Monday, November 23, 2009


I used to live in Cumbria, not far from Workington. Luckily my friends who live in the area are ok.

My thoughts go out to the family of Pc Bill Barker.

My thoughts are also with those people in nearby Cockermouth, who also had terrible flooding last week. These shots show the morning after, when the waters had gone down.

They were lapping the first floor windows and some people had to punch their way out of the roof. I saw footage of a yarn shop with yarn bobbing about. I can't help but wonder what will happen about next year's Woolfest. The venue is fine, but will the town be able to cope with visitors?

Sunday, November 01, 2009


...puerile fun at the expense of a pretty town's name...

and more yarn.

This is Wendy, the lovely owner of Lancaster Yarn Shop, Old Pennsylvania Pike, Intercourse PA. Behind her are a pair of socks she entered in the county show which won (hence the ribbon!)

It was a lovely trip and I would really like to explore more. Much as I love the big cities, it was brilliant to see parts of more rural America.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Look what I made!

Yesterday, I went on a brilliant introduction to dying course, led by Debbie from DT Craft & Design. We played around with Kool Aid, "cooking" strands of yarn in single colours...

.... then in mixtures...

In the afternoon, we played around with procion dyes...

...and we each ended up with four differently dyed mini skeins...

I had a lot of fun, and I can see a lot of dying in the future ... although I may wait until the summer when I can do it outside to minimise the risk of splatter!

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Woolly wedding

Look carefully at this wedding dress -

Yep, it is made from what you think:

She breeds these Lincolnshire Longwool Sheep, and Olivia (above left) provided the locks for the skirt. The happy couple also had lamb they had bred for the wedding breakfast. OK, I'm maybe too much of a townie to go that far, but I am so behind people breeding animals with care and respect. The article is here, and I never cease to be amazed by the range of comments from people, particularly those who can't understand how people can breed animals with love and then eat them. Surely if one eats meat it is better to eat an animal that has been well cared for than one that hasn't?

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Why do I feel that I know some of the children in my class less now than I did this time last year when I was writing their reports?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Eurovision 2009

Well I don't know about you, but I thought last night's Eurovision was one of the best I've seen in many a year. Only the Swedish and Russian songs set my nerves jangling and I think with that it was a reaction to both the voices.

A and I liked all of the top five (Norway, Iceland, Azerbaijan, Turkey and the UK, in that order) and I personally don't buy into the whole "Britain's hoped dashed again" vibe that was splashed all over my home page this morning. Considering where we have finished in recent years, fifth is fine by me. It was a good song, but if you listened to the rest, it was very different to the rest of the entries. Therein lies the key to our performance - as a nation, we have vastly different tastes to nearly all the other nations in Europe - particularly the wider Europe that competes now. There are a number of countries that are culturally influenced by Arab music and anyone who had spent time browsing record shops in France or Italy (the only places I have) will realise that their contemporary pop music does not share much with ours.

But the key victory for me was for the actual contest. There was still some bloc-voting (12 points from Croatia for Bosnia & Herzegovina, for example) but much much less than there has been in the recent past. Well done Eurovision - having music judges as well as the public was a brainwave.

So for those of you who missed it, here are some of my highlights. Some have come from the semi-finals or the country's own heats, but the performance is similar:

Turkey (fourth place)

Azerbaijan (third place)

Norway (first place)

And then some that didn't do so well, but made me smile. First, Denmark. Listen carefully and see if you can tell the composer from the style of the singer (and yes, the singer is Danish!)

And one of my all time favourite Eurovision performances from Germany, which finished in a woeful 20th place. Well done Germany - nice to see you bring Burlesque into family viewing with the gorgeous Dita Von Teese!

And did you get the composer of the Danish song? Yes of course, it was Ronan Keating!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

And there's more...

A has just told me about George Osbourne's taxi fare that he's been ordered to pay back. He had a constituency meeting (I'm guessing in Knutsford, since that's the centre of the Tatton constituency) that finished after the last train to London. Now, I've caught a train at 6 o'clcok before now to be in London and that was not the first train of the day. Is this was George did so he could be in London for his early morning appointment the next day?

No, of course not. He hired a cab. £440. Fab. That's more than many people pay in tax per month. Hell, it's more than some people in his constituency earn in a month.


