Skyscrapers and String


Smitten!

Hello everyone!

I hope you are enjoying the lovely summer we are having here in the UK!

Life is good, I am working hard, at home we are such a good team, even running the home is minimal effort.

Tonight, I got home from work first and I cleaned and tidied round for a bit and folded some washing. Jon came home and we sat in the garden with a coffee and mulled over our respective days. Everything seems to be going just fine.

My dear friend Gaynor posted a Facebook link to a particular shade of paint, the link was on a blog I’d never encountered before called Gardenista.

Whilst having a quick scoot about I stumbled over this particular
Gardenista Post

In it are these garden design images below, well, I am totally smitten!

Although I don’t live in the same kind of house, the back yard somehow looks just like mine.

And I love the paved area and the different kinds of seating!

Jon is helping me plan, we are looking at how many slabs we need and where to get the furniture! Ooh! It is really exciting! Plans! Anticipation!

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Seven Years Of Waiting

Why is it that all my favourite kinds of art portray yearning?

My go to cd is Jeff Buckley’s Grace. I can’t even describe to you the effect this music has on me, it is quite profound. If you haven’t heard it, buy it, take the music player into your bedroom and lie down and listen. Ethereal, sublime, transcendent. There are no words adequate to describe the wistful passion of lost love.

My favourite books are all filled with sorrowful longing for another person in various guises, Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility and of course, Persuasion. In Persuasion, the hero and heroine are kept apart for eight years!

Yesterday I watched “Notting Hill”; I have had a summer cold and was in the house by myself. It kept me company so I could knit. Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts star as divided lovers, she is thoroughly rotten to Hugh’s character, and he cannot help himself but long for her return. It is super, great cast, and both funny and poignant.

Back to the point of this post.

I am a greengage lover. So I know all about yearning!

You can buy them in the shops at this time of year for a few weeks, and when they’re gone, that’s your lot. They don’t grow them overseas and ship them in all year round like blueberries or mange tout peas.

Greengages are a rare type of plum, but they are more fragrant than plums, and in my opinion, quite divine. I read somewhere that they originated in France.

Seven years ago, after we bought this house, Jon and I walked over to our local garden centre and purchased a greengage sapling, thinking I would shortly be overcome by a glut of greengages and I would have to resort to pies, jams, chutneys and the like. My mouth watered at the prospect!

We had to walk the tree home, which is no mean feat as you’d be amazed at how much street furniture overhead needs to be negotiated whilst carrying an eight foot tall tree in a pot. We planted it, and I thought, right, that’s that! Now I’ll have greengages coming out of my ears for ever!

Hmmm. Yes, this post is about wanting, but not getting.

To the point, greengages only grow fruit under certain conditions:

1. If a neighbouring plum tree is in blossom at the same time (they don’t compare diaries so the same two trees might not blossom together and you watch your blossom drop off as next door’s tree just puts forth flowers – gah!).

2. If it is wet all spring to make the fruit flesh out. Dry weather=no plums.

3. If the tree is in a good mood.

In previous years, I have usually had one or two fruit, the most in one go once was about 9 greengages in total. Some years, nada, nothing, zippo, zilch.

This year I had loads of fruit. The fruit, if I get any, is usually ready the weekend after Amber’s birthday. The tree was literally dripping with fruit. All the conditions were favourable, and my hopes of a glut were very high!

The weekend after Amber’s birthday came, and I went into the garden and picked a beautiful golden green soft plum. Ooops! It was bitter! I tried a couple more, no, not ready.

The weather continued nice, I tried a few days after, but no still bitter.

Yesterday I tried again, the fruit were quite sweet, but a majority of the fruit had turned overripe and dropped from the branches. There would be none left if I waited any longer.

This evening, I harvested the twenty or so yellow plums and made a crumble. I waited for it to cook!

Here, my first crumble, it needed sugar in the fruit as they were not perfectly sweet. It will last me a couple of days, then will be gone for another year!

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Caipirinha time!

