Sunday, 4 January 2015

All hail 2015!

Happy New Year one and all!

Did you all have a good Christmas and New Year?

Was the weather kind to you?

Here in Cumbria the weather was gentle.  Cold and crisp on Christmas Day, wet and windy on New Year's Day.

We had a lovely Christmas. I worked a full day on Christmas Eve until 6pm. Matthew came and helped so that I could let the girls go home early. Normally it goes really quiet in the afternoon, but not that afternoon! It was bedlam. I had customers queued up the corridor until gone 5pm. But they were all good spirited about their waits, so all was well.

Dinner on Christmas Eve was once again provided by my MIL. She's a star!!! I was completely done in, and to be able to come home, be handed a glass of wine and a plate was wonderful. We exchanged gifts that night and Ben was completely blown away! His uncle Tony had bought him a bow. A real bow, not a toy one!!! His face lit up and he wanted to go straight outside to have a go. We suggested that flinging lethal weapons around in the dark was probably not the best plan, he reluctantly agreed.

Christmas Day dawned cold and bright. I was up for ages before the boys surfaced. I quite enjoyed the quiet time to be honest. I'm often up before them and I love the opportunity to sit and knit and collect my thoughts for the day.

We bought Ben an xBox One as his main present. We kept it until last. He'd wanted one for months and we'd said no. There's nothing wrong with the 360 he's got. It's a complete racket.There was a new game released this year that he wanted more than anything, but it was only being made for the new consoles. Honestly! These companies have us parents over a barrel. Any how, I'd saved up Nectar points all year and I had about £80 to spend so when I took that money off the price of the xBox One it made it the same price as his 360 had been.

Ben opened his presents and was happy enough, he'd got the things he'd asked for, but you could tell he was a little disappointed. Matthew had made him a shelf for his bedroom - now that he was going to have 2 xBox's he'd need some kind of way to store them so they don't overheat. He gave him the shelf and Ben was a tad bemused to be fair. I said I needed the loo, and went off to get his last present. He opened it and nearly fainted with excitement! He was made up!

We haven't seen him since

I fear he may lose muscle tone and turn translucent!

And me?

Santa brought be lovely shiny things too!

Ben bought me a ball of yarn. He went to my LYS and picked a ball of Opal Sweet and Spicy 2. It's the red onion colour way. I've knit it many times before and I love the colours. Ben know's me so well. It's funny, he went into the shop and couldn't be swayed by the owner Elaine, he knew what he wanted to get me, she couldn't suggest anything else. I've been into the shop in the last couple of days and she was gushing about how lovely Ben was, how polite and how funny it was that he knew what he wanted to get me. I'm very proud of him.

Matthew excelled himself. I got a lovely bottle of perfume. I knew I was getting that because he rang me from Debenhams in a blind panic asking me what I wanted. His other gifts where stunning. He made me a yarn bowl. He'd been out in his shed turning something for me the weekend before. It blew me away. It's made from sapelli I think. The thing I love most about it is the lip he's turned around the top so that your ball doesn't pop out! How clever is that!?

He also bought me a book. It's called Vintage Knit by Marine Malak and Geraldine Warner. There are 25 knitting and crochet patterns inspired and refashioned for today. As it stands there's not a single item of clothing in the book that will fit me, even with the reworking of the patterns the sizing hasn't been changed much. The women of the 50's just weren't my shape or size.

That said, I love it! Right now, it's full of inspiration. Stitch patterns, shapes, design features - my creative juices are flowing! I hope that one day soon, I'll knit a garment from the book, but for now, I'll just use them as a platform for other things.

My mum and dad got me a subscription to a yarn club. I'm so excited, my first installment should ship in the next couple of weeks. It's from Ginger Twist Studios there are 3 installments of yarn and patterns to create lovely accessories. Each yarn is a rare British breed. I'm just too excited for words.

Matthew's mum and dad got me something different. An amplifier for my iPhone. It's hand thrown by Stuart Broadhurst. I love it!

