Thursday, March 31, 2011
Wednesday, March 30, 2011
I bought >a sheep-load of Alba Yarn from The Wool Shed just in case
>several metres of fabric from Croft Mill just because
>a few more buttons than I strictly required
>a packet of hair-dye (new "ultra violet" side section being politely ignored by work colleagues)
>an embroidery book
>two novels: Summer of Men by Siri Hustvedt (part-way through, non-commital) and The CookBook Collector by Allegra Goodman (not started) >nu shooz worn twice so far
..and a Will.
Yup, I finally got organised and went to the solicitor to draw up my Last Will and Testament. Have you done this yet? You really should, especially if you have kids and a second marriage to throw into the mix. But be warned - it is quite stressful thinking through the "what ifs".
I have made
>my South Riding Blouse, which I really like and have worn to work with Audrey and Bella. >a polka-dot Pendrell top, which I do NOT like, because I mistakenly thought View A had the same basic sleeve as View B. Err... no. I made the flapping-wing version. >and I knitted less than half a cardigan.
Lucky I'm not on piecework!
But I have taken this month to enjoy process a lot more than before. Because there is no race
Well fancy that - who knew?
In terms of craft-planning, my new fabric, buttons and wool are inevitably at the forefront of my mind.
Trousers are next.
I have been sorting out The downstairs "study" so that my mother can come for a few days at Easter.
It isn't a show-room, but it is now clean and tidy.
I am going to sneak a couple of pictures onto the wall when FL isn't looking. (He doesn't like "framed art" on house walls, "because that's what windows are for". )
For the new "guest room" I framed up some of my photos of Beauly, and some old seed packet labels from here.
And I have attacked the herb garden.
I forced myself to get into the habit of doing an hour's weeding / pruning when I get home from work. This has coincided with the last gasp of daylight and some good weather, so a start has been made. I just have to keep it up.
And I have been taking a little more exercise. The weeding. Dog-walking. An occasional bounce on the trampoline. Just getting out in the fresh air and moving around.
We have been having better meals. The slow cooker has been a godsend. And during the week I have tried not to resort to using the same old recipes. More salads, less meat - hooray!
And thinking ahead ...
Oh dear. I am not very good at this one.
Hence the flurry of activity you have just read about.
FL is really not well.
Yes, he has been at golf, up til now, but he comes home totally exhausted. He falls asleep at the table. Everything hurts.
And he admits it. That's the scary thing. He doesn't feel well and he is telling me, instead of pretending he will live forever.
So I am setting myself little exercises in planning for a future without him.
Even silly stuff like getting my pictures onto the walls is a step towards accepting the inevitable. ETA: Wrote this last night with added html to get para breaks. Hope it works. I am off sick today. When I move my head the world spins - fabulous! Don't tell me I have been overdoing it - you are not my mother! ; )
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Friday, March 25, 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Monday, March 21, 2011
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Alderman Mrs Beddows in the prologue to "South Riding" by Winifred Holtby, 1936.
Friday, March 18, 2011
Jen's work is absolutely extraordinary.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
I can't watch the tv news anymore. I can't listen to the radio. I can't even read some of my favorite blogs without a swift pre-scan for references to world events. Part of my brain has just shut down and says "No - you can't cope with this. It is all out of your control. And if the end of the world is nigh, well... goodbye world."
The trigger was definitely the television footage from an airport in Japan, where a wall of water was approaching a building. FL had the sound turned off, as usual, but for some inexplicable reason he chose that moment to un-mute it and my ears were filled with the sound of genuine panic, fear, mounting hysteria. It was too immediate. It was the sound of people who knew they were about to die. And there was nothing I could do about it. Absolutely nothing.
Yesterday in her language class at school, my daughter was asked to speak in German about her ideal shopping experience. So she looked up all the words she needed to describe a trip to Japan: all the wonderful clothes / shoes / stationery / Studio Ghibli items to be found in various cities and how she would travel from place to place. Her teacher was NOT pleased. To talk about shopping in Japan is apparently "offensive". On one level, I can understand where her teacher is coming from - oh, how shallow it is to talk about shopping when people are dying! True. But who asked her to talk about shopping in the first place?! And was it not an opportunity to talk about what might be lost to the world if an entire culture is razed to the ground by disasters natural and man-made? Nien. Verboten. Tell me about going into Aberdeen on a Saturday afternoon to buy a Justin Bieber CD. As if!
