2010 Knit Count

Here is 2010’s list. Not many socks but lots of jacket/cardigans 🙂

  • 6 pairs socks (3 of them started in 2009 but I’m not complaining as it go my FO count up)
  • Trapeze Jacket
  • February Lady
  • Alex : Shawl Collared Jacket
  • Sea Green Cardigan
  • Anise : Big blue cardigan/jacket
  • November Lady
  • Oxford Shawl

Reverb10: New Name

New name. Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?

“Hi, I’m Stephanie.”

I have always love the name Stephanie which means crown. In my days of being part of MUDs (yes, yes, I know that is a bit sad but I participated in order to be able to play Scrabble on line in those days of dumb terminals so you know how long ago that was – I was always a bit geekish even way back when it seems).

Stephanie is a name that conjures up an idea of a sassy, no nonsense kind of woman. I liked Stephanie before I came across one of my knitting heroines, Stephanie McPhee-Pearl aka Yarn Harlot.

The actress Stefanie Powers was also someone I admired growing up. I tried hard not to miss Hart to Hart when it was on TV – her character had such a glamorous role and I thought their dog Freeway was the cutest.

Listen carefully for the sound of unexpected possibilities. You never know where they might lead.
Quote from Planned Obsolescence

Salving the CTWS (Christmas Tree Withdrawal Syndrome)

As the horrible pre-Christmas bug laid us low and the tonne of snow prevented us from reaching the Christmas tree farm, we do not have any photos of kittens climbing the tree and such loveliness of years gone by. We did, though, manage to make it to Leeds Castle on Friday for what is becoming our annual Christmas Eve outing. We think the theme this year is nursery rhymes as unhelpfully there were not any signs this year telling us what they were supposed to be 🙂 I think this scene might be from Babes in the Wood.

Anyhow, there were some very cute deer both in and out 🙂

I couldn’t quite make out what this was meant to be.

There were fairies. Any ideas on which nursery rhyme or story it might be?

I really must remember that Leeds Castle is where all the candy canes get to.

A Christmas tree with dusters in?

Must be Cinderella!

Not sure what the theme is but the tree is lovely 🙂

I love this candy cane tree. Maybe I’ll be organised enough next year and do something similar. Kittens can’t break candy canes, can they??

The Elves in Santa’s workshop.

Jack in the Beanstalk. It was really amazing. There was a lady who came in to have a look at it and was telling her friend what the different fabrics were (there were quite a few Liberty prints incorporated into that design) so that was fun to hear.

It was oddly cold as we got to this room and I was amused to find I was in the Snow Queen’s lair.

We have certainly seen one or two of these recently.

Luckily it was a bit warmer when we got to Arabia. I love the magic carpet and we spotted the magic lantern too 🙂

This is the highlight of our Christmas Eve visits – a huge tall tree that goes up 20 more feet – this is just the top half. It is next to a stone staircase which leads down into the library.

I do hope your holidays are going well. Wishing you peace, love, joy and kittens for the rest of the year. I’m going to leave you now and investigate some of the many boxes of chocolates we received this Christmas. Lucky us!

Reverb10: Self-portrait with love

Prompt: Photo – a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.
Tracey Clark

This was actually yesterday’s Reverb prompt but I didn’t fancy getting reflective on Christmas day when I was having fun with family. I love this photo which was taken by pao on my birthday this year. There aren’t many photos of me so this is a rare one. I’m holding Tamyra who has been a great friend this year and has helped a long way after we lost Ophelia and Merlin. She is a funny funny girl who livens up my days (and nights judging by the number of cat toys we wake up to in the bed in the morning) and I’m glad we got her. The lady we got her from said that she would be better than TV and she was right. Tamyra has taught me what it is like to be loved. So often I’ve been so busy giving out love to others than I don’t stop to receive love and when she climbs up on the desk and places herself between the keyboard and my body and kneads and purrs I know it is time to stop and enjoy the fact she has sought me out. Deep down, I’ve always wanted approval but I’ve been learning this year that the only person who I should try to please is myself. If I can please someone else, that is great. Tamyra is very choosy about when she comes for cuddles – often it is when I’m working at the computer but sometimes she’ll come when I wake up slightly in the middle of the night. I’m definitely going to be kinder to myself in 2011.

