A swift report from the abyss

Sorry. I have been atrociously bad at writing any posts recently. I realised as well that I showed you lots of started things and didn’t write anything when they were finished. It has been a busy couple of months.

The treasure chest got finished, complete with added sea creatures by Small and Tiny inside.

Tiny Clanger got finished in time for the birthday and finally got to meet Small Clanger.

The Man in the Shed tidied his shed.

The aquilegias and all the colour in the garden came and went and I forgot to take a picture, now it is a green jungle again.

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I unraveled a cardigan which I knitted for my mum when I was less good at knitting and re-knitted it into a vest which I made up as I went along, was much better and I completely failed to take a photo of.

The Man in the Shed finished the bathroom so I can have a bath again. Hurrah!

I painted a backdrop of a cottage for a thing where it has to sometimes belong to the seven dwarves and sometimes to the three bears – spot the difference (and the mouse, don’t look Grandma!).

I rescued a swift with a damaged wing which has been passed on to the vets who might have a better idea what to do with it than me.

I started making a Sophie’s Universe blanket which I haven’t got a picture of yet. It’s a gorgeous free pattern which is available online and is really easy to follow as it has loads of photos. I’ve been printing the version without pictures but I did wonder whether it wouldn’t save some paper to follow it off a screen. That said it is not the thing I have printed recently that has used the most paper. But that’s another story, never mind, anyway, I paused in making Sophie’s Universe when I realised that the nursery teacher is about to pop and last time she was pregnant I made her a baby blanket and there are only a few of weeks left of term to make something. So I got on with it.

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It is blocking, it is pinned to the bed (which was the only sensible (debatable) place big enough to put it) with nearly six hundred pins to open up the lace edges which now means that a) I know I have well over six hundred pins (I thought I would run out when I started and there are more than half left) b) I have to keep the cats off it until it is dry (it is white and they are black) c) I have to get it dry before bedtime or explain to the Man in the Shed why the bed is slightly damp and d) I have to get nearly six hundred pins out of the bed before bedtime or explain to the Man in the Shed why the bed is slightly prickly…

 

UPDATE: 1303, 24 Jun 2015.

Slightly red faced update – despite having a maths degree I forgot to divide by two – * chain 3, cast off two, repeat from * gives half as many loops as stitches so there are nearly three hundred pins rather than nearly six hundred. But why let accuracy get in the way of a good story? Which is the principle employed, or so I am led to believe, by several of my forebears, well three of them anyway. Who’s been sleeping in my porridge…

In which there is some catching up to do

Sorry I haven’t posted anything all week, I meant to do one on Monday and now it is almost next Monday.  The trouble with not posting things very often is there is too much to fit in and I don’t know which things to write about so then I put it off even longer and it gets worse and worse… (By the way it is almost the summer holidays so apologies in advance – I suspect the frequency of posts may become even more erratic than it is at the moment for a few weeks.)

This week I learnt to do Tunisian crochet which is interesting but probably needs its own post to explain it.

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The secret stash of Christmas presents is growing: there is a robot

and also a mouse. At Bible study the other day were talking about being made in the image of God the other week and what that meant; I am unlikely to ever breathe life into anything but I do love the moment when a pile of pieces turns into a little creature with some character.

The garden is full of life as well. I have been told I must prune the fruit trees once we have the fruit off them as they are impeding progress across the garden. The greenhouse is looking a bit jungly as well and we have had various vegetables (mainly purple, although not really intentionally) to eat from the veg bed and caterpillars (mainly green and definitely not intentionally, but did you know they go white when you cook them?) from the purple sprouting broccoli.

The morning glories have been looking glorious in the sun, they are more bedraggled this morning but I did notice this one lurking in at the bottom. I’m not sure where it came from because all the others are dark purple or pink.

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It doesn’t quite match the colour of my bottom after I fell down the stairs on Thursday but it’s not far off. I won’t show you a picture of that one, you’ll just have to use your imagination…

In which there is the rest of the too much knitting

Having made a jumper for Tiny a few weeks ago I had to also make one for Small to keep things fair. He had his eye on the rest of the very blue wool given to me by a friend who was having a clear out so I made him this:

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Sorry about the apple, it was just easier to take the photo with it! The pattern was quite fun to do, it is called Jens and is a free one but it is in Danish. Google translate didn’t do too bad a job on it and I could work out most of it with a bit of lateral thinking – cast off two stitches rather than close two stitches and things like that (it is knit bottom up, in the round and joined for the yoke if you are interested in that sort of thing). When he first saw it he said, ‘But I didn’t want green on it!’ but by the time it was finished he was so excited about it having a zip that he seems to have forgotten his aversion to green.

