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I knit, I sew, I run, I look after children and hamsters, I take truly terrible pictures, I cook, I complain.  Sometimes all at the same time.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

You should never, never doubt something that no one is sure of.

It's been a while.  Life keeps on happening, in its boring and inevitable way.  Module 1 of my course is now over, and I still have 2500 words of my essay to write. The title has changed, along with the focus, but nothing else.  Module 2 has started, what terrific fun it all is.  There have been a few minor health niggles, nothing serious, so no running at the moment.  I've got either the start of a terrific cold, or something I can shake off easily, so I'll have to get shot of that before I go out again; I dislike being unable to breathe when I'm running.  

Anyway, enough about that.  There's been some knitting going on.
  • Lucy's stripey jumper.  Finished and done.

  • Wisteria jumper - I've just finished the body of the jumper, "just" the sleeves to go.  I need to try it on and make sure that everything is OK, and also see how much more going round and round on the sleeves I need to do before the tricky cable bits.
  • Nicholas' POP blanket - Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.  
  • Lucy Attic24 Ripple Blanket - 38/57 rows done.  Lucy is using this, so I am going to do 2 more rows and a border, and call it done.  
  • Hexipuff Quilt - I've managed to do about another 10, which is fantastic, and I'm very pleased with myself.  172/250, which is my target for this year.
  • Burton Bear Cowl for Hattie. Brown wool found again.  Hattie isn't showing any particular desire for a cowl, so I will put this on the back burner.
  • The Weather in the Streets 
The numbers are depressingly the same.  Ho hum.  We're on a break.  Still on a break. 
  • Yellow squares - 107/143 done
  • Blue squares - 52/72 done
  • Grey squares - 64/102 done
  • Turquoise squares - 1/11 done
  • Orange squares - ALL DONE
  • Pink square - DONE
  • Purple squares - DONE
  • Red squares - 6/10 done
  • Dark Green squares - 5/7 done
  • Pale Blue square - DONE
  • Pale Yellow square - DONE
  • Dark Blue square - to do
  • Pinky-Red squares - 6/10 done
  • Hattie's 4th birthday blanket.  6/36 Rainbow Granny Squares done.
  • Owl Obsession for one of my godsons - it's for his second birthday.  His birthday is in SEPTEMBER PEOPLE.
  • Peacock Mitten - oh God, this is too depressing.
  • Coraline cardigan - moved to be finished by April; this is Britain, it will still be cold then
  • Petrie top - too cold to think about spring weight tops.  
  • Knitted Coco -see above.
  • Socks for me - I have no suitable sock wool that I like.
  • Rainbow jumper - still depressed about losing jumper 1, and in mourning.  
  • A Little Birds jumper with no steeks - still planning
  • Reknit an unwearably large jumper for Simon - March project
Done:

Myrna Cardigan
Hattie's cardigan.
A pair of simple socks for the children
Garter Yoke Cardigan
An Owlet for Lucy
Lucy's Cowl
Hattie's Cowl
A Burton Bear Cowl for Lucy
Simon's socks
Boreal
A tiny jumper for Nicholas
Sparkly Owlet for Hattie
Ringo mittens
Aiken
Striped jumper for Lucy

You win some, you keep some the same.  Again.

There's also been some rather exciting sewing happening too; my Mothers' Day present was a two week, two Sundays, sewing course, making a lovely Mortmain dress with Jane of Handmade Jane fame, at Badger and Earl in Chiswick, so I've been doing that.  The dress is beautiful, so far, and I'll have it finished and ready to photograph next week.  I'm going to need some new shoes to go with it too.

What's new with you?

Sunday, 1 March 2015

What a life it would be, If you could come to mine for tea, I'll pick you up at half past three, We'll have lasagne

The immortal lines of the Nineties finest lyricist always go through my head when I'm cooking for the family, especially when I'm buggering about making a white sauce, stopping Simon from smashing the printer in sheer frustration and comforting two hysterical girls who haven't realised that Lilo and Stitch isn't a documentary.  I was always team Blur though; shame that they are now a coked up twat, a friend of the Prime Minister, a bit of an arse and Dave.

