'If you make happiness your goal, then you're not going to get to it… The goal should be an interesting life."

Dorothy Rowe

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Still Here...

and still knitting. 
Yes, I am knitting both ends at once. It's a long story - and a long glove.   

 Not much else has been happening. I've  had a series of what Babybel calls 'wrong days' - nothing major going wrong, fortunately, but not much going right. For example, the curtains were finished and hung - and, true to form, I've managed not to get the linings in straight, so the centre of each lining is slightly longer than the curtain. Harrumph.    

 Fortunately the VHC is very happy with them, and I got a special 'thank you' from him at his birthday party, despite competition from (more) Brio type trains and (more) Lego. He didn't get many other presents apart from Brio and Lego but was not in the least disappointed: in fact he was so preoccupied with building a truly amazing train track that he didn't eat his birthday cake. This is unprecedented: he is rather fond of cake.
Those are the VHC and his daddy's knees. I'll let you work out which is which.   

 (I made the cake. I will spare you the saga of making the cake. Let's just say it was similar to the saga of making the curtains, only stickier...)   

 The highlight of the week was a trip down to Walford to the 'Abode' exhibition, which foolishly I had thought would be furniture, but turned out to be mostly textiles/mixed media. Some names I knew (Caren Garfon, Debbie Smyth, Caroline Parrott, Betty Pepper), some were new to me (Hannah Sawtell, Ruth Allen). All good, and a bit of a fifties vibe in some things which I really liked.   

Despite the excellent work by these ladies, what both Wensleydale and I fell in love with was some plates. And bowls, jugs, cups etc. So much so that we came home and ordered some egg cups. We didn't need any egg cups, we were just in love. The range is called 'Eclectic Avenue' by a company called 'People Will Always Need Plates'.  Yes, They do. I really need plates like this.
So wee are trying to justify buying some. Like a dinner service's worth. Unfortunately we have rather a lot of china already: my grandmother's tea service, my aunt's tea service, my mother-in-law's tea service, and two complete(ish) dinner services of our own, best and every day, of which we only ever use the latter. But if we give the dinner services to the sons, and sell the older stuff (which we'd been planning on doing anyway) - we'd need some replacements, wouldn't we? And we'd have some money to spend on it, with any luck. (The inherited stuff is not immensely valuable, but tracking similar stuff down on Google suggests we might get something for it.)   

 So, when we've got rid of the 20 something bags of books, which someone from a charity which I won't name was supposed to contact me about and hasn't, and accumulated enough boxes and newspapers to pack it all, and got my MIL's stuff down from the loft - I'll take a sample to the recommended sale room's valuation day and keep my fingers crossed!    

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

The Curtains - Continued

  I mentioned last time that my attempt to  shorten and line the VHC's curtains had been scuppered because of the need to wash off the sticky fixers which someone had applied to them. They had dried out by Monday but we had a very busy day so it was on a Tuesday morning that I sat down to tackle them. Pressed them, took off the old curtain tape, started to cut the lining to size - and realised that the fabric wasn't  wide enough. Entirely my own stupid fault, of course. I had measured them, but when I went to buy the lining and heading tape I couldn't find the piece of paper with the measurements on. So I bought what I though was the right width and brought it home. What I hadn't realised is that these are very w-i-d-e curtains. Thomas needs a lot of room, being an engine, albeit only a small one. So, a trip out to buy some more lining - extra-wide, so I don't need to seam it - and home in time for a drink before lunch. I cut the new lining to size (I shall probably do some creative knitting with the other stuff, so it's not wasted) and started to hem it. All went well until I jabbed my thumb with the point of the scissors. Blood on the lining! I know the best thing to clean blood off is your own spit, but there was rather more blood than spit, so I held the scarlet section under the nearest tap and fortunately it washed out. It is now draped over the radiator to dry. (Yes, it's August. Yes, the heating is on. It's cold!) Then I decided to put a plaster on the nick, although it's not very big, to prevent further staining. It took me about 5 minutes to get the #%*{€>* plaster out of the packaging, finally resorting to the scissors that caused the damage, and it was difficult even with those. I'm all for keeping plasters clean, but impenetrable? - not a good idea.  I had a much needed cup of tea,  ironed the damp section and resumed work.  I finished hemming the linings, pinned them to the curtains, sewed them in. Pressed the result, folded the top hem, pinned the curtain tape to the top and -  cut it off about 10cm too short. (The curtain was folded and I thought I'd reached the side - but I hadn't. Of course, what is left is amply long enough for one curtain, but not long enough for two. I really can't face another trip to the shop, so I will get some more tape tomorrow and try again. In the meantime I will head for my burrow and scream quietly. I knew there was a good reason to buy that bottle of Bombay Sapphire on special offer last week...      

