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An Aran Shrug in June

OKY knitting may 2015

Yes it’s June (though it’s not exactly the hottest June) and I’m knitting an aran weight shrug. However it’s actually a pretty comfortable knit, since it’s knit quite loosely on 7mm needles.

I modified the cuff by striping the stitch pattern, and then I decided that I preferred the look of the wrong side, to the right, so I used that side instead when starting the stocking stitch portion. It’s now big enough that I can’t knit it standing up, which is a bit tricky because small people want to sit on me whenever I try to sit down. However it’s proved to be the perfect knit while I work on swapping my knitting style from English to Continental, which I’m doing with the help of Lorilee Beltman’s Craftsy Class*.

(Continental purling is so efficient! I’m hooked!)

Hopefully the loose knit, with some decent blocking, will even out and early teething troubles as a swap styles. But hopefully this will give me more knitting bang of my buck, in this season of more limited knitting opportunities. Or at least that’s what I’m telling myself. 😉

The yarn, naturally, is OxfordKitchenYarns BFL Aran, in Chocolate Cherry and Cloudy Sky.

 

 

(*As ever, this is not in any way a sponsored post. I just like this stuff.)

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Podcast Recs Summer 2015 edition

I am a big fan of podcasts. I listen to them more than I listen to the radio, or even to music right now, particularly when I’m doing errands, and on my morning run or walk (depending on the day.)

Anyway here are a few that I’m really enjoying and that are consistently really good:

  • Friday Night Comedy from the BBC – this is whatever comedy programme is on BBC radio 4 at 6.30pm on a friday. (You know all this obviously – this podcast is hugely popular.) I’m a big fan of The News Quiz, particularly when Sandi Toksvig took over as the chair. But I’m also completely the right age to have a soft spot for Punt and Dennis, so I’ll usually happily listen when The Now Show is on too. I’ve been listening to both these radio shows for about fifteen years at this point, and having them as a podcast just makes listening to them even easier. This podcast is regular part of our weekend and W and I usually listen to it together.
  • Henry & Heidi – I think this has just pipped Wittertainment as my current favourite podcast. I’ve found Henry Rollins a fascinating person since I was reading about him as a teenage in Select magazine and the NME. I’ve been to see some of his spoken word, and would like to see more, (once I get my evening back.) These podcasts are funny, interesting and kinda inspirational. I listen to them a lot when I’m running, and if I’m giggling in the street I’m either listening to that or…
  • No Such Thing As a Fish – This is a podcast of amazing facts, from the QI elves. It’s usually both mind boggling and funny, and has me sprouting all sorts of information at the dinner table (most of which W insists is made up.)
  • Hope*ologie – this is the monthly podcast run by Myquillyn from The Nester, her sister Emily of Chatting at the Sky and their Dad Gary. Hope*ologie is subscription site, but the podcast is free and a great taster for the site. This podcast just makes me happy. It’s like a hug of a podcast and it always makes me smile.
  • Wittertainment – I’ve talked about this podcast before, here, but it’s still a thing of joy. If you like films, or Jason Isaacs, or silly in jokes that you will pick up easily, or two men grumping at either other in an increasingly married way, then this is the podcast for you. I love it. Even though I hardly get to see any films any more, and despite Mark being SO WRONG about Avengers 2. But let’s not go there right now.
  • Read-Aloud Revival – This is the podcast run by Sarah Mackenzie from Amongst Lovely Things, all about creating a family culture of reading, and the importance of reading aloud. I’m still making my way through the back catalogue but I’m really enjoying it, and get a lot of book recs from this podcast.
  • Homeschool Snapshots – This is a short, snappy homeschooling podcast run by Pam Barnhill of EDSnapshots. Overall I like it, and have enjoyed listening to almost all of the episodes. I *did* nope out of one episode due to idealogical differences, but that didn’t put me off the season as a whole. Overall I find it useful and supportive.
  • A Playful Day – I am so late to this party. But I am making my way through this craft podcast, and enjoying it very much.

