>I’ve not been around on these pages for a week or so, with the excuse that we’ve were using every hour we were awake and the children weren’t to prepare for a very special day- M’s Baptism. Determined to have at least one room of our new home decorated the way we wanted there was an awful lot of this:
…with just the occasional break for this:
when far-off friends decided to come and make a weekend of it, so we had to show off some of our favourite places.
As to the baking, well believe me when I say there was a LOT of it…so much that I didn’t even get time to photograph it. As we wanted this to be something of a house-warming as well as a special day for our little lady, we invited just about everyone we knew and were flattered that so many made in a lot of cases a long journey to be here. The house was fully warmed, both babes (the bigger one is getting sooo big now!) were smiley socialites all day and some people even found places to sit down!
After a happy, happy day following weeks of seemingly endless lists of jobs, we are left with just a couple:
Carefully handwashing the beautiful christening gown that was handstitched by my paternal Grandmother from parachute silk, worn by my Father, me and all my siblings and now both my babies- the latter two with an equally beautiful shawl knitted by my MIL and M with a darling hand smocked bonnet made by my mother, truly a family affair!
Eating the leftovers! I’m quite pleased that there aren’t too many of these, as it must show that the cooking was alright and that my catering calculations were fairly accurate. Enough for a few yummy lunches and luxurious suppers, mulling over the memories as normality returns.
Two things our new home has meant to us so far:
1.The quilt has found its home at last. After an interim period using the it in the cot with the side down so P could escape- although amazingly he didn’t- we’ve now acquired the ‘big boy bed’. Cue much excitement and a few evenings of trekking up and down stairs to persuade him that he needed to stay in the bed rather than climbing on a chair to look out of the window. All in all it’s gone well, however, and every time I see him snuggled up asleep under the results of all that hard work it makes my heart soar.
2.Evenings are a bit less relaxed for the grown-ups. The reality of decorating a house with two small children is that sometimes the only time available is after bed time- assuming that M decides that she’ll coordinate her sleep time with her brother’s. If that means 10.30pm sees us steaming off old wallpaper (to reveal, in this case, cork tiles!) and slapping undercoat on woodwork then so be it. Even with scruffy plaster and streakily undercoated wood, it somehow looks better than the previous decor, perhaps because it’s the first marks we are making on our new home. Can’t wait until we get a room finished!
On various training courses over the years I’ve done those tests that are meant to show you what your personality and work style was. Whatever the label, I never came out as a person who was good for finishing off things- I’m always an ideas and enthusiasm and ‘let’s get things going’ type. In a way, knitting and sewing is good for combatting the negative side of this, in that over the years I’ve developed the self discipline to make myself finish projects properly, carefully and if necessary s-l-o-w-l-y, rather than waste the money spent on materials and the time spent on producing whatever I’ve made. The results have always been much more satisfying as a consequence.
Having said that, knitting is a hobby after all, not my job. I’ve completed a good three quarters of my Rosamund cardigan, but having finished the yoke and the waist shaping I’m now just on the final run over the hips. In other words, a bit of cable, a lot of plain or purl, then an bit of cable. Row after row after row. In a sophisticated but slightly dull beige colour yarn. Then the other day I noticed I had buggered up a cable several inches below. I tried a rescue attempt, but in the end had to frog back those inches to sort it out, which put the tin lid on my enthusiasm for it really. It also wasn’t helped by a trip to the Sheep Shop in St Annes on Sea, where I’d bought two balls of King Cole Riot to make an entrelac scarf I’d found after too much time on Ravelry. Those gorgeous, jewel-like colours were winking up at me from amongst the beige in my work basket. So I gave in- it is a hobby after all- and I’m having a break from the beige, giving my knitting brain a workout learning entrelac and hopefully regain the enthusiasm to go back and complete the cardigan.
