Wednesday, 31 July 2013

WIP Wednesday

Hexipuffs.  Invented by Stephanie Dosen, and very quick and satisfying to make.  Lots and lots of people on Ravelry have made them, and turned them into beautiful quilts.  My effort is beautiful in its own way; none of the hexagons have pictures on them, there is no overall theme, beyond "use up odds and ends as quickly as possible" and I am sewing them together as I go along, as not doing that would result in a box with 700 hexipuffs living in my house, gathering dust, forever.  Knitter, know thyself.

There are 100 hexipuffs there - our recent trip to Bristol yielded 8 new ones, and we're doing a lot of driving in the next couple of days, so I should be able to make another 10 or so.  The trouble with them is that I can't be bothered to make them when I'm on the sofa, which is where the majority of my knitting happens, as I don't really need to concentrate when making them.  

I don't know if they'll end up counting as a Year of Projects project, as I want to make at least another 400, maybe another 600, numbers that make me feel slightly queasy;  they are fun to make, and the end product looks great.  

The list: 

Alphabet Blanket for Noah (it's getting bigger, only 8 letters to go and then a border and a lining)
Peacock Mittens (I've bought new needles - hurrah)
Granny's a Square Afghan (still the same, I've ignored it this week)
Idlewood (still yarn)
Owl Blanket (still on hold)
Hexipuff Quilt (see above)
Paper Dolls (still going)
Elephant blanket (still yarn, but I have the pattern now)
*NEW* Peerie Flooers - hat by Kate Davies (for me!)
*NEW* Ringo and Elwood mittens, for the children (too cute!)(I'm going to make them a pair each for Christmas, they can fight over them later)

My 200th blogpost.  Hurrah.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Something something Tuesday

I'm tired.  Utterly drained and a bit broken, and I didn't even have a fun night out to cause this feeling of hopeless, helplessness.  Harriet had a nightmare last night, screaming out for me that she was too hot and it was morning time, and she had to get up.  I ended up in bed with her for about half an hour, which was no good for either of us, and finally working out what was wrong when she removed her nappy, threw it on the floor and said it was too wet.  She's learning to use the potty now, and of course she doesn't like the feeling of a wet nappy, and if that means Mummy groping around a dark house at 2:45 in the morning, then so be it.  She went straight back to sleep after a clean nappy and a cuddle, so I've stocked up in preparation for tonight. Being Harriet, she went back to bed at about half ten this morning, just to catch up.

We're having a vegetarian-esque meal tonight; something I cooked almost a year ago, and then have been meaning to make again, but never quite getting around to it.  It was part of the October Unprocessed madness of last year, where I gave up Diet Coke for an entire month, and suffered from the shakes, massive withdrawal symptoms and general undirected fury, but I'm sure that meant that what I was doing was Good For Me, and therefore I should repeat it this year.

The recipe is Chermoula Roasted Aubergines, and it is from a Waitrose leaflet.  If you are interested in different meals, and want something quick and delicious, then this is the recipe for you.  If you don't like aubergines, I concede that it might not be entirely suitable.  

See?  Food blogging at its finest.  And an instagrammed to hell and gone picture to illustrate the meal too.  Albeit from last year.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Handmade Monday

How to Turn a Beautifully Well Written Lace Pattern into Intarsia

1.  Find a pattern you like.  I used Debbie Bliss' Alphabet Pattern from Junior Knits.

2.  Fiddle about with the design to remove all the bits you don't like.  In my case, it was all the lace between the letters, and the fiddly bits at the edge.

3.  Work out how many stitches you need to cast on.  Then cast on too few.  Rip back.  Cast on again.  Cast on too many.  Rip back.  Cast on correct number.  Caution: not family friendly.

4. Calculate where to place first letter using hard sums and counting titchy little squares.  Muck this up, start again, rip back stupid sodding bamboo thread and use regrettable language again.

5.  I forgot to mention: pick a real pain in the bum yarn that doesn't take intarsia well - something made out of bamboo is perfect.  Really slippy, shiny and not at all sticky together-y.

6. Knit up first square.  Gaze at crappy piece of stuff, hope it will block out.  

7. Continue to knit remainder of strip until either fed up or out of yarn.  

8.  Repeat until blanket is almost finished and starting to look respectable.

9.  Finish blanket.  Border and line in order to hide mess on reverse side.

I must confess that I haven't finished the last step yet.  I'm still on step 8, having run out of yarn and developed some form of mental allergy to bamboo.  

