Monday, December 31, 2007

The last post of the year

There has been an echoing silence from me for the last few days. Blame that on a lovely quiet Christmas holiday, but mainly on the second cold. This has occasionally happened to me in the past, that I get a series of the little buggers. Generally when I have had a few stressors to contend with, and then my immune system takes a nose-dive....but it's all too boring, I'm fed up with it, and hope that the slow return of the light and the promise of the things to come will help restore equilibrium.

I have to confess that not a great deal of fibre stuff has gone on recently. Courtesy of the same reasons plus a liberal application of heavy dark grey skies so that it hasn't got really light all day. Definitely not conducive to arty-crafty activity.

But with a bit of luck, it won't be many more days before we notice the day gently and gradually reaching outward, lengthening. That will be good.

So, firstly, and finally, a photo of the completed Jaywalkers.


I think it speaks volumes when I say that I do not as yet have another pair of socks on the needles. I have found a pattern, and I do, of course have sock yarn. No more excuses! I'll cast on tonight. (Sometimes motivation just simply has to be a self-administered kick up the backside.)

Then there is this.

cashmere scarf

All wavy and wiggly as it is. Hasn't been blocked. And that because I am going to dye it. Plus the fingerless mitts, one of which is cast off but not yet finished, the other cast on. (So I have been doing something.) Warm? You could cook a hot pot in these. I have no clue when I shall ever wear them, except maybe once or twice a year during the cold snaps.

I have been spinning a little, too, and enjoying it mightily. but I need a Project. Spinning-wise, I mean, and knitting. Although I have some quite interesting yarns sufficient for a largeish project all ready to go, or nearly so. Another kick coming up.

I am not, at this point, going to philosophise, rant or anything like that. (I might just, later, if the cannon fusillade happens again.) We have friends coming over for a by now ritual New Year's Day meal, and I have a bit of preparation to do - sweet potatoes, red peppers and onions are roasting in the oven for soup as we speak, the smell is tantalising. There is a pizza and mulled wine to be done for supper.

So I just want to wish us all a very happy New Year. It would be nice to think that in all sorts of ways it could be a more peaceful one, one that is more creative than destructive, more stable than knife-edge. This year, I have no "resolutions" formulated at all, other than to aim to be more what I want to be than what I think I should be. Clear as mud, eh?

All the best, what?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

The end of a busy week

Wednesday, trip to Ilkley with the DSM for goodie-purchasing and a lovely lunch at Betty's.. I drove us back over the moor and there was the most beautiful crimson sun setting, a ball bright enough to be glorious, but cool enough to look at obscured by pearl-grey clouds as it was. I just wish I had had my camera with me. Ah, well, we saw it.

Thursday, a shopping marathon - for food. Supermarket, then town. It was all accomplished, is all I can say. Phew.

Friday, regular class at AH. A big gathering, two complete beginners, so a lot to get through. It all seemed to go well, and one of the beginners fell in love - I do like being in at the start of the addiction. Excellent Christmas lunch, a cashew and carrot timbale with cranberries and the most luscious roast potatoes you could ever wish for. And Barbara gave me a jar of home-made lemon curd, oh yum. I love it. Spoiled for choice as what to do with it - I do have a recipe for an icecream that is to die for. (Double cream, natural yoghourt and a jar of lemon curd - easy or what??)

Saturday, over to York with a festive picnic with the DSM and my sister to visit the mater. We had a nice time, did the present unwrapping bit, enjoyed lots of smoked salmon and prawn cocktail and salads and nibbles and cheesecakes. All courtesy of My Sainsbury, but surprisingly good none the less.

We left early, and stopped at the Leeds Showcase on the way back to see "The Golden Compass". Loved it. Lyra is perfect. Not so sure about Mrs Coulter, but I am not a Nicole Kidman fan. Apparently, there is speculation that the rest of the trilogy will not be made because this one didn't gross enough in the US. That will be a real shame, it's a delight.

Anyway, were back in town in plenty of time to have a nice meal at the Thai restaurant, and then, totally knackered, home and to bed.

Because Sunday has been a busy day, too, with an exciting pre-Christmas trip to the tip, some tidying and hoovering, and general stuff. All rendered so much more enjoyable, because I realised last night, all of a sudden, that I had been given an early Christmas gift.

Another bloody cold!

I will not repine, bleat, moan, bitch, whinge (much.) Nearly everything is organised, and Christmas Day my sister will be here to help the DSM if I am hors de combat. I have a week of leftovers organised, so I can sit wherever and watch dvds, knit, spin, sleep, read my presents (or earlier ones still unread.) And coast into the New Year gently and serenely, if with a drippy nose.

If I don't get to blog again......

A Merry Christmas to you one and all.

(To coin a phrase....)

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A bit of hall-decking and ho ho hoing going on

And precious little fibre activity. Other than some therapeutic knitting and spinning.

Some of which took place at the Guild Christmas meeting on Saturday, a lovely day. We just spin and chat and exchange gifts in a "Secret Santa", not organised but one parcel per person piled up in the middle of the circle from which we all take one. It did occur to me this time that possibly one could simply remove the package brought and that way get something wanted, but it would probably be a bit tricky to guarantee. And by and large we do pretty well.

A funny thing. There has been a bag of fibre following us around the country, a gift from a SOAR friend, handed over to another who thinking she wasn't going to see us gave it to someone else.....and we finally had it put into our hands on Saturday. Out came some gorgeous dyed wool/silk mix, shades of green and teal and purple. "Oh, lovely" I said. "Very like the fibre I am spinning right here and now, bought of eBay a while back" Picking up aforementioned, and waving it at the assembled company, before stuttering to a complete standstill. Like? Like?? It was identical. A mildly interesting conundrum, as the gift came from a vendor who does not have, as far as I know, any outlets over here. Or maybe she does........ Sweeet.

Moving on - we had the "wedding" party to go to that evening. Another very nice event. The bride, bless her, wore her wedding gown, all train and corset bodice, and looked charming and very happy. Good to share in something like that.

