Thursday, December 29, 2016

Knitting round up 2016

I anticipated not getting much knitting done in 2016, thanks to having LO towards the end of 2015. But I was delighted to find this wasn't the case! LO turned out to be a champion sleeper, which meant we got our evenings back relatively early on, and soon eased back into our previous routine of finishing the evening with an hour's TV and knitting on the sofa. So, I've enjoyed some really good TV this year (The Missing, Homeland (OK, that was the previous year but we recorded it as didn't want to watch it accompanied by a howling newborn), Deutschland 83 were particular highlights, but we also got through the whole of the first series of Outlander and part way into the second series.

What I did struggle to find time for was actually planning knitting projects. I was on maternity leave for all but three days(!) of 2016, but there wasn't much time for getting out different yarns, swatching, carefully browsing Ravelry and selecting a pattern. Which means there has been a LOT of sock knitting in the last year, as it was easier just to go into the sock yarn box, grab a ball and get on with a straightforward pattern.

I already blogged earlier in the year about earlier knitting projects, so this post is to bring us up to date.

I made a Pocket Ted for my God-daughter's birthday. It was very fiddly to knit, but she seemed to like him, so it was worth it. The pattern is a good one, it's fiddly because it's so teeny tiny. The tin formerly contained travel mints.

Gemini was my big garment project of the year, knitted in Mirasol Yarns Lachiwa, which I'd bought on sale a few years ago, so this was a stash project too. The yarn is a lovely linen/cotton mixture and good to knit with. I only got this blocked over Christmas though, so won't be able to wear it until the weather is a little warmer.

One of my more recent projects was a Sensory Caterpillar for my Godson, who has special needs. This was a fun pattern to knit, and I used Stylecraft Classique DK 100% cotton as it's available in bright colours and is sold in the local haberdashery. There is a rattle in one end, and a squeaker in the other, but I couldn't get the squeaker to squeak at all!

Oops, photos out of order, but it's already taken long enough to do this blog post so I'm not going to start rearranging now. This is Gemini blocking.

And, finally, some fun things I've received! This was my return-to-work present from Mostly Knitting. Cool or what?! (well, actually nice and warm as it was rather chilly on my return to work).

A yarny Christmas present - a skein of Countess Ablaze Lady Persephone sock yarn. The photo doesn't really do justice to the depth of colour in this yarn.

And my current project! I wanted something different for self-striping sock yarn, so found the Tootsie Rolls pattern. Simple and fun to knit, and works really well with those stripes after a bit of trial and error. The yarn is West Yorkshire Spinners signature 4ply yarn in the Holly Berry colourway, which seemed appropriate for the time of year.

I have become slightly addicted to WYS yarn this year, which is probably why I haven't managed to knit up more than I've acquired. Although I would have done if I hadn't been given the Countess Ablaze yarn for Christmas. See, unexpected present, I hadn't planned for that... Apart from the sock yarn, the only purchases have been for presents, and I've only used part balls from the cotton which explains why the stash has grown more than I anticipated.

My stash totals for this year are:
Yarn in: 2573 metres
Yarn out: 2159 metres
So I acquired 413 metres more than I used (but the Countess Ablaze is 424 metres, so there!).

I'm anticipating a lot more knitting from stash in 2017, as how much does childcare cost?!?!?!?! So, I'll be aiming to do the majority of my knitting from stash next year, with purchases limited to presents and things I need in addition to stash for particular projects (for example, I want to knit a jumper for LO to use up some DK I have in my stash, but I only have two balls left so will need to buy a little more to have enough). I'm also going to be interested to see how much knitting time I get now that I'm back at work as the evenings are all a bit of a gallop now of work, commute, hurtle to nursery, hurtle home.

What are your knitting plans for 2017?

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Garden at the beginning of August 2016

Still getting caught up, but at least it is still August!

Lawn at the beginning of th month, with a baby for scale. LO really enjoys playing in the garden, although it's a bit more difficult now she's crawling as it's hard to get on with anything before she has to be removed from somewhere she's not meant to be!

Apples ripening on the standard tree. There are several on it this year, and they seem to be ripening slightly earlier than usual.

Lots of apples on the espalier tree. This one is further behind the standard, and produced a lot of apples, which I was a bit late thinning so they are all still rather small and green looking. I have hung CDs up already in the hope of protecting the crop from the squirrels this year...

Looking over the raised bed by the Golden rod and Physocarpus. These have grown really tall this year with all the wet weather earlier in the year.

A new plant! This is Salvia 'Joy', which was a Christening present for LO. I had fun deciding where to plant it for her. There was also a cardboard container shaped like a hand grenade which was a "wildflower bom", which we're going to have fun throwing into the border later in the year!

And the first lot of raspberries are ripe. Since then we've had another whole sieve full, as well as all the ones LO ate in the garden.

My patio containers. I'm pleased with them this year, especially as there's little I have really done to maintain them.

