Wednesday, December 31, 2008

That picture is a fairly accurate depiction of how I feel right now - a bit chaotic and untidy, and a bit blurry and out of focus... Christmas takes its toll, with the excessive eating and the excessive visiting and meeting people, and the excessive presents. We had a policy of not giving excessive gifts this year - after all, The Bean doesn't need another room full of toys and Tick doesn't really need anything other than mommy milk right now ;-) - but somehow we seem to have neglected to tell other people. The result can be seen above...

We had a lovely time, though - relaxed and fun, if a bit chaotic.

New Year is shaping up to be a much more quiet affair. I have managed to catch the flu that has been going round, so I've spent the last two days in bed, only feeding Tick when he demanded it, while D has been entertaining The Bean (they are out in town right now, buying a new mobile phone I think...). We hadn't planned to do much for New Year anyway, but the way it is looking now the evening might be over by 9.30pm! Oh well...

In any case, I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and I wish you all the best for the New Year!


Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I think if I will have one New Year Resolution this time it will be to get rid of some of the clutter in our home. Honestly, the clutter, it knows no bounds.

Yesterday I went through a few bags full of yarn that I accidentally stumbled across when I was trying to stuff something else into an already over-full closet and I made a radical decision - I want some of my stash to go.

I'm fine with having a lof of yarn and I love looking and petting all the pretty skeins and thinking about all those future projects, but then there are also purchases that either I don't like anymore or that I can't for the life of me assign to a project and some of it should find a new owner. I am thinking of listing it all on ebay (and in the case of the random bag of odds and ends I have already done so - link is here), but I thought I'd offer it up here first, in case someone is interested.

Here we go:

Two balls of Patons Washed Haze. £2.50 plus postage.

2 balls o Kool Kotton in a light beige / linen colour. £2 plus postage.

4 balls of 4 Seasons yarn. This is very similar to Rowan All Seasons Cotton (although not as expensive as that!). £4.00 plus postage.

One big ball of Opal Sock yarn. £3.00 plus postage

2 balls of Wolle Roedel Ronda yarn. £3 plus postage.

Huge mountain of odds and ends (there are a few more that I forgot to include in the photograph. This has been listed on ebay here.

Two bags of fibre. This is Welsh mountain and Swaledale, so it's not particularly soft. Would be good to practice with. I would let this go for just cost of postage.

Last but not least, this selection of mini skeins from the Natural Dye Studio. Please note that these are not regular size skeins but mini-skeins. I bought this as a selection to try some Fair Isle but I is it really ever going to happen? Probably not in the next 10 years, so I might as well get rid of it. £4.50 plus postage.

Comment or send me an email if you are interested. Otherwise this will just go on ebay because I really REALLY need some space in my cupboards!!

More to come.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

He's here...

Sorry for the silence - it's the New Baby craziness that has taken hold of us here.

Tick arrived on the 13th November - two days before his due date - after only 6 hours of active labour and only 1.5 hours after we got to the hospital. In fact, the midwife nearly missed it. She'd gone out to get a nurse and when she came back in she just about managed to catch him!!

I'll be back more regularly in a few weeks time I think, once things have settled down a bit. For now I am sitting back, basking in the New Baby glow, and trying to juggle a very proud but also quite confused little Bean and a little Tick who, in the way babies tend to, has his days and nights mixed up and likes to sleep like an angel during the day and feed like a little fiend all night. Right now all is well with my world.

So until I return to more regular broadcasting, hope you are all finding some enjoyment and some quiet, peaceful time in the often frantic uprun to Christmas.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Still waiting...

I know I am inpatient, I know I am...

... but with The Bean being a little early I thought that Tick might follow his big brother's example. Of course his due date is only Saturday, but still! It's Tuesday today and he is making absolutely no signs of wanting to vacate the premises...

At least I've had plenty of time to get a few things sorted around the house.

I built the Ikea bookcase for the corner of our lounge and carried a ton of books downstairs to sort into the shelves. Very satisfying, although I was rather tired afterwards.

I think it looks OK. I was a bit worried that it might not work, and to be perfectly honest, the sofa IS a little bit too big for the space that is left for it, in particular with the small table with the lamp on by the side, but it isn't very noticeable and we did need the space for the books after all. I think it makes the room feel more cozy...

I've also got round to sewing a new cover for my moses basket. It's not finished yet because it needs some elastic around the rim to hold the fabric up securely, but just to show you the pattern of the fabric:

This is a kind of flannel fabric that I got in a swap a while ago. No idea what it is exactly but it's cute with the little giraffes. It's the first time I've worked with a stretchy fabric and although I like the way it has turned out I have to admit that I didn't working with the fabric much. It's just not an exact science and the fabric slips and slides all over the place. It's good enough for a moses basket cover, but overall I think I'll stick to sewing with non-stretchy materials...

