Sunday, January 11, 2009

The weather outside is frightful...

This past week, it has been freezing, even here in London where we are insulated from the worst excesses of the weather. The children went back to school on Monday and when we woke up there was snow on the ground. Reluctance to get out of bed turned to excitement and we had an enjoyable if slippery walk to school. My walk to the station was picturesque:



It really was a winter wonderland:



I have managed a bit of knitting on the train, although the world of work has returned to its usual cycle and things are busy on the trains again, so despite the fares rising 8 per cent, a seat is far from a certainty. I have started a hat for a friend (a belated birthday present) - another Periwinkle beret



I am pleased with how this is coming out, but am also very tempted to knit a slouch beret - there are so many lovely patterns around. I like Porom and Relm from Brooklyn Tweed and I also like Ysolda's Icing Swirl pattern.

In the meantime, I have started some chevrons of my own:



Yesterday, my wonderful local newsagent had a copy of this, a new magazine from Future Publishing. I bought a copy, and I was pleasantly surprised. There are some interesting patterns and it is a move away from the run-of-the-mill knitting magazines that can be so uninteresting. This magazine is also printed on fabulously glossy paper, and feels very different from its competitors. I would say it is aiming more at the Vogue Knitting, Interweave and Rowan magazine market:



It is good to see some new activity in the magazine market, despite the constant economic gloom that seems to permeate every aspect of the media. Good news seems thin on the ground, so I was pleased that Future have chosen to invest in a new publication. It certainly brightened my day!

This weekend, in the spirit of my new decluttering, I had a major assault on Edward and Lily's room and feel so much better now that we have cleared out some things. Lily was very good about going through her things and I feel that the toys they have they will now be able to access more easily. Edward too was able to decide that there were toys he no longer needed, and so we managed to give a load to a local charity shop. I felt worn out afterwards, but very pleased with the end result. There is a lot more I want to achieve. I figure that if moving is not an option then we can make the house feel bigger by sorting out everything in it!

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Christmas goodies

Although most of my family doesn't take my knitting obsession seriously, I did get a couple of knitting-related presents for Christmas.

I was lucky enough to get a set of these gorgeous Knitpicks gold-plated knitting needles, which come in a lovely box and even have the sizes marked on them - hooray! I love my Knitpicks needles but have found not knowing what size they are without measuring them very frustrating - it is great that these are marked (and in case you are wondering - there is something on the 3.50mm needles already!):



And Sabine knitted me a gorgeous scarf. I love chevrons and she knows it:



It is knitted using Alice Starmore yarn - I feel very spoiled! She also gave me a couple of balls of Kaffe Fassett Regia sock yarn - gorgeous!



Now that my Christmas knitting frenzy is over, I am going to try to finish some things off and get ahead on some baby knitting. Several friends are expecting babies and so I wanted to be prepared. I have started this lovely vest in the Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino book 3:



and am planning another couple of baby garments, possibly even a blanket.

I also want to knit this for myself:



Charm, from the new Kim Hargreaves book, Amber. I managed to pick up enough Rowan Felted Tweed that had been reduced to half price in the Liberty sale just after Christmas, so am looking forward to casting on. My priority is to finish some things off first, tempted though I am to cast on for another new project...

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Twas the knit before Christmas...

...and all through the house, not a creature was stirring (except for Ingrid, who still had some last-minute knitting to finish off).

I know it is ages (half a year!) since I blogged, but I am still here, still knitting. The job I started at the end of February is taking up a great deal of time and the little time I have left over is given to the children. Knitting has to fit in to the small windows of opportunity I have - on the train on the way to and from work (when I can get a seat) and in the evenings when the chores are done.

This year has been quite eventful - other than my going back to work full time after a 10-year break (very scary, but definitely the right decision, particularly given the current economic woes), I have been in hospital twice (all fine now!), and we have tried (and failed) to move house. After giving up on moving for the moment, we have tried to content ourselves with moving things around a bit at home and now have the computer in the dining room, which makes life a lot easier. We are also planning for us all to move bedrooms, but we need to get some minor work done first.

I am optimistic that I will be able to get back to blogging now that the family has settled into a new routine around my job and the computer is easily accessible. We have also upgraded the computer so we now have one that works properly - our old computer was so creaky that everything was difficult on it!

Despite the demands of work, I still decided (at the last minute!) to knit the usual scarves for the teachers this year and made three of these:



Yes, it is the Misti alpaca ribs and ruffles scarf, an excellent free pattern.

One of the children's teachers this year already had one of these from me (from a previous year) so I decided to make her some fingerless mitts and used the Fetching pattern again, this time in Jamie possum, which I bought in iknit. I was really pleased with these - they were lovely and soft and the colours came out beautifully evenly:



I knitted another pair of mitts, this time from the Martin Storey's book of men's knits, but felt that this was a less successful pattern:



I also knitted my mum a Forest Canopy shawl in Malabrigo laceweight, which I was really pleased with:



The colours of this also came out beautifully and my mum was delighted with it:



All in all, it was a very pleasing project:



I did manage to complete everything I had planned to, and had a good Christmas - everyone was pleased with their gifts.

This coming year I want to try to make some small adjustments to our life. I want to be more organised with the cooking (this has been one area that has been very hard to keep on top of with my new job). I have bought two books which I hope will make a difference to the meals that I plan. The first, How to Feed Your Whole Family a Healthy Balanced Diet, with Very Little Money and Hardly Any Time, Even If You Have a Tiny Kitchen, Only Three Saucepans ... - Unless You Count the Garlic Crusher... by Gill Holcombe, I have had for a while, but have not used. Today, I made apple cake from it and plan to use some of the more general principles in it to plan our weekly shopping and eating. I have also bought The Kitchen Revolution, which, although I don't intend to follow it to the letter, has some sound principles in it. Despite our unsuccessful attempt to move house (it would be great to have a bit more space) I am well aware of how lucky we are as a family and how comparatively privileged we are.

Like everyone else in the current credit crunch, however, we need to make some economies, and this coming year I plan to do what everyone recommends you do to economise - keep track of where all your money goes down to the last penny.

So, like Sabine, who has been reading my old copy of Not Buying It by Judith Levine, I intend to downsize my wool stash. I shall buy yarn only for specific projects or for gifts and try to use more of my stash. I also intend to sort out the books in the house and all our clothes - I have already started down this road and have been thinning out the children's clothes considerably. There are some great ideas in Levine's book (although she can come across as slightly irritating sometimes - she still runs two houses and two cars in the book), and it is certainly thought-provoking. I have also recently read Kath Kelly's book on how she lived for a pound a day, which, in a similar vein, gives food for thought. While Kath Kelly's year holds much to admire, I think it would be hard to live like this with three children to feed, although I am tempted to use some of her ideas.

If moving is not an option for us because the housing market is so stagnant, then decluttering certainly is. As those of you who know me are well aware, however, I am not the tidiest person in the world, so this will be a real challenge for me. But I feel that with the economy the way it is and the uncertainty hanging over us all, we should make the most of what we have and I certainly have a lot to be grateful for. So, one step at a time, 2009 will be a journey for me into a more thoughtful and considered way of life. One incentive for me is to see how I feel about each purchase if I keep track of everything. I have done this before (when I was saving for my first flat) and actually found it just as satisfying as consuming.

But having a family is different. I hope that we will all learn from the coming year, whatever it may bring.

Happy New Year to you all!