Monday, 22 February 2016

Yellow, or maybe blue

Saturday I placed my last stitch on the cat scarf I've been making for M, meaning I'm very close to the end of what seems to be an epic project as the scarf has been on my hook since Christmas Day. Even as I considered sewing up and finishing, my mind turned to the next project, namely a cardigan for M. If the scarf hadn't taken so long, I had intended to make another winter cardigan, but with spring upon us I've changed my mind. M needs a summer cardi (or maybe two) that she can live in through the cooler days and use to protect herself from the sun on warmer days.

M agreed and declared she wanted a yellow cardigan, or maybe a blue one. The only problem was, I don't have much in the way of cotton or bamboo, let alone in yellow or blue. If buying yarn, really I needed a pattern first, which presented another issue. M is five and at the top end of desirable target for knitwear designers. There are lots of patterns for babies, but the number dwindles as children get older. I have some patterns for older children, picked up a year ago, but not an abundant supply.

Saturday is a busy day for us, with a lunchtime dance class carving out a huge chunk of the day, meaning we weren't free to hit the shops until after 4pm. By this time my favoured Local Yarn Shop was closed, so we went to Hobbycraft instead.

Unsurprisingly, I did not find the pattern book I was looking for. Neither did I find suitable yarn at a price that I was willing to pay.

We did however find buttons, which M insisted I should buy in readiness for her cardigan. Blue buttons. Lots of them.

We also found card stock, so I replenished my craft supplies.

I also found some booklets on drawing cats and horses, so I picked those up as well.

Hobbycraft were selling off their 'paint your own' money boxes at half price. M wasn't too interested in these until she spotted a Beetle Car...
M couldn't resist this paint your own money box.
It had to be bought, brought home beeping in my bag and painted immediately!

After which, M had to play with these dress up stickers, on sale for half price. Apparently, the children were feeling cold.
And dress up stickers.
This demonstrates why M and I should never visit a craft store of any kind together. We just can't help ourselves!

As for the yarn and pattern. I decided to do my best with the patterns I've got... And placed an order for blue cotton from Wool Warehouse.
M is happy.

Monday, 15 February 2016

Valentines or Halloween madness

Sunday was Valentine's Day, which started with M rolling out of bed and deciding she had to make another card for me. We had plans to go out, but I didn't mind too much as it allowed me to check the weather forecast while a small person crafted.
Last minute Valentine's Card for Mummy.
Once M was satisfied, cards were exchanged, chocolates were sampled and we were ready to face the day.

Valentine's Day for us involved a trip to Stratford to meet up with friends from Devon. The day was bright, but very cold and we'd decided to visit the MAD Museum. MAD is of course an acronym for Mechanical Art and Design, which meant lots of automata, very complex marble runs and interactive art installations.

Finding the museum took a short while as it is tucked away above another shop, meaning we had to look up. We're not regular visitors to Stratford, indeed the last time I wandered around the town centre was before M was born, which meant we were taking in a new place with many, many fascinating shops. Very distracting shops!

The MAD museum is accessed via very steep stairs, surrounded by a big marble run installation of rolling golf balls inside tubing around the stairwell. There was a lift to take the balls up to the top again, keeping the system going and providing a fascinating entrance way. We stood there, blocking the stairs, for at least five minutes as M watched, working out how the arrangement was put together.

Finally, we made it up the stairs, paid, were given a brief safety talk (press buttons, but do not put your fingers inside the machines) and we were inside.
M takes a turn on a musical typewriter, connected to glasses via piano wires.
Oh my gosh, there were so many marble runs, constructed out of all manner of things. Some out of wire, others from pipes, some from wood, and even household objects such as kitchen implements. Balls were rolled, lifted, bounced and flung, in never ending cycles, triggered by the press of a button. All three of us were hooked.
A 'flying' machine thing.
The museum were holding a competition to design a MAD machine of your own. They will apparently pick one and build it, so M was keen to draw something to submit. After a few inspirational drawings, M came up with a 'Ball Looper', which had a corkscrew lift and a fan blowing the balls into a funnel, after which they travelled down a tube and back to the bottom of the lift. No pics I'm afraid, as I forgot!
M plays with an interactive art installation.
We were in there well over an hour, which for a tiny museum is not too bad at all.

Once we emerged, we ran the gauntlet of shops (I think we need to come back for a proper wander when it is a little warmer) before walking to the rec ground and play equipment. It was bitterly cold, but small people had energy to burn off. There we stayed until the fading light and rapidly dropping temperature, made us hustle back into town for a hot drink at our friends' hotel before going home.

We looked at the artwork in the lounge, studied a collage of jesters with Jack'O'Lanterns entertaining a Tudor banquet, which led to me retelling the tale of Stingy Jack. This was a story that has several versions, but has its roots in folklore, giving the origins of the Hallowe'en tradition of making Jack'O'Lanterns. My tale started with the fact that while the artist may have shown the lantern made from a pumpkin, traditionally the lanterns were made from turnips or swedes. Pumpkins only came later with the discovery of the New World.

I've linked to a version of the Legend of Stingy Jack from Wikipedia, but be aware there are several different versions of the story. The version I told was similar to the one we heard at Mary Arden's Farm last Hallowe'en, but I simplified it to take into account two very tired small people.