Thursday, December 31, 2009

The last post of the year

My nice peaceful, personal space between Christmas and New Year has not gone quite as planned. Poor old DSM fell prey to his least favourite thing of all, a short, sharpish attack of the d&vs. Yes, really, not overindulgence in anything. So, he has been off work, which is not such a bad thing, but he has been feeling droopy and not like doing anything much, but in need of some companionship. So I have been fulfilling the role of the loyal spouse instead of being self-indulgent.

Add to that my own spell of not sleeping too well, and creativity has definitely taken a bit of a back seat. I have been doing some stuff, though, and thinking a lot about other stuff that could be done, so hey, it isn't all gloom and doom!

As well, on Christmas Eve, my copy of Abby's spindling dvd arrived, and so we have been watching that. I'm not going to pre-empt my up-coming review in the Journal (assuming that I get it written in time, which I will....) but - impressive. Not surprising - just sayin'.

There has been completion of a spinning project.

The mohair is done. I don't have a huge amount of it, but I saw an ad for the latest Rowan magazine the other day with a picture of a very simple vest-cum-shrug that I think would work well and that I should have enough yarn for.

And straight on to the next spinning project, mainly because I like to spin in the middle of the night.

This is a pygora/fine wool mix that I bought at SOAR, at vast expense, but it was totally irresistible. It is very nice to spin, but I am rather glad that I didn't leave it to mature in the stash for too much longer, as it is already showing signs of compacting slightly. There is only just under four ounces of it, but I am hoping that will be sufficient for a small neck-shawl. I'm spinning from dark to light, half on each of two bobbins and I am going to attempt plying them together with little blurring of the colours. This is going to be challenging, as the rolags are not equally proportioned colourwise. Until I actually get in there, I'm not sure just how it is going to work out, but then that is all part of the fun, no?

To end the year, I have learned a new knitting technique! (Don't faint, nothing all that grand.) I'm knitting the border on to the "Birch" shawl, and continually turning the work around was an absolute pain for some reason, so it suddenly dawned on me that I could simply knit backwards on the plain row. One or two awkward moments to start with, and now - easy-peasy. So I have nearly finished the long top edge. Won't get it done by midnight, though.....

The mogs have gone off to prison, and the DSM and I are going to Somerset tomorrow to visit his aunt in her new care home. I'm not sure if we will be away one night or two - we had originally thought to make more of a trip of it, but the weather is so unappealing that we may do no more than the necessary, with a side trip to Get Knitted and then home for one last day of holiday, and getting the decorations down.

Apropos of which, we went to our local garden centre today to buy new tree decorations for next year in their sale! So we shall be well spiffy. Met my sister over there, and had lunch in the Bear, which was nice. She is talking ever more seriously about moving over here, which would be great.

No resolutions this year, other than to be purposefully occupied and happy. (Don't want much, do I?) I wish us all the peace of the cool greenwood and the midnight sky, the tumble of surf and the warmth of the spring sunshine. Tonight, we have a lunar eclipse of a blue moon on the turn of the year. That has to mean something good, surely......

Happy New Year.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

As the snow melts....

I am so very glad that we went out for a walk on Christmas Day!

The woods were incredibly beautiful. But cold, so it was good to get back to the cottage!

But this was probably the best view, and my favourite photograph.

Not long after we got back from our walk, our younger visitors trudged down the lane through the snow to our door, which was lovely. Then we feasted, and then we relaxed in front of Dr Who. (I'm reserving judgement.)

We have eaten and drunken with commendable moderation, visited my mother, read a lot, knitted (and unknitted, in my case, as I spotted a major error in "Birch", now restored) and spun. This latter in the middle of the night, sadly, as I'm having One Of Those Spells.

Other than that, it is all good. The bright window in the dark of the year works its magic well.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

No need to dream.......

There has been even more snow since I took these latest photographs. It is amazingly beautiful.

I was beginning to wonder if all the trees were going to survive the weight of snow. Especially the little Christmas tree outside.

But after the morning snow showers had ended, there then began a bit of a thaw. Oh, there is still plenty of the white stuff to last a good few days yet, unless temperatures rise phenomenally. But it seems that isn't going to happen - we are forecast more snow showers, slowly increasing temperatures and then, of course, fog.

