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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dancing on Ice

Ice skating with Laurie

I've been fitting in my knitting around my current job of full-time children's entertainer. I've been playing hide and seek, reading books, and I've watched more episodes of Peppa Pig than are strictly good for me. And today we went ice-skating. After seeing another little girl skating about on the "ice" rink at the soft play centre we visited Laurie wanted to give it a try. We were worried that she might last for only a few minutes before deciding that she was wasn't that keen but she lasted the whole half hour!

She was pretty good too! She got a compliment from another little girl who was very impressed that it was her first go. She even let go of my hand occasionally.

Ice skating with Laurie

I'm keen to do some more ice skating on real ice (rather than a plastic rink) when I get back to Oxford - I need to get some practice in for the next time I go with Laurie.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Post-Christmas knitting

I'm taking a break from the Aeolian shawl, only because I'm just about to run out of yarn. Again! I've got another skein back at the flat but I only brought the current skein up to Bolton with me. It's a shame because it would be great to be able to block it and try it on with the dress whilst I'm up here but there are only 14 rows* to go so there should be no trouble about finishing it in time for the wedding.

In the meantime I've been playing with two of my Christmas presents from my parents - my deluxe set of KnitPro interchangeable needles (all the sizes from 3.5mm to 7mm and cables from 40cm to 100cm) and my Vogue Knitting Stitchionary: Cables v. 2 (btw whilst searching for the link to that book I found that you can access some of the Vogue Stitchionary patterns free online here - there are cables, knit and purl, and colourwork patterns).

The result (so far) is the beginnings of a reversible cabled rib scarf in the Blacker Designs pink Cotswold yarn that I bought at UK Knit Camp.

Reversible cable scarf

I love this cable - it's going to make for a really thick squooshy scarf.

* Although admittedly those 14 rows add up to about 13,000 stitches!

Monday, December 27, 2010


THE DRESS is finished. I finished the hems earlier whilst watching various bits of Christmas TV online (Poirot, Dr Who). There was one very nasty moment when my sewing machine decided to choose the last two feet of stitching on the bit of the dress that shows to start spewing bits of oily fluff up through the stitching plate leaving one very distinct black spot and one black smear on the hem at the front. Which leads me to a couple more wedding dress "DO"s.

DO clean your machine before you start work on your dress.

and similarly

DO de-scale/clean your iron (or buy a new one) and make sure the cover of your ironing board is clean (or buy a new one). Ask me how I know this is a good idea! Luckily the pieces which the iron spit brown water on are completely covered by the drapes.

Tomorrow I'll be braving the Christmas sales in search of a bra that will go under the dress before awaiting the arrival of my sister, brother-in-law, and my niece in the afternoon. We're all very excited about seeing L open her pressies.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

I meant to say ....

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope you had a joyous and peaceful day.

Liz x

One wedding dress and a partridge in a pear tree

Wedding dress

The dress is as nearly done now as makes no difference, just the hem to do now. It's a lot of sewing but it's straightforward. I was so pleased to get the zipper in yesterday - it's the trickiest bit so I put it off all morning whilst we did the lining. In the end it took the entire length of Don Giovanni (absolutely cracking production - *love* Gerald Finley - still available on iPlayer) from Glyndebourne on BBC2 on Christmas eve to get it in but I made a pretty good job of it. I had a try on earlier with the necklace and earrings that the boyfriend bought me for Christmas and it looks great. Now I just need to get cracking on the edging for the shawl.

I've got a few make-yer-own-dress "do"s and "don't"s

DO have the odd glass of champagne whilst sewing. Steadies the nerves if not the hands. I'd steer clear of red wine though, especially if you're going for white or ivory.

DON'T try to make alterations (especially involving cutting) whilst you're actually wearing the dress. I learnt this one from the lovely Jo who had a horrific experience with her wedding dress and a seam ripper. If you do have a disaster try to keep cool - Jo did manage to salvage the situation by re-fusing the fibres of the silk fabric back together using pins and fusible interfacing.

DO buy new pins and needles and DO ask the people at the haberdashers for advice on which needles to use. For silk and satin really the finer the needle the better, I'm using size 9s. I'm also using bridal pins to avoid making holes in the fabric.

DO make sure you've got plenty of spares - I'm on my third needle so far after I bent two when I hit a pin. Talking of which, if you do hit a pin whilst stitching check if it's been nicked at all when you take it out. I tend to bend any nicked pins in half and put them in the thread bin. Talking of which...

DO use a thread bin. It makes it so much easier to keep tidy.

Wedding dress

DO snip threads off as you go. If you wait till the end of the project you'll be there for hours searching for threads to snip.

I'm so excited about finishing the dress tomorrow, yay!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Ready, set, go

The presents are wrapped, my bag is (almost) packed, and tomorrow I'll be venturing onto the trains in the fond hope of making it up to Bolton for Christmas. At the same time the boyfriend will be setting off in the car in the opposite direction for Kent. Since we won't be spending Christmas together we've already exchanged gifts - the boyfriend seemed very happy with his (non-hand-knitted) sweater and I'm very chuffed with my necklace and earrings which the boyfriend very sweetly picked out to match THE DRESS. He gets top marks for thoughtfulness.

