Leaves

I’ve had a quiet week, the like of which I’ve not known for quite some time! The usual school runs and children’s activities have happened as normal, but I’ve had no rehearsals and I’ve run no errands and done no shopping. I needed some downtime. That’s not to say I’ve done nothing at all. I’ve been working on two projects, one of which is still in progress, but I hope to reveal the finished object soon.

The second was a very quick win. I’ve been itching to cast on something different for a long time but have been steadfastly resisting as I want Crazy Stripes finished. I’m so bored of the sleeves though that I’m just not knitting at all. On Tuesday evening I gave in and dug a ball of yarn out of my stash. This yarn was destined to be a hat for Pickle. I bought it a couple of years ago with the intention of making him a Benjamin Bunny hat a la CBeebies Peter Rabbit cartoon. I tried coming up with my own pattern for it but after a couple of attempts, for reasons I don’t recall any more – it probably didn’t fit or didn’t look right – it got frogged and banished to the stash box.

On Tuesday it reappeared, a quick trawl of Ravelry was executed and knitting recommenced. By Thursday evening, it was off the needles and on Pickle’s head.

It’s called Leaf Hat available free on Ravelry. Its a lovely pattern to knit, but unfortunately isnt terribly well written. The guage seems off, although I was adjusting for a difference in yarn weight and for size, and the crown decrease instructions are particularly unclear. Fortunately, reading back through other completed projects often proved useful and someone had taken the time to rewrite that part of the pattern, so it was no bother in the end.

Pickle loves it and it fits well. I’d definitely consider making another! Perfect for cold weather. Maybe he’ll help with raking up the leaves in the garden over the weekend!

 

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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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Sew busy

Today was a sewing day. Pumpkin went to his grandparents and Pickle was happily occupied with some new colouring pens and a few episodes of Paw Patrol. I felt the need to do something productive and spotted a T shirt of Pickles that has been put to one side for ages in need of a little mending, and so decided that this was a day for sewing.

I fixed the T shirt first, reattaching a piece of fabric across the inside of the front which covers the back of the embroidered picture to stop it tickling the tummy when worn.

Next up was a pair of Pumpkin’s school trousers that had sustained a knee injury on the playground a few weeks ago.

It was quite a big hole, so I patched it from behind with some iron-on mending fabric that I must have had for years as it was from Woolworths! It stuck pretty well, but I stitched it all the way round the edge for security too. It was a bit obvious on the outside so I folded some of the remaining loose fibres over the hole and darned them into place. Its not the best patch job, but hopefully its not too noticeable when worn at knee level and the trousers will last a bit longer at least!

Then I remembered a T shirt of mine that I never wear because the stitching had come undone and left a hole in the armpit (not a great look!) so I fixed that too.

Then, since I had all my sewing stuff out, I thought I may as well make a start on the great nametag sew-in marathon of the year. Pickle is starting reception in September so this week has seen a fortune dropped on new uniform for him. Pumpkin is also starting a new school in September, though as yet theres still a little uncertainty as to which one, so his uniform buying spree will happen closer to the start of term. Spreading out the sewing seemed like a good plan too.

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Now, lots of other mums think I’m nuts for using the sew-in type of name label. Just today I’ve seen rave reviews for both the iron-on stickers and the ink stamp type nametags and also a recommendation for the sharpie ‘write-it-on-yourself’ approach, but I dunno, I think I’ll always be a sew-in fan. Yes, its a faff and time-consuming, it makes my fingers hurt and I can’t believe how many I still have to do, but once they’re done, I know they’re not going to fade or fall off, they’ll last as long as the item of clothing does and once that item is outgrown or worn out, I can remove the label without a trace and I guess, even reuse it if I want to! They’re the same type of label that my mum used for me and my siblings when we were at school too, so it feels like a familiar and a sort of generational link. I even doubled up the initials so the same ones do for either child depending which way you fold it! Thanks mum! Its a labour of love and I’ll keep doing it for as long as my boys need nametags in their clothes!

What’s in your mending pile? Which type of nametag do you use?

PAW Patrol is on a roll!

So, we finally made it! Pickle’s birthday party, take two. Which means; cake, take two.

The cake has spent the last two weeks in the freezer, carefully wrapped in several layers of cling film. I got it out on Wednesday evening and left it in the fridge overnight. On Thursday I left it on the kitchen worktop during the daytime to ensure it was fully defrosted, then back in the fridge overnight to keep it fresh until I needed it on Friday. I was a little concerned that the fondant icing might have gone a little sticky, but I carefully cut the wrapping off once it was at room temperature and was pleasantly surprised to find that it was as smooth and dry to the touch as it had been before freezing.

