Monday, 28 March 2016

Easter weekend

Here in the UK, those of the Christian faith have been celebrating Easter this weekend.  It's a busy time in the church calendar and for those who are not church-goers, it's a lovely long weekend with many shops and offices closing from Good Friday to Easter Monday.  It's also the time when traditionally far too much chocolate is consumed, and things were no different in our house!

Our girls were finishing school for the weekend on Thursday (big daughter finished for two weeks as her holidays start before small daughter's) and my husband and I took the opportunity to escape for the day and headed to our favourite part of Wales with the dog for what turned out to be a rather blustery walk.  We're slowly learning that being self-employed means that we can work any day of the week that suits us, so if we want to take a day out to walk by the beach and do our work later, we can do!

The place was pretty much deserted as anyone with any sense was safely indoors, but we zipped up our coats and set off anyway.

The tide was right in and the dog was keen to dance in the waves, but we kept him firmly on his lead - these were not the sort of waves for paddling in!

Even these little seabirds (they're called Turnstones, I'd never seen them before) were staying well out of reach of the waves as they crashed onto the steps, rolling and foaming with a thunderous noise.

The sea has so many faces, doesn't it?  Calm and inviting some days, fierce and frightening on other days.  I never get tired of watching it.

Later on, we stopped for some lunch at a new harbourside cafe and sat outdoors in a sheltered spot.  It doesn't take long for wood to weather, and the markings are just beautiful.  How does nature know how to do that?  It's very clever.

Friday was Good Friday and we spent the day at home.  The weather forecast for the weekend wasn't good and I managed to dodge the rain showers to take some photos of the garden.  I had planned to get the grass cut and do some other jobs but every time I stood up to do it, it was raining or hailstoning and I was easily persuaded to stay indoors.

Luckily, the flowers weren't as miserable as the weather.  The miniature daffodils are still flowering ...

and the grape hyacinths are out now too.

I love this Hellebore.  It grows by the front door and flowers every Easter without fail.

We inherited this plant - Arum maculatum, also known as lords and ladies or cuckoopint - with the garden and I don't like it very much but it's refused any and all efforts to get it out of the border.  The autumn berries are poisonous which used to worry me, but the girls are old enough now not to be foraging for bright things to eat in the garden (luckily for me they never did, but you do have to be careful!) so I just cut off the seed heads as soon as I see them.  I find them a bit creepy, to be honest; there's just something about them that makes me shudder (orchids have the same effect) but the leaves are quite interesting so I have learnt to live with them.

The first flowers of the chocolate vine (Akebia quinata) are out now and smell heavenly - it's just a shame that they're at the bottom of the garden and I have to remember to go and sniff at them!

Small daughter and I spent most of Saturday afternoon baking.  I asked her if she'd like to help me make the Easter Simnel cake that we make every year, and she agreed on condition that we could bake Easter biscuits too.  It sounded like a reasonable deal to me, so we set to.

We started with the Simnel cake.  Small daughter isn't keen on fruit cake, with or without mixed spice, but she is very keen on marzipan so I had to keep a close eye on her as she was rolling it out to put in the middle of the cake as it was in danger of looking rather nibbled around the edges.

I love the marzipan layer in the cake, it makes an ordinary fruit cake just a bit more special.

Fruit cakes are always cooked in the baking tin in the Aga to stop them cooking too quickly.  It's a handy pot, useful for soups and stews as well as cakes! 

Next up were the biscuits.  Nothing exciting, just a standard biscuit recipe that we've used for years which holds it's shape nicely when you cut the biscuits out with cutters.  

I was surplus to requirements when it came to the cutting out - small daughter likes to do that bit all by herself and we've collected a good many cutters over the years, so she wasn't short of choice.

As it was Easter, she went for traditional Easter symbols - chicks, bells, angels ... Mickey Mouse, moose (mooses?), strawberries, Olaf the snowman ... it would seem that our extensive range of cutters isn't that extensive when it comes to Easter shapes!

On Sunday morning we were nearly caught out by the clocks going forward for British Summertime but made it to church on time for the Easter service.  I don't go to church every week, but when I do go I am struck by how lucky we are to have such a lovely old church to visit, and how peaceful it always seems when you're inside.  Our church is very old - it's mentioned in the Domesday Book - and I always wonder about the changes that the church has seen over the years, the people of the village who have come and gone and those who will come in the future.  I like that visitors to the services are always welcome, and those who go more regularly are just assumed to be part of the church community; there's no ceremony or jumping through hoops, but there is friendliness and a certain comfortable security.  It's good.