My sock knitting is also coming along uncharacteristically well - I've turned the heel (there seemed to be a mistake in the pattern, so it took a bit of experimenting, but overall this is just about the nicest heel that I've ever come across - I'll definitely use that pattern for the heel again!) and I'm on the home run now. Of course then there is the second sock, but we are not thinking about that yet.

In the sprit of nesting I've also spent the past few days sticking photographs into albums - a task that I normally NEVER get round to. We have boxes and boxes full of photographs!

If Tick makes me wait much longer, my tasks for the next few days will be:

1) more sticking pictures into albums
2) sewing a nappy bag with some corduroy fabric I have in my stash
3) sewing a head support for the Mei Tai baby carrier I have for Tick
4) x-mas baking with The Bean - I'm really looking forward to that and have already dug out my recipe books. There are plenty of terrifying things about the up-run to x-mas, but the German x-mas cookies? Hmmmmm!! ;-)

Friday, October 31, 2008

Nearly there...

Well, tomorrow I'll be officially 38 weeks pregnant and in the home stretch.

After all this waiting around it seems a bit surreal that Tick will be here with us so soon. I had a midwife appointment yesterday and when we arranged for another appointment in 2 weeks time it ocurred to me that if Tick is anything like Bean was I won't have that appointment - he will be here by then.

Things have been well - much better really, than a few weeks ago, when I felt tired and exhausted and big and lumpy. It seems that I am experiencing that surge of energy that so many pregnant woment have right before they go into labour. And the nesting very much continues... I even managed to squeeze in a trip to Ikea two days ago (much to D's annoyance because he is the one suffering from all the 'imaginary' tasks that I come up with that, at least in my deranged and pregnancy-addled mind, can't possibly wait and URGENTLY need to be seen to before Tick gets here). I bought another bookshelf for the living room (will post pictures once it's up and full of books), a small shelf unit for Bean's room (I am trying, in vain, to keep the flood of multi-coloured plastic in check that threatens to engulf us one of these days) and a little wooden stepping stool for the bathroom so Bean can reach the basin to wash his hands. Also, more boxes for clutter collection, a few frames for Bean's 'artwork' and some x-mas decorations. Gotta love Ikea...

I'm also knitting. Socks, even! A few weeks ago I started on a modified version of Knitty's Satchel, mainly to use up some ancient Ebay yarn, but all that stocking stitch is starting to get to me so I suddenly felt like knitting something more intricate. Despite the fact that I rarely knit socks I own a lot of sock yarn (got to love the wonderful colours you get for sock yarn...) and I finally got round to winding a few balls and casting on:

This is the Widdershins pattern from Knitty, and so far it's rather fun to knit. The yarn is a handspun sock yarn from Hipknits. It was a horrific tangle and took me about 2 days to wind into a ball, but it is wonderfully soft and I love the soft earthy colours of the yarn.

PS: Now that I am settling into my maternity leave I've been starting to wonder if I should join a swap again. I do so love parcels (both sending and receiving them) and it's been a looooong time. I don't even know where to look for a swap these days. Are any of you aware of any interesting swaps starting in the near future?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Embracing the home life...

I'm finally on maternity leave (yay!) and I've been trying to wind down a bit. It's hard, in particular as I still have an article to finish up before Tick arrives. It's in the final stages, but I do find myself fretting over it late at night after yet another visit to the bathroom (if Tick could just be a little more kind to my bladder we'd both sleep so much better...).

In preparation to embracing the homelife I am hoping to enjoy in the coming months I have splashed out on a few books though:

There is a Kath Kidston book on embroidery - I thought it would be a bit more about actual sewing, but it's nice anyway - and two cookery books. One is a lovely little book on homemade edible gifts - cakes, biscuits, chutneys, jam, marmelade, pralines, alcohol... and it's beautifully photographed. I can't wait to try some of the recipes. The other one is a cookery book based on the wonderful food that is always mentioned in classic children's books. Who can't remember reading children's books and, for hours after, wanting pancakes, muffins drizzled with melted butter, and homemade lemonade? The book is compiled and written by Jane Brocket of Yarnstorm, which is something I only found out after I had already bought it!

