Project 365 – Week 29

Sunday 12th July. We went to Shrek’s Adventure on the South Bank, which was fun – though we were shattered so made the most of our Merlin passes and sat on the London Eye for 30 minutes afterwards. You can guarantee you’ll get a seat there, you see. We’re over half way through having our passes and I’m wondering if we’ll renew next year – we’ve definitely got our money’s worth.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Monday 13th July. The last Rainbows of term, I get my Mondays back! H made a medal, and got ANOTHER badge which has been sewn onto her uniform so I don’t lose it between now and September. Phew!

H rainbows badges

Tuesday 15th July. And a swimming badge too – her 15m! We thought she’d got her Stage 3, but her teacher says they’re not quite there yet, so I guess that might come around Christmas time if she keeps up the hard work. I’m hoping for a break with all this sewing…

H 15 M

Wednesday 16th July. Received a big box of Dora and Friends goodies – more to blog about and very soon. You might spot the little pictures over on my sidebar. I had to carry it home on the train and fortunately didn’t drop anything. The box is also large enough to hold all H’s schoolwork from the last two years! (which we received on Friday)

dora and friends

Thursday 17th July. Knitting! My feeble attempts at crochet have created this. While I’m just not good enough to join in the squares we’re doing for the cushion for our local pub, for the former bar manager who died recently, I’m good enough to make a hat for a half of Guinness. Fine by me.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Friday 18th July. So I won a £20 Nickelodeon Store voucher, went to buy myself something nice (like say, an early Rugrats DVD as the first few series were awesome), and ended up buying H some Spongebob pyjamas instead. Can’t complain, as she does love the great spongey one, and it looks much better on her than me too! Anyway, the original pyjamas were too small, so Shaun swapped them for these today and advises the Nickelodeon Store on Leicester Square is much nicer to visit (read: quieter) on a weekday.

spongebob pyjamas

Saturday 19th July. Football again, H has decided which name she wants on her birthday England shirt – she wants 15 – Stoney. So I’ve ordered from Sports Direct who have England shirts for £22 at the moment, with additional letters. Sorted. Phew. Anyway, my favourite bit of football is the fact H runs, runs, runs and walks just a little bit. It has to be the most exercise she gets every week (about an hour and a half of doing stuff) and she doesn’t complain. Well, she does complain about stuff, but not about running around for that long. I love that she gets to play with Shaun at the very start too, having a little kickaround before it all starts. I watch from the side and occasionally scare the girls when I decide to join in (well, it makes them scream anyway). We’re thinking about going to watch Crystal Palace Ladies play this Sunday.

saturday football

Project 365 – Week 27

Sunday 28th June. I woke up at midnight, after collapsing on the settee after the BBQ, as it was England’s crucial game against Canada – which we won. Which I managed to stay awake through, and couldn’t then sleep for an hour afterwards, taking me to around 3.30am. It was stressful – but so enjoyable. There have been so many people I’ve chatted to who have talked down the Women’s World Cup, and it makes me want to cry. You have women representing our country, who are amazing ambassadors, no scandal, no overpaid spoilt brattishness (some of them even have full time jobs) – just women proud to be playing, amazed they’ve achieved so much, and belief. It has been amazing and I’m so proud and looking forward to the FA Cup Final on the 1st August. H’s home learning was to write about an Olympic sport, though we’ve since found out there’ll be no Team GB at the Rio Olympics which is a great shame. H will have to cheer Australia instead.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Monday 29th June. New glasses. I almost forgot it was time for H’s annual check, booked her in at a local opticians on the high street, and within an hour we’d had the test (her eyes are the same as last year which is good) and had chosen her glasses for this year. I was particularly pleased as these ones were free NHS ones – they’ve changed so much these days. The whole thing didn’t cost me a penny.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Tuesday 30th June. Picking up H’s glasses after school, we wandered back through the village. It was lovely and warm, and we stocked up on ice lollies, stopping for a quick break by the ponds (and a sneaky Feast). After having had my love of Carshalton taken away for a bit, it’s creeping back again. I like that we’re in London but it doesn’t feel like you are. You can still get a bus to Heathrow (and pay with your Oyster), taking just an hour and a half. We’re close, but not too close even if the rents are astronomical. If you close your eyes enough and use your imagination, that isn’t All Saints Church by the ponds, it’s a mysterious castle.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Wednesday 1st July. This was the hottest day of the year, the day when Southern Trains really messed up and I finally snapped (translate – started another blog which collects my bad Southern Trains poetry that I write when the trains are delayed – it’s in the public’s interest for them to be on time now otherwise more bad poems will occur), the plumber fixed our two leaks, and it was hot hot hot. So Shaun got the paddling pool out the night before, and after school we sat in it and it was SO good.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Thursday 2nd July. Of course, there should be a photo here. But I forgot to take one of the England game, which reduced me to a mixture of sadness (the way we were knocked out) and relief (the third place game kicks off at 9pm), but yes, I stayed up until 2am watching the football, and as soon as the whistle went I was back to bed. Midnight kick off’s are not good things on a working day. I even had to have a weak coffee – my first caffeine since November.

