Monday, 28 January 2013

Christmas 2012

Hello Everybody,

It seems a long time ago now, much longer than a month. We spend all year working up to the Big Day and then BAM! - it's over. In my family, we take it in turns to host Christmas. There is (currently) a three year rolling rota, comprising my Mum, my Aunt/Uncle/Cousins and Me. I'm looking forward to my Cousins getting their own houses so they can participate too, then it will only be every 5 years! I couldn't believe it was my turn again. Not that I don't love having everybody at mine, but where have the last three years gone? Three years ago, I'd just bought and moved into my first house, everything was new and shiny and I didn't have a garden (my house is a new build and it came with a patch of dirt). I was really looking forward to Christmas this year, but as usual time ran away. I have decided that it is just not possible to do all the things you pin on Pinterest! Still, it was very nice - even if it was over in a blink of an eye.

The major change this year was that I did not have a real tree inside. Gasp! Balthasar, my potted Christmas tree, was banished outside. Last year, I went away for Christmas and returned to find Balthasar (and my house) covered in hundreds of tiny flies. I destroyed them but then Balthasar took a turn for the worse and I thought he was going to die. He has recovered pretty well, considering, but I thought it would be kinder to give him a year off (and I didn't like those flies!). So, he stayed outside for Christmas. I still decorated him, but don't think I remembered to take a photo. I also made (with the help of my Mum) some star-shaped bird seed decorations to hang up for the fat little robin that visits my garden. When I first moved in, we didn't have any birds or wildlife - despite being on the edge of a forest - and it was eerily quiet outside. So much so that I actually bought a birdsong CD. Yes, you heard me correctly. There are a few birds now but not many little ones, mainly nasty magpies! Inside, I decided on a space saving creation instead of a real tree. I was inspired by this pin on Pinterest (yes, I'm obsessed) and decided to recreate my own ladder tree. I don't own any ladders but knew my Mum had a wooden pair so I asked if I could borrow them. I think my Mum was a bit confused at this point, she had no idea how I was going to turn them into a Christmas tree! Anyway, once I'd removed all the dust and dirt I decorated them with lights, hung a few decorations from the platform at the top and put the Fairy on top.
Before all the presents were put out!

Dodgy iPhone photo - sorry!

Not as smart or elegant as the Pinterest one, but Hey Ho! I may well have told you about my Tree Fairy  (?Angel, not sure of the correct terminology) before. She's just a simple Fairy made out of Cardboard, some hessian and a wooden ball for a face but I think she's fab. My parents had her when they first lived together but when I was about 15, she was evicted for a trendy star from Ikea. I was outraged. I kept on trying to put Fairy out but Mum kept on banishing her to the box. As soon as I bought my own house I told them I would be taking Fairy with me. I think she's characterful. It's also nice to have some childhood memories on the tree. Most of my decorations are new, but there's a couple of childhood items that my Mum let me have and they make me smile.

For place settings I went with the fir cone idea I'd seen on.... (I'll let you guess). However, painting the tips with emulsion seemed a little tedious. It was also Christmas Eve night and I was reluctant to go to the garage to hunt down some paint. So, the tips were painted with Tippex! I have the Tippex with the spongy bit on the end and it was great for painting with and dried really quickly. To finish the placesettings, I just typed names out and stuck them to the fir cone. 

I made some Reindeer noses and Snowman Droppings to give as gifts and also to put in a jar for people to munch on over Christmas. It is harder than you would think to find red sweets that aren't aniseed balls. Don't get me wrong, I quite like aniseed balls - but I am aware that other people do not. In the end (don't laugh) I ended up dyeing mint imperials with natural red food colouring to make the Rudolph noses. 

Call me strange, but I was slicing leftover Brussels Sprouts and thought they looked cool in cross section. 

Anyway, that's all I have to say about Christmas. Maybe next time I'll get around to making cranberry shortbread, cinnamon ornaments, Christmas cookie cocktails and the million and one other things I thought I'd have time to make! Hope you all had a good time. What did you get up to? Have you recovered yet? My decorations are still in boxes in my lounge, but I'm blaming the rain/snow!

Thistle Girl x

Sunday, 27 January 2013

FO: Purple Cabled Handwarmers

Hello Everybody,

Long time no blog, oops. This is a bit of an overdue post about my knitted handwarmers that I finished at the end of October. Yes, they did take me a whole year - but only because I forgot about them and they festered on the needles for many months. I think I've probably written about them before when they were a work in progress.

The pattern is called Midnight - with a twist! and is available as a free Ravelry download. It is fairly simple to follow. I went a bit wrong - I can't remember exactly what I did, possibly started the cabling a bit late (as in too far away from the thumbhole) but I did both the same so they look fine. I knitted them in this lovely merino cashmere DK from Artist's Palette Yarns that I randomly picked up at a show. It is a beautiful purple colour but ever so slightly variegated. They are really soft and cosy. My only complaint is the lack of "fingers" in this cold spell we're having - because I've misplaced my "fingered" gloves! At least my wrists are warm.

I'd really like to get some more of this yarn as I loved the colour and it feels so soft. Maybe I will knit a matching scarf.

My Baktus Scarf is getting a lot of use these last few weeks. It's been quite chilly and I like how you can wrap it around your neck several times to get really snug. You might remember that, when I first completed it, I was a little worried about the yarn being too scratchy for something that goes around your neck. Well, it's softened up nicely and the yarn has a bit of a spring in it so there's lots of warm cosy scarf to snuggle me warm. I'm quite tempted to make myself another one, but the first one took forever.

Thistle Girl x