Wednesday 31 March 2010

Knitting Mystery #1

I was doing some sorting out - mainly, chucking all of my odds and ends, leftover partial balls of yarn, into a big tub. Someday I plan to use them to crochet granny squares to make some kind of crazy mismatching afghan blanket-type thingy, which I will then gift to someone who has displeased me, but who at the same time, will be too afraid of me to throw it out.

And here is Knitting Mystery Number 1 (for me, anyway). How does the same person who buys this:

very lovely, expensive Kidsilk Haze

and this:

very lovely and not really expensive 4 ply silk

also actually manage to pay actual cash for this ?

Tuesday 30 March 2010


As in the picture, our foundations are somewhat wonky - we are in the final week of term, and it is one week too long; most schools have already broken up. This winter has seemed interminable, and owing partly to that, ours is not the only family that has staggered from one illness right into the next. I begin to understand why the Scandinavians drink so much in spite of their heinous alcohol tax.

Still, we are expecting some familial visits over Easter - both MIL and DH's brother and wife plus new baby should be here at some point over the weekend. I just hope nobody drowns in the torrential rain on the journey up. And my nose was rubbed further in our bad weather by my father's most recent email, telling me his plans for Semana Santa pretty much were the beach every day.

Mini-Diva's parents' evening is this afternoon, and after our little anxiety hiccup earlier this term, I am expecting for everything to be back on track. She is Key Stage 1 and currently in advance of the targets. Her teacher has also announced her pregnancy, so all the parents no longer have to keep the secret, and Mini-Diva can gift her the baby things I've been making, the last of which is a plain baby cardigan in a multi-colored yarn I've used before:

We had a patch of sunlight last week, so I put Rosie, Mini-Diva's guinea pig, out for a run on the patio for a while. Jewel the rescue cat didn't know quite what to make of her - she looks and smells like prey, but has Attitude, so doesn't behave like prey ...

As you can see, the daffodils are still not out, so I am re-reading Beverley Nichols to re-inspire my enthusiasm for growing things; he is very witty, with a clever use of words, if a little .... purple ... at times. And of course a view of the pre-war world and its ways is fascinating.

I have cast on for a sweater, for the first time for myself ! It is an old pattern that used to be my Mother's, for Wendy Monaco (no longer produced); I have some Patons Flower Garden in the shade 'Freesia', which looks like roughly the same weight, to use instead. And I am ignoring (the pull is far too weak to call it resisting) the very vague nudge towards the kitchen that my friend Alison provides with her new blog, Hestia's Larder. I read it because I like her writing and am eternally curious about how my friends live, but I am not going there. Being a domestic goddess is highly over-rated, in my opinion.

Friday 26 March 2010

Mixed Bag

For non-tarot people, it's upside-down on purpose. Often referred to as Rx, being reversed can affect the card's meaning in several ways. For me, this week it meant my carefully laid plans which allowed me to cope with the differing social diary needs of the children, fell apart. I managed anyway, but it has been quite inconvenient and hassleful.

Today we had a letter. Asking what did I need to know about the situation, I drew XIII Death; at the base of the deck representing the root was VII The Chariot.

Great. This just adds to the 2 of Pentacles Rx feeling - I do not like change, especially when unexpected and at short notice. Death shows me that change is inevitable. Well - duh - I knew that from the letter, which informed us of a change. I wanted to know what this change means for us. The Chariot ... somebody is pushing hard for something. It isn't us. What I am worried about is having to move house. Pulling a clarifier, V The Hierophant, suggests to me that the change will not actually affect us in a challenging way, everything will fall back into its usual place and structure. Or, put simply, 'Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose'. I hope. If you have anything to add to this, please do.

I know I am totally minimizing the fact that they are all Majors. When reading for oneself, one's head can get quite comfortable in the sand.

So I find it calming to focus on the normal, the everyday - the Minor - things. I completed a vintage pattern baby matinee jacket and hat for Mini-Diva's class teacher; in 4 ply soft acrylic (washable and practical for any items destined for a baby) I enoyed knitting this as the construction was a method I hadn't come across before: all the pieces are knitted separately, and joined by knitting them together at the yoke. This allowed me to easily change yarn color for a two-tone effect. In fact, I like knitting baby things full stop. They are a quick way to try out new techniques and new pattern stitches. They are also a quick way to be satisfied with a job done - a must for impatient people like myself. All I have left to do is sew the ribbons to the bonnet ...

Thursday 18 March 2010

Blighted Dreams

Mini-Diva was telling me this morning on our way to achool that she really wanted to be on The X-Factor; she is in the middle of writing a really good song, and she wants to go on it and win all the money.

As a career choice, this is not what I want for her, for several boringly sensible parental reasons - although I troubled her with none of them. I pointed out that songwriters can earn lots of money by just writing the songs, but she answered that she would earn more if she also sang them. Backed into a corner, I unwillingly had to tell her that although I love her singing, that she is not good enough.

