Noses


My little noses finally arrived! I must admit I was quite pleased, excited even, when they arrived and waved them in the air triumphantly! E, J and M just momentarily looked up and then all three carried on with what they were doing. They are completely used to me being excited about a little bag of plastic toy parts, it’s entirely normal in their world to have a house full of art and craft supplies. Let’s face it, when J comes to me and says he needs an A4 piece of silver card, blue corrugated card, double sided tape and green sticky backed felt on a roll for an environmental planning project he knows I won’t have to go shopping first. In fact that was a real request just recently and I had everything to hand and more. Once he’s finished GCSEs and A levels I’m going to pass this kind of thing on in the form of regular craft packs for my niece!

So the woolly bear now has a little nose and looks a lot more like a bear than he did at first. The yarn is DROPS Karisma which is 100% wool. I’d have chosen a lighter shade normally but I’m using up what I have. I originally bought this yarn for Toft Menagerie crochet animals but after making five of them I’m all Tofted out! At least it will contrast nicely with the cream Aran sweater which I’m avoiding sewing up by the way because it requires crab stitch and I’ve never actually done that before. I need to have peace and quiet to tackle something new!

There’s not a lot of peace and quiet here right now. M and I braved the crowds for New Year’s Day dinner food shopping. We blitzed the freezer and fridge contents when we got home (yes, should have done this first but oh well). M is now recovering with the various gold channels for company. We are polar opposites when it comes to repetition. He likes the comfort of familiar programmes like Storage Hunters and How it’s Made and I get restless if they are on more than once a week. I prefer variety. The battle for the remote control is not one I bother fighting for. Thank goodness for books and crochet!

As per tradition tomorrow M will be cooking a roast dinner and we will have his sister over for the day. Its a busman’s holiday for M as he will also spend the day translating for me. A’s speech is beyond my comprehension. To save him some work I usually just waffle on without waiting for too much in the way of a reply even though I do feel a tad guilty. Last year we made tissue paper flowers because she likes to make things too and there really wasn’t much need for chat. I’m thinking Pom Pom garlands this year but I know the clover Pom Pom makers will be too complicated for her so we will do a simpler type, she will enjoy combining colours, pink always being a firm favourite. Stash busting, a repetitive craft activity I can cope with, a pom pom garland for A to take home, its a win win.

Happy New Year! πŸŽ‰πŸ·

Home


We had a lovely family Christmas that went far too quickly. My little niece is still too young to understand the chap coming down the chimney story but she had a good go at opening presents and loved every one of them. Among other bits and bobs we bought her a pretend coffee machine since we all have them in our homes and I recall pretend food and drink being quite a long phase with E and J. In fact J was the lucky recipient of lots of espressos one evening.

Unbeknown to me she doesn’t usually like mittens or gloves but the novelty of soft furry ones on a string went down well and kept her tiny hands toasty when we went for a walk on Boxing Day. We spotted them at the Lincoln Christmas Market having really only gone for the mulled wine and Christmas atmosphere!

My crochet time, especially in the winter months, is about to get a little longer with the help of a fantastic daylight lamp from Father Christmas. I’ve been dropping hints for quite a while and holding small stitches up to the dim lamp by the sofa for months to make sure Santa got the idea!

Of course I had to start a new project from my new crochet book over Christmas. It would have been rude not to. I started with the front of a little cable knit look jumper just to make sure that went well before making the animal that will be wearing it. I really like Aran sweaters so it’s likely that all the animals in the new book will have one in their wardrobe! I’m waiting for some little noses to arrive this week too. The book is Cute Crocheted Animals by Emma Varnam. It’s just what I’ve been looking for, animals with outfits but nothing too fiddly or impossible to make.

J turned sixteen yesterday. I can hardly believe it. He’s a ridiculous six foot three and wears size twelve shoes. Having an awkwardly timed birthday has at least one advantage; he always has extended family around and we tend to do a cinema trip for all those interested. So yesterday most went to see the new Star Wars film in 3D. It just had to be an R2D2 cake after that, you’re never too old for Star Wars birthday cakes!

