Friday, May 18, 2012

Back on the Granny Wagon

Dishcloth knitting season has been replaced this year.  This year, it's Granny Square season.

Remember these?
August 2011
 I gave in to the Granny urge late last summer.  I was going to use up all those bits (and skeins) of leftover yarn.  I made about 27 squares before this project was shelved.

May 2012--now up to 36 squares
A couple of weeks ago, I whipped out my WEBS gift card that I'd been saving since Christmas and started choosing some Cascade 220 colors.  (I'm sure you remember that WEBS has its annual sale in April and May.  If not--what are you waiting for?)  To be honest, I'm not sure where I put my bag (or two) of yarn that I'd been working with, but I knew that I would need some fresh yarn to help see me through.

Cascade 220--now on sale at WEBS!

 I'm going to work exclusively with the new stuff for a while.  Then I'll go find the other yarn and start mixing it all up.  My original plan was for a blanket with 81 squares with at least one border around the whole thing.  Now I think I'm going to make it larger--maybe 121 squares. 

Realistically, I'm going to keep making squares throughout the summer without getting bogged down by "how many more?"  Granny squares are portable (and that's part of their charm), so I should be able to find lots of time to sneak in a square or two.  I think it would be great to be stitching the whole thing together as the weather turns cool.

Monday, May 14, 2012

London: Shopping

Did you know that you can check one bag for free for transatlantic flights?  This was a huge relief for me.  I checked one bag and carried on another.  I made sure my carry-on had a couple of days' worth of clothing and my toiletries, just in case my checked bag got on the wrong plane.  Inside my checked bag I stashed an empty duffle bag.  An empty bag--clearly I was planning on coming home with more than I brought.

The London Eye and Westminster Abbey as viewed from St. Paul's Cathedral.

That duffle bag went home just as it came over--stuffed into the bottom of my suitcase. 

Passing under the Tower Bridge.

It's not that I didn't buy any souvenirs--I just didn't come home with a truckload of stuff.  And really, even if money were no object, I probably wouldn't have gone completely overboard (though it is fun to dream about). 

I wanted to bring home things that I would enjoy, things that I could only get in England, and/or things that I would use.  I definitely wanted to go to a Cath Kidston store, and I wanted to go to Liberty, and I wanted to go to a bookstore.  An oddly specific list, I know, but specificity is good!

We try to make a point to purchase a coffee mug (or two) and a Christmas tree ornament whenever we go on a trip.  Sometimes the coffee mugs don't make it home in one piece, but we are willing to assume the risk.  We each (safely) brought home a mug, and our Christmas ornament is hanging from a knob on one of our kitchen cabinets right now.  Eventually I'll put it with the others.

I had a brief internal debate over whether to purchase a new purse from Cath Kidston, but since I had walked in there without a specific bag in mind, I decided that I needed to refrain from the impulse purchase.  I did come out with some lovely tea towels--and they have been in the rotation since returning home. 

Liberty...oh, Liberty.  If only I had won the lottery.  There is a yarn section, there is a huge fabric section--so much Tana Lawn fabric.  It's all so gorgeous, and it's all so very expensive.  I didn't see anything that I could live without, so I just treated this as a visual feast. 

And the bookstore?  A five-story Waterstone's.  I love bookstores, and if I hadn't had a companion to consider, I might well have spent most of an afternoon in there.  My goal here was to bring home at least one Harry Potter book.  I bought the first one for the kids.  I also purchased a mystery novel that I had read in college and is now out of print in the U.S., and I threw in an Agatha Christie for good measure.  This was not the only time on the trip that I had to fight the urge to load up on books.  The gift shop at the Globe Theatre was also full of interesting-looking books.

I have been taking great pleasure in drinking coffee from my London mug--it has a portion of the Underground map on it, and I love looking at all the stations that we went through.  I am glad I decided not to load up the duffle bag with trinkets that would collect dust.

Friday, May 11, 2012

London Favorites: Museums

London: where to begin?  There's a reason there are so many guidebooks about London!  So much history, so many museums, so many shops.  Think about all the authors, all their characters who walked the streets of the city over the centuries.  It's mind-boggling.  (To me, at least.  I get that I'm a little nerdy about this--I do.)  So a pronouncement of Favorites in various categories seemed to be a good approach.

Today: museums. 

How many museums did we visit?  Let's see, although technically not a museum, the British Library was our first official stop in London (after the hotel-luggage-drop-off and the rain-soaked lunch), followed by the British Museum that same day.  Other venues included the Tate Modern, the Museum of London, the National Gallery, the Victoria and Albert Museum, and the National Maritime Museum.  All of these places were free. (!)
We felt like we could have spent more time at every place we visited.  For example, we could have easily spent an entire day at the British Museum, but we had planned to hit only the high points since we knew we'd be jet-lagged.

Our top picks:  Rob's choice was the Victoria and Albert Museum.  True to form, we only saw about one-third (maybe less) of the total museum, but we were there for a couple of hours!  We mostly concentrated on the part covering England from the medieval period through the 1800s.  I did enjoy it--even if the giant Bed of Ware (an enormous bed that is one of the big attractions) was loaned out to another museum.

My top pick was the Museum of London.  We spent about an hour and a half there.  We arrived a little after 4pm, and they didn't close at 6 (like the guidebooks say): they started announcing the closing around 5:30 and by 5:55, we were asked to leave.  But learning the history of the city was really cool.  There was a special Dickens exhibit that we did not see--it required the purchase of timed tickets, and I couldn't see enough time in our schedule to do it (plus I don't think Rob was as into Dickens as I pretend to be).

One of the benefits of doing so much research beforehand was that we had a nice background of knowledge.  Once there, we were able to really enjoy what we were seeing instead of trying to cram in all the information. 

Monday, May 7, 2012

Day off!

Today was a rare treat for me--a Monday off from work.   This day off has allowed me to indulge in a little dreamy/practical time today.

Some of the practical:

Laundry, of course.  I have decided to try to do one non-clothing load of laundry each day this week.  I usually do all the sheets, towels, napkins, dishcloths, etc, in one marathon day, but that just leaves me feeling so tired by the end.  If I can just do one a day...maybe we'll be able to get in and out of the house by Thursday.

The post office.  Finishing those nagging chores is so nice!

Mammogram. Only about a week overdue.  But done.

And the Dreamy?

Number one on my list today was a pedicure.  I haven't had one in years, but after all that walking in London, my poor feet desperately needed some attention.  The most time-consuming part of the pedicure was choosing a color.  This is Raspberry, and it looks much darker than it did in the bottle. I'll go a little lighter next time...because there will be a next time!

 The next thing I did today was catch up on some TV viewing during lunch.  I watched an episode of Castle from a couple of weeks ago.  Always entertaining. 

And tonight I'm going to watch another episode of Sherlock--I found the first season at the library.  It was great fun to see the London landmarks during the opening credits.

But before my viewing party tonight, I have a few hours of intensely practical to attend to--homework, dance lessons, cub scouts.  And somewhere in there, dinner.

Happy Monday!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

It's time

It's time to come back to this space.  The pace of life became very hectic--I've been working up to five days a week.  And then there was our trip last week.

We're on the plane back home from London.
I could make many, many posts about that trip! 

The goal now is to figure out a way to be here more often.  There's not much in the way of finished projects to show--neither the birthday sweater nor the quilt are finished.  And it's dishcloth knitting season, so those might be the only finished objects I'll have to show you.

But it's nice to be back--I missed you!