Monday, 31 March 2008

The change - the last day

Today was my last day of paid employment. I can give you many different reasons for my decision to quit now. But the chief one is that I feel tired and believe that I deserve a short peaceful break (as much as looking after an active toddle can be considered to be one). Despite Cat being a super easy baby, last year was hard both physically and emotionally. Since I didn’t have any previous experience of baby care the learning curve was the steepest one I ever encountered (excluding the first few years of my life, but I don’t remember those :-) ). Far away from my family and most of my friends I often felt exhausted and lonely. Yet I love being a mother and I want to have more time to enjoy it instead of rushing between entertaining my daughter, completing the household chores and working.

I agonized about this decision for very long time, swinging from one option to another. But once I sent my resignation letter I felt incredibly happy and relaxed, which makes me believe that my decision was the right one. I’m glad that I had a range of choices and extremely grateful for having very supportive husband. And I wonder where this small change will lead me.

Sunday, 30 March 2008

The change

but we never see things changing
we only see them ending
Ani DiFranco "Slide"

More tomorrow... :-)

Thursday, 27 March 2008

More stitch markers

Yes, I made few more stitch markers. These ones are from nicer glass and seed beads as they will go to someone else. I'm getting better at wrapping the wire, but still didn't manage to get the lengths to be exactly the same. Good excuse for more practice? :-) I should make some for crochet as I'm still using the safety pins to mark the beginning of the row.

For not knitters, here is the explanation of what they are.

P.S. I'm unlikely to make any posts on Wednesdays for the next 12 weeks as the new season of UK Apprentice started yesterday and I can't resist watching it.

Monday, 24 March 2008

Thanks for the idea

In her response to my bag of fun post Starfish suggested that I should make some stitch markers. Thank you! I would never think of it myself since until that moment I didn’t even know that such things existed. So while I contemplate what my next knitting project should be, I tried to make some following the Beaded Stitch Markers tutorial.

It’s so simple and highly addictive. The best part is that I get to learn and practice new skills, which will come handy if I ever decide to make some earrings.

Here is the close up of my first wobbly stitch markers set made out of cheap plastic beads I bought when I just started beading (I’m slowly turning into the bead snob and now buy much nicer beads). I also made another set out of really ugly plastic strand from that bag of broken jewellery, but by the time I finished it got too gloomy (and still is 24 hrs later) over here to take close-up photos so you can only see one of them on the top picture.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Happy Easter, Everyone

As you can see we are enjoying the chocolate and the hot cross(less) buns. I made them using a recipe from the Complete Bread Machine book. And everything about them is so much better than the store bought ones – the smell, the texture, the taste. One day I want to try out Delia's recipe, but I’m struggling to find normal yeast.

The little chick was crocheted out of Rowan Cotton Glace using this free pattern in under 2 hours. I added few more rows to make the bird bigger and fatter and choose to make simpler wings. The rest of the family approved the new addition to the growing toy collection, though Cat’s favourite toy at the moment is a shoelace!

And to make this Easter even more special it snowed! I think it is the first snow of this winter in London.

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

The Grey Sheep

There is a black sheep in every family.

But ours now has a grey one.

My first knitting project is finally finished! And yes, I know that from this angle it looks more like a rabbit than a sheep.
Pattern: Laurie Lambkin from Nursery Knits book by Tessa Watts-Russell
Yarn: Inca (Alpaca/Acrylic/Nylon) by Hayfield Textiles
I would love to tell you, but I no longer remember.

The worst part was putting up with all the Australians & sheep jokes from my husband, who also named the little thing as Lambo. The best part is that the little girl actually likes Lambo. I was contemplating making the tail much shorter than in the pattern as I never met a sheep with such a long tail, but now I’m happy that I didn’t as Cat drags the poor sheep everywhere by its tail. I also realised that I’ll never be a toy maker as I find the last steps of putting them together and giving them faces very frustrating and time consuming. If you want to see some beautiful knitted toys go here, specially because at the moment Julie is having a give-away to celebrate her 200th post.

