28.2.11

little prince

Dear Annie,

  
S is three today.


Happy Birthday, my darling little boy. xxx



Love from,

Laura

PS: Look out for a guest post tomorrow by my lovely friend Hannah... 

26.2.11

There's water in the air

Dear Laura,

Growing up in Devon I was aware of water, a lot of water. There was water in the sea next to my house, water fell from the air on a regular basis in spring, summer, autumn or winter, which often left water on the ground and of course there was always water in the air. A nice thick soup of watery air. This I believed to be normal. It is not. Here in DC there is a distinct break in humidity, when the winter arrives the water leaves. Dry cold air sucks the water from everything. The flowers and the leaves disappear and a parched landscape of twigs, brick and concrete is left.




But then spring pops its head up and it is magical. The air feels warmer and wetter, my body feels relaxed walking outside, no longer constantly attacked by the cold air hungry for moisture. And the smell. The smell of water in the air, of plants waking up from their long sleeps, the smell of life returning and the smell of home. 


I have been trying to find you evidence of spring I wanted to send you the smell but alas this still isn't possible. I looked high



and low


and all around 



but the ever greens were the only things with leaves. Then there it was, some tiny purple dots poking their heads through the soil and towards the sun. At last proof that spring has finally sprung! 



Now it is time to face the garden to prepare it for a bountiful vegetable season, and work out how to stop those pesky squirrels from eating everything.

Lots of love

Annie

25.2.11

the story of a sewing machine

Dear Annie,


Once, there was a boy. He was a very special boy, because he loved a girl. He didn't just love her, he listened to her too. The girl's birthday was coming up. Her twenty-second birthday. The boy knew just what to get for her. He spoke to his mum (who was a very clever sewist) and then he went to a little shop, a shop in an old arcade. A shop that sold second-hand sewing machines. In the shop, a lady helped the boy to choose a machine. It wasn't an expensive machine (although it was a lot of money for the boy- he was a student then), it was a simple, classic machine. A Jones 942.


On the girl's birthday, when the boy surprised her with the sewing machine -her first ever, very own sewing machine- the girl knew for certain something that she had almost known all along. This boy was a keeper. He was the boy for her.

The next year, the boy, and the girl, and the sewing machine moved into a flat. The sewing machine made tablecloths and cushion covers.


After a while, the boy, and the girl, and the sewing machine moved into a house. The sewing machine made curtains. A few years later, they moved again, to a tumbledown old house. By now they were a husband, and a wife, and a sewing machine. The sewing machine hid away from all of the dust and mess as the house was renovated. When it was finished, the sewing machine made bags, knitting supplies and birthday gifts.


After a while, a baby boy joined them in the house, and a couple of years later, another baby boy. For a long time, the woman left the sewing machine alone while she looked after the babies. Eventually, she took off its cover again. The sewing machine repair man came and made it feel better. It was put on its own special table, in a room at the top of the house filled with light and sewing supplies.

Whenever the woman had a spare moment, she ran upstairs to the room at the top of the house, took the cover off the machine and began to stitch. It was her machine, and she loved it. It wasn't a fancy machine, but she wasn't a fancy sewist. As the machine stitched, it sang, and as it sang the woman's heart sang too. 


Love from,

Laura


23.2.11

Hyperbolic Crochet Coral

Dear Laura,

I have been bursting to tell you all about an exhibition that I went to over the weekend. So I was casually stopping in on this blog and that blog on Saturday morning, cup of coffee in hand when I stumbled across a post on no knitted knickers! about a fabulous exhibition of crocheted coral at the national gallery. The only slight problem was I was spending the weekend in the company of R and his friend. I was not sure how non crochet/knitters/sewers etc.. would react to the suggestion of this exhibition. Luckily there was sunshine outside and dinosaur fossils inside so much to my delight my plan was readily agreed to.







And it was wonderful, just beautiful.







Maths never seems to be a subject that brings much light and joy to people, often left to men in dark university corridors (I speak here from experiencing those very corridors for many years of my life). I love that it has been brought to life so wonderfully and that that expression is in the form of a activity generally dominated my women. It all goes to show every day we are all capable of complex mathematical thought. Thank you Claire from No Knitted Knickers! I had a fab time. Here is a link to the Hyperbolic Crochet Coral website it is travelling to New York in May.

As we were at the natural history museum here is a picture of an awesome fossil.


There's a fish inside the fish!

Lots of love

Annie



20.2.11

purple tea leaves

Dear Annie,

  
Look at this beautiful yarn. It's scrumptious, softer-than-soft Malabrigo worsted. It was a birthday present from my Mum and Dad, and I chose it with a special project in mind. I've decided that after 6 or 7 years of knitting, it really is time for me to embark on my first cardigan. I haven't yet knitted a single adult-sized item of clothing, but that is about to change. The pattern I've chosen is massively popular on Ravelry- the Tea Leaves cardigan. The colour I've chosen will come as no surprise to you!

 
So far, I'm really enjoying knitting it. The yarn is gorgeous (although I suspect it's going to pill rather). I'm hoping that using worsted weight will mean that it knits up relatively quickly, but even so, I have no doubt that it will be next winter before it's ready to wear!

I've followed your example and decided that a new project needs a new bag- one big enough to hold all that knitting. Three things that I love about this bag:

1) It's purple! (you saw that coming, right?)
2) It's made out of a vintage pillowcase, so not only is it funky, but minimum sewing was required.
3) I managed to whip it up in the space of just 20 minutes when (by some miracle) S and baby R were both taking a nap. 


So there you have it, a purple project bag for a purple tea leaves. All this talk of tea is making me thirsty... mine's a vanilla assam.


Oh, go on then- let's have an oat and raisin cookie too. It would be rude not to!
 
