Pick a project!

Knitting a baby blanket at the start of lockdown was great as it really gave me something to focus on and keep me emotionally and mentally level. Since then, my creativity has been all over the place as I’ve struggled to focus on any one thing for very long. That’s not to say I haven’t been creative, it’s just that it’s been channelled in so many different directions that I don’t have much in the way of anything finished to show for it.

We’ve made some progress with our study, which we’ve been working on for about 3 years now! Mr Jack is using it full time for work now, but at least he has a good desk to use. We’ve also put up a bookcase in there which is intended to house as much of my crafty stuff as possible, sewing machines, fabric, notions, yarn, knitting and anything else you can think of.

Speaking of sewing, the boys and I enjoyed watching the Sewing Bee together this year, and as a result I’ve started following more sewists on Instagram, and discovered The Fold line website and its related Facebook group which is such a helpful resource.

I have lots of fabric lined up for various projects which have never quite made it to the cutting board. I’m hoping I might work my way through a few of them, but it’s hard to find the space to lay everything out when everyone needs the table for school work and activities and family meal times.

I have managed to produce a pair of Hudson pants which, while far from perfect (they may yet make their way back to the sewing machine for some alterations) have been a welcome addition to my lockdown wardrobe. Next up will be an Ogden cami using a black and green rayon challis.

I have of course also made a few face masks, but need to churn out a few more now that they’ve been made compulsory in shops here from next week.

I’ve enjoyed watching a few gentle TV programmes, including The Repair Shop where professional craftspeople lovingly restore precious family heirlooms and items of sentimental value to their owners. And I’ve taken inspiration from Your Home Made Perfect, where two architects use virtual reality to showcase their designs for the remodelling of people’s homes.

I’ve been learning how to use SketchUp, a computer aided design programme, which will be useful to me for my job, but has proved brilliant for helping me redesign my living room, for which I’ve had ideas rumbling round my head for a couple of years now, but have previously been unable to pin down to a coherent overall plan. It’ll be another long term project to get it all done, but we’ve already started working on it.

Then there’s the kitchen. We’re not making any drastic changes, just adding in one new drawer unit and moving an under-counter shelf unit around, but it’s been anything but straightforward to do. Why is it that the jobs you think will be easy almost never are!?

There’s been homeschooling and school related projects, growing veggies, planning woodworking projects, (I miss work and power tools!) and Pumpkin is desperate to build a go kart.

Amongst all of these, and other projects I have still been knitting, very slowly, a pair of socks for Pumpkin, the pattern for which had been in my Ravelry queue for several years. This week I finally cast them off, completed the detailing and sewed all the ends in. It does feel good to finish something!

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Oh October!

It’s October again. October always seems to be when silly season begins and then, well, it’s non stop til Christmas really.

Rehearsals are stepping up a gear for the show I’m performing in at the end of the month. We still have our little knitting corner when we’re not required for a particular scene, and generally it’s all very enjoyable.

I’ve also just auditioned for two more shows – a musical and a play – and have ended up being cast in the role I wanted for both of them! They’re like buses. I did heaps of auditions in the summer and was only cast in one and now two come along at once! Typical! Should be lots of fun though, as long as I don’t wear myself out with all the rehearsals!

As for the knitting, it continues, just very very slowly, not helped by the fact that one of the new needle tips I bought was already catching in the grain so I had to get back to the shop to exchange it. Fortunately Knitpro have a great policy of replacing faulty needles so it didn’t cost me any more.

I took a calculated approach to the remaining grey yarn. I weighed and divided it into two balls, then I cast on and knit a cuff to a length that would match the other edges of the cardigan. I weighed the cuff and the remaining yarn to work out how much I had left for stripes. Then I ripped the cuff out again and got to work. I managed to do the two stripes at the top of the sleeve out of what was left and know I still have enough for the cuffs at the end.

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I’ve started striping in the lighter grey yarn and quite like how it’s looking so far, I’m just not sure how it will look with the whole sleeve done in a different grey. Time will tell.

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As if I needed anything else to work on, I just spotted a small but solid pine coffee table outside a charity shop which I thought I could tidy up by stripping it down and painting or waxing it. We don’t have a coffee table in our living room and I’ve wanted one for ages and at only 8 quid and with some paint leftover from the desk I did a couple of years ago, it couldn’t hurt to try and see what happens. Just gotta find the time to do it around everything else!

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The eagle-eyed amongst you will also have spotted that we’ve done absolutely nothing more with the study. Still a sidelined work in progress. As is the garden currently. It’s silly season out there too as the garden is gradually getting covered with leaves and chestnuts and I remember how much hard work it took to keep on top of it last year. Speaking of which, it’s very nearly a whole year since we moved in here and I just can’t fathom where all that time has gone!

