Tag Archives: knitting

Have cape, will travel…very slowly, looking at everything

Curling up on the sofa with Ida for a bit of Show me show me I wondered why the drawling southern belle Bo-Peep seemed just right. I suppose rationally she’d be better suited to a rural accent. Maybe from Yorkshire, or Somerset. Or most sensibly, Welsh – the spiritual home of shepherdesses surely? How many sheep are there in New Orléans?

I think it’s all about the dress. All those ladybird illustrations of a corseted, hoop-skirted Bo, bedecked in ruffles and bows, have obviously become tangled up with the cover of Gone with the Wind stacked at the end of mum’s bed.

My old ladybird books have been on my mind as Ida has liberated a handful from one of the  boxes under the bed. She’s very taken with the bunnikens series especially Bob Bobkin the squirrel who gets lost in the wood after he disobeyed mother’s orders.

They are very moral about listening and being good and in the worst doggerel ever. I love reading them to her though. Rhyme is always soothing and these naughty disobedient woodland creatures are always forgiven, rescued, found and tucked up in bed with love and penitence in their hearts.

As I say, soothing. 

School has restarted and we’re settling into a comforting routine. I’m trying to tackle some of the chaotic corners that have built up around the house. I take to heart the status’ about life laundery a friend who declutters professionally puts on her fb page.

Ida scorns her pushchair and insists on wellies for every journey outside for when there are puddles. We don’t have a car though so sometimes the pushchair is pretty necessary for the l o n g journey home and I have to tow it outside with her howling in protest, attempting to shut the door on both of us. It’s me that misses it the most. Carry my own shopping? Unthinkable!  I remember weeping when Zeph finally outgrew his pushchair and doubt it’ll be any different this time.

We collect leaves and acorns on our short sweet journeys around the city. Everything is fascinating to her. We study the hedges festooned with fat garden spiders and the rowan trees drooping down heavy with bright red berries. When we get home for lunch she helps me butter the toast and passes fabric for me to cut into squares for patchwork. We savour the hour before picking up Zeph – spending it in small absorbing tasks. At the moment we’re very much on toddler time. I try not to fret at its wandering path and embrace it instead.

The days are full of Beautiful Things.

My mum brings round a cape I used to wear as a child. My Grandma bought it on a holiday in Austria and bore it home in triumph. One of my earliest memories is of fingering the fascinating silver buttons. It’s very satisfying to see it on Ida.

 The hat is the one I knitted on my new circular knitting needle. Ida helped with loud encouragement. The hat was actually meant for Zeph but luckily he’d prefer a red one as Ida insisted on claiming this one. I finally realised you had to move the wool backward and forward to knit ribbing. It’s all very obvious once you see but I feel pleased at working out a new skill – like Rachel from Growing Things and Making Things says, it all builds up and makes your knitting smoother and more satisfying.

 She’s a good model. My favourite thing about this hat is when she’s cross with us she pulls it down over her face to shut us out. Brings a smile to my face every time. Like a recalcitrant budgie.

Autumnal thinking

Ah – a successful afternoon, knitting while forcing the children to watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s on film4 along with me.

 Zeph was in and out, playing a complicated Pokemon game in the garden – sporadically appearing to ask if it was still on and whether I knew Batman was on the other side.

 Ida is trying to encourage the appearance of a new hat on my recently acquired circular needle by watching me very closely and shouting “knit faster!” at startling intervals.

In between this I weep along at all my favourite bits – oh Doc – she just isn’t Lula Mae any more. Zeph joined us in time for the end. At the bit about the cages and Holly taking her’s wherever she goes he gleefully pointed out that was like what I say (obviously tediously often if it’s sunk in with him) about taking yourself to the places you go.

I observe sourly Capote got there first. In fact I rant off while counting my knit two pearl two’s about there only being five stories… I look up to an empty room. Pearls before swine I’m telling you, pearls before swine.

Today was a good day. We ran into a friend at the supermarket and had a spontaneous hour in the park playground. Sitting here now I’m reflecting on how good it is to see her, always and why I’m so rubbish at fixing up playdates.

