Wednesday, 26 December 2012

christmas dinner

Yesterday, for the first time in our married lives, there were just the two of us for Christmas Dinner as all the daughters were committed to visiting their other families on The Day and my sister is not arriving until the weekend when there will be more of the extended family around.  In the past I sometimes used to feel the victim of other people's expectations of Christmas, so we've never insisted that our family have to be around to fulfil particular rituals and we were happy with that.

In fact daughter no. 1 invited us over for Christmas breakfast, so we were able spend time with them and exchange some presents early in the day and then we went off for a walk in the woods.

I had bought a venison fillet for our Christmas dinner and was a little bit anxious about cooking it, as it only needed ten minutes in the oven and I didn't want to spoil it.  Step forward one of my trusty spreadsheets, proof (if any were needed) that I am a control freak at heart!

I'm glad to say that it was delicious and we very much enjoyed our day.  I hope you did too.

Friday, 2 November 2012


We have just come back from seeing an amazing show at the Tobacco Factory Theatre  - Paper Cinema's Odyssey.

We went on the recommendation of our great friend Si, not knowing what to expect, but knowing that he rarely comes up with a duff tipoff.

The publicity describes it thus: “Homer’s Odyssey, a cornerstone of literature, [is] vividly told through beautiful illustration and masterful puppetry. Cinematic projection and cunning tricks transform a suitcase full of cut-out paper puppets into an array of living characters and striking landscapes. A silent film is created before your eyes, set to a captivating live score from exceptional musicians.”

It was quite astonishing and a total delight – a strange fusion of illustration/animation, puppetry and magic lantern show all performed before our very eyes with wit and charm.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

peacock feathers

Sometime in the late eighties I bought a 120cm square of Liberty fine wool in William Morris’s peacock feather design. I fringed the edges and gave it to my mother for Christmas as a shawl. When my mother died in February 1992 it came back to me along with her snow-grey wool coat. I wore them together and they warmed and comforted me through the rest of that sad, cold winter.

The years passed and the coat went to a charity shop and the shawl into a drawer.

A couple of years ago I visited the Welsh Quilt Centre in Lampeter, where there was an exhibition showcasing Victorian quilts made from Indian Paisley shawls. I came home inspired and rooted around to find whether I still had that shawl. After a few disappointing experiments of adding other fabrics to the Liberty square I eventually decided just to use the one piece of fabric, but to make it into a scarf that I could wear again.

I cut it in half and rejoined it to make a longer shape, then folded and seamed that long piece. I could have stopped there with a long scarf, but I still had the quilting idea in mind so decided simply to stitch the entire surface kantha-style. I used a variety of different hand embroidery threads in shades of blue and grey. It took a long time, but I am finally done – and wearing it.

I'm not sure what my mother would have thought of the process - she was an elegant woman and quite particular about the way clothes should be worn.  I'm happy, though, to have another turn at wearing something to remind me of her as she was before illness robbed her of speech and personality.

Friday, 12 October 2012

squeeze them till the pips squeak

I noticed recently that Carluccio's were heavily promoting their own brand lemon oil (made by crushing whole lemons with the oil) and it reminded me that I hadn't made any lemon and rosemary flavoured oil for a while.  The version I make comes from a Good Housekeeping recipe from a few years back and is very simply made.

On Wednesday I assembled the ingredients: 2 litres of extra virgin olive oil, four sturdy sprigs of rosemary from the garden, the finely peeled outer skin of two lemons and a few juniper berries. (Plus a few sterilised bottles). Ideally the lemon peel should be a single long curl that can be wrapped spirally around the sprig of rosemary and inserted into the bottle, but this is easier said than done; the lemon peel sometimes breaks off before you want it to and even when you do get a long strip and wrap it carefully inserting it into the bottle then causes a collapse!  I have, in the past, achieved a couple of specimens with the perfect appearance, but not on this occasion.  They still look pretty though and after a week or two for the flavours to develop this oil will be delicious for dipping and drizzling (at a fraction of the cost of commercially prepared flavoured oil).

Having bottled up my oil I was left with two juicy lemons in the fridge shivering in their underwear.  I know, from sad experience, that they won't last very long in that condition; mould will soon attack.  So yesterday, inspired by my friend G, I decided that lemon curd had to be made.  The recipe I found on the BBC website specified four lemons (juice and zest).  I decided that three and a half lemons, two of which had already been plundered for their zest, would have to do. 
I hadn't made lemon curd for years and it really is remarkably easy.  The whole process probably only took just over half an hour.  Unless you are making it as gifts this really isn't worth making in huge batches as the presence of eggs and butter mean that it won't keep for more than a month or two.

