Friday, December 22, 2006

Would kick cat if she didn't believe that was a heinous thing to do.

I mean to say, can you imagine it? Moi?? She who runs around apologising profusely if she accidentally taps, kicks, knocks chair into or otherwise perpetrates any inadvertent, unintended bodily contact between her/feline??? Who suffers untold agonies in bed when aforementioned position themselves to their comfort, never minding that this has resulted in her having to contort her body into positions it was never intended to be in????

Enough, shut up already. What's to complain about? The Audible matter was resolved, that's something. I still don't know how - after "help" helpfully suggested three times that I try something I had already done, on the third attempt it miraculously worked. Still, what matters, I could then do the necessary, and now have an iPod filled with suitable material to get me through any sticky patches during the Festive Season. I somehow felt that "Bleak House" wasn't...quite...right. Somehow.

That's a 50% success rate.

So, obviously, the laptop issue was not resolved. You could say that. Oh, it arrived, eventually. I unpacked it with high enthusiasm, which rapid shriveled as I couldn't get the thing to fire up. Well, I did, a couple of time, and then.....nozzings. Deadness. I thought I was missing some trick, putting it down to age-related ineptitude (not having been born with a USB cable, just a regular old one) and the usual lack of any manual. But this morning, the DSM having taken it in to work for the big boys to look at, it Wasn't Me. There is something wrong with it, and of course it can't be fixed until after the hols as we are away.


All those good intentions of doing a little gentle work and some rather more serious playing, not to mention impressing the rellies by sorting out the answers to the King William's.

Or not.

Not to mention blogging. Never mind. Accept the will for the deed, and also please accept my very best wishes for the Season, whatever that may be. Quite fancy Yule, meself. Assuming that anyone is listening, except of course that it is perfectly ok to wish myself a merry, merry and a happy, happy. Yes, indeed.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Life's little essentials include for me a decent computer plus internet access, audio books on my iPod and good coffee. Thereby revealing at least three of my personalities, split or otherwise. To wit, the semi-nerd, as opposed to the back-to-nature-gal; and the caffeine addict, as opposed to the natural food afficionado. Although, upon reflection, coffee, the real stuff, is perfectly natural, so yah boo sucks.

This latter I now have before me, fresh, hot and flavoursome. And obviously, I do have a computer, or I wouldn't be here drivelling on. What I do not have is my brand new Dell laptop, which should have been delivered yesterday, has in fact been sitting in the delivery depot in Huddersfield for several days, and no-one has as yet telephoned me to say it is on it's way. And being me, I want it before we go to Cornwall on Friday - on the pretext of working on our Summer School course, naturally. Not for any ephemeral purposes. Oh, no, of course not.

Then there's the audio books. I have some unheard, but want to download some more of my purchases from AudibleUK. So why, pray, has it suddenly become impossible for me to do so? I diligently searched all the FAQs, tried all the suggested solutions, none of which worked, finally emailed their help desk, and all they have so far offered is a form response telling me to try all the things I had already tried, and not to expect any further communication unless this didn't work. Which I had already told them.

Pause for gnashing of teeth, rending of garments and slurping of much needed coffee.

I realise that it is not only the above that are making me twitchy. Add on to this seemingly incessant calls from insurance salesmen (because most of our insurances fall due around this time of year). But also add on the utterly ludicrous fact that I am driving a friend to a hospital appointment shortly, as she will be having drops in her eyes and wouldn't be able to see to drive herself - well, that isn't ludicrous of course, but being nervous about it is!!!!! Apparently, my dislike, of all things doctorly extends to this, too. Ridiculous, or what? Actually, there is also the minor matter of the horrors of hospital car parks, always several sizes too small for the volume of customers. That's going to be fun, but not a real problem.

I am just an idiot.

But an idiot who against all odds continues to make things.

More fingerless mitts

I like these. The fibre is some of Freyalyn's hand-dyed merino, spun by me very fine and navajo plyed. I have enough of it for wrist warmers, too, one of which is already done.

Still got the yak and the camel to finish, and holiday projects to sort out.

We'll get there, one way or another.

Friday, December 15, 2006

I should be asleep.......

But I ain't.

As is sometimes the case when I have been out for the evening, I get into bed, read a bit, talk to the DSM a bit, settle down.....and am immediately wide awake with no hope whatever of dropping off in the next hour or three.

So I have been browsing around on the internet for a while, but that isn't working. I could sit and spin or knit or even crochet, as a huge pile of mohair given me by a friend is begging me to turn it into a throw. But as a one-time-inveterate night owl, I am afraid that if I get immersed in something, I will never get to sleep, well, not before three in the am, anyway. And as I have to be up and doing and out tomorrow, albeit gallivanting to an exhibition with a friend, That Will Not Do.

I could try to blame it on Freyalynn's luscious offering at Coven this evening, a confection of very nearly fatless sponge, spiced apple butter and cream in the layers, cream on the outside and then a thick sprinkling of toasted almonds. But that wouldn't be fair.

I could try to blame it on the unspeakable weather today, dark, dark, dark, and wet, wet, wet and very conducive of a fit of the melancholy. That would be fair, but maybe not accurate.

Oh buggrit. Just when I have another hectic two or three days upcoming. Even though (mostly) enjoyable. As I said, out tomorrow, out at Guild on Saturday, including the Secret Santa for which I have completed an item!

(Oh, I have also, finally, completed those dam' Regia socks. I feel totally liberated. Now I plan the holiday/travelling collection, which should be yak wristwarmers if I can get the yak spun and dried, a new pair of socks, and a spindle.)

Sunday we go to York to pay the mater her Christmas visit. I have got her perfume, as she requested, and it is lovely, definitely one she will like. But I am not sure how she will cope with the name - Dior's "Pure Poison".

At some point in all that, I must, must write our Christmas cards, otherwise they won't get anywhere before next year. Harrumph. Maybe that's what I should be doing now.......

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A meme

I don't usually put memes on my blog, for no particular reason. But Woolly Wormhead published this one today, and it rather appealed. A challenge (in which I may have cheated slightly?)

