Friday, 23 February 2018

Can You Hear Me?

I went out!!!!  I went to Aldi and my back only gave up when I got home, so result!  I picked up some bits, some bobs, some treats for bear and his pals - and unfortunately six yarn cakes and two sets of knitting looms, one round set and one straight.  What can I say?  I had a fail.  To be honest, it wasn't a huge fail as the yarn and the knitting looms were both ridiculously inexpensive and bear had been talking about the french knitting they had done at school and how much he wanted another go at that, so the knitting loom seemed a logical purchase.  Also, the yarn cakes may not be the topmost quality but they were certainly not the topmost price and I plan to let bear loose on a triangle shawl in plain knit once he gets the hang of knitting and the yarn cakes look awesome as triangles and it will be great for him to practise increasing. 

When I was pootling around Aldi I bumped into an elderly lady from church.  She is lovely, has a massive heart of gold and adored father, but she's not young in her mind.  I had to be really firm and not allow her to put all the yarn back (honestly, it was a steal!) and I also refused to allow her to drop me off (more stress than it was worth and our road really is appalling, especially for octogenarians).  I didn't get to ask the staff about some bits that didn't seem to be stocked anymore and I had to dive for the taxi as I rang for it as the (really, really, really lovely) lady was distracted as she had an issue with her card.  It was nice seeing her, but I don't think I got through to her that actually I wanted the yarn and it was okay.

Then the taxi driver was, I don't know how to put this, insistent on being hlepful.  I saw this on reddit - he wanted to 'hlep' which looks like 'help' but isn't.  I don't like strangers in my home.  I'm sure most women my age know of incidents which happened to themselves or friends where letting a stranger in wasn't a good idea and it's something I'm not comfortable with.  I couldn't get out of the car quick enough before he was ahead of me, dropping bags and insisting that I open the door for him.  I told him it was great and to leave the stuff in the garden but he didn't listen as he was absolutely determined that I open the door for him.  I felt backed into a corner, and I get stubborn then, and he was getting more insistent and I was getting snappier.  Fortunately someone rang my mobile at that point and I took the call and ignored him until he drove off.  I really did feel under siege, just because he wouldn't hear 'no'.  He wasn't doing anything wrong.  He was probably trying to be helpful.  I just wish he had heard what I was saying. 

Bear doesn't hear me either but I'm resigned to that and I don't expect it to improve. 

Thursday, 22 February 2018

A Nothing Day

It's been a nothing sort of day.  I've tried to keep moving (back still v bad but following Sarah's advice and giving it a good rub has helped).  My tumble dryer fainted this afternoon but now is apparently fine.  Bear continues with his determination to make himself a quilt for his bed and I'm not sure I'm up to helping him finish it off, but I will see what we can manage.  I'm being completely honest about my skills and the lack of them because I think it's only fair that bear knows that even if you don't always have the exact skills, you can still have a go. 

My late mother apparently could do dressmaking and embroidery and all sorts.  She told me about how her great aunt used to sit her down and make her set a cuff with hand sewing and how at the very nice school she went to they did all the home making sciences properly.  She could follow a pattern, and she could knit and embroider and crochet, but she never really did much.  She had a tapestry which was a large piece of tapestry canvas which she called her sanity saver as whenever she was feeling particularly stressed she pulled it out and did odd shaped blocks of different shades of green.  She taught me how to sew on a button and how to switch yarns on a knitting pattern.  My late grandmother taught me how to knit - cast on, cast off, knit and purl.  The rest of it I more or less taught myself. 

Looking back, I feel like there was something of a switch and bait.  My mother could cook, but very rarely did and I taught myself most of the skills I know.  She taught me how to do laundry and she did a very good job of that.  Despite the disasters I write about, I think I keep our clothes clean with the minimum of wear and a lot of that is down to her.  But she never really showed me much of the skills she had or she said she had.  . 

I grew up feeling inadequate next to my mother, but looking back I think I knew more, even from my teens.  I'm determined to make sure bear doesn't feel like that.  I hope I can show him that he can learn stuff from me, from his teachers and from books and the internet and I have told him that one day I am sure he will be teaching me things.  The knitting and sewing can be a great adventure, so let's enjoy it. 

