Our Christmas holidays.

As hubby went shopping at the crack of dawn on Christmas Eve and was back by 8.30 a.m.  we only had very light duties to finish off and once finished I decided to treat hubby to lunch before going to our final shop. (more of which in a moment) So as I’d sampled the delights of Wagamama at our Christmas party for Wool Warehouse, which was the greatest fun, I decided to treat him too.  I also thought the lychee cocktails with freshly squeezed ginger were magical and deserved a second tasting.
 Starters, tuna which was zingingly fresh and a side dish of pickles.
After lunch we went off to Patisserie Comme-ci, Comme-ca.  Which is an amazing patisserie in Leamington and was revealed to me by Holly when she bought beautiful macaroons in to work.
 Treats for the afternoon, (those chocolate and raspberry truffly squares have a layer of compote/jelly/jam which makes a delightful fruity interlude against the power of the rich, soft and sultry chocolate.)
 Macaroons for treats.

 A yule log,  we also bought buttery croissants and almond & chocolate croissants which were extremely rich but very very good.

Christmas morning comes and I open my Christmas box to reveal…
  At which I gave a squeal of delight, an enormous project bag.
 Which slowly revealed my initials embossed in gold.
I think you can guess now. 
My very own satchel from the Cambridge company in which to put my pencil case, notebooks and apple for the teacher.  It is going to be greatest of fun using it. 
 Hubby and his newly knitted hat in Cocoon by Rowan in pattern First Encounter by Elisabeth F Parker.  
He likes it very much and says it keeps his ears warm.
Which I think it does because I have tried it on and it feels like you are putting on a hot water bottle.
 The boys waiting to start and Mum (me) is messing around with a camera.
 I am being hurried along, excuse the shaky photography. 
Note the home grown parsnips which were absolutely delicious this year and the dark greens consist of  home grown kale, black kale and brussel sprouts.
 The Pinata didn’t make it, one hit with a wooden spoon sent it spinning into orbit, so I will have to reinforce it next year.  The boys ended up holding it up, which was a game of nerves of steel in itself. 
 Having a relaxing Christmas allowed me to start this on Christmas Eve. At the moment all I can think about is granny squares with thanks to Holly for teaching them to me.  This is four colours placed together randomly to try and make something arty, rather than four colours repeated.  
(hubby’s jumper is on the back burner, sorry love, but its so mild!)
 So on the day after boxing day I trotted over to Wool Warehouse to spend my Christmas money, which lets face it was burning a hole in my pocket.
 And since then I have enjoyed every spare moment crocheting.
 This blanket has grown, it will only ever be a lap blanket due to the lack of wool, but it is pretty.
 And this, well, this particular blanket has been haunting me for a few years, it is so me in its choice of colours that in the last few years I have often felt it tugging at my heart strings.  So as soon as I learn’t to do granny squares I knew I had to make it.  It is Granny Squares Throw by Marie Wallin and already I have fallen deeply in love.

Merry Christmas Everyone.

Well, it is Christmas Eve.
The shopping is in, the Pinata is made.
And I am sure we have a radio times somewhere and a tin of Quality Street. (which really was the essence of Christmas when I was growing up – non of that faff that Blumenthal puts in with smoking pine needles etc.)
The Pinata has been made hastily, but will serve its purpose for two sturdy boys to wield their wooden spoons.
And the board games are at the ready. 
And I think…. its stopped raining!
On that note, I hope everyone is safe and warm and has a cosy time with their loved ones.

A Tudor Christmas. (sort off)

Its surprisingly cathartic to shake off the shackles of a modern day Christmas. 
Because of time and energy constraints this year, earlier this month I thought about what Christmas means to us, as a family. 
And what I came up with is that it wasn’t spending £50.00 on a turkey and then all of the trimmings, coming out of our local supermarket over a £100.00 lighter for a two day celebration/feast/festival.  
And that it wasn’t spending money on cards, writing them and then posting them causing considerable damage to the pocket money reserved for treats, for people that I haven’t seen in many a long year. So last year I stopped sending cards to everyone apart from family, warning family that I won’t be sending cards again.  I didn’t hear any howls of protestation so this year I haven’t bothered.  And all during the month of December I have felt free and lighter of spirit for not having to do that chore.
Our tree went up eventually, Hubby falling out of the attic whilst looking for the Christmas decorations he dropped the full length from attic to floor and landed on the ladder,  did stop play for quite a while, this included a couple of trips to the local hospital and another trip to the doctor.  He is still shaken and bruised but getting better.  Between us we managed to get the tree up.  Fortunately for us we chose a smaller than usual tree this year, (mainly because we gasped for breath at the price of our usual sized tree) but it may have been a blessing in disguise. Son no.2 is home from Uni and for the third year has decorated our tree for us, I think he quite likes this role and he does a lovely job of it.
Our roast meat this Christmas will be in the shape of a shoulder of pork with the bone left in, after trying this earlier in the year, Roast Pork and having our sons remember it with great affection we decided that this would be our centre piece and at £15.00 for a whole shoulder it was worth a go.  In Tudor England it would probably have been the head of a pig, complete with apple in the mouth.  And we will have fruits and dates in the form of a Christmas pudding for afters,  so quite authentic in many ways.
I am making our own Christmas crackers, and our pinata is drying as we speak to be made into a snowman sometime soon. Last year the boys loved bashing that to smithereens with the help of wooden spoons, it was great fun.  I am penny pinching this year, because well, we have three full time students in the house and in our different ways, we are spending money on our studies and one on his accommodation, food etc.  To be honest it has been a breath of fresh air, to stop the traditions that started to feel like a chore and to keep and introduce new ones that are more in keeping with our family.  Son no.1 is already lining up the Monopoly board for Christmas afternoon and evil taunts are being sparred about our poker playing skills.
Boxing day is being kept at the same level with roast pork, salad, pickles and hot crispy chips.  I found a quarter of a bottle of Cointreau in the back of the drinks cupboard I feel Crepe Suzette’s coming on as our boozy desert treat.  And hubby will be taking a bottle of vintage port, champagne and claret out of the thermoelectric cellar, so I don’t think we will do too bad.
I am knitting as fast as my little fingers will go to make hubby a Christmas jumper, I completed a sleeve today.  I don’t think I am going to get this finished in time, but it should get done before the end of December.
One thing is for sure, it will keep him warm coming the cold snaps of January. 

