Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Leaf Quilt Leaves Quilted

At long last, I have reached a major milestone in the leaf quilt.

I have hand-quilted the very last leaf.

The gaps were machine quilted some time ago, by Ferret.

It took a long time for me to handquilt each of the 33 leaves.

patchwork of random placed maple leaf blocks in two sizes

Actually, it wasn't too bad - 33 leaves, 36 months, slightly less then one a month. That's quite respectable progress. (Although the making of it started before I started the blog.) The advantage of having a blog, I suppose, a way to measure my progress against myself.

The next step will be to work out how to do the borders, and cut out the material and bind it (hand or machine?) and then photograph it, and post it. Hopefully before we redecorate the sitting room, which it is supposed to grace when it is finished.

The other big story of Christmas 2010 is the slight lack of heating.

Our oil boiler ceased to function on Christmas Eve morning, and although we managed - by dint of ringing every number in the phone book - to get someone out to see it in the afternoon, the news was not good. A major part had failed, the kind of part that costs hundreds to fix. However as the boiler itself is about 30 years old, and needed to be replaced soon anyway, we have decided that we won't bother with a repair. Of course, with bank holidays and the like, we haven't even had a chance to talk to possible installers yet (I'm hoping they don't shut up shop for the entire Christmas/New Year break).

On the other hand, we have budgeted for a new boiler, we don't have to worry about the cost of emergency purchase of electric heaters, we are not hungry, or thirsty, or oppressed, or afraid, or any of the other problems that afflict people this year.

And when I left the Church after going to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, the snow in the churchyard made it look like a Christmas card picture. It's sad to see it melting today.

I have much to be grateful for, as 2010 draws to a close.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Solstice to come

And having got the Tree we bought last year out of the garage, I am reminded that it is one of these new-fangled affairs with integrated lights, and a transformer at the base which can't be covered. Hmmm, no tree skirts this year then.

However, someone tweeted earlier: sgwarnog Tomorrow is an auspicious day: Full Moon (08:13) Total Lunar Eclipse (08:16) Sunrise (08:23) Sunset (15:47) December Solstice (23:38) (GMT)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Coming up to Christmas

It's taken a while to start thinking about Christmas in anything but a vague "at the end of December, something usually happens" way.

But now it's nearly that time. Preparations started late this year, but on Friday, I recognised the junction I was driving past as being near the Bramble Patch quilt shop. So I parked and had a look round the shop. And I decided I liked the look of the hexagonal tree skirt, but the material from the square tree skirt, and they agreed to let me swop the patterns round, and I came home with a very nice set of material to make a tree skirt. Of course, the whole idea behind buying a kit was so I could just come home and make it, without thought, so why did I then search through my fabric looking for my other Christmas fabric? And then work out the trigonometry of exactly how long each of the strips needed to be. Material is now gathered, but uncut...

Today, our sitting room was tidied. And dusted. And hoovered. (Just like we do every day (hahaha).) And then the Christmas Tree was found in the garage, and the tinsel and the decorations, and the sitting room was decorated, and I am starting to feel like the Yuletide celebrations will soon be starting.

And after supper, I got out my little tin of needlework kits, and started on Bethlehem, from County Needlecraft.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Reflections - five years of blogging

This blog has been going for five years today, sometimes with frequent posting, sometimes with infrequent.

At times, the blog has been a refuge, at others an obligation.

It has also been a practise run for the news blog which is now my job.

Five years ago - even one year ago - I certainly did not expect to be running a frequently updated website, which was read by hundreds, even thousands of people a day, including journalists from the national press, but it happened.

The life I have now, is the life I want. An exercise for the Open University's T160 course involved writing about your ideal life. Mine involved doing bits of research, bits of writing, bits of talking to people/giving speeches and possibly even going to meetings. And a month ago I realised that's the life I had.

In the last five years I have a new interest in the history of maths, although that is sadly neglected at the moment.

I'm also doing more craft then I was. I've learned that it is the number of things you finish that matters, not the number of things you start. I'm braver about trying new things - designing embroidery for instance.

I've met lots of interesting people, some only virtually, some in real life as well. The separate strands of my on-line life now merge, whereas I always kept them separate before.

There are many lessons I have learnt over the years. But the idea that really transformed my life most was a question: "looking at your life over the last week what would someone else say was your priority?"

The idea that you have a goal, a one-true-purpose in life is a straighjacket. Find something that interests you, that makes you alive, do it, head in that direction for a while. Don't expect to arrive whereever it is the signposts list, just follow the signs for a while.

