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Monday, August 29, 2011

Bank Holiday outing #2

I had another lovely Bank Holiday outing today, this time to London to meet the lovely Lara for tea and a catch-up at Yumchaa. Once we'd finished exchanging all our news we headed off to Liberty for a browse round the haberdashery department. Like Kate we too found the lovely new Rowan fine tweed yarn. I'm very glad now that Lara prevented me from impulse-buying any yarn at the time as now I can buy the yarn in the right amounts and colours for Kate's lovely hat pattern (once it's published).

Once we'd pulled ourselves away from Liberty we went for a wander around the National Gallery followed by more tea in the lovely new Peyton and Byrne cafe (recently reviewed here). I had the Bakewell tart and Lara had the peach and honey tart and they were both delicious.

Peyton and Byrne bakewell tart

[Bakewell tart]

Of course there was plenty of time for knitting, both at the cafe and on the train to and from Oxford. I finished the second sleeve cap on my Deco cardigan but I'm afraid I'm not really further on than I was yesterday as I had to rip back about half of the first sleeve after realising that I had interpreted the instruction to knit rows A and B then repeat 6 times, as meaning knit rows A and B 6 times in total, and then executed them to knit rows A and B five times in total. The nice lady sitting opposite me on the train on the way back was somewhat distressed by my undoing so much of my knitting but as I explained, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing right. Still hoping to finish Deco by the end of the week but sadly I don't think it won't be blocked in time to wear to my dad's birthday dinner at the weekend.

Bank Holiday outing #1

The husband and I took advantage of our brand new National Trust membership and the half-decent weather forecast on Sunday to pop over the border and visit Charlecote Park in Warwickshire.

Charlecote Park

[even the gatehouse is fancy]

We arrived just as the house and outbuildings were being evacuated after a fire alarm but we were allowed into the park to eat our sandwiches and pork pies and by the time we'd finished our picnic the alarm was over and we were able to look round the house.

The park had been home to the Lucy family since the 1200s but was decorated as it had been in the mid-19th century by Mary Elizabeth Lucy.

Charlecote Park

[orange bedroom]

The grounds and gardens, set on the banks of the River Avon and River Dene, are beautiful with a herd of fallow deer roaming about them.

Charlecote Park

[cascade into the Avon]

Luckily the weather stayed fine for long enough for us to wander round before heading into the cafe for tea and cake.

Charlecote Park

Charlecote Park

Charlecote Park

Charlecote Park

If there are two things the National Trust does well it's gardens and cake.

A present from Charlecote

I came away from our visit to Charlecote Park yesterday with something much better than a box of National Trust shortbread. Dahlias from their garden. Not picked by me I hasten to add - they were selling them for £2 a bunch in the plant and flower centre at the exit.

Dahlias from Charlecote

Dahlias from Charlecote

What a gorgeous souvenir to be able to take away. And much better for me than shortbread.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

I was going to write a flip post about how great it is when male drivers lean on their horns when I'm out running as the resultant adrenaline boost makes me run much faster, but it turns out that having simmered about this all the way home I'm still much too angry.

Do these morons realise that their behaviour is intimidatory? Do they think it's fun to threaten women? It would appear so from the way that they were laughing afterwards. Personally I find their behaviour sexist, offensive, and utterly reprehensible.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Crunch time

Deco in progress

With the button and neck bands of my Deco complete I was finally able to check on the size and fit of my cardigan. I'd been a bit worried that it would be rather on the small size but when I tried it on with one of the dresses that I plan to wear it with it looked just perfect (yes, I know I'm not wearing a dress in the picture above).

It's such a relief as I was really dreading having to rip the whole shebang back and rework the gauge. I lightly steamed it before trying it on to relax the fabric and it really helped. I'm hopeful that a proper blocking will really work its magic.

The next step is to work the short rows for the sleeve caps. I've going to have to make another tiny modification here as there's no way that I can work this yarn in the smaller needle size specified (much less pick up stitches with a 2mm needle) but I hope this won't be too much of an issue.

I can also get onto the fun business of picking out some grosgrain ribbon and fabulous buttons for it - I think a trip to Darnit and Stitch is in order.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Snake in the grass

We had a fantastic treat when we went for our usual evening walk around Blenheim. We hadn't got more than a few metres along the path when we saw a 3 foot grass snake basking in the middle of it. It slithered off incredibly quickly but I managed to get one half decent photo.

grass snake

You can just see the white band on the back of its neck and I was able to get close enough to see its tongue flicking in and out. I was so excited - this is the first snake I've seen in the wild since I was very little.

