Thursday, June 27, 2013

adventures for the summer

I've been thinking over the last few days of what I'd like to do this summer. Some of these are just for fun, others tie in with my plans for simplifying things.  

  • Keep on decluttering
  • Get outside more, even if it's just to sit and read on my bench in the sunshine
  • Have a picnic
  • Spend ten lovely relaxing days house sitting in the countryside 
  • Get some wedding photos printed and up on the wall (it's more than 2 years since the wedding!)
  • Pick lots of sweet peas from our garden to enjoy in the house
  • finish knitting my poncho
  • Make my own laundry liquid
  • List some things to sell on eBay 
  • Knit a jar jacket for Curly Girl (she wants it blue with clouds on - any ideas/patterns for knitting clouds? The only idea I have is sewing on clouds made from felt) 
  • Have a trip to the coast  
  • Take more photographs

I'm looking forward to all of these, especially our break in the countryside and taking more photographs. What adventures are you planning for this summer?

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

knitting and reading

Well the head wrap is finished, but you can't see a photo yet as I've taken about a dozen of myself and they're all awful. Something about tilting my head downwards to show you the head wrap elongates my nose to about two feet long and makes my face look distorted. I'll get the Prof to take one of me and post it another time. 

The baby blanket is finally done, it seemed to take ages with a lot of tinking (love that word), and this week I also knitted a few jar jackets. I saw them online and thought they were fun and I have been thinking about small craft items to sell on the WI stall at events, so I made a few as an experiment. I'd like to make one for a really large jar to keep my knitting needles in. 

I'm reading the Universe Versus Alex Woods for my book group. I wasn't sure about it at first, but I am persevering. It's not really my sort of book, being quite humorous. I don't like funny books, or very many comedy shows. My brother says I have no sense of humour. I don't know if that's the case, I do find some things funny, just often not what everyone else thinks is funny! It's taking me a really long time to read because I keep looking at it and finding something else to do instead. I don't really have to read it, I belong to the most laid back book group ever. We meet every six weeks ago and  usually choose three or four books for the next meeting, and then it's up to the individual whether they read one, two or all of the selected books. I've already read two, so I could be excused I think, but I will make the effort for a bit longer before I give up. 

I've also been looking at the Knitter's Year by Debbie Bliss, which I have had for a while. It's a lovely book, with 52 seasonal projects and there are several things in there I would like to make. I'm starting with a rather pretty bookmark, hopefully I will be able to post a picture of that soon. 

Joining Ginny's Yarn Along 

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

ramblings on simplicity

Just one of our five cluttered bookcases, and probably the tidiest!
I've been reading more of Down to Earth by Rhonda Hetzel and making plans around here for a simpler way of living. Last week I mentioned Rhonda's book and blog and quite a few people were interested so I thought I would let you know that today she has a very interesting post about running your home along the principles of Permaculture that's well worth a read. 

I've been interested in a simpler way of life for a long time. I want a slow life. I want more time in the fresh air. I want a more organised home, and I want a rhythm to my days, weeks and months. I would like to grow some of our own food. I want like our home to be a comfortable welcoming place for me all the time, for the Young Philosopher and the Prof when they come home from work, and for friends and family when they visit.  I want to make my own greetings cards. I want our home to have artwork painted by the Prof, and decorative and useful items knitted/crocheted/sewn by me. For a long time at odd moments I've scribbled these kind of random thoughts on bits of paper, along with more specific plans and ideas sometimes. Some of them come to fruition, but often they don't.  I've started collecting things together into a folder in a more organised way, and thinking about things in order of priorities. 

I think the key issue for us right now is clutter. I have always had too much stuff and been  slightly fairly a little very untidy, so it's a challenge for me to reverse that trait in myself to start with. Then add my CFS into the mix, along with the Prof moving into my two bedroom house with the contents of his three bedroom house and that equals a lot of stuff, much of it without a permanent home. The shed and loft are full to bursting, as are all the cupboards/drawers etc. Much as parts of the house need redecorating and I would like to landscape the front garden, grow vegetables, do more crafting etc, I am coming to realise that whilst things are in disorder, it makes everything else more difficult, and that conversely the opposite should also be true. Many years ago I read the book Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston. In it she says something like, you are connected to every one of your possessions by a single thread. Imagine now the tangled mess of all those threads when you are living in a disorganised way. This idea really stuck in my mind and for me, that really is what it feels like most of the time, when I have so much stuff but equally, I mostly don't know where the item that I want is! 

