Monday, May 31, 2010

Totally overwhelmed

Last Tuesday I had one of the more overwhelming evenings of my life. I already knew I'd got a special parcel on its way to me (it got as far as our front door on Monday and was retrieved from Staines post office on Saturday. No pics or further details yet as it is Something For Wearing At The Wedding and therefore cannot be revealed as the OH reads this blog). The others at knitting group had requested that I brought the OH along to last week's meeting, which I duly did, thinking that maybe they had a wedding card for us or something.

The "something" was right - look at this. A whole knitted wedding cake!! Isn't it cool?! The detail is absolutely amazing, right down to my hairdo and our wedding rings. And the flowers are in our wedding colour scheme. An enormous amount of work has gone into it as there are loads of little bits that had to be sewn together. So the OH makes his debut appearance on my blog in knitted format!

The pattern is apparently the Alan Dart wedding cake, but heavily adapted - look, ours has two tiers!

Then, just when I was getting totally overwhelmed and little over-emotional Wannaknit handed us a parcel passed on from Greensideknits in London.

Some members of the Archers Listeners group on Ravelry, had got in touch with each other and decided to form the "Ambridge Knitting Circle" (complete with its own secret Ravelry group!) and make us a wedding blanket! Each of the squares is something to do with the Archers, or related to us, and they have come from all over the place, been assembled by Greensideknits, who also knitted the borders using her own hand-dyed yarn (which, it turns out, is in the same colour as the bridesmaids dresses!), everyone supplied a postcard from where they live and there's also a little book with all the postcards in and an explanation of all the squares! Isn't it cool?!

So, again, totally overwhelming. I am planning to blog about all the squares properly and explain what they are, but I think that's going to have to wait until after the wedding now...

Thank you to everyone for the amazing gifts!

Oh, and in case anyone is wondering, the Archers is a totally addictive soap on radio 4. I've only been listening to it for five or so years, but it quickly became addictive.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Reading group

I still go to a reading group once a month. It's a nice group with a mixture of working and retired people in it so a good mixture of ages and life experience. We choose the books from a lengthy list supplied by the library, basically of books they have multiple copies of. Last year's books weren't too good, but this year's have been a bit better. In March we had Lionel Shriver's "The post-birthday world", which I didn't get on well with. I found her "We need to talk about Kevin" compelling reading, but I just couldn't get into this one. It wasn't helped by being quite lengthy and with me attempting to read it at the same time as moving house. The plot is along the lines of "Sliding doors" as in two different outcomes develop from one point in time. Trouble was, I didn't care about the characters so I didn't really care about the developments in the story!

April's book was "The piano teacher" by Janice Y.K. Lee. OK, so it's not a great work of fiction, but it was a significant improvement on "The post-birthday world". It's highly readable and interesting, but not quite at the chick-lit end of the spectrum (not that there's nothing wrong with chick-lit by the way!). The action flits backwards and forwards between Hong Kong during the Second World War, and in the early 50s where people are dealing with the repercussions of the war. Some very interesting stuff, which made me want to go away and find out more about the history of the area. Some of the characters aren't particularly convincing though and seemed to be stereotypes rather than "real" though. A couple of reading group members had lived in Hong Kong back in the 70s so could tell us how true to life the book actually was too.

I'm not going to read May's book as the meeting will be when we're on honeymoon and I fancied a month off to catch up on some other reading. So the next reading group book I'll be reading will be Edith Wharton's "House of mirth" for the June meeting (actually in July!). Apart from the group books I'm still reading "Singled out" by Virginia Nicholson, which has been on the go for a while now.

Knitting-wise, I'm trying to decide what to knit next once Thermal is finished. I want to decide on a sock pattern to make with the Opal Cotton Farli sent me, I could do with some more cotton socks now the weather has finally turned warmer. I was also thinking about making the Tea Leaves Cardigan after reading LeafGreenKnits blog about it. I had thought about buying some yarn for this on honeymoon, but I also have this in my stash which would work?

We will be honeymooning in Stratford-upon-Avon and have rented an apartment in the centre for five nights. I've already identified one potential yarn shop to visit in Coventry (where we were planning to spend a day anyway) - the Yarn Gathering, which I read about on Knit the Knit's blog. We were hoping to go and see the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in action, but of course, have managed to choose the one week when there isn't anything on! But there are plenty of National Trust properties round there so we'll probably visit one or two of those.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Bank Holiday Monday and everything is shut

We had a bank holiday last weekend for the May Day holiday, so the Monday off work = bliss! . We decided to have a day off from frantic gardening/unpacking/wedding preparation and went to Twickenham for the day, where we'd been assured there were plenty of independent shops to look round.

Very true, but unfortunately most of them were shut for the bank holiday! Still, we had a good wander around, had lunch in an Italian café, tea (both) and brownie (me) in the bookshop café later on and just generally wandered.

The church (St Mary's) was very pretty from the outside, but locked so we couldn't see the inside. Apparently it opens on Sunday afternoons in summer if you want to see inside (and not go to a service).

We also wandered around the gardens near the river. Once all part of York House, a stately home which is now the town hall (it looks very nice for council offices, doesn't it?!).

The gardens are bisected by a road with a bridge over (so the original inhabitants didn't have to cross the road to enjoy their garden?) and run along by the Thames. This is the cascade, pool and Oceanides.

