Monday, July 30, 2007

Gifts galore

We are now back from Paris, where we climbed the Eiffel Tower:

sat in cafes, savoured the sights, and enjoyed the city tremendously. It is a long time since I have been to Paris and it was such a treat to go back there, and to introduce the children to the city:

Notre Dame was a must (Disney's Hunchback of Notre Dame being uppermost in their minds!)

and our visit included climbing to the top of one of the towers and checking out the gargoyles:

I even managed to find this mosaic, which is a real landmark from previous trips:

We walked miles (as you do in Paris) and the children are worn out, but I think they will remember their first visit there and we all thoroughly enjoyed our few days away.

Just before we headed off to Paris I received my final parcel for Secret Pal 10. And what a fantastic package it was! Sabine had sent me the most amazing gifts. First, there was a wonderful assortment of sweets, skincare products and soap, and some lovely handmade stitch markers (not to mention a few water bombs for the children and some other treats which they have secreted in their rooms):

and a great new bookmark (hope it doesn't make Max jealous!)

Sabine had made this lovely heart lavender bag from Interweave Knits (which I have always liked but thought might be very fiddly, so haven't attempted myself!):

And then, the piece de resistance, the Melon stole from Victorian Lace Today. Here is Ellen modelling it:

And here it is in close-up:

and with the postcard of Knut Sabine sent:

Thank you so much Sabine! I absolutely love this wrap - I have loved this pattern since I bought the book and can't quite believe how much time and effort Sabine has put into my final parcel - I am thrilled with everything!

As if all that wasn't enough, Kris sent me this hank of lusciousness for my birthday too:

A skein of Handmaiden seasilk in just the right shade of purple! Thank you so much Kris!!

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Temptation away from knitting

Today's the day this came out:

I have picked up my copy from the local bookshop but cannot start it yet - I have a journal to edit first (groan!). But at least I have my hot little hands on my copy and it is sitting waiting for me to begin.

Wearing my Tour de France KAL green jersey has been a great inspiration to complete two big projects (Beau and Clementine) and I now have some more relaxing summer knitting ahead. I want to get on with some baby knitting for Brigid's appeal too and plan to pick up Seville and the Montego Bay scarf over the next few days (if I can resist the lure of HP7). Over the summer I have also been asked to make some things for a craft stall at the school Christmas fair too, so want to think about what I am going to do - Elizabeth Zimmerman's Christmas fiddle-faddle from Knitter's Almanac appeals...

Friday, July 20, 2007

Rowan Exchange

In a nicely symmetrical bit of timing today, I received a fabulous parcel from Louise, who has been knitting for me in this year's Rowan Exchange. I can't believe how much time and effort she has put into the parcel - it is fabulous. First, I am now the proud possessor of a Diamond Fantasy shawl, knitted in a lovely silk/cashmere mix:

And as if that was not enough, Louise also made the Forest Canopy shawl:

And she included hand cream and chocolate - I am so spoiled!

Thank you so much Louise - I love everything and really appreciate the huge amount of time you have put into the exchange for me. I shall wear them with pride!

Because the weather was unbelievable today - torrential downpours, thunder and lightning for hours - I spent a lot of the day knitting as I turned off the computer just in case, with so much electrical activity outside! I finally finished the Clementine shawlette, and am delighted with how this turned out. The yarn (from Posh Yarn) has knitted up beautifully, with a lovely evenness of colours. Here is Lily modelling it for me in a brief moment of sunshine this afternoon:

And here is an arty shot on the wall:

and another of Lily:

I would knit this again - it really has turned out well and I think it will be a useful addition to my Rowan Exchangee's wardrobe. I hope she likes it!

I heard from James today and Beau fits and he loves it, so I am thrilled. He said it was the only bespoke gift he received and that the last jumper anyone knitted for him was a purple mohair one knitted by his granny in the 1970s! I am so delighted it fits and that he likes it! What a relief!

My yarn for the baby jumper has not yet arrived so that is on hold but I am planning my knitting to take to Paris and am going to take an old project (remember this?)

and a new one. I am planning on taking the Montego Bay scarf to knit. I see Kris has started hers - and it is looking great! And have you seen her gorgeous Vista Mare socks - I hope she does put the pattern up - they are simply beautiful!

Friday, July 13, 2007

Allez, allez, allez!

