Monday, 20 October 2014

Avoid any food that has a TV commercial

It's still October Unprocessed, and I've been cooking all sorts of things.  Nothing too radical - no making my own yoghurt, or bok choi chips; just a massive fish pie, a farro risotto from Nigellissima - made with bacon bits to stop it being too healthy or boring; a melanzane parmigiano with extra mozzarella; bean and tomato soup; toast with homemade damson jam, the list goes on.  

I don't really like to cook, despite being quite good at it when I do; the things I really like to make involve twenty minutes frantic work, then leaving it in the oven for the rest of the time.  Like baking.  Baking is satisfyingly maths-y with all the measuring and weighing, then you mix it all together in the Kenwood, bung it in a cake tin, and ta-dah there is a cake.  Icing on the other hand is a massively boring chore, and I utterly discard it.  Which is why my cakes taste great, but look like they've been sat on by an elephant.  

Anyway, all this healthy eating is paying dividends, and I have lost about two inches from the waist, and nothing at all from the hips - not in one month, of course, but the new regime is working, and if I can only get off my bum a bit more often and go for a run, life will be perfection and joy.  I would like to be able to cut a smaller Coco next time.

I went for a quick drink with my colleagues on Friday, getting home at twenty past one, having heard all the gossip (none of which is interesting to other people) and having shot my mouth off about all sorts.  One of them asked me how I had lost all the weight, and I surprised myself by being quite evangelical about running, and the Get Running app in particular. If you are thinking of a couch to 5K programme, this one is fantastic, not at all annoying, and lets you play your own music.  Get Running are not paying me to advertise their app; they bloody should be.

Tonight's Unprocessed delight is Wild Salmon with Noodles and Spinach and Soy Sauce and three glasses of red.  Followers of the regime will be delighted to learn that I count vodka and haribo as being unprocessed, if not a key ingredient in the weight loss.

PS While searching for a title for this post, I was offered the chance to "Spice up my Sex Routine".  Something to consider for the long winter nights.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

It's not a hobby, it's a post-apocalyptic life skill


A Knit List Update

For the girls:
An Owlet for Hattie - very close to starting this
Ringo and Elwood mittens in grey and brown - These are going to be Christmas presents, I need to get a  move on
Two Burton Bears cowls - pattern printed out
A cowl for Hattie to match the cowl I made for Lucy - this is about 3 hours work, once I've wound the wool

For me:

This is my new jumper - a Boreal by Kate Davies; I'm using lovely, lovely EasyKnits Ooomph in Soooooooper Grover; it's aran weight and absolutely delicious.  The white is a super squishy sheepy smelling aran from Laxtons - it's on their website as Blue Face Leicester Roving.  Gorgeously snuggly.
Wisteria jumper - not talking about that
Peacock Mitten - ditto
Coraline cardigan - moved to be finished by February; this is Britain, it will still be cold then
Petrie top - needs me to buy yarn, so not feeling it at the moment
Knitted Coco - got the yarn, printed out a pattern, just got to start
Socks for me - I'm not going to use the yarn I was going to use, so now I need to dig in the stash
A Rainbow jumper with some sheepy yarn from the Faroes and a lot of Kauni wool - still in the planning stages
A Little Birds jumper with no steeks - ditto

For Simon:
Reknit an unwearably large jumper - I've had a look in his cupboard, and chosen the one to reknit.  I need to take measurements and search out the pattern.  I want this done by his birthday (February)
More socks. - One sock is done.  I have 4 and a half rounds of ribbing to do on the other, so I am calling it done for now.  They are bottle green, not black.  Still a bugger to knit.