Still, you don't come here for tales of indie bands from ages past, you come for the knitting, and there has been knitting happening this week, as well as super exciting other crafty things.  Oh yes.  

  • Lucy's stripey jumper.  One sleeve done and stuck on, one sleeve started. 


Those are different sleeves, promise.  The bottom photo is from yesterday, I finished that sleeve last night while watching Rich Hall at Battersea Arts Centre.  He was very good, and the sleeve is surprisingly good considering  it is stripes knitted in the round in the dark.



  • Wisteria jumper - this is now nearly at the place it was when I ripped it back last week.  *sigh*  There's not a lot left to do on the jumper body, just the last bit of the cable, and strangely, it doesn't feel as insanely complicated as the time before.  Although, you know, ask me again in a week.
  • Nicholas' POP blanket - I found the yarn.  I realised that one mini-skein will never make 6 circles.  It is now going to be 30 squares, not 36.  30 is not a square number.  This is now giving me maths heebie jeebies.  On the plus side, it's that bit closer to being finished, so yay.
  • Burton Bear Cowl for Hattie. Brown wool found again.  
  • The Weather in the Streets 
The numbers are depressingly the same.  Ho hum.  We're on a break.  
  • Yellow squares - 107/143 done
  • Blue squares - 52/72 done
  • Grey squares - 64/102 done
  • Turquoise squares - 1/11 done
  • Orange squares - ALL DONE
  • Pink square - DONE
  • Purple squares - DONE
  • Red squares - 6/10 done
  • Dark Green squares - 5/7 done
  • Pale Blue square - DONE
  • Pale Yellow square - DONE
  • Dark Blue square - to do
  • Pinky-Red squares - 6/10 done
  • Lucy Attic24 Ripple Blanket - 38/57 rows done.  So over HALF WAY.
  • Hattie's 4th birthday blanket.  6/36 Rainbow Granny Squares done.
  • Owl Obsession for one of my godsons - it's for his second birthday.  His birthday is in SEPTEMBER PEOPLE.
  • Hexipuff Quilt (I'm aiming to get 250/500 done by the end of June 2015) NO
  • Peacock Mitten - oh God, this is too depressing.
  • Coraline cardigan - moved to be finished by April; this is Britain, it will still be cold then
  • Petrie top - too cold to think about spring weight tops.  
  • Knitted Coco -see above.
  • Socks for me - I have no suitable sock wool that I like.
  • Rainbow jumper - still depressed about losing jumper 1, and in mourning.  
  • A Little Birds jumper with no steeks - still planning
  • Reknit an unwearably large jumper for Simon - March project
Done:

Myrna Cardigan
Hattie's cardigan.
A pair of simple socks for the children
Garter Yoke Cardigan
An Owlet for Lucy
Lucy's Cowl
Hattie's Cowl
A Burton Bear Cowl for Lucy
Simon's socks
Boreal
A tiny jumper for Nicholas
Sparkly Owlet for Hattie
Ringo mittens
Aiken

You win some, you keep some the same.

In other news, I made Lucy a World Book Day costume.  It needs a bit of refinement, in the form of a kitten to hold, a black sash belt, and a heart on the apron, but I channelled my inner Sewing Bee, and altered a rather fragrant tee-shirt of Simon's, and turned it into a dress for a little girl.


With some striped tights and a white top underneath, she'll make a passable Alice.  Hattie wants to be the Gruffalo; we have brown leggings and tee-shirt on order, and purple prickles will be forthcoming.  Exciting times.  

Thursday, 26 February 2015

I'm not great at the advice. Can I interest you in a sarcastic comment?

Another week nearly over, and my acute awareness of the passing of time tells me it's the end of FEBRUARY, which is just insane.  This year is galloping away far too fast; someone stop it please.  

I have a meeting with my boss on Monday to talk about her thoughts about my job for next year; basically, I don't want to be in Nursery, I would like to be a full time SENCO, but work shortened hours so I can still drop the girls at school.  Life needs reordering at the moment for family reasons, which isn't my story to tell, so I'm keen to have order and control in one aspect of my life at least.


This.  I can control this.  I made a very severe and sober Coco dress.  It is beautiful in an austere way, and needs a bright purple cardigan (pattern?  Myra?  Agatha?) to make it a bit more daft.  A bit more Julia.    

