Tuesday 28 May 2019

So Much To Read

Hello, thank you for calling it, it's lovely to see you here, although I'm a little embarrassed because I have almost nothing to share with you today.  I was planning to show you the books I have read so far this year - you might remember that last year I rediscovered my reading mojo and so set myself a target of twelve long books to read this year.  I have written another page about last year's books, really just for myself, to record the books I read because I was so proud of myself, and because more than half of those books have now left the building, but please feel free to have a peep if you'd like to.

So, I wrote a post about the books I have read so far and gathered them together to photograph them...except that I can't find one of them.  I know that I saw it in an unexpected place one day last week but I can't remember which unexpected place that was.  I have searched several unexpected places over the last couple of days but to no avail.  As I really can't bear to talk about my progress without showing you a photo of the rather satisfying pile, and I really can't bear to show you an incomplete pile, I'm afraid I can't do it.  Sorry, but it will have to wait until the book turns up (which I really do hope will be soon).  In the meantime, here is a photo of a little canvas which my eleven year-old nephew painted for me and gave to me at Christmas.  I just love it.
See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x

Thursday 23 May 2019

King Cole Zig Zag Socks

Hello, thank you for popping in, you are very welcome here.  This post is going to be all about socks.  I know that some people will consider that to be a very dull subject for a blog post but I beg to differ because handknitted socks make me very excited indeed!  I was once told that after you have worn a pair of handknitted socks, made to fit your feet, you can never go back and I am inclined to agree; it's mostly in the fit, the way they actually hug your feet, but it's also the warmth, that 75% wool (in my case) keeps my feet toasty warm in the coldest weather.  The comfort in a good pair of socks is not to be dismissed.  I'm really not very rock 'n' roll, am I?

So, this year I have knitted three pairs of socks using King Cole Zig Zag yarn, which is 75% superwash wool and 25% nylon, and I thought you might like to see them.  I bought the first ball myself to knit a pair of socks for The Mathematician, something to remind her how much her mum loves her while she is away.  She asked for a pair with a ruffle at the top which she could pull out over the top of her ankle boots rather than a cuff and I was delighted to fulfil that wish because knitting the cuff is my least favourite bit of the venture!  So, I knitted eight rows of single rib before moving straight on to the heel flap, which I always knit in eye of the partridge stitch.  (Sorry, I've just realised that this may be a foreign language to some of you, please don't give up here!)  Once the sock was finished I went back and picked up stitches around the cast on edge to knit the ruffle.  Here are the finished socks.

The Mathematician was delighted with them (I think, she may have been pretending but if so, she's a bloomin' good actress), which made me very happy indeed.  However, I was a bit disappointed with the yarn.  You see, I got this far and then found that the yarn had run out and a new piece had been joined with a knot (harrumph!  Who wants an uncomfortable knot rubbing against their foot?) and the new piece did not continue the colour pattern, it had just been joined randomly! 

Horror of horrors!  I really can't cope if the socks don't match so I had to cut the yarn and wind off 11g before reaching the point where the colours would match and I could start knitting again.  11g  out of a 100g ball!  It was very annoying.  Also annoying is the name of this shade: Heathers.  I mean, have you ever seen heather in these colours? 

I chose it because I really liked the turquoise, the orange and the magenta together but as I knitted through it the royal blue and yellow appeared and I really didn't like that yellow with the other colours, in fact I couldn't see that it had any place at all in this sock.  However, as I said, The Mathematician was delighted with them and that's the important thing.  (I've just had a look and I think this shade has been discontinued now, although I only bought this yarn four months ago.)

The next pair I knitted was with a shade called Oak, although I must admit that I can't find the ball band so that might not be right, but if it's not Oak it's Birch, and either way, I couldn't see it at all.  Can you?  When I looked at this ball of yarn I saw a shingle beach on a grey day: grey, white and blue evoked the sea, the sky and the pebbles, the black was the seaweed left on the beach when the tide receded and the beige was the sand. 

I was really looking forward to seeing how these knitted up, especially because they were for me!  Some kind and thoughtful friends bought the yarn for me for my birthday with strict instructions to knit some socks for myself.  Would you like to see how they turned out?

Not like the beach at all.  I was expecting narrow stripes rather than great big blocks of colour.  No, not a beach but certainly not a tree.  Harrumph!

