Saturday, September 22, 2018

100 of 10 - Day 26 - Leeds Urban Bikepark again...

We had another trip to the Leeds Urban Bike Track today - it's such a fun place, and the cafe isn't shabby either! ;)  

Friday, September 14, 2018

100 of 10 - Day 25 - Anemone

Another shot from yesterday's impromptu photoshoot. Anemones are probably one of my favourite flowers. I have a weakness for that daisy-shape anyway, the simplicity of it appeals to me, but Anemones in particular have such a delicate beauty, and they come so late in the year, when a lot of the other perennials are already starting to die back. 

I never actually planted these Anemones. When we moved into our house, the garden was a huge wilderness of  brambles and nettles, with just one narrow path through it, from the back door to the orchard at the end, flanked by brambles that came to over head-height. It took a long time to make  sense of the garden and to reclaim it from all the weeds, but when we did, there they were - a few big, well-established clumps of Anemones and a few rose bushes, all of which somehow survived underneath all those brambles. They've come  back every year since, and have even spread. 

Shared with:

Thursday, September 13, 2018

100 of 10 - Day 24 - Hello Ladybird!

Boy #1 and I had a mini photo expedition in the garden yesterday to try out different manual settings on the camera and I found this little guy, having a rest. This is such a late-summer image for me, the dying perennials, but there is warmth and sunshine, and the garden is still very much alive and buzzing with life. 

Shared with:

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Glaze Firing...

It's been a long time since I've done a glaze firing. I did a couple of biscuit firings but that meant that things were really piling up in the workshop and I was pretty much running out of space to even put things down. I needed to get on with it and glaze some things so I could make some room, you know? 

Glazing is not my favourite task. I obviously love the look of nicely glazed ceramics, but it's such a fiddly job, and so prone to going wrong, that I dread it just a little, because the danger of ruining a much-loved item is so very real. 

Take that, and add to it that glazing materials are hazardous and best not used around children, and you've got the perfect playground for some heavy procrastination. ;)    It's taken me months to get to the point where I could shut the heavy kiln door and programme my controller.

That said, once it's done and everything is loaded, it's all very exciting. A kiln firing takes a good 12 hours, and after that it takes another 48 hours or so for the kiln to cool down to ambient so it can be opened safely and without danger of cracking any pottery or glazes due to thermal shock. That's a whole lot of nervous waiting, because you never quite know what you are going to find once you crack that kiln door open - is it all going to  be shattered, or will it have worked?!

This firing was to stoneware,1220 degrees C. I switched the kiln on at around 8am in the morning and because Betty is quite an old kiln I checked on her several times that day to see if she was doing her job. She was, and by the afternoon when I checked once more, there was the tell-tale glow from the air hole at the top where I'd removed the bung to help the kiln breathe. Can you see it? 

Closer look...

The temperature at that point was 1147 degrees and rising.

It's always fascinating to me how the inside of the kiln starts to glow once it gets to the really high temperatures. This is the glow through one of the ceramic bungs in the door, which, by the way, are not normally transparent. 

Betty reached temperature at around 8pm that evening and then started to cool down. It was a loooong wait, because after the initial fairly quick drop in temperature down to around 600 degrees, which she managed overnight, things slowed down and it took a further day and a half to get to around 45 degrees, at which point I couldn't take it anymore and cracked the kiln door open. It was still a little early, and there were a few ominous pings (that's the glaze cracking...), but nothing too dramatic happened, and I don't have anything in there where a few minor cracks in the glaze should matter in the least. 

I forgot to take a shot of the kiln right when it was opened, so in this picture a few items have already been moved. 


Overall it was a  very successful firing, but a few things did go wrong - right on the top shelf I had a big plate that I had glazed in white, with small chips of blue glass to melt in all the little indentations in the plate. That part went well, but apparently I had not taken off enough glaze at the bottom of the plate and the whole thing got stuck to the kiln shelf and, because it couldn't expand and contract the way it needed to during firing, cracked in several places...

Ah well, you win some, you lose some...

