Sunday, March 30, 2008

A few new FOs

Yesterdays baking of choice was blueberry muffins, substituting agave in for the sugar and yoghurt for the buttermilk. I also used a whole egg in place of the two whites, because frankly, life is too short to separate an egg and as always, the flour used was wholemeal. Seriously good, I heartily recommend it :)
Last night I also plied this skein, spun from roving from Handpainted Yarn. I love it- it's the first time I've been able to spin thick yarn and I basically just predrafted into strips and spun it as is to get the thicker single. Plying was a nightmare though, it didn't want to go through the orifice. I love it.

120 things to go...

Saturday 5th April is Swindon NCTs Nearly New Sale, and I have a house full of stuff. Crap, to be honest, and tut.  I have two sellers packs (because we have more than 25 items of clothing that need to be gone, and that is the limit for clothes) and a table ready to be worked on. In one fell swoop, I am intending to make both space and money :)
So this is my plea for accountability. If you see me mooching around online, ask how many things I have ready to go. If it's less than 120, kick my arse. Hard. I know I don't have 70 saleable toys and stuff, but I can try, huh?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Simply smashing

Same yarn, but I like this square.  Just enough contrast to please me, not enough to annoy. Perfect blue/pink/blue/pink stripes, with no cheating involved. A smidgin of order in the midst of chaos. 
Once again, hot pink pleases me, as I superglued the handle back onto my mug. I'm even toying with the idea of knitting a cosy for it- am I mad? Maybe.
Today has been a happy day. We went to playgroup, River woke, ate, played, ate and slept, and Skye played, played, played, ate and sang. I had time to attend to everyone's needs, and got to do my share of tidy-up time as well. It was grand.
I'm looking around our home, and we just have too. much. stuff. The clutter needs banishing. I've got rid of a few old Spin-Offs, and my fabric stash is at risk- it's use it or lose it time. Expect to see some FOs soon...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Delia, you should be ashamed of yourself

I was absolutely disgusted to be sent a link to this article. Farming in the UK is always in a fragile state, and often British wool is a fringe benefit, as it were, of the English and Welsh lamb raised for the table. It's the best available agricultural use of our many hills, hillocks and mountains, is local and sustainable, and yet we have bloody Delia proclaiming the benefits of New Zealand Lamb.

I don't care whether the Welsh like the English or not. They like sheep, and that's one thing we have in common. Buy Welsh Lamb and support local agriculture.
Unless, of course, you live in Australia.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Well, Easter was a wash-out. Literally, almost- on the 5 hour drive to my mothers, we went through every conceivable English weather condition except thunder and lightning. Rain, snow, sleet, hail and horrendous gale-force winds, we had it all. The drive was pretty awful.
Despite having spent the 1980s wrapping me in waterproofs and dragging me outside for some fresh air, my mother has seen the error of her ways and now refuses to go out in the cold, and so we were stuck looking for some indoor activities. Saturday was spent at the amazing Life museum in Newcastle, which is great, but very very busy- I wish we lived close enough that we could explore slowly and steadily at our own pace. Newcastle also has the fantastic Childrens Gallery at the Laing, which is another great place to spend a rainy day. Steve and I have made the decision that he isn't restricting his job hunt for next year to just Swindon, so we're on the move again- he's applied for a job in Berwick, all the way up on the Scottish borders, which would be brilliant if he got it. This town has never really felt like home to us, and the constant senseless vandalism to the car is grating. I don't want my children to grow up in a place where it isn't safe for things to be outside in the evening- what about people?

We also continued the discussion with my family about River's name, as we were on the receiving end of an extremely bitchy comment on Sunday morning. I was talking to one of our local ministers about it last Thursday, and she suggested that we write something explaining exactly why this is the name we chose for him, the name that we gave him- and either give it to them or use it as notes to explain ourselves more clearly, so this is something I'm going to do. Isn't he gorgeous? He's such a chubby little hamster...

