Sunday, December 31, 2006

So, farewell, 2006

We had a good Christmas but I think the children missed being at home as we drove to my mum's on Christmas morning for a couple of days after spending Christmas Eve with my sister and my dad and I feel we did a bit too much rushing around. So, after a busy Christmas period, we are settling down to a quiet new year. We have some friends coming over for lunch tomorrow (mostly to play trains with Edward and Paul!) but are staying in tonight as going out on New Year's Eve when you have young children is difficult as babysitters are thin on the ground!

I went to work last week and only managed a bit of knitting, mostly Wristers. Here are two pairs in Malabrigo, in the velvet grapes colourway, which is luscious:

Although I didn't get any knitting-related gifts, Margaret was destashing and thought of me (lucky me!), and I received this wonderful yarn in the post after Christmas: some skeins of long-discontinued Rowan Grainy Silk in a lovely dusky pink colour and some Fox Tweed in an oatmeal colour

Thank you so much, Margaret - I haven't decided what to make yet but have lots of plans going through my head.

And Kris had been kind enough to offer to get me some yarn from Knit Picks as she is in Hawaii for Christmas, and look what I chose: two skeins of laceweight for a scarf or wrap and some alpaca for scarves and the brown and chocolate yarn I plan to make a chevron scarf with - yum!

Before the rain set in this afternoon we took the children to the playground for some much- needed fresh air - I have been feeling a bit cooped up and decided it was high time to blow away those cobwebs. Here are Edward and Lily at the top of the spider's-web climbing frame:

Now, another year beckons and I have been thinking about resolutions. I have not finalised what I plan to do, but I have been very inspired by Lain's recent writings on the subject of simplifying, which was something I was moving towards before we had children. Now is always a good time to take stock and plan for the year ahead and that is exactly what I intend to do. I will keep you posted!

Have a great new year celebration everyone, and see you in 2007!

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Santa Special

Yesterday we headed off to the Watercress Line for the Santa Special. Edward loves trains (as does Paul!) so this was our Christmas steam train treat. As ever, the trains were fabulous beasts, with smells and sounds evocative of the past:

On the train, we were visited by a certain gentleman from Lapland:

who gave all the children a small present and reminded them to be asleep tonight so that he can visit! Ellen doesn't really believe in Father Christmas any more, but Edward and Lily still hover on the brink of believing in him and they really enjoyed seeing him.

The Watercress Line is in Hampshire and so I had some good knitting time in the car and managed to rustle up this hat (from Louisa Harding's book Hats, Scarves and Gloves) for my neighbour (I thought she would appreciate a new hat for dog-walking!) in the Lorna's Laces Shepherd Worsted I bought last week:

And when we got home I headed to the kitchen to make these apple tarts as we are headed off to my sister's today for a festive meal and the first round of gift-giving:

Happy Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

On the home run

Well, after reading it for most of my waking hours (and some of the ones I usually spend sleeping!) when I am not with the children or in the office, I finally finished the preliminary read-through on the book I am working on:

Now I need to wait for the authors to get back to me with the answers to my queries and for the editors' proofs to arrive...

So, in the meantime, I have been making some Christmas preparations. Paul bought the tree and the children had free rein to decorate it:

A lot of the decorations are ones they have made over the years, including the star at the top and the Hama bead decorations, which kept them busy last Christmas holidays! I even bought a wreath for the door:

Depressingly, it is so dark that my flash goes off even in the middle of the day! Still we are at the shortest day today and I feel so relieved - these dark mornings really get to me after a while. I have even squeezed in some knitting - and finished yet another alpaca scarf last night - 6 have already been given to their recipients (mostly the children's teachers, who all loved them!).

I have also been thinking about upcoming birthdays and planning ahead. It is Ellen's in January so I have been swatching, thinking about what to make with the lovely yarn Nic gave me:

I want to make a simple cardigan so might just go for it! Do you reckon I have time? And then Paul's birthday is in February and he has been asking for another sweater, and I saw Beau from Rowan Vintage Knits on Elli's blog and thought what a lovely pattern it is:

and found the yarn on ebay, so, in a fit of enthusiasm, am planning to knit it for Paul in this pretty colour, called Hero

As if all this wasn't enough, my copy of this arrived today:

and I am excited about planning a project in the Knit Picks yarn I just got from my Secret Pal! Victorian Lace Today wasn't the only exciting post I got today. This arrived from Alex. Do you remember the pincushion I made? Well, I entered her competition in the first issue of Proud to be Crafty and won! I got some lovely goodies: some Peace Fleece buttons, which are really pretty, with little stars on, and some stitch markers, a pen with a pen topper and a great stripey scrapbook. And, my copy of PtbC was in the package too! It has quite made my day!