One Word Meme:

Yourself: weird
Your boyfriend: soulmate
Your hair: plain
Your mother: self-centred
Your father: dead
Your favorite Item: spindle
Your dream last night: calm
Your favorite drink: chai
Your dream car: Jeep
The room you are in: stuffed
Your ex: nonexistent
Your fear: spiders
What you want to be in 10 years? balanced
Who you hung out with last night? DSM
What you're not: predictable
Muffins: bran
One of your wish list items: Snowshoe
Time: unmanageable
The last thing you did: crochet
What you are wearing: red
Your favorite weather: blue
Your favorite book: lots
The last thing you ate: tuna
Your life: developing
Your mood: positive
Your best friend: DSM
What are you thinking about right now? question
Your car: Suzuki
What are you doing at this moment: duh!
Your summer: busy
Your relationship status: long
What is on your TV? rubbish
What is the weather like? sodden
When is the last time you laughed? today
Who do you tag? whoever

A secret weakness for McDonald's

Or rather, the knitting equivalent of a greasy and revolting Big Mac.

In the interests of hanging on to the semblance of honest reportage I aspire to in this blog, I have to confess.

McDonald's scarves

I have a serious weakness for glitzy, bright and novel "fancy" yarns. With which to knit (generally) garter stitch scarves.

Hence my shame. I'm not even sure if I feel better for having got that off my chest. You see, I don't think I can stop.

Please don't despise me. No. Belay that. Do if you wish. I shall remain defiant and proud, just as I do about being an Archers listener.

(Ooh, it's the wedding this week!! They are trailing dramatic 'appenings, I do hope it isn't going to be a Rochester moment.)

Anyway, I found the darker and to me rather nicer yarn in Artfibers in San Francisco, and the paler in my LYS (which, did I say, is going to start running groups in the New Year. Watch this space.) The darker took longer to do, I think I was learning to grapple with 20mm needles, the hot pink one I knocked of yesterday. And be warned, I haven't finished yet, I have a lot of fancy stuff in my secret stash....

Meanwhile, the Jacob bag has not felted to my total satisfaction, so Will Not Do. So I have had a rush of blood to the head, and have something very quick and dirty on the hook. Might work. Also attempting to finally see off the Regia socks, so very nearly there, but not quite.

But despite all this indigestible stuff, I Have Ideas. Tenuous ones, anyway. Actually, lots and lots of them, not just for fibre stuff, for all sorts. I just need to be able to devote all day every day to doing it all. Hah.

Apropos of which, I had this hilarious conversation in the Optician's yesterday when I went to pick up my new reading glasses. The very nice receptionist, not too far from me in age, was talking about how she had been cleaning her FIL's house while he was away on holiday. Moving all the kitchen movables, and cleaning under things. Bottoming, as they say. Because men don't clean properly, they just wipe the bits they can see.

I said very, very little. After all, I only actually understood about one word in four.

Such a nice woman, for an alien. Or is that me?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Yaketty yak

And stuff.

I seem to have crammed a lot into the last few days, but without a great deal of progress on the fibre front.

But we have seen not one, but two operas, and done the greater part of the Christmas shopping!

First. The Jacob bag. Not looking too bad, but thus far refusing to felt, dammit. I will try a hotter wash, and see what happens, but I'm not convinced.

Jacob bag

Friday was hectic - I had my AH class on Friday. I had bought some lovely bamboo top and some Optim from Chameleon Colorworks when at SOAR, and from somewhere else - I can't remember where, except I know it wasn't from Janel even though she had some that I saw afterwards - some yak.

The bamboo and the Optim were pretty straightforward to spin. I like to do them shortdraw from the fold, and this was how I advised the group, although I did see some reverting to their preferred straight from the end of the top method. That's fine - I'm happy to encourage independence of thought! Opinions were very mixed on the Optim, and I was actually quite pleased that some of them, like me, found it lifeless to spin. Others loved it, though, and I had done my level best not to bias opinions before canvassing them.

Most struggled a bit with the yak, which surprised me not one bit, I had struggled myself. It is such a short "staple", for want of a better word. I love it, though, it is so warm and cosy in the hand. We carded it lightly first - I think it might respond well to being made into punis, but I decided to live with the barely irregular yarn I was getting without - and then used a point of contact method. I love this spinning technique, but students often have difficulty. It's all right for me, I'm the teacher, I make it look easy they say. I have difficulty convincing them that it is quite an easy method as long as they relax and have a little confidence. I show them how I am not "spinning" the down fibre per se, just letting it spin itself by gently easing the forming yarn out of the fibre supply. Some got it, others didn't. I need to do some more work with down fibres, I think.

The DSM dropped me off and picked me up, and we went straight into Leeds for the opera. We saw "Peter Grimes", which was wonderful, an incredibly moving performance. And long - we were late home, and as I had had an earlier than usual start.......

Anyway, we had decided that as we had to go back in to Leeds for the next evening's performance, of "La Voix Humaine" by Poulenc, we should go in early and knock off as much of the Christmas shopping as possible. I amazed myself by not conking out halfway through, and had my reward of a rather nice curry in a little restaurant near the Grand. Oh, and another reward of finding myself wandering past a small bead shop.....

The opera? H'mm. Liked the music very much, and the singer was great. Set reasonable, I suppose, but much more cluttered than I really liked. But the story and the character of the young woman and her unheard lover at the other end of the telephone? Needed a good slap upside the head, the pair of them. Having no sympathy whatsoever for the (central) character in a theatrical performance, or even a deep hatred, makes it difficult to fully engage. This is a young woman who should definitely take up knitting, spinning or better yet both.

Still and all, a nice couple of days. Today, a much gentler time, and I have even managed a little spinning. More yak - I have plenty left to make at the least some lovely toasty wristlets.

Time, I think, for a gratuitous cat picture. And thrown in for good measure, a gratuitous DSM picture. They come galloping to greet him when he gets home from work, and this can be the result.

(no subject)

And no, he doesn't have a string of Christmas lights around his neck.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Feeling foolish

That's me, today (just by way of a change.)