Friday 3rd July. We didn’t make it to Andy’s wake in The Sun on Thursday due to many reasons, so popped in on Friday to raise a glass and learn to crochet. Which, incredibly, I picked up really easily. I’m not sure how – but after customising the way I hold things and knowing what was important and what wasn’t, somehow I cracked it. Which was quite surprising as the first time I tried I was hopeless and we gave up. So yeah, crochet! Let’s just get it finished now…

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Saturday 4th July. England’s last World Cup game, and our school fair. H has football of course, which Shaun has taken her to. I said “I want to take a photo of you in your kit. Do a World Cup pose” (as the players almost always have their arms folded) so she did this one. If your girl plays football and you’re taking pictures, don’t forget about the Football Association’s We Can Play campaign – right now it is an amazing time for girls to love football, so many more opportunities are being created, and it’s exciting. Football has never just been for boys – it’s for everyone.

A photo posted by Jo Brooks (@mumfriendlyjo) on

Baby Knits for Beginners – Debbie Bliss

New to knitting? Then this lovely book by Debbie Bliss may well be the one for you!

Knitting - Baby Knits for Beginners - Debbie Bliss

I have always felt connected to knitting in one form or another. Firstly, it was at the tender age of eight when my Grandma taught me a few basic stitches. I forgot about knitting for many years after this, but became reacquainted again almost two years ago when Jo invited me to attend monthly Hooky Knitters sessions. It was being in a group of like-minded people that made me realise how much I enjoyed knitting and that it was something I’d like to progress.

Whilst knitting was fun, the thought of using patterns terrified me, which is why I’m so glad I got the chance to give ‘baby knits for beginners’ by Debbie Bliss a go.  Visually it’s a beautiful book, as soon as I saw it I wanted to dive right in and get knitting!

Debbie Bliss knitted cardigan

The book starts by giving the reader an overview of different yarns, equipment advice and stitch descriptions. This book was obviously made with the beginner knitter in mind. The patterns themselves start from the very basic (a plain knit scarf) to the slightly more advanced (a v-neck sweater with pockets). I love the fact that the reader is given the opportunity to gently ease themselves into using patterns if they are feeling unsure, whilst the more experienced knitter can go straight to the slightly advanced stuff.

I have to admit that I went a bit insane with this book, knitting all sorts of lovely items. Shown in pictures are the shawl-collared jacket (minus buttons) and a moss stitch shoe. Admittedly, against Debbie’s advice, I used cheaper synthetic wool as being a beginner I didn’t want the pressure of messing up very lovely more expensive wool. If you do decide to use a different wool it is best to ask advice at your local knitting shop to ensure that your creation looks similar to the pattern… being a novice I didn’t think to do this and as a result some of my knits have turned out a bit lumpy/ odd looking… but I love them nonetheless!

