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.