Friday, February 24, 2006

A goat and cabbage situation

By which I mean Max on our bed, Neelix under the quilt on the spare bed, and the cat box in the workroom.

Now, Neelix might if spooked go to ground between the truckle beds, and would then be impossible to extricate, or flee downstairs on to the top of the wall cupboards, equally problematic. Max, if spooked, would go to ground underneath our bed, right in the middle where I could just about reach him, but only with a lot of undignified acrobatics on my part and me with a slightly dodgy back.....

So, the plan I decided upon was to very, very quietly close the spare room door, so that Neelix might not hear any altercation, and couldn't escape in to the rest of the house. Then, with the workroom door and the cat box open, I sauntered through to our room and managed to grab one sealpoint before it shot off the bed and underneath same, rushed it into the box, and the first squeak only came as it got stuffed in, so surprised was it (surprise is key...)

Another, rapid, saunter to the spare room, and oh joy! One tabbypoint still slumbered under the quilt. I got a headlock on it before it knew what was happening, galloped back to the box, stuffed cat in and slammed, in a manner of speaking, the door close. Whew. Two small cats subdued and captured - doesn't sound as if it should present the challenge that it does, but please remember that these are siamese.

My planning skills are such that I should have been a captain of industry.

Chives! Celeste, how could I forget those. They grow better than anything else around here, and are one of the few things that sometimes self-seed. I love them in salads, and omelettes particularly.

And Charleen, I have only one word for you - groan. Unless, of course, what I should risk saying is maybe you don't know your rs from your elbow? I won't apologise for not resisting that - one of my late, lamented grandmother's favourite sayings. I'm sure that I have written before about these, but most are too indelicate to repeat in polite company. Every girl growing up should have a grandmother like mine, not that my mother would agree with that statement.

I've just had a look at the weather forecast for Cornwall, and I don't somehow think that we are going to get our balmy sunshine, picnics on the beach scenario Never mind - I'll make sure to pack the cossie for the pool, extra books and plenty of stuff to do, and we can laze in front of a good wood fire instead. Sounds ok to me.

So, off to pack. Dpns, sock yarn, cotton, charka......

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Spring or not?

I woke up this morning - ta da! - to a delicate frosting of snow around the house and along the meadow. Very pretty. It has all gone now, in fact it is raining quite steadily, although it is still pretty chilly. But. But, there are definite signs of spring, even this early. There are buds on the elder and the rose across the lane, and all the pots we planted up with tulips have pointy green noses appearing above the compost. What is more, the birds are warbling their little hearts out, despite the dank and damp. Best of all, there is a tiny clump of snowdrops up on the garden - I thought we had lost them all to the squirrels/mice/voles/slugs - whatever it is that considers a nibble of snowdrop bulb to be a delicacy. I would include a photograph, but I am double damned if I am going to go out into all that icy precipitation. We must just use our imaginations, eh?

Another redeeming feature of this morning is that I have been making soup, something that I love to do. I have undoubtedly rabbitted on about it before. I love the preparation - the rounding up of the veggies, the chopping, the gentle cooking in a little olive oil, the handfuls of herbs being added. Today, for instance, half a head of celery, four leeks and a couple of onions, three large carrots, two medium potatoes and a small swede. Red lentils. Sage and thyme. Yum. Simple, non-gourmet, but real food, honest food, heartwarming food. Can;t be beat.

As I did it, I mused on herbs. To me, parsley, sage rosemary and thyme are the British herbs. Yes, I know that the latter two at least are also quintessential mediterranean, but those four are the ones that grow best in our climate. Even rosemary, I usually manage to keep a bush going for a good while - I have lost one in the seventeen years we have been here, but that was a prostrate which I think are more vulnerable. One of the very, very few things that I regret about the dreaded Biggleswade is that in the warmer, dryer climate, I could grow more herbs, and even better, dry my own. An impossibility here, and there are many things that I would love to grow that are equally so. Basil for one - it will linger sadly for three or four weeks, and then quietly fade away. Indoors, not enough light through our small, deep windows, so the plants are spindly and unhealthy, eventually succumbing to white fly. It took me a long time to learn not to even try. Parsley gets carrot root fly, but will just about make it through the summer on an outdoor windowsill. Actually, herbs are in general pretty problematic in this cold and wet northern climate, and I have it in mind to do something very different this year, and move everything in to pots that I can make very free-draining and move around if necessary.