We had a lazy afternoon, snuggling together to watch a film and eat chocolate.  In other parts of the country there were hurricane-strength storms but apart from one of the loudest claps of thunder and brightest flashes of lightning that we think we've ever seen (which very kindly knocked our broadband out), we got off quite lightly and were glad to stay indoors doing our own thing.

After dinner we ate our Simnel cake.  Small daughter still wasn't keen on trying it but did offer to eat any "spare" marzipan that might be lying around.  Funnily enough, there wasn't much.

Today has been another strange weather day; heavy rain and strong winds followed by sunshine. When my husband and I were out on Thursday we saw lots of people setting up tents and caravans for the weekend, and I have been very glad that we were not one of them - I have spent the weekend hoping that they didn't get blown away!  

Tomorrow, everything will be back to normal (apart from having big daughter around this week) and the Easter break will be over.  It always feels like time has passed too quickly, although I think that I will appreciate the rest more as the week goes on; it's been quite nice to have been cooped up as much as we have!

I hope you have had a lovely weekend too!

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

A gifted day

Sometimes you have days that don't work out like your diary said they would.  It can't be helped, it just happens.  Today was one of those days.  I was supposed to be going to visit a friend but her little boy was poorly so we had to cancel - disappointing for both of us as we plan our days together weeks in advance and look forward to them, but sometimes that's just how it is.

Instead, I decided to have a day off at home.  We call these days "gifted days" in our family - a day that's given back to you to do something other than what you'd planned.  It might not feel like much of a gift when you've had to cancel something you were looking forward to, but doing something else that's pleasant makes it become one.  I could have spent the day cooking or cleaning or working in the garden, but instead I sat in the rocking chair and knitted, caught up on tutorial videos that I wanted to watch, and thanks to the internet, still spent time chatting with my friend even though we are many miles apart.

Of course, the day had to start with hot chocolate and cake ...

and I got myself nicely set up in front of the fire.  I studiously ignored big daughter's suggestions that I might like to go and collect her from college instead of leaving her to get the bus seeing as I was at home, and I also managed to avoid a neighbour's suggestion of how I could fill my day doing outside work as he clearly thought I had nothing better to do.  It's hard work, this having a day off at home malarkey!

All in all, it wasn't turning out to be a bad day at all, even if it wasn't the day that I was planning to have.  There's no point in moping about because moping isn't going to change anything - you have to make the best of what you have at the time.  Have I always been this annoyingly upbeat 
positive in the face of disappointment?  No, I haven't, and it's not always easy to be like this either, but something happened a long time ago that changed the way I think and now I prefer to live my life like this as best I can.  

When small daughter was two months old, my husband was suddenly taken ill.  Life-saving-surgery-type ill, not just man flu. The sort of situation where you just have to put your head down and get on with it or you'll never make it through the day.  It wasn't a good time for us, although everything is fine now, and somewhere in the middle of it all I started to think that however bad it was for me, it was always worse for someone else, and somehow that made it feel better.  We all have a choice to fight or go under, and I wasn't about to go under with a family relying on me to keep them all afloat.  And that was it.  The more you practice looking for the good in a situation, the easier it is to find it.  Things happen for reasons and going with the flow isn't the same as going under - you still get to keep your head above the water, you just get to look at a different view.  So as far as today goes ... at least my friend's son isn't really ill; at least he isn't poorly over the school holidays; at least I get to finish the sock I'm working on which seems to be taking forever ... you get the picture!

And finish the sock I did!  Thank goodness!  It really has seemed to take a long time (not helped by the fact that it is a very large sock), but the combination of eye of partridge heel which involves some concentration, knitting at night with earth-coloured (brown) yarn and watching a subtitled Norwegian thriller series (called Occupied, we were gripped!) has not been the most conducive to getting this sock knitted without a lot of unpicking and some rather rude words.  The Debbie Bliss yarn is a gradient yarn too which means that the colours flow subtly, changing beautifully from one to the next - which meant that when this happened ...

and my subtle colours became a very obvious colour change, I wasn't very happy.  Yes, scissors were involved and yes, there were more rude words.  However, all of that is forgotten now as I have one sock completed and the other is up to the foot and the abrupt colour change has been avoided.  The pair is going to be a gift so you'll understand if I don't show you the whole sock now just in case it gives away the surprise.

