Apple for the teacher(‘s wife)

A while ago I made some socks for my boss. He seemed like he wasn’t enjoying work, gave me a gift at Christmas and it’s his birthday on 2nd January. All in, hand knitted socks seemed like a good idea.

Paul's lovely socks

They went down very well, to the point where immediately started saying things like “Clare really likes pink” and “comfy socks would be lovely – she does a lot of standing up for her work”.

I took the hint.

I had trouble finding pink sock yarn the “same” as the yarn I’d used for Paul’s socks. Admittedly I looked in my LYS who stock loads of lovely sock yarn, just not pink, and John Lewis in the Trafford Centre, who don’t stock sock yarn, but still. Disappointing.

I mentioned this to my enabling friend, who promptly sent me a skein of very, very lovely pink sock yarn, but by then I’d caved & bought some DK pink fair isle yarn from knit-wise. It’s one of the side-effects of going to knit night. It’s rare that it just costs the ¬£3 entrance fee…

I picked up the yarn because it had several shades of pink in it, and in spite of it saying so on the label, it was still a surprise when it came out with a fair isle pattern. You just can’t get the staff.

I used Kalajoki, which presents a nice small amount of challenge and not too much stitch pattern to interfere with the patterned yarn – also the streak of ribbing holds the socks in nice & snug and gives some flexibility. I had to take back some rows on the second sock as I wasn’t really paying attention, it turns out, but otherwise these were straightforward.

pink sox for clare

If Paul’s reaction was anything to go by, Clare will be very pleased with them. Unless she thinks it’s creepy that one of her husband’s reports is making her socks, in which case, this could be the worst career move evah…

Mummy dearest. Ooh, that sounds a bit sinister…

I just found this which, clearly, I intended to publish in February. Here’s some light holiday entertainment…

Two years ago, my mum died unexpectedly. Heart attacks are often thus. I still miss her most days.

She was an excellent baker – there were always homemade cakes in the cupboard. Aunty Mary’s fruit cake, which was light-coloured and included glac√© cherries, was a staple. As was nutty flip. My own specialty seems to be banana loaf, which largely stems from our inability to eat bananas in time.

She really enjoyed creating. Several times she “switched” hobby, although textiles were usually a common theme. Her main craft was always studio pottery, but knitting, cross stitch & tapestry always featured. She taught me to make my own clothes, which the fashion industry may not have thanked me for over the years. The shiny blue shorts I made for my gay friend Paul haunt me to this day. The trousers that were converted to a punk-style skirt got a lot of wear, in spite of the difficulty I had walking in it.

We seem to have a similar approach to childcare. She once confessed to me that she got away with spending a remarkably small amount of time playing with us when we were infants. To be fair, I *don’t* remember her joining in with Sindy games, but I’m pretty sure that if she had, then like me, she would have been unable to bring herself to play in the way I wanted her to. Lily keeps trying to feed me lines but I can’t bring myself to be fully compliant and at the very least have to re-phrase them… On the other hand, she always spoke to us like we were people, not like we were children. We once encountered someone in a hotel who spoke “down” to me when I was about 10, and I thought he had something wrong with him. Mum chose not to contradict me.

She would be made up at Lily’s knitting, although I’m sure there would have been a strong temptation to help her out and take her back to *before* the extra 10 stitches were created… I’m resisting because I don’t want her to feel she’s doing it “wrong” and get disheartened.

Although she could be very direct, she was also gentle when necessary. If your mother can’t tell you when you’re carrying a few extra pounds, who can, after all. That voice, which incidentally still comes from my Dad, is now supplemented by the knowledge that my mother and my maternal grandfather both keeled over without much warning. So the less extra I’m carrying the better. But cookies and wine (not necessarily together) are so nice. On the flip side, it’s her voice I hear when I feel like someone is being ganged up on. How do you think that makes them feel?

So, 2 years on she’s still very much missed. But I’m remembering to enjoy the memories a bit more these days.

surprise, surprise, another baby jacket

This one is for a work friend. It’s a boy. The baby’s a boy. Clearly, this is a cardigan. I whipped this up in super-quick time, then took flippin’ ages to get buttons (or, in this case, realise that I had stash buttons from the infamous turquoise cardi et al) and sew it together. Luckily, although he’s a boy, thus prone to rapid growth, it apparently still fits Nathaniel.

