Wednesday, 29 December 2010

It never rains in London

I hope you have had a good Christmas? We went into London yesterday to see the Nutcracker Ballet as above. It was excellent . Really beautiful dancing and wonderfully blissful ( live) music but the sets and costumes were just a little dissappointing. A magical time was had all the same.
Prior to walking to the Coliseum from Oxford St we braved the sales( John Lewis- horrendous) and then wandered about checking out the Christmas lights ( and Jack Wills but more of that another time)

Of course having spotted crochet bags- even if they were in the sale- they HAD to be photographed- JJ did the honours.
I preferred the green one- and I don;t really like green- and the bows were somehow out of place- but that's just my opinion?
Let's catch up a little on our quiet family Christmas in 2010:
I made brownies in shaped cases for the first time and decoratinmg them was such fun! Both girls joined in too- one of the lovely highlights of that day.
And they were made in about 40 minutes inc baking time but eaten within 10......
2 each and oooh sooooo yummy!!!
Another culinary adventure turned out a great success: the Turkey leftovers morphed into a lovely dinner for Boxing Day with finely sliced potatoes,peas,carrots,stock,herbs and lots of double cream....The bacon stopped it drying out and was the token ''ham'' for Boxing Day.
Recipe to follow soon! Kids gave it 10 out of 10 and it was all eaten - no leftovers!

We also hugely enjoyed the tiny Christmas cake made by Miss Y at school- the cake was actually baked in a tin can! Then expertly decorated by my beloved and talented youngest: yummeeee!

Again I cannot describe just how fast our respective quarters were indulged in!
Minor disasters are part of experimentation: my mince-cakes ( instead of mince-pies) not such a success. Ooops.
The Christmas pudding was delightful as always but the flambee did not show up on this photo.
This pud lasted a mere 3 days between 2 adults and 2 ''children''. There were presents a -plenty most of which I forgot to photograph, but here were a few:
Miss E having outgrown her fancy sweetie wellies acquired these just before X-mas- another fancy pair very County don't you think? The sweetie ones have gone to Miss Y but I've got my fingers crossed that she too will outgrow them soon so muggins can enjoy walking the dogs in them. ( they are my size and I'm not growing...!!! Santa knew me so very well: Gilmore Girls AND a nice new diary/journal: hip hip hooray.
And for the home a nice new sign/hooks for the shopping bags I'm about to create with my new bag-making book and gizmos/gadgets.
Shall we remember our Christmas decorations: old and new?
Our crib made me wonder what happened to the one I grew up with at our home? Our Church has the SAME one as I had as a child but much bigger of course, it must date from the 1950's/60's?
The real snow is melting now, it's almost all gone but here are the snowflakes I crocheted last year: November/December 2009.
Rudolph is a trusty friend from the late 1990's? Habitat I think.Luckily I dated this advent calendar as I was guessing it at 2001 or 2002 but it states 19 November 1999 on the back. It was bought as a kit from the sewing shop which is now a hairdresser - opposite the now new Library building in North St. In 2008 a mouse got to our attic when we had the pipes for the washing machine re-routed and nibbled on part of the calendar. I have plans- oooh such plans!- the CROCHET a new advent calendar, a wreath for the door ( felted poinsettias) and a crib with all the figures in 4 ply wool or cotton. BUT as my little Christmas pudding decoration still has not been finished this year the plans are just that. Plans .
Hence the old calendar has not yet been mended. We had to hang it higher this year as Lucy would have raided the chocolates.
Chocolates were raided anyway as this year mum and dad felt a bit left out and may have chosen a few? Note to self: if making new calendar : make pockets big enough for 4 chocolates per day....
Cards, santa and a glass painted dec made by Miss Y.
mY SWEET little soldier in crochet. Within the nutcracket theme.
Couldn't resist these laser cut felt decs- new this year and contributing to those record sales for J Lewis.
In our big REAL tree, the children's fake one has now been donated to Oxfam together with 10 kg of mini Boden/Next/Pumpkin patch t shirts and sweatshirts. How cute the girls looked in those.

Nice aren't they? With beads and a bell- made in China one and all. If Jesus were to be born today : would he be ''made in China ''too? A Chinese Messiah now there's a thought.
Talking of manufacturing: Jack Wills goods are super cool apparently and made in China. See these cabled hats? I made an earflap cabled hat but was accused of it looking like a ''helmet'' so I have added the most humungus POM POM ever. Inspired by the above.
Here it is steaming up for extra fluffiness : made with a 8.5cm pom pom maker.So this is how I spend my days. Steaming pom poms. Still also loving our fab new kettle.
I refreshed the boiling water 3 times and the last lot was just 1 cm below the pom pom: such fluffiness! Photo to follow soon, I have to decide whether to line this hat or not. The other 3 hats are now fleece lined for comfort and extra warmth. And finally : during the many old films, the Gilmore Girls on tv, Dr Who x-mas , the drive into London yesterday, at Starbucks with a large hot chocolate in Soho, The Queen's Speech, and an amazingly gripping show on BBC2 about Indian Hilltop railways I have been crocheting a new blanket/throw/bedspread in a new set of bright colours. VOILa current progress.

And THIS is what happens when you put a blanket on the floor.

