Monday 27 January 2014

Knitting now

Almost the end of January and no new yarn (or books) purchased.
I've used up some odds and ends making baby socks.
I restarted and finished a little jumper that Pam began for one of her grand children, its the shape of one pattern to the stitches of another, seems to have worked OK.
And I've used up a fair amount of this lovely Wensleydale longwool from my stash making myself a Clapotis.  I've only knit this scarf pattern once before in a gorgeously soft thick silk yarn.  This time I'm working with 4 ply and size 12 needles, its a long haul and the wool is slightly harsher than I hoped, since its from Yorkshire I forgive that.  I won't know until I've blocked it all whether it works, at present it looks a bit lumpy 
but I've applied steam to one section so you can see how the diagonal dropped stitches should be.  The top picture is nearer to the true colour.
I always have the dilemma of not knowing how long to make a scarf, unless I have to stop because I've run out of yarn.   Since there is plenty of this maybe a scarf can never be too long.  

Tuesday 21 January 2014

End of an era

When I first met Mr FF, in 1966, he was working as a draughtsman and I had started as a shorthand typist at the same construction company.  He used to phone the typing pool when he needed a letter typing, management did not allow staff to draft any correspondence, everything had to be dictated without notes direct to the stenographer. If I was sent to the drawing office, which wasn't that often because I used to cause a bit of a stir in my little 60s mini skirts, I perched myself on his drawing stool and rested my notebook on his drawing board while he stood beside me dictating.
One day when he had some drawings to send off he took the opportunity to ask me out.
After a while he decided to become a chartered engineer rather than a draughtsman and went off to college for three years. Unfortunately half way through the course, by which time we were married, the engineering council changed the rules and even though he passed his exams with distinction he couldn't progress to become chartered unless he embarked on another 3 years study without any grant.    So he started work as a structural designer still using a drawing board and when his company were upgrading the office he had the opportunity to buy his old board which he was pleased to do for a few pounds. Eventually when we had moved to Scotland Mr FF did more training including an evening course that allowed him to take the arduous 7 hour examination to became a chartered engineer. He went on to become a fellow of his professional institution, took a year as Chairman of the Scottish Branch of Structural Engineers, sat on various committees and government bodies, completed an MBA, a glittering career.  But he always had a soft spot for that drawing board, the equipment that started his working life, so it was a big step for him to sell it recently. 
It is a beautifully made thing, cast iron and quality wood, it looks vintage, its very solid, Mr FF never ever put a drawing pin into the wood always attaching plans with masking tape, it is in pristine condition.  But the board hasn't been used since Mr FF drew up plans for the house we have lived in for the last 23 years and it was moved to the workshop, which is why the photographs were taken on the drive.   I moan at Mr FF to clear old papers out of the office, to be more tidy, to adopt the once past the desk policy, but he has my total respect for this downsizing, it does feel like closing the door on part of our lives. The board has gone to a good home but at the moment it really feels like diminishing not decluttering.

Wednesday 15 January 2014

So far so good

We are through the first two weeks of January and though we are bound to get bad weather at some stage this winter, to date everything has been very manageable with plenty of bright days, just the lightest sprinkling of snow and no really hard frosts.  I might go so far as to say it has been enjoyable though I do appreciate many people in the UK have suffered with storms and flooding, I sympathise with this greatly.
The hellebores have made an appearance, there is some colour in the garden
and plenty of things happening.  Bulbs are well through and its a delight to uncover new growth among all the fallen leaves. 
In the conservatory I have a few bulbs flowering and despite much neglect whilst I was in Italy my orchids are bursting into bloom again.
Slightly worrying for me to feel so upbeat at this time of year and as I said it could all go pear shaped but for now I am enjoying the lengthening hours of daylight and these early signs of spring.  

Thursday 9 January 2014

Oranges and pairs

Marmalade making season seems to have come round early this year but when I spotted Seville oranges in the shops this week I bought them straight away. However, I got mixed up between pounds and kilos, so I have twice as much fruit as I intended.  No problem I'll make twice as much marmalade this year, plenty for us plenty to give away.

The recipe I use is a two day process so having made 11 jars over the last couple of days I'll be doing it all again before the end of the week.  Not unlike knitting socks, you make one and then do the same again, so when I'm not busy boiling I'm making these orange and lemon ones to continue the fruity theme.  The pattern is Cherry Swirl from Fleece Artist the yarn Fortissima Mexiko.
As a bonus the house smells delicious, no need for scented candles for a while.

Friday 3 January 2014

Out with the old

Someone asked me the other day for my mobile number so they could text me and was shocked to hear I don't have a mobile.  On further questioning I did agree I have a mobile, that I only switch on if I am out on my own in case of emergency, a text might not be read for weeks. Call me old fashioned, I hate to see people constantly checking their mobiles, texting people in the same room, cryptically updating the world that they can't believe what just happened even though it obviously did just happen. It's probably because I'm old enough to remember when we used call boxes if we had the right change and managed perfectly well without letting everyone know where we were all the time.  
So you won't be surprised to hear that I still use and love a paper diary or two.  I carry my small pink leather Filofax in my handbag replacing the diary pages each year and keep a larger prettier diary on my desk.  For 2013 I enjoyed A French Country Diary that inspired me with beautiful photographs and had me wondering if they did an Italian equivalent, I have yet to find one.  
I loved turning the pages every week to have something new and gorgeous to admire.
So I was delighted when I received a recent small sales purchase from Boden, I spent less than £30, to find a gift in the parcel,  a diary entitled Creating Order from Chaos in 2014.   Its very sweet, with pretty pictures appropriate to each month, obviously I love the summer ones.  
It also has sections for information etc - a secret password list that includes the website, a very cryptic clue to the password and a less cryptic clue to help me remember the password.  The Christmas present list has columns for name, what they want, what they need, what they'll get.  The shopping list pages are already started with wine, chocolate and flowers and other lists include Songs that Make me feel Fantastic, Books that Changed my Mind and Dreams and Schemes.   I don't imagine I will become organised enough to complete all the sections, I'm not a great list writer, but this little diary has made me very happy and positive for the New Year.  I hope 2014 is everything you want it to be and more, I'm looking forward to it and not least to taking pen to paper and writing in my diary.