knitted : the hat that got away

This hat.

I want it.  I want it so bad.

But it's not mine.  I need to get over it.

I made it as a Christmas present for my old pal Audrey and it was a hard wrench letting it go, wrapping it up and sending it off. Needless to say, I had a good try on anyway.

Cor, it's proper lovely isn't it? Great for those blessed with a massive head like myself.

The pattern is from Anna Wilkinson's Learn to Knit, Love to Knit, as soon as I saw these chunky, funky hats I knew I had to make one.  Also Audrey had dropped quite a large hint that she would be delighted to receive such a thing as a present so who am I to disappoint.

I used the lovely, soft Blue Sky Alpacas Bulky yarn that I got from Mrs Moon and Loop, both in London and both worth a visit if you are after something a bit posho on your needles or hook.  It comes in these long skeins and I'll be honest and say that I'm not sure what technique you are meant to use to knit from them. I got really tangled up and had to start over and roll the skein into a ball before I could try again - is this what you're supposed to do?  Can someone trained in the art of knitting from a skein please enlighten me.  Would be much appreciated.

I like knitting with something bulky because it makes up so quickly, this hat is super speedy to make thus providing a decent sense of achievement as you're going along - I need this quite badly given that I so lack in patience.

I also secretly made Mr P the same hat for Christmas only not in Hot Pink and Curry, which is probably the best name for a shade of wool ever, but in grey and white and without a giant bobble, in fact without a bobble at all, shame for the hat, great for the husband. Luckily for me this hat gets to stay within these four walls and it frequently finds its way on to my head for the afternoon dog walk.

Really easy and satisfying pattern, the decreasing was okay once I had stopped freaking out at the incredibly complicated looking S2TOGKPO abbreviation and checked it out a hundred times on YouTube. The only bit that was tough was the last two rows which were really tight and hard to manoeuvre on the big, fat circular needles. Managed it though, twice! so not complaining at all, feeling very satisfied with my knitty performance.

This is a mighty fine looking hat so I recommend it to anyone who likes a bit of chunky bobble hat wearing and who lives in a cold climate because it should be noted that alpaca wool is warmer than a bear's armpit!



on plans

So far this year I have been making plans. Making plans and organising myself an awful lot.

January is at best a bit dreary and at worst downright depressing.  This year it has mostly been dreary and wet, lots of missed afternoon dog walks, muddy boots and water.  But it's also been quite exciting because I've been organised for the first time in ages.  In an attempt to lift my spirits away from wet January and towards sunshine, I've been planning stuff. So far, a summer holiday, a (proper) garden plan and personal goals for every month. January's goal was to complete all plans - see what I did there, totally achieved that one already huh?

Now I'm a big fan of planning, I like the good energy it fosters and the good stuff it makes happen but I try not to go too overboard because I know the old saying to be true, "man makes plans and God laughs". The times I have had cause to recollect these words of wisdom are too many to count.

Let me see, the plan was to be married at 28 (church, giant dress, the works), first baby at 30, second baby at 32 and living in suburban bliss with Mr Emma in a house almost entirely decorated in beige for ever and ever, till death do us part!  Yeah. Want to know how all that youthful planning turned out? Well I was undateably single at 28, speedily divorced at 34 and blissfully pregnant at 40.  Life has its own plans doesn't it? I think the trick is to go with the flow but have in mind a direction to go in and be relaxed about getting there.  Because you do get there in the end, well I certainly did, only thing is our house doesn't seem to have anything beige in it.

Last year was entirely 'off-plan' and consequently much drifting and fannying around did occur; we didn't get a holiday, we didn't do anything amazing with the house or garden, we didn't even have any days out. We did however raise a pretty awesome baby and enjoyed every minute of it so don't get the violins out just yet, I'm just saying that some plans are good.

Just the act of writing something down (preferably in a very dreamy notebook) seems to make it happen and so this week will be spent perusing the South of France, looking for places to stay, writing itineraries, dreaming of sunshine, beaches and Carcassonne and trying to decide if 42 is too old for a hot pink bikini!


the girl in the red tights

Never was there a sweeter girl than this. Yeah, yeah, I know that's what all mamas say but this frilly bottomed pixie is charming the pants off me at the moment.

I sort of beam in her presence, she makes me feel present.

