Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Home Again, Home Again, Jiggity Jig

I love Scandanavia!

Well, Copenhagen, Gothenberg and Stockholm, anyway.

And the bits in between as seen from the train.

More later, when I've finishing ploughing through the washing.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Turas Éireannach

(with apologies for my Gaelic)

Just over two weeks ago, I posted about my washing disaster that resulted in a very soggy passport, but I haven’t as yet blogged about the trip itself.

It was a trip to Ireland in celebrations of my parents’ Golden Wedding Anniversary, which was earlier in the year. Undecided where to take them, having taken them to Paris for Dad’s 70th and Amsterdam for Mum’s two years later, I asked them where they would like to go. They choice Ireland, but didn’t want to visit Dublin, so we settled on Ennis in Co. Clare. Since His Highness didn’t want to sully himself on a no-frills airline (and the arrival times in Shannon were cack) we flew into Dublin and then drove.

I know, I know.

It doesn’t look that far on the map, and in reality is only the same distance as Cheshire to Oxfordshire, but I stupidly assumed that a national trunk road would be a dual carriageway…

We stopped in Limerick for a break in the afternoon and those of you who have been around here for a while may recognise the tourist peering out over the Shannon…

Yep, this trip became another case of Travels With A Bear, as Theodore attempted to get into every photo. Here he is enjoying the first Guinness of the night at The Old Ground in Ennis…

..and here he is again after several more in Ciaran’s and the Diamond Bar, where he would have enjoyed the music if he hadn’t passed out…

On the Friday, we set out to explore the Burren, which is the most magical place. A and I want to go back and explore it properly, on foot. Mum and Dad can’t trip the light fantastic over geological wonderment much any more. We visited Ailwee caves, which were great. I don’t like caving and pot holing, but the path that is open for visitors is quite tall, so I felt fine.

Once you get into the Burren itself, there are all sorts of nooks and crannies with unusual plants and it was a bit like a lunar landscape. We also came across the Poulnabrone Dolmen a megalithic tomb. Stunning!

We finished the day at the Cliffs of Moher, which mere mortals cannot hope to capture on camera.

When we booked the trip, I hadn’t realised it was a Bank Holiday weekend in Ireland. Our landlady in Ennis, the magnificent Mary from Glenomra House (which I would recommend at the drop of a hat), wanted to get away herself, so after a stroll around Ennis Friary...

... we headed back out on the road, back across the country to Co. Wicklow. On the way, we stopped off at the imposing Rock of Cashel.
I love ruins and I’m running out of adjectives to describe the ones in Ireland. Along the road we would come across crumbling buildings reminiscent of Peel Towers in the Scottish borders and more poignantly, skeletons of churches, open to the elements, possibly all that is left of a settlement wiped out by the Famine.

So why Wicklow? Well, my Mum was a big fan of the TV series Ballykissangel, which was filmed in Avoca. “40,000 tourists still flock to Avoca every year”, my guide book confidently informed me, so I thought it might be quite nice to have at least a drink if not a meal in Fitzgerald’s. We rolled up on the Saturday night to find that Fitzgerald’s was … well, I can only describe it as minging. It was shabby - not in a “shabby-chic” kind of way, more in a “can’t be bothered to decorate it” kind of way – and the floor was sticky. Ick. The other choice for food was a Greek taverna that made Fitzgerald’s look positively sparkling. We got back in the car and drove away as fast as possible.

“Well, that was a one-horse town”, I commented as we pulled back onto the main road. “More like half a donkey”, my Dad replied.

And it didn’t look much better on Sunday, when the weather broke and we got a full show of Irish rain. Avoca is also the home of Avoca Handweavers, (open from 10am every day) and we thought it would be interesting to look at the weaving shed.

Probably would have been, if they had been open, but they weren’t. Even though the girl behind the counter said they would be. We just gave up on Avoca at that point, and set out to drive back to the airport.