I can dream, anyway.

Which I did last night (perhaps why I am waxing whatever here, now.) I was the other side of the Hayle estuary (I don't know even if there is one...) The sun was shining, gleaming on the water. I was holding the hand of an unseen small person, looking towards a grey, stone house, with a short flight of steps leading up to the porched front door. "Granny used to visit that house when she was a little girl" I said.

I woke up feeling very sad.


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

So I am steadfastly ignoring the latest Bulky Club mailing from Lambspun, which has no less than THREE glorious mixes in it that I DO NOT NEED.

Several more bags are awaiting a trip to the tip. And, oh joy! I got to take a run out to Staples, my most favourite store of all time. Well, obviously, that isn't actually true, I'm not that barmy. But it is true that I do love stationery, and I absolutely adore plastic boxes large and small. The motley collection of boxes bags and baskets that were ranged along the gallery rail are now gone, and the half-quantity of contents allowed to remain are stowed in brand spanking new Really Useful Boxes and look a lot better. The rest of the room still looks like nothing on earth - just why does clearing out, tidying up actually create more chaos than it cures in the short term? Because I dunno.

In the process, I did discover a few forgotten treasures. I made these some years ago, and they had become silted up in the general stockpiling of things.

felt necklaces

I really can't remember when I made these, but they are kind of fun, and I might just resurrect them for the spring and summer.

I haven't got much recent activity. I have just cast on today the outer for the latest bag. I've threaded up the clear beads that I frequently use because they are slightly bigger than regular seed beads and move more easily on yarn. I'm doing it on needles a couple of sizes large than the inner (deliberately) and the fabric feels wonderful. And I continue to spin silk, which is always going to be a slow job on the Timbertops wheel. But looking quite good so far. The test is in the plying, of course, shows up all the deficiencies in the spinning - you can get away with murder with wool.

Which reminds me, and I will try it out and report back. I googled something the other day - sari silk, I think, but I really can't remember. And found myself looking at fairly few entries including one of my blog. Which was a surprise to say the least. But it did give ...

At this point, all sorts of weird things happened on my pc, so I am now feeling totally paranoid and probably won't attempt to reinstate much of my latest deathless prose. I had a lovely little rant all about avian flu, for one. However, the google game, in which I will attempt to include in the occasional post some combination of words that will show up in google relatively fast is too good to discard, although it will be done with caution and responsivbililty as I do not wish for any unforseen occurrences....I seem to remember putting something about it had to be a genuine subject for the blog, but topical/searchworthy. Hence avian flu and Turkey, involving my MIL and our upcoming fletting visit. but my brain has gone, and I think I need go hit the stash again. This is going so well!

Friday, February 17, 2006


I am so glad I am not signed up for the Knitting Olympics. I am sure people are having fun, but doing it all in a rushrushrush is definitely not for me. I am doubly glad because, oh horror! For the first time ever I have had some hand pain from knitting. The left hand, of course, where yes, I do know that I have some minor problem, a leftover from the days when I had a fabric shop and used my left hand to unroll the bolts of fabric. Of course, a repetitive strain injury.

It did eventually clear up, until a few years ago when I took up breadmaking again, and that did it no good at all, which is why the DSM is the breadmaker in our household. He's good, too, almost too good. He has strong hands, and probably slightly overkneads the dough, so it rises like the bejasus. Tastes good though.

But I digress. Knitting on little dpns, as I have been doing with both sock and bag, is obviously too much gripping. So I have distracted myself with this.


The DSM is doing a workshop on energised singles soon, and I volunteered to do some samples/possible projects for him. This is looking fun, but I am not sure if it is really going to be practical. I am aiming to either weave the ends in, or just maybe to leave them flying and lightly felt them. I need to experiment. I would also like to see some beads get in on the act somehow. But I do love how s and z spun yarns behave as energised singles, and it seems that these needles might be big enough not to exacerbate the albeit minor strain.

