Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Raising a banner of defiance

In the face of the new year that is rushing towards us!

The DSM and I had a nice celebratory supper this evening, actually eating in the dining room. Salmon, purple sprouting broccoli and roast potatoes. And......

HOLLANDAISE SAUCE. (Homemade, of course. Successfully!)

Yes, that's right, if you have all come round from your dead faint. Hollandaise, made from EGG YOLKS. And BUTTER. And oh brother, was it good.

So, take that, you food police. Life is for enjoying!

OK, a very pleasant few days, even if one or two things were rather unexpected. Well, an unplanned visit from a friend to share a pot of tea, paw through a lot of yarn and discuss patterns could never be bad. But there was this.

I was sitting on the sofa knitting away on this, being the purple cormo hopefully turning into a wrap (fingers crossed there is going to be enough yarn, as I eschewed the sensible suggestion of the DSM to knit, measure and calculate, as maths and I never do get on, so it wouldn't have worked anyway.)

purple cormo in prog

When there was a crash and a flurry of feline, suffering from a sudden bout of guilty conscience.


Now, our Christmas tree was not a minimalist effort this year, it had a full complement of well-placed lights and baubles. It did not look like the photo above. No, that was taken after I had picked up the poor wee thing from the ground to which it had tumbled and swept up the quantity of broken baubles and potting compost (we have a live, rented tree, this being the sort of place that it is) and partially straightened the lights. It is now restored to some sort of order.

It was the Snowshoes wot dun it, of course. But I didn't really need to say that, did I?

Now, the last yarn of 2008 is off the spinning wheel and looking rather nice. The other two Abby Franquemont batts, which got progressively thinner. Shawls or scarves, almost certainly.


I'm not in the mood for philosophising this evening, although that may come later. No real resolutions either, just some thoughts. One I have already mentioned, spindles in more places doing more things around the house. Another is not a fibre plan, but similar in concept. I have a wonderful collection of cookery books, and the plan is to take one each week and to cook at least one recipe from it. I'll report back - maybe - if I succeed.

I'm just going to say - I realise my good fortune, I have had a good year, and I do know that there are wonderful people out there that have not, one way and another. I think of them all from time to time, and devoutly wish that I could wave a magic wand and make things right, but none of us can ever do that for another.

But I can wish one and all the best that there can be for the next year. We are forecast for doom and gloom, but as long as we have words and music and laughter and kindness and hands outstretched, well then we shall get through whatever.

I've forgotten something - oh, yes, fibre!

I've forgotten something else.....

Happy New Year.

Monday, December 29, 2008

So, here we are

In the post-Christmas, pre-New Year lacuna.

My festive season so far has been very festive, thank you very much. The Christmas Eve gathering was lovely, and provided a totally new to me form of entertainment for several of the company.



Those strange, triangular shapes at the top of the photos are not my thumbs. I was completely sober, being designated driver. No, one of the cats was, not surprisingly, extremely interested in what was going on.

I hope I haven't grossed anyone out too much......

Christmas Day was lovely, very low-key, and not too over-indulgent. We had kedgeree and croissants for breakfast, and then ate chestnut and red wine pate en croute with various trimmings for the main meal at five o'clock, watched Dr Who and then had pud. Gifts were happily exchanged, phone calls made and feet were put up. Nice.

We took my sister home the next afternoon, following more loafing about and chatting, and she treated us to a very good Indian meal at her local restaurant, and Saturday, we went in to Manchester to go to the theatre. "See how they run", which was super, and wonderful funny entertainment.

Then yesterday, we had friends over for lunch, after which we sat in the sitting room with only the decorative lights on and left the curtains open as the daylight faded, chatting peacefully. Gorgeous.

Not much fibre stuff going on, although I did get in a bit of spinning. I have finished spinning the final Abby batt, and just have to ply it, which I hope to do today. the other thing I want to try to get done is the first thing on my New Year, new broom list. With all the lovely spindles that I have, I need to get more of them into use, so I want to set up spindling projects in various places (probably not the bathroom, though....) I want to do some sampling for yarn for crochet, and the two would combine just fine.

