Sunday, 30 March 2014

25 Before 24 - Post-birthday Update

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ut we've mostly been tired & eaten simple things. Getting reflective?


March has brought sunshine and warm enough weather for breakfast in the garden at weekends. We've been enjoying seeing what's coming up - the previous tenants made an effort with the garden so we've had lots of daffodils, snowdrops and others already and there are plenty more things sprouting. We're still failing to win over our neighbours' cats - some run away, one just looks disinterested. I finally got around to shortening the curtains we bought a month or two ago and we've found some more pre-existing holes in the walls to hang things from so the sitting room is looking a bit more homely.
I've done a bit of sewing and managed to watch The Great British Sewing Bee every week, but not made all that much progress on sewing things. We've both been quite tired and I've not cooked anywhere near as much as last month I think. We spent a couple of weekends mostly at home recovering from the week and straightening the house out, though we also escaped to Tyntesfield and Chew Valley Lake for a change of scenery. Spending last weekend with my parents has left us struggling through mountains of washing up and laundry this week. Glamourous stuff.
I took the day off on my birthday and went off to Bath with vague ideas about drinking good coffee, visiting The Makery, and the magnolia trees in Queen Square looking nice. I had a very good flat white and some tasty cake at Colonna & Small's but found that The Makery was closed for relocation. However I also found a quilting shop called Country Threads which was absolutely lined with lovely quilting cottons, including the mad Kaffe Fassett vegetable ones. I later found out that The American Museum in Bath has an exhibition about him on - good excuse for a return trip I reckon. I had a nice day of wandering around looking at things & came home in the evening to dinner cooked for me by Boy.
I think I'll post a proper finish up of my 25 Before 24 when I'm feeling a bit more awake.

25 Things

  1. Cycle to Bath - Bicycle is now in Bristol! Need a helmet & lights.
  2. Visit K at RHUL
  3. Go to a sewing meet
  4. Make 5 items of clothing - halfway through a modified New Look 6154 skirt
  5. Go to Cornwall and/or somewhere warm
  6. Learn some Perl/Ruby/C++/SQL - Knowledge of Perl & C++ slowly increasing
  7. Keep a list of things to cook and make 2 new ones per month - Banana, oat, & chocolate muffins, potato farls, chicken & ham pie
  8. Read twelve or more books
  9. Cut down my photo-uploading backlog - Onto A35F roll 1
  10. Scrapbook - Nope
  11. Visit 5 new towns or cities
  12. Keep job/get good/become independent - Enjoying being back in my normal problem solving role. Set an objective I'm actually interested in doing
  13. Go to a pop-up restaurant or supper club
  14. Finish things - Started & finished several new things
  15. Mend/alter
  16. See cousins
  17. Go to a gig/film/... every month -Saw Ellen & The Escapades and Stanley Brinks & The Wave Pictures + Freschard - both very good. Saw The Grand Budapest Hotel.
  18. Walk lots - Few evening excursions on foot, lots of rain
  19. Visit new cafés/things - had coffee at Colonna & Smalls in Bath, visited Small Bar and Turtle Bay on work outing, ate Thai at The Old Fishmarket, visited The Gallimaufry
  20. Do something creative every week - Lots of knitting on the way to work, bursts of sewing in evenings
  21. Make an effort to go to things - Plenty of evenings out with friends, a couple with work, and one with my parents, excursion to Weston-S-M despite train problems
  22. Learn to knit properly - Shapely Boyfriend cardigan has one and a half arms
  23. Listen to the radio regularly - Still lots of 6music, plus Radio 2 during lifts to work
  24. Use stashes - Bought fabric on my birthday! Acquired more stash from my Great Aunt. Using up some on skirt & made a little zippy pouch from stash.
  25. Find a dentist & get teeth fixed

