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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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OxfordKitchenYarns September 2014 whole order to Darn it and Stitch

Today I’m 37 years old, so let’s have a Birthday Sale! 30% because I’m REALLY in the depths of my thirties now.

So for TODAY (21st February GMT), you can get 30% off anything in the shop with the code HAPPYBIRTHDAY.

Let’s make it a good one!

 

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Right now…

W is at home, doing maths, and lego and documentaries, and our reading programme with the children* and I am in the nearby coffee shop chopping up the next unit of said reading programme ready for next week, updating the blog, finishing some website work for a friend of mine (who’s books you should read), and doing the weekly shop online.

20150219_090816(cue the fuzzy phone photos)

I should have got a second drink while it was quiet, and now there is a queue of people and I don’t want to leave my things unattended. :(

20150219_090827(I love when disparate hand knits work together)

I didn’t even brush my hair this morning!

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*Do to completely forseen circumstances that were still beyond our control (but that we were at least able to prepare for), W only has half a job at the moment. This is hard for us, but we are grateful for the half-job at least. And currently it means I have one day a week where he can be in charge at home, and I can get things-that-can’t-be-done-easily-around-the-children done. Which is nice, especially right now when a combination of cold weather, cold house, and small children who still need me at night, means that I am getting next to no evenings at the moment. However I’d give it up in a heartbeat for him to have a full time job.

Hopefully things will improve on all fronts later in the year. But right now we are trying to live as gently as we can.

Wow. That got a little more personal than usual.

Keep an eye on my twitter, or the blog on Saturday morning, for information about the 30% off Birthday Flash Sale.

 

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feb things to love

(None of these links are affiliated – I just like this stuff.)

– I recently treated us to our second set of Stabilo Cappi pens. I like that we can keep them all together, and not loose the caps (though it does mean that when we use pens at friends houses, my three have to be reminded to put the lids on the ends of the pens or the lids go everywhere!)

– With the launch of her second book, I felt compelled to pull out Margaret Bloom‘s Making Peg Dolls, and pull out my precious collection of wood peg dolls I had brought over from the US by my father-in-law. We gobbled up the 25 dolls in two sessions. Luckily they are more widely available over here now, but I could easily spend way too much money on more. And I have plans for Easter that I probably should get started on as soon as this season of birthdays calms down.

(Wee Wonderful wrote a great review of both books here, and really it’s her fault that I grabbed it off my shelf. Not that I’m complaining. I completely agree with what she’s written. ps. Her book is fantastic too!)

– The mini Orchard game got pulled out of the cupboard when Granny came over on saturday, and the children taught her how to play it. In return she taught them clock patience, which I’m sure we’re going to be playing a lot more of, and I should hunt out some packs of cards and make them more available… (can you tell I’m now just talking to myself? I can’t be the only one who does that, right?)

– TV-wise I just finished watching Galavant, which was delightful. Who doesn’t love watching Magnitude from Community and Hugh Bonneville doing dance routines and singing about being land locked pirates?

– Audio-wise our Sarah & Duck love continues and now we have found there is a podcast you can stream here (scroll down to the bottom of the page.)

- On Saturday I turn 37 (though I’m not very happy about it tbh.) so there will be a flash sale at the shop for 24 hours. But I’ll post more about that later.

 

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The word for 2015 – Open

 

Unravelling 2015

Over the last couple of years, I’ve finished the year with Unravelling by Susannah Conway. I find it really interesting to go back at the end of the year and see how much I have written down has actually happened during the year. I’m sure writing it down settles it enough in my brain to actually start things happening. It’s become part of my Christmas ritual, and I think it’s well worth the time I put into it.

This year my word is Open – I want to say yes more to my children, I want to break out of some ruts that I have going on, I want to be more flexible, and less scrunched up in how I go about things.

I read a quote in the last couple of days that really resonated with me, because frankly I feel compelled to write it after that last paragraph:

One thing I’ve learned: when people end whatever they’re saying with “idk, I’m probably not making any sense,” it usually means they are telling you something very close and personal to them, something that’s such an integral part of their being that they have trouble putting it into words that do it justice.

beneaththeforest.tumblr.com

I often feel compelled to write things like that. I like to tell myself that it’s ok, because I’m not a writer (while stuffing down my secret hopes that actually I could be, maybe?)

But hey, I’ll be honest here a little bit. I want to be open to – for example – breaking out of my jeans and a tee shirt uniform, without breaking the bank, and while keeping my ‘me-ness’.

