Sunday, April 26, 2015

Zooming along

Probably because I haven't done a knitting update for a while, I seem to have a lot of FOs to show off. I'm particularly pleased with my Harvest Moon cardigan, which is really comfy to wear (I love the pockets, even if they were a bit fiddly to knit) and which I really enjoyed knitting. The pattern is Harvest Moon by Heidi Mirrmaier, and I used 11.4 balls (570g) of Rowan Amy Butler Belle Organic Aran on 4mm needles. The yarn is 50% wool and 50% cotton and lovely to knit.

This is it prior to blocking!

I've also finished a couple of baby cardigans for friend's babies' birthdays. These are the Baby Vertebrae pattern by Kelly Brooker (whose Puerperium cardigan I also love). The yarn I've used is Patons Fab DK, an acrylic which doesn't feel acrylicy, and you can get a 12 - 18 month size out of one 100g ball! This colourway is Violet Print, and I got it from John Lewis at Nottingham. It's come out a lot more purple/brown than I thought it would from the ball.

This colourway is called "Fruity", although I think "Neon" would be a better description. This one was from Love Knitting using a discount code.

Remember this Beyond Puerperium I knitted back in November? Here's a picture of the recipient wearing it!

And, of course, after all that knitting, I needed a new project. I'd just seen Tabitha's Heart Design's Samwise Gamgee socks pattern, so decided to make a start on a pair of those, combined with some Katia OlĂ© sock yarn from my stash. 

So, I haven't done a stash in/out update for a while, and I've got through a lot this month (I only count totals for yarn used in a finished item in the month it's finished). There is another secret project which I also got done this month which is included in the totals.  So far this year:

January: In 0m Out 820.7m

February: In 388m Out 406m
March: In 274.3 Out 1703.7m
April:  In 424.3 Out 1644.2m

So, I have acquired some yarn so far this year, but for projects that are presents. That is 1086.6m acquired, but I have knitted/destashed a total of 4574.6m, and every month has seen more used up than acquired! So, so far this year, I have used up 3488m more than I acquired. Which is good as I have trips to Iknit and Iknit Fandango planned during May, so my totals may not look quite so good soon!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Days out: Fledborough Viaduct

This wasn't really a day out, but I'd gone to visit Mum over the Easter weekend and we decided to go for a walk to the viaduct close to a local village. Fledborough Viaduct is on a now defunct railway line (once the Lancashire, Derbyshire & East Coast railway), and is now part of National Cycle Route 647. We planned to use a footpath nearby to walk under the viaduct and then loop back round.

The viaduct itself is absolutely huge, and runs for a very long way across the fields even before it crosses the Trent.

This is what was Fledborough Station, now overgrown and with just a station sign and a seat left. The path on what was the track is good and clearly marked and would be great for both walking and cycling.

We walked along the edge of a field and still the viaduct stretched into the distance.

The sheep were very interested in what we were doing, although they ran away if they thought we were too close to their lambs! One of them seemed to have quadruplets!

Unfortunately the footpath got a little, erm, wet, further on, so we had to take a different route.

But that meant we saw a toad!

Our walk ended back where we had started, where we'd parked the car outside St Gregory's Church in Fledborough. The church is huge and echoey, and disused. It's now run by the Churches Conservation Trust, so is open every day to visitors. I couldn't quite see where the original congregation would have come from as there only seemed to be three houses in the village, plus a few farms further away, and the church really is huge!

Have you been on any walks recently?

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Books read 2015 #1

Can't believe it's taken me three months to read five books, although I have been doing a load of professional reading for work, which hasn't helped...

#1 John Pritchard How to pray
Borrowed this one from the church reading club, mainly because it looked interesting, short(!) and accessible, and I wasn't far off. It's actually taken me several months to read, mainly because all of the chapters look at a different way of praying and I needed time to absorb them, and to try some of them out. It's the kind of book I wish had been around about 20 years ago, as I'd have found it incredibly helpful as a new Christian. It still is incredibly helpful (there were a few, aha moments as I read it, when something I'd not understood before suddenly became clear - Ignatian prayer, for instance). A lot of it is about establishing a routine, finding out what works for you and slowing down enough for it to take effect. Highly recommended.