The second ball of yarn which my friends bought for me was riotously colourful and just looking at it made me smile.  I knit socks from the top down so these began with muted shades of green, brown and grey before a lovely dark pink appeared.  I was reminded of an autumnal hedgerow with leaves changing colour and shiny berries.  However, the next stripe was bright orange and white and the one after that was slap-you-in-the-face green.  Then I was back to the hedgerow before another bright orange and white and, just for good measure, purple.  Now, I love purple, and I could see it in the context of my autumnal hedgerow; I could even see it with the orange and white and slap-you-in-the-face green, so I suppose it is the linking colour, but this does feel like a confusion of two completely different palettes.  It's completely bonkers but very jolly.  However, yet again the name seems to have nothing to do with the colours: this is Emberglow (although some websites list it as Ember Glow, which annoys me).  Really??  I have looked quite hard and I just can't conjure either the glowing coals of a campfire or a gas fire which looks like a real fire. 

I really ought to say some positive things about this yarn: the socks it has become are warm and fit well and I have washed them in the washing machine on a delicates programme at 40 degrees Celsius.  I usually hand wash my woollen socks but these seem absolutely unaffected by their automatic ordeal - phew!  It's not their fault that the people at King Cole gave them silly names and seem to have an understanding of colour which I don't share, and I really do like handknitted socks which fit my feet and keep them comfy and cosy, especially ones whose jollity makes me smile.

Now, you may be thinking that this is not the right time of year for me to be thinking about woollen socks - the temperature has warmed up, vests and boots have been discarded with abandon and short sleeves have been donned.  However, I have a little camping trip coming up soon and not only are these socks super comfy inside my walking boots, they are also absolutely essential at night when the temperature drops.  I never go camping without them because being cold makes me miserable and nobody wants a miserable camping partner, do they?
See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x

Tuesday 14 May 2019

Pimm's and Patchwork

Hello, thank you for dropping in.  Are you enjoying sunshine?  We are, and after last week's cool temperatures, rain and thunderstorm we are revelling in it.  The Best Beloved and I spent several hours working in the garden on Sunday while the butterflies fluttered about and a buzzard was mobbed by crows overhead.  It was all quite blissful.
On Saturday I went to an event at a local church with some friends and I have been reflecting on it ever since.  I hadn't intended to share it with you here, but it seems to have become quite important in my head.  It was an event for Christian women, a day of relaxation, pampering and creativity and I went with a group of friends, none of us in the best of health at the moment.  We arrived to a breakfast of pastries and fruit,  there was a salad bar for lunch and before we left, Pimm's and ice cream ("because it's summer", they said).  Hot drinks and homemade cake were available all day.  It was definitely a day full of treats.  The day was topped and tailed with short acts of worship, there was a terrific speaker and there were workshops: one friend did some Gentle Pilates, another had her nails painted, one watched a demonstration of Indian cookery and I did some patchwork.   If you just wanted to sit and chat with friends, or do your knitting on a sofa, that was fine.  The tables were dressed with tablecloths and jam jars containing bluebells and cow parsley and bunting was strung across the room. 
I have been reflecting on what made this day so special - the event has run twice a year for the last five years and about seventy women of all ages attend each one.  I think that it's because it is a day for women to put aside our responsibilities and concerns and enjoy being in the moment, catching  up with friends, indulging ourselves with delicious food and creative activities without feeling guilty.  The organising team went to so much trouble to make us feel cared for, decorating the room, bringing in rugs and cushions and even sending us home with goodie bags.  Crucial to this, I think, is that the event is free, it is a gift given to all of us and it is brimming with generosity; donations are welcomed and in fact encouraged, to cover the cost of the food, and there is a small charge for some of the workshops, although most are free, but I am sure that the response to the gift is generous.  Best of all is that it is such a positive day, there was so much encouragement for each other - as I was leaving, a young woman who I hadn't met before and whose name I still don't know came to find me and thanked me for encouraging her with her sewing.  Never mind me encouraging her, that act of thanks encouraged me hugely, learning that my small words had made a difference to her. My friends and I went home feeling that our souls had been soothed.
There are lessons for me in this.  (And I think there are lessons for other churches in this.)
See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x

Sunday 5 May 2019

More about Anglesey

Hello, thank you for popping in.  I do really love the Sunday of a bank holiday weekend, it's lovely to be free of the forthcoming Monday pressures.  The Best Beloved was away last night so this morning I took myself off to the café in the park for breakfast and sat outside in the sunshine with my book, birdsong and two pots of Earl Grey tea.  Absolute bliss, and I think I had the best of the day as the sky is grey now.