Its been a long summer. Not in terms of being bored with having Zeph home, which has flown by and not in the sense of long balmy hot days lying in the garden watching bats flutter over a gin in the stretched out twilight. No, long in the sense of wading through shoulder-high treacle depression everyday.

Routinely after a miserable stretch I scan the horizon for some symbolic sign of change to cling on to. This year it’s the end of summer and the arrival of abundant fragrant autumn. Though Keats uses this season of mellow fruitfulness to think about  drawing to ends I always see it as new beginnings and possibilities.

Maybe it’s the new term. Pristine books, unmarked pages, clean pencil cases. Untested teachers, new starts, fresh classrooms. Not that I have any of these – still I can always live vicariously through Zeph – surely this is an offspring perk?

Anyway I’m scoring a line under summer and inhaling the colder evenings, bonfires and rotting leaves with pleasure and fresh hope. Steve and I have disagreed and I’m finally ready to let go of the grudge and start afresh with the falling leaves. I’m taking the children away to the seaside for four days in a caravan over the first weekend in september. Due to a breakdown in communication, goodwill and holiday booking I’m doing it on my own but am finally ready to look forward to it instead of resenting it with a bitter stone in my chest. 

I plan to take hardly anything, make everyone wear three layers to travel, purchase all food instead of cooking and buy some books down there so I don’t have to carry them. I also resolve to try not butt heads with Zeph and play up the team angle and working together to contain Ida. Also to employ bribery whenever necessary to maintain my sanity and to make Steve pay for it all. Most importantly to take notice of the all the beauty that’ll be there in the turning wheel of the seasons. To embrace the autumnal beach and not yearn for the summer one.

Succinctly, to live in the moment. This lesson’s a long one I think and I have to keep recapping. That’s okay – I get stuff in the end. Recently I realised how to move the wool whilst knitting ribbing. It’s all so obvious now and although tiny I celebrate my learning curve.

Brisk autumn breeze, please lift up the veil and let me see all the beautiful things around me. I will bake apples for you with butter and cinnamon. I will pile gleaming mounds of conkers in the corners of my garden. Eat blackberries from the side of the path and stain my fingers purple with their juices. Wear new shoes and start a fresh sketchbook. Collect a plastic bag of golden and scarlet leaves to rot down quietly behind the shed. Cook jacket potatoes in the edge of a bonfire. Honour you quietly but honestly and wholeheartedly. Lovely autumn, please blow some changes through me.

Buttons, bobblehats, hungry caterpillars and demonic toddlers.

Mittens, before the paint incident.

It has been one hell of a day. It started with Ida refusing to get up and dressed. When I’d forced her into her clothes I ran downstairs to make sandwiches with one hand and toast with the other while shouting at Zeph to brush his hair and put some socks on (what the hell is it with the damn socks?) He went up to find some and called for me. Arriving back in the bedroom I found Ida totally naked, standing with her hands on her hips in the middle of our bed which she had just done an enormous pee on. Defiantly I suspect.

Not a promising start to the day which has also included Ida painting the cat’s tail, a wall, her face and hair, unravelling my crochet entirely, opening the washing machine mid cycle and flooding the kitchen. How did she do this? It’s impossible. (This is what I was muttering, down on my hands and knees.)

On the way out to get Zeph I found  the front door lock broken and I couldn’t lock up. I had to leave the house open which actually I do by accident quite a lot (shhh, don’t tell Steve…) The locksmith just left – the locking bit was banjaxed. £193.00 ONE HUNDRED AND NINETY THREE POUNDS!!!

We are balanced on the edge of penury. I had to look for loose change for Zeph’s swimming money on monday. Bugger bugger bugger.

On a more cheerful note – look at these spectacular buttons;

I’m going to need another look to soothe my nerves;

Aren’t they lovely? They are all safely in my button box and it warms the cockles of my heart.

There was heaps of loveliness in the trug which I can’t wait to start wafting about in my garden with. Grow courgettes – grow.

Some chocolate bugs which got hoovered up pretty quickly by the small people, some lovely bits and bobs for beautifying cupcakes. A gorgeous fat bundle of cottony patterned goodness.