Owl Obsession for one of my godsons - got the yarn.... (he's only just turned one, he doesn't need a blanket yet)
Hexipuff Quilt (I'm aiming to get 250/500 done by the end of June 2015) (I might get a bit more enthused about this in Christmas)
The Weather in the Streets (should probably be finished by June) - January to May - done; January to April sewn together. (Again, I've lost momentum for this)
Finish the bloody Elephants blanket - FCK THAT SHJT. (massive hate on about this, might just bin the damn thing)
Lucy Attic24 Ripple Blanket - going surprisingly well (slowly)

Nicholas' POP blanket - I've done a few squares, but am being very slow about it (speeding up - I've done 8 squares) (oops, make that 7 - curses)

Myrna Cardigan
Hattie's cardigan.
A pair of simple socks  for the children
Garter Yoke Cardigan
An Owlet for Lucy 

I've been obsessed, OBSESSED, with sewing recently.  Lucy now has an ELSA DRESS MADE BY HER MUM, which she wore to a party at the weekend.  She was overjoyed by it, and her friends' mums were amazed and stunned by my general brilliance and creativity.  You can read all about it here.  I made myself a beautiful Charley Harper print dress the other day; you can see pictures of me in my old specs, looking weird, here.  It is a Coco.  What else?  2 hours it took to make, that's all.  You don't get that sort of creative high from knitting, I can tell you.

PS Hello lovely commentators, who were so sweet about my last Year of Projects post.  I meant to reply to every single one, but things got in the way; sorry.  It's always lovely to read comments, thank you xx  I will try to be more diligent replying this week.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

A bird in the hand

I took the morning off on Thursday; by which I mean that I didn't go into work to do my job on a voluntary basis between half 9 and half 12;  I stayed at home, did some work, prepared for my first SENCO meeting and made a Coco.

The fabric is a Charley Harper print, called Upside Downside, and it is lovely.  It's a jersey, and so soft and easy to wear.  I bought it at the Knitting and Stitching Show from The Eternal Maker last weekend; it didn't even have time to get into the stash.  I decided not to make the sleeves birds, primarily because I'd run out of fabric, but also because it might be all a bit too much.  I think the dress looks better with a cardigan pulling it in a bit; also, you know, AUTUMN.

The dress took 2 hours from cutting it out to wearing it, which is a bit of a record.  If I cut out the night before, I could feasibly make one in the morning to wear to school and still be in by lunchtime.  I might challenge myself.  

I now want all the Charley Harper fabric, and all the prints.  Especially this one:

Backyard Birds, from his official website.  I've got a birthday coming up.  Just saying.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

A dress for a Princess

It started off as a reaction to the idea of paying 70 Euros EACH for an acrylic, flammable Elsa dress in Disneyland Paris.  When we got back to London, we went to John Lewis and chose £50 worth of blue fabric, and sparkles, and netting, and all sorts, as well as a pattern.


These sat in the stash for a while, having a little think about everything.

One bodice, cut out and with bead placement.

One completed bodice.  The sequin tape is sewn around the sleeve cuffs, and the neckline is decorated.  The silk was a bugger to cut out, but it is done now, and even after cutting out Hattie's bodice, there'll be enough left to make a scarf for me to sashay around in.  Making a silk scarf; understand that what I'm going to do is pink the edges, then knot it around my neck and go out.  No sewing required.

Just the skirt to go now; and I cut so that it would fall to just above her ankles.  I didn't cut out enough panels for the skirt, which I discovered AFTER sewing on the net underskirt, and the gauzy overskirt.  So on the back, it has a plain panel with the zip in.  It's also much too big at the top, as I added more room to the bodice by accident.  I couldn't face ripping out all the work, so I had to bodge it.  And we need a cloak.

It rustles when she walks.

It's super, super sparkly.

And there it is, in its full glory.  Being exceptionally nit-picking, I would make the overskirt fuller, so that there's more movement in it, and I would count the panels properly so that I don't have to bodge it again.  The pattern is quite good actually, although I'm not entirely sure about the skirt.  It's a bit impractical for active girls.

I worried that Lucy would be a bit sniffy about it not being a REAL Elsa dress, but she loves it.  Thank goodness.  Now, when I've ordered more fabric for Hattie's, I've just got to get a couple of wigs, and some sparkly shoes and we'll be singing all around West Ealing.  

I might have to make myself one too.  

