Monday, December 24, 2007

Christmas Eve...

..and do you know, I think I'm done?

Well okay, the washing needs sorting, folding and putting away, the neighbours' cards need writing, the sittign room needs a quick tidy and I still have one hat to finish for a Christmas pressie, but other than that...

I finished work on Friday and knitted an entire beret whilst watching James Bond - not bad huh? However, it isn't the bobble hat that was asked for, so I tracked more yarn down of the right weight and colour on Saturday and, after finishing some birthday handwarmers, I cast on for the bobble yesterday.

I will post pics of my Chrstmas/festive birthday knitting on a while (want to give them first)

So, since I'll be far too busy being a sloth, this will be it for a while. I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a great New Year! See you in 2008!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

It's Official

There are other people as mad as me, honest! Read about them here, in the Wall Street Journal.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Lace Knitting

Today I spent a lovely day at Fibre + Clay on a one day course on Lace Knitting. One doubt I will ever make anything as beautiful as the Christening Shawl that Franklin Habit made for his niece, but I can aspire…

Mystery Object Revealed

Remember this? When Mrs T thought it might be a loo roll holder, I didn’t know whether to take a huff or not. Then I flicked through Pat Ashforth and Steve Plummer(of Woolly Thoughts fame) new book on toilet roll holders and decided they were no longer the hideous crinoline ladies of yore.

However, it was not a loo roll holder. Sorry Mrs T!

It was in fact, something that I reckon Mrs T might like to knock up for Little Miss T at some point in the future. If you can knit a hat in the round, you can knit this…

This is the Pinwheel Sweater from Elann, which was a joy to knit. The main body knit up very quickly, the sleeves took a little longer as I didn’t like my tension and ripped the first one half out. The Alpaca DK is really soft, although the recipient’s mother may yet curse me for giving a handwash garment. I love it and I want to knot another one, for my cousin’s little girl and then a big one for me, although that will probably be in neutrals.

Pattern: Child’s Pinwheel Sweater from
Yarn: Alpaca Select DK in various shades from blue to red
Needles: 5mm DPNS and circulars, 4.5 DPNs
Cast on: 8th November 2007
Cast Off: 1st December 2007

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

He’s just a boy totally dressed in corduroy*

Because, when I’m up to my eyeballs in the Christmas play, trying to hear readers, attempting to sew gold beads onto the camel outfit, trying to hear readers, assessing the safety implications of children on stage with broken limbs, finishing off reading assessments, trying to fit in all the lessons that get squeezed during rehearsals, trying to hear readers AND finding a replacement for a Wise Man at the eleventh hour (well done that child, word perfect within 50 minutes), what I really want is to make people out of plastic bottles and mod-roc, painted and dressed, to personify “Go Tell It on the Mountain” arranged around the font to decorate the church for Christmas…

* Sorry Gedge. When you wrote this, I really don't think you imagined people made out of plastic bottles. But as Laughing Boy reached for this fabric to dress his person, the line kept running through my head.

Ta Dah!

(Apologies for delay in posting, my PC is having major problems with Blogger. This was written last Friday after work, but I haven’t been able to connect to Blogger. Still can’t, this is a temporary stop gap, thank you A.)

So here is the lovely final parcel from my Secret Pal this round, Julie from Massachusetts.

Doesn’t it look lovely?

First up, some books and a lovely origami bird. Can’t wait to try some of the patterns, or indeed read the Yarn Harlot’s book. I love origami, my fish tank has lots of origami boxes, animals and birds on it. Probably makes up for the lack of fish…

Then there was some more lovely yarn, again dyed by Julie’s fair hand. Lots of luscious purples in here!

Finally, the sweets!

The gorgeous tin was full of divinity (white) and pralines (brown), both sweets made for Christmas from family recipes. There are still some left, honest…

Thank you Julie, each of your parcels was a delight, and so thoughtful.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


The Blogger gremlins have been at it again - crawling into my computer and making it not communicate with the outside world at all!

Suffice to say, I would love to show you a variety of pictures, but can't at the moment.

What I would like to do though, is take the opportunity to thank my SP10 partner Hanna in Helsinki, who sent me a lovely Christmas postcard that contains a spice mix bag and a recipe for ginger thins. I can't actually remember whether I mentioned it or not on the blog, but I love gingerbread, ginger cake and pretty much anything associated with ginger (although not so keen on crystallised ginger, it makes my eyes water!)

Thank you, thnak you!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

An Update from the World of Theatre

I think I can understand why so many of those involved in putting on a production are permanently sozzled. Yet again the Infant Nativity is driving me to drink (I can hear Lou sniggering even as I write. You can try and fool yourself you miss this, girl, but in your heart of hearts....)

I have a very hopeless camel (front end) that has forgotten all her cues and just stands there looking gormless instead of hrumphing. I have an innkeeper who won't (can't?) smile (bit tricky as the song goes "The innkeeper's smiling, his wife's full if cheer..."). My Wise Men lack oomph. In fact, they look a little bit of a rag tag lot of Wise Men, with lazy eyes covered in plaster and missing-front-teeth induced lisps (those at least that can belt out their words... one is very quiet). A couple of my boys (note it's only MY boys, not any from the other two classes...) who don't listen at all during the rehearsals so still miss their cues - in fact, I'm not convinced one has even learnt them yet...

Add to this the fact that the Head seems to hate the only song she's heard so far and it all bodes well, doesn't it?