I want to go back and explore Clare, visit Galway, the Ring of Kerry… but next time I’m going to the West of Ireland, he’s going on Ryanair to Shannon whether he wants to or not…
Meanwhile, we (and Theodore) set out for Scanadanavia tomorrow. In an amazing stroke of good fortune, A's laptop has broken, so he cannot take it away with us, so I am confident that he will have a real break this time. I doubt we'll get to an internet cafe, so until we return, dear reader, until we return...

Soundtrack: Naked in the Rain – Blue Pearl; Born to Run – Frankie Goes To Hollywood; Blue Monday – New Order; Four Seasons in One Day – Crowded House; I can’t Dance – Genesis; Planet Earth –Duran Duran; Beautiful Day – U2;Excerpt From - Seal

Knitting Scouts

One treasure I have found during my trawl of the uncomprehensively huge world of cyberknitting is podcasts. I am currently at various points in catching up with the backlog of episodes in Lixie Knits It, Sticks and String and Socks in the City, whilst whiling away the time until BritKnitCast starts again. However, I just love Cast On, which may not have been the first knitting podcast but is surely one of the best. Feeling very Radio 4-ish in style, with a wide range of indie music and thought-provoking essays, Cast On is a joy to listen to. Sometimes I knit when I listen to it, more often I'm actually cleaning the kitchen, but Brenda always has something interesting o say about knitting and its place in the world. This series is based around the ideas of an American organisation called the Campfire Girls which I've never heard of before, but appears to share many common ideals with Guiding, which I am a great supporter of. I wasn't that good at Guides, since the idea was supposed to turn out well-rounded individuals and the only 5 badges I earned during my three year stint were service badges along the First Aid/firefighter vein, but I was a damn good Brown Owl!

That may well have surprised some people who've known me for many years. Or maybe it didn't, I don't know. nyway, I have been a Brown Owl and a Ranger Guider in the past, but currently have no links to guiding.

But I digress. During this series of Cast-On, Brenda is discussing the different themes of the Campfire Girls and the Honor Bead system and encouragin those who want to to enter into the spirit and earn themselves some. If that doesn't float your boat, then you can stick your toungue firly in your cheek and earn some Knitting Scout badges. Some just make me laugh, but I'm childishly pleased to think that I qualify for some, so here goes:

First up, the "Talking Knitting" badge. I think I've earned it for talking incessently about knitting to my class and other random children whilst knitting in public. I hope Brenda thinks that ensuring a class of 7 year olds think knitting socks is cool is in the true spirit of improving Public Knitting Literacy.

Secondly, I think I have also earned the "MacGyver" badge (Level 1) for demonstrating "clever use of a non-knitting tool in a knitting-related scenario". Whilst away working on Clapotis, I have improvised stitch markers out of both a watch and my diamond solitaire ring. Ha!

I look forward to the time when I can earn something really heady, such as the "Knitting Whilst Under The Influence" or “Knitting Has Forced Me to Seek Medical Attention” Badges...

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Another WIP off the list!

But this time, it's because I've actually finished them!

Here are the Raindrops socks from the June pattern from Simply Knitting/Fyberspates sock club.

They knitted up quickly, but I'm not sold on the fit of the short row heels. The July pattern has short rows too, with the same weight yarn, so I think I'll be tinkering a little.
The colour is lighter than the picture shows, with the grey actually looking more lilac in good light.

I wasn't sure of the stitch pattern originally, but it's really grown on me.

Pattern: Raindrops by Eleanor Doyle at
Yarn: Fyberspates space dyed 100% Blue Faced Leicester sock yarn in Blue Lagoon (I think it was 100g, I just kept knitting until I ran out!)
Needles: 3.25mm Addi DPNs
Modifications: I kept on knitting, then used a 2 stitch picot cast off so it would fit comfortably.
Cast On: 5th August
Cast Off: 18th August

Friday, August 17, 2007

It's addictive...

... this frogging. Now the alpaca tanktop has come undone.