Nathaniel's BSJ

It’s gone over well. This was Lily’s verdict.

thumbs up

And, having finally got the spangly finished item in the mail, I immediately opened a drawer and found this.

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Yes boys and girls, that’s an already completely finished BSJ I had prepared earlier and could have sent off THE DAY HE WAS BORN.

I just need someone else to have a baby boy now so that this effort hasn’t been totally wasted. In your own time, girls.

beach weather

Yesterday we went to the beach. Joel didn’t want to carry the buckets and spades, so I gave him the back pack with lunch instead…

joel with backpack

Seems fair.

Lily & Joel set up a Games Console which we all had a turn at. I think Daddy patronised it the most before it went out of business. Sign o’ the times, it seems.

lily setting up the game

While at the beach, Joel got both of us soaking wet, then went and got changed into his swimsuit and wetsuit… and got soaking wet again. I don’t have any pictures of that, as I thought phone and camera were best out of the way for that. It was a glorious day, though, and for someone who doesn’t technically swim without armbands, Joel was getting right on in there. Hence me not wanting to be too far away, in spite of the getting wet…

hell's mouth beach

Later on, after we’d been back to base and dried off, we pottered to The Sun public house for pre-dinner drinks. I went for a Perry and found it to be very refreshing, while the children concentrated on throwing money into a stagnant puddle dressed up as a well.

mmm perry coin tossing

On our walk home, I was a little concerned that the wind appeared to be blowing this leaky cloud directly in our direction…

rain cloud approaching

Lily got really VERY worried (she is scared of thunder and twisters), although the greater danger appeared to be from the cyclist who came up from behind without a bell and scared the bejeezus out of us by saying “excuse me” from about 2 yards behind us. Do cycles not have bells these days??!?

Anyway, we got home without getting wet or mown down. Result!

Still loving the turquoise cardi

Yes, I’m still harping on about this cardigan.

cardigan playing chess

Another top bonus about this cardigan occurred to me the other day. None of the bits for it were bought new for it, so it was entirely stash-busting.

I wasn’t foolish enough to make a new year resolution to only use stash yarn: attempting to use yarn stash before bringing more new yarn into the house is merely a background intention I sometimes achieve. So it makes me very happy that this cardigan which I love and almost wish I was small enough to wear used up the fluorescent yarn left over from a cardigan I don’t like any more (sorry, Norah)(actually, turns out I didn’t like it much at the time, and neither did Steve. Meh, who knew), surplus buttons from the ones I bought to go on something else for Lily I haven’t shown you yet (ravelry link), and some dark pink also-plastic yarn from the general stash (ooh, look I think I’ve found the original garment it was used for… maybe (rav link))

win-win-win!

cheesy grin with soup and cardigan

look mum!

We went to Grasmere a few weeks ago (probably months, but still…)

joel in the woods

Here’s Joel enjoying the bluebell wood. This makes me smile. And think of mum (I know, shocker) and how much she enjoyed the children.

Ow ow ow ow ow

these are not rhubarb and custard

I’ve eaten too many boiled sweets.

How many is too many? Well, given that…
1. I technically don’t own any boiled sweets, so they are all stolen from the mouths if babes
2. I’m a 40 year old woman
3. I’m on a diet
4. My teeth are on borrowed time and starting to fidget round the edges

…that many is too many. However, it turns out that rhubarb & custards are so tasty that even when I’m conscious that they are making my mouth sore, I keep eating them.

And it’s exacerbated by the cold I’m not-going-to-have-not-a-little-bit. Which means that the whole roof of my mouth is swollen like a big balloon.

I’m not taking paracetamol for the cold (which I’m not having and *certainly* not suffering from), I’m having to take it for my mouth so that I can get to sleep and so that I can eat.

We had nachos at a sporting event we went to last night with 2 kinds of (totally plastic) dip – cheese and salsa. Which do you think did the most pain-related damage?

WRONG!! It was the cheese.