P.S. The photo background is some paintings Cat and I did last week using the finger paints sent to us by Sharon. So much fun!

Sunday, 16 March 2008

Uniqueness of every day

…every day was the same, and when each day is the same as the next, it’s because people fail to recognize the good things that happen in their lives every day that the sun rises.
Paulo Coelho The Alchemist

My dearest daughter, thank you for teaching me that every day is unique, full of special moments that will never occur again exactly the same way.

Saturday, 15 March 2008

Trip to York

It’s been about three weeks since we went to York, but I guess better late than never. So here is a long and not very exciting story of what we did.

Our trip to York started as a study in how not to travel: rushing to pack, not having enough time to wash dishes (and I hate leaving dirty dishes sitting around even for few hours, let along few days) or to feed the child, printing out details of the wrong hotel.

Luckily I was organized enough to prepare some food to take with us, so Cat got something to eat on the way to the train station (is it strange that she now eats boiled carrots only while on the move and completely refuses them at home?). On the train we were fortunate enough to sit opposite a cute young couple, who I thought totally adorable, especially because Cat found them mesmerising and therefore didn’t require much entertainment from us.

It was on our arrival to York that we realised that I printed out the details of the wrong hotel. And for a change I was thankful for Clive’s work blackberry and soon we were on the way to our friendly B&B. We tried to put Cat down for a nap, but she was too excited about her new surroundings and after 40 minutes we admitted defeat and headed into town. Of course once in the pram she fall asleep almost straight away. We walked around the town admiring the old houses, visiting few shops and finally stumbled upon a bead shop (Bead Hive, 11 College St). See how disorganized we were – I didn’t even have time to google the location of local beadshops before our trip. Of course I got few more beads to add to my growing collection.
At this point our little sleeping angel awoke and turned into screaming monster. She brightened up a tiny bit (or at least stopped screaming) once I picked her up, but was still highly irritable until we got some food into her in a cafĂ© that was ok, but far from brilliant. It also didn’t have baby changing facilities (but had high-chairs); therefore our next stop was Art Gallery. Of course you know that I wanted to look at the paintings anyway and not just use their facilities. I assumed that well-fed child would be happy to admire pictures, particularly the ones with dogs or other animals in them, while being carried around. In our daily walks she preferred to be carried around to walking, hence I had no reason to think otherwise. And how wrong I was! She decided that walking around gallery, trying to climb the stairs and touching all the walls is infinitely more fun. So my gallery experience turned into brief glances at the painting while trying to keep an eye on her.

Since she was so eager to walk, we went to the park around the ruins of St Mary’s Abbey. The wind was so strong that it kept knocking her over and eventually we were back to carrying her.

After a short walk along the river, we decided to call it a day and headed back to the hotel to have some food (roast beef sandwiches prepared in the morning) and rest. In the evening it took 40 minutes to get Cat to sleep – she was happy to be in the cot, singing and clapping, while I was next to her; but screaming if I moved away. She didn’t sleep very well and eventually ended up in our bed.

Since breakfast was served from 8, we had some food up in our room at around 6:30 and I reminisced about old good times when I occasionally struggled to wake up early enough to make it to hotel’s breakfasts. During second breakfast Cat surprised us by saying pretty clear “Tick-Tock” while pointing at the clock. After breakfast we headed to the National Railway Museum, which was the main reason for our trip.

Cat fall asleep just as we arrived there, so we had one hour of peaceful looking around with many stories and explanations from my husband, who is a total nut than it comes to engines, submarines, trains, etc. One of our friends still has nightmares about spending a day in Science Museum with Clive and almost drowning in all the information. Since I like trains myself, I was happy to have a personal guide. Once Cat was awake she also enjoyed looking at trains, specially the miniature railway set. My favourite was seeing Flying Scotsman being repaired in the workshop.

