Wednesday, 22 January 2014

WIP Wednesday

It's all so dreadfully BORING at the moment.  I'm the librarian at school, for my sins, and I've been going in in the morning and tidying up, reorganising and generally trying to sort the wheat (good, new books) from the chaff (a lot of the other books).  This means that I am just too tired to do anything - I didn't sign up to be full-time with young children, and it's hard bloody work.  Everything's taken a backseat: knitting - abandoned; crochet - sporadic; baby grow making - on hold.  It's not great, but it's the way it is at the moment. Fortunately, there is a light at the end of the tunnel - I want to have the library looking great by next Thursday, so I can chat about it at the staff meeting on the following Monday, so not many days left to go.  Plus, I think I've got my costume sorted for Simon's birthday party, so I can stop over-thinking and generally stressing about that now.  Just got to get a babysitter arranged now.

So, the upshot is that although I've now made the middles of 18 owls, and two owls complete with eyes and beaks, and two complete owl squares, I've not made that much of a dent in the owl blanket. The Wisteria jumper is still the same. The weather blanket needs another 11 squares to be up to date. The pirate baby grow is beautiful but needs sewing. The pilot tee-shirt is still in the planning stage.

They can all wait until I am less drained.

The list has been put in for completeness.  It is JUST THE SAME AS IT WAS.  *sigh*

Wisteria - on hold
Blue and Grey Socks - one sock done
Elephant blanket - one stripe made. Second stripe nearly finished. Beyond bored with it.
Peacock Mittens - one finished, bar the thumb (still)
Idlewood - still yarn
Ringo and Elwood mittens - nyeh
Owl Blanket - 18 owls left to go
Hexipuff Quilt - lots more to go.
Paper Dolls - finished and done.
Peerie Flooers - finished and done
Alphabet Blanket for Noah - done
Granny's a Square Afghan - done

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Taking Stock Tuesday

Making: As many lovely jumpers I can fit in the wardrobe
Cooking: Every day, as befits a domestic goddess
Drinking: Tea by the bucket
Reading: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
Wanting: A bit more enthusiasm for exercise
Looking: Blankly out of the window
Playing: Games with my children
Deciding: Where to go in half term
Wishing: It was actually half term next week
Enjoying: The feeling of being at leisure
Waiting: For Spring to arrive properly, but without wishing away Winter
Liking: My new TA very much
Wondering: What this year will bring
Loving: Listening to Lucy read. Actually READ proper books.
Pondering: What to do about the Hanwell Food Bank
Considering: Buying an second hand dull cord skirt and doing some more dyeing
Watching: Sherlock. Repeatedly.
Hoping: For a happy birthday for my husband
Marvelling: That it's been nearly a month since Christmas
Needing: A kick up the bum to get me to do my tax return
Smelling: The daffodils that are flowering in the conservatory
Wearing: Handmade socks
Following: All sorts of dubious advice about creativity
Noticing: That things are starting to grow again
Knowing: That there is a light at the end of the tunnel with my class
Thinking: About SEN stuff
Feeling: Happy
Admiring: Anyone who can cope with their own children as a single parent
Sorting: Out the mess
Buying: Too much fabric. Is that a thing?
Getting: Frustrated by the never-ending washing mountain. Seriously children, stop getting so grubby.
Bookmarking: Hands Free Mama, a site that infuriates and attracts me simultaneously
Disliking: Nothing in particular, for a change
Opening: The curtains onto a frosty Green.
Giggling: About the UKIP moron. Still.
Feeling: Content

Monday, 20 January 2014

Handmade Monday

I am a terrible magpie.  When I see something nice, I have to have it.  If it's something handmade, I have to have a go at making it, so when I saw this, I thought that that was something I would very much like to do.  A red coat is not very me, and I don't want to be too much of a social sheep, so I decided to make mine a different colour.

I found an old coat on ebay before Christmas and let it sit in the cupboard for a few weeks while I thought about colours.  I bought two packs of lovely purple Dylon dyes, and had a go on Saturday.

Apart from time, this was easy to do.  It takes a preliminary wash, then a 2 hour wash with the dye, then another 2 hour wash to get the excess dye out, then a short wash to clean out the machine.  It's come out very well, if I say so myself, and I'm very pleased with it.  I wore it to Nursery today, and it was gorgeous and warm.

I think the finishing touches won't be crocheted squares, although they look gorgeous, as everything Lucy touches does, but some lazy daisies on the pockets. 

