After a week of rain or threats of rain (we’ve discovered that our little corner of Cumbria seems to do a good line in threatening clouds that don’t actually dump their loads on us, saving it for the fells- good for staying home and washing, bad for escaping on a walk), the summer seems to be giving us one last glorious blast. We met up with an old friend and his new wife at the weekend in lovely sunshine coupled with a soft breeze. While C and Mr A went for a bike ride, Mrs A and I took the children on a walk by Elterwater. Note the restraining hand on P’s hood- he feels a little bit too invincible in his waterproof suit and wellies and sets off into lakes as if he can wade across! The rain that had lashed down the previous day meant that Skelwith Force, the turning point of our route, was in full spate and pretty spectacular as it sent spray up onto the path we were on, metres above it.
Meanwhile, having finished my teacosies, I’m now started on another knit using reclaimed wool. I posted a picture of the much loved but never worn ‘Iceland’ sweater a while back. At the weekend I finally got around to frogging it and have now cast on ‘Rosamund’s Cardigan’, its new incarnation. Managed to mess up the cables on the first attempt, probably because I was trying to squeeze all the stitches onto straight needles. A quick ferret through a yet-to-be unpacked box unearthed one of my few circular needles which actually happened to be the correct size (I’m thinking about getting an interchangable circular needle set for Christmas) and things have gone better since then. Please note my gorgeous new workbasket- a long promised ‘new home’ present from C- more on this at a later date.
Having been very neglectful of teacosies for months and months, I’ve suddenly got all re-invigorated for a number of reasons. Anyway, the result is that as I mentioned in the previous post, I uploaded my Union Jack teacosy pattern on Ravelry and have been very excited to see it added to more than 75 favourites lists and 20 or more queues! Meanwhile, I’ve completed what I’m calling my ‘High Tea’ collection of teacosies, each with a vintage teapot, to restock my Folksy shop. ‘Battenburg’ has been joined by ‘Cucumber Sandwiches’ and ‘Lemon Drizzle’. I love the soft retro colours and can’t decide which is my favourite!
A little more apple cookery today- only one product, but after finely chopping 1.5kg of apples can you blame me?! The product in question is Apple, Cinnamon and Raisin Compote from The Women’s Institute Book of Preserves and although it doesn’t look terribly tempting, it tastes yummy. Yesterday’s Blackberry and Apple jam set fine, by the way.
Little bit more work done on the ‘High Tea’ collection of teacosies for my Folksy shop- finished one and begun another, but I’m going to keep them more or less under wraps for now. I also took a deep breath today and braved putting one of my teacosy designs up as a free download on Ravelry. The Union Jack cosy was one of the first ones I did for the Folksy shop and was the first one I sold- it led to a couple more on commission and I got very sick of intarsia as a result! It’s scary to think that other people will be trying to follow the instructions I wrote, even though its a pretty simple pattern. Last time I looked it had been added as a favourite by quite a few people, with a few also downloading it or adding it to their queue- eep! If you’re interested, you can find it here.
We asked if we might have a few apples the next time grandparents were visiting from the farm…we got a sackload! Apple processing has therefore been on my to-do list for at least a week and today I got around to some, at least. Blackberry and Apple jam gave me my perennial problem of not seeming to achieve a set (I wonder whether I ought to just shell out on a jam thermometer and do it that way, rather than the cold plate test) but looks yummy and I think it will be an okay consistency in the end. I also par-cooked some apples for future pies/crumbles etc to put in our new spare freezer- this was a bonus find, left behind in the utility room by the previous owner of our house. Why ‘Apple Day 1′? Because we still have a half a sackload left, so apple processing remains on the to-do list for another occasion!
Various logistical issues since M arrived have meant that both babes have been in disposable nappies for a time, bad news financially and enviromentally. Now, with issues sorted, we’re celebrating the return of cloth-bums to our house- as much as dealing with nappy buckets can ever be a cause for celebration! Couldn’t resist sharing these pics of my smaller cloth bum in the result of yesterday evening’s work, then.
I mentioned a desire for Anna Maria Horner’s Handmade Beginnings in a post a while back and wouldn’t you know it, a certain pal who always gives lovely gifts got it for me. I loved the idea of her ‘Quick Change Trousers’, the concept being that when your little one manages to get some form of filth on one side, you can reverse them and keep them presentable until wash time. The double layer of fabric also gives a bit of extra warmth, which will be good as the seasons change and I think also gives a much better finish to the garment. Having clambered around in the room full of boxes and located some saved scrap fabric and my sewing machine I was really, really good and set up the ironing board as well as the machine (and those who know me will know how allergic I am to ironing!). Then I followed the instructions to the letter. When Anna Maria said press open the seam allowances, I pressed. When she said leave this size seam allowance, that was how much I left. When she said clip the curves, I clipped. This is probably another reason I’m pleased with the finish, as when it comes to sewing my skills are a long way behind my knitting and finishing is really not my thing. Patience rewarded in this case though, I’m pleased with the results.
