Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Taking It Easy .

Sonata :
Reading all these posts I'm always agog at what everyone does . They look after their families while working , crochet while in the Lotus position , whip up gourmet meals while finishing off their umpteenth quilt , spin their own wool from a pet Llama , grow pumpkins and make pickles , knit at traffic lights .... and all at the same time .

Not being of the same calibre , I've cut 31 giraffes out of yellow card , sewn two little drawstring bags , made a very nice pot of Lentejas ( lentils , preferably Puy , cooked slowly with a couple of pork ribs and chorizo ) . I went to a very pretty exhibition http://www.schervenengeluk.nl of china chosen by couples over the last hundred years for their wedding list with a photo of each couple and a sample of their choice

and walked through a little local book fair and admired this

while purchasing a vintage Bestway Fancy Dress pattern book ( I'll show you another time , I promise ... it's got a few must-haves in it ) .

And it's taken me all WEEK !

Mind you , what I lack in boundless energy I make up for in cunning and I've enrolled Friend , the demon knitter , in the little hats project for the Innocent Big Knit . So I'll still have a little time to

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Ancestral dogs don't bark


One of the lines in my family tree connects with Walter Glynn (1837-1905), a shipowner from Liverpool, who lived in his later years with his family between two properties. One of them was called The Lydiate, in Willaston (Cheshire), which is now converted into luxury flats.

The second property was called Bryn Hir in Criccieth. This is the one we managed to see on our recent trip. It is a listed building, and I think belonged to a local land owner called Owen Jones Ellys Nanney, from whom Walter Glynn must have rented it. It is, in fact, much larger than these photos can show - if only walls could talk! It looks as though the ballroom (or billiard room?) will have been built whilst they lived there. Clockwise: front porch of the house with the ballroom or billiard room on the right; a glimpse of that room through the window; one cobweb covered lion on, perhaps, the kitchen door?; the top of the porch door. The views must have been marvelous, though it is impossible to know as the gardens are so overgrown now. It is rumoured to be up for sale soon, but I don't have a spare half a million pounds (or whatever it may cost)!

Although they only rented it, the property must have meant a lot to the Glynn family. One of Walter's sons (Walter Samuel Glynn) had a kennel called 'Byn Hir Kennels'. He bred Welsh Terriers and Welsh ponnies. In fact, one of his champion dogs, for he did well at Crufts, was stuffed and mounted after death and donated to the British Museum. He is now displayed in Gallery 6 of the Natural History Museum in Tring. I think I must pop over and pay a respectful visit.

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Wales... tea, sunshine and steam trains


Just back from North Wales:

Clockwise: The coast line near Criccieth, where we hunted ancestral homes (shhhh... actually crept into the grounds of an empty property to take photographs!These particular ancestors actually had a ball room... imagine); a stained glass window at the tea shop where we stopped to have.... that cup of tea; the steam train that took us from the bright sunny coast to a dour Welsh mining town, but the views up and down were fantastic (nice sheep too, kept gazing a them longingly: not only do they produce wool, but they taste nice too!).

Friday, 18 September 2009

Giving Myself A Deadline

Sonata :

Later this afternoon , I am putting another little doll quilt up on Etsy . See! I've put it in black and white , which means I'd better stop pottering about and employing every diversionary tactic known to man .....I'd better finish sewing the binding .
Oh , that's not me in that photo above , by the way , but a 1936 cover girl from a vintage "Panorama ". I would have killed for that dollies' tea-set !

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

SPIDERS ! Proceed With Caution

Sonata :

I thought I'd better start with a warning because I know that not everyone can bear to see them , even on screen .

But , if you're still with us , then I'll begin :
Though it is beautifully sunny and warm today , it's still definitely September and , here at least , that usually means spider time . This year we seem to be rubbing elbows with thousands more than usual .....even the pre-schoolers have noticed and watch the spider that has a web outside the playschool window with deep interest . She is , apparently , called Lotte and seems , thanks to the wind , to wave back to them all , their noses pressed to the glass .

Naturally "The Very Busy Spider " by Eric Carle has to be read .... and felt ( the growing web on each page is raised slightly ) .

Spiders must be glued to crayonned webs and inspected by an appalling glittery one with tiny ruby glass eyes .

And , when I come home for lunch , I have to negotiate with the fat one who lives in the tomato plants for a tomato or two to eat with my cheese .

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Teenage Pulp Fiction


Prompted by the eventual arrival of builders and new upstairs windows , the clear up continues . Youngest daughter appeared for the weekend and joined in .

She felt that , now she's 28 , there was no real harm in getting rid of a few childhood books . Not her favourites , of which there are many , or her older sisters' books which had been passed on , but certainly the loads of teenage pulp fiction stacked knee high in corners .