When you find the purpose that matters, it will be almost impossible not to do it. If you haven't found it yet, head into the unknown, fearfully or fearlessly. The value in working out what your ideal life will look like is not so you can craft it, but so you can recognise it when you have it.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Finally, I succombed.

Yes, I have joined the 13,000+ other people on Ravelry and started making a Baby Surprise Jacket.

I even bought yarn specially: the project needed easy-care yarn with long stripes, and I had nothing suitable. So I bought some James C Brett Bliss in a yellow/green/white combination, and cast on.

No pictures yet, not even the yarn.

FWIW, I will be coming up to my fifth blogaversary in a few days. Scary thought!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tile 2

Yes, I went to Ally Pally, and I even came back. No photos of my purchases, which were almost entirely sewing related.

Every time I've been, the West End Embroidery stall has drawn me in, to study carefully the fantastic embroidery kits. I've loved them every time, but they always looked too far beyond my ability...

Until this year, that is. I overheard someone commenting on them: it was obvious she'd done several. So I asked her whether they were really tricky - not at all, she said, much easier then they looked.

Buoyed on with her confidence, I bought Tile 2, almost the smallest and the simplest in the range.

But it lacked one thing: those lovely circular star like stitches, whose name I didn't know. I wanted to do them in the corners, and halfway along the side, in different threads to match, the rest of the pattern.

The corner stitch looked lovely. However the shiny rayon thread simply did not work at all. So I unpicked it and carried on and have now done all the squares around the edge.


Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Loden Progress

When I met the Secretary of State last week....

I've been a bit busy, doing things like meeting the Speaker of the House of Commons and government ministers. Of course, it helps if one of them is your MP, but it still sounds impressive.

However, one thing I've found is that when I'm doing intensive brain work, knitting lace helps to rest my brain. It's not that it is relaxing, but somehow it uses a different set of brain cells to analytical thinking and provides a more thorough break then most other options.

However, Loden went wrong. Just like the other side of the front went wrong, I had to frog Kidsilk Haze. (The lace was not as even as I wanted it.) Now I'm slowly knitting back to where I was.
FWIW, I'm going to the Knitting and Stitching show at Alexandria Palace on Saturday. Anyone else?

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Very, very, busy

My children think they are neglected, my husband thinks he's ignored, no wonder I haven't posted.

But I have crafted, a bit.

A few rows of Loden to rest my brain between complex spreadsheet tasks. A little bit of embroidery when dealing with emails gets too much. A section of Moss on the Summit in the evenings, when my brain has had enough of writing.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Ta Da

Well, that was fast. Started Monday, finished Wednesday, a cot quilt for a new baby.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Lindisfarne to Iona

The wool I blogged earlier this month was bought while on holiday in Scotland. And then I bought some more, also 'local', also undyed.

On the first full day of our stay in Scotland, we went to Lindisfarne, and on the last full day we went to Iona. We didn't go to the abbey in either place (to be saved for another trip): and although the two islands are on the opposite coasts of the UK, the monastery at Lindisfarne was founded by St. Aidan from Iona.

Lindisfarne is cut off by the tide for a few hours at the time, and we thought we'd have time to walk round the entire island. We didn't: the walking guide said allow three hours for a three mile walk and this was surprisingly accurate, but it didn't tell us about the nasty spiky seed heads that caught onto trousers (jeans were OK) and spiked through onto the unhappy teenager. I made my first crafty purchase, a small cross stitch kit of a celtic cross. It came from a shop called Celtic Crafts, which was mainly a gift shop with a few small cross-stitch kits. It was small, but also covered with backstitch. I completed it during the holiday, and took photos at the nunnery on Iona.


We weren't staying at Lindesfarne, but in Coldstream, within a mile of the border with England. However, we went from there to Edinburgh a couple of times, and saw several shows at the Fringe. I went to K1 Yarns, a nice little yarn shop, but nothing tempted me there. Another shop which might interest craft-bloggers was the Grassmarket Embroidery Shop, a few minutes walk from K1, at the far end of the Grassmarket. It had a somewhat intimidating display of work in the window, and when I went in, there were racks of embroidery threads and other materials. The shop keeper was friendly and in the back room were some kits. However if you wanted to design your own work, this was the place to go.