This is what the blanket should look like.  I have stolen the picture from my friend Lyn's Ravelry page.  You should have a look at it.  She does some impressive work.  

This is what mine looks like.  It is different.  

Mine will have a green crocheted border.  It will be as special and precious as the young man who is getting it as a Welcome to the World present (six months late).

Sunday, 28 July 2013


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

We've been on the first of our travels this weekend; a trip to the West Country, starting in Bristol, then going home via Frome.  It was the Harbour Festival in Bristol; the girls were not very interested in the boats but absolutely loved the rides and the whole being outside, watching the people go by, experience.  Small cities are lovely to be in - everything is close, and if you want to go somewhere, you don't have to worry about it being a massive palaver with trains and fussing, you just go.  Mind you, the traffic was a bit rubbish, and I suspect that parking can be a nightmare, and horrifically overpriced, so it's not all wonderful.

The first week of the holidays, and both children are still (just about) alive and well.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

WIP Thursday

The crocheted blanket continues.

The Peacock Mittens were sat on by either Grandad or one of the girls, and another one of the very delicate bamboo needles is no more.

It is too hot to work on the Alphabet Blanket, even though it is so close to being finished now - just 12 lots of intarsia to go.

The A-line skirt for me sits, still fabric, mocking me, daring me to start and to totally f it up.  The main fabric is beautiful, the contrast fabric is understated, the button is, well, a button, and the whole thing terrifies the life out of me.  I will do it.  I will.  Next week.

So there we go.  I get paid tomorrow, so this month's yarn based purchase will be some KnitPro sock needles.  

As for the list; 

Alphabet Blanket for Noah (see above, not much to do, although it will need both a border and a lining, curses)
Peacock Mittens (new needles needed, so on hold again)
Granny's a Square Afghan (gettting there, only 3 large granny squares and 16 small ones to go, plus a massive border)
Idlewood (still yarn)
Owl Blanket (still on hold)
Hexipuff Quilt (probably not, might swap out)
Paper Dolls (still going)
Elephant blanket (still yarn, need to borrow pattern again)
Something else
Something from the queue 

Monday, 22 July 2013

Handmade Monday

More sewing! Regular readers will know that I have a small, not making a penny at all, business making baby gros for my friends children.  I've made lots and lots now, mostly for friends, but also occasionally for strangers.  I had a stall at a Christmas Fair last year, and I'm hoping to have another this year.  It's fun, and it does feel like I'm doing something completely removed from teaching; I do like my job, but sometimes it would be really nice to do something that fits around the children, rather than the children fitting in with what I do.  Anyway.

Made for Matthew's christening.

A baby controller; the first was made for an Ava, and I embroidered her name over the red buttons, this one was made for an as yet unborn baby, so no name.

Made for Karen's niece.  Nice and easy to sew, so always a winner.

My facebook page is here.  For all your baby gro needs.

Sunday, 21 July 2013


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

I have to confess that I didn't take this picture, my husband did.  I didn't have my phone on me during the party, or a camera, so he took the picture.  As he is their father, it counts.

Butterflies.  What else would you want to be?

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

WIP Wednesday

I was too irritated to write anything yesterday.  It's been a bit too hot at school recently - it's about 30 degrees inside and about 32 outside, just because everywhere is concrete and a suntrap, so by the afternoon has got lovely and hot.  The kids are ratty, we are ratty and it is just no fun at all.  But coming home to watch the girls play naked in the paddling pool is wonderful fun, and the odd accident from a not interested in potty training Hattie is nothing to worry about.

It's officially too hot to work on blankets, and I couldn't bear a third week of the massive crocheted thing which doesn't look that different to the untrained eye, so I picked up my Peacock Mittens.  They are tiny little things on tiny little needles, so they don't make me feel too hot, and they are colourwork, so they are very easy to make.  They'll need a good wash when they're finished though, the cream is getting a bit grubby.