I'd like to show you some more of our trip to Anglesey.  It's a small island but there are so many different kinds of places to explore and we visited three of these places for the first time, even though we have been to the island many times.

1.  Moelfre

There is a little place by the beach at Moelfre which makes and sells ice cream.  I chose liquorice and I know that will divide opinion but I love liquorice and I've never seen liquorice ice cream before, so it had to be done.  I can report that it was everything I hoped it would be...and that it made my tongue go numb!  We sat beside each other on a bench which overlooked the sea while we ate our ice creams before going for a little wander on the shingle.  I found a stone with a hole in it for my friend, who collects them, and I'm sure you won't be surprised that I picked up a few shells as well. 

2.  Parys Mountain

Copper was first mined here in the Bronze Age but the Great Lode was discovered in the 1760s and in the 1780s the mine was the largest in the world, causing the area to become known as Copper Kingdom. It's an extraordinary landscape and you can walk all around it.  I found the colours mindblowing in the sunshine, I'm sure there's inspiration here for a yarny project.

3.  St Eugrad's Church

There is a thirteenth century stone carving of the Crucifixion in this church which I was keen to see.  The building stands in an isolated spot about half a mile outside the village of Marianglas.  We drove down the lane and into the woodland, enchanted by the bluebells and wild garlic, before parking the car and ascending the slope to the churchyard.  It felt quite magical, almost like something out of a fairytale, and I came back down to earth with a bump when I discovered that the church door was locked.  We wandered around the churchyard instead, which is oval and surrounded by trees.  It was a very pleasant place to be, listening to the birdsong and reading the headstones.  Although I was disappointed, I wasn't, if that makes any sense, because of that magical feeling.  It's a special place.  Next time I go to Anglesey I intend to contact the vicar in advance and ask if the church can be unlocked so that I can see inside (he's already offered to do that for me but I didn't like to disturb him during the week after Easter when I know that many clergy have a quiet time after the busyness of Holy Week and Easter) .

4.  Cemlyn

In the 1930s the local landowner, Captain Vivian Hewitt, built a dam and a weir to drain the saltmarshes here and form a lagoon which is divided from the sea by a shingle ridge (you can see the ridge on the right of my second photo).  In the lagoon there is an island which, with the ridge, is home to the only nesting colony of Sandwich terns in Wales - there are Arctic and common terns here, too.  Captain Hewitt was a keen ornithologist and you know how they say, "Build it and they'll come,"?  Well, he built it and they came.  He also built a substantial brick wall around his garden to provide shelter from the wind so that he could plant trees, again to encourage the birds (you can see the wall in my fourth photo).  I like the sound of Captain Hewitt.  It's still a very windy spot and while the Best Beloved walked the length of the ridge, and reported back that it's hard going on the legs, I sat in the shelter of some rocks and watched the sky, the sea, endlessly fascinating as the light changed, and the birds.  Those terns are VERY noisy so although my photos look quite serene, my ears were bombarded!  The area of the ridge where the birds nest is roped off from April until the end of the summer, so please don't worry that they were disturbed by the humans who had come to see them.  

5.  Trwyn Du (Black Point)

If you read my last post, this is the beach we drove to from Penmon Priory.  I have a very happy memory of a family picnic held here on a gloriously sunny day in 1998; there were fifteen of us, aged 3 months to 88 years, four generations.  It is the south-eastern tip of Anglesey and that island you can see is now called Puffin Island but it's Welsh name is Ynys Seiriol, Seiriol's Island, because it is where St Seiriol retired to towards the end of his life (there are monastic ruins there, too).  The lighthouse stands to warn shipping traffic that treacherous rocks lie beneath the waves and tolls a bell every thirty seconds.  I am delighted to report that The Pilot House Café sells the most delicious mint choc chip ice cream I have ever eaten, with generous shards of real dark chocolate.  So, if you can spare another eighteen seconds, here is a little film of soothing waves lapping onto the beach and, towards the end, the sonorous bell of the lighthouse (I've had a bit of trouble with this so please let me know if it doesn't work and I'll replace it with a still photograph).

I hope you can understand some of the reasons why I love spending time on Anglesey.  I can barely wait for my next visit! 

See you soon.
Love, Mrs Tiggywinkle x