Lucy claims it as her own. See you soon. Have a good creative happy time 'till we meet again.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Snow,hats and a bit of recycling

Snow, snow, snow everywhere again, a couple of feet ( 45-60 cm) deep this time.It's all so very very PRETTY!! Idyllic really- just so festive and enchanting!!! Chance of a truly WHITE CHRISTMAS very good indeed. The above is at the Celtic Manor House Hotel in South Wales just across the new Severn Bridge, this weekend.
Oh no! I did not mean to look this grumpy, but maybe it was a premonition of what was yet to come???( see A 34 BELOW) Show the snow I said, while JJ was complaining for us to hurry up....
Even sickly Miss E just HAD to pop out of the car and record the sheer snowiness of it all.
We'd all been to a Christmas party at the above hotel, where dragons dominate and where despite the 5 star rating the Christmas party food was abysmal and they made us share double beds with our children???? A family room consisted of 2 double beds apparently: hardly comfortable with 2 children along who cannot share? JJ slept on the floor in the bedspread and I had luckily brought along a spare duvet so just about managed to share with Miss Y, but she tossed all night so very little actual sleep was gained. Miss E was full of cold and sneezed her way through the night: alternating between asking for extra blankets and standing on the - lovely- balcony to cool off. The breakfast was delicious and in a lovely setting, to which the sunshine and deep snow contributed but still: FIVE STARS?????
This is my first aran cabled hat: crocheted from a pattern by Aaron Matthew Asmussen and made from navy wool from THE HEMA!!! That will mean something to any Dutch folk reading this. This particular wool was posted to me from Holland in the early 1980's, most likely between 1981 and 1983. And has lived in storage ever since. I was only sent 5 or 6 balls of 100g of what is porbably an aran thickness.
This one took a large part of the 100g, I used a 5mm hook and followed the pattern to the letter.
It fits me and reached just halfway across the ears. Miss E also has been wearing it to school- before she caught her bug- it's ''cool'' enough for a preteen of 12.5 at a smart grammar school for girls.
It's really lovely to make and it is the FIRST pattern I have BOUGHT on RAVELRY. It amazed me how easy the purchase was! The pattern- along with another 5 or 6 of his other textured relief pattern hats has been lurking in my favourites files on Ravelry since about February of this year..... The navy hat weighs 86g, the yarn was 152m to 100g so it took 131m of yarn.
Here's the almost vintage wool: it was 4.75 guilders a ball, way before the Euro replaced national currencies. It has the most wonderful slogan on the ball-band:
BOL OVER,GELD TERUG, which means if you were left with an unused ball you could take it back and get a refund for it. Aaaah, bless those were the days.
Actually I do think Masons in Abingdon do the same in 2010?! They also put wool by for you.

This hat,modelled by a large pudding bowl, was made in ''baby aran'' , 100% acrylic but I had to use a 5.5 and 6 mm hook to work the cables and it's still pretty stiff: it stands by itself! If you see the yarn as a strand it look more like a chunky yarn and a big one at that, aran indeed....
Lovely crown pattern isn't it?
This one's a Christmas present, I just hope it will fit the recipient!
Then with a 5.5mm hook and an Cygnet chunky yarn from Mason's I made this burgundy one: from a ball of Cygnet 75%wool and 25% acrylic chunky yarn. I gave it a crabstitch border and may well line the bottom 50% with a fleece fabric. It reaches below the ears
as in this very cold ( -6C) weather you don't want your ears exposed!!! For a shorter hat you can turn the edge into a brim. This yarn was 148m in 100g and the hat weighs: 86g
Something happened with the camera- this one's a deep green! but I showed the picture as the cables show up so well? This hat was made on the A34 as yesterday we drove home from South Wales and a 2 hour yourney took over 8 HOURS!!!! 4 or more of which were spent in a queue of cars on the northbound A34 just South of Oxford. Luckily the kids had a movie to watch on the I-PAD and I read a novel and then made a hat from scratch. JJ e-mailed on his blackberry and complained a lot. We subsisted on buns and pastries ''liberated'' from breakfast - which JJ had laughed at but was only to happy to EAT later...- and we had lots of water due to my hoarding instincts I had brought them along. '' Just in case''.
In one part it was 1 jack-knifed lorry in the snow- but further up it was 5 such lorries and they closed the road for 3 hours.So this is the A34 snowbound hat. Same yarn as the burgundy but in a lovely deep dark green. Somehow this one weighs 92g. Same chunky yarn and 5.5mm hook. Looks slightly longer and narrower than the burgundy one ...

Here they all are: ta dahhhhh. 2 more to make before Tuesday for my presents. One in a navy tweed aran and one more. For a family of five. The HEMA hat stays with us. I may make one with earflaps next, shorter but with flaps and a cable running down the centre of the flap....
And I may make a beret too. Just maybe. Do they need bobbles adding do you think? Or shall I keep them as beanies? Finally bef0re I got sick with this ''throat and fever and chestiness'' bug - which I had for over 2 weeks and then I had an adverse reaction to Erythromycin as well- awful stomch cramps and I still have pains now whenever a meal is due: ie when my stomach is empty.
Anyhow I was saying: BEFORE all the illness I made a new seat cushion for my computer chair- which is a lovely whicker armchair meant for a conservatory someday- I cut a thick pad of foam in the right half moon shape and then sewed a cover for it from old jeans in the attic.
Cut into strips and joined lengthways.
I played with the colours and the side strip is of darker jeans. There's lovely memories here:
I included jeans of my girl's as 4 year old toddlers and my maternity jeans too! There's a zipper in the back part and it fits both the foam pad and the chair beautifully!
No more woven reed patterns on the skin of my legs and ...!
Piccie of completed cushion in chair to follow soon.
WISHING YOU ALL A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR with lots of happy baking, making and crocheting in 2011!!!
I may be back before then but I can't say for sure as it's the school holidays now.
Have FUN! AND LIVE WITH PASSION! ( so yes OK , I have new 6 CD set of dear ol' Tony Robbins)