I can show you this though - I eventually got round to buying myself some sock blockers and this is one of them.  Purple too!  How fab is that?  It's an adjustable blocker which I thought might be quite useful seeing as these socks are going to be for someone with bigger feet than me.  Up until now, I've always just pressed my socks before gifting them, but I have to admit that they do look good when they're stretched out to their proper size.  Blocking socks involves soaking them and then putting the blockers inside so that the socks dry around the form.  There are lots of different types, from wire to acrylic (like mine) to wood, and you can even make your own from foam mats, chopping boards and even old coat hangers - have a look on YouTube for videos.  I just cheated and bought mine.

I have a second ball of the Debbie Bliss yarn and this one is much more the sort of colour that I would wear.  No, it isn't going to be a pair of socks.  It is going to be a shawl as I wanted to see how the colours changed and flowed, and so far I'm pleased with how it's looking.  It's going to need blocking once it's finished - it's at that "screwed up dish-towel" phase - but I'm confident that it's going to look really good.  It's giving me a chance to practice my Norwegian knitting too, which is actually easier on a straight run rather than around the curve of a sock needle.  One of my tutorial videos was on Norwegian purling and although it seems rather complicated at the moment, I can see how it could be an alternative to the way I purl now.  I don't think that I'll ever give up my English flick entirely, but I do like being able to switch between methods.

I didn't have quite the same lunch as I would have had if I had gone out, but I still enjoyed my plateful of Alphabetti Spaghetti all the same!  It sounds quite ridiculous, but I do prefer spaghetti shapes on my toast to the long thin stuff.  

Being at home also meant that I was here to take delivery of some new yarn - I love squishy parcels and the dog loves the postman, who's taken to bringing him a biscuit!  This is Regia Iglu, an 8ply (DK) yarn, and I have a plan for it - I'll keep you posted!   

It's time to go and pick small daughter up from school now, which means that my day off is over. Dinner, after-school clubs, homework ... it all starts again now, but I feel refreshed after having a day doing just what I wanted to do, even if it wasn't written in the diary.  I can definitely recommend it every now and again!

Wednesday, 16 March 2016

Crochet car seat belt cover

Ever since listening to Betsan Corkhill a week or so ago, I have shed any guilt that I might have about the number of projects that I have on the go.  It's fine to have projects to suit any mood or occasion, and sometimes we just need something that's fun.

Cue my latest ta-dah moment.  My husband had bought some seat belt covers for his car to protect his clothes (clearly I am not the only one with clothes with shiny shoulders, disintegrated printing on t-shirts, lines of bobbles and even ridges where the seat belt has rubbed) and it struck me that I could do with something similar.  However, despite the simplicity of clicking and ordering these days, I have always been the type of person to think "I can make that for myself" (sometimes with spectacularly disastrous results, it has to be said, but we don't need to go into that!) and a seat belt cover seemed like just the sort of thing that I could manage in between other projects.

Ta-dah!  Just the thing for a colourful quick-fix project that also made use of leftover yarns and some buttons that came free with a magazine a long time ago that have been waiting to get out of their packet.

And most of all, it was fun.  I haven't crocheted for quite a while and it's good to swap crafts so that you exercise a different part of your brain and move your hands differently.  And it's very nice to sit in the sunshine and crochet too!

My crochet guru has promised to give me a masterclass on technique so that I can learn another way to hold my yarn and hook (in much the same way that I've been experimenting with other knitting styles) and I think there may well be another blanket in progress over the summer!

So if you need a colourful, quick-fix project for yourself and you think that you can't possibly live without one of these in your car, then here's how I made it J

I rootled out some leftover Stylecraft Special DK from when I made my Neat Ripple blanket 

and found the packet of buttons that had been gathering dust for far too long.

I measured my seat belt (5cm across), multiplied that by 2 to cover the front and the back and then added 2cm for the buttons.  This meant that I chained 24 to get started.  Missing out the first stitch, I put my hook into the second stitch along ready to start on my double crochets (single crochet in the US).

To make a double crochet (dc) stitch, put the hook through the second stitch, wrap the yarn around and pull through to make two loops ...

then wrap the hook around the yarn again ...

and pull through both loops to make the stitch.

Remember to chain 1 at the end of your round before you turn to go back the other way.

