Monday, 26 September 2016

Memorandum Monday: Never Bin There Before

So, come on Monday: what have you got for us? Autumn? Please tell me it's autumn! I'm in a making, reading, curling up on the sofa mood today and who can ever feel guilty about that when there are swirling leaves to watch through the window and blackberry crumble to dream about for tea?

And in the meantime...


Our weekend? This was our first child-free one, though we did have the pleasure of an hour of our girl's company as she returned from student land for a belongings smash and grab. She took a hot water bottle and a winter coat, which was sensible given the number of hours we have spent in contact with the heating engineer in the last week. It's not good when your boiler has water in it, right? She seems to be having a good time despite the chill and the no-show of the broadband man. There is always Internet of Mum and Dad, which is a bit like Bank of Mum and Dad, except that somebody has to go out for more printer paper when she's finished.

I've been working on...


But that was okay! We had to go shopping for a new phone for Granny anyway. Long story short: too many engaged tones, we could hear her sometimes, she couldn't hear us at all, the panic button wouldn't work, the BT man couldn't come until Monday. We made an emergency run yesterday with a new phone in case that helped. But she was fine. Everything seemed back to normal. And I came away with a surprise gift of a copy of Mary Jane Mucklestone's Fair Isle Style. Granny has no internet. It's not my blog she's reading. It must be my mind.

some sneaks of


We meandered home - kid free means we get to choose the route - and we ended up driving through a little country town which the road used to skirt years ago, but which is now, with the opening of the new by-pass, not part of our city to country route at all. It turned into an interesting first. We both remember this place from our childhoods; but we had, of course, different memories, different stories to tell, so that we were each hearing new snatches of our previous lives about a place we had both known back then. Does that make sense? It  made for a backwards and forwards kind of an afternoon; and when that happens it's always good to go home, make a big mug of coffee, and talk about what we're going to do next...

my projects....


Hope you have a good week! Anything new over the weekend for you? Maybe you'd like to make a memo? You'd be very welcome! Last week  Alexandra, Helena, Eileen, Jane, Mitra, Maggie, Deb, Ladkyis and Karen gave us a taste of what was new down their way. Go on, give 'em a wave! And if you'd like to join in, an hello here is much appreciated as I'm as much in need of a gentle shove into the new week as anybody else! Have a good one!

for October at Gossamer Blue


Friday, 23 September 2016

Poke-Story

That nephew of mine, Little E: if he texts, it's usually a matter of some urgency often requiring rapid aunt participation of an interesting kind. Saturday's message got straight to the point:

Auntie Sian, can you knit me a pokeball hat, please and maybe a pikachu too. Thank you. E xx


There was even a Ravelry link attached; and in that I detected the hand of his mother, so I texted back:

That's a crochet pattern. But there are knitted ones too. I can do that. No problem. 

She returned:

He was worried you might not know what a pokeball hat is. But I said of course you'd know


And, not for the first time, I whispered a quiet word of thanks to the generous knitters who create and post their patterns to a place where an aunt can find them first thing on a Saturday morning, right around breakfast time.

Pattern: a free Ravelry download by SashaKnits (thank you!)
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino (which is machine washable)

I printed out my poke- pattern, but it was Sunday night before I was able to sit down and order some poke-wool: red, black and white aran, with a larger-than-my-usual-size circular needle, which couldn't really be called poke(y) at all because it looked so fat. And then I waited for the wool to arrive.

A couple of days later, as I listened for the postman, came not a text message this time, but the very face of Little E himself. Face time! 

"Why aren't you at school?" I asked.

"I'm sick!" he said brightly and smiled his most winning smile, so what could I do but clear my schedule and settle down for a long poke-chat. 

"I'll phone you again later, Auntie Sian: you have a lot more pokemon to learn!" he finished, quite a bit later.

And, what do you know, by the time he called back the parcel of wool had arrived and we were able to open it together. Now, this was good and this was also bad. The red and the black came out of the parcel looking poke-perfect and Little E approved. But when the white appeared? Poke-panic! It wasn't white at all, it was cream.

"That's not right," Little E shook his head. "That white has yellow in it. You need white with....grey in it."

which was pretty deep, I thought, coming from a seven year old, and also unnervingly accurate. The white wasn't white, it was yellow.

"I have to go out now," I said. "But phone me again in a hour and I'll have poke-progress to report."

So he did. And I did. I ran to the Post Office (no: not actually, what a thought) and, on my way, I tried our local wool shop, keeping my fingers very tightly crossed since  I only resort to internet shopping because this place doesn't often have what I need. I was in luck. The poke-hat was back in business, with a new white, signed off by Little E, and a big needle for some swiss darning.


It didn't take very long. So I ran back to the Post Office (no, not really). He says he likes it. But I think it's going to take a bit of persuasion to get him to take a picture. He's gone all shy. Or maybe he's just too busy chasing pokemon. Hey, Little E, I want a go!


Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Check. Mate.

Today I'm talking Guilty Secrets. Not the I've got a stash of sugared almonds somewhere in the house and I'm not telling anyone where to find them kind of secret. Nor even the you don't want to know what's buried under my patio kind. No: I mean the sort of thing you don't generally mention in public unless you are forced into a corner. See, for me it's board games.

