Sunday, 16 February 2020 on Sunday

Today has been a really happy, productive day, and there's still time left to snuggle up on the sofa with my husband, some ice-cream and a good film! Here's what I got up to:
  • I wanted to do something special with the repair to my poor Mum's gardening trousers, after she got swept off her feet by Storm Ciara and they tore at the knee. So this morning I had a look through my fabric stash and found a pretty piece of blue floral cotton and a contrasting scrap of brightly coloured cotton chintz. This was a fairly basic repair:
  1. Machine zig-zag the edges of the tear together. 
  2. Cut a patch from the blue floral fabric big enough to cover the whole knee area from side-seam to inner-leg- seam, turn the edges under once and machine stitch them. 
  3. Cut a simple heart shape from the chintz fabric and position it on the patch (I used a bit of iron-on interfacing to "stick" it into place). 
  4. Carefully machine stitch round the outline of the heart, and then machine stitch the whole patch to the trousers. 
  5. Use some embroidery thread to overstitch round the edge of the heart, sewing through all three layers - this gives the patch a nice homespun, rustic appearance and also anchors the centre of the patch securely to the trousers.

  • In the middle of the patching process there was a knock at the door and a parcel full of woolly joy arrived - a 150g skein of laceweight yarn for making this fabulous Frattali scarf designed by Martina Behm! I'm pretty frugal when it comes to buying yarn, but it seemed like the scarf was designed to show this specific yarn to its very best advantage, so I felt somewhat justified in splashing out. I did manage to avoid paying the eye-watering postage costs from Germany after scouring the internet for a bargain price/free postage deal, so ultimately the finished scarf will only have cost me £20.15, countless hours, and (possibly) my eyesight*! Which seems a small price to pay for such a unique, beautiful thing. 
*This is the finest yarn I have ever attempted to knit with - you can see from the photo below that it is little more than twice the thickness of ordinary sewing thread!

  • Seeing that the sewing machine was (a) already out and (b) not playing up, after finishing the trouser patch and getting a bit Gollum-like about the yarn, I decided to have a go at making a dress for my Sophie Tilley DIY peg doll. Although the fabrics that came in the parcel with the doll were very pretty, I've grown accustomed to seeing her sitting on my workdesk in her pale blue temporary tissue paper dress and decided that blue suits her better than pink. I'm thinking of giving the dress a cold tea rinse to take away some of the stiffness and brightness of the fabric. Next up her hair needs sorting - probably with a knitted skull cap I can attach lengths of yarn to for styling - and then some boots/shoes and a shawl/cardigan.  

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

...WOYWW - The One With the Odd Jobs

Joining in with the Wednesday Workdesk Tour, this photo should really be titled "The Calm Before and After the Storm". I have a big "to-do" list today - it's my fortnightly mid-week day off and I need to make the most of it! This morning I've been to a GP appointment and a dental appointment, picked up a prescription from the chemist for my husband, transplanted an amaryllis bulb to a slightly bigger pot on the kitchen windowsill, and put a load of laundry in the washing machine. This afternoon I have a Valentine's card to make, and the sewing machine will be coming out to repair a big tear in the knee of my Mum's favourite gardening trousers. She got literally blown off her feet by Storm Ciara on Sunday, and now that she's been patched up and x-rayed and (thankfully) been given the all-clear - apart from several nasty cuts and bruises - I thought I'd give the trousers a bit of TLC too! 

The Year of the Doodle book is a recent acquisition. I thought it might help me to do a little something every day without feeling the pressure for it to be perfect or even particularly meaningful! As the designer/author (Dawn DeVries Sokol) says in her intro, "I provide the ideas and backgrounds, and you just have to show up daily with a pen." So far, so good!

Edited to Add: Valentine's card - inspired by Sarah this morning!

