Skyscrapers and String


I forgive myself

Hello everyone.

After watching Susan Sarandon on TV yesterday discussing candidly how her life was made beautiful by all her failures and mistakes I have been struck by the profound nature of her words.

Having the house all to myself this morning has meant I could have a long bath and read uninterrupted for an hour.

I’ve always been a quick reader, and some books are more padded out than others. I’ve been reading a book called “Forgiveness” by Iyanla Vanzant.

This lady is one of my personal heroes, alongside Oprah. Both these ladies are my moms, alongside Flylady.

Her name Iyanla means “Great Mother”, which is appropriate seeing as she grew up without a mother. She has been a dear mentor to me without her knowing, for two decades. She will never know how grateful I am.

In the bath I have read up to about 13 chapters of the book, and as I read through I was thinking yes, uh uh, I get that and so on. I decided to get up and go out and pulled the plug and as I wrapped my hair in a towel, these words popped into my head: “I forgive myself for not trying hard enough”.

The irony of those words hit me like a tidal wave and I was then heartbroken and sobbing my heart out. Readers, if I ever was to criticise myself it would not be for the want of trying hard. My life story if I was to write it out in full would be of the child who tried so hard she nearly died trying.

So that is my lesson for today. I forgive myself for not trying hard enough.

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Vintage Knitting

Hello everyone!

I hope you’ve had a super week! As a consequence of feeling under par since September, this weekend I have been working hard to catch up with myself, so here is a bit of a long report, which probably would have been spread out a bit more over a few days otherwise.

The big purple owl went happily to my friend’s daughter, and she looked delighted with it!

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Right ho! Intarsia. I showed you my daisy purse and thank you everyone for your kind comments and tips on how to improve. I went online and searched the Interwebs for advice and the first thing I saw was that you’re not supposed to carry the yarn across and catch it at the back like in fair isle, but you are supposed to make little bobbins of each patch of colour.

And there is a trick for working the colours together at the join, so you see the colour you want, and not the one you are joining in. Also, you are supposed to use the long ends from your bobbins to go round after and sew in the long stitches that occur around the intarsia shapes.

I had a bit of a go using scrap wool and it looked fab, I can see where I went wrong completely. I am not tempted in the slightest to re do the purse, it will have to stay as it is and I’ll sew it up in due course.

Next bit of news is my spring cleaning efforts, yesterday, Jon built me a fab shelf over the cats box so I can sort out my washing in three laundry bags, which will make the actual doing of the laundry wonderful going forward. Fly lady says to do laundry each day and it is a necessity if your space to store dirty clothes is limited, as it is in my house.

While he was doing that, I went upstairs and reluctantly tackled my wardrobe. The actual clothes are rotated frequently according to the seasons, and I have a vast collection of hand knit cardigans and tops and shawls. I put some shawls with the cardigans to make new outfits, and hooked through all my tshirts and tops to make sure I had tops to go with everything. I was surprised by how many nice outfits I ended up with! I do need more work trousers, but I will order those once I’ve finished chatting here with you.

I was also a bit shocked at the silly way I had used the copious space in my cupboard and was able to make some really helpful improvements. For example, a few years ago I gave myself full rein to purchase vintage scarves whenever I liked and these were taking up prime real estate, whereas I rarely use them these days. So they are now at the top of the cupboard where I can get them, and my weekend tops and trousers are to hand. I also found a considerable stash of ugly pop socks, I do not know where they came from. They are in the bin!

Today I sorted through my wool and had a long hard look at some wool I had put together thinking I would make a long swingy cardigan, using the various yarns together in some kind of artful effect. In the cold light of day, I am never going to be able to make a go of this project, so I am going to use the 1200 yards of plum wool to make a vintage bedjacket, from my collection of patterns:

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The pattern is knit from the bottom up, and you join at the yoke, so if I run out of the plum, I can use the Handmaiden Casbah at that point forth.

Today was very enjoyable, I went for a walk after getting all my wool out and rolling on it for a bit, I went through the park and up to the shops. It was sunny and the air was full of birdsong. I bought some bread and croissants for tomorrow, and some other supplies and came home.

After a spot of lunch making good use of my new bread, I went upstairs and tidied Jon’s cupboard. It was a mess. I put everything straight, and when he came in from work to a piping hot dinner and saw his tidy cupboard he was very pleased.

Here are some pictures of my dear Woozle, she loves trying out new wool. Here is some old maiden aunt and some British New Forest Mohair, being tested and approved as quality yarn.

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Here you can see my progress with Amber’s pink shawl. It is a very enjoyable knit! I don’t know how big it will be but there’s three quarters of the ball of yarn left.

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Dilemma: Book or Knitting?

