Wednesday, 27 February 2013

WIP Wednesday

WIPs, where to start.  For those of you who aren't familiar with knitting terms, a WIP is a Work in Progress, ie the thing that sits in your knitting bag, glaring at you balefully as you cast on yet another quick crochet project.  I have a selection of WIPs: an Owl blanket for Hattie's 3rd birthday; a jumper inspired by the Killing;  a quilt made up of 300 hexipuffs, 80 down, 220 to go; a pair of socks that I started in the cinema, and which have the worst ribbing known to humankind; a Paper Dolls jumper that I love dearly, but as it is fine grey wool, I just can't bring myself to work on and a Vine Yoke cardigan.

The Vine Yoke Cardigan is my favourite WIP, and I am nearly finished with it.  It is knitted all in one piece and is a very clever construction by my favourite designer, Ysolda Teague.  Thanks to a pattern reading error, I am making it in stocking stitch, rather than garter, and in the most beautiful of all the yarns, Malabrigo Worsted Merino.  The photograph below doesn't do it justice frankly.

The finished jumper will make me look taller, thinner and will flatter my hair and complexion, while making me wittier, a better knitter and a more interesting writer.  Is it any wonder these things never get finished?

This is my first entry to a blog-along, which doesn't sound like a thing, but apparently is, called A Year of Projects.  The people running it on Ravelry started back in August, so I'm hopping in at the middle and will see what happens.  My list for this year, which for me will be running until the end of February next year, is all the WIPs listed at the top, as well as four patterns from my queue: Rusted Root, Hedgehog Mittens, Lucy's birthday Starburst Flower Blanket and Idlewood.  I can't see anything going wrong with all that, can you?

Monday, 25 February 2013


A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013.

It was half term last week, so we were all a bit more relaxed and able to just to play and enjoy ourselves.  One of the playgroups I really enjoyed taking the girls to when they were tiny was running, so I took them along there.  They had a wonderful time, playing, climbing, singing, making a mess and eating biscuits.

I am very jealous of a lot of the other people participating in this year long photography project, as they live in gorgeously sunny Australia, and take pictures of their children at the beach, and in the sunshine.  But do they know the pleasures of having an indoor picnic in the freezing cold conservatory with a light snow swirling around outside?  Do they know what the joy of having the heating on full blast and still needing an extra jumper?

Harriet was very sure that she wanted the owls to join in, but "not eat my food you owl".

Friday, 22 February 2013

Happy Thinking Day!

Today is the Baden-Powells birthday, and as such, has been designated as "World Thinking Day".  GirlGuiding associations around the world use today to think about their sister guides around the world, and to consider what Guiding means to them.  I'm a bit of a novice at this whole thing; I was a terrible Brownie for a very short time, with only the Frog Impressions and the Cup of Tea badges to my name; I lost interest in all girl organisations before I was old enough to become a Guide, and Venture Scouting never appealed - the outdoor life is not my thing at all.  It's only now as an adult that I really see the benefit of doing it, and so I'm nearly through with my Leader training.  I recently retook my GirlGuiding Promise, and it's somewhat different from when I was a child.

I'm sure that as a Brownie, I had to say "I promise that I will do my best, to do my Duty to God, to serve the Queen and help other people and to keep the Brownie Guide Law", and I had to read a very thick book that looked just like this:

and was full of helpful things about Pixies and making cups of tea and talking to your puppy and generally being a nice member of the community, and a Good Gel, ready to be a good Guide and then wife, mother and Prime Minister.  I stood in the Hall in Linton Infants School, looking into the mirror to see the elf, and promised to be a good and helpful person, and to Lend a Hand.

It's really easy to mock GirlGuiding and Brownies and Rainbows, and lots of people do.  All that stuff about Duty and God, and meeting in church halls, and getting badges for things instead of no thanks or reward, and the people who run it must be a bit odd, after all, only weirdos want to work with children, and anyway, who has time for any of that, honestly; and so we forget that GirlGuiding provides a space for girls to be on their own, without the competition for attention from boys.  Girls really need time apart from boys; it helps them find a voice without being shouted down, it gives them a chance to do things and it gives them a chance just to be girls, which, as they become adolescents gets more and more difficult.

