Friday, 12 May 2017

Adventures in Moominland

What Ho, Old Beans! Did you all enjoy the thunderstorm and much needed rain last night? I do love a good storm. My mother was terrified and used to hide in the cupboard under the stairs, where she couldn't see the lightning and the thunder was more muffled. It apparently reminded her of bombs during the war. My father, determined that I shouldn't inherit her fear, used to make me a hot drink and we would sit at the window watching it all. I think I love them so much now because I associate them with that sense of cosy. Anyway, the garden was desperate for some rain and it smells beautiful this morning; all fresh and green.
I've had quite a busy couple of weeks. I finished a number of wips that I had on the go, had a trip to London, did a stained glass workshop and decorated the kitchen. Actually, it's not quite finished yet - I still need to paint the cupboards, but I'm giving myself a break over the weekend before I start those. 
Here are some photos that I took along the way:

My trip to London was to see the 'Adventures in Moominland' exhibition at the Southbank Centre. I'd had my eye on this for a while. but tickets at a convenient time were hard to come by and I wanted to go during term time as I thought that there would be fewer children. I arrived about half an hour early and sat down for a little bit of sock knitting whilst I waited. Just then, hundreds of children arrived, all wearing little yellow reflective jackets. They were from several different schools and the din was making my ears bleed. I was kicking myself for not even thinking of school trips and was wondering whether to abandon the idea entirely, being too embarrassed to go as a lone adult. In the end, I plucked up my courage and, at my appointed time, went to the meeting place. What a relief - the children were apparently there for a concert at the Royal Festival Hall and, of the 11 of us booked for the Moomins, 9 were adults and 2 were toddlers.
The exhibition itself was great fun. We entered through a giant book and then all channeled our inner child as we sat in tents, walked through 'forests' and explored the Moomin house and Tove Janson's studio, all the while being accompanied by a guide and an audio description by Sandi Toksvig. Some of the exhibits were on loan from a museum in Finland and included many original illustrations and Tove's paint palette. It was a fun hour and it seemed strange when we finally emerged back onto the South Bank.
 I may have bought a souvenir tote bag to remember the occasion! It's currently housing my 'Cosy Memories Blanket' - I think Moominmamma would approve.
 Other happenings this week:
We have been seeing lots of deer back in the garden. There is a baby one too, but every time he/she is there pronking around, my camera isn't to hand. 
I finished my 'Hermione's Everyday Socks'. These seemed to take me quite a while and, to be honest, I wasn't really feeling the joy. I've come to the conclusion that I'm a bit boring when it comes to sock knitting: as far as I'm concerned, you can keep your fancy patterns, I just love a nice, plain old vanilla sock.
 I also finished my 'Random Acts of Colour Shawl':
........ and my hat for running on cold mornings. The yarn is 'Mrs. Tiggywinkle' by Elm Tree yarns. The black flecks are supposed to represent her spines.
 We are currently having an 'Open Studios' month, where local artists open their work spaces to visitors (Is this a national thing or just in our area?). Several are running free/cheap workshops, and I had signed up for a stained glass day at a local village. Amanda who ran it has her studio on a farm. There were 6 of us and we took along lunch, saw some week old kittens, and spent a merry day copper foiling a suncatcher. Here are some photos of Amanda's studio:

....... and here is my finished star. Gosh,my windows need a good clean! 
I have done a bit of stained glass before. Once to make a panel for over our kitchen door (see photo below) and once when I took L on a post AS level treat. I'll post photos of our finished objects another time.
Finally, I've seen far too much of this over the past few days:
Why does it always seem to take far more coats than you think it will? As for masking tape - I spent ages masking everything, only to discover that the paint either seeped beneath it or it pulled the paint off during removal. Note to self - don't believe R when he says that the cheap sort will do! The colour is Farrow and Ball's Dix Blue and it actually looks a bit darker in the photo than in real life. As I say, the cupboards still need doing, but I'm psyching myself up for those. It is such a relief not to have to climb over all the kitchen paraphernalia which was dumped in the hall whilst I painted. I never realized before how many racks etc. we have, and the dirt! I'm ashamed of how filthy it all was. Not now though. For the moment anyway, it's all sparkly clean and fresh. 
Poor old Hamish, who usually sleeps in the kitchen, spent many a day in the garden and had to spend the night in the downstairs loo to allow the paint to dry without him moulting all over it! It was either that,or stay outside with the owls and the foxes. Talking of which, a fox wandered past our patio doors the other evening. I initially thought it was a cat and went to have a look. It paused in the hostas by the back door and stared at me thoughtfully, before sauntering off behind the shed. I called to R who immediately ran out to check the chickens. I hadn't even given them a thought, I was just mesmerized by how beautiful the fox was.
Anyway, I'm a little high on paint fumes, so I'll let you go. I'm off to get some fresh air and do a little post-rain weeding in the garden.
Toodle Pip for now. x 

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Of Bluebells, Quilts and Purple Hair

Hello my lovelies. Let me apologize in advance for a rather photo heavy post; it's been about 3 weeks since my last one, so the pictures have accumulated somewhat. I hope you all had a wonderful Easter. Both my babies were home for the holiday, so all felt right with the world. The roofer finally came (!) and I made a quilt out of multiple pairs of old jeans. I've been gathering them for a while: some were outgrown, some worn out and some oil or paint stained. I cut out 5 inch squares from where I could, reversing the worst to hide the stains, and spent a merry couple of days sewing them all together, backing them with red, starry fabric and doing some hand quilting. I admit that this was entirely an exercise in distraction - I didn't want to leave the house in case the roofers downed tools and disappeared, but their radio was driving me crazy, so I drowned it out with my sewing machine!