My next concern was the taste and consistency of the actual cake. Of course there was nothing I could do about that until the cake was cut. Fortunately, it smelt and tasted delicious and the texture was just what it should have been so I needn’t have worried at all. I would certainly freeze a cake again in future. It would help enormously when timings were difficult.

So, on to the decoration. Pickle has recently become a big fan of Paw Patrol, so thats what we went with.

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The mini figurines were bought from a local supermarket. I used a printout of the Paw Patrol logo as a template for cutting out fondant and built it up in sections.

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I used a food colouring pen to do the lettering and fill in details.

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The pups were a big hit once they climbed down off the cake too.

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Tis the season to be jolly…

Christmas is stressing me out. I want to enjoy it, but what with a new house that is still fairly chaotic, school and preschool end of term activities and the quite-frankly-ridiculous amount of time I’m spending driving to and from schools, Christmas could really do with being postponed by a month or so.

It certainly didn’t help a couple of evenings ago, when I pulled out my gradually gathered pile of presents to assess before making a start in the wrapping marathon, only to find it woefully lacking. Given the amount of time and thought I know I’ve put in, not to mention the number of times I’ve been shopping already, I was distressed to say the least. (More shops have now been trawled and more online orders placed.)

So, when Pickle unexpectedly came down with a bug yesterday and then I started feeling ill myself, I took to bed with a certain degree of relish. Hubby insisted I rest in order to stave off any repeat of the disastrous Christmas of 2014, during which we were all struck down by a hideous bug and ended up feeding the in-laws cheese sandwiches instead of the promised Christmas dinner and then packing them off home again.

So, being fortunately not as ill as I could be, but resting in bed nonetheless, I have finally had a chance to work on the gloves that have been on the needles since last winter. Hubby wanted fingerless gloves but since the prospect of working individual fingers was the root of my procrastination, I convinced him that fingerless mitts would be just as good and look where we’re at now!

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I used Jeny Staiman’s Interlock Bind off which looks great and feels comfortable and I like much more than her JSSBO which I’ve tried before.

Just the thumbs to go and then hubby at least might get something for Christmas!

A blogging bat-hat-strophe!

I suddenly seem to be back on a yarny kick at the moment.

Pumpkin was invited to the super-hero themed birthday party of a girl in his class. I was reliably informed that her favourite colours were also pink and purple, so I hit upon the idea of making a hat in pink and purple, with the logo of a famous superhero, which I imagine is not the kind of combination that is readily available on the highstreet!

I found a charted pattern for the logo on Ravelry, and set to work. I’ve never done colour work before, so that was an interesting new challenge. My tension was a bit shoddy, as I struggled to catch the floats in evenly, and so the final logo was a little puckered in places, but overall not a bad attempt.

Unfortunately, despite thinking constantly all the way through the knitting process that I needed to get a good photo of it for blogging, I totally failed to snap any shots of it whatsoever, so you’ll just have to imagine how great it looked!

Pumpkin was also an utter disaster on the feedback front. He couldn’t give me any indication as to the little girls reaction when he finally gave it to her in class (only a couple of weeks after the party by which I’d intended to have it completed!) . Luckily I stood next to her mum in the pick up queue yesterday afternoon, and she told me it had gone down very well. How nice and reassuring it is to know that your handknits are appreciated!

World Book Day also inspired me to craft. Being the super organised mother that I am, I asked the boys what they’d like to dress up as for World Book Day, oh, about 4pm the day before, so we ended up with rather low-key costuming. Pumpkin went as Mog from the books by Judith Kerr, simply wearing a white T shirt, and a grey zipped jumper and grey trousers. He reluctantly submitted to having whiskers drawn on with eyeliner, but refused point-blank to wear the cat-ears-on-a-headband that his daddy had lovingly made for him. “I’m NOT wearing a headband, mummy!”

Pickle wanted to go as The Little Red Train, from the book sby Benedict Blathwayt, but since I didn’t fancy being up til the small hours engineering a train costume from a cardboard box, nor did I relish the thought of sending the child to nursery in such a costume, I persuaded him to go as Duffy Driver from the books instead. He was amenable, so a white shirt, blue trousers and (mostly) blue zipped top formed the basis of the costume. We dispensed with the necessity for a hat, since Duffy rarely seems to wear his, and the only thing that was required to complete the outift was a red tie. Short on time and short on materials, I settled on crochet as the quickest means of producing a tie. And sure enough, by the end of the day I had this:

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I’m not sure how fashionable a crochet tie might be, but a 2 year old fortunately doesn’t seem to mind, and he looked very smart!

Clangers

Pickle and I went on an adventure at the weekend, taking the train up to stay with my parents for a couple of days. Whilst we were there, I wandered up to the local yarn shop, in search of ‘Clanger Pink’.  The shop assistant was most helpful, and even produced a full book of patterns which I used for colour matching. The best match was a ball of Stylecraft in Pale Rose so, mindful of having to lug a suitcase and a two year old home on the train, I purchased that and nothing else. How very restrained!

