Hello my lovelies, thank you so much for popping in to visit with me as I sit quietly here in the Attic having a little bit of a catch-up with myself. This past week my three Little People returned to school, J returned to work, and although I had every intention of being all super organised and energetically productive, I found myself drifting along in a weird kind of a slow limbo not knowing what on earth to do. I've labelled it as a PTW (Personal Transition Week) and am refusing to feel bad about my utter slackness in the work department. My PTW has mainly been about reflection and gathering together my many, many thoughts and ideas for future projects and doings. Unfortunately it's also been about fighting off a beast of a lurgy and restoring my energy levels after said beast has left me feeling completely flattened. I am on the mend now which is a relief, so I'm hopeful for a more fulsome week ahead.
We had a good summer holiday here, pretty quiet and low key for the most part with the exception of our one adventurous week away (more about that in another post, coming soon. We went in an aeroplane!). I often struggle with a little bit of guilt regarding our school holidays, as they are mostly spent doing very little of note. I always have this nagging feeling that we should make more effort to leave the house, leave our town, head out to explorer and visit new places, experience new things. To be honest though, I'm pretty sure it's only me who goes through this parenting angst - the Little People (and J) seem perfectly content to be at home doing their own thing and show no signs whatsoever that they are unhappy with the way their days unfold. Leisure and pleasure for each of us means different things I guess, and although I do mourn the loss of Quality Family Time, I know that these days the Teenagers are happiest when they are with their friends and not hanging out with Mum and Dad. Little B - well he's another story. At 8 years old, I feel we should perhaps make more of an effort to get out and about with him, but honestly he seems happy being at home. I would love to hear your thoughts on this, are you an active, out and about type of family, or do you relish the ease of just chilling out at home? Do you plan holiday adventures, or do you go with the flow?
The above photo is Little B pedaling like fury through the park as we walked/cycled home after his swimming lesson one evening in late July. The weekly routine of a cycle/swim has been so enjoyable throughout the summer months, it's been a pleasure to see Little B enjoy himself so much in the water and on two wheels.
I uploaded these photos a few days ago, and actually laughed out loud at the very randomness of some of them. Such an odd mixture of images really, but they do capture the essence of our summer days rather well. The above photo was our very first tomato picked from the allotment - huge excitement over this one small, perfectly sweet and beautiful little red fruit, it was joyous! We've had many more tomatoes since this weeny first harvest, including some huuuuuuuge Italian plum tomatoes which were amazing.
The weather during the past month has been mixed, with some very warm and humid days mixed in with much cooler and wet ones. The drop in temperature (especially in the evenings) has meant that my crochet blankets have been very well used which has made me really happy actually. As you know, I love the hot sunny weather and never want it to end, but there is something undeniably blissful about being snuggled up in a handmade yarny blanket. I'm especially loving the Cottonsoft Summer Ripple, oh it's such a delight to use! I've shamelessly hogged it, and like a big kid I drag it up and down the stairs depending on where I'm doing my snuggling. I love it's gentle weightiness on my bed at night, and bring it downstairs with me in the very early mornings when I enjoy being wrapped up as the day slowly unfolds.
We've allowed Little B to indulge in a lot of screen time this holiday, which I have mixed feelings about. He's been ridiculously happy watching films and cartoons on TV or gaming with his friends on the Xbox, and in turn this has granted me valuable time to concentrate on work when I've needed it. I'm beyond grateful that I can work from home during the holidays and flex my time to fit with family life, but the constant juggling of all the household/Mum things has been quite hard. Every so often I would make a concerted effort to encourage Little B to switch off the screens and engage in something else instead. Sometimes we would head to the allotment to forage for blackberries and pick tomatoes, sometimes to the farm shop for fresh produce and a sneaky sweet treat, sometimes into town for a cafe drink and a potter around the shops. But often we stayed home and I managed to kick start some enthusiasm for non screen stuff - baking, colouring and reading mostly. He never finished the above picture, but over the course of a few weeks he would regularly work on it, colouring in the intricate patterns in a very considered and methodical way. It delighted me on so many levels to see and hear his colour-thoughts, as he views colour in a way that is remarkably close to my own creative approach.
The Lego also came back out to play after a lengthy stint in hibernation, and I've been encouraging it wholeheartedly. Lego is such an excellent, all round marvelous invention, especially the more complex stuff that exists nowadays. It keeps hands and minds engaged for lengthy periods of time, and gawd I do love it for that!
My allotment sweet peas never really grew like crazy this summer, but they did well enough to satisfy my simple floral desires. I've had a small posy on my table most weeks, and am so in love with the beautiful palette of colours and the stunning scent they provide. So much of summer is in those petals, they make me dizzy with happiness.
Ah the kitty has the right idea! I always get such a lot of pleasure from seeing my latest creations join the family gathering, and both of my Summer Ripples have been used a huge amount since they came off my hook. I just adore the play of the colours in this blanket, they are wonderfully upbeat, joyful and easy to live with, like the best days of summer right there in those stripes.