Monday, 13 October 2014

All the world is made of faith and trust. And knitting.

Sewing is taking over my life.  I can't do anything else at the moment, it's all so exciting.  I've been making Lucy a special Elsa dress, and will have photos (!) and a long, work in progress style blog post soon, but it's on hold at the moment, as I can't quite face it.

So the knit list.  I went to Ally Pally at the weekend, and came back with 4 metres of jersey fabric for two Cocos (chevrons and upside down birds - beyond gorgeous), a pattern for a dress that is slightly more complicated than a Coco but not much, some wool, some needles, some more wool and a pompom maker.  It's all very, very exciting.  I'm going to be very, very busy.

For the girls:

Owlet for Lucy : DONE!

It doesn't photograph well, particularly not on my crappy old 4; I'm getting a whizzy new one in a few days, can't wait.  
An Owlet for Hattie - yarn ready, just need to get on with it
Ringo and Elwood mittens in grey and brown (it's getting close to mitten weather, better get a move on)

For me:

Garter Yoke cardigan - DONE and I have barely taken it off since I finished it

Finish the Wisteria jumper (not much to go) - just got the sleeves to do (hngh)
Finish the other Peacock Mitten in time for winter - need to get on with it (bah)
Coraline cardigan - I have NEW YARN in a new and exciting and very not Julia colour for this one (still looking at the yarn)
Petrie top with navy and blue stripes - on hold (sh)
A knitted Coco (no link, because I am going to make it up and channel Tilly) - got some yarn for it STILL
A pair of socks - didn't get to start in France, but will try to do them in the car in the next few weeks (bah, but we are going to Edinburgh, so I will start these on the train)

For Simon:
Reknit an unwearably large jumper - I've had a look in his cupboard, and chosen the one to reknit.  I need to take measurements and search out the pattern.
More socks. - One sock is done.  The other sock is half done, so hurrah for that

Owl Obsession for my new godson - got the yarn.... (shh)
Hexipuff Quilt (I'm aiming to get 250/500 done by the end of June 2015) (shh)
The Weather in the Streets (should probably be finished by June) - January to May - done; January to April sewn together. (grr)
Finish the bloody Elephants blanket - FCK THAT SHJT. (massive hate on about this, might just bin the damn thing)
Lucy Attic24 Ripple Blanket - going surprisingly well (slowly)
Nicholas' POP blanket - I've done a few squares, but am being very slow about it (speeding up - I've done 8 squares)

Myrna Cardigan
Hattie's cardigan.
A pair of simple socks  for the children

I've got couple more things to add to the list - like two Burton Bear cowls, a Little Birds jumper (no steeks), a Boreal Christmas jumper that needs starting and a cowl for Hattie.  Hey ho.  Less sewing, more sitting.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Two Dresses

The trouble with children is that they always want you to be doing something with them.  Mine are pretty independent most of time; Hattie likes small world stuff, Lucy likes drawing, but the minute I try to do anything like iron some fabric prior to cutting it out, it's all "Muuuuuuuuummmmmm, I'm boooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooorrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrreed".  Even if they are watching TV, the minute they hear the sewing machine touch the table, the TV turned off and the pestering starts.  So it takes me a very long time to sew anything.

This dress started off as a dream, weirdly enough.  I was drinking gin in a bar with this generation's Orwell, Owen Jones, off of the Grauniad, wearing a dress made out of clouds.  That's what happens when you read Private Eye in the bath, you have weird dreams about class warriors.  Anyway, I kept on thinking about it, and couldn't find any fabric that was suitable, until I went to Hobbycraft, and spotted this.

I think that was just after Easter, and it sat in my stash for a few months.  Then I made it into a Cambie dress, with the most perfect topstitching around the neckline.  It didn't fit.  Not even in a oooh a bit tight, lose 5 pounds way.  It didn't fit one bit.  I think the Cambie dress and I have a love hate relationship; something to do with me having an hourglass figure (it's TRUE.  My bust and my hips are EXACTLY the same measurement) and the Cambie dress being one that flatters a pear shape.  The bodice is either too big or titchy, and the rest just looks odd.  