#2 Frances Hodgson Burnett The shuttle
I've owned this book since it was published in 2007, but have just never got round to reading it. It's quite chunky, and, as I usually have several books out from the library at a time, I frequently find it hard to fit in books I actually own. Originally published in 1907, it's a fictional account of an American heiress, Rosalie, who marries a minor member of the British aristocracy, principally so that her fortune can restore his house (think Cora's fortune and Downton Abbey). Except it doesn't turn out like that, as her new husband is distressed to discover that her money is under her control, rather than his. What follows is what would now be called domestic abuse. The shuttle in question is the shuttle weaving closer together both sides of the Atlantic, as these marriages become more common. Eventually her sister, Bettina, is old enough to travel to Britain to find out more, and much of the story is taken up with what happens next. I found it a compelling read, contrasting the dynamism and energy of the Americans, with the fairly useless and impoverished British upper classes. It's published by Persephone books, so is a very nice book to look at too!

#3 Elizabeth Jane Howard Marking time
The second book in the Cazalet Chronicles takes us into the Second World War, and the action shifts to follow the new generation of Cazalets, who are mostly in their teens. They all have their own worries, Christopher is a pacifist, Louise is desperate to be an actress, Polly is worried about what the adults aren't telling her, and Clary is worried about her father, after he goes missing in France. I love the detail that is observed in these books, from the details of dinners (particularly catering for a house of that size) to the difference the war makes to everyone's lives, the petty inconveniences, combined with moments when it comes closer to home. 

#4 Margaret Attwood Maddaddam
The final part of the trilogy, started in Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood, it fleshes out the story in the other two novels by giving a different perspective, and then moving the action on a little bit. I struggled a bit initially with what was happening, as it's a while since I read the first couple of novels (2004 and 2010 respectively, thanks LibraryThing!), and, although there is a short recap at the beginning, it still took quite a lot to jump into the dystopian world and have a vague idea what was going on. I did eventually get into it properly. It follows what happens after most of the population of the earth has been wiped out by a mysterious illness, and the few people who are left have to work out what they're doing. I didn't enjoy it as much as the other two - the idea is good, but it feels like it's now been overdone?

#5 Amy Bratley The girls' guide to homemaking
Chick-lit, with added sewing! ;-) This was being passed around at knitting group and I grabbed it to read as a bit of a change after the last book(!).  It follows the usual chick-lit type saga, newly single girl can't work out what she's doing with her life, discovers a talent for making aprons (OK, that doesn't happen in most of them), falls over the man of her dreams (why does that always happen?) although she doesn't realise it at the time (again, they never do) and it all gets resolved in the end. Still, a fun read, although I get annoyed when they are so so unrealistic - since when has a single woman supporting herself by making aprons been able to buy a flat in Islington, even with a deposit?! But it's chick-lit, I'm not supposed to think about things like that!


Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Garden at the beginning of April 2015

This one seems to have come round quickly! I usually work on Wednesdays, but we get an extra days off for Easter where I work so I am at home ready to take pictures instead.

I'm not sure why the lawn is looking a particularly psychedelic shade of green. It is a bit on the yellow side though. 

Yay, lots of rhubarb appearing, so it will soon be time for rhubarb crumble etc. The gooseberry has nearly all its leaves now and the blackcurrant bush isn't far behind.

Lots and lots of cowslips now flowering around the foot of the apple tree.

First signs of apple blossom appearing!

The aubrieta is beginning to flower too.

I love the colour of these hyacinths, and I'm pleased with how they've worked in these pots with the cyclamen. I'm tempted to do this one again next year.

The hydrangeas are covered in leaves and I've pruned the dead flower heads off them now.

I wasn't sure what this one was called (or how it got into the garden, as I didn't plant it!)  but apparently it's a Leucojum vernum, or spring snowflake. Never heard of it before!

And the white voilet is covered in flowers.

Have you got lots of spring flowers in your garden?