Hello all!

Sorry I haven’t been here much, I am having a wonderful time, everything is going well and when I try to sit and write something, well it feels like I am either smug or boasting.

Regular readers know that in the past things have not always gone smoothly for me, and I’ve used this blog as a way of making sense to myself .

I suppose this is proof that it works.

My knitting is going well however I have about 5 shawls to block, so please expect a nice flourish when they’re done .

Do let me know if there’s anything you’d like me to write to you about. A bit of inspiration wouldn’t go amiss.

But in the UK we’re having a proper summer, the weather is lovely. I am walking home through the park, I have freckles and brown arms, and my feet have little X’s on them from the straps on my cheery lemon yellow sandals.

Work is mad but good if that isn’t a contradiction, and I am having fun most if the time.

It is funny, when you speak up and explain what you intend to do clearly and you communicate your priorities, you get respect, and even if you’re swamped with projects, you feel in charge, and that is satisfying.

Also, being in demand is wonderful for your self esteem. Especially if you’re a geek.

I am wearing one of my summer holiday beach dresses and lolling about upstairs with the fan on. It is very relaxing!

Life is good. We’re all really happy.

So, let me share the recipe for a Caipirinha with you. These are my favourite cocktails, really refreshing.

Jon often makes these for me. Mmm!

Do not have more than 2 straight off as they make me really squiffy quickly, and you’ll blame me for leading you astray.

You can get the cachaca in Sainsburys.

Ingredients:

1 lime, quartered
2 teaspoons fine sugar
2 ounces cachaca
Ice cubes

Preparation:

Place the lime wedges and sugar into an old-fashioned glass.
Muddle well.
Fill the glass with ice cubes.
Pour in the cachaca.
Stir well.

You can drink it in the garden when it’s sunny!

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Back Home!

Hello everybody!

Well that was a fab week in Sardinia!

Yesterday was a blur, travelling, the gripping anxiety of air travel – following the tragic loss of the Malaysian airliner some months ago, the world now knows that airplanes are run with no more technology than a child’s wind up torch.

At the airport in Sardinia, in view of the heightened security alerts last week, we saw some German passengers insisting they didn’t have to go through airport security as they were late for their plane, then there was a woman who had so much jewellery on, and she wouldn’t remove it to go through the metal detectors, we stood there for so long whilst she argued, we nearly missed our plane and she was taken off to one of those little rooms, I dare say for a more “private” examination (my eyes are watering…). Why? Why not just do what you are supposed to do? It’s for everyone’ s benefit.

On the way home from Luton, there was a lightening storm and such heavy rain, you could not see anything outside the car. Bearing in mind we were in a brand new Mercedes, the windscreen wipers did nothing to clear the rain from view and we snaked home, yearning for our little house, the child and the cat.

Here you can see the bright full moon in Sardinia on our last night:

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Here you can see our dear cat, shining with happiness that our little pack is reunited:

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Today it has been busy busy busy.

With Jon’s help throughout, I got up, sorted the laundry and tidied round a bit.

Then I baffed the cat. It purred throughout.

We made bread, and whilst it was rising Amber and I went for a walk to Asda to buy some coffee and fish. We missed the rain, everywhere was drenched when we emerged!

Jon fed the washing machine the entire time we were out and the cat dried a bit. It has sat on me continually.

The packing for the holiday took a good four weeks of careful assembly. To unpack took half a day, what a faff about, sorting what lives upstairs, and what goes in the bathroom and so on.

Whilst I was away I knitted a shawl, which sits in a pile with the other shawls I made recently, so this coming few weekends will have to include blocking sessions, where we can fit them in.

Also, I have a half finished capelet, which looks lovely:

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This needs some thought before it can be finished.

So apart from the pile of shawls that need blocking and the unfinished capelet, I have a little yellow cardigan on the needles to finish for dear Russ’s baby, and a golden cardigan for myself, a bag which just needs sewing up, and if I actually look properly there’s some more things need finishing in my work basket.

