Friday, 27 January 2012

Reasons To Be Cheerful

I've got to say, I'm struggling with Reasons To Be Cheerful this week. There are Reasons To Feel A Bit Swamped, Reasons To Be Mildly Anxious, Reasons To Need More Sleep, but.. Reasons To Be Cheerful? Well, it's not coming naturally. That's not to say I'm feeling depressed or anything, there's nothing wrong, I'm just Not Cheerful as such. I've even been Too Tired To Knit.

However, there are Reasons To Smile.

1) Watching Warehouse 13 - our new addiction. We'd seen the Eureka/Warehouse 13 crossover ('Crossing Over') so thought we'd try Warehouse 13 itself, and very enjoyable it is too. Fun programme with plenty of geekiness. Yes, just right. We've watched Seasons 1 and 2 in about a week and a half.

2) Daffodils. I have a pot of Tête-à-Tête daffs that I bought in a supermarket last year, and after they'd finished flowering the pot just sat in a corner outside the back door. I'd intended to re-plant the bulbs in the garden but the pot got shoved behind something else and forgotten about. Until a few days ago when I noticed green shoots coming up from that little pot. I brought it inside on Wednesday and on Thursday the first flower appeared! Yay!

3) Apple crumble. Mmmmmmmm.

4) Just thought of a fourth Reason. It was beautifully clear last night so the kids and I went out (well wrapped up, it was baltic out there) in the back garden to look at the stars just before bedtime. I've finally got round to buying a planisphere so we have more idea where to look and what we're looking at. The Orion nebula (fuzzy blob in Orion's sword) was more obvious last night - usually the light pollution here makes it hard to see - and the Boy was really pleased about that. Miss Mouse just likes looking for patterns and making up constellations! I also found our binoculars which was helpful - I can't see a thing through a telescope but if I shut one eye, binoculars work quite well for me.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

The sky

I finished my brother's fingerless mitts last night - these were the ones that were supposed to be his Christmas present but I was still bogged down in the cable bit come Christmas Day. Once past the cable bit they fairly flew off the needles and last night I finally settled down to tackle the thumb which is my least favourite bit of mitten/glove-knitting because I'm quite nit-picky about the neatness of it and hate an untidy thumb! But being a bit of a fiddly thing to knit in the round getting them neat takes a bit of effort.

I'm pleased with the result though - the wool (a discontinued Rowan one I think) was an ideal choice for the pattern (Stephen West's Coler from Westknits 2) and I love that blue. I wish the sky was that blue - it just makes me think of skies and sea whenever I look at it. Gorgeous... Unfortunately the actual sky is a flat heavy grey with snow coming out of it just now, wet snow that's only just beginning to lie. Ooops, made myself shiver there!

No time for Reasons To Be Cheerful today so I'll do that tomorrow (loving the thought of pencilling 'Cheerful' into my diary for tomorrow!).

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

hearts and stars

I made a heart yesterday. I'm not sure if it's a very small pin-cushion or if I'll attach a ribbon and hang it up somewhere (Miss Mouse has her eye on it - she wants it to be a pillow for her teddy, but it's really too small for that). The idea was to brighten up miserable January with a bit of colour, and I thought a few hearts in cheery colours might do the trick!

It was cold and clear on Sunday night so the Boy and I went out into the garden to look at the stars. We didn't have a hope of seeing the aurora as the glow of Glasgow is to the north of us, but we did get a good view of Orion and I was pretty pleased with myself for finding Cassiopeia. And as he was interested, yesterday I showed the Boy various aurora pictures online - some cracking ones on the Shetland News report and Paula Moss Photography. When I was a kid I used to find the northern lights a bit creepy - I remember standing at our door once watching it then having the urge to run back inside. It does look a bit like a dodgy special effect in a film I suppose! I do kick myself a bit now, that I lived in a place with reasonably dark skies (though the flare-stack at the oil terminal did affect that) and more opportunity for aurora-watching than most places in Britain, yet I didn't stand still, watch and make a point of remembering these moments. Especially when so many of my friends now I'm on the mainland say that they'd love to see an aurora. There's nothing like being irrationally irritated with your former self!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

More reasons to be cheerful!

I'm always slow with my Reasons To Be Cheerful (Planet Penny usually starts the cheerfulness ball rolling on a Wednesday or a Thursday) so today I'm going to cram in three super-quick reasons while having my coffee, before going to get the kids from school.

*deep breath*

1) Stargazing Live - granted I didn't get to watch it actually live ('Kids! Go. To. Bed!') but either on delay or on iplayer, but ah, how I enjoyed it! Thought-provoking, funny, fascinating, intriguing. Shame it's so often cloudy here, particularly in January.
Oh, I took this picture last week on a clear evening (well, afternoon really).