Maybe top of my favourites is this scrumptious lady. Hatz is ludicrously clever with her hands. She is the doyenne of dollshouse miniature yumminess. Look out for her Etsy shop – I’m nagging…

She used to make dolls – She gave Ida one for her birthday and I’d take a photo of it now if I could prize it out of her sleeping hands. Those teeny tiny buttons are left over from doll making.

I also managed to finish Ida’s bobble hat, (family, avert your eyes, your xmas gifts are now secured.)

Look – a knitted item that is NOT rectangular. Whoo hoo! Zeph wants a bobble hat with cat ears. Hmmm.

She looks like such a hipster in this picture. That’s pasta sauce all round her mush. 

It was from a pattern for an adult hat but I used sock yarn and only 4mm needles. Is this why it’s so small?

I want to try a baby hat next as there’s some new family arrivals expected. Do summer babies still need hats? Maybe I should try bootees?

So finally in my BT round up (self soothing at it’s best – it’s only money…) Check out this amazing fabric my Mum bought for me to make a dress for Ida;


It’s true, your eyes do not deceive you. See, how can I stay riled? Although at one point today I did wonder if I could make something for myself out of it instead. Does a demon deserve this?

Perhaps..she is my darling demon after all.

Parklife, new needles and small stuff

I purled an entire row without noticing. Usually I have to concentrate on each stitch. There’s something about it I find really awkward, unwieldy and counter intuitive. Today at the park, sat in the sunshine, I watched Ida trying to climb up the shinning pole and purled a row without paying attention.

I also pushed a pen across a blank page. I definitely found joy in it – but not the twenty odd precocious kids who said over my shoulder, “what’s that? – it’s not very good…” go back to your alcopops and baby bottles full of coke precious ones.

The ring of grime left round the bath after scrubbing Ida – she had a very satisfying afternoon at the park.

Zeph telling us the story of Echo and Narcissus on the way to the cinema since we’ve banned the Pokemon word. Turns out his knowledge of greek myths is as extensive as that of the japanese merchandising menaces.

I secretly bought a felting needle while we were out – can’t wait to examine it and maybe try it out. I have completely lied to Steve about how much it was… he could tell as well. I saw him smirking into his beard. 

As I type this I can hear Ida scampering around upstairs. In a years time I will hardly remember the bedtime wrestling. Time goes by so quickly. I shall not sweat this small stuff. I resolve to reread some Richard Carson.

They smelled of shampoo and clean pj’s as we all curled up for bedtime stories. At the end of one Ida tells us she likes blue kangaroo but she loves ‘Dillo. Steve and I exchange a look of love over their bent heads. I feel in accord with the world.  


The wonder of tank tops

The house is full of an eerie yellow light. There’s something deeply satisfying about being inside watching the rain pound down outside. Just before it broke Steve and I came downstairs after the bedtime pell mell and went into the garden.

The sky was dark grey, heavy with rain but the evening sun was shining hard. Overhead there were seagulls wheeling round, calling hoarsely, lit up against the black clouds. The hairs on the back of my neck prickle and it feels as though magic is waiting in the air. If I knew the right words I could bend the rules of rationality and science.

Leaning back against Steve I tell him that and he scoffs (I’m going to say lovingly) at me. “Don’t you yearn for a little wonder?” “Science is wonder.”

I’ll tell you what is wonderful people, only my bloody knitted tank top, Dah Da!

Oh it’s equally bodgetastic and precisely what I had in mind. I’m really pleased. I barely stepped out of my rectangular knitting comfort zone but it kind of worked. I didn’t count anything either just held it up until it matched. I did the back first and it was too narrow so I did the front wider to compensate and decreased at the ends when I started shaping the neckline.

this is actually how they looked...


I realise anyone who properly knits will be recoiling now. It’s a personal triumph though and I’m all about celebrating those. It’s just stocking stitch. When I started I got a bit confused and reversed it about six rows in (ie I pearled a row again instead of knitting, didn’t really notice until a bit further along and decided to leave it as an interesting trimming.) Roll with the punches I say.

This is Ida being very helpful by sticking her tummy out for a good shot. The colours are MUCH more beautiful than they seem here. It’s been a very grey day and I can’t work my camera very well. It was the most lovely wool* and worth every penny. Less than a tenner and I’ve still got half a ball left.