My preparations are all pretty much done - mince pies and veggie sausage rolls made, and tomorrow's festive nut roast and bread sauce taken as far as can be. There is a side of salmon to be given a pesto crust and baked in the oven for tonight. And those things will feed us for the rest of the holiday with minimal further effort.

Especially as the weather has caused our expected visitors to cancel! Some, the younger ones, may yet call in, but my sister and our friend from down the road have taken the sensible decision to stay home and pull the duvets over their respective heads. So the DSM and I will be (happily, I assure you) alone with the smoked salmon and scrambled egg and Bucks fizz for breakfast, and the aforementioned cashew nut roast for dinner. With ample supplies of advocaat, wine, port and all manner of suitable beverages, although (really, really, really) we are very moderate in our enjoyment of such things.....really.

The DSM and I will almost certainly make it over to York to see the mater on Boxing Day, unless the weather throws something very unexpected at us, but we have cancelled the now-traditional picnic lunch in her room, just in case. But from now until then, he is home, the hatches are battened down, the tree lights on and the young cats are going demented, having discovered a mighty enthusiasm for the glittery foil rosettes and ribbons trimming our Few, at our advanced age!) parcels. Which should be under the tree, but are actually under one of the shawls that I keep in the sitting room, as an anti-Snowshoe device.

There! What did I say? Two young things just thundered into the room, and pounced, but were foiled (oops - didn't mean that pun!!)

So, my dears, compliments of the season to you.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

It's been a far from quiet week in the valley.......

Tuesday was the Extended Coven Christmas get-together (Monday was preparing for it!). Which was lovely. Super people, super little pressies, super food. Makes one wish it could be Christmas every day.....

Tuesday evening (bad timing!) was Valley Fibres. Not so very many turned up, but it was nice all the same. Too close to Christmas, and I seem to recall it was raining and not at all an appealing evening to go out.

Friday was AH, and a room full of spinners, including one wannabe, who struggled personfully and did pretty well. She seemed a natural at first, but I think lost confidence - I moved her on to the wheel too soon, and she had actually been pretty happy on a spindle. But I sent her off with fibre having told her how to make a cd spindle, and I think she will keep trying. She spun some very creditable yarn, that's for sure.

But Friday morning, I awoke to this:



I had to brush a couple of inches of powdery stuff from my car, but the trusty Jimny in 4x4 mode got me out to the main road - and then along the lane to the college at the other end, which was lethal!

There were some further flurries on Friday night, and yesterday. We were at Guild for the Christmas meeting, which always includes a Secret Santa gift exchange, and golly, did I get lucky! Four beautiful heavy cotton table napkins, indigo resist dyed, from India (which means I knew who had put them in!) that are exactly what I would have chosen for myself if buying them. I was so chuffed. Anyway, a quiet and not heavily attended meeting, no doubt because of the proximity of it to Christmas Day, and the decidedly inclement weather. I nearly froze to death in the meeting room, and was definitely not sorry to leave early. Also meant we could knock off a few errands, including buying our joint Christmas present to one another.

Yes, folks, the time has finally come - neither of us can deny any longer that we cannot read subtitles on a tiny television screen. So we now have a flat screen 26" beast that seems huge to us, but I gather other people are now getting 40" monsters, so we are still being fairly restrained. Er - I like it. Actually. Must be getting old......

And today, a few chores - and watching the snow fall. Showers, rather than continuous, but we must have had another couple of centimetres, and if it keeps up, we could be faced with a few logistical problems later in the week. Unless the weather reverts to normal mode - but they keep telling us it is going to remain cold, so the snow will stay in the lane at least. Still, hey, I like snow! We will manage whatever is thrown our way.

I made a little purchase on Friday - a gorgeous Ryland sheepskin, which may seem illogical with me a non-meat-eater, but given that I wear leather shoes, and also know the (organic) producer - well, tough. But it wasn't really for me.

And if I can persuade them not to destroy it in a week, because quite a lot of wrestling has been going on already, I think the Snowshoes will enjoy it.....

