Happier Things

I’ve just been in the garden, tidying up most of the daffodil, tulip and bluebell detritus. Looks much better, but when sitting having my post-gardening cup of tea I noticed more I’d missed. Another little job for another day.

Meanwhile here are a couple of photos – two of indoor plants, the white schlumbergera (?) was a present from my small friend Henry, the pink one I have no idea what it is, but took a cutting from Mother’s house while she was still with us. The red ones are perennial poppies I grew from seed several years ago, so I’m quite (insufferably) smug about those.

Currently reading The Man In The Red Coat by Julian Barnes. Love his stuff anyway, but this one is very interesting. Non-fiction, it’s a sort of meander through La Belle Epoque, but occasionally the author “talks to camera” which is very endearing. Previous book was Bill Bryson’s Thunderbolt Kid. Laugh out loud funny.

Half way through Pimpelliese shawlette, but I’m guessing there will be no knitting tonight after gardening this morning.

Halfway through the HBO season 1 of Succession. Wowsers! I don’t like any of the characters. Perhaps a sneaking admiration for Marcia. It is so clearly intended to be a story of, let’s say for example, Murdoch empire (Fox/Sky).  I don’t know why anybody would want to work for them. Edge of the seat watching though.

Work is still ongoing on the “improve the wi-fi” project. More to come when I’ve actually made some progress. Sigh.

Mother’s Day UK

Spoke to both daughters. One’s in New Zealand, one’s in Southampton. Flowers and e-voucher. Lovely.

Been gardening today. Yeah. Love it.

The three heathers (ericas) in pots I bought locally, and when I planted them they were badly root bound. But they look ok! The strange red shoot is a peony, and the Christmas Roses (hellebores) are doing ok too still. And the hyacinths are coming along nicely.

Just having a little rest before lunch then a little snooze I think.

Knitting. Gardening. Organising.

The weather is lovely at the moment, which is almost unheard of for a British Bank Holiday. The cat is loving it and is in and out of the garden, checking she has food, then scampering back outside again. And she’s ten years old now, so scampering is really good.

Gardening has been a joy. Everything’s growing and green and pretty.

The knitting has been a bit up and down. Knitted a hat for a Christmas present which was supposed to be worked in the round. The cables were so curly, even after being straightened in hot water, I just couldn’t deal with it, so knitted it flat. It looked ok until I sewed it up, and it was a disaster. So after considering the alternatives (dumping it or giving it to the charity shop – nobody would have bought it anyway) I unpicked it and knitted up a different pattern, in the round, and it’s great. Thank goodness.

Also started a pattern called Zick Zack which several people at the knitting group have  done in various colourways, and that was a disaster too. It’s a 12 stitch repeat, with one increase and one decrease in each one. Got the hang of it fairly quickly, but after six rows (every damn time!) I was one stitch out in one of the repeats. I wasn’t sure if I was not increasing when I should or decreasing when I shouldn’t, or whether I’d simply dropped a stitch, but I just couldn’t see which. So. I decided not to do it in 4ply cotton (can’t wear wool), or in two different colours, but have bought some double knitting variegated cotton (Sirdar Cotton Prints DK, in Sea Glass). I am going to cast on tonight and we shall see.

However. I have successfully knitted a bumblebee from Let’s Knit magazine, and although it was a big faff, I’m very pleased with it. Also, five months after purchasing the yarn, finished a V neck top for hubby. Rowan worsted yarn, pale grey, pattern called Textured V Neck Vest. The neckline was a bit fiddly, but it’s a success I’d say.

I’m having a bit of a meltdown about blasted circular needle cables. They drive me crazy. I have mostly interchangeables, some fixed, but I’ve been keeping them curled up and trying to straighten them out when I use them. It’s not working.

So I have a new plan. I’ve ordered a wrap/roll for keeping the needle tips in, which will take up less space than the 2 x 3 litre Really Useful Boxes, and for the actual cables, have ordered some cotton reels.  This is what it should look like when I’m done. Thank you Jennifer T.

And buoyed by my successful research, this morning had a BIG sort out of my knitting bag/s. I keep a bag with my current project in it, and various specific bits and bobs. I also keep a bigger bag nearby with various generally useful bits and bobs, and the next pattern I’m planning to knit.

The clue, you may have spotted, is in the “various” and “bits and bobs”. I managed to sort out what is useful/useless and sort it into what I need to dump, what I occasionally use and what I always need, and have emptied one complete little box. The other little boxes are also much lighter, and better organised, so I only need to carry one of them with me at all times.