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Bear and Sewing!

Thank you for all the wonderful comments on the previous post.  I've replied individually to them.  I feel ashamed that I haven't already taught bear but he has only been mildly interested so far.  The last time he really took an interest was when he had been watching 'The Great British Sewing Bee' and had a go on the sewing machine.  He lost interest, but he may take a closer interest now he is older.

If I had stopped to think about it for more than a millisecond, of course there is no reason why bear shouldn't be learning sewing and knitting.  I can't teach him much sewing as I don't know much myself, but I can certainly get him started on knitting.  I don't know a vast amount about knitting, but I can teach him the basic stitches.  Men in my family have done sewing, tapestry, crochet and knitting very successfully.  It's just that I haven't seen them doing it for several years and it slipped my mind.

Bear has spent some time this evening sewing squares into fours.  The result is not a thing of beauty, though I've been as encouraging as I can.  Some of the sewing is puckered and bear has a wonderful indifference to keeping the seams on the same side of the work.  I'm taking it as a design feature, really.  I pointed out that the main thing was to relax and enjoy himself and according to bear it has been a resounding success.  He sees himself making a quilt for his bed.  I'm going with the flow.  He is just copying some bits he has learned in class but he has taken the initiative and is having a go and having a marvellous time.  I think it shows a great deal of credit to him.

I will just follow bear's lead.  I'm sure he will have fun, and once he has got the hang of things I think he can use knitting and hand sewing of whatever type as a way of relaxing during stressful times.  These days schools are so intense and so much is required of kids that I when I think about it, knitting ought to be compulsory. 

I am now off to brush up my skills to try and keep up with bear. 

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

I Blame the School

Bear came home and said he really liked quilting.  I smiled and nodded.  Bear waxed lyrical about the benefits of quilting and how relaxing it was, especially with all the stress that they are having at school, he really loves his quilting and he's really good at it and it is so relaxing.  I smiled and nodded some more.  So bear continued to tell me how much he liked quilting, emphasising that he could tie a knot in the thread and everything.  I caved.

I asked a few questions.  I don't really know much about quilting.  I've had a few goes but never finished anything.  However I've seen a few videos and I have a sort of general knowledge.  What bear has been doing at school is sewing two inch squares together into fours.  As far as I can tell there is no standard seam allowance so good luck to the teacher getting thirty odd sets of stitched together squares into anything flat.  Mind you, I think the teacher is into craft.  I know that bear and the rest of the class got an amazing knitted robin from her for Christmas, so she may be able to conjure up something amazing.  However I suspect there is an element of her helping calm down some stressed kids with simple handicrafts.  I approve. 

Now, as it happens, I have a stash of four inch squares in cheap cotton prints that I bought for an extremely small amount as I wanted to have a go and thought I'd start with something inexpensive.  I handed them over to bear with a pack of needles, some cream coloured cotton, a ruler, an erasable pen and my least favourite small sewing scissors - complete with strong instructions not to let the scissors near paper.  Bear has sewn the first two squares together and is pleased with the result.  As the fabric was extremely inexpensive and bear has no sense of colour even without his colour blindness, I am not sure what the result will be.  He also doesn't think that he needs to press the seams open as they are not doing that in school.  To be honest, I can imagine why the teacher doesn't want a lot of 10 and 11 year olds playing around with an iron, so I am letting him get on with it in the way he knows.  It's patchwork more than quilting, but I'm fine with that.  After a while we can watch a YouTube video together about backing the quilt/patchwork and he can have it for his room.  I've also promised to show him how to knit this weekend.

I'm on the fence about posting this, and I may take it down in the future.  I try and be aware that bear and/or his pals may find this blog in the future.  I don't want to give anyone ammunition against bear.  I've tried to keep to the fun things.  Bear is growing into a remarkable young man and I would hate to do anything that would hinder it.  It is still very unusual for boys to do much knitting and sewing.  If he had been a daughter I would have already been knitting with her.  I'm happy to encourage bear with cooking and tidying, and I will be introducing him to the washing machine and ironing as he gets a little older, but I hadn't really considered knitting and sewing with him, apart from a few summers ago when he quickly lost interest.  If he enjoys the knitting and sewing then we shall have to start.  It could be awesome!