It's not the world's greatest photo, but you get the general idea.  The pattern is Mystery and Manners by SpillyJane, the yarn is Rowan Cashsoft 4ply (cream) and Sparkleduck Socka (peacock), the needles are 2mm, wood and metal - sat on the wooden ones, lost a handful of the metal ones.  They have gone, it's ridiculous.  I think I must have left them in South Africa.

The list, for those interested:

Alphabet Blanket for Noah (more yarn ordered, on its way apparently)
Peacock Mittens (see above)
Granny's a Square Afghan (gettting there, only 5 large granny squares and 24 small ones to go)
Idlewood (still yarn)
Owl Blanket (on hold)
Hexipuff Quilt (probably not, might swap out)
Paper Dolls (still going)
Elephant blanket (still yarn, need to borrow pattern again)
Something else
Something from the queue 

Monday, 15 July 2013

Handmade Monday

I've already put up a picture of Hattie's dress; here is Lucy's new dress, shortly after its first wash.

It's a bit creased, and needs a bit of repairs around the shoulders and under the arms, but I'm very pleased with it.  Lucy loves it, of course.

I've never really used bias binding before, and I bought a lot from Hobbycraft, and just had a go.  It's worked really well, so now I need to go and buy more.  And more and more and more, and more fabric, and make more dresses.  I never realised how addictive sewing is.

One of my next projects will be a skirt for me; I've taken my measurements (urgh).  I'm not going to wait until they reduce, I'm just going to jump in and make one.  Probably from this site here.  I'm intrigued by the idea of a "no pants Summer"; I think it means something different across the pond.

Sunday, 14 July 2013


A portrait of my children, once a week, every week, in 2013.  I'm really enjoying this project.  It's a great way to record the way the girls are growing and changing, and I'm definitely carrying on next year.


 She sat so still.  I assumed that this would be a nightmare, and was dreading it, but she was very well behaved.  Wouldn't have her hair washed, of course, but apart from that did everything brilliantly.  It was her first haircut too.
Post haircut for this one.  Posing as an angel.  She was also very well behaved, and her hair looks lovely, shiny and well shaped and just great.  I was so proud of both of them.

Of course, as it's been stinking hot here in the UK, they went straight home and went into the paddling pool, ruining the "do", but looking beautiful in a different way.

Friday, 12 July 2013


I walked over to Waitrose earlier, in order to take advantage of their "£10 Dinner for Two", and ran into three people I know.  They all said that I look tired.  I do look tired.  It's the end of term, we have a week left, and I'm tired.  Worn out.  Both children are ill-ish, both of us are ill-ish, and I'm pretty much on my knees.  It's just not going to stop either - we have class swaps and handing over assessments and finishing stuff up, planning for next year, tidying, washing, filing, and oh Lord, it's making me feel worse and worse just writing it down.  Add the ill-ish-ness to that, and it's no wonder I don't look my best.

Perhaps I should start using some make up.  My friend Steph, a lady who loves challenges and projects, is doing some sort of "Use it Up" challenge; some sort of save to spend sort of thing.  She wears make up regularly, unlike me; I cannot be bothered.  But I look terrible.  Like something that has been dug up after a few weeks underground.  I'm not sure there is enough foundation to improve this state of affairs.  I do, however, have a lot of make up lying around; and I'm about to spend a small fortune getting my hair highlighted and cut and generally tamed into something resembling a do, so maybe a bit of slap is in order.

Do you notice the smooth way I went from being tired to talking about make up?  It's writing of this calibre that makes me a proud member of the Mumsnet bloggers network.

Normal service to resume shortly.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

WIP Wednesday

Golly, it's Wednesday again.  The term is marching by at a terrifying rate, and I've just notice that we've got less than a fortnight to go.  I should really have been a bit more aware of this, given I've done my reports, had an Open Day, realised how much end of term paperwork I've got to finish, and reported on my pupils' progress.  It'll be our summer break soon; six weeks, which according to Mr Gove is too long.  Quick question.  If summer holidays are such a bad thing and lead to bad results, why do private schools, who often have longer holidays, do so much better?

Anyway.  My WIP is, boringly enough, the same WIP as last week.