I appreciate that when you have a really sore mouth, asking for spiky chips with spicy dips may seem unwise, but I’m a sucker for nachos. And to be honest, the spikes were the least of my problems.

Ah well, onwards & upwards – I’m sure it will all settle down in a few days…

Fair isle enough

In spite of having been awake since 0400 for no good reason, I didn’t feel like Spiderman presented enough interest for this evening’s knitting. So I cast on some sleeves.

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With some slight colour changes to accommodate the yarn I have, I’m making fairly good progress. And they’re comfy and warm.

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Mould? What mould…

I mentioned here before that the first batch of elderflower champagne went mouldy. It went mouldy, so I threw it away and made a second batch.

That one went mouldy, too.

I properly cleaned the barrel the second time, so I’m not sure why this occurred.

Anyway, I took it outside and fished off the big sloppy layer of mouldy elder flowers and underneath it didn’t look or smell too bad. So I decided that, given that bottling it up wasn’t going to cost me anything other than time, I would have a punt and see what happens.

everything ready for bottling

If you find us lying on the patio with our brains oozing out through our ears, or there’s a Zombie outbreak in Ormskirk in late summer, you will all know where to lay the blame.

slurpy

We now have 4 x 1.5 litres of probably truly awful elderflower champagne waiting to pounce on us in the woodshed.

Next: Rhubarb wine. Mwah-hah-haaaaaa

Another finished object. This is becoming something of a habit.

Actually, this weekend there are 2 finished objects, but I can’t show you one of them yet. It’s a gift for someone who reads the blog and generally stalks me online, so I will have to wait until after it’s given to show off.

This, however, has already been handed over, so I can show it off without fear of spoiling anything.

The pattern for That Weasley Girl is inspired by the cardigan that Ginny Weasley wears to the Quidditch world cup in one of the Harry potter films.

Ginny at the Quidditch World Cup
Image from "Vault 713 ~ a wizarding experience"

In finally taking the time to look up the cardi, I’m pleased to find I’ve gone for a colour scheme closer to the original than the pattern used, and that’s without actually knowing what the original cardigan was like.

So, having been dragged out of bed a bit early on Saturday (actually, that’s not fair – I was up before Joel since I was awake, which quite frankly threw us all) and so thought I would use the time to tackle this.

unpinned zip

Yes kids, that’s a close-enough-blue zip and a blue cardigan, waiting to be united through the medium of pins and thread.

Pins. This brought out some OCD. See how the pins go in rainbow-ish sequence and match on each side. Even though they will be there for at most a day.

pinned zip

The sewing in went quite quickly. I followed a line of stitches both on the way up at the edge, and then on the way down near the teeth. So, when Lily came back from her exciting weekend away (with Brownies), we were able to take these happy-girl photos.

with hood hood down ok, I'll take it off now

Initially when making this I complained (if not out loud, then inwardly) that the pattern was more of a recipe and left out some crucial details (such as when to divide for the arms), but overall I think it’s made me a better knitter. I understand more about pattern construction, and it has allowed me to customise the pattern so that it “fits” the way Lily appears to like it – i.e. without much ease around the chest) and also to accommodate her (apparently freakishly long) arms.

I did an i-chord instead of plaiting the hood tie, which made sewing it into the hood a bit dicey (because that made it fatter), but other than that I largely followed the (skeleton) instructions.

The yarn was a bargain (Sirdar Click Aran) I picked up at Aintree, and as it happens I have just under half of it left. The yarn is the right gauge for the Cayuga set which I may well make for myself (matching hat & gloves, mmmm) and is also the right gauge for a little something I just whipped up for a friend and quite fancy one myself, actually. Fingers crossed there’s enough to do both!

Oh, and I nearly forgot, there’s a matching hat for the cardigan.

matching-hat

Because sometimes, a hood just isn’t enough.

And Joel made up for me getting up earlier than him on Saturday by this morning waking me up mid-dream and demanding that I get up because Daddy had refused. I was Sleeping With The Rats because Joel had requested a night in our bed so that he could cuddle a parent all night long. So, fair play, Daddy had probably been fully cuddled out by 07:30 when he came in to me.