We also found Twickenham Museum, also shut for the bank holiday (which means a return trip sometime) and wandered to find the yarn shop, Mrs Moon, nearer St Margarets station than Twickenham. Of course, this was also shut, so I stared through the window at some rather tasty looking yarn. Definite return trip sometime?
The bookshop was one of the few shops open. It's very small, but an independent with an organic café at the back. It's a shame it's not bigger, but it's so nice to see an independent bookshop...
I bought "Nine parts of desire: the hidden world of Islamic women" by Geraldine Brooks as I thought it looked interesting.

This weekend one of my bridesmaids came to stay, partly to meet the OH for the first time (she totally approved and thought that he's lovely, which is very true, although I'm possibly biased so there is also some unbiased verification of this now), partly to do some wedding stuff. We went off into town and looked at make up. I had a makeover in the Body Shop:

I'm not sure what I think about the shop. I used to use them all the time when I was a teenager/student etc, but then they were bought by L'Oreal back in 2006 and I was sceptical about whether they'd retain the ethical stance that first attracted me to shopping there. But I still buy Ben and Jerry's, and Green and Black's, both of which have also been swallowed up by Evil Multinationals... I was impressed on this outing. I don't normally wear make up, and didn't want to try the make up counters in the dept store as the girls on there look like they put it on with a trowel (!!!). Not the look I was going for. The shop assistant in the Body Shop was very nice, not at all hard-selly, helped me choose some foundation, blusher and eye shadow, didn't force me into trying lip things or mascara (neither of which I wanted) and answered questions very patiently. There was no expectation I'd buy anything, she even said they could do a make-over on the wedding day for free (with donation to charity), and I liked the look she gave me - natural and subtle looking, so I was still recognisably me. So I may be going back there for shopping again!

This Sunday we also went beating the bounds, where we walked the (adapted) boundaries of the parish and the church wardens, erm, beat them with rods. Actually, it was a good excuse to walk around the parish, looking at Staines Moor and ending up back at the pub with a drink afterwards.
The church wardens did beat a few gates we came across,

but mostly we just walked. I was amazed at the variety of vegetation and wildlife (Staines Moor is an SSSI), considering we could hear the noise from the M25, A30 and Heathrow airport most of the time! We haven't had a lot of time so far to explore the local area so it was nice to get out in the "fresh" air for a while.

Monday, May 03, 2010


  I've been juggling things around a bit. When I first started reading people's blogs and blogging myself (my first post, a fuzzy photo of some Adriafil Stars yarn, seems to have been towards the end of May 2005), way back in the dim and distant past of five years ago (where did that time go?!) I used to read blogs over breakfast before setting off on an endless journey to the back of beyond, not to return for several days. Now, seven house moves, one job, two ex-boyfriends, lots of books and an enormous quantity of knitting later life is a bit different. I go to work on the train. I rarely get up in enough time to catch the train without running around like a mad thing. I no longer read blogs over breakfast. I used to write my blog on Sunday afternoons, but now I do things like gardening then instead.

  And I miss reading blogs. I hate missing out on what people are doing, especially as I've been fortunate enough to meet many of the people whose blogs I read. My latest approach is to try reading blogs during my lunch hour. I used to go for a walk then, but the latest house move has ensured I now spend 50 minutes a day walking to and from the station, so there's no need to be energetic at lunchtime too. It doesn't work if I've run out to the Post Office during lunch, or gone to get some shopping, or gone into town to meet the OH for lunch. I've been through the usual slightly existential melt-downs about whether to carry on blogging etc and reached the conclusion that I enjoy blogging, and I enjoy reading other people's blogs, and I still want that to be part of my life. Soooo, here we go....

Knitting-wise I've finished the body of Thermal, and have been knitting away on the first sleeve. I started off with the smallest size sleeve, as the body is the smallest size, but the sleeve seemed really tight, so this is progress so far two sizes up from that. It fits, but still quite snuggly, and I'm not sure if I'll have enough yarn to do both sleeves this length. I'm considering starting the second sleeve, but casting on more stitches and making it more of a 3/4 length, then trying on the first sleeve and the 3/4 one and seeing which I like best. I've had a look on Ravelry but haven't found anyone else having sleeve problems.

I am beginning to get slightly bored with the stitch pattern...

Staines Knitting Group is going from strength to strength. We now have 27 members on Ravelry and, although we've never had more than 8 people at the pub at any one meeting, it seems to be very popular and we're now meeting 5 or 6 times a month (we're having a weekly meeting, plus a once-a-month Sunday afternoon one). Sarah has even been teaching Cat, the barmaid, to knit.

I'm amazed at the difference it makes to the week, I spend all of Tuesday looking forward to getting to the pub to meet up with the others. It makes the first two days of the week at work a lot easier to get through with knitting group to look forward to.

House-wise we have finished unpacking! Just don't open any cupboards... I have put all my stash in my old wardrobe, so it's all in one place, the first time ever I've had it in one place!

 We've been busy with the garden too. The OH has been attacking the lawn with moss killer with a vengeance. I've been emptying the old containers (left behind by the previous owner) and refilling with new compost and planting things. The previous owner was quite elderly so I'm not sure when the containers were last looked at, but the soil inside was extremely compacted - I ended up bashing a hand fork in with a mallet to loosen the soil a bit!

I did these three first. One has now been planted with Aubretia, the other two with fuchsias I got from a special offer in the Guardian. They do slightly mad, "order 5 plants get 300 more free!!" type offers. But it seemed a good way of filling some containers. Only the fuchsias have arrived so far, but I've got lavender, penstemons and a hydrangea on the way too.

Think that's all for now!