You can make the seat belt cover as long or a short as you want.  I wanted to use up as much of the yarn as I could, and fit in all six of the buttons, and make sure that the cover protected as much of my clothing as possible so mine is 56cm long.  I must confess that I didn't think about the seat belt rolling back up into it's holder when you take it off, so that's something that you might want to take into consideration!

I had 11 colours so to work out the buttonholes I made one after the first two rows, then worked 11 colours (22 rows) before making the next one.  I worked two more rows (1 colour) after the last buttonhole it matched the other end of the cover.

To make the buttonholes, make 1 dc stitch, chain 2 to replace the 2 stitches that are being missed out to create the buttonhole.  You can see the stitches indicated here by the wool needles.

Then work 1 dc stitch into the next stitch along ... 

and continue to the end of the round, ch1, turn, work to the 2 chains.  Then insert your hook into the gap created by the chains and work 2 dc into the gap.  

This creates a nice neat buttonhole.

There's no particular sequence to my colours; I just made sure to use each colour once in every block of 11 colours.  You might think that given my obsession with matching socks this seems strange, but I actually like the randomness of the colours in my crochet!

This is what I ended up with.  I worked a round of double crochet in grey to neaten off the edges ...

then it was time to sew on the buttons.  This was easy enough - it was just a case of lining them up with the buttonholes (having previously checked where to position them on the seatbelt).  

And there we are!  

It's just a bit of fun, but there's nothing wrong with that, is there? J

Friday, 11 March 2016

Therapeutic Knitting - Betsan Corkhill workshop

Back in October, I wrote about my conviction that knitting was good for our well-being, and I was very glad to be able to pick up my needles in those few weeks after my Dad died as I'm certain that losing myself in the rhythm of the rounds helped to get me through a difficult time.

Someone who would agree with that is Betsan Corkhill (look at me, on a roll with my celebrity selfies!).

Betsan worked as a Senior Physiotherapist specialising in neurophysiology until 2002 when she became so frustrated at a system which was geared around making people do exercises that they were not motivated to do that she left and went to work as freelance production editor for a magazine publisher instead.  It's a bit of a career change and you might think that the story ends there, but Betsan found herself working for various craft magazines and part of her job was to put together the letters page.  She noticed that the majority of the letters that she read related to the therapeutic benefits of knitting and no doubt because of her physiotherapy background, started to realise that this was more than just coincidence.  

Betsan began to do some serious research into the idea of therapeutic knitting and in 2005 set up the Stitchlinks website to provide a resource for general information on therapeutic knitting, for clinicians looking for more scientific data and also a forum for people to share experiences and develop friendships.  Today, Betsan runs a knitting group at the Pain Clinic at the Royal United Hospital in Bath and works as a personal well-being coach to encourage people to consider knitting as part of a "toolkit" for managing their health and well-being.  There are more PhD students than ever researching the benefits of woolly crafts, the medical profession are starting to take an interest and the idea of knitting for well-being is becoming more mainstream.  It's definitely progress.

I had read quite a bit about Betsan and therapeutic knitting so when I discovered that she was holding a workshop at Black Sheep Wools, I made sure to buy my ticket early so that I would get a chance to listen first hand to what she had to say.  I've made pages and pages of notes, and it was an absolutely fascinating day, bringing together what I have already learnt about meditation, well-being and our sense of self, but also teaching me plenty that I didn't know about neurology and pain management, and just how powerful our brains are.  It's hard to know where to begin, and I certainly can't do an entire day's workshop justice in a relatively short blog post, so I will try to give you a flavour of what it's all about and urge you to take part in one of Betsan's workshops yourselves if you like what you read and if you ever get the opportunity to go to one.

So what exactly is therapeutic knitting and why is it different to just knitting?  According to Betsan, it's a combination of knitting and knowledge to deliberately improve your well-being.  This isn't as complicated as it sounds: Betsan advocates using knitting as a tool to get you through stressful or painful situations and also in some cases to try to prevent them in the first place, so if you know that you get very anxious in, say, a doctor's waiting room, then taking your knitting to keep yourself calm before you're called in is therapeutic knitting.  The chances are that you've been doing this for a long time without giving it any kind of name!

You might also be wondering if there is such a thing as therapeutic crochet, and the answer is yes, although Betsan says that she always teaches knitting first as some people get pains in their hands from crocheting.  The point is to be doing something with both hands that you hold in front of your body as this engages your whole brain, and ideally something that you can focus on to fade out the rest of the world if you need to.