I want to be open enough to honour my children’s learning explorations, even when they feel overwhelming. I want to say yes, not just put off their requests to some point in the future.

I’m still trying to figure out how to hold myself accountable for the changes I want to make. Maybe I need to break them down more into do-able steps? Maybe I need to review the things I want to do regularly and work out what is working and what is not working?

I’m sorry this isn’t a ’10 steps doing doing whatever’ post. (I love those posts too.) It’s more a ‘here I am in the midst of it all, trying to work out how to do it too.’

Right now I’m using a habit tracking ap on my phone. This way I don’t have to keep everything in my head. (I talked about Bullet Journalling here – I’m getting better at getting things out of my head, and it definitely helps me get more stuff actually done, rather than just dreamed about.) I always have my phone in my pocket (except for right now, when FB is using it to listen to an audio book, while he plays with his lego), so I can go through my list several times a day, and use little pockets of time to get things ticked off before the end of the day.

I try to build in some slack though – I want to be able to count doing something 5 times a week a win, rather than reaching for 7, not being able to achieve it, and having to concede the win for the week. Doing something (taking my vitamins for example) 5 times a week, is better than quitting and not taking them at all, and the improvement I get (in my own head at least) of reaching high enough, without insisting on perfection), is better for it.

Again. I hope this makes sense.

So after a year of Brave (2013) and a year of Nourish (2014) comes a year of being Open.

It’s up to me to make it a good one.

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What’s on the needles January 2015?

Kiri shawl wip Jan 2015

Kiri – This languished over the first part of the winter as I got on with Christmas things, but it’s Malabrigo, and I’m probably only about three pattern repeats from the end. The problem is that every time I try to knit it, someone wants to sit on my lap. But I just need to get it done, so that I can actually wear it while it’s still cold. And it’s mostly still cold. Especially when the wind is blowing as hard as it has been recently.

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Sock – I bought myself some Regia for my Christmas Stocking this year, and promptly started a sock on Christmas day. This is my out and about sock, but for some reason I actually haven’t been working on it much in the last couple of weeks.

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CP’s Cowl – I knit LR a cowl (to replace the one she snipped into last year – yeah it’s was pretty horrifying, but she was 3), in a single session while I was in bed ill, watching Leverage. W was adventuring at the University Museum. It was heaven and just what I needed. I started CP’s cowl straight after, because although she will probably only agree to wear it when it’s REALLY COLD (and who knows if it will get REALLY COLD this year?) but I wanted to have it done, then it’s done and then all three have cowls that will work for the next few years. And now I’ve stalled (because it’s not REALLY COLD and she is nearly 2 and probably will scream blue murder when I try to put it on her.) But I need to get it done.

stripey swatch

Stripey Swatch – The BFF destashed and I got the goodies, which is great because I can’t afford to buy garments worth of yarn right now. This was potentially going to be a stripey Effervescence Cardigan (assuming the swatch worked out) but the swatch was too stiff on the suggested needles, so now I think it’s probably going to be it’s own thing. I need to try the stitch pattern, with the striping to see if it’s really bad or not, and then go from there. (Yeah, I’m not sure what I’m doing, but the colours look really wearable, and I’m looking forward to another go-to cardigan for next autumn.

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The rug – I stalled. Mostly because having a toddler around it a bit like having a cat around, when it comes to having a box full of actively-being-used yarn around. But it’s good fun knitting something this big, and it will look great when it’s done, and most of the yarn is sitting there waiting to be knit up. So mostly it’s about getting my evenings back to work on it.

(Also – wow there is a theme there isn’t there, now that I can see all the photos together.)

I wonder what I can get finished before my ‘What’s on the needles February 2015?’ post next month?

What’s on your needles right now?

 

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Is it too late to say Happy New Year?

Book 'The Shortest Day' and zebra socks on a purple blanket

Wow. So Christmas happened! We had the usual lurgy filled early December, but W had holiday to finish up from work, so there were often the two of us around, which was novel.

Christmas itself was spend at home, skyping with family members spread far and wide, taking family walks, and eating our amazing Christmas cake, (you can compare it to last year’s cake.)

Since the new year we have been to the Panto (which was particularly good this year), and now we are back to our day to day lives of work, learning and trying to get the washing dry.

