Thursday, September 21, 2006

Look who it is!

It's Henry the Navigator!

You can imagine my excitement when the postman delivered a huge box this morning which was, at a glance, revealed to have come all the way from the US, from the lovely Teyani of The Intrepid Fibrewizard. I was a bit baffled by the size of it, as I had imagined the Yarn Abroad box to be a bit smaller, but that mystery was soon explained when I opened the parcel.

Inside it was this:

Isn't that adorable? The cute not-so-little bear was nestling next to the Henry the Navigator box. I think I shall call him Henry - it seems only appropriate! :-) Henry the bear, a little yarn label revealed, is knitted from Blue Sky Cotton, which is lovely and soft - I can completely understand now why everyone goes on about what a great yarn this is. Bean's first knitted soft toy, so cute!

Next was the yarn abroad box itself:

This is what I found inside:

And unwrapped:

There is some yummy Lorna's Laces in a beautiful and unusual colour combination of green, blue, and yellow - I love it! Further, there is a Fibre Trends sock pattern for 'Peak Experience Socks', which looks perfect for variegated and self-striping yarns, and a pattern for a baby sweater with cables, which I am looking forward to knitting. Then there was a cute little purse made from a baby's sock, with some coins in it. What is the meaning of those Teyani? There was also a little yarn needle and a wooden button, which looks very pretty, but again, I'm not totally sure what it is... Teyani?

Further, there were two postcards from Washington and from Seattle (it looks beautiful), a great fridge magnet which says 'Chocolate is proof that God wants us to be happy' - I obviously agree fully - and finally two delicious chocolate bars, which I am afraid to say are already gone. D found them about 5 minutes after I had opened the parcel and while I was still fondling the yarn and Henry the bear, he had already opened the Lemon fudge bar and had eaten half of it. This immediately prompted me to waddle over there and push the other half of the bar into my mouth before he could eat it... I get very ungenerous and territorial about my food nowadays - I blame it on late pregnancy (This is also my excuse for usually eating more than D now). ;-) The other bar of mint chocolate followed shortly after. Delicious!

What a fabulous parcel - Teyani, I can't thank you enough. And that you even knitted a bear for the bean really touched me. Thank you!!

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

We're on! The deadline was on Sunday, and the matches went out yesterday evening. If you haven't received your match, please let me know asap - it's entirely possible that I managed to miss somebody out!

How I matched people up:

Entirely by chance, with some little tweaking to accommodate things like cat hair allergies and not wanting to ship internationally.

All your names went onto little bits of paper, were folded, mixed, and then set out in a line. I then made a note of the order and double-checked to make sure that there weren't any obvious mismatches, such as obvious cat-lovers with 5 cats sending parcels to people with cat allergies and the like, although I cannot guarantee for how well I have succeeded with this as not everybody might post about their pets... If you have cats and have ended up with someone who is allergic and think you may not be able to keep the cats away from the fabric, please let me know as soon as possible so I can try to change things around.

Other than that, I left the matches exactly how they happened to be - I think it's fun to 'meet' people through chance encounters like that. :-)

As a reminder:

Deadline for the sending of the parcels: End of October 2006

Swap rules: HERE

ETA: This is a secret swap - I have not told anyone who will be gifting them (although for myself it was kind of unavoidable ;-)). This is not to say that you can't contact your swap partner. Send them an email or leave a comment on their blog to say Hi! or to ask any questions, just do so anonymously. You can then reveal your identity through your parcel.

I am really looking forward to this - hopefully it will be fun for everbody!

Monday, September 18, 2006

Counting down...

For the sake of keeping a record, I thought I should post a picture of my belly these days. It may not look that big (although... I really think it does!!), but compared to the picture next to it, which is me when I was 2 weeks or so pregnant (I don't think I even knew then) it is quite a difference!

The picture was taken a few days ago when D and I finally got round to taking a few more pictures. Of course this is a far cry from our initial plans - taking pictures every month to monitor the growth of the belly. Instead we have a few pictures of the initial bloatedness of the first 12 weeks, maybe one picture of a 5 month belly and then this set of pictures... I guess it's still good that we managed to at least take a few before the bean is ready to face the world!

~ * ~

Other than that, I have been in the right sort of mood to finish some WIPs. I have been knitting like crazy on the logcabin baby blanket and lo and behold, I only have one round to go before I can call it done. Unfortunately I seem to be running out of yarn for one of the sections, so I may have to make a quick run to the local yarn shop (and hope that they stock the particular yarn I have been using), but even with that little hold-up it should be finished very very soon.

I have also finished the messenger bag that I started sewing a week or so ago. There is no pattern, so the whole thing was a bit of an experiment, and overall it's not as tidy as it could have been. Still, I am pleased with the result, and have already used it to tote the soon-to-be-finished baby blanket around with me when D and I went out yesterday afternoon!

