Tuesday, 8 October 2019

...watching and making

This week I have been ever so slightly obsessed with a garden spider who briefly staked a claim on the patch of airspace outside my craft room window. She was about the size of my little finger tip - big enough for me to notice her busily completing her web, and to decide to go outside to investigate. This is what I found, strung across the 10ft gap between the two washing lines, about 8ft up in the air:
It took forever to get a decent photo - partly because she was moving so quickly, and partly because it was a very windy day. By the end of the afternoon the wind had torn the web apart and the spider had taken shelter under a leaf on the rose bush.
Meanwhile, indoors, I upcycled a knotted string belt - never worn with the garment it came with (due to the unfortunate 'sack of spuds' effect it created on me), but kept for the unusual shell beads, which were sure to come in handy for something! I sanded and painted the wooden beads and then restrung them on some waxed cotton cord to make a decorative pull-string for the bathroom light. Sure enough, those beads came in handy.
The following day the wind had died down enough for the spider to have reinstated her web, and I managed to get this shot of her against the trees...
...before "down came the rain and washed the spider out". She set up home temporarily in the space between the rosebush and the fence to wait for better weather.
Back indoors I got around to taking a photo of my completed Felix jumper, already worn and washed several times due to its comfiness. I am so pleased that I persevered with this project. I bought the yarn back in March when we had our trip to Haworth, and then deliberated for quite some time over choice of pattern. I have a bit of a mental block when it comes to making adult-size garments - I start off full of enthusiasm, and then boredom and/or self-doubt sets in and I end up abandoning/frogging them. This jumper was no exception. I got halfway down the body, began to question if it would fit/suit me and set it aside to focus on other things (assorted scarves and dolly jumpers!). So it languished for a couple of months in a half-completed state, making me feel guilty, before I had a stern word with myself and actually succeeded in finishing it. The fact that I like it enough to actually wear it makes me want to attempt another one. Perseverance definitely paid off. 

Speaking of which, a new day means a new web for an industrious garden spider, and the next one was a real beauty, with tightly woven spirals. As she was keeping very still, lying patiently in wait at the centre of the web, I managed to get this photo showing her lovely 'diadem' markings.
The following day the wind and rain had wreaked havoc with the web - only two thirds of it had survived. As I approached to have a closer look I must have inadvertently brushed against a trip wire, because the spider beat a hasty retreat to the rose bush, although she continued to monitor movement further down the line with one delicately outstretched leg.
Tonight, when I got home from work, the long strand of web spanning the washing lines was gone, and there was no sign of the spider. I'm hoping she's somewhere safe, perhaps preparing an egg sac in the ivy on the garage, where the spiderlings hatched in May. I'll miss watching her making her webs outside my window - wonder if she enjoyed watching my making too?!

Tuesday, 24 September 2019

...making hay while the sun shines

Last week marked the beginning of my phased return to work. I only had to be in the office for one day, so I made the most of the sunny weather and my few remaining days of 'freedom' with some serious pottering around in the back garden. One afternoon the garage got a long overdue de-cluttering. It's such a pity I didn't take a "before" photo, but I didn't know I was going to tackle it so thoroughly until I was more than half way through!  
The shelves at the back were hidden behind a mountain of accumulated "stuff" that needed sifting, sorting, putting away or taking to the dump, and this was also blocking access to the lockable storage chest where we keep a lot of the garden tools. So once I'd cleared a path to the shelves I got the hedge trimmers out and gave the hedge a bit of a tidy too!
This is the very hedge that so often features in the "chucked in a hedge artfully styled against a delightful leafy green backdrop" photos I take of my knitting projects, so it needs to be maintained!
I picked up a couple of cheap and cheerful punnets of pansies from Aldi to give the outdoor pots a slightly longer lease of life. I like to tuck them randomly into the gaps that appear when other plants are past their best and to see their jolly little faces peeping up at me from outside the kitchen window.
I was given several "get well soon" houseplants after the hip op, and I am trying very hard to keep them alive, so they got a team bath in the kitchen sink, after I'd filled the watering can for the pansies. They looked so happy to be soaking in the sunshine too!
My normal rule of thumb is to stick with cacti and other drought-tolerating plants indoors, as I so often forget to water them. The cacti and aloe vera plant below have spent the past twenty years hovering on the brink of death by dehydration, battling to survive against all odds. The cactus in the foreground even managed to muster flowers after being decapitated and replanted at a fraction of its previous size! I don't really like these plants all that much, but I have to admire their grit and tenacity, and feel they've truly earned their place on the windowsill. As for the "get well soon" bunch, only time will tell! 
I'm so grateful for that sunshine last week. The weather has turned cooler, with grey skies and rain now, just as my phased return is starting to pick up pace. I'll be working three days per week for the next two weeks and will be back on full time hours by the second week in October. Soon all this time in recovery will seem like a distant dream! I like Autumnal weather, and it's good to be back with my team at work, but I'm glad to have been able to spend those last few days in the sun before returning to life in the real world!

