Thursday, 1 March 2012

Otherwise Engaged

I'll be back in this spot soon, I'm just currently enjoying the whirlwind of flowers, cards and champagne.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012


I'm aware that it's not cool to like Valentine's Day, but really, when the day starts with a card*, flowers and chocolate,

and ends with dinner, cocktails and live jazz,

what's not to like?

*City Boy and I had a competition to see who could get the worst valentines card. I think his won - it was particularly obscene.

Friday, 10 February 2012

Sunshine on a Snowy Day

I had my fingers crossed for a snow day when I went to bed last night - i wouldn't have minded an excuse to spend the day working at home in front of the fire. Unfortunately SouthWest trains have managed to get their act together for once and the trains seem to be (mostly) as scheduled.

Never mind, it's the weekend shortly! I've got a list of boring things to do, but I'm really hoping I can race through them and make myself something from the new Collette book. Isn't it boring when you work all week and then the weekend gets sucked up by chores? I'm determined not to let that happen this week, even if the gym something doesn't get done.

I've got projects on the go all over the place but this week I needed a quick fix. I wanted to feel I'd accomplished something. Two squares of fabric, an invisible zip and we have a sunny yellow cushion to brighten up this corner by the fire.

This is part of one of my 2012 goals - to take the time to sew for our home and not just other people's. This one didn't take much time, but I'm also in the middle of a quilted cushion cover for a large cushion we have on the sofa, twenty-two inches squared. The top's quilted now so I just need to put it all together - hopefully this weekend.

City Boy and I finally managed to compromise on some curtain fabric for the living room. Took a while but that's my fault for involving him. I should have just put up my choice - he'd have told me that he didn't like them and then not given it another thought. I would describe City Boy's tastes in interior decor as traditional if I'm feeling kind, boring if I'm not. So I'm not overly excited by the prospect of these curtains, but I'm informed by City Boy that a compromise is where both parties walk away equally unhappy.

We still have to pick out a rug - that's hours of fun right there.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Keeping London's Babies Warm

It's been a cold journey to and from work this week. I'm ready for spring now please. I've been skipping breakfast at home and having a bowl of hot porridge at my desk when I get into the office. It's nice to have something to look forward to during that godawful tube journey.

I've been doing some paper piecing recently, which a nice sofa activity, but slow going, so I don't have much to show for my crafting time at the moment. I've stopped knitting a cardi with one sleeve to go. Why do I have such a problem getting myself to finish things when it just needs a final push? No doubt a psychiatrist would be able to tell me what that says about me.

I did finish an itty, bitty baby jumper for my friend's brand new baby. I'm not counting this as a 2012 FO though as I only sewed the buttons on in January; all the knitting was completed before Christmas. I think that would be cheating a little bit.

I met the baby last weekend when he was 2 weeks old. He was very cute with his tiny little finger nails but, to be perfectly honest, a little uninteresting. After ten minutes cuddling he'd hardly moved and my arm was aching. I know babies aren't there to entertain me of course, but I think I prefer them when they're a little bit bigger. I'll have to visit again soon for more cuddles.

Anyway, the pattern was found on the purl bee website, and I would definitely make it again - it's straightforward, easy garter stitch and results in a sweet little cardi for a baby boy or girl. I  used cygnet 4ply wool rich, as I thought the last thing the mother of a newborn needs is having to hand wash presents but it's still quite soft and woolly, plus inexpensive. The buttons are left over from my Catkin. It's so sweet and small that I wanted to keep it, but City Boy said that would be weird. He wasn't persuaded that it would look good on a cat.

Baby will need to grow into it a little bit, but that seems to happen incredibly fast anyway. It will probably fit in the Summer when no one needs woolly cardis and then he'll have grown out of it by the Winter. Knitting baby things is so much fun - they're tiny so you can have a whole cardi in just a few evenings, and so very sweet. Plus you don't have to spend the knitting time worrying that the recipient won't like it. I definitely need to persuade my friends to make some more babies for me to knit for.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

FO No. 1 of 2012: Grandpa's Lap Quilt

City Boy's grandfather had to move to a nursing home last year. After wondering what we could get him for Christmas, City Boy asked if I would make him a quilt for watching tv. Well how could I refuse such a request?

We knew we wouldn't be seeing the recipient until mid January, so this wasn't started until New Year's Eve.

It's lap sized, about 38 inches squared, and backed in a soft cotton flannel for coziness.


The fabrics are a mix of Kona cotton which I had already and some prints selected from the John Lewis sale, with City Boy's input.

It was quilted with lines a quarter of an inch either side of the seams and crinkled up nicely in the wash. Hopefully it will bring a bit of home comfort to a nursing home room this winter.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Variations on a Theme

Blue and Beige...

Pink and Grey...

Burgundy and Cream...

Green and White

These are all Selbu Modern by Kate Gagnon Osborn, available free on Ravelry. It's a lovely little pattern that knits up fast and looks great. I added an extra pattern repeat to each of these and added in a few rows when decreasing for the crown as I like hats to be slouchy and I'd read that this one knits up on the small size. All knitted in a mixture of fingering weight wool and Alpaca I had in the house.