In the longer box is a yellow row counter. It’s the best one I’ve ever had. The centre is metal, and sprung, and is at least 50 years old. You can’t buy them now, they’re for sale as “retro” on ebay, but it has never, ever broken. The ones you buy now are all plastic, and break very easily. I think it’s called “built in obsolescence”. Very aggravating.

The denim bag was made for me by my French friend from an old pair of jeans. I lined it and took the Velcro out so there’s nothing to colour or snag on the yarn. It always, always prompts compliments. So thank you again, Réjane!

Some people (my family) think I’m a bit of a neat freak, but I find that order makes my life so much easier. I get very frustrated very quickly if I can’t find something I need, not least because there is a real risk I’ll lose the stitch/my place in the pattern or just forget what the hell I’m doing.

So there we are. Ups and downs as usual. But mostly ups.

Maintenance and Upkeep

That’s how I refer to the myriad ways I keep body and soul together without disintegrating completely.

It involves: the doctor, James the hairdresser, Laura who does my feet, Jenny the osteopath, the dentist, my husband who puts me back together when I start to fall apart, my daughters, and a lot of medication.

Next week I’m having my hair done, having a hearing test, and going to the osteopath, on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

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In other news, I had almost finished a baby cardigan for a baby-to-be, in lovely West Yorkshire Spinners Bo Peep DK. I’d used a pattern I’ve not tried before. It was awful. The neckline was lumpy and vile. I picked up the neck stitches twice, tried to sort it out with matching wool, and eventually threw a minor, adolescent-type hissy fit and dumped it. Then I grew up again, got it out of the bin and unpicked as much of it as I could manage. It’s lovely to knit with, but very sticky to unravel. Row ends and shaping were a particular problem.

So now I’m knitting a Puerperium for another baby-to-be, in the same yarn but different colour. I do have a plan to replace the disaster, which involves buying more yarn. Yay!

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Also thinking about the autumn, garden-wise. Rudbeckias, dahlias and planting some daffodil bulbs and possibly some crocus bulbs are currently swirling about in my brain. Mm.

 

April.

I can’t believe I have yet another throat infection and no voice. Third in three months. And last week – or was it the week before? – I had what I think was probably a nasty migraine. 24 hours of blinding headache and bad nausea. Took another week to recover. So this year so far has been a bummer, healthwise.

Meanwhile, the Aged Mother has been in hospital, and is now home recovering. Youngest grandchild has been born, in Dublin, little boy, all doing well. Eight grandchildren! how lucky are we! ESW (youngest grandaughter) is just a joy, but currently has a virus. LCS (ED’s little boy) is fine and also a joy.

ES is with us this weekend, having a sleep at the moment and leaving when he wakes up.

The garden is looking lovely. Must deadhead the daffodils when I feel up to it, but it’s cheering to look out at it on a sunny day like today.

Knitted a little jacket and crocheted a blanket which will be in the post tomorrow for youngest grandchild (initials HR). Photos when the parcel has been received. Currently knitting Dobby socks, as requested, for a grandson’s upcoming 13th birthday. They are Dobby socks because one is green, with Golden Snitches knitted in, and the other will be red, with broomsticks knitted in. So that means knitting in the round (a tube), no seams, stranded (different colour yarns), turning a heel and grafting the toe. All good fun and makes it interesting to do. Again, photos when received.

Missed the Stitch Up at Stitch Solihull yesterday because I was just too damn poorly. I think that’s two I’ve missed. Grump.

 

February! goodness

Hi people.

I’ve been a little preoccupied what with one thing and another. But YD finally had her baby, whom I shall call ESW (initals), in the middle of January, 10 days late, and had a very difficult time indeed. ESW is now three weeks old and had her tongue-tie snipped yesterday, which has made life much easier for YD, her hubby, and most of all for ESW. Let’s hope it just all settles down now and they can enjoy, instead of enjoying and worrying about, their beautiful little girl.

Knitting has continued apace as you can see from the photos. And even a little sewing, for LCS (14 month old grandson). He loved it. I’m going to make another clown cushion and keep it at home so children who come to see me (I have a little friend called Henry, for example) can play with it.