I watched the 2nd programme on iplayer with the Boy yesterday and he was mostly fascinated and is quite keen that we take his telescope up to Granny and Grandpa's next time we go as we'll get more of a dark sky there.

2) Flowers! Yes, more :-D. My tulips are past their best now but I've hung onto them for their weird sculptural shapes and rich colours:

but I've also got some daffs! Excuse my excessive enthusiasm for a moment but I love daffodils - the colour, the shape, the smell:
.. the shadows they cast on themselves..

Buying flowers is a bit of an indulgence but so worth it when the sun comes out briefly and the windowsill just lights up with colour.

3) Shade cards:
That's the Jamieson's one

All those colours, all those possibilities! I've been playing about with knitters' graph paper this week, doing some Fair Isle/colourwork designs. It's not something I've really done before (the designing that is) but is very absorbing. I've got a few ideas in my head at the moment so the shade card, aside from being a thing of beauty in its own right, is a way of focussing the ideas a bit in terms of colours and how they work together. And seeing the colours is quite inspirational too. Sorry, went off in a daydream there..

Right, gotta go!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Reasons To Be Cheerful

1) Locorten-Vioform. Ear-drops that is. Wonderful stuff for those of us with recurrently scabby ears!

2) Science. Or Potions, depending on your point of view. A bit of silly science with the kids! In a vase, white vinegar, food colouring, glitter and washing-up liquid:

..and a spoonful of bicarbonate of soda:

Add a sinister cackle:


Actually the one we did with yellow food-colouring looked the most sinister (quite sulphurous) but I didn't take pictures of that one.

3) Sunsets. I went for a walk with the Boy this afternoon and we took pictures of the sunset. It was cold out, still frosty in places, but very calm and beautiful.

I like that picture, it looks surprisingly rural (it's not).

This week went so quickly. The kids went back to school on Monday and have settled back into the routine. I've had a sore throat and sore ears all week so have been doing a fair bit of knitting and crochet. The razor-shell scarf is growing slowly but I've memorised the lace row now which speeds things up a bit. The crochet is beginning to click - it still looks wonky but is more crochet-like at least! The only hook I could find was really the wrong size for the wool I'm practising with, so I bought a set of gorgeously coloured metal crochet hooks off ebay and now I can crochet with anything (probably even cobwebs with the teeny-tiny one):


Those hooks are pretty much a Reason To Be Cheerful in their own right! I'm so shallow :-D.

Monday, 9 January 2012

Anthropomorphising flowers

Well that one's just a tulip. Pretty, mind.

But this, this one, is applauding. Or swooning? Or maybe facepalm!

I lead a dull life don't I?

So, today. Making Monday. I got the shopping, housework, lunch and stuff out of the way, and prepared to knit. Like Natalie of the Yarn Yard I've never really got to grips with lace knitting so I'm trying to encourage myself to get out of my knitting comfort zone with it a bit. At the moment I'm doing the razor-shell lace scarf, as mentioned before - only one line of lace, repeated over and over so easing me gently out towards the rough currents and shoals of lace knitting where there be charts, yarr, and x almost certainly does not mark the spot but more likely some tricky sl1-kfb-while-standing-on-your-head-psso operation. But I made the mistake of switching the television on, having a look at what's on catch-up and saying to myself 'Ooh, I'll just have quick look at that Borgen thing, people have been talking about that on Ravelry/Twitter - subtitles though so I'll only watch a couple of minutes..' Yeah. Some time later with the remote still in my hand I realised that it was finished and it was almost school pick-up time so no time for knitting. I'm so glad I did though.

Some thoughts on this:
1) Media bint character really does look like Rose Tyler's Danish cousin as somebody on Ravelry pointed out. Uncannily. Which reminds me, does anybody remember The Tenth Kingdom? My Beloved dubbed the character of Sally Peep 'Alice Tinker's slutty cousin' and everytime we've seen Lucy Punch in something since that's all we can say. Mind you in Hot Fuzz it was pretty accurate.

2) Subtitled Danish or Swedish drama is weird because it sounds familiar enough for me to forget that I don't actually speak the language and do need to read the subtitles. So no lace knitting while it's on.

As well as the lace knitting thing I also have a tentative not-quite-resolution thing to get to grips with crochet a bit more as well. I sort of managed granny squares last year, but I want to make a granny stripe blanket eventually (even if it's only a little one for the cats' basket) so last night was spent doing wonky treble clusters while watching Pride and Prejudice on DVD.

This was another Reason To Be Cheerful - I am fortunate enough to have secured a gentleman who will willingly and happily watch the whole of Pride and Prej over two consecutive evenings. Not so surprising really as he's addicted to Patrick O'Brian novels which are the nearest male equivelant I've encountered. I won't show you a picture of my wonky crochet, but honestly, it is improving. So, woohoo!

