Skyscrapers and String


How it ends isn’t how it starts…

Recently we have all had to confront the dismal reality of comparing our hopes to the pile of ashes we have had to stride across and move on from in order to be happy.

It’s funny how often what you end up with isn’t always what you set out to accomplish.

Knitting is a perfect illustration of this particular life lesson.

I’m on my umpteenth iteration of a knitted cowl and I like what I have but it’s nothing like what I set out to design.

A number of world religions believe your destiny is set when you are born, and no matter what you try to achieve, you will end up where you’re supposed to be.

Recently I read about a Japanese version of Buddhism where they practice not striving quite deliberately.

Their idea is that you focus on where you are and you don’t try to bust yourself into mega stardom.

I’m all for that!

This year, all the striving and doings have been far too exciting and stressful.

I’m behind still on certain basic things I wanted to accomplish at last Christmas!

I thought my current knitting project might be a good design to publish but I’m using two discontinued yarns held together and my math made a great edging but I had to fudge the last four rows entirely.

So it’s a thing for me. Or I might just unravel it again.

I quite like being ordinary.

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So, like yesterday…

Even though I am hacking and spluttering, nose running and sneezing, yesterday I had a manic time doing everything.

Windows were cleaned, I climbed the ladder cleaning cupboard doors, I sorted and did phone calls, arranged prescriptions and planned the next week.

One of the traditional things I do every year is make a Truprint calendar where I upload photos taken throughout the year.

This year they had a smashing folk art themed set of frames which I chose, and they were delightful.

That takes a few hours but you can minimise the effort by selecting your photos every month into a folder and editing your selection beforehand.

You need about 30 pictures on your phone which you quickly upload to the truprint website.

I make sure there’s always a good picture of each of the humans for Birthday months and one each of the kittehs. And if there’s a seasonal theme, like Halloween, I try to make sure I have something appropriate.

Likewise December, the frame for the image was red and white so I used a really happy picture of Bandit sitting in the shed on a red blanket.

May had a blue frame, so the photo of James sitting in the blue bucket fitted the bill perfectly.

Today should be less busy in terms of the number of things I have to do however it’s going to be intense, I hope to finish several books I have been making this year.

This project is truly funny, as I’ve just remembered that I thought I could get this done within the Christmas period last year. It’s taken ages because I have no idea how long anything takes to do, unless I have done it before.

Also, when I take a break I can carry on with my knitting, the cowl from yesterday’s post was unravelled again after a few inches and as mentioned, so, just before I started dinner, I sat at the table for an hour and I had my ruler out and wrote a proper pattern with a graph and everything.

I started it watching tv last night so I have a couple of rows done.

The best bit about yesterday was the way all my Kittehs, one by one, when no one was looking, came and sat on my lap.

At the moment, Beezer is padding and purring in his chocolate baritone.

It’s a wonderful thing to rescue cats that are homeless and see them grow contented and well fed.

Here you can see my pattern, the screwed up ball of paper where I kept getting it wrong and a Ruler and Pencil. (Although most of the straight lines are free hand and wobbly.)


Unravelling…

I was once gifted some cashmere yarn in a beautiful colour.

I was delighted!

Unfortunately for me, the yarn has turned into a bit of a curse.

It was not quite enough to knit a sweater or cardigan in, but too much to make a hat and scarf set.

So I tried to purchase additional yarn (it was discontinued) and for £40 I found some yarn via Ravelry in Canada and when it came it was a dark ochre shade and didn’t match the original batch at all. Not even close.

Eventually after 4 or 5 attempts, I paired the yarn with some laceweight, and got gauge for a chunky pattern and made a hat to match as well.

By that time I was utterly sick of the mis-purchased ochre batch and I put it in the charity shop.

Roll forward a year and a half, and I’m filling up my yarn cupboard with wool secreted in the four corners of my house and I find I have three balls of the ochre left.

Then I buy a top in the exact shade that has a draughty neckline calling for a woolly something.

So I knit a small funky shawl and within days, the shawl has grown horizontally to such an extent it touches the floor when worn.

Wrapping it several times around my neck helps not, the thin strips give an unpleasant draughty sensation. So that’s unravelled.

Now I start a cowl with the yarn and I am having the same stress as previously.

I feel anxious about how much yarn I have and am not sure my idea is going to work.

