Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Around and around

Or, you win some, you lose some, maybe.

The DSM set off to the gym yesterday. This is a hospital sponsored thing, and there are CCU nurses in attendance to take bp, pulse, etc. They found that his atrial fibrillation had returned (they did pack him off for an ECG to confirm.)

Now, we knew full well that this was a possibility, but had kind of shoved that to the back of our minds. It is not, repeat not, a disaster. But himself had been so chuffed to be back to "normal" that he took it a bit hard. He's pulling round now. Bummer.

Meanwhile, in a different part of the same forest, we had been investigating travel/health insurance for the trip to SOAR, and were getting more and more horrified by the minute. We found one company that were quite a reasonable price, but at the last hurdle were knocked back because they would insure him for anywhere but the US - because the medical charges there are so high. Well, duh.

And so, very regretfully, we have decided that it is a non-starter this year. It would have been so good to have seen everyone, particularly in the present circumstances, but it was just going to be too expensive. Next year, we hope, it may well be possible, the costs fall the further away from the "event" you get.

Howsomedever.....we are not going to be too hard done by! Insurance to Europe is a very different kettle of fish, and there are Plans Afoot. I will tell all when I have more info.

So, to a different part of a different forest.

These are not brilliant photos - I find getting unblurry shots of both yarn and beads decidedly tricky. But here goes.

fuzzy shetland

This is four colours of shetland top, approximately 100gm worth, all spindle spun. I am very pleased with these, I have spun them rather quickly but the yarns are really pretty even all things considered. I intend (this may be famous last words) to make my first ever attempt at fairisle with them.

Then we have this.

TCH navajo ply

This is the Treetops Colour Harmonies top that has been in my stash for more years than I like to imagine - it has come up very nicely, and is softer and less twisted than I sometimes manage with Navajo ply. I do think that making the loops much smaller does make a difference. There are some slightly thicker bits - Navajo ply is very unforgiving for inconsistencies in the yarn. But again, I am pleased with it, and am hoping that there is enough for a small shoulder shawl.

Of course, the big thing this week is Woolfest. We are all organised, things packed into bags and boxes for ease of carrying, all price lists and other things printed off. We intend packing the car as early as possible on Thursday morning and having lunch somewhere nice on the way up. Then to arrive at the very beginning of the setting up period so that we can go off and have a nice restful evening before the hordes descend.

It is such a good event, we get to say hi to just about everyone we know in the fibre community, plus some others (old friends from a long time ago when we lived in Cockermouth for instance. However, I can't pretend that I don't have a few additional anxieties this year - I have to make sure that the DSM doesn't rush around like a mad thing carrying four boxes when two would have been better, and that he has a bit of a sit from time to time. I do know that I am being totally irrational, but there you are, that's me!

It will be great. What is ore, for the moment a least the rain has stopped. We have had the usual amount for the whole of June in one day - and that is disregarding all the other twenty odd days of June when it also rained! There are showers forecast, but not the torrents of yesterday.

I'll try to take pictures, and do a decent report when we get back,. if I have the energy left!

Friday, June 22, 2007

She said yeah

Twice over, in fact.

Once for the long-awaited box of goodies from Greensleeves Spindles, just in time for Woolfest (phew!) Not only did she say yeah, she drooled in a rather indelicate fashion as well. How I will bring myself to sell any of these spindles I do not know. There are some nice nostepinnes as well, in really pretty woods. But the spindles........I should have photographed them, but the DSM was feeling in an organisational mood and had us checking and cataloguing and labelling and packing them away.

Probably just as well.

And secondly? Time for a little food pr0n, haven't had any for ages.

Went to the organic veggie shop yesterday (well, one of them, this 'ere town being blessed by two, it is that sort of a place. They had some good looking broad beans. Shopping in this way can be a bit of a challenge if you are not going to serve meat/fish and two veg - you have to see what there is and construct a recipe from it, which is often cauliflower cheese or pasta with mushrooms. And nothing wrong with those.