So there you go – my current favourites. I hope you find something there that you didn’t know about before, and which you might give a go.  If you do, I hope you enjoy them.

What podcasts would you rec back to me?

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My Summer Reading Plan

Summer Reading Plan 2015

I think I have made it clear that I love books, and since a lot of the blogs I like have been talking about summer reads I thought I would go through my shelves and pull down a few of the books I want to read and make a plan to read them over the next few months.

So here is my summer reading list (so far):

Summer World by Bernd Heinrich (ISBN-10: 0060742186) – This is an America-centric book about nature in the summer, but I figure there is probably some cross over. Hopefully it’ll give me fact to tell the children.

Sunrise to Sunset by Adrian Bell – this is a book about life in the British countryside in the early 1940’s.

Buddhism for Mothers by Sarah Napthali (ISBN-10: 1742377017) – I keep picking this book up, reading the first chapter and then getting distracted. This is the summer I’m going to read the whole thing.

Snail Mail by Michelle Mackintosh (ISBN-10: 1742708773) – when I was a teenager I had a number of pen friends and really enjoyed it. I still enjoy writing letter, but I don’t do it very much. I saw this book reviewed at Wild Olive and thought it would inspire me.

Better than Before by Gretchen Rubin (ISBN-10: 1444768999) I’m one of the few people who hasn’t actually read anything by Gretchen Rubin before. But I’m half way through this at the moment (and incurring library fees since I can’t renew it, there is that much of a waiting list for it), and it’s really interesting.

I’ll report back at the end of the summer (if not before) and let you know how I got on. :)

 

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Shop Update – June 2015

okyupdate062015A few lovely pinks and orange/reds – Marshmallow and Brick (in case you’re wondering. :)

See them in the shop

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Let’s talk about Bullet Journals

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I’ve talked about Bullet Journals on the blog before, but I’ve been using it now for nearly a year and I’ve recently been making some changes so I thought I’d write a post about it all.

All you need to know about the basics of Bullet Journalling is here (watch the video – it’s only about three minutes long.) I’ve just started my third moleskine (I got this one, having just finished the teal one) and was wanting to make things look a bit prettier than they had been in my last book. So I fell into a Pinterest black hole and came across Robin Imhof, who has done great writing and decorating tutorials for her filofax, which can totally been ported over to a bullet journal.

At which point I fell into an Etsy blackhole, first looking at pre-made stickers for journals, and then when that proved too expensive, at print-your-own stickers, and THEN clip art that you can turn into your own customised print-your-own stickers. (Yes, I fell hard. My stationary love was a blaze.)

Print-your-own stickers are pretty good, especially if you know how to use photoshop a little bit, so that you can file A4 size sheets with fun clip art (like I have above), but it assumes you have the patience to cut out the stickers and peel the backing off. I’m currently using it as a way of encouraging me to stop biting my nails, because without nails it’s pretty much impossible. Think of it as a tiny bit of forced mindfulness. 😉

Anyway if you’re interested the stickers in the image above came from the following shops on etsy:

The sticker paper is just basic address label sticky paper, which I got from our local stationers. However I also got some glossy sticker paper from ebay and I think I like that more for the stickers I’m not planning on writing on.

Watching Robin’s video taught me about Frixion pens, which are erasable gel pens. Suddenly my writing is neater and it makes me want to keep the whole book looking lovely.

I have set up this current journal so that I have the index and then four double spread month pages at the front of the book, and then daily pages, and lists as I need them. (This is a great article on lists that are useful to keep.) I’ll add the autumn months as the summer goes on, but we also have a family calendar in the kitchen so I can put any notes I need onto that and then move it into my bullet journal  once I get that month sorted out. I use the daily pages as a way to keep accountable through the day. So I have the meals I’m planning to cook (so I can make the decisions all at once, and not have to think about it during the day), a log of my water, and my running/walking. Then I have my to do list, which includes various habits I’m working on, my plan for the da regarding our home education, cleaning, OxfordKitchenYarns work, things that need to remember, and events. I’ve also added a gratitude journal at the bottom of the page, which feels a lot less intimidating that having my own book for it. If there is any extra space left on the page, I’ve started writing in a quote from my pinterest quote board.