Anyone who says knitting is stress reducing has obviously never knit anything more complicated than a washcloth.

I’m abandoning my short rows to sit down at the table and make a proper plan and write a pattern properly and draw diagrams with pencil and ruler.

Yes I’m that desperate. A ruler!


Good book reading…

Do you have an author whose books you absolutely adore?

Who writes the kind of books you hesitate to open because they cause you to become lost, and it’s almost like becoming enchanted because you cannot imagine doing anything than reading it from cover to cover until the back of the book.

Today has become one of those lost in a book days.

My very favourite author is Alice Hoffman and she’s the author of the book behind the film ‘Practical Magic’ which tells the story of two sisters.

One sister is so afraid of falling in love again she makes a spell which she believes will save her from further heartbreak by conjuring up an impossible man. It’s a brilliant story.

I loved the film and the book and have read many other books by Alice. They are all different from each other and they all leave marks on your heart in some way.

All the books are political and encourage personal freedom and free thinking.

The characters in the books make you realise how unique you are and celebrate your individuality.

I’m reading The Rules of Magic and it’s hard to tear myself away, as I expected.

Already I want to make black soap that smells of lavender and makes your skin shine, which is mentioned briefly in the book.

It’s sunny today and my cold is lifting.

I’m going to smile all day and eat and read and loaf about.

I hope you’re having a magical day and it’s sunny where you’re sitting.


Blimey!

I’m a bit blown away by the numbers of countries where people have read my blog!


Deep joy…

Sorry to start off a bit sarcastic but I’m bored of this cold.

I’m indoors wearing scarves and socks and I have a steam inhaler bubbling away next to me because it’s the only thing that stops me coughing all day long.

Ironically this steam inhaler was purchased via a voucher given to me by my dear friends at work from the Knitting Club and although I was apprehensive about whether it would get much use it’s one of my favourite things and I have a small vintage tin of fancy essential oil blends with curative and restorative properties.

If I have a cold I use ‘Organic Defence’ from Neals Yard or ‘Altitude Oil’ by De Mamiel – both are wonderfully soothing and antiseptic but in an indulgent and luxe spa-like way.

During the week my go to oil seems to be ‘Focus’ by Neals Yard, it has a slightly minty floral smell and even if it’s just the placebo effect I find myself zipping about and far more productive when I can remember to put it on.

The device has a mood changing light and the vapour twiffs out of the top in a delightful scrolling plume.

I’m doing secret Christmas knitting so I’m unable to make progress until I’m alone in the house. So I have sock knitting next to my chair and I’m watching a rather saucy tv show about the Tudor period.

I’d rather be out with friends than stuck here but I must resign myself to it. No one will welcome evil germs and I’m coughing and spluttering aplenty.

Here you can see my lovely lamp, it’s on a silicone trivet because it sometimes splashes a bit and I don’t want to ruin my little cupboard.


Cooking enthusiams…

Hello all,

This week I have been under par with a bad cold and cough.

To make it worse, I have been watching tv cooking shows whilst reclining on the settee dabbing my red flaking nose with special balm tissues.

So, thanks to one show I watched today, I now know how to make Nigella’s favourite avocado toast breakfast.

So if she shows up tomorrow I can nip out to the Polish supermarket at the end of my street and get some black bread to go with my avocados then it’s a cinch!

As you know I already got Jon to make me the Nigella Toasted Brie sandwich this week and that was great, if a bit poncey and retro, and today I felt even more chef-fy than normal so I turned out a chicken and fennel casserole (to my own recipe) for dinner, which went down well.

When I was just about to put the le creuset in the oven, my cat Spottie leapt onto the table and as a treat I fed her the last of the Parma ham out of the fridge.

The poor beast is now totally addicted and jumps up and down expecting Parma ham every time I walk into the kitchen!

It’s not like Parma ham is a regular feature in my kitchen.

I’m not a big fan of waffer thin meat.

It’s quite unlikely I’ll ever bother with it in a recipe again, so she is going to be disappointed.

Mind you, at least I know what I can get her for Christmas!


Taste buds…

Hello all,

We’re all coughing and sneezing here at kitten towers.

I must say, after keeling over on Monday afternoon and missing my walks and swims for a couple of days I do definitely feel over the worst of it.

