Friday, June 30, 2006

Technical problems

Well, I have been bogged down in technical problems - both phone and broadband - and seem to have ended up in the no man's land between two companies and still unable to log on via broadband. Ironically, my broadband stopped working after my phone was finally fixed after a week, although of course it is nothing to do with the phone compnay...
So, have now got set up to blog on dial-up because I know I haven't posted in a while.
On the knitting front I haven't made much progress as I seem to have been spending all my time acting as IT manager for our home (and for my freelance work) so here is a picture of how I feel and how I wish I could spend today:




But, instead I am embroiled in domestic chores - getting the fence mended, having a piano delivered, selling a bed, selling a chair to accommodate the piano...the list is endless. I would far rather be hanging out with Michelle and Nathalie at Stash Yarns, but today the house beckons and I need to get organised. There will be knitting soon...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A feast of colour

Yesterday, after going to knit at Stash Yarns in the morning, and going to work in the afternoon, I went to the exhibition the children's school was holding for all the work that was done during Arts Week. Well, wow! The sheer volume and intensity of the work on show was fabulous: it is incredible that all this was produced in one week. Right across one wall of the exhibition space were these paintings:


and in the middle of the space were puppets, and here is just one of them (I love the blurb),

sculptures,


these two fabulous canvases done by Year 2 (first, Ellen's class, who did India)


and then the other Year 2 class, who did We Love London:

And then there was the knitting, which I did with Year 3, the worms groovily displayed dangling from a coat-hanger tree:


There was so much else besides. Portraits in CD cases, a video running of the whole week, an animal alphabet, 'teachers' for the campaign My Friend Needs a Teacher, a collage of the Peter Pan story by Reception, and so much more. It is an incredible body of work, and to have it displayed gave the children a fantastic sense of pride and achievement - an amazing event!

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

A sense of relief

Not much knitting done today, largely because I was doing a blitz on Edward and Lily's room. It was a bit humid for intense cleaning, but I decided enough was enough and got on with the daunting task! Here's what it was like before (it's grim...telling 5-year-olds to tidy their room is not working!):



and here it is after:
Phew, that's better! I feel a lot better for sorting everything out - now I just need to tackle a few other areas of the house (which are not quite so bad, but still need sorting out)! Because one tidy room is all I have for show and tell today, here are some paintings the children did.

Lily's flower:

Ellen's girl, who is being watched by

an alien

with a rabbit for company!

Monday, June 19, 2006

Grey

Well, last week went by in a blur of greyness. I spent the week feeling overwhelmed - by the constant housework, the endless cooking, the crazy untidiness of the children's bedrooms that no amount of tidying seems to counteract, and the mountain of ironing that never seems to shrink. In fact, all week, I have felt like this:

This week, I hope things will improve. I need to blitz a couple of rooms and then I should feel a bit better.

At the weekend, Lily and Edward both achieved a major milestone and graduated to riding their bikes without stabilisers. I am so pleased with them - it will be easier to take them out cycling and trips further afield now beckon, which is fantastic! Here is Lily, looking pleased with herself and Edward was so busy racing down the pavement that I couldn't catch him in a photo.

It has been very hard getting both of them to this stage as taking two of them out on their bikes (plus Ellen!) was complicated and it is only recently that I have felt able to do this easily. I took the stabilisers off Edward's bike on Saturday and he got the hang of it and then Lily decided she wanted the stabilisers off her bike too. So, I took them off, lowered her saddle, and she was off! I am thrilled that they have got the balance to ride their bikes properly now and now we just need to practise before going on longer rides!

On the knitting front, I have made some progress on the Seville jacket and knitted some stripes of the baby top, although the bamboo wrap is proving more of a challenge. I did two tension squares over the weekend and now need to do a third - I am having real problems getting the tension right on this. Has anyone else had problems with this yarn (South-west bamboo)?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A parcel from Australia!

Well, something very exciting arrived today:


My first parcel from my Secret Pal, who turns out to be in Australia. Wow! Inside were some wonderful goodies:



The legendary Tim Tams, which I have heard about and even read about on Jane's blog, a lovely card and two cute baby tigers to go with the mummy tiger Ellen gave me on Mother's Day. Here they are with the mum:

How sweet! The white tiger is particularly cute! Thank you Secret Pal - such thoughtfully chosen gifts. I am looking forward to a Tim Tam with a coffee later! It is very exciting to have a Secret Pal on the other side of the world - it makes the exchange so interesting!

I'd thought I'd fill you all in on my startitis. First, a friend who is expecting a baby thinks she is having a boy, so I thought I would knit this:

and here is the start of it (with Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino purchased in Stash on Saturday)

I have knitted this hooded top a couple of times before and it really is lovely when made up. The yarn is also great to knit with and it is so soft for the baby to wear.

Michelle and Nathalie also had this pattern on display and it only requires two balls of the bamboo yarn, so I plan to knit this too, in this purple colourway:

And, just so that it doesn't feel neglected, here is my rather slow progress on the Seville jacket:


It seems to be knitting up very slowly - I don't really know why, as the yarn is lovely to knit with. I am also a bit worried that I won't have enough yarn so I need to get cracking while there is still some in that dye lot in stock at Stash! I have also finished my mystery stripes and have another secret project on the go, which I cannot show here, so I am knitting away, despite the heat! It rained here in London last night, which was a bit of a relief, as the nights are so stifling, but the day is hotting up now and it looks like summer is here to stay! (Although the water situation is worrying, and Thames Water has applied for a drought order, which will affect us in London and some Home Counties. Let's hope it doesn't come to stand pipes, which there has been talk of. How will I do my washing?!)