Monday, December 18, 2006

Knit Picks!

Time is flying by and I am fast running out of it! I am now on page 299 of the book and plan to do some more tonight, so I am making progress, which is good. I shall be glad when the bulk of it is done and I am not stressing about it so much. Virtually no knitting has been going on here (or blogging, or writing Christmas cards for that matter) as I have been working late most nights in a bid to break the back of it. In the midst of the work frenzy, the children have been having more parties at school, requiring more fairy cakes:

The children all played the piano in a concert organised by their piano teacher on Saturday. They did fantastically well, especially when you consider that they have only been learning for a few months, and Paul and I were so proud of them. When leaving the house to get there I managed to forget my camera so no pix I'm afraid, but I did squeeze in a trip to Stash on the way there as I needed one more skein of alpaca for yet another scarf and also succumbed to these:

two skeins of Lorna's Laces worsted and one of Malabrigo, to knit hats, scarves and a baby bolero! How I thought I was going to get all my Christmas knitting done, I have no idea, but the scarves will be done and then the rest will be post-Christmas presents! Nic was in the shop and was fantastic with the kids, especially when Lily's wobbly tooth came out in the middle of my wool choosing! Nic valiantly found an envelope to keep it safe and the tooth fairy came that night!

And just look what my secret pal has sent me, in time for Christmas, when I hope I will have some time to knit:

A copy of Knit Simple, 3 cute M&M's men for the children (how incredibly thoughtful!), a box of grown-up chocolates for me (which I shall need to get me through the book) and some delectable Knit Picks laceweight. Look at how pretty it is:

It is quite interesting, as this is not a colour I would normally choose, but it is calling to me in a most peculiar way and I am itching to knit with it! My Secret Pal asked me if there was anything from the US I wanted and of course I said Knit Picks yarn, and it is lovely - soft and so pretty!
Thank you so much secret pal - I love it all!

Monday, December 11, 2006

Catching up...

Many apologies for the lack of blogging here. Apart from the inevitable piles of work, ironing, etc, I have been busy with other things too! Last Monday evening I went to a talk given by Debbie Bliss at Stash about her career to date:

It was very interesting hearing about her designs and her yarns. She brought along a huge selection of garments from her recent books and we all had great fun trying them on. Here's the chaos at the end of a fab evening:

On Wednesday we had a lovely Christmas party for the knitting group at Stash,

and Lesley made everyone these pretty flowers (here are mine, in my favourite colours!):

Michelle also organised a secret santa, which I have never done before, and just look at the amazing yarn I was given by the generous and talented Nic:

I still can't quite get over Nic's generosity (although she says it was under budget!), all beautifully dyed by her in these pretty colours of pinks and greens. Gorgeous! I feel incredibly lucky!

On Thursday it was Ellen's big production of The Snow Queen, which she has been working on at school for weeks:

They did an evening show and it was a late night for everyone, so we have had some tired children here!

This week, I have a heap of work to get through - a 400-page book which I need to get done before Christmas, not to mention other work too! Help!

Monday, December 04, 2006

The icing on the cake

It has been a bit hectic around here lately. I have been busy making cakes for the Year 1 cake sale at school (pink, naturally):

We managed to raise £230 for Edward and Lily's classes, which was fantastic, and the children will really benefit from the equipment the teachers will be able to buy! And we had four performances of the nativity play last week, where Edward was a star (back left):

I can hardly believe that this year will be the last year I have a nativity play to go to - they move on to different things next year as the nativity is reserved for Nursery, Reception and Year 1 children. It feels like the end of an era in their childhood. Edward and Lily did really well, and I felt very proud (and teary too!).

Work is still monopolising my time, but I have managed a bit of knitting - the wristers craze that has been going around the knitting group at Stash has hit me too. These are knitted to Fetching (I saw Michelle's and wanted some too!), from Knitty, and I am pleased with how they have turned out - they are cute!

And today a surprise came - my long-awaited scarf exchange parcel arrived - yippee! I knew it was on its way, and, as Lain said, it was worth waiting for. Inside the parcel, as well as this lovely velvety scarf:

were all these goodies, including some Knit Picks yarn! Lucky, lucky me! Lain very generously sent me some Knit Picks Shadow and some sock yarn, the latest Vogue Knit Simple and a cute notebook, some gum and a sweet washcloth. Thank you, Lain!

And now back to work ...