In which there are more plants and too many buttons

Sorry for the lack of posts, the Easter holidays seem to be a week later in Wales than everywhere else so things are still a bit manic here. They’re all off building lego at the moment so I have snuck in here (after first enlisting the help of the chief photographer) to show you some stuff. The garden is being nice and gardeny, I like gardens, they do that – you ignore them for a few weeks and they just get on with it:

Click for bigger pictures of weeds etc.

The trees are blossoming, the parsnips are sprouting (although they do need weeding) and the onions seem to have survived being trampled on by Small and the Outlaws on the last day of term a couple of weeks ago.

I am plodding along with jumper number three (which is actually a cardigan) and the end is in sight. I ran out of blue with just one sleeve cap left to do which was incredibly frustrating and then having ordered some more and carried on with it, I spent the remaining rows worrying that I would run out of brown too. I didn’t. The knitting is all done, the button band didn’t take as long as I thought it might and it doesn’t look too wonky. I have got fewer than one fifth of all the ends left to sew in and then I can do the seams. Now I’m just having trouble choosing which buttons to use. What do you think? I couldn’t choose between the ones at the top with the tree or the next one which has sort of creeper stuff on it to go on here so I got both to see what they looked like in situ but then I also succumbed to a bag of a hundred random buttons which are mostly very pretty with the vague idea of making something interesting out of pretty buttons and now I have too many to choose from: All the same? Mismatched dark brown? Trees? Butterflies?IMG_0673

Too much choice. But don’t they look nice?IMG_0678

In which the house plants are confused

Generally I am death to pot plants, I either totally ignore them for months on end or drown them because I feel so guilty about having neglected them previously. I have one not-quite-an-orchid-thing in the bathroom (which has been quite happy there for the last few years and I haven’t managed to kill yet because I at least remember to water it on the odd occasion that I clean the bathroom) and one enormous Christmas cactus that after years in my parents’ kitchen got too big (not too big for the whole kitchen, just too big for the space it was in) and they gave to me so long ago that I can’t remember when. I neglect that as well but it is a camel and keeps going on its reserves. Last year it went really wrinkly and old and miserable looking because I forgot to water it for months and months and months so I gave it a shower every day for a week and it looks quite happy again now. But it is a little bit confused – it thinks it is Christmas this week rather than Easter.

IMG_0438Can old man cactuses have dementia? I think it needs a name, it has been around that long but I haven’t quite worked out what it is yet.

The other thing I was going to tell you about is the spiders. I haven’t got any pictures because Dennis didn’t go down too well last time with someone who shall remain nameless (Kay) but I am going to tell you about them so stop reading if you like.

We have an annual infestation of small yellow spiders in the greenhouse, they hatch out and most years I manage to see them before they disperse (unless they find a really good hiding place). There are hundreds of them, they are smaller than one millimetre, bright yellow with a brown triangle on their bum and given the number of garden spiders who inhabit the tomato plants later in the year I’m guessing that’s what they turn into. I’m not too keen on spiders normally but I like these ones, they are fantastic – the first year they were all suspended in a brown clump a couple of inches across and you couldn’t see the cobweb because it was so fine and I couldn’t work out what it was that was floating there until I accidentally brushed the web and they all exploded outwards into a big cloud of wriggly, baby spiders, after a few minutes they settled back down and went back to a clump in the middle. It was amazing though and it always makes me smile to see them (maybe because of reading Charlotte’s Web too many times).

This year they were hiding under a bag of compost, I’m glad I got to see them because I think I missed it last time. I might not be so pleased once I need to water the tomatoes without getting a face full of cobweb – I’ve told them they are welcome to live in the plants as long as they don’t make webs across the path but they always forget. I keep a stick by the door now and have an imaginary fencing match every time I walk in there, they normally remember again by the time the tomatoes are ripe and have rearranged themselves parallel to the path. Somebody remind me how much I like the baby ones when I am hopping up and down and cursing with a face full of spider web in August, will you?

Oh, and I’ve done about three fifths of the ends so far and I don’t think I am insane yet. Judge for yourself. Happy Christmas!

In which there are an awful lot of ends

I think it’s time I properly introduced you to jumper number three (which is really a cardigan). At Christmas I had three jumpers to finish, number one (for a Christmas present, overdue), number two (nearly in time for the birthday after the one it was meant for) and jumper number three (which is really a cardigan).  Number three, or rather the wool for it, was my officially-being-middle-aged birthday present from the Man in the Shed.
(By the way, before this starts any debates about how old is middle aged you should know I intend to use my allocated three score years and ten and then die (from having eaten too many cream cakes and buttery things and generally not doing much exercise, except perhaps digging) before I get old and fall apart therefore I am now in my middle decade.)