An astonishing 50 Nancy Drews

and dozens and dozens of Sweet Valley High which look now highly undesirable reading at any age ! Fortunately "Two Boy Weekend ", "Jealous Lies "and "Spring Fever "don't seem to have done any lasting damage !

The BabySitter Club and lots of Judy Blume were hoofed out . Laura Ingalls Wilders were stacked to be given to the only local child likely to read them in English .

An eclectic but fairly girlie variety survived the cull . Noel Streatfield , The Chalet School books , Philippa Pearce , Paula Danziger , my mother's favourite Angela Brazil , Rumer Godden , Heidi , Dick King-Smith , Quentin Blake's Mr Magnolia .......
But she left , perusing The Persephone Catalogue . Those shelves aren't destined to stay empty for long , I feel .

Which were your favourite childhood books ? Mine were The Borrowers , An Episode Of Sparrows and something that may have been called Mossy Green Theatre ........ but there were so many !

Friday, 11 September 2009

Window Shopping

Sonata :

While Smitonius does something clever elsewhere , I'll have to provide the entertainment . ( In the old days this was called boring people with one's holiday snaps ) .

So here are a few windows admired this summer .
An antique shop in Lincoln :

A junk shop in Antwerp :

A haberdashery shop in Amsterdam :

And this wasn't a window yet ....someone had painted the chip board covering the front of a shop front being renovated in Lincoln ......future flower shop or tapas bar ?

And , like a lot of old holiday snaps , there's the odd blurry bit !

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Red All Over


There was no gallivanting this weekend . Having got hold of kilos of huge , very tasty vine tomatoes , I set about slow-roasting them and freezing them in batches of 10-12 halves per pack . Fabric , Paper , Thread at http://www.fabricpaperthread.blogspot.com/ had suggested in her blog a couple of weeks ago that a few of these , thrown into a suitable quantity of chicken broth with a jollop of cream , made a light and delicious tomato soup . And it does ! Plate-lickingly good , especially if you can throw some basil into the blender too . Sieving is a good idea if you're not keen on pips .

That kept me fairly tied to the house . That and an inability to stop sneaking another roasted tomato half when no-one was looking .

But I sat in a comfortable chair , listened to Ian Rankin's "The Falls "on audiocassette and knitted ..... not these bobble hats

but these

for the Innocent Smoothie Big Knit. Yes , I know these have buttons and bows instead of pompoms but how many pompoms can you make in a row without running amok ?
Now for the next batch of both tomatoes and hats .

Friday, 4 September 2009

Going Into Cosy Mode

Sonata :

The miniature Grandmother's Garden quilt is finally finished and up on Etsy and I have a little time on my hands

So I went to Cuba last weekend

Well , the "Cuba "exhibition at the Groningen Museum ( http://www.groningermuseum.nl/ , ) anyway . We really liked it . The black and white '50s photos of Cuban nightlife and Marcelo Pogolotti's graphic 1930s paintings of top-hatted capitalists and huddled masses were marvellous , as was Carlos Garaicoa's installation "Now Let's Play Disappear " , where a city is represented by building shaped candles , which slowly burn and melt away .

Cultured , always refined but amazingly peckish , Friend and I then rushed off to lunch where a salad of Roasted Vegetables seemed ladylike and filling , especially when eaten with cheesey pastries ( fat content of this rather odd but delicious meal is probably scary , so I didn't even begin to think about it ) .

But now it's cold and grey , wet and windy . There's a lamb stew in the oven and an afghan over my toes on the sofa . I've found this yarn in the op/thrift/charity shop

and , very taken by the label and the fact that it was only 20 cents a ball , I'm knitting a scarf . Perhaps I'll even finish it ? You'll notice there are no lacey patterns , cables or intentional holes ....or indeed anything other than knit 1 , knit 1 , knit another 1 till the wool runs out or I get bored . Smitonius is the knitter of the family , not me .

edit: the little quilt sold overnight .
And , VERY IMPORTANT , , I'd forgotten that it's time to start knitting little hats again ! Little pompom hats to put on Innocent Smoothies being sold in Sainsbury's come November .
620,000 are needed to raise about 250, 000 Pounds in England for cookery clubs for the elderly , to be run by Help The Aged and Age Concern . www.innocentdrinks.co.uk/thebigknit
I can't knit that many by myself .....I'll need help .

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Sometimes crafting is done...


I hardly ever want to knit in Summer, but as soon as the weather starts to change I find myself kniting up a fresh set of Autumn and Winter accessories: mittens, scarves, and hats galore... This week-end I managed to knit up a couple of hats. They are both knitted from handspun (not my own though), the one on the left is with Silkwood handspun (there is some rabbit in there!), and the one on the right is from Old Maiden Aunt handspun (it is huge but nice and squidgy).

The other day I walked past a yarn shop in Bethnal Green, and they had this hand drawn sign on the door although it was closed. I wonder what the patterns are for? The mind boggles!