Finally got myself to the (what used to be called) optician (I can't spell the new title...) To my relief, everything checked out fine. I have to admit to still coming over just a bit apprehensive, in case anything has deteriorated in the previous twelve months, or in this case rather more than as I got a severe case of the round tuits. But all was well - very little change in the close vision and the distant is still absolutely fine for driving, I've got a whole line of letters to go before I'm in trouble! My friends the floaters are still not giving cause for concern, and apparently, something could be done if they get too bothersome, which I didn't know. So, all is looking good, and I;m just thinking that He Has Forgotten, when I hear the dreaded words "I'll just check your pressure, then."

Now, this very nice and efficient man doesn't use the puffer machines, which is one of the many reasons that the consultant recommends him. No, he anaesthetises and dyes the surface of the eyeball (pauses whilst half the congregation departs.) And then puts an instrument on this point, as I type, I am starting to feel the room spin round, too. I have, shall we say, huge difficulty in tolerating this. I know that there are far worse things that could be happening, but I could only cope with those with the aid of strong drugs. This is, I guess, what would be in my Room 101. That and slugs. (Did I ever mention the gargantuan banana slug at Muir Woods?)

I kept flinching back. He put in more anaesthetic. I flinched back some more. And he decided to give up. I failed. For the first time, too. Every time before now, I have gritted my teeth and hung on in there, but today I just couldn't. I feel so stupid.

It's ok, there won;t be any problem, I got so thoroughly checked not so long since. But the shame. I was telling him that it wasn't just me, that my sister was just as bad if not worse, and I could see this look on his face - praise be she's not a patient of mine!

I continue to knit. Amazing how long an i-cord strap can take, but it is done now and I am on to the final bits. If it looks anything at all like, I'll put up a photo, if not - well, I will confess.

Gansey - I don't want an authentic look this time. Actually, having seen genuIne fishermen's jerseys at relatively close quarters, I can't imagine that I would ever want authentic. Not such close quarters as a friend of mine....ahem. A story best left in the mists of time.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Just lean around it

The cat on the knee, of course. The one sitting there purring appealingly, with a sweet, innocent expression on it's face. But that is really bound and determined to Get In The Way, because all human attention should at all times be directed towards IT.

I know how to get it to move, of course. Well, there are two ways. First, just push it off. Or get up rapidly so that it tumbles to the ground before it can anchor into your leg. Or - no, there are three ways...(no-one expects the Spanish inquisition - lets quit with the numbering....) Cuddle it (it's Neelix); make a noise like a biscuit box; make a move toward the camera....oh, that did it!

My visitor departed yesterday, leaving the house feeling empty and quiet and me feeling not quite sure what I was supposed to be doing after a week of fun and frivolity. One thing I am aware of is what the French would call no doubt a crise du foie, brought on by overindulgence in meals out. Not only were we partifying with our guest to some extent, but we were invited to a friend's sixtieth birthday lunch on Sunday. And very good it was too, but yet one more rich meal....yes, I know, this is venturing in to the realms of TMI, so suffice it to say that I am at home instead of carousing at Salts with the Coven and sipping herb tea.

All my own fault, I have no sympathy for me whatsoever.

Other than that, I am knitting - still haven't finished the Regia wool/cotton socks, but am now on to the rib on the second, so nearly there. Also what might become a knit-felt bag for the Guild Christmas present exchange if I am very lucky, if not I will have to resort to fibre. I am spinning camel and silk still - got some more from Adelaide Walker, which I may already have recorded, brain fog.

No great inspiration or projects in mind, except that I have heard a lot of talk about ganseys lately. Now, ganseys actually figure in my heritage, in that I lived in Cromer, Norfolk for some years and my parents for even more. My mother's family had lived and had many connections there, including with some of the fishing families I believe, but my dear mama would never acknowledge that! Anyway, I am developing a fancy to knit myself one, and I have in the stash some dark alpaca and silk that would look good, I think. I shall continue to mull it over, and probably in the meanwhile knot another boa, if only to use up some of the ridiculous fancy yarn stash that I have acquired. I also need to finally decide what the camel and silk is going to grow up in to....

Meanwhile, I have an AH class on Friday, and I need to divide the yak into small quantities, likewise the bamboo and the Optim, for the latest "spin something different" day. Should be quite nice and gentle and good fun. Just as well, the DSM is dropping me off and picking me up so that we can go straight in to Leeds for the opera, and then just as if that isn't enough, we have another the next night. Sunday may just be spent quietly dozing over the knitting!

With a cat purring on my knee, of course. And maybe I'll even manage to get a photo.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

I'm still around

But a bit occupied to be very chatty at the moment.

My knitting course at AH was super, nice people, excellent tutor and I learned a lot, some of which will surface here from time to time. I can finally, finally do an attached i-cord, which might not seem much to the knitwhizzes of this world, but is a Big Thing for me. And as a consequence, I realize I can now do an edging on a shawl and attach it at the same time. In fact, I came away with the warm feeling that I had actually known more than I thought I did all along. Which as well as learning a lot in three days adds up to a very satisfying time.

I played hookey on one afternoon and took my digital camera for a walk. The fact that I ended up in amongst a group from a digital photography class running at the same time got a tad confusing, but hell, I enjoyed myself. Herewith a selection, with no explanation as I personally feel that none is necessary and anyone else must lump it! (I'm in that sort of a mood....)


Sensory garden

Walled garden

Fallen fruit

Woodland walk

Tree trunk

I do seem to have this thing about tree trunks, but I don't think I am alone.

I have a visitor at the moment, and the DSM managed to take a day off in the week by virtue of working one weekend day whilst I was away. So we went to Otley and Ilkey, and spent time and money at Adelaide Walker, which was necessary! We have to decide on fibre for our classes next year. Yes, really. We will ignore the camel and silk that |I bought to go with the camel and silk I bought from them back in the summer and that I am spinning at the moment.

Then we went to Ilkley and book shopped and a few other things. Like I actually to my complete and utter amazement managed to get the two pairs of ankle boots that I needed! and that are so difficult to get with my weird feet. Then we were forced to both shop at and have tea at Betty's. Oh dear.

I should be doing another batch of catch up ironing. I should also be doing some sampling of yak and one or two other fibres for my next class. But what I actually want to do and probably will do is sit and finish the latest toe-up sock, because I now feel the need to move on to other things. After all, I do have my guest to consider......

Thursday, November 23, 2006

And the rain (deedle deedle dee) came down....