Guitar playing – not so much. It’s been a year, I’ve tried two different guitars (classical and plain acoustic) and a ukulele, and it’s just not working for me. I thought a ukulele would be easier to handle, but it’s a pain. Under the boob? above the boob? right on top of the boob? nah, just got to the stage where all three are just sitting staring at me balefully. I’m going to hang on to the Fender acoustic and try to get rid of the other two.

We are in the process of getting quotes for refurbishing our kitchen (cabinet doors and worktops only) and it’s all quite exciting. Today I went to a kitchen showroom. By myself. Not the best plan I’ve ever had really. My inner wimp appeared. I spent approximately 45 seconds in there, wandering around aimlessly, feeling really stupid and as if I were 12 years old again, lumpy, adolescent and awkward, so I came home. There really wasn’t any need to go, because we’ve requested samples of the sort of thing we want anyway.

So I wrote to my lovely French penfriend instead. That’s an hour’s job, because I write in French, then translate into English, and correct her English letter to me. Hardly any corrections this time though, at all. (Bravo, Réjane!)

It’s “Time to Talk” day today – is that global? or just in the UK? anyway, on my facebook “on this day” there was my post from last year. (not sure this will be available if you’re not on facebook!) Still makes me feel a bit wobbly, to be honest. Now I’m on the maximum dose of Paroxetine, having tried to go back down to the 40mg a day dose, but need the 50 to be stable. And I need to be stable.

Tomorrow I’m hoping to have the energy to start re-organising the craft room. The lids on the boxes I got from ebay are starting to split. So I’m going to dump the broken lids, keep all the boxes and unbroken lids, and we’ve been to IKEA and bought a load of Samla boxes, some inserts, and all the lids. Am very nerdily excited about it! I’ll post photos when it’s done, just because I can.

And oh god my computer. Last Sunday it started behaving very oddly indeed. The mouse stopped working. Eventually I twigged that none of the USB ports were working. I reinstalled Windows 10 three times, to no avail. Luckily I was able to find a very old fashioned mouse with a PS2 (small, round) connector – with a ball in it! Haven’t seen a mouse with a ball (so to speak) for years! but I had one so was able to use that and installed Linux Ubuntu 14.04.3. All working really well now. How frustrating it was though. I realised it was the Windows drivers when I went into the BIOS (Setup), and a USB stick was recognised in there.

So I’ve needed to re-think my strategy on certain things, for example cloud storage. After much searching and testing, I’ve settled on MEGA which allows you 50Gb free storage. Yep, 50Gb. And it was simple to install on my computer and on my mobile phone. Just need to get it set up on my (Android) tablet now. I was using OneDrive (MS) but it just won’t work on Ubuntu. Dropbox you only get 2Gb free. And so on.

And it’s been such a long time since I posted. Mother’s knee which needed 19 stitches has healed well. Her shin is still bandaged up though. She’s going to meet ESW this weekend, YD + hubby are going over to see her, my sister who lives nearby, and at least one of my nieces. Lovely.

 

59 years old

Today is my birthday. It’s cold, wet, and windy. But it’s March, in the UK, so it would be really. But the daffodils are out, the crocuses are still pretty, and the tulips are trying their best.

And I have had a wonderful day. Lots of chocolate, a pile of new books to read, a new Kindle (old one is dying!), and visits/phone calls from the family. Lovely.

Finished a jacket I have been knitting. It’s a Bergère de France pattern, Veste Courte from magazine 159. It’s knitted in Magic +, which is Aran weight. It took 9 weeks. I had finished the back when I noticed a mistake and had to unravel it as far as the beginning of the  armhole shaping. Also had to redo some of one of the fronts, and redo the shoulder decreases so that the number of stitches was right for the patterning on the collar. So it’s been an adventure, but at no point did I get upset, or tearful about it. Here’s a photo of me wearing it.

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My next project is Octopush, which is a set of 8 blocks, made from 2″ cubes of foam, covered with knitting, in a particular configuration. Here‘s a link so that you can see what it’s supposed to do. Scroll down to see an animated gif. I’ve done one cube so far.

I have lots of projects in my head, and lots of yarn in my stash. But not enough projects for all of it . . . . which makes it exciting, because there are unplanned possibilities still to be explored!

Time to blog.

Not a lot has been happening, really, but I thought I’d have a little blurt on the blog.