But you haven't heard the best of it yet. I have a little star who fell of the toilet in her friend's house on Wednesday (I haven't plucked yup the courage to ask if she was using it or just playing on it - I mean, how do you fall off the toilet?) and came in on Thursday with it held very gingerly. "There's a big bruise," Mum said, "but she hasn't broken her arm." It transpired that the child couldn't rotate her arm without crying and found the most comfortable position for it was tucked into her cardigan (a la Napoleon) and that Mum hadn't taken her to the doctor, because she could wiggle her fingers and it wasn't swollen. We got Mum to pick her up at lunchtime and... on Friday she came back in after fracture clinic with it in plaster. Now, if she were merely twinkling... but no. My stars do a little dance around the Amazingly Bright Star. Obviously, we can't have her dancing on stage with a plaster cast on, so the only thing we can think of is to swap her with another child who doesn't move much on stage at all.

Yep, you've guessed it, this year the Virgin Mary will be sporting an attractive shocking pink plaster cast....

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Where in the World?

It's been a while since I put a Visitor Map on the bottom of this blog. The map only updates every 24 hours, so it doesn't always match up with the list of visitor locations, which updates more frequently. Obviously, the location is only of the IP host, but it gives a fair indication of where my readers are. Some are probably only passing through, but others are regular visitors, people I know in both the virtual and real world. I get a fair few UK visitors, a smattering of visitors from North America, a couple in Oz and NZ, but I've been intrigued by the less frequent ones - Brazil, another in South America (Argentina or Uruguay, couldn't tell from the map location), a couple of locations in Turkey, Germany, Vienna, Paris, Romania ...

Maybe it's time to say something interesting instead of wittering on about knitting and camels?


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Hopeless Camels, Grumpy Sheep and Silly Birds

Those of you who don't work with primary age children, or like Mrs T have not reached the Christmas play part of the parental journey, may question why my head is full of a hopeless camel who keeps getting lost.

The reason, dear reader, is this. Every year, we teachers have to get Mary to Bethlehem. To stop us all going mad we choose a different production, but let's face it - there isn't much room for variety.

New Maternity Wing Solves Bed Crisis in Downtown Bethlehem

Fourth Wise Man Refuses To Give Gift

Breaking News: It's A Girl!

See what I mean? We haven't much option in the key characters, or in the general outline of the story.

However... enterprising musical impresarios have realised that a fresh take on a familiar story is always welcome, so for younger children, the story is often told through a minor character such as the innkeeper or a shepherd boy or through an animal. These characters invariably wander around the outskirts of Bethlehem, bumping into shepherds, wise men, etc. They usually have an endearing character trait that the children can identify with and they ultimately arrive at the stable just after the birth and their hearts are filled with joy. Last year's Reception production involved three Grumpy Sheep who became happy when they saw the Baby. This year, Reception has a dizzy Robin, who keeps falling over and bumping herself on the head. Presumably she wakes from seeing stars to see the Baby and stops being so silly.

And us? Well, here in Years 1 and 2, we have a Very Hopeless Camel, who keeps getting lost. The Wise Men are looking for the Special Baby who is born to be King and the poor old camel keeps leading them and the younger camels, all over the place. when he finally arrives at the stable, all he can see is animals, so is convinced he's failed again. Then the other camels see the Baby, tell the VHC and he instantly feels better about himself.

Cue parental applause and a big sniff from the Virgin Mary's Mum and Dad.

Watch out Mrs T, you have all this to come!

Friday, November 23, 2007

Can you hear what I hear?

There's a hopeless camel, can't you see?
A very hopeless camel, oh dear me!
He's witty and he's funny, can't be bossed,
but that very hopeless camel keeps getting lost!

Hrumph! Hrumph! Wriggle the hump!
Hrumph! Hrumph! Now do a jump!
Hrumph! Hrumph! Wriggle the hump!
And don't forget to swish the tail.

There's a hopeless camel, can't you see?
A very hopeless camel, oh dear me!
He's witty and he's funny, can't be bossed,
but that very hopeless camel keeps getting lost!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Those of you who have been popping in for a while may remember that I got rather twitchy about this time last year. You may even remember why.

Well, it's happening again... in less than 3 weeks.


Here is a picture to give you a clue as to what is currently running through my mind when I turn the lights out.

WIP Wednesday

Photoless, since the mystery object is now almost resembling what it should be. I won't post a photo until its recipient has received it. Between Thursday and Saturday I knitted 12 inches of stocking stitch and ribbing in a tube for it and on Sunday I snipped the cast off end of the tube and ripped back a good four inches as the ribbing looked messy. I can't bear to give something that I'm not 100% happy with.

I've done very little since then really, I'd like to get it finished at the weekend, but work's ramped up again.

'Tis the season, and all that...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

W is for Wednesday, WIP and wee

I have only worked on one project this week - the mystery object, which now looks like this (apologies for image, it was taken on the phone. The camera is at work....)

Lilly continues from strength to strength, you wouldn't realise that on Friday I thought she was at death's door.


Today has been... interesting.

Tomorrwo we take her back to the vet's, with a urine sample.

No, seriously...

"I have two cats, the other one uses the litter tray more than Lilly, how will I...?" I asked the vet on Saturday.

"Oh, we give you this litter, it doesn't absorb the wee, so you can tip the litter tray up and pippette some out into a sample tube. Just shut her in for a while. she won't like it, but it shouldn't be too difficult."