Since the ginger-wine/keyboard interface incident I'm still using my Beloved's noisy keyboard so I shall stop typing there before I drive him to distraction.

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Reasons To Be Cheerful

1. Knitting. I've started a razor-shell lace scarf with wool my brother bought me for my birthday. I've now learned not to try the lace rows when I'm watching television. Last night I managed to get one stitch short on one lace row, sorted that, then got four too many on the next. No idea how.. So I took it to soft-play with me today (Miss M was at a birthday party there), ripped it back four or five rows to tackle what was possibly a hole or possibly just a very loose stitch but was bugging me slightly either way, and got it all sorted. So satisfying. See, if I never messed up my knitting I'd never have the satisfaction of being able to fix it! (Pollyanna moment no.1).

The thumb bandage is because I cut the tip of my thumb chopping something and the wool keeps catching on the sticking plaster. This is the unattractive best option when knitting.

2. Opening a new bottle of brown sauce. My Beloved made the dinner, fish and oven chips (we were feeling tired and lazy), to which of course the only sensible accompaniment besides vinegar is brown sauce. I'm so mundane aren't I?

3. Flowers. I bought some tulips the other day (this picture is from Thursday I think - note the rare blue sky!) and even though they're doing that alarming tulip sag they do quickly they're so cheerful and happy looking. I've had a sore throat for several days and haven't really been out so a bit of colour indoors has been Just What The Doctor Probably Would Have Ordered. (Pollyanna moment number two)

Despite the sore throat I'm actually spoiled for Reasons To Be Cheerful choice at the moment (Pollyanna flounces off in a huff at being outclassed), even if the brown sauce one makes you suspect otherwise, so I may even do another post tomorrow, once the kids are safely back at school. I've loved the school holidays but a return to routine is something to look forward to in its own way.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Two days

Our little trip up north was a last-minute sort of thing and very short but so lovely!

On Hogmanay the snow was thawing - we had a beautiful walk down to the golf course, then back around the loch. And then Miss Mouse and her Granny and I had a game of golf in the garden - according to the rules of Miss Mouse! We just tried to keep up with what she was doing!

Then that night there was a torchlit procession, followed by fireworks at 'the bells'. I don't really like crowds and enforced jollity, and Mum said she didn't see anybody she knew (so probably a lot of visitors and holiday-home people) so we headed back to the house before midnight and watched the fireworks from the upstairs landing window. I'm astonished the kids didn't wake actually because it was a tremendous display!

On New Year's Day my Beloved and I left the kids with their grandparents and did the Wildcat Trail - a walk/hike/ramble around the village. It's a bit of a tradition that people walk it on New Year's Day and the Wildcat Centre provide mulled wine, shortbread and a certificate for those who complete it. Due to the melting snow there was a lot of floodwater on the lower half of the trail running below the village down by the river, so people were only doing the upper portion. Which was quite wet enough itself!

That watery bit there was the path. It got muddier and wetter further on too (especially the bit where we took a wrong turn in the wood and ended up in a boggy field). But it was tremendous fun!

The rain was intermittent hence the odd raindrops on some of the pictures but we were lucky that it was mostly dry when we were up on the moor.

Scampering around in the muck makes me feel like a kid again! And look at those beautiful colours..

My cheap snow boots from Lidl stood up to the walk very well - actually the worst bit was walking along the pavement back through the village. The boots are definitely at their best on a surface with a bit of give to it!

Apart from all the fresh air stuff I also got some peaceful knitting time and have nearly finished my brother's other fingerless mitt. I knew it'd be quick once I got some peace and with three other adults on hand to distract the kids it was a doddle! We had a farcical moment when I forgot whether it was the left or right mitt I'd already done so went out to the golf course (for mobile reception) to text my brother. He replied he couldn't remember and was on a train to Edinburgh so couldn't check. You'd think one of us would remember which one it was! Eventually, looking back through the pattern, I decided it was the left mitt I'd done as there were some faint pencil marks on the 'left' section. And thinking about it I'm pretty sure I usually do knit left mitts and left socks (not that there's a difference but I try them on as I go along and the first sock is 'left') before right. Odd.

So now it's January - my least favourite month. I don't hate winter at all, I just hate January. So I'm going to make a concerted effort to keep myself cheerful this January. I have some more felt so I might make something colourful with that, and once my brother's mitt is done I'll knit something Just For Me. Actually I did a bit on my Peerie Flooers hat while I was away so I'll probably finish that in the next week or two - yay!

Monday, 2 January 2012

Back from the Frozen North

We managed to pick the two worst days to be travelling through the Drumochter Pass - snowy parentheses to our little trip to Badenoch.

On the way.

On the way back. Not very much snow really but very dodgy visibility.

It turns out I'm really too tired to blog tonight - I blame the sleeping cat on my lap making me sleepy by suggestion. Good night!