Before I left for my holiday, I bought some brooch backs from China for my charity poppy knitting, which I should start soon. They arrived while I was away. I bought 100 of the little devils, so I will be a busy girl!

I also came back to a customs bill for the extra wool to finish my golden cardi that is discontinued which. I had to I buy from the US! £14! Ouch!

The other thing that has been bugging me is the pile of Rowan Calmer upstairs. I want to do something with it. Also I decided the thick variegated
yellow cotton yarn will make a good bath mat or two.

But also, I have a new fab soft grey brown scarf trimmed with bobbles, and I want to knit something to go with it. Now!

And I’ve found a wonderful pattern, called Zuzu’s Petals, by Carina Spencer, and I think this will make a wonderful addition to my accessories repertoire, as it is a cross between a shawl and a cowl. Once I get the hang of the pattern construction, I will be able to improvise perhaps with other yarn weights and stitches. It is an extremely clever idea.

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You might understand I am a bit overwhelmed with all these musings, plus also on holiday I took loads of inspiring pictures of flowers and foliage, and of course my mind ran wild thinking about colour, and the yarn waiting at home for me as well, tempted me endlessly with ideas.

Look how lucky I am, what more can bring delight than a fabulous holiday, all this inspiration, coming home to all my yarns and and the pleasure of mulling over an endless stream of possibilities.

It is so lovely to be home!


Holiday Musings

Hello everyone!

I hope your week is going well.

I am just back from holiday in Sardinia, a magical place with beautiful landscapes, wonderful food and no litter. It has the kind of weather England should have, even on an overcast weekday morning you can sit outside on your balcony in a nightie and not freeze to death.

On previous holidays crammed into the August school holiday peak window, daily weather of 34 or 36 degrees has been the norm and I have literally been fried.

Sardinia, in July, is about 10 degrees hotter than at home, and you can walk on the sand during the day and you could wear a little cardi after dark if you are still gadding about.

Anyhow, I digress.

Holidays, by the general nature of one’s removal from the structures of housework, the commute and the daily grind, allow you to reflect on your life so far, to miss and appreciate being at home, and to ponder on those bits of yourself that need some attention.

This holiday, I must admit, it took a good four or five days to unwind from work. I love my job but being put under pressure to complete too many things in the days before you go when you’re trying to get ready to decamp to another country for a fortnight isn’t funny.

So much for feminism, where I work most bosses are chaps who have wives that do not work, and they have no clue what working and running a home is like. For example, they will politely ask about your weekend, and you’ll say, “Oh I found time to make Jam” or something, feeling all chuffed, and they’ll say, “Oh Caroline always makes jam”, and I think, bloody Caroline doesn’t work and you live on a farm, and she comes into London to have her hair done in Sloan Square at £500 a pop.

Apart from reading a couple of books, and knitting, I can honestly say it has been a supremely relaxing break.

One of the most interesting bits has been the daily mulling over the previous nights’ dreams. At night my dreams have been very vivid, generally going over some area of my previous life, and presenting me with some interesting insights.

For example, I have realised that the difficulties I have been through are merely prep for the cold hard winds of real life. Whilst I may have been awoken in a state of rage at some broken promise, by the time I thought about the previously forgotten issue realised it was forgotten because I had gotten over it already. I feel very lucky to be so resilient.

Anyway. First day back at work today, it’s bonkers. Now I’m heading for a swim! And relax! But not at this pool lol!

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Lessons From Ishbel

Ishbel is a shawl design by Ysolda Teague.

It is more than just a shawl, it is the Three Peaks Challenge rites of passage in knitting that translates you from a casual, ambitious and moderately successful in a “fudge it all together” way, into a proper, competent lace knitter.

This holiday I finished my third Ishbel, I ran out of yarn before I could complete all the planned chart repeats, but even though it isn’t perfect, it is the first Ishbel that actually looks like one! The first two I did are wonky fails.