On finishing with the museum we did a bit more walking around the town, looked at the Clifford's Tower, but didn’t go inside and went back to hotel to try to get Cat to sleep a tiny bit more. You can guess – it didn’t work. So we went out for another walk and of course she fall asleep.

Next morning we had two leisurely breakfasts again and headed back to the train station. Our football curse struck again and on entering London underground we were greeted by a huge football crowd, so had to miss few trains before finally getting home with Cat asleep on my shoulder. She opened her eyes for a second when I was taking off her clothes, but I doubt her brain registered that she was back home. Once she was awake, she was unhappy again until she saw all her soft toys sitting on the window ledge waiting for her.

We keep on talking about having a leisurely nature holiday, but our next one in May could be even more tiring as we will be heading to Japan for one week.

Friday, 14 March 2008

Favorite Color Swap Questionnaire

The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.
Oscar Wilde "The Picture of Dorian Gray"


Starfish mentioned Favorite Color Swap on her blog and like Oscar Wilde “I can resist everything except temptation.” (Lady Windermere's Fan). Matches were made yesterday and therefore I want to welcome my swap pal to the blog – hope you’ll enjoy it and here are the answers to the questionnaire.

1. What are your top three favorite colors?
All the different shades of green, but especially olive green

2. What crafts do you really enjoy?
Beading – my newest and strongest addiction
Crochet – old and comfortable love
Knitting - though enjoy isn’t yet the right verb for it, struggle with would be a better way to describe my current relationship with knitting
And I want to learn to quilt so I can make myself a perfect quilt I always dreamt about

3. What products do you really covet?
Books and beads

4. What other activities do you enjoy besides your favorite crafty things?
Reading, walking, listening to classical music (or “dead people music" as my husband likes to call it), baking, making breakfasts (I’m a morning person and it’s the only meal of the day I always enjoy making). I struggle to think of anything else – I’m sure there were many other things I enjoyed doing pre-child.

5. Is there anything you collect?
Quotes and poems.

I used to collect tourist postcards and bunnies, but due to lack of space I’m trying to avoid accumulating extra things. But I always fail than it comes to books and beads and yarn and…

6. What is your zodiac sign and/or Chinese zodiac symbol?
Taurus and horse

7.What are your favorite…

…scents/smells? I’m pretty picky than it comes to scents. I don’t like sweet flowery ones, but can’t think of anything I like except Verbena.

…types of music and/or bands? classical, jazz

…authors? Margaret Atwood, Erica Jong, J. R. R. Tolkien, Oscar Wilde

…animals? bunnies, cats, birds

…places to shop? I’m not a big fan of shopping (specially for clothes), but I enjoy browsing bookshops, craftshops and thrift/charity shops. And if I had lots of money I would shop on Etsy

…season? spring

…yarn/fabric/paper/other craft supplies? Did I mention beads earlier? :-)

…candies or goodies? I’m not a big fan of candies, biscuits (I think they are called cookies in US?) and tea are my thing

8. Do you have any wish lists?

No. I had an amazon one, but it is horribly out of date.

9. Are you allergic to anything?

No, not really

10. Do you have any pets? What are they?


11. Please include anything else you would like your secret pal to know about you- anything that would be helpful in finding you little gifts that you will really enjoy. Also, if you have a Ravelry ID, please include it here.

I just got my Ravelry invite and am trying to figure it out (id – fioleta). I’m easy to please and I would love to find out more about you, your traditions, family recipes, your town/country. Since I’m relatively new to the whole craft thing and always want to try something new any craft supplies will be welcomed. I also want to get back into letter writing (the old-fashioned paper kind) and painting/drawing. My favourite flowers are tulips. If you have any question, please ask.

Green & purple, tea & biscuits, favourite magazine & flowers - I think I had a perfect midday break today.

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

Can Flossy become a ballerina?