It also needs a hem and two oversized purple pockets, but we shall gloss over that.

Also, please don't look at the mess in the background.  The children put all their toys in the attic of the dolls' house, and I can't face tidying that, even though it means that the panel won't fit anymore. At least they put things away.  Be grateful for the small things.  I read this article/advice thing, and it is lovely and helpful, and I love Annalisa Barbieri for all the reasons, especially that she now follows me on twitter, so please read her and love her too.  

What else?  There is wine to drink, there is knitting to do, and there is Charlie Brooker to watch, so that.   There is no running happening at the moment, curses on this sodding ankle.  The bloody thing flared up today and started really hurting while I was observing writing behaviour in Year Two.  It's a real thing.  I wasn't even standing on it.  It stopped hurting after a while, and is fine now, but it is a bit of a worry.  This 2 and a half hour goal for the half marathon is already pretty unrealistic; I really need to get out there and get on with it.  


This young man is fine by the way.  No limps, no permanent damage, and need to trouble the vet.  Thankfully.  Hurrah for hamsters brightening up our lives.

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Give a girl an education and introduce her properly into the world, and ten to one but she has the means of settling well, without further expense to anybody.

It's Sunday, it must be time for:

WHAT HAS JULIA BEEN KNITTING THIS WEEK?!

Hello and welcome, and people who have been reading this far might remember that it was HALF TERM last week, that glorious week in the middle of February dedicated to hair-cuts, going to the dentist, visiting the museum and generally regretting anything outdoors because it is still freezing bloody cold the whole time.

Knitting time has not been limited, but it has consisted of FINISHING THE BLOODY WIPS, which is neither exciting or thrilling to photograph.
  • Aiken is FINISHED.  Hoo-bloody-rah, is all I can say, despite absolutely loving the pattern, yarn and everything about it.  I messed up the sleeves as written, so I just made plain sleeves: repeat after me "I have altered the design to suit my personality".


Things I have learned: I totally need to knit a smaller size.  My body is really quite short, so a cropped knit would have looked very out of proportion.  Cascade 220 is the best yarn in the business and I love it.
  • The Weather in the Streets 
These are the numbers for this blanket.  I'm adding it here, because I need to keep a better record.  Plus I can see how far I've come in a week.  Or not.
  • Yellow squares - 107/143 done
  • Blue squares - 52/72 done
  • Grey squares - 64/102 done
  • Turquoise squares - 1/11 done
  • Orange squares - ALL DONE
  • Pink square - DONE
  • Purple squares - DONE
  • Red squares - 6/10 done
  • Dark Green squares - 5/7 done
  • Pale Blue square - DONE
  • Pale Yellow square - DONE
  • Dark Blue square - to do
  • Pinky-Red squares - 6/10 done
  • Lucy Attic24 Ripple Blanket - 38/57 rows done.  So over HALF WAY.
  • Lucy's stripey jumper.  Got up to the arms.  Shouldn't take that long.  She says.
  • Hattie's 4th birthday blanket.  6/36 Rainbow Granny Squares done.
  • Wisteria jumper - ripped back because it is just too tight and too uncomfortable.  I have to knit 25 rounds and then start on the cables at the bottom again.  This nearly made me cry, ripping it back, but I'd rather have a bit of baggy thing that I actually wear, than something I keep in the cupboard. 
  • Owl Obsession for one of my godsons - it's for his second birthday.  His birthday is in SEPTEMBER PEOPLE.
  • Hexipuff Quilt (I'm aiming to get 250/500 done by the end of June 2015) NO
  • Burton Bear Cowl for Hattie.  Brown wool lost again.  Curses.
  • Nicholas' POP blanket - I can't find the yarn for this.  EMERGENCY.
  • Peacock Mitten - oh God, this is too depressing.
  • Coraline cardigan - moved to be finished by March; this is Britain, it will still be cold then
  • Petrie top - too cold to think about spring weight tops.  
  • Knitted Coco -see above.
  • Socks for me - I have no suitable sock wool that I like.
  • Rainbow jumper - still depressed about losing jumper 1, and in mourning.  
  • A Little Birds jumper with no steeks - still planning
  • Reknit an unwearably large jumper for Simon - March project
Done:

Myrna Cardigan
Hattie's cardigan.
A pair of simple socks for the children
Garter Yoke Cardigan
An Owlet for Lucy
Lucy's Cowl
Hattie's Cowl
A Burton Bear Cowl for Lucy
Simon's socks
Boreal
A tiny jumper for Nicholas
Sparkly Owlet for Hattie
Ringo mittens
Aiken

So there is some progress, and I also took a terrible photo.  Tune in for more next week!