Why oh why do it in two pieces when I hate seaming and can't get a neat edge and there is no earthly reason I can see for not doing it in the round?

God, this feels good!

Ribbit, Ribbit

Of course one way to reduce the number of WIPs is to frog virtually a complete sock.

Remember the Tidal Waves socks in TOFUtsies?

I suspected the foot might be a bit baggy, so I had a chat with the Sock Knitter Extraordinaire at Knit Group last night. She knits TOFUtsies on 2mm needles, but I know when I tried that for this pattern I couldn't get the ribbing over my heel. When I got home I slipped the knitting onto a circular neddle and tried it on proprerly. As I suspected, the foot was too baggy, but so was the leg.

Ho hum.

So I frogged it.

A was aghast, but really, there was no other thing to do with it. I love the yarn, I love the pattern, I will do it again, but I think I will need to use 2.25mm needles, which I don't actually have. Yet.

Because as well as dispensing sock advice, SKE was able to point me in the direction of excellent yarn shops in Copenhagen, where she picked up some 2.25mm Suzanne needles.

Better leave some room in the rucksack, huh?

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Did you feel the earth move?

Last Friday I was in the centre of Manchester at 11.50am when the city was hit by an earthquake measuring 2.5 on the Richter scale. Although the epicentre was in the east of the city, the tremors were felt in the city centre, reports stated.

Well, not by me, they weren't.

I have slept through a number of minor earthquakes in Britain before now, and we missed the 13 or so that hit Manchester in October 2002 as we were in Italy at the time, but I think last Friday has to be the first time I've actually been awake and present on the spot so to speak, and the earth still didn't move for me, darling.

There was another reason for the earth to tip on its axis on Friday, at least in the Manchester area. I moved to the North West nearly 20 years ago and Tony Wilson was almost immediately on the radar - in fact it was hard to watch the regional news or listen to music and NOT know who he was, or have an opinion on the self-promoting eejit. But time softens many things, including people's attitudes and in recent years I have viewed Tony Wilson as a vital part of the region's fabric, someone who felt it important to promote the area (and this coming from a southern girl). And he was behind Factory Records and The Haçienda, and for that I think I could forgive him anything. He was a character and will be sorely missed.

I am currently reading Stuart Maconie's Pies and Prejudice and the almost constant references to Anthony H Wilson in the section I read at the weekend are poignant, to say the least.

RIP Mr Manchester.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

WIP Wednesday

Well, a week soon whizzes round, doesn't it? So what's been happening with my knitting? Well, here are the projects that have had some work on them this week.

Firstly, Clapotis:

Last week, I had done five repeats of the 13 needed for the straight section; Ive now completed 10 in total. I am very tempted to continue this past the 13 repeats needed, since I bought 6 balls of yarn and I'm only just getting to the end of the third. I'll see what the length is like when I get to the end of the 13th.

A quick sneak into this week's entry is Pondemonium - the red came in the post today, so I started the colour work. It's not bad, cionsidering it's my first real attempt at stranded colour work - a little puckered on inspection, but I haven't got to it with a needle to ease any of the stitches out yet. It's now reached an empasse again, since I am waiting on finding the next colour, too.

On to the Raindrops socks. I've completed the first sock and I'm on the heel of the second. The cast off gave me a few problems, as it comes half way up my calf, so even casting off as loosely as I have ever done was too tight. After ripping the top two pattern repeats, reknitting on larger needles and then ripping again due to the resultant pooling (which looked horrid against the rest) I reknit those pattern repeats AGAIN and then used a picot cast off. Possibly a bit girly for what will essentially be thick boot socks, but there you go - I didn't want to waste any of the yarn, so just kept on going on that first one, till I'd used the first skein up.

I've also knitted 10 rows on Icarus, but there is no discernable difference in the photos, so I'm not putting it up.

I've also done some school work, which is becoming my priority WIP and booked a holiday for next week. The planned Interrail type trip of Switzerland, Tyrollean Austria and Northern Italy didn't get of the ground - I'd left it too late for decent flights - so we are going to Denmark and Sweden instead. Within it there will be two substantial train journeys, so lots of time to finish Clapotis, I think!