But yesterday, the brain wiggled.

So, I also bought tiny plum tomatoes and a small carton of single cream. Already at home I had Prosecco, and summer savory growing in a pot outside the door. This is what I did with the booty:

Thinly sliced one large onion, and gently fried (a bit more than sweating) with two crushed cloves of garlic. Then added the uncooked, shelled broad beans. Next, poured in a generous quantity of Prosecco, quarter of a pint or thereabouts of water, and some more Prosecco. Seasoned with freshly ground black pepper, and finely chopped savory, and added about one teaspoonful of Marigold bouillon powder - maybe a bit more. Halved the tomatoes, threw them in, and let the whole lot simmer until the pasta was cooked. (I used the smaller-than-macaroni stuff, can't remember what it is called, wholemeal, of course.) Before adding the pasta to the veggies, I stirred in a small pot of single cream and some grated parmesan.

Served, and devoured. It was fab.

OK, so not entirely healthy, what with wine and cream, but not too overindulgent. Plus, it saved us from drinking the entire bottle of wine, that must count for something. I can't give precise quantities, it was a stand at the stove and create kind of thing. But I reckon that if you like this sort of thing, you are probably quite capable of winging it just like me.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

No expectations

None at all - I really had no idea just how these first few days/weeks would go.

So far, so good. Himself is doing fine - herewith back to skool photo, taken on Sunday evening.

back to skool

We have this very little walk that we do regularly, a convenient round. The other side of the wall is a goyt that runs down past the farm and from above that where there used to be mills to another former mill, now cottages on the river bank.


From here, we cross the meadow and then have a routine stop on the bridge over the river, a good spot for spotting the odd dipper, which we did on this occasion.

river in summer

In fact, you can see it in this photo; below the branches, almost in the middle is a forked branch upright in the river. Immediately to the left is a flat topped rock - on the right hand end, one small brown bird.

OK, so why this displacement chatter (and more to come)? It isn't that I am not getting any fibre stuff done, it is just that none of it is as yet particularly noteworthy. I hope that in time it will be, but thus far, just a lot more spinning and plying and skeining and washing and sampling. All so not very interesting. I am more than somewhat please so far with some spindle spun silk. I am very definitely not the world's best silk spinner on the wheel - and I have never been able to suss out why. I think that it is because I can never manage to spin a consistent single, which then looks even worse plyed. the spindle spun is likewise, but not as extreme, and also, because pretty fine, I am thinking that I might cable it. My intention is to knit with it and d some painted embellishments, but you know what they say about good intentions. I will confess all, in due course.

I did spend Monday doing such in front of the telly - it was lovely, haven't felt so relaxed in ages. The DSM had a good and fairly long day actually in work, came home tired, but ok. He has been at home yesterday and today, back in the office tomorrow. He's doing well on the hours and it is all being very civilised.

We are still speaking to one another.

In place of WIPs or FOs - my lovely clematis. On my monitors, the colour isn't quite right, but pretty none the less.


And of course, when all else fails, there is always the cat photograph to fall back on - besides, these two complain if they don't get sufficient exposure here. May I present to you our great new purple bedding set, with added cat ears......

born to the purple

And, I might add, hairs - I have to take my clothes brush to the duvet at frequent intervals!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I'm moving on

I seem to have been moving at a rate of knots all week, and with not all that much to show for it. Household stuff. Sorting out odds and sods of spindle spun yarns, skeining, washing, winding in to balls and starting to use. Preparing for classes various. Realising that amidst all of this, I had mistaken the day for a routine doctor's appointment and had therefore missed it - a heinous crime, but they forgave me. It did then involve both of us going to the surgery at crack of dawn, but never mind. (And in the intervening six months since I last saw my doc, he had grown his short back and sides that I assume he had adopted to give him more gravitas into a riot of thick black longish curls. suited him much better. Made him look even younger than usual, but happier in his own skin which has to be a good thing!

I digress.