I have a recurring dream about wandering through a city that is a composite of all the places I have ever lived. Sometimes it is a desolate place with ruined buildings and people huddled round camp-fires, scavenging for food. The toilets are always blocked. I am looking for friends from the past, people I have lost. I dream about this place so often that it is entirely familiar to me. I am resigned to my wanderings. It is made better by knowing that every time I go looking for someone in my dreams, I do find comfort - not always where I expect it - and I have often woken up thinking I need to make more human connections, so that I have somewhere to go when I lose what I have now.
FL is doing OK. He has now added an antibiotic, an anti-fungal, paracetamol and a laxative to his daily diet of pills. The kitchen table is home to a teetering mound of pharmaceuticals. He went golfing yesterday... which means he is basically "fine". But I have a growing sense of unease, a feeling that reality is coming too close to my bad dreams.
So I am sorry - I need to change the channel right now. I need to absorb myself in a world of creativity: literature, fabric, yarn, music. I can't cope with the bigger picture.
Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Kind of 1970's?
I checked with a magnifying glass - yes, definitely the same ones!
Note how the model remains on the path and does not go onto the grass.
Note the immediate toning effect on her calves!
So one pair of shoes promises: elegance, fashion credentials, a hint of the 1970's, instant youth and exercise!
They had their first day out at work yesterday. I carried a pair of flatties in my bag just in case.
Monday, March 14, 2011
I seem to have got into the habit of trying to complete a garment in a weekend. Why? Is it some sort of competitive instinct which drives me to sew quickly, to have something to show my blog-readers?
This weekend, when the sunshine disappeared and snow began to fall, I realised I had no good reason to try to finish this spring blouse in a hurry. That I could slow down and enjoy the process; take my time to line up the three rows of top-stitching on the collar.
I could pause and consider how best to finish the back of the neck. I could just run a piece of ready-made bias tape along that raw edge... or I could take the time to cut my own bias strip out of leftover fabric, and hand-stitch it in place.
I came home from work tonight and spent half an hour sewing the darts at the top of the sleeves. Then I put the sewing machine away and got out my knitting.
My Betty Jean cardigan is also benefitting from this "little and often" approach. I only managed to knit one row in my lunch break today, but still that was one row I would not otherwise have knitted. One row to calm me down after a difficult morning. One row nearer completion.
Meanwhile, my head is buzzing with ideas of what to make next: the high-waisted trousers, the Pendrell blouse, the pencil skirt... but there is no rush!
Sewing and knitting as meditation. It could work!
Sunday, March 13, 2011
FL spent Saturday sleeping and watching football / rugby on tv with the sound off. I assume this was his post-dexy crash. He is complaining about a sore tongue, which sent me to google. Don't try this at home, kids. It makes eating and talking difficult. He says he feels "rotten".
It is Sunday now, and I have just received an email from CroftMill to tell me they have lots of new fabrics on sale. I clicked the link. OMG. I am about to spend my children's inheritance on material. Sorry, kids!
Friday, March 11, 2011
Tuesday, March 08, 2011
I bought my copy from Susannah at Cargo Cult Craft. I did so despite reading on her blog that this was the Pattern of Doom, the one that had her sell all of her vintage Simplicity patterns on Etsy because she could not take any more.... oops!
Here is what Susannah said:
"The pattern seemed to be a good size and a half smaller than marked. The neckline needed cutting down by 2 inches in order not to strangle me. The bodice pulled every which way. The collar drafting was just wacky. Finally my patience ran out. I stuffed the blouse into the box with the rest of the Pile of Shame, tearfully apologized to James for the needless slaughter of an innocent shirt and fixed myself a large G&T. Why do I do these things to myself? Why?? "
I have been warned!
The only positive recommendation I can find for this pattern on the web is from a lady at the Fedora Lounge site, who suggests it as the ideal simple and versatile 1940's blouse - which is exactly why I chose it! But I can't find a sewing blog in her name so the trail has gone cold.
I bought 2 metres of printed cotton poplin from Ray Stitch, in a sweet ditsy print. I accidentally ordered the wrong colour. It was supposed to be purple and orange but when it arrived it was marked: "primrose yellow and orange". This is actually a good thing because I have some yellow 1940's buttons in the stash.
I am making View 2, the top right picture. If you look closely you can see the front bands and collar have multiple rows of topstitching, a detail I saw used many times in the costumes of the BBC's recent adaptation of South Riding. Did you watch it? LoobyLou sent me this link to a piece about the costumes: costumes. Sadly, I can't watch it as my home broadband is too slow to support i-player and my work broadband says "no". Do have a rummage around and read about the locations and the characters.