I was going to give the knitting a rest as my hands were getting a bit achey but this sort of fell off my needles over the weekend:

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It’s a free pattern for another Sarah’s blog and it happened to suggest the same wool as I used for the mad cardigan so I’m doing pretty well at using up left over bits and pieces at the moment. I was going to put a picture up of her in bits as well but a man came to knock down the bathroom wall on Monday so I retreated into my cave and sewed her up without taking a photo of the parts. It’s going to be a stocking filler for Tiny which does seem stupidly early but I am mostly just putting off housework. Plus last year I was finishing a frog at about midnight not much before Christmas so I decided I would get a head start this year.

Now I’m off to crochet a robot. As you do.

In which there is a lot of polygons of one sort or another

It’s been a busy week – the Man in the Shed is away with work and I’ve been outside as much as possible so sorry I haven’t posted much. I keep meaning to write something and then not doing it. I have finished the Happypotomus, need to think of a secret name now so people can guess it at the fair. I think I’ve got one but obviously I can’t tell you. I’m not too sure about its gender either, there has been some debate!

I have mostly been painting this week, weather permitting (the forecast last week said it was going to piddle down all week but every time I look it up again it seems to be better and I’ve got more done than I expected to). Our garden is about nine foot up in the air and is currently held up by this wall:

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The reason being that I couldn’t bear having that much plain rendering and spent quite a long time five years ago painting it pretty colours and shapes. The only trouble is that it is going rusty from underneath – there is an edging strip on the corner of the ledge under the render which should be galvanised and clearly isn’t. I scrub all the lichen and grub off every year but the rusty drips stay and get a bit worse each year however hard I scrub and now it is getting to me. Also it is covered in small holes (at a height of about eighteen inches and below) which I suspect have something to do with Small’s bike and they look like this:

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So what with the rust and the holes I decided it was time to do something about it. I’ve been scraping off loose paint and rust and trying to seal it all again and I managed to get some real paint on it today. Now part of it looks like this:

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The Man in the Shed asked Small to describe it to him because he hasn’t seen it yet and was told, “Green and purple.” Which sounds boring but I suppose it is at least accurate. In my defence I haven’t finished yet…

In which the glue is out again

Most of Small’s class seem to have birthdays in May (well, at least a fifth of them so far that I know of) and he wanted to be Spiderman at one of the birthday parties, a friend very kindly found us a costume but Small was adamant that he should have a mask to go with it. After failing to persuade him that face paints would be fine and then failing to find any face paints anyway we resorted to making a mask. Fortunately Spiderman has a more or less ballon shaped head and not too many colours on his face so I did a very hasty couple of coats of papier mâché and dug out some left over acrylic dragon paint. It’s a little bit bendy because I didn’t have time to do more layers of paper and his eyes aren’t quite symmetrical but whose are? And he doesn’t stand still long enough for anyone to notice anyway!IMG_0941

While I had the glue out that finally motivated me to get on with the fruit for the tree. (You can read about it here if you don’t know what I’m talking about because it’s too complicated to explain it all again.) That and the kids need to practice with it soon. I know fruit is all different shapes and sizes but this bunch has to be the most knobbly, misshapen collection of not-quite-apples that I have seen for a while. There are a couple of nice, fat, round ones, a few that look a bit too square that I really must do something about and one that looks like one of those weird peach things with no stone that seem to have collapsed in the middle and I can’t remember the proper name for. What are the chances that the tree in the Garden of Eden was actually covered with crab apples?IMG_0942

There are a couple of golden ones there at the end but the rest need a few more coats of paper first. They are hanging up on the kitchen ceiling at the moment along with various small (and not so small) people’s drawings and the washing.

And here is the progress on the crocheted something or other for the guess-the-name-of-the-something-or-other competition in the summer fair at church. Now isn’t that a cute little bum? Have you worked out what variety of wee beastie it is yet? I could give you a clue about gazing at bottoms but I’m not sure it would help…

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In which I am easily distracted

I was trying to decide what to write about next –  I haven’t told you about the interestingly shaped bed jacket I am making for my mum or about Kit the mystery chrysalis that we are over-wintering in a box:IMG_0832

I have no idea what he is, we found an elephant hawk moth caterpillar (called Kenneth) one year which was fun and he hatched out ok the next summer but Kit is a surprise. He decided the wall on our front steps would be a good place to hibernate but I thought given the quantity and type of traffic that likes to balance on the wall on its way to school the shed might be safer…

