Wednesday, June 29, 2011

knit and natter

This past week and a half feels more like a month! It's so strange, when I look ahead the time seems to be flying by, but when I look back everything seems to have gone by so slowly. Not sure why that is...

Anyway, this week I am reading Chronicles of Avonlea on my iPod. I loved these stories when I was little and thought they would be fun to read again. Not quite as impressed with them as I was then, but still enjoying the nostalgia! And it's nice to have books on my iPod to read on the bus or at work or when out and about and waiting for whatever.

I'm knitting a market bag for a friends whose birthday is this weekend. She didn't tell me it was her birthday but I just had this sneaky feeling and checked on facebook... sure enough! So I'm using up some cotton that I had in my stash. The natural is Lily Sugar'n Cream and the blue which will make the top half is Debbie Bliss. I found some pretty wooden buttons at the local craft shop and I'm hoping this will make a nice, rather impromptu, birthday present.

While at the craft shop I just happened to notice they were having a yarn sale... I snagged these beauties, Creative Poems by Rico Designs. They're so pretty and I've already assigned projects for them. Birthdays and Christmas are sneaking up quickly!

So, I don't have much more to natter about today. I've been working in the garden all morning (pictures to come!) and need to go and have a shower and get a few more things done before heading out for my Wednesday knitting group. You can see the rest of the yarn along projects for this week here.

Friday, June 24, 2011

teacher gifts

It's been a long time since I've given teacher gifts... that's not exactly what these are, but it's a close enough description. I made them for the ladies who work at the nursery where I've been on placement this year. They are tulips and citrus leaves from 100 Flowers to Knit and Crochet and I made them into brooches. I wasn't 100% happy with how they turned out, but I'm pretty fussy and I rarely am with projects like these. Time, thought, and effort went into them so hopefully the ladies will enjoy them.

I have really enjoyed my year on placement. The children are all wonderful and the ladies have been great to work with. I'm not saying goodbye to them all as I'll be working there over the summer which I'm greatly looking forward to!

Today was the last day for most of the students so they gave us our thank you cards for the year. They know that I like butterflies so the card had a butterfly, they gave me a butterfly magnet (not knowing that I also have a thing for magnets) and one of the classroom assistants I've worked most closely with gave me a lovely glass candleholder with painted flowers and a butterfly. Like I said, these ladies are wonderful.

I mentioned that I had something for them but decided to wait till my last day next week because the teacher in my room has been off sick but should be back next week. I wrote out the card with her in mind and hopefully I'll get to give it to them when we're all together instead of everyone scattered about the building like we were this afternoon.

It was the end of the year prayer service today and it was so lovely. The children brought in their amy files (binders filled with pictures of them and artwork they've done which shows all the progress they've made this year) to be blessed by the priest. It was almost like an offering. I thought it was lovely. It's a Catholic nursery and I did feel a bit of a sore thumb being the only one who doesn't know the Hail Mary. I'm not exactly sure how I feel about all the focus on Mary, but I do love the rituals and rhythms of it all. Anyway...

I'm kind of just rambling on as I'm tired and should really go to bed... just seems a bit sad as it's 9:30 on a Friday night. I was supposed to go out for drinks with some friends to celebrate things like the end of the school year and chapters of dissertations and theses (is that the correct plural of thesis?) completed and my new job, but when it came to it I wasn't feeling well and it was cold and rainy out and I'm whining now but I just didn't feel like getting fancy and going out. It's been a long couple of weeks and I've got a long day ahead tomorrow. I just need to suck it up and go to bed.

All right, going now.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

from Brighton Rock

"He said, 'You can't conceive, my child, nor can I or anyone else the ... appalling ... strangeness of the mercy of God.'"

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

knit and natter

I finished off the tulips last Thursday (will post a picture soon) but I haven't started a new knitting project yet. I've just been adding a row here and there to my current WIP, a Tea Leaves Cardigan for a November birthday... no rush on this! This is my fourth tea leaves and it's nice to have a mindless project to pick up now and then. I bought the largest skein of yarn ever for this in September in a faint hope that I might've had the time to make it for last November. I definitely bit off more than I could chew when it came to presents last year but have hopefully learned my lesson and have already begun planning and purchasing for the next round of presents. (You see in my family we have six birthdays between August and November. Then Christmas. Then two birthdays in January, a birthday and an anniversary in March and a birthday and two anniversaries in April. That's just family, not friends!) So I've gone ahead and started on this November birthday present in the hopes that it will be finished on time...