Another reason for being glad not to do the KO is that I therefore don't have to watch any of the O, except if I really, really want to. And so I have been able to miss absolutely all, thus far, of the housework on ice schemozzle. I utterly fail to see the attraction of sweeping a skating rink with a hairy broom whilst attempting to outrun a large rock. I do realise that I have just totally antagonised all my Scottish acquaintance; sorry an' all, but life is just too short.

And finally - thanks to yesterday's Guardian, I discover this website. Very cool. And what a lot of knitting, spinning, fibre, whatever blogs there now are. Can't be bad.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Wet, with sunny periods

Less of the former, more of the latter, actually. Very nice to see the sun. But there is a downside. When the sun attempts to shine through my windows, a) it has to struggle through months worth of accumulated grime and b)what gets through then shines on months worth of accumulated grime. So I have been forced to do a modicum of housework, and we all know how I feel about that.....

Actually, as of this moment, virtuous, of course. It won't last.

I played hookey on Tuesday, and had a day out with a friend to Borders in Preston. I do like having a mate who understand the principle of such - that browsing in a book store is something to be savoured, and not rushed. That is one of the reasons why Borders have cafes, of course. I do remember when they weren't Starbucks, but leaving aside their habit of taking over every thing in sight, they do to my taste provide relatively acceptable beverages - and sandwiches. Anyway, we had a good time, and I spent far too much money.

Coven beware! I bought a little book of baking. More experiments on the way!

I browsed the craft section of course, but found nothing. I did have a nice conversation with another browser about my curly crocheted scarf that I was wearing, and I was able to tell her how to do the knitted version, which was all very nice. But they need a new buyer for that department......

I am surprising people at the moment, infamous as I am for my non-belief, by searching for books on religion. For a few reasons. One, because in these times when disinformation is running riot, I think that having an inkling about Islam is a good idea. But also because many years ago, I did an essay for something or other on the history of religions, found it totally fascinating, and always wanted to return to the subject. For the same reason as before, now seems like a good time. Interestingly, it is proving hard to track anything down. Modern comparative religion, yes, but not the development or history. I shall keep searching.

Meanwhile, I have finished, technically, one Regia sock, but am not totally convinced that it is quite long enough. I might just have to take it back. Bother. The inner for my new bag is slowly progressing, too. This is the somewhat boring bit - much more fun to play around with holes and beads on the outer.

Then, as this seems to be a year in which silk is going to figure large, I am spinning some Royale Hare silk on my Timbertops, which might also be a mistake. I think I would do better on the Lendrum, with the superfast flyer. But I am such a wuss about using it, because I hate re-threading through the orifice and flyer arm when the yarn breaks which is does with monotonous regularity. (As a ridiculous aside, what a lovely onomatopoeic word monotonous is to type... onoto. All rhythmical and ditditditdit. Well, I know what I mean, anyway.)

OK. More vacuuming and dusting. Sigh.

Monday, February 13, 2006

One of those annoying posts....

Despite having one and a bit green socks, nearly one Regia self-patterning sock and a well and truly stalled crochet jacket on the go, I have cast on the Polwarth and silk that is to be a reticule. It is flamin' gorgeous to knit with. I do so wish that I had bought loads of it despite the cost, it was fabulous to spin and now a joy to knit. I have not thus far dyed it, it is a lovely soft silvery beige colour and I think will be just fine as is.

The stalled crochet jacket is a puzzlement. It looks ok, the yarn is fine in double (single) crochet. But it is simply not inspiring me. I could just keep it to one side, or I could allow myself to own it as something that is never going to work out, and riiiip. I'll wait until we get back from Cornwall. I'm going to take all the little things, a spindle or two, of course, and my charka. I often take it to Cornwall, it is so transportable, and I can leave it set up to work on just whenever. In the stash busting exercise yesterday I found some lovely plummy dyed cotton that I had forgotten all about, and am intending to take that. I am so looking forward to it. I get to see the sea every day; often when we go at this time of year, the weather is great and we can picnic on the beach, all wrapped up in sweaters; and if it rains, the farm where we stay has a swimming pool, and swimming is one of the things I love to do. I don't crave millions and squillions of £££ and a life of luxury, but if a leprechaun ever gave me a wish, it would be for my own littswimminging pool. I don't hold my breath.