We were encouraged to take some easy knitting with us to do during the workshop, and whilst the sock that I took along might not look so easy, it is actually a very straightforward pattern so I had no trouble concentrating.  (The yarn is Debbie Bliss Rialto Luxury Sock yarn (shade 06) and the pattern is Bleaberry Tarn by Louise Tilbrook.)

In fact, because my hands were occupied then I found it easier to concentrate on what Betsan was saying, without being tempted to fiddle with my pen or get distracted by drawing pictures in the margins of my notebook.  

It was an ideal example of how our brains can be occupied in a beneficial way.  Despite our belief that we are skilled multi-taskers, the truth is that our brains can only focus on one thing at once.  I became very aware that there were times during the day when I became focussed on my knitting, other times when I was writing and other times when I put down everything in my hands just to listen.  Understanding this is key to how therapeutic knitting works, and it seems too simple to be true - but aren't the best ideas always that way?

When we are knitting, the act of moving two hands in a rhythmic and automatic movement uses both sides of our brains and makes it work hard.  Working on a complicated pattern at the same time makes it work even harder and that uses up all of the brain's attention.  There's just no room left for it to focus on stress, loneliness, pain, anxiety or a host of other conditions that are all rooted in the mind.  Betsan has used knitting in a medical environment to calm panic attacks, relieve persistent pain and help drug users re-focus their lives.  It won't work for everyone - knitting just isn't everybody's thing - but for those who are drawn to using yarn and pointy sticks, the opportunity to use the skill to change mindsets and long-ingrained mental habits is one which has had startling results - and who's to say it won't work for you until you try it?

Our brains are constantly growing and developing until the day we die (in contrast to the long-held belief that it starts to die off in our mid-twenties) so the adage of not being able to teach an old dog new tricks simply isn't true.  All we need to do is feed our brains with cardiovascular exercise, novelty (new skills), laughter, community, a good diet and activities that you enjoy doing. Now that doesn't sound like hardship, does it?  And there's not a single mention of eating sprouts in there either! J

Knitting helps to reduce the stress brought about by the constant pressures of daily living, which are actually more dangerous than one big stressful situation such as a bereavement or moving house.  The stresses build up quietly until one day they weigh so heavily that we feel that our ability to deal with them is far outweighed by the stresses themselves.  Setting aside time to make ourselves feel good is often not a priority, especially when we are already stressed or in pain, so getting into the habit of daily knitting, even if only for a short while, can help to stop the stresses building up.  Even those with joint pain such as arthritis can benefit from knitting, taking care with their posture and using circular needles to ensure that the weight of the knitting sits on their lap and doesn't pull on their hands and arms.  

It's all about focusing on ability, not disability, and Betsan had brought this along to show us. What do you think it is?  There's a woodpecker here ...

And an owl here ...

And now you can see the whole walking stick - but if you met someone out in the street with this, would you notice that they couldn't walk without the stick or that they had something that had been created in their hands?  (There's a free pattern for the cover here which you can customise in any way that you like.)  Switching the focus can make all the difference to someone's life.

It's a powerful message, and one that was the theme of the day.  We all have the power to change our own lives.  Our brains have the flexibility to change and the neural pathways that are created every time we do something repetitively become stronger no matter what age we are.  This can be positive - practice makes perfect whether you're playing a sport, playing the piano or knitting - but it can also be negative as we can also practice feeling anxious, stressed or recalling bad memories. Our brain doesn't differentiate between the good and the bad as it creates those pathways to make it easier for us to do things over and over, faster and faster every time we do it, it just does it.  Once we know that, we can use that information to reprogramme our brains, to re-write the stories that we identify ourselves by.  We can become whoever we want to be, and whilst we find our way, we can use knitting as a way to reach out or, in some cases, to hide behind in social situations that we find stressful.  Holding your needles in your hands creates a barrier and a talking point.  Knitting alone teaches us the enjoyment of solitude, it allows our creativity and imagination to flow and provides moments of meditation and relaxation.  Knitting with a group offers friendship, support, mutual learning and gives us a sense of identity.  Even if you choose not to participate in the conversation, the fact that you are there in the room with other people will enhance your well-being.  I believe that for those who can't get to a "real life" knitting group, then the opportunity to belong to a virtual one is just as valuable.  With online groups such as the Winwick Mum Sockalong and Knit n Natter groups, there are no preconceptions about you, your ability to knit or how you live your life.  There's just friendship and support and an opportunity to watch conversations if you don't want to join in.