I've been reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens. It's a rather unattractive copy but it was free so I'm not complaining. I do really like Dickens and this is no exception. I'm a little over halfway through, Estella has just come to London. I loved the part *spoiler* when Mr. Jaggers tells Pip that he has come to have great expectations, and that it's not just for the future, but is changing his present as well. I just think it's a great picture of what the Lord does (not to get too cheesy). He comes into our lives and says, "I've got a future filled with hope for you." And that changes not just our future but our present as well, it opens up the opportunity for us to live life well, now.

You can find the rest of this weeks yarn along posts here.

Monday, June 20, 2011

fruit and veg

Recently a friend gave me a lovely present... a gift voucher for a produce delivery service. I've been wanted to get a "veg box" for a long time now but just never managed to get around to it. I really do want to be someone who eats seasonally and locally (within reason, if that's okay to say) and I think a box scheme is a great way to do that.

This particular company supplements the seasonal/local produce with a few not quite so local things and you're always guaranteed to have staples (potatoes, carrots, onions, apples) in your box. All in all I think it's a fabulous scheme. For £12.50 I get enough fruit and vegetables to last me for two weeks delivered to my door.

This was my last delivery. (I think it's pretty safe to say that the bananas and pineapple were not grown in Northern Ireland.) But I'm pretty sure that the carrots, spring/green onions (I can no longer remember which is the American and which the British term) and broad beans were.
Also, hiding way down in the bottom were some absolutely delicious Comber potatoes. They were definitely grown just a few miles down the road and they were lovely!

This is one of the meals I made: I boiled the potatoes and then sautéed them a wee bit in butter. I had never had, much less cooked, broad beans before. In the States they're called fava beans. I just shelled them and lightly boiled them. You can take the whitish skins off if you want and then they look just like edamame (and taste pretty similar) but that seemed like too much effort for too little return. I had the salmon in the freezer from a time I found it on clearance. I marinated it in soy sauce and lightly fried it. Yum!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

knit and natter

This is my last week of college for the year. We had end of year interviews yesterday where we looked back over the last term and were offered a place on the second year of the course. Mine went very well. I do so love learning (even when I'm a bit burned out with all the work, thank goodness for summer!). Tomorrow and Friday I will be out on placement for my last official days, although I'm planning to go in next week as I'll just be twiddling my thumbs, and it seems rather silly to miss the last week after being with them all year.

So this is the last week of Wednesday as Saturday and it's a rather busy one. Since this is my last official week on placement I'm scurrying to finish up gifts for the ladies who have been so lovely to me all year. I'm making tulip brooches from 100 Flowers to Knit and Crochet. I have finished knitting four red tulips and four purple tulips and (even though the picture only shows seven) all eight leaves. (I used the citrus leaf pattern.) All that's left is to weave in ends, sew them up, and assemble the brooches. Yesterday while I was waiting for my interview I nipped over to the craft shop and bought the pins. I also popped into the bakery I've been passing longingly all year and bought an Iced German Biscuit which I ate at City Hall in the sunshine.

We've been given the advice to keep working over the summer as we have quite a large research paper to write plus portfolios to assemble for each unit we'll be doing next year. So gathering articles, information, and reading will continue (at least for me) throughout the summer. At the moment I'm reading "Just Playing? The role and status of play in early childhood education" by Janet R. Moyles. It's one of the more obviously academic books I've read so far, but I am enjoying it. I keep a little notebook with quotes from the books I read so that later when I'm writing papers I have plenty of references to choose from. Here are a couple of quotes I've liked so far:

"Play develops creativity, intellectual competence, emotional strength and stability and ... feelings of joy and pleasure: the habit of being happy."

"We must value play as a child's culture which, like any culture, has its own language. Like any culture, play can provide its own barriers to 'outsiders,' and communication with adults about play may be difficult not only because of the differences in values but also because adults do not belong to this particular culture." (any longer)

I think it's so funny that it took me so long to realise that working with children is wanted I wanted to do with my life instead of just something I happened to fall into when I was 11. It all seems so obvious now and I think that even if things don't go to plan and I'm not able to stay in Ireland forever I'll go "home" and be a preschool or Montessori teacher instead of the interior designer I've always claimed to really want to be.

You can see all the other lovely yarn along posts for this week here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

it's finished!

I have finished my wispy cardigan! I've already worn it twice, but I haven't blocked it yet. Oh well, priorities! It will eventually need to be washed and it can be blocked then. In the meantime I'm very much enjoying my new summer sweater!It wasn't very easy to get a picture of it. Webcams are tempermental things, as is the light in my room. I wanted to show the back off and that proved especially hard, but nevermind. I just sing the Big Booty song when I look at this picture...