Now. Annoying. I really hate it when bloggers come over all arch and secretive. "I've got this great big whopping thing going on, but I can't tell you all about it just yet. Giggle."

Well, guess what, sweetie pies. Now that I have a dear little secret all of my very own, I've suddenly found it is quiirresistibleble. Something - for me - marginally exciting has happened, and I can't spill for a day or three. It is particularly frustrating as the DSM is away on business (in his suit, for heaven's sake, I sometimes forget that he (we) are grown up) so I can't rabbit on to him about it even. Ah, well. Not really all that earth shattering, but.....

Soon. Soon.

(PS. Blogger did one of its everlasting publishing glitches, and this post has some sweet little hiccups in it. Can't bear to change them, sorry.)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Sara, be proud of me (us)

I am shaking. I can barely breathe. I have disturbed the dust of ages, and debris from ancient stores of mohair, angora and camel coats my mouth, nose, sinuses.

We have been clearing out the stash. Chaos reigns.



I spoke about what the plan was to the DSM several times, very slowly and clearly. I'm sorry, I don't mean to be unkind, but this was the sort of enterprise where long-term partners of the male persuasion tend to go very deaf, and extremely nasty incidents can occur. I really did not want that to happen, this was going to be stressful enough as it was. It worked, we have survived, and the stash has been reduced by maybe as much as 50%.


We have been meaning to do this for ages, and the final spur has been the Guild announcing a sale day next Saturday. Some stuff that has been removed is perfectly usable, but not by me. So a couple of bags will be going there. I have lost count of the number of bags that are going to the tip. Some fibres don't keep well - they tend to compost. Angora (which I loathe, why is it in my stash in the first place?) compacts into thick boards. So, sadly, does cashmere, but not much of any real worth went. A lot of stuff went because it had become the casualty of teaching. I sort out examples of fibre to teach a class around, and by the time I have samples, the class have looked and played, it has travelled back and forth a bit - well, it is all a mess. Ba-boom - byebye.

I also have chucked sackfuls of spun yarn. Handspun. I looked at it, and thought - just whythef...did I ever do that? No way in about ten million years was I ever going to use it, and I couldn't think who would. Not even any good for charity knitting as it wouldn't go through the washing machine. (Some proofs of that bit the dust, also.)

I can't pretend that it hasn't been stressful. Your own handspun yarn, no matter how ghastly, is always just a little bit precious. But I do feel liberated. All that detritus has been holding me back. Now I can plan new projects without the guilt of all that archeology dragging around my ankles (pity other aspects of our histories can't be treated in the same way.)

And great plusses - enough very nice natural coloured yarn for at least two sweaters arose from the depths. A whole pile of weavette woven squares, enough to make a bag, that I had been looking for for ages likewise. Lots of delicious fibre, much of it that I had forgotten all about, projects galore there. (But just why we have so much cotton, I can't pretend to understand.)

And a cute little felted bag I had forgotten all about - I am sure I can do something with this. Can't have too many little bags, anyway.......

grannyw's little bag

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Core lumme

India quite rightly asks me what I mean by putting a core in to a centre pull ball. Makes it sound oh so technical and complicated, doesn't it? It isn't - quite simple, really.

Most frequently, what I do is this:
centrepull ball

It is relatively easy to slide the wound ball off the centre spindle of the ball winder directly on to a nostepinne, and then just keep it there for the duration. An advantage of using a noste is that it is easy to slide the ball to the end for ease of plying, something less manageable if you go the other route of using a toilet roll inner or any other roll of stiff paper or thin card. If you only have a small amount of yarn to ply and you are absolutely certain that you will finish the job in one session, then and only then you can just use a thumb or finger, but don't say I didn't warn you....

