Sunday, October 18, 2015

Books read 2015 #3

#11 Elizabeth Jane Howard Confusion
#12 Elizabeth Jane Howard Casting off
Books three and four from the Cazalet Chronicles, which I really enjoyed. I was rereading Confusion after first reading it about 20 years ago, and I think it was my first time reading Casting off? These two take the family through the war years and then to the immediate aftermath, where everything is a bit of an anticlimax. Having survived those years, the ending of the war doesn't mean the ending of problems, and, indeed, causes several relationships to need to be resolved. I particularly like the way chapters are written from the perspective of different members of the family, so you get to see situations from different angles.

#13 Margaret Hebblethwaite Motherhood and God
A slightly dated look at spirituality and motherhood. I struggled to understand why she couldn't take the baby to Mass with her, as most people I know quite happily breastfeed/bottle feed in church, but 30 years seems to have made quite a difference to attitudes! I liked the way she dwelt on the practical aspects of motherhood, as well as the spiritual, and the connection between the two.

#14 Heidi Eisenberg Murkoff What to expect when you're expecting
This seems to be a pretty ubiquitous pregnancy manual, so I got it from the library, but thought it was awful. Although this is the British edition, so the spellings are (mostly) British (this hasn't been thoroughly checked) and references to medical care are to the NHS, it still comes across as overwhelmingly American. There are confusing bits where the information seems to be more from a US medical point of view, than a British one. It's written in a really twee style, that mostly made me want to throw up (and no, that wasn't morning sickness) and instead of having straightforward sections of information is written in more of a 'problem page' style. I didn't find it particularly helpful.

#15 David Lagercrantz The girl in the spider's web
This is a continuation of Stieg Larsson's Millennium series, which has been written by someone else. Often this kind of sequel can be excruciating, but this one got good reviews so I thought it was worth a try, and I'm glad I did. I found the Millennium series compelling, partly because of the intriguing characters, partly because of finding out more about a different counry, and this continued those themes. It's not as long or as detailed as the first three books, but it still has the twists and turns, the further development of the characters. Definitely worth a read.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Hats everywhere

Finally, a knitting update. I've just finished a bit of a baby hat knitting spree.

No, I'm not expecting quadruplets... One is for my baby, the rest for presents. Three of them are baby size, and the other toddler sized. I used a free pattern Super soft merino hats for everyone by Purl Bee on 7mm needles, and the yarn is Sirdar Click Chunky.

I got the mitred square baby blanket finished off with a crochet edging. The colours have proven really hard to photograph well! It was a great way of using up odds and ends of machine washable sock yarn, and I enjoyed remembering all those socks I'd knitted with the same yarn as I worked away on it.

I realised I'd forgotten to post a picture of the finished sheep tanktop which I made over the summer. Very pleased with how this one has turned out, and the Millamia merino yarn is lovely to knit with. It used almost an entire ball of the grey, and 30g of the snow colourway to make 3 -6 month size.

I've knitted a pair of child's socks for a birthday present. I think these will be a bit too big, but the recipient can always grow into them. I went with Regia sock yarn in the end because of the whole machine washable thing... This is the basic sock pattern by Ann Budd, but I'm also intending to make a second pair using a more interesting pattern.

The next thing I've cast on is an eleventh (!!) Beyond puerperium, this time to use up leftovers of the Millamia in the snow colourway, and two different greens of Debbie Bliss Baby cashmerino. I should have just enough for one of the smaller sizes.

I realised I haven't done stash totals for a couple of months. They're looking pretty good as I've done several smaller projects and got them finished!

Yarn bought in August: 420m and September: 74m
Yarn used in August: 305m and September: 866.2m
(I don't have the actual total used for the baby blanket, as I don't have a record of how much of some of the yarn was leftover, as it's been in my stash from before I owned digital kitchen scales. I've only included the amount for the leftovers recorded in my stash).

That means that totals for 2015 so far are:
Yarn bought: 4726.5 metres
Yarn used up: 6795.6 metres, which means I've used up 2169.1 metres more than I've purchased so far!

I'll leave you with a picture of the knitted boob at the breastfeeding antenatal class I went to last week! There was one waiting for each of us when we got there, and I was delighted, as back in the dim mists of time of 2007, I knitted one for Liverpool Women's Hospital!

Saturday, October 03, 2015

Garden at the beginning of October 2015

Oops, bit of a break from blogging, but September was a busy month, and I'll blog about that more later on. Thought I'd better get the garden post done before November happens!

This month the 1st fell on a Thursday, when I'm not at work, so I was able to take photos in the morning. It's definitely getting more of an autumnal feel now.

Still plenty of flowers though. The Rudbeckias in both front and back gardens still look very bright and cheerful

And all the fuchsias are still covered in flowers. The roses I grow in containers on the patio have been disappointing this year, but I think next year I will revert back to using the compost I used originally (New Horizon organic and peat free multi-purpose compost), which they seem to like a lot better.

As I'm now fairly huge and gardening is getting difficult I'm letting most things run to seed and not bothering to deadhead. The sweet peas still have lots of flowers on them.

And the Japanese anenomes will soon have lots of fluffy little seedheads.

My Hydrangea 'Twist n shout' is showing off why I bought it five years ago - beautiful autumn colours

The Cosmos I grew from seed is still flowering away, and looking rather pretty next to the Heuchera leaves.

The sedums I Chelsea chopped in May are looking fantastic, with flowers at different stages. Or they were. Some wildlife (I suspect a fox or two) went on the rampage the day after I took this photo and they've all been flattened and most of the stems broken. Grrr.

Still harvesting a couple of bowls full of raspberries every week.

And this year we finally grew a decent number of apples. We picked 22 off the standard apple tree, and they taste delicious!

How is your garden doing now we're heading into Autumn?