Not content with two uses for my lemons, I bagged up the squeezed shells and popped them in the freezer.  I will thaw out a few next time I'm roasting a chicken.  They still retain enough juiciness to anoint the chicken flesh and I tuck one into the body cavity and leave another to roast in the tin, giving a delicious lemony tang to the finished chicken. (Or maybe try Sara's lovely idea for Gin and Tonic Marmalade.)

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

jewel quilt

For several years I have been planning to make a silk quilt, using all the bits and pieces of fabric I had gathered over the years. Some were pieces of clothing, others scraps of sari silk or just pretty fabrics that had taken my fancy and most were acquired during the years when I was doing the City & Guilds Creative Embroidery courses.

The original idea was for an exotic, voluptuous bed quilt made from quite large squares. In the event it turned out quite a bit smaller. Cutting silk is a tricky, inexact process - even with a ruler and a rotary cutter. The flimsier fabrics needed to be mounted on fine iron-on interfacing, partly to stabilise them and partly to render them opaque; the prospect of being able to see the details of the quilt wadding through the top fabric was not attractive. In the end the squares were much smaller than originally envisaged because when it came to cutting up old skirts and finding large enough areas on pieces of fabric that had already been cut for other uses that was what was practical.

By the time I’d cut and assembled enough for this modest 135cm x 66cm quilt I’d had quite enough and just decided to go for it. The finished squares are 9cm x 9cm. It was pieced together by machine and I quilted it by hand with a slightly sparkly machine embroidery thread.

Being a slightly eccentric size means that I have no immediate use or function for it; something that makes me feel slightly uncomfortable. I imagine it could be used as a decorative runner at the end of a bed (though it doesn’t fit my decorative style) or as a wall hanging. Maybe the colours will appeal to one of our magpie grand-daughters.

While I was planning and making this I thought of it as my “silk quilt”, but while it was in progress the people who saw it unfailingly used the words “jewel colours” so the “jewel quilt” is what it has become.

NOTE:  the colours of my photographs are quite annoyingly inaccurate, particularly for the fabric of the outer border and backing, which is in reality a deep purple colour, rather than navy blue.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

i've got a little list

I’m not one of those people who live by lists, making them every day and obsessively ticking things off, (though I live with and admire the productivity of someone who does). But neither could I live a completely list-free life. They definitely have their uses for efficient shopping, planning for events such as Christmas and generally making sure that things get done. When I was still working I had a daily to-do list to keep me on track and more recently I have discovered the beauty of what I can only call an aspirational list.

Three or so years ago I made a list of fifty things to do before I was sixty. You can see it here. It was a mixture of things to do, things to do more of, one off special activities, regular commitments and plans for the future. It wasn’t too prescriptive. It was fun to make and it was fun to do the stuff and interesting to revisit and see how I had got on. Clearly life has moved on; I am now retired and so is Steve, so the shape of our days and weeks has changed significantly. Spending eight weeks “home alone” in the summer while S was off volunteering on Iona made it reassuringly clear to me that I enjoy my quiet domestic existence with its gentle routine of one or two regular activities, friends and family within easy reach, sewing and knitting projects to keep me busy and creative. I am generally content to take things as they come and make it up as I go along, but there is always the danger of drifting, of frittering, of getting to the end of a day, or week and thinking “what have I achieved?” or “why did I spend the day on household tasks instead of something I enjoy?”

So I thought it was time to revisit the List and make some plans. I started by going back to the 50before60 list and merrily crossing off the things that were done and dusted, or that time had told me I was never going to do. Then I added in new plans; nothing huge, nothing too difficult, but little things to make the future look inviting and to help keep me a bit more focused.

This time it seemed helpful to divide the list into general headings.

  • Cambridge
  • St Ives
  • Penzance
  • Leeds
  • Roseland Peninsula
  • Exeter
  • Cardiff
  • Rye
  • Amsterdam/Utrecht
  • Ireland
  • Venice
  • Vancouver
  • More walking – including more of what I did recently and which I would describe as a sort of prayer walk; spending the best part of a day walking in the city, stopping off from time to time to read a passage or a prayer from a book on pilgrimage.
  • Reduce weight by 5% - yep, still working on this one!
  • Singing with a community choir
  • Knit and Natter