SianF scrapbooking for Get It Scrapped


I simply don't enjoy them. It's not something I tend to shout about because..well..there's always a whiff of a bad loser about someone who doesn't look forward to a bit of monopoly round the fire of a winter's evening. And I'm not. A bad loser, I mean. I couldn't be, given that I was always picked last for every sports team at school, ever. Games? I shrug my shoulders at them. I have thought about it, though. What is it that makes my mood sink and the excuse making part of my brain go into overdrive every time someone says Cluedo? Maybe it's the sitting in one place, the not being able to do anything else with my hands whilst it's going on, maybe it's just that I'm not very good at waiting my turn, maybe I'm still traumatised by that Christmas we tried to play Sorry! No: I'm not going there.


Get It Scrapped asked for a page inspired by the design of a board game. I panicked, don't mind admitting it. Most of the games they suggested I hadn't even heard of (interesting point there: are favourite games different depending on where you come from?). But I let the idea sit for a couple of days and I eventually came up with a checkered design very loosely based on a chess or draughts board, and a play on words, and a whole other slew of shudder inducing situations. There was this one time, with a gorilla suit...no: if I tell you about that one, half of my family will probably never speak to me again.

More board game inspired pages at Get It Scrapped

Monday, 19 September 2016

Memorandum Monday: Falling Leaves, Fresh Air and First Year

Monday: you're a strange one. Every week you appear, and sometimes nothing seems to have changed, while again everything feels to be different. It has been a weekend full of firsts, as exciting as they come, as we helped our girl move into her new house before the beginning of term today. She was The Small One when this blog began: now she's a gloriously capable, beautiful, independent adult. Her student life starts here and she's ready for it.

And as we've had plenty of time to prepare, we're ready too. She'll probably get a surprise when she drops in today for "more stuff" (sweaters! take sweaters! and your raincoat! and maybe some thermal vests!): for, overnight, we have magically transformed into Freshers ourselves. We look exactly like we did in those first student cards, back in the days when we thought the world was all ours, ready to be held in the palm of our hand.


Oh, all right, then. In my imagination. I found these last week when I was looking for something else entirely. If I show them to her, and she sees that I still have them, I expect she'll refer me to this



which left in the first batch of "some stuff" yesterday. It was an eighteenth birthday present to her psychology student self, from Uncle Dave - a first English language edition - and she took that and the sweater I knitted her and the blanket I crocheted  for her. Just enough home to wrap nicely round the edges of her brand new life. Oh, I wish her all the very best! You reach out and grab it, my best girl!

There were other weekend things I had intended to write about: a dance competition, a night of culture, a new knitting book. But I'm going to leave it there. I have a new kind of normal to start working on. 

And that's my memo, on Monday. If you have one of your own we'd love to hear it. Anything you did for the first time? Anything you learned that you didn't know before? 

 Helena, Jane, Mitra, Mary-Lou, Alexandra, Ladkyis, Maggie, Deb, Barbara and Eileen memo'ed last time. Go on: give 'em a wave! Say hello! And have a good week!

Friday, 16 September 2016

A New Adventure: My Process, My Way

I climb up the stairs, thinking about what I'm going to find at the top. I have a lot of paper to put away. I know that much. I sit down in the middle of a scattered selection of scrapbook kit contents, on the floor, where the frenzy of the beginning of the month page making usually begins.

I start slipping pieces back into packaging and, underneath a sheaf of sheets of patterned paper, I find a photo. It has browns, greens: a picture of me taking a picture of a view of the Scottish Highlands. It was meant for use with my Gossamer Blue August kits, the colours were perfect. Distracted, now, I pull out the bag of August bits again and within minutes I have a layout planned. I post my progress on instagram, because I'm pleased with it. Then I go back downstairs.



Days later, when I return, I pull apart the bones of my layout. It's not what I wanted. I start again. I swipe gesso over my background cardstock and wait. I have spotted the sewing machine, threaded to hem curtains; and because I'm loving a sewn-over-paint-y look right now, I start thinking about stitching. I paint part of my page with October Afternoon Mary Mary blue ink. That leaves an uncovered gesso part, but I'm going to let it stay. It adds texture.

I spot a Life Pages card, flowered, grey, pink, mustard, so I grab my papercutting scissors and trim each tiny flower away from the next. I lay my photo on the painted part of my background and begin arranging the flowers to hold it down. On my desk I see different flowers, pink and grey, cut from a Paige Taylor Evans sheet in this month's kit. I don't need the pink flowers, just the branches; but I don't cut them off. Instead I tuck them away, hidden under my photo, where they will add another layer, lift the photo slightly without being seen. Then I take everything back off the cardstock again, because I haven't stitched yet.

 I sew. I lay it all out again. I trim another Life Pages card, a survivor from my original layout plan, into a banner. Now I need a grounding piece: again, a Life Pages card, navy, contrasting enough to pull your eye right across the page whilst bringing out the smoky blue mountains in the photo. I use navy alphas, then, to lead your gaze back to the left again, so you can read the journaling. I balance those two with a couple of navy enamel dots to create a triangle. How about another one? A second triangle to get you moving right round the page? I like the idea of something natural, so I tip an entire jar of wood veneers onto the floor. I pull out cows, little horses, but I settle on birds to draw attention to that sky.

Am I nearly done? I want to add a little map paper, so I trim an extra banner. Maybe that's enough? I take a photo. I post it to instagram



then I think again. I add inky black splashes. I take another photo. I see some little stars scattered on my desk and I lift three and arrange them along the top and more weight there seems to make the banner hang more successfully. I like how the stars hint at the reaching sky in the picture. I reckon I'm finished.



I make it all up as I go along....

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