I have the pattern already from the CBeebies website and printed it off yesterday, so that I have no more reason to procrastinate over starting it. Aside from, you know, life stuff, which feels a bit crazy at the moment.

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Roundup time

All has been a little quiet here for a while, so I thought it was time to do another quick roundup of what I’ve been up to.

Our back garden has just been completely re-landscaped. We got rid of some rather overgrown conifer trees and cleared the whole space, levelled the ground and returfed everything. It’s much lighter and brighter and so much better. It’s much more practical and appealing for the boys to play out there now. I know, because I’m desperately trying to keep them off the grass until the turf has rooted in! And it’s much lower maintenance which is great for a non green-fingered bod like me, although I’ll still have space to plant a few bulbs and things.

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Lots of space for Pumpkin and Pickle to play

I am between theatre activities at the moment. My current group has just auditioned for its next musical production. I went along to one of the dance workshops, which was hard work but good fun, but ultimately decided not to audition for the show. This is partly so that I am a bit more free over the summer, to go visit my folks for a week or so perhaps, or to go away for a few days as a family, without worrying about missing rehearsals. However, I am getting a little antsy about not having a show lined up, so I’ve just joined a different theatre group, who mostly specialise in plays rather than musicals, so I’ll see what comes up with them.

Knitting has got me all frustrated at the moment. I went back to the bane of my life cardigan, and have started knitting the button-hole band, but I just can’t get the edge to look right. The button side I slipped the first stitch of each row and it kept the edge tidy, but doing the same on the hole side doesn’t seem to have the same effect – I keep ending up with a little bump around each edge, rather than a nice neat series of V’s. I guess a picture is probably more useful here.

Nice neat slipped stitch edging

Nice neat slipped stitch edging

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Horrible little bumps around each edge. Where did it all go wrong?

I’ve tried slipping knitwise and slipping purlwise and neither seems to make any difference to the edge. The two bands feel completely different too; the neat one feels soft and lovely, whereas the bumpy one feels much more hard and stiff. Somebody please tell me what I’m doing wrong, and how I should be doing it! If I can fix this problem, I might actually be able to get it finished and have a FO for my next post!

So, as a distraction from the frustrations of annoying knitting (and because I really am not going to knit anything else until this flaming annoying cardigan is done, I’ve resorted to gaming instead. It’s been years since I really played anything on the Wii, but I’ve had a sudden craving for a bit of Zelda, so I’m working on Skyward Sword. I’m not enjoying the graphics as much as I liked Twilight Princess, and the fighting feels a lot more tactical than any other Zelda’s I’ve played before – I’m more of a whack-it-and-hope-it-dies type player, but I’m not far in, so we’ll see how it develops.

Oh, and has anyone seen the new Clangers on CBeebies? Pumpkin and Pickle are quite taken with it. Pumpkin actually turned to me the other day and said ‘Mummy, for your next knitting, can you knit me a Clanger?’ !! I love his confidence! A quick search on Ravelry revealed several patterns, including an official one on the CBeebies website, so if you’re in the UK you can download it here: CBeebies Clanger Knitting Pattern. I’ve downloaded a copy and will add it to my list of things to make.

Hiatus

Circumstances have conspired to put crafting on a temporary hiatus here at Jack of All Crafts.

Show week coincided with Pumpkin’s last week of term at school, which meant I was pretty much run off my feet. I usually bake a few cupcakes for my fellow castmates and crew, but between rehearsals, shows and usual term time activities, and attending all the end of term assemblies and fundraising events at school, I didn’t have the time or energy to manage even a small batch.

Pumpkin came down with chicken pox on the Saturday of the show, so the plans we’d had to go out and do things with family who were visiting rather fell by the wayside. A couple of days stuck at home with the small people had me feeling a bit cooped up and restless, but then I was struck down by the mother of all colds, and have pretty much been in bed or on the sofa feeling just awful ever since. I’ve never known anything like it! I think I’m on day 5 or 6 and it’s showing little sign of letting up. I’m almost reluctant to call it a cold, because that makes it sound so trivial, when it’s more like some kind of evil mutant megacold. I’ll spare you the details!

I managed only a couple of rows of knitting over the weekend. Mostly, just managing to breathe has been an achievement in itself. Being unable to do much other than thinking, has left me mulling over ideas for Pickle’s birthday cake. I have a vague plan in mind now, but given that it’s his birthday next week and I have nothing planned as a celebration and am a little reluctant to commit to anything as I fear he may also be down with the pox around then, vague is as far as it gets.

Oh dear. Here’s to hoping normal service might resume soon.