The Rogues’ Gallery

Less than 36 hours to the PAO!  I have packed, I have seen my friends, I have been treated to insane amounts of delicious smelling lotions and potions from my family, and I have had all my last minute hip queries answered by the collective wisdom of the Hip Women Yahoo Group.  I can do this.  It will be fine.

One of the best things I have done in preparation is collect all my favourite family-and-friends photos onto my iPad to take into hospital.  Not the staid, boring ‘graduation’ style photos, but the photos of  us being dysfunctional, or doing happy, funny things.  The ones where we are cross-eyed, or have wardrobe disasters, or are muddy even by Devon standards.

When we moved into our house we had an idea that we could take all the photos that gave us the best memories and crowd them all together on the wall in our kitchen.  The frames don’t match, and they aren’t in neat rows.  But then nothing in our kitchen is neat!

The Rogues’ Gallery.

On this wall, a drawing from my 1 year old god-daughter shares some space with an incriminating picture of my best friends at a hen night, a photograph of Irish and the two girlies and me on the log flume at a theme park, my parents with cocktails in hand on a summer holiday, Irish making faces at the camera with his flying buddies, and of course a close-up of the shoes I wore to ‘go away’ on my honeymoon.

The shoes! Look at the shoes!

The breakfast room bit of our kitchen (that actually sounds a bit posh – it really isn’t) wasn’t really used before we added the Rogues’ Gallery.  Eating there felt a bit empty somehow.  Now, though, it’s the place where visitors gravitate, and the part of the kitchen I ‘hover’ in when I’m waiting for the kettle to boil or for the toast to be ready.  Now, the kitchen is the happiest part of the house – although that could also be down to the fact that a) Irish does a mean Thai Green curry, and b) it’s where we keep the gin.

I have a feeling that before too long, an X-ray of my PAO’d hip will join the scan of Irish’s head injury on the wall, alongside all the cats and dogs we have ever owned and the most-loved photos of family members with a mouthful of chips / sticking their tongues out / falling over / hugging one another.  It’s a memory bank of the happiest, the funniest, the best of times.

Ever done anything embarrassing? It’s probably documented here.

Which brings me to this:  however much I write about knitting, or baking, or shopping helping to take my mind off the pain, it’s really the people that make me smile and give me reason to be optimistic – and isn’t that the whole point of this blog?  And on Tuesday when I count to ten and drift off, and when I wake up with a shiny new hip socket, it won’t be my latest blanket that I remember, or my latest handbag purchase.  It will be the photos on the wall, and the people, all my family and friends, who have been holding my hand.

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Another blanket marathon.

When it comes to knitting, I appear to be a ‘big project’ girl.  My first ever knitting project was a gorgeous cardigan from Debbie Bliss’s Andes pattern book.   It would appear that a cardigan is not the easiest knitting project for a virgin knitter, and mine ended up looking a bit like the lab coat I used to wear in Physics lessons.

Since then I’ve migrated to blanket squares.  Now these I like, because

  1. They are portable.
  2. If it turns into a clusterf*ck you can rip the square up and start again with out ruining the entire project
  3. You get to practise lots of different kinds of stitches (see point 2).  I learned intarsia, cabling, bobbles and lace stitching methods this way.
  4. If you knit enough of them you can turn them into a really special ‘heirloom’ blanket

You can check out another of my efforts here, but this one (below) is for my mother.  I made the first square and slid it into a card for her on Mother’s Day.  I think I’m about half way there now. I probably  need about 20 more squares, plus more to add a ‘hem’ all around.

Mistakes? I’ve made a few..

As you can see it’s still a work in progress.  It looks scruffy – but so did my other one until I tidied the ends up and stitched them together.  I can’t wait to see the finished thing, but that might be a way off.    I am not a ‘natural knitter’!  At my village ‘knit and natter’ group, I do more nattering than knitting, and when I do knit, my elbows tend to get in the way of everyone else.  But hey, I don’t really go there for the knitting – I go there for the hilarious conversations (yes really).  And also for the swearing. It sounds  a bit American Pie (as in ‘this one time, at band camp..’), but the air in our village turns bluer than this blanket when us ‘yarn ho’s’ are having a coven meeting.

One or two ends to tidy up still..

The yarns I’m using are Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran and Debbie Bliss Rialto Aran.  They work interchangeably in this project as they knit up on the same needles and have a very similar feel.  I am hoping my mum will use this blanket in her garden summer house, which has gorgeous seaside views, so I chose sea blues, mixed in with neutrals.

Knitting – sometimes an outdoor sport.

All of the patterns from these squares were adapted from this book – truly a bible for knitters of squares. As a novice knitter I was stunned to find there are rather a lot of these books, but this is the best.  I know.  I knit a LOT of squares.

This is a Very Good Book.

And that’s it.  My latest work in progress, and proof that knitting blanket squares is NOT just for grannies.  Anyone with wanky hips can do it!

‘I need a PRIVATE wee’…

At your convenience..

…announced my gorgeous stepdaughter (aged 8) the other day.  And quite right too – every girl needs to maintain her mystique, after all.  Unfortunately chez HipOptimist, this is not as easy as it sounds.  Locks do not fit easily onto 300 year old cottage doors.   On top of which, bathroom doors which lock are not really do-able since Irish sustained his head injury doing ‘military things’ in the desert.  Having a blackout in the bath or shower could be really dangerous so we need to ensure we can get easy access to the bathroom in an emergency.

Hmm – what to do? Visitors always look rather nervous, when they ask how they will know if the bathroom is occupied, and the response ‘just knock’ doesn’t seem to reassure them. Our littlest has always been sensitive about her privacy, and now that her lovely older sister is fast approaching her 13th birthday, the House is in dire need of, if not locks, then at least some kind of system.

I stole the idea for ‘door hangers’ from our visit to Southernhay House in Exeter for a dirty weekend. Instead of ‘Do Not Disturb’ door hangers, the hotel rooms had wooden baubles dangling from the doorknobs for you to put on the front of the door at night – that is, if you want the dirtiness to continue in the morning (we did).

The hanger on the left appropriately says ‘laugh often, talk much, sit long’. It costs £4.50 from Designs on Pine.

Enter at your own risk..

I picked this fish-shaped one (right) up from King’s Garden Centre in Exmouth for a similar price.

And this one (below) is the best value of all – just 99p from Country Bumpkins Gifts..

Translation: Watch out! Private wees taking place inside..

So far, the system has worked really well.  A hanger on the outside of the door means somebody is
inside. If there’s no hanger on the door, the bathroom is empty.  Our eight year old has cracked it – and remembers to put the hanger back on the inside of the door again when she leaves.  But whether it stands up to the ‘nervous visitor’ test is uncertain.  It’s looking like the in-laws (due for a trip to Devon soon) will be the first guinea pigs! Time for nervous hosts, rather than visitors, perhaps..
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