26 January 2015


...this week of...

...happiness fun in the snow at Forest School, a day out birdwatching, a weekend with my brother and partner

...sadness at over eating

...creating rows on a shawl, rows on a scarf, bird food

...reading The Making of the British Landscape by Francis Pryor and to the children The Pirates' Treasure by Emily Bearn and the tale of the Sparrow and the Tug of War.

...learning about animal tracks and poo, birds, squirrels, bird food, new songs

...thinking about festivals and traditions for February

...wondering about a friends recent behaviour and whether I should be worried about it or not

...hoping to get everything done this week that I need to before we go away

...enjoying this

...looking forward to visiting a old friend for a few days next weekend


If you would like to join me you would be most welcome, either using my headings or you own, let me know you have written a post and I will link up to it..........

23 January 2015


I took part in a challenge last year, one that involved reading 300 different picture books in a year.  When I decided to join in I didn't give much thought to whether it fitted in with how we read books, having realised that it didn't really I decided to carry on with it to see, out of interest, how many we would read.  All the books we read were chosen from our shelves or of those of the library by the children themselves.  We didn't quite reach 300 but we got surprisingly close.  What the challenge did show me was how sporadic our reading* has become in a week.  Whilst I would always expect that we would read more in some weeks than others there were many weeks when we read little or nothing despite it being an ordinary week at home.  I am still mulling over how to include it into our rhythm or whether I should just continue to let it happen when my children want it to, this would be on top of the reading that we do at lunchtime our chapter book and stories and poems related to our learning.

My youngest would like to learn to read, she has mentioned it several times over the last few months. My eldest never made such a request he 'taught' himself to read and now spends a large part of his time reading.  My children learn very differently, as I would expect them to, they have very different characters.  I read to my eldest as much as I read to my youngest but he liked talking about the story, the pictures, me pointing to the words as I read them none of which my youngest wants or enjoys.  I know that reading books to children is part of them learning to read but there are other things I can do to enable her learning if she wants me to.

My eldest learnt a lot from a programme, Alphablocks he watched it extensively and exclusively at this age (5.5), my youngest does so occasionally.  I made my eldest a set of road signs which we took out on journeys, they have either one letter or word on, we have looked at these but have yet to take them out in the car.  I also made a set of labels of words of familiar household objects which I have stuck to the object.  She has been very interested by this idea and has been 'reading' these labels on and off over the last few weeks.  She has also been asking about words that she finds all over the place.  When I tell her about a new, to her, letter she will go and find more.  Slowly she is adding to her list of letters she can identify, at her pace.

I have a set of picture cards which along with a board of letters (like a lotto board) we can use for sound development and the lovely game I-spy.  We have magnetic letters on our fridge which my eldest didn't really make use of and my youngest is not that interested in either maybe now I could remove them, they do drive me mad!  I have thought about making cards with each letter on using a tactile material for the letter, has anyone else used these?  I would need to come up with some activities for introducing them, if you have any ideas...............I like the look of this book and this book but have not seen inside them both to know which would be the most suitable, if at all.  This is a journey that I am excited about, I thought it would be a while before she was interested.  It could also be that whilst she aspires to read she is not ready for it yet.  We will see!

I have realised by writing all this down that I did actually 'do' a lot more than I had thought to enable my eldest to learn to read.

* | * | * | * | *

* my eldest can read independently so I am really talking about the reading I do to and with my youngest child who is not reading as yet.

21 January 2015


I have an old chest of drawers that used to belong to my granparents, it has deep wide drawers which are hopeless for keeping clothes in.  You always want/need what is at the bottom back corner.  We I use it for storage.  The top drawer is full of first aid supplies, a hangover from my time as an outdoor instructor I never go anywhere without a first aid kit which needs constantly resupplying..................

Of the other two drawers one has yarn it, mostly ends of balls from past projects and a few skeins patiently waiting to be knitted.  The other is full of material, again pieces left from projects, or pieces acquired/given to me that have already been made into something but would be perfect to be made into something else someday.  There is also a small pile of old clothes beyond repair that are, the could be used to make something one day pile.  One piece is a pair of old linen trousers of mine worn for years but now completely worn through on the seat and rather grubby I noticed when I got them out to have a good look at them recently.

I have been wanting to make some mats to put hot drinks on for a while now, we have a few round cork ones that look like a mouse has had a good chew at, they haven't I don't think but I wouldn't put it past those mice that moved in a couple of years ago.  We also have a few old CDs that do a serviceable job but they have a hole in the middle which means that a small part of the surface they are on still gets hot, one of our tables does not like this.  So I had some linen and an idea and this is what I came up with................