  • Finish “jewel” quilt (more on this soon)
  • More indigo prep: (I love the dyeing, but stitching and preparing fabrics for the dye vat takes ages)
  • Finish my mother’s canvas-work rug
  • Finish my Kantha quilted scarf
  • Complete green cardigan currently on the needles
  • Chart and stitch some needlepoint cushions from a design by my daughter to go with some newly re-upholstered chairs which belonged to my grandmother
  • More theatre.
  • Regular cinema
  • Read at least two books a month
  • Exhibitions and galleries

  • Spending time with family and friends: one of the most pleasurable activities in life
  • Ithaca (our weekly get-together with friends to eat, talk, discuss a spiritual/philosophical theme)
  • Share veg garden with H+F
  • Support for local initiatives like the Bristol Pound
  • Malago WI

  • Make another sourdough bread starter. I binned the last one when we went on holiday and never got round to starting another
  • Batch cooking for freezer
  • Making more interesting meals
  • Small chunks of house clearing on a regular basis
  • Egg custard!! No, I still haven’t got this one under my belt

Monday, 24 September 2012

when life gives you raspberries...

We went to Stratford again at the weekend. Not to see a play this time, but to look after a little grand-daughter so Hannah could go to a wedding and Felix could work.

We had fun looking after the little lady and Stratford upon Avon had laid on a food festival for us! I stocked up with some spices and we bought lovely fat olives and sinus-busting wasabi peanuts as well as good breads and posh pork pies. In the regular farmers’ market Felix bought fabulous mushrooms for a risotto and I found “jamming raspberries” on special offer.

So this morning, back in Bristol, I got out the maslin pan and bubbled up a load of raspberry jam. Scrumptious!

Friday, 31 August 2012

the summer in brief

How to break a long silence? A quick catch up.

I provided the admin and housekeeping support for our annual Arts Trail weekend.
The Mister was away volunteering with the Iona community and my photos were not as good as his would have been.

I did a bit of solo travel:

  • By car to visit my sister and see the Lichfield Mystery Plays
  • By train to Stratford to visit daughter, s-i-l and granddaughter and to see an understudy performance of Twelfth Night (brilliant!)
  • By train to Glasgow to visit my cousin
  • By train and ferries and coach to Iona for a week’s visit and catch up with the Mister
  • And back home again by ferries, coach and trains visiting daughter no. 3 and all of her family in Lancashire en route.
I found that journeys completed successfully alone leave me with a real buzz of achievement. There’s something about it that makes me feel capable and alive.

I did the usual amount of knitting and stitching
  We had visitors:
  • From Devon
  • From Holland
  • From the Czech Republic
  • From Leeds
  • From South Africa
  • Daughter no. 3 and two of her littlies
  • And currently an actor friend who is rehearsing and performing in Bristol
 That’s a lot of bedlinen!

We have celebrated some birthdays
We have had a reunion of college friends some forty years on

We have visited Devon for the Preview of an exhibition by friends

We have been to a “secret” gig

Seen a couple of films

Visited Stratford again to see the Comedy of Errors

We have watched the Olympics on the telly (and now the Paralympics)

I have watched these sunflowers grow painfully slowly to (finally) produce a tiny flower!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

stage struck

Felix Hayes as Dromio of Ephesus and Bruce Mackinnon as Dromio of Syracuse in The Comedy of Errors. Photograph by Keith Pattison

  I love that moment in the theatre when the lights go down. The tingle of anticipation never fails. I am eight years old again - in London with my parents waiting to watch Peter Pan (at the Scala with Julia Lockwood and Juliet Mills).

We were taken regularly from school to see Shakespeare plays in Stratford upon Avon and during my teens I saw a lot of plays at the Birmingham Rep and Stoke’s Victoria Theatre, most of which I have forgotten, but including Pinter, Orton, Synge, Ibsen and Goldsmith which are just a random selection that come to mind. I revelled in all things theatrical when our children were members of the remarkable Thame Youth Theatre, serving on the committee and helping out with productions and watching one or two individuals hone their juvenile talent and go on to creative careers. Once the girls were old enough not to need babysitters we were able to get to theatre regularly again and as friends of Oxford Playhouse enjoyed half price seats for first nights, which made us much more assiduous at getting tickets booked in advance.

We are lucky in Bristol to live within easy reach of Bristol Old Vic and the Tobacco Factory Theatre and have seen great shows at both of them. We don’t go nearly as often as I would like – partly because I’m rubbish at forward planning. I’m slightly surprised that I haven’t done more blog posts about theatre, but I’m not really a reviewer or theatre critic; I tend to suck things up and enjoy them and move on to the next thing.

