Good cheer!

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I was feeling a bit low today as I had an interview that didn’t work out. I was sad as I didn’t feel I was at my best as I’d only had two hours sleep the night before and I was extremely wheezy and out of breath once I’d gotten to the top of stairs to the room where it was taking place so not the best start as my brain froze when asked why I wanted to work for them. An old school friend of mine pointed out that I was always very hard on myself and I guess I should cut myself some slack since I seem so prone to these darn chest problems now I’ve had pneumonia. I wouldn’t have minded if I felt I’d done my best but I really felt like I didn’t. So today was a bit of a write off as I had to get back to the doctors office again to see if I was getting another chest infection. But enough of my whingeing as good things happened to lift my spirits. The first was the postman’s knock with a box of cookie cutters. I’d put out a plea on Facebook for a lend of some heart shaped cutters and my friend Mary offered to send me some of hers she didn’t use any more. I think they are brilliant especially the flower one. It took me a while to work out what some of them were but eventually I did. I’ve not ever come across a car one before.

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I’d managed to get a nap in which improved my mood somewhat (I’d had to get up at just before 6 to drive pao to work having gone to bed too late again) so I was making a cup of tea and I was sadly contemplating what a waste it would be to open a packet of cake just for me when my lovely friend April was on the doorstep with her sons so I could joyfully have tea and cake with them. They bought me a lovely gift of a two tealight holders which I will enjoy lighting. I felt so cheerful once they been. There is nothing like a kind friend bearing lovely handmade gifts and a lend of her heart shaped cookie cutters to lift the spirits.

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Sirius isn’t that interested in tea light holders but he thinks all jars should have something for him in.

Making Monday : Almost there!

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I was rather pleased to find that the knitted bits were dry and started the long task of picking up over 300 stitches for the button band last night. I say long because I lost count a few times and wanted the sides to match up as well as possible because of the V neck. I love the way the blocking has brought out the pattern and am relieved that having tried on the armless version it fits like a dream. Now I need to find some pins and sew the arms on and then my charity shop bargain buttons and it will be properly finished.

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Sirius is this cardigan’s biggest fan. He keeps on trying to eat the loose ends or play with them. He will be sad when I’ve sewn them in.

Valent-inkity

Knitty!

Crafty!

Yum!

Kitty!

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Tamyra would love to cuddle up on that sweater when it’s finished!

Will it dry in time?

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I finished the body

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and arms of my Black Rose Cardigan and I’ve laid them out to block. I only hope that they dry in time as I still need to sew them up and add the border. I keep going to see if it has dried but it has been frustratingly slow dry even with the heating up on full!

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Sirius gets highly excited every time I open the door.

Souper

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I started back to work today but I sure felt a bit dopey still so I put a chicken in the oven for dinner and made a batch of chicken soup as I’m sure it is the best antidote to illness. Glad it is Saturday tomorrow! I have knitting to get finished. I’ve got one sleeve completely finished and one to go then button band. I’ve looked at the pattern again and decided to make it a simple ribbed colour instead of a shawl collar as it would better show off the pattern.

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Sirius would love to do more than sniff the chicken! But he is good boy. Unlike some of those Minnesotan kittens I know 🙂

Book 2: Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

I would have dearly loved to have made some Cranford mitts whilst I read this book but I’ve been rattling along trying to finish my Black Rose Cardigan before the end of January. It is a beautiful pattern and I might even have enough yarn left after making my cardigan to make some mitts but we’ll see…

I’ve had quite a bit of work scheduled this week but had to reschedule some of it as I lost my voice yesterday! Not the best thing for teaching so I’m going to have to catch up with all of that. I am not one to rush to the doctors every time I have something wrong but after having pneumonia, it has made me a bit conscious of what is going on with my body and having been poorly for quite a bit of the past fortnight, I thought it was a good idea to have it checked out. Unbelievably, my blood tests and xrays were back already this morning and I have the all-clear – just a viral illness so resting as much as possible and fitting everything in. Phew! It did mean that I managed to finish Cranford though 🙂

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I did receive a very Cranford-esque gift in the mail from my friend Tomo. This beautiful necklace will look lovely when I’m wearing my (hopefully-finished-in-time) Black Rose cardigan. Thank you, Tomo!!

Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell

I had never read Cranford and watched with interest when the series came on the TV several years ago. Elizabeth Gaskell was one of the authors I’d meant to read but never got round to so I watched the series and really enjoyed it and promised myself that I’d read the book one day. I know that many of those series do employ some artistic interpretation so it was nice to read the Gaskell’s original tale. I always remember at school being advised to read the book first so I could imagine my own interpretations of the characters and I do kind of wish that I had first but Dame Judi Dench as Miss Matty did stick in my mind as I read Cranford for the first time.