Finally, I made some stitch markers for prizes for the Sock A Month 4 knitalong.


Friday, August 10, 2007


Sometimes when you are a teacher, you have days that you just know no other profession would have. The last Wednesday of term was just one of those days.

Due to various technical glitches with IT hardware (and, to be brutally honest some reluctance on my part on trying to confront said problems) I found myself in the last week of term chasing my tail to try to get all the children's ICT assessments completed and/or printed off, then annotated and stuck in their assessment books. The one thing I have learnt over the last two years of teaching Infants is that, however mature they may appear to be, they are still only 7 with (for the most part) the associated short attention span. You need to keep 'em busy, or you will have a riot.

Add a slightly reluctant 15 year old work experience student who doesn't want to spend 10 days in a primary school, that you need to find jobs for, and the chance of a bit of peace and quiet to go through the children's assessments with them is likely to disappear up the Swanee.

Anyway, I digress.

That morning, we had started on our last major writing task of the year - a story about a character who was going to cause problems in some way or another. The previous day's lesson had had the children writing some lovely excerpts, with crackling dialogue and interesting sentence structures, the whole works. Apart, of course from my reluctant writer. But never mind. If I could at least get him to discuss some ideas for his story and I jotted them down, we'd have something to start from for the next session. Cue the brief outline of how two Lego robots didn't like each other, but then one had had to rebuild the other and they ended up liking each other. Not really fitting the scope of the story, but I didn't care, it was an idea.

So come Wednesday's lesson, the children were raring to go with, for the most part, ideas spilling forth. Apart from Mr Reluctant.

"What are you going to write to start your story?"

"I have no idea."

"Well, you said this robot didn't like that robot, but then he got broken and he had to be rebuilt, so they ended up getting along"

A grunt of assent.

"So how will you start your story?"

"I have no idea."

This has been the refrain all year. His writing target is to write two sentences without an adult sat next to him. Didn't look like we were going to do it today, either.


After a protracted battle of persuasion, he wrote a sentence about a completely different character. Go figure. It took the best part of the morning. Throughout it all he sighed and huffed, complaining of one ailment after another, which I parried with comments such as "N. has a headache and she's getting on with her work...", "F. has a stomach ache and he's doing his writing..." and so on. Sometimes, I am exhausted by continually smiling and not responding the way he would like.

When we got to handwriting after lunch, he slumped across his book, fixed me with a baleful stare and complained again about a stomach ache. I jollied him along with the promise of yoghurt pot telephones later in the afternoon. Needless to say, the others were nearly weeing themselves with excitement over this event and it left him totally cold. When the time came, it was his turn to go onto the PC to complete an ICT assessment, so he was pleased to avoid the whole yoghurt pot thing. Secretly, I too breathed a sigh of relief, since the only child he is prepared to work with had gone to the dentist. Does that make me a bad person?

The children gathered on the carpet in excitement, the work experience student was out of the classroom moving resources between cupboards for me and Mr Reluctant was on the PC. We tried out Mrs F.'s yoghurt pot telephone that her class had made for their assembly, but were very disappointed since it didn't work. Oh no! Right, time to reach for the Balamory annual from the book basket, and consult Archie's instructions. As I came back the the carpet, flicking through the annual, Mr Reluctant stood up and announced "I feel sick". My response to this was, as always, "If you're going to be sick, don't just stand there, GO!" Unfortunately, because of the the way my classroom is set up due a filthy great pillar stuck in the middle of it, he had to cross through the children on the carpet to get to the door. The children obligingly moved to make a path, but his spacial awareness is about as good as mine, so he couldn't easily get through. He made it to the door just as Mrs D, the classroom assistant got to the other side. He opened it, she said "Oh thank you, Mr Reluctant, how nice of you to open the door for me," and he vomited spectacularly in the doorway.

