Monday 30 May 2011

Review: Easton Farm Park, Suffolk

Recently Destructo Boy went on a school trip to Easton Farm Park; since then, Mini Diva has been pestering us to go again, as we haven't been for a couple of years.

Admission is usually £7.95 per adult, £6.75 per child, which I believe is extortionate to see a few chickens and rabbits; so we planned our visit for the last Saturday of the month, when a
Farmers' Market is held there, since admission used to be free when that was on. Now it is £5 per car, but you do receive £5 worth of vouchers that can be redeemed either in the catering barn, or with the stallholders on the Farmer's Market.

We arrived about 10am, thinking we were on the late side, but in fact, things didn't start to get busy until we were leaving at about 1pm-ish; the weather was cloudy, cool and windy, but this didn't appear to be putting off the Bank Holiday crowds.

The Farmers' Market itself was disappointing: 1 stall of fresh vegetables, 1 for eggs, 2 people selling jams and chutneys, a lady with pretty babies' and kids handmade knitted sweaters/cardigans, a cake stall, a lady selling decorated wooden boxes, a sad cupcake stall, a veal stall (frozen packs) and a meat/sausage stall. I realize that it is early in the season for farm produce, but there was definitely plenty of scope for local and handmade crafts to fill the yawning gaps. The plant stall I saw in the distance had been placed well off the main drag, outdoors, and had packed up and gone by 12:15 - if I were them, I'd be requesting a refund of my stall fee.

Generally the display standards were poor (five or so tiny lopsided cupcakes on a table do not a tempting, attractive display make), and to me, reflected a common attitude: if it's organic/handmade/local/ticks all those similar trendy boxes, then it's OK to be unprofessional/amateur. Having paid the sausage man, if I hadn't requested he give me the sausages I'd just purchased, he would have forgotten to give them to me.

Wandering around the place looking at the animals didn't keep the kids occupied for long: their favorite part was the play area in the catering barn, where tea & toast was an unbelievable£3.00, served barehanded by two unsupervised teenagers - one of whom had chipped nailvarnish on bitten nails and who kept playing with her face and loose, untied and uncovered hair: I'm not that fussy, but, no, thanks.

Far more worrying for me (townie wuss that I am) were the much-vaunted Suffolk Punch horses that the farm is so proud of; the latest arrival and her mum were in a small, dry, dusty field full of stones close to the BBQ. The rest were in a large field behind the kids outdoor play area; I saw nowhere where they could shelter from wind or rain, and there appeared to be no water or food available. A couple had very ugly large warty growths on the insides of their front legs, that I cannot find as normal via Google images.

The wire in the forefront on this photo is part of the electrified fence. One questions the need for such a thing with these animals.

In addition, the horses' feet appear to need some professional care: they were unshod, and I do realize shoes are not necessary if the horses are not going on roads/paving; however, the largest horse had a right front hoof that was split from bottom to top; the other horses also had chips and cracks ...

It just seems odd to me that animals which are boasted about to such a degree are not cared for better, and look so unkempt: it is unrealistic for them to be looking their 'Sunday best' or groomed to show standards every day, but I really did expect them to look as if someone loved them, and for them kept in a more salubrious, appropriate environment.

Grooming generally seems to be an issue: both children had a pony ride: the pony was unbrushed, it's mane was full of bits, etcetc. as was the cob used for pulling the wagonride. This may be linked to the fact that there appeared to be few to no adults employed: I saw two ladies of a certain age in the gift shop, a lady running the BBQ, and that was it - everybody else was well under the age of 20.

So, overall, a very disappointing visit; and if we had paid the usual entrance fees, which would have amounted to £37.35 on this occasion, I would be complaining even more. We won't be in a hurry to return.

Friday 27 May 2011

FO Friday 36: Mac's Cabled Scarf Free Pattern

So Mac's Scarf has been completed, washed, blocked, wrapped and posted ... and here is the free pattern.

Yarn: 4 x 50g Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK, 464m/508yds. I used the colorway 'Button' 0051. Of course, you can substitute any DK yarn, as long as the yardage is about the same.