Thursday, coven. Very nice. I haven't been often enough of late. Must do better.

Friday, AH, and not such a shambles as it might have been. Inkle weaving is not in my area of expertise to say the least, but was requested, so we had a go. Now, when this happened with braiding, I found out that I liked it after all and got all enthused, but no so with inkling, so the day wasn't as successful, but not a complete disaster, either, at least, I hope not.

Then, Saturday, Bradford Guild. A really nice meeting, and interesting talk, with examples, of Native American beadwork (plus other bits and pieces.) The guy, although Yorkshire born and bred, was a true enthusiast and really knew his stuff, answered the many questions with ease and fluency. Then, we stayed on after lunch and chatted and spun in a very pleasant manner, all nice and relaxed.

After that, a return visit to IKEA, where not only did we successfully get the shelving units we wanted for Woolfest, but also a set of new bedding in a dark, rich purple. Wow.

Apropos of Woolfest, another box of fibre came this week, lovely, lovely stuff as I had known it would be, but even better. How can I bear to let this go? I know, there should be a photo, maybe another day, but imagine, if you will, a box full of merino, and silk (separately) in hot pinks, purples, teals, rich browns. This was a consignment from Karen Emrey of Royale Hare, who i have purchased from myself many, many times, so decided at last to have some to see how it went on the stall. We have got some gorgeous stuff this year, and if it doesn't sell, I will have a lifetime supply of super fibre to keep me entertained! Just (just! hah!) spindles to come now, I have some new Bossies but there are midis on the way, and then spindles and nosties from Elizabeth at Greensleeves. It is getting near the wire - they were posted in time, but parcels are getting held up at a central Customs office. A right royal pain, if you ask me. And then they charge us a minor fortune in duty, grumble, grumble.....

So - moving on.

The DSM starts back at work tomorrow! After five months of him being home, it is going to seem weird, to say the least. For both of us, no doubt. I do have plenty to do, after a celebratory day of indulgence, the celebration being that he is recovered, not that I have got shot of him. Really. i haven't, anyway, he is going to be working from home quite a bit, yeay.....

But....but. It will seem odd, no two ways about it.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Cool, calm and collected

He was, anyway. So was I, externally. Inwardly - well, that's another story. People tell me that abandoning their first-born at the school gate on the first day is wrenching - leaving the DSM at the hospital entrance was likewise. he was adamant that he would be fine on his own, with iPod and knitting (Noro socks, very cool.)

He was - the cardioversion worked, with just one zap. Didn't have to harness the old lightning! So, fingers crossed he is back to what passes for normal around here. It could revert to an arrhythmia, but we are hoping not, and the procedure could be done again in that case, anyway.

Woo, as they say, hoo.

In other news....

Went to the Mid Lancs Guild Open Day last Saturday. We used to be members there, so it was nice to catch up with old friends. It was a super day, lots of vendors and lots of cake, of which we freely partook. Well, not freely, but at a modest charge......even brought some home with us. Oops.

I bought a couple of spindles, some cashmere and a bit of milk protein fibre. All quite restrained, really. I had wanted to win the raffle, oh, so very much:

Guild Open Day

But didn't, dammit. Some of Freyalynn's fibre, worked on by all the Guild members and put together (always a challenge) by Sarah. If you recognise yourselves, own up!

Guild Open Day

Gild Open Day

Images from the workshop I did last Thursday. Some of this is stuff I will never do again (like the hideous "puffapaste" or whatever the idiot stuff is called, unless on the bottom of handknit socks), but some of it lends itself to what I am already doing and I am looking forward to trying a few bits out.

workshop samples

Bondaweb sample

This last I really do like and didn't try to take any further in the workshop, needs a bit of mature reflection to see what might be done with it.