She obviously doesn't know Lilly.

This morning, I scooped her up and took her upstairs to have her antibiotic (nicely wrapped in tuna) in our bedroom. Biscuits, water and the spare (open) litter tray were already up there. I gave her her tablet, then stood her in the admittedly smal;l amount of litter, to try to give her the idea. She glared at me, as if to say, don't interrupt me when I'm eating tuna, woman. I left her to it and shut the door on her.

Unfortunately, I was a little later home than expected. I shot upstairs and let myself into the bedroom to find...

Zip. Nada. Niente.

Apart, of course, from a very disgruntled cat who had spent ten and a half hours in my bedroom with all she needed, but decided that since it was a room she never went to the toilet in, she wasn't going to start now. She hobbled out, legs and indeed eyes crossed, made it down stairs and tried to get into the usual, enclosed litter tray. I whipped the lid off and almost took her back legs off as she was a little slower walking in than I had thought. I was hoping I could pick her up and pop her into the sample collection tray.

Oh folly.

By this time she was furious, wriggled, then stalked out of the catflap and promptly visited her usual spot to relieve herself. Grrr.

The rest of the evening has been spent juggling different litter trays.

Don't like an open tray? That's okay, I'll swap the litter round.

Sample collection litter isn't the requisite 4 cm deep? Tough, I only have a small amount.

Don't want me to watch? Ok, I'll just leave it down here for a while.

Oh no! Stella's heading for the litter tray, abort mission, abort, abort!

I have accepted defeat. I know when I am beaten.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Animal Update

Thank you for the kind comments sent about Lilly. I was phoned at 9 this morning by the vet, who told me that she was so chirpy that she felt she could come home and continue antibiotics at home. The tests she has had done appear to indicate that she is suffering from nothing worse than an upset tummy from some toxin she's ingested and a probable case of cystitis. This is an immense relief. I do view my cats as my babies, but I also feel that there has to be a sensible line drawn regarding how much invasive and/or expensive treatment you are prepared to spend. This is the first time we've ever been in the position where we might have had to discuss the issue and as I watched her gulping water down ysterday, my heart sank when I thought it might be diabetes.

I know this makes me sound like a heartless cow, but I also worry about how good I would be at injecting her with insulin every day. I find it tricky enough to worm her, let alone stab her with a needle!

As I write, she is curled up asleep on the sofa, as happy as Larry. When she is awake, her eyes are sparkling and she has snacked on tuna extensively during the afternoon. Hurrah!

And talking of animals, I went to the sorting office and picked up my Monkey package today. Thank you Monkey Pal Angela!

The box contained lots of goodies, including an amazing dishcloth with a monkey knitted into it. I've only been able to find white or ecru dishcloth cotton in the UK, but they are far more colourful in the States. What an incentive to keep my kitchen clean! There is a cool Monkey stick puppet kit (how did Angela know I have a weakness for funky foam?) a Monkey bag and some luscious Lorna's Laces in Daffodil. Again, a blinding choice in colours! the postcard shows a map of Oregon, where Angela lives. (I've just realised I could have included a postcard of Northwihc in my parcel for my Monkey Pal AJ. As it was, I forgot to include the lengthy letter I had written, like the true idiot I am. Sorry AJ!)

Inside the box were some stitch markers including a monkey one. Inside the bag were gorgeous purple Monkey socks. They feel so soft!

Thank you Angela!

Friday, November 09, 2007


Yesterday Lilly (the fat one) was quite spectacularly ill during the day. She also had a couple of episodes of retching that just produced liquid. When I got up this morning, she didn't come for her breakfast. This is vey unusual. When I went to look for her, she was sitting by the bed, very still. a;though she took a couple of steps, she didn't want to go downstairs. She is 12 or 13 (best guess, no-one's really sure, I got her from a rescue centre 10 years ago) but theis morning was the first tiome she has ever looked old and frail.

I fretted all day, got home and was horrified to find that she was not where I had left her this morning, or indeed in any of her other hiding places. I was convinced she had taken herself of to die, but she suddenly appeared, walking slowly through the kitchen. I put some food down and she sniffed it, but didn't eat anything. However, she did have a drink. A huge drink.

She is now at the vets. They were running late, so she spent over 45 miutes in the box. By the time we were called in, she was much more feisty and her usual self, but the vet was concerned by her drinking. They've run some initial tests that indicate raised levels of some chemicals associated with kidnety and/or liver failure, which could also be raised as a result of an infection. We have left her overnight to be hooked up to a drip for intravenous antibiotics and fluids to rehydrate. They will also run some further blood tests.

I was due to go to London tomorrow, to see Debbie Stoller at Stitch n Bitch UK, but I won't be going now. I want to pick my baby up tomorrow and I don't want to have one of those "It'll cost more to treat her than the limit we set ourselves, what are we going to do?" type of conversations with A when I am 150 miles away.

Ho hum.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

WIP Wednesday

It's been ages since I've had an update on any works in progress, so I thought it was time to show you some new things.

I've cast on some socks:

The one on the left is using some of the Fabel sock yarn I bought in Gothenburg to make some Christmas socks for my Dad, the one on the right is a plain sock pattern in Opal Rodeo from Stash (the yarn I made Eleanor's socks in in the Spring).

I've also cast on an item with interesting construction....

Anyone guess what it is from this photo?

Pondemonium and Best of Both Whirls are no different (bad knitter!)