I need to do some more work on that list, too, for which I require some time and space - like now. The next couple of days. It is always a slightly odd time of year, it seems to me, so I might as well use it profitably.

Although, always the procrastinator, coffee first!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

I aten't dead.

Merely suffering from an excess of Noro. Virus.

Serves me right for gloating about scoring some - the next day, both the DSM and I awoke feeling......oh, help. The rest of that Tuesday passed in a merciful blur. He has recovered well, for me, it has taken a little longer, dammit.

It meant, also dammit, that I had to miss AH, which annoyed me royally as I had really been looking forward to it. But I did get to York with everyone else for the festive picnic with the mater, so that was good.

All my good intentions of a graceful, stress-free, slow approach to our own midwinter festival went right out the window of course. And do you know, I am finding it matters not one whit. We have everything we need for a not too overindulgent time without me spending several overheated hours in the kitchen; the house is, or will be clean and tidy enough; some of the decorations have found themselves slowly gathering and attaching to suitable points; and in a very little while, I will finally have got around to wrapping the presents I have for the DSM!

Best of all, over the last couple of weeks, a social programme has kind of arranged itself. We had already booked to go to the theatre in Manchester on Saturday. Then at the anniversary do (from whence came the norovirus, somehow - several of the guests have also reported getting it) I had asked old friends over for a low-key lunch on the day after Boxing Day. But we were suddenly included in my niece's gathering of the clans for tonight, and the logistics of that mean that my sister will be with us for tomorrow, Christmas Day. During which we shall have one friend drop in, and we shall walk up the river to drop in in our turn on others. Snow would be the icing on the cake (groan) but that ain't going to happen. Plus there are further delights in store for the New Year weekend.

You know, I think we deserve this....

My weakened state of the last week has resulted in some fibre stuff getting done, but no pictures thereof. I dug out and finished off two of the three pairs of socks that were just lying around, and about time, too. I have knitted no less than three individual "Fetchings", of which two are a pair - the first came out too small, so I tweaked. I have cast on a scarf/stole with the purple cormo yarn. Too soon to tell yet if it will work. I could have done a better job of spinning this, although not exactly my fault as it was the first time I had ever tried it. Lovely stuff, but I was taken aback by how much it altered after washing.

Yes, I know. I should have sampled; well, I did, but I didn't wash the sample. So, all my own fault. Now I need another source for cormo roving, to do better next time.

I managed to get back to spinning eventually, and have nearly finished the last of the Abby batts. The final one has a kind of hairlike "bite" to it. I am spinning it very fine, and I think, unfortunately, that it will be perfect for lace. Ah, well.

And finally. The Solstice is passed, and Yule is in full swing. Enjoy your season however you celebrate it. I tip my glass to you all.


Monday, December 15, 2008

Better late than never

Our actual wedding anniversary was nearly two months ago, but it was only yesterday that we had the "official" party.

It was great. I enjoyed it so much, that I am even including a photograph of myself.


I have another couple I can include. I love all the ones that were taken on my camera, but most of them have something about them that their subjects would perhaps prefer were not in a public forum. I don't mean anything too awful, just slightly unfortunate paper hats, or the expression caught whilst pouring a glass of wine, that sort of thing. Lovely memories for me, though!

decoding the cheeses

In this one, one of our friends is busy decoding the map that came with the cheese board. These things are meant to be taken extremely seriously, dontcha know!

Here, one of those coincidences that you just couldn't imagine happening. Two of our friends, from opposite ends of the country, have never met before - and are now deep in conversation because they are both oboe players (I hadn't known that.) In fact, another two likewise turned out to have a mutual friend through an interest. Too cool.

the oboe players

Here, the DSM is deep in conversation with my oldest friend (we met when we were eight years old, at Primary school.)


The only trouble with a do like this is it is impossible to spend as much time as one would like with everyone. But I didn't do so badly, and it was a great day. Just wish some of them didn't live so far away.

Felt a bit of a sense of anticlimax today, so I consoled myself with a trip to Coldspring Mill on a yarn buying spree. Bargains to be had in Noro, Araucania and unidentified eco cotton.

Life really does have its moments......

Friday, December 12, 2008

Where did that week go, then?

In doing a fair bit, really, and some of it fibrey!