The grey one is this winter's hat for me and I managed to part with the rest as Christmas presents. City Boy managed to convince me that owning the same hat in four different colourways was a little excessive, even for a lover of knitted accessories.

Monday, 9 January 2012

12 resolutions for 2012

These are perhaps somewhat belated for new year's resolutions, but in my working life I set goals against which to measure my success, so why not my personal life as well? There's things I want to achieve that could all too easily slip to the bottom of the to-do list, so I think it will be quite a good motivator to give myself appraisals, perhaps on a quarterly basis.

1. Remember to wear perfume more often. I own lots of lovely perfume that I mostly forget about.

2.Try keeping a sketch book. I have so many ideas floating around on scraps of paper, jotted in my diary or never committed to paper. It would be interesting to see how keeping a sketch book affects the way I sew and knit. Besides, it's a great excuse to order stationery.

3. Get fit again. I'm really hoping to be able to run 5km this summer, which may sound easy enough but I'm currently not allowed to run at all. I'm up to walking on an incline and cross training, so have made a start.

4. Decide what on earth to do about my career. It boils down to two options: progress where I am or move on elsewhere. I need to decide which I want this year and commit to it one way or the other, otherwise I'll spend another year standing still career-wise.

5. Make curtains for the living room. It's been a year and a half now, sort it out woman.

6. An extension to the above, take the time to make some nice soft furnishings for our house. Everyone else in the extended family has lovely homemade cushions, table runners and quilts; in 2012 I'm going to be a little bit selfish with my sewing time.

7. Take the time to properly sew a well-finished item of clothing. Although I often dash off a quick top or unlined dress I so rarely spend the time on a more time consuming item which will last. The last thing I can remember was a fully lined tea dress in 2010. I have some lovely wool that's been patiently waiting to be a coat for several years, and 2012 may finally be it's year.

8. Pick a surface/drawer/shelf/area/box to clear of clutter and sort every week/fortnight/month. I'm leaving the frequency of this activity blank as I don't to fail if I miss a week, but once a month won't get anywhere near clearing out all the clutter we've accumulated. As long as I get some of the junk out the house I'll be happy.

9. This one will be a little hard to tick off, but I'd like to spend my (somewhat sparse) free time more deliberately this year. I don't watch much television, but I've increasingly found that if I'm not careful I can come home from work and sit down for 'just a minute', and before I know it I've watched an hour of rubbish tv. I'd like to spend those lost hours more thoughtfully - I'm not opposed to watching trashy tv on occasion, but when I do I'd like it to be a conscious decision to sit down and indulge, rather than just a time suck.

10. Be better at keeping in touch with people. Phone my grandmother, book dinners with friends, reply to text messages immediately.

11. Remember all family birthdays. At age [late twenties] it is inexcusable that my mother still feels the need to ring me to check I put a card in the post to family members. This year I will be able to tell her it's already been sent.

12. Bake some passable macaroons. I was put off the whole idea by abject failure when I tried last year, but would like to try again.

Sunday, 8 January 2012


Well I disappeared for a while there. I got swept up in the frantic rush of late November and December, a busy time of year at work as well as at home. I did keep thinking of my little blog but somehow couldn't get it together enough to write anything.

But it's a new year and a fresh start, so, keeping in the spirit of January, I'm going to do one quick, whizzy rundown of what I've been up to for the last few weeks and then move on with 2012.

There was a shopping and sightseeing trip to beautiful New York City. A treat for me from City Boy after struggling through a rubbish year health-wise.

There was lots of knitting and making ahead of the 25th of course, much of which was wrapped up and handed over in far too much of a rush to photograph. One such present comes immediately to mind - a reverse appliqué quilted table runner for my mum. I'd spent hours on it, and was finally sewing on the binding on Christmas Eve when I noticed a few red marks on it. On further inspection there were red smears all over it. Panicking now, and fearing the worst, I was trying to work out when it would have come into contact with red ink when I noticed that one of my fingers was also covered in red ink. Of course, I'd stabbed myself with a pin, which I'd not really registered in the frantic rush to get it finished and bled profusely all over natural linen. An unscheduled wash was required, and it was only just dry in time to wrap on Christmas morning.

There were a host of knitted gifts as well, including this lovely little cowl made out of some DK silk and merino, sent off to warm the neck of one of my grandmothers. This was actually for a birthday, of which we had two to celebrate in December. Really, it's quite inconvenient of people to be having birthdays when I'm trying to prepare for Christmas!


There were many, many shopping trips, often on two wheels with a laden basket, wobbling through the park.

There was decorating and a trip to three different places to hunt down that elusive perfect tree.

I didn't get many decorations made this year despite my intentions and the beginning of a Christmas quilt. I had imagined a quilt that could be brought out for snuggling in front of the fire in Decembers to come, but it currently consists of two star blocks.

Lots of baking (and eating), including a wonderfully sticky, spicy gingerbread loaf that I made (and ate) over and over again.

And there were lots and lots of lovely presents - I was thoroughly spoilt this year, including a present that I'd been dropping lots of hints for...

Except for leaving the house for a New Year's Eve party, in the period between Christmas and New Year we could, furry housemates included, normally be found on the sofa in front of a film with the fire on, all wrapped up and keeping warm.