Halfway through our trip, we drove to Loch Awe. We actually went through Stirling on the Saturday of UK Knit Camp and Ravelry Weekend 2010, but we didn't stop. We had a long drive to the banks of Loch Awe and the remote holiday cottage we were staying in.

We did various touristy things: a day in Oban, where I bought my First Yarn in Ages. It came from a croft (I think) a little way north of Oban.

On the last day we had a coach trip to Iona. We went from Oban by ferry, then a coach took us across the Isle of Mull, before another ferry took us the short distance to Iona. We walked to the end of the Island, and stared at the Atlantic.

Then back to the village, where I photographed my completed cross-stitch in the nunnery. We looked in the little gift shops, and I was unable to resist it: more new wool, a beautiful, soft, snowy-white ball of shetland, spun on Mull - we had passed the mill on the coach.

Having missed the Ravelry day in Stirling, I also missed the Festival of Quilts - even though we drove through Birmingham on the appropriate day.

Monday, August 16, 2010

I bought wool today

The last time I bought yarn of any sort was January 2nd 2009.

It wasn't even for me: a ball of blue yarn in the sale, to make a phone case for my daughter, and a ball of red Debbie Bliss something-expensive to make an iPod case for the same daughter.

Then in an effort to use up some of my stash, I stopped buying yarn. (Only yarn, not material, not embroidery stuff, not patterns.) It was a challange to myself to avoid buying yarn for a year.

It was hard to begin with, the aching desire to buy something, anything just to own something new. (A whole year - how could I do it?) But I struggled through.

By the time, a year had passed, I'd got used to not buying any yarn. It annoyed me as well, that I'd bought wool at the start of January, so my year of not buying was oddly offset. I continued to not-buy-yarn until it became so long since I had bought something that the next thing I bought would be The First Yarn in Ages. It would have to be something worthy, something special, and nothing was quite that good enough, until today.

A single skein of Hebridean aran-weight undyed wool, slightly scratchy, but it will be warm, and comforting, and will be an accent in something, as yet unthought of. A souvenir, a special skein. Newly bought wool.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Crafting in August

Progress made on Pax Vobiscum and Concentric Oblongs.

Summit had a bit of a hitch. I got to the end of the first ball and discovered that my other ball wasn't the same. Where the first had all been fairly muted changes, the second had darker darks and lighter lights. After some thought, I realised there was nothing much I could do about, and got knitting.

Unfortunately, a dark stripe appeared at the boundary between the two balls: the repeat in the yarn colours was just the same frequency as each little segment. I carried on for a while, but this bugged me more and more, until I could stand it no more and ripped back to where the new ball started. So now I am doing something complex, involving restarting the knitting using yarn from partway into the ball, and knitting towards the end, and then hopefully being able to continue at the partway point. It's too complicated to explain in words, but I'm just hoping it works, or it will be frogpool time again.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Craft a bit further in July

Your wishes on my last post seems to have done it. I'm back crafting. Not a lot, enough to get over the "done nothing" hump.

I've done a bit of knitting on Summit, but not quite enough to finish the first ball.

I've done a bit of needlework on Pax Vobiscum, but lets face it, this one will take a very long time.

I've even done a bit of the handquilting on my leaf quilt.

School holidays in three days.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Craft mid way through July.

July stitches knitted: 0
July stitches sewed: 22

So far a fairly pathetic month in the craft front. No especial reason, except I've got out of the habit.

I'm about to go onto my second ball of yarn on the Summit shawl, and the variation is much greater then on the first ball. What do I do? Do I take lots of photographs and blog it in excrutiating detail, or do I just get on and knit?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Craft in June

Summit: nearly halfway, but the next ball of yarn has much more contrast between the different colours in it.

Concentric Oblongs: some, but not very much at all.

Words: many words carefully crafted together to form ideas that sound smooth and comfortable, but definitely do not stab like a stiletto into the heart of the enemy.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Hot peach slices

At a family restaurent on Milton Keynes a while ago, I had a delicious dessert of what might best be called "fried fruit".

Yesterday, looking at the rather ripe peaches we had, I wondered about re-creating it. "There must be a recipe on google" I thought, but google didn't really seem to help. The nearest was a recipe on a site which included "gingered chicken", but that recipe had no ginger in the list of ingredients, or in the cooking instructions. Maybe they meant "gingered chickened surprise" where the surprise was that there was no ginger.

However, as it was the best I could find, I had to use it.