The garden at our new place is a crazy patchwork of grass, paving, outbuildings and general stuff really. We love it for the space it provides and the potential it offers for vegetable growing, new chickens, a children’s garden (complete with saucepan ‘banging wall’, inspired by The Creative Family) and no doubt more plans yet to be dreamed up. At the moment, however, with other priorities to consider inside the house, I am contenting myself with wandering around discovering just what is there and gradually deciding what we’ll keep, what we’ll reuse and what we’ll get rid of…here in no particular order are some examples- you decide!
I mentioned recently that I was saving money while feeding my knitting habit by recycling the yarn from projects that didn’t go right. Here you can see my winter wooly- ‘Emma’ from Big Just Got Bigger by Rowan. It’s not the most figure-flattering of numbers, but it’s soft and cosy and seems to suit the yarn better than it’s previous incarnation, whose cabling and enormous foldover collar made it hang very badly in my opinion. Best of all, it’s sort of a new jumper for free!
The next victim of my ‘frog and remake’ campaign is destined to be this ‘Iceland’ sweater in Rowan Cocoon yarn. I loved this when I saw it in Rowan Magazine #42. I loved the yarn when I looked at it at a knitting show and when C got it for me for Christmas a few years ago. I loved the way the finished article looked…until I tried it on. It hits me in all the wrong places and is completely unflattering. As a result it has sat in the drawer, loved but unworn, for far too long. I’ve decided to accept that it’s not for me and reclaim the yarn for something I will actually wear.
There is a stay of execution for ‘Iceland’ just now, however, as this morning’s post brought a new haul of yarn and a new issue of Yarn Forward. This, combined with a long awaited return to my local knitting group last night (with M in tow) means I am in knitting heaven just now. The yarn is the admittedly acrylic but nonetheless delightfully soft and knittable Sirdar Snuggly DK. It’s destined for a number of teacosies I have in mind to restock my rather neglected Folksy shop. There’s a theme for the designs I have in mind and the first- ‘Battenburg’ is already underway.
I love hanging washing out on the line! Perversely, whenever I’ve lived in a place with no outside line (including the place we were in for the past year), one of my most hated domestic chores was hanging washing on indoor airers. C used to say it showed in the rushed and haphazard way the clothes were flung on, usually in a way that meant drying would take longer because everything was so bunched up. He usually acted as the washing fairy and sorted it all out.
Pegging out a wash on the line though, that’s a different story. I find it calming and meditative in a similar way to knitting- maybe because in a similar way you can feel a connection to women from generations back, carrying out the same ritual to care for their household. Plus of course, you’re outside in fresh air, ideally sunshine and a breeze, which can’t fail to induce a bit of cheer.
I know I’m waxing on a bit, but there’s something so life affirming about seeing washing hanging out. When you go to, or see pictures of, places where washing lines are strung between buildings or on balconies its like signal flags saying ‘Life is going on here! People come home to this place and wash their clothes!’ I remember when we first brought P home after his short stay in Special Care. Hanging the first load of tiny clothes out felt like putting out bunting to celebrate and tell the world we had a new arrival.
Due to a technical hitch involving hot and cold inlets on our washing machine (don’t ask) we spent the first week or so in our new place with a washing line taunting me outside, but nothing to do washing in- handwashing was not an option with everything else going on. This was more than a little bit trying, especially with my limited wardrobe (most maternity stuff is too big, while a lot of pre-bump stuff is still too small) being regularly burped up on by M, plus her burped-up on clothes and those of the two boys enthusiastically collecting grubbiness in one way or another. More than that, I wanted to get washing to feel that we were really living here. Like cooking our favourite meals in the new kitchen, it’s a root-sinking exercise. Which of course, I’m now doing regularly, especially in this perfect drying weather. Hang out the flags!
It’s been a pretty hectic weekend, beginning with a toddler imposed 6.30am start on Saturday, followed by everything from cleaning and tidying to load after load of washing in our now functioning machine to garden demolition work to home haircutting on P (thank you, how-to videos on YouTube, he looks okay and it must be easier than chasing him round a salon). However, amongst all this we managed to return to our old habit of going out for a walk on a Sunday. Tarn Hows has shown itself to be beautiful in all weathers, but today we were blessed with gentle sunshine and having hustled to get out the door early(ish!)we managed to beat the crowds. Happy weekend everyone!