So it won’t be a surprise to learn that I’m simply loving the opportunity to see plays at the RSC and spend time in Stratford with Hannah and Felix, where our lovely son-in-law F has a second season appearing in What Country Friends Is This? Shakespeare’s trilogy of Shipwreck Plays. So far we have seen and loved Twelfth Night and The Tempest and have Comedy of Errors booked for August. In the normal scheme of things Stratford is just a little bit too far away to go to an evening show and drive back the same night – falling asleep at the wheel is never a good plan. So staying overnight at their temporary home opposite the theatre is just great. I know that living in a cute cottage opposite the RSC in historic Stratford upon Avon can feel like being part of a living heritage museum (especially last weekend during Shakespeare’s birthday celebrations), but it’s also a huge privilege and quite brilliant for us as visitors. I noticed that later in the year the RSC are staging an Indian-based version of Much Ado About Nothing, which appeals to me very much – may have to ask if we can have bed and breakfast again for that!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

so long, Hermann my friend,and thanks for all the cake

I’ve been living in retroville for the past couple of weeks as it seems that German Friendship Cake (aka Hermann Cake) is doing the rounds again – perhaps he never went away?

Back in the eighties when we had hungry daughters in the house I was given my first Hermann starter – a type of sweet sourdough, consisting of flour, sugar, milk and wild yeast. It makes a moist spicy cake with the optional addition of apples, raisins and nuts – very nice with a cup of tea or coffee, or even as a warm dessert with cream or ice cream. The starter comes with strange anthropomorphic instructions (“Hermann is hungry – feed him today”) and takes ten days before you bake your first cake. Before the cake is baked, however, the batter has to be divided so that you can pass it on to other bakers.

I seem to remember that I kept it going for a few months, passing on batches of starter to school-gate friends, until I got fed up of the cake tyranny – “Hermann is hungry!” and the family got fed up of always having the same cake. I haven’t got so far this time. For a start I couldn’t find many people to pass it on to. Daughter no. 1 declined the offer as she had recently killed one in her care and didn’t feel up to the responsibility! Daughter no. 2 accepted and we carefully transported a batch up to Stratford last Monday. (I hope they manage to keep it going as I love the prospect of it being passed round the RSC). Other than that, no takers as the friend who gave me my batch is a member of the same Knit and Natter group, so she had them all covered.

I could probably have put a bit more effort into finding people to pass it to, but we’re off on holiday on Monday so won’t be here to stir it every day. So this morning I have stirred up a huge batch of Hermann and made three cakes for the freezer. Should keep us going for a while.

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

the hat that makes grown men cry

Something of an exaggeration of course, but it seems that this little baby hat is cute enough to render my husband slightly misty-eyed.

I’m so happy to be sending it off to a sweet baby girl who probably won’t be big enough to wear it for some time to come. I mentioned in a post at the end of last year that we were receiving regular bulletins on the progress of twins born 14 weeks early. Sadly, one of the little girls died at twelve days old, but her sister has kept going against the odds, surviving several crises in the process. She still only weighs 4lb 11oz, but is now well enough to go home with her mother and father to continue the adventure of living in this beautiful, if occasionally frightening, world. We wish them well with all our hearts.

Monday, 27 February 2012

more sourdough

Since my last post about bread-making I have continued to make bread regularly. We have had hardly any bought bread in that time. On the whole I have stuck with the same basic recipe, just varying the flour and trying both fast action dried yeast and fresh yeast and generally using a measure of the sourdough starter as well. The results have been good - a dough which rises surprisingly quickly and a fairly consistent, even-textured loaf.

Yesterday I decided it was time to branch out and make a different style of loaf, so I flicked through my book and settled on Pain de Campagne a rustic French style bread which uses just the sourdough starter and no additional yeast. After my previous experience with the sourdough solo I was a little anxious about whether it would work and warned Steve that he might have to go out and buy his breakfast bread today!

I was pleasantly surprised because it did in fact rise quite well. It was slow, and I went to bed rather later than I had planned, but I was very pleased with the final loaf. The recipe creates quite a slack dough and I resisted the temptation to add more flour, using the French-style stretching and throwing kneading technique that I learned at a workshop with Mark of Mark's Bread.

Because the dough is rather formless it needs support during its second proving so I sat it in a colander lined with a well floured tea towel. The trick then is to turn it out quickly on to a pre-heated baking tray and slam it into a hot oven before it has a chance to collapse.

This loaf has the more airy uneven texture of artisan bread and a very good flavour.