All the same, today’s post has interested me in taking more portrait shots this year so I’m going to give that a go when I can. I think figuring out how my camera’s self timer works and getting one of those mini tripods might be helpful 🙂

Reverb10: Travel

Travel. How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year?

I didn’t travel a lot in 2010 but when I did it was a high point in what has been a very difficult year. It was more about quality than quantity. I spent a few days in France with a prayer team in the summer which was a very exciting and also restful experience. We stayed at a beautiful chateau close to Arras which is a Christian kind-of retreat centre. It was a very healthy trip for me as I made some new friendships and went deeper with others. Many moments were spent standing on this bridge looking for the elusive muskrats that lived in the moat.

I spent a lot of time reflecting about what was going on in my life which was in part that I’d gone out very early and managed to lock myself out of the chateau and couldn’t get back in until someone else from the team had woken up. It was beautiful and peaceful. At the time, I wasn’t able to write about it because it was a very personal journey for me and I wasn’t prepared to share it.

It is only now when I’m thinking of my journey into 2011 that I can properly appreciate the fruitfulness of that trip and how it impacted on my life. Notwithstanding the imagery of the fruit trees belonging to the chateau orchard. My journeys have been quite spiritual and I’m planning that for next year’s journeys too.

I can’t say much about the journeys I’m planning next year yet as I’m waiting for a few things to fall into place but they are going to involve friends, laughter and exploration and I’m really looking forward to them.

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
St. Augustine
Quote found at Right Brain Planner’s blog

Reverb10: Try

Try. What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it? (Author: Kaileen Elise)

I hadn’t had enough time to think about today’s Reverb prompt so I chose another from earlier in the month..

It is hard for me to contemplate the fact that I have three (yes, three) sewing machines in the garage which I inherited in various ways. I have wanted to learn to use a sewing machine for a long time as my mum used to knock up most of my clothes on her trusty Singer when I was a kid. I was the kid in school whose mum made her fancy dresses out of satin with puffed sleeves which looked so abnormal when everyone else was in jeans and T-shirts. We were fifth and sixth graders – I felt really out of place.

I suppose learning to sew is probably one of the biggest things I’ll ever do because, despite the fashion faux pas, my mum was really good at it. It is the one thing I probably associate with her the most. She would knock up so many different outfits – often without a pattern. I guess the perfectionist in me is slightly worried that I can’t compete but I have to remind myself that I’m actually good at other things that she wasn’t good at. Besides she isn’t around to criticise so I can get it as wrong as I like!

I have a odd obsession with collecting old reels of cotton. I probably have about 16 or 17 now. I love the old labels. I love the different shades there are. I love the colour names. Do you know what Reseda is? I’d never heard of it until I bought a reel of cotton with that colour name for the princely sum of 10p.

I’d probably enjoy a class on how to use a sewing machine rather than getting a book and having to figure it out for myself. I suppose I’m a little worried about how much it might cost me – I’m glancing round at my very expensive spinning wheel which hasn’t had a lot of use (I know I will use it in time though) – and that I might not take to it. I’m guessing the machines might need a service too… which one of the three should I pick? How do I know I’ve picked the right one? Should I take it to the place in Canterbury which changed owners or the one in Whitstable as you can get closer to it by car? Questions, questions… But you know what, life is risky and if I don’t at least give it a try, I may never know!

Reverb10: Future Self

Future Self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?) (Author: Jenny Blake)

Today’s Reverb10 is a good one – it is something I’ve been thinking about for the past few months. I don’t have any conclusions but do have some musings..

When you are someone who is very hard on themselves, it is very hard to think about the future but I am planning to be a lot easier on myself in the future which would explain why there is an ever-growing ironing pile in the spare room (don’t worry if you are planning to come and visit, it is easily dealt with) and I have been allowing myself time off to heal and get myself reset to who I want to be again. I want to be someone who shines, who deals with adversity with integrity and honesty, and who is true to myself. My heart is easily broken and I’d like to be a bit harder: cry less, looking after myself more even if it means putting myself first over serving others. I have learnt to say no and been respected for it. I’m going to say no a lot more in the future so that I am looking after myself.

