Post Holiday Roundup

14 09 2011

It’s been a while so I have a few things to share. Since I last posted we’ve spent a couple of weeks in Iceland (I thoroughly recommend going), the boys have started their new school and my beloved flew off to foreign parts last Saturday. Normal service is resumed.

Iceland is a beautiful place with no shortage of waterfalls or volcanoes, but they also have plenty of sheep which combined with the climate makes it a very knitting-friendly country. It was lovely to spend time in a country where knitting is so commonplace that they sell yarn in the supermarkets! Wool yarn at that, not that nasty cheap acrylic that passes for yarn in certain UK shops. I was also happy to see handknits in pride of place in all the souvenir shops, although I suffered from a mild case of “I could make that myself for half the price.” It’s a debilitating condition!

Handknit Souvenirs in Iceland

The boys are settling into their new school nicely. There have been a few teething troubles, but things are much better now they’re learning the new routines. L reported that lots of children were impressed with his personalised PE bag and that he proudly told them I made it for him. ๐Ÿ˜€ The majority have standard issue logo bags, but he’s happy to have his stand out from the crowd. I finally got around to making one for C the night before the first day of term (I am the deadline queen!). The delay wasn’t entirely my fault; he’s been changing his requirements on a weekly basis since I first offered to make him one so I had to wait until he stuck long enough for me to make it before he changed his mind.

As usual, travel has kick-started another bout of sock knitting. I was working on these throughout the holiday:

The photo was taken a few days into the holiday. By the end of the trip I had almost completed the gusset decreases and within days of our return they were just waiting for me to get around to grafting the toes.

They’re still waiting.

I’ve cast on another pair of socks instead, but more on those next time. I’m not quite sure what my problem is because I don’t mind grafting at all (unlike seaming which I dislike intensely). The initial delay was because I was waiting for all of my boys to go back to school/work so I could have peace in which to concentrate, but that excuse expired last week. Perhaps blogging about my slackness will do the trick, or maybe my desire to show off will help since I won’t take photos until they’re complete.

Either way, I may have socks to show off next time.

Don’t hold your breath…


Shorts Story

13 08 2011

I’m participating in a shorts swap on CNA at the moment. I can’t show off the ones I made yet, but I’ve also made another couple of pairs this week that I can share now.

I made these for my Tom and Jerry loving 5yo son. I bought the fabric a while ago and for once I’ve made something before the love has faded. I still have plenty of fire engine fabric from my older son’s “Nee-Nah” obsession of a few years back.

He’s delighted with them and has plans to wear them with his T&J pants from a previous swap, which are still much-loved and holding up well with frequent washing. Incidentally the Bat pants from that swap are number one son’s favourites and the drawstring bags were filled with toys for the trip to Grandma’s last week.

C is sad that he doesn’t have a T&J T-shirt to wear with his new shorts, but he does have a long-sleeved T&J shirt so I am now under orders to make some T&J trousers as well. I’m a victim of my own success. ๐Ÿ˜‰

While I was on a roll with the shorts sewing I also made these pink spotty ones for the shop which have sold already.

The shop is closed for our holiday now. There’s not much stock there anyway because I’ve been busy sewing custom orders, but hopefully I can rectify that when I re-open at the end of the month. Maybe this year will be the one where I’m actually prepared for BBM in November, but I wouldn’t count on it! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Hiatus Socks

12 08 2011

I cast these socks on way back in February and finally cast them off a few days ago. It doesn’t normally take me months to knit a pair of socks, but I find that projects make little progress when you don’t ever actually pick them up and knit them.

At first I neglected them because I was knitting the eternally ruffled cardigans for my nieces, then I neglected them because they were designated as my on-the-go project for a period when I didn’t do much on-the-go knitting, and eventually I neglected them because I was spending more time sewing and I just wasn’t knitting anything at all.