I went to an all girls school, and while it was rubbish in many ways, it gave me the confidence to know that I can do anything I want to do.  Obviously, girls are rarely saints and can be far more unpleasantly vicious and damaging than even the most obnoxious boy, and I am no champion of single sex education, but I am a big supporter of GirlGuiding, especially now all that difficult and unpleasant "duty" stuff has been removed, and we promise to love our God, serve our Queen and our country, help other people and to keep the Guide Law.

A bit demanding, particularly for us Lefty Republican types, but as George Orwell said,

“Patriotism has nothing to do with Conservatism. It is actually the opposite of Conservatism, since it is a devotion to something that is always changing and yet is felt to be mystically the same.”

and that sums up GirlGuiding.  It is different to how it was back in the dim and distant past, it is a living, growing thing, and changes as each cohort of girls makes it change, and yet it is still the same, still an organisation that puts girls first, that allows girls and young women become the people they want to be.

A bit serious for a Friday, but it is World Thinking Day after all.

Thursday, 21 February 2013


I sort of lost momentum for the blog last week; the week before half term was very involving with our colleague's birthday, Pancake Day, Simon's birthday and Valentine's Day, all one after another and all requiring more energy than I actually have. So, no time for writing anything, and I barely squeaked in with a photo, taking this one on Sunday night.

A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, for a year.

A moment of calm - the girls are watching Charlie and Lola, which Lucy absolutely loves and Hattie pretends is rubbish, but gets drawn in and sits calmly for one whole episode.  I don't often dress them in matching clothes, but these pyjamas are too gorgeous, and they look adorable.  Nice and big too, so they will fit for ages.  

Monday, 11 February 2013

OMG etc

Gosh.  This blog has had 7001 page views, and as I don't track my own page views, they are not all me pressing refresh like a demented chimpanzee.  How amazing.  I know that my deathless prose doesn't reach 7000 people, but I'm so glad that people are reading this; I know it's a bit dull, and a bit domestic, but I do try to make it fun.  I was actually discussing Writing for Pleasure with a colleague tonight, and this is what the blog is for, and why I do it, and I'm glad that my pleasure is read by other people.  So, thank you.

Harriet the conceptual artist put the ladybird magnets in the baking cupboard.  They were carefully placed and looked for all the world as if they had crawled in all by themselves.

In other news, I am heavily publicising Julia's Bespoke Babies, spamming all my friends on facebook, and joining a crafty mums site called "Crafty Bums", so I'm hoping to sell a few that way.  I've still got a lot of stock hanging around from the Ealing 135 Christmas Fair, and I've had a couple of commissions since then.

The bicycle was a commission, the shamrocks were for a friend's daughter's first birthday.

I've added a "What I am reading" bar to the blog, so now, as long as I keep on writing with monotonous regularity, I should have a record of the books I've read this year.  The one I'm reading at the moment, "Ines of my soul", by Isabel Allende, is alright.  Not bad, but a bit too apologist for the conquistadors for my taste, and very graphic in its descriptions of unpleasant tortures, burnings and other ways of dispatching other people.  It gets 3 severed heads out of 5.

Sunday, 10 February 2013


A portrait of my child, once a week, every week, in 2013.

Well, I'm cheating this week, and posting two.

The children were completely enraptured by the orchids at Kew, and I took this snap during a moment of stillness inspired by the wonderful flowers.

When we came home, I took this picture, another moment of stillness, this time inspired by the wonders of technology.

Simon had a moment of madness, and bought us an iPad while he was in the States, and the girls have worked out how to make it play Peppa Pig, so now when we are tired, fed up or generally just in need of ten minutes, it comes out and that dreadful theme tune rings out.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Green shoots

Now all the snow has gone, hopefully, I'm starting to think about Spring and change and new life and growth and all that.  The garden is starting to think about it too, and stuff is pushing its way up out of the ground and making its presence felt.

A rather poor quality photograph of the snowdrops that are under the Magnolia, where the buds are getting ready to burst into flower and leaf.  When we first moved here, there was a Labernum and Ceanothus with the poor Magnolia in the middle; we took them both out and the Magnolia has gone mad, tripling in size and flowering away like anything.

