Saturday 24 September 2016

Being a Dutiful Big Cousin

The last 3 weeks have been insane. There is no other word for it. When I signed off my last post saying see you in 2 and a half years I was kidding but seriously! When I get home from work I am doing well to cook dinner and get the washing on, let alone anything else! So knitting has been more or less confined to the weekends unfortunately. Having said this, every week has been a little bit calmer than the last so I am hoping I will find my stride. 

Last weekend all I wanted to do was take to the sofa in my big cosy dressing gown and refuse to move. It didn't turn out like that. On Thursday evening Aunty R rang to ask me a "Massive Favour". Cousin P, who is currently applying to study medicine at university, had booked herself onto an open day in London and Aunty A couldn't get the day off. 

Cousin P said she was going anyway. Cousin P said she had traveled through London loads of times. Cousin P said she is 17 now, which is basically an adult. 

Cousin P has traveled through London loads of times (with her mum). Cousin P is 17 now and is basically an adult (sometimes it feels like she is more grown up than the rest of us). 

But did I like the thought of my little cousin (yes she is technically taller than me but whatever) travelling through the underground, finding London Imperial College, getting herself registered, finding where she needed to go, having lunch on her own, locating the campus tours, getting back to the tube, getting back to Paddington, getting on the train home, all by herself? 

No I did not. 

Not because she isn't capable - she is totally capable, just as capable as I am - but because I wouldn't particularly want to spend the whole day doing all that by myself, especially not if I could spend it with my big cousin!   

So, would I go with her? 

I stare longingly at my cosy dressing gown.

Of course I would go with her.   

And we had a lovely time. Cousin P insisted on meeting me at the tube nearest the University rather than me coming across London to pick her up from Paddington, then retracing my steps back again. Ironically, despite me getting up at 6am and living much nearer to London than she does, Cousin P got to the station 45 mins before me and had to hang around for ages (See! - she's basically an adult now!). We then missed each other at the station and spent a further 10 minutes marching up and down this long tunnel looking for each other. We must have walked straight past each other at least twice! When we eventually found each other we raced off to the welcome talk giggling at our uselessness like school girls.

The talks were brilliant, really useful for Cousin P but also a great help for me as my second years will be applying for university courses this year and I picked up loads of tips on the application process.

At midday Cousin P went of for the medicine talk and tour so I settled myself down in a cafe for a couple of hours and made some good progress on my current project. I loved the cushion cover I made for Knitphomaniac so much that I started one for myself as soon as I had finished hers, but I have decided to extend mine some what - into a blanket! 

I am just doing the stripy side as I liked that a lot more than the patchwork. It is also giving me an opportunity to practice my colour changing. I've found I have been pulling my knitting too tight at the colour change which takes all the give out of that side of the knitting, leaving my work really rather wonky.

I do find it hard to trust that my knitting won't just fall apart if I don't pull it super tight but I think I am getting there. At the moment both sides seem to have the same amount of give which is exciting!

Now that I've decided to make a blanket I have come to the realisation that I am running out of wool - and fast. So I had a root around in my stash as I had a feeling the lady I bought the yarn off, Eliza Conway, had given me her email address and offered to send more balls should I need any. In an unusual turn of events I actually found her email address. 

(Lizzy 1: Storage Beast 0) 

So I've sent off a request and will await the response!

Sunday 4 September 2016

Hello out there.... Can anybody read me? ... Is this thing on??

So it's fair to say it's been a while. 2 years and 7 months to be precise. Things got a little crazy just after my last post. It turns out training to be a teacher is really bloody hard! So hard in fact, I haven't had the time/ energy to do much else!! However, very recently, I did pick up the old knitting needles again and boy was it nice to do something crafty again. Don't get me wrong, I have made the odd Christmas card over the past couple of years but really, all my creativity has gone into my teaching which has left me pretty damn useless when it has come to creating anything in my own time, for me. 

I have my Aunties A and K to thank for dragging me back to my hobby and I say dragging because, to be honest I really wasn't keen on the idea. I have been madly preserving my brain power for the hours spent motivating teenagers into producing something resembling work. However, my need to be a dutiful niece won out and I went with them to Unravel (Festival of Knitting in Farnham, Surrey) earlier in the year. I was at the festival for all of a minute before that buzz started, quiet and low in key at first but soon erupting into all out frenzied over excitement. I managed to get around the whole festival once without buying anything... and then it began. Skeins of fleece, bags of home spun yarn and a glitzy turquoise drop spindle (courtesy of Spin City) were all purchased with relish and the knitting resumed as soon as I got in the car to leave.

Since then I have managed to complete a very simple project, a double sided patchwork cushion made from extremely simple diagonal squares with the balls of home spun purchased at Unravel. Although my knitting is a little rusty I love the colours and am pretty pleased with the finished item, I particularly like the stripy side. 


This one isn't for me though, a few years back a lovely lady named Carrie, author of the Life of a Knitphomaniac blog, sent me the Knitting Masterclass book by The Knitter. To Carrie I was a complete stranger but I had joined her group on Ravelry which was designed for members to knit the projects in the book and share their progress. At the time I didn't have two pennies to rub together but I joined the group to see the members' creations all the same. When Carrie got wind of this she contacted me and asked me for my address. A few days later the book arrived and I was completely blown away. I could not get over the generosity from somebody I had never, and probably would never meet. My thanks to her, although communicated via email, is well overdue and I promised myself that my next finished project would go to her, I just wasn't expecting it to take 2 and a half years. Today my gratitude towards this fabulous lady is once more extended because it was reading through her blog this morning that prompted me to blow the dust off this old page. So Carrie, thanks again!!

Without meaning to be a drama queen, the last 2 and a bit years have been really quite life changing. Looking back at my posts from back then feels like being transported back in time. Some things have altered so completely and others have stayed exactly the same. I have just returned from a trip to Wells-next-the-Sea, the holiday destination featured in my last post:

And I still love to cook. This weekend saw my first attempt at Butternut Squash and Chickpea Falafel. I followed the recipe in the link but baked them in the oven rather than grilled them (our grill sets off the smoke alarm). They took around 20 mins at 200 degrees and were really crispy.

Sadly my 'allotment' died a death (hoping to resurrect this hobby at some point too!).

And The Storage Beast still causes us problems...

Despite our best efforts!

But this one's still just the same... <3. (Right now I think he's a car thief in the Ghetto.) 

And his hobby has come in handy as I am now the Programme Leader of the Interactive Media and Games course at the college I work at. I trained in Film and Television so I pick his brains on a regular basis!!

Personally, thanks to the teenagers I teach, I have grown in confidence, and patience. I have had a real rollercoaster ride emotionally, this year being particularly difficult as I became a Programme Leader in my NQT year (first year of teaching) and had to design and launch a brand new course which wasn't my subject specialism. This was incredibly rewarding, creative, exciting and job affirming but also pushed me to the limits of my current stress threshold - which somehow keeps increasing, all part of growing up I guess! Without much warning I found myself responsible for 30 expectant 16 - 22 year olds who have been at times (and sometimes simultaneously) the bane of my life and the only thing getting me up and going to work in the mornings. I have made so many hash-ups I couldn't count them on all of my fingers and toes but somehow it all came together at the end of the year, with the help of the students, staff, family, friends and even the managers (I know!). Teamwork makes the dream work! My students love it when I say that. Not.  

Over the summer I've had time to restore and reflect and am really excited to go back tomorrow and kick start the new year. 

Except this time I will have 2 year groups to worry about... 

Over 80 students to keep track of... 
Oh bums. 

****See you in 2 and a half years!**** 

(Just kidding - I hope) xxx