Have you ever seen The Exorcist?

Mrs D promptly took him to the boys' toilets, and I went to hold the classroom door and field off the children who were all kneeling up, meerkat-like, to see the extent of the splatter.

Believe me, that boy has range.

Mrs D came back to get his PE kit as the two children who had been on an errand outside the classroom looked at the mess in the doorway and wondered how to get back in. "It's okay boys," I said, pointing to a narrow section of clean carpet "if I hold the door open, you should be able to step round it that way. " Because my hands were full of the resources Mrs D had been bringing into the classroom at the time, I pushed the door back with my butt and lent full against it.

I'd been there about 10 seconds before I realised there was a seeping feeling around my derriere. What the...?

I told you that boy had range.

"Um, Mrs D, do you have any tissues...?"

The best part was, as I tried to reach round to assess the extent of the damp patch, one of the most delightful children I have ever taught, G (a very young Harry Potter lookalike) piped up in all innocence "Shall I help you wipe your trousers, Mrs Xxxx?"

I did manage to keep a straight face as I thanked him and politely declined...

Soundtrack: Lost Weekend - Lloyd Cole and the Commotions; Single Girl - Lush; Anchorage - Michelle Shocked; Chronic Town - REM; One and One - Robert Miles; I Don't Want A Lover - Texas; King and Country - Seth Lakeman; That's Entertainment - The Jam; In These Shoes? - Kirsty MacColl; The Colours - The Men They Couldn't Hang; The Hurting - Tears For Fears; Bad - U2;

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

A Very Expensive Wash

This afternoon, I went to Liverpool to HM Identify and Passport Service offices to fast track my application for a replacement passport. I'd like to complain about the process, but I have to say they were amazingly professional and very slick. I was actually seen before my appointment time and because the personal details page wasn't actually damaged beyind recognition, I was told that I could actually take the priority service and collect my new passport at the end of the day. Since I was already paying £91 for the one week Fast Track as opposed to the usual £66 return in a month option, I thought I might as well go the whole hog. £108, but at least I could then book a holiday for 10 days time without panicking that I wouldn't be able to travel.

Let this be a cautionary tale - when you return from Ireland, it is classed as a domestic flight so no-one checks your passport. If, like me, your routine is to carry your passport in your pocket until final inspection and then return it to the rucksack before going home and slinging your travelling trousers in the wash, you would do well to change your routine.


On the plus side, hanging around Liverpool for an extra 4 hours gave me loads of time to work on Raindrops - I've actually cast on for the second sock now! I also had a delightful conversation in Starbucks with an incredibly well-mannered 9 year old boy who wanted to find out all about my knitting. Believe it or not, that's the first time anyone's ever mentioned my knitting when I've been knitting on my own in public. Does that make me an ambassador now? Sadly, it was just as I needed to return to pick up my new passport, otherwise I would have offered to let him have a go!

Monkey Swap Questionnaire

As if I don't have enough to do, I've found an excuse to knit another pair of Monkeys! Sign-ups for the third Monkey Swap are open until August 31 on the ( Monkey Sock Swap website).

The basics:
Do you consider yourself a beginning sock knitter, an intermediate, or have you been doing this so long you could probably knit a pair in your sleep?
I've now knit 5 full pairs of adult socks, most top down, but have done toe up, including short row shaping. I've done some lace patterns in there too, so maybe intermediate?

The measurements:
Shoe Size:
UK size 7
Foot circumference: 24 cm/9.5 inches
Foot length: 25 cm/9.75 inches
Ankle circumference: 25 cm/9.75 inches. I love my Monkeys, but if I were to make them for me again, I would do the cuff in a bigger needle size, since I can't pull them up. (UPDATE 17-8-07: On closer inspection and through extensive discussion with the Sock Knitter Extraordinaire at Knit Group last night, I would do the ribbing and the first two or three pattern repeats in a bigger needle as they are actually fine around the ankle, it's just my Russian-Shot-Putter calves that are challenging!)