Christmas dinner was wonderful. A beautiful piece of beef with all the trimmings. Again - all hail my MIL!! Dinner was topped off with a game of Monopoly. Ben had been given a Penrith Monopoly board by Matthew's parents for Christmas, we had great fun until a tide of red wine stopped play and the money had to be dried out on a heater!

On to New Year's Eve. We had been invited to a party at a neighbour's house. It was great fun catching up with folk, eating good food and drinking good wine. Before I knew it Big Ben was ringing and 2015 arrived.

New Year's Day brought a new start.

I started the Teapigs Matcha Challenge. For those of you looking confused right now, Matcha is a concentrated green tea powder. It's full of goodies like flavanoids and amino acids. It's supposed to give you lots of energy and make you feel fabulous.

Disclaimer -

I have been given a Matcha kit by Teapigs to try and to blog about. I haven't been paid to big up their product, rather, to give my honest opinion.

So here it is - I am on Day 4 of the Matcha Challenge.
Day 1 - New Year's Day. A hot matcha tea. Was ever hopeful that matcha is a miracle cure for hangovers. As it was I wasn't really THAT hungover, more tired really.
Day 2 - A shot of cold matcha - holy smoke!
Day 3 - A matcha latte
Day 4- Matcha in orange juice.

Ok. Thoughts.

So far I have mostly been feeling rough. Nothing specific, just rough. Yesterday I had a headache/migraine all day. My innards (not to put too fine a point on it) have been rough too!
The Matcha challenge started on New Year's Day, a day I started other things too. I started the Dryathlon to raise money for Cancer Research (if you fancy donating you can click on the word Dryathlon and it will take you to my JustGiving page)

I think that my body is going through something of a detox at the moment which may account for my feeling lousy.

I'm thinking that the migraine yesterday was the worst of it, and I'm thinking positive thoughts that I'll start to feel better from now on.

I'll blog a brief blog on Thursday to let you all know how I feel after a full week.

It's taken me four goes to find a way of drinking the matcha that I like. The hot matcha and the shot weren't nice at all. Matcha is basically freeze dried whole green tea leaves. It's not the tea made from green tea leaves that's been dried. Consequently there's a distinct 'vegetable' smell and taste about it. It's reminiscent of sprouts, now I like sprouts, but I'm not that enamored with drinking them. The matcha doesn't dissolve. It's suspended in what ever vehicle you choose, so by the time the hot tea had cooled sufficiently to drink it, there was a definite sludge at the bottom of my cup. I was a good girl though, and swirled until I'd re-suspended it and took the full dose. The cold matcha shot was hell! In such a small volume, the resulting liquid was thick and sludge-like. It took 2 rinses of the glass with more cold water to get the full dose. I shan't be repeating that anytime soon. The latte was the worst. I should have realised it wasn't the best plan because I don't like warm milk! Eejit! The latte made be balk (sorry guys!) The milk seemed to make that veggie smell and taste worse. But I'm a good patient/guinea pig and I finished the cup, swirling the dregs to get the full dose. And so onto this morning, matcha in orange juice. Not bad!!! There's still a distinct odour of sprout about the glass, but it went down a treat!
It's the way forward.

I bought a juicer yesterday, so I'm thinking that tomorrow's matcha dose may well be in a freshly juiced concoction. This morning I had a cup of tea, a matcha/orange juice and a glass of apple and kiwi juice. I didn't feel hungry until gone 1pm. This could be a good thing!

Now I've found the way I like my matcha I'm feeling happier about the rest of the challenge. Hopefully once my body has flushed the remaining muck out of my system from the festive excesses I should start to feel the benefits of Matcha.

If you fancy giving it a go, head on over to Teagpig's website you can get yourself the goodies to do your own Matcha Challenge use the code MATCHA15 to get 20% off. What will be your favourite way to drink matcha?

