Our Christmas tree is up now - just! We bought it from a local farm as we always do, and brought it home to decorate, delighted with the bushy branches full of glossy needles and the festive scent of pine. Unfortunately, we seem to have chosen the one with a mind of it's own. Three tree stands, a couple of episodes of picking the tree up off the floor and redecorating it, careful wedging of the trunk into the stand and several removed branches later, it still leans precariously (although towards the wall now so that it can't fall over) and the girls have decided not to hang chocolates on it this year in case removing them causes another Tree Incident. If nothing else, this will be known as the The Year of the Mad Tree!
One thing that is keeping me sane is knowing that I have some wonderful friends. All very different, they each bring something without which my life would be much poorer, and I know that I am very blessed.
I spent last weekend with one of them - one of my oldest and best friends whom I actually met whilst on my honeymoon. We live at opposite ends of the country and try to spend a weekend together every year if we can; in previous years we have visited gardening shows as she's also a gardener, but this year we'd left it a bit late so we decided to spend our weekend chatting and relaxing instead, choosing to meet up at a hotel in Kettering which is about half way between our homes.
We chose to spend Saturday in Stamford, a town with a history that dates back to the Romans and Anglo-Saxons. It's lovely, a great place to explore, well-stocked with churches and with buildings from various eras rubbing shoulders ...
streets of attractive yellow stoned houses ...
and higgledy piggledy roofs and we had a fabulous time pleasing ourselves about what to see and where to go.
We didn't make it down to the River Welland which, although I can imagine is a good place to walk in the summer, was very full with the recent rainfall and seemed to have got higher in the few hours we were there as we drove back over the bridge. Another visit for another day!
Instead, we went shopping and browsing - something else that we don't get to do very often with children in tow. Many of the shops are independents and at this time of year have windows filled with Christmas treats. We could have bought it all!
We loved this reindeer tethered outside this house and admired his patience in waiting whilst his owner was inside!
It was going dark by the time we finally made it to Stamford's only yarn shop - Ewe Wool Shop - and we were glad to make our way inside where the light was warm and welcoming.
Rachel, the owner, is also warm and welcoming and after we had admired the shelves of yarn and knitted samples, pointed us in the direction of the sock yarn. Well, it would have been rude not to have looked!
I hadn't seen this yarn before - Indulgence Silk 6ply - so I think it would also have been rude to have left it in the shop! (That's my excuse, anyway, and I'm sticking to it! J) It's a blend of merino, nylon and silk and feels beautifully soft when it's knitted up - the sample in the shop was a long scarf of all of the colourways which is a great idea. The ball is 150g too, so there should be plenty for at least one pair of socks and probably two if I make different coloured heels and toes.
Back at the hotel, I managed a bit more of small daughter's socks. You might have noticed that I'm not using my usual metal Addi needles - I've cast on 56 stitches for these socks and that's not quite enough to stretch comfortably around my 30cm needle so I'm trying this KnitPro 25cm needle out instead of using magic loop as I have done previously for smaller socks. Actually, it doesn't feel much different, which I think is because the tip sizes are the same at 7cm, whereas the tip sizes of the 20cm and 23cm needles are 6cm which I find just a bit too small to hold comfortably.
Small daughter's socks are turning out to be a bit of a calamity - I finished one sock to her foot measurements only to discover that her feet had grown so now I'm knitting this sock bigger and I'll need to alter my first sock to fit - and hope that she doesn't grow any more for a while! Clearly this is the reason why I've always knitted socks for adults before now (and the fact that it's only recently that small daughter will even keep socks on her feet)!
At the rate I'm going, they might just about be finished for Christmas - although I've got to get on with my card-writing and present-wrapping, and not keep hoping that the Christmas Fairies will do it all for me if I sit and knit instead. Perhaps I should make another list ...