Yesterday, shopping was delivered and I was able to coerce his Lordship into making Nigella’s recipe for toasted brie and fig and Parma ham sandwich.

It’s mouthwatering to contemplate when you see it on the tv!

Well I thought it tasted smashing but the butter on the toasted outside reminded me of those breville sandwich makers everyone had in the 1980’s – you remember, the triangle shaped pocket toasted sandwiches which rendered cold baked beans and cheese into thermo nuclear devices of war if you were unwary when you bit into one.

The other thing, and I’m sorry to sound like I’m quibbling, but the pieces in the toasted sandwich were too long and needed trimming.

There’s nothing worse than having to manage a mouthful which suddenly becomes too big, and this sandwich had three layers which meant you either ate all the ham in one go or all the figs.

It was very nice nonetheless and I’m pleased to have quickly been able to try it out.

I’m hoping that I will feel well enough to get to the Library in the next day or two as my email advises Nigella’s book has come in for my reservation.

I do adore reserving Library books, it’s a great luxury to wander round a building full of books. And it’s great to collect ones from another library that you also want to read.

Our Library staff look quite hard pressed as they also have to rent out the Library computers and as such they get quite a lot of hassle and impatience directed at them.

I’m hoping to get some inspiration from Nigella’s book for tonight’s dinner, I’m not sure my taste buds are working…


Last hurdle…

I’m sure I can’t be the only person who suffers from getting distracted at the very end of completing a project.

Looking round my house at all the largely finished but not quite complete diy I am thinking it’s a family trait.

I’m always doing this but I never really noticed until now.

I buy craft kits and put them in the cupboard.

I knit a cardigan and with two sleeves half finished left, stow it on top of the cupboard.

But there’s a third, more insidious kind of finishing procrastination that I’m now aware of…

So regular readers will know, I’m very happy making my long awaited jumper and the yarn and the pattern have been a perfect combination.

I’m on the last sleeve and a solid afternoon of knitting would have it finished completely.

But am I finishing it?

No, I’m lost in the most delightful imaginings of what I’m going to make next.

Bearing in mind I should be focusing on the Christmas gifts I haven’t started yet I am away in a woolly fantasy thinking of any and all the things I can start next.

If I don’t get a grip on myself Christmas will arrive and the knitted objects will still be string in balls which do not make good presents in the raw unfinished state.

Oh but I’m thinking of casting on a lovely shawl and some mittens and making a turquoise penguin.

I’m going to force myself to stick to the task at hand!

Finish the sleeve woman, enough of your dithering!

Here you can see Spottie, she loves chasing her feather stick. And having her head fussed. She has no problem with prioritising!


After the sturm & drang…

It’s so quiet here at home you could definitely hear a pin drop.

His Lordship has settled in his new job, it’s as if he never left.

His smile lights up the house and you would never imagine how unhappy he was made to feel for so long.

It’s funny how much effort is required to make a big change yet once you have changed course silence falls and it’s like nothing has happened.

Except it’s all good now.

I always wonder why, when doing kind and good things is such a natural and happy state of existence, people choose to behave in a way that lowers their reputation and lessens their karma.

In most instances, there’s this tiny threshold moment before you commit to action where you can stop time and become detached and decide how you want to proceed. In that conscious point you can decide to take the higher path or take the lower path.

Even in the heat of battle, when it’s life or death, soldiers have to seize that moment and ensure the target is not a comrade before they squeeze the trigger.

Sometimes I find myself starting to blurt out something unkind and a few words actually escape my mouth before my brain kicks in and thankfully most times allows me to transform the destructive sentence to something positive.

Funny how no one seems to notice the end of what I say doesn’t quite match the start…

Anyhow, I intended this post to be about sharing some exciting wooliness with you, as Christmas approaches and we don’t have a tree anymore: we have a wool cupboard in the gap where the tree went (which makes me happy all year long) and I thought I might take a little picture so you can see all the lovely yarny wonderment.

Sorry for wombling off the woolly path.

So here’s a tiny tip of the iceberg kind of snapshot, all you can see is the wool at the front on some of the shelves.

You can’t see the duplicate skeins as they are stowed behind or all the other shelves or the four drawers below. All of which are heaving with yarn!

According to my Ravelry stash spreadsheet (geeks: you can export your stash to excel!) it appears there’s actually enough to almost get me to the moon! Hahaha!