Sunday, January 31, 2010

Some progress


Has become this

Has become this

Pygora/wool neck shawl

All in the space of a month! I am actually quite impressed with myself.

I am also pleased with the fact that the yarn has softened, gained a much nicer hand, as I have knitted with it, so is going to feel all right around my neck. As is obvious, I never did find a more sophisticated pattern, just simple yarn overs, but even unblocked, they look quite nice, and suit the character of the yarn. The colour has worked out well, too - I used the breaking-off-to-match technique, was rarely aware of any bits where that hadn't been successful, and by dint of having to frog and reknit, even managed to end up with a dark-to-dark thing going on.

All things, given the accompanying background noise, I am indeed well-pleased.

Oh - and look closely at the photograph and you will see a hard hoar frost, quite a rarity these days. I gather it is going to be warmer, greyer and wetter very soon, dammit, but it is lovely while it lasts.

I have a knitting sighting to report - went to Opera North in Leeds last night to see "Ruddigore", which was a great treat as I grew up on amateur performances of G&S and have never lost the taste for it. I really enjoyed the performance, but in the second half, one of the main characters came on, drew up a chair and got out her knitting! I got the distinct impression that her incompetence with the needles was her own and not the character's, but still....I had to be forcibly restrained from cheering.

I have attempted today to give myself more focus - I have been drifting around of late, maybe not so surprisingly, but It Won't Do. So far, so good - now to refind that part bag of cashmere that surfaced a few days ago when hunting for something else, and to get out my Bosworth charka, for far too long languishing on the shelf. Then next up, having worked out the stitch count, to actually cast on the mohair yarn.

Go, me.........

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


His and mine.

Involves gadding and spending money, and he stood it very well.

I had the Book Group Christmas Lunch yesterday. Yes, OK, a bit late, but not one bit less enjoyable for that. Nice, new to me, tiny restaurant a couple of towns along the valley, very good food and brilliant service especially considering that there were ten of us. I was impressed, and will drag the DSM there asap.

Today, I did drag him out - he has been in these four wall way too much, and it seemed to me a good plan to get him out into the real world, so we went to Salt's (whilst a country walk would have been more effective and cheaper, it was a miserable grey wet day and even he didn't fancy exposing himself to the elements. So, Salt's it was.) Via PC World because our printer had died and I needed new (again!!) earphones for my iPod because Barni had chewed one bud off the current ones in the night.......sigh.

Anyway - lunch in the bistro and then a good wander round. We actually did need more boxes of note cards, so useful for thank you letters, and the Gallery has great ones. And I found a lovely purple and gold cat-decorated notebook, because I have such a lack of them - ahem. And - I suddenly remembered that I had wanted "Return to the Hundred Aker Wood" for Christmas and hadn't got it, so today I did. We will both enjoy that.

I think it was a good plan, he seemed better this evening than some. Hope so.

Anyway - before even setting off, the postman brought me - ta da! - a new spindle that I had forgotten I had bought. From a maker on Etsy, in the US, came very quickly and effortlessly. Now, the photos are awful, because I have just taken them in poor light in a tearing hurry. But maybe it can be seen how impossible it was for me to resist....

Made from cd cases, so ecological, too. Plus, spins really, really well.

A business expense, of course.......

This evening I defied logic yet again, and attempted to prove that indeed one could complete a piece of knitting with too little yarn by knitting faster - not. So I had to frog my pygora mini-shawl back to half way. Ah, well, good for the soul, I suppose.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

In praise of idleness

Let's do this barse-ackwards, at least in part.

Today, so far (8:15pm GMT) I have done nothing except a little washing up, make a rather delicious supper of stuffed mushrooms, roast parsnips and steamed cabbage, and knitted a few rounds of the second waving not drowning sock. Oh, and read the paper somewhat more thoroughly than usual. I had a good night's sleep, but I was still feeling somewhat battered, so I treated myself to indolence.

