Friday, December 28, 2007

A pre-historic afternoon

We took the boys today to see Walking with Dinosaurs at the HP Pavillion. The show was terrific.

Based on the BBC televison special of the same name, it's a series of life-size animatronic/puppet dinosaurs. Here we see the Stegasaurus in the Jurassic era.

The different dinosaur eras were each illustrated by some sort of story - some variation of predator/dinner scenario. The show started with dinosaurs hatching from eggs, the each story was linked and narrated by some bloke claiming to be a paleontologist. Nice to hear the australian accents - the show was developed in Australia I believe.

We all particularly liked the Ornithocheirus: shown soaring over the ocean. Each segment was explained in terms of the geomorphology, and plant development as well as the evolution of the dinosaurs over time.

The grand finale was of course a Tyrannosaurus Rex. They showed a mother T-Rex defending her baby in a big showdown with a couple of herbivores.

I completely recommend the show to anyone with dinosaur-interested children (which I seem the observe includes all small boys and a lot of girls). We sat in the cheapest seats and don't think sitting lower and/or closer would have been any better. The pavillion does have good unobstructed views from the cheaper seats - but we enjoyed the view we had of the overall picture. I also think it would have been more scary closer to the dinosaurs.

It's nice to go to a truly family entertainment as both Nigel and I were as absorbed as the boys.

Of course the boys have been baby T-Rexs all evening.

Christmas knitting revealed

There was not actually much Christmas knitting this year, and what there is shows a definite theme...

Starting with Duncan's tea cosy. Knitted in Noro Kureyon using the beanie pattern that I used for our camping tea cosy.

and socks for Duncan. These knitted in Regia silk; a silk and wool machine washable blended yarn. My usual sock pattern.

In the summer Thomas and Elliot saw me knitting Adam's camo socks and requested their own:

Knitted in lana grossa machine washable wool with contrast toes from a plain brown wool. The yarn is not as camo as the Lorna's laces camo colourway - but I think it gives a similar effect.

Finally I knitted Nigel a headband using the calorimetry pattern.

It was a stocking present - when he opened it he said that he thought Id forgotten the request - it was actually a requested item of knitwear - what self-respecting knitter forgets her husband's requests!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Boxing Day

The day after Christmas is known as Boxing Day in the UK. There are many explanations of where the name derives - but it is a holiday like Christmas day. In the US the day after Christmas is becoming a peak shopping day, and is a working-day for many. We try to keep some of the UK Christmas traditions going - one of which is a walk on Boxing Day.

This year we went to Seacliff State Beach.

It is known for the concrete ship "Palo Alto" which was built as a tanker during the first war, concrete being an alternative to wooden ships. It was never used as a tanker, but was moored at Seacliff in the 1930s as a 'pleasure ship' with a ballroom, and indoor swimming pool. It broke up after a couple of years and has been at Seacliff ever since as a wreck and popular fishing spot. One thing that entertained me in the little visitor center was a photo of the ship from 1958 with a sign saying "To preserve the pristine nature of the ship please throw all refuse overboard"!! Times have certainly changed.

The visitor center had some interesting exhibits including a children's touch pool and a baby swell shark that they had hatched from an egg (not in the touch pool!).

As we walked along the beach we found this sandman:

The boys had to make one of thier own:

Much of the rest of the USA is blanketed in snow - but I guess here in Northern California children need to find other alternatives to snowmen.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Happy Christmas

Santa came to visit this year - and shockingly, didn't bring coal...

Some people got up even earlier than usual and opened all thier stocking before anyone else woke...

Santa delivered a gift that was too large to go down the chimney. Adam was outside before sun-up assembling the ramp.

And trying it out!

We wondered whether some people would have been as happy with a large box!

After breakfast we opened our Christmas presents. We all received lovely things. The boys were particularly pleased with what they were given. Adam here modelling his Liverpol shirt (Nigel's comment: "nice shirt - wrong team").

Finlay immediately started to create 'art' with his art box.

Finally we ate our dinner - after pulling our crackers of course.

Happy Christmas!