I've also had a few finished objects since the last WIP Wednesday. The shrug and the Monkey socks have already featured,but here is one you won't have seen:

More Scar socks! I decided to cast these on on Friday for a friend's birthday yesterday,. The first came out very fast, but I hit Second Sock Syndrome a bit on Sunday (and also had my school work to do). I was quite pleased the school trip coach got a bit stuck in a traffic jam on the way to the Manchester Science Museum on Monday, gave me an extra 20 minutes in the day rather than at night!

Pattern: Scar from Sock Wars 2
Yarn: Posh Yarn Emily in "Helter Skelter"
Needles: 3.25mm DPN
Mods: kbl into picked up stitches along gusset
Cast On: Friday 2nd Nov
Cast Off: Monday 5th Nov

Saturday, November 03, 2007


I woke early today, thanks to the cats - a covert attack this time, but enough to make going back to sleep nigh on impossible.

I never did lie-ins as a child - not an option in a bungalow with early-bird parents and a bedroom next to the kitchen. Even now, although I sleep later at the weekend than I ever have before, it's seldom past 8.30am. A has always had a talent for lie-ins, though, so early wake up calls at the wekend do allow me that glorious time when the house is almost silent.

Today, I curled up and caught up with some podcasts and worked on some socks (and yes, C, WIP Wednesday will make a comeback soon!). At about 9.30, there was a knock on the door and the postman handed me a large box - a parcel from my Secret Pal!

Doesn't it look fab?

First up, her own blend of lavender and mint tea, transfered into a bag so the jar didn't smash.

Then, not one, not two, not three, but FOUR needle rolls! She had emailed me to say that she had managed to gt some sewing done, but wow! Four! Two for DPNS and crochet hooks, one for straights and one for circs. They are beautiful and really well finished.

Then there was sheepy stationery. I have always been a sucker for this kind of thing, and I love the fact that the shopping list pad has a magnet so it can go on the fridge - or even on the magnetic board if I get it onto the wall (hey, it's only three and half years since I decorated the kitchen - and it's not like either of us trip on it where it is learning against a cupboard....)

Little candles and a maple syrup candy maple leaf next...

...and finally some yarn that she has dyed herself - gorgeous! I love the dark green in this and I already have an idea what to make in this (it'll just join a big queue!)

But the bit that gets me is this - look at the date on the postage label:

30th October. Tuesday. This parcel took four days to get here. From the States. So far I have sent two parcels to my Secret Pal that have had to cross the Atlantic, and neither of them have arrived. The latest one only went 9 days ago and the Sock Wars socks took 11 days, so no cause for alarm yet (although parcels in the summer were only taking one week to get there. Go figure) . However, the first parcel was sent at the end of September and should have left the country before the postal strike. Is it sat in Customs waiting to be strip-searched? Did the airmail label fall off and it is currently cruising the Atlantic, sipping cocktails on the poop deck? Or even worse, is it mouldering in a British sorting office, fallen down behind a rack?

Anyway, I have needles to sort and new yarn to console me. Thank you Secret Pal, you are a star!

Sunday, October 28, 2007


I can't believe it's the end of the half-term holiday already. As per usual, I haven't got anywhere near far enough down my list of jobs to do, but I do feel refreshed, which must be good, right?

Looking back over the last half term, I realise I haven't really mentioned school at all. This is a bit of a shame as I have a number of funny stories and commentd from the children to share. I have had a blast this half term. I have 18 children, all pleasant and good fun to spend the day with. We spend a lot of time laughing and I was thrilled by the comments from some parents about their children are now enjoying school and home is no longer a battleground about reading and other homework. It's times like that that I think, yes I did make the right choice when I left industry to take up teaching.

I had another buzz like that on Wednesday at the Proclaimers gig. The couple whom we hadn't seen for over 5 years were people I knew from church and socialised with, but they were also previous parents of mine. I taught their youngest when he was in Year 3 (age 7-8). I know time is passing, but nevertheless I was still caught slightly unawares when she told me that D and his best friend N whom I also taught (brilliant boys, very bright, lovely sense of humour, etc, etc) were now studying Maths and Further Maths in Year 12 (Lower Sixth in old money). Nine years? Where did the time go? The buzz came from the comment she made about how it was me who had turned D onto maths and shown him it could be fun, and she thanked me for it. How nice is that?

Although thinking back, I would say D & N's curiousity about maths had a lot to do with it. Being the mean old teacher I am, I wouldn't answer questions like "Is half even or odd?". After all, where's the fun in that? Instead I made them write a letter to the Head of Maths at one of the local High Schools, which we then faxed to her. (Yes, prior to schools having widespread email access!) This resulted in several faxes flying back and forth as she explained that she called them NEVENODD numbers (neither even nor odd) and challenging them to work out how many of these NEVENODD numbers there might be between 0 and 1. They loved it! And the reasoning they put into it was brilliant. Good thinkers, those two were.

To me, that's what education should be about - enquiry and reasoning. God bless you, D & N, for reminding me of that!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Monkeys agogo

I finished my Monkey Swap Monkeys finally. I love the yarn, from Lazy Kate. I wasn't sure how it would pan out with the Monkey pattern at first, but it's blocked up beautifully! I shall be sad to see them go...

Pattern: Monkey by Cookie A
Yarn: sock yarn in "Delilah"
Needles: 2.5mm DPNs
Mods: Extra rows in the heelflap

Thursday, October 25, 2007

If you get the chance...