Then, we have the eye-popping cow parsley dyed skein - it is much brighter than it appears on my monitor. I haven't yet done the followup dyebaths, I have been a bit distracted one way and another, But I Will.

cow parsley

Followed by some spindle spun yarns - an odd bit of random dyed that I think will make a good bowl, and then some cashmere (mauve, lavender or what you will) and silk (blue) to become in the fullness of time, a bag. Well, soon, I hope. I have a teeny pair of merino/tencel wristwarmers to complete (did I ever say I was a slow knitter? well, I am) and then I can start.

Random dyes spindlespun

And then there is the spindle spun scarf - worked quite well, I think. I have made a beaded "woggle" to go with it, but I am not sure that I like it. Need to think on..... but I was, with this, quite pleased with my own inventiveness - I was in danger of running short on yarn and having very skinny ends. So I did some judicious short-rowing which has, I think, covered the deficiency pretty well.

spindlespun scarf

I think that is about it for now. I am hoping that soon things will seem calmer (what, with Woolfest and Summer School coming up fast?!?) Then maybe I can get down to planning some serious projects rather than all this bitty stuff. Still, I do actually enjoy it. Whatever is created, the process can be fun and even satisfying.

So, off to The Ridge for a meal. I felt - and he agreed - that we needed a quiet, pleasant celebration of sorts. Pity it is not a bright, sunny evening, but you can't have everything, eh?

Thursday, June 07, 2007

It was forty years ago today, part the second.

If you don't like slush, turn away now.

So, where were we? Sergeant Pepper had just come out. It was June, the weather was perfect, I was young (gosh, was I young!) Within a week, the tracks on the new album were learned and meaningful. Most people were claiming "Lucy in the sky with diamonds" as their favourite track.

Picture yourself in a boat on the river...

And there I was. It was somewhere around midnight, I think. I do remember it as being pretty dark, and by 7 June, we are nearly at the longest day, so 11pm must have passed. It had been a warm day and a balmy evening, so it was still pleasantly warm on the river, in the punt. I don't remember there being any other boats around, or people walking for that matter, although there could have been. I had Lucy in the Sky running through my head.

To make the tale more romantic, we had been playing croquet. (To make the story less romantic, that croquet lawn now lies under a car park, although I seem to think that it may be going to be restored to former glories sometime soon.) I can't remember if there were four of us and four of them, it could have been three of each. I do remember going indoors to the loo, and pausing by an open window with the friend I was with, and both of us agreeing that we thought the tall one with the dark hair was probably the most interesting. I had played croquet once before, when I was at college, so I did have some idea of what to do. But it didn't matter. We all had a good time, anyway.

And then we did go on the river, and I can still remember how truly romantic it felt, the soft night air, that barely more than teenage thrill of meeting someone who might just become special.

Reader, I married him.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Death in the afternoon

I was going to come up here this afternoon, after doing the initial prep for the smoked haddock chowder we are having for supper this evening - and install the camera software on to the laptop.

I have been hindered.

Second of all, I can't find the dam' cd. I know it is in the pile somewhere, I need to make more of an effort. Effort-making is a little beyond me just at present. I was treating myself to a drink of water and a bit of a read of HP & the Order of the Phoenix, when I heard noises. A scuffle, a clatter, a squawk. Then a few more indeterminate noises. These did not sound like good news. They sounded like a siamese cat up to no good.

I was right. Max - Max! the arthriticky one! was sitting just outside the open door with a teenage squirrel in his mouth. Said squirrel was alive.

Now, this posed me with a huge dilemma. I like squirrels, but I do know that even when young and foolish they can inflict quite a lot of damage on cats, and indeed on humans. So, I didn't want to place either my miscreant mog or myself in any danger of injury. Neither did I want the poor little bushy-tail to snuff it if avoidable. And on the third hand, I didn't want Max to start taking chomps out of it, it is simply not a pleasant sight to see a cat chowing down on prey.

Fortunately, as I stood dithering on the doormat, the phone rang. I slammed the door and the cat flap, with cat and squirrel on the outside, thus avoiding any complications to do with going to ground under any beds, and dealt with my call. By the time I returned, the squirrel had shuffled off its mortal coil. Although Max still had a very firm grip on the back of its neck.

