Friday, 26 May 2017

A Grand Day Out

Yesterday was my birthday and I celebrated in the happiest way possible..

An early walk with Ben, lovely morning with no need for a cardigan it was so warm.

A gentle drive through some really pretty countryside, only a few sets of road works to spoil the view.

The point of my journey was to meet up with Chrissie from knit and natter. I arrived on time and after a brief "meet and greet" and a quick visit ( 2 cups of tea and a coffee before driving is not ideal) we set off.

After around 30 minutes of non stop chatter, which went in a flash, we arrived in Lampeter.  A small town which is a mecca for quilters, there is not only the wonderful quilt museum, and quite a few cafe,s .......but it is home to Calico Kate's. This is a rabbit warren of small rooms and twisty  staircases, piled to the rafters with  a rainbow of fabrics.

Think of Wonderland, Oz, a perfect country garden herbaceous border, rose beds and throw in a handful of eastern promise. Mix gently, sprinkle with gold and silver and stir with a magic wand, allow to settle and you will still fall short of the spectacle.
In fact the only thing that comes close is walking into a yarn shop and just drinking in the colours, this is how I feel every time that I walk into Deb's shop.

I was good, I was very good, I only came home with a metre of fabric that the lovely Chrissie pointed out to me. This was after I told her not to let me buy anything. That's what friends are for, to listen and then act in your best interests, no matter what you say.

On our return we had a cuppa and a little walk round the garden, and talking about herbaceous borders, Chrissie has a beauty in the making. Lots of plants that are melding together as they grow, studded with Aliums that make perfect exclamation marks. The chickens were coping well with being confined to quarters as per the regulations in force. The cats were being, well, cattish and her beautiful rescue dog investigated me thoroughly, decided I was of no consequence and then ignored me.

I got back home safely, if a bit hot and sticky, and took my knitting and a cold drink into the garden for a while.

A simple dinner of Chicken Kiev, sweet potato chips and salad went down well followed by a languid stroll with Ben. 

I did fit in a watering session in the back garden and the front has had a soaking this morning. Seeing what Chrissie has done to her patch has motivated me to get the finishing touches done to mine.
I did manage to persuade her that she needed, really really needed, some more strawberry plants. He he , that's at least two more pots to leave my garden. I am a bit of a hoarder I think know, but it does mean that I can spread the love freely.

At this point I realise that my tea is now stone cold and the Bin Men are making a racket outside, my cue to get the empty recycling containers into their allocated homes.

                                 TTFN                                          Pam
PS, in the middle of a heatwave I decided to knit an Aran weight hat. Then compounded the error by knitting another for the SO, no photo of that one yet.

It is a pattern from Kay Jones of the Bakery Bears, free on ravelry. It took around 70 grams and about 3 - 4 hours of knitting and telly watching. I can see my Odds and Ends box of Aran yarn disappearing fast, very fast. 

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Air cake, no calories.

This morning,s news was devastating, my heart goes out to all those directly affected and to the people who will be trying to offer comfort, support and help.

It was Knit and Natter this afternoon and as usual I was looking forward to it.

As my way of dealing with bad things is to work mindlessly I made cake.
A chocolate sponge filled with whipped cream and some crunchy topped lemon loaf cakes.
They went down well with all the girls and we did not discuss the bad news other than to acknowledge the sadness and the distress it has caused.

I started a hat last night while watching TV and finished it this afternoon, I just had the last 7 decrease rows left when I left Llandeilo so whizzed through them with a cuppa once I got home.

Cake left? perish the thought. I don't bring cake home.

Enough of such foolishness, have a look at the hat.

It is the Angel hat from Kay Jones of The Bakery Bears, a free pattern on ravelry.
I used 58 grams of Drops Karisma, colour 78, which I gathered up on a long forgotten shopping spree at Wool Warehouse, there was a sale on and it would have been rude not to.

I won't be putting a bobble on, well not straightaway anyway.
I have enough to make another so Francesca will find one in her Birthday bag.