Saturday, 1 March 2014

25 Before 24 - March Update

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January merged dully into February and February slipped past slyly. It was definitely a busier month but with the same feeling of fighting the weather to get up the necessary oomph to get out and do things. I don't think I did too badly though. On the craft front at least it's been a productive month, with several projects making decent chunks of progress or being completed. There's also been a shift culinarily - not doing big shops has meant that I've instigated or brought together many more dinners, including ones that are less boy-style meat-veg-carb, and more adventurous concoctions and bits and pieces.
Writing this post so soon after finishing off the last (very late one) has made it clear to me that I don't have much of a sense of how February has been. I could perhaps do with more slow thinking time. I think I've also been taking fewer phone photos. In some ways that's good - I've been less distracted by it - but also there are things I've already semi-forgotten or misplaced in my mental timeline. When did I have brunch with A&C? Was it late January or early February? I didn't take any photos or send the postcards I had meant to send that day. The physical act of writing the date might have cemented the mental connection.
I've generally not written to people as much as I should. I've managed to keep up with birthdays, I think, but I have at least one long letter to reply to. I no longer have several hours of bus time in which to think of these things. I'm getting through my RSS feeds much slower, and I'm not talking to my bus-riding colleagues so much (though one is away anyway). The flipside of all that is the increased time for craft and cooking and being at home with boy. I'm basically less social and thoughtful but creating more.
With some effort (in the direction of not just slumping on the sofa with my knitting) I'm sure I can even this back out. Knitting & cooking are the kinds of thing that I will always find time for - I have to eat anyway and knitting is very easy to pick up & put down - so it's the thinking more that needs some work. I think that working out how much free time I have when deciding what to do with it will lead to more variety and the more complex things getting done - less just starting knitting by instinct. That said, both Death In Paradise and The Great British Sewing Bee are on at the moment...

25 Things

  1. Cycle to Bath
  2. Visit K at RHUL
  3. Go to a sewing meet
  4. Make 5 items of clothing - made a top from Simplicity 9175 (1970)
  5. Go to Cornwall and/or somewhere warm
  6. Learn some Perl/Ruby/C++/SQL - Had a presentation about Perl & reviewed some C++
  7. Keep a list of things to cook and make 2 new ones per month - Chocolate & blueberry scones, beef rendang, cornbread, pea & ham soup, chocolate tarts, cucumber and lime G&T
  8. Read twelve or more books
  9. Cut down my photo-uploading backlog - On K1000 roll 6 now
  10. Scrapbook - Nope.
  11. Visit 5 new towns or cities
  12. Keep job/get good/become independent - Changed the format of part of a big meeting & got more people talking which is a win :) Got very good annual feedback
  13. Go to a pop-up restaurant or supper club
  14. Finish things - Sewed up last pair of Learn To Knit Love To Knit wristwarmers. Made top from Simplicity 9175.
  15. Mend/alter - added *more* things to my mending pile!
  16. See cousins
  17. Go to a gig/film/... every month -Saw Cate Le Bon at The Lantern. Very good and very loud!
  18. Walk lots - 9.5 mile walk round the downs, down through Clifton, round the harbour, to Sunday lunch at The Bank, then all the way home
  19. Visit new cafés/things -Went to Obento with friends, experienced the extended upstairs at Boston Tea Party on Park St
  20. Do something creative every week - So much knitting! And a bit of sewing too.
  21. Make an effort to go to things - Coffee with friends, colleague's birthday party, two weekend lunches, a pub visit, impromptu dinner with old old flatmate.
  22. Learn to knit properly - Shapely Boyfriend cardigan is coming along nicely
  23. Listen to the radio regularly - Still lots of 6music, plus Radio 2 during lifts to work
  24. Use stashes - Bought wool for shapely boyfriend and red thread for curtains. Used stash fabric for top & made a couple of plans
  25. Find a dentist & get teeth fixed

Monday, 24 February 2014

25 Before 24 - February Update

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Soon there will be cherry blossom again, soon!
Laaaate. So very late. I think I'll blame the weather. We're nowhere near flooded up here on our hill, though Bristol harbour did overflow and necessitate a temporary flood defence down by the river. Mostly the weather meant spending most of the weekends indoors. After a fairly indulgent Christmas & new year, the boy and I have been feeling a bit fat and being cooped up inside hasn't helped with that!

25 Things

  1. Cycle to Bath
  2. Visit K at RHUL
  3. Go to a sewing meet
  4. Make 5 items of clothing
  5. Go to Cornwall and/or somewhere warm
  6. Learn some Perl/Ruby/C++/SQL
  7. Keep a list of things to cook and make 2 new ones per month - Rocky road, teriyaki salmon, peanut butter hot chocolate, taleggio risotto, pilau rice
  8. Read twelve or more books
  9. Cut down my photo-uploading backlog - On K1000 roll 6 now
  10. Scrapbook - Nope. Session needed.
  11. Visit 5 new towns or cities
  12. Keep job/get good/become independent - Changed the format of our daily meeting
  13. Go to a pop-up restaurant or supper club
  14. Finish things - 3 pairs of Learn To Knit Love To Knit wristwarmers. Sorted out muslin for Simplicity 9175
  15. Mend/alter
  16. See cousins
  17. Go to a gig/film/... every month - Saw Inside Llewyn Davis
  18. Walk lots - Couple of little wanderings at weekends but not much.
  19. Visit new cafés/things -
  20. Do something creative every week - Lots of knitting!
  21. Make an effort to go to things -Photo brunch, cinema trip, old flatmate's birthday party, had coffee with a friend
  22. Learn to knit properly - Going swimmingly, started warming up for a Shapely Boyfriend cardigan
  23. Listen to the radio regularly -Lots of 6music, plus Radio 2 during lifts to work
  24. Use stashes - Bought spotty chambray but made a few plans.
  25. Find a dentist & get teeth fixed