Monday, 13 February 2012

modelling for the seriously camera-shy

It is well-known that I have a very bad relationship with the camera. The camera doesn’t like me and I’m not at all fond of it being pointed in my direction.

How, then, to illustrate the hat I have just knitted?

Without showing my face, that’s how.

The pattern is Fugue by Kate Davies, knitted in Corriedale yarn by Old Maiden Aunt. It’s an interesting piece of colour-work that needs close attention to the chart, but rewarding, and I really like the Vikkel braid.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

babies and knitting: great conversation starters

Hannah and Felix are temporarily based in London and, making the most of the capital, they also went to visit the Grayson Perry exhibition at the British Museum on Friday evening, taking eight week old daughter (aka the little bear) with them. They stopped off for some food at Wagamama around the corner. Apparently the little bear behaved in exemplary fashion, had a feed herself and smiled nicely. As they were getting up to leave a diner nearby – a man of around 60 – greeted them and, having admired the baby, went on to ask if that was a handknit she was wearing?

She was, of course, wearing the cardigan I had made for her and when Hannah pointed out the cuff-to-cuff construction a knitting conversation ensued.

Turns out this man has recently learned to knit and is a new member of a knitting group in which he is not just the only man, but also the youngest member. He had already clocked the fact that it was knitted crosswise, which was I think the thing that intrigued him. Clearly another obsessive for the cause!

I was delighted to be able to report this adventure to the knitwear designer who blogs as knitsofacto. Who knows what can happen to a design once it is set free in the world.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

down to the sticks, up to the smoke

We’ve been having some very nice times in two separate and contrasting trips.

First we had a weekend trip to Devon, starting last Friday on Steve’s birthday when we went down to visit some special friends. We were joined by another set of friends from Oxford and hooked up with others locally the following day to celebrate two birthdays at the newly-opened River Cottage Canteen in Plymouth.

It was a fab weekend of country walks, generous meals, sea views, laughter, conversation and friendship.

After a brief return to Bristol for Monday childcare fun, we were off again on a very different jaunt in the opposite direction. One thing I miss about our previous location in Oxfordshire is the easy access to London –we just don’t get there very often these days.

Our train journey on Tuesday was very badly delayed by signalling problems, but we did eventually manage to get to the Royal Academy to see David Hockney’s wonderful new exhibition, A Bigger Picture

The blast of colour in these paintings of the Yorkshire landscape is a real feast for the senses. Hockney clearly works very quickly and some of the paintings seem almost slapdash and crude, but then you catch a touch of extraordinary subtlety and grace that renders the landscape totally recognisable. It seems to me that David Hockney has spent his career looking, looking and looking and then showing what he sees so that we in turn are forced to look and see.

Wednesday’s visit to Grayson Perry’s Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman at the British Museum was a last minute addition to the schedule, but as is so often the case, it was the thing that made the trip for me.

It’s funny, thoughtful, touching and extremely skilful - combining work from the BM collection with Perry’s own work. I came away with the hardback catalogue as an early birthday present because I want to be reminded of his words and ideas as much as the artefacts.

Somehow I had managed never to visit the British Museum before and we were very impressed by Foster & Partners’ stunning airy treatment of the Great Court.

All in all a lovely week in the life of the newly retired!

Note: While I have been putting this blog post together, Steve has done a David Hockney on me and blasted out a quick, stream-of-consciousness perfectly judged review of the two shows, which captures them perfectly.

Photo credits: Devon photos - Steve; exhibition photos from RA and BM websites.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

amo amas amat

Amo amas amat,
A minibus,
A marmaladey cat.

Forgive the gratuitous regression to John Lennon quotes* and schoolgirl Latin, but I've been making marmalade this week.

We get through quite a lot of marmalade over the course of the year, so last Saturday I went and filled my shopping bag with 13lbs of seville oranges.

I made the first batch that afternoon.

More on Sunday

and the third lot on Tuesday. None of the batches came to setting point within the hopeful 15 minutes suggested in most recipes, so there was quite a lot of messing around with a thermometer and saucers chilled in the freezer. As you can see I have used a very motley selection of jars. There are 28 of them in a wide range of sizes.

So far I have used 8lbs of oranges and will be using the rest for Bitter Orange Ice-cream - a Nigella Lawson recipe from Nigella Bites which is totally delicious - then will be freezing any oranges remaining for future use.

I think three batches of marmalade already justifies the new preserving pan that I bought last week.

