And breathe

I’m so glad its finally the holidays, I feel like I might have a chance to catch my breath.

The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of busy. My head has been full to bursting of all the dates and information I needed to remember. This time of year is always kinda crazy with school stuff, but with two children starting new schools in september, this year has been mad. All the usual school events, sports days, school trips, fundraising activities, as well as leavers assemblies and parties and transition days for visiting new schools and the associated paperwork and thought processes involved in making sure nothing gets missed. I’m sure some things have been missed.

But we’ve finally made it to the end of term. We’ve said our goodbyes to school, teachers and friends, and cut the last tie to our old town. When we moved house last year, this was the worst case scenario – having to commute back to our old town for Pumpkin’s school until the very end of the academic year – but I think its actually been a good thing for Pumpkin in the end as he gets to leave at the same time as everyone else and participate in all the leavers activities. Personally though, I’m so happy to be done with the commuting and we’ll save a fortune in petrol costs! I can’t wait to be able to walk to school again in September!

Crafting, as usual, has taken a back seat. I have been working on the first button band, but I’m not happy with how it sits at the neckline and hemline edges. I’m currently debating whether it will block out or whether I need to frog and start again. Sigh. I think it may just need one extra stitch adding in at each end to push the ends of the row out to level with the bind off edge of the neck and hem. I dont have much experience of finishing projects like this, so any suggestions?

The veggies in the garden are coming along well, though something has started munching the mini courgettes.

Ive also had another audition and am waiting to hear what comes of that. Im expecting it to be fifth time unlucky, but ya never know!

Running is also continuing to happen. Today is the first time in several weeks that I’ve not been to the local parkrun. In seven runs I’ve got my time down from over 40mins to just over 33mins. I was really surprised by achieving that personal best last week! I’m still aiming for a sub30 by Christmas, just gotta keep the motivation going.

What’s life like for you right now?

A tough day

I’m feeling a little discombobulated today. Pumpkin didn’t want to go to school today as all of his friends are off to visit their new junior school, finding out which class and which house they will be in when they start there in September. Pumpkin is one of only two children who won’t be going with them.

Since we moved house last October, it’s been a continuing waiting game to find out where he will be going to school in September, and, though he does have a place at a local school, we’re still waiting to find out whether he can go to the same school that his brother will be starting in September. It’s been stressful. It still is.

So I feel for Pumpkin today, but am also feeling a bit wobbly myself. I have been in need of distraction. Last night I found myself trawling Ravelry for a new project. I nearly went and raided my stash for something suitable this morning, but decided instead to utilise the drive to work on something and started casting off the neckline of Crazy Stripes. An hour later and it was done!

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I don’t think I can face an hour at the park after school listening to the other mummies chirp about what house their child is in, so maybe I’ll take the boys out for a treat somewhere. I think we’ll both have done well to get through the day.

Disappointment

I’m more disappointed than I anticipated not to have been cast in the latest show I auditioned for. I never expected to get a role, so I don’t know why that should be the case. Perhaps it’s partly that I didn’t lose out to the person I expected would get the role. She must really be disappointed! Two extra people turned up to the auditions too, which massively reduced my chances. And I don’t have anything else in the pipeline at the moment, which is a state of affairs that leaves me feeling rather antsy.

Still, the summer holidays are approaching and though in previous years I’ve found myself going a bit crazy during the long break, I think I’ve probably got enough going on to fill my time this year. I might even manage to finish my cardigan!

Veggies

It was far too hot to be out in the garden last week. Well, too hot to work anyway. So its only today that I’ve managed to actually get my veggies planted out.

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I planted two courgettes (near right and far left) two peppers (opposite corners) and the one in the middle is a pumpkin. The RHS website suggested sinking flower pots in next to the plants so you can water into them rather than over the plant itself to help the water get right down to the roots.

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My hanging basket tomato plant is doing well too. Can you spot the little pea-sized green tomato in there?

In other news, my running is going fairly well of late. I try to do two training runs each week of around 3.4k each, and I’ve continued going to my local parkrun on a Saturday morning as well. I’ve managed to cut 5 minutes off my time since that first week of mostly running with a bit of walking. I’ve set myself a goal, with some encouragement from my brother who is and has always been an excellent runner, of running a sub-30min 5k by Christmas. Something tells me that cutting off the next 5 minutes from my PB will be considerably more difficult!

It’s also audition time again this week. Last night we learnt the audition songs and the audition dance. Now I have to go away and learn and practise everything before Thursday. There are two girls going for each of the two female roles available, so the odds are reasonable but I’m going to have to put some work in beforehand. So if you see me round here again before then, tell me to get on with it!