I have finally managed to plant the tulips – found a huge pot which took all 14 of them. They’re apricot and I can’t wait for them to grow. I’ve wanted to plant apricot tulips for a long time, but there’s just no space in the garden beds! The garden is actually lovely at the moment, the rudbeckias are really cheerful, and I’ve managed to plant the daffodil bulbs as well as some – lots and lots – of annual poppies too. Fingers crossed they grow.

Last thing I’m going to plant are winter pansies. Dark purple ones look wonderful on the front of the house as it’s cream-coloured. Just need to pop to the garden centre and buy some. I have everything else I need to plant them.

The pain in my hand is still there. Not all the time, but when I try to straighten my hand out, to pick up a glass of water, say, or something like that, I can feel it grinding and it cracks very painfully. But I’ve seen the doctor, told her I’m no longer on the Tramadol, and she’s prescribed Co-codamol. That’s ok and helps with the pain, but makes me very sleepy, so I’m only taking them at lunchtime and bedtime, or else I’m asleep all day long.

Knitting is going well. Have finished two Christmas presents, am on a third, and plans for more. Each project takes a week or two, and I’m not planning to knit as many presents this year, so I won’t feel I’ve failed if I don’t get round to them for whatever reason. Is it just me, or do we all (women) set ourselves impossible targets then beat ourselves up when we don’t achieve them?

Made a new sewing needle case today. The old one was very old and boring and falling apart, so I found a scrap of fabric and made myself a pretty new one.

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Also set up another Christmas present – a sewing project this time. All ready to go now, but enough is enough for one day.

We have fixed the kitchen sinks and taps this week. The sinks have “basket waste strainers” or some such technical term, and although the washers are detachable, you can’t get the replacements. So we went to B&Q and found something that will do, and instead of buying new “basket waste strainers” for £12.50 each, we spent £2.50 on two new washers that will fit. The taps needed new “insides” – don’t know the technical term for that – you can’t get just washers for the sort of taps we have – but we fitted those ourselves and they’re wonderful now. It’s like having a new sink!

I’m about halfway through Christmas presents. Some are hand-made, some I’m buying, but I don’t have plans for all of them. Need to check Amazon wish-lists (yes, mine is all up to date) and contact parents. Children’s wish lists are a false friend – they don’t update them, so you end up buying them something you think they’ll love, and they already have it. Yes, it’s happened to me.

The cat has completely recovered from her abscess under the eye and the fur has all grown back. You’d never know she’d had anything wrong with her. Bless her little heart.

I’ve been reading a lot of Bill Bryson books lately. They always cheer me up, no matter how dreadful I’m feeling, and I frequently laugh out loud. As a result, I have been thinking about what would constitute a perfect small town for me, and mostly it’s where I live, although I would be very happy to do without the McDonalds. There are bookshops, several libraries, a local yarn shop (7 minutes walk for me, yay!) a pleasant shopping area, but a few too many chain stores. More independents would be nice. But hey, you can’t have everything. I always go to an independent shop whenever I can – Woolmans rather than Notcutts, Stitch Solihull rather than anywhere on line or Hobbycraft, and so on.

Can’t wait to cast on part 2 of my current knitting project tonight. Always exciting. And the yarn is fabulous – Opal Sweet and Spicy – you just never know what’s going to come up next colour-wise!

Mainly Knitting

Finished hubby’s top today. It took ten days, which is absolutely amazing, until you realise it was chunky/bulky yarn, on big needles. He’s very pleased indeed, and so am I. I sewed it up at the Sip & Stitch today, to general acclaim.Image

Next up – Sweet Georgia yarn, wound off skeins into cakes, and ready to knit. Red one first, and this is what I’m going to do with it. I’ll cast on tonight. I’m very, very excited. The yarn is absolutely beautiful, really saturated with colour, and very, very soft.

The red yarn is called “Tough Love Sock” but is much too nice to knit socks with. The actual colour is much more of a deep red than the pink in the photo.

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The turquoise is called CashLuxe Fine and is even nicer. This is what I’m planning to knit with that. It’s also much more turquoise than the blue it looks like.

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But after the “Glam Shells” I’m going to knit a pair of socks for hubby and see how that goes. Lots of projects in my head, lots of ideas, lots of lovely yarn in my stash.

The weather is much cooler now, although still sunny. There’s an autumnal feel to the air. I love autumn, it’s always been my favourite season. I need to do some gardening soon – planting daffodils and annual poppies, digging up the aquilegias which have gone absolutely bonkers, but will wait until I have a bit more energy, the daffodil bulbs, and the time.