After months of languishing unloved in a project bag the socks were finally lucky enough to be chosen when I had some knitting time last week. I had about six hours of travel time for our anniversary trip; four hours in the car back and forth to Grandma’s house and an hour each way on the train between there and London. That was long enough to take me from just beyond the heel to just about ready to begin the toe decreases which I finished a few days after I got back. Six months to knit a pair of socks is nothing to be proud of, but isn’t even close to my slowest ever sock record which is 10 months. Those were my first (and probably last) plain stocking stitch socks.

As you might expect from the slow progress on these, I liked the pattern, but I didn’t love it. The stitch pattern was simple enough to remember without having to keep checking the details, and the knitting was enjoyable enough, but I doubt I’ll knit another pair. I did like the short row heels however. I’m not a fan of picking up stitches so I’m not sorry to avoid a heel flap, but the first time I tried a short row heel I got a disappointing fit. So far these socks seem to fit much better, but I’ll have to wear them for a while to be sure. Even in England, summer isn’t the best time for wearing handknit socks, so it may be a while.

I’m still thinking about my pattern options for next week’s holiday knitting. I need something simple enough to knit in the car, but interesting enough that it won’t take me another six months to finish. It’s not as difficult to find likely candidates as you’d expect, so I have a shortlist of around a dozen patterns and I’m trying to narrow it down to one or two. It’s not too hard when I know I’ll probably knit them all sooner or later.

Sock Yarniversary

11 08 2011

Last week my beloved and I celebrated 15 years of wedded bliss, s0 we took the boys to stay with Grandma and we went away without them for the first time ever. My globetrotting husband has spent many nights away from them (and me), but going away together without the boys was a rare treat.

We stayed at a nice hotel in central London, ate at lovely non-child-friendly restaurants and shopped without the small people with very short attention spans. It was a romantic getaway rather than a stashbuilding trip, but I still managed to squeeze in a visit to the John Lewis in Oxford Street where I made a few yarn purchases. The fact that my husband didn’t complain about this is possibly one of the reasons we’ve stayed married for 15 years.

I know I’ve said before that sock yarn is my favourite impulse purchase, so the haul above should come as no surprise. The colours are heavily skewed towards blue and purple which is also true to form. I’m nothing if not predictable.

I plan to take at least one pair of these on holiday with me, but which one? And what pattern to knit? I think I need a little Ravelry browsing session. I may be some time…

A Posy of Purses

30 07 2011

I know I promised details of this year’s teacher gifts over a week ago, but better late than never right?

First I needed to decide what to make. Easy enough usually, except that C’s SLT has been on my gift list for several years and has therefore received several bags, a personalised pencil roll, a couple of bookmarks and Christmas decorations of various kinds. She always thanks me effusively, so either she genuinely likes my work or she’s a great actress. ๐Ÿ˜†

This year I made purses:

The boys helped out as usual by choosing fabrics and matching purses to recipients. In particular, C was adamant that his SLT should have the chocolate purse on the basis that he loves chocolalte and he loves Miss J.

This one was selected for C’s SLR teacher. She’s only been at the school since May half-term, but he likes her very much. This was my favourite and I was very tempted to keep it for myself, not that I really need a new purse, but C was very clear that it was to be for her.

He’s had three resource teachers this year because the previous one (who was also lovely) left at Christmas and he had the SENCO (Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator) covering until they could find a suitable replacement. C chose this purse for her because it’s nice and bright and he thinks she needs cheering up.

C’s mainstream teacher was selected to receive the purple purse. She’s another one that has received several gifts from me before. She was L’s teacher in Y1 and has been teaching C for two years (with a maternity leave in the middle).

And finally, L’s teacher is a man, so he got a more manly card holder rather than a pretty purse.

These all went in to school on the last day along with a whole load of cookies for all the staff. Both boys have a lot of input from TAs and much as I’d like to give individual presents to them all, there are just too many. So I baked three kinds of cookies (choc chip, fudge, and white choc and cherry) which hopefully showed that nobody was forgotten. I didn’t take pictures, but they really did taste better than they looked anyway.