Meet Florence (or Flossy for short). She is from up North. She likes running, jumping and dancing. She came to London to pursue her dream of becoming a ballerina.
I was toying with the idea of making a doll for Cat, but I don’t have a sewing machine and sewing by hand would drive me completely insane. And then I saw Katy’s dolls on UK Handmade Flickr group and after checking out her blog and Etsy store I placed a custom order. I think Katy’s bunnies are totally adorable. But if I got one everyone would know that I got it for myself, while with a doll I can pretend that it is solely for Cat’s enjoyment. And she is enjoying it, though I haven’t managed to get a good shot of them together, as the little girl is highly interested in grabbing the camera from me.

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Random acts of kindness

It is the random acts of kindness and generosity that give us renewed faith in the world.
Sharon of Sound Bites

On Wednesday, just after lunch, a package arrived. The first thing we examined on opening it was the Lost blanket book with Igglepiggle on the cover. You should’ve seen Cat’s facial expression - total confusion at first (I can just imagine her poor little brain thinking: how come he is in the book, not on TV?), followed by lots of smiles and pointing and turning of pages. Next we tried out the crayons and pencils before Cat’s nap. And still have finger paints to try. And there was a present for me as well - a knitting book . All from lovely Sharon, who decided to brighten up our day with random act of generosity. Thank you.

This week was full of them. Last Saturday we received totally unexpected package from my aunt with two Russian books. Naree helped out by babysitting while I had a long conversation with my boss. Julia gave me few presents on Friday. And yesterday we received a postcard with a beautiful sunset view of Ayutthaya from Olya. I feel very loved this week and the world seem to be a wonderful place despite poor husband spending 3 days in bed with a stomach bug. Thank you.

Friday, 7 March 2008

A bag of fun

My husband was home today with a stomach bug. Poor thing spent most of the morning in bed. But since he was home I was able to escape outside while Cat slept. One of my favourite charity shops, in which I bought lots of yarn, closed down and I’m in search of a replacement. So today I checked out one that is a bit further than others. And found a huge (and heavy) bag of broken jewellery.

There are some really scary things in it, but some nice ones as well. I’m having so much fun sorting through it all trying to untangle everything and hopefully will have even more fun creating something new out of all the lovely bits.

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Wire Pendant

After my unsuccessful attempt to crochet wire bracelet and while my parents were stil here, babysitting the little girl, I went to the big book store in search of the perfect book to teach me how to crochet with wire. (Is there a better place to spend few extra hours of freedom for a self-confessed book addict?) I loved Crocheted Wire Jewelry book by Arline M. Fisch straight away and am finally trying out one of the projects. I’m crocheting a small round pendant using copper wire over wooden bead following instructions for Cube Pendant by Eugene Keefer Bell. Trying to figure out the best placement for the next slip stitch to achieve random-pattern covering is so addictive that I don’t really want to finish it.

Monday, 3 March 2008

Plastic Bags

Unlike naturally occurring compounds, plastic does not photo-degrade, it simply breaks up into ever-smaller pieces and lingers in the environment as an invisible toxic dust.
THE GREAT PACIFIC GARBAGE PATCH article (with some very depressing photos) by the Institute for Figuring

I hear a flapping noise; look up thinking “a bird” only to see a brightly lit plastic bag stuck in the tree branch, thrashing about in the wind. We live close to a big supermarket and the sight of the abandoned plastic bags is sadly very common. Luckily not all plastic bags end up polluting our environment at the end of their lives. Some of them are fortunate enough to be turned into the beautiful artwork (Rubbish Vortex and Crochet Sea Creatures by Helle Jorgensen)

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Happy Mother's Day

I spent most of today work and after testing and battling with VBA and Excel Macros my brain feels too mushy to think of a good quote, so I’ll leave it for tomorrow.

I don’t think any of my readers are UK mothers, but since mothers should be appreciated every day I want to wish you a Happy Mother's Day. Have a great day full of love and laughter.