Unfortunately, the washing did SOMETHING to the zip, so it didn't catch properly, and then didn't open properly, and I was stuck in it, looking after the children at Nursery.  I managed to fix the stupid thing, thanks to a pair of pliers and a bit of quiet swearing.  It really is a thing of beauty, and I'm very pleased with my first bash at upcycling - horrid word, but it describes this quite well.


Sunday, 19 January 2014


A portrait of my children once a week, every week, in 2014.

Hattie in a cafe, drinking a hot chocolate, as you can see from the shadow around her mouth and the naughty look on her face.  She ended up giving me hers, and taking mine, which is sharing, I suppose.

Today, after church, the girls went upstairs and played quietly in their bedrooms for ages, coming downstairs dressed as princesses, complete with tutus and all sorts.  Lucy then insisted on some decopatching craft, and I snapped this as she sat and concentrated.  Of course, thirty seconds later, she was being very rude to me - shouting, stamping and telling me that I was doing the wrong thing and not letting her do it by herself, and then thirty seconds after that was demanding my help.  It's very difficult being 5.

Makes my house look pretty tidy and almost like a magazine.

Sunday, 12 January 2014


Photos of my children once a week, every week, in 2014.

A busy week.  Back to school, back to Nursery, back into the familiar routine, with Simon in Norwich overnight once in the week.  It's only been today that I've been able to photograph the girls.

Lucy concentrating on that blasted iPad.  She loves it to distraction, especially the Princess storybooks app.  I quite like that one too; it reads the story to you, with pictures and the words, and once they can read, they don't need the soundtrack.

Hattie.  She is a Gruffalo.  A very weary Gruffalo.  Not more photos, Mummy.

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

WIP Wednesday

First WIP of the year is a terribly difficult jumper from 2008.  It's got crossing cables and all sorts.

I'm making it in Lamb's Pride Worsted, Prairie Fire, for those interested, and I'm planning on finishing the yoke before stopping and doing something a bit less tricky for a few days.  

Short and sweet.

The List:

*NEW*Wisteria*NEW* - a long-queued project
Blue and Grey Socks - one sock done
Elephant blanket - one stripe made. Second stripe nearly finished.  Beyond bored with it.
Peacock Mittens - one finished, bar the thumb (still)
Idlewood - still yarn
Ringo and Elwood mittens - nyeh
Owl Blanket - 18 owls left to go
Hexipuff Quilt - lots more to go.
Paper Dolls - finished and done.
Peerie Flooers - finished and done
Alphabet Blanket for Noah - done
Granny's a Square Afghan - done

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Five things on a Tuesday

1. I have decided to take part in a "sew-along".  Which is apparently a real thing, who knew?  It is to make a peplum top, which is either going to look sensational or dreadful.  We will see.  Details can be seen here.  I will be using a stretchy knitted fabric, which I haven't used before and will need a different needle for sewing machine for; the whole thing is filling me with trepidation.

2. This morning was remarkably stress-free, considering that I was on my own, and had to get two girls to school and Nursery.  I managed to get home and it was only 10am, so I had a cup of tea and a biscuit to celebrate, and suddenly it was 11.  I don't know where the time went.

3. Lots of cooking from scratch this year so far.  We've had cottage pie from leftover New Year's Day beef, lasagna, chicken and mushroom pie, macaroni cheese; all sorts.  Rather too many white sauces though, so perhaps a bit of a diet for next week.  The macaroni cheese was for the girls - of course it was rejected by Hattie.

4. Hattie.  Hattie is so clingy at the moment.  She doesn't want to go to sleep, she wants to sit on my lap all the time, she wants me to cuddle her all the time, and she doesn't want me to leave her alone in her bed.  I refuse to go down the "sit with her until she falls asleep" road, mainly because she needs to learn to settle herself and go to sleep; but when she is sobbing because there is no one to look after her, I feel terribly guilty and like the worst sort of mother.  Of course, the little ratbag stops sobbing after approximately two minutes and then sings a "I not tired, I not going to sleep" song.

5. A new thing: re-reading Iris Murdoch.  I read a lot of Iris Murdoch as a twenty-something, and while I knew that they were/are excellent, a lot of the charm and wit passed me by; so now I'm re-reading them all as a proper adult with a family.  I've started with "A Fairly Honourable Defeat", and am going to work my way through them across the next couple of months.  AFHD has a character in that is eerily similar to Benedict Cumberpatch's Sherlock, so that's nice casting.  Highly recommended, if you like books about frighteningly horrible people. 