...go and see The Proclaimers live.

I dragged A along last night as we met up with V & C for the first time in over a year (and indeed with another couple, whom we haven't seem since we moved away from Macclesfield over 5 years ago). We went to Victoria Hall, which I have to say is the first time I have ever got out of the car in Stoke. (As an aside, a colleague made a comment about how I seem to know lots of rough places in Britain. I'd like to point out that I know OF a lot of rough places in Britain, it doesn't mean I spend a lot of time there - Stoke obviously proves a point! No offence to any readers from this glorious city, you understand...)

Anyway, I'm rambling again.

The gig was brilliant!

I first saw The Proclaimers about 6 years ago, with C (I think one, if not both of our respective spouses were away at the time) at the Manchester Acadamy 3 - or the Hop and Grapes in the Student Union as it was when I was doing my teacher training. I actually think that gig has the edge, since it was smaller and a bit more intimate. It has to be said, we had tickets last night for the standing area so were surprised to go in and find row upon row of seats. Not that my old knees didn't appreciate the chance to sit down you understand, but nevertheless, it fell rather... genteel. I soon sorted that though, by jumping up and down as much as space (and my knees) would allow. I think I have to accept that my moshing days are probably over.

Even A was seen to clap along and join in the words of the one Proclaimers song he knows and although he won't admit it, I think he may have enjoyed himself...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007


As you can see, by the power of Sock Wars, I am slain by Scar in James C Brett "Marble", a formidable weapon wielded firstly by Sockmice and then Padiham Assassin.

What a way to go... with toasty feet...

Thank you ladies!

Unshaped Shrug

Well, after a slight period of stalling, the Unshaped Shrug is finished. The last photo I showed was taken as I realised that even though I'd ordered an extra ball, it wasn't enough to take account of the extra 4 stitches I had cast on, nor the extra rib row at either end and still give me 8 rows of ribbing at either side. I could get 4 rows out, but not 8. I looked at it for a long time and decided that I didn't like the 4 rows - too thin. With enormous luck, Angle Yarns still had some of the right dye lot in and got it to me quite quickly, postal strike notwithstanding. However, by the time I got it, I was embroiled in Sock Wars, so I didn't pick it up to finish it until Sunday night. It's now finished and...

I don't really like it.

Well, that's not fair. I really like the pattern and I like the garment. I like my even tension and my neat seaming. It's just, it doesn't like me. I guess I just don't suit shrugs.

Oh well. The yarn was a bargain, so it only cost around £12.50, even with the extra ball.

Pattern: Unshaped Shrug by Just Call Me Ruby
Yarn: 4.5 balls Rowan's Little Big Wool in Moonstone (507)

Needles: 8mm and 9mm bamboo straights

Mods: Cast on 38 stitches, added one additional rib row at either end to show nicer side of cast on.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

cough... splutter...

... cough... cough... splutter... what's that pain?... oh, it's Padiham Knitter... I think she's shot me... I wonder how long I have left...tell A I love him... splutter...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Funny sights on the A533

After I took the picture in the last post, I washed the socks to block them - it always looks neater when you give socks to someone if they don't look like a crumpled ball of string. Obviously I needed to get them in the post asap, so you can imagine my delight when I awoke yesterday and found they were till damp because the heating hadn't come on.

I can't imagine what drivers in the other direction must have thought as they saw me driving along, red in the face and hair flying behind me as the heater blasted hot air out onto the socks, which were draped either side of the steering wheel on the indicator and wiper stalks...

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Take aim...


Prepare to meet thy doom, Pierced Arachne!

Pattern: Scar by Julie Gardner
Yarn: Rowan 4 ply Soft 393 & 397
Needles: 3.25mm DPNs
Mods: Yes, but I'm not showing you yet!
Cast on: 8 am Saturday 13th Oct
Cast off: 9.30 pm Sunday 14th Oct

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Reporting From The Front Line

Sock Wars II started today. The pattern was due to be released today, so I got up bright and early, only to discover that my secret dossier, containing pattern and details of my target arrived in my Inbox about 10 minutes after I went to bed last night!!


For the frst time so far this term, all planning was in and on the Head's desk Friday lunchtime. A was sent out on a refueling mission and indeed has been keeping me stocked with caffeine all day. The cats have generally steered clear.

"And?" I hear you cry.


For the first time ever in her life, Little Miss Slow Knitter has knit a sock in a day.

Well, okay, so I haven't grafted it, but hell, I need real daylight for that!

I need to get a move on, because my target is in the States, whereas my assassin is here in the UK... and it now appears the postal strike may be off.

Knit, knit like the wind!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

I do actually do other things as well...'s just that at the moment they're taking so much time I'm not blogging about them and I'm not doing much knitting either!

So... no change in Pondemonium or in the shrug. However, the extra yarn I needed (I made some mods and one extra ball isn't quite enough to make the border as deep as I'd like) of the same dye lot (gotta love Angel Yarns - back to me with the dye lot within 12 hours!) finally arrived yesterday. I forsee any future postal stricks really cocking up Sock Wars II, but there you go...

The blue Monkeys are progressing slowly and somewhat painfully since I keep getting cramp using these needles, but the heel is in sight:

I wanted to play at the weekend and couldn't work on the shrug (no yarn) or Pondemonium or the socks (cramp) so I cast on for the first square in my Lizard Ridge afghan.

Yes, it is bumpy!