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

...reasons to be cheerful

Last week I looked out of the kitchen window and noticed that a little yellow crocus flower had appeared in one of the pots near the back door, and that there were clumps of snowdrops and narcissi in the flowerbed by the garage. On an impulse I grabbed my camera and went outside for an impromptu 'Signs of Spring' hunt. Closer inspection revealed a whole array of different buds - silvery grey clematis, bright pink rhubarb...peonies, roses, hyacinths and scabious all sending out optimistic shoots too.
Storm Ciara has been wreaking havoc since then - some of the crocuses have completely lost their heads in the wind, and I'm sure the driving rain and sleet isn't helping any of those tender shoots, but the llittle burst of happiness they gave me has lingered. 

A couple of other happiness-inducing things that have been lifting my spirits:

I finished another 1-2-3 Chickadee Shawl  in the most ravishing purply-blue-green yarn - soft and warm and now a constant feature wrapped around my neck...
...and I started work on my Sophie Tilley peg doll kit at the weekend, making a conscious effort to put my paralysing perfectionism to one side, allow myself to experiment/play with materials and generally go with the flow. She's a long way from completion (her hair is just loosely pinned to her head, and she has no clothes yet) but she already has a hint of character and a little twinkle in her eyes. I think she's going to be imperfectly lovely!

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

...feeling blue and WOYWW

Don't know if it's the time of year or my time of life but I've been very blue for a couple of weeks now. Work feels emotionally exhausting, I'm not sleeping well, I'm in physical pain and when I look at the bigger picture it makes me feel even more hopeless, what with the coronavirus in China, the bush-fires in Australia, escalating climate change, and the self-serving, ruthless people who keep getting elected into power around the globe. I find myself in full-on Eeyore "What's the point?" mode...and my internal Pollyanna is just glad that I'm in the Autumn of my life, not the Spring. 

I've experienced similar periods of mild depression before, and although I really want to just shut out the world and never have to leave the house again, I'm starting to fight back - talking about it to other people as well as reasoning with myself, planning some weekend walks, and making time to do the things I like to keeping track of things in the blogging community. So here is a small collection of three blue things I'm associating with pleasure, not sadness...
  • Fabulous feathery ice crystals on the car windscreen 

  • a 40th birthday hat knitted for a friend - the Antler Toque by Tin Can Knits 

  • Finished Staysail Mitts - a record-breakingly long project - the first mitt took nearly a year to complete (lost in the UFO pile), and the second took weeks (impatience to finish means repeated frogging to correct silly mistakes). 

...and joining with fellow-work-desk-sharers, here is a glimpse of the to-do queue that awaits me on my making table. Ugly Baby still needs knitwear, there's a peg doll still waiting to be brought to life in the big white box, and the package on top of the pile is a needle-felting kit my sister-in-law gave me for Christmas - never tried this before, but will be good to have a go. Onwards and upwards!

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

...WOYWW - The One With the Back-to-Work Log-jam

I'm tagging along at the tail end of the What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday tour to offer a quick glimpse at the projects currently forming a disorderly queue on my craft room table.  Work and play just don't mix, and after only a couple of days of being back at the coalface things are already getting a little out of hand.

On the left is a VERY ugly baby doll, rescued from the charity shop near work just before Christmas. She has tiny, beady eyes, moulded pigtails that stick out of her head like horns, and a permanently startled expression. I just had to bring her home. I'm thinking of making her a jumper and bootees out of the pinky-purply wool. There's nothing I love more than a charity shop rescue in knitwear.

To the right of Ugly Baby is one completed fingerless mitt and a third of its pair. There would have been two thirds of it but I made a stupid mistake which I only noticed when I got to the start of the thumb shaping, so I had to unravel it back to the cuff. 

To the right of the mitts is a belated but very beautiful Christmas present which arrived at the weekend. It's a DIY peg-doll from Sophie Tilley Designs, waiting to be brought to life. The kit comes complete with a face-painting practice sheet and an assortment of pretty fabrics and lace - the rest is up to me! It is not an exaggeration to say that I have been lying awake at night thinking about how to tackle this project. The dolls that Sophie makes herself are so wonderful, I'm not sure I can do this one justice. She reminds me a little of the cook doll, Jane, in Beatrix Potter's "Tale of Two Bad Mice", but Jane was a very introverted character, whereas Sophie's ladies seem to have a lot more vim and vigour. I will just have to pluck up the courage to make a start and see where my fancy takes me. 

