Friday, September 29, 2006

Zigzag progress

I heard this week that I have not got the job I was interviewed for a couple of weeks ago and while I am disappointed not to be offered it, I am also slightly relieved as I was anxious about whether the children are still too young for me to go back to work full time. A large part of me still wants to be with them most of the time they are out of school and indeed even when they are older I want to be there for them, so I am going to try to do a bit more freelance work and stick to what I am doing at the moment.

While all this job stuff has been going on, I have in fact been doing a lot more freelance work anyway, so I have probably been working about three days a week (although in bits!) and still doing most of the 'mum' stuff (packed lunches, after-school stuff, playdates and so on). The children still need a lot of input with their reading and homework, so I feel it is important to be with them and to give them the support they need. Working about three days in total is proving a good compromise, but I have also been very forgetful about day-to-day things with everything that has been going on, so feel that maybe full-time work would just send me over the edge!

I managed to finish my present for my friend's 40th birthday, only a few days late, and she was very pleased with it:

I like the changing colours of the hand-dyed silk yarn, and it knitted up as a beautifully soft fabric:

I was so tired yesterday that I thought I would treat myself to a morning at Stash, and cycled over there and had a lovely time just knitting and chatting with Nathalie and Michelle. It was great just to get away from the house for a couple of hours and do a bit of therapeutic knitting. I managed not to buy anything, although that is probably only because the Lorna's Laces yarn expected this week has not yet arrived!

I am making progress with my International Scarf Exchange gift and the yarn Nic dyed for me is knitting up beautifully (and I love the way everything looks against the new sofa!):

Here it is in close-up - the colours are knitting up to give a beautiful variegated fabric, and I love this chevron pattern too:

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Chocolate and turquoise

I managed to persuade my husband to take the children swimming today so that I could pop into Stash yarns to collect my yarn from Nic, who was working there today. This is for the scarf exchange and I wanted to make something special. Just look what Nic came up with:

And here it is in close-up

Isn't it gorgeous! My scarf recipient loves jewel blues, but has a tan coat, so Nic has come up with this stunning colour combination which should meet both requirements. The yarn is cashmere, so should make a gorgeous scarf! I can't wait to get started on it but must finish the other scarf I am knitting first!

Friday, September 22, 2006

Richard Of York Gained Battle In Vain

It has been raining all day, but it was worth it for this:

I was trying to teach the children the saying Richard of York Gained Battle in Vain, which describes the order of the colours in the rainbow (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet) but I need to make up a more meaningful mnemonic. Still, rainbows over south-west London are pretty special!

Some progress on the silk scarf, but it is not finished yet. I want to get on with it tonight because I am going to pick up the yarn Nic dyed for me tomorrow - check it out on her blog! Gorgeous!

Thursday, September 21, 2006

No news is ... no news

A week on from the interview last Thursday and I haven't yet heard. I know that someone who was involved in the decision was away this week, so either that accounts for the delay or the job has gone to someone else. We'll see. The night after the interview I had lots of anxiety dreams about working full time, and I am unsure as to whether it is the best move for the family. Although full-time work has been preoccupying me I have also been offered more work where I freelance and have been working two and a half days a week there and also doing a few other bits and pieces. So, work seems to have rather taken over the past couple of weeks.

Despite the work increase, I have managed a bit of knitting. My friend Natalie who I knitted the baby hooded jacket for was induced because of cholestasis on Tuesday and I managed to rustle up this baby bolero just in time for baby Jack's arrival:

Mother and baby are home now and doing fine and Natalie was really pleased with her knitted gifts!

Last Saturday Edward had a party to go to and so the poncho factory worked hard to produce this little variation on the theme, this time knitted in Rowan Big Wool with a Colinette fringe:

And I have started this, which is for a friend's 40th birthday (tomorrow - gulp!) which I am planning to work on tonight, although, realistically, I don't think I am going to get it done in time (although I have got a couple of videos out of the library to knit to!). It is the pattern for the scarf in the Debbie Bliss silk book, slightly adapted so that it is wider and knitted in the handspun silk I bought on holiday in Scarborough.

In between family commitments and work I have really missed going to the knitting group at Stash, and hope that I will be able to get there soon. I was suffering from withdrawal symptoms so managed a brief trip there on Saturday with Ellen after her swimming lesson, and was delighted to see Nic, Jill, Michelle and Nathalie. Nic is dyeing some yarn for me, which I am very excited about, and I am really looking forward to seeing it and starting my planned project for the International Scarf Exchange.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Lace swap parcel!

Today I got the most fantastic surprise when this arrived:

Yes, it was my Lace Swap parcel! And just look at all the knitterly goodies that were inside!

Brooke had put so much thought into this package that I feel very spoiled and lucky! In a lovely card explaining the package, she told me all about the contents of my special parcel! She sent me some gorgeous Cherry Tree Hill yarn (below, on the right) in beautiful colours and the pattern for the Possum Lace shawl to go with it. And she also sent some lovely Shetland yarn with some more patterns from Interweave Knits, which are just lovely.

But her thoughtfulness did not end there - she also sent some cute notions in a purple box (my favourite colour!), including everything a lace knitter might need, such as markers for the pattern, bead markers for your lace knitting, a row counter and needles and blocking pins. She also sent some candies (and said the tins make great notions holders when they are empty!) and the most delicious chocolate-covered fruit by Dilettante - I took these to the office today as it was press day and we always get a bit stressed out, and we all agreed how amazingly delicious they were - thank you so much Brooke!