I was a hopelessly romantic child (surprise!) and the 1974 version of South Riding made an indelible mark on my 10-year-old soul. I read the book from cover to cover several times in rapid succession. When I went to Hull for University, I dreamed of living out on the Holderness coast and riding the rickety bus into town every day. But I never did. The East Yorkshire coastline has a special magic - as if time has stood still - and yet it is an area in constant threat of being reclaimed by the sea. If you look at the BBC "locations" page you might catch a wisp of the atmosphere. I feel quite... homesick. Which is odd, because I am from here not there.
So this will be my South Riding blouse. I had better get on with it!
Sunday, March 06, 2011
With the washing on the line, the floors mopped, and the slow cooker doing its business, I took the time to look around the garden, cut the dead wood from the herbs and let the dog run free.
FL is "Smoort wi' cal". In English: he is "smothered by a cold", and no, he doesn't have any antibiotics. This is not good. If he is not better tomorrow I must march him to the GP.
But he went to golf and wore himself out. After dinner he went straight to bed with a Lemsip.
Dinner: slow-cooked Caribbean chicken with rice and peas, from The Ultimate Slow Cooker. Fabulous!
I also rustled up a batch of chocolate cherry cupcakey-muffin things, which are vanishing fast.
No sewing whatsoever!
I spent Saturday evening watching World Book Night on BBC2, followed by Brideshead Revisited.
And I cast on for Betty Jean McNeil. Several hours of knitting later and I have a hem. I strongly suspect this cardigan is going to take a lot longer than one month.
I can't resist another close up of a crocus.
Oh look! Our old back door is still propped up against the back of the house - how lovely!
But everything looks better when the skies are blue and the washing is swaying gently rather than blowing off the line.
I could almost imagine planting seeds and growing things again.
The Chiltern Seeds Veg Book is on my knee as I knit. The secret is not to get too ambitious. I am not willing to spend every waking moment digging and weeding. I will plant some Tuscan kale, some purple sprouting broccoli and some broad beans. No more.
FL has given the farm labourer from next door the use of a plot of our land to plant veg for his family, in exchange for a small share of the crops. It's a good deal for both sides.
I am hoping he will also take on some of the hard digging of the herb garden, for payment in actual cash. I can't bear another year of evil looks from the neighbours for letting the area outside their front doors run to weed and seed and I just can't keep up with the pace of growth of the "rat grass" and thistles. I would so much rather be sewing or knitting!
Here's the result of about eight hours of knitting.
That blue line is where the hem turns over.
So in eight hours I have effectively knitted the first inch of my cardigan.
I might have to cast on a sock just to stay sane.
I hope the sun is shining wherever you are!
Saturday, March 05, 2011
Friday, March 04, 2011
Also seen in the background: my 2011 calendar from OhBara. This was my Christmas present to myself. It is so lovely I cannot bring myself to write on it! My office is so drab and grey and I spend so much time there, I really wanted to bring some colour and craftiness to my space.
Thursday, March 03, 2011
Tuesday, March 01, 2011
Can I knit a cardigan in a month? I am certainly going to try!
I decided upon Betty Jean McNeil by Emily Johnson of the Family Trunk Project.
The yarn is the same as I used for Audrey-in-Unst, Albayarn shetland fingering, from my local yarn store, The Wool Shed in Oyne.
I drove there on Sunday and sat outside waiting for the shop to open!
The shop assistant was rather startled by my single-minded determination as I homed in on the display of Albayarn, striding past all the tempting Noro and Rowan and Colinette - oh my!
I almost opted for the wrong main shade, as I picked out the colours in the dimly-lit corner.
Luckily, the assistant suggested I hold them together in the sunshine, to make sure, and just as well that I did, because what I thought was a dark brown turned out to be a heathery purple!
It is a difficult colour to capture - but this is "Trout", a brown with flashes of teal and orange and purple.
I am using "Pumpkin" and "Lochan" for the colourwork.
Although the pattern is written for just two colours, I wanted to add another. I almost threw in a ball of rich purple too, but realised I was being seduced by the range of colours on offer, rather than sticking to the project in hand.
I promise not to bore you silly with daily updates on progress, but I certainly plan to document this project at regular intervals, if only to keep myself focussed.
ETA: I fell at the first hurdle - I don't have the right needles! Ah well - they are now in the post, and I can finish my February socks!