My fingers are itching to pop over to the warehouse and wander through the yarn BUT I am resisting temptation. I know that there is no such thing as too much yarn, my problem is there is no room for any more. So, in the interest of a home that I can actually move around in, I am on a yarn buying ban, self imposed. Once I have knitted up a minimum of 2 Kilos I may allow a skein a month in. That sounds a fair amount but does not include my 2 WIPS.

In real terms it is 20 pairs of socks, I do not put any left over yarn back into stash. I wind pretty little balls and pop them into glass jars.
I was tentatively planning a cosy memories blanket but Kay Jones in knitting and infinity scarf with hers and I am sold on that idea.

I haven't touched the new dress yet, I am working out a full lining and need to figure out the neckline first.

That's all from me today, I will be casting on another Angel hat for the SO, he has picked some green Aran weight yarn from the stash, West Yorkshire Spinners. I do have some toning yarn in their Aire Valley line, he had thick socks last year in that, so stripes or colour blocking will be the order of the day.

                           TTFN                                      Pam

PS, Dinner is in the oven, cottage pie and I will steam some broccoli to have with it. 

PPS, My cakes rose impressively and the girls all said how light they were. I must have taken my frustration at the news out on the mix and beat all the calories out and replaced them with air. 

Monday, 22 May 2017

I blinked and days sped past.

I can not believe that so many days have flown by since my last post.
I put the blame firmly at the weather.

When it rained I knitted my socks off.

When it was fine I was busy in the garden.

No garden photos yet as I only just thought about it.

Knitting is another matter though.

My first pair of Rose City Rollers, I still have 17 grams of this yarn to use, I did use the heel from Vanilla is the new Black. It is my go to heel now, so simple and quick to knit and it fits like a dream. (I would say glove but that's just a step too far, even for me)

The Regia pairfect socks, done, worn the very next day, washed and put in the very bottom of his sock drawer. I know that I need to knit through the stash but at the first opportunity I will be buying more of this. The range of colours is good and the knitting just flows like a river after a storm.

This is my latest take on short socks, just 20 rows of 2 x 2 rib and 10 rows of stocking stitch then straight into my fave heel, the other one is on the needles and I have just started on the foot. It is knitting at the library this afternoon so I may just get this finished today.

Needless to say the next skein of yarn has been chosen and will be on my needles tomorrow. Just in time for knit and natter at Llandeilo. 

Who said retirement would be boring?

My skirts from the last post have been worn and another made, photos later, and I have cut out a dress pattern. I just managed to wriggle the pattern out of my fabric with millimetres to spare and managed to get side seam pockets.Woo Hoo

It should have a drawstring waist, but I left out the casing otherwise I would not have had enough fabric, I will simply wear a belt.

I may get the first section sewn up this evening, then I can show you this week.

Whilst we were out in the garden last week we planted some Blackthorn Hedging that I grew, I knew how many young plants that I had but 3 had gone into hiding.

This morning I went outside to peg out the washing and almost fell over them. I wonder if the hedgehog has been tidying, or perhaps I looked through them.

Laters laters, they will be in the ground today.

The SO has been informed asked nicely.

Ben is fine although summer seems to have gone to his head. He loves his walks but just lately has wanted more of them and to go further. All well and good but he hasn't got the stamina or the strength and guess who would be carrying a hot, panting, wriggly dog.

Oops, the post is here and I am waiting impatiently for some dried lavender, it is 5 days late. someone is going to get a snottagram email later if it is not here today.

                        TTFN                                        Pam

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Needles and Pins and some plain talking.

It has been wet wet wet here, since Sunday evening I haven't been able to see "my mountain" at all, it has been veiled like Mata Hari before she did That Dance.

However this morning the mists cleared and I could gaze to my hearts content, not for long though. A band (more like an orchestra) of rain is forecast to sweep over. Not to worry I have knitting and sewing to hand.

I have put my toe into the Me Made May waters, most days in the house and garden I will be wearing a hand knitted item, sweater, socks, scarf something. On the days that I venture out I have been a bit more "in the groove", I forgot to show last weeks but yesterday I wore these to knit and natter.