Hopefully all the cookery books will have the added side-effect of providing me with a few cheap x-mas presents for friends and family. I'm no good knitting things for a deadline, and I have a rather disasterous Sockapalooza experience to vouch for it, so I am not even attempting knitted gifts - they happen when they will, but not usually in time for birthdays, anniveraries, or x-mas - so I am hoping that perhaps I can make some luxurious chocolates and cakes and maybe bottle a few chutneys for people. The Bean will hopefully help - we've recently ventured into the real of cupcake making together. We made Postman Pat mini muffins and apart from the fact that he managed to eat quite a bit of the dough and about half the icing they were a great success.

I even have some knitting content today:

Yes, I've dipped my foot into the dangerous waters of sock-knitting again. This was an internet pattern that was knitted inside out. I will edit this post and give you a link once I find the pattern and can confirm the name. It was an easy enough knit, although socks are always painfully slow for me. Unfortunately, though, I don't really like the socks. Nothing to do with the pattern, I hasten to add, just that the yarn really didn't go with the style of the socks but once I had finished one of them and had realised this there was really no way I was going to unravel the whole thing again. It had taken me months to get to this point, after all!! Instead I quickly cast on for the second sock and finished it in record time, just to get this project out of the way. I will still wear the socks, obviously, but I really wished that I was happier with the result...

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Another little something for the arrival of Tick - this is from Last Minute Knitted Gifts and the yarn is the same I used for the Baby Raglan. Debbie Bliss cashmerino I think...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Does anyone elses home look that chaotic?

Actually, don't answer that, it's most likely just going to depress me...

Living with toddlers is not beneficial to tidy surroundings. *sigh*

I'm not sure why I am subjecting people to this, and this is a particularly bad day, and clearly pre-evening tidy up, but with all the nesting that's been going on here recently I guess it's been on my mind. Isn't it strange how mess breeds mess? And how it ends up cluttering your mind?

I admit, I'm not the tidiest person, but I've been trying to get organised for little Tick and part of that is to declutter. Over time we've been given so much stuff for the Bean and I've been going through it all, giving stuff away and storing other things away for later re-use by Tick.

Not that this is going to prevent further mess, but a girl can have her illusions, right? Also, it takes my mind off the article I'm supposed to write... although that is maybe not such a good thing. ;-)

I've also finished the Baby Raglan that I've been knitting. Sadly the colour didn't come out at all - it's a very light sage green - but I'm hoping to get another shot when Tick can actually model the sweater.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Buttons ahoy!

Not much to report here so I'll just post a shot, taken 2 weeks ago when we had friends staying with us. This is Spurn Point, where we spend a lovely day, walking and chatting, and building castles in the sand with the Bean. It's a stunning place, really, a very narrow lip of land that is only a few hundred metres wide the most (often less) and reaches a few miles into the sea. I'd never been, but I can see us returning there often.

In other news - we have a wardrobe in the kids' room now, so I can finally start washing all the newborn clothes. I've been nesting like crazy these last few weeks. Did it start this early with the Bean? I don't remember this at all... Or maybe it's because this time round with the house a bit more finished I actually have a CHANCE of being somewhat ready for the new arrival. So I've been rooting around, finding things, stocking up on things I will need in the first few weeks, but mainly I've been washing load after load of laundry. It doesn't help that I've decided to give cloth nappies a serious try this time round. With the Bean I didn't use them as much as I wanted to because we were just not set up for that yet, but this time I'm ready I think. :-)

Oh, and I've finally got round to sewing some buttons onto my recent knitting projects. I don't have a picture of Bean's cardigan yet because he is wearing it today and I didn't get round to it in the morning, but here is the Tick's baby cardigan:

I know, I know, you've seen this and it wasn't that exciting the first time round, but I'm always amazed what a difference a few buttons make. Suddenly it looks kind of cute while before it was just... a wide expanse of garter stitch. ;-)

Monday, August 25, 2008

Back from all the summer extravaganzas...

Yes, I am still here - I was just gone for a while because I first went to Germany to see my family for a couple of weeks, then, two days after returning to the UK, we went to the Lake District for another 10 days or so.

We had a fabulous time and, despite the consistently pessimistic weather forecasts, fantastic weather! We had rented a little cottage in a valley behind the Old Man of Coniston (a local mountain) but in the end also added another two days at a B&B we passed on the shore of Coniston Water. It was a magical place - I'm so thankful my pregancy-bladder demanded an immediate stop and we decided to have some tea at the same time. The place was called Bank Ground Farm and is actually the farm that Ransome's Swallows and Amazons' Holly Howe is based on. Fortunately they had a room available and we were able to add another two wonderful days to our holiday. This is D and The Bean by the shore of Coniston Water, throwing stones into the water.