1) Cut fresh peaches into slices.
2) Melt some butter in a frying pan. (I used about an ounce, which was too much).
3) Add peach slices.
4) After a minute, sprinkle with soft brown sugar. Then sprinkle on some more (or not).
5) When you think it must be done by now, serve with creme fraiche.

And that was it, and it was very, very nice.

Left in the pan is a delicious looking combination of brown sugar, butter and peach juice: it looks like the butterscotch sauce my aunt used to make for ice cream.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Craft in May

In May, I sewed on Pax Vobiscum, and I knitted on Summit. I didn't finish either - I'm not even halfway on either. On Pax Vobiscum, I'm still on the P.

And that is about it on the crafty front.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Pax for the politicians

The Whig interpretation of history is that events unfold from an uncivilised past to the glorious present, in a smooth and fairly steady form of progress. This is especially true of the history of science, in which there are clear heroes and villans.

As we know, things are not quite so smooth: sometimes progress is lumpy and full of dead-ends, sometimes things even regress. The hero can be wrong. The theory can be discredited.

It was interesting to watch political history unfold this week. We had a crisis in Britain, the kind which will be written about in the history books. In a hundred years time, this last week will be an event to be written about in student essays, discussed in history programs and the subject of many a university thesis. If the coalition works, this week might be presented in a Whiggish manner, as the obvious stage in the evolution of British Parliamentary democracy.

I really hope it works.

In that light I offer a glimpse of the back of my Pax Vobiscum - pax vobiscum means "peace with you".

back of an a

It shows the "a" and part of the "P".

FWIW, I did feel a bit sorry for Dr Brown, who, long before he became Prime Minister, was a lecturer in history. If his party had mananged a few more seats, then "Brown and Clegg" might have been the heroes of future history lessons. But I'm a lot more hopeful for the future with "Cameron and Clegg".

Monday, May 10, 2010

I'll get back to blogging when the election is over...


Fat lady to go to 10 Downing Street and sing

Immediate start

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Hello Blog

Hello blog, do you remember me? I used to post here, about knitting and sewing and stuff.

So what have I been doing? I've been knitting Summit, but mostly when watching television. I've been sewing Pax Vobiscum, but I'm still doing the "a".

A bird built it's nest in the bush right next to our porch window, turning the porch into an observation box. We think some of the eggs have been broken, but there might be one left.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Two Green Beginnings

The start of a green oblong and also the start of the fourth column:

My sister saw my knitting: she said the colours and the pattern reminded her of moss, not realising that Moss was the name of the yarn's colourway. It is Summit, photographed next to one of the little heathers we planted over the last few days.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Radio Silence

This week has been taken up by an unexpected, non-craft project, leaving precious little time to do any sewing or knitting, and nothing to blog about. The project will continue for some time, but I expect there will be more crafting time later.

My next oblong is dark green outside, with a pink inner rectangle.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Concentric Oblongs progress

The second column (or row in the photo) of oblongs is nearly finished.

When I realised how long each colour block takes - between one and two hours - I stopped spending as long sewing on it. Even two hours is not very long, but it is significantly longer then 30 minutes each, which was my first estimate. OTOH, my first estimate for the number of oblongs was forty, and there will be only thirty.


I still love seeing the colour combinitions that my dice throws up, and it is a good study in colour values. In real life, the two greens are quite contrasting, whereas the orange and yellow blend. Similarly, by pairing a specific colour with two different colours you get a different feeling of dominance. More pictures to follow!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Origins of a design

Fired with enthusiasm, I am designing a cross-stitch picture. Yes designing it - no kit, no chart, and only an image in my mind to follow.

It started with the colours, and a discussion on a forum of decorating schemes. Browsing blogs like Attic24 and moogsmum, there is an abundunce of crisp bright colours. Although we have those colours in my house, but they don't stand out, because they are tucked away among the wooden boxes and other neutral colour ornaments we have. So my plan is to pull them all together in one place and have a bright cheerful spot. Along with a cross-stitch picture in similar colours.

So on Thursday, I went to Threads and Patches' new shop in Fenny Stratford (much bigger then their old one) and had fun choosing the colours and the fabric. I came home with seven floss colours and some white Aida. (And some other stuff. And a desire to visit their car park with a camera.)
square of

Having chosen the colours, I needed the design. I thought I knew some of the design, so I sketched it out on squared paper and added some bits and rearranged bits and finally thought I had the arrangement right. Then I got out the Aida, and counted squares to find out how big it was going to be, and it was tiny. Because 14count Aida has 14 squares to the inch, and 5mm squared paper only has about 5 squares to the inch. Whoops.