Love from,

Laura


PS: I am totally with you on small children as style icons. My personal fashion guru, little Miss M, is three years old. She's one of S's dearest friends and has a fabulous sense of style. My favourite outfit to date was the pink tutu-skirt, purple tights with pink spots, and purple and green baseball boots. If only I could get away with it...

19.2.11

Birds on a Dress

Dear Laura,



This is my favourite dress ever. When my sister had left home for a couple of years and I was still  there, I decided it was about time to see what was in her wardrobe (the privilege of a younger pilfering sister). Much to my delight when I opened the door I found this dress. Well it is actually a vintage house coat from M&S. As always it wasn't the right size or anything like that but it was fairly simple so pulling it in was a doddle. 



Much to my excitement this same sister has had her second baby recently. Wracking my brains as to what to make for this new arrival in the world I was suddenly struck by the fact I can now make dresses and what better dress to start off on than my favourite and one that my sister used to own too. I also had this awesome material and I really wanted to use it for just the right project.



So I went about trying to figure out how to make this dress, and more importantly what size to make it. I am going to have to get a book on baby sizes, as, surprisingly, the internet was not very forthcoming. There was lot of unpicking and cursing as I went straight into the project rather than making a mock up. When it came to choosing the buttons I used the red ones you gave me for christmas (they were perfect thank you).



And finally I made a really small dress.



My sister never actually gave me permission to have my dress so I think I might make another one just in case. Is it ok to have a dress that matches your one week old niece? Off to the post office before she grows to big to fit into it and then to the fabric shop...

Lots of love 

Annie

16.2.11

green shoots of spring

Dear Annie,



My Grandad Tiger used to say that St David's Day- the first day of March- was the first day of Spring. It was also his birthday. I like to think that he was right, partly because that means that S was born on the very last day of winter. By my reckoning, therefore, we have just twelve days of Winter left. That seems like a manageable number to me.

On our kitchen windowsill are the first green shoots of spring. Last week, when we met up with A, little G and baby J, the boys painted their own flower pots using acrylic paints (us mummies painted one each for the babies.) The nasturtium seeds that we planted in them have started to grow and reach for the light.

Of course there is always time when planting seeds with little ones to make a cress Egg Head. This poor chap has had some rough treatment but his luscious locks remain undamaged.
Lovely to see the progress on your blanket. Mine's slow-moving too. I've been talking to my lovely mother-in-law about a technique for crocheting the squares together. I'll tell you all about it soon.


Love from,


Laura

A Little Disheartened

Dear Laura,


I remember Valentines day in Thailand very well. I think I carried on that tradition a little at university. A friend and I used to make Valentines cards by the dozen, then on the eve of Valentines day at around 2am (often a little intoxicated) we would deliver our surprises by the light of the moon. That was a lot of fun, probably more fun for us than for the receivers but fun none the less.




This week I have been working on my crochet squares but progress feels a little slow. We are of course from the now generation and I want it all done already. That is why I think I have always preferred sewing over knitting, the results are almost instant, cut the pattern, sew and done. This is certainly the longest project I have embarked upon. 


To cheer myself up and motivate me I have been looking at the blogs that originally inspired us: Quater of an inch and The Quince Tree I have been thinking good thoughts like how the blanket will last forever, how it will be warm and how I hope that it is passed down generations and they love it as much as me. I have also been very practical and laid the squares out to see just how far I have to go. 



Well i have one row, 14 squares, that means the blanket will have around 196 squares. Yowzeers!! However, seeing them laid out does make me feel better and having completed one row is awesome. I am now watching my stash of wool slowly go down.


Looks like I might need some more wool! 

Lots of love

Annie 

14.2.11

heart-shaped

Dear Annie,

I don't think that I need to ask if you remember Valentines Day the year that we were teaching together at the school in Thailand. That morning, the students came to school carrying bunches of roses. Not cellophane-wrapped, overpriced red roses, just simple buds in all manner of colours. They presented them with smiles to fellow students and teachers alike. When we returned home at the end of the afternoon we both had armfuls of flowers.



To me, that day has remained the essence of Valentines- a celebration of affection in all its forms, light-hearted and filled with smiles.

By the end of this afternoon, it wasn't just smiles that S and lovely friend G were filled with...



Happy Valentines Day.


Love from,


Laura





13.2.11

Deliciousness

Dear Laura,


Yesterday R and I went up to the deepest darkest depths of Balitmore. Luckily we didn't see McSulky or Avon Barksdale but we did see Ryan and Suzanne and were given one of the best meals ever. The theme was French. When we arrived there was some immediate consultation with R about onions, and I snuck off into the corner to keep out of the way and to watch the cooks at work, I am a much better eater than cooker.



There was a little timing hitch which ended up being to the advantage of all the participants and whilst waiting in the kitchen we got to snack on cheese and oysters. I refrained from attempting to shuck an oyster, knife, hand, hard shell, stabbing action, I felt would clearly lead to a mad dash to the hospital. This was just the prelude to an awesome meal to come the first course was the french onion soup...


A dish that contains, butter, cheese, chicken stock lovingly prepared the night before and of course slow slow cooked onions, yum. After hearing a little clatter in the kitchen we were presented with the ultimate in french cuisine, steak and chips which was delicious.


The meal was topped off with my favourite desert which, much to everyones delight involved a blow torch, creme brulee. 


(A little side note here: when deciding which blow torch to buy for such an occasion apparently the one from the plumbing department at home depot does not, it turns out, serve the kitchen purposes as well as one might expect).

So lots of thanks to Ryan and Suzanne for having us and for Ryan's awesome cooking. The gauntlet has been thrown down and I for one am certainly looking forward to seeing what menu R will come up with for our next meal. 

Lots of love 

Annie




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