If you haven’t seen Cranford, let me give you a brief synopsis of the tale. It is the story of a small village with a close knit community of older women. There are the Jenkyns sisters, the daughters of rector; Miss Pole, a well-meaning busy body; Mrs Forrester, a widow; the Honorable Mrs Jamieson, a well-to-do widow; and Miss Barker. The women are not wealthy and but do maintain a gentility according to their means. The tale is told through the eyes of a visitor to the Jenkyns sisters, Mary Smith, who describes village life through the eyes of an outsider. Mary is slightly related (but I wasn’t sure how) to the Jenkyns sisters and is someone to whom they, and particularly, Miss Matty correspond with and seek comfort in the company of.

The novel begins when the Brown family come to settle in Cranford. Captain Brown with his ignorance of Cranford ways causes a stir but his kindness is well-known. He has two daughters, Jessie and Miss Brown, the latter being quite ill and cross despite and certainly give the ladies something to talk about.

It isn’t a novel of high drama but does draw some lovely characterisations. I am always bemused by the lace incident which I was glad to read was an actual part of the novel and not an invention by the screen writers for the TV series. In case you haven’t seen it, I’ve put a link to the video for your amusement:

As someone who loves reading a good mystery, Cranford is certainly a change of pace for me. I loved it though as I revelled in the characterisations and descriptions of daily life. It is a story that goes fairly slowly but does have a story that runs through it. The happiness of the Jenkyns sisters is blighted when the older sister, Deborah dies and Miss Matty’s living is diminished due to bad investments and you can’t help but become interested in what has happened to their younger brother who left the village in disgrace many years before and was presumed dead. I’d definitely consider reading another of Gaskell’s novels and I’m surprised I hadn’t read one of her novels before.

I’m trying to decide what to read next. Do I join Team Middlemarch or shall I go for something else? I was considering re-reading the Scarlet Letter again but pao mentioned Lord of the Rings but some of it (especially the spiders) are a little nightmare-inducing. I want to read a Dickens’ novel this year as it is the bicentenary of his birth this year and I’d like to go to Rochester to see the festival this year. I’ve read a few of his classic novels: ‘Little Dorrit’, ‘Great Expectations’, ‘Nicholas Nickleby’, ‘David Copperfield’ and ‘Bleak House’ but not delved past those. I thought I might try out some of his lesser known works – maybe Dombey and Son or his American Notes. What’s your favourite Dickens? Or is there something you can’t put down that I might enjoy?

2paw mentioned the novel March which I’m putting on my to be read list for later in the year. Deirdre mentioned the Mason-Dixon most haunting booklist and there are more than a couple on there which I’d like to read such as Gaiman’s ‘Coraline’ and ‘The Leopard’ by Lampedusa (which I think I last read at university) but don’t remember too well.

Choices, choices 🙂

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All this book talk is clearly too much for Tamyra! She’s about to fall off the sofa!!

An appreciation of floof

Tamyra is a very floofy cat and we are enjoying her big fluffiness as she is starting to shed her winter coat for spring. It does mean that she has to be brushed more which she has never been keen on so bribery plays a large part in getting that job done. She gets to share a packet of wet cat food with Sirius whilst the brushing is taking place. They only ever get that particular treat when the brush comes out so I’m hoping that it will encourage some positive association. I’m going to miss her super fluff when she’s finished molting on the carpet 🙂

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Making Monday: Back and Front and half of sleeve

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I’m racing along as much as I can to try and get my Black Rose cardigan finished for the end of January. I’ve finished the back and front now and

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have started on the first sleeve. I’m doing it in the round so it won’t take as long with the sewing up but I just remembered I still have the button band and shawl collar to do after that but I might just get it finished as my Monthly Apparel project if I focus and get a move on!

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I’ve already decided what my Monthly Apparel project for next month is and that is to spin up enough Alpaca to make some mitts. I would love to make some Fetching mitts with it but wonder how the different textures would work with it as there are lots of slubs and irregularities in my spun yarn.

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I would hold it together with some other yarn such as some dark turquoise Drops Alpaca I have in the stash to make it the right weight. I think the long stripes at the front would be a good showcase. What do you think?

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Tamyra thinks all the yarn is for her.

Leftovers turkey soup

(sorry no photos this time! Just trust me – it is tasty and really good for making your feel better when you’re under the weather)

To make stock base for soup:
Turkey carcass (including any bits of skin) stripped of meat
4 carrots, put in whole
Bay leaf
Water
Salt and pepper

Place all of the above into a large saucepan, cover with water so about an inch about turkey carcass, bring to the boil and simmer until you have a nice stock for a good couple of hours.

To make up soup:
Strain bones from turkey stock and pick off any bits of turkey that might yet be hanging off the bones.

Add:
Leftover gravy
Leftover roast potatoes
A couple of spoons of stuffing (I used chestnut)

Blend these with the stock until you have a smooth soup. Sprinkle with chopped fresh herbs before serving – sage and parsley are very nice. If you are feeling adventurous, you could add other leftover veg such as brussels sprouts and parsnips. The parsnips would make it a little sweeter.

Serve with crusty rolls.

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Sirius is happy to take his turkey any way he can!