I really hope that I get a seat on the train tomorrow. If I do I should have a very comfortable journey, I've got a bunch of DVDs packed and my new legwarmers to work on. I found a fabulous pattern on from the Spring '08 Knitty on Ravelry called Mosey - they should be just what I want. Pictures when I've got something a little more interesting to show you than one inch of 2 x 2 rib.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Cabin fever

After four days snow bound in Woodstock the boyfriend and I are very much hoping to be able to get into work by bus tomorrow, not least so that we can buy milk. Although we suspect that milk was delivered to the local Co-Op this morning it had all gone again by the time we got there.

Milk tomorrow

The other thing we need to sort out in town is a little bit of last minute Christmas shopping. It seemed a really dumb idea at the beginning of last week when I was staggering round town doing Christmas shopping whilst carrying a whole weekend's packing in a hugh rucksack on my bag but after four days without a bus into town it's looking smarter by the minute. I only have three gifts left to get thanks to my earlier mad dash and a stint on Amazon last week.

Today it's been all about the icicles. As the snow has melted off the roofs the display has got even more spectacular.


Who needs those icicle Christmas lights, eh? (Sorry, Dad.)

We were a bit concerned about how well the guttering would stand up to the weight of the ice and it seems we weren't alone. I snapped the picture above just before a couple of chaps in hard hats came along with a paint roller tied to an extending ladder to knock them down. I hope they got hazard pay, one or two of those icicles were about a yard long.

Clearing icicles

Clearing icicles

There are icicles everywhere, not just on the buildings.

Frozen trees

It looks like this tree collapsed under the weight of its own icicles.

Frozen trees

Indoors there's been successful work and not so successful knitting. The cabled legwarmer which was almost up to my knee yesterday is back to being a ball of yarn again.

Ripped legwarmer

It was a goodly length but not enough ease around the calves, at least not when worn over any of my multitude of winter tights. I do love how these cables look though so I think I'll reknit along similar lines.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Let it snow, let it snow, ok it can stop snowing now!

We've only had three days of snow here in north Oxfordshire so we shouldn't really complain, not when some parts of the country have been putting up with it for weeks. I was very thankful when the lovely men from John Lewis delivered our new washing machine promptly at 7:50am on Saturday morning, before the snow started and our road looked like this.

Snowed in

We're very happy with our new toy - we've not quite worked through the mountain of laundry but we can at least put the lid on the basket now.

New washer

So now we're just holed up in the flat, waiting to see whether we'll be able to get away to our respective families for Christmas. At the moment we're still hopeful that things will be a bit clearer by Thursday when we're due to travel but we'll see.

In the meantime the snow certainly is very pretty. I think this year's photos of Blenheim are even more spectacular than last year's.

Winter sun

Queen pool in snow

We went out to enjoy the scenery in the amazing afternoon light yesterday before heading home for tea and comfort knitting (cabled legwarmers).

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


The washing machine died last night. Not with a bang, nor a whimper, more of a sinister rattling noise. The boyfriend was so alarmed that he stopped the program halfway through the cycle to investigate. Once we'd got the thing out of the little cave in the kitchen where it lives and got the back off it we didn't find out what was causing the rattling noise but we did discover that in addition to rattling it was also leaking! At 13 years old and having been repaired once already we felt that the washer had reached the end of its natural life.

Of course it would happen when there is an absolute mountain of laundry to be dealt with. Luckily those nice people at John Lewis are able to deliver a new machine to us some time on Saturday - I should have enough clean clothes to last me until then.

Early night tonight (after staying up late with the ailing washer yesterday) in preparation for tomorrow's Christmas party when I'll be giving the wedding dress muslin its first outing.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Crafty weekend

Lots of making and doing this weekend. It started off with some baking with my niece - even at age 3 she's showing a lot of flair for cake decorating.

Baking with Laurie

Then there's been lots of knitting on the wedding shawl in the car from London to Bolton and then on the train this morning from Manchester to Oxford. I was so happy to get onto the relatively bead-free edging set-up chart. Without the beads it's going along quite nicely and I had a lovely time knitting away on the train with an M&S picnic and season 2 of Buffy on DVD on my new laptop.

I didn't get too much knitting done whilst actually in Bolton - just a few rows whilst watching all that Strictly - as most of the time was spent getting started on THE DRESS*.

Wedding dress

I'm afraid there will only be snippet views of the dress until the big day so as not to spoil the surprise for the boyfriend but I can tell you that it's going very well so far. We've sewn together the pieces for the front and back bodice and attached all the drapes and it's looking lovely. The next step, when I go up to Bolton for Christmas, is to work out the fit and then start on the skirt. Very exciting.

* with props to Charlotte Bronte (see Villette).