Barni on the new rug

One of them appears to be doing so already.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas shopping

Amazing what you can accomplish when you try!

Admittedly, we don't do gifts for as many people as we used to, but there's a few. Our habit was, once upon a time, to have a day out in Manchester or York, buy a lot of stuff for ourselves, and get through maybe half of the rest. Then we began sometimes going to Ilkley, because there is a Smiths there, a lovely sweetie shop, and, of course, Bettys.

So, yesterday, we did a swift gallop around HB, very successfully. Including a haircut for the DSM (so he now looks like a scalped schoolboy, he believes in a haircut lasting....) some wood varnish to spruce up the bathroom, and some beetroot to make soup. Then set off for Ilkley, aiming for a late lunch at the aforementioned. Well, it was late. But good. Especially the festive mulled wine. We bought a few goodies in the shop, then I shot off looking for more conventional boots in black, than I normally wear, in red, blue or purple. I was successful, and highly amused by the lovely woman in the independent (yay!!) shoe shop who took them off to use the "Victorian Bunion Stretcher" on them. We had a heartfelt conversation about the hereditary nature of the dratted things, too. Meanwhile, himself was hunting down photograph storage albums and parcel decorating materials in Smiths (I let him do that on his own!!)

We knocked off a couple more essentials, then went around the corner to the sweetie find that it had vanished. Now I have to find another source of our favourite Alban* Berg chocs, dammit. We don't ever eat many sweets, but at Christmas, we do like a box of those.

Drove back in the twilight, but without the spectacular sunsets of last year, sadly. Still, at least it wasn't raining - again! Wow.

Today was a pleasant Bear Knitters, where I finally got to reacquaint myself with "Birch", a less horrendous experience than I had feared. I am about to start the second ball of yarn - coming up, a judgement call on when to stop the body and go on to the edging. I've done such a thing so rarely that I have practically no experience to base this on. I am sure that edgings take more yarn rather than less, and I would rather stop too soon than too late and have to frog lots. And if there is yarn left over, I could always make finglerless mitts. Can't have too many of those, eh?

One of my spectacularly lousy photographs - of the new spinning on the wheel, the rather nice mohair. Enjoyable to spin, too.


And a rather better photo of the yak and silk. The colour is slightly more pastel in reality, but this is close.

Finished yak and silk

Someone at lunchtime was knitting a very pretty scarf - I'm off to Ravelry to see if she has posted which pattern it is there, it would work a treat with this.

*Anton Berg, Anton. Fool. Chocolates, not music!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

A day without rain

That's it, really.......

No, of course it isn't! Just worth remarking upon, that's all, and the fact that it inspired me to clean and iron and stuff a veggie casserole on. Well, the good old faithful onion, potato and tofu hotpot, which started out as bacon, but smoked tofu works brilliantly.

Notice the lack of fibre content (apart from the potato) in the above. The other necessary activities do get in the way. Ah, well, the house might have been condemned by some authority or other if I hadn't started in on it. The truth of the matter is that the upcoming visit from the Extended Coven is concentrating my mind wonderfully.

I have a little more time to play with, although I am not best chuffed about it. I had been hoping that the first day of strike action EVAH was going to occur for the DSM tomorrow, and we were going to bugger off to Ilkley for a little necessary Xmas shopping, such as wot cannot be done in HB and around. Not to mention lunch at Bettys as a reward for all our labours. But the terminally inept management at the jolly old place of work have decided to return to the negotiating table (and did, I wonder, lemon curry figure??*) H'mm. I'm not convinced it ain't A Ploy, but himself seems to think not. This from a global enterprise that thinks it reasonable to halt pay increases for the staff and gives the Big Chief $14 million as a bonus? We shall see - but our nice little day out is now off the table, and I had been looking forward to it!

My yarn crawl did not quite go as expected, but was fun none the less. Moral Fibre is a nice spot, and definitely worth a visit, although not massively stocked with goodies. Friendly welcome, and the prospect of a knotting group dangled in front of us, which can't be bad. I fell for some strung beads, to knit alongside some handspun, I think, and a skein of something or other pretty, also beaded, with a pattern to make a neck thingy. And no, I can't be more precise than that. Also, a set of 2.5mm Sox Stix. I have always avoided these before as too frightfully expensive, but apparently they do come with a genuine lifetime guarantee, and as the shop is only just down the road.......

