Friday, 27 February 2009


I have been pondering the cousin relationship for a while.

My first cousins were very important to me when I was a child. Although they were quite a lot older, they lived in the same town and we saw them regularly. They obviously enjoyed having a younger child to take care of and we remained close throughout my growing up. As adults we all moved to different parts of the country (different parts of the world even) and my middle cousin died of cancer when she was 35. These days we only seem to meet up for family events - weddings and funerals, but they are still family and those ties remain.

Steve also has a wide extended family of first cousins who were much the same age and has memories of Christmases where they all bunked down on the floor at his grandparents' house, family trips to Wales, cricket on the beach.

So we were sad for our own girls growing up without cousins. Eventually Steve's brother and his wife had twin daughters, but our girls were well into teenage and we only saw them once or twice a year, so although they are fond of them they regard them as a different generation and don't really feel they know them well.

Now I'm wondering how it will be for our grandchildren. So far there are three of them, aged between 16 months and 3 years in two separate families. Very close in age, but separated by 160 miles. How will their cousinly relationships develop? This week Alice has been visiting with Dan and we all spent a lot of time together. The first day Dan and Iris hardly engaged with each other at all - Dan was feeling very insecure away from home and Iris was feeling very threatened by this small boy she was expected to share toys and attention with. But the second day they relaxed a little and started to play together. The photo captures the moment when they actually gave each other a hug and a kiss.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

say goodbye

This was a lovely knit and heavenly yarn to work with, but it just never suited me. This is the major disadvantage to hand knitting - never being quite sure how something will turn out. I fell in love with the pattern long before I ever geared up to the expense of buying the yarn and thought that the ribbed section at the waist would give shape and elegance. Sadly on me that waisted area fell below my waistline and the resultant effect was to make me look lumpen and far from elegant. Having persisted and worn it a few times last summer I reached the conclusion that I was never going to feel right wearing it. I felt grieved for all the work and expense that had been put into it. But then I took courage and ....

frogged it!

Then the gentle healing process of dipping the skeins into warm water and swirling them around watching the tight curls relax and give up their memory of being stitches.

Laborious hours of winding later I now have balled yarn ready to go.

This time I will probably knit the garter slip stitch jacket from February's Knitting magazine.

The shape is loose and casual - hopefully more forgiving, and with any luck should be a speedy knit.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

25 random things

The 25 random things meme has been tagging its way around facebook for a while now. After I had been tagged twice I thought I'd better give it a go. It turned out to be easier than I thought as one idea led to another. Then I remembered that last summer I had been tagged here on blogger by Just Gai to come up with six things about me and ducked it. So, in the spirit of re-use, recyle, reduce (well maybe not reduce) I am reproducing my list of 25 here. I haven't got a huge blog circle, but I think I may tag a couple of people whose blogs I read, but don't know in person.

  1. I had a very bad squint as a small child. As a result I never developed binocular vision. I had four operations to correct the squint when I was 5, 6, 7 & 8. I am very grateful that something could be done for my eyesight as reading and needlework are such an important part of my life.
  2. I’ve always been a bookworm. When I was a child my friends used to hide their comics before I went round to play!
  3. Being a mother to our three lovely daughters has been my best achievement.
  4. I grew up in a nominally christian family and made my own commitment to christian faith at the age of 15. Since then my faith has taken a variety of different forms, but has never completely deserted me. I wrestle continuously with faith and doubt. Sometimes I wake up in the morning and think the whole thing is barking mad, but at others it is a source of great comfort.
  5. I have a very sweet tooth and can easily eat condensed milk straight from the can with a spoon.
  6. I’m very untidy. I think this is because my mind is dashing on to the next activity before I’ve finished what I’m doing.
  7. I wish I had carried on with A level maths. I was talked out of it because I was planning to apply to study French at University.
  8. I’m frightened of old age. My father had dementia and my mother had a neurological condition that robbed her of language relatively young. Equally, I have no desire to die young – I’m too interested in finding out what my children and grandchildren are getting up to. I aspire to being a healthy and still intelligent old woman like my maternal grandmother who lived until she was 101.
  9. I am completely uninterested in sport of all descriptions, especially team games.
  10. I did actually once win a race. It was a three-legged race with my best friend at primary school. We disproved the theory that you need to be well matched in size to do well at this event. I was a good deal smaller than her in both height and weight. Neither of us was particularly athletic, but we did practise. I tucked myself in under her armpit and we had practised starting together on the middle leg and staying in stride; so we powered up the track while all the athletic, well-matched pairs who had been winning the individual sprint races tripped over each other’s feet and fell over and shouted at each other.
  11. My mother taught me dressmaking when I was fairly young and I made a lot of my own clothes during my teenage years. We used my grandmother’s old hand powered sewing machine which stitched everything so tightly that it couldn’t be undone.
  12. I love all textile pursuits. I learned to knit when I was about six and a lovely neighbour, called Mrs Turner, taught me to crochet a couple of years later. I got to know her because she had a lovely mongrel dog called Sally and I wanted to be allowed to take her for walks.
  13. Discovering the world of contemporary embroidery and textile art in the early nineties was a real epiphany for me. In a family where I was intimidated by the considerable drawing talents of my husband and daughters it was wonderful to discover my own means of expression.
  14. We used to visit my grandmother every Tuesday. When I was little I used to get bored with adult conversation over the lunch table and I disappeared into my own dark mysterious world under the chenille tablecloth. This is where I first smelled real coffee brewing in Gran’s spirit-burner Cona machine. Although I love coffee I have always thought that the smell is better than the taste.
  15. I love the sight of allotments on the edges of towns and villages, there’s something very appealing about their tumble-down, messy orderliness and the evidence of so much industry.
  16. I was born and grew up in Lichfield, Staffordshire, which is pretty much as far from the sea as you can get in any direction in England.
  17. Over the past 37 years I have accumulated almost enough credits for an Open University degree. When I retire I’ll give it one last push and finish it!
  18. I love crosswords and sudoku.
  19. When I was 11 I wanted to be a vet. Thank GOODNESS I got talked out of it!
  20. I need to spend time alone. I’m an introvert and naturally cautious, but nevertheless I love spending time with larger-than-life, try-anything-once friends.
  21. People think I’m calm and serene, but they can’t see my feet paddling under the surface.
  22. Steve and I will have been together for 40 years in October this year. On the face of it we don’t seem very compatible (if you compare his 25 things with mine!), but we have shared values and the differences in our personalities complement each other. Clearly, love conquers all!
  23. I used to collect and press wild flowers with my mother. It’s something I would like to do with my grand-daughter.
  24. I am living proof of the theory that "Dieting Makes you Fat". Despite numerous and frequent diet regimes I have managed to gain at least a stone in each decade of my adult life. This is not something I am proud of.
  25. Self-deprecation comes to me as naturally as breathing and I have had to make a real effort not to make this list a litany of my faults and failings.

I'm tagging:




photo-montage of me aged about 3, 16 and 18