She looked, and I felt, like I had just told her that the Tooth Fairy had just stabbed Santa to death and left the dismembered, bloody remains as compost in a clump of stinging nettles. She shouted at me that I had 'killed her hope' which of course, was a delicious twist of the knife in my soul.

Destructo Boy chimed in, helpfully suggesting that she could be one of those Runway Fashion Girls instead. Again, not the career one would wish for a sensitive, imaginative child, although I think she will have the height. I could get on a major soapbox here about role models, expectations, body image of young children etc but I won't. You can thank me later.

My beautiful daughter has many talents, but singing is not one of them; she cannot carry a tune in a bucket. We find it endearing, but the X Factor ? Not so much. I have told her that her Magic is not singing, we just have to find what her Magic is. I have a pretty good idea what her Magic is, actually, but by that time we had reached school, and I breathed a big sigh of relief.

In Cat News, today Jewel the rescue cat came towards me with a raised poker-straight tail, and brushed against my leg twice on purpose on her way through the door. It warmed my poor, child-wrenched heart indeed.

Monday 15 March 2010

Done !

According to my DH, I do not have pneumonia or anything else serious, I am merely behaving like a man and displaying attention-seeking behavior via my 'sniffles'. It makes no difference that 4 year old Destructo Boy appeared like a benevolent ghost at my bedside at 4 a.m this morning offering me a cup of water that he'd tootled downstairs to the bathroom to get all on his ownsome, because I was coughing so hard I'd woken him. But I did get breakfast in bed yesterday, so it is just a case of re-educating DH so that he clearly understands that I do not appreciate tough love at all, and that it endangers his continued existence.

In spite of this, I have cast on for a vintage pattern baby matinee jacket, in this, in that color too; it is 100% courtelle, so very soft, yet machine washable. This is destined for Mini-Diva's class teacher, who is still currently able to conceal her bump from curious young eyes under winter sweaters. However, we had several days of sun last week, bright sun and a brisk breeze today, so she will have to tell them when the weather warms up and the layers come off.

'What's this ?!' I hear you mutter 'Didn't she say she wasn't going to cast on for anything until that dratted cot quilt was done ?'

Yes, I did. And - triumphant HA ! - I merely wait for DH to tell me his brother's address and it is going in the mail this afternoon. It will be lovely and warm, good for lying Baby on the floor on too ....

The fleece fabric on the back is rather cute, if I say so myself, and I do like the utilitarian aspect of it being reversible.

Thursday 11 March 2010

Mish Mash

Mini-Diva's birthday party went off brilliantly, especially when we had quoshed her idea of wanting to be the only child there to have rollerskates, and the only child who would be rollerskating; we explained that the point of a party was to share fun with your friends rather than creating a captive audience for one's own nascent skills. By the end, the improvement in everybody's skating abilities was most impressive - as was the ensuing crop of bumps, bruises and aches the next day. We filled them up with sugar and additives, and then sent them home with their unususpecting parents.

Auntie Fashion took Mini-Diva and MD's Best Friend shopping on Saturday, but by Sunday she had fallen victim to the same severe stomach bug we had had a few weeks ago. My sister has Behcet's Disease, which means that any 'ordinary' illness can turn into an emergency in as little as a few hours. Fortunately, not this time; after 3 days, she is back on her feet and almost her usual self. She is with me for the week, and DH will drive her home over the weekend.

Mini-Diva's Best Friend's birthday is this weekend; she asked me for a hand-knitted cardigan, in yellow or gold. I used Stylecraft Wondersoft DK Sparkle in the color 'sunbeam', which has a metallic strand running through it; I picked a lacy pattern, which I regretted when I got to the decreases for the raglan sleeves. I finished it last night, it is in the washing machine now, so will be wrapped and ready in plenty of time.

Destructo Boy is home from school today as, not content with breaking various household items on a regular basis, he turned his attention to himself last night and dropped his Ben10 walky-talky on his foot and cut his toe. Destructo Boy is surprisingly (considering) not good with blood, particularly his own, so we had a very disturbed night with lots of wailing because he was worried that his plaster would come off, followed by his toe. The
Pobble's experience notwithstanding, Destructo Boy wants to keep his feet intact.

And on top of all this, I have a cold that has turned into a lovely chesty cough. But it is back to the cot quilt I go; I got quite a lot of the border binding done the other night while watching Stardust, a good film with a great cast. It went on hold when I realized I had to finish the birthday cardigan this week. I have nothing else really on my needles at the moment, and shall try to be disciplined enough not to start anything else until this quilt is finished - which WILL be this weekend, and in the post by Monday ....

Saturday 6 March 2010

Where Did It Go ?

So I need to know what hit me. One minute I've been told I can't have children, then I meet DH, and then I'm pregnant. I called my Dad to tell him the news, and he asked me ''How'd that happen ?'' I thought that at his age he'd know all about the birds and bees already.