The bedecking began on Sunday, after a trip to the Farmers' Market to pick up the wreath for the door, but not get veggies as they are back next weekend, goody. We rescued the tree from the cat (sorry, didn't have the camera handy, as he looked very evil peering out from between the unornamented branches.) Covered it with the usual stuff, hung a few thing around and about. We have more to put up, but ran out of oomph. Tomorrow, tomorrow. After the DSM has done some work at home, and we have been over to Ilkley to get the Betty's necessaries.

Today was the Book Group Christmas/Yule/Solstice/Midwinter knees-up. Most of us were driving, so didn't have wine (note to self - see if that can be altered next year, even though it is a mile and a half steep pull up home....) Reasonable food, excellent company. Nineteen of us crammed in to one not very large room.

I came back, and made a pan of soup for supper, and then finished the veggie sausage rolls and mince pies - such industry! The pastry worked out better this time, much to my amazement. I'm not making anything else in advance, no room in the freezer for one thing, not really necessary for another. We'll do the usual nut roast (more or less the only time we ever have one, and it is a humdinger, two different nut layers and a mushroom one in the middle) on Christmas Eve before we feast on an easily cooked side of salmon.

I need to stop this, I am starting to drool.

Before I go, I can't resist, though I have tried everso prediction about the state of the DSM on Friday night was woefully inaccurate. He got of the train hiccupping - and with a silly grin on his face. I force fed him several glasses of water and he was all right by Saturday lunchtime. Although he did confess to me that he had been soundly teased by his co-workers on Monday.

Silly boy.

Friday, December 14, 2007

A day to myself

Well, sort of. The DSM has his work Christmas dinner this evening, so I did the 50s wifey thing and drove him down to the station in the frozen dawn to catch a train, and I will pick him up there again at some point this evening. "Honey, I'm on the tra-ain..." Hopefully not too boozy a returnee - likely not, as not his habit these days.

Thank goodness. There are some advantages to growing up/older.

Theoretically, that means I should have had a very profitable day doing my own thing, but the proximity to Christmas has meant pretty much otherwise. I had to do a Post Office run for starters, although it was a real pleasure to go out in the crisp, frosty air.

Then it seemed the golden opportunity to wrap the DSM's pressies and stash those away, and then start on the cards. What do you mean, yours are all done already....this is early for me! Which is why no-one overseas ever gets a card from me, by the way. By the time I start to think about it, the last posting times are but a distant memory.

But I did spend a little time with the -um - is it Meadow Flowers? The shawl from Knitters' Stash, anyway. I am up to all of row 21. It's going to be a long, long haul. But the yarn is lovely, a pleasure to work with. And hey, guess what - at coven last night, I finished the Jaywalkers. All bar the Kitchenering of the toesies, anyway, which I might try to do this evening. I hate doing it - only did it this time because I wanted to do these strictly according to the recipe before starting to tinker with the next pair. Whatever, they look good and I will photograph them when done.

Speaking of photographs. I am playing around with an outline and a proposal for a new workshop. Spin to Knit. Having decided that this was A Plan, I then found that some others had also come up with the Same Plan, but too bad. All completely independent, and we will each bring our own inimitable charms to the subject. Anyway, I spent some time this morning taking and "editing" photographs to go along with. It's too much fun, that, terribly time consuming.


So there's socks.


And a detail of my latest shawl.

purple cable sweater_phixr

And some of the DSM's nice cable work - the colour variation in this is in the yarn, by the way. It is one of Rovings colourways, one of the "Autumn Garden" incarnations.

But I'm going cross-eyed now, what with lace and the computer. So - feed the mogs, feed me with a nice bowl of wholemeal pasta and veggies, and then tidy up some loose ends spinning-wise. We found last night that we can get more Freeview channels now - maybe because the leaves are all off the trees, and I'm not joking. Anyway, one of them has an epi of Deep Space Nine, and I'm going to treat myself to that. I need a rest - tomorrow is the Guild Christmas meeting and we have, amazingly, a party to go to tomorrow evening. I think I've forgotten what to do at such, it is so long since we've been to one!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

On the up

soar lapcover

The SOAR lapcover. Now a treasured possession.

sheep thrills hat exchange hat

The Sheep Thrills hat exchange hat. Very cool. Or rather, not. Of course. Toasty warm in fact.

Which in view of our present weather is no bad thing. This is Day 3 of dry, bright, frosty weather. Could I be more pleased? Not a lot.

Morning of Day 1, the power was off. Despite the cold, there were compensations. Young men swinging through the trees with chain saws again. And as if that wasn't enough, they were there to clear growth away from power lines, and in so doing they have reopened our view down the valley quite a bit.

view from the window

Sorry about the blurry photo, this is through the bedroom window. But, see! Sunshine! The white stuff isn't snow, it is hoar frost. We haven't had much of that over the last few years, so that is a real pleasure, too. Same the next day, and today, although not sunny today, just bright. Still good though.

As I result, I have felt much more energised. Sadly, this hasn't really translated itself into craft activity, but I am getting some housework done before Christmas hits. I have finished spinning the AF batts (not the Batt Club ones, still no sign of those, sadly). I have to say, doesn't look as if I did all that good a job, but maybe it will not be too bad when washed and beaten in to submission.

I have done this:

new beady thing

Now framed and ready to be given as a small wedding gift to someone I don't know all that well, and whose taste I am unsure of. At least I have taken the time to make something - which she will appreciate - and it could look good hanging in the downstairs loo!

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Another small pleasure....

I'm a sucker for doing online quizzes, but rarely put the results on the blog. This one I simply can't resist!

As part of the publicity for "The Golden Compass", you can go to the website and discover your daemon, something I had always wanted to do. Mine is Alexius, an ocelot - what could be more perfect than that?


And the rain it raineth every day

But sometimes it just doesn't seem to matter.

Even when in attempting to include a photograph in a blog entry, the camera battery whimpers and faints, and the spare one has been put in a safe place and so cannot be found. So it will have to wait until either number 2 turns up, or number 1 recharges.

Why the joie de vivre? Post, that's what. Two little packages.

One contained my hat from the Sheep Thrills hat swap, a delightful pink and green stranded knitting pillbox, just my style. Grateful thanks!

The other. Well, I suppose I shouldn't cover the two things in one entry, I in no way want to detract from my lovely hat, but I - we - are feeling somewhat at a loss for words about this. I mean, obviously not - just that the words will be inadequate.

