Monday, 30 January 2012

Busy, busy

A dear friend celebrated a significant birthday, last week-end. A fancy-dress party was held in her honour. Theme-Musicals. Lots of discusion about characters, then much scurrying to organise costumes. The friend, N, chose to go as Dorothy ( Wizzard of Oz). So, I helped her to make her dress, and to find a Toto. In return, N made me........a Parrot head, on my umbrella. So who was I going as??

I also modified a hat, which I already had, and added some flowers. Most of my costume came from my every-day wardrobe. Lacy cotton gloves, long dark skirt,high, frilled-necked shirt, black, peplum jacket, laced-up boots. Carpet bag.

Best Beloved went as a Hippy ( some may remember this from a party last year!), a cast member of 'Hair'.

There were some fabulous costumes. Sweeney todd, and his lady accomplice. ( The blood looked a bit too real! )Peter Pan and Tinkerbelle, and Captain Hook. Phantom of the Opera.Lots of Bugsy Malone and Caberet. A marvelous Zeigfeld (Moulin Rouge) was master of Ceremonies.

I also made the Birthday cake. Chocolate, as requested, although I do wonder if it was a bit toooo rich. I used a Peggy Porschen recipe.
There was so much of the ganache (covering ) left, that I made fifty or so truffles as well. Some were cocoa covered, some almond, and some chopped hazelnut.
After all that richness, I made a simple soup, using up all the vegetables languishing in the 'fridge and larder.

I have finished a couple of projects , so cast on for a very pretty neckwarmer. Puderosa/Modest by Lia Moya.
Originally, I was using a yarn spun at Coldharbour Mill. This was a 5-ply (Sport-weight) Alpaca/Shetland blend, in natural coloured tweed. Two problems. I found it was not 5 ply at all, but 3 ply. No wonder I couldn't get my gauge right! Also, it was so itchy, that I would not want it against my skin, which rather defeats the object. I still like the yarn, so have pulled the ( almost completed) thing back.I will use it for a shawl, I think. So, then I started again using Bigwigs Angora. 25 grams/135 metres of oatmeal coloured squishy loveliness. I am going to love this!
So, the finished projects:-

A Bushy, Bushy Green Shawl.

This is basic shawl pattern, with a simple leaf lace knitted on the last six rows. Made of Colinette Mohair, on 8mm needles.The yarn was a gift from a friend, Wendy, a member 'Close Knit' knitting group. Swirling Gauntlets, by Susannah Ic.

These fingerless gloves are knitted in Rowan pure wool. DK, on 3.75mm needles. They fit well, and feel fantastic on. I tend to find most gloves floppy around the wrist, but these are nice and close-fitting. I'm really pleased with them.

I went as....Mary Poppins!

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Four a week

This time last year, it was -7 degrees C. We had quite a lot of snow, and if any plants were trying to flower, we certainly could not see them.
The min/max thermometer by the back door is presently showing 11 degrees C. The snowdrops in the garden are almost ready to flower ( last year, they were blooming for Imbolc/Candlemas, 1st of February). The hellebores are in full swing, the winter flowering ( shrubby) honeysuckle has been flowering for weeks, as have the native cyclamen.
There are some plants flowering that I would not expect, though. Like this summer snowflake (Leucojum). End of April, beginning of May is it's usual slot. Several roses have continued to bloom since last May...Madam Alfred Carriere, Pompon des Prince, Eglantyne, Glorie de Dijon.
I picked this tiny posy earlier today.(follow the pyramid up, from extreme left), Viburnum tinus,( flowers when it feels like it), feverfew(summer herb), semi-evergreen honeysuckle (Summer climber), scabious (summer ),Rosemary (summer flowering herb), Vibernum odora ( november flowering shrub), Viburnum plicatum (june/july flowering shrub),heartsease, (summer herb).
But the primroses are still tightly furled rosettes, and the daffodil spears are only a couple of inches tall. Which of them is right?
There are two lots of knitting on the go at the moment. A pair of 'Swirling Gauntlets', pattern by Sussanna Ic, and a simple shawl. Pictures and details next time.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Happy New Year

Well, as promised, the pictures of the finished sweater. The yarn is pure merino double knit, bought at Wonderwool Wales, 2009. The pattern is a very basic, man's raglan -sleeved, round- neck sweater.

That is the only thing about knitting for men...they don't want anything 'fancy'.
So, I was very restrained, and only added a little cable to the ribbing, at collar, cuff and hem.

We, by which I mean my parents, sisters, brother, their children, and most of the partners, are not really materialistic. We give and recieve gifts for christmas and birthdays. We have celebration foods. But none of us would dream of going into debt for it. Or having so much food that a lot gets thrown away. We do not get, or expect, the latest 'must-have'.

The reason I say all this, is that I felt really bludgeoned by commercialism this year. In the last few days before Christmas, I really wished it was all over. Then we started visiting, or being visited by, old friends.

Each of these old friends takes us back to our roots. J and E are hill farmers. They live on the edge of Exmoor. M and J are fruit farmers, small scale. They have just retired, and their middle son has taken over the business. They live three miles away. Ken is a farm worker, and part time gamekeeper. P is a retired Gamekeeper, who still likes to keep his hand in. With each of these lovely, honest people, we had a simple meal. The gifts we exchanged were hand-made, or home-grown. Honey from our Hives. Dundee cake, Ken's Sloe Gin. M's Homemade Mincemeat, and Jams. Favourite recipe biscuits. Eggs, fresh from the hen. The delight at recieving each gift was obviously genuine.

The same was true of my knitting friends. Small gifts, but full of great thought and meaning. I gave Jac a small notebook, but had put in small print-outs of needle sizes, yarn equivelents and yarn suppliers, along with a tiny tin which held bodkins, and a pair of fold-up scissors. They will fit into the corner of her handbag. ( One always has knitting to hand! )

Jac gave me a bag of Alpaca sliver. ( Alpaca fleece, prepared ready for spinning). She knows that I took up spinning in the Autumn, and will get an enormous amount of fun and satisfaction from that bag of fluff.
Ness made wonderful, delicately Rose-scented candles, presented in vintage Tea-cups.
Probably one of the most beautiful gifts I have ever recieved....not just because it looks so lovely, but a friend cared enough to make it, especially for me.
And Best Beloved wore his new Equinox Sweater every day.

Today I took down the Christmas Tree. It has been up longer this year than for many years. It goes up on December 21st, then comes down in the week after christmas. It rarely stays up until New Year. A good clean of the sitting room followed, and a re-arangement of the furniture. Funny how something so simple can be so invigorating!