2016: the year of spaciousness

Because there's more to life than work


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September and new starts

IMG_2819Wow, that was a long break from blogging – work and life just kind of overtook me. But September always feels like a New Year to me, and so it’s time to dust off the cobwebs and get going on this again. Truth be told, the blog had been starting to feel a bit samey – having gone through a full year on it, I felt like I was going over old ground and wasn’t getting the same buzz out of posting that I had been. So I’m looking forward to getting started afresh, and sharing the things that bring joy to my life (apart from my OH as that would just get nauseating), which at the moment are:

  • Sewing – new hobby, but am inordinately proud of the messenger bag, tote bag and cushion that I’ve made recently. The curtains could have been a leap too far…
  • Cooking – great recent discovery was the blackberry, almond and cardamom cake in this month’s Simple Things (seriously good) by Signe Johansen. I just used the crushed seeds from 5 cardamom pods as I didn’t have any ground cardamom and it was perfect.
  • Being outdoors – walking in the dunes this year has been such a release (and was the source of the aforementioned blackberries)
  • Reading – recently rediscovered the ‘Merrily Watkins’ series by Phil Rickman and am re-reading them from the start – they are brilliant, hard to categorise stories – they’re often in the ‘crime’ section at the library but in fact are keenly observed stories with a supernatural undercurrent about Merrily’s work as a female vicar and ‘deliverance consultant’ (or ‘exorcist’) in the Welsh borders. Sounds a bit bizarre but they are wonderfully down to earth and believable – do try them if you’ve not come across them.
  • Inspirational stuff – haven’t come up with a better title than this for it at the moment, but I’ll just say that if you like listening to great speakers head for the Do Lectures, and for a great online read you can’t beat Holstee – their theme for September is ‘Balance’ and am so looking forward to reading it.

Happy September everyone!

 

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Here comes the sun!

So fantastic to see blue skies this morning, and great mood booster. I have to say I was not in a good state of mind this morning: I’ve just been experiencing that horrible realisation that the hair cut I had on Friday that looked fab in the hairdressers, when washed and styled by me today makes me look like I cut it myself in a fit of temper. Why does this happen?? If any of you have hints on how to make an angled bob lie flat and look like it’s angled, rather than that you just stuck a bowl on your head and cut around it, please comment: I’ll be very grateful.

So while my lovely other half has gone to do the food shop so I could calm down (‘I can tell you’re not really up to it’), I thought a blog post would be just the thing to take my mind off it. So what’s been happening? Lots of cooking good stuff like the garlic and rosemary focaccia he made last week:

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Quite a bit of embroidery – really like the way the black embroidery over the colours makes it look like the leading on a Tiffany lamp:

IMG_2430And some admiring of the spring flowers that are starting to appear in the garden. So lovely to see colour again after all the grey and rain of January.

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IMG_2440The first crocuses are really starting to open out now, and saw the first of the Iris reticulatas this morning too.

IMG_2435These are incredibly tiny – the whole flower is about half the size of my thumb at the moment.

The hellebores are also getting into their stride – I’ve seen people arrange these by floating the flowerheads in a bowl like waterlilies, which is a great idea as the centres are so spectacular and you can’t admire them properly when they’re hanging down.

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Ah. That’s better. Diversionary tactics worked nicely. The haircut will grow out, and it’s not that big a deal in the scheme of things. Shining sun, spring on the way and a partner who’ll do a dull chore on his own to give me some time out – that’s the important stuff that’s worth celebrating.

 

 


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The warm satisfaction of completion…

Yay! I finally finished my knitted socks, after a couple of hours at knit group this morning and another few this afternoon. And as it was also really cold, I got the ultimate satisfaction of wearing my socks the minute they were finished.

IMG_1836It was only when I went to record their completion on the fantastic online knitting database, Ravelry, that I realised it has taken me 51 weeks to finish them! This is definitely the slowest pair of socks I’ve ever made – I can normally polish a pair off easily in one month. I think I’d been delaying finishing them as I thought it was actually going to take much longer than it did – soon as I got started it wasn’t bad at all. It was the same this week when I blitzed my home office. The piles of books, papers and everything else had been bugging me for months, but once I got started it actually only took about 20 minutes a day for a week to get it all beautifully clear (and it was during the aforementioned clearance that I unearthed the above unfinished socks. Ahem. )

Which makes me wonder what else I’m putting off, thinking that it’ll take ages when that’s just not the case. Something to ponder maybe…

 


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Rambling and knitting

More walks in the dunes this afternoon as the counterbalance to a very frustrating morning of paperwork. We were lucky enough to see the beautiful flowers of Grass of Parnassus (which isn’t a grass at all – where do these names come from?).

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There were so many of them in the damper parts of the dunes…

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IMG_1763Lots of butterflies again too, completely foiling my attempts at identification. The sea came in while we were down on the dunes, there was a lovely cool breeze blowing in with it, and you could see for miles. Lovely counterbalance to form filling. I’ve also finally finished my shawl that I started back several months ago – just in time for my mum’s 80th later this week.

IMG_1776The pattern is Light and Up by Caroline Wiens from Ravelry and was lovely and easy to knit, although the rows get longer and longer as you go! Wool was Lang Yarns Jawoll Magic Degrade and gives you that fantastic multicoloured look very easily. The colours are much deeper than they appear on here – just right as autumn comes around the corner.


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Rainbow scarf

IMG_1328Well, the scarf/shawl I mentioned last week is progressing nicely and am loving how the colours are turning out. They’re actually a bit more subtle than they appear on this picture (think more like autumn leaves) and the wool has a slightly fluffy haze around it which also softens the impact. It’s Jawoll Magic Dégradé and one ball makes enough for a small shawl. I do love these subtly striping yarns as they keep you knitting to see how the colour will turn out next! The pattern is ‘Light and Up’ by Caroline Wiens and is free on Ravelry.

The pattern is lovely and straightforward and allows you to knit while chatting to friends, listening to the radio or whatever, and means you’re not reduced to behaving like a fretful harridan, muttering numbers under your breath and going ‘knit 3 together, yarn over, knit 3, yarn over,knit 1, cable 3 forward, **%£!!! missed another line!’  For those of you that aren’t knitters, this will seem like utter nonsense, but for those of you that are, you’ll know where I’m coming from. Suffice to say that it does not make for relaxation, harmony in the home, or anything else.

So this has been a great project to pick up in those short gaps after work, or while tea’s cooking. And as I switch off and work the stitches, I can feel my mind calming down, my breath easing, and the joy of doing something creative take over. Learning to knit gave me one of the best anti-stress techniques in my toolkit.