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Recently, Craftily

 Felt star Christmas decorations for friends - I'd left all my beads and sequins at home so I had to improvise some embroidery. I still can't do french knots. I stuffed these with polyester stuffing & hung them on ribbon loops.

I made a baby blanket for a colleague. I had it almost finished for ages but only got round to weaving the ends in and blocking it after the early arrival of said baby! It's lying on a bath-sheet-sized towel folded in half here. I wanted it to stay useable for a good few years so made it quite large.
I started off with stash wool and purchased a few balls of white to make the blanket up to the size I wanted. I think the Peter Pan by Wendy was the nicest I used, the Hobbycraft bargain baby wool was nowhere near as soft and lovely. The whole thing is on Ravelry here. I'm not one for cooing over babies but I must admit that he looked very cute wrapped up & sleeping.

I started making a collection of little crochet stars out of scrap wool. Eventually I may have enough for some sort of garland.

I was lucky enough to receive this beautifully presented parcel in the Sewists' Secret Santa... The card was only signed from Secret Santa so I don't know who was responsible! All I know is the postmark.

And this is what was inside! Bravo Santa, such well chosen bits - I really love when someone unexpectedly gets it so right - not that I help much with my rather sparse blog.
I'd been admiring Fashionarys from afar for a while so it was lovely to be indulged - I think it'll help me get my ideas down when I'm having a fit of inspiration as I tend to completely forget all my ideas completely. I wasn't sure what the giant button was at first and had an abortive attempt at using it as a kind of window sticker! Then I had a flash of inspiration and googled button coaster. If this isn't what it's meant to be, I'm very sorry but it does a good job :)
I'd like to thank Kat very very much for organising this swap - I'm looking forward to being involved in more, and hopefully being far better at my part of the bargain. I have not seen yet if my Santee has received her parcel - it was going right round the world and I sent it shamefully late :-(

On Christmas day I decided to teach myself to knit in the round using dpns. The perfect willfully lazy winter afternoon activity. This was my first attempt and it only bloody worked! 
I followed instructions in How To Knit by Debbie Bliss which I find to be a pretty good book for learning knitting generally. I kept going and eventually decided to experiment with decreasing every 4th & 5th stitch, resulting in an interestingly pointy little hat. Currently it belongs to a toy dog as I don't know any children of the right sort of age.


This is my first pair of Wristwarmers from Learn To Knit Love To Knit, as recommended by Magpie Mimi. For this first pair I naughtily used the same sized needles throughout so my rib is a little *too* stretchy. My mattress stitch is not the prettiest either but practice will help. They're on Ravelry here.

 
Speaking of which, I'm already on my third pair of LTKLTK wrist warmers. I obeyed the needle instructions for the second minty pair and also changed colours for the third. These two sets are presents. The pink & brown ones are waiting to be sewn up (and washed after an unfortunate beer incident).

 
I've been enjoying spending cold wet weekend afternoons (and some evenings) in my craft room(!) arranging things and making plans. I found that this little cabinet - which came from a jam gift set - is the perfect size for holding reels of cotton. I've recently inherited quite a few from a friend's aunt. Some of it is labelled quilting cotton so I need to look that up - I imagine it might be stronger and thicker than normal thread and possibly too thick for dressmaking?
I've also been through my whole (far too large) collection of crochet hooks selected the sizes I didn't have from among the inherited lot. Now I'm in the process of giving away the rest & have had quite a bit of interest from friends.