Sunday, 16 August 2015

When I got up this morning...

the plan for the day was to alter and line the VHC's curtains. I had foolishly volunteered todo this, because the window in his new bedroom is shorter and brighter than his old one. In my youth I made curtains from scratch, with proper linings - indeed, we still have the first set I ever made, 40+ years ago, and they are bearing up well. (Sanderson Morris fabric, worth every penny we paid.)   But I have never enjoyed making curtains, and gave it up long ago. I resisted altering these till I could resist no more. As the VHC and his family are on holiday this week, it seemed like a good time. I screwed my courage to the sticking place and sat down at the sewing machine. Only to discover that, for some reason, the curtains were encrusted with sticky fixers. (The reason is probably a mischievous nearly 4 year old, currently in Bruges...) I picked off what I could, and washed out the rest, but obviously I have had to postpone the task till they dry.   So instead, I replaced the pages in the remaining hand made books I found in my unplanned decluttering last week. 
 And covered a tatty A5 ring binder I found in the same decluttering.
  And reminded myself how to use the A3 printer, to print some patterns I'd made. Last week's 'Playing with Sketches' exercise was making a tileable pattern. And once I'd made it, I played with it in iColorama. I'd course. Today I decided to print off some of the results. After I'd remembered that the A3 printer chunters to itself, loudly and at length, before printing, all went well. Two of these are on painted paper, because I found it when I was looking for the plain A3. Two don't tile, but I like them.
   And I found and photographed my slipper socks.  
   This was all much more fun than altering curtains...      

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Four things I did this week.

  1. Assisted Babybel and the VHC, with crafts at the museum again. This week was a rather clever idea, involving clear sticky back plastic (of course!) and felt. Each child made a felt picture on the sticky side, and when it was finished another piece was placed on top to seal it. The only problem was that the VHC got frustrated because he couldn't manage the scissors himself, so in due course we left big sister to it and went over to get him a library card, much to his delight. We left with some Thomas books, to nobody's great surprise.
  2. Finished this, at last. It's a glove, in case you hadn't realised.
  3. Took some time out from knitting gloves to make a quick pair of slipper socks, because my feet have been cold in this lovely summer we've been having. I hate to wear shoes in the house, but I refuse to give in and wear socks, (because it's summer!) so slipper socks seemed to be an acceptable compromise. Except it's got warmer, and I have put them in a safe place, so of course I can't find them to take a photo...
  4. Done some of the decluttering I said I wasn't going to do until we'd got rid of the 25 bags of books. I'm continuing to work through the book 'Playing with Sketches', and Exercise 10 was doodling. I like using prepainted paper for doodling - so I started looking for a notebook with painted pages. Which led to going through all many of my notebooks, hand made books, sketchbooks, scrap books etc. etc. etc. By the end of the afternoon I had:
a. Some notebooks with painted pages, ready to doodle in; b. A few notebooks with contents I was still interested in, (in contrast to the large number I no longer had any interest in at all.) (I can hear someone saying 'You should have kept those!' No, I shouldn't, some of them have been up there, unlooked at, since before I started City & Guilds!); c. Six hand made books which need to have the pages replaced because I like the cover but I'm no longer interested in the contents; d. A box of blank notebooks; e. A box of sketchbooks with some pages left in them; f. Half a shelf of sketchbooks with no empty pages to speak of; g. Two boxes of hand made books too small or too interesting in structure to actually use; h. More space in my workroom; i. A bag of paper rubbish and a bag of non-recyclable rubbish; j. And a partridge in a pear tree. (Not really, though we often have a magpie in an apple tree.)   And I actually did some doodling!   Four things I haven't done this week.
  1. Finished sewing the new buttons on the long buttoned glove. I'm probably about 2/3 of the way there, but taking one set of buttons off and replacing them with another set is more than twice as boring as putting them on in the first place. And I sewed the first lot on very firmly...
  2. Replaced the pages in the hand made books that I decided needed new pages. I've done the three easiest ones, but the rest all have multiple signatures, and non-standard sized paper. And for some reason, replacing pages makes my back ache!
  3. Started a new glove. Too busy making slipper socks.
  4. Finished this month's Advent decorations, despite cutting them out in July. I did make a start but they are quite fiddly and I was tired (Excuses, excuses.)
  Next week will be busy, as the little guys are doing a dance summer school and need ferrying about all week. However the week after that we have off, so although we did think about going away, it's ended up being filled with optician's appointments, hair appointments, car services and so on.      That's the trouble with being retired, there's no time!

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Four things I did this week.

1. Assisted with the making of mosaics at the museum. Babybel designed her own. The VHC had a pattern for a bee, but he decided to make it 'multi-coloured' (his new favourite word) and then asked 'Where's the bee?'  

2.Worked my way through some exercises from this book. I’m up to exercise 6, although exercise 5, which is drawing with smoke, has been postponed for when I'm feeling strong.