Something like that, anyway. Track from "A Bigger Bang". I think. Could be wrong.

A combination of atrocious weather and what I think must be a discombobulation of the brain chemistry due to changing time-zones a couple of weeks ago (its a good enough story for me at the moment anyway)finds me chewing the carpet as I claw my way up from it. This had better be only temporary, or I will be appearing in the News of the World (shudder).

Of course, an excess of house cleaning won't have helped. Let this be an object lesson to me - never, ever go away leaving a house uncleaned after builders have been around. Yikes, enough to send anyone to the funny farm. It is gradually looking a bit more like its usual state of chaos, the DSM has kindly volunteered to finish up a few bits whilst I am away this weekend, and then next week I can tackle the new ironing mountain whilst sueb is here, so I have company to chat to the while.

In order to preserve some shreds of sanity, I have managed to do a little knitting and spinning. I finished a bundle of nice Freyalynn-dyed stuff, very pretty, should be enough for a sock. I would have a photo if I didn't have a head full of cotton wool. I have started spinning some rather lush camel and silk from Adelaide Walker, slightly tricky in that you might think it needs to be very fine with a moderately high degree of twist but it actually seems to prefer a medium thickness and as low a twist as is consistent with the stuff holding together. Might get to AW next week, and might get some more, if I can get a sample of this plyed and examined.

Have vowed and determined to spindle spin the pretty blue from Carolina Homespun that I got at SOAR, so I can try out our new Lizzy Kate, all this as part of the preparations for next years workshops. Another of which hove in to view yesterday, perhaps. Although that would be in 2008. Not sure that I can cope with this, and am sure that I definitely need at least a PDA. Preferably a Blackberry, but think they are too expensive. I also checked out the already spindle spun yarn, and find there is quite a bit of it - white, ready to be dyed. Need to assess, decide on what to make, and dye.

I seem to have found a lovely big bag of Wolf lichen in my suitcase. Dear me, it must have crept in there when we stopped to admire the view just where they had been doing some tree felling down the road from Granlibakken. What a good job that there are no beagles specially trained to sniff that out......So acid yellow and teal green sounds good, no?

So, I am off to AH for three days of knitting course. I used to hate knitting, but find that I have become more and more reconciled to it, and want to expand my horizons a bit. This is covering bits and pieces and joinings and finishings, all sorts of tips and wrinkles. Plus we are to take a bag or two of odds and sods and work on how to design what to make with them. I have a lovely bag of pinks and purples that a friend gave me recently that is just the job for that part.

This should hopefully take my mind off myself being negative and refocus me - AH is always nice to stay at and there are some friends doing the courses too. I intend to pack a bottle or two, and go with the intention of both working and relaxing.

Fingers crossed.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Rapid final rundown

I need to get the last bit of our trip blogged and return properly to real life! So I will put a few photos up here, the rest are on Flickr, and if anyone really wants to see them, just click on on and by the magic of the internet you will be transported.....

We did a little grockling around Tahoe....


Including the famous Emerald Bay that all SOAR photographers seem to have visited.....

Emerald Bay

Side trip to Fallen Leaf and Lily Lake, this being the latter......

Lily Lake

Near where I found more than one beautiful tree to photograph....


And then SOAR was over for another year, so we hit the road.

Emigrant Gap

If memory still can function accurately, this is Emigrant Gap. You can see why folk wanted to, emigrate, I mean. All that light and space.

This is the cabin we rented for the last few days. If we had spent the entire three weeks there it wouldn't have been long enough.


It is just outside Point Reyes Station, which felt like an exotic Hebden Bridge (although we do have good coffee too). Point Reyes itself, and Tomales Bay are lovely, and another fabulous area for birdwatching.

Please note the pink object toward the back of the photo. This was our own personal, private hot tub. Now, I have dipped toes in these things before, and always shot out screaming, never to immerse my entire body. This one was not only very slightly cooler, but it was our own, right outside the bedroom door. It would have been wussy in the extreme not to have had a go.


It was hot. Most of the time I kept the upper half of my body in the night air. And the first time, when the night was warmer and clearer, I sat in the garden for a good half hour to recover. In November. But It was good, ok, I admit it. If it weren't for the lace of flat space, not to mention the midges, I would be tempted......

Moving on.


The DSM reverting to childhood and pretending to be a buccaneer at Drakes Bay on Point Reyes.

(no subject)

Having a picnic in the car because of the howling wind outside, with an audience on the bonnet. There was another perched beside the car on the ground, a raven no less. Cheeky buggers.


And, finally, because we can't go to Northern California without visiting redwoods, a shot from Muir Woods which was not all that far away.

It is raining again today. As it was yesterday, which is no doubt one of the reasons that I succumbed to a massive fit of the glooms. Better today, despite the leaden skies and the off-again-on-again rain. Back to reality with a vengeance, she cliched. Including the fact that as I didn't get to cleaning the house before going away, it really is essential that it is done now.

But - there is lovely new fibre to spin and work to be done. Friday I was at AH, but my next class there is in less than three weeks and I need to do preparation for that. Saturday was Guild, quite nice, good to catch up with people. The next Guild meeting is Christmas and the Secret Santa, for which I am not prepared, so there is that to do, too. And then, next year is the year of the spindle spinning classes - looks like another one is taking shape - so I need to do lots of it, and actually make something, well, several somethings. Not a chore, should be fun.

Then, next weekend, I am back at AH on a knitting class. Yeah, need to get fettling those pointy sticks.

So. So. Right.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Further in and higher up

No, I'm not going to bleat about altitude again. Well, not much, anyway. It has been a great relief to me, trundling around the blogosphere as I have been, to read the complaints of other flatlanders who were at SOAR. We do suffer, you know. I can only suppose that the Interweave people, living as they do up in the higher reaches, simply do not realise what a sacrifice we make to attend - must be somewhat akin to walking backwards in bare feet up stony mountain pathways in Ireland, or something. Il faut souffrir pour etre in the company of fibre people......

It was good to be back at SOAR. It was good to be back at Granlibakken. There were changes at both, a new management at the latter, and probably simply the passage of time with the former. Not a diminution of standards at Granlibakken, certainly, but somehow differences, and it has got even more expensive. I suspect that one way or another we shall not be there again.