I've got really quite a lot of squares left to crochet.  It is taking forever, but then it's been too hot to think about blankets over the last few days.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

A little calm

I've taken to making lists.  I'm not a naturally organised person, so I find this difficult and challenging - what, write down what I need to do?  And then do it?  Not just run around chasing my own tail like a half-witted labrador?  It's proving pretty successful, and I'm powering through things like "make three thousand granny squares" and "sew a baby gro", and less successfully through things like "fill in Lucy's Rainbows form", "get Lucy a new passport" and "arrange birthday party".  One thing I have managed to do though is "sort out who will pick up the children in September", which is a massive weight of my mind.

I work part-time, which means that I turn up at 12, teach between half past and half 3, run around at school until half 4, 5, then pick up the girls, drive home like a maniac, then spend the evening alternately tearing out my hair and shouting.  This has worked well for precisely 1 person this year: my Head.  It's been convenient having the girls at the Nursery in the Children's Centre, but not ideal - I really feel that Hattie has moved backwards, particularly in her behaviour (hitting is not good), and Lucy really hates it there, so I'm relieved that next year it will all come to an end.  Lucy will be going to BIG SCHOOL and Hattie to a French nursery.  But it means that picking up the girls becomes a bit of a problem, as they will be finishing before me.  We had thought about a nanny, but the expense is quite prohibitive.  The hourly rate is OK, but the agencies charge a massive amount to do very little, and the websites all want you to pay masses to contact someone via them.  Rubbish.  Fortunately, the mum of a friend of Lucy will do some pick ups, and someone else will do other pick ups and Grandad will do another load, and everything will be OK.

Having sorted that, and basking in a feeling of calm superiority at ticking another thing off the list of doom, I get a phone call.  Can you come to Cubs, says Simon.  Hattie's fallen off the climbing frame.  She's banged her head.  She threw up all over me, says Simon.

I'm not too proud to admit to panicking and working out how best to tell my boss that I'm not going in tomorrow.  I felt a lot better pulling up outside Cubs to hear Hattie telling off her dad, and to see that she was pretty normal.  I felt even better after speaking to my brother and finding out that these things are as common as a pulled elbow, that it's normal for them to be sick, that unless she's sick again, not to rush her to A&E, that she is fine, and please stop ringing me.

I felt worse putting her to bed at 9 after about 2000000 Peppa sodding Pig episodes; doctor advised keeping her up late, so I did.  Bloody doctor.

Next Tuesday, I'm going out.  BEFORE Cubs.

Monday, 8 July 2013


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

It's been hot here.  Not just warm, actually hot.  We were supposed to be at the tennis yesterday, but Hattie was sick all Saturday night, and the excitement kept Lucy up too, helping me look after her.  She was, genuinely, quite helpful.  We sold the tickets to my brother; he reported that it was very hot on Murray Mound, and there was no shade to be had at all, so it wouldn't have been so much fun for the girls had we gone.  Still.

Instead, Lucy and I went to church on the tag-a-long; good Lord that thing is heavy.  We played inside games, went in the paddling pool and Lucy took Simon to Ikea. It was his own fault; asked where she'd like to go as a treat, she said Ikea.  What is wrong with her?  Apparently though it was cool and not very busy, so not such a daft idea.

We also painted.  The conservatory was absolutely baking, so Lucy stripped down to knickers and an apron.

She wasn't finger painting, so I'm not sure why the purple hands.  

I took this one on Saturday, before the bike ride.  The dress is one of the two I made on Friday; I'm pleased with how they turned out.

She looks like an angel there.  The camera doesn't lie, but it does show selective truths.

Saturday, 6 July 2013


What did you do on the hottest day of the year?

We cycled to Kew.  In the middle of the day.  We were all hot, tired and grumpy by the time we got back, and ready to slump.  The girls made a token effort at playing in the paddling pool, but ended up in front of CBeebies, half asleep.  It isn't a very long way to Kew, but in this heat, it felt a lot further, particularly on the way back.  I have Hattie on the back of my bike, which adds another 18kg to haul along.  We all weighed ourselves on Wednesday; what a shock.  I'm trying to give up alcohol, and I'm certainly going a month without cream and cheese.

Lucy passed her ballet exam.  We're very proud of her, although I suspect that at this level you can only fail if you don't turn up.

I'm off to the Northfields Night Market, which involves more cycling, so I need to go and stuff some cotton wool into my pants before getting back in the saddle.

