Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Shopping - Crochet Project Update

It's been a while since I showed the beginnings of my crochet project so I thought I'd better show the progress, because there has been some progress, honestly! The only change I made to the pattern was to make the handles a bit wider because I didn't want them to stretch. That's also part of the reason for lining it, to make it more stable, and so I don't have to sew in all the ends (they'll be hidden in the middle!). The lining's cut out and partly pinned but I'm sort of winging it so who know what the result will be.
My second attempt at knitting-in-the-round went a bit better yesterday. I decided to simplify the pattern and leave out the cables (mustn't try to run before I can walk!). I may still be doing it wrong though because it seems to me that, when I get to the stocking stitch part after the ribbing, the knitting will be inside-out!! As least, that's how it looks to me at the moment. Maybe my left-handed brain is getting the better of my right-handed knitting. If it all goes wrong I'll take it along to my next quilting day and ask one of the members who's been knitting socks since she was a child for help.-
Bye for now
Teresa x

Fabric and Yarn Stashes

A few years ago I was working away from home during the week and trying to catch up on housework etc during the weekends. It was the same work I do now and luckily I was asked to join this project within travelling distance of home after only 14 months away. I enjoyed the experience at the time, but I wouldn't do it again. I have a friend, who at the same time, was an area manager and had to visit the area where I worked once a month so we took the opportunity to meet for a meal and a chat. It seems strange that now I am back home and she isn't working we find it more difficult to meet more than once every couple of months.
Anyway, when we do meet, we go shopping and have lunch in a different town each time. These jaunts are the only times I go shopping just for shopping's sake and, although I enjoy looking, I find very little to buy. We've actually arranged to meet this Saturday, so I'm looking forward to that. The last time we met I bought some knitting needles and fabric from a charity shop and some paper napkins. On one of our other trips I bought this little basket to start storing the yarn I was accumulating but I think I'll have to find another use for it soon.
As I've just shown a picture of part of my yarn stash, I thought I may as well show the fabric too. I'm afraid it's not a very pretty sight or a very good photo as the light was bad that day. There are actually 2 piles here, one in front of the other, and it doesn't look very inspiring jumbled up as it is. It was once sorted in to colours and types of fabric but you know how that can change as it gets pulled about to use. It will be sorted again when I move it in to The Shed.
There's more fabric scattered around the house including this drawer (first picture). Whoops, more yarn to go in the (full) basket. There's also a bag full under the stairs that I forgot about for a long time.
The solution to the overflowing yarn basket (second picture). A lovely fabric-covered basket from Matalan that was only £5. It'll be good to get all the yarn gathered together in one place and see exactly what I've got. I'm planning to start on the Knitting-in the-Round Christmas Project soon. Since the first (failed) attempt I've bought some proper row markers and carried out more research into the method, so fingers crossed................
Bye for now
Teresa x
P.S. Sorry the photos are out of order. I used to be able to move them but can't seem to do it now. And I put the little dashes between paragraphs because the spacing doesn't work in the published post as it is in the edit view.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Practice Makes Perfect - Bread!

Here are a few items I thrifted recently from Oxfam. The fabric pieces were in a bag which said they were silk and some of them definitely are but they are all different weights and weaves so it's difficult to tell. The little doilies are quite small and dainty and will be used to embellish projects in the future. I also bagged 2 'new' zips and a large embroidery hoop. The blanket they are laying on is one I crocheted many years ago and sits on the end of the bed as an extra cover-up.

I'm determined to try and make at least one loaf a week in my bread-maker now I've got back into the swing of it. After the success of the wholemeal loaf a couple of weeks ago I decided to try a white one last week. I really should have read all the machine's instructions and not just the recipe. It doesn't always work out when you muddle through and make substitutions even if you think they'll do the same job!! I don't know exactly what the problem was but the loaf (if you could call it that) which came out of the machine was a disgusting mixture of oily crust, uncooked dough and unmixed flour. The whole thing had to go straight in the compost bin.
This week, I bought new yeast (to replace the out-of-date one), used table salt instead of low-sodium and gave the dough a helping hand at the mixing stage. The result was a perfect, white, tasty loaf. It rose so well that the top stuck to the lid even though I didn't use bread improver (whatever that is!).

While I had the oven on later to make dinner I made a batch of choc-chip cookies from a recipe over at Attic24. They were just my kind of recipe - easy to mix up, no rolling or messing and the choc chips can be substituted to ring the changes.
This weekend also saw me get a tiny-weeny bit of sewing done. It was mainly mending and household stuff but I think having it hanging around was subconciously preventing me from getting on with the exciting stuff. More on that next time.
Bye for now
Teresa x

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Something's Gotta Give and Someone's Got a Great Giveaway!