1st Granny Square.

My Saturday job is a wondrous thing, I can’t tell you how happy I am to spring out of bed knowing that I have a full day ahead in which to immerse my self in all things yarny.  
My boss rather enjoys crochet and as such there are numerous crocheted blankets and throws to delight the eye and sink into whilst knitting a few rows during a quiet moment. 
And so to that end I asked her to teach me how to crochet a granny square. 
She did during the few moments of quiet we had before the afternoon rush. 
Today, I sat quietly for a few minutes and produced this. 
I did have a little help when I got stuck from Little Tin Bird.   
Who has an excellent tutorial for a basic granny square.
It is early days, but I can feel another addiction coming on.  
Mandy wanders off thinking ‘now where is that pattern I saw for a granny square crochet blanket that I saw in that Rowan book ages ago…’

Its a girl!

Some of my regular readers will know that Carie and I are very good friends. 
And some, as there are a fair few that read both our blogs, will know that Carie has been with child. 
And some of  you have probably guessed by my lack of knitting on the blog, that I have been knitting behind the scenes. 
Well, Carie gave birth to a beautiful baby girl a couple of days ago and this morning was the first time I was able to go around.   Hubby and I spent a lovely morning, cooing at and cuddling the baby, helping my delightful goddaughter with the intricacies of dressing bears from a wooden puzzle game and drinking much needed tea.
For the much anticipated arrival of Elma I made a baby blanket called Jack’s Giraffe’s by Linda Gavaldon which had taken my fancy and was very amused to find that Carie was knitting an Elephant blanket, (much more complicated than mine) so we were working on a similar theme.
 Excuse the lighting, winter light is treacherous to photography in the UK.
 And I also made a little baby outfit
 Seamless Yoked Baby Sweater by Carole Barenys, both items made in Debbie Bliss Cashmerino.
The sweater is a burnt orange, and looks lovely and I managed to find a very pretty button,
which was heart shaped. 
It reminds me of Christmas baubles glistening in the fire light.
Which is perfect for a Christmas baby.

And then there was knitting.

There has been some knitting whilst I have been beavering away at college. Sometimes I manage to get in ten minutes knitting before lessons start, fifteen at lunchtime (whilst feeling guilty that I am not in the library) and to be honest not much more some days, although there are evenings when I can get an hour in before bed.  I like those evenings the best, the knitting settles me and puts me into a serene place to get a good nights sleep. 
I’ve had to hang this up to photograph it because its all ready starting to look worn, I needed a jumper to throw on as I was going out the door and Flugel by Hannah Fettig seemed to fit the bill.  It has batwings and according to college fashion sense, big and baggy is the way to go when studying art based subjects. 

It was a nice easy knit with Araucania Aysen an aran weight yarn with a lovely mix of merino, alpaca and silk and the colours match my autumn wardrobe a treat and is as soft as it is warm.  It feels like the best of treats to wrap yourself up in, a great big warm cuddle, especially on mornings when its dark and cold with the start of jack frosts long pointy fingers needling through my clothing to freeze my skin to remind me that deep winter is on its way. 

And there is other news. 
I have a Saturday job at Wool Warehouse which is as amazing a place to work as it is to look around their website.  I cannot tell you how much pleasure I get from this Saturday job, firstly of course it gives me pin (or should I say wool) money, which feels great.  Secondly, I get to talk about knitting all day long, (which is doubly great) and thirdly, fourthly and fifthly, it is the greatest of fun.  

And what is even better is I have a great boss. 

For instance, last week, it was a little nippy, you might remember last Saturday, it was cold. 
At one stage I could barely feel my hands, at which point my boss threw a skein of Artesano 4ply 100% alpaca in my direction and told me to knit some gloves for myself to wear at work.  How nice is that?  Company knitting with gorgeous yarn, what was a girl to do?  I got home and surfed Ravelry and found  Queen Lucy’s Fingerless Mittens  then rummaged for some beads that I had bought at a show of Debbie Abrahams Beads in Lime which are lined in silver and are very glittery.  The pattern calls for size 6 (six to an inch) but I only had size 8’s (eight to an inch) but I went with it.
 And soon I had a pair of very pretty fingerless mitts,
 They are beautifully soft,
 and warm.
And I think, very pretty.
I shall be test driving them tomorrow.