And finally, I found this at the weekend:

It's called Best of Both Whirls - some mathematical knitting I cast on about four and half years ago. I'm very impessed with my even tension! More designs like this can be found at Woolly Thoughts.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

WIP Wednesday

Keeping it brief today, dear reader.

Monkey socks - managed about four more rows.

Pondemonium - no change.

Unshaped Shrug - the end is in sight:

Just need to pick up the second border and then join up the sleeves.

Have spent more time this week trying to squeeze an extra 90 minutes out of every school day, to be honest. Unless I master that, we'll never get any displays up in time for parents evening...

Monday, October 01, 2007

September Socks for SAM4

I am having trouble posting to Blogger this week. Do you think it's sulking because I'm playing over on Ravelry?

Anyway, here's a FO to show:

Pattern: Moss by Eleanor Doyle at Magpie Eyes Designs for the Fyberspates/Simply Knitting Sock Club
Yarn: Fyberspates space dyed 100% Blue Faced Leicester sock yarn in Moss
Needles: 3.25mm Addi DPNs
First Sock Cast On 15th Sept, Cast Off 19th Sept
Second Sock Cast On: 27th Sept, Cast Off 29th Sept

These are the quickest cumulative knitting time spent on socks. Wow!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

The Wanderer Returns

A is back from Moscow, having caused much hilarity with the decrepid state of his passport. Upon returning, he gave me back my camera and proved why he has never, in all his life, had one of his own. The four photographs could be of the industrial outskirts of any city. He and his colleague did go for a very brief walk just before they left, but hewas not near to Red Square, St Basil's or anything that any tourist would wish to visit.


They did get very excited when they found a yarn store and had picked out some yarn from the display behind the counter for more before they relaised that the little booth was actually closed. They were crushed, apparently.

But, all power to him - that was a totally spontaneous yarn expedition!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

WIP Wednesday

No photos today, I'm afraid, I made A take the camera with him when he went to Moscow yesterday.

The back of Pondemonium is now completed, all the ends are woven in and I've completed the first set of embroidery. Once that's done, I can join the shoulders and then it's only the neck and sleeves - hurrah!

I have completed one ribbing and the first pattern repeat on the second blue Monkey.

Moss socks are exactly as they were this time last week - single. If I want to count them for my September socks for SAM4, I need to get a move on...

And finally, I've pretty much decided that I'm going to completely frog Icarus. I couldn't work out why, and then this week, whilst catching up with episodes of the Sticks and String podcast, David mentioned that his being a solid colour wasn't doing it for him. It was like a lght going on in my head. Then, when I checked Ravelry, I realised that it looked much niocer in 2-ply as intended than in 4-ply as I was doing it. Haven't quite worked up the courage yet, but I'm sure it's only a matter of time...

Sunday, September 23, 2007

I'm in!!!!


However... in my excitement, I didn't check how long the user name could be, so if you'd like to find me, my user name is talesfromtheplai .


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

WIPs Wednesday

This week's update is brought to you by the letter S and the number 1.

I finished the first Monkey sock (all bar the grafting) on Friday night, and cast on for the second one earlier this evening.

It looks a bit of a crumpled mess, but it will block nicely, Monkey always does. I love the way the colours are coming out in this. It's hand-dyed from Lazy Kate and it's really nice. I'm going to find it hard to send them to my Monkey Pal!

No progress on Pondemonium. I had cramp and I needed a change of needle size but still needed to knit socks, so ... is the first Moss Sock from the second installment of the Fyberspates Sock Club. I cast on Saturday teatime and by last night, had just 4 rows of ribbing and cast off to do, which I did before tea tonight. My fastest ever sock (adult or baby!) Now I see the appeal of knitting socks in DK! I didn't really like the pattern or the yarn when I got it, so thought I would knit them up as a Christmas present, but I've fallen in love with them and will need to get more yarn to knit another pair - although I'd make that pair longer, since the recipient does like slouchy socks.

And finally... as if I don't have enough to do, I've signed up for...

Find out more here, if you dare...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Carpe Diem

I love Squeeze. When I was in the Sixth Form it was an almost constant soundtrack to my life (oh, alright then, along with U2, Peter Gabriel, Led Zep, Talking Heads, Frank Zappa and Fleetwood Mac - what can I say? I was going out with P who was four years older than me and introduced me to a really wide range of music). Anyway, P had Singles 45's and Under, the 1982 Squeeze greatest hits album and we did listen to it a lot - on his Denon (oh how I dreamt of the time I would be able to afford a proper record deck - the guy had separates with an amazing amp!), on scratchy taped version in the car, on my Walkman during private study in the Common Room... blah blah blah...

But I wasn't the only one, either. Although I went to a state comprehensive, there was a boarding house for boys, left over from BEFORE it became a state boys grammar (it was founded in 1559, lots of things in our school were "tradition") The younger boys slept in large dorms in the oldest part of the school, above the Sixth Form Centre, whilst fourth years and above (Yr 9 and beyond in today's terms) lived in large houses (formerly and now reverted to private residences) on the edge of the school campus. A good friend, N, had a top floor study bedroom that he shared with K and during the summer of 1987, a whole load of us would go over at lunchtimes and hang out in his room, listening to Squeeze. Not often, but enough to mean I can close my eyes and return there every time I hear Mussels From The Shell. And don't be following any nasty thoughts here - all very innocent. Girls were allowed, N assured us, provide we all left our shoes at the bottom of the stairs. Heaven knows what the housemaster would have made of 10 pairs of assorted desert boots, espadrilles and baseball boots then...