Why do it at all? Because if you have a very fine, relatively highly twisted single and you make a centre pull ball to ply it, then if left unsupported the centre of the ball WILL COLLAPSE in on itself. Then the fine strands will tangle together and before you are aware of what is happening, WILL pull out in a nasty tangled mess that will prove impossible to sort out. Yes, this will happen. How do I know? Silly question.

If I am wanting to ply a fairly small amount of silk or other fine yarn that is particularly precious, I will go as far as splitting it in two and using two bobbins. But there is usually a little bit left anyway. And I do realise that this seems such a very elementary point, but it will save an awful lot of high anxiety and bad language. If you remember to do it........

A few days ago, I toddled off in search of tea and socks. One I made and enjoyed, the other sort of sidetracked itself into this

bead wire knitting

I have mentioned this before. Still isn't finished. I am really not sure about it, so putting it on one side so I can mull it over does make sense, and is not just avoiding the problem. One thing is certain, I am not going to pull it out, so I guess I might as well soldier on and get it finished.

But I did eventually start the Regia socks.

sock (regia)

These are the knitting equivalent of eating too much chocolate. Lovely and comforting at the time, but just the tiniest bit icky. Still, I am going to press on and attempt to beat my own (unquantified) sock knitting record, because the Online Guild has a toe-up sock class starting next week that I want to participate in. And before anyone asks, no, I haven't finished the green socks, and I have absolutely no idea why. Weird how that happens.

Which reminds me. Of course I am not doing the ruddy Knitting Olympics. Silly! But I hear that there is a Team Cambridge, so might just have to wave a pom pom or two. (Looks furtively over shoulder to see who just said that. Me? No, surely not....)

Monday, February 06, 2006

Monday, Monday (again)

So, like I am supposed to be better. Indeed, I am, in the strict sense. I Am Not As Befuddled As I Was. Am I bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, glossy-coated and raring to go? Er - no. glossy-coated, actually, maybe. I went to be pruned and polished up by the hairdresser this afternoon, so I am spruce and artificially shiny for a few hours. But , hey, it is still February, the sun ain't shining, and I still have a cough.

And I am sick to death of moaning, so ...poof! Be gone.

I have finally, finally finished the Dutch Spiral bracelet. I sadly can't say that I enjoyed doing it, the tension was a bugger. In the end, I restitched over most of it when it was finished - in fact, I was so assiduous that it damn near wasn't long enough to go around my wrist, I tightened it up so much. Now, I do realise that my technique was way off, but it does seem to me that mixing beads of such very different shapes as well as sizes is something of a recipe for difficulty if not disaster. So, I will try it again, but maybe with just different sizes of seed beads or summat. I love spirals, and I love the undulating nature of this one, but it certainly didn't come easy.

What is more, I have played around with the photograph in Paperport, and it looks a little in your face. I realise that my basic problem is camera shake - if/when I get a new camera later this year, I believe that this problem has been addressed, so people looking at my digital images will no longer feel that they have been on a week-long binge, perhaps? Perhaps.

Dutch spiral bracelet

I had hoped to have finished my first knitted wire beaded cuff, but not yet. I don't like the fastening on it as per the recipe, so am thinking of a button hole and a beaded button of some sort. I found a very simple one via the internet which might do, and I have a few books I can check. Don't want to use a form, or indeed do anything at all complicated, this is just a first attempt.

I did finish plying the polwarth and silk. I did YET AGAIN (pardon the caps, but it is so STUPID) my usual mistake with very fine yarn, and did a centrepull ball for part of the plying process without putting a core in. I tell students never, ever to do this - why the FFFFF don't I tell myself??? So I have one good skein, and one full of knots and joins and bad plying and bad language. Fool. Foolfooolfoooolfooool. Idiot.

Yeah, so you see, partly better, somewhat improved.


Friday, February 03, 2006

Timely remedies

I did feel a faint glimmer of hope this morning, when I desperately craved coffee instead of tea. The physical crap is waning. The mental sludge that this dear little virus leaves behind will, I fear, take longer to do battle with.