I didn't know til she arrived that she was a girl - we wanted (another) surprise. I had a fabulously easy pregnancy (barring severe indigestion from chillis, pizza and eggs) and birth, after the hiccup of my waters breaking and still not having any contractions two and a half days later; off we went to the hospital, since I'd dragged my feet for considerably longer than the midwife was comfortable with. DH raced home for the Tens machine since the hospital did not have even one that was working. Meanwhile they gave me a hormone pessary to start the contractions.

DH has a heavy foot on the accelerator (like all his family), so he made it back in time to be very helpful - the machine I was hooked up to, he could see when a contraction was about to start, so he told me when to suck on the Entonox. The only time I was grumpy was when I heard him tell me ''Shh, Shh, Shh'' - I thought he was telling me to be quiet; I told him in no uncertain terms that I would make just as much noise as I wanted to. However, I wasn't a screamer, more like Monica Seles at twice the volume. I was so glad he was there, I had absolute trust that nothing would happen to me that I didn't want, because he was there; so I could relax.

Weighing 7 lbs. 15 1/2 oz. DD arrived at 9 p.m, a mere 5 1/2 hours after the first contractions, and the first thing she did was smile. A blink later, and today it is her 7th birthday. She is confident, happy, bright, popular, bossy, opinionated, stubborn and still smiling. I love the fantastic child that she is now - she is the light of my life - but I sorely miss the lovely baby that she was only just a moment ago.

No regrets for this wild, uncharted diversion my life has taken off the planned route - I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Thursday 4 March 2010

Little Things

Today a package arrived. Nothing unusual in that, as it's DD's birthday on Saturday. I opened the package to find some gifts to me from my baby sister - fabulous ! So indescribably more interesting and rewarding than the new washing machine door hinge that arrived yesterday. There's nothing like a little unexpected something to lighten one's heart and lifeload.

So here they are, a sad indictment of my life and how well she knows me - except for the chocolate; I'm not a great chocolate lover - I know, shoot me now, letting the Sisterhood down, quietly surviving without all those cocoa-derived endorphins. The yarn she sent is actually for DD, and my baby sister knows exactly what to get for a Gok-loving girl; DD loves to go shopping with my sister, Auntie Fashion - they both adore bright pink, bling, and bargain-hunting. DD doesn't know yet that Auntie Fashion is coming over for her birthday ... yet another treat in store for the spoiled mini-Diva, to go with the MP3 player and the roller-skating party.

And here is what I found in the garden today:

And because I had time to waste ... I mean, spare, because I'm avoiding sewing the cot quilt binding, the cot quilt that Destructo Boy has just spilled juice over, pics of some Good Yarn that is in my stash; the JojoLand Melody is earmarked for a scarf for my oldest best friend - the pattern will be one of Branching Out, Strangling Vine, or Falling Leaf; the Black Cat hand-dyed superwash I had in mind for my MIL, to make a shawl, but I'm thinking this over as perhaps it is a little impractical for her - it's not like she ever sits still enough to wear one ...

Wednesday 3 March 2010

Mission Almost Impossible

What is it with schools and giving almost no notice for things/events that need some serious doing ? On Friday, DD brought home a letter saying that it is World Book Day this Thursday, for her to bring her favorite book, and to dress up as a character from it.

Ordinarily, this wouldn't have been an issue, as DD seizes any and all opportunities to dress up as a princess. Except for this time. This time, she wants to be the witch from a story called 'The Dog with No Voice'. She doesn't have a witch costume. And she would like one for Thursday 'pleeeeeaaaaaaase, Mum'.

It would be an exercise in futility to explain to her the challenges involved in finding a witch costume in March. Plus it would have the same effect on my sanity that scientology has had on Tom Cruise's. Plus, she thinks I can do anything, and this status is something I'm willing to crawl over broken glass to retain for as long as I can.

Thank the Source that trawling eBay is actually not unamusing - and Lo ! at the font, I was watered. A brand new witch's costume arrived this morning, and will not be outgrown (I hope) by Hallowe'en.

And DD continues to think that I am All That.

Tuesday 2 March 2010

Sunny Day

The last two days have been fabulously sunny, blue skies and ... and ... everything ! We haven't seen this amount of sunshine in quite a depressingly grey, cold while. Today I even had washing line-drying for the first time since about Autumn. My spirits are lifted, my optimism and energy levels are topped up.

It's lucky I have such a good neighbor, since Destructo Boy has been such an effective superhero recently - he snapped the door off the washing machine this weekend (by standing on it to reach the countertop); so it's only because of Su's kindness and generosity that I've been able to do any washing at all. It would have been just plain wrong to miss the opportunity of washing in this weather.

Destructo Boy has also managed to shear off from the wall the electric double plug socket in his sister's room. How he achieved this, I am still unclear. They have both been warned not to touch - in stentorian tones for emphasis - until Daddy gets home at the weekend and can replace it.

The backing for the cot quilt arrived, DH has cut the straight lines necessary. I got everything together to bind it, to find the thread I'd chosen wasn't going to work, colorwise. Having remedied this, I started to hand sew the binding last night while watching Glee, and then Trauma.

Kind of put me and my cup of Horlicks to shame.