And this is what I've been doing on the sewing front. Simplicity 9175 is an A-line shift dress pattern from 1970. I picked up the pattern at the sewists' meet in Birmingham back in June, right at the end of the swap after having initially thought that there was no way a vintage single sized pattern would be big enough. But it is! To my inexperienced eyes the bust on my toile is nigh on perfect.
The hips were another story (as you'd see if you follow me on Instagram) and I thought I'd have to do some drastic re-drafting to make it work. However I tried taking out the side and centre back seams by 1/4", curving out gently from below the ends of the french darts, et voilá! Suddenly all was well. I was amazed by how much difference this made. I have a slight suspicion I may have stretched the fabric when trying it on, but I intend for my first real version to be made of the leftover cheap navy cotton from for New Look 6154. I've re-pre-washed it so hopefully its shrinky tendencies have been tamed now.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Lytes Cary: Hedgerow, Riverbank & Woodland


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A long-delayed sequel to my Lytes Cary post, these are some photos from outside of the formal gardens. Boy and I took the path down to the River Cary, walked alongside it a little, and then found our way back along some field edges and through a lovely little bit of wood.
Since it was quite late in the afternoon by this point we had the place to ourselves and there was some lovely late afternoon sun lighting up the trees and berries.

I meant to post this in late December but there was some kind of Flickr stupidness with the photo sharing code becoming iframes. I've got my good old html img tags back now so it's all playing nicely with blogger and mobile browsers again.

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By the time we got back to the house it was definitely late late afternoon and the sun had become low and lovely. It did make it quite hard to walk across this very lumpy field, but it was pretty all the same :)






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Friday, 17 January 2014

25 Before 24 - January Update



-rant-
Something is buggered with my post editing - the text keeps jumping around and becoming indented randomly. This wasn't happening on the last post I edited so I assume it's something to do with having copy & pasted some bullet points, or the continuous re-interpretation of the html that's going on.
On the plus side I've managed to get rid of the Flickr "iframe" thing by effectively writing my own html - they'd replaced the old img tags with iframe ones which used a different photo source url on top of being bloody annoying. I can at least arrange my photos how I like from Blogger again, but it makes photo posts much slower having to re-write html for each photo rather than simply grabbing it already done from the Flickr photo page.

Oh dear, I can see why I gave up on writing this post. Anyway, December was... busy. Finishing moving, various birthdays, and Christmas. I thought going home for Christmas might be relaxing... nope. There was something familyish to do every day - no sitting about doing nothing like I'd have liked. I did see various family members and survive all of my immediate family living together for a few days fairly happily so that was a plus. Coming back to Bristol afterwards wasn't hard (apart from missing a coffee date with friends) and I had a slightly surreal single day of working from home before a very home-based NYE.

25 Things

  1. Cycle to Bath
  2. Visit K at RHUL
  3. Go to a sewing meet
  4. Make 5 items of clothing
  5. Go to Cornwall and/or somewhere warm
  6. Learn some Perl/Ruby/C++/SQL - C++ looking more useful
  7. Keep a list of things to cook and make 2 new ones per month - oven-baked pilau rice! Vegan cake - my apple/carrot/banana cake but with flax seeds - which came joint 2nd in the office bake-off. I sabbotaged myself by voting for the winning entry. Too honest! I also made N a birthday cake - it was a recipe I'd made before but never with proper butter or actual ganache. Ganache is surprisingly easy!
  8. Read twelve or more books
  9. Cut down my photo-uploading backlog - On K1000 roll 5 now
  10. Scrapbook - Nope. Session needed.
  11. Visit 5 new towns or cities
  12. Keep job/get good/become independent - Scrum mastering going ok - definitely got the basics but still not keen on speaking to large groups or leading meetings. Have been working almost independently on a project for a month or so and am getting along ok despite self-doubt.
  13. Go to a pop-up restaurant or supper club
  14. Finish things - Finished the baby blanket and gave it to the baby! I've seen some very cute pictures of said baby using the blanket too. I also finished a bit of crosss stitch I've been working on since September.
  15. Mend/alter
  16. See cousins - One set came round on Boxing Day & we did a secret santa :)
  17. Go to a gig/film/... every month - Went for supper at the Watershed but lamed out of cinema. Saw some surf/ska/funk at the bar where we met for Boy's birthday. Surf-style Norwegian Wood was pretty good.
  18. Walk lots - a few vague attempts but it's COLD. Went up & down the lane at home a couple of times and along a beach in Devon
  19. Visit new cafés/things - Work do took in The Hophouse and The Albion, neither of which I'd visited before. Visited the new Boston Tea Party up Gloucester Road and Grounded Café even further up. We also tried out the little café/Bistro in Henleaze with visiting friends and had a pretty good and reasonably priced brunch.
  20. Do something creative every week - Further bus crochet on the baby blanket, some embroidered felt stars for Christmas presents, little crocheted stars, a (wonkily) quilted stocking for Boy, a funny red accidental hat to teach me to knit in the round with double pointed needles (dpns), and the start of a pair of wristwarmers for myself.
  21. Make an effort to go to things - Several coffees with groups of friends, work Christmas do, a birthday evening I organised for Boy, pre-cinema dinner (even if I didn't stay for the cinema part), Christmas dinner with school friends, an afternoon Christmassing at a friend's house, coffee with old flatmate.
  22. Learn to knit properly - Definitely getting somewhere! Managed to teach myself to use dpns from How To Knit by Debbie Bliss and started on some wristwarmers from Learn To Knit Love To Knit by Anna Wilkinson (a Christmas present)
  23. Listen to the radio regularly - Boy generally has it on in the evenings so yes!
  24. Use stashes - Bought new fabric for Boy's stocking but otherwise everything I've made has been from my stash.
  25. Find a dentist & get teeth fixed 
 Going back over this list I'm quite impressed with what I managed to cram into December. January is feeling a bit tired and full of nothing, perhaps I'll get started on this month's list early to try and encourage myself. I might do a round up of everything I made last year too - I genuinely have no idea what my craft output is. I feel like it's pretty low but could be entirely wrong.
I've been rather inspired to do some kind of year summary by all the Top 5s I've been seeing - Gillian has some excellent ideas, including the sewcialists blog.