As part of a project I was managing I had to do one of those personality tests and the report that came back was quite interesting. My working personality type is an assessor-developer which is described at this site as someone who “prefers working where alternatives can be analysed and ideas developed to meet the practical constraints of the organisation”. I’m someone who likes to come up with ideas and get them going rather than driving something until the end.

In five years, I’d like to work for myself and have my own business. Maybe there will be few people working for me as my personality type indicates I’m someone who likes to develop new ideas and move things forward. Quite accurately the personality type report said that I would hate mundane repetitive tasks and would love project work and experimenting.

It is quite a cynical thing to say but I’d say to the younger me: trust your instincts about people, don’t believe they will be as nice as you are if your gut feeling doesn’t say that to you then your gut feeling is probably right. I’ve been really hurt by people who I wasn’t sure about but decided to give them the benefit of the doubt. For such a long time, I’ve been wanting respect and I have tried to respect others but sometimes too often to my own detriment. Looking after myself really will colour what I want to do in 2011 so please don’t be offended if I say no!

Reverb10: Make

I looked at today’s questions and think I’ll need a little longer to think about them so I’ve picked another question from earlier in the month instead 🙂

Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (Author: Gretchen Rubin)

The question I picked is something that makes me happy. I love making things. I love experimenting. I love Peppermint Bark (thanks to Carrie K who introduced us to it a few years back).

Last time I made peppermint bark, it was a little strange. I saw that Little Cotton Rabbits had made some this year and thought I should have another go. I didn’t skimp this year and bought proper expensive chocolate. Luckily Waitrose had 3 for 2 on Green and Blacks so that was a very good thing indeed.

Note the fundamental ingredient missing i.e. crushed peppermint candy canes. I had left it too late again to find these ‘treasures’ so improvised with some leftover cake decorations I found in the cupboard and upped the peppermint essence in the chocolate mix instead.

Not perfect but tastes pretty good. A big improvement on how it looked from my last attempt.

Practice makes perfect, hmm? Maybe I’ll have another go next year.

Sugar cookies turned out quite nice though. Have a batch of dough in the fridge in case we get visited. I had hoped to find some red and green sugar for the tops but haven’t yet. I did find some stuff you dust onto icing but I figure that might be killed when baking. I am starting to think we are pretty remiss when it comes to having good crafting stuff here in the UK…

I am normally quite content when I’m baking. I’m usually on my own, measuring ingredients, thinking, listening to the radio, enjoying my own company. It is lovely to be able to do so – I get annoyed when I’m disturbed or pao tries to interfere with what I’m doing so he knows he ought to keep out of the way. I get that head space that I need.

I’ve been working on making my study a bit of a haven. It is incredibly untidy at the moment so have been throwing away rubbish and things that I’ve been saving ‘just in case’ and have fixed up the desk so I can use the Mac and use it for making things. I would like to make more things in 2011 and sell more to help me build up more confidence in my creative capabilities. I’ve been looking through Ravelry projects and am interested in how people adapt things. I would like to make more jewellery and get more ideas about what I can do. My brain is bursting with ideas of what I can do so I’m getting those all down and will need to work out a plan 🙂

I have some knitting projects that I’d love to finish. I love the look and feel of lace projects but…. they do take a lot of concentration and if there is a mistake it can be glaringly obvious. I have a few lace projects that I want to finish before I start something new and lacy:

  1. Silk Scarfette
  2. Odette cardigan
  3. Adriana wrapover cardigan

I really really want to knit the Shipwreck shawl. I seem to have printed the directions out four times and have a lot of the yarn and all of the beads I need but I have told myself that I can’t even consider casting on until I’ve either finished one of the above or managed a significant chunk of them (or frogged them!!) I have lots of beautiful pure kid mohair from Honorwood Flocks (I still need a load of skeins so I have enough – the 1 ply in natural ivory is what I need if you are feeling generous). Maybe I’ll just be a bit easier on myself and just get started on it. I think I can sometimes be too hard on myself but I hate having things hanging around unfinished. I like working in an ordered environment and thinking things through in a logical practical way – guess this means I ought to tidy my room then!!!