AH yesterday. A really good day. Big group, including no less than four beginners (waving..... :D, so I am feeling a bit inhibited!) The drive home seemed longer than usual in the dark, probably because I went home through the valley rather than over the top and the traffic was heavy. I was glad to be home.

Thursday morning, I was also teaching, albeit unofficially. A Book Group friend had wanted to learn to crochet, and despite the fact that I had never really taught anyone crochet before, I volunteered. For my pains, I was bought coffee, and given some delicious buttons, six pretty flower painted ones, and a lovely handmade and embellished felt one. I am happily planning suitable projects to showcase them now. (Along with all the other projects on the go or coming to the simmer....)

I very much like the fact that in those two days, I have helped enable five people to do things that they couldn't comfortably do previously. Over the last few years, I have taught a lot of people to spin. Some have tried it and realised it is not for them, some are ok with it, some embrace it whole-heartedly, pick up the ball of yarn and entangle it around their lives.

A few years ago, two women came to me for a lesson who both did that, in spades. I quite soon lost touch with one of them, and don't want to go into her story here. The other became a friend, not a close friend, but someone I liked very much and valued. She was amongst other things an indefatigable gardener, both of flowers and of vegetables, and also a great craftsperson. She was fearless in her delight in mixing and matching fibres and techniques, highly creative and a very talented spinner. She loved the craft.

I had very soon learned that she had mental health problems, but didn't at first realise the full extent of these. She gradually told me quite a bit, and I came to admire her even more because of the courage she had shown dealing with what life threw at her. Stable when I first met her, she had some ups and some downs, either of which could be close to catastrophic, making her not always the easiest person to engage with, as is so often the way. She stabilised again, more or less, and then I hear recently that she was doing badly again.

On Thursday, I learned that she had died, had killed herself. I feel very sad, although for her it is tempting to think that it was a rational choice. At least I can remember her enjoying her spinning, and I can think of her in the summer when I am up on the garden and looking at the Goldenrod she gave me for my dye patch.

At least there is that.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Playing hookey

By which I don't really mean crocheting, although I am at the moment - pure experimentation, and if at all successful will be revealed some when.

No, I mean Going Out, and therefore not addressing (even in the lackadaisical way I do it) The Chaos. I have been doing a bit. I shuffled through and around the sock yarn stash and shocked even myself. I have informed the DSM that we need to speed-knit plain vanilla socks to try to reduce it to manageable size fast. He did not look impressed with this as a plan.

So dull, being a one-project person.....

No, I have been out gadding. If one of my favourite things is meeting up with the Book Groups that I attend, then it is meeting up with the Fibre Groups that I attend. And I have done both today.

Non Fiction Book Group this morning (actually, it is some of the same people as the Fiction Book Group, and none the worse for that.) Particularly good as we have been reading Barbara Kingsolver's "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" which even though I have some issues with it, is still a good read as anything of hers is. And it made for a very good discussion, during which I learned from an authoritative source that the "Five a Day" rule was plucked from the air, or rather, decided upon because "children can count to five on one hand, so they can relate to that." Srsly.

The intention behind it is good.......sigh.

Anyway, after an afternoon of fairly impressive toil catching up with office-type things at my desk and computer, and consulting with a plumber the while (multi-tasking? I does it!) I threw a very quick supper of veggie fried rice together, and, abandoning the DSM, buggered orf to the pub to meet with fellow fibre freaks. Two very pleasant hours of chat and spindle spinning.

So, nothing dramatic to report.


Friday, January 15, 2010


Sometimes the chaos and mayhem that is Life As She Is Lived reaches such a pitch that there are only two possible responses. One is to retreat to a favourite pit and pull the comforter of choice over one's head, to lie low until the maelstrom calms. The other is to ride the wave and to create even more chaos by tackling some of life's grottier areas in an attempt to bring order where there is discord....(Oops. I do most dreadfully fear that I am perilously close to quoting theBlessed(not)Margaret of awful memory. Which should give some indication of the true state of affairs....)