B$@@#y Dog food

Many people who know A and I wonder how we got it together. He is affectionately known to some of our friends as Tory Boy. I, however, think of myself as a liberal with a broad socialist streak. A believes in survival of the fittest in a dog eat dog world; I believe all of us have a responsibility to support those members of society who, for whatever genuine reason, are at that moment in time unable to support themselves. We seldom discuss politics because whilst I am prepared to listen to another's point of view even if I don't agree with it, A just sticks his fingers in his ears and sings "La, la, la, I can't hear you."

Over the last little while, however, politics has been discussed in our house and this week has seen me reduced virtually speechless by some politicians' views regarding their expenses.

Last year I could be heard wondering aloud why an MP's second home would need such expensive items as those from the "John Lewis" list. Within the last couple of months I have failed to understand why the Home Secretary was able to claim for any TV, let alone her husband's choice in adult pay-per-view movies. And don't get me started on that bath plug. You can't afford 88p?

This last week, though, has taken the biscuit. As I shuffle around the house trying to deal with the delights of catching up on planning, marking Optional SATs and reviewing the school's assessment details, my contemplative silence is broken by Tourette's style outbursts.

N: Mutter mutter

A: What's that love?

N: Mutter mutter

A: No, still didn't catch what you said.

N: B$@@#y dog food!

I don't CARE that every one of the little slimeballs in our venerable (cough) Government is legally entitled to claim for this ludicrous list of allowances in relation to second homes - the question is are they morally entitled to them? I have no quibble with MPs from regions across the UK needing a residence in London. I do have a quibble with MPs who think this entitles them to claim for housekeepers, moat repairs, lawnmowers and effing dog food. Sorry, but where does this come into the grand scheme of things?

I am a primary teacher and like many, I suspect that I buy things for my classroom or lessons that I would be entitled to claim back, but don't because "it's only a couple of quid". Did the woman with the dog food think that? What about that Jacquie Smith's bath plug?

A works in industry. He visits different customers around the country and could stay away overnight in hotels - but he doesn't. He views pretty much anywhere is the UK as within a reasonable distance to return to Cheshire. "I can get back home", he says, "so I do". He also visits Europe, and again, tries to go out and back in a day rather than clock up hotel bills. When he does stay away, he is expected to stay in mid-price range hotels. He could probably write a thesis on the corporate branding of Holiday Inn or Novotel. He is entitled to claim the mileage from home to the airport, but doesn't because it is less than his usual home to work mileage.

Now don't get me wrong - I don't live with a paragon of virtue by any means. Both of us have had our fair share of works stationary for personal use. We both benefit from the Airmiles A clocks up on our credit card when he pays for his hotels up front. But he does not claim for every single cup of coffee or bottle of water he has when he's away, because he doesn't feel that's appropriate to do so.

So why has it not occurred to some of our MPs that some of the things they have been claiming for are not morally acceptable? Why on earth should any taxpayer have to pay for someone's TV subscription? We voted them into Parliament to represent us, not to watch Sky. They're welcome to keep a dog, but good grief - you want one, you feed it.

But you know the bit that really rankles?

They don't seem to be struggling to find the money to repay any of these five figure sums... which begs the question of why they needed to claim for them in the first place....

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

All buttoned up!

So, I've knit a bag in scratchy scratchy Herdwick:

and felted it:

So now what I want to know is...

Should I put buttons on it?

When I bought the yarn last year, I bought the buttons specifically to use as embellishments, but I actually quite like the bag bare. Before I wear a hole in my finger sewing them on (and you all know just HOW much I love sewing!) I'd love to know your opinion. I won't be doing anything before the beginning of next week at the very earliest, since it's the Year 5 residential this weekend, so you have a few days to let me know your opinion.

Edited to replace crappy poll that doesn't work with a Blogger one on the sidebar

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Of course, the downside of spending the housekeeping on yarn is that one must be somewhat frugal until the next payday - which is over two weeks away. Cauliflower cheese, anyone?

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Wonderwool Wales

Look what I bought!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

This is my life

..or at least it has been the last week! 18 months ago, I made a pinwheel sweater for a friend's little girl, then used the rest of the yarn to make one for my cousin's little girl a few months later (pics here and here) For my birthday last year A bought me the yarn to make one for myself and this month I finally cast on for it. It is the biggest thing I have ever knit, having now exceeded the baby blankets. I only have 21 rounds left to finish the body, but each round has about 450 stitches in it. It sits in my lap, a great puddle of knitting, as I trudge round and round.

So of course, what I really need as I wrestle with it and try and finish it off, is this:

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Twenty Years

Twenty years ago.