Sunday, June 11, 2006

Startitis and wildlife

Well, I seem to have been struck by startitis. Other than the alpaca bolero, which is progressing slowly as we swelter in the humidity here in London, I have bought the yarn to make a Debbie Bliss baby jacket and another project in Vogue Knitting. I am progressing well with the mystery knitting and am on the making up, but still have something else to do before I can send it to my Secret Pal. Sorry about all the systery, but I mustn't give too much away. I am also thinking about other projects but the heat is beginning to get to me a bit and I need a bit more breeze to knit for long! It is 29 degrees here today and the air is very still!

Over the weekend I took the children to see the frogs in a friend's pond:


and although the children wanted to catch one, the frogs were having none of it and stayed out of reach:

On Saturday we went to see my sister's cat's kittens and they were easier to catch:


Aren't they cute?

We were very tempted but they both have homes already, although my sister is thinking of letting her cat have another litter. From past experience I know that kittens and knitting are not very compatible, but how the kids would love it!

Friday, June 09, 2006

Lara

Well, Lara is finished, and I am pleased with her. Here she is on the hanger:

And here she is on me:


She was a fast, easy knit and the yarn was lovely to work with, gliding smoothly over the needles as I knitted. I made the sleeves a bit longer than specified and might still add an edging round the bottom, although I will probably leave her as she is. It is, of course, far too hot to wear her now, so I shall lend her to Michelle and Nathalie to display in Stash Yarns! I did dig out a lovely brooch to anchor the fronts together, though:

I bought this in Moscow in 1991 and love the detailed painting and the sheen of the mother of pearl. It seems a long time ago that we were able to go on trips like the one Paul and I did at Christmas in 1991 - we took the train to Moscow, catching the ferry from Harwich and then boarding the train at Hoek of Holland and arriving in Moscow two days later. I took Dr Zhivago to read on the train and dreamed of Omar Sharif and Julie Christie in the snow... How appropriate that Lara the jacket now wears a brooch that could have been worn by Lara Antipova.

And, because they are looking so glorious, here is one of the roses blooming for the second time this year at the front of the house:

Monday, June 05, 2006

Stash enhancement

Today my Putney knitting group had a special preview of Stash Yarns, the new store that opens tomorrow on the Upper Richmond Road in Putney. Wow!
Here are Linda, Mary and Lesley, fondling the yarn (doesn't the store look great?)



and here's Jill, hanging out by the Colinette and Brown Sheep, browsing through some pattern books


And, yes, I succumbed. I absolutely could not resist (as Clarice Bean would say) this gorgeous, utterly divine, delectable, mouthwatering hank of Handmaiden silk:


And nor could I resist some Koigu (and how lovely it was to see this in the flesh where the colours come to life and you know exactly what you are getting - always much harder on the internet):


And then, somehow, this gorgeous alpaca slipped into my bag too


to knit this (on Jill's recommendation!):

And a few other patterns and gadgets, including a Kacha-kacha counter


I feel slightly alarmed at the prospect of visiting every week as we will now be knitting in the shop instead of in the cafe we have been using. But, the store has a fantastic selection of yarn and will be a great place to hang out too. Michelle and Nathalie have done a great job - if you are in London, check it out!

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Holiday knitting

While in Dorset I managed quite a lot of knitting. Other than my mystery stripes, which are coming on well, I finished Birch, and as most people photograph the shawl against vegetation, here it is:



and in close-up:

I also started and have nearly finished Lara. The Debbie Bliss alpaca silk is lovely to knit with although it has a tendency to do this:

seemingly unravelling at random. I think it is because the yarn is so slippery, which is why it is great to knit with, but it tends to unravel in chunks! Here is Lara so far - I just have part of the second sleeve and the making up to do. I have absolutely no idea whether it is going to fit, though, as it is all knitted in one piece and checking size is rather difficult. At the moment it looks like this:

I might try something in the DK weight alpaca silk too, although I don't know how well the fabric will wear as the yarn is so soft.

It is back to reality and back to school tomorrow, although I am very excited about going to Stash Yarns next week! The shop opens on the 6th and we are knitting there on the 7th! And, even more exciting, I am going to a special preview tomorrow! How lucky is that?!

But until then, here is a photo of my three and a friend in Lyme Regis - it is good to pretend to be a mermaid sometimes...

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Five go mad in Dorset

Well, we had a glorious week in Dorset. Apparently the weather in London was fairly indifferent, but we had proper English summer weather and managed lots of trips out. Here is Burton Bradstock beach, a fabulous place with a great beach cafe, the Hive


While at the beach we did the obligatory burials:


We went to Abbotsbury, to the swannery, where we had timed it just right and all the swans were nesting and there were cygnets everywhere:

The colony of mute swans have been nesting at Abbotsbury for more than 600 years and they build their nests all over the paths, where you just walk round them - incredible:

Abbotsbury also has some beautiful sub-tropical gardens, which we enjoyed walking around:


Dorset is such a beautiful county that we always find something new to do each time we go. This time, we visited Maiden Castle, Britain's largest iron age hill fort, which is an amazing structure:


We had great fun walking up and down all the hills and all the children were interested in all the ramparts and ditches.