Interweave included a lap-cover in the 25th anniversary goodies available at SOAR this year. Now, spindles and mugs had already found their way to us from a dear friend. But in the post today is a package from Interweave, sending us one of the lap-covers. Signed and with messages from literally dozens of friends.

I am sitting here feeling decidedly emotional and completely unable to find the way to express what we feel. So - thank you, those of you who were involved in this. We truly appreciate such a loving gesture. It has brought a warmth and light to a dank day at the dark of the year. I wish I could hug you all.

And - there is a little more. someone has just given us some useful information about getting affordable travel insurance for the DSM! So, who knows, next year, maybe we can give the hugs in person.

Meanwhile, just......

Thank you.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Midnight rambler

I should so not be doing this. Thursday night is Coven, and I always find it difficult to settle down to sleep after the drive home. I've taken to asking the DSM not to turn off the computer, so I can do a last check-around before going to bed, which is quite fatal, as here I sits, some thirty minutes after he has settled down - and he slumbereth most peacefully, I can hear him doing so.....

We are out tomorrow night, too, and I don't want to be comatose.

So why am I doing this? Because I can, I suppose.

I have been spinning tonight. I seem to have rediscovered the joys of spinning recently, what with the WWF finished. Now I am having fun with some Abby Franquemont batts that I bought from her ebay store a while back when she was having a sale. Very, very nice. Pretty colours and lovely fibre. There may be enough for a small shawl, I'm not yet sure. Photos as and when.

So, I took my Majacraft Little Gem on an outing. I had some dark Falkland top to finish that has been hanging around for ages, and I did indeed get on quite well with it, in the sense of being nearer to completion.

But the wheel - oh, I don't know. I haven't used it all that much, and I genuinely do think wheels can need running in (if anyone remembers that particular concept). And maybe I am spoiled, with having the Timbertops as my main wheel. But I certainly don't yet feel comfortable with it, and my yarn is, well, let's say not brilliant.

Now, I don't particularly subscribe to the notion that wheels impose their own personality on your spinning. You are the one in charge. Wheels have a range of ratios, and a few differences, but in general do pretty much the same things. But Majacrafts perhaps differ more from the norm - I'm meaning principally the delta instead of an orifice. But this one (it is a long time since I used my Tiny Tim, if I even know where it is - no, I haven't sold it yet although it is on my to-do list....) at least has some further idiosyncrasies. There is a decided pause and then grab action as the bobbin turns, spinning isn't just as smooth and free-flowing as I would like. Then plying - with this wheel, you have to switch the lower drive band around to ply, but regardless, you seem to have to work very hard to get as tight a ply as I like. Can't quite work that one out yet.

So, obviously, what I need to do is to give this wheel a lengthy work-out, get it thoroughly broken in and really get to know it. Another resolution to go with all the rest.

I'm going to finish that Abby-candy (ahem) first, though.

Nighty night.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Another moan about the weather

Only a quick one. But you know it must be bad when all the weather forecasters keep on saying how awful it is.

And to prove it....

farmers market

This was the scene at our local farmers' market yesterday morning (it is actually even worse now.) Now, our farmers' market is far from the world's best. but we have in previous years been able to get Christmas trees there. So off we trotted in the rain, and found to our great delight that once again we could rent a tree for no more than it would cost us to buy one from the nearest Garden Centre. And then I found that one of the regular attenders, who deals in garden plants, and is local, had some rather nice evergreen door wreaths, so we ordered one of those as well. If it wasn't such ghastly weather, I might even be starting to feel a little bit festive.

It was a much nicer experience than sometimes, though - the good and fairly local veggie stall was there, with some nice stuff, and they will be back the weekend before Christmas. So I will be able to get everything either from the organic veg shop in town, or from the market. What is more, there were two local bread and baked goods stall as well, so things are maybe looking up.

We are very nearly organised presentwise after our trip to York on Saturday, hellish though it was. But I am going to have to do a run through to Ilkley to finish off - we simply couldn't face the queue at Betty's. Not that that is a hardship - it won't be as busy during the week, and I always like the atmosphere over there.

Speaking of feeling festive, I realised yesterday that although I had said no Christmas knitting, there was one quick project that I really ought to do. so I banged it on the needles and dove in, and it is coming on well. Should be no problems finishing before the deadline.

Other than that, the second Jaywalker grew apace whilst talking to the mater and then recovering in the evening afterwards. I didn't quite finish the whitefaced woodland roving, but it is nearly there.

whitefaced woodland

I am really pleased at how this has come out - it was a pleasure to spin, but the yarn is lovely, spun point of contact with a fairly low twist. I know I want it to be quite hard wearing for mittens, but I also want it cushy and warm. I'll compensate with the gauge somewhat, when I actually get around to knitting. First, I have to decide what colour or colours I want to dye it. That can wait awhile.

OK, washing to sort out. Monday is, and all that. Praise be for tumble dryers, global warming or no.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Another day nearer to Christmas

So I should be panicking? I'm not. Very little Christmas knitting. Very little Christmas baking (I learned many years ago that Betty's or the Village Bakery does most of it much better than I ever could.) I shall make the Traditional Nut Roast, and Traditional Veggie Sausage Rolls. The mince pies (aka doorstops) are already done because my mother requested some - we are off to York tomorrow to visit, so I did the entire batch.

And after visiting the mater, we shall go knock off the greater part of the shopping. Actually, I rather enjoy Christmas shopping, the DSM and I potter around amicably, usually manage both a nice lunch somewhere, and tea at Betty's, and then roll home to a bottle of something red, feeling virtuous.

So, progress? No photographs. I haven't, this week, done anything very much to be worth recording. Up until today, I had been considering the notion of moving into a care home, or somesuch, as I was still feeling so seedy. Now I am reasonably confident that I am going to live, and live large. Funny how that can happen overnight. It has been a policy of one teeny step at a time, which felt pretty feeble, but does seem to have worked. So not only is the house not as grubby as it was, but the ironing has been reduced to a manageable hillock instead of a mountain, and I have knitted a little bit every day too. Not much spinning - I am about to go finish off the Whitefaced Woodland.