A fair Saturday afternoon.

I was packing my things ready to return to Liverpool for the last term of my first year. I was probably listening to Otway.

The doorbell went.

To my surprise I opened the door to a boy I knew from school, but hadn't been particularly close to at the time. He was on a year out and had dropped by on the off chance that I might be in. He became a good friend.

I offered him a cup of tea or coffee. He asked for a glass of milk.

Meanwhile 150 miles away, the girl who worked a few benches down from me in the chem lab went to a football match.

Whilst Nick and I were chatting, Mum was listening to the radio. As he left she came to tell me there had been some trouble at the Liverpool match. By the evening news it became apparent that this was no ordinary case of crowd trouble. As we were to find out later, it wasn't a case of crowd trouble at all, whatever some sections of the media wanted us to believe.

The drive back to Liverpool on the Sunday was sombre. As I returned to my Halls there wasn't the usual sense of laughter at reunion; people were subdued. I unpacked, grabbed my granny square blanket and went to my boyfriend's room. As I sat and crocheted the blanket that I am sitting on now, the evening news came on. The first victims of the disaster were named and their photos flashed onto the screen: sisters Sarah and Victoria Hicks, 19 and 15.

The shock was immense. Even now, the sensation of my insides turning to water vividly remains. I didn't know Sarah very well and it shook my world at the time; I will never be able to fully comprehend how the families feel and how they survive from day to day.

The Thursday after the disaster, a friend and I got a map, plotted a route and walked to Anfield. We joined the snaking queue to lay flowers. By the time we got there, the flowers covered half the pitch. The fences at the front of the Kop were a riot of colour, with football scarves and shirts from clubs across the country. The sense of grief was almost overwhelming. It was the first and only time I have been to Anfield. I spent a fair bit of free time that week at the Metropolitan Cathedral, just across the road from the Guild of Undergraduates. I found it then to be a place of peace.

Today the urge to be in Liverpool was overwhelming, so I went. Without A, I didn't think I could face Anfield and in retrospect I'm glad I didn't go there. My composure was wobbly enough as it was and 28,000 people singing "You'll Never Walk Alone" would have finished me off. Instead, I returned to the Met. I stayed for the two minutes silence, then sat outside listening to the bells of both cathedrals as they tolled 96 times.


Archive radio and photos are here.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Faces from the past

This week I bumped into someone I went to college with and haven't seen since my Graduation in 1991. I recognised him immediately, but he needed some help to recognise me. The years have been kinder to him than me, I suppose, or I was pretty forgettable, which could also be the case. I did have the advantage of having often wondered if I would bump into him, however; I work in his home town and last I heard from him (mid 1990s) he was still living in the town.

It's funny, I often wondered what we would talk about, and we were predictably boring, sticking to work. I told him I had married A, since we were all at Uni together, but realised afterwards I hadn't asked him about family life at all. I also didn't get any contact details, much to several people's subsequent displeasure, but I'd already detained the poor chap and just didn't get a "vibe", if you know what I mean. I didn't want to foist myself on him, I know I can be pushy and try not to be.

I've spent a lot of time in the last 10 months or so thinking of the past. Last summer marked twenty years since my A levels, leaving school, moving to Liverpool, meeting A (although we didn't get together we were good mates) and my thoughts turned to people that I haven't seen for many a year. There's a faint wistfulness there for the girl I once was, even if I was screwed up. There's so much potential when you set out on that journey, leaving a small town for the big city. Arriving in Liverpool felt like arriving in a different country, not just a different region. My memories are full of colour and noise - Liverpool was (and still is) a very vibrant city. Did I meet that potential? I don't know - am I the best judge of that? I do feel that I missed out on things - that I didn't take full advantage of being in Liverpool. I was so embroiled in a relationship that was ultimately doomed that I didn't go clubbing the way others did, I didn't develop female friends the way I perhaps should have done, but then I look back at school and see that I was friends with more boys than girls, so many that's just me. After all, I'm not much of a "girly" girl, and things that teenage girls were supposed to be interested in left me cold. Make-up? Clothes? Not really. I was much more into music, not chart stuff but searching out what was cool and different (a legacy from an older boyfriend?) and that was viewed far more as a male trait than a female one. Jackie magazine? No, NME and Melody Maker. Cosmo? Sometimes, but I'd rather read Q.

