Currently…

Listening: to Radio 3, as usual.

Reading: Death comes to Pemberly, by P.D. James. I avoid Austen follow-up novels because in my experience they are usually bad, so I ignored this when it first came out. But I was caught out by an unexpected wait with nothing to read and found it in a nearby charity shop. The reviews on the cover were good, so I bought it.

I think the reviewers must have been reading a different novel. I feel James’ writing lacks Austen’s humour and lightness of touch. There are far too many speeches in which one character explains to another, pedantically and at great length, what the other person would have known anyway – in fact far too much exposition of all sorts. Austen knew what she was doing, limiting the number of characters, and restricting descriptions to her characters’ thoughts rather than their hairstyles or means of transport.

Watching: Alice Robert’s programme on Winchester, which in contrast, was much better than I expected. So many documentaries these days jump from one topic to another, and then back again, in a desperate, and in my case, often unsuccessful, attempt to stop the viewer turning off. In this case we got a straightforward, accessible, chronological account, which told me things I didn’t know already, which is why I watch documentaries.

Making: as you can see, the fingerless gloves I started have morphed into a different pair of fingerless gloves. The other pattern turned out to be too big, but the thumb hole was too small, and I decided I didn’t have enough wool. I think these may be too small, but I can probably find some willing victim to give them to.

The sampler has had a rude word added, and a lot of whipped running stitch. The current instalment of Beyond TAST is layering stitches. I’m not sure if what I’ve done counts as layering, but I took the opportunity to try out ‘imitation tablet weaving’ from Jan Messent’s book ‘Celtic, Viking & Anglo-Saxon Embroidery’. I.e. closely packed rows of whipped running stitch.

Feeling: sniffly. I seem, after seven decades without it, to have hay fever. I’ve had a slight sensitivity to house dust for years, but that’s not like this continuous sneezing, and nose dribbling. And it’s not a cold, because the symptoms don’t change, and they get worse if I go outside. Wensleydale is the hay fever expert around here, and he confirms my self diagnosis. It’s a bit better today – I think the 3 thunderstorms we had last night may have helped – but I’d be happier without it.

Anticipating: we may, just possibly, provided nothing goes wrong, have a ‘normal’ week next week. Apart from taking the VHC to the dentist. I have grandchildren who regard going to the dentist as a big treat, which is, of course down to the dentist, who is very good with them.

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Currently…

Currently…

Listening: to Sunday Morning. It’s one of Radio 3’s more eclectic programmes, which I know drive some Radio 3 listeners wild, but which I like. Arvo Part to Sarah Vaughan, just my cup of tea.

Reading: Ellie Griffiths’ Outcast Dead. I somehow missed this one when it first came out, so as I’ve read the subsequent books in the series, I know what happens to some of the characters. A bit of a spoiler, but I don’t know who dunnit, so not too much of a problem.

Watching: BBC4’s Make! Craft Britain again. I enjoyed the cross stitch more than I expected, mostly because of the characters involved, but I still won’t be taking it up any time soon. The silver clay was inspiring but I do not need any more hobbies. I do not need any more hobbies. I do not need any more hobbies. That’s why I’m going on a weaving class on Tuesday.

Making: still socks and samplers. More of the second than the first – I was very inspired by these flower motifs in Anne Brandon Jones’ Stitch Patterns and Design for Embroidery.

Feeling: sad that our favourite craft shop/cafe, Rums Eg in Romsey, has closed down. It wasn’t unexpected, but we’ll miss it. Where else can we go for unusual presents and great scones?

Anticipating: a couple of weeks off grandparenting, though we’ll miss the little darlings. (Not so little now, Babybel is only half a head shorter than me and desperate to outgrow me!)

Visiting. No interesting visits this week, just the hairdressers and the dump.

Currently…

Currently…

Listening: to Words and Music on Radio 3, always one of my favourite hours in the week.

Reading: Difficult Daughters by Manju Kanpur, who is a new author to me. I love novels about India, and this one, which focuses on women, is especially good.

Watching: not a lot, but the new BBC4 series on crafts looks like it may be interesting.

Making: I recently came across India Flint’s Bagstories. I was interested because it is an exploration of a simple Japanese bag shape, the tsunobukuro, which looks as if it would lend itself to embroidery. So yesterday, I decided to make one, as a quick sample.

It’s a simple shape and a simple process, really, but I won’t list the mistakes I made. The first was to ignore the little voice in my head that told me to make a paper mock-up first. The last was to box the corners the wrong way.

However, it is finished, and it used up a big dramatic piece of hand dye I’ve been keeping until it told me what it wanted to be. I hadn’t realised quite how big it would end up, but it’s big enough to hold my collection of small looms rescued from charity shops, replacing a tatty plastic bag.

The sampler has made steady progress too. I finished the couching/laid work sampling, and went back to the Anne Brandon Jones inspired patterns. This week’s colour scheme is analogous colours based round red-orange and I really like it.

The socks have also made progress, even though we’ve felt too tired to watch Scandinavia drama.

Feeling: much better physically, I think the flu is nearly over. The family situation isn’t, there’s still a lot of shouting going one, but it smacks of desperation.

Anticipating: it seems likely to be a snow day tomorrow. There may be some snowballing and snowman building in my future. Unfortunately. I hope there is also some toast and hot chocolate

Currently…

Currently…

Listening: to a 46 year old recording of evensong from Chichester Cathedral on Radio 3. As you do.

Reading: Ellie Griffith’s Dark Angel. I love her Ruth Galloway novels, and her new one is well up to standard.