Yarn Preferences:
What colors do you love?

Pretty much most of them! I do particularly like green and purple, but don't feel constrained by these!
Do you prefer solids or variegated?
Don't mind.
Do you prefer wool, cotton or acrylic yarn?
Not acrylic. Don't mind anything else, I am prepared to hand wash!
What colors would you never wear?
Black or navy solid (white cats) and white solid (white cats who haven't learnt to wipe their paws yet)
What are your favorite brands of yarn?
Haven't met a sock yarn I didn't like yet! I particularly like LazyKate yarns and Emily sockweight by Posh Yarn

Are there any new brands you would like to try?
Lorna's Laces, it's very pricey here in the UK!

Cookie A. Patterns:
Which of her patterns have you already knit?
Which pattern(s) would you like to knit and don’t already own?
Flicker, Thelonius or Mona. I can shorten the cuff or use bigger needles. I don't wear knee socks, and I think my calves would be too big for Cookie's patterns anyway!

Other pertinent information:
Would you be willing to have an international Monkey Pal or do you prefer one in the US?
Anywhere is fine.
Do you have any allergies?
No, but I don't like cigarette smoke.
Will your knitting be exposed to smoke or animals?
I have cats. I take every effort to keep yarn and knitting away from them, but it is impossible to keep my knitting 100% cat-hair free. I will not be a suitable partner for anyone with a cat allergy. No one in my house smokes and now that smoking is banned in enclosed public spaces in the UK, my knitting is unlikely to ever come into contact with cigarette smoke.
Are you on Ravelry yet? If you don’t mind having new friends, what is your Ravelry name?
Still waiting for my invite...

WIP Wednesday

Earlier in the week, I received a gorgeous skein of laceweight cashmere from HipKnits, ready to knit the first project in the HipKnits Project club. This is a year long club designed to allow participants to widen their experience. The first project is a lace shawl called Della, a type of knitting I have only attempted with 4ply before. Here's the yarn:

It's in a colour called "Surf" and it's so soft.

However I am slightly embarrassed that I already have six (yep, count 'em) projects on the needles, and I feel I ought to shift some of them before I cast on for Della. To this end, I have decided to start a Work In Progress Wednesday feature, to shame me into finishing some of these projects.

First up is the first Raindrops sock (apologies for dark photo, but it does at least show up the raindrop pattern a bit - with a flash, all the definition was lost).

This is from the Simply Knitting/Fyberspates sock club, which will provide me with pattern and yarn at the rate of one a month for six months. Sad to say, this is the first installment, from June. However I only cast on on Sunday and because it's on 3.25mm needles, it's knitting up really quickly.

Secondly we have Pondemonium, a jumper for my friend's little boy to grow into.

I cast on for this last week (31st July) since I couldn't resist trying something on circulars that was bigger than a sock! However this will not progress for a while since I need the next colour yarn and haven't got hold of it yet (I know, I know! I thought I had some oddments in my stash that would do, but they are aran weight, not DK). Rowan Wool Cotton is lovely to knit with though, this fairly glided (glid?) off of the needles...

Next up is Clapotis in Rowan Tapestry, which is not the best yarn for the dropped stitch design but is very cosy and definitely passes the cheek test.

I cast on for this in the first week of July and it's making steady progress. It's great for alternating with socks when I get cramp from 2.5mm DPNs.

Fourthly is the Tidal Waves socks I'm knitting in TOFUtsies.

I cast on in June, but haven't done any on this since a dental appointment on the 2nd July. I loved knitting the patterned cuff, but am now on the foot in plain stocking stitch and I am SOOOO bored with it. I put it down to knit the Sockapalooza socks and I can't face picking it up again and then knitting a second one. I'm also concerned that the foot is going to be a bit baggy and feel I should maybe frog the foot and redo it in a 2.25mm. Can't face it, so it's in the bottom on the bag...

Next it's an Icarus shawl, which I feel a bit guilty about.