3. Finished July's Advent Bough decorations. And while I was at it, I cut out August's as well. Nothing beats being ahead of the game.  


4. Given in to the little voice that kept telling me the other buttons  weren't big enough, and bought some bigger ones for the first long glove. (And picked them all up off the floor when the bag burst after I took that photo.)  


  Four things I haven't done this week.   

1. Taken off the too small buttons (predictive text suggested 'two'. I wish) and sewn on the new ones. 

2. Finished this. But I will, I will, this week, barring disasters!

3. Done much decluttering. We tackled the landing book shelves (did I mention that?) and we now have 25 bags of books to get rid of. That's an awful lot of bags to take down to the book bank, and the local ones definitely don't have the capacity to take so many, so we have called a halt until we have cleared the backlog. 

4. Watched any cycling. But I will be making up for that over the weekend!

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Four things I've done in the last fortnight

Four things I've done in the past fortnight:
 1. Watched far too much bike racing on TV.

 2. Taken the little guys to make some 'Neolithic pots' at their local museum. No photos, I'm afraid, because I forgot my camera, but I'm sure you can imagine some coiled pots made by a seven year old and a three year old. I wasn't sure they'd enjoy it, but they did: Babybel, who 'doesn't like trails', also loved doing the Stone Age worksheet provided by the museum, and looked far harder at their selection of Neolithic tools than she would have done otherwise. The VHC made a much better job of constructing his pots than I expected, and spent the next half hour asking what all sorts of things are made of. ('What's water made of?') We all enjoyed trying out an antler pick (those things are heavy!) and stroking the deer skins. Next week is a Roman mosaic coaster, and I think we'll be going back.

3. Worked on my latest unwearable, apparently unending glove. These things are not instant gratification, and this one is extra slow because it is colour work. Lumpy colour work.


4. Sewn the 70+ buttons on the first unwearable glove. I think I mentioned that I had discovered that the buttons I thought would do wouldn't, because they wouldn't  go through the button holes, so I went back to my first idea of using mother of pearl ones. I ordered some very cheap ones from eBay - or maybe Amazon - and then realised that they were going to take weeks to get here because they were coming from China. They arrived this week, and are a little smaller than I'd hoped, but they look OK, so I've sewn them on. It was boring, and I could only face it while listening to the aforementioned bike racing. Until it got exciting, of course, when I had to stop sewing and watch. (Sorry about the image quality, my phone really really didn't like this!)

Four things I haven't done in the last fortnight: 

 1. Blogging. As you may have noticed.

2. Decluttering. We've done some, but the pace has definitely slowed. This may have something to do with number 1 above.

 3. Uni work. Again, this may be related to the amount of daytime TV we've been watching.

 4. This month's Advent decorations. (I did do June's, although I don't think I posted about them.) However, this morning I cut out some felt stars which I have been working on while listening to/watching  this afternoon's excitements.

Now the racing is over, but the school holidays have started, so our time will be spent entertaining the little guys. The VHC has asked for a trip to the 'little trains' and the 'science place'. Babybel has not yet expressed an opinion, but I have no doubt we will be told before long. Granny rather fancies the Charlie and Lola trail at Mottisfont, but as mentioned, Babybel 'doesn't like trails', and regards herself as too grown up for Charlie and Lola, so granny's persuasive powers may be called into action... Perhaps a promise of fish feeding, icecream and a visit to the chicken wire horse will help?    

Sorry that the layout of this is a mess, Blogger is being a bugger. Again.    

Friday, 10 July 2015


from six days grandparenting on the trot has taken four 'normal' days (which included another1.5 grandparenting days). If you are the parent of young children you will be saying ’Only 6 days? I do it all the time!' - and I would have said the same 30 years ago - but that was 30 years ago, and somehow it seems much harder now! 

Still, we all survived: ducks were fed, school sports days were attended, the Race for Life was completed (and £250 raised for Cancer Research) by 2 of the fitter members of the family, and prizes were won by the carnival float, to which the little guys and their parents contributed time and effort, and granny contributed two mermaid tails and a red bandana. 

Decluttering also continued on days when we had the energy, and there is a little more room in half the kitchen cupboards. And of course, the Tour de France has also been watched. We didn't manage much of the live TV, but we have managed the highlights, and the right people have won - on a few occasions. (Go Cav!)

In between all that, there has been time for some knitting (but not blogging, and not much housework, as may be evident from this photo. One can be done sitting down, the other can't.)

The oft-started, top-down glove has been finished (and washed, which was a bit of a mistake, as it shrank a bit, and not evenly), and a new one, also top-down, started. I should perhaps point out that the mistakes in these are, if not intentional, intentionally uncorrected. A theme of imperfection/deterioration/ageing seems to be developing here - and knitting till the yarn runs out as a metaphor for life and death. Perhaps a rather morbid theme, but it's been one of those years!