Friday, 27 December 2013

25 Before 24 - December Update

Snowdops
Snowdrops in Royal Fort Gardens
Late again - but I'm all moved in with Boy now. We got all our stuff into the house pretty quickly and unpacked but have been rather exhausted by keeping all the normal things together on top of that. We were both rather looking forward to some quiet time together in the house to enjoy each other's company but busyness has held that off 'til after Christmas. Boy's birthday is just before Christmas too so I was gearing up for that.
We've not made any new year plans so hopefully it'll be a quiet one spent with some good friends, some wine, and the contents of our salad cheese drawer.
As ever I'd like to blog more regularly - I think reminding myself that I do make and do interesting "blog-worthy" things is part of the struggle. Now I have a craft room I shall hopefully be more organised in my making and not have unfinished projects lying about.

25 Things

1. Cycle to Bath - Now have a garage but it's full of car things so no space for bike yet...
2. Visit K at RHUL
3. Go to a sewing meet
4. Make 5 items of clothing - Craft room is set up & I have some lovely soft teal cord for another Simplicity 2451. It'll need lining though - new frontiers :s
5. Go to Cornwall and/or somewhere warm - we've talked about a week in the warm in Jan/Feb
6. Learn some Perl/Ruby/C++/SQL- Hmm
7. Keep a list of things to cook and make 2 new ones per month - Made a very fruity/vegetably cake twice over - once carrot, banana, apple, coconut & walnuts and once apple, banana, hazelnut & chocolate
8. Read twelve or more books  - Nope. All mine & boy's books are cohabiting merrily on proper bookshelves now
9. Cut down my photo-uploading backlog - On roll 4 of K1000 photos
10. Scrapbook - Did a little concerted scrapbooking just before I moved, currently just keeping bits together
11. Visit 5 new towns or cities - Visited different parts of London to previously... Bethnal Green, Dalston & Goldhawk Road
12. Keep job/get good/become independent - Finished the annoying thing. Now doing lots of copying & pasting. Have taken over scrum master duties which is more responsibility -> good
13. Go to a pop-up restaurant or supper club
14. Finish things - UFOs are now dwelling in a box of shame
15. Mend/alter - Did a little of this before moving, got a couple of things back into circulation
16. See cousins - Failed to see any
17. Go to a gig/film/... every month - Saw Cate Le Bon at Rise for free and Darren Hayman at The Vortex Jazz club in London. Both very good.
18. Walk lots - Now closer to *a* bus stop, but a little way from a reliable one so walking there is a better option
19. Visit new cafés/things - Went to The Breakfast Club in Shoreditch and Tap Coffee on Wardour Street in London. Both very good - I had bacon & banana french toast in the former, and good coffee and some kind of tasty cake in the latter.
20. Do something creative every week - This got rather lost in all the moving and I've been feeling the want of some craft time
21. Make an effort to go to things - Went to London! Saw a few friends who now live there
22. Learn to knit properly - I have a pattern recommended and some wool in mind for arm-warmers
23. Listen to the radio regularly - Boy's digital radio is often on in the evening
24. Use stashes
25. Find a dentist & get teeth fixed