Hello all!

Putting the kitchen to rights on Sunday, whilst Jon and Amber went out together for a jaunt, and also unpacking the shopping and catching up on the laundry was a tall order, but I took plenty of rest stops after 15 minutes of working, this way I got it done then was able to go out to the gym for a long swim.

Once home, I put dinner on, then basically I could relax. But in previous times, I would have gone overboard, tired myself out, missed my swim, and then been angry and irritated with my family as I would have been resentful that I had to do all this work by myself.

Thanks to Flylady, if you sign up to her website, you learn how to declutter and clean in baby steps, then when you remodel your house, and you have workmen in, there is no embarrassing mess, and thanks to constantly being aware of the state of your cupboards and removing unwanted items, when they’re finished working for you, you can put it all back in a reasonable fashion.

One comedy item I discovered, despite two years of “Flying” was a bulging bag full of “good” carrier bags. This made me laugh to think why I’d kept them!

Another thing Flylady has taught me, is to learn to love myself. It has taken a long time, and it is certainly one of the hardest lessons. I am gradually learning discipline, and doing things to please myself, and I am less anxious, and more content all round.

Today at work, I got really annoyed and frustrated about something quite trivial, and I mulled over it on the journey home, then when I got in and started dinner, I laughed because I realised I couldn’t remember the last time I felt annoyance! Which, for someone like me, with low frustration tolerance and anger issues, shows you quite how far I have progressed.

When I tried my marbles experiment, one of the things on my “must do more of” list was reading. I am proud to say I have read a whole novel each month for the last few months! At the moment, I am reading “Pride and Prejudice” by Jane Austen, again. I am enjoying my reading so much I am facing a real dilemma about deciding between book and knitting. So I am doing both, usually knitting on the train heading to work whilst I have a seat, then reading whilst standing on the end part of my commute. This is a very enjoyable balance!

After putting dinner on I planted some mint outdoors in my window box. Very satisfying!

We still have the tumble dryer in the living room, it makes a frightful racket but I don’t mind, because I know Jon will prioritise sorting out the cupboard where it belongs more quickly than otherwise!

It is Knitting Club tomorrow, we’ll be planning our Jaunt to the Knitting and Stitching Show at Ally Pally in October! I still haven’t used all the wool I bought last time lol! Is there any hope for me?

I hope you’ve had a jolly week, my world is very contented, and as Flylady says, I’m heading for bed at a decent hour. My sink is shiny too. Woozle doesn’t mind the dryer, she likes to view the world from on high! And it’s warm!

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Motivation, and Marbles in a Jar

Hello all!

I hope you’re having a jolly weekend so far!

Yesterday I had amazing luck, I went into Monsoon with Amber after our Hummingbird Bakery cake-fest and she tried on her Birthday Dress (the yellow one I showed you earlier this week) and it was perfect. So pleased that is done, buying for fashionista teenagers is not an easy task.

Whilst Amber was trying the dress on, I mooched round the shop and found half a dozen dresses, and joined her in the changing room. To my surprise, and this never happens in real life does it, all bar one looked fantastic! As they were all holiday dresses, and this week was a bit blah! I thought ok, I’ll splurge. So I did. It was blissful!

Anyway, back to motivational stuff. I got the idea of the marbles and jar, as usual from the Flylady website.

One of the fly ladies posted that she motivates herself by putting a marble in a jar each time she does a chore, and when the jar is full, she treats herself. I liked this idea greatly. When I pondered on it however, I could see a bit of a problem. In the morning before work, I do a good dozen jobs each day, and also at night the same. I am quite good at being a Flybaby after a year of practice, my wings are flapping, definitely, and my sink is shiny. The jar would fill up in a couple of days!

After a good think, in Winnie the Pooh fashion, I decided this useful strategy would be best applied to encourage me to do those jobs I put off, dislike, shirk and forget. Such as ringing people I like. I am phone phobic. When I have the house to myself I potter about. When the house is full, I dislike calling up as I dislike being overheard.

For each item listed below each has a similarly nagging and procrastinating quality, I won’t bore you, obviously everyone understands why I dislike flossing and window cleaning, right? Some items are to be actively encouraged, they get two marbles each (in brackets after).