Monday, June 13, 2011

Last Tuesday evening I was rushing out the door for my Irish class just as it was starting to rain with big, heavy drops. I was struggling to get my umbrella up when something in our neighbour's dumpster (or skip as they're called here) caught my eye. They are having their house redone. Based on how long the builders have been there and how many loads of rubbish have been carted away I think they're totally gutting it and redoing everything! Anyway, I noticed that the builders had put a bookcase in the skip. Now, I've been wanting a bookcase for ages but haven't had the do-re-mi to purchase one. So I rushed right back inside and had my housemate help me pull it out.

It really was probably not a bookcase but a set of bathroom shelves... I don't care. I cleaned it up, which took a while it was filthy, and set it up in my room. All of my books just fit and there's even space in the bottom cupboard for my baby sewing machine and a bit of yarn stash that didn't have anywhere else to go.

Here it is. I was going to say my first dumpster rescue, but that's not true I once rescued some fabulous wooden folding chairs from the dumpster in my apartment complex... But this is definitely my first "skip" rescue! And my books are so much happier now that they have a proper place to live instead of in stacks on the floor!

Saturday, June 11, 2011


Today I woke up at four o'clock am. I worked from five until eleven, opening for the very first time. (Also, I had pancakes for breakfast.) I accidentally left my wallet at home. I found lots of goodies at the £ Shop, Tesco's, and Boots (after having gone home to retrieve my wallet). Incidentally, one of the hardest parts of living in another country is having to figure out all new brands of toiletries.

I participated in World Wide Knit in Public Day. Which, I have to be honest, didn't seem that much different than a normal Stitch 'n Bitch gathering, just we were in the museum cafe instead of Starbuck's. But we had a lovely time anyway. I came home, put all my shopping away, and made dinner. I had an orange and a grilled peanut butter and nutella sandwich. I ate it in my pyjama bottoms... in my bed... while watching a chick flick on my computer. (Don't hate.) It is now almost eight o'clock pm. I'm going to do my dishes and probably go straight to bed.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

knit and natter

This week I'm reading Brighton Rock. It's for my book club and is certainly not something I would've chosen myself. But I think it's always good to read books that I wouldn't have chosen myself. I'm not very far along having only just gotten it at the library Monday afternoon. It's about the mob (which I really think just means gang, not the mafia) in Brighton. We'll see how it goes... They've also chosen to read The Godfather over the summer so there's that to look forward to. (Sarcasm isn't always obvious when typing as it so often depends on the tone of voice... so just to clarify that statement was said sarcastically.)

I'm still working away on my Wispy Cardi and am nearly finished. Just the ribbing at the bottom of the body to go. I'm hopeful I'll be able to wear it this weekend. Also thinking about all the other planned projects that are suddenly growing in numbers and wanting to get on to some of them.

Now, while I say that I'm reading Brighton Rock what I'm "reading" is Anne of the Island. (I still feel the need to put reading in quotation marks when I'm referring to listening to an audio book.) It's been years since I read the Anne books and I am so very much enjoying them! Little bits of plot keep coming back to me just before they happen and I'm remembering things I didn't even know I had forgotten. I know that I'm eight years older than Anne when she went to college, but I can't help noting how our lives are in a similar place. If only my Gilbert would come along. *sigh* If you use librivox, Karen Savage is a fantastic reader. I especially love the way she reads Davy.

I must soon do a post about my Irish classes. I would do it now, but I've been cleaning all morning and am hungry. Remind me later!

You can find all the other yarn along posts for this week here.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

exploring north down

Today was a wonderful reminder of how much I love Ireland. I was busy this morning doing laundry and a bit of school work (thought I was finished with work for the year but no...) then, around lunch time my friend Rachel came and picked me up. We drove around for a while, generally heading out to the Ard's peninsula. We had a picnic lunch on the shores of Strangford Lough. Not too far away from the site where this picture was taken.

And our view was very similar. The day had started out sunny and warm, but by the time we stopped for lunch was overcast and cool There were dozens of sailboats and windsurfers out on the Lough and we saw a seal swimming by as well. It was lovely.

From the Lough we headed over to Crawfordsburn Country Park (seriously, visit the link they have virtual tours of the park and it's beautiful) where we went for a lovely walk along the coast, past a wildflower meadow, and through the woods.

