Wednesday, 10 December 2008

The Times They Are a-Changin'

And so we are nearly at the end of another year. For me, the turmoil and bustle of everyday activities, the world of work and family, the highs and lows of the last year, are gradually stilled as we move through Advent. Christmas, for me, is a time of reflection and peace, where all the threads of life can be laid out, reflected on and their pattern seen before starting a new cycle in January. It is also a time of rest and recovery.

For the last five years, the transition from everyday life to the Christmas season has been marked by driving up to Cambridge to fetch my daughter home for Christmas. Cambridge is a special place for me, where I spent three intense, magical years of my youth, and which is full of memories of people, events and aspirations.

Every year, the drive up is on a cold, crisp, sunny winter morning. We load the car with Kino's things and then go somewhere for a quiet lunch. By the time lunch is over, the sun is setting and we drive home as it gets dark, listening to Christmas music on the radio. After this year, though, things are changing; in January, Kino is off to travel the world for a year or so.

I'm hoping to meet up with her some time, but more of that next year. Time for some more travel, perhaps! In the meantime, next Saturday is the drive up to fetch her, and I'm looking forward to it.

Since my last post (and thanks for the messages of sympathy and understanding by the way) I've at least written my cards, and Braveheart and I have made some progress in the kitchen.

We made some Christmas biscuits:

The Christmas Cake is well marinated in brandy and has been covered in marzipan. It is due to be iced this afternoon and Braveheart has ambitious designs in mind, so watch this space!

As I don't appear to have finished any knitting for ages I thought I would at least show what I have been doing. I have finished my mittens interrupted and the matching scarf (which have been pretty useful these last few weeks).

I have been crocheting some snowflakes. This is the first one, in size 10 cotton. It needs starching and blocking I hasten to add, but it looks pretty cool so far.

I have been slowly but surely getting on with my Babette blanket in the car driving to work. Obviously I'm not the one driving, of course. Here's all the squares!

Here it is so far. I'm loving those autumn leaves colours, which are such fun to do. Only about 10 more to go and then I can start on the final section - Winter!

I have decided to start assembling it, so these squares have been blocked, and I hope to start sewing them together very soon. As soon as I've finished blogging about them and made a few more snowflakes in fact.

I hope all your Christmas preparations are going well!

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Saturday, 29 November 2008


It's the end of November and I haven't so much as written a Christmas Present list, I haven't written any cards, I haven't ordered a turkey, my Babette Blanket squares for November aren't finished, I am so busy at work I can hardly take a lunch hour and I haven't made any progress on my cable sweater for two weeks.

I'm stressed!
DSoK the Graduate called last night and he's stressed too, mainly by work, which sounds just as badly run as where I work, so I listened to him ranting about it for a while. We are going walking together tomorrow so I hope that will be nice and relaxing. If not I'll just have to hit the gin. Maybe I'll put some in my thermos now I come to think of it.

I have done some work on my Babette Blanket this month and I'm rather pleased with the results so far. I'm on the 9th block, and there is one more to go, so unless I get a lot done over Christmas I don't think I'll quite get it finished this year. If I can find the time I think I'm going to start blocking the finished squares soon and sewing them together to see how it all looks.

I also have to do about eight more rows on my Scarf Interrupted. It is done with the left overs of my Manos del Uruguay and some Katia Venus which I bought in Mallorca a few years ago. I think it is quite pretty, and I expect it will be nice and warm. Once it's done I can get on with my Cable Sweater.

I also bought a lovely booklet with crochet snowflake patterns in. I just have to send off for crochet cotton, a tiny crochet hook and some little beads and I can begin! I need a new activity I reckon. Probably stress relieving...
Oh yes, I was going to knit the Alan Dart Nativity as well. At night, maybe...

UPDATE: I haven't even had time to take photos of all this stuff, but I did manage to do some Christmas shopping over the weekend, so I'm feeling a bit better. I'll try and take some photos later in the week.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Babette Interrupted

Here are some updated photos of my Babette Blanket. I have done eight out of ten sections now. There are still eight nasty little two-round squares to do, in fact, but they don't take long. I am dying to get started with the ninth section, which I am planning to do in some lovely autumn leaves colours.

In the meantime I also started these Mittens Interrupted, by Eunny Jang, from Interweave Knits Fall 2008. I bought the Manos del Uruguay Wool Classica specially, at Alexandra Palace. It is gorgeous to knit with, lovely and soft. I've finished one mitten and am half way through the second. I plan to make a matching scarf with the remaining wool, plus a little bit of something left over from another project.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Like Ghosts From an Enchanter Fleeing

Well, I don't know about you, but here the weather has been cold and wild alternately for a week or so now. On Friday we got out a kind of vacuum cleaner for leaves, and had fun blowing them off the lawn into a pile and then hoovering them up. As they danced along in front of the blower they reminded me of the description of autumn in Shelley's poem, Ode To The West Wind.