Eve


Notes for next Christmas: Do not leave all the wrapping until Christmas Eve. Store the many rolls of wrapping paper somewhere really obvious so you won’t have to send your husband out the day before Christmas for supplies. Do not buy gifts with multiple aspects which triple the amount of wrapping to do (‘experience’ vouchers are looking attractive for next year!). Do not leave card writing so late that you miss the last post.

Do stock up on G&T for card writing and gift wrapping sessions. Do make sure the hounds have a new B A L L on a R O P E so they don’t feel left out (even if they will probably lose it in the farmers field before Boxing Day.) Do go for a long dog walk in the crisp cold so that the house seems even warmer and cosier than usual. Do spend hours crocheting a tiny yoda and a titchy stormtrooper, especially if you’ve got a Christmas Eve to do list as long as a light saber.

Here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas! πŸŽ„

Yoda


Mobile phones can be annoying, time consuming devices but just occasionally the ability to send a photo with a message is quite handy! E sent a photo of the above kit with the caption, ‘almost worth learning how to crochet for this!’. I told her to buy it and I’d have a go!

The kit includes materials to make Yoda and a Stormtrooper. I’ve got a stash of dk that contains probably all of the colours required to make the rest. Yoda has since been turned into a key ring and the fluffy snowman key ring E had been using has been unceremoniously dumped! There is half a stormtrooper on the go which is destined to dangle decoratively in a Fiat 500 as soon as it’s made.

Have you noticed the rather smart oak coffee table which has replaced my whitewashed old cupboard door-on top of a footstool-coffee table? M likes to make wooden gifts at Christmas but due to the decline of his workshop roof he hasn’t been able to do as much this year. He did, however, sneak some planks of oak home, secretly commission some metal legs and then not so secretly set about making the table in the kitchen using the island as a giant workbench. It’s a good job the kitchen is rustic to start with! I may have subtly hinted about the need for a proper coffee table and I may have sent a few links to styles I liked that I thought would work in our living room. So I’m pretty darn happy with the results. It’s just what I wanted!

Frida


It’s been a busy week. We seem to be experts at taking a long time to do small tasks. For example, it really wasn’t the most efficient use of my time to join M in Leicester this week with just two things on my shopping list. I could easily have picked these items up locally but it’s always nice to have a leisurely coffee on the way and perhaps a light lunch when he finishes the work part. I like wandering round cities I don’t know too. So much to see. Sheffield later in the week was full of police cars, foot patrols and even mounted police!

After tomorrow’s big wrapping and card writing session I will feel much more relaxed and ready to chill out for Christmas. I took a big step today and changed my hair rather drastically again. It feels like a year ago but it might be two, when I went from long dark hair to short grey hair. It was quite liberating at the time and I’ve really enjoyed not having to faff around with colour. Today I went from grey to a light ash blonde and I do quite like it. I’ll admit it was slightly prompted by me buying a child’s gift and the cashier asking me if it was for my grandson. Aargh! It made me think, heck, I don’t need to look like a granny at the grand old age of 47. Goodbye grey. For now. The neighbours will no doubt be thinking I’m having a mid life crisis!

I can now show you one of the fun gifts we bought E for her birthday. It was a weird moment when I was browsing the art part of Blackwells in Oxford. There were mainly rather boring great big tomes of information with few pictures and in amongst those this smaller, cuter, book with a nice balance of art and words. With the chosen book in my hand my phone alerted me to a message from E; she had been walking down Steephill in Lincoln and had spotted the above brooch in a quirky little shop and wanted to drop a hint for her birthday. I was tempted to message her a picture of the book and say, ‘how’s that for timing?’ but I resisted and saved it for her birthday. I bought the brooch as soon as we got back from Oxford. A perfect little package for a big Frida fan!