 

Theatrics

Yesterday was my third set of auditions in the last month. I don’t think I’ve ever auditioned for so many things in such a short space of time before! I don’t think I’ve ever been quite so unsuccessful before either. I haven’t managed to be cast in any of them. The first two auditions were for plays. I’ve not done a play for a while, but I do enjoy them and was keen to be involved. Unfortunately, having quite small casts means that there is a lot of competition for roles, and these were no exception. I’m a little disappointed not to have got them, but not really upset.

Yesterdays auditions were for a couple of non-singing roles in a musical. I felt quite ambivalent in the lead up to the auditions; keen to be involved in a show again, but not really that enthusiastic about this show in particular. I went along to the auditions just to see what happened really. I enjoy seeing how other people perform at auditions, and I felt like I gave it my best shot, but I was up against some very talented people, and this time was unsuccessful. It’s both a relief and a disappointment, which is quite a strange feeling.

I’m still keen to be involved in a show again soon, so I’m keeping my eye out for audition notices, and I’ll be going along to the previews for another musical tonight. There’s plenty out there, just gotta find the right role for me!

Edges

This week I have been out in the garden lots.

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Our lawn has a brick edging all the way round, but the gradual creep of grass and moss from one side, and dirt, bark, twigs and leaves from the other has obscured it over time. So off I went to the garden centre and acquired myself an edging iron and set to work. There’s a long way to go, but it looks better already, non?

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We also have four veg boxes which I’ve wanted to do something with since we moved in. A couple of months ago I got as far as digging over a couple of them and covering them with a net to keep the cats off, but they’d gotten considerably weedy again since then.

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I acquired a couple of veg plants at the garden centre – courgette, pepper, pumpkin – to complement the courgette I already had languishing on the kitchen windowsill, so I’ve dug over the veg box again and prepared it for the plants to go in.

Today, with the weather being so hot, I’ve combined a little more work with sitting in the shade doing some knitting. It’s been a while.

I finished the bind off along the bottom hem while we were on holiday though I’m not entirely happy with it. I kept getting lost in the sequence of steps, but ploughed on anyway. The result is something that I’m pretty sure is secure, but certainly isn’t pretty. I realised about halfway across just how bad it was looking but unfortunately, as it was a sewn bind off, I couldn’t see an easy way of unpicking what I’d already done. At that point though, I took a few minutes to really think through the process and learn how to read where I was in the sequence of steps and after that it got a lot better.

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Here it is, looking really bobbly and messy on the left and getting neater towards the right. It’s in the middle of the bottom hem so hopefully it won’t be tooooooo noticeable when I’m wearing it. At least now I understand what I’m doing, all the other edges should be a lot neater. Neckline next!

Garden explosion

By the time we came back from holiday, our garden had exploded with flowers and new growth! The rambling rose over the fence was laden with blooms, and the roses and huge peonies were filling the front flower bed. One of my first jobs was to mow the jungle to reclaim the lawn.

I found tiny strawberries alongside the shed and gathered a full handful, and more again since. They’re delicious and the boys are enjoying picking them too.

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I’m not particularly green-fingered and though I try to approach gardening in a considered way, I usually end up employing the ‘hack-it-and-hope’ method, often after things have gotten a bit out of control!

I spent a while untangling long branches of climbing rose, and jasmine and clematis and weaving them back into the trellis at the back of the garden. Unfortunately during the process, I managed to cut off the one beautiful clematis flower! Hopefully some more will grow in its place.

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One of the biggest ongoing jobs in this garden, is dealing with the effects of having a huge sweet chestnut tree growing in the corner. We spent a large part of the autumn raking up leaves and picking up the chestnuts and their spiky cases. The spring seems to consist largely of hunting down all the seedlings that have sprung up from the fallen chestnuts we missed, or the squirrels have hidden, and digging them out before they get too big. We have to watch out for holly and sycamore too, as well as the brambles that suddenly seem to have started sprouting all over. Pumpkin helped a little – he was especially proud of the ‘two-man-job’ saplings that had huge roots on them that required a good joint effort. I also had a little feathered helper who seemed very curious and friendly and hung around for quite some time.

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In search of sheepy

This year’s Big Family Holiday took place in Scotland. For those that don’t remember, or haven’t been around that long, every couple of years we gather together with all of my mum’s side of the family, for a week’s holiday together. There’s usually around 40 of us though we were missing a few this time, so it was closer to 30, although one cousin did manage to make it all the way from Australia especially!

We had a great week together as we always do, cooking meals in teams, venturing out in smaller groups on day trips around the local area and further afield and playing games, drinking wine and sharing stories in the evenings. We even had a mad circus-themed morning with lots of great costumes and silly games.