The lawn looked nice and tidy until this morning, when there was a fresh set of leaves blown down overnight. At least they are all gorgeous colours. Driving to work at the moment is through a wonderland of autumn foliage, and it has made me decide that my next set of Babette squares will be in the colours of sutumn leaves. I've still got nine little squares to do in Waves colours (for July) first, though.

As you can see from the photo above, we have been successful in obtaining windfall apples from a variety of sources, from colleagues at work with an apple tree to free windfall apples at the side of the road, and we have 12 gallons of cider currently fermenting. We should be bottling the first three gallons tomorrow!

I knitted some Alan Dart Christmas decorations last week, for a swap, but forgot to take any photos of them, doh! and I haven't finished anything else yet. However, I have made some more progress with my refurbished duvet cover. I decided to do the overdying in a hot pink colour, so a couple of weekends ago I got out some string and the blue pieces I dyed last time, and got to work tying them up.

After going in the wash with the pink dye they looked like this!

And when the string was cut off them the pattern was revealed:

Here is the duvet cover drying on the line. Now I just have to make some new pillowcases with the dyed fabric and the African Fabric I got at Ally Pally.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

New From Old

Since I moved, I have been sorting through some old bedlinen which I no longer use. I have three sets which I think could be recycled and made really nice. Last weekend I started on the first set. This is made from pure cotton in a pale green and white stripe and spot pattern. It is quite worn and has faded in the time since I bought it.

I originally bought this set in France when I was living there about ten years ago. As a result it has one or two unusual features. Instead of a fastening at the end where you put the duvet in, it has a sort of extended flap of fabric which is designed to tuck under the mattress to hold the cover closed.

The other thing which is unusual is that the pillow cases are square, which is standard for European pillows.

This was OK while I had pillows of the right size, which I did for a long time, but once they had worn out and been replaced, it was not easy to use the pillowcases.

The first stage of the transformation was to cut off the flap and add a poppa tape to the end of the duvet.

Then I deconstructed all the pillow cases and dyed the whole lot a light, bright blue.

I am going to tie-dye the whole lot again with a hot pink overdye, and then the pillow cases will have to be re-made in the right shape with some additional fabric. I bought a lovely langa lapu fabric at Ally Pally in a toning shade which you can see here.

I think the first stage has been quite successful, now for step two!

Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Hey! I Finished Something!

While I was on holiday in Scotland this summer, just before I moved, I decided to work on my Babette Blanket, as it was easy to crochet while relaxing or talking to people. The theme for June was Wimbledon, and as we were away at the beginning of July it was close enough! I finally got around to laying it all out this weekend, and here is the blanket so far:

I'm not sure quite where the Wimbledon bit fits in, but I like the colours anyway.

And a close-up of the latest block:

I've started crocheting the next block now, and although there is a theme for September I think I've lost the plot completely and I'm just using any colours I feel like using. Oh, well...
The other idea I had during the summer was that as I was so busy, what with moving and being on holiday and so on, I would knit small things. I decided to finish my Snowflake socks that I started in January:

These are made from Cygnet wool rich 4-ply with the pattern done in Opal Lollipop. I liked the colour combination so much that I decided to do a pair the other way around:

I have got one or two balls of sock yarn, so I am quite keen to carry on and knit more socks this autumn and winter. First, however, I have some gloves to knit - and I am going to do intarsia on the backs of them in the round, for which I got the technique I plan to use from Interweave Knits 2003. More of that presently...

Saturday, 13 September 2008

Summer Catch-Up - the Graduate

What with all the moving, there are lots of things which I did over the summer, including some knitting and crochet, which I have not had time to write about. Here is the first of a few catch-up posts to bring the blog up to date.
On July 14th I set out early from Ratbert's house, where I had been staying, to drive to DSoK's University and attend his graduation ceremony. I arrived in plenty of time and was able to have a cup of coffee and a muffin while I was waiting for DSoK to get his robes. His girlfriend was graduating at the same University on the same day - but in the afternoon, rather than the morning, so she joined us until it was time to go in to the ceremony and then went off to get her own robes.

Here's another photo of DSoK all poshed up

and with his proud Mum (note I am wearing the floral crochet shrug)

and his lovely girlfriend Ruby

The ceremony was in a huuuuge theatre, and there was a choir and a quartet playing. After a while the officers of the University filed in, and my were they colourful!

Afterwards DSoK had a nice certificate. I did try to get a photo of him receiving it, but it was a long way off and he was moving fast, so it came out too blurred to show. Here he is with it afterwards though:

Fans of Mr Knitbert may like to see this cameo appearance

DSoK borrowed the camera after lunch, as I wanted to get home after my early start, and took this nice photo of him and Ruby both in their robes after she had graduated too. All in all a lovely day!