I have been working long days the past couple of days and have my interview tomorrow so we'll see how it goes! I am looking forward to it being over and to finding out more about the job as I don't know whether it will be possible in terms of childcare. I'll be glad to have a better idea about things tomorrow.

Monday, September 11, 2006

It wore red velvet

Well, the children have been back at school since Wednesday and, despite working on Wednesday and Friday, I have made some progress:

Of course, I have now more washing drying on the line, but I am up to date with the ironing mountain - a rare occurrence! On Friday, the new sofa arrived to go in the newly painted sitting room, and it is lovely - extremely comfortable and even a touch glamorous! I have always wanted a red velvet sofa and now we have one!

And I have finally finished the Debbie Bliss striped baby hoodie, knitted in baby cashmerino, just in time for my friend's baby (due in 10 days' time). I plan to make a bolero to go with it, as this is aged 6 months and I want something suitable for a newborn too, and managed to do most of the knitting for that over the weekend, and just have the edging and sewing up to do. Here's the hoodie - it looks lovely on the velvet:

And I got the party poncho done in time, and Lily gave it to her friend yesterday:

I knitted this one in Rowan's Ribbon Twist, bought half-price in the John Lewis sale over the summer, and I used 3 balls for this. Again this is the pattern Rosie from Rowan.

This week is a busy week - I am working three days and also have an interview for a full-time job, which is a bit scary. I was in the hairdresser's on Saturday getting a much-needed pre-interview haircut, when I read in Red magazine that women trying to return to work full-time after having children are 37% less likely to get the job than other candidates. This is a bit of a depressing statistic but I'm going to give it a go anyway!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Getting back to the routine

The children go back to school on Wednesday and so we are gearing up for that. I feel very relieved that I bought school shoes and new uniform and sewed in all the labels at the beginning of the holidays and am not rushing around doing it now! I left it until the last minute last year and regretted it as the shoe shops were a mad frenzy of parents trying to kit out their children for the start of the new term!

Edward and Lily had their first group swimming lesson today, which went well, so that is now part of our Monday routine. Because I have been painting and doing other household chores, my ironing pile has built up rather, so I plan to blitz it tomorrow and when the children are back at school to clear the decks a bit. Here it is in all its glory (groan!):

But last night I decided the ironing could wait and found time for a bit of knitting and finished this quick little baby bolero from Leigh Radford's One Skein, which I will give to Edward and Lily's old nursery teacher, as she goes off on maternity leave at the end of this week. She thinks she is having a girl, so I knitted it in this lovely colour called Orchid in Blue Sky Alpacas' beautiful organic cotton yarn:

I am also planning to cast on for another poncho as a birthday present for one of Lily's friends - she is going to her party on Sunday, so it is doable. And I also want to knit something for my mum's 70th birthday next month, so need to get going on that. I am so tempted to cast on for something else new, but want to do these two projects and complete some things on the needles before I do. That tiger sock yarn from Kellie is calling me, though, and I am having a hard time resisting! Help!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

The end of a packed week

This past week has been incredibly busy. I managed to finish my work and meet the deadline last week, as well as applying for two jobs, and then finished Kris' green scarf, which has now arrived - and she is thrilled - phew! Hi Kris! I'm so pleased that you liked your last package - check it out on Kris' blog! Because Kris has 21-month-old twin boys, I know how difficult it is to find time to do anything when the children are at that age, so I wanted to make her Secret Pal experience special and really spoil her a bit! I have decided to sign up for the next Secret Pal as I have enjoyed spoiling Kris so much!

On Friday evening it was my book club and I managed to finish A Tale of Two Cities in time and it was also my turn to make pudding. I was going to make a lemon cake but was so mathematically challenged by the recipe (not only did I have to convert grammes into ounces as my scales have not moved with the times, I had to convert 125g of condensed milk into an equivalent in millilitres). In the end I gave up on the lemons and made this, a yummy plum tart, and went off-piste with the recipe a bit, using crushed amaretti biscuits as a base, which goes with the delicious almond pastry!

We had a great discussion about the book and all agreed that it had been a fantastic read. I particularly liked the way the ending was so satisfying. The last sentence was as good as the first: every character's fate was explained, all loose ends were tied up and throughout it all there was frequent mention of knitting as Madame Defarge's sinister knitted register progressed. She looks to be knitting on DPNs here:

Dickens also describes women knitting to appease their terrible hunger - that the occupation of the hands somehow soothed the pain of famine. The book certainly gave a new perspective on knitting!

And this weekend was spent decorating the sitting room. For the past year, the room has looked like this, with this rather unseemly join between new and old:

I started painting it and only had time to do one wall. We had set this weekend as the target for finishing the painting after months of not getting round to it, as we have a new sofa arriving on Friday and gave our old sofa (complete with hole in the arm) to a friend who has just bought her first house last weekend. So with less furniture in the room it seemed a good time to get on with the job! I was also really tired of that yellow you can see in the photo and this green in the fireplace:

I started painting yesterday while Paul took the children out and was up at 5.30 this morning carrying on, and now the room is done and looks like this:

with a contrasting wall and matching fireplace in this colour, called Gold ochre.

I am so pleased! I feel it is a major achievement, finishing off this job which has been hanging over me for so long! I am really tired but delighted with the end result. I am looking forward to an evening knitting on the sofa as a reward for all the hard work!