Monday, 6 January 2014

Handmade Monday

How to Make a Skirt the Julia Way.

1. Decide you are going to make a corduroy skirt with a dark blue main bit, a red hem and a red waistband.

2. Buy enough fabric to make a red skirt with a dark blue hem and waistband.

3. Cut skirt roughly to pattern using rotary cutter.  NB spend fifteen minutes searching for rotary cutter, eventually finding it on top of the piano.

4. Sew in the zip.

5. Rip out the zip.

6. Sew in the zip.

7. Rip out the zip.

8. Make a cup of tea.

9. Sew in the zip.

10. Sew the waistband on, sew the seams.

11. Sew on the hem.

12.  Realise it is too short.  Rip off the hem, cut a larger hem, sew on the hem.

13. Cut an inch off the hem.

14. Hem properly by hand.  Give up.  Sew a rough seam using the machine.

15. Finish skirt, try on.

16. Rip out seam, cut three inches off non-zipped side, resew seam.

17. Make another cup of tea.  Eat biscuits until the skirt fits properly.

18. Photograph, muck about with instagram filters, make it look super special.

19. Feel proud as you cut off all the little bits of threads.

20. Do not allow anyone with any sewing knowledge to examine inside of skirt.

So there you go.  One skirt.  I'm very pleased with it, and the only flaws are to do with lack of experience, so more sewing is needed.  I am getting pretty addicted; a sentence I never thought I'd write. 

Sunday, 5 January 2014


I can't quite believe I managed a whole year last year.  Amazing.

I really like these two pictures.  We are preparing for my husband's birthday; the concentration is intense.

Don't really want to say anymore about these two really.

Portraits of my children once a week, every week, in 2014.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Looking back

Before I start this year's photo extravaganza, here is a selection of photos of the girls from 2013.

Indulge me; it hasn't been Epiphany yet, it's still Christmas.

Friday, 3 January 2014

FO Friday

I've finished a project, but it's a bit of a cheat.  I started this jumper back in 2010, finished it, wore it a couple of times, realised that it made me look both fat and even shorter, shoved it to the back of the cupboard and forgot about it.  During a cupboard purge of last year, I pulled it out, started ripping it back, got distracted, then abandoned it.  When we bought my new chest of drawers, and I had to clear out the bedroom, I found it again, ripped it back and re-knitted most of the body.  Because it is circular needles, I just sat there, going round and round and round and round and round until I thought it was big enough, tried it on, kept going, then did a garter edge.  The result is that a pretty unflattering jumper is now a warm and comfy addition to my wardrobe.  And I've finished my first 2014 project.


Wednesday, 1 January 2014

New Year's Resolutions

I don't think I made any New Year's resolutions last year, and I'm not entirely sure I want to this year either. January is such a delightful time to start something new - not drinking, running outside, exercise generally, eating less; even thought it's technically the beginning of the year, everyone knows that life begins in September with the new school year.

So I won't be making any resolutions per se, but will be applying this "philosophy" to myself.  For those who can't be bothered to follow links, basically, setting goals is unrealistic, and leads to heartache and pain.  Far rather work on the process that leads to the goal - so if you want to lose weight, you need to eat less and move more.  Your process then is to move more and to watch the calories, and the result will be that you will lose weight without trying.

Apparently.  I'm a bit skeptical, but as my mind is as open as the Nursery doors, I am prepared to give it a try.  So with that in mind, and with this in mind as well, this is roughly what I want to do this year.

1. Move - I run around all day, I am on my feet a lot, but it's not enough.  I have to do that Shred again, and I have to move enough to get out of breath every day.

2. Make - I know I do a lot of creative things.  I love it.  So why not do more of it?

3. Tidy - I've sorted out a lot of stuff recently, binned some, sent a lot to charity shops, but there's always more cluttering up our home and lives.

4. Groom - I have a lot of make-up, lots of nice clothes, some gorgeous shoes, some lovely jewellery. So no more slobbing around in the GirlGuiding hoodie.  Exceptions to the rule - when hungover.  Or tired.  Or in a mood.

5. Reflect - the children are growing up, and I don't want to miss this.  I want to allow more time without screens and things in the way, just to enjoy being around them.  Then, when they're in bed, write it all down, so I can look back at it later, and they can cringe over their super-embarrassing share-ent.

I don't believe in radical life changes; they don't work in the long-term, but this seems, well, do-able.  Let's see.