In the first paragraph, I have put a link to the Ravelry site and if you’re a member, you can see over 13,000 Ishbels. That’s amazing isn’t it!

What a successful design! How it has captured the imagination of so many knitters.

But the secret of Ishbel is not about churning out cunningly spaced yarn overs and so on row after row.

Well it is a bit, I suppose!

What I have learned from Ishbel is this:

* Sometimes I make mistakes due to not understanding what I am being asked to do

* Often, all I have to do is exactly what I see before me, no interpretation is needed

* If I take the time to do some research on other people’s experiences with the same thing, I might learn there are more options open to me than I first thought

* Success is always composed of small steps, consistently taken to move you forward

* Also stoically and persistently pushing through tricky patches with the end goal in mind

* Willingly learning as you go along

Here you can see my completed Ishbel, it is exactly the same colour as the sea here in Sardinia. It will be beautiful when I’ve blocked it once I get home.

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10 Things About Sardinia

* Everything is clean. There’s no litter, anywhere, it’s spotless

* Noone smokes, the only shop selling tobacco is a dodgy bar on the road out of town

* Everyone smiles, and says hello, everyone has beautiful manners

* Dinner is usually four courses, at least two are pasta, but everyone is thin

* Everyone recycles. Its the law

* The little dettori corner supermarket is universes better than any deli/ food shop in england. Just make sure you have the right change

* The pavements are level and every restaurant has a disabled toilet. All the buildings are finished

* The sea and the pools are freezing

* Noone cares how you shovel your spaghetti into your mouth

* The house white is better than anything you have ever tasted in the UK, ever

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Inspiration Strikes

Hello all!

I hope you’re all having a super week so far.

My week has been hard. I am delivering several projects simultaneously, for the same bunch of people, and they each enquire about my progress on their project as if I live in a bubble, and the other projects and my day job are nothing to do with me.

Tonight I am home late and slumped, exhausted in my chair.

Today however has not been a bad day, I have had a super time.

We had Knitting Club, Amber and Sindhu trekked up to join us. We exchanged stories of estranged relations, mysterious letters and implied obligations.

Again we had a blast. Somehow we ended up singing one of the songs from “joseph and the amazing technicolour dreamcoat”. Amber was mortified. I laughed so hard my ribs ached.

Inspiration can strike in the most unlikely places.

Today I saw this lady on the escalator in a summer dress. I loved the colours. I am thinking a crochet afghan. Look at the colours! Aren’t they glorious!

Imagine the black squares with the summery apricot, peach and rose middles.

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Noisy Coffee Machine!

Hello everyone!

After a fabulous and luxe weekend of deep happiness and much making, work today was like frog shock.

Even though I only do 4 days, it is all a bit much with the reorganisation. I feel a bit overwhelmed by whats going on.

Anyhow. Onto happy thoughts!

My little coffee machine is my friend. It makes the best coffee and I love using it. Unlike the old coffee machine which fired little grounds of coffee over the entire house.

The sticking point is for the three minutes it is switched on, the entire worksurface judders and it all makes a giant racket. I can hear it from my bed.

No more the noise, I have cured it!

4 crochet granny squares.

Silence. Well nearly.

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Bag Heaven!

Hello everyone!

We’ve had constant sunny weather in the UK, which often is quite unheard of.

I’ve been mad busy, this morning I trimmed the shower curtain, emptied all the kitchen cupboards, chucked some old stuff away and then put them back straight, and wow! They look amazing now.

For the first time in my life I feel like I have a modern, functioning kitchen.

This afternoon, I sat and sewed a new lining for my beach bag. I did a pretty good job if I say so myself!

Here you can see the bag with the lining removed (the zip broke shortly after I bought it):

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The lining was made from a vintage apron I’ve had in my fabric stash for a few years. Bright pink, blue, white and yellow. With an iPhone pocket!

Below are some pictures showing the different stages of sewing and inserting the zip:

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Here is the taa daah of the finished bag:

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I am also in the middle of making a second bag, this is a knitted bag with a crochet pocket.



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