Thursday 28 March 2024

Knitting now

I have definitely made space in my yarn stash this year.  Two garments for me and one for the youngest grand niece all of which I’ve shown at some stage of construction.  

So back to the bottomless supply of wool.  

I’ve made another pair of West Yorkshire Spinners socks, this is my favourite colour and I shall be heartbroken if they ever discontinue it.

A little cowl with some super soft yarn I believe is Rowan, bought in the charity shop.

I also made a pair of fingerless gloves with yarn a friend had left over.  The gloves are for her so doesn’t really count as a reduction just some visiting wool.

On the needles I have a pair of men’s socks, I love knitting cables and cable socks.  Over the coldest months of winter I wore a pair of dk ones and they were such a comfort. 

But before you say well done Jen, I have to show you these which arrived in the penthouse just this morning.  

Those lovely people at Rowan were having a great sale, how could I resist.  Rowan Cotton Wool organic merino and organic cotton and Rowan Island Blend Falkland fine merino with alpaca and silk. They are both gorgeous, soft and squashy, well reduced in price and the purple included a pretty shawl pattern.  

What a good start to Easter.  The sun is shining, we have friends here for lunch tomorrow and new yarn beats chocolate eggs any day, though I may have some  those too and there will definitely be hot cross buns. 

Enjoy your holiday weekend 

Sunday 17 March 2024

School dinners

There was an item on the news last week about a headmaster who had complained about the quality of food supplied to his pupils from outside contract caterers.  It does indeed look disgustingly grey and mushy with hardly a green vegetable in sight and was no doubt shipped in from a distant factory.

Photo from Redbridge Community School

However what shocked me even more than the food quality was the dining hall where pupils were eating from disposable cartons, they looked like polystyrene, with small disposable wooden cutlery.  One pupil said he thought if he added salt and pepper to his wooden fork it might have more flavour than his meal.  

There was no table setting, pupils seemed to park themselves anywhere to eat many wearing their outside coats.  The used utensils would be thrown into bins destined for landfill as they left. What life lesson does that give them.  

I remember the ritual of school dinners when I was at junior school.  We left our classrooms and walked a short distance alongside the village stream to queue outside the canteen, which had its own vegetable garden.  Once the supervising teacher arrived and entered the building we followed to our allotted tables, already set for lunch with cutlery, water and glasses.  The teacher announced the days menu and we all said grace. 

Each table had 9 pupils, one of whom was the server, an older pupil who went to the counter to collect the food, two plates at a time.  There was no choice but it was possible to specify your portion size. The server asked each child what they wanted and had to memorise the order, say a small portion of meat, large of potatoes, medium vegetables, with most probably different portions for the other plate.  Food was served onto plates by the dinner ladies, who were all local, they had cooked everything that morning.

We were not allowed to leave food on our plates, which was never a problem for me as that was the way I was brought up.  Besides the food was fresh and delicious, there was nothing I didn’t like. Puddings especially were excellent, various sponges, treacle, jam, ginger, all with custard, fruit pies or crumbles, rice or semolina. If a child refused to eat they had to sit in front of their plate until they did even if it meant being late back to class.

At my secondary school there was a rota for pupils setting the tables supervised by a teacher.  As we filed into the dining room we each collected our own napkin from our pigeon hole,  a fresh one brought from home each Monday and returned for washing on Friday. The food, again a no choice menu,  was delivered in tureens after grace and dished out by who ever was head of the table usually a prefect.  

At both schools lunch was part of our learning, serving food to others, memorising orders, portion control, the sociability of sitting down to share a meal together.  It’s sad that children today don’t have the benefit of nutritional food or that basic social training 

It’s a testament to the quality of school meals in this town that by mid afternoon leaving time the supermarkets are invaded by hundreds of children buying snacks, to the extent they have to be supervised by security staff and directed to their own checkouts to avoid delaying other shoppers. Kids then wander down the street digging into large bags of crisps, eating full packs of biscuits, bakery items, sweets, fizzy drinks, unhealthy rubbish probably costing more than their school meal.  I was taught that it was ill mannered to eat in the street and I never have, we certainly didn’t expect any snacks once we left school for the day and waited for our evening meal.

The education system is doing children such an injustice, our obesity rate continues to climb while the contract caterers and snack manufacturers are coining it in. School dinners have to be provided within a budget but health and well being don’t seem to be factored into the cost.

Tuesday 12 March 2024

That didn’t work

was quite surprised when I finished my cotton top how much I like it which made me determined to solve the colour variation problem.  I soaked the finished garment in a mixture of mild soap and eco bleach, this stuff which I like a lot particularly as it comes with its own tiny cardboard scoop.

It took a while to dry in the utility room and I was quite hopeful until I brought it out to the lounge windows and realised it was much the same, front and back different shades and the top of the back the same shade as the front.

This leaves me with several solutions

Always wear the top with a cardigan to conceal the back

Wear it only in shade where the difference is less obvious,  avoiding direct sunlight in Italy would be tricky

Wear it a lot in the sun hoping that the darker part will fade 

Dye it, I like it white as it shows up the knobbly texture so well 

Knit another one, I do have enough yarn left over but this one has taken me more than two years, time is against me and I didn’t much enjoy the process first time 

Just bluff it, pretend it’s meant to be like that and cast on another pair of socks

What would you do?