But I have had unexpected help! (I am even allowing myself a ! or two to celebrate.)

Back in the autumn when I couldn't go to SOAR, I organised myself a personal shopper. The dear soul, despite having quite a bit on her plate herself one way and another, did me proud, and today the box of goodies, by glorious serendipity just when I really needed it, pitched up on my doorstep.

SOAR market fibre

Fibre! Morgaine's special show mix, which looks really subdued and brown here, but is actually a very subtle and interesting red rock country colour, a mix of romeldale, silk, silk noil and tencel. The previous year's lot was a joy - I am very much looking forward to spinning this. The blues, purples, teals and red (oh, how well they know me) are Royale Hare, carefully selected by my shopper and Karen. These are not going in to my stash. These are therapy, and will be spun up immediately.

Phreadde's hooks etc

Then here we have a Forrester supported spindle, to replace one I have lost somewhere between here and Cornwall. I love his spindles, and these are particularly good. Another trip to Cornwall is in the offing, so, just in the nick of time....

Plus, oh, less than three of Phreadde Davis's fabulous crochet hooks, which are things of beauty and great to use. I especially love the dark purpley one that reminds me of dichroic glass. And a couple of dizzes, which for some reason of temporary (who am I kidding?) insanity, I think should really be "dizoi". Which somehow sounds vaguely Greek, which it is all to me, I merely failed five years torture of Latin, which surely would be "dizii"?

Look, I'm sorry - well, I'm not. But a little gentle hysteria and insanity is surely preferable to black despair? All this unseemly aquisitivenessity helps, as does lunacy. I realised this morning, as the sun failed to rise yet again, that I have complete justification for watching Australian soaps and CSI - it is the only way I get to see blue sky. Continuing therapy will be to drag the DSM out for a latte tomorrow at Mooch, which continues to be probably my favourite cafe from our wide, very wide, choice; and to get on with all the yummy spinning.

Couple of bead FOs soonish.....

And, hey, erstwhile personal shopper type person, if you are reading this, let me know how goes the day?

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Products of a fevered mind

Quite amazing, in fact, that there are any products at all. The mind remains fogged in its black hole, with homicidal tendencies (snarl) The rest of me, with attendant symptoms, trogs on.

One thing you can do when sick is spend more time (and money) on ebay. I have actually been very restrained. I have only bought this.

Opal yarn

Yes, I could have done it myself - and may even do so. But this sort of said "I might cheer you up" to me. It is Opal handpainted sock yarn, called something like "Hagebutte" (I promise, it really is something like that.) I feel in the mood for knitting socks again. Which is good. Feeling like doing stuff like that is good.

Then, there is the latest scarf. If the lurgy makes you incapable of doing anything other than yomping through the stack of CSI episodes you have stored on tape just in case you ever get around to watching them, you need to have fairly mindless projects on the go alongside. This fits the bill perfectly. I found it earlier in the week when blog-surfing and touched down here. It is a nifty little thing, very quick to do, even for me. Although something of a pain to knit, actually, what with multiple yarns on big (in my case wooden) needles. Not sure if I will ever dare actually wear it, though?

I then cranked up the befuddled brain and attempted to photograph it being worn, and as I didn't have a bearded gent handy, tried self-portraiture. H'mm.

First, stages to completion. This is it with the knitting finished.

scarf uncut

Now unravelled and uncut (and boy, don't I know how that feels....)


And finally...




Some improvement, I suppose.


At least I remembered to switch the flash off. Although, with it being such a grey day, and fact that the only suitable mirrors in the house lurk in corners behind doors (now I wonder why that is?) what you are supposed to be looking at is none to clear anyway.

Ah, stuff it. I tried.

At some point during the process, I realised what I (we, in fact, this is becoming the latest trend to jump on)was doing - knitting chenille. Although called the steeked boa - which indeed it is - it is also, as far as I know as a barely-weaver, done on the same sort of principle as weaving chenille. This, I think, demonstrates some rather nice serendipitous linking-between-discipline circularities, which pleases my tiny (and febrile, remember) mind.

Tea. And socks. (That's socks.)