Thursday, August 28, 2008

A brief update

Life continues apace here. I broke the camera, thought I'd fixed it, spent a few days at my mothers in the north-east- this trip included a visit to the inspiring Seven Stories gallery of childrens literature. Everyone who has ever been a child should go there- and spend lots of time on the top floor with the dress-up box and the books. We also went to the "best park in Britain" (aka Saltwell, in Gateshead) which was good, but not exceptional, IMO.  Isaac and River's sweaters are both finished bar the buttons, which is good. Everything else is generally dull and boring, which is even better, as long as you don't count deaths, psycho neighbours, money stresses and eccentrics. 

Hopefully, I will be back soon with a vast collection of photos for delight and delectation. Oh, and just to add insult to injury we're having a pregnancy scare (a bit of an oops the day before I ovulated.) If you (anyone) could keep meditating firmly on empty vessels, that would be a help. 

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sweet dreams are made of these

On Monday, we tried to take the children to @bristol, the museum where I had my "children are miracles" revelation back in May 2007, which I promised myself I'd take the kids back to when I got pregnant again. Well, I did- and soon, but didn't take the children back there. They had been warned that if they didn't behave, we'd go straight home. I redirected (sometimes really quite loudly and with a degree of bad temper) three times between the car and the entrance. We went home.
BUT we actually took a scenic detour via Stroud, which is one of the Cotswold woollen towns, and it's a nice place to visit. That is, of course, if you can find it because the signposts are impossible- driving you round and round in an ever-decreasing spiral until you're finally there. As Steve puts it, we should take my mum there. The architecture is nothing special, and it's built on a bloody big hill that slopes in every which direction, but it has an independent bookshop, AND a childrens bookshop, no less than three branches of the independent health food store (I have no idea why a health food store requires three shops, but I didn't like to ask) and a very cool boutiquey type place called Moonflower which again, has an obscene number of premises considering its a small business based in a single town. All the teenagers were distinctly alternative but were wearing bright colours and smiled lots, which struck me as unusual, and the walls were fly-posted by stroudwater textiles trust with poetry about wool and weaving and knitting. 
The soundtrack was provided by a brightly coloured teen with a guitar, sitting there singing Sweet Dreams (are made of this). Well. Very well, in fact, and I'm extremely judgemental of buskers.  (He got two quid from me, but was worth far more.)  It set my mind wandering to how strong a musical memory can be. When the Eurythmics wrote it, I was just a child, stil bopping along at school discos without a care in the world. When Manson covered it, it was the theme song to the end of my bitter, twisted abusive relationship, and I still can't hear it without shuddering. It brought back so many memories hearing it again: but at the same time, listening to it in the sunlight sung by a bonny young lad with absolutely no idea how dark and twisted human relationships can get felt good. It felt cleansing, and wholesome.
More importantly, perhaps, I've been thinking about the role music plays in our life as a family. None of my children play a musical instrument- Alex asked to take a break from violin lessons when we moved here, and Isaac was really too young at that time. We have my beloved  piano, which is desperately in need of tuning, and my saxophone mostly lives under the bed gathering dust and beetles. Nothing exceptional there, right? The thing is, during my teenage years music was THE most important part of my life, the defining facet to my personality, who I was and what I did. I sang with the school choir, the local choral society, conducted the school wind band and performed with various orchestras and bands, and it was a huge part of my life. It was also a bond with my parents, who loved me but found it hard to show it: my dad was a music teacher (like me, a solid musician but nothing outstanding- his talent lay in sharing his love of music with others) and mum is a talented amateur. These days, she's conducting choirs for fun- back then, she was just singing. I I broke my wrist badly when I was 17, which made everything more difficult- I have both strength and flexibility in that hand now, but not together, not the way it was. I have difficulty in taking the weight of my saxophone and keying with my right hand, for instance, and similar problems with the piano. What I do have is my voice.
My children have always had lullabies to calm and soothe them, just like my mum sang me to sleep when I was little, but for some reason I haven't done it as much with River. What I've found, though, is that the sound of my voice singing him the songs I love: the songs my mother sang to me, that her mother sang to her: will help him stay asleep. They ease his transition between sleep states, when he will often wake and call out for me, and they give him a greater gift as well. They're giving him a sense of continuity and of history, and of connection with his grandparents and the generations before. He won't understand this now, because he's a tiny baby boy lying on the floor chewing my feet, but one day he will.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