The cardigan I knitted last year, or maybe the year before that, it is so soft and warm due to the Alpaca content. I have a sweater amount in a pale blue in the stash, but not for long.

The skirt is adapted from The Hollyburn pattern, I changed the waistband for a bias binding finish and fully lined it. The wonderful pocket construction is unchanged though, I could not improve on it.

I did the same hack on this version, a bit brighter and louder for the grey days. I couldn't possibly wear this and feel down at heart. It needs pressing and then a top selected to wear with it. I do have some more fabric in the same print and colour so may make a top to wear with a plain skirt.

These are 2 of the PJ bottoms that I made for Fran. They need hemming when she is here at the end of the month.
The third pair I cut out first and forgot to shorten the legs, they are in a solid pale teal textured cotton and the SO has nabbed them. needless to say, just like any child with new clothes, he wore them that night and they are now in the wash. 

I have now used five fabric lengths from the stash and have 4 more out ready to wash and iron before matching them to patterns. There are at least 2 further lengths of the textured cotton so more bottoms for the SO. I have a couple of dress patterns that I like the look of but would have to add pockets. Every woman that I know likes pockets in clothes so why don't the pattern people wake up to that.

If anyone has a pattern to recommend I would be grateful, I do have Tilly and the Buttons book  Love at first stitch and even she only shows pockets as a pattern hack. So Annoying.

That is the needles part of this and the pins part is same old same old. 
The Regia socks, second one has had the heel turned and I am on the home straight.
The shortie sock is waiting for it's twin to be cast on and the cardigan is waiting to be sewn together and have the ribbed border made.

I have not cast on any more knitting as the Flax is lurking as is the sweater with the dreaded charts.

BUT I have made a start on the first Angel Baby blanket. I plumped for C2C crochet using gender neutral pastels and some sparkly white that I found buried in a stash bag. Knitting photos in the next post as the camera batteries are now on charge. I picked up some of the free yarn at knit and natter yesterday and hope to have a couple, maybe three for next week.
O know that it will eat into my knitting time but I feel that it should take a front row seat, for a while at least.

I am going to ask if quilted blankets are acceptable, I can run half a dozen of those up in an afternoon.

Think of the dent that would make in the scrap stash.

I listened to some of the political peeps on the news this morning, they were stating all the things they would pour money into if they were in power. The main strain of talk was tax the top 15% of earners and use that to fund the spending.

Now I know that we can only eat so much, wear so much and be in one room at a time in any home. I also know that given the chance I could spend many times more than I do.

BUT if I had built up a business, worked like stink to make money just to have the privilege to pay more and more tax I would be looking at the best place in the world to move to. 

My way of accruing this amount of money would mean bringing back the death penalty for convicted murders, serious sex offenders and those who make and sell drugs. The cost of keeping these people breathing is astronomical.

I do not wish to kick start a debate. This is just MY way of thinking.

I also think that anyone who has not lived in this country and contributed for at least 10 years to the system via tax and national insurance contributions should not be able to claim any benefits.

Again this is just MY point of view.

There are lots of drains that money slips through in any country, just like water from a burst mains pipe. If these were addressed correctly what would the savings be? A tidy sum to put into the N.H.S. and Schools I have no doubt.

Most, if not all,of the Frugal blogs start off by advising readers to pay off debts as fast as possible and eliminate waste from their lives. Both of those are the best,and quickest way to cut outgoings.

Perhaps Frugal Queen and Ilona from Life after Money should be on an advisory group to point politicians in the right direction. Then there is Mortgage Free in Three, and a plethora of writers who not only all sing from the same song sheet but they are on the same line of the same song.

I hope that I have not got up anyone's nose today, if I have offended anybody's  sensibilities then I apologise but grant you the right to publish your feelings and thoughts on your own blogs.

Now it is back to knitting as all the jobs are done and my time is my own.

                  TTFN                                               Pam

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Jam side down.