Talking of E and books… I told her about my 2017 plan to donate 365 books by gathering seven a week, either read or no longer wanted. She was horrified! I didn’t go on to explain that I could do that with their childhood books alone! Our dining room bookshelves are groaning with books and they are even doubled up on the shelves. I’m even going to thin out some of my knitting books now that I do more crochet. I always like to have a challenge for the start of each year. Quite some years ago now I thought it would be difficult not to buy new clothing for a year. It turned out to be very easy and I’ve mostly stuck to that one ever since. Now it’s time to focus on owning less.

Nineteen


This little tinker turned nineteen yesterday. My how time flies! Mum, Dad, brother, boyfriend, Nanna and Grandad all helped her celebrate at Carluccio’s last night. It’s true she hates having a birthday so close to Christmas but her life isn’t too bad apart from that! It’s such a relief that everything seems to be falling into place for her. Worrying about a future career seems to start so early with the choice of GCSE’s so we’ve had years of ‘woes’ while she figured out what she wanted to do. Thankfully primary years teaching fell into her lap one day and she can’t wait to wake up every morning and go to school, such irony after years of saying, ‘I hate school!’

Birthdays are humdingers for reminding me of those no longer with us. My Nan would have been so proud and happy to know that Ella will one day (in three years time) be a qualified primary school teacher. I can only wonder what her Dad would have said. I like to think he’d have approved.

Trees

I can highly recommend knitting little trees 🌲 in the run up to Christmas when there’s still far more important things to be done (like writing out the Christmas cards). Each one is like a small breather from all the madness. I can’t say this garland went exactly to plan. The mystery yarn, that might or might not be Noro, I bought from a charity shop for 50p, started off with the most scrumptious shade of tweedy red but quickly changed into more autumnal shades, and ending up purple! I was rather hoping I’d get to the green at least but I’m going with the flow and settling for these. I could of course carry on knitting small trees until I get to the green but that’s a project for another time. For now it’s ready to hang, I just need to decide where!

Thank you to loritimesfive on Instagram for the inspiration. The tree pattern is in the December issue of Knitting magazine. Even these small sessions of knitting aren’t compatible with my wrists so it’s back to crochet now. I have my eye on the coasters in the Sheepjes magazine as a quick and easy and stash busting project. Something to squeeze in between wrapping gifts and writing cards… and eating mince pies!

Trim


I can’t tell you how nice it is to have central heating once more! It’s been three weeks of intermittent hot water and heating and then a week of no heating at all. It’s shorts and t shirt weather indoors while we warm the whole place through again! In fact now that we’ve had a whole system power flush and a new boiler with eco credentials we’ve realised just how poor the old system was.

M and I had an enforced two days at home whilst the work was being done and that meant actually getting some of the household jobs on our to do list crossed off. M repaired the shower seal which had been leaking for a while before we noticed and had therefore caused some damage. I managed to get the dogs hairy paws and ears trimmed. Harvey has a thicker coat so he had to have that trimmed a little too. They are both incredibly patient and love the fuss (unlike my last pair of Springers). We’ve got a car boot’s worth of bags sorted for charity too, always a good feeling!

I must confess that I did also retreat to the warmth and cosiness of the caravan in between jobs, and worked a few crafty stripes of the hufflepuff scarf whilst warming up. M thought it would be funny to message me in there to ask if I wanted a cup of tea, adding ‘your place or mine?’. I replied that my place was warmer so we made tea in our tin mugs and defrosted our noses. It got even sillier after that because M then received a call from the plumber who was just a few feet away on the drive to ask him where the water stop cock was. I think he was too shy to knock on the caravan door! Honestly, the world has gone phone crazy!

Having offered the caravan, during the big chill, to everyone and finding no takers I decided I might as well spend a couple of nights in there myself. The heating has always been very effective and the bed is extremely comfortable. The peace and quiet was pretty amazing too. It’s often quite hard work to have to look up every time someone speaks to me, and believe me, that is very frequently in this household. People forget that I can’t just carry on doing whatever I’m doing and hear at the same time. I think they’d be surprised at how much of a pain this is if they tried it for just a few hours. I’ve tried explaining but still the same level of chat persists which is why it was just lovely to spend two evenings in the caravan alone with just my books and my crochet. I’ve started a knitted Christmas tree motif garland having seen the idea on Instagram (loritimesfive). I made six little tree motifs each evening; something that I’d never have managed during an evening of family tv time in the house. After Christmas we’ll be sorting out a new fireplace and mantel (something I’ve been waiting a decade for!) but for now I will have to find an alternative home for the new garland.