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

The dinosaurs died so that chat rooms may flourish

Well Happy St Pancake's Day to you, and I hope you are full of sugar, lemon and golden syrup, in preparation for 40 days of reflection and vainly attempting to give up something you really, really enjoy.  I'm going for chocolate this year, so am eating all the stuff in the house tonight.  Well, I ran for 4.8k today as part of my half marathon training, so it's ok.  Surely.

It's half term, the best time of the year, and I'm looking after my own children and trying not to go completely ga-ga in the process.  Yesterday was all about the swimming and the screaming tantrums (everyone, unfortunately), and today was all about dinosaurs and buses around Central London.

Have some pictures of, in no particular order, the way home, dinosaurs both real and animatronic, the blue whale, Chinatown decked out for Chinese New Year and a dog dressed as a lion that amused us for a bit over lunch.  Picture taken from Twitter; I think it is brilliant.










A grand day out, all in all.  We're members of the NHM, which means that we don't have to queue - we got there just before 10 and were ushered in like the royalty we are.  Most satisfying.  Costs a bit, but it is worth it, plus I can ignore with immunity all the "please give us money" signs.

I made a Coco yesterday, but it's not finished, so expect more on Thursday.  Along with more KNITCHAT.  Bet you can't wait.

Sunday, 15 February 2015

It’s like that book I read in the 9th grade that said, “‘Tis a far, far better thing doing stuff for other people.”

Things are more normal here, thanks to a bit of firmness on our part with Hattie, a quick Google of "hamster limping" and lots of reassuring cuddles with Lucy.  The hamster has probably sprained his leg; he isn't putting any weight on it, but he's eating a lot, seems quite normal, so I'm trying not to stress about it too much.  Poor little mite spends most of the time in his nest sleeping, so I think he will be OK.  He wolfed down a small square of bread and milk, which is apparently the thing to give them for sprains, so I'm happier now.  Simon thinks I'm being overly sensitive about him, but I don't care.  He's my lovely little pet.

We went up to Whipsnade today to see a baby pygmy hippo, which is the size of a cat.  He spent most of his time submerged, but I did take a couple of pictures.  This is the best one, I've cropped it a bit, and shouted ENHANCE at the screen, but it didn't magically look like a real hippo.  Hopefully he'll be confident enough to come out of the water soon, as he is terribly cute.  At one point in our visit his mum started snorting about something, prompting a massive, angry snort from the hippo in the pool next door.  She was normal hippo size - terrifyingly enormous.


Sweet little thing.  He looks a bit, well, simple in this picture, but I'm sure he doesn't have Special Hippo Needs.

The elephants at Whipsnade go for a walk around the park once a day; we saw them set off when we were in the inevitable soft play area, and we thought we'd see them back in their paddock later.  Not a bit of it; on our way around to see the hippo, we drove past the little wood on the ridge, and there they all were, including and especially a six month old baby.  

Look! 


He's balancing on a log with his mum in the background!  We stood there for ages watching the elephants and chatting with the keepers.  Sam Elephant weighed 140 kg at birth and now weighs 400.  He's grown really well, which is wonderful.  Apparently, boy elephants are a bit unpredictable, and so when he grows up, he'll have to go and live somewhere else; which is not a euphemism, I checked. 

Such a great day out.  We worked out that to take two adults, two children and a car to Whipsnade would cost £90; far too much.  You can get it a bit cheaper by using Tesco vouchers, but the best thing to do is to be a member.  Then you get London Zoo as well; we go there at least four times a year.  I'm not a massive fan of zoos; but then I see baby Indian elephants choosing to balance on logs, and they seem less bad.  The children absolutely love going too, which makes it feel far more worthwhile.  Plus it does fund conservation work around the world - the tiger project in Amur has found that two presumed extinct species of deer are not actually extinct after all, which is good news all round.