I planned out a whole post in my head about how we spent the bank holiday, about the spiders in the greenhouse waging war by hatching out another brood right above the doorway so I got a face full of baby spiders and about  how nice it was to sit in the garden, listening to the church bells ringing and making fruit out of bubble wrap for the Magic Tree to wear when it is being the other tree and about how certain sounds (church bells, the shipping forecast and the bit when Radio 4 goes over to the world service in the middle of the night and plays Sailing By and the national anthem) are nice and make me feel like everything is as it should be. The neighbours now think I am mad (see photo of plum tree with unusual fruit) and I have more or less knackered my long sewing needle by sticking it through too much bubble wrap (the Man in the Shed had to straighten it out for me at least three times before I finished).
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I planned out another whole post about how I was going to be very good and finish lots of things I had started before I began anything new – the golden fruit I am supposed to be finishing before June, the bed jacket, the Tiny Clanger that I began about two years ago, the enormous blackwork map of old British counties that I finished ages ago and haven’t worked out how to hang up yet, the tapestry for the top of the piano stool which has been nearly finished for ages and ages and ages and just has a lot of very boring plain border left to do, the blanket with the hexagons that I am supposed to be doing in between things to use up lots of multi coloured double knit, the hats I am supposed to be knitting for the shop, the pattern I am supposed to be writing down, the… you get the idea.

And then somebody asked me whether I could make something or other for the summer fair at church so that they could have a ‘name the something or other’ competition. I made a frog prince and a pony for Small and Tiny last Christmas and I thought maybe that was what the person had in mind but I am not very good at making the same thing twice (low boredom threshold – the second one of anything usually never gets started or if it does then it sits in the bottom of a bag for years).

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So I dug out the book of instructions that they came from (by Heidi Bears – ooh look she’s done a stegosaurus pattern too!) and started making a different something or other (sorry mum, I will finish your jacket before it gets cold again…). It is made from forty four crochet polygons and the church fair is in the middle of June so I reckon if I do one a day then I should have it finished in time. So far it just has two back legs, can you tell what it is yet?

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In which there is a really scary dragon

In which there is a really scary dragon

We’ve finished the cave, sorry the photos aren’t great – dragons don’t seem to sit still for long and Small chose the brightest green wool in the world for the wings which makes the lighting look a bit strange. The Chief Engineer and his apprentice were too busy playing yesterday to get their painting clothes on so I had a nice afternoon by myself and I’m afraid as I was unsupervised the green did creep up the sides a little, I think I’ve been forgiven though.

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He did manage to find time in between playing to do the writing for the fire exit.
IMG_0124And the dragon looks a bit happier now that he has his wings on (and his ears).IMG_0126It is nice and cosy in the top of the volcanoIMG_0125and there is some treasure downstairs in the cave (heap of corrugated layers, newspaper, tinfoil and glitter glue).
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Time for a cwtch.
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In which there is almost no knitting and definitely no bees

This is a nice thing that we made as a Christmas present for the small people, someone else thought it up – the instructions are here, but isn’t it a good idea? The cover is an old patched up duvet cover that was in the back of the cupboard for emergencies, the wood cost a couple of quid because for once there wasn’t quite the right sized bit in stores, the nice man in the shed drilled the holes (although the specification I gave him wasn’t quite clear enough so we have extra holes for hanging things on) and varnished the wood without being asked because he is a Really Useful Engineer (apologies to the Rev. W. Awdry) and I sewed some elastic loops onto the corners of the duvet cover.

Apologies for the blurriness, my photographer has gone to work and I am clearly not competent to operate the camera.

Apologies for the blurriness, my photographer has gone to work and I am clearly not competent to operate the camera.

It can be tall and thin for being the highest room in the tallest tower or it can be wide and flat when a giant has stood on your cottage and squished it, it can be a tent for sleeping under and if you speak to the nice man in the shed in your best polite voice then he will cut you a little piece of wood with a hole in it and glue it to your periscope (also made in the shed) so that you can hang it off the end of the crossbar and use it as a submarine, or you can use it as a stable for your horses that I’ll tell you all about some other time.

Sorry for the proliferation of posts, I was aiming for one or two a week but I am putting off sorting out the shop on my website, (the Really Useful Engineer has taken it on himself to revamp my shop and has kindly installed some software on the website for having a proper checkout, it will still use Paypal but it won’t have to have the nasty yellow Paypal buttons that don’t match anything else and change character sets when you aren’t looking, it’s not live yet so don’t try looking for it.) finishing a jumper, knitting another hat from the pattern to see if I wrote it down properly, doing the ironing, looking up how much poster tubes cost to buy and to post and about a dozen other things which mostly involve cleaning…