In which the photos take up more space than the words

This is just a quick update on a couple of things because I haven’t posted anything for a little while, I got all the photos ready and then didn’t do anything with them.

I finished the fruit for the tree over the weekend, it’s a little less baked bean can shaped than it was and I think it’s slightly less knobbly. I did enough layers of paper that I could sand it off a little bit so at any rate it is less wrinkly even if still has big knobbles. I’ve just noticed in the photo that most of them have the red side facing out but they are greener on the back. Hopefully they look ok from a distance although I don’t think the little green fellow there will be seen except from on the stage.


The crocheted something or other is coming along nicely and just needs a head. Have you worked out what it is yet? There is a song about it if that helps, some people think the title of this song is irrelevant…


The other thing that I promise I will tell you about next time is the bed jacket, which is finished, it is blocking at the moment. I thought that seeing as I have put off writing about it (because it would take a little while to explain and I didn’t want to tack it on the end of something else) for so long that is is finished then I might as well write about the whole thing in one go. Here is a peep of it until then:


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…


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).

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).


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?


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


And now for something completely different

What are you supposed to say when your good friend (who clearly thinks you have too much spare time) asks you to make a tree? Are yew joking? How about you bough to the superior wisdom of your elders and betters and just run fir it? I’ll leave now (that’s quite enough of that, they took me twenty minutes to think up and I think I have used up my bad pun quota for the year now).

Against my better judgement we are making a tree (for a stage prop for two musicals), we make a pretty good team for things like that, I sort out most of the colours and the Man in the Shed does most of the structural engineering (although he did let me loose with a saw and some wire cutters while he was at work). The knitting and the real garden are more or less being neglected this week, the kitchen and my head are full of tree (and PVA glue bottles) and I think I am driving everyone potty – in the middle of real, grown up, totally unrelated conversations I keep saying things like, “Should it have one banana or a whole bunch?” and, “How are we going to attach any leaves?” and, “Does it look too much like an umbrella?”. (My mouth is apparently not connected to my brain, it never says what my brain tells it to and often says things without consulting my brain first to see if it is a) a sensible time to say the thing now or b) a sensible thing to say at any time, ever.)

The tree has a split personality and the specification gets more complicated every time I ask a question about it. Officially it is the Tree of Knowledge for a children’s production of ‘Children of Eden’ in June for which it has to be dismantled on stage during a storm and have golden fruit but sneakily it might also be the Magic Tree (I should probably find out how that story goes) in less than two weeks which has lots and lots of different types of fruit on it and which possibly at some point gets cursed and all the leaves turn black. Oh, and it has to fit into the Composer’s car. With his piano.


Here is a tree skeleton, (ooh, that reminds me – I wonder if Funny Bones is still in print?) I think the window cleaner who was working while I was building this must think I am mad. The trunk is made from waste pipe and the branches from 15mm plastic water pipes, there is too much gaffer tape and some wire mesh which I laced around the trunk to make it less pipey. I haven’t got very far with the leaves yet or how to hang any fruit on it but the cogs are whirling.


And here is the tree trunk after putting some (unwanted) newspapers (that we liberated from the train) to far better use than that for which they were intended. For some reason it gives me great delight to tear up some of the stuff printed in there. Although I did spot one snippet which had a photo of loads of tulips and the caption ‘Springtime at Eden’ which is rather fitting.

Now where did I leave that brown paint?