I have the book open in the kitchen during the day, so that I can refer to it often, but it only takes about 10 minutes to set up for each day, (and mostly that’s me picking the backs off stickers to be honest.) When I was just writing stuff down it probably took me 3-4 minutes a day.

I’m really pleased with the system and how adaptable it is. I certainly get more stuff done because of it, and my head feels less cluttered. The cute stickers are fun, and am enjoying ended the day with a page that I think looks good. But that’s just icing on the cake.

If you have any questions about the bullet journal system, or anything I’ve written about here, comment and I’ll do my best to answer them.

(I’m now off to tick a box.)

 

(BTW none of these links are affiliates in any way. I just like this stuff and thought you might like some of it too.)

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A Shift in thinking…

So I haven’t been posting much here recently. I kept sitting down the write a blog post and feeling like I had nothing to say, even though I have projects to show you, and podcasts and books to recommend. I just couldn’t get them in to a blog post.

Luckily my dear friend Lara came to visit us, and she managed to tease out of me what is going on.

Basically all my online presence is branded with OxfordKitchenYarns, which is great, except there is SO much else going on my life, and OxfordKitchenYarns is only one small part of that. It’s not a full time job. It hasn’t been a full time job in a long time, but at the same time, it’s still important to me, and I don’t want to give it up.

However right now, it feels really weird having it out there front and center when most of my time is actually spend on parenting, and home education, and our home, and making things that are for our practical use, rather than to show off my yarn. Basically my perception of all this is all out of balance and it makes me not want to be out in the world online, because it makes me feel like I’m not doing enough. Which is not true. I’m doing plenty.

I can’t express how freeing it was to realise all this. (Thank you Lara! X)

So here is what I’m doing to change things up:

I am still dyeing yarn. I will try to do a shop update every month, but there will only be one update a month. But OxfordKitchenYarns is just one of the things I am doing. It’s not central to my online presences any more.

I am going to post more, (probably about once a week), but about all thing I want to post – so there will be sewing, and knitting, and books and some adventures in home education, and stuff about doing up our house, and book recs and podcast recs and all the other things in my head.

The blog, and pinterest will look different to reflect what is going on with all this. All my blurb will be different. I will probably change my url, though oxfordkitchenyarns.com will still exist and any links to the blog with send you right here. The twitter will continue to highlight stuff going into the shop.

OxfordKitchenYarns has existed for over seven years! And in that time become a parent, and had three children, and as a family we’ve started to home educate. It not surprising that the fit has shifted some what.

Anyway that was probably more of an insight into my thought process that you needed, but there you go.

I’ll be back next week with a whole load of recs. It’s going to be great.

Thanks for sticking around.

(I promise there will still be yarn.)

 

 

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Time for a Shop Update!

OxfordKitchenYarns DK "Midnight"
OxfordKitchenYarns DK "Deep Blue Sea"
OxfordKitchenYarns Aran "Cloudy Day"
OxfordKitchenYarns Sock "Comfy Jeans"
OxfordKitchenYarns DK "Wasp"
OxfordKitchenYarns Aran "Daffodil"
OxfordKitchenYarns Sock "Morning Light"
OxfordKitchenYarns DK "Peaches and Cream"

All these (and more) at the shop.

Have a good weekend. :)

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framed mice(The postcard set is from here.)

I had the frames, I had the prints, I had the mat board, and I had a mat cutter, but they sat in a cupboard for about two and a half years gathering dust because I was scared I wasn’t going to do it well enough.

And then, about three weeks ago, I was tired of the images on the wall by my desk, and decided I should cut the mat for one of the prints and hang it up. And so I did. And in about ten minutes it was done, and I was pleased, and I wanted to do the other three in the set. Unfortunately I ran out of mat board and CP cracked one of the panes of glass so I still have the fourth one waiting in the wings until I sort out more glass, (I’ve already bought more mat board).