It was a case of keeping the breathing even and giving it a go today. This was true for trying spinning yarn on a wheel for the first time ever and also for bringing both babes along to an event like this. A new friend, made at a local knitting group I’ve been attending recently with M (thank goodness for the smoking ban that means I don’t feel guilty taking her to a pub/restaurant at night time!) organised the day at her home, invited us and assured me that she truly didn’t mind me turning up with a lively toddler in tow. True to her word, when we arrived her sons had sorted through childhood videos to find things P might like to watch, there were toys out for him and some very young rabbits and a rather old cat for him to make friends with. Coupled with the fascination of wheels used in a way he’d never seen before and rather more biscuits than he’d usually get his hands on he had a whale of a time. M meanwhile was passed from one pair of arms to another, was hypnotised by the gentle rhythm of the pulling of wool tops and treadling of wheels, eventually giving in to sleep under my Manu cardigan.
As for me, I finally got to try out spinning and unsurprisingly I loved it. Yes, I struggled with the wheel going the wrong way, let my yarn get too twisted, found it hard coordinating pulling out the fibres, pinching the thread and keeping the treadles going, got lumps and bumps in some parts then went so thin that the yarn snapped- in other words all the issues a newbie spinner has apparently, but I loved it all the same. It’s definitely something where you have to get into the ‘zone’ and be somehow aware of what’s happening, while letting go and almost ‘listening’ to the yarn. I love the idea that you can go right back to the source, creating the yarn and then knitting the garment from it- the connection with craftswomen of the past seems even stronger than with knitting alone.
I don’t think that now is quite the time to be acquiring my own wheel and starting up with spinning, but it’s firmly on the long-term wishlist!
Around a year ago our little family, having been thrown up in the air by C’s redundancy, finally came to land up here. Relief that a new job had been found was somewhat counterbalanced with loneliness as I came to terms with having moved a long way from friends and family and having given up what had been a happy balance of teaching three days per week and being at home with P the rest. Loneliness could have been a big problem if it hadn’t been for a chance encounter at the local child health clinic when I got chatting to the mother of a little girl there about the Steiner playgroup P and I were going to. Turned out she lived at the other end of our street. Turned out that she was also a teacher. Turned out that she liked the idea of going walking in the Lakes with the babies. Turned out that she and I shared a lot of values, ideas and a sense of humour. Turned out our children got on like a house on fire, stretching out from their car seats or buggies to hold hands when we went out and about.
One year later and we’ve been on many, many walks; eaten a good number of picnics; many including hilariously lumpy vegetable soup and the obligatory flask of redbush tea; dealt with a few medical emergencies; seen our babies become toddlers (and tag-team wrestled them into car seats when necessary!); discussed our worries and shared our joys about family life; both got pregnant again and shared sunshine and showers in so many ways.
Today we went on a walk by Elterwater and realised that this was one of the first places we had walked together when we first met. I hardly need reminding of how much I appreciate the precious gift I have in this friend of mine, but today was as a good a day as any to think about it.
>It might be a bit early to write off summer- we did have a barbecue on Saturday after all and are praying for dry weather at the very least when we host M’s Baptism celebration at the end of the month. However, the duller days are just that little bit nippier, the morning air makes me feel that recent and current knitting projects are not going to wait that long for wear and evening turns to night just a little bit sooner now. School may not be a big feature in our lives just at the moment, but September always feels like a new year to me, more than the real New Year does. Just as the old traditions had this time of year for gathering in (and word from the farm is that the harvest is safely in, despite the challenges of a missing bridge), sorting out (there’s a lot of that still going on round here) and deciding what stays for the winter and what goes, so it is in my head.
These shoes for P:
And these for me:
were bought way back at the start of the warm weather, when M was still an ever growing bump and we were only just starting to pack boxes and hope for the move to the new place. Despite a lot of distractions, they’ve nevertheless had some good wear over the season, walking, splashing in puddles, running, jumping (the latter two more him than me, especially pre-birth!) and so on. It certainly shows in the now fading colour and worn out soles! Recently he’s taken to going and putting his own shoes on, usually on the correct feet, then fetching this pair for me, ever hopeful that we might go for a walk or to the swings or in the garden. It’s time he had a new pair- doubtless his feet have grown yet more now and he needs something a bit more warm and waterproof, even if it does mean he has to wear socks again. But these shoes are testament to a summer well lived if you ask me- how funny to think that by this time next year there will be another tiny pair of shoes being worn out, as our wriggly little girl gets on her feet!