Thursday, 25 April 2013

Basket case...

I am definitely a basket case when it comes to baskets! I can spot a basket a mile off. In fact I did once shout 'stop the car!' when we passed a skip with a huge old basket in it. It was in great shape but had a broken handle which I removed when we got home and have used the basket for the last five years for laundry. It fits nicely underneath the washing machine door and is a lot nicer to have lying around than the plastic type. So M is used to me making a beeline for anything that looks remotely like wicker, whether in skips or junk shops and is even quite supportive of my habit!

Free is good but £2.50 isn't bad either. This latest find reminds me very much of the 70s style we had several of when I was a child. The handles are sturdy and the bottom is actually reinforced with thin metal bars so this is a very good quality one. Having browsed the charity shops first and picked up a few groceries afterwards the bag also passed the food shopping test so I think this one will be much used. It will be holding a few snacks and a little bit of crochet later today when we go over to J's new cricket club and watch his outdoor training session.

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Dear Trainspotter...

I hope you have a family that care for you, that you laugh and spend time with when you are not sitting alone on a bench in a smokey train station, writing numbers in your notebook and taking photographs of trains.

I hope you have a little garden or allotment somewhere that you enjoy pottering around in when you are not sitting alone on that bench in a grotty train station in a town which appears to have a record breaking crime rate.

In fact, I hope that your fellow 'spotters' come over and have a chat with you and that later you get home safely because in just two short hours in your town I witnessed more people being bundled into police cars than I have ever seen anywhere before.

...and if you haven't got a family or a garden, or even nice neighbours, I hope you enjoy your train spotting and that the drunks leave you alone.

I watched this lonely man at the station for half an hour. He wasn't like the other trainspotters who were so intent on recording and photographing that they barely noticed the presence of anyone else. The man on the bench discretely wrote down his numbers, took a few quick snaps and sat and watched and smiled at families passing by. I couldn't help but wonder if he had a family. I can't bear to think of older lonely people, especially in a town like the one I visited today. Within ten minutes of getting off the train a violent argument and fight had broken out between two young families. Police were quickly on the scene. A short time later I saw a man being frogmarched down the high street in handcuffs, his jeans barely holding up. He was very drunk. It was ten in the morning. Police were everywhere, and every shop was heavy on the security staff. It was quite an experience.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Cat and mouse...

It is definitely time for M's computer and all it's bits and pieces to be moved away from the corner by the patio doors. Last year this was my armchair spot for sitting just inside the sunlounge on slightly cooler summer days or just plain blustery summer days (we seem to get a lot of windy days in Lincolnshire).

In fact, this year I am going to place two armchairs just inside the doors because my 'spot' was very popular last year. I tried the spot out today, without moving the computer, just to make sure it was still a good spot. It is still a good spot. More to the point it is still a good spot for crochet.

The fluffy stuff is crocheting up much easier than I imagined. It is losing some of its fluffiness as the yarn is woven into stitches though. I have read that this can be rectified by brushing gently with a small cat brush. I have just the thing; it's never been used in Mollie. Ironic that I'll be using a cat brush to fluff up a mouse!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Keeping it simple...

Well the weekend is over but I am still on a mission to keep it simple. Boiled eggs and gluten free soldiers made a nice change from gluten free muesli this morning.

I made my first crochet face cloth at the weekend (an excuse to sit a little longer in the sun). I realise now I should have made dozens of these when I started out in crochet. They are the perfect beginner project. I've had this aran denim cotton kicking around for years. I liked the look of it but it was awkward to knit. Thankfully it is better suited to crochet.

I've never been a flannel sort of person; preferring to rinse soap from my face with cupped hands of water. That may change now that I have tried out this little square of ripple shell stitch. Of course, now everyone else wants one too. Oh dear, making crochet face cloths is a hard job but someone's gotta do it!

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Simple pleasures...

Apologies for another cat in the box photo. This was where Mollie spent a large part of today despite the sunshine. I was browsing through my snapshots of Harvey splashing about (he moves so fast they are mostly a black and white blur!) and thought that the cat in the box picture captures how I feel today in a funny kind of way...

I had a bit of an ear problem today (rubbed raw) and had to stay 'switched off' to let it heal. This can sometimes be a problem for those around me but rarely a problem for me. By the middle of the afternoon with M taking E to cricket training and J playing virtual football I realised just what a fabulous silent day I was having. So much more brain space! Without the external hubbub of every day life, which my brain usually has to work overtime to make sense of (kettles boiling sound the same to me as jumbo jets passing overhead) I could actually hear my own thoughts.

All this has probably occurred to me before in some shape or other but today it seemed revolutionary. Life was simple once more, and that is something I constantly strive for in a world of chaos and noise.

Simple pleasures today included;

Line drying the washing
Weeding my herb patch and finding that most of the herbs had survived our nasty winter
Disassembling last years bonfire to check for hedgehogs or mice (I did this last year and found a mouse nest)
Gathering all the wind fall twigs and branches so that they don't go under the lawn mower
Throwing tennis balls into the field for the dog
Dragging out the patio table and treating it with teak oil
Giving the Lloyd Loom chairs a good airing in the sun
Finding a raspberry plant that hadn't been planted and planting it in my herb patch
Having a cup of tea in the sun!
Sewing up a tear in some pyjama trousers
Choosing a left over ball of organic cotton and crocheting a face cloth (more on that later)
Not hearing a single sound all day (oh my goodness, I must be going deaf!)