End-of-term events have taken over the past couple of weeks and the girls gave a lovely ballet show. Lily looked adorable, as always (not that I'm biased or anything!), concentrating hard on her steps:

Ellen was elegance itself (I just love those character skirts - they are so pretty!):

The weather has been dodgy, to say the least, resulting in Ellen's sports day being a movable feast. It was finally held yesterday and, despite the ominous black clouds, it didn't actually rain. Ellen competed in the high jump and the 4 x 400m relay, and she did really well, coming second in the high jump (those long legs help), and her team won the relay, which was great.

The one good thing about the dire weather is that there are quite a few of these around:

And there has been a lot of knitting! In between attending all these events and working and the usual daily routine I have been frantically knitting, pressing and sewing up, and finally, this morning at one o'clock, we had Beau:

I found some great buttons, which suit the style well:

I am so pleased I managed to do it in time! Paul has gone off to work with it and is then going to James' birthday party this evening. I am taking the children to another event at school tonight so won't be seeing James, but I really hope he likes it and that it fits! I am very relieved to move on to some other knitting now, as I was a bit fed up with the seemingly endless green tweediness of it, and now plan to carry on with my speed knitting to finish Clementine. I am running late with this (I was supposed to finish knitting it yesterday) so need to get cracking. My aim is to get it in the post before we go to Paris. What do you reckon? I'd better limber up and get going! I also want to finish a baby project by the end of term (Wednesday), but have just had to order some more yarn as I am about to run out - will it arrive in time? Oh, the suspense!

Saturday, July 07, 2007

A vos marques, pret, partez...

I am successfully signed up for the Tour de France KAL and will be wearing a green jersey - the sprinter. I am quite excited about this extra incentive to finish Beau, as I need all the help and encouragement I can get at this stage. The prologue starts in less than an hour! It is great that London is hosting a stage of the Tour this year - and we shall be in Paris for the finish too!

I am off to warm up...

Friday, July 06, 2007

A small achievement

Having had serious doubts about whether to go into town today, I decided to brave it and it was surprisingly OK. It helps that the country's terror alert level has been downgraded to severe (although that sounds bad enough) but because I enjoy going into the office I was working at today I am pleased that I managed it. The journey in was worse than coming home as I was stressed about getting in on time and was running late because Edward fell over badly on the way to school and needed a bit of first aid, but coming home was much better. Although it is a small achievement, I feel proud of myself, even though I know most people do it every day!

I made some progress on Beau on the way there and back and I am hoping to join the Tour de France KAL with Beau as my project, wearing a green jersey (sprinter). Time is running out! This week I have a lot of commitments workwise and otherwise, but I am still optimistic I will finish on time! As we are in London for the start of the Tour and coincidentally will be in Paris for the end, I am hoping I can join the KAL!

I don't want to photograph Beau in progress yet again, so here's a gratuitous shot of Max sitting in a bag (in typical catty fashion):

(please excuse the laundry in the background!).

Have a good weekend.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

A round-up of the past week

My final Secret Pal 10 parcel arrived safely with Melanie so I can now reveal my secret knitting - the Retro Redux Shrug from Lace Style (kindly given to me by my lovely upstream secret pal, Sabine - there is a nice symmetry there). Here is Ellen modelling it before it went off to Canada:

On the current knitting front I am stranded on the sleeve island of Beau, but am nearly finished (hope to finish them tonight) and then it is on to the front. Time is critical here, though - it is James' birthday on Friday 13th - will I make it?! And I am making slow progress with Clementine - which has the same deadline!

I am trying hard not to get distracted with other projects and have been pretty faithful to these two for the time being as I really want to get them finished on time.

On a more sober note, I am a bit freaked out by the recent terrorist activity in the UK, having had a close shave with the Docklands IRA bomb in 1996. This is what was left of my office (I was inside the building at the time of the explosion and escaped just with cuts caused by flying glass, which, looking at the building, I find incredible):

Today, I hear there was a controlled explosion at Hammersmith (where I work two days a week) and on Friday I am heading into town to work, which I am anxious about to say the least. I know that people commute into town every day but I am still worried about it, and am not a believer in the saying that lightning doesn't strike twice. While I appreciate that things here are not nearly as bad as elsewhere in the world, the threat of the unexpected strike frightens me.

On a less gloomy note, I managed a trip to John Lewis in Kingston this week and checked out the yarn sale. I couldn't resist the Debbie Bliss Cathay - hugely reduced, and such lovely colours:

And in between the showers, we had sports day at school. Lily did really well, coming third in the sprint race (red sticker) and second in the distance (blue sticker) - I am so proud of her!