Thursday, August 31, 2017

Glorious golden summer days...

... or at least that's what it's felt like, around here. The weather has been as indifferent as it usually is in the UK, but it hasn't mattered much to us. Because of boy #1's continuing struggle with his CFS we decided that this year we were going to take it easy and stay at home for the summer holidays. He'd had a bad run and really hasn't been in school much this year, which in turn hasn't been easy for him, and his brother had to have a tonsillectomy around Easter this year and has had quite a few struggles of his own, so we felt it was important to re-center on home and family and to support and be there for each other. 

I have to say that it's been one of the best summers we've had as a family. We took Matilda camping twice for a couple of days but apart from that we've been here. Taking away the added stress and pressure of getting ready for a big holiday was just the right thing. We've had day trips when we felt like it, and rather than taking one big block of 2 weeks, D has been taking two separate weeks to mix things up a bit and provide some relief for me as well. Yes, there has been a lot of the dreaded tablet and xbox, but we made a conscious decision not to fret about it. Instead I made a plan to encourage the kids to also think of other things. 

The result was... pretty great, actually! After some initial hick-ups (boy #2's Aspergers doesn't always lend itself to changes and it takes him a while to adjust) all three boys wholeheartedly embraced the list. They've got themselves ready without needing me to nag them, they've done their mini homework tasks (which were set to make them feel less anxious about the year ahead - boy #1 and boy #2 have a lot of catching up to do and it was making them worried. Boy #3 is just delighted to do school work so he wasn't going to complain!!), and they've played. They've been out in the garden, they've started an exciting tree-house project with D that they've worked on (and continue to work on) very hard whenever there was time, they've helped each other, they've gone on bike-rides and when we were looking after a friend's dog for a week while they were away I never had to go on a walk with Luna without at least one lad accompanying me, armed with tennis balls to play fetch. 

Don't get me wrong, there's been hours and hours of computer games, but you know what? It's all good. Boy #1 needs it when he gets too tired with his CFS, and boy #2 uses it to switch off from the world at bit when he gets too over-stimulated, and boy #3? He's just along for the ride and enjoys doing what his brothers do. It's. All. Good.

Me, in the meantime? I've been tinkering. I've done some pottery and Betty the kiln is finally up and running. She's completed her first firing but as it turns out it takes ages for a kiln to cool down from 1000 degrees C - almost 36 hours in fact! Yesterday i was finally able to crack the door open. It looks as if the firing has worked.

There are some problems, though. Do you see the tiny 'animal' up top? That's my pyrometric cones, which should give an indication of the temperature in the kiln. I use a controller to regulate kiln temperature, but thought I'd use cones to double-check that what the controller is telling me is taking place inside the kiln is in fact really taking place.

Well, I'm glad I did, because if you look at this the first cone is just about bending over. These cones bend over at different temperatures, with the middle one indicating the temperature I wanted to reach. So in an ideal firing the first cone should have collapsed completely, the 2nd cone should be half-bent and the third one should be upright as it is.

Hmmm. The kiln is slightly below temperature, me thinks...

This is OK for a basic biscuit firing, but I'm going to have to experiment with what impact this has during a glaze firing.

I've also been crocheting. I finished the Blue Ripple and decided she is really too large and unwieldy or us. My step mom was admiring her last year and was asking me if I could make her a blanket like that so I think I might give her the blanket. 

Almost immediately after I cast off for Blue Ripple I decided to cast on for another ripple to use up all those odds and ends from all the different blankets I've made over the past few years. On a larger hook, and not nearly as wide as Blue Ripple, this blanket grew quickly, and I managed to finish it in record time. 

The blanket is already a firm favourite. :)

I still had yarn left over, though, so like a true procrastinator, instead of focussing on all my other WIPs I started making a bunch of granny squares from some of the remaining yarn. Of course there wasn't enough in the particular colour combination I'd chosen to finish a full blanket, but I was given two HUGE balls of cream acrylic/wool mix a while back by a friend, so I think I'll just do large borders and finish the blanket that way. Gets rid of some of that excess cream acrylic too, which can only be a good thing!

There is only one week left before school starts up again. I can honestly say that I'll be sad that our summer at home is coming to an end. 

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  1. Sounds like a wonderful summer, you don't always have to get away to have a great time. Beautiful blankets.

  2. It sounds like an amazing summer - I like going away but find all the preparation and travelling stressful. We did a holiday at home week this year (partly so we could have three childfree days out as we sent LO to nursery still LOL). Love your summer holiday rules too.

  3. I love your list and I laughed at the one about getting some clothes on! I think I would like to share your list with parents at my school that struggle with the screen time thing. I think your list is brilliant.
    I love both your blankets, and I think you granny squares will come together into a lovely heirloom project.

  4. What a great summer you had. We stayed local too and had fun trying out local eateries.