In part because of the cost, I gather, there were quite a few old-timers missing, and that makes a difference, too. Not that I didn't enjoy meeting and talking with quite a few first-timers who hopefully will have become old friends by next time, so do not get me wrong there. Oh, I dunno, quite hard to put a finger on whatever, so I will quit with the rambling.

The DSM's workshop was apparently excellent, and he certainly has a bagful of samples to back that assertion up. Mine was....well, probably what I had thought it might be. I did get a certain amount out of it, and found the mentor friendly, attentive, responsive......I just didn't feel that the content was quite there yet. Definitely not a total bust, though.

My workshop

This is our array at the Wednesday night review, that I had not a thing to do with as I totally and genuinely forgot all about it when I left the final class session rather early. Oops.

The Gallery was excellent this year. It is always good and interesting to see, but whoever set it up this year.....kudos. Beautifully arranged. A few pieces:

(no subject)

Gallery item

(No attribution, sorry.)

Bag by Sara freakin' Lamb

Bag by Sara Lamb (inexplicably christened "freakin'" by Stephanie Pearl-McPhee) No, there is not a moth-chew at the bottom - that is some deficiency of my camera-work.

Speaking of the Yarn Harlot. This was my first opportunity to hear her speak. And I really wasn't sure what to expect or if it was going to be my thing. In the event, - she was hilarious. She has the gift of comic timing - her material is funny enough, but not especially hilarious, witty, outrageous or whatever. But it is all in the way she tells it. Genius. And by the way, in the blog entry linked to above, please delete "pine-henge". It is "conehenge", cone to rhyme with Stone, you know, geddit?


Her is another incarnation. I know who two of the participants in the game were, but no more (I merely lurked and carried the odd pine cone to the great detriment of my fingers. Sticky things!)

One more photo, and then I'll end this.

Make gloves not war

I saw quite a few of these bumper stickers (top rightish in the image) around at both SOAR and elsewhere, and felt they deserved a mention. It's not a concept one can argue with, really.

Tomorrow, I'm off to AH to notionally "teach". They have been warned that I may not be entirely on the planet - well, less than usual even. I went to see a friend about 40 minutes away today, lured by the offer of free yarn (of which more later, maybe) and found that the jet lag hadn't passed quite as much as I had hoped, felt quite knackerated when I got back. Though, maybe that was an excess of kitten-lust. This was the friend with the Snowshoes from some many posts ago, and she has kept one boy for herself and he is utterly....bad. Gorgeous. Wicked. Horrible.

You get the picture.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

First proper installment

I have spent quite a chunk of today uploading the first batch of photos from my camera, which takes me conveniently to just before SOAR started. (In the process, I appear to have lost one of my favourites, of fruit rotting in a birdbath, and I am quite serious....poot.) However, here beginneth.....

Having survived the trip over pretty well, we still had no intention of doing anything other than taking life very gently and being good little tourists. So Sunday found us being bussed down to Fishermans Wharf to get on a guided tour bus for three hours of looking at San Francisco.


I have to say, they did it very well. Reasonable commentary, and three maybe predictable but no less enjoyable stops. First at the Mission Dolores, which we had thought about visiting anyway, so were glad to see - calm, cool and peaceful.

Mission Dolores

We spent more time in the garden than the chapel, of course. Which was where I saw my rotting fruit, dammit.

Mission Dolores

Next stop, Golden Gate Park, where we just looked at the Japanese Tea Garden, leaving the Botanical until our next trip......

Japanese Tea Garden

Even cooler and calmer, with a wedding party laid on.

Final stop at the Golden Gate, of course.

Golden Gate fog

A few more images, in no particular order.

Colourful SF

Lots of colour in SF, great murals.

Coit Tower mural

One of the murals in the Coit Tower - much better than I had thought they might be. We didn't do this on the tour, I should say - we actually are capable of getting ourselves around!

I have been to SF before, although never stayed in the city. I love the skyline in all conditions, but especially magically through the fog.

Foggy city

Staying in the city was a brilliant idea and we loved our visit. The hotel we had booked had somewhat disconcertingly changed its name, but was really good and still had the veggie restaurant attached. We Ate there twice, memorably. It is actually vegan and totally puts the lie to veganism being dull and worthy - best food I have tasted in years. Wow.

We were three blocks down from Union Square, which meant walking to pick up buses and cable cars was easy. On the way, we passed the gallery that had Ronnie Woods art exhibit - I had heard about this, but sadly we never made the time to go in. But from what we could see - a lot - through the windows, he is one talented artist. We shopped a little, but not too much, and as I have said had memorable visits to the Opera and to have dinner with Sylvia, Alfred and Marj, a huge pleasure.

It would have been easy to have stayed on for longer, but we had friends to visit over the other side of the Bay - oh, forgot to say here, even if I did earlier, had a good but chilly boat ride out through the Golden Gate and around Alcatraz, but still have no desire to visit it.

So, on the way to Albany, drove down the coast and stopped - wherever this is, because my brain has gone numb. Great waves, anyway - one of which nearly knocked the DSM off his feet by catching him unawares!

Making waves

Visiting was lovely, but our friends were at work during the day, so we took ourselves off on a wine-buying trip to the Napa Valley. We drove the road less touristy - the Silverado Trail, I think it is called. Gorgeous. So was the wine, which lasted us for the rest of the trip.

Napa Valley vines

Friday, we set off for Grass Valley, but not before discovering our friends' downstairs bathroom, full of delicious mermaids, of which this is just one example.


More visiting with friends, then a super birding expedition - who would have thought that a mocking bird was not much different from a little brown job (and who would have thought that LBJs were international!) - which got us back to dinner very late and somewhat in trouble, but kind souls had left us plenty of food. Then next morning we set sail again for Tahoe.

Donner Lake

Via Donner Lake and a convivial lunch in Truckee.

That's as far as I have got. More later, for those with stamina!

Monday, November 13, 2006

One eye opening slowly......

Why is Day 2 always tougher than Day 1? Yesterday, I was tired but alive. Today, well, it is not so clear-cut.....