On the other hand I had a few things that turned out quite lovely:

I think, overall, I'm pretty pleased with this glaze firing! 

Shared with:

Sunday, September 09, 2018

Old FO - my Casual Orange Jumper

I actually finished this jumper a little while ago but then never got round to blogging about it. 

It was one of my stash-busting projects and I pretty much used up every tiny scrap of this yarn to finish it. Originally I'd hoped that this would be a cowl, but cowls take a lot of yarn and I had only three skeins of Jaeger Shetland to work with. 

This is knitted bottom-up and when I got towards the neck I made a quick decision, scrapped the cowl, and went with a simple scooped raglan neckline instead. I had kept a bit of yarn aside for the sleeves and I basically knitted them bit by bit, together, so I could figure out how far the yarn would go. 

I'm actually pretty happy with this project - I've not worn it much yet because I finished it in July and it's been so hot since, but I'm anticipating getting quite a  bit of wear out of it this autumn and possibly even in winter if I layer it with a long-sleeved top. 

Shared with:

Saturday, September 08, 2018

100 of 10 - Day 23 - Skye

The weather is dreary and the light is bad, so I'll have to leave you with a slightly older shot of pretty little Skye, surveying the land from the balcony of her rat castle. :)  

Shared with:

Friday, September 07, 2018

100 of 10 - Day 22 - Hobbit Hole

I took this shot during a recent bikeride in the moors. It's a rabbit hole, but it reminded me so much of a Hobbit hole, with it's perfect circular opening and the grass and heather above it. :) 

Shared with:

Wednesday, September 05, 2018

A Year of Projects - Red Riding Hood

Ah well, it's only... wait... three days late? Hardly anything!

In any case, here is my contribution to A Year of Projects for this week. It's been a bit of a step side-ways, it has to be said. I suddenly fell in love with hooded scarves on Ravelry and just had to make one. I ordered yarn, bought a pattern (which is really not necessary - they are the simplest thing to make! If only I'd known!), and off I went.

It was a very very quick project. With super-bulky yarn and a huge 10mm crochet hook this one was finished in 2 days. I did mess around with it a bit afterwards, but that was because it came out a tad small - clearly I should have gone up another hook size or two - but overall this was so very quick that I don't think I'll be able to resist making another one at some point. And boy #3 has already announced that he'd like one, so there is that...

As it was, although I followed the basic pattern I added quite a few rows to the hood and scarf and even lengthened both ends of the scarf by about 20 stitches on each side. The seams are visible, but since it's all wound round and round it's not particularly noticeable. 

I think if anyone were to make this, it's probably better to go by length rather than stitch count, because the pattern (being a scarf with an attached rectangle) is so simple and it would avoid any of the issues with gauge. 

Shared with:

Monday, September 03, 2018

100 of 10 - Day 22 - Yorkshire Moors

Had a little break from the 100 of 10 series (as well as all other blogging), so to start it up again, this was taken during a bikeride across the Yorkshire Moors. Beautiful wild moors, we love you so. :)  

Sunday, August 19, 2018

A Year of Projects Update Post

I didn't upload anything last week, but hey, better every other week than never, right?

As usual, I'm finding it a little tricky to stick to a timetable. Will I ever learn? I'm in my mid-40s now so the chances that I'm going to completely change into an ultra-organised person are not so good I feel... But I have got better. I used to be notoriously late for everything, always apologising, always rushing, and my organisational skills have improved over the years. It's mainly down to having to balance kids and work I think...

Enough of that, though. Let's get to the main topic of this post - my Year of Projects update. I've not been terribly productive this past couple of weeks. Obviously I'm in Germany right now (though about to head to the airport), so there is that, but also, I suppose it's part of the whole summer holiday thing - the days stretch out and by now we are all thoroughly used to not doing very much at all (not D, though, he's back at work, poor thing). We get up late, have breakfast even later, tinker around the place, play a bit, perhaps see some friends, loll around on the sofa, and the boys have alternated between quite a bit of gaming but also quite a bit of biking. As I mentioned a few days ago, D has built a mini bike track in the back garden and boy #3 in particular has been going round and round on his little mountain bike.

