Listening to: silence, and the clock.

Reading: I’ve just started An Officer and a Spy by Robert Harris. So far it’s up to his usual high standard. It’s about the Dreyfus case, about which I know very little, so I’m hoping to learn more.

Watching: still A Stitch in Time on BBC 4. Every one I have seen so far would have benefitted from more time spent on both the history and the costuming. How about some slow TV of one of these amazing garments being made, BBC?

Making: steady progress on both socks and sampler. I finished the last pair last week after two hours of Spiral, and started another pair. Of course my timing was bad and I got to the heel of the first of these half way through last night’s episodes. Despite this, I don’t think I’ll need to unpick.

I’ve diverted from my red-purple sampling as I felt like a change – and the only colour that seemed to go with the rather dull canvas was turquoise. One thing I’m learning doing this colour study is how subtly the variations in what I think of as the ‘same’ colour are. I’ve got lots of turquoise thread, but in this greyed shade – not very many.

We had a visit from the VHC yesterday, preferring us to going shopping. He decided he wanted to do some embroidery. Naturally it was of a train. He drew round his model engine with a Frixion pen, (the smoke is freehand) and spent about half an hour sitting with me while we both sewed. He had to have a stitch dictionary like granny’s, and his hoop and threads had to go into my sewing basket ready for his next visit.

The fabric is really green, not yellow.

Feeling: I’ve recovered from the cold, but as usual I have a lingering cough. Family stuff, depressingly, goes on as usual. I came across another quote to go on the sampler which seems all too true: ‘the light at the end of the tunnel is a train’.

Anticipating: a busy week, in which the main excitement will be a trip to the recycling centre and the arrival of a skip. Downsizing is in full swing.




Listening to: evensong on Radio 3. There was a fascinating programme on the BBC last week about the origins of evensong – which I have never thought about. I rate documentaries on how much I learn (and how few speeded up clouds, or dodgy dramatisations there are) and this scored highly on all counts. Plus lovely music!
Rereading: back to Terry Pratchett – ‘Reaperman’ this time. 

Watching: the BBC’s Reformation season has been very good so far: I’m hoping that the remaining programmes are as good.

Making: I’ve started another scarf, which is not as bright as it appears in the photo. Judging by the amount of wool I’ve got left it’s not going to be a very big one.

Then there are more couching samples and my final tree. If the VHC finishes his, we’ll drop them off at the Discovery Centre this week. He enjoys embroidery, but he was so busy telling me that he is going to be a world famous embroiderer when he grows up, that not much actual embroidery got done.

Feeling: stressed. 

Anticipating: half term. We haven’t managed to pin the grands down as to what they actually want to do, but they’ll undoubtedly think of something.



Listening to: Robin Huw Bowen

Reading: still The Painted Kiss, by Elizabeth Hickey. I remembered after I’d posted last week that the dress in Klimt’s portrait of her is what inspired the best things I made when I was doing City and Guilds, the two cushions above.

Watching: the only thing we watched all week was CBeebies – or rather, we watched the VHC watching it, sitting on the floor, straight backed, with his legs crossed as if he was in school. He loves the factual programmes. 

Making: still plugging on with the modular scarf. Still making mistakes.

Still sampling – here’s some running stitch. Sorry about the slightly blurry photo.

Feeling: much as usual, just more tired, as we had the little guys all week. (I’m going to have to find something else to call them as Babybel is now only half a head shorter than me.)

Anticipating: the Vuelta which starts tonight. Well, it started this afternoon, but it’s on TV tonight.



Listening: for a change, to Amazon music via my phone, as the tuner from our ancient hifi has died.

Reading: ‘The House by the Thames’ by Gillian Tindall. I read a very good review of it, but I’ve only just started it, so I’m reserving judgement.

Watching: we – and the VHC – have been enjoying James May reassembling things. After this week, the VHC is under very strict instructions not to touch the Kenwood.

Making: still knitting, still embroidering. I took some atmospheric photos of the finished SKO’s, and some less atmospheric ones of two samples. Contrary to appearances, I am not proposing to yarnbomb a drainpipe, I used it to tension the sample while I added some embroidery. And the year of stitches is such fun I started a second one.

Feeling: glad to be back to our normal routine, for at least a week or two, we hope – except for…

Anticipating: unusually for us, a Sunday outing. There’s a good show on at Southampton Art Gallery (British Art Show 8) which is conveniently close to Richer Sounds, source, we hope, of a replacement tuner. Since I dislike driving into Southampton, even to go to the excellent gallery (I did it too often when I was working) combining two trips seemed a good idea.