So, no energy to upload and sort all the photos, and no coherent brain-power to round up all the good bits and write up the happenings. All that is coming to the top is the marginally gruelling return journey, involving the saga of Fluffy Bunny and Nice Guy. Yup, you got it - three weeks of possibly the best holiday ever, and all she can do is rant.

Our flight from San Francisco was scheduled to leave early afternoon, with a three hour (yes, really) check in. We got there on the dot. To find that there had been a medical emergency on the inbound flight involving an unscheduled stop in Canada, and we were pushed back five hours. So, OK, these things happen and they had rearranged our connecting flight from Paris to Manchester plus giving us the grand sum of $20 to spend on food (we bought Margaritas....). The airport seating was not comfortable, but we were in a quiet corner and had knitting. These we could survive.

Got on board, no more hold-ups, made our take-off slot. We were still climbing, when the young woman in the seat in front of me pressed her button and fully reclined her seat right on to me and my knitting without so much as a by your leave. I was not 'appy.

Now, I do rather pride myself on being a fairly tolerant kind of a character, always attempting to see the other chap's point of view. But there are a handful of things that I am adamant that I will not budge on - non-selective education, the NHS (and the immorality of the drug companies), stuff like that. Plus that it is a heinous crime to recline your seat more than the merest smidge on an airplane. It traps the person behind in a coffin, and if you hate it being done to you, there is no escape by you doing it in your turn to the next in line - just ain't fair. This is my viewpoint, and from it I do not waver.

Come dinner time, and there was not room for me to fit my tray in, so I got the flight attendant to get Fluffy Bunny (so called because she had on a garment involving a heck of a lot of artificial fur around the neck and had a kind of "gee, I'm so cute" air about her)to put her seat up, which she did with one hell of a bad grace, slamming it back the instant the trays were taken away. The DSM and I went for a wander after that, and he offered to swap seats with me - and I can't remember the exact sequence of events, but it ended up with them swapping seats so I had Nice Guy in front of me, on the inside seats. This lasted for all of ten minutes, at which point he rears up and around and says "ma'am? Ma'am? (I love the way young Americans are so polite when they are totally dissing you!) Ma'am, I'm trying to be like nice to you, but I can't sit like this, I'm going to have to let my seat back.)

Nice to me??? Patronising little git, what about being considerate??

There then followed a considerable amount of discourse, in which, believe it or not, I kept my cool remarkably well. This involved them telling me that as the seats could recline, then they were free to do so, which is of course perfectly true and I acknowledged in my turn. I was pretty incensed when Nice Guy then asked me how I expected him to manage with so little room, it was inhumane, so I pointed out to him that he was expecting me to survive thus, to which his riposte was that I should exercise my choice as they were doing, and I in my turn retorted that a) it was against my personal moral code and b) the people behind us had the bulkhead just behind them and so could not escape me......

I decided not to ask them to compromise by only partially reclining.....they had the right to do as they pleased.

Believe it or not, I did manage to doze a little (Nice Guy managed considerably more, and snored loudly for at least an hour). Eventually, the DSM and I did exchange seats so that I was on the aisle and could get up whenever I liked. The most galling thing was that for at least two hours during the flight, Nice Guy was out of his seat and standing.....grrrr.

So, Ms Fluffy Bunny and Mr Nice Guy on the Air France flight from SFO to CDG on 10 November - a pox on you! Or the murrain, or something. Quite apart from anything else, you prevented me from getting on with sock two of the Regia pair, and that's a crime. (I finished the first at SOAR, did the first of the Jacob ones, and nearly finished the second - not too dusty.)

The onward flight from Manchester was all right except for the last twenty minutes of descent when we were flying through some lovely Manchester weather and got tossed around like cooking popcorn, practically everyone (not many) on board turning delicately green.

But, hey, we are home now, have unpacked, drooled over all the lovely fibre and spindles and I have made a start on the washing. In the next few days, I hope to organise the photos, and write up the real stuff. Then I can really bore you........

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Deathing breeply

Because the air is thin up here. Two steps up, and I'm not a pretty sight!

Having a great time, what else can I say? Granlibakken is just as good as ever, and although there are faces missing at SOAR, there are still plenty of old friends not to mention new ones in the making. Our classes are interesting, and I will cover those in much greater detail when we get home.

I wish I could post photos - Tahoe is gorgeous at this time of year. After Thursday, when we have hit the market, we are going to grockle around the lake (including hunting down a bead shop that has been recommended to me) for a couple of days. After that we head back to the coast and more birdwatching. We had our first taste of that, about which I will also wax more lyrical later, with Sara's sister Sue last Saturday. I have to say, going out with an experienced birder is quite the experience. My World List has about trebled, if not more so.

And finally - as the clock is ticking down on this 'ere computer - Freyalynn! Conehenge lives! I'll try to get a snap. By golly, pine resin is hard to get off the fingers!

Friday, October 27, 2006

On the road

Not really, of course. I'm sitting down with a nice glass of Chardonnay newly bought from a winery in Napa Valley, plus a borrowed laptop. The sun has shone brilliantly (ok, a tiny bit of fog one day, but even that lead to interesting photo opportunities), it has not been too hot just bright and beautiful.

Our dinner with Sylvia, Marj and Alfred was wonderful, the opera was super. So, I had better stop using up all my superlatives before someone smacks me. We are with other friends tomight, and were last night, whichhas given me a chance to catch up on email and check in here. No photos, although I have lots already, I don't have the software with me of course.

So I shan't linger. Just proving we are still alive, having survived the flight. Which was not at all bad in the event, and - guess what!! Air France food is by airline standards edible.

On that note I shall leave you and go refill my glass and start anticipating the pasta with artichoke hearts I am being threatened with.

Life is such a pain, sometimes.....(exits rather rapidly!)

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Needles on fire

I can't quite believe it, but....I have finished my Noro socks! In rather less than a week!! Here's the proof:

Noro socks

Of course, the yarn is relatively thick for me and I used largeish needles, but even so, I am amazed with myself.

I won't start another pair before Saturday, my usual ploy is to put dpns in my glasses case and have yarn ready to go and then I'm all ready to cast on as the plane...casts off. About which I am trying not to think, as I don't like flying all that much (hah!) anyway, and the thought of an eleven hour flight is doing my head in.