I did get a few rows in on my mohair cowl, so I'm up to the armhole decreases now, and it's the only project I've brought with me to Germany so it's received at least a bit of attention. The yarn knits up pretty well, and considering how much this project has been carted around it also seems to wear fairly well.

Other than that, I've been thinking about projects rather than actually working on projects. I still have all this stash yarn, you see, and I think I've finally found a few projects that might work. Look at this, the Mohair Cowl Pullover. I think it will do really well for this yarn:

And this, the Grocery and Produce String Bag - I'd love to make a few, which will deplete my cotton stash a bit.

The Sunday Chunky Jumper might be just the ticket for the remainder of this rather scratchy bulky yarn that I still have lying around.

But then I also really fancy this Curvy Crochet Cowl? And I've never crocheted a jumper, so that makes it quite tempting too! Perhaps I have enough of this yarn left for it:

And what do you think of either the Frosting Pullover or Maria for this Fleece Artist single-spun mohair yarn?

I'm also contemplating another crochet blanket - perhaps another wavy one  - because of this:

I think there are just enough left-overs for a blanket - though I'm just as likely to run out at the crucial moment so I have to emergency-buy more yarn that I then have to use up in turn...

And there you go, I think you can see my problem. There are just too many potential projects! I'm obviously sticking with the blue Mohair Cowl that I'm working on right now because I want to see it finished in time to actually wear it in the autumn, but I think  I could perhaps add one more WIP to my current list - which one is it to be?!

Shared with:
A Year of Projects

Saturday, August 18, 2018

100 of 10 - Day 21 - Familiar Views

A familiar sight from my childhood -  the view out of the window from my dad's house of the Greek chapel at the top of the hill. It's quite a romantic story that is behind it - apparently it was built as a monument to a Russian princess who died very young, in childbirth, while living in Wiesbaden (which was a a popular 19th century destination for Russian nobility because of its medicinal hot springs. The old casino in Wiesbaden was one of the places Dostoevski frequented and Wiesbaden later served as one of the inspirations for his famous novel 'The Gambler'.

Friday, August 17, 2018

100 of 10 - Day 20 - Above the Clouds

I'm in Germany right now, to visit my family there. Arrived last night, so had no chance to upload anything, so here you go - my view from above the clouds. I've not been on a plane for a long time, since the boys we usually tend to drive everywhere, so it all felt very strange. It also feels very strange to  be here, in the house I grew up in, by myself, without any kids. It's a bit too quiet, and I'm not used to all this down-time. I (almost) felt bored for a while there, earlier, so I went to chat to my dad. Because of all the chatting we forgot to start cooking early enough for all the people we had coming tonight, so there was a lot of rushing around and frantically chopping vegetables so it all felt a lot more normal then. ;) 

Clearly I've forgotten how to relax and do nothing!

Shared with:

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

100 of 10 - Day 19 - Biking #2

The boys, with the help of some D and one of his biking mates, extended the mini-bike track in the  back garden. Hey, who needs lawn anyway? 

Shared with:

Monday, August 13, 2018

100 of 10 - Day 18 - Hiding

The good, the random, the fun - all in one snapshot. ;)

This is how I found boy#2 this morning. He was apparently watching some YouTube video in there...

Shared with:

Sunday, August 12, 2018

100 of 10 - Day 17 - Spark

A brief quiet moment today for D and me, at Spark in York, while grandma was looking after the boys. 

Sunday 'Year of Projects' post is coming tomorrow...

Saturday, August 11, 2018

100 of 10 - Day 16 - Leeds Urban Bike Park

Another day biking, another injury...

We went to the Leeds Urban Bike Park today. It's a brilliant place, full of mountain bike and BMX trails for different skill levels, with a little bike repair shop and a pretty nice cafe so you can treat yourself to bacon buns and nice cakes when you've exhausted yourself on the trails. 