Plus it gives me a chance to have a good old play with the new camera.  I need a tripod and a remote now.  And some better lighting in the kitchen.  And a new hairdo.  


Saturday, 14 February 2015

Yes to life, Yes to love and Yes to staying in more


The hamster has hurt his leg, Hattie won't stop screaming at us when we don't follow instructions immediately and to the letter, Lucy goes into a hysterical panic whenever she is thwarted and the house is a proper mess.

Still, it's half term, it's Valentine's Day, it was Simon's birthday yesterday and we went out and my essay is started and sounding good.  We don't make a huge fuss over Valentine's Day, but we do buy massively competitive presents for each other; this year, I thought I'd won by making a Lego Croyden family in a frame, but Simon got us tickets for High Society at the Old Vic in June - the dress to impress evening, so I have to make a new dress.  And a fur coat.  And lose about a billion pounds.  I'm not sure whether it would be easier to channel Grace Kelly, Katharine Hepburn or Rita Hayworth.  Probably none of the above in the end, and I'll just try to make a nice dress that fits.

Speaking of dresses, I finally got around to make a Francoise, and she is beautiful.  The photo, not so much.


There's some kind of weird boob/dart thing going on, but it shows less in real life.  Also, if it is pointed out by anyone, they get a scowl.  Don't know what's going on with my hair either, but you know, see above and do I look like I could care less?  One day I might taken better pictures, and one day I might be a size 0.

The dress is in a ponte knit, it's pretty stretchy but not too stretchy.  It's comfy and doesn't cling too much, so I will be wearing it regularly.  I like the pattern, at the moment not as much as I like Coco, and I can see myself making a few more.  I like the darts, but I think I need to either make a smaller size or move them down a bit in order to improve the fit across the bust.   Here's hoping that all the running will make a smaller size necessary.  Better lay off the Valentine's Night lasagna as well. 



Thursday, 12 February 2015

All these teenagers are gonna start coming here for their queer horror

Finally, I took my own advice, and wrote some of the damn essay.  500 words are now done; just got to do another 4500, and it's finished.  That only worries me a little bit.

Look!  Things about knitting!

The amazing Sonja from Ginger Makes has made a jumper WITH HORSES ON.   I love it and plans are afoot.

This is an amazing pattern from Andi Satterlund.  I can't decide whether to make it or not.  It doesn't look mindless.

I've got 16 yellow squares to make for the weather blanket for September.  It was 22 originally.  Progress is progress.

Hattie wants to use sparkly buttons on her next jumper.  The little so and so won't wear her Sparkly Owls jumper, so I am not entirely pro the whole idea.  The sparkly buttons originally were to go on her new glittery purple skirt.  I convinced her they wouldn't go.  Photo of the sparkly skirt to follow.

Things about running!

I'm thinking of signing up for this.  I don't know if it is a terrible or a terrific idea.

Things about books!

The plan to only read books by women writers hit the barriers when I was lent "Foxglove Summer" by Ben Aaronovitch.  Read his books, they are brilliant.

We have been listening to Harry Potter in the car recently; we've nearly finished the first book.  Both girls have absolutely loved it, and followed the story really well.  No worries with their verbal comprehension.  Hurrah.

Nothing like a bit of getting on with it to put you in a better mood.



Wednesday, 11 February 2015

That guy wanted to buy me a drink? I already have one. Do you think he'd buy me mozzarella sticks?

Sometimes the best solution to stressing out over writing an essay is just to get on with it and write the damn thing.  I've already done a bit of the literature review, a pen portrait of each of the children in my intervention and a table of assessments, but nothing else.  I think once the rationale is done, I'll feel a bit more clearheaded about the whole thing.  The other thing that's stressing me out is how to get results.  I think I'm going to have to use thematic analysis, and record how many movements the children are able to copy in a given session.  If all else fails, I'm just going to make it up.  Further research is needed.