In other news, I finished square three of the Lizard Ridge. It's funny how strongly colours can affect you- I've bought a lot of pink tops recently- I'm wearing one right now, as it happens- but working with the colour again and again, I was really starting to resent it. It was a relief to get to the very pretty yellow/pink stripe at the end, which reminds me of rhubarb. Very seasonal. It was a real effort not to try and cheat the colourways this time and to stick to letting it flow as it wished, but in the end I do like the way that the colours are flowing through the short-row bubbles in the stripes. It's helping. I have another ball of this colourway (or at least, I did- I'm 3/4 of the way through square 4) and I'm hoping to get three full squares out of the two balls.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


This week has been rough. It's cold, windy and frequently raining. Over the course of the past 4 days (16 bus journeys transporting my elder childer to and from their place of education) I have missed the bus no less than 6 times. On one of those occasions, a bus driver actually drove off whilst I was standing at the bus stop, newborn in his carrycot, toddler next to me and buggy half-folded. On another occasion, I muttered my new mantra (sod it) and decided to just be late. Five times, I walked the mile, with lethal, painful steep downhill descent and just got cold and miserable.

Until today, when I realised that my thermos mug had a handle and could clip onto the handle to my pushchair. And is pretty much leakproof. Aha! said I. I know what I can do with that. So I wrapped my daughter up in treble the usual quantity of jumpers, swaddled my son over his snowsuit, and filled my mug with hot chocolate. And oh, but I was warm and happy standing at the bus stop waiting for my number 11. Did I care that it was late? Not really. I even smiled benignly when I realised that my sons sadistic teachers were yet again discharging them late, sipping on my silky nectar. We shared my mug at the bus stop at the foot of the hill whilst waiting for the bus home (which was early, seeing as it was actually the bus before.) I parked my buggy on the bus, settled down enjoying the shelter. EVERYONE should take a mug of hot chocolate on the school run.
Another family with pushchair got on the bus. I moved our buggy, and heard a sickening thud, the sound of a handle splintering as it came into aggressive contact with bus interior. Vive le mug. Le mug est mort.
Spring? Yeah, right. I'll believe it when I see it.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Yorkshire curd tart

Tragically, one of the most exciting things to happen to me this week was to see curd cheese for sale in my local supermarket- so I made this. Yum. Nostalgia.
The recipe is simple- 8oz quantity of rich shortcrust pastry (8oz flour, 4oz butter, 1oz sugar, 1 egg yolk and cold water to bind.) Line a dish and then combine 12oz of curd cheese, 3 eggs, 4oz sugar (I used honey), 1oz of currants, the zest of a lemon and a pinch of cinnamon and ginger. You might find it easier to mash the cheese first, but small lumps really aren't a big deal. Bake in a moderate oven for 45 minutes to an hour, until it looks like the picture above- and eat until it is almost all gone. Mine lasted 17 hours, which isn't long, even in this house.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Stash reduction

Well, this is my stash in its entirety- yarn, fibre and all. The fabric (for all the sewing that I never do) is in a different vacuum bag upstairs under the bed, apart from the piece of vintage Laura Ashley that I scored at my beloved local charity shop for 50p today. But I digress. The easy way of shrinking your stash, of course, is to suck all the air out of it so it looks less impressive, and that is what I did.
I then tidied our small room at the front of the house, the one which used to be my father-in-laws bedroom. Can you see the stash in there? Hiding behing the black boxes under the table?  Cunning, huh. 
No wonder our house is such a mess, though- even the dog prefers to sprawl in the middle of the floor, rather than her basket.
I cast on for Sylph using the black alpaca the other day, and I have to say, I HATE it. The yarn isn't showing up the pattern and the pattern is a really frustrating knit- you have to concentrate, but it doesn't actually go anywhere. It will be frogged, though I have no idea what to make instead. Ideas for 1500m of black DK alpaca are extremely welcome?