We obviously had yet another injury - boy #1 had a pretty big crash on one of the downhill tracks, scraped his arm and bruised his side, but it was still a fun day out, and it's so good to see him able to actually do these things. Even seeing him be active enough to have accidents like this feels oddly right and normal after 2 years of enforced inactivity. I'm so hoping it will continue.

Thursday, August 09, 2018

100 of 10 - Day 15 - Mess

Will you look at this messy still-life with cat? We are having a very lazy home-day, much needed after the past few days, which had quite a bit of activity, and were very sociable. The boys have mainly been lying on the sofa, playing on various devices, though this sloth-like existence was briefly interrupted earlier by a bit of playing in the pottery shed and some messy throwing on the pottery wheel. 

I suppose I should really not show all the mess we are living in today, it really doesn't make for a very pretty photograph, but it does reflect the theme of 'life' so perfectly at this particular moment in time. In addition, it does feature Molly, and we are so very happy that she is accepting that we are back. Every time we go on holiday Molly disappears and last time we were away she didn't come home for a full week after - we were walking up and down the roads in our village, hoping to hear her cry out because we were worried that she might be locked in someone's garage. After a week of fretting she just walked in, slightly grumpy and bossy as ever. 

With that past experience we were so glad to see her walk in a mere two days after our return from holiday. The first night she only stayed for a couple of hours before disappearing again, but the following evening she came back again, and since then she's been spending more time in the house. In her own very assertive and stubborn way she has been making her displeasure at our desertion felt by crying at us a lot and lying in the most impossible places - a few minutes after this picture was taken she stretched and in doing so pushed half the clutter on the table down onto the floor. Still, at least she's safe and home! :)

PS: Sorry for missing another day yesterday - it's hard work, this holiday thing!

Shared with:

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

100 of 10 - Day 14 - Sunhat

 I'm sorry, but I'm cheating a bit with this one. I simply didn't get round to taking a proper picture yesterday or today and I'm absolutely shattered after a very busy (but fun busy, so it's OK!) day, so today my 100 of 10 picture is my nearly completed Sun Hat WIP. I ordered some boning and crocheted around it all around the hat. I'm still in two minds about it. The pattern asked for hat wire but I couldn't find any, and then I thought the boning might be better because I can scrunch the hat up to take it with me in my bag, etc, which I'm guessing would be a bit of an issue with wire, but it doesn't quite fit the way I envisioned it. It's not bad, but... well, I'll finish the hat band and then take a few proper pictures so you can see.

Shared with:

Monday, August 06, 2018

100 of 10 - Day 13 - Quiet Moment

Still catching up on stuff after our holiday so another little pic from the journey back. The window on the ferry is always a popular spot to sit quietly for a minute. 

Shared with:

Sunday, August 05, 2018

100 of 10 - Day 12 - Sand Sculptures

We were travelling yesterday and arrived home today to a defrosted fridge and freezer, courtesy of a power cut so I'm a little behind with these posts. This is from yesterday, our very last day on the beautiful Noordwijk beach. The boys spent the morning making elaborate sand sculptures out of dripped sand. They looked strange and kind of magical - like fairy tale structures. 

Friday, August 03, 2018

100 of 10 - Day 11 - Lost Property Tree

D and I headed out tonight for a meal out on our very last day here in beautiful Noordwijk. We went a little further towards the other end of the beach to try out one of the beach pavillions there, and came across this - it's a 'Lost Property Tree'. As far as I can tell any lost property found on the beach is hung on the branches. How cute is that?! 

Shared with:

Thursday, August 02, 2018

100 of 10 - Day 10 - Metro

Little snapshot from our trip to Amsterdam. I've always liked the Metro/Underground/U-Bahn, whatever the thing is called in different places. I like the utilitarian stark architecture and symmetry.

Shared with:

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Holiday Update #3

Our holiday is slowly drawing to a close, so I thought another update was in order. 