IMG_0344It is the Ross cardigan which is from this book. I can’t remember how I came across this pattern but it is one where I just looked at it and thought, ‘Wow, I have to make that one!’  I have no idea why, whether it is the colours or the patterns or the shape or all of it together but I think it looks fantastic. My friend looked at the picture and said ‘Ew, no, that’s just weird.’ or something along those lines so it is probably just me having strange taste.  Maybe now would be a good time to explain about the patterns on it – there are two Fairisle patterns, the left front and the right sleeve have one and the right front, left sleeve and back have the other. Normally I am mildly (is that the right word?) obsessive about things being symmetrical, (only certain things, not everything). I would tell you the story here about me being two and a half and the health visitor and the symmetrical pattern but you have probably heard it before and if you haven’t heard it yet from either me or my mother then the chances are that you will at some point. But for some reason this one is ok, maybe it’s because the patterns themselves are symmetrical or maybe because it is deliberately asymmetrical rather than just being a bit crooked, I don’t know but I love the pattern.  

IMG_0346It does require some concentration though, I think I haven’t got round to showing you properly yet because I have been making it here and there between everything else – it is not very portable knitting. I’m almost done with the patterned bits – one sleeve left to do (if I can shake the nagging feeling that I’m going to run out of wool before I get there) but I think the button band might be a killer, (I’m not a big fan of button bands) and just look at all those ends! I am starting to wonder whether I will go insane sewing all of those in. Ok, more insane than I am now, is that better?

In which we have normality

I repeat, we have normality. Anything you still can’t cope with is therefore your own problem.


Well, here it is – dressed up for its first role as the Magic Tree, lots of leaves (not quite a billion but somewhere around a thousand by my reckoning) and some lovely fruit (you must particularly remember the pineapple and the bananas, Best Beloved) provided by the person whose tree it really is and who spent a very long time getting the pineapple and the bananas right.  And now it has been taken apart and taken away to be sung about and the space where it was looks enormous and empty and I have to get on with real life again which feels a bit sad, like the end of the holidays.

Maybe it’s time to get the knitting out again or cwtch up with a good book. I finally finished ‘Anna Karenina’ the other day, I have been reading it since August (which to put into perspective is longer than the time that I managed to keep Tiny inside me before she was born) and that is a long time to being reading a book! But I really enjoyed it despite reading it in snippets here and there or whilst being climbed on during other people’s swimming lessons or a sneaky couple of pages too early in the morning. It is about a load of people and how their lives are tangled up and what they think about things. I did write a pile of waffle about why I liked it but it was too waffley and boring and long and I remembered why I studied maths and not literature – I like books (once during reading week when I was leaving the college library with about eight novels under my arm the librarian said, ‘We’re revising hard, aren’t we?’ they shouldn’t call it reading week if it’s not…) but not dismantling them, so I deleted it all again. I thought it was a brilliant story and if you want to find out what it is about you’ll just have to read it.

A Cat, a Hat and a Piece of String

I’ve got something else for a complete contrast now which I picked up in the supermarket how-can-they-sell-books-that-cheap-that-doesn’t-cover-the-cost-of-the-paper-let-alone-pay-the-writers-anything section, it’s called ‘A Cat, a Hat and a Piece of String’ by Joanne Harris and it is a book of short stories.  I have no idea what they are about or what her writing is like, I just picked it up because I liked the title but hopefully it won’t take so long to read as the last one, I’ll let you know how I get on.

Not the End of the World

Ooh, that reminds me –  if you like short stories then try ‘Not the End of the World’ by Kate Atkinson, if I had to clear out all my books and only rescue a handful, this is one I would keep. I don’t know what it is about it (plus see paragraph above about being rubbish at describing books) but it doesn’t matter that I know what is going to happen, there is just something about the words and the rhythm of it that make me want to read it again. Although the stories are separate they all have little details which link them to the others in different ways which sort of joins it up and makes it into a whole thing (like you have to listen to a whole album in one go and not just download single tracks). And it has lots of lovely lists of words. And magic. And a tiger. Why wouldn’t you want to read it?

In which there is something a little like a tree and a knitted knocker

These two things should probably get a post each to do them justice but I still have a billion (ok, maybe not quite that many) leaves to glue on before Tuesday.

The tree is coming along nicely, I’m quite pleased with the trunk, I’m going to do the leaves by gluing them to some netting which can be removed easily for transporting or autumn, I’ve done a few of them so far but the photo was late at night and a bit dark so I’ll show you that once it’s got the rest on.


And somehow in between that and feeding everyone and making sure enough school uniform is clean, I managed to have a go at a knitted knocker, I was surprised at how quick it was to make (nearly half done whilst watching one swimming lesson)  – definitely a very good small (unless perhaps its an FF cup…) project to have lurking in your handbag. The group is really taking off (they are hoping to register as a charity soon), I don’t know how many knockers have been made but it has been going about three months and they have over four hundred volunteers already. You can read more here about the organisation and how to order a knocker or volunteer for knitting/crocheting.



Now, off I go, back to the arboretum. If I don’t appear before Tuesday, please will someone break down the kitchen door and come and unstick me from the mass of green netting and crêpe paper that will probably be dangling from the washing line…Martell Designs Shop