Anyway, I couldn't face starting again, so I ripped its seams open and added panels of fabric to the zip and to the side seams.  It is now a patchwork cloud.

Take a picture where I don't look like a moron, I said.  Try to make me look normal, I said.  It's a bit cold for sleeveless at the moment, hence the Myra cardigan.  I might make one in bright yellow - a sunshine to go with the clouds.
I am nearly 37.  There is nothing wrong with wearing a dress that is made out of clouds.

The other dress is the grey Coco that I started a while back.  It needed pockets, cuffs and a hem.  It now has all of these. I am going to wear it tomorrow to be a Junior Church teacher.  It has a sort of ecclesiastical vibe to it.

Seriously, I'm going to have to change my photographer.

The optician has told me that I need to wear my glasses more often rather than just my contacts, so the search is on for some I like that aren't too expensive.  It's all so difficult and terribly, terribly dull.  In other news, one of the little girls in my class thinks that I am my Nursery Nurse's mum.  So I'm going up for an early night, then tomorrow I'm either getting Botox or buying up all the make up that Mac can make.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Something serious

What a shitty day yesterday turned into.  I don't like to be mawkish, or sentimental, or overly religious, but I found a lot of comfort in the grief stricken lament of Psalm 22.  Be not far from us, for trouble is near, there is no one else to help.  At our church, our churchwarden read Psalm 23, and said some beautiful, appropriate words, and expressed our grief and loss absolutely perfectly.  Helen, our vicar, was on the Channel 4 news, and she spoke movingly of the sense of almost violation that we all feel; that is our canal, that is our space, this is a place of happiness and love and community and friendship.  Please hold her family, and our wider community, in your thoughts, prayers and hearts at this awful time.  Even though we didn't know them, we feel grief and a terrible sense of loss.  The yellow ribbons are still up; it is just heartbreaking.

I just can't be light-hearted about knitting tonight.  

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Eat food, not too much, mostly plants

It's October, and it's October Unprocessed again.  Hurrah! 31 days of no added sugar, no shit lunchtime noodles and no processed food of any sort.  I shall mainly be eating grass, the hamster's sawdust and bulbs from the park opposite.  Last year, I sort of stuck to these "rules", guidelines, perhaps; and I've just made myself laugh out loud at the ridiculousness of some of the things I thought I could do.  "Make your own cereal bars", what an idiot.

Anyway, I think I will stick to more or less the same rules this year, with the exception of no Chinese pot noodles, which I am sick of anyway, and aren't that great for you either.

No Diet Coke.
Less sugar.
Baking my own bread for a month - this one is a bit difficult, as I don't really eat that much bread, and we end up with far too much bread, as we still buy bread for the fusspots sandwiches.  Maybe that should be "Don't eat rubbish bread".
If I can buy it as an ingredient (baking powder, caster sugar, flour), it's OK.
Cook more and menu plan like mad.

Like last year, that is not very far from what we eat as a family anyway.  The children eat more processed food than us - chicken nuggets, fish fingers, frankfurters, yoghurt, that sort of thing; and I don't really drink very much or eat things like takeaways more than once a month.  What a virtuous person I am.

I've also started doing the 30 Day Shred again, which was as challenging as I remember, although my recovery time is much faster, which is great.  I quite enjoyed it, bizarrely.  The running has made a real difference, particularly to my attitude to exercise.  I've signed up for a 10k race around London in February, and I really, really want to do it in under 80 minutes, which is doable for me, as I am very, very slow runner, so I'd better get out training again.  

Me me me me me me me me.  It's what you all come here for. 

Do try to listen to this episode of Analysis, it's on the iplayer, and is very, very interesting.  I'm going to get Michael Pollan's books, they sound great.  His mantra is "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants", and it's a really good way to look at diet.  I'd add, "do more things" to that too, just to add in a bit of exercise.  Told you my attitude had changed.