But I'm digressing again.

During 1987, Squeeze released the album Babylon and On - I still love it, although the vinyl is showing its age now. 20 years ago today I went with P to see them at Aylesbury Civic Hall, a brilliant gig.

I think.

I don't remember much about it to be honest.

On the way home, we decided that we didn't fancy finishing the evening just then, but the centre of town was shut due to the Fair. We knew we didn't have enough time to park at his and walk back before last orders, so we decided to bypass the town and go on to a pub in the next village.

Now the turn for Moreton is on a bend on a stretch of road that is notorious. P drove a black Mini 1275 GT, his pride and joy and as he slowed down to turn left, a Ford Cortina came round the bend towards us. He hit the bend too fast and time slowed as the back end swung round, hit the front of the mini at an angle (imagine a line from driver's headlight to gear stick) and then his petrol tank exploded. I had pulled my legs up to assume a kind of crash position and the stereo (neatly placed in the space where the passenger glove box would be) made a tiny hole in the knee of my jeans, and the biggest bruises under my kneecaps that I've ever experienced. I was out of the car and in the ditch before I had really made sense of everything, but I then realised that P was still in the car. I dashed back and got him out - he had been unconscious briefly when his face hit the steering wheel (poor guy looked like a cross between a panda and a tapier for a couple of weeks) but he was able to work with me to get out. The engine came in and lacerated his legs nicely. Since one of the passengers in the other car was injured worse than P we went in an ambulance with the driver of the other car. Nice one. Turned out he'd been drinking - they'd been to a darts match or something.
The Mini didn't end up at this angle, it was only about 45 degrees off the original path, but I guess the Fire Brigade moved it to the side to clear the carriage way.

Friday night in A&E is certainly an eye-opener. I still remember the couple in full rock and roll gear who'd obviously been in a fight - or maybe it was just him, with another Teddy Boy. I couldn't make sense of her screaming much. Another girl from our town came in having slit her wrists, so unsurprisingly, she jumped us in the queue. I finally got someone to see P when he kept asking for a nice cup of tea and then slid elegantly out of his wheelchair, out for the count. I'd never shouted at an adult before that night. Still don't, really, but it felt good for a brief moment.

And, as usual with a Nic story (and this is God's honest truth), there has to be a small moment of ritual humiliation.

When I was finally called in at about 4 o'clock in the morning (P was no longer in A&E), I was asked by the nurse to drop my jeans ready for the examination and told to sit and wait for the doctor. He walked in a few minutes later, looked me up and down and, quick as a wink, asked "And what do you do for an encore?"


And if that night taught P and I anything, it was indeed to seize the day. Teaching may occasionally knock the stuffing out of me so I can't practise what I preach, but although my number was obviously not up that night 20 years ago, it taught me that it could be, and that I should never put anything off too long.

So I jumped out of a plane at 2500 feet the following weekend, but that's another story...

Monday, September 17, 2007

Gotta love it!

I'd like to include this in one of my forthcoming lessons, but I may chortle too loudly...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Looking for Something My Dear?

P.S. Now you see where the inspiration for the Lone Star State socks came from...

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Wednesday already?

Yep, time to review the WIPs again.

First up is Pondemonium. This is the back view, left where I split for the sleeves.
And here is the front view. I love the fact that I'm knitting in the round so there will be no seaming, but I have a lot of ends to weave in and of course, it will need embroidered details - but those get done before I join the shoulders and pick up the neck and the sleeves. I am so excited, it actually looks like a jumper!

The first monkey sock is making slow progress, but I got very distracted by the jumper over the weekend and since Sunday the only knitting I've done is one round on the sock.

And by popular request, my yarn present from Gothenburg: 3 balls of a gorgeous Fabel sock yarn thatreminds me of sweets and some Karisma 100% wool for mittens. Apparently grey red and cream are this season's colours, A tells me! Now I need to find a pattern. there are loads on the Garnstudio website, but I want a traditional style, possibly with a snowflake and I haven't found the right one yet.

But isn't he a peach?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

I know my husband loves me...

...because today, during the lunch break in the conference about heavy duty diesel emissions that he is attending in Gothenburg, A nipped out to Deisy Design to get me some yarn I had regretted not buying when we there.

But get this: not only did he do that as I had asked, he also remembered that I had said afterwards that I wished I'd asked the sales girl about making traditional style mittens, so he decided to ask her advice on the matter. She gave him chapter and verse and he's bought three colours and another customer who A reckons was in her seventies took a shine to him. Looking him up and down in his suit, she said "My husband would NEVER buy me yarn as a present, can you come home with me?"

Trains and Boats and Planes

Have I mentioned that I've fallen in love with Scandinavia?

Our Scandinavian odyssey began with 2 nights in Copenhagen. As we are wont to do, a and I landed, checked in and then went for one of our mega walks. It didn't get off to a promising start when we got to our hotel, 3 stars, nestling between the strip club ("Beautiful Girls!* Totally Nude!") and the fetish clothing shops (leather straps, anyone?). We got up to the top floor to find a very poky room with a 4'6" bed thrust in a corner. Discovering the duvet was only 4' was just the icing on the cake...

Anyway, we set out from our hotel near Tivoli Gardens and walked to the Little Mermaid. A doesn't like her much, thinks she's a bit disappointing, but I loved her.