The mint is starting to think about growing again, after a lot of time dormant.  As you can see, I didn't cut it back at all, or clear leaves or anything and I think my laziness good practice meant that it's another one that is growing away happily.

I bought some daffs the other day;  just from Sainsbury's but they are gorgeous and smell wonderful.  The sunshine today was really great; Hattie and I were able to play outside, albeit briefly.

The solo parenting lark seems to be going fairly well; we were at the zoo all day yesterday, which was great. Very cold, and the normal cafe is closed for refurbishment, so we squeezed into a fantastic tent with tables and catering and all sorts for lunch (chips).  Hattie was most excited about seeing a tiger, fairly close to, and they are BIG; Lucy was happy to see the lions, announcing that they were all GIRL lions actually and then was very pleased to see the male strolling around.  The penguins were noisy and smelly, the little spider monkeys were delightful (Hello little monkey!), the Komodo dragons were forbidding but the best animal of all was the grey squirrel that was climbing around the monkeys' enclosure.  My favourites were the gorillas and the Tropical Birds Pavilion (selfishly, lovely and warm in there); we are members which is why I suffered London Zoo in February.  I'm looking forward to taking them in the Summer, as going there on my own was a piece of cake.

I'm knackered though, and I'm constantly feeling I'm running twenty minutes late.  And some bastard in the States has cloned my card; it's only thanks to first direct being great that I found out.  So no credit card for a week and a half, irritating.

Have a zoo picture courtesy of Lucy.  Hattie and I are Great Apes.  As are you.

Saturday, 2 February 2013


A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013.

Harriet enjoying a hot chocolate, her way.  We spend a lot of time in coffee shops, particularly Costa, which is cheap-ish, child-friendly and pays their taxes.  Hattie isn't a pensive child, she is very much a busy, doing things sort of child, and it's rare to catch her in a thoughtful mood.

There's a striking similarity between the girls in these two pictures I think.  This was taken at one of Lucy's friends birthday party.  Lucy is a pirate, with a five o'clock shadow of Bourjois brown eyeshadow and Benefit Bad Gal eyeliner.  Top and scarf, model's own.  She had a good time at the party; lots of little boys and girls running around dressed as pirates and Disney princesses.  The children were all her school friends, so I had people to talk to, and Hattie was able to play with the siblings, although that one has no trouble holding her own in all social situations, provided she is given a big lump of Camembert to carry around in her hot little fist.

Friday, 1 February 2013

White rabbits

Cor blimey, where did that month go?  It seems like yesterday that I was experiencing the whole back to school dread thing, and in that short month, I've been pinched, hit, kicked and headbutted by various three year olds, none of which are my own, and had the dubious pleasure of preparing a lot of stuff for a staff meeting, only to have it high-jacked by SOMEONE ELSE.

Fortunately, the beatings have discontinued and morale has improved, and it's been a whole fortnight since I was slapped in the face!  Hurrah.  The children in question have settled down, and while one is always going to be a trial, the other two are quite sweet now and will be great in a few months.  Very keen to join in, and that's always the main thing in Nursery.

Simon has started his new job today, and it looks remarkably similar to his old job, except that he is no longer driving to Heathrow to sit on his bum and drink tea, he is able to stay at home, sitting on his bum and drinking tea in the comfort of our new office.  Very nice.  I'm sure he does some work as well, and tomorrow he is abandoning us and going to Austin, Texas for "work".  I am devastated, obviously, as looking after my own children, on my own, for 5 days was never in the plan, and I can't even get him to bring back KnitPicks Palette yarn, as I have left the ordering too late, and now they can't guarantee getting it to him on time.  Fortunately, I found a reasonably priced source of Cascade, so he won't be coming back empty handed.

In crochet news, I finally finished the Blooming (Bloody) Flower Cushion.  I do not care to crochet, but as I love to fill my home with handmade objects and there seemed to be no other way to get hold of this cushion, I gritted my teeth and made it.

I am jolly proud of it.  It's comfy too; I took it to the pub on Wednesday to show it off, and it made the sofas at the Drayton almost pleasant to sit on.  

I am girding my loins for the weekend with curry and red wine.  Ballet, playdates, parties and trips to the zoo.  All on my own.  Rubbish.