Debbie Bliss Moss Stitch shoe

For me some of the patterns took a little getting used to. There are some terms that I had never heard of before and found a little daunting, however Debbie has got a thorough list of explanations and abbreviations in the front of the book. For me I also enlisted the help of on-line videos, as for me it is easier to visually see what needed to be done. However once I’d understood and tried these new techniques a couple of times I felt a lot more confident.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wanted to get more into knitting. It is a fabulous little starter book and if I can do it, believe me, anyone can!

We were sent a copy of ‘Baby Knits for Beginners’ by Debbie Bliss from Love Knitting, a fabulous online knitting store which we’d highly recommend. All opinions are our own.

Finger Knitting Good!

As part of my technology-free Saturday I did some finger knitting with H (aged almost three and a half) – and considering she’s quite a patient little girl I was amazed how quickly she picked it up (as you do need to be really patient!). Currently we have two bracelets, and she has a sense of achieving something “a bit like mummy”. She needed help but knew what to do once we’d done it a few times.

Finger knitting is new to me; I’ve knitted since I was young, though only followed my first pattern late last year. It follows the same principle as a knitting doll bobbin.

Hold the wool with the thumb of the hand you’re going to be knitting on and wind the wool around each finger alternately until you’ve looped them over each finger two times – remember to keep hold of the end your thumb is holding!

finger knitting

Then all you do is pull the lower loop over the upper one. Start again winding the wool around each finger until you have two loops on each finger, and keep going, making sure you start from the same finger each time you pull the lower loop over the upper (we started from the little finger). Eventually it’ll look like this :

finger knitting result

At some point you’ll want to cast off. Cut your wool but leave a good length on it, and thread the end through the wool on each finger. Remove the wool from the fingers and pull tight – and voila – you’ll have something which looks a bit like a large knitted bracelet!

The best thing about this is the lack of mess, and it’s something you can do quickly and easily – and you don’t need a whole ball of wool either. I picked up a knitting doll bobbin from Tiger for £3 recently so think we may make a start on that with H, see how we get on…

Knitting a Tea Cosy

Every month us Hooky Knitters of Carshalton meet in our local pub and knit – and the pub set us a task. Make them a tea cosy or two for their warmed up Pimm’s Winter, which is to be served in teapots.

Pouring Pimm's Winter

We found what they wanted and gulped. It looked like it was crocheted, and we’re dwindling in crocheters, though do have some. Fortunately Shaun’s mum came along with a brilliant knit for a simple tea cosy using two colours and just the one stitch.

Incredibly, I’ve finished it in just over two weeks (this is incredible as I’ve never followed a pattern before and I’ve never knitted with two colours before, and I’ve never finished a pattern or a project before).

My Pimm's Tea Cosy

So, what to do? You’ve two colours – we chose orange and white as they’re quite Pimm’s-y.

Cast on 72 stitches.
Knit 5 rows plain then knit 3 (colour one) and knit 3 (colour two).

Keep this going for as long as necessary – and remember at the end of each row to twist your two colours around so you don’t get gaps in the knit – it helps keep it tidy.
Keep it neat!
Remember which side you’re knitting from and where your unused wool goes, so that each colour change is neat at the back.
When you get to lid height start to decrease by knitting one then knit two together for each colour for four rows and when long enough cast off. Sew both sides up (and don’t forget to leave a space for the handle and spout!) Gather in the top and attach the pom-pom. You can also put some wool around the bottom to gather it in – I didn’t, but Karen did, so you get an idea of how it’ll look.
You’ll end up with something that looks like this :
Karen's Pimm's Tea Cosy
Karen added a white knitted rectangle to the front of hers with a cross-stitched Pimm’s on there – I think it looks ACE!

Hooky Knitters Carshalton

Rachel started the Hooky Knitters group way back in the summer of 2011. We met every couple of weeks until Rachel went and moved to Exeter. We miss her!

We still meet though – around the middle of the month, just once a month, still at The Sun in Carshalton. Head over to our Facebook Group for more information.