Back in the middle of last month I joined in with an Instagram celebration called #grannysquareday (you can read more about it here). This is where thousands of yarnies all over the world post a close-cropped image of a granny square to their Instagram feed on the designated day (usually the 15th of August), which is more visual fun than you can imagine. It means that when you make a search using hashtag #grannysquareday2018 you can feast your eyes on a virtual granny square blanket filling your entire phone screen. It's awesome!! Last year I used one of my Harmony squares, but this year I wanted to do something new so I designed and made a brand new square which you can see above - the Popcorn Flower Granny. Popcorn stitches are fun to make and have a tactile, three dimensional quality to them which is very appealing.
Although my preferred style of blanket is a striped design, I do have a real soft spot for granny squares and this particular square got me very excited indeed. I will definitely be making a square blanket next year sometime, something happy and glorious which combines flowers and diamonds (the squares tipped onto their points). I'm very excited about the whole prospect!
More allotment gatherings, the results of leaving our plot for a week while we went on holiday then coming home to see what had grown whilst we were away. Sweet peas, cucumber, courgette and beans, such a treat to be able to enjoy a little bit of summer home-grown.
Now what's this that I'm giving cuddles to, it looks rather glorious and woolly wouldn't you say? This is a little gathering of yarn that I've been working with over the summer - it's absolutely beautiful to crochet with and I'm enjoying the project very much. I'll be able to show you more very soon.
More woolly stuff keeping me happy and quietly engrossed, this time it's yarn on my needles. It's been a while since I had a sock adventure and I have missed the satisfaction of making them, so I decided to break into a beautiful new ball of sock yarn and give myself a bit of a stripy yarn fix. You can see I was snuggled under my hydrangea stripe blanket in the big chair, I remember it was a particularly grey, chilly afternoon towards the end of August and I thoroughly enjoyed my cosy yarn time. It occurred to me how well the sock stripes looked against the blanket stripes, kind of harmonious wouldn't you say? There is a story behind this sock yarn that I'm looking forward to sharing when the time is right......it's rather exciting!
Oh, be still my beating heart!! Isn't that one gloriously beautiful pile of hooky blankety delight???!!!
Nine lovely blankets, all crocheted by me. I love my blankets more than I am able to put into words, they mean everything to me. My passion, my therapy, my relaxation and a constant source of creative happiness and pure joy.
This wasn't an elaborate stacking game set up by Little B, or a deliberately styled photo opportunity either. It was in fact a pile destined to be put into a huge laundry bag and taken off on a little jaunt to a rather fabulous yarn shop. A few weeks ago I was asked to go along and be a guest speaker at a lovely bricks and mortar yarn shop called Baa Ram Ewe in Leeds. The shop was hosting a "new season event" to launch new yarns for the upcoming autumn season, and as they have just become newbie Stylecraft stockists I was asked to take along my blankets as inspiration for their customers. I was a bit nervous (talking in front of a packed audience of fifty people!) but everyone was super friendly and I found that once I got over my initial nervousness I had quite a bit to say about the joys of blanket making. I hope I might have inspired one or two ladies to embark upon their own blanket journeys, I'm all about spreading the hooky love.
One of the highlights of my summer holiday was an impromtu visit to Dorset. I wasn't planning on going down there this summer, and yet I found myself craving some time by the sea and a re-connection with my home turf to the point where I began to feel quite desperate to take myself there. So rather than just dream about it and pine for it, I decided to take action. It was liberating! I booked a train ticket and three days later, off I went. I was lucky in that J had already booked some annual leave and so was free to look after things on the home front for a little while. I am so grateful for his understanding - he doesn't really get my emotional need to be in this childhood place of mine, and yet he encourages me to go ahead and do what makes me happy.
I enjoyed three nights away from home, staying with my Dad and Lady B which is always pretty easy going and enjoyable. When I first arrive in Dorset, my Dad always asks me (without fail) if I've made any plans for my time there and I always reply (always) that my only plan is simply to see the sea. That's as much planning as I care to do when I'm on holiday.
On this morning we had walked from the town to the sea across the fields (it's around 2 miles), which is something I often did as a child when I lived there. The sense of nostalgia is always incredibly strong for me when I go "home" - so many layers of memories from the past five decades of my life. It's overwhelming at times, but in a way that makes me feel like I am finally breathing out after holding my breath for an age (if that makes sense?! It feels like relief and a lightness in my soul).
When I arrived in Dorset I found out that it was Carnival weekend in town, and my absolute favourite part of that event is always the annual Torchlight Procession on the Sunday night. I've no idea what the origins of this are, but it's great fun to be a part of.
When I was a child, torches used to be made of wax and were highly dangerous, but nowadays they just look like long grey sticks, a bit like gigantic sparklers. Traditionally the town Mayor lights the first torch at the front of the procession, then all the other torches are lit from that one, passing back down the street until the whole place is lit up and glowing.
The atmosphere is loud, jolly and carvinal-ish, and there is an almost palpable energy in the air as we all wait to begin the two mile walk from the town to the sea. I heard on the grapevine that there were 1,500 torches this year - so many people all joining in with this end of summer ritual, it was a little bit wonderful to be a part of it. The front of the procession sets off at 9pm, and eventually around an hour later we arrive at the beach......