Needles: 4mm/US size 6

T3F: twist 3 front (slip next 2st onto cable n
eedle in front of work, P1 from Left-hand needle, K2 st from cable needle)
T3B: twist 3 back (slip next st onto cable needle at back of work, K2 st from Left-hand needle,P 1st from cable needle)
C4F: cable 4 front (slip next 2st onto cable needle
at front of work, K2 st from Left-hand needle,K2 st from cable needle)
T4F: twist 4 front (slip next 2 st onto cable needle at front of work, P2 st from Left-hand needle, K2 st from cable needle)
T4B: twist 4 back (slip next 2 st onto cable needle at back of work, K2 st from Left-hand needle, P2 st from cable needle)
T5L: twist 5 left(slip next 2 st onto the cable needle in front of work, K2,P1 from Left-hand needle, then K2 off the cable needle)

The first and last 3 stitches in each row create a garter stitch edging.

Cast on 58 stitches.
Knit 3 rows.

Row 1 (RS): K3,P1 [P5,T5L,P5] P2 [P2,C4F,P4,C4F,P2] P2 [P5,T5L,P5] P1,K3
Row 2: K4 [K5,P2,K1,P2,K5] K2 [K2,P4,K4,P4,K2] K2 [K5,P2,K1,P2,K5] K4
Row 3: K3,P1 [P4,T3B,K1,T3F,P4] P2 [P2,K4,P4,K4,P2] P2 [P4,T3B,K1,T3F,P4] P1,K3
Row 4: K4 [K4,P2,K1,P1,K1,P2,K4] K2 [K2,P4,K4,P4,K2] K2 [K4,P2,K1,P1,K1,P2,K4] K4
Row 5:K3,P1 [P3,T3B,K1,P1,K1,T3F,P3] P2 [P2,C4F,P4,C4F,P2] P2 [P3,T3B,K1,P1,K1,T3F,P3] P1,K3
Row 6: K4 [K3,P2(K1,P1 twice)K1,P2,K3] K2 [K2,P4,K4,P4,K2] K2 [K3,P2 (K1,P1 twice) K1,P2,K3] K4
Row 7: K3,P1 [P3,T3B,(K1,P1 twice)K1,T3F,P2] P2 [(T4B,T4F twice)] P2 [P2,T3B,(K1,P1 twice) K1,T3F,P2] P1,K3
Row 8:K4 [K2,P2(K1,P1 three times) K1,P2,K2] K2 [P2,K4,P4,K4,P2] K2 [K2,P2(K1,P1 three times)K1,P2,K2] K4
Row 9: K3,P1 [P1,T3B(K1,P1 three times)K1,T3F,P1] P2 [K2,P4,C4F,P4,K2] P2 [P1,T3B(K1,P1 three times) K1,T3F,P1] P1,K3
Row 10: K4 [K1,P2,(K1,P1 four times)K1,P2,K1] K2 [P2,K4,P4,K4,P2] K2 [K1,P2(K1,P1 four times) K1,P2,K1] K4
Row 11: K3,P1 [T3B(K1,P1 four times) K1,T3F] P2 [K2,P4,K4,P4,K2] P2 [T3B (K1,P1 four times) K1,T3F] P1,K3
Row 12: K4 [P2(K1,P1 five times)K1,P2] K2 [P2,K4,P4,K4,P2] K2 [P2(K1,P1 five times) K1,P2] K4

Row 13: K3,P1 [P5,T5L,P5] P2 [K2,P4,C4F,P4,K2] P2 [ P5,T5L,P5] P1,K3
Row 14: K4 [K5,P2,K1,P2,K5] K2 [ P2,K4,P4,K4,P2] K2 [K5,P2,K1,P2,K5] K4
Row 15: K3 ,P1[P4,T3B,K1,T3F,P4] P2 [ K2,P4,K4,P4,K2] P2 [P4,T3B,K1,T3F,P4] P1,K3
Row 16: K4 [K4,P2,K1,P1,
K1,P2,K4] K2 [P2,K4,P4,K4,P2] K2 [K4,P2,K1,P1,K1,P2,K4] K4
Row 17: K3,P1 [P3,T3B,K1,P1,K1,T3F,P3] P2 [K2,P4,C4F,P4,K2] P2 [P3,T3B,K1,P1,K1,T3F,P3] P1,K3
Row 18: K4 [K3,P2(K1,P1 twice)K1,P2,K3] K2 [P2,K4,P4,K4,P2] K2 [K3,P2(K1,P1 twice) K1,P2,K3] K4
Row 19: K3,P1 [P2,T3B(K1,P1 twice)K1,T3F,P2] P2 [K2,P4,K4,P4,K2] P2 [P2,T3B(K1,P1 twice) K1,T3F,P2] P1,K3
Row 20: K4 [K2,P2(K1,P1 three times)K1,P2,K2] K2 [P2,K4,P4,K4,P2] K2 [K2,P2(K1,P1 three times) K1,P2,K2] K4
Row 21: K3,P1 [P1,T3B(K1,P1 three times)K1,T3F,P1] P2 [K2,P4,C4F,P4,K2] P2 [P1,T3B(K1,P1 three times)K1,T3F,P1] P1,K3
Row 22: K4 [K1,P2(K1,P1 four times)K1,P2,K1] K2 [P2,K4,P4,K4,P2] K2 [K1,P2(K1,P1 four times)K1,P2,K1] K4
Row 23: K3,P1 [T3B(K1,P1 four times)K1,T3F] P2 [(T4F,T4B) twice] P2 [T3B(K1,P1 four times) K1,P2,K1] P1,K3
Row 24: K4 [P2(K1,P1 five times)K1,P2] K2 [K2,P4,K4,P4,K2] K2 [P2(K1,P1 five times)K1,P2] K4