The inside of the bag has two pockets - one for a mobile phone, one a bit bigger, for a wallet for example. Shame on me, though, for not thinking of this earlier - the bag now sports some seams which are visible on the outside of the bag because this being an afterthought I had of course already sewn up the rest of the bag. I also ran out of fabric for the bag straps, so I had to settle for having two thin ones rather than one big strap (you can see this a little on the pictures). I am contemplating sewing them up in the middle to make it look slightly less odd...

Right, onto the next finished WIP - the garter stitch baby cardigan in unphotogenic dark blue. I have finally found and added some buttons:

Predictably, the colours are totally off. The cardi itself is a darker colour than it appears on the picture, while the buttons are a light blue rather than the white that they seem to be here. I am really pleased with this, in particular as it hasn't turned out too tiny and bean should be able to wear it for quite some time.

And last but not least, I have been trying myself at sewing softies. My first attempt isn't much to show for, but I love the result anyway. May I present Manfred the hippo (eyes to come once I can think of some way to not make them look creepy):

Manfred is very very wonky, because, being the lazy thing that I am, I didn't bother stitching the pieces of felt together before I started sewing. Instead I made this up as I went along, with the rather predictable result of poor Manfred being a bit lopsided. I think with my next softie I should maybe take the prep work a bit more seriously! ;-)

~ * ~

One-Yard-Fabric Swap

Well, the deadline was yesterday evening, and it looks like we have a good group of people now! I also have most of the questionnaires back by now (all apart from one! ;-)) so I shall wait for a another day or so to give the last swapper time to send it back and then you can expect to receive your swap partner details on Wednesday or on Thursday at the latest.

As a reminder, details of the swap and the rules are in the sidebar of the blog or else HERE. The deadline for sending the parcels to your swap partners is the END OF OCTOBER, so there should be ample time to get everything together.

I am really looking forward to this and as this is my first attempt at hosting a swap I am so pleased to have such a lovely group of people together. Can't wait to see what people will send! :-)

Monday, September 11, 2006

One fine morning...

There is something incredibly comforting about a hot cup of sweetened tea and some biscuits, possibly accompanied the reading of a newspaper - or, in this case, some vintage sweater patterns that I wasn't able to resist and bought off ebay the other day.

Not that I'm knitting tight-fitting sweaters for myself anytime soon. ;-)

Instead, I have a day of sewing planned for today. I have a Roman blind to finish for the bedroom, which is finally ready to be inhabited! D put on the last coat of oil paint on the window yesterday morning and as soon as the nasty paint smell has somewhat evaporated we will finally move out of our dusty hovel of a bedroom. Right now it looks so crisp and clean that I feel almost sorry to disturb the harmony of the simple and clear lines:

I have also decided to sew another bag - this time of my own design if you can call it that. It's a simple bag with a classic messenger bag look to it, or at least that is what I am envisioning.

In terms of bean preparations, the imminent change in our room situation, brought on by the finishing of the bedroom, also spurred me into action to do something about the huge pile of baby clothes, blankets, sheets, etc. waiting to be washed. Can you imagine that I spent all day yesterday washing baby clothes? And that it's still not quite done?! As D put it, while shaking his head in disbelief: "How many clothes can one tiny lad need?!" I'm pretty sure the answer to that one would be: "not nearly as many as we have for him."

They do look pretty on that washing line, though, don't they?

The reason for the slightly out-of-control baby clothes situation is that a few days ago a friend of ours came round with two huge black binbags full of baby clothes - all for boys, all for newborns. They are beautiful and nearly new clothes and we were of course more than grateful to accept. It has me wondering, though - sure, she has three little boys, but it's not like she had them all at the same time and would have needed three times the amount of chothes. Even if you buy something new now and then, how do you amass such a huge quantity of baby wear? Or is something like 40 sleepsuits and an equal amount of shortsleeved body suits not a huge quantity? Am I being naive?

In any case, I was totally overwhelmed, in particular as they are all so pretty! This means that, with the exception of summer clothes, I am washing them all. Now of course D and I have nowhere to put our own clothes, but never mind that... ;-)

Hopefully there will be sewing and possibly even knitting content to show for by tomorrow!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Getting ready for the bean...

The last week or so I have been trying to get ready for the impending arrival of the bean. There isn't much I can do about the house itself at this point, although the bedroom is coming along quite nicely, but there is still plenty to do.

Yesterday, apart from the frantic jam-making, I spent most of the day doing paperwork and getting finance stuff in order. I hate doing this kind of work, and by the afternoon I had worked myself up into quite a foul mood. It didn't help that I had to go to the garage *again* to fix something regarding one of our cars. I swear, the guy at the garage is rapidly becoming my new best friend - it seems like I can't do for two days without paying him a visit. First it's MOTs, then my car starts making strange noises, then the radiator starts leaking, then the breaks start packing up on the other car, ... And everytime I need to go there I have to ask MIL to give me a lift. I don't like relying and imposing on others like that, but there is really no way around it.

