Thursday, 18 September 2014

Being spoilt

It was my birthday the Sunday before last (7th September).  I'd actually booked the weekend off work as annual leave, which I don't often do.  Unlike my husband and children, whose birthdays fall during school holidays, I grew up being used to spending my big day with class- or work-mates if it fell on a weekday, but not this year.  This year, my birthday felt a bit different.  Turning 30 was fine (in fact, that was a bit of a bonkers day because a major assignment came in at work that day which meant my evening plans were scuppered).  Turning 40 was fine.  This year, however, it dawned on me that this was the last birthday that would start with a 4.  Yes, next year is the Big 5-0 and to be perfectly honest, I'm not sure how I feel about that.  I've been able to kid myself so far that I'm not middle-aged and whilst I know everyone says "you're only as old as you feel", that's like a verbal pat on the head.  The fact is that I am middle-aged and next year my age will reflect that and, as I've said, I'm not sure about it.

Anyway, despite all that, because Monday 8th was a school day for the girls and a work day for hubby, it was decided that my birthday would be celebrated on Saturday 6th - from mid-late afternoon!  My parents and in-laws were invited to come round for a celebration dinner and hubby made a dinner of roast rib of beef, roast potatoes, Yorkshire puddings and vegetables and my mother-in-law brought pudding in the form of a Cadbury's chocolate cake sandwiched with fresh cream and a lemon meringue pie, plus some extra thick double cream.  Hubby also went all-out and bought a magnum of Moet & Chandon champagne.  When my Dad saw the champagne, he immediately decided that Mum was driving home!

While we were drinking the champagne, hubby brought out my presents and, well, oh my gosh.  He does tend to get carried away and this year he did spoil me somewhat.  He decided that whilst I've been perfectly happy with my little red Nikon camera, he'd buy me a new one.  Which one?  A Canon EOS 700D, which is super-duper and which I can't really use yet (I'm thinking of buying the "Dummies' Guide" for it as it has good reviews on Amazon).

My first 'Selfie'!
He also bought me a funky, extra-zoomy lens:

That wasn't all though.  He also bought me a Kindle Paperwhite (which means I now have four e-readers) and a gift pack of Crabtree & Evelyn Wisteria fragrance shower gel and body lotion, which smells divine.  I'm a big fan of C&E toiletries and although they're quite expensive, they do go a long way.  I only need about a teaspoon of the shower gel for my whole body!

There were also some Thorntons chocolates in a small heart-shaped box and some other little presents including a small tin of lip balm (because he knows I like to have one in my work jacket).

My mother-in-law had been primed as well and my gift from her and my father-in-law was a camera bag to fit the camera and both lenses.

I've been out and about a few times getting to grips with the camera.  It's going to take me a while to fathom it and at present I'm using it on auto-focus and am pleased with the results.  Here are a few pictures I've taken:

Dedham Lock

Swan and Cygnets on Dedham Mill Pond

River Stour at Dedham (using zoom)

Dedham Valley

Dedham Mill Pond - ducks on a tree branch

Those were taken last Friday.  I've got more photos to show - the difference between this Canon and my Nikon 'point and press' is noticeable - but I think that's enough for now!  Once I've got to grips with what the various buttons on my camera do, I'm going to see if I can find a photography workshop to go on that fits into the hours the girls are at school.

As you can see from those photos, we're still enjoying fabulous weather.  The gauge in my car was registering an outside temperature of 25C at 1pm today :o

Not surprisingly, crafting has taken a bit of a back seat over the last week and a half, but I have been doing some!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

A Long-Haul Knit

Sorting out some bags of crafting 'stuff' a week or so ago, I came across the receipt for some roving I bought in June 2012.  It was for some North Ronaldsay fibre I'd bought from Scottish Fibres.

I blogged about buying the roving not long after I'd bought it.  I blogged about finishing spinning the yarn in April 2013.  After that, even though I cast on the cardigan (Reine - a Brooklyn Tweed design), I don't think I got round to blogging about it.  In fact, I finished the knitting part of the cardigan just before Christmas last year (or thereabouts).

What I didn't do was get round to sewing in the ends, sewing on the pockets and sewing on the buttons.

Finding the invoice spurred me on to Get On With The Finishing.

And I'm glad I did, because I'm really pleased with it:

Because it's handspun yarn and a bit inconsistent in places, although the stitches per inch tension/gauge was ok, my row tension was off, which meant if I stuck rigidly to the instructions, it would have been too long, especially from armhole to shoulder, so I had to do a bit of back-of-envelope maths scribbling and take out some rows, whilst taking into account the reverse stocking stitch ridges.

The weather's still too warm to wear it at the moment (I started to heat up just trying it on to check it still fits after eight months of languishing upstairs) but once autumn and winter kick in, I can see that this will be a favourite cardigan to pop on.  As it's pale grey, there are lots of t-shirts I own that I can wear it with.

The last week has been all about crochet.  Pink crochet for the most part.  I'm hoping to have an FO to show off in the next few days.