So. We are about to set off. What with all the upheavals here, I can honestly say that I haven't given any of it much thought. Oh, we have made all the arrangements, of course we have. But it doesn't for once seem all that real. It will after that journey, I have no doubt. I have explained to the DSM in words of one syllable and several times over that I want a nice gentle few days drifting around SF, enjoying the sights, having frequent coffee stops, having afternoon naps if necessary, a bit of gentle exercise, nothing strenuous. We have a night at the opera to look forward to, and a dinner engagement that is going to be a real treat. Then we visit friends for a couple of days, then go hang out with more of the same for another dinner engagement. It's beginning to sound as though I need a social secretary........

Then it's Tahoe, and SOAR. I have heard very little internet chatter this year about it, who is going, doing what, so it is all going to be a big surprise, I guess. Nothing wrong with that! It will seem a little bit odd after a year away, I have no doubt. But I am very much looking forward to it, and particularly being back at Tahoe, it is so beautiful there. Which reminds me, I still have a bit of internet searching that I have to do, to check on boat trips......

When I get back, part of my return jet-lag therapy can take the form of blogging all this, links and all. This may well be my last post before we go, I doubt that I will complete any more projects. So, expect nothing for the next three weeks or so, and then a deluge!

Before I go, I have a photograph of the DSM and the cats, the former of whom appears to have decided that wearing a metal cap against alien mind-reading might be a good idea. Quite how he manages to spindle spin like this is beyond me.

tin hat on it

The yarn this time is so fine that it doesn't really show up in the photo, either.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The same part of a different forest.

Which has only the merest connection with what I am going to blather on about.

Began the day well? Not exactly! I overslept - not by a huge amount, but this would of course be the day that the builders arrived early. No doubt to catch up on being rained off by yesterday's deluge, which is very praiseworthy. But I did not enjoy being finally thrown into consciousness by heavy footsteps overhead (I have absolutely no idea what they are doing now, having finished the actual laying on of tiles). I then had a mad scramble into clothes just in case they needed access to the house, and once I start scrambling I find it hard to stop, mentally at least, so I am still all of a doo-da. Coffee appeals, but I hate to think what the caffeine will do to me - still, I have a hairdresser appointment at lunchtime, so that will calm me right down, always does.

There was another minor disaster this am, an' all. Went to take a photo for the blog, and find the shutter seemingly jammed on the Samsung! It may be as simple as needing the battery changed (crossing fingers, which makes typing difficult) At least if it is worse than that, we have time to take it in to the shop on Saturday with a day or two to spare before leaving for SF. But I could do without these little hiccups.

Now then. This was - is - intended to be a serious fibre post, believe it or not. Whilst having my breakfast in an unaccustomed spot courtesy of the early arrival of the builders, I noticed the DSM's niddy noddy full of his three ply sock yarn. It is beautiful stuff, spindle spun and plyed, and is going to make the most wonderful pair of socks. Worthy of a mention just in its own right. But what suddenly interested me was thinking about the yarn I had spun from the self-same fibre. (Well, not exactly, but you do know what I mean, so stop sniggering at the back, there.)

Now, as a teacher of spinning, and general all-round know-all, I often get into conversations about how the fibre dictates what the yarn shall be. To which I always reply, "Well, yes, kind of.) Because yes, it is true that you cannot spin a delicate fine laceweight yarn from Herdwick, if you get my drift. But I do know perfectly well, that the second half of my riposte, that it is the spinner that is in charge and decides on the form that the yarn shall take, is the fuller picture.

And here is the evidence to support the hypothesis. Please note the 50p coin for scale........

same fibre, different yarns

The upper yarn is the DSM's ultra-fine firmly-spun three-ply worsted yarn, the lower my medium weight, two-ply semi-woollen spun.

One of the reasons that I love this game.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

One FO and one very nearly FO

Here we have socks

silk socks

Finished 'em this morning. The photo does them rather more than justice, as the little plucks and fluffs caused by my knitting and also my knitting with pointed dpns instead of blunt ones doesn't show. The colour, on my monitor anyway, is pretty damn close. I might just be tempted to try another pair, our LYS has the same yarn and I rather fancy a cream pair. I'll maybe see how these wear, first. And it is always possible that this sockknittingfest will burn itself out......

Next up, I've decided, the Noro - if I don't get them finished before we leave for SOAR, doesn't matter. For travelling, I have the Regia wool/cotton, and my handspun Jacob now finished and washed. Should have done a photo of that.- oh, well, never mind. Hadn't spun Jacob for eons, and I am glad to see how different my spinning is! I also have some rather nice hand-dyed merino I bought off eBay, might slip that in as well. Just when I think I am going to knit other than on the loooooong flights, I know not - although I can knit when I'm not driving (you will be glad to hear). As the DSM gave in to my request for a hired SUV (just a smallish one, I hope!), I have promised to Do My Share this trip. And no, I don't feel like getting in to the argument just now, thankyouverymuch.

And the nearly FO? The roof!!!!! The very last tiles went on this morning, now they just have some pointing left to do, and the massive clear-up. Should all be done tomorrow, and the scaffolding down on Thursday as long as it doesn't rain too much. I just can't say how relieved I shall be, not only to have a good=looking and well-functioning roof before the winter sets in, but to have the crew gone. A nice bunch, pleasant and hardworking. But the constant bangbangbanging, smashing tiles landing in the skip, the clank of metal poles and roof ladders, whining cutters....the noise has seeped in to every nerve ending and twisted. Hard.

It means that I will have one week clear to get ready for our trip. I have barely even given it much thought, other than organising the necessary reservations &etc. Oh, and booking the necessary hair appointments (smirk.)

Washing, ironing, rounding up workshop essentials, packing. Hopefully we have back-up plans in place for dealing with the felines.

What is more, somewhere in all there we have a wedding anniversary. But by mutual agreement, we are not doing anything - we have sufficient excitement upcoming!

Two years time, will be a different story.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


I'm not, but in some ways I wish I were! It's been a long week, ending a tiring but most excellent day.

We were teaching at a nearby Guild, one we know and love of old. Wheel maintenance (originally booked as the DSM, but as he so rightly said, more my thing than his. Then the rest of it spindle spinning. Which went very well indeed, lots of participants, everyone including us seeming to have a good time.