I also started to make scrappy quilt blocks out of some fabric that E bought me one year. I admit that I struggled a bit with these - if there is a shape equivalent of dyslexia, I'm convinced that I have it. I just cannot hold a shape in my head (jigsaw puzzles are a dead loss), so I'd cut out the triangles, line them up ....... and then sew the wrong edges together! Whichever way it could go wrong, it did and my unpicker was working overtime. I feel that this project may take me a while.
Sorry, I forgot to rotate the photo: 
 Other happenings over Easter:
Our wisteria flowered:
 Our own little Easter bunny enjoyed having L and E home again:

 We went for a walk to the castle and then back home through the woods to look for bluebells:

 The blossom finally arrived:

R bought a mig welder on ebay and we had to drive to St. Albans in Hertfordshire to collect it. I'd never been there before and it was a lovely place. We had lunch in the centre and then had a little wander round. The cathedral was beautiful.

 E decided that she wanted afternoon tea!
 My bulbs did turn out to be Narcissi: 
 I balled up some yarn to make the Pavement Sweater. The colour is called 'Lettuce'!
  R and I went to see Twelfth Night at our local cinema. It was a very gender fluid performance and we thoroughly enjoyed it. After last time's 'picnic of shame', I made sure that we were better prepared food and drink wise .........
.......... homemade veggie sushi, complete with chopsticks, dips and G&T in a tin (thanks for the tip Leanne!):
 .......... and L dyed her hair purple! It really suits her and who wouldn't want a purple-haired barrister?! 
Finally, after months of injury and being too scared to go running in case it flared up again, I plucked up the courage and went this morning. I went on my usual circuit which I used to do twice without any bother. This time I took it slowly: I did it once and stopped to walk 3 times. It wasn't pretty and it was rather frustrating when I think how easy it was a few months ago, but it was a glorious morning, I was out there and it felt wonderful.
Well, that's all for this week. Well done if you made it to the end! Wishing you all a fantastic week.

Toodle Pip for now. x

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Feeling the Blues

Good morning all. I can hardly believe that we're into April already. Spring has definitely sprung round these parts, although my cherry blossom isn't quite here yet. The title of this post doesn't mean that I'm feeling melancholy or depressed, it's more a reflection of my recent projects and wips. I only realised when uploading the photos that blue is definitely my colour of the moment. Here are a few of them:
The socks that I made for E in West Yorkshire Spinners' 'Peacock' colourway:
I always like to have a pair of socks on the go, so I immediately balled up the yarn for my next pair. They will be 'Hermione's Everyday Socks' in Norah George's 'Elsa' colourway with contrasting blue heels, toes and cuffs. I've already started these and the yarn is super soft and squishy!
This is me standing on the coffee table trying to take a photo of my finished 'Worsted Boxy' sweater by Joji Locatelli. It still needs blocking, but that hasn't stopped me from wearing it as it's really comfy and cosy. The yarn is Malabrigo Rios in the 'Reflecting Pool' colourway.
Next I cast on for Amy Meekes' 'Random Act of Colour' shawl in some Madeline Tosh yarn that I bought at Loop last year. I have to admit that I've struggled a fair bit with the eyelet sections. It takes better concentration than I apparently have and I've had to tink back quite a few times! I'm keeping it in my blue project bag!
Blue fabric this time - I was having a little play making a drawstring bag. I do love camper vans - R and I went to a Classic Car meet at the weekend and whilst he was looking at the old MGs and minis, I was lusting after these vans. 
I think it will squish up nicely for out and about sock knitting.
I even made a slightly uneven dpn cosy to go with it:
This week's library books - I suppose only one of them has a blue cover!
Mother's Day cookies from L. She was actually mountain climbing in Snowdonia on the day, having booked a weekend away without realising that it would be Mother's Day! She did , however, post me some homemade ginger and cacao nib cookies which were delicious and they miraculously made it through the post unscathed.
She and E also bought me a beautiful bowl of bulbs - they are supposed to be Narcissi, but I think the bulbs may be a little large so I'll have to wait and see. It all adds to the enjoyment.
I do love where we live. It has lots of beautiful countryside, is near to Oxford and Bristol so I can visit my babies and is handy for London on the train. It is, however, quite a way from any bit of coast and I do miss the sea. Leanne's posts, with her stunning photos of Cornwall, have me drooling, so when R asked me where I would like to go for a day trip, it had to be the coast. We drove down through the New Forest with its friendly horses and donkeys to Milford on Sea, just to the East of Bournemouth.

This donkey was particularly friendly and came up to the car to be patted:
It wasn't the most picturesque bit of coastline, but it was blue, it smelled nice, sounded nice and chips may have been eaten by it!

..... and it had a view of the Isle of Wight, the Needles and the lighthouse:
There were also blue beach huts!
Thursday saw me beetling off to Oxford for the day and to meet L after work. This is the Martyr's Memorial outside Balliol College. Anglican Bishops, Latimer, Ridley and Cranmer were burnt at the stake for heresy here in 1555/6 and it is claimed that scorch marks from the flames can still be seen on the door of Balliol.

There may have been a little visit to the yarn store!
The main reason for my trip though, apart from seeing L, was to see the Degas to Picasso exhibition at the Ashmolean. It covered the rise to Modernism and was fascinating.

Finally, I have been sifting through my stash trying to 'Find my Fade' for Andrea Mowry's shawl. You start with 1 colour and gradually progress, choosing skeins which contain some colour element from the previous skein. As you can see, I started with my favourite blue/greens, moved through golden brown and ending with purple/green. I'm a pretty monogamous knitter though, so I won't be casting this on until I finish my Random Act of Colour.
Anyway, that's all for the moment. Enjoy the spring in your part of the world and may your week be filled with blues of the best kind - or yellows, pinks, reds, greens ................

Toodle Pip for now. x