After the heat wave broke a few days ago temperatures have been far more tolerable, with most days around 25 degrees, which, for me at least, is quite a nice temperature - enough to not be cold in shorts and a light shirt, even when in the shade, yet not so hot you don't know what to do with yourself. My stepmom sent me a message today, and apparently temperatures near Frankfurt have been around 39 degrees for a few days now. My folks are in Wiesbaden, which always has a pretty oppressive kind of heat in the summer because of it's strange situatedness between the Rhine on one side, and the mountainrange of the Taunus on the other, so weather tends to sort of get 'trapped' in there, and it  gets very humid and unpleasant. I'm feeling really sorry for them, especially as they had been planning to come and see us for about a week but then had to cancel because of an awkwardly scheduled op - having to recover in this heat must be particularly awful.

For us, the slightly lower temperatures have meant a lot more activity, which has been nice after the enforced inactivity. A few days ago we went to a mountain bike trail that D and boy #1, who both have a bad case of mountain bike obsession, had discovered. It was a 30 minute drive away but there was a nice cafe for grandma and me to set up camp while the boys enthusiastically pushed their bikes up the hill, rode down, and pushed them up again. I occasionally followed them up the trail to take some shots, and I have to say it looked pretty good fun. 

For lunch we took our sandwiches up the hill, where we found a huge climbing wall and a bizarre structure that none of us could quite make sense of. You may have seen a picture of it that I posted as part of my 100 of 10 series, but here are a few more shots.

I assume it might be some kind of viewing platform? There are stairs going up through the middle of the two large concrete disks, and there are additional more shallow steps going up the sides on top of the rubble. We didn't go up because it was quite a way and we had the bike and the picnic, but if it is a viewing platform, wouldn't the large concrete discs partially obscure the view!? I don't know... It  looked fun though - a bit like part of an alien space ship that got buried in the hill. 

The day after boy #1 needed to rest so we decided that we should have a calmer kind of a day. Boy #2 was determined to go to a 'boot camp' we had spotted not far from us, so we decided to have a look because there were benches where boy #1 would be able to rest should he need to, and it since it wasn't more than 5 minutes bike ride away and you pay for an hour only, it wouldn't be a big outing.

It was pretty good fun. If anyone has ever watched Ninja Warrior on TV, this is the kind of place that people who go on the programme might train. The guy who owned it (who wouldn't have looked out of place on Ninja Warriors himself) said he'd  built the entire course himself, and he proudly told us that it's the biggest boot camp in the Netherlands and that the Dutch team had come to train there. 

It was pretty easy-going. We paid and off we went. He didn't even stick around, just told us to pull the gate shut behind us when we were ready to leave. I have to say, I'm loving the lack of red tape and the much more easy-going attitude here...

The boys obviously honed in on the one really manky pool in there. Seriously, the water in that pond was absolutely rank, and they obviously did fall in - thankfully not head-first, though, and only up to their knees, but still... Showers were in order after we made it back!!

Yesterday we finally, FINALLY, made it to Amsterdam. I've never been (well, I might have been when I was 10 or 11, but I have no actual recollection of this so it doesn't count). I knew that due to boy #1's ME we wouldn't be able to do much, but just soaking up the atmosphere for a while was such fun. Our main pursuit was finding an art supply shop, carefully researched on the internet before the holiday, where the boys would be able to see and buy their much-coveted Copic Markers. These are very expensive alcohol-based markers for illustration, and boy #1 in particular loves them (though he so far only had one and a bunch of knock-off cheaper markers). This mission was achieved, as was a little wander around town, so everyone was happy, although, shock! horror! I didn't make it to the yarn shop I'd picked out, so no souvenir yarn!! This has never happened and it will likely take me a while to get over the shock. :) 

How cute is this entrance with the roses and that little gate?

Van Beek art supplies

How amazing is this train?! It's a double-decker? I'd never seen one like that!

I do miss big cities at times. It's not so much that I really need to live in a city anymore, I'm more than happy in our little village, but I sometimes need my big city fix. I guess it brings back memories of studying in Munich...  If we come back here next year I may plan in a little trip to Amsterdam just for myself so I can explore a little further. 

In knitting-related news, I've got as far as I can with my sun hat so I'm now working on my mohair cowl, which is growing quite nicely. 

Shared with: