Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Wednesday 30 January 2013

Back at the end of December, I said on here and on Facebook that I would make 2013 the year that I would only knit for myself. A month in and it has been hard! I keep seeing projects that the children would like, specially 13yo who has discovered I can knit her things she likes, but also 10yo who loves cuddly animals (in fact, I may have to make an exception come Christmas time, as he gets a knitted animal from me every year).

This cowl was meant to be a Christmas present but I just ran out of time. I'm quite glad I didn't try and get it done for Christmas as I cast on on the ferry on 30 December and cast off three weeks later! Anyway, as it was meant to be done in 2012, I figured it didn't break my resolution.
The pattern is called the Stockholm Scarf and is free through Ravelry. It took me a few rows to get my head around the stitch pattern but it is a very clever reversible mock cable with only 4 pattern rows. Once I understood it, it was very easy and relaxing knitting. I used a cotton/acrylic blend as I didn't want it to be scratchy at all, but this has also made it heavier than if I'd used wool or a wool blend and so it is stretching a bit. That could also have something to do with the fact that she has been wearing it constantly - in fact, when I'd finished it and she put it on, she said 'it is perfect, it is exactly how I imagined it to be!' and my resolve to knit only for myself weakened once again...

Right now I'm crocheting a little present for a friend who gave birth to a longed-for baby girl a couple of weeks ago. I had promised to get something on the needles as soon as she told us she was expecting, so again I don't think this breaks my resolution. I'm making a size 6-12 months and can't believe how small it is. It shouldn't take long to finish and once that's done, I am casting on a cardigan for myself. All.For.Me.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuesday 29 January 2013

10yo said a couple of weeks ago that when the snowdrops appear, we get snow. And was he right. We had almost 2 weeks of proper winter, with lots of snow and proper freezing weather (no, I don't think -2 counts as 'a severe frost', as this country seems to think!). Amazingly enough, we only had one 'snow day' where both schools were closed and this was mostly due to transport issues. And fair enough - who'd want to drive a large coach full of excited children down little country lanes which haven't been treated? I actually missed two days at the office - one day was because there had been a very serious accident on the A14 and it was just quicker to turn around and go back home than to try and struggle to the office along with everybody else who had hoped to be at their workplace several hours before. The second time the weather forecast was so bad that I thought it made sense to stay at home as a precaution, and as it was, the schools closed early but the snow never materialised. It finally did arrive a couple of days later and stayed on the ground for about a week. It was pretty, then it got quite slippy and then suddenly temperatures rose and it was all gone in a matter of days.

Much as I like winter and the beauty of its whiteness, I did miss being able to go out (although parttime dog did get a long walk in an unexpected snow storm one day...). So last Sunday I was very much looking forward to getting back on the bike. It had started thawing on Saturday but Norfolk had had more snow than Suffolk and some of the countrylanes still had quite a lot of ice, and bikes and ice don't mix! So instead of doing my usual route along the southern side of the river, I set off through Norwich itself and then turned right and followed the road along the northern edge - a part I'd only ever seen from the other side of the river.

Once you've navigated the city streets you suddenly meet the river again in Thorpe St. Andrew, one of Norwich's suburbs. I liked this little blue boat.

The swans had obviously got used to being fed in the cold weather!

 Looking back towards Norwich

You lose the river quite quickly and follow what is rather a busy road for several miles. I kept hoping that by turning off, I'd find a quiet countrylane that followed the river, but no joy. I did spot this grandiose looking house - I think it might be a school.

I've turned off the 'main' road now and I'm heading towards Postwick and Brundall. This is one of the many little railway bridges - I seem to be following the railway line that heads towards Great Yarmouth.

This type of house is so common in Norfolk, specially the stepped gable.

I stopped on top of the bridge to take a photo of the tracks. You can see here how much snow there was still on the ground. You can also see the blue sky appearing after we'd had a lot of rain overnight.

 In the porch at Postwick church

 It may be slightly odd but I find graveyards very interesting. I always have a wander around, looking at the inscriptions and the stonework. I liked this one because his surname is (almost) the same as the next village along (Brundall).

Some more pictures of the church

Another little hobby: spotting odd road names. I wonder how old this name is...?

 As I have to fit my bike ride in while B. is doing his race training, I have now turned around to be back on time. I try not to cycle the same route back again if I can avoid it. I have crossed the A47, a busy dual carriageway, and I'm now in Great Plumstead, which to my surprise had a brick church tower - you don't often see those here, it's normally flint as used in the rest of the building. I ended up sheltering in the porch as we had a sudden downpour. The rest of my bike ride was very cold and wet, although we had bright blue skies again when I got back.

You can just see my trusty bike, that we found in a ditch on B's farm years ago, by the porch.

An usual first name, Izar.

And now I'm almost back at my starting point, the ski club. We see these buildings when we drive to the ski club and they look so neglected. They must have been beautiful in their heyday. I wonder if anybody will take them on and renovate them.

It was quite windy on Sunday with a strong westerly wind. I headed east on my way out and remember thinking 'wind's not too bad, not as bad as they predicted'. Then I turned around and headed back west, and boy was that hard work. The last mile in town was especially hard as it was all uphill. I came back to the ski club rather red, hot and puffy and got asked if I'd had a good workout...

I enjoyed exploring a different part of Norfolk but was slightly disappointed that you couldn't get closer to the river. I love cycling alongside the river, watching the little boats and the rowers and the birds. I think I'll explore this area a bit further in the next few months!

You can find full details of my route here:

Monday, January 7, 2013

Monday 7 January

We're almost back to normal routine here. 10yo is back to school today, 13yo has another day off before she heads back tomorrow. 10yo was ready and waiting on the sofa at 7.25 AM. That won't last...

This year we have taken down the decorations in stages. It's odd but as soon as the New Year begins, somehow Christmas tree lights don't cheer me up anymore. 13yo said the same thing: the tree doesn't make me happy anymore. But I can't bring myself to take the tree down just yet. Tonight, tonight...

This weekend was the last of the festivities and B. and I hosted a New Year's lunch for my colleagues and various partners. They all brought a dish of food and of course as usual there was far too much. There was also a lot of laughter, chat and sampling of various unusual alcoholic beverages. And there was this, a beautiful bunch of flowers which I hadn't expected at all

They've come home with me and are nicely filling up the gap left by the tidied up Christmas decorations. Not a bad way to start the week...

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Tuesday 2 January

Happy New Year! I hope you have all had a lovely Christmas. Ours was good. I managed to finish gift knitting on the day before Christmas Eve (I guess that is Christmas Eve Eve....). My last project was the little reindeer from my last post, which was a present for 10yo. I then took a break from knitting for a few days as my hands, wrists, elbow and shoulder really were beginning to protest. I don't want to do so much damage that I'm forced to stop knitting or crocheting, best to nip it in the bud now. I did feel a bit lost though!

Shawl, Christmas present for elderly neighbour

After the usual frantic Christmas Day things calmed down a little and we had several days with nothing much planned at all. I love those lazy days between Christmas and the New Year. This year for the first time in years I didn't have to work (I've been on stand-by for 'emergency translations' for the last few years) so there were a few days where I didn't even bother to get changed out of my pjs!

Then for New Year's Eve 10yo and I travelled to Holland. New Year's Eve in Britain is nothing much to write home about, whereas in Holland it's a big thing. I have spent New Year's Eve in Britain a few times but always feel quite homesick. I'll never forget arriving in Holland on the morning of 31 December a few years ago after not having spent New Year's there for a while, and my heart just leaping when I heard the fireworks as soon as we arrived. I love oliebollen and appelflappen and just the whole atmosphere of it being the last day of the year and then a glass of something at midnight and everyone going out in the street to watch the fireworks. O and a new tradition is listening to the Top 2000 on the radio in the car and singing along to lots of classics. But I digress. We only had a couple of days in Holland but managed to pack in what we wanted to do, including 10 minutes in the Hema to get a present for 13yo who had stayed in Britain with J. and to get myself a new Hema diary! 

Windy ferry!

 Open fire at Hoge Veluwe

Flooded cycle path at Hoge Veluwe

 Lots of logs at Hoge Veluwe

New slippers....

And now we're back home and although I'm back at work, the kids still have a few days off. 13yo just told me she has a PD Day on Monday so she doesn't even have to go back till Tuesday. 

Several New Year's resolutions this year - nothing earth shattering, several of them the same as countless other people, I'm sure (lose the Christmas weight, get back to exercising, clear the clutter). One notable one though:
A few months ago I read on someone's blog or possibly on Ravelry that she had declared a couple of years to be the year in which she knitted only for herself. I thought 'I could never do that' but I kept thinking about it and finding it appealing. I am not the sort of knitter who gets asked to knit things for other people. I do like to give knitted gifts though - for me it's an expression of my love, soppy though that may sound! I think it says 'I think you're worth spending time on'. Of course, as most knitters have found, your knitted gift doesn't always get appreciated, but over the years I have learnt who does and who doesn't. But, I am also the sort of person who will come up with a knitting or crochet project every time I need to find someone a gift. As a consequence, I often end up only making gifts. 

Cover for little handwarmer

So after thinking about it, I thought I'd try to only knit for myself this year. I am working on a cowl for 13yo who asked for one for Christmas but I ran out of time. Once that is done, I'm casting on for myself and I'm going to try and keep it up all year. Nobody believes that I can do it - myself included - but I can try, can't I! Watch this space, I'm looking forward to my first January 2013 post!