Ready for Christmas

I was thinking recently of the effect of having children at Christmas.
Here is our tree in all it's tasteful glory. At the bottom are a load of playmobil ornaments. At the top are the few glass ornaments that I dare risk. If you look carefully you can see many home-made decorations including last year's paper snowmen and angels chains.

When we were growing up our tree always had an assortment of child-made ornaments. Once I moved out from home and had my own tree I had extremely 'tasteful' trees with white lights and ornaments with a colour scheme. Now I've reverted to the trees of my childhood - and funnily enough I like the effect better.

I've noticed a similar progression with my cake decoration. When I first starting baking my own cake I made cakes with elegant pared-down decorations...smooth fondant icing, silver draghees, marzipan holly leaves (not all at the same time).

Now my cake looks like the snow scene cakes that I remember Nana making - I have a couple of the decorations which used to be on the cakes when i was small...the snowbaby and the tree. It seems now as this is what a Christmas cake 'should' look like and funny that I ever thought otherwise.

The cake photo taken before someone (F) made a large thumbprint in the icing!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

My own little rainbow

I'm knitting my own rainbow scarf. I knitted one for Nancy last year and loved how the colour mix emerged as I knitted.

These colours are Noro Kureyon in 170 and 95 which are definitely my colours in the skein. Together? I'm not so sure - but I expect the overall effect will be my colours once I've knitted some more. At the moment some of the colour combinations are not so appealing...yellow and green anyone?

It's a mindless knit - mistake rib, so great for the TV or knitting in the car.

Friday, December 21, 2007

We WISH you a Merry Christmas

Finlay's pre-school gave a Christmas concert last week. Because its a church school it was an actual Nativity play. The Jr K class provided the music.

We have been regaled for several weeks with 'Away in a Manger' so it was nice to hear it performed live. The finale was 'We wish you a Merry Christmas' performed with much gusto.*

After the concert there was a small reception. Finlay and his friends enjoyed the festive snacks!

* I have always sung the verse demanding Figgy pudding when serving our Christmas pudding...Nigel only realized this week that I had not made up the verse when he heard it on the radio!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

On the needles - hourglass sweater

I cast on for a new sweater for me. It's the Hourglass sweater from Last Minute Knitted Gifts. I knitted the same pattern for Gill last year and liked how it came out.

I'm knitting mine in a yarn recommended by Jasmine at knitting group. Its a superwash merino aran weight from Dream in Colour.

Its a hand-dyed yarn and they use a technique called Veil dying which gives a slightly mottled effect... im using 2 skeins at once to try to maintain some consistency in the colour. This colour is called Gothic Rose and it's rather darker than I expected - this is the downside of buying yarn online of course. I bought it from the excellent-ly named website

Yet another year

As you know 'tis the season of birthdays here at Ferretworld and we celebrated another one this week.

It started, as is the norm, before dawn (!) with the present-opening. I think he was pleased yes?

As it's a school day Adam got to celebrate his birthday at school. This year the birthday ritual is rather more low-key than last year with a parent coming in to read a favourite book. Here is Adam with his teacher:

The main excitement started after school when we headed out to test the new birthday present.

We had a private lesson with Finlay and Henry and so the boys had the park to themselves.

They all tried out some ramps.

We came back home for some cake - banana cake this time.

We wrapped up the day with a tour of the festival-of-lights in the park. We noticed more sponsorship than in previous years - but a better display. We particularly liked the dinosaur den! What says Christmas like roaring dinosaurs?

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Small knitting projects

I've been doing a little bit of Christmas knitting lately. These socks are for Adam's teacher. She is a new knitter, and talks to me quite often about her projects. So far she has not knitted herself socks apparently.

These are knitted from Regia Bamboo is colour 1064. I found the yarn rather 'splitty' but it makes a nice light and silky fabric. Because its a mix of bamboo, wool, and polyamid they are machine washable.

I also knitted a last-minute headband for Finlay's speech therapist. She is off to NYC shortly and we talked about suitable clothing. I thought she might need a warm headband.