Upon coming back from holiday, as if that had all been nothing, we had Bean's Christening and a house full of people. After that I was at work what feels like 24/7 because of Clearing (when here in the UK the A-level results come out and prospective students start ringing around because they didn't get the results they were expecting and are hoping to secure a place anyway). And this weekend we had friends staying with us and we did quite a bit of driving around (Spurn Point on Saturday and then the Yorkshire Moors on Sunday).

It's all been great fun, but I AM EXHAUSTED! I think I may also have a pregnancy-related iron deficiency going on, because even with all this going on, I don't think I should feel quite this tired... Better check this with the midwife at my next appointment on Thursday. Other than that, though, Tick is doing well, and this pregnancy is progressing so fast... can't believe I'm 28 weeks already. CRAP, when am I going to get all the things done that I was going to do before this little one gets here?

Despite all this, there has been some knitting - not for me, because I don't really want to start anything that I can't try on right now, but there has been quite a bit of baby knitting.

First of all, I finished the double-breasted baby cardigan that I mentioned last time:

As I suspected, the sizing is... a bit off. To my eyes the cardi looks HUGE. It might fit me!! (Well, maybe not right now, but without the baby belly it might) That said, at least the length is exactly what it is supposed to be, so maybe the sizing is just this odd?! There are also no buttons yet, because I haven't got round to digging any out. I have two big biscuit tins full of old buttons that I inherited from D's grandma, so I am hoping I'll find something in there.

The second thing is also from the Debbie Bliss baby knits book, this time something for Tick:

It's the garter stitch baby cardigan, again, minus buttons. The yarn is from Wolle Roedel in Germany - a superwash merino which was great to knit with. Again, the sizing is odd, because with a bit of stretching this cardi would also quite comfortably fit the Bean - is this really supposed to be the newborn size?

I'm now knitting another baby raglan sweater from the Debbie Bliss book. This has become one of my favourite pattersn because the cardis turn out so cute and are so easy to wear for babies an toddlers (the sizing doesn't go up to 2-3 years, but it's easy enough to adapt the sizing to Bean's requirements).

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Knitting content... and a meme

It ocurrs to me that I haven't posted any knitting content in quite some time, so I thought I'd at least show your a FO - this was finished a while ago, but it was during my period of non-posting, so I guess it could still count as a 'new' FO...

I present - the Classic Cardigan from Debbie Bliss' The Baby Knits Book:

This was knitted with some merino wool/acrylic mix if I remember right, but I can't quite recall what it was called. Maybe one day I'll find the label.

It was a quick knit, although it then predictably took me about 2 months to sew the buttons on.

The bean LOVES it. He saw me knit it and then suddenly it was something he was able to wear! It's like magic! I really hope he is a long way off the stage when hand-knits done by mummy become the most embarassing thing in the world...

I've now started another project from the same book - the Double-Breasted Jacket:

The picture is from the book itself. I don't dare post any pictures of my own knitting yet, because I'm kind of making it all up as I go along. I couldn't face knitting with the thin yarn and the tiny needles that were suggested and I had this really snuggly soft yarn in just the right colour but totally the wrong weight, and I just cast on anyway. I'm doing the smallest size but with the length suggested for the largest size... It can only go terribly wrong!

Also, I was tagged for a meme - well, for two memes, really, but I have to take the pictures for the second meme so that one will be in the next post. This one is the 'Knowing me' meme, and I was tagged by Steph of Six Skeins Under.

1. What was I doing ten years ago?
Well, let's see... I was already in the UKI (gosh, I've been here a long time now). I was a visiting student then, from a German university, but I had just decided to apply to finish my undergrad degree in the UK.

2. What are 5 things on your to-do list today?
1) Laundry - laundry is always on my to-do-list...
2) Finish an article - I have a self-imposed deadline of Friday for this one
3) misc paperwork - there is a nice growing pile next to the computer
4) food shopping - we are running out of just about everything right now
5) sleep - the bean still likes to get up early. Very early this morning - around 4.40am!

3. What are your favorite things to snack on?
Right now anything savoury / spicy. I've just managed to source some Kimchi (Korean fermented spicy cabbage) online, so I'll probably cook some rice later to eat some of that.

4. Where are some places you've lived?
I've lived in Berlin, near Frankfurt, Munich, the Midlands, and now East Yorkshire. Oh yes, and in London for a couple of months.

5. What would you do if you were a billionaire?
You mean if I won the lottery? I probably wouldn't change all that much. I wouldn't chance where I am or the job I do for example. I would, however, get someone to finish the house for us and do up our bramble patch of a garden, and would make sure the people close to me could do the same.

6. What jobs have you done?
supermarket worker/shelf stacker, assistant in a doctor's surgery, market seller at an mediterranean deli stall, carer for a paralised person, personel assistent, general secretary, researcher, seminar tutor, university lecturer, and being a mom! ;-)

7. Which other people would you like to know more about?
I am tagging Karin, Beth, Jennifer, and Jane.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Summer is here...