Repeat the above 24 pattern rows as many times as you like until the scarf has reached your desired length; tension/gauge is not particularly important - I found 1 ball did about 102 rows, or just over 4 pattern repeats.

Knit 3 rows.
Cast off. Wash and block gently.

As ever - if you knit this and find any errors, please do let me know so I can correct them; and a little reminder that today's FOs can be found over at Tami's Amis.

Wednesday 25 May 2011

Poor Domestic Choice #1

Somewhen last year, I think it was, Destructo Boy destructed our perfectly adequate Hoover Telios vacuum cleaner:

I have mercifully forgotten the details of process that lead to the poor thing's demise, but the culmination was that somehow the contents of the cylinder (dust & fur) mostly ended up in the motor.

We replaced it with this:

Another perfectly adequate vacuum cleaner. But what I neglected to notice was the fact that it has a HEPA filter. Yes, yes, we all know that it's brilliant for getting rid of dust mites, pollen and other dangerously minute nasal threats - but this filter requires to be cleaned, and by that I mean washed, after every. single. use. And when you have washed it, you cannot use it for a minimum of 24 hours while it dries.

What was I thinking ? In fact, it's abundantly obvious that I can't have been thinking at all: a thinking household would not have selected such a precious snowflake of a vacuum cleaner to cope with the detritus of a family of four - one of whom is Destructo Boy - 3 cats and a dog. This vacuum cleaner requires more attention from me than my kids get.

Of course, I blame DH. He has attempted to defend himself by saying that he had raised this very objection to this model, but I had steamrollered him ignored him insisted and just bought it. I do not recall any kind of discussion about our choice of vacuum. He says I conversed with him as if I was both awake and compos mentis. You'd think by now that he'd be able to tell when I'm really listening and engaged in versus the non-committal clearly not-paying-attention grunts of ''uh-huh'' ....

Many apologies for the odd look of this post: formatting is haywire, I can't change the font, pictures won't go where they're put: I have been swearing at this current breakdown of Blogger since last night. I may have to consider Wordpress ..... gulp.

Monday 23 May 2011

A Gardener's Theory of Mothering

So here's the thing: gardening and child-rearing are both forms of nurturing. Today we are not discussing if everyone has the capacity to nurture, or whether it is only the province of those who are hormonally insane, but a Genuwine Theory of Mothering. It probably has a fancy name - if you know, do please enlighten me.

So here is a picture of one of my troughs, recently planted with summer bedding. Chucked in, firmed, watered, slug pelleted, and then pretty much left to their own devices; it's clear that the plants are established and about to thrive:

And here are DH's runner beans, planted at the same time, with loving care and attention to detail:

Here is my lemon verbena (aloysia triphylla - or lippia citriodora for those of us who don't think classifications should be changed willynilly) that has been successfully overwintered outdoors for the last 3 years in spite of the fact that it is not reliably frost-hardy, and last winter was our earliest, coldest and longest since forever:

Here are the cuttings I took from it when I cut it back a couple of weeks ago, carefully trimmed, potted, sheltered on a warm windowsill, spoken to in tones of gentle encouragement:

That window was clean, then DH and the kids thought it would be amusing to use the hose ...