I have developed that silly mum face, you know the one, head tilted to one side, beatific smile fixed firmly in place and eyes aglow with joy (more like lack of sleep in my case).  I can't help it, it just happened and now I've started panicking that I will be a rubbish enforcer of rules because I'm so besotted with her. This is such a joke given that I have always been the bossiest rule enforcer of all time.  Never one to shy away from telling someone off I now find myself desperately trying not to laugh when I firmly say "NO" and mean it. She just glares at me and gives me 'the look'!  Me? me who mastered 'the look' at the grand old age of four. Impossible that she should attempt it at a mere fifteen months and crazy that she is so darn good at it.

I still have to pinch myself that she is ours, well ours for a short while and then she grows up and becomes her own but that can be another story for another day.  She is feisty and independent (heaven knows where she gets that from!), and likes to walk, dance, bounce and eat.  "No" is her favourite word (again where she gets that from is a mystery), and it applies to all things, in particular requests for kisses and nappy changes.

She gets annoyed if you try to interfere with her day.  Yesterday I made the mistake of joining in with her playing and galloped a little wooden horse around with accompanying noises (full effect yo!), the horse skipped along, jumped and kissed her.  Nice huh?  I thought there were some good parenting skills on display there.   Not so much.  She would have you believe that I waved poo in her face. She screwed it up, shook her little head and said "NO", got up, walked off and that was that.  Me left sitting on the sofa kinda wondering what the hell had just happened.

I'm glad she's got some balls though, bodes well for the future and I wouldn't have it any other way.  The good thing is when it comes to bedtime she is equally as independent.  If we are taking too long about it and still haven't gone upstairs by 6:30pm she starts saying "nigh night" and walking towards the door.  Like, get the hint oldies!  Once upstairs she has her bath, her milk, gets into bed with Bruno and the boys and goes straight to sleep. Every time.  Golden.



:: source ::

So I was away for a while, just, you know, enjoying myself and stuff.  Life has been good, we are tired nearly all of the time and could do with a lovely long holiday in the sun but we are still really, really good.

I came back to write a Happy New Year post a couple of days ago and tons of my past posts had corrupted, gah!  Pictures had just disappeared.  No reason, no pattern, just a lot of images gone!  It has been a messy few days, going back through every post and checking.  Sometimes I could remember what image went where but for the most part I couldn't figure it out and so I had to delete a lot of posts.

Thing is I don't really mind so much, it feels serendipitous, it's a new year, a new beginning, a fresh start with a fresh perspective. This is 2014 after all, a brand new 365 days full of potential.

For the first time ever I have chosen a word for the year. I love the idea of giving your year some direction with a word, especially because I have a tendency to flit about.   My word for 2014 is abundance.

What a gorgeous word, evocative and inspiring.  So far it has given us an abundance of rain, not stopped raining for weeks now, I'm hoping the same applies to the flowers in spring and the sunshine in the summertime.  Bring it on abundance.



A new year.

A brand new year.

I love it, especially that weirdly quiet and peaceful week between Christmas and the end of the year when nobody is at work, everyone has a lie-in, bellies are full and the telly is on pretty much all the time.

I always spend that week getting my new diary and calendar prepared; planning my resolutions, filling in all the important dates and colour coding everything to within an inch of its life.  For me, it's one of life's simple pleasures, I afford it great ceremony and I treasure the time it takes to complete the job.  Given that I have a diary, a calendar, my phone planner plus two journals, I can be at it for a while.

I usually look back at last year's resolutions to see how I've done, what, if anything, has changed and what can be carried over.  Embarrassingly last year I only managed to achieve two and one of those was "be a good mum" - seeing as that's my job anyway, it seems a pretty lame effort.  They weren't even the huge, seemingly unachievable kind of resolution, I wasn't planning on climbing mountains or learning Latin, just decorating the house and growing the odd vegetable.

I've therefore decided to get off my bum and make 2014 amazing. This year will be different.  I've had a mental sort-out with the help of this fabulous lady and focused in on exactly how I want this year to go, what I want to achieve and how I'm going to do it all without Peppa Pig being the soundtrack!

Don't get me wrong, 2013 was pretty spectacular but I felt like I floundered around a bit and had no direction.  The year sort of zoomed and before I knew it we were discussing the merits of Lily Allen singing a Keane song for John Lewis's Christmas advert.

I've let myself off the hook though because I decided that having a new baby excuses one somewhat from normal, everyday life (watch Peppa Pig on repeat and change nappies for a day and you'll get the idea), and it especially excuses one from keeping resolutions - that's my take on the matter and I'm sticking to it.

Happy New Year to you and may your 2014 be exciting, fun and full of love, luck and adventure.