....our torches are about a third of the length by this time, and get tossed onto a big beach bonfire. There is a stage set up and a local band playing live music, but the main thing that everybody waits for.......
......is the firework display. We climbed part way up the steep cliffside to sit and wait patiently for the fireworks to begin - they are lit at the end of the pier, so the sight of them bursting over the sea is really amazing. I loved it all so much. The atmosphere, the smell of the air, the warmth of the summer night, the buzzing excitement, the lights blazing in the dark. Magical.
I spent a lovely morning pottering around the town with Lady B, doing the kind of things that my Dad just won't go along with, ie drinking coffee in al fresco cafes and indulging in a bit of yummy retail therapy. He is more of a traditional pub person, so I was happy to go along with B, enjoying the delights of a warm morning spent in this lovely little market town where I lived my childhood years. The above photo is the hidden courtyard of the poshest hotel in town, which is a very pleasant place to enjoy a morning coffee.
I asked Lady B to choose the cake to go with our coffee and she picked something that had no name, but it was utterly delicious. At a guess I would say it was a lemon and almond cake? It was low-rise cake, beautifully moist and kind of light but dense at the same time, with a gorgeous zesty zing to it. It honestly was the perfect accompaniment to my coffee, and made me sigh out loud with pleasure.
Our retail therapy took place in the above shop which was a visual and textural delight.
Run by a really chatty and friendly lady, the shop sells mainly Italian linen clothes, with some beautifully curated jewellery and accessories alongside.
The clothes were all assorted linen things (dresses, tunics, jackets, pinafores etc), some long and some short, some simple and some elaborate, but the thing that struck me the most (quite obvious from the above photo) was the colour order of the clothes. Oh my goodness, it was overwhelmingly beautiful to be surrounded by so much saturated linen colour singing out a rainbow song! I loved this shop so much and could honestly have filled a small truck with clothes to take home. I settled on a beautiful blue linen tunic dress with little mother of pearl buttons and big pockets (I love clothes with pockets) which I'm saving to wear for the first time at Yarndale. I can't wait!
One afternoon I went to the place where my mum rests, a very small rural village where she lived as a child. It was a six mile round walk along quiet leafy country lanes, and I was glad of the gentle exercise and the solitude for a while. I talked inside my head a lot and tried to put some things to rest while I was walking. I still struggle with so much of what happened with my Mum, it's an emotional tangle and I guess it may be some time before I can free myself from the mess of it all.
Back at Lady B's and a lot of time was spent sitting in her garden, enjoying fabulous home cooked food, chatting and drinking large G&T's as the sun went down. It was a relaxing and restorative trip for me, and I was so glad I was able to make it down there. It's such a long journey (7 hours by train which includes a jaunt on the London underground), but I enjoyed the travel, reading and crocheting and idling my mind as I looked out the window and took in the changing scenery.
It's always good to come home again though, no matter how wonderful the trip away. Yorkshire is looking lush after all the rain we've had in recent weeks, and you would never know how parched everything was earlier in the summer.
We've done a few walks just lately with the Little People at Bolton Abbey and also further up the dale along the river Wharfe. Although my heart misses the sea, I do really love this little patch of England that I now call home. I love it very, very much and appreciate how lucky I am to live here.
Sigh.....I am feeling quite emotional at the moment, so many memories flooding my brain and so many random thoughts of times past flitting in and out.
At this time of year the light is sublime at certain times of the day, making me catch my breath as the sun streaks in low through the windows. Its' golden and beautiful, lighting up my table for fleeting minutes before it's gone. Often times the dining table is a mess of objects - yarn and crochet and mugs and magazines and papers, the stuff of daily life strewn across the surface. But every so often it stays clear with the exception of a small jug of flowers in the centre. I love the illusion of tranquility this image creates, even if the rest of the room around the table is in utter chaos.
I've got a lot to do in these next few weeks as we are in the frantic run up to Yarndale. My work schedule is a bit frightening to be honest, but I will do my best to do all the things that are expected of me. I feel the pressure of it all at this time of year, it's quite the juggling act I have to perform. This week (amongst many other things) I'll be working to finish off the above project, they are the stripes I'm crocheting from the arm full of yarn shown in the photo earlier. It's a Felting Project and I'm equal parts insanely excited and crushingly nervous about putting this creation into the washing machine....... eeeeeeeep!!!!!!!!! I don't know how I can stand the suspense of it all!!!!!
So I think we are more or less caught up on my Summer comings and goings now, with the exception of our one week away (we went to an Island!! We flew there!!!). I would like to tell you a bit about that trip, if you don't mind looking at a few holiday snaps. Personally I LOVE reading other people's holiday blog posts cos I'm a nosey parker and enjoy knowing how other families spend their leisure and pleasure time.
I hope you're feeling happy and in good spirits, thank you as ever for your company here in the Attic. I love having you visit....come back soon, won't you?