I’m still running. After doing very little over the summer it actually felt great to get back to parkrun. My times were much slower than back in July, and then I ran a couple with the boys – both of them have now run/walked a full 5k – so I was pleasantly surprised to get a new PB last week when I ran it on my own again. Unfortunately rehearsals mean I can’t do parkrun for the next couple of weeks but I’ll keep up the weekday running and get back to it as soon as I can.

The icing on the cake of October is of course Pumpkin’s birthday. He’s very into Mario Kart at the moment, since Mr Jack busted out the old GameCube – retro gaming! – so ideas on a postcard please, for how to make a Mario Kart cake without it being insanely complicated!

I must say, I’m very much looking forward to half term. The boys are exhausted from new school adjustments but they’ll be packed off to the grandparents for half the week while I’ll be rehearsing all hours. But a change is as good as a rest, and I’ll hopefully get a few lie ins.

What do you have going on in October?

Seasons may change

I’m kinda itching to knit at the moment, but I’m at the tricky stages of Crazy Stripes with bind offs and button bands and I need to be able to sit down and concentrate on it so as not to mess it up at a vital moment. And I have to be monogamous or it’ll end up in a wip pile forever more while I get distracted by new pretties. So knitting just ain’t happening at the moment.

In the meantime, I’m in more of a reading phase. I ploughed through 4 or 5 books while we were on holiday. A couple of them, admittedly, were actually children’s novels, so a fast read, but even so it was lovely to have the chance to just chill out with my nose in a book. I’m now back onto Game of Thrones. Having stalled a bit on the previous one, I’m now on to the final volume that’s currently published. I have a feeling I’m going to be a bit frustrated at the end of this one as the next one isn’t released yet, but hubby is catching me up a bit now, so maybe we can move over to the TV show instead.

Our holiday in Germany was great. The campsite had excellent facilities, the boys swam every day in the indoor pool and we loved the local area. The landscapes were stunning and the views spectacular. We did a lot of walking and went down to the local town of Saarburg a couple of times and even found a yarn shop there!

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I had a browse but restrained myself from buying as I know I’ve got some stashbusting to do, whenever I get the chance to start a new project.

We returned home to wilting tomatoes, a moderate sized pumpkin and a lush patch of unexpected autumn crocuses.

We moved in almost a year ago now, so we’ve nearly gone full seasonal cycle in the garden and as autumn approaches I know I’m in for a month or two of hard work raking leaves and chestnuts.

The boys have started their new school and seem to be settling in well, and I now have daytimes all to myself. I’ve been doing jobs and running errands this week, but once things shake down into the new routine, I’ll get the cardigan finished and then I can make a start on some new projects. My head is swimming with ideas, so it’ll be nice to have to time to actually execute some of them. I’ve also just finished sewing nametags onto the last of the school shirts. I’m so glad I made an early start on it and did it over several sessions instead of leaving everything to the last minute like I usually do!

Summer

Having struggled to fill it in previous years, this summer seems to have ended up packed full of activities and away time.

Shopping with friends for cardigan buttons and other goodies.

A little DIY in the kitchen and the saucepan lids have a new home.

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A return to the family ranch is always good for the soul.

The tomatoes are coming along well and we have a pumpkin that has continued growing beyond golf ball size.

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There’s also been lots of reading (Swallows and Amazons with Pumpkin is wonderful!), lots of sewing and still a few name labels to go! Lots of fun at the park and meeting friends, cinema, theatre, TV, Scrabble, all sorts! The summer isn’t over yet and there’s plenty more fun to be had.

Hope you’re enjoying yours!

Fruition

Today, I am breathing a deep sigh of relief. To cut a long story short, after 4 different applications involving 6 different schools and 2 different local councils, 9 months of waiting and commuting, and 2 years of it occupying an insanely large amount of head space, we finally heard the very welcome and long awaited news that Pumpkin has a place at the same school as Pickle for September.

I can’t tell you how relieved and happy I am and how much lighter I feel. Physically lighter, like a huge weight has lifted. I can finally stop wondering and worrying and waiting! Two years of thinking and questioning, planning and hoping and just waiting and waiting has finally come to fruition.

Its funny how things happen all at the same time though isn’t it?

After four unsuccessful auditions, my fifth one finally resulted in a casting! I didn’t get either of the roles I went for, but I’m very happy to be a member of the ensemble for this one. It’s with a company I’ve not worked with before, so a foot in the door is a great start.

And as these things seem to go in threes, I’m also happy to report that my tomatoes have finally made their own move towards fruition and have at long last started to ripen!

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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?

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!