Feeling the love -

Well on the domestic front, my kitchen has been feeling the love today. We bought a kitchen unit off eBay months ago and it's finally been installed in the kitchen. It took so long because Matthew had to strip about 40 years of paint off it! I'm happy with it. One half is a cupboard with 2 shelves and the other has 3 drawers. The bottom drawer is really deep and it's now got the recipe books I use most regularly in. The cupboard had got the coffee machine, my food processor and my mixer in. So now they aren't clogging up my work surface, but they aren't so far packed away I can't get to them to use them.

On a crafting front I've done some knitting and spinning over the last fortnight.

Firstly the spinning.  I've had some BFL/silk on the wheel for months. It's a commercial blend I dyed myself a while ago, a tonal purple colour. When I started to spin it I had decided to spin it right through and ply it with another fibre. As I spun it I have to say that I got bored.
I seriously considered just navajo plying it and getting it over and done with. But once I had it finished, I was intrigued - how would it look plied with a contrasting colour? I had a mooch through my fibre stash and found a braid of Wensleydale/Mulberry Silk 70/30 from Juno Fibre arts. It's nothing short of gorgeous. A beautiful silvery grey and shades of purple. It spins like butter. I split the braid into quarters lengthwise and I'm spinning each quarter straight through end to end. The braid was lighter than I anticipated at 91g so I know I'll have more of my purple singles than the Juno when I'm plying the two together. Whatever's left I'll ply back on itself. Maybe I'll even have yet another go at plying from a centrepull ball.

On the knitting front, I cast on Christmas socks on Christmas morning. I wound Ben's yarn into a ball by hand, I put it into Matthew's yarn bowl and I cast on for a toe up sock. I worked up to my usual 72 stitches and then I had a peruse through the Vintage Knit book Mathew got for me. I found a rather lovely looking sweater. The stitch used throughout looked ideal for a sock. It was a kind of rib. On the first row you knit 2 together then knit into the back of the same 2 stitches thus keeping your stitch count right.

Holy moley what a nightmare! The pattern did say it was a fiddly stitch and they weren't kidding. The knitting into the same 2 stitches was tricky. I kept dropping a stitch or splitting my yarn. The fabric it made was lovely, but not worth the effort for a whole sock! I wonder if knitting the sweater on bigger needles with more drape to the work might make the stitches easier to work. As it was, not a good look for a sock. So I ripped back to the toe and started again. I'm working a simple travelling cable now. I like how it's progressing.

I've also worked on the Congo Sally socks. I've finished the first one and I'm not too far off the heel turn of the second.

What about those colourwork socks I hear you ask?! Erm, well, about that.... it seems that going up 2 needle sizes wasn't enough to make them fit. I need to work out how to make colourwork fit, so before I try again I've got some research to do. Needless to say, I've ripped them out completely. I think I'm going to work a simple travelling stitch pattern using the blue Natalie Fergie yarn.

And that's about it for what I've been up to.

On the Horizon -

I'm not a huge fan of New Year's Resolutions. I just set myself up to fail. So I have aims for life.

1 - Spin 15 in 15 - spin for 15 minutes each day.
So far so good! I've spun every day so far.
2 - Operation sock draw - have 12 new pairs of socks just for me.
I've got 2 pairs almost half done already!
3 - 40 weeks to 40 - be happy in my skin by the time the big 40 dawns
I'm on the way, I've taken up the Matcha Challenge, I'm doing more exercise, and I'm watching what I eat. Fingers crossed all goes well
4 - Write every day
I have a page to view diary. I'm writing in it every day. Nothing too deep or meaningful, just a few thoughts
5 - Be less of a potty mouth
It's hardly very ladylike after all!
6 - Clear some WIP's - I have 2 pairs of socks, 3 lace shawls, a cardie and a blanket on the go. I really must clear them away before I start anything else.
7- Stash down! I'm not going to bring yarn into the house unless I've used up twice as much already. This doesn't include my Christmas present obviously!

I think that's quite sufficient!

I hope you all have a happy and prosperous 2015

Oh, by the way! THIS is post 100, so check out the Ravelry group for a giveaway thread. I'll close it next time I blog.

Thanks for taking time out of your day to check in.

Ellen x