Watching: looking forward to Andrew Graham Dixon on the Art of Spain on Monday. OK, we’ve seen it twice already, but his knowledge and enthusiasm mean it hasn’t got boring yet.

Making: onto the second sock, which despite my best intentions is going to be a fraternal, not identical twin of the first.

The latest instalment of Beyond TAST is couching and laid work. I did a lot of couching when I was making my Sue Stone-inspired samples, but not much laid work. And I remembered that, just as I got to the stage with those samples when I had had enough couching, I found my copy of this 1967 book, which has lots of laid work in it. So I’ve been trying a few of those, at the bottom.

Feeling: tired, but more positive. I have a big birthday coming up this week – one of those numbers you can never envisage reaching until you get there and then you can’t quite believe it. Our younger son laid on a lunch party for us, his brother, and their partners. The children were with their mother unfortunately, but it was nice to have a quiet get together with the grown up members of the family. I will see the children on my actual birthday, so that will be nice.

Anticipating: the VHC is coming for a sleepover on Monday, while his big sister sings in a concert. I foresee quite a lot of reading of Thomas books in grandads’s future.

Currently…

Currently…

Listening: to Rachel Podger’s choice on Radio 3. Gentle and beautiful.

Reading: Kirsty Wark’s The Legacy of Elizabeth Pringle, from the library. It is excellent – moving and life affirming. Just what I need at the moment.

Watching: World Track Championship cycling.

Making: the oversize cowl was finished, washed and blocked in time for the snow – (here in the Deep South it arrived later than elsewhere).

So now it’s on/back to socks. I let Wensleydale have his pick of the sock wool, but after days of overcast skies, it’s only today that we’ve realised just how bright it is. Doesn’t worry him though, and as he always wears Docs I’m probably the only one who’ll ever see them.

I’ve felt well enough to resume samplering, so some steady progress has been made. I’ve finished the fly stitch variations I tried for Beyond TAST, so I’ll be back to Anne Brandon Jones when I’ve completed these not quite accurate daffodils for St David’s Day.

Feeling: still up and down. The uncooperative family member is no longer a family member, but that hasn’t made them any more cooperative. They seem to think that the court orders which accompany the divorce don’t apply to them, despite the part at the bottom which states that failure to comply is contempt of court. We may be about to find out.

On the other hand, the flu is definitely improving, we didn’t have to go out in the snow and don’t until Monday, and it’s thawing.

Anticipating: two more sessions of cycling, today and tomorrow..

Currently…

Currently…

Listening: to silence – and tinnitus.

Reading: I’ve just read GM Malliet’s Pagan Spring. I don’t think I’ll be reading any more of the series. I began to get irritated by it when I realised that, despite being set in some sort of West Country Midsomer, it was written in US English. And I prefer my modern detective fiction gritty rather than silly.

Watching: in lieu of Modus, we’ve been watching Rebecca Martinsson: Arctic Murders on More 4. Almost as far fetched as Modus, but the scenery is stunning.

Making: the cowl is making rapid progress, even though I have made it wider so I can pull it over my head if need be. Having worked with fine yarns for so long I’d forgotten how quickly Aran grows. I don’t think I’ll get it finished before this cold snap finishes though.

The sock wool I ordered has arrived. It’s every bit as beautiful as I’d hoped. Unfortunately, although I got the blue and grey for Wensleydale, he fancies the brighter colours as much as I do. A certain amount of negotiation may be necessary.

On the other hand, the sampler has more or less ground to a halt. As it says, flu has struck, and my ability to concentrate on embroidery when feverish is much worse than my ability to concentrate on knitting.

Feeling: like the curate’s egg. On the one hand, I’ve got flu, which means a lot of coughing and aching, but not much sleeping. On the other hand it looks as if, after nearly 12 months of bitter wrangling, the family legal problems may be all over bar the shouting (and there will still be a lot of shouting from the unhelpful family member, who is not one to give in gracefully). Final agreements have been signed and it should all be finalised next week.

Anticipating: tonight’s sleepover. The grands are usually pretty good when they’re here, but the VHC loves to be read to at bed time, and as grandad enjoys reading to him, it can get a bit protracted. Babybel will happily read to herself, but we have to check that when her light goes out, it stays out!

Currently…

Currently…

Listening: to silence.

Reading: I’ve just finished Terry Pratchett’s Lords and Ladies, borrowed on line from the library. Every time I read one of his books I’m struck by the breadth of his knowledge – and I’m sure I miss a lot of the references. He’s sadly missed.

Watching: I gave up on Modus, although Wensleydale is persisting with it. We watched Britain at Low Tide, which was interesting, although I dislike the way documentaries these days set up 3 or 4 story lines, and then jump between them, in an attempt to keep you watching. It’s irritating and if it’s combined with speeded up clouds, or other clichés, I turn off.

Making: the socks are finished, all bar darning in the ends. In their place I’ve started a cowl – simple pattern stitches I can knit without looking, and no heels to turn. I have ordered some more sock wool, though.

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The sample has made steady progress. For Beyond TAST I had to chooses a simple stitch and experiment with it, which is something I like doing. I chose fly stitch, just because I like it.

Feeling: tired. Partly because of the cough, which is getting better but very slowly, partly because half term was busy – enjoyable, but busy.

Anticipating: a quieter week next week. (How often have I said that?) But we have a sleepover on Saturday, and before that we have to move lots of stuff, which is on its way to be recycled, out of the kids’ bedrooms.