Why is it that,
you only realise that there is one little sheet of loo paper on the holder when your bladder is screaming and you are just about to sit.

the packet of biscuits that has been sealed with knife resistant plastic bursts open the minute you turn away from the work top and the contents shower gracefully onto the floor, and into the dog who's extra sensory perception has brought him there at the optimum second.

the bag of sugar will not open at the top, even after breaking your longest finger nail, but leaks impressively from the bottom. All over the kitchen.

the milk always runs out before the shops are open.

the toaster only burns the last slice in the house, and it was yours.

the last ball of yarn, in the colour that you need, runs out 10 stitches away from the end of the bind off.

when you eventually find the glue, someone has left the cap off.

if you run to answer the phone, it is a wrong number.

if you leave it to ring on it is not only for you but is time sensitive.

you have a power failure in the middle of a recording program that has reached it's last day on catch up and is then gone forever.

bleach only splashes on dark coloured clothing.

over browning turns onions sweet and caramelised but renders garlic too disgusting for words.

you use self raising flour, by mistake, for the Yorkshire Pudding when the mother in law has come for dinner.

you are sewing up a storm, 2 skirts almost ready for the zip insertion when you suddenly notice that one seam in the lining is the wrong way round.

Yep, that last one was me earlier. luckily I spotted it before it had come to the point of hair pulling and rending of clothes. A few moments with the trusty stitch ripper, a quick swoosh of steam from the iron and a swipe through the sewing machine and all was put to rights.

A few weeks ago I washed several pieces of fabric from the stash, just like the yarn it is considerable.  During the past week I have made 3 pairs of PJ bottoms, they just need hemming, and yesterday I cut out 2 Hollyburn skirts and the linings. This pattern does not have linings but it saves faffing with petticoats and makes the fabric hang so much better.

They are well on the way and will be finished sometime this week. I have the new knit and natter tomorrow, Llandeilo on Tuesday, then there is a crafting session in the local library on Wednesday. Add to that the things that I want to do in the garden and I have a busy week full of fun in front of me.

Dinner tonight was amazing if I say so myself, I cooked a mixture of rice and quinoa and stirred roasted veg through it. The veg had been cooked with lots of fresh herbs and the flavour was great. That on it's own was delicious but I also cooked some pulled pork and the mixture of texture and flavour were superb.

I did manage to enjoy a fruit tart with a splosh of cream for pudding and as soon as there is room I will make a cuppa.

Now I am off to pick up my knitting and watch a bit of telly.

                  TTFN                                                 Pam

Oh yes, the title, My mother always said that if you drop toast and jam it always lands jam side down,and all of my list come under that umbrella.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Mix and Match, if you can

This is the UK, Wales in particular, so the weather is a frequent conversation subject.
Today has been a show stopper. We have had slight drizzle that was more like a heavy mist, spotty rain where you could just about dodge the rain drops they were so far and few between, bright and hot sunshine and pounding down like stair rods rain. You can mix it up as much as you like and nothing matches any season anywhere except British Summer. In fact it has been almost perfect Bank Holiday weather.

Enough of that gibberish.

I went into Ammanford today, it is Market day so the traffic was horrendous. Both the SO and I needed new watch batteries and they have to be replaced at designated jewellers, otherwise the warranty becomes null and void. It is a pain but better than sending them back to Longines and risking the heavy hands of the postal service.

I decided to do the shop whilst I was there and treated us to the first British Asparagus of the year.  Oh Yum.

Ben's food shelf is stacked high and his fresh meat is in the freezer ready for next weeks cook up.

My tin shelf is a bit thin on the ground, I don't use many, just beans and tomatoes and the odd tin of corn, but I want to empty it completely and then restock. I know that buying dried beans and cooking them myself is cheaper, and I do that as well, but like to keep a few tins for fast meals if visitors descend. I can whip up a mean curry in 45 minutes when needed.
I bought some really fresh root ginger and will be putting some into the freezer, along with garlic it features in most of my meals even the impossible quiche. We love it and it is good for us.