It's so stressful writing serious things, when all you ever write is light-hearted drivel about knitting.
  • Ringo mittens.  DONE AND DONE.  Hattie, delightful child, has even consented to wear them twice.
  • The Aiken is going quite well.  I have altered the design of the sleeves to suit my personality, and am half way through the first one.  Won't be done by Valentine's Day, might be done by the end of half term. 
  • The Weather in the Streets - on hold.  It is doing my head in. 
  • Lucy Attic24 Ripple Blanket - I've done another half a dozen or so rows.  Lucy is starting to complain that she hasn't got it yet.  Each ripple takes me about 30 minutes.  I crochet REALLY SLOWLY.
  • Lucy's stripey jumper.  It's my go to project for sitting at ballet.  
  • *NEW* Hattie's 4th birthday blanket.  Only 3 months late in starting this.  36 Rainbow Granny Squares.  2 done.
  • Wisteria jumper - sleeve island.
  • Owl Obsession for one of my godsons - it's for his second birthday.  His birthday is in SEPTEMBER PEOPLE.
  • Hexipuff Quilt (I'm aiming to get 250/500 done by the end of June 2015) NO
  • Burton Bear cowl for Hattie.  Brown wool lost again.  Curses.
  • Nicholas' POP blanket - There are still 9 completed squares.  Again.  Next week, there will be 10.  Yes.
  • Peacock Mitten - oh God, this is too depressing.
  • Coraline cardigan - moved to be finished by February; this is Britain, it will still be cold then
  • Petrie top - too cold to think about spring weight tops.  
  • Knitted Coco -see above.
  • Socks for me - I have no suitable sock wool that I like.
  • Rainbow jumper - still depressed about losing jumper 1, and in mourning.  
  • A Little Birds jumper with no steeks - still planning
  • Reknit an unwearably large jumper for Simon - March project
Done:

Myrna Cardigan
Hattie's cardigan.
A pair of simple socks for the children
Garter Yoke Cardigan
An Owlet for Lucy
Lucy's Cowl
Hattie's Cowl
A Burton Bear Cowl for Lucy
Simon's socks
Boreal
A tiny jumper for Nicholas
Sparkly Owlet for Hattie
Ringo mittens

In running news, I have signed up for another 10k and a half marathon.  I need to get my speeds up.  Unfortunately, the sodding job is so busy that I can't find time to run at the moment.  Hurry up Spring and lighter evenings, so I can go out for an hour at least when the girls are in bed.  I really don't want to get up any earlier.

I will nag about sponsorship at a later date.



Monday, 2 February 2015

Last time I was feeling this optimistic, I fell in a drain

The stress is abating.  I think I was really worried about the Winter Run, which I needn't have been really; I managed to do 10km in a record breaking 1hr 31 mins according to my GPS on my phone, and 1hr 32 according to official race statistics.  Either way, I did the damn thing, and I ran and ran and ran at the end, and pottered along at the start, and I'm really, really proud of myself.  I even got a medal.


I don't know why it's backwards.  Stupid thing.  I've already signed up for next year's, and I'm aiming for an unrealistic target of finishing within 1 hr 15 mins, so I'd better get my trainers back on.  

So that stress is over, and the essay stress is manageable - I just have to start.  The trouble is that I'm so exhausted during the week that I really can't write anything serious, then I'm so busy at the weekend that I'm too tired to write anything serious then either.  Roll on half term. 

I'm not going to go on and on about the Knit List - it is happening; slowly, but it's happening.  It still looks the same as it did a few days again, but that can't be helped.  I'm just updating you on progress so far.  
  • My Aiken, which is being made in Cascade 220, shade Peacock, which is gorgeous and lovely, and is almost done.  Almost.
  • Ringo and Elwood mittens.  One down, half of the second done.  I want to get this finished before the end of the week.  That is possible.
  • The Weather in the Streets - January to August done AND SEWN TOGETHER.  In progress.  Even though it is doing my head in, I'm trying to do a few every now and then and sewing them on.  September has 22 yellow squares to do.  *sigh*
  • I've started yet another Owlet for Lucy - it might end up without owls, we shall see.  It's going to be three shades of purple, she's chosen them herself out of stash.  I'm not quite sure they work, but it's her jumper.

The rest - silence.