Saturday - to Manchester, for theatre and some Christmas shopping. The play was "A Taste of Honey" which I hadn't seen since the film version in the sixties. Very well done, and the content hadn't dated at all, still totally relevant if you tweak a few things.

Sunday, amongst other things, I dyed. by which I mean I threw the cormo into a vat of one of the liberated carpet factory dyes, simply as is, and it came out exactly the colour I wanted. Not quite as in the photo, I suspect, slightly less bluish.

purple cormo

Then, I've had a blitz on domestic chores. No need to bore anyone with minutiae, but with a few social things and Christmas upcoming, I wanted the ship to be a bit more shape.

Wednesday, a wonderful day with parts of the Coven and the extended Coven. Luscious food, none of which I had to cook, some knitting, and plenty of hilarious conversation, often about farting. This may seem a very little-boyish sort of topic, but there were reasons, and the humour was both funny and cathartic.

I finished the first "Fetching". Which was a disaster. Well, not really, but it was too small. I had done a gauge swatch, and I had known that my gauge was off a little, but I had thought only a tad. Not so. Here we have the revised version on the needles.

fetching in progress

Yesterday and today, I am carless, as the Jimny is having cosmetic surgery. The door needed fixing where the petty crim jabbed a screwdriver in to open the lock, and then there was the little contretemps that I had with a stone wall a few weeks ago.....ahem. (Basically, I forgot the this particular wall was slightly wider at the bottom than the railings that I could see and that I lined my wing mirror up with to gauge width when negotiating with a waggon at the end of the road.)

I've been spinning quite a bit, and doing some knitting, too. I have all sorts of things that I want to cast on, and am trying to restrain myself, but as the DSM has his office Xmas Bash this evening, leaving me (sob) all alone with no cooking to do bar something simple with pasta, and the bottle of single malt
- I may just indulge myself in various ways.

'Tis the parcel season - and I have been treating myself as well. these arrived in the last couple of days.

IST & Wildcrafty spindles

The one on the left is a resin whorl spindle from Wildcraft It is very pretty, but it does also spin well.

The one on the right is from IST, a lighter weight than the others I have (although I can't remember just at the minute what that is - duh...) Again, gorgeous to look at, but lovely to use, too. I am really pleased that there are some excellent spindle makers around in the UK now, and would wish for many more, except that it would do no good to my credit card balance at all!

So, there we are, all caught up. Today, I write Christmas cards. Yet again, I have failed to make my own. Every January, I say that I WILL do so, and I WILL START NOW. Yeah, right.

And then on Sunday, The Big Bash. Well, lunch with several friends in honour of our wedding anniversary of last October. Still can't get my head around it.......

Friday, December 05, 2008

I've been tagged

By Marie.

At least, I think I have - so here goes, anyway.

The instructions are to go to your sixth picture folder and pick your sixth picture.


Quite nice, I suppose. I photographed these hostas at Alston Hall, I know that much, but I don;t know when. Because I obviously didn't have time and date set on my camera as apparently it was taken in April 2013. Pretty cool, eh? Maybe I'm the new Doctor Who.......It was taken within the last two years, though, as it was done with my Samsung rather than the Finepix.

Although I like hostas, I could wish it had been a more interesting photograph, but never mind, it could have been worse.

So, in turn, I am tagging Barbara, Dalesgirl, I should be ironing, Penny and Beadlizard (because I can never have too much of Beadlizard's gorgeous photographs of the California coastline!)

The sixth of the sixth, and tag five, ok?

Fibrewise, I've cast on the Abby batt yarn for a pair of the "Fetching" cabled fingerless mitts from Knitty a while back. It's beautiful to knit with, and should be nice and warm. I've finished spinning the second of the batts, and would have got it plyed last night only my drive band got bitten through yet again. this gets tiresome - it's a family failing, apparently, either their sister or mother does it. Maybe both.

Just as well they are so cute.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A rare sighting of my fabulous Jacob sweater

Many years ago, when I was but a novice spinner, I used to spin a lot of Jacob fleece. Generally in the grease, straight from the sack (we all did in those days). So I ended up with a stash of thick, slightly lumpy bumpy, bi-coloured yarn, and no idea what to do with it, because I had, of course, just spun it with no project in mind.