Whilst having a blog-read earlier I read via sew create it about a fantastic Giveaway being run by Pumpkin Patch Primitive. The prize is very generous and the fabrics are lovely. I've entered a few giveaways in the past but not been lucky so far - fingers crossed for this one as I love the fabric colours (bright and bold are not usually my thing).

I would also like to have a giveaway myself sometime. It should be for a special occasion as others do, like a blogging anniversary or 100th post or something like that ( I think the anniverasary is likely to come before the 100th post at the rate I'm going! )

It seems to be the photo taking and uploading that delays my blogging so that's what I need to get more organised at. I'm hoping to get a little sewing and baking done this weekend so will show the results when I can. Will also be meeting up with a friend Saturday evening.

Over the last couple of days I made a big decision (for me). If our singing lessons continue, after the concert we will put on at Christmas, I am not going to continue with them (they were going to finish then anyway at one time but I'm not so sure now). I'm also going to give up being the leader of the local ladies group. In fact, I'm going to leave the committee altogether (after 20 years) and just be a regular member. I don't know when that will happen because we've just moved our AGM to the darker month of October (to keep the lighter months for more outdoor activities) but I don't intend to stay until then. I've only told my OH at the moment but I already feel quite relieved at the thought. I'd like to continue with the Community Choir if that takes off and I'm attending a meeting in a couple of weeks to discuss a Community Helpline that has floundered a little lately so something's gotta give!!

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Books, Bread & Biscuits

These are the books I listed on Green Metropolis the other day. I couldn't show the photo in my last post because I hadn't transferred it from my camera at the time. They're quite common titles so I'm not expecting the get rid of them all.

A little bit of baking was done last weekend (amongst the singing). I've had a bread machine for a while (a few years actually) but don't use it very often and haven't yet found a standard recipe that has been very successful. I needed to use up some flour so threw it in following the quantities in the manual for the machine and it was the best so far. I'm going to try to get into the habit of making a loaf a week to start with then, as I get used to the recipe I will get quicker at it and can time it around my activities. I once made a ginger cake in the bread maker and it was delicious.

These lemon and walnut biscuits were quick to make and turned out well.
This weekend I'm looking forward to the second Sing Hallelujah rehearsal which should be attended by more people than last week. It's also our last-but-two performance of The Witness on Sunday. I also hope to get a bit more time with my new sewing machine - this time to actually do some sewing!!
Bye for now
Teresa x

Friday, 9 October 2009

Simply Books

I received delivery of a couple of books this week after my attention was drawn to Your Money or Your Life by Move to Portugal. I'm looking forward to reading it along with Voluntary Simplicity as I think they will compliment each other. I'm hoping they'll give me ideas and inspiration to ease my way out of the rat race.

I must also get around to reading How to be Free, a book I bought a while ago. Just having the books in my possession won't make my life simpler. I need to READ them!! It's a bit of a Catch 22 situation. No time to read them (or take photos - hence the absence in this post) so can't put them into practice in order to make the time.............

I'm almost at the end of Cold Mountain which I read during my lunch breaks at work. Although I saw the film and prefer to read the book first I've really enjoyed the book. A film can't portray the intricacies of the language in a book or the thoughts of the characters in detail. Descriptions of landscape and surroundings can sometimes make me feel bogged down in a narrative but the ones in Cold Mountain were so clear and clever that I had to re-read some simple sentences over again and again to enjoy them a few more times until I moved on. I'm always amazed at the talent of authors who can put into words what for most people is just a vague feeling.

I'll quote a few sentences that leapt out at me as I read for my own remembrance if nothing else...

"Their breaths hovered about them as if in concern, and then the vague shapes lost interest and vanished".

"Marrying a woman for her beauty makes no more sense than eating a bird for its singing".

"She wondered if literature might lose some of its interest when she reached an age or state of mind where her life was set on such a sure course that the things she read might stop seeming so powerfully like alternate directions for her being".