I’m going to try a hat next. Then – who knows – maybe an actual pattern….

I just looked out of the window and the rain has stopped and the sky is the most beautiful pink. We checked the minipond earlier and it’s overflowing nicely with no damage so all seems well. Apparently the kids have found hedgehog prints in the soil around it this morning. I get extra points for keeping a straight face.

Now the sofa is calling me with a trashy book and a glass of cherry juice that I have successfully kept hidden in the fridge all day. Oh you chintzy, overstuffed grubby siren.

* Sidar Snuggly – Smiley Stripes 80% bamboo and 20% wool

Swooping death on the wing

We walked to the nearest electrical shop for Steve to buy some external disk burning thingy. Ours died ages ago but we’ve agreed we won’t replace our PC ’til it is absolutely, irretrievably dead. It’s managed to limp along another year and we are afloat in downloads that he’s unable to burn. It’s causing him physical pain. Of course what he needs is a ipod so he can just download them to that but his toe-dipping into modern technology is slow.

He’d rather we were all still buying records really. He’s moved all of his up high where I can’t reach them without effort after observing me reading an interesting post about melting old records into bowl shapes. I’ll say this for him, if it affects something of his he’s quite quick to see which way the wind’s blowing. Which does make me wonder why he seems unable to learn about wiping down the sides after washing up. As the wind there is blowing in the direction of a crazed machete attack after a bad day.

Anyway this visit to a retail wonderland involved us walking along a footpath that runs along a really busy flyover. Either side is industrial wasteland, including a wide stretch of railway track. Absurd as it sounds we always see a lot of wildlife as we walk along here. Last time we saw a weasel which was Z’s highlight for a long while. Today he was hoping for something else special.

We see a lot of sparrow hawks around here, usually picking off stupid pigeons. We were hopeful of a sighting today and as we reached the top of an incline were thrilled to hear the distinctive call of a raptor of some sort. We all stopped and shaded our eyes and Zeph sucked in his breath, “it’s a peregrine..” “Nooo” I say but it bloody is. Amazing. We stand watching it hover until it makes a lightning dive into the horizon. We carry on our way, all elated, Z congratulating himself on putting our binoculars on the pushchair.

The day is full of small special pleasures. I am hugely pleased with my cards. Z has covered all bases with a tissuepaper flower one constructed at school and a special werewolf one whipped up at home. He’s also bought me a novel about werewolves. Hmmm. On closer inspection it looks great, by Glen Duncan,  I thank Steve for his obvious hand in it.

I manage to get a photo of Ida’s new cardigan. Not always easy as she’d rather be the one behind the lens, pushing the button. My request to get a close up of the fancy bit on the front resulted her running hysterically all over the house with me pursuing her. I got some lovely shots of her retreating back.

Finally with the help of a bit of chocolate bribery I managed this one;


I know it’s still not the clearest picture ever but take my word for it, it’s beautiful. My day has been full of BT’s. My evening will be full of gold stars and glitter glue. I will whine no more.

One death topic today, we have discussed in full all the funeral possibilities in this country. It seems my Dad (grr) has shared his preference for a Viking send off, burning boat style, with Zeph. Now he’s worried how we’ll pull it off. I complicate thing further by mentioning leaving your body for medical science. He’s slightly horrified. “I don’t even like it when you give my clothes that don’t fit to Rueben…”

I’m crackers

Oh Shiva,Kali,Jehovah, Isis, Gitche-Manitou help me now. There are a million crackers to make – well that’s what it feels like. Steve is right, I should have been plainer and quicker but now I’ve done some they all have to be the same. Or it won’t be fair.

I’ve got glue stick finger.

We got back late after a roast dinner at G’mas. Ida didn’t even wake up while I undressed and redressed her. She’s been playing swingball with Ip (uncle philip) and her brother. There has been much squealing and running about. Alex has knitted her the most beautiful cardigan. I’ll take a photo once I’m over the cracker hurdle. She tried to explain how to do sleeves but I zoned out. She has a bit of lovely wool over and offers to do a simple tank top. “Oooh – don’t you dare,” I say, indignant. “that’ll show up my shabby effort!”  