I think if we can get rid of a lot of stuff, and organise what's left better, everything else will fall into place a little easier. Family meals at the table are easier when the table doesn't have my knitting and a pile of books on it. I need a nice basket to keep my current knitting projects in, and a side table or other place to put my books on. Clutter somehow clutters your mind as well as your house, don't you think? I know I feel like I have space in my head when the house is more tidy and organised. 

So that's the current mission then. Decluttering and organising and not stopping until it's done, just chipping away at it each day and week as I am able to. I will be donating things to the charity shop, taking some to the tip, and possibly using our local Freegle group too if there's anything I think someone might want. A while back I sold some books quite successfully on Amazon, I'd like to do that again and possibly venture into a bit of ebay selling, though that is a more daunting prospect. Any tips? 

I'm also working on a few other things. I've finally got around to sewing in the ends on some dishcloths I made months ago, as my old ones re getting tatty, time to move those on to cleaning rag duty.  I thought it would be a good idea to make some with narrow different coloured stripes, and they are pretty but I don't need to be sewing in twenty ends per cloth! They're ready to use now, anyway. I've been saving containers to keep homemade laundry liquid in, I plan to make a batch very soon. When I've made it in the past, storage was a problem and that put me off but I think I can find some space in the bathroom. Our bathroom is off the kitchen so that's not as inconvenient as it sounds. 

I'd like to get some money together for wallpapering and painting, and we have our eye on new sofas so I have started doing a little part time work for family, some ironing and cleaning, and plan to save the money. If I can make some more from my amazon and ebay adventures, even better. 

So that's what's happening around here. Lots of knitting going on too, I'll write about that tomorrow. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Simple things

Not much knitting to show you this week. I'm still working on the baby blanket, but I have sidetracked off and started knitting this head wrap. It's a US pattern  in worsted. which we don't really have here as far as I'm aware, it seems to be somewhere between double knit and aran. I had some double knit in this green, and some aran in a lurid purple and I am in more of a green mood. I adjusted needle size and stitches to what I thought, but when I had about ten inches done it seemed too wide, so I ripped it out, and now I am knitting with smaller needles. I'm not even sure this isn't going to look silly on my head when I'm done, but we'll see. You may or may not see a photo when it's finished, depending on the result! 

I am rereading Rhonda Hetzel's wonderful book, Down to Earth. Rhonda writes a blog, also called Down to Earth which, like the book is full of ways to simplify life. From knitting dishcloths to homemade cleaners for the home, gardening, cooking and keeping chickens it's a great read and also a beautiful book. There are many books and blogs on these subjects, the way Rhonda's writing differs for me is her gentle homespun philosophy on life, it is just a pleasure to read her words and follow along with her simple life. This totally sounds like a sponsored post, but I promise it's not! Do check out Rhonda's book if you can, or at least visit her over at Down to Earth, both her book and blog are a wonderful read. 

'It's not where your home is, it's where your head is' - Rhonda Hetzel

Joining in with Ginny

Monday, June 17, 2013

that was the weekend

On Saturday we were up bright and early to drive the hour plus to Curly Girl's university, collect her and her stuff and deliver some of the stuff to the house she will be living in from September, and bring her and the rest of her things home. You may remember, Curly Girl was the Young Philosopher's girlfriend until a few months ago, when they split quite amicably and remain friends. Her Dad usually drives her to and from uni but is on strong painkillers for an injury, that mean he can't drive for several weeks. I was quite pleased that she asked us! She is a lovely girl, and obviously still feels comfortable with us enough to ask us a favour, which I think is so nice. 

It was quite a nice drive, the weather was sunny quite a lot of the time (despite how it looks in the photos!) and we drove back the pretty way, through the countryside. We made a detour not far from home and drove further into Essex to catch the planes flying over to Buckingham Palace to do a flypast for the Queen's Coronation 60th Anniversary. 

