Heartbreaker, starring the fortunate Vanessa Paradis. She made me want to move to Monaco, buy a beautiful silk dressing gown, lose a lot of weight and take up with Johnny Depp, actually I've always wanted to do the latter, OK the latter two, and I do have a silk dressing gown that is quite glam but a size 14 not 6.I finished another pair of Regia socks for the market stall (there is a clue to my downfall behind the sock). Mr FF spotted them, liked them very much and asked if he could have them, I do have enough of this yarn because I got quite a few orders for this colour combination so he could be lucky.
I took possession of 8 balls of Merino.Note no mention of purchase (yet) as this is a commission to knit the Smiling Jacket from Louisa Harding's Miss Bea's Rainy Day. Such a great little pattern book that I've used quite a lot, I'm currently on a campaign to get the kids I know into hand knits so there could be more. Amelia by the way was apparently delighted with her little cardigan, showing it off and hugging it round her, bless.
Finally, own up time. I've failed in my stash reduction efforts because Kemps decided to reduce their organic cotton and I bought 8 balls for £1.50 each. I did think when I placed the online order that I might use up more sock wool before the parcel arrived, but oh no efficient as ever it was here in a flash.The colour is borage which I had imagined from the website would be bluer than it is but still a really nice shade. So now the scores are Stash 5 Jen 4 (we are talking 100 gs here), must try harder, must knit faster, must stop speaking too soon.

Tuesday 25 January 2011

Stash 1 Jen 2

Could this be the year that I use more yarn than I buy, certainly doing well so far. I completed my first socks of 2011 in Italy and now have these. The pattern is from one of my Christmas presents (could this also be the year I keep mentioning the C word) Favourite Socks from Interweave. The yarn is Aruncania Ranco Multi which I've used before to knit plain socks. I think the yarn works better with some pattern and this Undulating Rib by Ann Budd was just what I was looking for, interesting and easy to memorise.I have bought just one ball of sock wool this year, I can't show you because it's a surprise. I count this as a huge success and feel it justifies my scathing comments on other blogs where chums have already started their stash enhancement. I'm having another market stall just before Easter which is spurring me on to knit socks, already cast on the next pair not that I need much encouragement, and hopefully will reduce my considerable store of sock wool, until I weaken that is.

Thursday 20 January 2011

Knitting now, well not now, it's finished

I mentioned a while back that I was knitting Amelia a little cardigan from Debbie Bliss's Family Knits book. A tiny garment really but it has taken me ages, I had to force myself to finish it with the reward that once the main knitting was done I could start a sock. But when the knitting was finished I was really not much more than halfway there as all the ends had to be stitched in, don't you just hate that job. I sat through El Cid and one of the Indiana Jones films whilst sewing in the same way that I'll watch mundane telly while I do the ironing, that's how bad it was and how long it took. Finally done, I can't say I enjoyed working on this but it is very pretty, lets hope Amelia appreciates it. It was originally intended for her birthday last October, then moved on to a Christmas gift but now I'm just grateful she hasn't grown into a teenager while I've been stalling. Luckily it is size 2 to 3 years and she is about 16 months.
I seemed to forget when I embarked on this project that I'm not that keen on colour work.It's a long time since I made this Kaffe Fassett cardigan from a Rowan magazine, I do recall now that I had to force myself to knit at least a couple of rows every day. I think the euphoria of finishing it and truly loving it wiped away all memories of the toil involved. Now I'm going back to socks, socks that only need two ends sewing in, one top one bottom, yarn that can change colour all by itself. Hallelujah for the inventors of double pointed needles and self patterning wool.

Saturday 15 January 2011

Christmas past Christmas presents

Christmas is long gone and this will be my last festive post for a long time, honest, but I thought you might be wondering how Mr FF and I managed our £5 gift exchange this year since we hardly got out because of the snow.
I only gave Mr FF two gifts but they were both very well received, a pair of socks I knitted from some charity shop wool that wasn't particularly interesting so I added a bit of cable to a rib pattern and a cd of songs in Italian we have both been enjoying so maybe a bit more of the language will penetrate.Mr FF did surprisingly well, giving me a couple of charity shop paperbacks, from our village market a handmade candle, some delicous dark chocolate drops that are really meant for cooking but are being munched, a handful of vanilla scented tea lights and finally a little Converse boot charm. I also wanted to show you the two gorgeous tea towels I received from my friend Barb in the USA, though we have never met she knows me so well and has a wonderful knack of sending just the right thing, in the past a lovely sock pattern book and now these. I don't know if she realised how partial I am to a pretty tea towel, these are crackers and so me, thanks Barb.The snow has finally gone and the rain has arrived but it's nice to be able to look out onto green instead of white and anticipate spring though I have been thinking about next Christmas and how I should get organised, knit more gifts and try to spend the whole of my £5 budget next time.

Monday 10 January 2011


Our part of Italy didn't seem to be big on outside Christmas decorations in the way that we are in the UK, we did see lights at some houses and the odd decorated tree but one of the main focuses at this time is the presepe, the traditional nativity display that might also depict other scenes. The church presepe in our village was for such a small place very impressive with a circular walk round the old streets passing various scenes, not only Jesus in the manger but traditional village life with relevant passages from the bible.You can imagine my excitement when I came upon this scene, women producing yarn, carding, spinning and winding. I wanted to pull up a chair get out my sock knitting and join in. This represents words from Proverbs 31 about the virtuous wife, you can find a translation here.All the models in this and every other display were beautifully dressed in traditional clothes, the women wearing beautiful hand knitted shawls, the socks also hand knitted and the shoe is the ciocia,traditional footwear in the area, the local people proudly refer to themselves as the ciociari. A neighbour told me that she had been involved in setting up the scenes and that many of the vintage clothes were hers.New mothers with their babies, the washer women hanging out lovely old socksit was delightful.
Speaking to a friend in Rome she said that the Christmas tree is a very recent addition to Italian festive decorations but that every house has always had its own little presepe. She then left the room briefly and returned with a package that contained a very special gift for us, our own little presepe that sat on our mantle piece throughout our visit to remind us of the real meaning of Christmas and how included our Italian friends make us feel.

Thursday 6 January 2011

My year so far

We got home yesterday afternoon, back to the snow and slush though fortunately the house with its leaky boiler had been fine. The only damage happened when the coal man had delivered unexpectedly, slid down the drive into one of the gate pillars and completely demolished it, he kindly left a note asking us to contact him.
So the trip to Italy far exceeded my expectations, I didn't imagine the weather would be quite so good, bright sunny days with hardly any rain. The stove worked brilliantly, we lit it when we arrived, even though it was around 10.30 pm, and kept it going the whole time we were there. We bought a large rug to place in front of the stove and reduce the expanse of chilly ceramic tiles, how cosy we were.
We didn't really do any work at the house apart from the relaxing kind, Mr FF chopping wood and me pottering in the garden. We had several trips out that I will tell you about later, visited and were visited by friends, received many gifts of food and drink and saw in the New Year in the village. A table of 14 in the local restaurant, we enjoyed a huge dinner with live music and dancing as did other Italian families including of course small (and completely well behaved)children. Champagne was served at midnight as the whole valley erupted with fireworks, we have never seen anything like it. Around 1 am we ate cotechino, a type of sausage accompanied by lentils, a traditional New Years dish that will bring us good fortune. We left around 2.30 am despite pleas from the kitchen staff that we stay as they would soon be serving croissants, local biscuits, chocolate and other treats. 2011 so far has been full of good times and kindness. Not a lot of knitting though, I only produced one pair of socks in Italy, my buon anno socks that I hope will return to Italy with me before too long.