As a memorandum to myself for next year's reference. 2.5lbs of oranges seemed about the right amount to be able to boil the pan of fruit and sugar quite hard without overflowing

*I remember this as a quotation from a John Lennon poem, but can't find any confirmation on the internet.

Thursday, 19 January 2012


My latest finished project. A hooded cardigan for myself. The pattern is the ubiquitous Central Park Hoodie, which I already made a couple of years ago for Hannah. It's always such a relief when a garment I've spent time on actually fits and does the job I wanted it to do!
The yarn was a total bargain - bought in the Hospice Charity shop for £4.50! I think it was pretty cheap even before it was given to charity and is 100% acrylic, but was actually quite pleasant to knit with - didn't have that static crackle that you sometimes get with synthetic yarn.

Anyway, I'm pleased to have a useful garment that will go with a lot of my other clothes. (The colour in the first and last photos are more accurate).

Unmatched buttons from my mother's button box.

Friday, 13 January 2012

the rise (and fall) of the sourdough loaf

As my first “try something new” of 2012 I decided to have a go at making sourdough bread. (And in fact, to make more bread generally). This involves creating a sourdough starter from flour, water and the airborne yeasts that exist in the environment. My bread baking book had a recipe, so off I went.

100g bread flour and 115g tepid water mixed to a paste and left in a covered bowl on the kitchen worktop for 2 – 4 days

After this time it should look bubbly and smell pleasantly yeasty, and it needs to be fed. Add another 100g flour and enough tepid water to make a paste-like dough. Cover and leave for 24 hours.
By now it should be pretty active. Stir, then discard half the mixture and feed as before. Cover and leave for 12 hours, by which time it should be just about ready to use.

Increase the volume by adding another 100g flour and tepid water and leave for 6 – 8 hours. Measure what is needed for your recipe and put the rest in a closed container in the fridge.

So far, so sourdough.
I was a bit surprised after five days of so much bubbling and dividing and adding and stirring and leaving under a damp cloth that the recipe for California Sourdough bread still specified the addition of yeast as well as the sourdough starter, but I did it anyway and was very pleased with the results.

Next I wanted to make a loaf that just used the sourdough starter and no additional yeast. The recipe I chose was for a delicious-looking olive and thyme loaf. I measured the starter, added flour and water, kneaded and left it to prove. Well I waited and waited and really nothing happened. I’ve tried it twice now and the second time I actually left it for more than 24 hours, but the starter just wasn’t active enough to raise the dough.

I was disappointed, but used the starter to do another batch of California sourdough using a wholemeal/white flour mix. Again, the result was very pleasing.

I’m continuing to work with the sourdough starter, feeding and resting, but still haven’t produced anything that looks lively enough to work on its own. It’s beginning to feel a bit wasteful as I add and discard, but I’m going to give it another week or two. Of course I’ve had a look on the internet for other methods of creating a sourdough starter, but ended up feeling confused and distressed because there are so many different approaches. It could be that the ambient temperature of our kitchen in January is just a bit low (though all the artisan bakers extol the slow, cool rise rather than the accelerated approach). For now I’m just going with these wise words from the poet David Whyte: Start close in, don't take the second step or the third, start with the first thing close in, the step you don't want to take. (With thanks to Gail Adams)

Thursday, 5 January 2012

den building

Isn't it amazing how a few cushions, some chairs and a couple of quilts can keep A Retired Person happy for hours!

Monday, 2 January 2012

made in 2011/plans for 2012

I started a post yesterday to record all the things I had made in 2011. Unfortunately I bored myself to tears trying to record it all and find the appropriate photos. I will therefore restrict myself to showing a couple of photographs of things I made for others that didn’t get blogged at the time.

A wrap/shrug for one little grand-daughter

and a little cardigan for the newest family member . The pattern for this one kept me on my toes as it is made cross-wise from wrist to wrist and uses provisional cast-ons and lots of stitches held on spare needles. (That link is to a pattern on Ravelry. I'm not sure if it will work if you're not signed up).

Inspired by a pattern idea on the Purl Bee website I made a swaddling blanket for the same baby.

Now, I'm concentrating on projects for 2012. First I simply must finish the cabled cardigan I used to illustrate my last post of November. The process, though enjoyable, is no longer enough; I want to be able to wear it. Equally I want to be able to wear a colour-work hat that I already have yarn and pattern for, so that's next on the needles.

And I have a sewing project that I want to make progress on. It was inspired by paisley quilts that I saw at the Quilt Museum in Lampeter and is going to make use of a Liberty print shawl that I gave to my mother as a Christmas present at the end of the eighties.