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!