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


One of the truly gutting things about life is when you get a home visit from a health professional, the baby was screaming with colic the night before and you chose to look after yourself and your family (i.e. cuddle the screaming one and sleep when he does) over cleaning the house from top to bottom to put on a good show.  Today, we had the nursery nurse around to weigh River- she had the bad taste to show up 20 minutes early, at which point he was in the sling and I was trying to fix the hoover.  The carpet hadn't been hoovered since Friday morning due to people spending all weekend puking on it, and it showed. Oh, and the washing up from my outstanding (I really should have taken a picture) pineapple upside down cake is outstanding too, as I ran out of space in the dishwasher. Please note the screaming baby, and I haven't yet mastered dishwasher-loading whilst baby-wearing.
So we get the whole discussion about whether we have any support round here- for fucks sake. If we had family support in Swindon, would we have moved here to look after my father in law? Well, would we? We have a disabled elderly gentleman, his two brothers- one of whom is having treatment for cancer and one of whom has an ailing wife, and Steve's mums family, who we haven't heard ANYTHING from since we moved here. So what am I meant to do?

Answers on a postcard please. The suggestions so far include talking to a family support worker, and putting my beautiful, securely attached very close to mummy daughter in a playgroup. WHY? Because I think spending time with my children is more important than getting the washing-up done????? I have accepted the offer of a referral to HomeStart, so I can get some housework done sometimes, but that's as far as it goes.
Grrr. This stinks.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

It's not easy being green

Square two of the Lizard, and it has to be said, my short rows are looking a hell of a lot tidier.  Strangely, it's turning out to be more of an emotional journey than I was expecting just because colour is so evocative- the blue reminds me so much of Susannah, my companion through university and early adulthood, survivor of many longwinded rants about my ex and witness to my last bout of PND. And the green? Well, not only is it exactly the same shade as the chicobag that Indigo sent me yesterday, it's also the same shade as Kermit the frog and my favourite crayon- the one you draw grass with when you're drawing happy-ever-after houses (which always have an obscene number of dogs and chickens and children.) I haven't got the chickens yet, but it's a matter of time.
In other news, am I the only person in humanity who is outraged that Tesco, the alleged great exploiter of the British farmer, is stocking Fair Trade clothing? Oh, the irony.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Spoilt rotten

My Magic Ball came today :) It arrived home shortly after I did, newborn in arms, toddler in the buggy, wrap sling in the house, boys stroppy and awkward and generally fed up. And the first thing I saw when I opened the box? A stress ball. I love the irony of it all.
It came from the lovely Indigo and I feel both spoilt and treasured.  Lots and lots of beautiful things- a skein of laceweight from Joyce at Elliebelly, someone else whose life I really, really, really really want, some wool yarn, some all-purpose cotton, and so many goodies. I love it, and above all I love and value the fact that she took the trouble to put this together for me in the midst of her own interesting times.
The fudge, however, did not survive more than an hour. Such things rarely do in this house :)

And the rotten bit? Well, the sourdough is currently rising a bit more before I put it in the oven.  I'm very excited, and very very nervous. This starter's brother and sisters have been round 90% of Swindon before I got my hands on it, and it makes VERY good bread (it originated at Lower Shaw Farm, and their bread is to die for.) If I can't make good bread with it, what does it say about me?

Monday, March 03, 2008

Simple kitchen magic

yesterday was Mothers Day here, and man, it stunk. Domestic arguments, Isaac being his most obnoxious self, you name it, it went wrong. Like a car crash. And so we came home, and whilst River chilled out in his bouncy chair for ten whole minutes, the rest of us made things better.

We made banana bread, using up nearly a dozen over-ripe bananas, my beloved melt-and-stir method of cakeage, recipe from Nigella and sadly, not enough alcohol. But it was good, and it made us feel good and it was so nice to send the boys to school with proper cake in their lunchboxes.

And today? I took a loaf of banana bread to breastmates, and came home with a tub of sourdough starter :) I'm looking forward to playing with it...