That evening we went to Tivoli Gardens, and although we didn't go on any rides (A was blessing his high blood pressure, believe me) I loved that too. I know it's cheesy, but it's magical cheese...

The next day we explored several museums (free on Wednesdays) and started to chill out, reading and also enjoying a spot of geocaching at Marmokirken (the Marble church), not at all what I expected to find in Denmark!

The next day we took a train to Gothenburg, across the Öresund bridge, which I hadn't realised rises out of tunnel, so on the way back into Denmark, must look as if it just dives into the sea. Our first look around Gothenburg wasn't very inspiring, it was reminiscent of the Fish Quay in North Shields, but the next day, the sun came out and I was captivated. We had a tourist card which gave us entrance to loads of museums, places of interest and access to canal trips, so we started by setting out for the Art Museum. Outside is a huge statue of Poseidon by Carl Milles. Apparently when it was first planned, it had an enormous manh00d, but the local burghers protested, so he altered the design. He is holding a large fish in his hand, a rather mean looking thing.
However, if you stand to one side, it becomes apparent that Milles had the last laugh...

We also took a trip around the canal. A doesn't do boats, so I was very impressed. However, it wasn't until we were underway that the guide explained that to get out of the canal onto the river Gotha, we needed to go under a low bridge.

A very low bridge.

So low, in fact that we had to get on the floor of the boat.

Luckily to get back in, we only had to duck down and put our heads onto our knees....

I'm not a big fan of fish but I do like salmon, so whilst in Gothenburg I tried some, served with a crayfish sauce.

I was startled to find this beast on my dinner though. I tried to deal with it, but succeeded only in yanking its head off and exposing its guts, so I gave in gracefully and wrapped it in a napkin.

I also tried pickled herring for breakfast, which is gorgeous.

No, really.

After two nights in Gothenburg, it was a first class express train to Stockholm, which after the calmness of Gothenburg took us rather by surprise. It was HEAVING, mainly with passengers off of the cruise ships. Gamla Stan, the oldest part which everyone says you should visit was just horrible on that Saturday afternoon, so we avoided it for a while. On the Sunday we set out to Djurgården on the ferry, and tripped our way about the Nordica folk museum, which included some fantastic temporary displays of ordinary people's collections. You know the type of things people collect... penguin objects, Abba memorabilia, matchboxes, opera glasses, the labels out of people's clothing... I kid you not, this woman is crazy for collecting them, collects them from everyone she knows and keeps them in a photo album. The best one, however, was the collection of historical and foreign mousetraps. I mean, how do you start collecting mousetraps?

Then we went to the Vasa museum, where superlatives fail me. It is the biggest wooden ship I have ever seen and it is about 90% intact. Stunning. Read more about how it sunk after 1300m of its maiden voyage, lay for over 300 years in the water and then was raised and floated into dry dock here. Stunning, truly stunning.

We then went onto Skansen, an open air museum a little like Beamish, that had original buildings from all over Sweden that have been moved and reconstructed to show what life was like. In addition, there are native animals in the park too, and we saw bears, lynx, wolves and elk. Of course, my camera battery died at this point, so I have no pictures of the elk, which were huge. I want to go back to Skansen - we were there at the end of the summer season, so many of the living history exhibits were shut up. You could spend a day there, easily.

The next day we went on another canal trip, then explored Gamla Stan without the hoards. We also did another spot of geocaching and again, just sat, read, chilled (in both senses, as the lovely weather was replaced that day by a cutting wind) We didn't go into the Royal Palace, but we did take a photo of one of the soldiers guarding it...

The next day, it was back to Copenhagen, by plane this time, where we spent all of our Danish coins having fun on the sideshows at Tivoli Gardens. We won so much tat it was unbelievable, but in true Scandinavian style, the tat is about a hundred times better that I'd find in Thame Fair!

And of course, I couldn't come home without some souvenirs...

The three pairs of Fabel came from Deisy Design just down from Poseion on Avenyn in Gothenburg, a lovely shop, with lovely staff. Fabel is Norwegian and was selling at 26SEK (£2) for 50g - cheaper than Opal or Regia. I had a real problem choosing and could have bought more, save for the concern that I would have no room left in the rucksack for Stockholm and Copenhagen.

The three balls of Strompegarn Jacquard (26.5 DKK, about £2.65 for 50g) were from Strikkeboden near the Catherdral in Copenhagen. It was a recommendation from SKE, and I was looking for some wool silk mix by Marianne Isager, but they had none. The shop was very busy and I was conscious of A kicking his heels outside the shops, so I grabbed this, enough for two pairs, one for Dad, one for me and called it a day. However, it had the largest selection of Noro I've ever seen and a gorgeous Nordic style sweater in the window in natural colours. Grrr..

And where is the yarn from Stockholm, I hear you cry? Well, I found a lovely shop on Gamla Stan and a great stall at the world bazaar at Skansen, both selling lots of gorgeous coloured laceweight yarn in 100% wool, but I didn't get any. The colours were brilliant, but the yarn was obviously from raggedy-arsed sheep, since I could have used it to scrub pans. It did not pass the cheek test, but since they knit and wear shawls as extra layers for warmth, not a fine wrap over a strappy dress, it's not really a surprise.

So, if you like warm but not scorching weather, friendly people, lovely cities and expensive vittals, Scandinavia is for you.

I can't wait to go back...

* This always makes me smile, a bit like "We serve good food" - you'd hardly advertise the fact that your food is off, would you?