Friday, 5 July 2013


A while ago, I wrote about my orchid.  I am not green fingered.  However, something I am doing must be working as the orchid has gone from this:

to this:

to this:

Flowers!  It's thriving!  It has nearly lost all its leaves, but there is a very healthy looking flower stalk and a couple of flowers, which is tremendous.  

Simon has been at the Beer Festival tonight, so I have made the girls a dress each.  Photos tomorrow; the light is too bad now.  They are both pink and floral; I confess to having chosen the fabric myself with a view to dressing them at some point, but I gave the girls free range through the stash, and these are what they chose.  Lucy's dress I made her a few weeks ago is still holding together, I have great hopes for these ones.  

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Elderflower Cordial and Strawberry Jam

Very domestic goddess-y of me; I picked the elderflowers at ten o'clock at night, after my WI meeting last week, and made the cordial over the weekend.  It's very easy to make, it just takes time and a bit of stirring. I used less sugar and more lemons this time, so it tastes very flowery and not as sweet.  I've put a whole lot in the freezer too, and I might make it into ice cream at some point.  Or we'll just drink it with fizzy water and lots of ice.  Possibly some vodka too.  I put some into a glass of white wine the other day; I don't recommend that.

The strawberry jam has sparkles in it, of course, and it hasn't set as firmly as the batch I made last year, and I didn't use pomegranate molasses, just a good slosh of elderflower cordial.

A rare daytime post, thanks to Peppa Pig being uploaded onto youtube, and youtube being available on our television.  

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

WIP Wednesday & Year of Projects round up

Goodness me, can my life get any more interesting?  Yesterdays bombshell - a burned foot and a sulk - was mostly due to me using an iPad app to type; a device that blocked all inspiration with great efficiency.

My WIP this week is, boringly enough, Lucy's birthday blanket.  It is coming on really well, and should be finished in plenty of time, but goodness me, is it boring to make.  

Probably just as boring to read about, if I'm honest.

So, for those still awake, here is my list from this year, which for me ran from February to the end of June.

Alphabet Blanket for Noah - still mostly yarn
Peacock Mittens - sat on needles, waiting for replacements
Granny's a Square Afghan - see above, about a third left to go, plus border
Idlewood - still yarn
Owl Blanket - half way through, plus border
The Killing Jumper - done
Hexipuff Quilt - I've made another 4, so only about 3 billion left to make
Paper Dolls - sloooooooooow going
Vine Yoke - done
Skyfall socks - also done

The list for this new year, beginning of July to end of June, is something like this.

Alphabet Blanket for Noah
Peacock Mittens
Granny's a Square Afghan
Owl Blanket
Hexipuff Quilt (probably)
Paper Dolls
Something else
Something from the queue

Scintillating stuff!  Tune in next Wednesday for more fascinating knitting and crocheting related chat.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Melanzane Parmigiana

What a massive pain in the bum to cook, but, rather like crochet, if I want it in my life, I have to make it.  I fried three large aubergines for what seemed like hours, and managed to burn my foot when boiling oil dropped on it.  I don't recommend that.  The aubergines are sat in the kitchen on a plate, with kitchen paper to absorb some of the grease, waiting for me to stop sulking, put Hattie to bed and get cooking.  

I had my Pupil Progress Meeting today; my angels are doing quite well, which is good; and my boss was pleased, a new thing for me.  I didn't even massage the figures that much.

This time yesterday, it was glorious. Sodding British weather.

Monday, 1 July 2013


I've been photographing the girls religiously for a whole 6 months now.  It's been lovely and interesting for me, and I'm sure fascinating and eye opening for my reader(s).  I can see the girls growing up; Lucy is really ready for school, having fewer tantrums, dressing herself, behaving much more sensibly and generally being really great.  Hattie is a "character"; a very determined, stubborn young lady, with a sunny nature and a will of iron.  She's developed a real love of playing busy games - telling herself little stories while pottering around; she's particularly keen on playing with toy people.  It's lovely to watch.

Lucy was in a show over the weekend.  She has been doing a Dance Drama class on a Tuesday with some of her friends from Nursery, and their showcase was at our local theatre on Thursday and Saturday.  The children were fabulous.  As she has a pushy mother, this was her second professional engagement, so there were no tears beforehand, although mild hysterics afterwards. 

Hattie is trying to lift the fridge.  Because she is "bigandstrong".  I don't think I need to say more.