So.. wistfulness? Yes. Regrets? Some. Would I have my time over? You betcha, I loved moving to Liverpool. But would I do anything different? You know what...I think I'd still make the same mistakes.

Enough. Navel-gazing gets you nowhere. Let me leave you with this, a favourite in the early 1990s which rings with even more resonance today.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Bloggus Interruptus

We apologise for the lack of service on this blog. Partly this is due to problems with Blogger on an old PC, partly to do with a large workload but predominantly to do with the fact that the author is a lazy git.


Must. Try. Harder.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Happy New Year!

Gosh it's been ages, hasn't it! Sorry, I am still alive, just life back teaching Juniors is far more hectic than I remember it. Either that or I'm more aware of what I should actually be doing to be effective...;-)

Anyway, here we are in 2009. For those of you worried that the Ravelympics were too, much, I'd like to assure you I made it through. I finished the Swallowtail Shawl and the Chevron Scarf I'd cast on for.

During the experience I learned:

I love watching the Olympics, especially as GB doesn’t field a soccer team so the BBC shows lots of other sports!
I can knit nearly 7 foot of scarf in 11 days (as well as working on 2 WIPs)
I can focus on a deadline and not be a butterfly brain
I can’t relax enough to knit at my Mum’s (hence on one WIP finished, not the hoped for 2)
I REALLY hate embroidering details (as witnessed by the fact that I didn’t touch Pondemonium at all)

At the beginning of September, I went to London to the iKnit Day, meeting up with Sock Knitter Extraordinaire, Mad Engineer and Mrs Pink from the Knutsford Knit Group. I actually went to Grant and Cutler, the foreign language bookshop first (just behind Oxford Street), and had fun there, then went on to the Royal Horticultural Halls ( a short walk form Victoria station) for the show. I think I was overcome by yarn fumes, to much to my friends' amusement, because I went a bit scatty. Squeee!

Whilst I was trying to pay for some gorgeous yarn at the Socktopus stall, I realised I didn't have my bank card.... ho hum. One quick phone call established that I had indeed left it at the bookshop (Doh!) who had kindly put it in the safe. I ascertained the closing time and agreed to go back on my way home to collect it. After a quick bit of lunch and meeting up with Mrs T (my first ever blog meet up, poor girl was not very well!) I went to stand in line to get in to the main attraction, the talk by the Yarn Harlot herself. For some reason that I still can't put my finger on, I looked in my bag for my purse.


Not a sign.

Imagine the scene - a queue of (predominantly) women, snaking around a building in drizzling rain. Buried in the middle of this queue is someone turning the entire contents of a knitting bag and some shopping out.

Yep. That was me. By the time I was finished, all WIPs were so tangled it looked like I'd kept a cat in there for a while.

Re-tracing my steps, I discovered my purse at Socktopus... where I had put it down to ring the bookshop to see if they had my card...

If I had a brain I would be dangerous.

Yarn Harlot was good, though. Many knowing glances were exchanged between SKE, ME and Mrs P as we sniggered our way through the talk.

Stephanie always starts here talks by taking a photo of her sock in front of the audience, so here is my photo of my sock as she takes here photo of hers.

Her photos are here. We are in the middle photo of the audience, six rows back on the right hand side as you look at it, but you can't see us. Our backs did make it into Simply Knitting magazine's right up, though. (Way to go girl! Matches my photo being on the front of Mathematics Today or some such journal back in 2005)

Anyway, after the talk, we decided to queue up for the book signing. Or more accurately, SKE, ME and Mrs P queued up whilst I tried to break the land speed record for crossing London to retrieve a bank card. I made it back in time and got Stephanie to sign my book and she even posed with my sock

The rest of the term passed in a blur, but thankfully without a Christmas play this year (the upside of life in Year 3)

I've cranked out a few hats, not touched any socks really since I finished those in the Harlot's hands and made a lovely jacket out of Noro that I don't have a photo of. I've also been on a crochet workshop and made a little bag that I gave to A's niece.

And finally...

During the last few months, several people, myself included, have been trying to sort out a long-running problem with a yarn company, who shall remain nameless here. As an offshoot, we've taken part in a gift exchange.At the weekend, the parcel arrived at mine and I chose these three things:

Some circular needles, a kit to make wrist warmers and some Fortissima sock yarn and a pattern. Thank you!! I replaced these with a Socks That Rock Raven Clan yarn, some Posh Yarn Cecelia laceweight and a little sock book and posted it on to the next person. A little yarn love can go a long way!