Reading is on there, because I never prioritise it, and I wish to be more focussed on what is good for me as a person, and I hope it will encourage me to read regularly. When I mean read, I don’t mean look at pictures in knitting books, which I excel at, right, it has to be a proper book with words and a story…

There are a good twenty odd things on my list:

  1. Make a packed lunch
  2. Read
  3. Karaoke
  4. Sew up some knitting
  5. Using up stash yarn
  6. Go to Pets at Home
  7. Clean kitchen at bedtime
  8. Charity shop some stuff
  9. eBay something
  10. Zone clean
  11. Finish month under budget
  12. Museum trip
  13. Meditation
  14. Weigh self
  15. Walk to station
  16. Walk home (2)
  17. Windows (2)
  18. Floors
  19. Gardening
  20. Gym
  21. Gym after work (2)
  22. Ring Aunties
  23. Ring Ali
  24. Floss
  25. Weights
  26. Run (2)

I have a defined list of luxury prizes, which includes new knitting books, buy wool for a project, go to Cay Tre for dinner, treat self to a Chanel lipstick, etc.

At the moment I am doing reasonably well, look!

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De Stashing, I Thought I Might Sell Some Wool!

After my purge yesterday, I took a pencil case full of sets of spare sock needles to work to see if someone wanted them at Knitting Club. I posted a message on our Knitting Club forum and inside 60 seconds Daljit bit my hand off lol. I will take them in with some sock patterns, which surely gets me a bonus for double destashing!

My ebaying is going well, I have watchers and bidders, so I thought, tonight its the turn of some wool. All the way home on the train, I imagined me getting my stash boxes out and casually allocating a couple of 500g packets of Rowan yarns. It seemed so simple.

We had a lovely dinner of chicken with noodles and hoisin sauce, and afterwards Jon kindly got the wool boxes down. Hmmm. Not so easy now. The 4ply I thought of as a weird orange is in fact a smashing ochre shade, exactly the thing for my next cabled cardigan. OK, that stays.

Then I dug out the full pack of teal linen. The colour is gorgeous. Although I have already made a cardi in this exact yarn, I was thinking how wonderful it would look as a Flaming June cardigan with a bright blue edge strip!

Selling wool is never going to happen!

My dear friend Alison sent me some pictures today where she had emptied their huge garage which she had described as being full of stuff in boxes. Her huge garden was completely covered in stuff. It looked a boggling amount to tidy up. I felt daunted and I was hundreds of miles away! I hope she is tucked up indoors with wine and tv now, and not still sorting it all out!

Flylady advocates putting charity shop stuff found during clear outs straight into your car. That would work for me if I had a car. My hall now has a huge bin bag full of clothes and bric a brac from the loft, you can barely sidle out the door. Now I have to wait till Friday to start getting it moved on.

My daughter spotted I’d put an old biscuit tin with elephants out into the bag, and she promptly declared she would have it “as it was part of her heritage”, so that has gone back upstairs. I hasten to add, my daughter’s room is exempt from decluttering, she has the freedom to do this,if she wants to, after her exams finish.

My nipper is 17 soon, I saw a super dress for her in Monsoon today, I hope she will try it on and I’ll get it for her birthday if she likes it. It is yellow and gold and absolutely divine!

I have also promised her a jaunt to obtain posh cake this weekend to reward her for her struggles revising and brain ache from exams all these weeks as they will be over by Wednesday. Do send her your best wishes through the Interwebs, she has tried so hard!

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Hoarders! Avalanche!

Hello all!

I hope you’re having a super weekend so far!

Mine has been far too exciting, in the most dramatic and dangerous sense of the word.

Our holiday is approaching, and we are trying to get ready in an a organised and sensible fashion. As you know, I have been decluttering downstairs and today we agreed to hook out some boxes from the loft as all my summer clothes are there, in boxes, along with a whole load of other stuff, as Jon has had a DVT and hasn’t been well enough to do this before. Pretty much all downstairs is done, I am still wrangling magazines, and haven’t started on the knitting books yet, but I can say hand on heart it looks clean and neat all around.

One of the things you read in Suze Orman’s books and I have seen it mentioned in other space cluttering and feng shui books, is that holding on to stuff you don’t use can be linked to psychological symptoms which can be hard to overcome. The idea is you look at the stuff, and, instead of thinking, “This is old junk, it needs to be tossed!”, instead, it represents some kind of security, and you fear being parted from the stuff, even to the extent where your house becomes a great mess, and they call in the TV crew, and you find yourself starring in an episode of “Hoarders”.

Back to the drama. Right, so Jon pulls down the loft ladder, Amber is studying in her room quietly, and we start bringing down boxes. All goes well for the first four boxes, then Jon stumbles and an orange bag of god knows what falls down the ladder right onto me, I freak out as I think my arm is broken, and in all seriousness, it was a complete shock and fright! Nothing was broken but I lost my temper and I accused Jon of trying to murder me, and now, although I have apologised and tried to make amends he is a bit of a sulker, so unfortunately we are now existing under the same roof in a state of what PG Wodehouse would describe as “Froideur”.