I had no template and so kind of guessed based on the one square mat we own.  They have a section of towel in the middle to provide the padding.  The towel is an old stained one that had been relegated to the mopping up messes pile.  As the linen was a pale colour I thought they would look good with an appliquéd shape on them, I went for an apple but you could sew anything you fancy, a circle, a leaf, maybe?  If you don't fancy applique you could just miss that part out and make them from some patterned material.

So I cut two squares, from the linen and one from the towel. The first two I made were 4" squares, the third a 5" square.  I sewed the appliqué shape to one of the linen squares.  Then I placed the linen squares right sides together with the towel square on top, pinned them and sewed around 7/8ths of the edges leaving a 1/8 of a side unsewn.  I turned it the right way out through the hole and hand sewed the edge up.  Voila a mat.  I now have three, in three different sizes it would seem.............

I have cut some squares to make some more they are patiently waiting on a shelf.

19 January 2015


...this week of...

...happiness a tidy house, watching snow falling, achievements

...sadness my eldest being really unwell, he is never ill and has really struggled with being ill this week

...creating rows on my cardigan, a birthday present for a friend, rows on a sock, snowballs

...reading The Old Ways by Robert MacFarlane and The Journey by Kathryn Lasky and to the children The Pirates' Treasure by Emily Bearn

....learning about castles, perspective, marianas trench, plough monday, wassailing, snow, 2 and 3D shapes, volcanoes, evolution, gravity and mammals

...thinking about future projects we can incorporate into our learning

...wondering if we might see friends this week as everything we had planned last week was cancelled!

...hoping my eldest will be well enough to do some of the lovely activities I have planned for this week

...enjoying this

...looking forward to seeing my brother at the weekend


If you would like to join me you would be most welcome, either using my headings or you own, let me know you have written a post and I will link up to it..........


One of my lovely moments this week has been to join with Rhonda and her pantry challenge.  I wrote a Do list at the beginning of the year, jobs that I need to do at some point, one of those on the list was to tidy my pantry.  I knew what was in there but not exactly where everything was, it was organised chaos.  So the gauntlet having been thrown I waded in..........

My pantry houses most of the food, we have a few bits and pieces stored in the kitchen, one small cupboard and some wicker drawers for fruit and veg.  It is actually a cupboard under the stairs and was not originally part of the kitchen at all.  When we bought the house the wall between the kitchen and the hall had been taken down, we have extended our kitchen into what was the hall by utilising this cupboard as a pantry.  My kitchen is very small and there is no way I would be able to store what I want to if I didn't have this cupboard.  So without further ado, some before (left) and after (right) pictures.

Most storage is in wicker baskets, the top shelf is a stone slab which keeps food cool for most of the year:

Behind the baskets is where I store food that I buy in bulk:

I decant this into containers stored in the baskets:

On the other side of the pantry is the shelves for my chutneys and jams (homemade of course!) and a herb and spice rack this was all in order already :).

(sorry about the not very good photos, this cupboard is dark unless the light is on and it receives no natural light being in the middle of the house............)

16 January 2015


The green shoots of snowdrops are tentatively pushing their way above ground.  

The days are gradually getting longer, an imperceptible change as the earth slowly tilts the Northern Hemisphere towards the sun.  

The sun is the golden key to unlock the gates of nature's store of renewed life, to bring spring on its way.

Prompted by writealm

14 January 2015


One of the first big projects that I knit from myself was one of these.  I was really disappointed that it looked awful on, it was a hard way to find it out but raglan shaping really does not suit me at all.  I was torn over what to do with it, part of me wanted to like it as I have invested so much time on it the other part said give it away.  I am so glad I didn't give it away as eventually I realised that I could undo my knitting and reuse the yarn to make something I would wear.

So nearly a year a go I cast on that yarn to make myself a second shalom.  My original was a good fit but it has no sleeves and the 'button band' does not meet in the middle (it is not designed to!) I wanted  to have both so I had to adapt the pattern.  I know how useful I found other knitters notes on adapting this pattern to include sleeves and more buttonholes, I made extensive use of these notes, so I thought I would add mine into the pot too.