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

...WOYWW - The One With the January Bug

Three days into 2020, just as I was coaxing myself into a vaguely "back to work" frame of mind, I was Laid Low by some kind of horrible sinus-dwelling Lurgy (the kind where your skull feels like it's being very slowly crushed in a special skull-crushing vice and you have to just lie down in a darkened room, keep still and wait for it to stop). Today is the first day where being upright and mobile has become an option again, so I've stuck some laundry in the washing machine, snapped a photo of my workdesk, brewed a cup of lemon, ginger and honey and am having a virtual check-in with everyone round at Julia's.

I was finding it hard to get motivated even before the Lurgy hit, so I decided to try and finish something I'd already started -  namely some fingerless mitts from the Baa Ram Ewe Mini Knits booklet. Not sure why I abandoned this project one-third of the way through the first mitt, but I managed to complete another third of it before being Laid Low. I'll know I'm properly on the mend when I pick the needles up again - at the moment even just sitting here typing is making the skull-crushing vice start to tighten, so I will wish everyone a "Happy WOYWW!" (sorry if I can't return any visits today) and reach for my audio book instead. It's "Olive, Again", by Elizabeth Strout, read by Kimberley Farr. Sequel to Olive Kitteridge (which was also made into a two-part mini-series starring the wonderful Frances McDormand). Absolutely love both books!

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

...the post-Christmas slump

The days leading up to Christmas were busy. There was a miniature production line in operation as I raced to get 9 candle jars assembled and ready...
...the super-curly scarf was pinned out on the blocking mat for 36 hours while I crossed my fingers and held my breath until it was dry... 
...and revealed in all its non-curly glory. I really love this pattern. I like the fact that the ends are different, the main body stitches are easy to memorise (making it perfect for combined knitting and TV watching), and the overall effect is simply rather elegant. It reminds me of Charles Rennie Mackintosh's art nouveau designs, and I will probably end up making one for myself!
There were four more candle jars to complete before the weekend, by which time I was well and truly over them! So one ended up with a green lid...
 ...and a completely different design. Mass production is really not my thing!
Yesterday we had a walk at the park with the XXSCat dog, which made me realise just how out of shape I currently am. The gentle slope in the photo below felt like a mountain as we walked up it, and although my new bionic hip coped ok, the other non-bionic one was grumbling horribly. Given that there are over 4 million people currently waiting for joint replacement surgery in the UK, and given how well the first operation went, I've decided to talk to my GP about going back on the waiting list to get the other hip done sooner rather than later. No more stoicism and "soldiering on" this time around - I really don't want to get back to the point where life doesn't feel worth living any more! In the meantime I'm also hopping back on the weight loss bandwagon to help ease the pressure on that arthritic joint. 
I believe it's quite common for people to feel a little out of sorts and deflated in the hiatus between Christmas and New Year, and I'm nothing if not quite common! I'm back at work on the 6th of January, so I feel like I 'should' be making the most of my precious time off - but all that racing from one festive  family gathering to another combined with an accumulation of sleepless nights (husband snoring like a train after succumbing to the cold that's kept me awake coughing for the past two weeks) has left me decidedly lacking in get up and go. I think the photo below sums things up rather nicely. There's a lot just lying dormant (bare clematis stems and  Minions half-buried in dead leaves in the garden), there's a fair bit of boredom and inertia (half-finished teddy jumpers and mittens), but there's also the knowledge that life goes in cycles (orchids come into flower, bulbs send up shoots from the bare earth) and the hope that there will always be something to rekindle imagination and inspire (Christmas Snork-maiden awaiting a flower garland, skeins of colourful yarn, a gorgeously illustrated book of cleverly constructed sweaters). Here's to 2020!