I held an open garden event and coffee morning two weeks ago, which was a little stressfull to organise with a baby around, but went really well. It was fun to show off the garden to the thirty people who came, and I raised £170 for charity!

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Garden at the beginning of July 2016

OK, so July ended up being rather busy and, despite my best intentions, I didn't get round to blogging at all. Oops. I haven't yet taken the August pictures, but here are the July ones to get it started.

One lawn, with LO playing.

My newly arranged pots on the patio. I am really pleased with how these are looking now.

I cheated and bought ready-planted hanging baskets, having worked out that buying two hanging baskets (as we didn't already own any) plus the plants to go in them would be more expensive and a bit of a hassle with limited time available. The idea is then to re-use the baskets in future years. The water butt is getting a lot of use now the weather has turned warm. We've actually managed to completely empty it once already, even though I got the biggest one we could fit in.

The sedums are beginning to flower, and are really popular with the bees.

 I had to thin the apples on the espaliered tree as so many had grown, as you can see below. Last year we lost all of them to squirrels anyway...

So pretty, we've had this Anthemis tinctoria E.C. Buxton for about five years, and I usually put a plant support in for the flowers, but didn't get round to it this year. It looks so pretty mingled with the sedum below! Think I might do the same thing next year.

The raspberries are growing well, and have now almost got ripe berries on them.

And the rhubarb went completely crazy in the warm weather with all the rain earlier on!

Phew, July done. Now I really must get round to getting the August pictures taken...

Monday, June 20, 2016

Garden at the beginning of June 2016

Bit late this month, but finally I get round to posting pictures. The lawn has the addition of a small baby playing on it this month, as LO has been enjoying the warmer weather and the new lawn.

This is a mixture of plants, including one of my favourite Heucheras, in one of the borders

This is one of the Physocarpus, which has lovely flowers on it this year. I can't remember them being reddish in colour last year, but maybe I've just forgotten what they were like?

The Escallonia 'Apple blossom' which we bought on holiday in Bath three years ago is looking lovely.

And the grasses this side of the garden which I planted five years ago are looking good.

This is the finished view of the new patio and garage. So pleased with the final result - it was worth all the upheaval as we now have a useable garage, plus a lovely patio to use. I cheated and bought the hanging baskets ready-made, as finding time to garden with a baby around is quite difficult.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Several knitting projects

I was going to go on a yarn diet as I'll be on maternity leave for almost all of this year, but present yarn is excluded. I took LO into London

 to meet up with some friends, and managed to make my way to Iknit as well, where I found they stocked West Yorkshire Spinners sock yarn (something I've been greedily eyeing up online). Two balls found their way home with me (Bullfinch and Cayenne pepper) initially intended as a present, but then the recipient let it be known that they had a present in mind, so I bought them that instead and kept these for myself! I am now using the Cayenne pepper to knit a Thousands cardigan, using some leftover sock yarn as the contrast colour.

I then had the bright idea of knitting a Thousands cardigan for LO, and some knitting group friends were doing a bulk order to save on postage, so I ordered two more balls of Signature sock yarn in Poppy seed.

I've got a couple of finished project to finish off. This is a hoodie for my Godson's birthday, when he'll be two. The pattern is Playdate Hoodie, a free Lion Brand pattern, and I used some John Lewis Heritage Aran from my stash. It's a nice pattern, with not too much sewing up to do.

I've also finished a pair of socks. These are another pair of Garter rib socks, for me, using Baby og Hosegarn sock yarn from my stash.

Up until now I've had one project on the go at a time, as I didn't think I'd have time to do much knitting with a baby around. But I've had a few incidences of her falling asleep in the car, and me having to sit in a car park, outside the house and wait for her to wake up (we haven't got a travel system, so I remove her from the car seat to take her out), when it would be really  handy to have a small knitting project with me. So I think I'm going to have a home project and a project to take around with me from now on. Haven't decided what this project will be though, but probably another pair of socks.

Like last year, I'm keeping track of yarn acquired and used this year. So far:
Yarn used: 1455.1 metres
Yarn acquired: 1600 metres

so I have a bit of work to do to make the first figure bigger than the second!

Monday, May 09, 2016

Garden at the beginning of May 2016

Bit late posting the garden shots this month as LO is now napping less during the day so I don't get much time to get online. Things have moved on a lot with the building work though. The new turf has been laid and has established well - LO and I have been enjoying lying on it in the afternoon when it's in more shade.

Here's the new turf, finished garage building and new patio. All that's left to do now is the driveway, which isn't visible in this picture. The garage has an electronic door, which is already making my life a whole lot easier. LO has enjoyed a few sleeps in her pram on the patio too.

Inside there is now loads of room for the car, and access for loading/unloading people and things. And look at all those lovely shelves!

Not many plant pictures to show this month as I didn't get a chance to take photos in the front garden. But in the back garden we have some apple blossom just showing.

And the raised bed is looking good.

Sunday, April 03, 2016

Building site at the beginning of April 2016

 So, the new garage project is still ongoing. This is the current state of the back garden!