And in her first event...

she takes the bronze. Isaac's sweater is done,  and I am sitting here duplicate stitching soft toys onto the front because it seemed like a good idea at the time. Pictures will be up after blocking, or when I buy new batteries for the camera, whichever comes soonest.
He seems distinctly underwhelmed, if I'm honest, but that's more positive than the reaction of most of my family when faced with handknits. Hopefully, if I apply said bear to the front, that will get him excited.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008


Of the UFO list, I can cross two off- River appears to have outgrown the Baby Surprise Jacket (he has an 18" chest and waist, the jacket is measuring 9.5" across the back) and I have lost the Rock and Weave pattern for the second sock of the pair. This is looking far more achievable now, though not in the way I wanted.
I think I'm going to leave the BSJ to hibernate a while longer and then frog it and make something for me, and order a new copy of the pattern with the money I've saved.
Life here at chez chaos is likely to be more frugal for the coming months: I've been landed with yet more debts from the time with my charming beloved ex-husband, and I'm aiming to pay off an additional 2 grand by the end of the year. It's doable- and due to our living circumstances, will probably not be that brutal- but I'm not really embracing the challenge at the moment. I'm seriously considering starting an etsy store to see if that brings anything in.

The middle of the night...

It's something after 3am here, and I've been awake for a few hours. A certain small gentleman is stroking my cheek lovingly and giggling at me, which would be lovely under other circumstances. Unfortunately, the reason he is doing this is because he evacuates his bowels once a week, typically at 3am (as now) and requires a few hours of kicking and wriggling beforehand to get things moving. In the middle of the night. Gulp.
I have totted up the goodies to be finished for the Knitting Olympics (and has anyone else noticed how well the British women are doing compared to the British men?)  and the list IS:
  1. Sweater for Isaac. I'm knitting the bottom ribbing for the second time, as I decided to pull it out and add a few more inches in. THEN, I have to make the decision whether 8 is too old for appliqued cartoon characters- opinions are welcomed.
  2. Sweater for River, knitted from handspun. I'm down to the bottom of the raglan, so this may take a while.
  3. BSJ for River. This has been on the needles for, like, forever: since before he was born, in fact, but I'm hopeful that it may yet fit. I need to buy another skein of Silk Garden for it, and I have no idea what shade the first two skeins were- but never mind.
  4. The second Rock and Weave sock. Again, the first one was completed back when I was still pregnant, and now he's a talking, crawling, middle-of-the-night-pooping cheek patter. I must knit faster.
  5. I'm embarrassed to admit that I actually cast on for a new project (some stranded colourwork) with this list of UFOs hovering around the house. So I can add those in too.
  6. I frogged the black alpaca wrap. I think I'm just going to sling this yarn back to a charity shop, or put it up on ravelry or ebay. I've now tried knitting it in two projects, and I'm not loving either of them.

Saturday, August 09, 2008


In a moments insanity yesterday, we went into central London. Gads. What WERE we thinking? We didn't even go to the good bits (like the museum), but went to Covent Garden and Leicester Square and all that jazz. It was horrible. Busy and crowded and crowded and busy and just thoroughly unpleasant.
What we did discover, however, is that Chinatown, always a lovely place to be, is extremely excited about the Beijing Olympics. There was a dragon dance, bunting up everywhere, and lots of the restaurants had stands outside selling sweets and a big screen televising the coverage of the opening ceremony. It was a bright spot in a pretty dismal day.
I haven't signed up for a knitting olympics anywhere this time. Instead, I'm going to be focussing upon finishing off all of my UFOs and moving on to a new season with grace and goodwill, my boys warmly wrapped in handknit sweaters and my feet in handknit socks. I've finished the sleeves on Isaac's jam sweater, so I just need to do a collar and then add another inch to the bottom :(  It's far shorter than he likes wearing. I'm using the Knitting Pure and Simple raglan sweater, but taking out all of those tight rolled hems because I'm really not into the michelin man look on anyone, even my skinny 7yo son. I'm trying to decide between a pocket or some embroidery (a Nev, perhaps?) as decoration. I am trying to manage my time more effectively, as I'm starting an OU course in October (a 15 point arts course in Heritage, for the curious) and I'm going to need to do some study for that. If all goes well, I'll be doing the full 60-point course starting in February. I figure if I can commit 16 or more hours a week to crafting now, then I can just devote these hours to study later.