One thing that Betsan does recommend is having a range of projects on the go for whichever mood takes you.  This definitely counts as official permission to have plenty of WIPs!  She recommends easy projects to take along to groups, a project for learning new skills and to keep your brain healthy, projects with a complicated pattern to make your brain work harder, a quick-fix project in bright colours and with an appealing texture to lift your mood (if you've ever wondered why you're drawn to squish yarn either in your stash or in a yarn shop, it's all down to keeping your brain satisfied!), a charity project as helping others is a sure-fire way to help ourselves to feel good, and an "emergency" project - something that's always in your bag to take out and about with you, or for middle-of-the-night knitting.  Not that I'm biased at all, but I can see how socks can tick off quite a few of those projects - plus the most important one of being portable so that you never need to be without your knitting!

I'm very aware that this is probably one of the longest text-fewest photo posts that I've written, so thank you if you're still with me.  I'm also aware that I'm attempting to condense an enormous amount of information into a small space so if you want to know more, I would certainly recommend that you look at Betsan's book (the paperback copy is here and the e-book is here).  It contains all the information that Betsan has researched and offers practical advice for using knitting to deal with stress and pain - in a preventative way as well as for dealing with stress and pain that have become a way of life.  And it's a good read - easy to digest and with plenty of space for making notes so that it can become your own therapeutic knitting handbook.

I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about therapeutic knitting and will certainly be doing my bit to promote the idea that "bilateral rhythmic psychosocial intervention" (as it has to be referred to in certain medical circles) is something that can help to maintain our feelings of well-being.  I'm looking forward to seeing how the research develops over the coming years and if that means more pairs of socks in the world, then that can only be a good thing!

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Mothering Sunday

The sun is streaming through the windows today, but it's been a weekend of contrasts. 

This is what we woke up to on Friday morning.  Oh boy, did I have a big smile on my face!  We've hardly had any snow this winter and even though the meteorological spring started on 1 March, it looked like the winter had finally caught up with us!  The neighbouring gardens were blanketed in white ...

and it was still snowing when the dog and I went for our walk after dropping small daughter off at school.

In the garden, the plants all wore snowy coats ...

but by mid-afternoon it had all melted and the snow had turned to rain.  My girls (and yes, me too!) were very disappointed - they had hoped it would last over the weekend (and a bit longer - they're always hopeful that the schools will be closed!) but it wasn't to be. 

It was just as well really - on Saturday I went to listen to Betsan Corkhill speaking about therapeutic knitting and if we'd been snowed in I wouldn't have been able to go.  What I learnt ties in very well with what I already know about well-being and relaxation and how knitting can be an important part of that, but I also learnt more about how it can be used to help alleviate pain and combat stress and anxiety and why knitting works so well for this.  I'll be writing more about the day a bit later on - and telling you why it's absolutely fine to have more than one project on the go!

Today is Mothering Sunday.  The service in our church is always very considerate - Mother's Day isn't an easy day for everybody - and today the talk was about how the day was originally a day when people would return to their "mother" church which was the main church of the parish. Later, children in domestic service would use the day to visit their mothers if they were close enough to do so, but the tradition of giving mothers presents is one from more recent times and in the UK has been amalgamated with Mothering Sunday although in other countries Mother's Day falls on a different date.  It's interesting that a quick Google search on the subject gives lots of different origins for Mother's Day, but the focus of the church talk today was on how everybody "mothers" in different ways, whether a man, a woman or a child, and so the day should be a celebration of how we care for others.  I like that sentiment.  I also liked breakfast in bed, cards and presents - and having dinner cooked for me tonight.  I really like that bit!

Despite the sunshine, it's still been very cold today and back home, small daughter and I were glad of our new socks.  I've finally finished my cashmere socks and they feel very luxurious on my feet. I've noticed that some of the socks in my drawer are looking a little tired (they do get worn a lot!) so it's nice to have some new ones to replace them with.

Small daughter found herself the cosiest spot in the house, happy reading her book and pretending that she didn't have any homework to do.  I made her socks with some growing room so I'm hoping they'll last her for a while.  

It's been a lovely weekend, and today I've enjoyed having a day of not doing very much at all - usually Sundays are full of chores and getting ready for the week ahead.  There's still been some of that, but I have deliberately not done any more than I needed to and have not felt guilty at all about sitting down with my knitting this afternoon.  

I hope you have had a lovely Mother's Day, whoever - or whatever - you mother xx

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