So you can see the developing theme: fussing too much and pandering to random whims is obviously the kiss of death to a plant. And the same goes for children: to develop a child's personality, character and independence, it must be left alone on occasions, permitted to make some mistakes, get cuts and bruises, and allowed to run wild. Or, there must be the appearance of untrammelled freedom - at least to the child.

I call it the Supervised Neglect Theory of Mothering.

Wednesday 18 May 2011

WIP Wednesday 41: Enforced Hiatus

I have been cracking on nicely with the scarf I am making for one of my BILs: I had bought (or rather, DH had paid for) 3 balls of Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK, and here is where it has got to:

It's nowhere near long enough, so I ordered one more ball from McADirect (plus 2 balls of different colors of the discontinued RY Classic Silk Wool DK - more of those another time). This morning I came back from taking the kids to school to find this:

Our old postman used to come around lunchtime, not in the middle of school run time; and if I wasn't in, he'd tuck little parcels like this one behind my big pot of plants by the door. Dang this efficiency stuff.

So that's a miles-too-far walk to pick up the yarn, or wait til Saturday and DH to take me there. After Jewel the rescue cat has been to the vet for a steroid injection for her flea allergy: she has no fleas - now - but has the allergy ie. is scratching herself to pieces .... go figure.

To while away the time in between, I started a baby cardigan for my neighbor-across-the-road's Bump, due next month, using my go-to baby pattern, Sirdar 1629 and some James C.Brett Rainbow Baby DK I picked up from Anjays in Woodbridge: I am surprised and disappointed with myself that I bought it: it is not nice acrylic, being a bit tough and hard, no give or softness. I should have noticed this when I was choosing it, and not have selected it. I can only put this down to feeling rushed. I hate being rushed. Or maybe I am spoiled from knitting with Sublime, and my latent snob tendencies are becoming not so latent anymore ... ? Don't judge me - everyone has 'em, it's just a question of how well one can repress them.

It looks OK, though, and perhaps will feel better after washing and fabric conditioner.

Pop on over to Tami's Amis for other more happening works in progress ....

Friday 13 May 2011

FO Friday 34: The Meanings of Finished

Of course, when I actually have a completed FO for Friday, Blogger breaks and I can't post: but hey, if that's the worst thing that happens to me on Friday 13th, then that's cool. The children had chocolate cake for breakfast because I told them it was The Law as it prevents bad luck on Friday 13th; and see ? it worked - no broken limbs or anything today.

I am the law: sit down in your jammies and prepare to eat cake !

You will, of course, recall my travails with the Waves of Leaves shawl; it is complete, washed and blocked; here it is modelled by Mini Diva ....

And here is another finished object - but not quite in the way we usually think of on FO Friday:

In spite of the slug pellets, something has feasted on my basil; I fear it is mortally wounded. Don't forget to pop over to Tami's Amis for more successful projects ....

Wednesday 11 May 2011

WIP Wednesday 40: Dilemma


I have two I want to talk about today: firstly, I'm devising a new scarf pattern, as I couldn't find one that I liked for DH's middle brother's birthday present. I spoke about the yarn (Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK) already .... I love this stuff: it is soft, smooth, stretchy, and this 'Button' colorway is one my mother would have labelled as classy, and I would have labelled boring. I am older now and can begin to explore the concept that maybe bright is not always best, although I hasten to add that I am still a long way from being able to appreciate shrubs: I do not care about 8 million different shades of green, I want real color.

Inky thinks that this should be a Seekret Projeckt; but I am 90% sure that this BIL does not surf the interwebz. Certainly not this blog.

So watch this space for a new free pattern release when I've all finished and done ....

The other WIP has really been hibernating, and now I need some help deciding what to do. It is the Willow Leaf Stole (Rav link) by Linda Choo. I'm using 1150 yards of 4ply silk 8/60NM from Colourmart - and I still don't really get what that means - on 3.25mm needles. I like the pattern, although the repeats are large enough to be unwieldy; I like the yarn. I'm just not liking them in combination. But. I have got quite some way, even though, with the best will in the world and some anticipated severe blocking, mine will be a scarf, not a stole ....

So, here's the dilemma of the title: do I

a) frog it and find something else (that will be a proper stole size) to knit with this yarn ? If so, what ?

b) continue on because I will love the feeling of pious righteousness when I've completed it ?

c) some other really logical option, so obvious that I haven't thought of it yet ?