A bit of crashing about and looking threatening on my part, and he (having already quite obviously realised that he didn't know what to do with it now he had subdued it) dropped the ex-beasty and scarpered. I found means of lifting it and transferring it to the dustbin (for now, at least). Poor, floppy tail!

I have dealt with worse, in my time....

I had intended to do a nice post all about releasing my inner hedgewitch - the herbs I have been planting, the dye pot full of cow parsley that gave me an eye-popping yellow, the little skeins of spindle spun yarn lining up. Not to mention my Treetops Colour Harmonies skein. Haven't actually quite completed that, so that was off the agenda already, and the rest will have to wait until I can regroup, recover &etc.

I had a good day out in town with a friend yesterday, finally venturing in to the fabulous new shoe shop, Ruby Shoesday. Who could resist? I was good, one inexpensive pair of summer pumps, but I have my beady ones fixed on some great sandals that are not.......... Also added two more giant cups to the collection from the seconds china shop. Did not add anything to the stash at the yarn shop, it is, frankly, useless. I try to support my LYS, but it is hard work.

Tomorrow, I am off to Variegations for a day playing. I deserve it!

Friday, June 01, 2007

It was forty years ago today......

I make no apology for using what is probably the most cliched blog post title ever, that will be found in some few variations around the blogosphere many times over today. I simply couldn't not. I woke up this morning (I think there may be a cliche there, too....) with Lucy in the Sky in my ear and was instantly transported back to that golden summer. It has been like it all day, Beatles tracks here, there and everywhere (sorry, wrong album, I know, but I couldn't resist and it is my all time favourite, not only because I love the track musically, but because....Oh, well, perhaps it would really be too self-indulgent to there, not to mention just too icky teenagey when I am supposed to be grown up. Sufficient to say that Revolver marked one of life's staging posts as well.

But it is probably true to say that for those of us who were passing through the ritual points of leaving school, going to college, leaving college, first job and a bit of money, new friends - all of this with the counterpoint of those Beatles tracks heard for the very first time (and no, there isn't an allusion there this time!) - well, today somehow did mean something. If only that we feel very, very old.

Actually, that isn't true. Only surprise that forty years as whizzed by with such speed. And dang it, sixty four is treading fast on our heels. Though they got it wrong there, in my opinion.

Anyhow, I shall cease blathering about it for the moment. I do have more to say on the subject. Back in the day (not yet really an English phrase, but I love it although I am not sure why) it took just seven days for the tracks on Sergeant Pepper to be etched on our minds and sunk deep into our psyches. And on the seventh day.....

You will just have to wait patiently for the next installment.

Now. Big news. We have our new to us car. Seems very nice. And, in even bigger news, for the first time ever (see, you are never too old....) the DSM has broken the law, knowingly. I perhaps should not be writing this in case the long arm of the law does blog-checks - but he forgot to take our car insurance documents with him when we went to pick it up, and so could not tax it. Shock, horror. Hopefully, this can be rectified easily enough tomorrow, and we did manage to get all the way home unscathed. Meant I had to miss out yet again on stopping off at Borders and Ikea, but better safe than sorry. This came very hard for him, and he is still trembling....but in all other respects going great guns. We Are Nearly There.

To prove it.

DSM's socks

Socks from Sara's custom dyed yarn. Nice pattern, too, one of Nancy Bush's, which I can't remember so will get shouted at.

DSM's spindle spun socks

Another pair completed. Spindle spun yarn, and not navajo plyed, so the colours are delightfully quirky. There's a nice pair of hairy ankles in shot, too!

iPod bag

And this is my contribution. A bag for my iPod or mobile phone, from spindle spun merino/tencel. The colour is a little bit more red than shows on my monitor, although still towards the pink. I am very fond of this fibre mix, I think it spindle spins very well, and makes good sock yarn as well as for other things.

An FO, however small and simple! (My new watchword, remember?)