I really enjoyed making everything, but especially the purses. They’re all sewn in lovely straight lines which is possibly my favourite kind of sewing. I think I’ll be making more purses for my shop soone enough.

Almost There…

20 07 2011

We’ve almost reached the end of another school year. Term ends on Friday for my sons, but this year along with the approach of six weeks without school runs and mostly without alarm clocks, we also have to say some goodbyes. My boys are moving schools in September which is thrilling and exciting on many levels. They no longer need the intensive support of the speech and language resource at their current school (number one son actually left the resource last year) and have made tremendous progress through sheer hard work. I’m very much looking forward to a school run of only one mile instead of 8.5, which goes nowhere near a main road, let alone a motorway. However, the flipside is that they (and we) will be saying goodbye to most of the wonderful people who have helped them make this progress. The effort that the boys have put in has been matched by the teachers, TAs and SLTs who go above and beyond their job descriptions on a daily basis and I have been lucky enough to get to know some of them quite well over the past four years.

These are people who know my sons well enough to choose perfect leaving presents for them. Star Wars Lego for L last year and a Sonic the Hedgehog pencil case filled with Sonic pens and pencils for C today.

These are people that my boys want to hug and who not only tolerate this, but laugh about the ensuing chocolate stains on their clothes (and the matching ones on mine).

These are people who encourage and support all the children in the resource and won’t allow any of them to put themselves down.

These are people who allowed my older son to attend the tea party even though he’s not strictly supposed to, because I mentioned that he was disappointed that he was no longer invitedย  and they didn’t want him to miss out on the chance to say goodbye to his friends in the resource.

These are people who are genuinely fond of the children they teach and are almost as proud of them as their parents are.

And all of that is just from today…

Today was the speech and language resource tea party. They hold one at the end of every term which means that my first one was in December ’07 when L was 5 and C was not yet 2. Fast forward to today (and sometimes it feels like we really did zoom through those years) and my last resource tea party. I think I laughed and cried in equal measure this afternoon.

Yesterday I asked C what he thought I should bring for everyone to eat and predictably enough he chose chocolate cake. So this morning I made a couple of dozen chocolate cupcakes.

It’s a good job I took a photo because they disappeared very quickly when the children were let loose on the food. They were the main source of the chocolate stains that my younger son was leaving in his wake. Oops!

I have also made, but haven’t wrapped, the presents for their teachers and C’s SLT (I’ll blog about those in a day or two) and I need to write a host of thank you cards for them all (more tears probably). Then on Friday we’ll be saying our final goodbyes to everyone.

July Already

9 07 2011

It’s July and I’m finally here to blow away the tumbleweeds. I’ve been busy with all the usual things, plus new school forms and visits for the boys. The big move from their current school to the local school is almost upon us now and I have very mixed feelings. I’m thrilled that the school run will be considerably shorter and won’t involve any motorway driving or mileage claim forms, but the boys have been happy at their current school and I’m feeling some guilt about separating them from their friends. C has a best friend that he likes to walk with out to his taxi after school. Watching them walk together holding hands is so adorable and plucks at my heartstrings. Then again, they seem to fall out and make up with each other at least once a week, so maybe it isn’t the perfect match.

The school reports have just come home. L’s is glowing as usual and C’s is pretty good considering, but with very clear signs that his teachers know him well. Comments about avoiding tidy up time at all costs and being aware of the rules and mostly following them are not a surprise to me! It takes me back to the days of writing carefully worded reports for the more ‘interesting’ members of the class. Both reports have comments about them leaving, and how much they will be missed, that brought a tear to my eye. I’m sure I’ll be blubbing before the term is over, but so far I’m holding it together. Just.

So, crafting time has been scarce and my custom order list is moving a lot slower than I’d like, but I do have a little something to show off at last.

The story of this bag involves a couple of attempts at the embroidery thanks to my own stupidity. I really need to learn to avoid using scissors when tired or in a hurry, or worst of all tired and in a hurry. Thankfully I could fix the problem by starting again and the second version is actually better than the first. I love a happy ending.