Neither was I that enthusiastic a knitter. Again, like so many others, I was simply happy to have a basketful of yarn handspun by moi. There, was a huge and entirely justified sense of achievement about that.

But changes began to happen, and one of the early manifestations was that I wanted to take my lovely yarn on to that next level. And I wanted this to happen kind of overnight. Patience has never been my strong suit. So, I doubled up the yarn (I had about three fleeces-worth) and dug out one of the enormous knitting needles that I had bought eons before for a purpose I couldn't remember, and cast on a ginormous odd-pin garter stitch SWEATER. Four rectangles. Joined together strategically, and welts appended. Comme ca...

fabulous jumper

You are not getting a head shot, I've just washed my hair and I'm all wet rat's tails.

On days like today, when the frost hasn't lifted all day and the air has smelled of snow and ice, and the sun has shone and made everything all sparkly and it has been very, very cold - the fabulous, ginormous Jacob sweater comes right into its own. This doesn't happen very often these days, so is always a treat to be relished. So, there I am, all muffled up in my three fleeces with room for toasty air besides, happy as Larry (presumably the Lamb....)


I am also extra-chuffed today because I have just found out that Jenny Dean now has a blog. I've only had time for a quick squizz thus far, but it looks absolutely beautiful, and being Jenny will be stuffed full of interest and information.

And now, having actually done some housework in a fit of enthusiasm, I am going to sit on the sofa in my sweater, and knit.

BTW, not fibre or anything like it related, but I am thinking that my pc has some issues with svc.exe files, which I gather can happen. Anyone know anything about this?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Woke up this morning..... this.

towards the bridge

Well, I say "woke up" - "was woken" is nearer the mark. The DSM had tried to get his car out at the usual sort of time of 6.45, and failed miserably. There it was, stuck across the lane, and reinforcements were necessary. Fortunately, a neighbour appeared on the scene as well, and our car was soon more or less returned to base, and neighbour, with a straight run at the lane, was out.


So, this is us (the further half).


And this is up the lane.

ruby in the snow

This is Ruby, enjoying every minute of the new experience. At one point, she was racing around and her back paws slipped on a more icy patch. She stopped dead, turned round and looked at her back end with a gaze of absolute disbelief and disgust! Not that it stopped her for long.

barn in snow

Anyway, Barni was not impressed at all, a feeling much more typical of felines, I would say.

There are a few more photos on Flickr, just click on an image and look for the set. should you be as enamoured of snow as I am. I tend to come over all child-like with glee, we get so little of it.

But it has been great today, the DSM couldn't get in to work, but as I have a 4WD, we could go out, so we slithered around doing a bit of Christmas shopping, including some really cute decorations - I should photograph those, maybe - and one or two presents. Plus some more mundane errands that had really needed the two of us, but we just hadn't had time.

It has thawed some, but up here has also snowed some more. There could be more fun to come.

Oh, goody, goody.

Monday, December 01, 2008

If someone could just reach up and catch the trailing end of my shawl, please? Hold on tight, and drag me back down to earth?

Phew, that's better - I think....

Last night, the DSM and I did something that for us was very brave and very unusual. (We are such sweet, old-fashioned things.) We went to the MEN Arena, holding in our hot (courtesy of lovely hand knit gloves) little hands tickets that we very much hoped were legit, as I had bought them off eBay. (At great expense.)*

I was, of course, worrying completely unnecessarily on every score, as I always do. Apart from being considerably overawed by the sheer scale of the place, everything went swimmingly.

I suppose that my other, slightly secret anxiety had been that it wouldn't live up to my hopes. Despite the rave reviews. But it did. Oh, boy, did it.

Three hours of magic. (Well, not quite on the video clip, the sound isn't all that good.)

Like this.

And it may be that not all of you actually like Leonard Cohen as much as we do.....

But we loved every minute of it. Great musicians, great staging and the master himself. I'm so glad we finally got to see him.

Plus, if that's what seventy five looks and sounds like......

(Oh, sorry, no pics. I did try, but it was too dark for the camera on my phone.)

*The expense was more than worth it.