Oh, the chaos is out there, just out of my range of vision, ready to sweep down and overwhelm me if given the proverbial inch. But at the moment, it is held in check. Lights will help - apart from yesterday, it has been a really dark, dank week, enough to give anyone a fit of the glooms. So I need to switch on lights and light up candles. Actually, I need a new set of lights - I try to buy some about every other year to feed my passion for the fairy lights which go up for Christmas and then somehow never come down again. Three sets worth at present, two in the sitting room and one in the dining room at the last count. It'll take more, I tell you.....

On a slightly saner note, it looks as if we have another workshop to add to the list for next year. Which will make five if the unconfirmed one ever gets back to me. Wow. Good job we enjoy doing them! This means, of course, that the professional compartment of my life needs some serious attention. I see a New years resolution shaping up.......

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Where did THAT week go, then, eh?

With me zapped with a cold, that's where. Very hard to find the energy to do much, it was. Apart from rediscovering the delights of reading Georgette Heyer.

Even stuff that had been done was undone, ultimately. The Regia Bamboo sock was too small and was frogged; I attempted a little desultory knitting on the second Jaywalker, and then found I had in my befuddled state got the pattern slightly wrong, and have had to frog that, too.

So I tried spinning. I fell in love with the Norwegian traditional knitting whilst on holiday, and what with the class on working with colours, it seemed a fine idea to aim for a pair of mittens. I didn't have two matching yarns in my stash (of course) so a decided to spin some White-faced Woodland roving that I have acquired form a reliable source.

Grabbed a bag of it and set to. Some time later, and by that time in a foul humour, I stopped to consider what was going on. This stuff was proving awful to spin, and was an incredibly weak yarn, no matter what I did to it. I pulled off a bit of the roving and inspected it closely. First thing, loads of neps. That was odd. But worst, it was a very, very short staple. Now, I haven't spun all that much WFW, but I hadn't thought it was known as such.

At that point, I moved on to consider the bag it was in. Which was when I found it was actually Ile-de-France, bought just to see what it was like.

Now I know.

Found the real WFW and tried again, and boy, what a difference - no neps, a much cleaner prep and a better staple length.

I have a photo . It is slightly blurry, but gives the idea, at least it would if I had remembered to put a coin for scale in with. And I don't have time to redo, so - the IDF is on the left, and the sample is is barely an inch from end to end. (I might try to do this over, if I remember and find the time.)


Other than that, I cancelled my class at AH last Friday, I was still feeling somewhat grim. I did, however, yield to the blandishments of the DSM to bestir myself to go to the Knitting and Stitching Show the next day, and in many ways I wish I hadn't as I think I set myself back rather. I didn't buy all that much = the usual souvenir sock yarn, a couple of bead kits and a pair of dark green Crocs! Oh, and him and me found Christmas presents for one another, really rather splendid handbags. That scuppers the Knit Picks circ set that I had been angling for, but never mind. I may get lucky with the Christmas present money.

I should have been at the Tuesday morning Book Group today, but spectacularly overslept, waking just as the chap who has the Herculean task of knocking our garden in to shape arrived. Still, it gave me a chance to talk to him about a few things, and then start to catch up a bit on the housework. The ironing has turned in to Quatermass' monster again whilst my back has been turned. I have far more interesting things to be doing, but won't be able to settle to them until I have reduced the chaos a bit.

Meanwhile, I finally cast on the Meadow Flowers(?) shawl from Knitters' Stash, so stand b for storms and tempests!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Keeping on keeping on

I still feel fogged with the cold, but there is perhaps a bit of an improvement. I simply hate having colds. I always feel like shit but can never decide if I am being a wuss - a flashback to childhood when any excuse to get out of school and stay home in the warm was grabbed with both hands. But, you know, I no longer care. If I feel like shit and also feel like coddling myself, I am going to do so, so there. but I have been knitting some today, so I am obviously going to decide to live at some point.

I got the cold at the weekend. Wisely or otherwise, when I found out there were places on the next knitting course with Fiona Morris at AH a mere three days after our return from Norway, I booked myself - and the DSM - on to it. this was the third one of them I have been on, and I have found them so incredibly beneficial. This one was no different, probably even more so.

Photographs - are rubbish, but will have to do.

slip stitch sample

The workshop was on working with colour in knitting. This is a slip stitch sample. I have done simple slip stitch before, this was following a chart, and the important thing that I learnt was I probably won't ever make the attempt again! (Now, that is a foolish thing to say if ever there was one....)

toe up sock cast on

This - obviously - is nothing to do with the subject for the weekend. One of the great things about Fiona's workshops is that she is very generous with her time and skills and you pick up all sorts of stuff along the way. this was a different method of casting on for a toe-up sock, that is a doddle to do and nicer in all ways than a short row one. I will try at some point to do it with decent illustrations, but the essence is that you take two circs of the same appropriate size and hold them with the business ends together. Wrap the yarn around them both. Then move one circ so that you have the wire rather than the needle end on one of them adjacent, and knit the stitches. Reverse the position of the needles, making sure that you have the point of the next needle in the position relative to the yarn to continue knitting around. Keep on shifting the positions of the circ and knit on, increasing one stitch on each half of the toe cap as you do so.

Nifty, or what? I think it probably is a Cat Bordhi or someone similar technique, but haven't checked it out yet.

fairisle sample

This next image shows my triumph for the weekend, that made going worth while all on its own. Yes, stranded knitting, or fairisle, whatever you want to call it, but...I'm going all goosebumpy....knitted with one yarn on the right hand, the second on the left.

For those who might feel somewhat underwhelmed by my achievement, let me tell you that I have tried on many, many occasions to do this and always failed miserably. I now know why this was so, but in the interests of not being mean to the DSM, am not going to say.

cashmere scarf

And finally. Not from the weekend at all, of course. This is the scarf I started on our trip. Lovely soft handspun cashmere and silk. And technically, this is a lace pattern (it has deliberate holes in it....) I really like the pattern - slipping the first of three stitches over the next two to make the decrease following the YO gives you almost a little "wheatsheaf". Of course, I do keep getting it wrong if I don't pay attention, but can "read" it now, and remember, I learnt to fudge.