Reverb10: Healing

I’ve decided to participate in a blog initiative called Reverb 10 which gives you daily prompts throughout December to help you reflect on the past year and think about the new year to come. Given how I’d be feeling earlier this month the theme for today really resonated with me.

What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?
(Author: Leoni Allan)

Healing was a very slow process for me, it was only when I was forced to stop that I was able to start the process of healing. It feels like I’ve had to be stripped back like these trees so that new growth could come.

It has been very slow and sometimes I slip back without realising. I am looking forward to a new start in 2011 because I’ve rediscovered the real me – someone who is really creative, caring and proactive. I think I lost sight of my creative side in the past year and it is only through the process of recovery that I’ve enjoyed creativity rather than doing it for something to do. I’m being much kinder to myself than I’ve ever been before so if I don’t return your phone call/email/text, it isn’t anything personal; I’m probably just allowing myself to BE (as my friend Viv would describe it – she’s been encouraging me to do that all summer) and I might not feel able to chat or do anything as I’m trying to look after myself a bit more.

That said, there is something to be said about the healing power of kittens. Sirius and Tamyra have been great companions. Tamyra who seems to know when you’re worried and will climb on the desk and purr at you. Being a barrier to the keyboard, giving her a big cuddle is a really good way to destress when there is a lot going on and it is only then she will deign to get off the desk and let you get on with the thing you were trying to do.

I don’t for a minute think that we’ll recover from the losses we’ve felt so keenly this year very quickly. We are surrounded by dear friends who are so wounded and hurt. We’re trying to deal with our own grief and loss whilst trying to support others. I know that I can only do what I can and feel able to manage at the moment. I’m trying to be sensible and sensitive and not inadvertently hurt other people in looking after myself so doing what I can manage.

Don’t get me wrong, I really am looking forward to 2011. 2010 has thrown quite a lot at us and we’re ready for something new, a new season. I have cut off from a past which has held me back through going for Sozo healing prayer ministry. I hadn’t realised what an impact something my parents had said to me had had on my life. I was my parent’s second child, the first daughter, Amanda, had been still born. My parents had always told me that they only wanted one child so I’ve always felt that I’m not really that good enough. God spoke to me very clearly through that Sozo ministry by reminding me of the story that Jesus told about the kingdom of Heaven being like a fisherman who was fishing for pearls and found the best one and sold everything he had to buy it. He told me that I was wanted by Him and was planned and didn’t he even called me by name, Ah Yoek (which means Pearl is my Chinese name – a very intimate name that only my mother and grandmother called me). That was a significant moment for me as that pain that had been present through my whole life was cut off and I now feel very different about myself i.e. I am not second-best.

For reasons I can’t write about here, next year will be a challenge and I’m sure I will continue to be healed but I am glad I have started to heal and I really feel very positive about what is next and what I’m going to be doing in the next stage. I feel very hopeful and excited but ready for fun and hard work, too.

Most of today’s pictures were taken yesterday when we were desperately trying to get home in a freak snowstorm. We were about 10 miles from home in Ramsgate when the snow started falling quite heavily. It took us 1.5 hours to get about 8 miles and we were turned back to go another way because of an accident on the road. It was then our adventure began as we were low on petrol. We had to head back towards Dover where we’d come from earlier in the day 14 miles from home to get on one of the main roads which should have been easier to cope with. Luckily, we found a petrol station open at Sandwich and then tried to get to the A2 via the Eastry bypass which turned out to be closed. We then had to proceed through the village to the A2 but got stuck when the car in front got stuck. An amazingly lovely man came out of his house with carpets and pieces of wood to try and help us with traction to no avail. Luckily, someone else turned up with a Range Rover and promptly offered to tow us which we were really glad of. We managed to get on the A2 and eventually arrived in Canterbury which was completely gridlocked. So at the other side of the village, we decided to give the poor car and ourselves a break and went and had a meal at the Royal Inn which meant we could watch the road conditions and work out when to try and leave. The staff and owner were all very kind and even offered us helping in getting our car out of the space we’d parked in when we left. We were so thankful to the group of local residents who had taken charge of getting traffic up the steep hill out of Canterbury safely so we could get up without incident. It was a huge relief to arrive home just the 6.5 hours after we’d left Ramsgate.