Crafting


It’s another overcast but mild day today. Our little electric stove heater really wasn’t up to the job of warming just one room while we wait for our new boiler. A borrowed oil filled radiator is doing a much better job and I can at least feel my hands once more. Only one more sleep until the two day boiler installation, phew! There have been less than patient residents here and I don’t mean the dogs.

Sometimes events make you suddenly realise just how much every day effort goes into trying to please all of the people all of the time. I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s a thankless and impossible task and I often put my own welfare and happiness way down the list of priorities. I’m pretty sure that this is a Mother and Wife thing that I’m not alone with. So, moving on, here’s to only pleasing some of the people some of the time and having an extra gin and tonic to cope with the fall out!

Today I thought I’d finally have a go at some of the craft bits and bobs that have been gathering. I probably haven’t made a cardboard star since primary school age! This one looked like it would take forever but it’s going fairly quickly. I’ve got another, more ambitious paper cut scene to tackle from a magazine earlier this year if I manage to get through this one without cutting myself!

There’s quite a lot of cutting involved in these mini crackers too. The free kit came with Mollie Makes and I’ve dug out some cracker snaps from my craft supplies and trimmed them down a little. I can’t add the tissue paper confetti or tie them up with the red and white yarn yet because I want to add jokes and a little something. A little crochet something would be fun but I’d need eight, half suitable for men and half suitable for women. I may have to go for sweets. I really should have thought about these weeks ago because Christmas is now only eleven days away! Yikes. So much wrapping to do yet.

If time allows I’m going to go with the Icelandic tradition of giving books on Christmas Eve. I wish I’d known about that years ago. I distinctly remember allowing the children to open a book each on several Christmas Eves when they were very small and the excitement was just too much, and then naturally bribing them with Santa threats (he won’t come if you’re awake!) to get them to go to sleep after ten bedtime stories, each. This year we have the magic of small children at Christmas again, well one small child, my niece. At one and a half I think she will still be wondering what it’s all about!

Sunday


It’s been wonderful to have some company on my daily dog walks, if only on Sundays. We’ve picked different locations each week despite the fact that M is strongly in favour of routine and repetition and I am the complete opposite. Take this morning for example, we had a small disagreement over my request to untangle the television cables in preparation for a radiator to be removed. I was aware there were surplus cables cluttering up the plugs and gathering dust down beside this radiator. M got pretty agitated and we managed to establish that it was because it was too spontaneous. I shall try booking a slot for essential maintenance next time!

These dog walk pictures were taken on Lincoln Common. I don’t usually take the dogs there due to the free range horses. I’m not that keen on the horses myself, they are a little over friendly for my liking. If you look very closely at the photo with Harvey hurrying back with the tennis ball you can see the windmill up on the hill. It’s a lovely place to be when the sun is shining. We spotted lots of Santa’s making their way up to the Cathedral area for the fun run.

The road had flooded a little where we left the car which of course was ideal for a last minute drink, paddle and foot wash! Harvey has been known to drink from a puddle with the tennis ball still in his mouth, but on this occasion figured it was safe enough to put down or leave floating!

I was so lucky with the yarn for the hats. There was just enough. From the two balls I have about 30cm left! Two pairs of deungarees and to hats out of two balls isn’t bad going eh? Now we just wait for news of their arrival which is any day now.

I’ve had a pre Christmas living room spring clean this afternoon while M was watching J play football and E was at work. Henry Hoover got rid of the cobwebs, pictures were finally put up on the wall, furniture rearranged, magazines sorted. I turned round to put the cushions straight and found Riley had created one of his special ‘nests’, and M calls him the stupid one! I think he’s pretty smart.