Don't forget to hop on over to Tami's Amis for other mainly fibre-related blog posts as part of Work-in-Progress Wednesday ...

Monday 9 May 2011

Time Flies

It's a week since I last posted, in spite of good intentions to try and post at least twice a week ... with my father home, my sister visiting, and the kids' social diary, I haven't had the time to do justice to writing, seeing as how you all expect such finely crafted and wittily honed literary jewels from me by now ....

In a forlorn attempt to improve the tone of my mind, I accompanied Auntie Fashion and Belo to Sutton Hoo on Friday; they thought that a bit of Culture would be good for me, I gave in for the promise of lunch. It was a fabulous hot and sunny day - we looked round Tranmer House, decorated in the style of the late 1930s (and no wonder people were so miserable then, all that gloomy dark wood panelling and unwelcoming coldness), visited the 2nd-hand book stall, had a lovely lunch (I do like a chilled Aspall's cider) and a quick swish round the exhibition hall. We didn't have time to go see the actual boat or walk the many, many miles of path to see the burial mounds. Oh what a shame. That last may have been a bit mumbled due to my tongue being so far in my cheek.

One or maybe even two or more of these, helps dull the mental and physical torture of enforced Culture aka Mossy Rocks. Except this particular site is so old there aren't any rocks. Or moss.

On Saturday I strong-armed DH into taking me to Twist in Woodbridge to get some yarn for a birthday scarf for one of his 3 brothers; we selected some lovely smooth Sublime Baby Cashmere Merino Silk DK in the rather oddly named colorway 'Button':

And I am doing the pattern myself as I can't find one that suits and that I also like.

And DH is in the doghouse. We came downstairs on Saturday morning to find Mini Diva's guinea pig, Rosie, had departed in an untimely fashion from unknown causes for the Great Hutch in the Sky. Many sobs and tears later, the shroud and coffin had been debated and agreed upon, and DH said that he would do the burial honors.

As of 8pm Sunday night, Rosie's body was still lying in state in a Tefal toaster box on the patio. When questioned, Mini Diva told me that Daddy was going to take Rosie and bury her at the beach when he went to work. I couldn't destroy her faith in her Daddy by telling her he was lying through his teeth, that Rosie was destined for the black bin - so instead I freaked out my neighbor (watching a murder-mystery on the TV) by shovelling out a hole and burying the little body in the front garden .... Mini Diva chose a rather nice orangey hemerocallis to go above her. DH's grave will get no such nice touches.

Ooooh ! And Holly finally received the April Fool's prize that she won with her pome: you can see the prize here.

Tuesday 3 May 2011

The Hamster Wheel Returns

We had a lovely Bank Holiday weekend, again - we watched the Royal Wedding, and thoroughly enjoyed it: the dress, the pomp, but bestest was thanks to the lip-readers, who let us in on what was being said before the main Words at the altar:

Prince Harry as Katharine entered the Abbey: '' Wait til you see her.''

Prince William to Katharine: ''You look beautiful.''

Prince William to Mr.Middleton: ''I thought it was supposed to be just a small family affair''.

Belo was disappointed that Katharine didn't place her bouquet on the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a tradition begun by Elizabeth the Queen Mother. I couldn't work out why President Obama hadn't been invited, but the Syrian ambassador was.

It was lovely to see that they were genuinely in love: happy and affectionate. Sad to contrast that with the wedding of Diana and Charles.

It was very grand, posh and imposing while at the same time remaining somehow sort of informal. But I have to say, I prefer my own wedding.

After the event, DH ran away and hid somewhere to avoid the street party that the kids had been looking forward to for so long; his excuse was that he needed to move the car - but I've never known anyone to take over 4 hours to find an alternative parking place. The kids had a fabulous time at the street party - and Mini Diva was most proud that she won me a bottle of wine on the tombola; she's been trying to use it as a moral bludgeon ever since.

Saturday saw us continuing the celebratory weekend with my father's birthday: Auntie Fashion and her family came over as a surprise for him, and we cooked tons of really excellent posh sausages to go with the posh mash that DH made for the birthday meal. Of course, I forgot my camera.

But now all the holidays and fun stuff is over, and we must face again the hamster wheel of life. At least it is still sunny, and I will have more time to knit.