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.

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!

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!

 

Little green froggy

Today I had another visit from the little green frog. Rrrrribbit!

I finished the body of my crazy stripes a couple of days ago, but I’m just not happy with the bottom hemline where the front left meets the back. I’ve trawled through a lot of finished projects on Ravelry and many seem to have quite a wobbly hemline over the hip in just that spot, and I don’t think it’s something that can just be blocked out.

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One project, fortunately, had some notes about just this issue, including a record of what she did to fix it. She was making a different size so I’ve done a little maths myself and think I’ve come up with my own solution, so I’ve ripped back 48 rows (thankfully much shorter ones than last time I had to frog!) and am reknitting to hopefully achieve a better looking line. I quite enjoy a bit of knit-maths but still I hope the numbers stack up!

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On the plus side, my new stitch markers really came in handy for this one!

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Treasure Trove

A random comment I noticed on a Facebook group last night sent me off on a treasure hunt this morning. It mentioned a fabric shop I’d never heard of, just a short drive from where I live. I’ve been on the lookout for some cheap knit fabric so I can practise the Renfrew top pattern I bought at the Knitting and Stitching Show, before I let myself loose on the spensive fabric I bought with it.

The fabric shop itself was much smaller than I’d hoped and didn’t carry a vast amount of stock. Most of it was printed cottons suitable for quilting, but I did find an end-of-roll offcut of a pink floral-printed jersey. I didn’t measure it, but it was only three quid, so I bought it anyway and hope it might be enough for a first crack at a Renfrew.

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The treasure was to be found in the adjacent barn. It hosts a selection of small businesses, almost like a small indoor market – vintage clothes, art and papercraft supplies, a small haberdashery, a petfood stall, fruit and veg, even a yarn shop, but the crown was the most amazing Aladdins Cave of a cake decorating supplier. They stocked just about everything you could possibly want for cake decorating – tools, toppers, food colourings, fondant icing, edible glitter, boxes, cake boards, stands, and a huge selection of cake tins for hire. I know where I’ll be heading next time I need some serious cake supplies, and it’s much nearer than the place I used to go to!

I think I’ll have to keep looking for a good local fabric shop. I discovered a great one a few weeks ago when I visited a friend and her yarn shop in Essex, but sadly that can hardly be considered local! Still, if you’re in the vicinity of Braintree in Essex, Blake House Craft Centre is definitely worth a mooch. They have a whole range of shops there though I’ve only been in two of them myself. And Sew On stocks a wide variety of fabrics and haberdashery supplies. I could have lost hours in there and left with a considerably lighter purse had I been in the mood for indulging. Just next door is my friend’s shop Sconch, which is just yarn heaven. It carries probably the biggest range of yarn types I’ve ever found in a single yarn shop. They have a great space for running Craft and Cake sessions several days a week. The staff were friendly and helpful. They also run an online shop which I’ve ordered from in the past and they have excellent customer service. I’d definitely recommend stopping by if you can.

I’m resisting buying any yarn at the moment as I have several projects lined up already, but I couldn’t come away completely empty handed, so I bought these cute stitch markers.

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What’s your local yarn or fabric shop like? Have you ever come across a crafty treasure trove?

Don’t they fly!?

The years, I mean. WordPress kindly informed me yesterday that it was my 3 year anniversary here. That would have totally passed me by!

I celebrated by picking up my knitting for the first time in about a week. I only managed a couple of rows but something’s better than nothing.

I also went to a rehearsal last night. I’m itching to get back to rehearsing a show. But this one was for a show I’m crewing in a couple of weeks time. Backstage work is something I enjoy, and you still get the buzz of being in a theatre, but it’s not the same as being part of the cast who’ve been rehearsing for months and going out on the stage in front of an audience. So I’m keeping my eye out for other opportunities.

In other news, the cake is safely in the freezer and it remains to be seen whether it survives on the other side.

Ganseys

On a trip up to the North Norfolk coast last weekend, I visited the small but delightful Cromer Museum. Whilst there, I noticed these amazing Fishermen’s jumpers, known as ‘Ganseys’. The knitting was so small and fine, that it’s hard to believe that they were handknit – they looked more like modern machine knitting – and some of the patterns were beautiful. It was fascinating to read about them.

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Here’s a bit of the blurb about them:

“Fishermen traditionally wear a blue woollen jumper called a ‘gansey’, which is a corruption of Guernsey.”

“Ganseys were hand-knitted ‘in-the-round’ using dark blue worsted wool to make a hard-wearing garment. The upper part was decorated with a pattern of purl and plain stitches.”

“Despite great age and years of hard wear the quality of these labours of love shines through.”

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I was also intrigued by these ‘Knitting shields’, though despite the explanation, I can’t quite picture how they would have been used.

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“The shield was tied to the waist or stuck into the waistband of an apron. The right hand needle was inserted into the end. This helped to support the weight of the gansey and steadied the needle.”

The museum also had a great exhibition about the work of Olive Edis, a female photographer around the turn of the 20th century, who also worked a war photographer during the First World War.

All in all, the museum is well worth a visit, and Cromer itself was just glorious!

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