Himself in action:

DSM teaching

And again:

DSM teaching

It had been intended just to do high whorling, including plying, but some of the overachievers asked us to look at Akha spindling as well. I left him to do that, my voice was beginning to creak a bit, plus I had various other queries to field. This is one of the really nice things about teaching together, we can divide our forces. For instance, I was showing one person how to do the Andean plying thing, and she simply could not get how to wind the singles around her hand, Could Not. I boiled it down to the minimum of extremely simple instructions, and even tried to get her to stop and think at the critical point, but nothing I could do was helping. So, I simply get himself to take over - gets me out of the predicament, true, but another eye, another mindset can just do the trick, and eventually, that is what happened. So, everyone happy, where's the harm!

We got home shortly before dark, and I just had time to take some photographs of the Virginia creeper, glowing in the low light.

It has been growing a bit, too! And please note the beech trees, from previous photographs, beginning to get a bit bald.

virginia creeper

virginia creeper

And I like the shapes in this one.

virginia creeper

We were pretty tired last evening, so were forced to down a bottle of Prosecco and order in an Indian takeaway. There was a Monty Python retrospective on the box, so putting all that together, it was a good end to a good day.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

And the rain....came down

Today it has rained. Today it has rained all day. Therefore, there have been no builders on the roof. Who can blame them? Certainly not I.

Dreaded cold went into the stuffed nose and cannot breathe stage, so I kind of gave up today. Ran an errand or two - in all the rain - came home and drank tea and knitted in front of a tape of CSI Miami, which seemed a not unreasonable choice, importing as it did a little sunshine into the day. Mind you, they really do use a weird colour balance for that programme, n'est-ce-pas? Anyway, galloped along the foot of silksock2 very satisfactorily.

I got to musing about using coins for scale reference in blog photos. Of course, we could just use a ruler. But then that has the problem of - metric or imperial. I can reasonably well use both for dimension, and probably regular cooking, although I am a little of this and little of that kind of a person. I always use metric for dyeing, but have difficulty with speed and temperature. So, maybe not.

Coins it is, then. So, for your handy reference, a selection of coins that might just possibly be found in blog photos....

(And, yes, I do know that this is a terrible photograph, it is about the sixth that I took and I have tried to fix it up a bit to boot. It gives the scale, live with it.)

coins for scale

On the left, from the top: fifty pence piece, twenty ditto, five ditto, all silvery coloured; centre: one euro, ten cent(european) bronzey, with a bit of silver in the top one; and finally, a dime (also silvery, and by george! About the same size as a five pence piece. I like to use the fifty because I like the shape and being larger, I am less likely to lose it. I took against fives when they first came out, and won't spend them - they all go in to my beach hut shaped money box. It has a seagull sitting on the roof.

So, bookmark this page for future reference, why not (bares teeth in a cheesy grin.)

I found the following in someone's blog today, and forgot to keep the reference. Apologies to the original poster, but I hope they will agree that this is worthy of further dissemination. I do so wish I were a few years younger and had kept my librarian skills up to date! An application would be out of here so fast...h'mm, wonder if that wouldn't matter so very much? A nice, motherly, mature older woman - what could be better? I could do the job with one hand tied behind my back.....

Are you interested in putting your library science education and experience to work in one of todayƂ’s most challenging, interesting and rewarding environments? T.. A.. E.. S.. is recruiting for a Chief Librarian to manage the Detainee Library, under the direction of the Joint Task Force-Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

In managing the Detainee Library, the Chief Librarian is responsible for providing, maintaining and developing library services and operations using reading, recreational games and puzzles, music, or electronic media. The Chief Librarian is responsible for selecting and maintaining a range of reading and recreational materials to reflect the needs of the patrons in terms of languages and appropriate/approved topics

This was from a perfectly genuine-looking website, by the way. Departs, shaking head in wonderment.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The tale of a freebie fleece part the second

I can't, in my befuddled state, remember how much I have already said about my freebie fleece(s) so if I repeat myself, too bad. (Now, isn't that an improvement on saying "sorry"?)

It was free, there was a mountain of it.

Fleece mountain

It washed up very well - white and crisp.

Drying fleece

Sample locks, one combed, the other not, with a fifty pence piece for scale.

(no subject)

One of the things that I have been doing whilst besieged by builders and now the lurgy is spindle spinning some of it. (Lightish-weight Hatchtown Farm spindle.)

In progress

It was in such good shape, it was nice to spin, even though it is, it cannot be denied, coarse. Definitely not next to the skin stuff.

freebie fleece yarn

Then I actually knitted a small sample.


I enjoyed doing all this, and it gave me a great deal of food for thought. (Of course, it is true that being in a somewhat weakened state what with the endless banging and clumping and clattering of the builders and the booming in my head from the cold, such thoughts may be ..... disordered, to say the least.) Be that as it may, I found myself considering the many things that could perfectly well be made from a fleece like this, walking socks, boot socks, blankets, gardening mitts for those damp chill days. I love contemplating the endless possibilities, just wish I could execute a few more of them!

And apropos of that...I have finished one of the silk socks and done the toe of the second. I am enjoying my sock marathon, too.

India asks when we leave for SOAR. Friday 20th October to an airport hotel, because I refused to get up at 2.30am to get to the airport from here and that saves a bit of time. The actual flight is early Saturday 21st October. Manchester to Paris, Charles de Gaulle, then on to San Francisco in one eleven hour long flight. Am I mad??? I have made it very plain that for our few days in the city, I need to be treated very, very carefully indeed. A few gentle tourist things and lots of coffee stops. It should be great, we have never "done" SF before, driven through a few times, but not stopped.

Then we are spending a couple of nights with friends before going to visit another friend on the way up to Tahoe City on 29th October. We are only doing a workshop at SOAR this year, going to spend a couple of days being tourists up there as well. After that, back over to the coast for five days in a yurt (with a wood-burning stove!)

This will all be extensively photographed and blogged when we get back, of course. I love boring people rigid with holiday snaps...

My head honcho builder tells me that we might have most of a roof back today! And tomorrow someone will make good the inside of the window. Could the end be in sight?