Just a few pictures from the veg patch...

It's all coming along now - the potatoes have come out, and the onions. The sweetcorn went in a couple of weeks ago and I have planted lots of salad and beans. The only thing failing me this time seems to be the tomatoes. I was lazy and put them straight into the soil rather than planting them into pots first to bring them on. Last year this seemed to work fine (although to be truthful, tomatoes don't do that well in this climate anyway and I usually end up with some ripe ones in October or so...) but this year nothing seems to come up. It's too late now to try with the seeds again so hopefully I'll pick up a few plants somewhere.


Last weekend we took our trusty little camper Eddie out and went camping - for the first time ever!! We've used Eddie a lot since he joined our family in January, but so far we hadn't ventured into proper camping. This was partly due to the weather, but partly also to our own nervousness. I've never really been much of a camping-kind-of-girl but D loves it, so I was willing to try. It turns out that it can be good fun!

We didn't go far - just ventured into the North Yorkshire Moors and stayed at a campsite close to Helmsley. Initially it wasn't that great - very windy and we only managed to get the very last spot on the campsite, meaning we were right by the entrance and completely in the shade... COLD! Still, it was kind of nice to cook our evening dinner (pasta with tomato sauce) on the tiny stove and the bean absolutely loved the camper and all the tents around us. We even found that the boot of the camper, without folding the bed out, makes a perfect bean cot - it has the matress and the back seat means that he can't roll out during the night. He slept till 6.20am, which sounds pretty early, but is absolutely spectacular when you consider that he usually gets up at 5am. In fact, the night before he'd got up at 3.45am... *yawn*

We spent the bank holiday Monday in Helmsley, where we discovered a lovely walled garden, and took the long scenic route via the moors back to our spot.

Not our last camping trip, that much is certain!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Oh my god, it's May...

That means that I have been MIA for, what, 4 months?!

The good news is, though, that I am now officially free of teaching for the summer, and while that sadly does not mean that I am also free of work (2-3 papers ready for publication is my aim) it does mean that work will progress at a much more flexible and leisurely pace (no more last-minute dashes to the library to finish a lecture for tomorrow morning), which in turn usually translates into some extra time to do silly things like.... knit, spin, and post in my blog!

I've been missing this blog so much, so I am looking forward to getting back into a regular routine of posting. And since I've already made significant inroads into the all the tasks that have been left until such a time when I am not bogged down by teaching prep: I have done laundry, which was very very necessary - I had to dig a path to the washing machine because the stacks of laundry were that high; I went food shopping - yay, we have fresh food in the house; I planted my veg patch - the shoots have already started appearing; and I have started cleaning the house - this one is going to take me a while longer I fear... . Anyway, since I have made inroads into all these 'chores' I felt that I was justified spending a pleasurable half hour posting on my neglected blog.

The other reason why I think I might get back to posting a bit more is this:

Yes, that's right, bean #2, aka 'tick' is on the way. He/she is due in mid-November, which makes me about 13 weeks pregnant now. I'm (hopefully) over the really miserable first trimester of extreme tiredness and 24/7 nausea (so much worse than with bean #1, or have I just forgotten this?!), and my belly has just started popping out a bit. It's so exciting!

Anyway, because of all this there should be more movement on the blog from now on - more knitting (got to knit for my second winter baby, right?), more gardening, and of course there are all the new developments on the ongoing project that is our home...

It's good to be back. :-)

Friday, January 11, 2008


I seem to have disappeared off the face of the earth!

How are you all (provided anybody is in fact still checking back here)? Happy New Year to all of you!

These days, full-time working life plus full-time mothering have me firmly in their grip, and time at the computer is very limited - at least when it comes to focussed blogging time. Sure, I get the odd minute here and there to answer an email, but its rarely enough to do much more, and since it's also usually at work rather than at home I don't get to upload photographs all that often. I miss it, I really do, and I am hoping to make some more time this year.

I miss being creative and I have plans for the coming year. I do still knit, and recently I have taught myself crochet. I'm working on my first granny-square blanket, which is to grace our newest crazy purchase - an old VW Campervan called Eddie. Spinning and sewing have suffered in the last few months, because they are just not portable enough, but I'm thinking about giving crewel a try... And I want to start drawing again - just for myselfa - and teach myself some new techniques (oil in particular).

The next academic year will be very very busy, in partiular as we are also covering for absent colleagues), but as I start developing new routines I hope I'll find more time again to reconnect with the blog. Here's hoping...