On Sunday we drove out to Blake House Craft Centre. They have a lovely restaurant and we finally used some money my parents gave us to go out for a meal for our second wedding anniversary. Having gift money to spend took away the guilt over having three courses and spending so much money when we are trying to economise! The meal was very good. I have been there previously with my WI craft group, and had cakes and sandwiches that time which were equally tasty. They give you tea the old fashioned way, with hot water to top up, so you get two of three cups from your pot which is always a nice old fashioned bonus in these days of giving you a mug of water, milk already in, with a teabag floating in it. Ugh, both scandalous and revolting.  We had a Sunday roast with all the trimmings on this occasion and then had a walk around the craft centre. 

We didn't buy much, just a couple of things in the farm shop there. My favourite shop is 'Kast Mystical'. They have gorgeous patchwork bags, rainbow jumpers, a selection of wonderful pewter (I think) ornaments (might have to put one on my Christmas list), green man cards and pictures, a lovely scent of incense wafting through the shop... I am a hippy at heart! Both times I have visited I've been very tempted by  a brightly coloured sun catcher with the words 'Be Happy', I can just see it in my little kitchen window where we already have two sun catchers the Young Philosopher and I made years ago.  I think I may well have to go back and get it another time. 

I saw a poster for a boot sale which was interesting as it was a 'lazy' boot sale, starting at 11 am. I remember selling at a boot sale years ago and having to get up at about 5, so this would suit me so much better and we do have quite a bit of stuff we could sell. There was also another poster that said they have an on site kinestheologist. I have been wanting to see one for some time, so I might have to visit again. Oh, I could also pick up that suncatcher.....

I did a little knitting in front of 'The Voice' on Saturday evening, I made a mistake and then put it away, so today I will have to sit down and get that all sorted out. Why do I still make mistakes, even on the simplest patterns? Answers on a postcard please. I need to write a list of projects to do next I think, I keep seeing more and more things I want to make! Recently I have come across this Lark Rise to Candleford Shawl and this head wrap, which both need to go on the list. I might even put the baby blanket aside just for today and make the head wrap....

And this is why I have so many unfinished projects. 

I will leave you today with a picture of the beautiful peacock who lives at Blake House Craft Centre. I'm calling him Bert. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

baby blanket

I'm still working on the baby blanket for Project Linus. I am really liking the pretty colour changes of this yarn. I'd like to knit something else with it, maybe a baby cardigan. 

Did I mention that, wonder of wonders, I actually learned to crochet recently? My WI friend D taught me, she is very patient! I crocheted a granny square with a frilly edge to it that I can stand the teapot on, it goes nicely in a kitsch kind of way with the tea cosy I knitted. Now I need a crochet project so I don't forget how to do it. I don't want to spend much money on yarn though, so that's on hold for the moment. I have lots of balls/part balls of cotton, maybe I will crochet some dishcloths. Or this fabulous bath mat .

I finished the Girl who Fell to Earth and quite liked it in the end. Now I am reading The Dinner by Herman Koch. It took me a while to get into it, the whole book takes place during one dinner in a restaurant which was strange at first but now I think it works well. There are two couples at the meal and the story revolves around something terrible their sons have done. I am finding it a really good read and not wanting to put it down. 

Joining Ginny for Yarn Along

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

reading, knitting and tinking

I'm reading the Girl Who Fell from the Sky, one of the choices for my Women's Institute book group. I suggested this one, having seen it on the Richard and Judy book club website recently, and I thought it might be interesting. I really enjoyed the first half or so, though there was one thing I really couldn't believe in - you know when a character does something you really don't believe that character would do? That. It was only a small thing, but it has affected my enjoyment of the rest of the book, and I don't like it nearly so much now. 

I'm still working on my poncho. I'm at the sewing up stage now, my favourite part (yes, that was sarcasm). I dislike sewing up almost as much as I like knitting. I hope to finish it this month, but will probably procrastinate as long as possible. In the meantime I have started a nice simple knit-in-front-of-the-telly project, a little baby blanket for Project Linus UK (Project Linus in the US here). They accept blankets and quilts for both babies and children in need. Despite it not being a very demanding pattern, I have still had to tink a few times (knit backwards! I read that word somewhere recently and I am adopting it) to sort out a mistake. I don't seem to be able to do anything without mistakes, but at least as I get better at knitting I am now able to correct them, so that's improvement, right? I'm still scared of laddering down to fix things, though. One thing at a time!