Monday, 19 February 2018

What's in A Name

I treated myself to a bundle of books from Postscript.  This is a fascinating site, mainly remaindered non fiction and academic books, which I avoid as often as possible because I always succumb to something.  One book I bought purely because of the title - 'Knitskrieg: A Call to Yarns'.  How can I resist a title like that?  It's a fascinating book.  I've only dipped in to it but it gives the history of knitting for soldiers from the Crimean War to the present.  It has lots of illustrations, which while I usually consider padding is absolutely wonderful.  It has pictures of forage caps and socks, sweaters and balaclavas.  It has a few patterns in, plus a lot of examples.  I think I will be dipping into it time and again.  It's written mainly from a British point of view but there is a small section on the American Civil War.  I'm glad I got it. 

I also bought a book called Edible Wild Plants and Flowers.  To be fair, I wasn't buying it to go harvesting, but more as research for the stuff I'm writing.  If I wanted the real deal I would refer to Sarah Head of Tales of a Kitchen Herbwife who is incredibly knowledgeable and generous with that knowledge (Sarah - I don't know if I have the courage to go for a massage but if I do I will definitely be following your recommendations).  I was a little disappointed in this.  It had sections on plants like rosemary and mint which, while they can be found wild, are something I normally associate with gardens.  At the same time it didn't have a section on nettles, which I suppose is because stuff like nettle soup is widely known.  I quite like the sound of the hawthorn flower liqueur but I'm staying away from the alcohol at the moment.  It's not a bad book, but it's not quite as wild as I expected. 

I want to say thank you for all the amazing advice I get on here.  I believe my back problems are mainly to do with being overweight and inactive.  I'm working on it.  I went out twice today - once to the post office and then again to the post office with the correct address on the envelope.  I'm going to see how it goes tomorrow.  I am also going to look back at the awesome comments and start making a list of the great advice to start chasing it down. 

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Win Some, Lose Some

I didn't manage to get out yesterday which was a real shame.  I would have loved to have seen the art show.  I've seen some of the stuff and it is amazing!  However there were some compensations.  I managed to get at least a little further towards a kitchen fit for purpose - in five minute bursts.  My back muscles keep going into something like cramp, which hurts and the only painkiller I can currently take gives me major heartburn so I'm getting by.  I've also finished a hat


All I need now is the courage to wear it in public.  I bought  a kit from my friend eBay but I may try and replicate the pattern at some point. 

I've also finished the latest instalment of 'At the Sign of the White Hart' here and the story from the beginning is here

Did I mention, you lot are awesome.  I am sorry, I feel like I have let you down after all the encouragement, but I do appreciate it all.  Thank you. 

Friday, 16 February 2018

So near, yet so far...

I could in theory get on the bus into Leeds tomorrow, then a regular bus from Leeds to Skipton, and go to the amazing Art Exhibition, TAM on Tour, at Skipton Town Hall. It looks fantastic and I love the chance to perhaps afford something original and beautiful, especially by K J Sutcliffe, who is kind enough to sometimes comment here and who is absolutely wonderful.   Then I could get one of the frequent buses home. 

On the other hand, I am nervous that I might meet someone who sort of 'knows' me, that I won't be able to get out of the door (still haven't posted the birth certificate) and that my back will go.  My back is 'going' on a regular basis. I can manage about ten minutes of movement before I get like a cramp in the muscles in my back so getting to the nearest bus stop is a challenge. 

On the third hand (I could get an Olympic medal at dithering) I love Skipton, the castle is wonderful (though expensive), the church is lovely and does teas, and there is a wonderful small but free museum in Skipton Town Hall and I wouldn't mind having another look there.  There may also be some rather nice yarn shops in Skipton together with a shop near the bus station that sells off cuts and remnants of stunning fabric at very reasonable prices called the fent shop but I am skipping over them.  If I remember from the last time I went in the Fent Shop, it doesn't have much cheap fabric, but it has amazingly lovely and expensive fabric at a reduced price.  By the way, I have only heard the word 'fent' meaning 'remnant' in Yorkshire.  I don't know if it's common elsewhere. 

I don't know if I'll be able to go but I recommend anyone in the area to pop in.  Also, sending best wishes and good luck to the artists there.