We rounded out the afternoon with tea at The Bay Tree in Holywood. For months I've been hearing stories about the cinnamon scones at The Bay Tree, they are legendary. Let me tell you, they did not disappoint! Something of a cross between scones and cinnamon rolls... a-mazing!

It was a wonderful, lovely day full of the beautiful Irish landscape, good chats, and amazing food. Just what my heart needed. I think it would be a good idea to have at least a monthly excursion of some kind and make that a feature of the blog as well... giving that some thought!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

knit and natter

So I've been thinking lately. A lot. About all kinds of things. A couple of which are relevant here. I've been in a bit of a funk for... a while. And I don't like it. So, I'm trying to get out of it. In trying to figure out how to get out of this funk I was thinking about that saying, "If you want something to get done, ask someone who's busy." I want some things done in my life. So I'm gonna try to get busy. One of the ways I'd like to get busy is by being a better blogger. It may be a slow start but I'm gonna work on posting much more regularly and maybe adding some features and there'll probably be a bit of design revamp. (Actually that sounds way more impressive than my skills will allow for... things will get a bit of a visual spruce up, I can probably manage that.)

All of that brings me to today's post. I've participated in Ginny's Yarn Along before, although it has been a while. Not only am I going to try and participate regularly, I want to expand it a bit into my own little feature, Knit and Natter. I'll still post a picture of what I'm knitting and reading, but then I'll ramble a bit to talk more about what I'm reading and what I think about it and how it's challenging/changing/entertaining me. Just whatever comes to mind really as "natter" is a British expression which means to chatter or talk incessantly. (You have been warned!)

Incidentally, while looking up natter on I also decided to look up knit and this is what I found...

verb, knit·ted or knit, knit·ting, noun

–verb (used with object)

1. to make (a garment, fabric, etc.) by interlocking loops of one or more yarns either by hand with knitting needles or by machine.

2. to join closely and firmly, as members or parts (often followed by together )

3. to contract into folds or wrinkles: to knit the brow.

4. to form or create from diverse sources or elements:

–verb (used without object)

5. to become closely and firmly joined together; grow together, as broken bones do.

6. to contract into folds or wrinkles, as the brow.

7. to become closely and intimately united.

I love that! (And by that I mean 2, 4, 5, & 7.) So much that it might reappear in some way, shape, or form... I'll have to give it a think. For now, on to this week's yarn along/knit and natter:

I am currently knitting a Wispy Cardi. The yarn was given to me in a yarn swap and it is so lovely! A picture just couldn't do it justice. It's silk and full of all these beautiful tones. At first glance it seems to be be just blues and greens, but it's much more of a rainbow with soft pinks and yellows as well. This could very well be the perfect summer cardigan and I cannot wait to be finished. I've already planned an outfit to wear it with! It's the first garment I've made for myself and I'm just so excited.

I am not technically reading this week's book as I finished it around 11:00 last night. The Poisonwood Bible was fantastic. I have been both meaning to read it and avoiding reading it for a few years now. I just couldn't decide whether I wanted to or not. I'm so very glad that I did. It's the story of a Baptist preacher who goes to the Belgian Congo in 1959 as a missionary. The story of their life in Africa and how they are changed (and how Africa is changed) is told in the five very different voices of his wife and daughters.

Orleanna is looking back after many, many years and her chapters have an almost dream like quality. By contrast the daughters' narratives are mostly contemporaneous. Rachel is the self-described dumb blonde and often mixes up the big words and common phrases that she uses. My favourite being, "It's a woman's provocative to change her mind." Leah is earnest and honest, seeking for truth and righteousness. She was probably my favourite of the girls. Adah is an observer and sees the dark side of things. She was so creatively expressed. I loved the redemptive turn her life takes. (Hope that isn't too much of a spoiler.) Ruth May is only five and her childish way of seeing everything, misunderstanding things, simplifying things is absolutely endearing.

The book provided plenty of food for thought regarding how the West has viewed and interfered with the "third world" and about "cross cultural mission." It also introduced Africa to me in a new way. I have heard plenty of stories about Africa. I've seen pictures and tv programs and African animals in the zoo. I have a sister who loves Africa. But I have never felt drawn to Africa. I've never had a desire to go there (except, for some reason I do not know, Ethiopia, and that only on vacation). There was a song on Christian radio when I was little, "Lord, please don't send me to Africa. I don't think I've got what it takes..." and that somehow got into my thinking about that big, beautiful continent and stuck there. I'm not saying that all of a sudden I want to rush south. Just that my perspective has been challenged and changed, even if ever so slightly, as a result of this book. And that is always a good thing.