This is another version of the calorimetry pattern and I knitted it in leftovers from my vest. Noro Kureyon in colour 184. Of course she may take one look (Gill) and think it looks silly...but it didnt take long to knit it so nothing lost there.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Off the needles - Noro Vest

I finished the Noro Vest and am pretty pleased with how it worked out. I used the Rosemary cable as the basis for the vest, but modified all other elements of the pattern. I finished the armholes with a seed stitch and left the back of the neck unfinished to match the rolled hems of the top. I used short rows to shape the shoulders and then grafted them. I used my "new" seaming technique for the side seams.

The modelled shot will have a to wait as the one I took was too fuzzy.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Nine years

and still smiling!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

On the needles - Noro Vest

This is the noro vest (or tank top for english speakers). I'm making it up myself, but using some of the elements from my Rosemary top.

I'm making it with negative ease - so it may just look rubbish - but it's a quick knit and I do love the colours of the Kureyon yarn.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Festive spirit

I mentioned that last week I put up my Christmas decorations outside and I wanted to share the beauty and joy...and my immense good taste (Gill thinks living next door to us is like being neighbours of the Griswolds).

Here are my reindeer - the big one nods it's head. They are getting a bit elderly and I had to repair the larger one with a new string of lights. I could only get green lights so it looks somewhat Heath-Robinson now.

For the full effect - see the reindeer in their natural setting. This weekend we went to get our tree. We went to Castle Rock Tree farm as usual and chose ourselves a nice tree.

As usual we chose what we thought was a small tree and then had to cut it to get it into the house. It seems odd to be posting photos of Christmas decorations in brilliant sunshine when large parts of the US are under feet of snow or ice. It has been cold here - but not coat-hat-and-scarf cold...just handknit sweater cold.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Party animals

We went to the childrens party today at the office at which we used to work. It was nice to be back there - it's such a lovely location and a nice building too. The party was a lot of fun - a visit to Santa of course.

There was also a magic show, balloon creations, face painting, a caricaturist (who did a great job on the boys: he drew them as sportsmen. F as a Rubgy player, and A as a soccer player - the boys were thrilled). There was also cookie decorating.

Adam here modeling his balloon hat - Finlay of course requested a sword!

I include this picture although it is dark...if you look closely you can see that the boys are using their candy canes to walk along the corridor!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

A ferrety birthday

We had a birthday over here this week at Ferretworld... well it is our season for that. It started before dawn (look at the windows!).

Presents were opened and immediately admired and played with. Before breakfast a Heely lesson had to be organized...

...not that successful but a lot of fun. By special request the birthday boy came home early to play with his presents and "do experiments".

and we wrapped up the festivities with a cake of course.

This cake designed by the recipient... chocolate cake with chocolate filling and chocolate icing, a soccer ball, and orange icing! However unappealing it sounds - it was well received!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Any dream will do!

OK - I promise this is the last of the corny lyric post titles! But I do feel like Joseph in this cardigan!

This is the completed Tithe. I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I lengthened the body by 2" and the sleeves to full length. I used Mary's seaming technique and the seams are way better than any other garment I have previously made.

It took 9 balls of the Silk Garden. The result is very warm and surprisingly wearable. I had wondered about it needing a closure, but it seems to stay closed pretty easily.

My only issue is that I made the large size, and it's a bit too large for me, especially on the shoulders. I think washing it will even up the texture - and I haven't blocked the garment yet. In the meantime I thought I'd try a 'styled' pose to hide the large shoulders...

Actually I think it looks even bigger sideways on...I guess I shouldn't quit my job just yet.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

I left my heart..

We headed up to San Francisco this Sunday. We started off at the ice rink on the Embarcadero. The boys had a blast!

Adam did one circuit with Nigel, then he was off. After 45 minutes he was whizzing around the rink. Finlay decided it was easier without holding anyone's hand.

I decided to mind the shoes!

We walked from the Embaradero up to Chinatown for Dim Sum (by special request). Again, the boys were very good at trying new things and discovered that they both loved pork dumplings and Finlay also ate 3 shrimp pancake things.

After lunch we listened to a many playing a Huqin and he let them both have a go. The camera battery had given up by then - so no photos!