I shortened it a bit last time which was fine as a sleeveless cardigan but I wanted it longer to keep me warm in the winter. I decided that I wanted to knit this shalom as long as the original pattern, so I knitted the same number of rows.  The increases in the yoke were calculated using this useful calculator.  It took two attempts to get this to fit right.  The first time I increased too much (using the increases suggested in the pattern notes link above) and it was far too big. I hadn't measured quite correctly, I thought I needed to knit the same size!  I knit seven rows of twisted rib rather than the nine in the original pattern I wanted the yoke to finish higher up.  I wear a UK Size 10/Small.  So herewith my adaptation:

CO 67
Follow pattern knitting seven rows of twisted rib and with changes on the following rows:
8 increase evenly across row to 109 sts - see above for a useful calculator
18 increase evenly across row to 151 sts
28 increase evenly across row to 193 sts
37-39 K all stitches
40 - 44 St st
45 Divide for sleeves K30 place next 38 stitches on scrap yarn, K57, place next 38 stitches on scrap yarn K30 (117)
46 K25 P25 CO6 P57 CO6 P25 K5 (139)
47 K33 pm K63 pm K to end
55, *K to 2 sts before marker ssk sm k2tog rep from *, K to end
63 repeat row 55
69 repeat row 55
75 repeat row 55
83 *K to 2 sts before marker kfbl sm kfbl rep frp, *, K to end
91 repeat row 83
99 repeat row 83

Buttonholes were knitted using the instructions as per row 6 in rows:
6, 23, 40, 57, 74, 91, 109

I worked out the length I wanted these to be and used my gauge to work out how many rows I needed.  I measured the width I wanted at the cuff and worked out how many stitches I needed to have.  I knitted 83 rows, starting with 54 stitches and ending up with 24 before knitting a 5 row cuff.  My wrists are 15.5cm/6" and this gives a good fit on me.

With RS facing pick up 16sts, K38 stitches on scrap yarn K8 place marker for begining of round
1. K
2. K1 K2tog K to last 3sts ssk K1
3-6 K
7 repeat row 2
Repeat rows 3-7 until 24sts
84. P
85. K
86. P
87. K
88. P
89. BO all stitches

I had no idea if I would have enough yarn for this project, I could not really compare with the yardage that others had used.  I had a rough idea of how much I used originally, but when I started to knit the sleeves I realised that I was not going to have enough, then I remembered that I had not used all the balls I bought originally and there at the back of my yarn drawer were two more balls!  I had this much left:

This was the first time I have dramatically altered a knitting pattern.  It was most definitely a stop start process, each step needed carefully thinking before starting and I didn't always get it right first time.  I ripped a lot of stitches out but for me that is part of the learning process.  I am so glad I knit this by rewriting the pattern for myself as I have ended up with a cardigan which is a perfect fit.  I have fairly long arms, if you stretch your arms out from the tip to tip of your middle finger is your height.  I have a short body and very long legs so I can either find cardigans that fit in the body which end up sitting quite a long way up my wrists or are long enough in the arms and I could fit a small child in the body with me!

I bought some yarn a while ago which has been sat in my yarn drawer waiting for a project, this is most unusual for me I usually buy yarn for specific projects, it was a bargain and too good to miss!  I found the perfect pattern for it and then realised that it was knit in pieces which are then sewn up, I really don't enjoy that part of knitting.   It is a fairly simple pattern which I thought I could adapt knitting and adapting the shalom has given me the skills to understand a patterns construction.  So I am attempting to knitt all in one.  I have ripped all the stitches out once when I realised that I was knitting on too small a needle size!  I am keeping notes again so will update when I have finished, if I get that far!

Linking with Ginny

12 January 2015


...this week of...

...happiness a quiet week setting back into our rhythm, reigniting fires and passions, my new diary which keeps all my planning in one place

...sadness at misunderstandings (which thankfully have resolved themselves now)

...creating the beginnings of a felt horse, a coaster and some trousers, rows on a sock, scarf and cardigan, Galette des Rois

...reading The Old Ways by Robert MacFarlane and to the children The Great Escape and The Pirates' Treasure by Emily Bearn, The Feast of One Hundred Camels and the Dinner of Smells for Mawlid al Nabi, Story of the Tree and Baboushka for Twelfth Night

...learning about solar and lunar calendars, mawlid al nabi, muslim months, twelfth night, origins of old hedgerows, old lanes and footpaths, wolves, incas, pharaohs and gods, dinosaurs, letters

...thinking about a visit at the end of the month to see an old friend who has recently moved

...wondering if I have already said yes to too much in June

...hoping to make some bird feeders this week

...enjoying this

...looking forward to my first orchestra rehearsal of the term


If you would like to join me you would be most welcome, either using my headings or you own, let me know you have written a post and I will link up to it..........