Once I had composed myself, which took a while, and I can assure you my eyes are still stinging from my hot angry tears, I went through the boxes and dumped and charity shopped quite a bit. Jon also went through his cupboard and tossed a whole bin bag of shabby old things, so well done to him!

Here you can see my charity shop bag:

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Also, in an effort to be strict, I have listed for sale my Vintage Boye Circular Needle Set.
I have had these for about 10 years, and I bought them from the US. As I have so much vintage knitting stuff already, I thought it would be nice for these to go to a good home.

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Also, I would like to thank the collective genius of the users of Ravelry. Twice in the last week, I have been completely stumped when trying to identify patterns I wanted to review. The first was a striped Tunisian crochet design on an advert for Knit TV. I had emailed the magazine, they didn’t understand what I wanted at all, and in frustration, I posted a picture of the scarf on a Ravelry forum and got the right answer in less than an hour. Today, whilst doing my 15 minutes of magazine culling, I found a really nice cardi with no description whatsoever other than it was a Debbie Bliss pattern. So, boldened by my previous success, I popped a picture and asked politely for help on the Debbie Bliss fans forum and, as if by magic, the answer was proffered almost instantly.

Ravelry is completely the most wonderful resource for crafters. What would I do without it?

The weather is gorgeous once again, and my dear Woozle has even ventured outside – look!

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De-clutter On An Epic Scale and All Round Happiness

Hello everyone!

I hope you’re having a super weekend! My weekend so far has been extremely satisfying.

My dear friend Alison came to visit yesterday, she is like instant excitement. Some people have inbuilt pizazz and she has it in spades. If you watch the film “Hello Dolly” with Barbra Streisand, you see a woman with everything my friend has got. Charisma, charm, optimism, she is gorgeous and delightful and everyone she encounters adores her.

Today has been very exciting also, my morning was shared with Al, then after she departed in a blizzard to join some other friends on a birthday jaunt, Jon and I went to do some more de cluttering upstairs. We shifted several bags of debris from under the bed and from out of Jon’s corner.

Since Lucy from Attic 24 mentioned Fly Lady in one of her posts I have been following Flylady’s advice on running your home on minimum effort for over a year, and I really love the peace it brings to have a clean and well ordered home life. We are all so much happier as a result, it really does revolutionise your mindset, you learn an almost zen like discipline without being preached at.

Since then I have gone through all my cupboards twice to get rid of clutter and junk. We still have some places which are untouched, the understairs cupboard and the loft spring to mind. I dread how much toot is lurking there, but we’ll get through it, one small phase at a time.

Now we are a bit pooped from our exertions, Amber has gone out for an exciting evening with friends and I am knitting with my dear cat beside me.

Tomorrow is my jaunt to Loop, Madeleine Tosh is teaching, life is wonderful.

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Saturday and I’m Full Of Zip!

Today is the first day I’ve woken up feeling well for literally weeks!

I am raring to go.

Trying not to be daunted by all the catching up around the house I need to do, even if you ignore the housework there’s a substantial amount of sewing up and blocking. And I want to do some more de-cluttering. Don’t even mention the back garden.

But nothing can dispel the joy of feeling really alive and pain free and happy in my own skin.

I have been looking at my knitted WIPs and the yarn I have and my Ravelry queue and have been thinking how to avoid over commitment and having rolled the ideas around on being more disciplined etc, have quickly decided not to worry about that.

It’s like being a person who reviews restaurants for a living fretting about how little home-cooking they actually get round to, or how many calories they have eaten! You have to try the pudding lol don’t you!

And if it suddenly gets really sunny so I don’t need my coat (how optimistic can a girl get!!) I reserve the right to ditch any warm knitting on the needles immediately in favour of summer cardis.

Hoping to have some ta-dahs for you once the sewing is caught up with.

Yesterday I put my sewing things in the lovely sewing basket I bought on Sunday and realised how shabby my needle cases were. Need to do something about that!

Right, now, I promise you some pictures later today, I hope you’re used to me blogging little and often now. I remember when I started this blog two years ago, I promised to show you some of the home made things I have around the house, so if you’re interested I’ll start taking some pictures and I’ll give you a little tour over the next few weeks.

Plus, I need to plant up my window boxes, so I can show you those too when they’re done, everyone likes Spring flowers, yes?

Right, the Postman has been, so I am now literally hopping about with Glee (thank you Teenage Fashionista for putting the latest Glee album on iTunes for me!) as all my yarn has arrived for the amazing seed stitch wrap courtesy of Purl Bee.

What do you think of the colours? I am humming and hawing over the blue it is too purple. Luckily I have something in my stash in bright blue silk (see why having opulent stashes are the absolute business!) but I’m going to muse on it for a while whilst I get my chores done…

Your views please! I am so excited!

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