Listening: to the clock ticking.

Reading: still Tana French’s ‘The Secret Place’. My pace of reading has slowed because I’ve been knitting and embroidering more. 

Watching: this morning – the VHC’s ‘watching day’ at ballet class. This evening, Babybel’s ‘cabaret’ at the same stage school. With a fish and chip supper as well. 

Making: still knitting bobbles. Fifteen per row, every fifth row, until I decide it’s long enough/run out of yarn/run out of patience. The latter is most likely. As the bobbles are in a different yarn, there are two ends per bobble. I’m tempted not to darn them in.

Feeling: still tired, but a bit more positive than I have for a while, despite six grandparenting visits this week and five next. (The grandparenting is great, the driving less so.) 

Anticipating: the return of the muse. Strangely, despite how busy we’ve been, I have felt more creative. I think this is because I’ve put all the things I feel I ‘must’ do to one side, and I’m focusing on doing what I feel like doing. Which is knitting, reading, an undaily ‘drawing’ ( in a very loose sense – today it was collage) and a little bit of undaily embroidery – a scrap of hand dye, some toning threads, and a random selection of stitches, the last two inspired by what people are doing on the blogs I read. When there is so much pressure from external factors, I think reducing the pressures I put on myself, has been good for me.

I’m running out…

I’m running out…

of witty phrases to use when I have been AWOL again. My excuse this time is that the last couple of weeks have been very busy – first because the VHC was ill and needed looking after, (all better now), and last week because we had places to go and exhibitions to see. 

The last time I posted, I was whinging about making papier-mâché. I’m feeling a little more positive about it now, so much so that I had another go today.

The cone in front is from last time, painted with coffee. The SKO (strange knitted object) behind is wire with cotton stripes, dipped in paper pulp today. It will probably get painted white at a later date.

I used the leftover paper pulp for this- there’s a shell underneath. I know what I think it looks like, but I’m not saying. You are welcome to form your own opinion.

And this beautiful little example of how to make papier-mâché properly is, of course, not my work but that of Magie Hollingsworth, a treat we bought ourselves from Walford Mill. 

And finally, this is the VHC’s portrait of me. I’m assured that it’s a very good likeness.

Where to begin?

Where to begin?

This week, Babybel was involved in a dance summer school – which meant finding things to occupy the VHC, which  weren’t too long – to fit into the time between dropping her off and picking her up again – weren’t  too expensive, for obvious reasons – and provided opportunities for granny and grandad to sit down. We succeeded magnificently, although all of us (including Babybel) were completely exhausted by the end.

As the summer school didn’t start till Tuesday, we went to Manor Farm on Monday. Manor Farm now offers tractor rides. This was highly acceptable to all – Babybel enjoyed looking at, feeding and being told about the animals, the VHC enjoyed the animals and the tractor, and granny and grandad enjoyed all of the above, plus sitting down. 

On every other morning, we managed to find a craft activity. (The VHC loves making things.) 

On Tuesday we made buildings.

That’s a chandelier, in case you didn’t recognise it. There was also a light switch.

The VHC provided the designs (he made two), granny and grandad provided the workforce and catering. There was sitting down, but most of it was on the floor. Sitting on the floor is fine, getting up again is more of a problem, but we survived.

On Wednesday we made a stained glass butterfly. 

There was lots of sitting down for this one.

On Thursday we made a ruff. No photos, I’m afraid, but the photographer made up for her oversight in the afternoon, when we made some new friends, Pickford and Harold. 

This was the most expensive outing of the week (if you don’t count the cost of the season ticket for Manor Farm), but it was worth every penny. When the VHC goes silent and just looks, you know he’s having a really good time.

On Friday we made quill pens. All of us. This is grandad’s. Grandad was very restrained in his use of feathers. Why have one when you can have three?

After that we went to Chalkfest. (I think there are traces of ink from trying out the pens on there as well.)

We also managed to fit in lunch at our favourite farm shop, a walk, a duck feed and a play park. 

On Saturday we let mummy and daddy take over, though we did go to the summer school performance, which was very entertaining. 

There has been some knitting. And a lot of TV watching, as you might expect, during which the knitting got quicker and quicker as the tension rose. 

Next week should be much quieter. We have had requests for visits to the little trains, and a trip on a Park and Ride bus. I think we can manage that!