So how does all that feel like a cat in a box? Well, for all the beds we have bought her; radiator ones, fluffy ones, wicker baskets, you name it... She chose a simple cardboard box. She came out of it to eat, she came out to have a stroll round the garden, she watched Harvey doing idiotic things, she even had five minutes on my lap, but her 'constant' today was her simple box. What a simple but content little life she leads.


Oh yes, this is more like it! Sunshine warm enough to have an excuse for a paddle! Whoopee! What? What do you mean I'll be sleeping in the kitchen tonight? Doh, spoil all my fun they do.

Friday, 19 April 2013

Thank goodness for little brothers...

Classically E left her photography homework until the eleventh hour. That is, having had an entire two week Easter holiday she left it until Sunday to get the camera out! Thank goodness the sun was shining that day and thank goodness for little brothers and pet dogs!

The brief was to recreate photographs by a famous photographer. E chose Herbert List, a photographer with a taste for the young male body. When J looked at some of the examples he decided he would model for E but not with his top off! I can't say I blame him. These photo's may well end up on display in the school they both now attend.

So, with United Nations Peace Keeping Mum (that's me by the way) and props advisor (Dad), bribed models (Jake and Harvey) and chief (or should that read 'diva'?) photographer we managed to get some snaps done...

Bear in mind that these are iPod snapshots of very poor quality print outs from the school photocopier. The originals are fantastic; worth printing out at our local print shop for E's portfolio.

First up, the selection of Herbert List photographs followed by E's recreations. The dog was a star, he posed just long enough with his teddy dangling above his nose!

Thursday, 18 April 2013

Say cheese!

She's a little camera shy but wanting to show off her ruffled tutu and chocolate brown pom poms. Mr and Mrs Mouse are delighted by the quiet but very polite new addition and have welcomed her into their cosy nest lined with wool scraps.

A long tea break is now due and perhaps some blanket crochet, though I am eyeing my mohair mix blue-grey yarn and thinking what a lovely mouse that would make!

It's a girl!

These mice are most addictive and I very rarely enjoy making more of one thing. I have several odd wrist warmers and the odd sock from my knitting days when knitting up the second was not an exciting prospect. I suppose it must be to do with creating their individual characters. No two will ever be the same.

I'm not quite sure what happened to thoughts of denim overalls for this little mouse. She was clearly not born to be a tomboy. In fact she is squeaking in anticipation of the cream coloured ballet slippers that are currently 'on the hook'. They must have pom poms like Mr and Mrs Mouse she says. I have told her that it is not usual for ballet slippers to have pom poms but she insists.

(Apple iPad spellcheck know that I WANT to call these things pom poms not pom pons! Grrrr!)

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Stretching out...

The cat and her many sleeping positions never ceases to entertain me. The photo isn't very good I'm afraid but you can just make her out taking almost the entire length of a two seater sofa! Most mornings she can be found in her Amazon box behind this sofa, next to the radiator. Just lately though, with Spring sunshine (at last) coming in through the sunlounge windows she has started to sleep in patches of sun (see photo montage). This 'spot' is on a footstool which is Harvey height. She doesn't worry though, if he bothers her by licking her ears a bit too vigorously she just swipes him. They are good buddies really. She licks his ears too. Ew.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013


Mrs Mouse has some gossip for Mr Mouse. She's heard there's another mouse in the making. They are both keen to find out who. As far as they are concerned; the more the merrier. They have plenty of food to share. Only the other day Mr Mouse scored a large piece of chocolate Easter egg from the tall boy's bedroom. Mice are quite partial to chocolate now and then.

Monday, 15 April 2013

Mousey goings on...

Introducing Mr and Mrs Mouse! They live beneath the floorboards where things can get a little draughty. Mr Mouse keeps his woolly scarf on all the time which pleases Mrs Mouse because she had to risk life and limb to 'borrow' the wool from 'upstairs' and spent many evenings struggling with a nibbled cocktail stick to crochet it for him. Mrs Mouse loves their home, where there is never any shortage of wool (she is particularly fond of making pom poms). She chose a fetching walnut brown for her own shawl and slippers and couldn't believe her luck when a tiny wooden button fell through a gap in the floorboards. It's the small things in life that make them happy.

Friday, 12 April 2013

A mouse in the making...

If there is one good thing to come out of creating this colourful basket of softies this Easter break it is learning how to create certain shapes in crochet. I already knew how to make perfect spheres, having made several juggling balls, well, three, because I haven't quite got the hang of juggling with four yet. I figured out how to do bulgy bits for paws and feet too. Bodies have been kept simple until now. So behind the scenes here I have been working on my very own pattern for a little softie mouse.