Monday, 9 September 2019

...bathroom bliss, fabulous flora, and a miniature monster

The bathroom is all but finished! We still need to paint the newly plastered walls, and we're awaiting delivery of a couple of doors for the new boiler cupboard, but the builders (and all their mess) have departed, the skip is gone from the drive, and my house feels like a home again. A home with an enormous and very luxurious bath tub in it! We may need to draw up a rota if the current rate of usage continues!

Yesterday morning we made time for a walk at the park - there wasn't a single cloud in the sky, just lovely, mild, near-autumnal sunshine and the last of the summer wildflowers to feast my eyes on. 
The juxtaposition of Poppy Red and Cornflower Blue was such visual perfection it literally sent ripples of pleasure down my spine!
Then yesterday evening I took these equally (but for different reasons) spine-tingling photos of a moth, hypnotised against the glass outside the landing window. It was probably only an inch long in real life, but up close that tightly coiled proboscis and those vicious-looking leg spurs are really quite terrifying to behold...
...especially in ghostly black and white, like something out of a Victorian Gothic horror story!

Wednesday, 4 September 2019

...WOYWW. The One With the Ladybird

Spied this little lady beetle as I was picking blackberries in the garden yesterday. They are such cheery-looking insects aren't they? With those cute red and black-spotted wing covers they're welcome to come and munch on my greenflies any day!
The workmen have now shifted their attention to the upstairs bathroom, which is being tiled as I type. I am hoping (with all my fingers and toes crossed) that they will be able to finish the job this week. I am beyond tired of the mess and disruption, as well as feeling my home is not my own. The XXSCat Dog is hilarious. She leaves for the day (to stay at my Mum's house) as soon as the workmen arrive, and then returns home to inspect their progress after they've gone. She is clearly unimpressed by all the upheaval too, and usually has a good bark at any tool-boxes and buckets that have been left behind. They do say that dogs come to resemble their owners...
I've decided it's safe to start removing dustsheets from my work room now that most of the mess is being made upstairs. This morning I emptied the shelves on the back wall and washed/dusted everything, as we didn't get the chance to protect this area from the tile dust clouds in Week One. It's nice to restore some order, although I did have to question why we need 10 assorted wine glasses when we're practically teetotal and never throw dinner-parties! 
For this week's show and tell with Julia all that's currently on my re-emerging workdesk is my thuggish-looking baby doll (rescued from a charity shop to add to the toybox I use with children at work). He/she finally has his/her own outfit - custom-knitted bootees, a cardigan, and a hat with disproportionately large bobbles for added cuteness. Sometimes, when the going gets tough and the workmen are getting you down, the best you can do is make little doll-hat bobbles! 

I'm starting my phased return to work next Wednesday, so what will be on the workdesk after that is anyone's guess. So much harder to make time for making when you're busy earning a living!

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday - The One With the Caterpillars

I was snipping round the edges of the overgrown jungle that is our front garden at the weekend, and spotted these handsome little fellas happily chewing their way through some weeds. Google informs me that they are Cinnabar Moth caterpillars. When they eventually emerge from their costume-change-cocoons they will be sporting red and black wings that look a bit like fancy Dracula cloaks. Not sure if they are endangered in any way, but if anyone raises their eyebrows at the state of the garden after this discovery I think I'm just going to explain that it is actually a wildlife sanctuary!
Joining with Julia and friends, here is a glimpse of my workdesk today - or more accurately, my work-knee. The bathroom refurbishment project has entered its second week, and my normal work space is still swathed in dustsheets. Turns out that I was mistaken last week when I thought that the worst was over once the ripping out/plasterboarding work had been done. Two days of tiling left every surface, including me, coated in a thin film of ceramic tile powder. Knowing that demolition would start on the upstairs bathroom this week, we spent ages at the weekend pre-emptively covering every inch of the spare bedroom (new bath-tub storage point), hall, stairs and landing in protective sheeting. My husband said it reminds him of that scene in the film E.T. when the evil government agents have quarantined Elliot's house! 