That was Friday lunchtime.

So I thought about adding bits to the design but that would not be true to the layout I wanted. So I wengt back to my design inspiration, which was "modern quilt", and I googled and followed up the links - I'd already come across the modern quilt guild, but there were lots of others.

And one style of design stood out: the one that encapsulated my idea is in this link. The colours were wrong, but the shapes were right. So I came up with a few ideas for the blocks, and I measured them out on the Aida, and I nearly started to sew.
square of I wanted to randomise the layout, and came up with the idea of rolling dice to set some paramaters. But the first set of options were way too complicated, and it took thought to simplify them to fewer options.

And now it was 4pm and I hadn't done anything else all day, so I stopped to do some of that anything else.

On Saturday morning I was at last ready to sew. But maybe I ought to check I was on the right lines, and I tacked (With sewing cotton) a few lines to ensure the layout was right.
square of
But it wasn't. So I thought some more, and retacked the lines, and finally I was happy with the layout.

After lunch I made the first stitches, at last. But although I'd worked out I might even be able to do two blocks an hour, by the end of the afternoon, I had one block done, and I still hadn't been doing anything much else.
square of
On Sunday, I started sewing again, and I seemed to spend most of the day sewing, so I should have made lots of progress.

Ho hum. I calculated I had done 275 stitches in the entire day. I've since worked out that a row of 11 stitches in a single colour takes over five minutes, so of course it is taking me longer then I expected.
square of
But there is another reason - which I will reveal later, and I'm very pleased with at the moment.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Needlework not Knitting

My knitting mojo must be somewhere, but it certainly isn't anywhere near me. For the last two weeks or so, I've only knitted at the knitting group. I tried picking up my current project today, but 20 minutes later, it was put down again.

What I have been doing is lots of sewing. Or to be precise, embroidery. All from other people's designs, in the form of kits. And the problem with that - from a blogging POV - is that the photos are not the most scintillating of blog candy.

Just look at these photos:
All of last year
square of
28th January
square of
21st February
square of
24th February
square of
If it was four photos of knitting or quilting or dressmaking, I could display them differntly: draped or folded, neatly piled or strewn. But embroidary is basically flat, the size if the piece is the same (even if the area covered by stitches changes). Even changing the backgound doesn't actually make a great deal of difference to the photo.

I am enjoying it, and I'm enjoying the needlework blogs I've been exploring. But my photos are a bit dull.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Celtic Knot or Not

If one uses the dining room table for one's sewing machine, the machine has to be put away at frequent intervals. And then sometimes when it is put away, the machine stays put away for days... and weeks ... and months.

Which explains why nothing happened to my Celtic Knot (from Ferret's book) between about September (when I last posted about it) and a week ago. But the sewing machine stayed put away, and I got sidetracked with other things.

Then one of the kids needed the machine, so it got dragged out and crucially, not put away afterwards.

The following morning, the day before half term, it called to me, it's siren call keeping me from all the other possibilities. It was impossible to resist, especially knowing it was my last chance for over a week. I threaded the red thread into place, smoothed out my quilt sandwich and started to sew.

(I should make it clear that I am a novice at machine quilting, so what happened next is entirely my fault. And it was full of pins.)

I sewed a few inches of bias tape in place, and from the top it looked fine.
square of But because I was stopping and starting lots anyway, I used one of the stops to check the back. The back was not fine, the back had lots of skipped stitches.

square of

I cut the thread, and started again in a different place. Soon I checked the back again, and there were still lots of skipped threads. So I rethreaded the machine, and started for a third time - and there were still lots of skipped threads.

Normally, I would stop at this point and do something else.

But I thought back to last summer, and helping Ferret at the Festival of Quilts, an event I still haven't properly blogged.

People visiting the gallery tended to open the conversation with one of several 'standard' comments (although the ways it would diverge after a standard response were endlessly fascinating). One standard conversation started with the visitor saying "it looks so difficult, I don't think I could do that" (or something similar). My answer was a variation on "what Ferret says is that if you start with the bit you can do, your skills will increase and then you'll be able to do things you can't do now."

"Hmmm", I thought to myself, "if I was saying that, then I'd better actually put it into practise".