I am hoping he will be suitable for a November craft fair. We have several of those in the run up to Christmas. In a few days I will give you a peek and I'd welcome any feedback. At the moment he is legless and I am tying myself up in knots trying to decide what he should wear. Notice my creations are almost always male. It must be the tomboy in me still. I really didn't have much time for dolls when I was small. Though I have bought a small quantity of fabric for little mouse dresses, so we shall see!

Thursday, 11 April 2013

New, old, knits...

The men went to see some live cricket yesterday. Normally E and I would enjoy watching it too but 7 hours sitting still in the freezing cold did not appeal, so we got dropped off in the city and went in search of vintage shop bargains.

E is the ultra cool one who looks good in most things but there are a few sweaters cropping up in these places now that span the age appeal. When I lived in Oxford and before E was born I used to have a couple of over-sized wool jumpers, bought from a shop in the Covered Market. I think they were about £50 back then and sold like hot cakes. Most were bright and colourful. They were fabulous to wear instead of a coat on a crisp autumnal morning. Over 15 years later and one is a little on the small side and the other is brighter than I would wear now. When I spotted one in a vintage shop for a tenner I assumed it must be falling to pieces or have big holes in it, but no, it's perfect. Plain navy with a big cream coloured star on it and still the perfect jumper for dog walks. I had to wash it by hand today and it has come up smelling wonderful. Actually I had cricket match spectating in mind when I bought it, J's first is coming up soon and we'll be watching E play this year too.

I couldn't resist the colourful stripey scarf in Oxfam for a lowly £2. It seems to be pure wool but not itchy. Not my usual thing but something to keep the critics happy who say I have too much grey in my wardrobe. Who me?

Talking of grey. My favourite buy was definitely the grey sweater. Just a simple design with a wide neck which rolls over. It doesn't have an info label as such but it feels like a cotton/silk blend. It is the palest grey with little colour flecks in the yarn. Right up my street and looks good with the new stripey scarf. A bargain at £5 from Oxfam too.

E bought some vintage rings for £2 each and a vintage sweatshirt. We must have walked hundreds of miles (well it felt like it) and we drank lots of tea (for me) and coffee (e).

I must be getting old though. Not only am I aching from head to toe today I also had to get out a calculator to work out how old I am going to be in October (it came up in conversation). Lost count and losing my marbles!

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Oh Mr Sun, Sun, Mr Golden Sun...

I accompanied M on an assignment in Ipswich recently. It's a bit of a long way for us but with the children otherwise occupied I though I would go along to keep him company on the journey. With a 6am start it was more a case of being there in person. I'm ashamed to say I nodded off on the journey there and nodded off on the journey back. It seems I need my beauty sleep these days!

Despite Ipswich being generously sprinkled with charity shops (I must have popped into at least ten) I came home with just one purchase. A fourteen inch Barney the Dinosaur in immaculate condition for £1.50. Initially intended for the dog (since his Teddy got covered in whatever they are spraying the fields with at the moment) I realised on the way home that a certain someone might 'borrow' Barney for a while despite the fact that she is 15. She won't thank me for sharing that she was a big fan once upon a time and I was never allowed to get on with the housework when he was on TV, oh no, I had to 'join in'. Oh boy, that was really beyond the call of duty. I still know the words to the sunshine song off by heart. Catchy.

The saving grace was dragging M into an arty looking cafe that was right up my street. M 'gets' these places now even if he does complain that the china doesn't match and his mug hasn't got a handle (it wasn't broken just arty!). The cafe was called 'Snob's Coffee Shop' and I think I am right in saying that it is located within the town hall. Spectacular ceiling above the cafe!

I love these places, just look at that groovy suite! 50s or 60s? Fantastic 70s lamp shades. Victorian armchairs. Modern art on the walls, for sale. Quite an eclectic bunch of customers too. With a craft gallery next to the cafe it is definitely worth popping in if you are ever in Ipswich.

Sunday, 7 April 2013


Meet Zulu. Voodoo's big cousin. So called because he is a few ears short of a headdress! Sshh, don't say that too loudly, he's a bit sensitive about the size of his ears.

Yep, I think I'm done with the rabbit thing now.

Friday, 5 April 2013

Voodoo rabbit...

This little bunny is a bit late to the Easter parade. He has been a day or two in the making and very nearly got consigned to the reject pile on account of being rather fiddly for my large hands. Grrrr, those colour changes! Now that he has been assembled (with much fiddly and frustrating needlework, hence the post title!) I like him a whole lot better and all is forgiven.

He is exactly twenty centimetres tall, including his ears, which happens to be the dimension of my hand, from base of palm to top of middle finger. I am going to scale him up a bit though and make him a big cousin who stands a little taller.

Love the way he uses up odd bits of DK; there could be a whole rabbit family before long!

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Easter hibernation...

Inspired by the real thing, of which we have quite a few here, I rustled up a wee hedgehog yesterday whilst Harvey was having a deep hydro cleanse, trim and blow dry (a bath and a hair cut).

The hedgehog has had a warm and cosy night under a pile of crispy beech leaves and now he's having a little wander about. Luckily the dog is not keen on hedgehogs and is giving him a wide berth.

He is probably thinking, 'is it the end of winter?'. I don't think so.