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

Home Sweet Home

Well hello there! It's good to be back. Where was I? Oh yes, I was packing. Well, I packed and packed and packed for three days. I was up at 8.00 am and I went to bed at 10 pm and in between I packed and I might have had the occasional meal or cup of coffee. I can't remember now, it's all a bit of a blur.
Anyway on the Wednesday afternoon everything give or take a couple of pictures was packed in a box or bag, the kitchen was sparkling clean, everything else was not, and I set out for my holiday in Scotland. I had a really nice time, did some walking and some chilling and ate some lovely home cooked food, and so on. On the Friday, which was the 10th day after we arrived, we set off for home at 2pm and we reached the flat at midnight. We had been driving for 7 hours (shared between two), so we stumbled into bed and fell into an exhausted sleep. At 6 am the alarm went off and we crawled out of bed, showered and got dressed again. There was no coffee, kettle, plates or cups, so we went to MacDonalds for breakfast, much to the delight of young Cartman(15) who was staying with us to help with the move.
At 8.00 am we picked up a giant Luton van, which one of us drove back to the flat to begin loading while I drove to Surrey to pick up the keys of the new house. At 9.30 am I texted Van Man to say that phase 2.1.2 was complete and drove all the way BACK to West Sussex to help with the loading.

At 12.00 the van was full and set off, followed by me and the Graduate (who also came along to help) in our respective cars, stuffed full of things which wouldn't fit in the van, and it began to rain.

By 2.00 pm we had had lunch and the contents of the van was unloaded into the house, and we set off to the next flat and began all over again except that now it was p***ing down with rain. This time we were nearly all loaded by about 5 pm and decided to stop and do the rest with cars the next day. The rain had been getting steadily heavier all afternoon and it was now also getting quite dark. We drove slowly in convoy back to the house (except I got lost), where we began unloading again. The Graduate disappeared to fetch his girlfriend from the station. When she arrived she was wearing a lovely wedding outfit, but after one look at things, disappeared into my nice new bedroom to change and then pitched in with a will.

Finally at 7 pm it was all in the house, all still in boxes and everyone went to the Indian (except me) to get a massive takeaway and beer. I stayed behind to try and find a table and some plates and forks. I put the table legs on backwards at first and it stood up like a wobbly foal when I turned it over. Half an hour under the table with a screwdriver put that right, and by the time the takeaway arrived I had it all looking quite cosy. Well, very cosy actually, as there were 5 people round a 3ft square table!

After all that I needed to go back to work to recover from my holiday and to get internet access.

We have been in the house over two weeks now and I only have three boxes left to unpack. I have broadband again. And it is a really lovely house!
I am so getting a removal firm next time though...

Monday, 28 July 2008

Purl's On The Move

A very quick post today because, Dear Reader, I am PACKING. I have been packing since lunchtime and so far I have a mountain of boxes and one tiny room is nearly empty. I have until Wednesday afternoon to pack for the move and then I am on holiday for 10 days and the day after I get back from the holiday I am moving.
I can't imagine how I will get everything into the pitifully inadequate number of boxes I have, or how I can do it in the time available.
Thanks for listening. I'm off to do some more now.

Oh, and last week The Intern became a Graduate Consultant. I have finally got the camera back from him, and here is a taster - I promise I'll sit down and write about it properly in a few days.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Jam Tomorrow...

...jam today, jam for years and years I should think. We went back to the PYO farm last weekend to get raspberries, and I made them into jam that very day. The next day I defrosted the strawberries and made strawberry jam (and remembered to take some pictures). I decided to get sugar with pectin in, to be sure of a set, as I had read that strawberry jam is sometimes difficult in that respect. I strolled over to Sainsbury's and when I reached the sugar aisle I couldn't get to the jam sugar as someone else was anxiously loking at it. They noticed me hovering and moved aside, and when they saw me putting 3 bags of jam sugar in my basket they asked me if I knew how to make strawberry jam. I most certainly do! I said proudly. I hope my advice worked, otherwise I guess they might be waiting for me at Sainsbury's next week with their ruined jam to pour over me.
So, here's the jam being poured

A row of lovely clean jars being filled.

I ended up with 9lbs of strawberry jam and 7 1/2 lbs of raspberry, (with apologies to anyone who lives in the 21st century. I can do kilograms and all that, I've just never done jam that way). And in case anyone thinks I'm going to be guzzling it all myself, I have started giving it away, but I do keep some for me and very nice it is too.

NEXT TIME on Purls in the Pool: Queen of the Waves update and I also hope there will be some exciting news!

Monday, 7 July 2008

In Which I Finish a Crochet Project

After six weeks of intensive crocheting, here at last is the Tess Dawson Floral Summer Shrug. It is really a very simple shape, basically I crocheted a rectangle and then joined up the two ends into a tube with more crochet, leaving the centre open to be the body.

I really like it, and it is light and comfortable to wear, too. I could get into this crochet lark. Oh well, now for a knitting project. I'm going to cast on for the Queen of the Waves Shawl by Ilga Leja, using this absolutely gorgeous merino tencel custom dyed for me by the lovely Natalie at the Yarn Yard. *Drool*

Excuse me, I have to go and wind it into balls RIGHT NOW.