I cast on for this on April 6th with purple 4ply my Secret Pal Hanna sent me to entice me to try lace and I love knitting it. I got quite a bit done during the Easter holidays, but then put it by to return to socks - from May to July I have knit three pairs of socks as gifts - and haven't returned to it. Sorry Icarus, I am a BAD knitter.

Finally it's the tank top in alpaca.

I love the yarn, I love the pattern. I was, at the time of purchase and casting on, just finishing my first ever sock, which dates it to around January/February and I was desperate to see if I could knit what my mother would call a real garment (she's baffled by my sock obsession). However, I decided to ignore the fact that the largest size in the pattern is not going to fit me. I'm about halfway up the ribbing for the back and I just haven't got the heart to make and seam (I hate seaming) a top that I won't be able to wear.

So there they are. Watch this space to monitor progress, I will not be taking bets on which ones will not be seen again for a while...

Soundtrack: Black Night White Light - Frankie Goes To Hollywood; Overdrawn - Clear; Baba O'Riley - The Who

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Sockapalooza Socks!!!!


I got my parcel from my Sockapalooza 4 pal today! She's called Nicola, too, and she's from Wiltshire. First up, was a Galaxy Ripple and some foot pampering things. there was also a lovely line drawing postcard of her local church which is now up in the kitchen. I'm afraid to say the Ripple bar didn't last much past this photo...

Then came the socks, wrapped in tissue and fastened with a ribbon and these lovely stitch markers.

I think these are the first socks Nicola knitted at the same time on circs, a technique I've not tried yet. They fit perfectly. Don't they look fab with my ever present black jeans?

Thank you Nicola, they are lovely!

Soundtrack: Don't You Want Me - The Human League; Jesus of Suburbia - Green Day

SP11 Questionnaire

I enjoyed Secret Pal 10 so much, that I've signed up for Secret Pal 11. Yet again I need to post the answers to a questionnaire, so non-knitting readers can now tune out...

1. What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like?
Acrylic has its place, usually when knitting baby clothes, but I don't enjoy knitting with it much. I am also not a fan of novelty/eyelash yarn. Although that got me back into knitting 18 months ago, I find it a pain to knit with. I'm currently indulging in a passion for hand-dyed, particularly sock yarn. I love Lazy Kate, Posh Yarn Emily and am currently knitting up some 100% Blue Faced Leicester from Fyberspates, which I think is going to be great for winter boot socks.

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in?
The DPNs are in the side pocket of my knitting bag, the straights and circs are in an old gift bag down the side of the sofa, with the circs quietly knotting themselves together.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced?
I learnt when I was maybe 7 (I was definitely knitting in Brownies) and although I can't really remember, it will have been my Mum who taught me. However, although I learnt to knit 30 odd years ago, I've only moved beyond rectangular pieces of garter or stocking stitch within the last 9 months. since then I have mastered socks, tried short row shaping, tried lace and some fair isle. I think I'm probably intermediate.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list?

5. What's your favorite scent?
In terms of general smells, I love vanilla, cinnamon and other mixed spice type Christmas smells, lavender when used sparingly, anything that smells of the ocean (apart from rotting fish - did that when I lived by the harbour in Whitehaven), coffee, fresh bread, freshly mown grass and rifle grease.My favourite perfume is Trésor by Lancôme

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy?
I like Green and Black's dark chocolate and Crunchies and dark chocolate Bounty bars are good too... I like pear drops too, and lots of the boiled sweets you used to be able to buy by the ounce from the big jars in sweet shops when I was a kid. I love trying sweets and chocolates from different countries when I'm on holiday.

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin?
I make my own cards and when the light is good and I have the patience, I do counted cross stitch. I have never tried spinning. I suspect there may be too many different parts of my body to co-ordinate at once...

