Friday, 30 January 2015

Birthday Celebrations (for old people)

Blue Skies and Tall Masts

I haven’t really been up to anything exciting recently. It’s been too cold to do any allotmenting, I’m too crafted out to be creative and it’s that bit of the winter where the enthusiasm of the New Year has passed and I just want to hibernate for a while.

But – January sees my birthday and a reason to celebrate (if being a bit greyer and a bit wrinklier is a reason to celebrate). DH and I took the day off work and had a trip out to Gloucester. He was tempted by the wonderful industrial architecture of the docks and I had heard tell of a fabulous Antique Centre. A win-win situation!

So we set off on what must have been one of the wettest and most miserably cold days of the month but determined to have a good time.

We parked up and began the day with a hot chocolate which seemed like the best decision. The antiques then beckoned. I was most disappointed to not find anything that really drew me. An Enid Blyton book entitled ‘Mr Pink-Whistle Interferes’ caused some sniggers and I was tempted by a beautiful wooden Victory puzzle of kittens. We spent some time looking around the docks and admiring the wonderful restoration they have done. There were lots of artefacts around the place, giving a sense of the history of the setting and I was filled with longing, looking at the rows of colourful narrowboats all moored up (we used to own a narrowboat and I still really miss it)
Detail from a stone carving

We lunched at a small place called Hubble Bubble and both enjoyed some fab burgers. Hubble Bubble is conveniently located right near Gloucester Cathedral so we decided to look around that too.
Gloucester Cathedral

Cathedrals are awesome places – the scale, the history, the architecture! I had absolutely no clue that this particular cathedral had been used famously for filming some of the Harry Potter films. There was nothing inside to advertise this fact and I didn’t find out til afterwards – but it did explain why some of it seemed so familiar! The day we went they had film crews in again, setting up to shoot some scenes for Sherlock.
Gloucester Cathedral dates from 1089 and its other claim to fame is it houses the tomb of Edward II. Edward was alledgedly murdered at nearby Berkeley Castle and was buried at Gloucester although his heart is at Newgate Church in London (I just love a gruesome detail!). The tomb is pretty impressive and typically covered in graffiti from schoolboys in the 1700's. I didn't purchase a photography permit and so have no actual pics from inside the Cathedral.

Detail from outside the Cathedral
A final visit to some shops and the purchase of a suit for DS#2 (hang on, it was MY birthday!) saw us finish off the day before heading home.
Rain on the Cobbles!

I reflected afterwards on how grown up I must be now, cathedrals and antiques rather than mad drunken debauchery for my birthday – but then I don’t think I could keep up with the debauchery any more. I’d probably be asleep before it really got going!

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Handmade Hats

The second post this week! It’s got to be a record!

All ready to get knitting!

I just wanted to update you with my attempts at spinning – as you may remember I borrowed a wheel from work over the Summer and have been enjoying teaching myself to spin wool from a mixture of trial and error (mostly error) and some helpful Youtube videos. Hurrah for technology.

I was determined to finish something from fleece to knitted item before Christmas. In my head I had the lovely idea of presenting DH with a hat and scarf on Christmas morning. In reality I had not taken into consideration how I would secretly card, spin and knit when he wasn’t looking. A spinning wheel is not the most easily concealed item in the world and my knitting is not something I can do without tons of concentration and regular reference to the pattern. So, my plans were reduced to just a hat. And a reasonably small hat at that!
I got the wool spun and the threads were spun into something resembling yarn. I still have sadly not got a Niddy Noddy and so had to use the back of the chair! I was unsure of how much yarn I would need for my hat. The ‘recipe’ in the knitting pattern doesn’t work in handspun lumpy balls and so I had to just go with it and accept that I may well have to be spinning more as I needed it.

Knitting the hat was a case of a few rows as and when. So, I took it to work, out and about and gave up my gym sessions in order to knit (ok, this is a slight lie – I didn't need an excuse to not visit the gym).

It was all worth it when I finally completed my first ever handmade hat! I even added a label and gave up a vintage button from my collection to give it a stamp of originality. I was thrilled! Even DH looked impressed.
The finished article 

 It’s not the most beautiful hat in the world. The wool is lumpy, the knitting a little uneven and in fairness it could use being a bit bigger in size. But I made it myself and it was the gift that I had the most pride in handing over this Christmas.

The new project - it's a fleece not a wig!

Now, I was given a new fleece to work on as a Christmas present – a Hebridean fleece (yes, thank you Helen, you do get the prize for most random gift!!) and so endless new possibilities present themselves. Well, endless new hat possibilities anyway!

Back to reality.....

Well, that's that. Back to work tomorrow after a week and a half of chilling and relaxing. I had lists of things I wanted to do, sewing to catch up on, crafts, blogging, reading and allotmenting. Instead I have pottered about and not done very much at all. Oh, I did reorganise the larder - does that count?

Anyway - here are a few pics from the last couple of weeks and a belated Happy New Year to you all!