Another week has passed by in a flash and Autumn has arrived with a vengeance. Extra layers are being worn and the wood-burner is kept lit full-time. I'm terrible for feeling the cold. My hands never seem to warm up and if my hands are cold I feel as though the rest of me is too.
Our local baptist minister has arranged a meeting for this Saturday to see what interest there is locally in Sing Hallelujah. I will be popping along with my dad to find out more and afterwards am taking my dad out for lunch for his birthday. On Sunday evening we are giving another performance of The Witness in a church in Abergavenny. There'll be 3 more to go after that and then we'll be giving it a rest.
Bye for now
Teresa x

Monday, 5 October 2009

September Update & More Thrifty Luck

On, Saturday, one of the quilting club members brought in a bag of items from a friend of hers to sell for charity. I put in a donation and took 3 furnishing fabric samples, a ball of cotton yarn and a length of braid at least a metre long. The braid will become a handle or decoration for a bag and I'll make at least 2 dishcloths from the cotton yarn. My mother also recently gave me some old curtains which I've taken apart, washed and ironed to add to my stash.

I've just looked back at my August update post to remind myself of what I aimed to do. I've still not visited a library but the books I already have are more than enough to keep me occupied so until it becomes a reason to keep me from buying new books I don't think it's urgent.

As mentioned in my last post, I've sorted the ebay problem, so I can continue decluttering. The recent discovery of Music Magpie will also help with this.

Since our house is so small and the upstairs rooms take up alot of the roof space we have very little attic room. Therefore, the sort of things that people normally keep in their attic, we have to find room for in the house. At present, all that we keep in the attic are suitcases (with skiing gear inside) and boxes of Christmas decorations. Apparently there is a small amount of room at the back that could take a couple of boxes. Consequently, I plan to empty a couple of drawers/shelves, store the contents up there and find a better use for the space. Once I've done this and moved all my craft clutter out to the shed there will be a big improvement.

Grocery shopping costs are not decreasing, partly because my son is eating at home more regularly since he left his chefs job and went back to college, but they're not increasing either so in real terms I could say they've gone down!!

The garden produce is coming to an end so I may go back to ordering organic box deliveries soon. I picked the last of the tomatoes yesterday and the carrots/beetroot should all be raised and cooked or stored soon. My OH foraged some damsons with which I made 12 (very thick) jars of jam and froze a bag of whole fruit. Breakfast Bars and Apple Crumble were also made in September. My home baking efforts are still very sparse. That's not much to show for a month although I don't buy much convenience food and a lot of our meals are made from scratch.

All in all I don't feel as though I'm making much progress, mainly through lack of time. I've just convinced myself to miss my after-work activities this week (choir practice/singing lesson) to try and get on top of things in the house. Next weekend is already filling up so something's got to give or I'll never catch up.

I went into town this lunch time and bought a set of double-pointed knitting needles to try knitting in the round. I plan to make a couple of presents for Christmas and thought it would be easier to start something chunkier than to try socks first. I've also chosen the lining for the mystery crochet project too, so will hopefully have some progress to show on that soon.

Bye for now
Teresa x

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Bernina's arrived, Paypal's sorted, Crochet's in progress.

My new (ex-demonstration) Bernina arrived last Friday after a weeks delay because the supplier forgot to send it the previous Friday when my son stayed in all day to wait for it for me. Thankfully, it's here now and I'm looking forward to getting my hands on it. So far, all I've done is take it out of the box. I may get chance to take all the bits out of the various bags and assemble it this weekend but I doubt I'll get around to using it.

Tomorow is my monthly quilting club day and for the first time I haven't managed to complete the monthly block, let alone 2 of them like I normally do. I've got as far as cutting them out and started to pin together but free time seems to be in shorter supply than ever these days.

As promised, here's a glimpse of a crochet work-in-progress. Since taking the photo I've finished assembling the main part but now need to search my fabric for a suitable lining. The pattern I have doesn't call for lining but I think it will be sturdier if I add one. Hopefully this has satisfied my recent yearning, to work with yarn instead of fabric, for a while.

I dipped my toe into the world of ebay selling in August and had success, selling 3 out of the 4 items I listed. Although I had emails telling me the payments had been made I could find no record of it on paypal. I checked my profile and details, looked at my account information and checked bank/credit card statements but there was no sign of it. Having not sold anything before, I wondered if I'd overlooked something so asked a few friends with ebay selling experience for advice but they had nothing new to add to what I'd already done. I emailed paypal and they replied asking me to phone instead so I eventually got around to it this week. The lady I spoke to was very helpful. She located the problem (I'd somehow managed to set up a duplicate account) and guided me through sorting it out so, when we'd finished, there was my money, in the paypal account. I'm now happy to list items for auction again and hopefully can get rid of some more 'clutter'.

This weekend, as well as the quilting club day, I've got church and lunch out for my aunt's birthday on Sunday and OH and I will probably go out with friends one evening. I want to try and make some biscuits too if time allows.

I must remember to do a September simple living/aims update post soon too.

Have a good weekend
Bye for now
Teresa x