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s?
I like most kinds I suppose. I'm particularly fond of 80s, folk and indie, but most things with a catchy tune and lyrics I can hear work for me. My iPod seems to have a very eclectic mix. I do however have a pretty puritanical stance on copyright. Pirate music is stealing. So there.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand?
I love all sorts. Greens and purples are particular favourites, black's bit of a no-no (see the cats...)

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets?
A and I have been married for 13 years (known him over half my life now...) and we have two cats (see blog for details...)

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos?
Yes to all, although I only have one poncho, when they came back in again a few years ago. I love it, but it's black, so picks up the cat hairs terribly. I don't really do lacy, crochety things - they catch on cat claws and door handles too easily, but I am starting to include some of these things now I'm a knitter.

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit?
Currently socks - let's be honest, I haven't knitted much more than that! However, I am enjoying the lace I'm working on, inspired by Hanna, my SP from last time!

13. What are you knitting right now?
Socks, Clapotis, an Icarus shawl, a toddler's jumper (time to face the fear of sleeves!) and the same tank top in alpaca I talked about last time...

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts?

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic?
I don't have much preference at the moment. If using straight, then I prefer bamboo; I have used circular needles for lace and big bulky items, to take the width better. I knit socks and hats on DPNs (bamboo or Addi turbos, which are brill!)

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift?
Only my husband...

17. How old is your oldest UFO?
The alpaca tank top was started in January I think. I also have a scarf I started about 18 months ago in Curly-Wurly that I got frustrated with trying to knit with it so put it away. I now hate it.

18. What is your favorite holiday?
Italy! Or do you mean like "Happy Holidays"? Well, here in the UK we have Bank Holidays that are days off work, but no-one really links them to the old reason for having them (do you actually know anyone who celebrates Lammastide?). I like Easter, because I love Spring. I'm a sucker for Christmas, but I don't always enjoy it these days - too much rushing about, I suppose.

19. Is there anything that you collect?

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have?
I buy simply knitting regularly, but I don't have a subscription. I'd love Zimmerman's The Opinionated Knitter and Sensational Knitted Socks by Charlene Schurch, but I can't justify another knitting book right now! I'd love to try different natural plant fibre yarns, as I've only really used cotton.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn?
I'd like to try cables and entrelac and I'd love to knit a Moebius scarf for A, but I don't know how to...

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements?
Yes! I'm a UK size 7, the free pattern with Opal sock yarns fit me to a T. The sole of my foot is 25cm long, the circumference around the ball of the foot is 24.8cm and my ankle has a circumference of 25cm.

23. When is your birthday?
I mention it in my blog... it's not that hard to find!

24. Are you on Ravelry? If so, what's your ID?
Not yet! I am about 16,000th in the queue, with about 8,000 people ahead of me at the moment.

Monday, August 06, 2007

It's Official

I am a wazzuck.

Yesterday, I returned from a few days in Ireland en famille. Mum & Dad had a great time (it was their belated Golden Wedding present), I drank lots of Guinness, A got frustrated with the ever present roadworks. He was also having a bit of a mare at work, and seemed to spend most of the time on the phone or checking his emails. He is particularly looking forward to the time off he has planned for the end of the month. Although we have nothing yet planned, we will be going away, ideally somewhere not too hot and a new country for me to tick off of my pitifully short list of countries visited.

This morning I did the last lot of washing from our Ireland trip.

This inadvertantly included my passport.


Guess where I will be on Wednesday afternoon...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007


I've been clearing overgrown parts of the garden in the last few days, as well as undertaking the annual summer holiday cleaning frenzy (Susie Homemaker I am not, but I try...) and finishing my Sockapalooza socks. Whilst pulling back some ivy yesterday, I overturned the unused wormery, sloshed rainwater everywhere and promptly came face to face with my first ever newt. How exciting!

Also exciting is the positive response the Lone Star State socks have received. After careful consideration (which took all of, oooh, 30 seconds), I will share the pattern in due course. I'm going away for a few days and I would like my Sockapalooza Pal to get hers first, so keep an eye out over the next two or three weeks, for an update.