The rest of our walk was less eventful but very lovely. Blenheim looked so beautiful in the evening sunshine - even the algae on the lake was a stunning iridescent green.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Wedding cupcakes

Today we went to our fourth and final wedding of the year, that of Ruth and Paul in Great Malvern. We arrived just before the exit of the newly married couple from the Council House in Malvern and had a moment of wondering if we were at the right wedding until I spotted that all the bridesmaids were wearing Damsons. It's usually a sign that you're in the right place when you recognise the knitwear.

Of course Ruth had also knit a shawl for herself - pretty fabulous, no?

Ruth and Paul

My own contribution to the day's craftiness was baking a batch of cupcakes for the cake table.


Chocolate cupcakes with creme fraiche icing decorated with raspberries and mint leaves

It took a little while to get the creme fraiche* icing right and the kitchen still looks like something exploded in it but I think it was worth it. And, I got the sweetest compliment. As I was taking a picture of the cupcakes I heard this angelic little boy behind me saying "Mummy, that lady's taking a picture of my favourite cakes".

* it was meant to be soured cream icing but creme fraiche was what we had in the fridge

Sunday, August 14, 2011

NY knits

I got a lot of knitting done on my trip to New York. The great thing about knitting on holiday is that the project becomes a souvenir of the trip, every time you wear the finished object you remember the holiday.

Garter yoke cardigan

I knit on the plane* (it's allowed now!), and at the hotel, and on the subway, and on the train and when I came back I had this.

Garter yoke cardigan

The only reason it's not already finished is that I ran out of yarn. The pattern estimated 950 yards for the size that I'm knitting and I had 952 yards so I'm really not sure how I've ended up 2 balls short - either the estimate or the yardage on the ball band is way out. I've ordered another couple of balls from Blacker Yarns. I hope it's the right shade - it's not always the easiest thing to match up the information on the ball band with the information on the website.

So in the meantime I'm working on this.

Deco cardigan

I bought 5 skeins of Cascade 220 from Purl Soho (another souvenir from New York). Purl Soho is a lovely shop.

Purl Soho

The only problem is there's too much choice. I managed to spend a whole hour browsing before Richard lost patience and made me make up my mind.

I suspect that the Cascade still isn't the perfect choice for the Deco pattern. Not completely surprising since the only test I applied was to check that it was thinner than the first yarn that I chose. I even had a long conversation over tea in Headington (at the lovely Jacobs & Field) with Felix about knitting a new gauge swatch and trying to knit a smaller size on larger needles but whilst I was waiting for my bus I realised that the more I knit the more drape the fabric seemed to have.

Deco cardigan

And I love the colour, which doesn't show up well in either of these photos but it's a deep jade.

* no problem taking wooden interchangeables through security screening at Heathrow or Newark and the only comment I got from United staff was on the colour of the yarn.

ETA: As this is always a hot topic amongst knitters I thought I'd add a little extra detail. Although there were no signs prohibiting knitting needles at the United/Continental desk I took a couple of precautions anyway. I used KnitPro interchangeables with wooden points and I unscrewed the points before we went through security screening and put the end protectors on the cable so that if there was a problem I wouldn't be faffing around in the queue trying to unscrew my needles. I then put the points in my purse with a couple of pencils and the bag went through fine. I also had a spare set of points in the case that I checked in, just in case.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Share a Disney memory and raise money for Great Ormond Street Hospital

Please click on the link below and help raise £1 million for Great Ormond Street Hospital. They do amazing work for so many children including my little niece Kate.

You don't have to give any money, just give a few seconds of your time to share your earliest memory of a Disney film.


Kate says please click the link:

Monday, August 08, 2011

More postcards from New York

New York skyscrapers


Clockwise from top left: Woolworth building, Chrysler building, Empire State building, Flatiron building.

New York bridges


Clockwise from top left: Brooklyn bridge, Manhattan bridge, George Washington bridge, Henry Hudson bridge

New York landmarks


Clockwise from top left: New York Stock Exchange, Federal Hall, Bow Bridge in Central Park, Statue of Liberty

New York snacks


Clockwise from top left: Devil's Food cake cupcake at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Frozen yoghurt at Bloomingdales, Red Velvet cupcake at Blake & Todd, Italian Combo at Ashby's

Suffice to say we had an amazing time. Highlights include the Circle Line boat trip, checking out the views from the Top of the Rock, and having cocktails at a swanky bar on the top floor of a hotel just up the road from the UN. I also loved strolling round Central Park and window shopping in Soho. Plus my visit to Purl Soho where I did more than just window shop. Photos of yarn and what I'm knitting with it in my next post.

Monday, August 01, 2011

A postcard from New York

Statue of Liberty

Having a splendid time. Took the Circle Line tour yesterday - hopefully heading up one of the tall buildings today for a different perspective on the city.

Love from Liz