Could I be turning in to an obsessive knitter?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Further ruminations

The Aurora Borealis. I can't show you any images as yet. My camera couldn't cope, of course, the DSM has tried but hasn't even sent the films off to be developed yet, and the other Brit on the trip who was an ace photographer with super-whizzo equipment has neither put anything up on his website nor emailed us anything as yet.

OK, use brain, Carol, and JFGI.

This is fairly close to what we saw.

Aurora Borealis

Taken from a Tromso website, so even the right geographical area.

However. The big surprise to me was that is not in fact what I saw, not exactly. Turns out two things can happen. One is that photographs are of necessity taken at a very slow shutter speed and the colour the film records reflects this. The other is that as we have probably realised in other circumstances individual eyes see colour differently. So I didn't see a green aurora, I saw grey. Still magical and fascinating, especially the movement of it, but not the bright green blinding light I had expected. (The other colours are very rarely seen. Reasons for this varied according to the informant, and I haven't checked it out yet!) But I wouldn't have missed it for anything, and to see it twice was a real bonus.

Moving on.


Among other ecological delights, turf roofs were quite common in the far north. Mainly on outhouses, as here, but on some summer cabins and some other buildings, too. It is an old tradition, but is being continued.

Now, my favourite story. Three of us, me, my sister and another British woman didn't particularly fancy the trip to North Cape. At the last minute, we were offered an alternative, to go to a little fishing village, Skarsvag, to visit the Julehuset. We were not quite sure what we were getting in to, but hey, three British women of a certain age were not to be daunted....

It turned out to a lot more fascinating than just the visit to the Christmas house. The woman who runs it was born and bred in Skarsvag. Her husband is struggling, along with a handful of others, to keep the traditional fishing industry going. (One of the things we were offered was a taste of dried cod, which was mush nicer than one might have imagined, and I wouldn't mind a supply for fish soup.) Anyway, the village is depopulating, second-homers moving in, fewer and fewer children to attend the village school. A picture common around the world, sadly. But she has a school-age daughter, who would have to go away to school if the village one closed and her parents didn't move. Neither of those two possibilities looks like a good option to her. So she is trying hard to come up with ideas to draw the tourists, add value to the fishing, anything at all tha might turn the situation around. I really admired what she was trying to do - I'm not sure she will be successful, but she dam' sure deserves to be. And the Julehuset? Warm, glowing, redolent of woodsmoke and cinnamon. We drank mulled wine, ate waffles with cream and jam and ginger cakes. Lovely.

We did the trip by taxi, and that was another treat. Chatted the entire time with the young woman taxi driver about life in the area, moving on to world politics. So nice to have a moment of international agreement about certain things and certain people.......

Polaria Bella 1

This is Bella, a whiskered seal (I think I have that right). I am not usually all that keen on aquaria, animals in captivity and all that, and truth to tell I am probably still not. But Bella was perfectly at ease with her carer, who had a reasonable sounding explanation for putting her through a routine of "tricks" (mimicking natural behaviours, exercise, mental health) And there were some pretty amazing critters in obviously glowing health around the joint.

This was in Tromso, a university city, where most of the teaching is done in English. I am quite tempted, I must say.

I am running out of steam. Spent the weekend at AH, where as well as some new tricks, I picked up a cold from the tutor! I'll blog the weekend at a later date, but for now I need a hot drink and a shawl and my feet up. And I've got the mogs home now for warm furry company, hurrah. Oh, and a pan of cauliflower soup bubbling on the stove. That and a toddy later and I might, just might, live..........

Thursday, November 15, 2007

What to say?

What to say, what to say?

Don't think for a minute that this wasn't in all ways but one, a fabulous trip.

Yes, the seasickness was horrible, and I now know that I will never again go on a cruise, but I AM glad that I went, and there was a huge amount to enjoy.

To begin at the beginning. The boat was lovely. Not too big, and more than half empty.


Here she is, the MS Polarlys, emphasis on the "ar" and it means, of course, polar light or Aurora.

Beautifully designed, with the "communal" decks well laid out into separate "rooms" so you could get cosy, particularly in the library which even had a fake log fire! The Panorama lounge was like a cathedral, we nearly always conversed in whispers, struck virtually dumb by the glorious views.

Our cabin was small, neat, functional and comfortable. The food was amazingly good. Whilst I wouldn't have chosen to eat fish every night, it was so varied and excellent that we didn't bother asking for a veggie option. Peppered salmon steaks, thin-cut, yum. And char - palest pink, delicate and delicious. Soups to die for. Apparently, a Norwegian thing. I need to make cauliflower soup, and fish soup, warm, tasty and comforting (!!)

The first few days, it rained and rained and wasn't all that cold.


We managed to totter off the boat here, at Alesund, where I had wanted to take loads of photos of the Art Nouveau decor. I failed, but it did stop raining and we perked up enough to enjoy coffee and the most delicious cake I have ever eaten in a warm and friendly cafe on the quayside.

At this point, I should say that I don't intend to write up a travelogue. I'll put up some photographs, more will be on flickr as a set, and easily findeable by clicking on one image and using your common. But one of the things that I do want to say is just how much I fell in love with Norway and the Norwegians. The country is beautiful, and one of the most alluring things about the people is the way in which they appreciate that. They revel in the bounty of the land and use it seemingly responsibly. (I saw far less litter, graffiti, general grot than anywhere I have ever been before.) They deal gracefully with their extremes of season by enjoying all to the full. The dark winter is not too much of a problem, they are (as they will tell you unashamedly unlike the Brits, a cultured nation. Winter is the time for music and theatre and dinner parties and lights. Candles and super glass light fittings are to be found in abundance in every small town, so no-one has any excuse for not having houses filled with glittering, twinkling lights. Summer is for staying awake and being outside as much as possible, so you work all day and climb mountains through the evenings, or whatever.

They are apparently a contented people - they gladly pay high taxes and receive good benefits and security in later life in return (more than one person told me that.) And, yes, many, many of them speak excellent English. Learning languages is a priority.

