Monday, 23 October 2017

Making Progress

Slowly but surely I'm ticking things off my never-ending to do list. First of all, for all my knitting followers, there's this ...

I know it doesn't look very exciting but that red file contains all the patterns for this year's big Christmas series. Yes, it's finally finished - knitted, photographed, written, proofread (oh the proofreading, it took me five hours and several cups of tea) - and printed out for posterity.

I do hope you'll like it. As I keep saying, it's a much simpler pattern than in previous years so I'm worried that it will be a disappointment. Still, simple means easier knitting so that's a bonus. Speaking of which, I'm also making good progress with various Christmas presents I'm making but of course I can't show them on here now or it will spoil the surprise.

I still have to finish the patterns for the big KAL I've got planned for next year. I've written the first drafts but I'm struggling with the photos. If I can get those sorted, I'm hoping to announce this series in the middle of November with details of materials (and a special discount offer) but the first pattern won't be published until January.

So, what else have I been making progress with? I spent quite a lot of time last week cleaning and sorting the kitchen and scullery. I may not be house proud (just as well really) but even I know it's time to clean the floor when your feet start to stick to it. That led to a turn out of all the cupboards and a mass migration of china.

I love collecting bits and bobs of nice china from antique and charity shops - a cup and saucer here, a jug there  - but didn't have anywhere to keep them. So they were piled up around all the everyday stuff in the kitchen cupboards which made getting a plate out a chancy business. I do however have a big built-in cupboard in my bedroom. The house is more than a hundred years old and this is one of the original cupboards. It's less than a foot deep and would originally have been used for clothes (which just goes to show how many fewer clothes the Victorians had). Anyway, Paul the builder kindly filled the cupboard with shelves to take all that homeless china.

This is about half the cupboard. It's not a very good picture but I had to lie on the bed to take it and then the camera kept wobbling. Anyway you get the general idea. Now the china has somewhere to live and I can get things out of the kitchen cupboards without risking an avalanche of broken crockery.

Progress is also being made with the violin. I've been learning for a year now and I still love it. It's very hard work and frustrating at times but I can now play actual music, more or less in tune. This is what's on my stand at the moment ...

... an interesting mixture of Harry Potter, Baroque and some pieces from Michael Rose's Sketchbook For Violin There are six pieces in this book, all of them lovely but each calling for a different bow technique. The Harry Potter music has some tricky combinations of notes and the Baroque is difficult but wonderful. The fact that I'm not doing music exams this time round means I can play all sorts of music, just for fun.

One of the reasons I'm planning to cut down on the amount of work I do next year is to give myself more time for music. As well as the violin, I'd like to play my piano and recorder more and then there's the clarinet which has been neglected for decades. I wonder if I could even play it still? 

I'm also looking forward to designing more small patterns after working on so many big series this year. In the last couple of weeks I've been trying the new Stylecraft Batik Elements yarn. This is a DK weight variegated yarn and it's lovely and soft - nice to work with. With a couple of 50 g balls I knitted a textured cowl which I'm calling 'Elemental'.

I enjoyed working on this. The wavy ripples are fun to knit and surprisingly easy; six out of the eight pattern rows are either knit or purl so you only have to really pay attention for the other two. If you'd like to knit one of these, the pattern is here Elemental. The colour I used is called Bismuth; I'm tempted to knit another one in Krypton which is a lovely green.

I've also finished the knitted mini quilt for November. We're nearly at the end of this series of patterns now which I must admit will be a bit of a relief for me. I've come to the conclusion that deadlines don't really suit me. I am enjoying seeing everyone's little quilts on my Ravelry group though; I'm particularly looking forward to seeing the ones that are being turned into blankets. Would you like to see all the quilts so far?

January - June

July - October

I don't know which is my favourite; it tends to be whichever I've just finished designing. I do like the snowman, but then there's the little Sunbonnet Sue with the umbrella and the pencils ... and all those flowers ... what do you think? Have you got a favourite?

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Getting into Practice

Next year I'm determined to turn what my family call my 'knitting empire' into a part-time empire so that I have time to do other things. Now that the end of my big projects is in sight (next year's KAL and the Christmas pattern will be done by the end of this month), I'm getting into practice for next year by getting out of the house occasionally. Apparently putting the bins out doesn't count!

So far I've had a couple of good muddy walks, complete with picnics. I do love a picnic, whatever the weather - one of the many things I've inherited from my Granny. She would take all the grandchildren down to the forest for the day (the New Forest) and we would cook our picnic on a little primus stove. I remember holding the umbrella over her one day while she cooked so that the rain wouldn't put the stove out.

Anyway, look who I met on a walk in the woods this week ...

You'll have to look closely as he was very shy. We stood and looked at each other for nearly five minutes before he bounced back into the trees.

I also managed to get to the Seurat to Riley exhibition at Compton Verney which was excellent. I saw so many clever ideas that I had to stop to buy a new pad of graph paper on the way home so that I could play about trying to turn them into something woolly. I've bought a season ticket for Compton Verney so I'm looking forward to lots more visits.

I'm lucky to live a few miles from the village of Adderbury where the church hosts wonderful music from The Adderbury Ensemble and other top musicians. I went to the first concert of the Autumn season a few weeks ago which was so good. Tomorrow I'm going again, this time to hear the Tippett String Quartet I can really recommend the Music in Adderbury concerts; many of the musicians can also be heard at the Oxford Coffee Concerts.

And now I've still got more than twenty patterns to write up ...