Still, retrospectively, yesterday was good in a I-got-lots-of-unpleasant-stuff-done kind of way. And today the rest of the jam jars are arriving (another 80 jars or so!), so I will be able to bottle the rest of the jam up AND get started on making apple sauce with some of the apples languishing in the kitchen right now. Other than that, I have another ultrasound today - bean has decided that he rather likes to be head up rather than head down - he's breach. Hopefully he'll still turn on his own (after all, he still has around 4 weeks to do so), but my midwife decided that she wants it checked out anyway.

But back to my preparations. I admit that I have been on a major spending spree. Not that I went out of my way to buy excessively expensive things (in fact, I tried to source a lot second hand), but I am continuing to be amazed at the amount of kit that a baby requires: pram, carseat, cot, moses basket, blankets, sheets, nappy paraphenalia, clothes, ... And that doesn't even touch on all the non-essential yet nice items like little toys or possibly a mobile above the cot. I have been restricting myself to the absolute basics, but have still managed to amass a mountain of baby gear in the spare room (where it is all living for now, waiting to be moved into the yet-to-be-finished bedroom).

We have also decided to do the whole baby thing as green as is feasible for our circumstances. I guess the impulse comes with moving out of the city and goes hand in hand with the jam-making. This means that we have decided to give re-usable nappies a go, at least for at home (if we go on holiday I think we will probably still rely on disposable ones). This opens up another entirely new area of research. Who knew how many types of re-usable nappy were out there?! Not me! I have now ordered a few samples and have also put in an order for other 'green', environmentally friendly baby stuff. The order arrived a few days ago and I felt like an overexcited child at christmas when opening it:

All the exciting new kit! Nappy liners, and cleaning stuff, and changing mats, ... I was a bit baffled by amount of bubble wrap used in the box (not in the picture) - considering this is one of the main green mail order companies in the UK I would have thought they would come up with something a little less plastic-y to wrap the stuff in, but we will re-use all the bubble wrap for our move, so it doesn't matter too much.

Now that I have most of the baby gear together I have also managed to get on with making some items. The knitted cardigan I showed the other day is still awaiting some buttons, but the log-cabin baby blanket is progressing nicely:

It's slow, though. I feel reminded of all the reasons why I don't like knitting blankets and the like - it's boring. This isn't too bad, because at least I get to change colours once in a while, but as the sections grow longer I am becoming more impatient. How big does a baby blanket have to be anyway?!

I have also finally finished the Amy Butler Nappy Bag that I started a while back (I couldn't finish it then because I had run out of fabric for the lining). I am quite pleased with it, although it is rather large. It could also be a great deal neater, but I admit it now - I am terrible at finishing things off neatly. I am too impatient. Especially with sewing this has always been my downfall. Still, I think the bag will do nicely:

Next on the sewing list - a Roman blind for the bedroom window. I have already started it, but need to cut some dowels to size before I continue.

Monday, September 04, 2006

More tales from 'The Good Life'

Do you see that? The picture above? Those are Victoria plums. Delicious and ripe Victoria plums. They are part of our second bumper harvest this year (and I am not even counting the Greengages, which I have already dealt with). Yesterday alone, D and I harvested around 4 buckets full of apples and 2 buckets of plums (add to that another two buckets, which are already transformed into jam and plum cake):

We are drowning in fruit!

Not that I'm complaining - in fact, we are thrilled - but I am ordering jam jars for the second time in a week now. The 36 glasses that I had ordered initially are not nearly enough.

There will be more plum jam (the Victoria plum jam I made with the first crop is delicious and we have managed to give quite a few glasses away to friends and family), more plum cake, a lot of apple sauce, and a friend of mine who dropped by yesterday suggested slicing some of the apples and freezing them like that for cake and the like.

It's a real shame that we can't store some of the fruit for winter without having to turn it all into preserves etc, but since everything is organic and hasn't been sprayed with anything there are quite a few bugs which made their little homes in the apples and plums - not in all of them, but it's almost impossible to tell before you cut them open, in particular with the plums (browsing a few days ago I found that The Pink Iris had the same problem with her plums HERE. I refuse to discard them, though, so we very laboriously cut each one open and cut the infested bit away. Took ages but was well worth it!!)

There will be pictures once I have bottled all the new jam up, but for now I am moving on and away from The Good Life and towards some good old-fashioned knitting content (trying to get back to the roots of this blog here!). A few days ago, a received a little parcel in the post, for which I have of course already sent a private thank you, but which really needs to be shown:

It's a little bib for bean, made by the lovely Mia of Way Past My Bedtime. Isn't it cute? I absolutely love the colour, a dusty blue, and have you seen the cool button? She also added some KnitPicks sock yarn to dye myself (this is my FIRST EVER Knitpicks yarn - I'm so excited!) and some Koolaid to do the dyeing. Thank you so much Mia!!

Then, yesterday the friend who stopped by brought me a little baby cardigan that she had knitted. Here it is, together with yet another cardigan - this time knitted by me (yes, I do still knit, although I seem to have slowed down rather a bit, due to excessive jam production):

Hers is the white one, mine is the dark blob behind it (true to form dark knitting remains impossible to photograph), so far without buttons and hence not really recognisable as a cardigan.

Right, better get back to work.