The biting midges were awful and I shall be spotty from their nasty bites for a good week to come, I think. The midges and the ticks were a major downside, but we still managed to have fun walking the hills and building dens in the woods. The boys had a great time with their cousins and second-cousins and were sad to leave them all at the end of the week.

Being Scotland, I was hoping to find something suitably sheepy to bring home with me. Sadly, the closest I got was a long walk led by my uncle, consisting of bog-snorkelling, ditch-vaulting and electric fence hopping during which the sheep stood eyeing us all suspiciously from a safe distance. Wise sheep. Seriously. I got very muddy, and managed to electrocute myself! Despite which, it was still strangely enjoyable!

Even a day trip to the Isle of Arran was a bust on the sheepy stakes as there wasn’t time for mooching and browsing even had I spotted a promising looking shop.

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I did stumble across some gorgeous crocheted jewellery made by Red Squirrel Crafts. I especially loved her leaf designs, but, not really being one to wear much jewellery, I reluctantly refrained from purchasing anything.

I consoled myself with the prospect of visiting the Yorkshire town of Skipton on our rather indirect journey home. Skipton is the home of Lucy of Attic24. I don’t follow her blog particularly closely these days, yet it remains one of my favourite blogs. I love Lucy’s designs and am in awe of her sense for colour. Her Neat Ripple pattern was the one I chose to use for Pickle’s special baby blanket, and it’s my go-to design for baby blankets generally.

One of her most recent blog posts was about Yarn Shop Day, back at the start of May and so from that, I knew there was a great yarn shop in Skipton and I was looking forward to having a browse and had warned my husband that I may well emerge with some form of yarny purchase.

We had limited time in Skipton, so we parked up right next to the canal and wandered into town, only to find that the aforementioned yarn shop was closed. Waahhh!

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So the consolation to the consolation prize, was to find the little cafe ‘Coopers’ where Lucy has her studio upstairs. It was a good choice for lunch as the food was excellent and the staff friendly, and though I didn’t bump into Lucy herself, it was nice to see her surroundings.

I wish we could have stayed longer in Skipton – it seems like a lovely town- but alas we had to drive on, and I remained empty- handed.

Clearly, the Crazy Stripes must be finished before any further yarn purchases can be permitted.

On the plus side though, I have learnt how to solve a Rubik’s cube. I can’t say it was ever a strong ambition to do so, yet it feels like a great accomplishment to have done so!

 

Bind off begins!

It’s happening!! At last, I’m finally actually doing the epic bind-off along the bottom of the Crazy Stripes cardigan.

I watched several different YouTube tutorials for tubular bind off in 1×1 rib (I think this one by VeryPink Knits is the clearest) and then took a very deep breath before cutting my yarn with the longest tail you’ve ever seen! Four times the length of the piece is recommended and I’m working on nearly 300 stitches here!

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As you can see, I have several strands through my yarn needle. I had to double the tail over a couple of times or I’d be walking halfway across the room to pull the tail through each stitch!

The first few stitches are a bit on the loose side. I’m hoping I can wiggle them a bit at the end to even them out a little. But generally it’s looking pretty good so far and I have two gym classes to sit through today so hopefully I’ll get a good way through!

How do you approach new techniques? Procrastinate for weeks and approach with caution, research and a deep breath? Or dive straight in?

Garden pompoms

Isn’t it nice to have some sunshine again! I’m enjoying my garden at the moment, especially these pompom pops of purple chives which are right outside my kitchen doors. I do love alliums, and it’s still exciting seeing what my new garden has to offer me as the seasons progress.

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Knitting has been sorely lacking here of late. I am gearing up to do a tubular bind off of the bottom ribbing of my crazy stripes, but haven’t managed to summon the courage or find the time to dedicate to it properly yet. Soon, I hope.

Theatrics continue. I have auditioned for a play and got a recall, but am still waiting to hear whether I’ve been cast. This week also sees the start of workshops for the next full-scale musical production my local society are doing. It will be good to get stuck into something again soon.

I’m also trying to get back into running again. I did quite well at the start of the year, running fairly regularly and getting up to 3k routes, with the aim of taking part in a parkrun 5k event. I stalled at 3k though and life and (not wanting to cripple myself before) shows got in the way, as they do. So, after several months of not running at all, I did the sensible thing and just decided to go for it and do the parkrun anyway! Crippling yourself *after* a show is fine, right!? I didn’t manage to run the full 5k. There was rather more walking than I’d have liked, but hey, I made it to the finishing line in a reasonable time, and I can only get better, right!? Maybe having a time to beat will encourage me to put some work in!