They have actually done quite a bit of work on this bit already - dug a metre deep soakaway to take the water from the new garage roof, removed all the turf, dug up diseased tree roots, levelled the ground, so it's nearly ready for the new turf to be laid now.

The new patio has been laid, after much cogitation about paving slabs.  I never want to see another paving slab ever again. Apart from the ones we've had laid obviously. I remember feeling similarly about taps when we had a new bathroom six years ago.

This is looking in the other direction. I seized the opportunity yesterday of some sunshine and a sleeping LO, and parked her on the patio whilst I got some gardening done.

The containers are beginning to look a bit messy. I'm looking forward to the building work being finished so I can get on with sorting them out.

And the Camellia is full of flowers!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Stash stuff

I realised I hadn't got round to updating my totals of stash used up last year. I'm pleased with how I did, although being pregnant and knitting small baby garments definitely helped! I kept track each  month using an Excel spreadsheet, and last blogged about it in October.

I think I will total up October - December together, as I had the baby then, so there was less knitting taking place. I looked back at my Ravelry projects page to work out what I finished knitting each month.

Total in: 0 metres
Total used: 2045.2 metres

That means, over 2015, I acquired 4726.5 metres of yarn, but used up 8793.8 metres, leaving me with a grand total of 4067.3 metres of yarn less than at the start of the year. I'm pretty pleased with this, as I started the year intending to reduce the size of the stash, and it looks like I've succeeded. I'm planning to do more of the same in 2016, not least because I'll be on maternity leave for over eleven months of the year so won't have much spare cash to spend on yarn.

My current projects are going well. I'm mostly knitting the garter rib socks at knitting group, which means that not a lot gets done as I usually spend at least half the meeting feeding LO!

I've been working on a Playdate Hoodie for my Godson's birthday in June, when he'll be two. I've made the largest size and am using John Lewis Heritage aran which I had in my stash. This pattern knits up quickly, and is fairly simple but a satisfying knit.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Books read 2015 #4

#16 James Rebanks The shepherd's life: a tale of the Lake District
This was a birthday present, and one I'd particularly asked for. James Rebanks is @HerdyShepherd1 on Twitter, and someone whose twitter feed I have enjoyed following for a while, with his lovely pictures of Herdwick sheep. Amusingly, the staff in Waterstones had trouble locating the one copy they'd apparently had in stock - eventually tracking it down to the Travel - Lake District section, when Autobiography would be more accurate! It's a great read, covering a lot I didn't know about sheep farming, particularly in that area, but also a lot more besides about education, and attitudes to incomers and perceptions of the Lake District.

#17 Elizabeth Jane Howard All change
Oh no, now I've finished the last one in her Cazalet chronicles series! :-( I have loved rediscovering these books (the previous four I read as a teenager) and then having the chance to finish it off with this final one. Set in 1956-1958 the book covers the declining fortunes of the Cazalet family in a much changed world. I love the glimpses of social history visible in these novels, and this one is no exception. Howard has a great talent for showing the different sides to all the characters.

#18 Pamela Druckerman French parents don't give in: 100 parenting tips from Paris
Follow up to her French children don't throw food, if you're interested in different cultural attitudes to parenting this is an hilarious read! No idea if it works, but it's very funny!

#19 Julian Fellowes Snobs
This is a portrayal of the modern class system, as Edith Lavery marries into the upper class and then quickly realises her mistake. Or was it a mistake. It took a bit to get into (this may have been because I started it in hospital during labour though so my mind wasn't totally on it) but I enjoyed the dry humour and insights immensely.

I've decided to stop writing book reviews for the time being, as I'm not getting as much reading time with LO here (Snobs took me six weeks to read!). I will be recording what I've read on LibraryThing though, although without reviews. I am quite pleased that I got through nearly 19 books in 2015 despite spending the majority of the year pregnant!

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Garden at the beginning of March 2016

A bit of a different view for garden at the beginning of the month this time. We're having building work done, so the things that normally live on the patio are currently on the lawn!

This is what the patio and garage look like at the moment. The garage roof is being replaced (it's very leaky and made of asbestos), the garage widened so that we can get LO into the car whilst it's in the garage, and unload shopping etc in there, as the garage was built for a 1950s car and they tend to be wider these days! The patio is being replaced with something that isn't pink concrete.

Amidst all this chaos, things are growing. The rhubarb is sprouting!

Daffodils are appearing in the containers - I'm pleased about this as I planted them 18 months ago and didn't replace them last Autumn as I didn't feel like lugging compost around whilst pregnant.

Hyacinths (also planted last year) are appearing in the other containers.

The Camellia is beginning to flower

And loads more flowers have appeared on the Hellebores! I thought the Daphne was going to flower too, but nothing's happened yet, and it's getting a bit late now?

That's it for this month. The building work is supposed to take 4-5 weeks, so maybe I'll have a nearly completed garage and patio to show off at the beginning of April.