A Jedi Jacket, an Atlas Apron and a Dream Coming True.

The land the sun forgot. That’s where I live these days.

Thankfully, it hasn’t been getting me down. The form has been steadily upbeat of late which I am attributing to my recent discovery of Evening Primrose Oil. That, and a long list of enjoyable indoor projects to keep my gaze averted from the sodden garden.

My only gripe is that it’s almost impossible to photograph, and therefore to show you, my projects.

I have a new niece or nephew (don’t know which yet) on the way so I indulged myself in the very best kind of knitting: garter stitch in newborn size. The pattern calls this a baby kimono but my kids have christened it the Baby Jedi jacket.

Baby Jedi Jacket.

This is a free pattern which you can find here. I’ve been researching complementary Baby Jedi hats. This Princess Leia Beanie is superb.

My favourite apron is in tatters. I’ve been loathe to part with it but the button of my jeans has worn a whole in the middle which makes it look as though I’m about to burst, incredible hulk style, out of my clothes.

I took a trip to town with the intention of buying some hard-wearing, practical, striped cotton.Alas, my inner map-junkie prevailed.

Atlas Apron.

So, now I look like a walking globe armed with spoons.

I’m not the greatest seamstress so I am quite proud of this creation, in particular my pattern-matched, equatorial pocket. Naturally, this is an Ireland-centric atlas-apron.

We demolished and rebuilt this house in 2011 but it is far from finished. Husband has a to-be-completed list which seems to grow annually. I am beside myself with excitement at the moment because we are tackling one of the biggest tasks on his list which also happens to be my heart’s greatest desire.

We drew a space on our house plans and labelled it ‘pantry’ but we never had the funds to furnish it. We bought a couple of second-hand shelf units on Donedeal.ie and stacked the weetabix willy-nilly.

Here are some unedited, untidied, not-even-wiped-clean, before photos.

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Sigh. I’m a hopeless housewife.

Anyway, moving swiftly along, here are some equally unedited work-in-progress photos:

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Husband is project manager/carpenter while I am chief painter/measuring-tape-locater. It’s working out grand. Tune in next week to discover whether the pantry is completed or the marriage wrecked. It could go either way.

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Books about books.

hand-knit teddy and books about books.

I met a young woman many years ago, when I also was a young woman, who corrected me when I drew her attention to the geraniums on my balcony. She, quite rightly, informed me that they were actually called pelargoniums. Boy, oh boy, did that ever rankle. I’ve never made the same mistake again. She also told me that fair isle knitting was very easy and I should try it. I didn’t.

Years and years passed while I maintained a mulish resistance to fair isle. Then, last week I went to the supermarket for a loaf of bread and came home with Let’s Knit magazine. This, I swear to you, is the first knitting magazine I have ever bought. I saw a picture of a little fair isle teddy on the cover, full instructions were promised and the yarn was all included, and that thread of stubborn resistance inside me just snapped. It was old, I suppose, and frayed and ready to go. What a relief.

Here he is:hand-knit teddy and books about books.

It’s just a teeny, weeny bit of fair isle work but I am quite proud of it.

Now, you might be wondering why he is standing with a stack of books. I’m amused by how often I find myself piling up stacks of books to be photographed these days. It makes me very happy to, laughingly, call this work.

To find out what those books have in common, you can read my article on Bookwitty.com here. Teddy doesn’t feature in the article, he just stuck his head in for a quick photo.

I rarely read two books at the same time. I like to immerse myself completely in a book, read it in as little time as possible and move on. I’m breaking my habit for a good cause. Husband gave me a present of these two books:

The East of Eden Project.

The first is John Steinbeck’s East of Eden and the second is a collection of letters which Steinbeck wrote, on a daily basis, to his editor while he was writing the novel. In the letters, Steinbeck details his plans for the novel but also chats about his house renovation and carpentry projects. It is absolutely fascinating.

I’m less than halfway through; it’s very slow-going reading both in tandem.

I have no idea how or what I will write when I get to the end but I feel that something is stewing at the back of my head.

The eagle-eyed amongst you will have spotted the early Christmas present from Husband. Basically, he couldn’t live with me in my caffeine-deprived state. Regular mugs just don’t cut the mustard. I am, once again, the happy owner of a blue Burleigh mug. If there is a reader in your life, I can imagine no better gift for them (or perhaps for yourself).

The cake, not shown to best advantage is Nigella’s fresh gingerbread. It is one of our winter favourites but we make the icing with lime rather than lemon. It is very good cake.

Have a great weekend, my friends, we are nearly there.

Relish, Reindeer and Melomakaronas.

Christmas Preparations.

Hah! Say that with your mouth full of cookies.

The sky is hanging about 12 feet above the ground. It’s not raining, exactly, but the finest mist is dangling there in the most exasperating fashion. It feels like a slight weight, a downwards pressure on the shoulders and the spirits.

I am feeling tired, perhaps under-caffeinated (more on that anon) and in dire need of cake.