So I'm reduced to working on small scale projects in the sitting room, which is the only dust and/or dustsheet free room available. This is what I got up to today - a little green woolly cardigan for a baby Sasha doll. I love making jumpers for small people - babies, dolls, teddies - all just the right size if you ask me. For some reason I just don't have the patience to knit adult sized stuff - unless it's hats, scarves, gloves etc!

I've included a couple of photos of the almost-completed shower room. We've moved in already, because work has now started on the bathroom, but there are still a few little fiddly bits (just out of shot) that need finishing off. It may not be to everyone's taste, but we're really thrilled with how it's turned out - having lived with the very old, very basic, and increasingly delapidated shower room for 20 years it was definitely time for an upgrade. Now it's officially the most fancy room in the house! 

Wednesday, 21 August 2019

...What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday - The One With the New Shower Room

What's currently on my workdesk is one of two last-minute, optimistically-placed* dust sheets (*in hope that plaster dust and dirt will be attracted to the sheet-covered areas and repelled from all the other - let's call them "exposed" - surfaces). The room is being used to store all the materials for the downstairs shower-room/toilet refurbishment, and I hadn't anticipated the amount of space this would take up - and thus hadn't applied the dust-repellent covers prior to delivery like a sensible person might have done. As I wasn't prepared to climb over mountainous boxes of tiles to rectify the oversight, I just had to waft the gossamer thin, sail-like sheet in the general direction of the desk, and then try and tweak it into position from afar with my handy post-hip-replacement grabber tool. Sadly, in terms of offering protective coverage, it is still more bikini than kaftan.
On the bright side, this is Day 3, the worst of the messy destruction construction work is (hopefully) behind us, and (thankfully) the dust levels really haven't been that bad. The tiler is coming tomorrow, and we may even have a functioning shower and toilet again by Friday! While we're on the subject of tiles, look at the irridescent dragonfly-wing gorgeousness of these mosaic 'accent' tiles! I can't wait to see them in situ against a background of dark grey slate-effect wall and floor tiles...I'll be in the shower for hours!

In the meantime I've occupied myself by busily knitting away at my second Nurmilintu shawl/scarf - see below in yet another chucked-in-a-hedge artfully posed shot. It was very overcast and grey when I took the photos, so they don't really do justice to the lovely colours in the yarn. The bottom left picture probably represents its rich turquoise/blue tones most accurately.

Wednesday, 14 August 2019

...What's On Your Workdesk Wednesday

One of the upsides of my post hip replacement recovery period is the amount of time it has allowed me to while away (guilt free) on blog browsing. I came across Julia's blog at the weekend and I so enjoyed taking a virtual peep over other people's shoulders at all their different workdesks that I decided to join in with the fun by offering a glimpse of my own. 
The desk is in a comporatively tidy state today, in that there's enough clear space for me to just sit down and pick up where I left off (apart from those pincushion flower heads that I picked this morning and left to dry for seed gathering). I'm having another low energy day so have just been knitting this morning and catching up with a friend from work this afternoon, but you can probably make out the teeny-tiny footballer waiting for his Subbuteo team mates to join him when I'm feeling less fatigued again.There's quite a lot of stuff just out of shot in the photo above, so for full disclosure here's what the end of the desk currently looks like ... 
...it might appear very cluttered but there's a place for everything and everything's in its place. I've been listening to First Aid Kit on the CD player this week - highly recommend their gorgeous silver-voiced harmonies for a relaxing musical accompaniment. Tucked underneath is one of the several XXSCat dog beds we have scattered around the house so that our pampered little pooch can always keep us company in comfort. She makes a great foot warmer in colder weather.