The other shop on the itinerary turned out not to be open on Mondays (I hadn't thought of this as a possibility, and as they don't have a website (amazing, in this day and age!!) I didn't think to check by phone. Still, we pressed our noses up against the window, and it looks pretty ace, so we will return. Dashed back to HB and had a nice soup and sandwich lunch in town, and then a cuppa at home with some knitting. Good way to spend a day, eh??

In some small consolation for that, I just went and had a good look around the Wollmeise website. I really, really want to try this fabled stuff. But it is going to be a challenge. Apparently the trick is to hit the site just a few minutes after it has been updated, but as I am not telepathic, I'm not sure how to do that! The other suggestion, by one of the Bear Knitters, has been to have a trip to Munich. I could be up for that :D

OK, once the lid is off the hotpot for browning purposes, I am done with domestic duties and can go spin - I have finished the yak and silk and started some very, very nice dyed mohair that I bought at Rhinebeck last year. I'm not going to know exactly what I am going to do with it until it is finished and samples, I haven't used handspun mohair all that often. Shawl or throw, I would guess.

Pictures at some point....

*Anyone getting the reference??

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Playing away

I've been a bit silent the past week. I've been OK, but very much not liking the weather, and keeping my head down. There has been spinning and knitting - the pretty yak and silk has all been spun, and should be plied this evening; and I am up to the heel on the first Socks That Rock sock in a pattern shamelessly cribbed from my SIL who saw it on someone else's Rav page anyway! Violet Green "Waving Not Drowning" which seemed such a totally appropriate pattern for me that I couldn't resist. Very pretty, too. And the yarn is - oh! To die for. Now I understand why folk rave about it so much. Thank goodness I have another couple of skeins.....

But Friday afternoon, I ran away to play. Recognise anywhere?

Same room, different people.....

My usual teaching room at AH, but I'm a learner again.

More PMC

Fuzzy and unfired

Terrible photograph. I need to take some more, but I forgot before I did the upload and don't have time now. This is fuzzy, and unfired. Although, I did actually only complete four pieces. I had gone expecting to spend the time learning how to do filigree - which I did. But learning by getting it all wrong. Not entirely my fault, and neither was the fact that I had to spend a lot of time amusing myself, but I did get quite a bit out of the class despite the glitches, and kept myself amused in other ways. I'm booked on another one early next year, and will go well-prepared this time, and not make the same mistakes. I've also got the wherewithal to do some here, assuming that I can find the firing block.....I know it is here somewhere.

Anyway, it was quite a nice day yesterday, so I went to a profitable wander with my camera. Just nice shots of attractive things, but they may make for inspiration one of these days.


I loved the delicacy of the ornamental tree and its orange "fruit" against the rose coloured brick in the walled garden.


And I was struck by the Victorian novel-ish appearance of the pergola as I walked past the end of it. The word "pleached" always comes in to my mind when I see this sort of thing, general accompanied by "limes". I have no idea what it means, but it sounds so romantic.

Fungus and leaves

Beautiful richly coloured shiny leaves and a delicate, unfamiliar fungus.

Seed head 2

Lace doilies!

Seed head 1

The name of this plant has gone completely out of my head....begins with "A"....but I loved the colour, again.

Right alongside the walled garden is a more or less derelict greenhouse, which is both a very sad sight and totally intriguing. I have been observing the gentle, slow decay of the door for a while now, and was very struck by the present state. Then I started playing around with Photoshop. Must do more when I have a spare hour or three.

Doorway 1

Doorway 2

OK, off to throw together a quick pasta bake for supper, have a cuppa, and then hit the spinning wheel. Tomorrow, I'm having a yarn crawl with a friend. Yes, I know, I know. I shall do my very, very best not to be tempted by anything. It was obviously a huge mistake to ever allow myself to by commercial yarn At All, because once I started, I can't stop.

I do hope Alice wants to inherit my stash.......