If you fancy a delicious morsel pop over for a look at my melomakarona recipe and review of The Little Christmas Kitchen. I worked hard to make this a good recipe and it really is.

melomakaronasMelomakaronas are delicious Greek cookies, soaked in a spiced honey syrup and traditionally eaten at Christmas. We devoured (I say we because I don’t want to admit that I ate so very many) dozens of them as I was testing this recipe. The book, The Little Christmas Kitchen by Jenny Oliver was also a real treat. I didn’t expect it to have much bite but it caught me by surprise and really hit a nerve. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it for holiday reading.

I went all out, hell for leather, on the Christmas preparations last week. The only problem is that there is almost no light at all so I have very little photographic evidence of my efforts. Here is one candle-lit photo which pretty much encapsulates my week:

Christmas Preparations.

Rudolf was the high-light. Isn’t he adorable? He is my very first crocheted toy and I am more than a little enamoured.If you are tempted, you can find the pattern here. He may get stuck with the name Rudolf Gilmore as I made him while watching The Gilmore Girls with my daughters. Anyone else watch it? It was terrible. Less said the better.

I realised in panic, as I opened my last jar of rhubarb chutney, that I was in imminent danger of having NO CHUTNEY FOR CHRISTMAS! Action stations were assumed, my most humongous pot was excavated from the dreaded corner cupboard and filled to the brim with the stuff of toasted cheese sandwich fantasies. We call it fakeymaloe relish, it’s not so far off the real McCoy and you can find my not-so-secret recipe here.

Chutney crisis averted, I moved on to emergency mitten replacement for the Small Girl. If these look like exactly the same mittens I made last year it’s because they are, but one size bigger. I used the same ball of cheap yarn that refuses to come to an end regardless of how many Barbie dresses and babydoll blankets I make from it. The Small Girl is content because they match every other pink thing in her life and I won’t be heartbroken when she inevitably loses one of them (never both). Just looking back at last year’s mittens I was reminded of this post which I must try to bear in mind as I strive to resist strangling my Teenage Son in the run up to his Christmas exams.

So, we were going well (errant teenagers aside) with the reindeer and the mittens and the twelve jars of chutney and then…disaster struck…my beloved Burleigh mug took a nose dive off the arm of my chair, bounced a couple of times and skidded out the door to the hall where it spun around dramatically before striking a tragic handle-less pose.

It has been carrying a chip on its rear end for months now but that didn’t bother me. This mug is a champion, a hero amongst mugs. It can hold thirty percent more than the average mug which is just exactly how much more coffee you feel you need when you reach the bottom of an average mug. This ergonomically-shaped mug also keeps coffee hot for a good forty minutes which is exactly how long you need to drink a thirty percent longer cup of coffee. Also, it’s very pretty. And my favourite colour. Sob.

I was quite prepared to live with a handle-less-chipped-but-otherwise-perfect mug but when Husband attempted to fill it he discovered a fatal injury. Scroll back up to the photo and see if you can spot it.

‘Yes, you can still use your mug,’ he assured me, ‘but only if you are willing to approach it sideways on and never have more than an inch of coffee at a time.’

The family have little pity. They are all greatly relieved that I, as opposed to anyone else, broke my own mug.

Since then, I have achieved nothing. Zilch. Nada.

I have sliced the top off my left index finger bringing a halt to all yarny activity.

I have thrice stepped in dog poo and some incontinent, foul fowl has taken a shine to the windscreen and bonnet of my car.

The laundry basket has complained to the laundry basket union about over-time and over-crowding.

I ordered pizza for Sunday dinner.

There is every chance that my Husband is writing to Santa as we speak requesting a proper, functional housewife as his old one appears to have broken down.

Here…the man said it:

 

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A Muggle Mother Writes To Molly Weasley.

a jumper 'like Ron Weasley's'

Dear Mrs Weasley,

I hope that you and your family are well. Poor Ron was given a hard time over all that Cursed Child business but, never mind, he is still my favourite. He sounds like a wonderful father and you must be enjoying having grandchildren to knit for.

On that, I am feeling a little resentful because you have given my children the impression that a good mother can provide an endless supply of Hogwarts-appropriate knitwear. No sooner have I tied the last tassel on a Slytherin scarf but the next child in line begs for a new jumper and she won’t be happy unless it is ‘the same as Ron Weasley’s’. If I plead exhaustion my children remind me that you provide a new, personalised, jumper for every one of your children every Christmas AND you throw in a box of homemade fudge!

I understand that you mean well but you are putting muggle mothers under tremendous pressure. I’ve tried to explain that the impenetrable mysteries of intarsia present no difficulties when YOU CAN USE MAGIC!

Please Molly (May I call you Molly? I feel I know you so well), could you give us a break?

Best love to you and all at The Burrow,

Lynda.

a jumper 'like Ron Weasley's'The muggle pattern for this Aran-weight jumper, with non-magical instructions for intarsia is from Blue Blog Patterns, here.

Slytherin hat.This Slytherin hat was knit using this rib hat as a guide but adjusting the stitch to match my mistake stitch Slytherin scarf.

Slytherin scarf with knitting pattern.Full instructions for my Slytherin scarf and a million photos for those new to knitting without magic can be found here.