And so, they seem to be an exceptionally friendly people. OK, so we were journeying up the coast where tourism is replacing the traditional fishing life, but it never seemed a forced politeness. And fishing still goes on, full-time, part-time - a hard life, and getting harder, but one that still commands respect. Then there is the oil and gas industry, the entire product of which is exported as Norway gets most of its power from hydro-electricity, some wind, and before I sound too much like a geography lesson, I don't know what else.

So - as we travelled north, the weather changed and it got much colder, with for me, quite a lot of snow. For Norway - phht! A light dusting. I'll put in a few suitable photos in just a sec.

Returning was calm for the first half, then we hit the rougher open sea bits again, so I was glad to get back to Bergen. Golly, what a lovely city. I'm back there at the first opportunity. There's a yarn shop[ I spotted at the last gasp that I must go to - the others I checked out en route were ok but not exceptional and I only bought some cotton sock yarn and some glitzy fuzz I have no clue what to do with. Ahem. (Something will come to mind.)

village scene

washed out blueness


The sunsets in the Arctic Circle were early (around 3pm) but prolonged and glorious.

reflections of a snowy landscape

Took my brain ages to work out what I was seeing here, the water was so still.


This is looking across to Bryggen in Bergen, a World Heritage site. And the following is the window of a yarn shop there....

Bergen yarn shop window

I sas another like this somewhere else. Very nice looking wheels, very much the same style as my Timbertops.

spindle whorls

This rather bad photo could not be resisted, even in low light conditions through glass. Spindle whorls, correctly identified for once, in the little museum at Trondenes. Found in the locality.

This is going on for ever, I will have to do another post. I still have to discourse on the Northern Lights, and our trip to the out-of-the-way fishing village. So, I'll finish for now with this one.....

The man in the polar night. Taken at Tromso.

the man in the polar night

Thursday, November 08, 2007

At last!

Finally, more than halfway through the trip, here I am at a computer I can work - my own - and feeling compost mentis enough to do something with it.

And this is where the story really starts....

Day One.

At sea.

Bleeerrgh. And other onomatopoeic sounds.

Repeat ad nauseam (sic) (sorry) for three days.

Oh dear, got that one wrong, didn't I?

Howsomedever, it ain't all gloom and doom. I'm not going to do a real entry tonight, I don't have a lot of computer time left and it is getting late, and we have an early start tomorrow. I haven' as yet uploaded any photos to flickr, either.

Having started with a whimper, not only the aforementioned but also missing a pod of orcas off the port bow whilst chained to the bathroom, we have had some triumphs - a sea eagle, and the Aurora twice! More of that at a later date.

We have also had quite a lot of snow, which has made the short Arctic daylight hours magical, particularly at sunset.

The boat is great, very comfortable and interesting; nice friendly crew and excellent food. What's not to like? Weeell.......sailor I never ever shall be, I'm afraid. but I wouldn't have missed it.

Lots to show and tell when I get back.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Further to.....

I was a bit mingy with the details on the shawl. In my defence, I was rushing to put up a post whilst the DSM and my sister were out having a walk. I didn't go, partly because I was feeling bone idle and still rather tired, but also because I am never all that keen on walking in the Crags on a Sunday. (Is that convincing enough?)

Anyhow - the shawl is, I am amazed to find as I had completely forgotten, from a pattern on Magknits. The first one of the three at that link. I had lost my printed version of the pattern by the end, and had forgotten that it was meant to be an i-cord cast off. I did a picot cast-off, which is perhaps a bit frilly, but was fun to do. This entire thing, remember, was always intended to be a major learning experience. It is definitely for most of you out there very easy, but wasn't for me. But I did in the end crack it, rather like it, and I think I will adapt it for a scarf at some point.

The fibre was a somewhat motley collection of 50/50 merino and tencel from Traci Bunkers. Beautiful stuff, very nice to spin, and the handle of the finished fabric is really good. I didn't, as I have moaned before, make that brilliant a job of spinning it both in terms of how I randomly muddled the colours and then drastically underplying it. I could, and did, remedy the latter fault to some extent, and can only hope that it doesn't all come out in the wash!

So - I shall use merino and tencel for similar projects in the future, and I will try lace knitting again . In fact, I have lined up a couple to take away on holiday with me. Plus socks, of course.

We leave early on Thursday morning, and I may very well not have anything at all blogworthy (quiet at the back, there....) before then. Or I might, who knows. but I am taking my laptop as we have been told there should be intermittent internet access (I am assuming that it may depend on where the boat is in the steep-sided fjords, but what do I know?) If so, I shall enjoying doing the roving reporter bit.

If nothing else, though, I am looking forward to quiet hours with my iPod and knitting, a mug of steaming hot chocolate at my elbow (and the occasional glass of aquavit?) and at the least some beautiful scenery through the mists for a few hours a day.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


I have finished it. And no person was harmed in the making of this item. At least, not lastingly......


Even I, its mother, know it is not perfect. Well, the spinning isn't for one thing - I spun the yarn ages ago and would do it differently nowadays to try to avoid most of the weird effects. The knitting - well, I am now proficient in the noble art of fudge.

But who cares!?! Not me, I have finished my second ever lace project (the first having cost me much in blood, sweat and tears several years ago when I did a scarf for an exchange in the most divine flax that I handspun and dyed and didn't take a photograph of) I had hated that process so much I had vowed never to attempt it again, but I'm as much a lemming as the next woman and besides, don't like to be beat.

lace shawl closeup

My baby!

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Swimming through the fog

Such a bad blogger I am, this week. What can I say? I have been out a lot.

Monday is washing day (oh, how boring....) Bits and pieces of other things.

Tuesday, day out with a friend. We were meant to be going to Lancaster, but decided it was perhaps too far for the way we were feeling, so went to Clitheroe instead. There is a very nice Gallery in Clitheroe and we visited the current exhibition. There were a lot of pieces that I liked very much, but I found myself pondering on and being faintly disquieted by the fact that not only was all the design computer created, but much of the actual work was likewise. How far does this have to go before you are past craft and into industrial process? At this point, I don't know and have no pronouncements to make, but it needs thought. Anyway, interesting and a grand day out (again) with the sun shining on the autumn trees and just sufficient crispness in the air.

Wednesday, the DSM was working at home, and we had our brand spanking new pc delivered and installed. The flat sceen monitor is so Bright I fear I may need sunglasses to use it if I can't find a way of lowering the brightness.