I have high hopes for 2015, but before I tuck 2014 to bed, here are the things I found that really stuck with me last year:

  • Dobble (aka Spot It – in the US) – Various blogs I read talked about this game in the run up to Christmas and I got it on a whim, but I’m really glad I did. I now keep it in my bag so that I can pull it out if we’re out and about. Plus it gets plenty of play at home too. We got the standard version, which it recommends for 6+ but my 4 year old is fine with it. (There are a ton more versions of it in the US including educational ones with letters, numbers and even sight words. There are also rugged waterproof outdoor sets, and character themed sets, like pixar and disney themed ones.)
  • Milly-Molly-Mandy by Joyce Lankester Brisley (ISBN 978-1447273066) – I never read Milly-Molly-Mandy as a child, and picked up one of the books randomly at the library. We read through that in about two sittings, (in fact we probably could have done it in one, since all three were asking for more), and have since gone back and read through the rest. In fact as well as the original books, I have some of the seasonal collections on my phone, in case I need to whip out a story on the fly. They are simple enough that my (bookworm) nearly-2 year old will sit through a story, but engaging enough that FB (who is 6 now), asks for them too. And if you like them, then you should also try Bunchy (ISBN 978-1903252222) which is by the same author.
  • Community (NBC years and now yahoo screen) – I am so late to this party. I am notoriously late to most parties, but since having children my finger is usually off the pulse, and only prodding from the BFF will get to watch something. Luckily she has great taste, and has got me into shows such as Leverage (which you should also check out if you haven’t before now), and Brooklyn Nine-Nine (ditto). She lent me the first four seasons of Community, and then sat patiently while I found the time and the head space to watch it, knowing that when I did I would be texting her to rave about it. (Which I totally did.) She told me it was basically an american ‘Spaced‘, and I didn’t believe her, because I’m a fool, and she was totally right. (Dan Harmon has admitted as much.)
  • Sarah & Duck – Everyone in our house is a bit in love with the cartoon Sarah & Duck. It’s just funny and strange and sweet. And short. It’s our go to programme when I need to brush CP’s hair, (why yes, our nearly 2 year old has hair that reaches more than halfway down her back now, and doesn’t like having it tied back), or where there is time of one more tiny programme while I serve up dinner.  The narration is done by Roger Allam. Having grown up listening to Cabin Pressure, my eldest two don’t bat an eye. I could listen to him talk for hours (though I’m still not going to listen to him read bloody Jeffrey Archer on audible. That would be going too far.
  • Bullet Journalling – I have kept notebooks off and on since I was a teenager, and as a mum I tried various types of To Do list, but after coming across the Bullet Journal video last summer I gave it a go and it’s stuck. It doesn’t keep all my plates spinning, all the time, and not everything that gets written down gets done, but it’s made me a hell of a lot more intentional and productive, and I’ve stuck at it, and don’t plan to stop any time soon.
  • Project-Based Homeschooling Master Class – After doing the Journalling for PBH week long class in the summer, I did the PBH master class last autumn and it was outstanding. Lori is a thoughtful, caring and attentive course leader, full of good ideas, honesty and solid support. I need to go through my materials and put myself through the course again in my own time to be honest. I think I’ll find just as much to learn the second time through.
  • This amazing comic about teaching art by diaemyung – I only found this yesterday, but relates to ‘teaching’ and I found it really inspiring and a Home Ed parent.
  • Junto by Basement Jaxx – In the late-90’s, when I was a student, I lived in Brixton around the corner from a club that Basement Jaxx regularly played at. Or so my housemate told me. I wasn’t cool enough for that. And I was listening to a lot of Belle and Sebastian, and Suede. Now I go running to Basement Jaxx and it’s like pure sunshine in my ears.
  • Wittertainment on Radio 5 – because who doesn’t want to listen to a load of movies I’m not actually going to see, interspersed with old-married-couple arguments and in-jokes from Mark Kermode, and Simon Mayo?
  • Running – As someone who has never enjoyed doing sport, it amazes me that I actually completely the couch to 5km program last year. But I did. And it was fantastic. I really enjoyed it. And then I hurt myself. And then winter came. BUT… the thing it that I know I can start back at a level I feel comfortable at and work my way back up again. And that feels revolutionary.

So there you go. Thanks 2014. You were a tough year in many respects, but there was some really good stuff there too.

In 2015 I’m planning more dyeing, more patterns (VAT be damned!), and more writing here.

What lit you up last year?

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