The glitter glue is calling…

kNit wit

Zeph is pretty downcast. He’s had a bad day at school. There’s been nit talk in the playground and he’s cheerfully said that he has nits and has become a  pariah. Poor Zeph. Actually he doesn’t have nits because I quickly drycomb his head most evenings. To catch the lice which seem inevitable after a day at school and prevent them spreading. So it seems my diligence makes him feel like he always has nits. Which in fact he pretty much never has.

I feel heartsore and as if it ‘s all my fault. It doesn’t help that the most outraged and offended small person is one of his bestest friends. At bedtime he cries because she has told him to stay away from her and he thinks they’ll never be friends again. I remind him of the gazillion times they fall out, flounce around and are unbelievably dramatic and then make up the next second. ” She told everyone to stay away from me!” he wails. I feel dreadfully guilty.

My mum ran a playgroup and mother & toddler group in the mornings and a drop in centre in the afternoons when my sister and I were at primary school. The result was we pretty much always had lice. I was always taught that it’s nothing to be ashamed of, easily treated and an inevitable part of schooldays. A quick poll around mummy friends confirm they all regularly comb and treat as well. Some of them are at “nice” schools. You know what I mean, a lower proportion of free school dinners and more ballet lessons. Their lice may be more cultured and score higher in league tables but they certainly are still ever-present.

I’ve been dry combing Z’s hair after school most days for the last few years and often find lice. He doesn’t usually get nits. I’ve assumed this is because I’m kind of on top of it. We always describe it as looking for nits or baboon time and joke about it lightheartedly. I’ve kind of welcomed it as quiet talking time.

So when they start talking about it at school he launches into his jokey routine. He was casually unbothered and has, as a result, found himself shunned. It’s more painful for me because I feel like it’s my fault and because if everyone checked heads more regularly maybe I’d find less lice.

I wail to Steve – “he’s the cootie kid! – what if he’s a social outcast from now on!” “he’s not you Laura, it’ll all be fine on Monday”

True, but I remember the ongoing misery at junior school because of my jumble sale clothes and weird hippie lunches. The constant fear that someone would find out we didn’t have a TV. The tyranny of flea-darts. I resolve to stop projecting and panicking and serenely assume it’ll be okay.

To please him I treat and comb his hair. Not a single anything. He heaves a massive sigh “they won’t believe me anyway” he says dolefully. I try to combine briskness and sympathy in a get-overself consoling fashion. Not easy to pull off I can tell you.

I had the best time in B&Q and have bags of sharp sand. Whoop! L sensibly delegated the returning to her other half. We had a lovely time idly looking at timber, fuses and paint. Is this middle age?

  I make slab laying plans for Sunday which is supposed to be sunny. That is if tomorrows march goes okay. I’m a lot more worried about the coach journey with a toddler to be honest. I joke about packing a gin miniature – “for me!” when I catch the horrified look on my friends face.

I get an email from J – it includes a great picture of her wearing the longest scarf in the world. (I may of given her a slightly too short scarf for christmas, look – I ran out of wool, okay.) On our recent visit she teased me gently and I resolved to knit this:

As I stuffed it into a jiffy bag I did think it was possibly a leeetle narrow….Luckily she’s decided to humour me and pronounce it the perfect spring scarf. Aha!

Todays best BT’s come from the riotous hour in the swimming pool after school. Ida is convinced she can swim independently, “let go, let go!” she demands, thrashing wildly. I don’t today but think it won’t be long.

Wool gathering

I am completely outnumbered. My family is sitting in a row on the sofa as I type this giggling hysterically. Steve meets my eyes over the heads of the kids and laughs at me. I have to face it. Endless clips of crazy cats, snotty babies falling face first into chocolate cakes and people constantly bouncing off trampolines and falling over plastic chairs are humour extraordinaire when you are 8, or 2 or, pointed glare in the beards direction, 47.

Harry Hill can do no wrong here apparently and saturday evening is a double bill mecca. It could be worse. They could want to watch X factor…or football.