(Hey, it's the Saturday before the 5th and there are cannons going off all around of a sudden, most disconcerting! Which makes me realise that we shall be away next weekend and we shall miss the main explosive episodes. Thinks.... how to persuade the DSM that we need to be away for New Year as well......)

I digress. Thursday, the greater part of the Coven took itself off to Leeds to see Alan Bennett's "The History Boys" at the Grand. Well worth the effort. Terrific play and very well performed. Managed to handle, in quintessential Bennett style an excellent blend of pathos and humour. Well, he would, wouldn't he?

And then Friday was the AH class, which I thoroughly enjoyed and can only hope the rest of them did. Spinning proper for once, nice for me. Three relatively inexperienced attendees made breakthoughs and really good progress, and several nice meaty questions. Most satisfying. We are booked through to next September and I have decided to revamp the programme to take us right through. And intend putting in lots more spinning! Something to work on whilst on holiday (not).

Last night, I was really tired, and in fact too tired to sleep easily, so was wandering around at 2am getting drinks and hotties and so on. Made the big mistake of shutting the cats out of the room, so they then proceeded to play chasing games up and down the stairs (I had thought they were past that at their advanced age...). Still it gives one good reason for enjoying the clock change - a chance to catch up a bit. Otherwise I hate the process, dammit.

Before we go, I should have some pics of things various and likewise various words of wisdom. Just in case I can't get an internet connection whilst away.

Hope I can, otherwise it will take me forever to catch up when we get back!

Monday, October 22, 2007

One red leaf

Today dawned not one of my better days. Not so surprising, we are once again deserted by the sun. And I am, after all....well, me. It is, these days, all dealable with.

One of the ways of dealing was to finally take this photograph, which would have been better done on one of the bright, sunny days, but what the heck.

This is on the elder tree where there are usually so many birds that we watch from the bedroom window. Elders are not usually in the least interesting in autumn, the leaves simple go yellowish and quickly blow away in any wind. I have no idea why there is just this one red leaf. But I have been enjoying it for days, the colour is so rich and jewel-like.

one red leaf 2

One of the small pleasures that we all need in life.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

A Grand Day Out

I'm sure I have used that as a title before, but too bad. It was a grand day out, so what else do I call it?

Friday was our wedding anniversary. A rather large number of years has accumulated - not a truly noteworthy number, that comes next year, but enough, given the year we have had, to raise flags over. (Thinks - I should have got fireworks - maybe for next year?)

The DSM took a day off work, and agreed to my suggestion of a day out at the seaside. So we set off bright and early, except that the promised sunshine didn't materialise, and we actually left around midday. Ah, well. We picked up sandwiches in town, and after pootling around the lanes of Lancashire found a very pleasant rural gateway, only lightly supplied with inquisitive bullocks who were anyway safely behind a stout gate. Then on to the "coast".

This is not the sea shore that I am used to, it has to be said. But it has its own charms. First of all, we found the Lune estuary.


Move to the left upper corner of the shot and keep going, you will hit the sea at some point...... really and truly you will.

Then on down the coast to St Annes. St Annes has a pier, a rather charming Victorian one. Unfortunately, due to being now out of season, the end that is not infested with "amusements" and is open to the sea breezes was padlocked. Neither, sadly, does it have any sea underneath it. So just where do they launch their lifeboat from, then, eh?

St Annes pier3

But they do have a very nice promenade, where we sat for a while in a very staid, middleaged fashion, enjoying the late afternoon sunshine - the quality of the light really was pretty much as it is in these photos.

St Annes

I liked the bandstand, too.


We then went on to Preston to an extremely nice Chinese restaurant that himself had been to with work colleagues a couple of weeks before and had a great meal.

It truly was a lovely day.

Guild was the following day, so two long days out on the trot and we are feeling that a pleasant relax today will be a good idea. The weather is cooperating, so we are even getting to sit out in the garden. The cats approve, too. Herewith some gratuitous cat photos in lieu of fibre stuff.

Pete & Neelix

Sir and Neelix, or if you prefer, Sir and the DSM.....

Carol& Max

Max's favourite way to sit.

Max in window

Except when he is being an elegant china ornament in the sitting room window.

We have given up on sitting outdoors now - the lateish October chill has increased as the sun has started to dip down below the rim of the hill. It has been quite gorgeous sitting out there reading, or even chatting to neighbours, with butterflies and bees zooming all arund. We have been having a rich late flush of butterflies, and unexpected treat. There were, we think, some commas today - I was trying to get photographs, but they wouldn't co-operate.

Still, can't have everything. Hah.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

(Anonymous post)

Because I simply cannot think of an appropriate title today.

What do I want to say? A little of this, a little of that. I want to say that the sun is shining! Without a shadow of a doubt, I feel a bazillion times better, more cheerful more energised, when the old currant bun puts in an appearance. So I have today cleaned, done a few essential chores on the computer (as well as inessential ones, of reading all the emails and blogs from those lucky enough to be returning from SOAR, and there are still more reports due.)

And finished these:

red mittens

Chunky and cushy, with room for thinner ones inside should it be that cold. Although it may not be - I have been researching the current conditions in Norway and although colder than here, it is not below freezing except by a degree or so overnight, and there is little snow. Damn. Hope that changes over the next two or three weeks!

I came across this mouth-watering selection on the kitchen table. The DSM's long-term project is finally completed, and they looked so mouth-watering I attempted to photograph them. But, obviously, not very well. There is a pattern in "Knitters Stash" that he is going to look at to see if it will work out, something to keep him happily occupied on holiday.

Sir's yarns

Having finished mitts and socks, I am going to make a small inroad into the sock yarn mountain. Which I added to in a small way on Saturday, when we went to York. I finally got to visit Sheepish, but it was a bit of a disappointment. Some quite nice stuff, and the people on duty were very friendly, but it wasn't outstanding. I got a couple of socks worth of Regia, to show willing (ahem) one in the bamboo range which does seem nice. Anyway, I think it may finally be Jaywalker time. Nothing like coming crawling in at the rear as usual.