Spurred on by that success I decided to pick up some frames for some more images I’ve been wanting to frame and put up, and last week I got on and cut the mats for the postcards I bought I about two years ago, (and which have been sitting in their packaging ever since.)

It… well it didn’t go as well. Probably because  had to cut smaller mats, with multiple holes. Having done some more reading since, I realise that the green cutting board I have is too hard, and I would be better putting a layer of cardboard on top, which I will try next time. Probably I should have waiting till the children weren’t around, but that time is really limited right now, and I would have probably made a worse job in an evening.

It’s not terrible. It’s just not my best work.

I admit I was disappointed, and for a moment I didn’t know really what to do next.

So I hung them any way.

Why not? They were hidden away for ages and if I can’t change the walls of our house right now (which I can’t), then I can at least put things on them that are meaningful to me. And I can always cut better mats in the future.

So I hung them, and actually, they are fine. Not perfect, but not noticeably bad. If I get up really close, I can see the wobbles. But when I pass them, having just come in the front door, or down the stairs, what I actually see are the beautiful felt mice, the clever details, the actual images, rather than the card around them.

 

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FO – Kiri Shawl

 IMG_1959(You can find my kiri shawl on Ravelry.)

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kiri

kiri

kiri shawl

kiri shawl

kiri shawl

 This project started with a random trip to Oxford Fiberworks, where I fell a bit in love with a couple of skeins of Malabrigo Rios in the ‘Marte’ colour way. I think originally I was planning for them to be long mitts, which then morphed into a shrug (which I actually cast on for) before deciding I needed some shawl knitting back in my life.

Back in 2007 the Oxford Bluestockings had a Kiri knit-along and Abbi knit her’s in a chunky weight and I was amazing. I’ve had it on my to-do list to make one ever since, and I realised that this was a prime opportunity. Kiri is just diverting enough a pattern, and knit up on 7mm needles it should have been a quick knit. However four birthdays and Christmas got in the way of completing it, until last week when I decided I couldn’t start my birthday sock blank until the shawl was finished and blocked.

Blocking in a house full of small children is a pain to be honest, and I just have to bite the bullet, shut the door and do it. Luckily it only took about a day and a half to dry. And today I’m wearing it.

I have to say – I’m really pleased with it. I love the stripes (Brooklyn Tweed Shelter, and some Alpaca handspun). I love how they balance the differences between the two skeins of Rios. I love how squooshy and warm, and big it is. I love the stitch size, and the drape and basically I’m really happy with it.

Plus it goes with my ‘Troy and Abed in the Morning’ tee.

I think we can chalk this one up as a success. *big grin*

 

 

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What’s on the Needles February 2015?

I’m just sneaking in under the wire to have a look at what on the needles in February compared to last month, and I have to say, knowing this post was coming up was motivation to get some projects finally finished.

The Kiri shawl is done and blocking upstairs as I write this – finished on a long car trip to see granny at the weekend (including cast off in the gloom on the way home. I pretty much got away with it.) Assuming I can keep the pins in it while it dries (CR is carefully re-arranging them every chance she can get), I’ll blog about that later in the week.

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The cowl for CR took much longer than it should of, mostly because there hasn’t been any uninterrupted knitting time to be had recently, and any attempts to work on it were punctuated by two small people wanted to sit on my lap. But now it is done, still in time for the proper chilly weather we’ve been having here recently, and frankly doesn’t really need a block because I want to keep it as squooshy as possible.

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It was a fluke, but it goes really well with the body warmer CP got for Christmas. (Why yes, that her most requested ‘coat’ despite it being February – can you tell she’s about to be 2?)

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Of course if she ever gets sick of it, it turns out it’s a really good fit for me too…  😉

The socks from last month are no further on but there are next on my list of things to work on. (Pretty much…)

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They still look great though.

Let’s not talk about the rug (except to say that I bought one from Ikea that is in the front room and I’m really happy with it.)

Anyway…

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goodbye Winter…

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…roll on Spring!

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