So I had a cup of coffee and a biscuit, and started again. This time, I just continued, all the way round the knot, slowly and carefully, making sure that what I could see looked fine. It took about 45 minutes to go all the way round, but finally it was done. And I took it out of the machine and looked at the back. And I realised what the problem had been, because there were areas where there was no skipping. The skipping problem happened in the areas with lots of pins! The last bits of sewing were problem free because I had been taking the pins out as I sewed.

I finished off by sewing the other side of the bias tape in place, and declared it done (for the moment). I am actually very pleased with the result: the bias tape does not show up much, because it was cut from the same material as the background, but that was the effect I wanted. square ofThe red stitching shows up well on the blue backing material (although not in the photos) and again that was the effect I wanted. It isn't good enough for a reversable wallhanging, but I am pleased with it as a practise piece.
square of
Oh yeah, what is it meant to be? It's the convection currents inside a star, and the blue is the night sky. I might use yellow instead of red for my next try, but it's sort of what I wanted.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Poor neglected blog

It may appear neglected, but my poor blog is not forgotten. The next post will have Photos, for the first time in ages (assuming I can get it all together).

Instead a link: to Freelance Fabrics, an independant fabric shop with a good range of fabric, including printed vinyl. There is free parking as well. I came across it, because 'our' orthodontist is in the same shopping mall: the owner said he got a lot of trade from them. We've been past several times but at long last got to actually go in and look round, rather then racing back to school.

There address is Freelance Fabrics, 4 Kidlington Centre, High Street, Kidlington, Oxfordshire, OX5 2DL. It's to the north of Oxford, not far from the A34.

Right now I need to finish making soup, and then go to knitting.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Getting nowhere

I sometimes feel like I seem to spend a long time making stuff, but never get anything done. It was with that sentiment I listed the projects I worked on in the sidebar.

The things I worked on in January were:

  1. Wristwarmers for me
  2. No 5 Crib (backstitch)
  3. Knucks for J
  4. Leaf quilt
  5. Loden jacket
  6. Knitted Christmas Tree
  7. Knitted holly leaf
  8. Elephant silhouettes
  9. TT Scissor Keep
  10. Limbo jumper
  11. Elphine Socks
Eleven different things! Only three of them were finished, and two of those - the Holly Leaf and the Christmas Tree - were afternoon projects and hence forgotten about almost as soon as they were made. Seven of them were started a while ago, where "a while" does not mean last year. The other one was started after Christmas, and is still ongoing, but it has had several iterations.

The finishes were good, but what would have happened if I had concentrated on one other thing, rather then doing bits of eight? Some of them are very big, but others are just little fast things. I like varying what I am doing, but should I concentrate on just a couple? Or should I make sure I work on these other things more frequently? Added complication, in that there are a number of different crafts in that list - knitting (stocking stitch and lace), crochet, needlework, sewing. Complex, simple, big, small, designed myself or pattern. Different things to suit different moods, but is it too much?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Last Week...

Last week was a week of restless crafting. Pick up project, do a few stitches, put down project, pick up other project, do a few stitches, put down project, repeat while more projects undone.

(Alas, no pictures today, sorry)

Between Monday morning and Wednesday teatime last week, I had done the following (in spite of spending a major amount of time out of the house each day):

1) stitched some of the elephant silhouette embroidery kit
2) Cast on right front of Kidsilk Haze jacket
3) added a few stitches to my travellers tales scissor keep
4) cast on the two sleeves for my Limbo jumper

Most of them had been languishing at the bottom of the projects heap for a minimum of two years, UFOs waiting to become WIPs again. Only the Loden jumper was at all current, and even that had it's Ravelry profile set to "hibernating".

But this wasn't some kind of impulse to get going on old projects. I had really wanted to start the following:

1) "Pax Vobiscum" cross stitch from Country Stitches, but I couldn't because I didn't have the right threads or background
2) Beret from a 1960s pattern, but none of my yarn was quite right
3) Something, anything new.

It was only the lack of supplies and time to buy something new that prevented me from starting a dozen new projects. The UFOs were sufficiently old that they seemed almost new.

However, without new supplies, I continued on with what I had. The elephant silouhettes has been worked on every day, and is nearly finished. The sleeves, aided by time at Knitting Group have grown well. The front of the scissor keep is finished. Only Loden has been ignored.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Beginnings of toolbox - or of clutter?

Just recently, the BBC and the British Museum have started a radio series called "A history of the world in 100 objects". Episode 3 was on last night, but all the ones broadcast so far are available as podcasts here.