I spend the whole time wincing and cringing away from the screen. It’s all a bit clown time for me. I suppose it’s still funnier than Jimmy Carr and smarter than the 10 o’clock show…

It has been the MOST beautiful sunny day here today. We haven’t managed a jot of DIY but I’ve done a bit of digging and bought some more seeds. I have a supply of toilet rolls and tomorrow Zeph and I are planting peas. Sweet and otherwise. Yay!

We started the day with projectile vomiting at the breakfast table from one child and a long and protracted tantrum about homework, the general unfairness of life, vegetables and mothers from the other. Things could only get better and they did. Look at this;

I left Steve trying to get Ida back into the pushchair with reason (ha! sucker!) and with an airy, “I’ll only be a minute” I sprinted into MiJu, the new wool shop in Gloucester. It’s very lovely and stuffed full of tempting wool and the woman behind the counter is incredibly helpful and friendly. They do a knit and natter meeting on Thursday evenings but I’m slightly intimidated. I bought some smaller needles and this scrumptious (expensive) wool with the idea of knitting Ida a rainbow tank top ish thing. I lost my heart to a beautiful one in a shop in Cheltenham that I absolutely couldn’t justify the cost of and Ida is really very small. Surely I can bodge this in stocking stitch…. We shall see.

When I emerged sheepishly Steve gave a small pointed lecture about wasting money on wool when I have just received an enormous bagful. I pretended it was only 10p a ball, lovely shops should be supported, this wool is stripey, I may make something to sell and turn a profit, don’t I deserve anything for myself? and finally, trump card, there was an email from amazon this morning saying his order (clenched teeth, raised eyebrows) has been dispatched. Game, set, match.  

 Top BT’s today; my wool :), Ida trying to catch the coloured light from the sun shining through the stained glass windows at the cathedral, Zeph laying the table for tea without asking, Ida saying as we climb the stair for an emergency bath this morning, “it was that mushroom mummy” and shaking her head ruefully like an old woman. Banana and peanut butter milkshakes at teatime.


Just had a whirlwind visit from my lovely M&D. They had a jaunt to Cardiff at the weekend and had picked up lot of bits and bobs for us. Also we’ve relieved them of one of their hoarded useful things.

This is the mattress from my childhood bed. I last slept on it when I was..hmmm…maybe sixteen. They’ve held on to it since then, for when it comes in handy. Now it has, as a stopgap between now and the big bunk bed project this summer.

Once again I’m torn between exasperation and gratitude. (In fact this covers a lot of familyness eh?) I mean, it’s not been tucked away somewhere, they’ve been squeezing past it on the landing/kitchen doorway/behind the front door for nigh on twenty years.

Taking a new decluttering route I’ve been bigging up freegle which is right up their street. It will mean getting a computer though. The wheels move slowly.

They also bore gifts of a striped nature, clothes for the kids:

Isn’t this striped dress just yummy? Stripes on my kids, and in fact in general make me feel weak at the knees. After a few cute bunnies mishaps my Mum has finally honed in on this fact – Huzzah! And thank god for her clothing gifts otherwise they’d be in rags. Tight ones. My dad contributed a sack of onions, anxious about our financial situation he’s clearly resolved not to cross our threshold without some kind of edible offering and again – thank Ganesh for that. Onion soup tomorrow for tea…

He also brought an empty tin – I love tins – I fill them with buttons, sparkly bits, Lego etc but I’m not sure about this one;

I feel unsettled by the bearded child stealer. The beard also seems very familiar. I’ve had to make Steve promise to NEVER wear a red pointed cap. Perhaps I could fill it with biscuits and pass it forward as a gift.

This is one of those very odd domestic detail posts without any thoughts. This doesn’t mean I haven’t had any – just that they were elusive. Some of them are along the lines of this, following on from yesterdays thinking and my friend Erika’s posting on FB. I am amused that the TSB Lloyds bank on Southgate St has been replaced by a Ladbrookes. Also I don’t think it’s ever too early to talk about sex with children. In an age appropriate, sensitive way, but not just about the biological mechanics but about love and respect and emotions. It should be part of every school day like literacy and numeracy. Emotional intelligence. Never too early. Also I wonder how long is a long scarf? This long?:

I think it could be longer. I’ll keep knitting.