Apart from that, the same spinning projects. I'm putting in some good time on those, to the accompaniment of Georgette Heyer's "A Civil Contract", always a favourite of mine, and this version is beautifully read by Phillida Law. Her voice is perfect, even for the men.

One final thing.

pile 'o sticks2

The pile of sticks is no longer so, but is not yet completely fettled.

Getting exciting, though!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Rainy day blues.

Actually, not. For all it is pretty dank and nasty out there, I am relatively cheerful.

I have been waiting for a man again. (No, that isn't what makes me cheerful, I don't do waiting all that well.) He was supposed to arrive at 8.30 (ugh) but phoned instead to say he would be an hour late. After two hours, he turned up (Yeay!!) So hopefully, when he and his marra have finished, our flagstones will no lo0nger go bonk-bonk every time someone arrives at the house.

So, during thast waiting time, have I been productive? Weeeell.......

I have vacced a bit and unloaded the dishwasher. That counts, no? But I have spent a lot of time slaving over a hot laptop, checking blogs and Ravelry.

Now, I am a huge fan of Icanhascheezburger? If there is anything guaranteed to make me cheerful, it is that. But be warned if you visit, you either love it or think it the most twee and ridiculous thing evah. Anyway, on the Lolcats group on Ravelry, I followed a link or two and found out something very significant about myself (other than that I have an endless capacity for wasting time.)

Your Score: Longcat

65% Affectionate, 45% Excitable, 40% Hungry

Protector of truth.

Slayer of darkness.


It is prophesized that Longcat and his archnemesis Tacgnol will battle for supremacy on Caturday. The outcome will change the face of the world, and indeed the very fabric of lolcatdom, forever.

Be grateful that the test has chosen you, and only you, to have this title.

To see all possible results, checka dis.

Link: The Which Lolcat Are You? Test written by GumOtaku on OkCupid Free Online Dating, home of the The Dating Persona Test

I also found out that there is an Ankh Morpork Knitters Guild, but I can', wait a sec, I can show you the Coat of Arms.


I feel particularly cheerful about this, as at Coven last night, we were all given new broomsticks, courtesy of Nanny Ogg's daughter-in-law (she always did now how to pick/train 'em) I'll mebbe photograph it when it has had its custom job.

OK, time to check on the flag replacement activity and do something serious by way of knitting or spinning. Tomorrow we are going to York, and I have conned the DSM into promising a visit to Sheepish.

Like I need yarn.

(I have just reviewed this post and do believe that I have finally lost it completely. But I make no apologies. We are all allowed to display our barking (inappropriate, sorry) madness from time to time. So.)

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

The Joy of Sox

I'm not going to apologise for that, I like the phrase far to much.

I finally have a finished pair!

LL socks

I had heard people raving all over the place about Lorna's Laces sock yarn, and it is ok but that is all. There are others I like better. But I have tried it and am satisfied with that.

I wandered in to my LYS. It isn't brilliant, but tries and I feel I should encourage them as much as I can, which isn't much because of spinning my own yarn most of the time. But I had heard rumours of a Jitterbug sighting. And there was some. Not too much - this is one of the troubles with the shop, they don't carry a good range of anything other than perhaps Kid Silk Haze which is THE in-yarn at the moment (I think?)

But I bought two skeins, and added it to the stash - which is partially pictured here:

sock yarns

The screaming fluorescent lime green to the left is one of the Jitterbugs, the other is just visible underneath, a much more discreet blue/purple mix.

I also asked about Pony Pearl dpns. I am tired of breaking bamboo or birch ones, even though those are the nicest to knit with. Thought I would try something else before reverting to metal. But the owner didn't think they made them. Sigh. o I came home and ordered them from Pstternworks. Sigh again.

OK. I have ironed. I shall spin.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Bits & Pieces

Considering I was through here spinning at 2am, I am doing remarkably well today. Nothing wrong, or on my mind - just two bored cats playing the latest game. Curl up next to mum for a few minutes, just long enough to lull her into a false sense of security. Suddenly jump off the bed in a very heavy-pawed fashion. Almost instantly leap back on again, but this time in very close proximity to her head.

Repeat. and repeat. And etcetera.

This is not conducive to repose.......

But I have a triumph, of sorts. I found the camera handbook, and found the setting for taking close-ups.

This one didn't work so well.....


I bought this glass pendant at SOAR last year, and when I came to make a beaded chain for it, I decided that it didn't need one, and here was a good opportunity to do some more braiding. I even had coton perles of just the right colours. I have more of it (I'm never one to do things by halves) and have to work out what to use it for. Bookmarks?

Then, some completed yarns.

alpaca yarn

This first is a very nice baby alpaca roving that had been maturing in the stash for a while. I've spun it quite fine, and intend attempting a lace shawl from Knitters Stash (so be warned). And then I might or might not dye it.

The second is Freyalyn's Demeter, aforementioned in this blog somewhere.* I am really pleased at how it has turned out. This will join some other yarns in the yellow/brown spectrum (not my usual c0lours, but I am changing, which is interesting) and hopefully grow up to be a shrug.

demeter yarn

I'm finding time to spin more, and not only in the middle of the night, which is a Good Thing.

I am also nearly at the end of the Lorna's Laces socks. Well, I am at the end, the toe end - just have to finish them off and weave in the ends, and they are done. So I am hunting up yarns and patterns for the next pair(s) - I want to make sure of having plenty to keep me occupied on holiday. Of all the important things to remember to pack, knitting is the most.

*This vague reference and indeed all the deficiencies in today's blog post can be attributed to a husband kindly choosing to sort out a way around printer problems - which involves giving me a quick tutorial on writing stuff to disk. Now, at once, immediately. Any pathetic bleats about "Can't I just finish...." were swept aside.

Still, I have my sock patterns now.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

When I'm cleaning windows

Well. not me, of course.

MaryG told me on Friday that I hadn't said much on the blog lately about how the DSM was doing. So - up and down, but that is pretty much all his head. Physically, he is doing just great.

There I was, peacefully buzzing about on Ravelry (I'm CarolL, now there's a surprise), when there was a clattering over my head and this appeared. So, especially on the off chance that someone at SOAR might log on, here is the latest photo of the ol' fella.

When I'm cleaning windows

Looking pretty chipper, eh?