They are each 15 minutes long, so ideal to listen to if you want a crafting break from whatever useful stuff you should be doing. The second episode talks about an "Olduvai stone chopping tool", described as the oldest human object in the British museum.

And then the presenter said:

Lots of animals use objects, particularly of course apes, but what sets us apart from them at this moment in our evolution is that, unlike them, we make tools before we need them. And once we have used them we keep them to use again. It's the beginning of the tool box.

"No" I thought, "it is the beginnings of clutter. Humans have been collecting tools since before we were humans."

And then I thought of the prehistoric person making tools in advance, like some of us wander round the various craft shows buying shiny new tools just because one day we might want to make our own bias tape, or do whatever else it is that the manufacturers of the gizmos think we might want to do. We might not live in the veldt of the African plains, but the similarities are there.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

From the Imperial War Museum Trip

I bought a postcard of a poster urging people to knit socks from the Imperial War Museum.

If you search their image library with the keywords "knit", the images are mainly of people knitting during breaks. The images found by a keyword "sew" shows people sewing as work.

I thought it was of interest.

PS Thank you for the comments on my last post - much appreciated.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Not ready

This morning I was not ready to open the curtains, and discover that the garden was green: but I did. It was still covered in white when I went to bed. Now there are a few tiny patches of snow, but most of the garden is just very, very wet.

Yesterday I was not ready to settle my remaining parent into a care home: but I did. It is clearly the right place, but I feel this is the kind of thing I should be doing in my 50s, not now. I felt a bit like I was letting my baby start at playgroup, with all the worries of whether they would look after them.

On the way home, I bought a magazine (not a craft one, a general woman's magazine) and a packet of ginger biscuits (it seemed more indulgant then chocolates) and did nothing useful all evening.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Data - retrieved

Remember this post?

My tech support guy (aka husband) has retrieved all the data, including one set of specific photos I really didn't want to loose. I am, as you can imagine, very pleased.

I need to reset access to the website where I keep my photos, so although blogging can continue, it will be without pictures for a while. I also need to convert a bunch of files from one format to another, but at least I have them.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Starving Birds

Like lots of the rest of England last week we had snow: 7 inches deep in the garden. This is a lot for our part of the UK, and it still covers the garden in a thick layer.

I came across a plea last week for people to put out food for the birds. With the ground covered or frozen, they can't get at their normal sources of food.

For the crafty among us, feeding birds does not have to be just a case of chucking out a few birdseeds: we can cook some bird cakes. These are definitely not "people cakes", but a mix of nuts (not salted), dried fruit, and biscuit crumbs held together by melted lard. There are lots of recipes on the web (and another one below).

We don't normally get many birds in our garden: there are too many local cats who cross through it, and anyway the countryside is over the fence. But in the last week there have been lots of birds: the crab apples which I felt guilty about leaving on the tree are all eaten now, and this means that probably there is very little food for them.

This morning, we had four pheasants come into our garden. We sometimes get one or two, but I have never seen more then that. But today, there were four.

As a craft-blogger, I know you will have fun making bird cakes. You may have the ingredients already - lard left over from making pastry for mince pies, the open pack of dried fruit that looked a bit too iffy for Christmas baking and maybe a pack of out-of-date walnuts. (Or is that just my cupboard?) Melt the lard and mix in the other ingredients. (I soaked the chopped apricot in boiling water for a few minutes first, because they were completely dried out.) Meanwhile prepare some yoghurt pots by making a hole in the bottom and threading string/wool through them: as I didn't have any yoghurt pots availble I lined a ramekin with greaseproof paper through which I'd threaded my string. Tip in the mix and leave to harden. When ready, tie to a tree.

Ideally, you will keep doing this til spring: the birds' reserves are spent, and they need to keep going until the breeding season. But even just a few times will help.

PS Please consider publicising this if you have a blog. Thank you.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

What not to do with coffee

My waking-up drink of choice is coffee. Few things are nicer then a cup of coffee drunk sitting up in bed while I slowly wake up.

Alas, a cup of coffee in the morning is not what my laptop likes. This morning's cup was not drunk, but dropped and spilled in equal parts between my laptop and the duvet.

The laptop is drying in the airing cupboard: DH is hopeful that the data might be retrivable...

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

It's a bit snowy...

square of

It might only be a few days into the new year. However I've already started four new bits of knitting since Christmas, finished two of them (admittedly they were tiny), and finished an 'old' project as well. Pictures to follow...