I aim to pick enough wild garlic over the weekend to make a batch of pesto, I have walnuts and oil but do not add cheese. Pine nuts are the norm but I prefer walnuts I like to throw some parsley in as well some times.

I have knitted an ankle sock, same start as the Rose City Rollers and then my go to heel, foot and toe with the Kitchener stitch finish.

My next pair will be toe up with an afterthought heel, just because I haven't done that yet. Many of the podcasters that I watch knit their socks that way and I feel that I want to give it a try.

I was pleased to see that Danni of Little Bobbins had put a new podcast up, I had missed her gentle voice and her pets.

Katie of Inside number 23 is Vlogging every day, she is taking part in the Me Made May and is showing her hand made wardrobe choice every day. her little Pug, Roly is often the star of the show.

I have too many WIP,s on my needles and aim to knock 3 off the list quite quickly. I have the second sock for the SO and a cardigan for Ivy, I should have finished at least one of those before casting on the ankle sock but the yarn just jumped into my hand. There was 57 grams left from a pair of socks that I knitted for Francesca last year. I can not remember where I bought it or when but it is far too lovely to leave floundering in limbo. I should have around 15 grams left and have no idea what that I will do with that. I do remember that it is hand wash only so putting it into a scrap blanket is a no no. 

Dinner tonight is the rest of the quiche with another salad. Last night we had pasta with a sauce that I dug out of the freezer. I did do my usual fridge clear out and there is a veg curry in the fridge ready for tomorrow, it was very good and will only get better as it sits in the fridge. I threw in a good handful of Edamame beans for the protein, we love them and it makes a change from my usual kidney beans or chickpeas.

I think that I have waffled on long enough so I will say toodle pip  and have a good weekend wherever you are.

                  TTFN                                            Pam

Thursday, 11 May 2017

One down, two still flying

I was pleased to hear that the bag sent to the US has landed right on target, and hope that the Canada and Australia ones land soon.

In my frenzy of tidying yesterday I discovered located no fewer than THREE boxes of fabric. There may be another giveaway on the cards, any suggestions welcome.

The knitting stash will be raided, very soon, for pale coloured yarns. Although Deb's suppliers have generously offered some free yarn I intend to use some of my stash for the Angel babies project. I may have some white, if there is any, from the freebie yarn to lighten my blankets. I only have a small amount, leftovers from some long forgotten make.

The first Regia sock is done, it is just like the ball band illustration to the heel start then it changes completely. Thisis because i used the heel pattern from "Vanilla is the New Black", a paid for pattern on ravelry by Anneh Fletcher. It has become my Go To heel, it is a perfect fit for both Francesca and the SO and is a dream to knit.
Although I do like the afterthought heel for speed and the opportunity to add a splash of contrast colour ( and use up leftovers), the Vanilla heel is my favourite. I will have to content myself with adding a contrast cuff and toe.

The ball showing the waste yarn, it is a centre pull.

The ball band outer.

The inner side shows each stage with brief written instructions.

The finished sock, as you can see the colour pools at the heel turn but it is not a problem as the second sock will  (it better!)  be identical.

I have had a very kind offer of a peg weaving loom and will be making a phone call later to discuss a swap. The loom for  sock knitting assistance, always happy to talk knitting, it sounds like the perfect deal from my side.

Nothing much left to say today except that the new apple tree looks very perky this morning. It is 5 years old and has flowers just opening, if any get pollinated and set fruit I will take all but 1 on each branch off, after the June Drop of course. I am impatient to have the fruit but do not want to spoil next years crop by overworking the tree this year.

It is on semi dwarfing root stock so will not become unmanageable in the years to come. I chose all my  fruit trees on either dwarfing or semi dwarfing root stock for the same reason. I have done my fair share of climbing up fruit trees that were taller than the house. I will be able to reach all these from ground level or at the most a set of low steps.

Time to enjoy the cuppa that has just materialised beside me. Oh the joy of magic in the house.

                         TTFN                                        Pam