I have chosen the other.

And so you find me, dear reader - which might even be myself one day when I look back on my life and smile, or otherwise - personfully wading through the Augean Stable that is my workroom, pitchfork in hand.

Metaphorically speaking, of course.

I have been threatening to do this for - well, ages. As one does. And slowly but surely, the accretions have further accreted, until there remained just two small rat runs, one to the stash and one to the computer.

Now, why doesn't that surprise me?

It isn't all going to happen in just one day, and it will be worse before it is better, but there are worse ways to deal with life's little difficulties and much worse ways to start the year. I am, and I state it here publicly, going to be ruthless, ruthless, I tell you. I already have been - several bags already filled to go to the tip or to a charity shop. There will be more. You have my word on't.

Of course, at this exact moment, I am pouring more caffeine down my throat and writing a blog post. But the process will continue, although option one is looking just a little appealing as well at the moment......

Now. In the interests of fairness (I haven't lived with the DSM for all these years without learning a thing or two about the importance of that). The other two cats:

Double warmth here - from the radiator below and the lamp above. No fools, felines.

And finally - ta da!!

The bottom up Birch, with added edging, all blocked and beautiful. It has come out really well, and even I am very pleased with it. The yarn really looked like nothing on earth after it was off the needles, but a good steam pressing has worked wonders.

Another good way to go in the early part of the year.

What next? I think, as long as there is a "what next?", I shall be ok, despite the chaos.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

After the horse has bolted

I'm as sure as I can be without having a test that I did get H1N1 at SOAR. So you might well wonder just why I have today been and had the vaccination.

The logic (?) goes like this: what I had was bad enough that if it wasn't H1N1, or any other sort of 'flu for that matter, I don't want them or anything resembling them. So, when offered, I accepted the jabs. Never have before; sign of getting older - or wiser??

That was my second trip out today - this morning was my favourite book group, we were fewer in numbers than usual because of the revolting weather conditions. Cold is one thing; cold and damp quite another. Snowy pavements, ditto; thick, sloppy slush, ditto. The car parks were particularly lethal, in town and at the Medical Centre. Oh, well, I'm home now, and safely indoors for a day. But someone at book group wants crochet lessons, so I volunteered, which will be fun.

I had intended to take photographs of various things, but with it being dark and wet outside, and therefore darkish inside, I have only done the ones fro my own purposes.

One was to be of the finished pygora and fine wool yarn, which is very pretty but not quite what I expected, even after a good whapping. But it will make a nice scarf or similar. I've been looking at "shawlette" patterns, with nice lace edgings, but actually, I don't think those would give me the effect I want. I need to find the time to sit and stare at a piece of blank paper. I'm wondering about short rows to make a slightly frilled edging, and just a few decorative yarn-overs.....

First attempt at a photograph:


Try again:

And this is a silly little doodad I knitted over the last couple of nights:

That was displacement activity in lieu of finishing off the "Safflower" shrug. It is done - but I am not sure how I feel about it. It is much smaller than I usually wear things, although not so very different from the illustration; I can't decide if it is usable or not. If not, do I rip it all out? (There isn't enough yarn to make that design any larger.) Or do I throw it into the washing machine, felt it, and turn it in to a bag? At least having finished it I can see the construction (which was not at all clear previously) so I now know how to make a larger version. Which I think I will do - it is a boring knit, but would make a good travel project some time.

I have also spun the first spindle's worth of the Extended Coven 2010 Christmas project, which is not bad going. My aim is to be knitting with it by the time we go to Cornwall - h'mm. Not at all sure about that!

Now to the mohair......

Saturday, January 09, 2010

It is still snowing

From time to time. And so very bitterly cold!

We are forecast for a few more days of it, after that, they are being cautious. I am becoming extremely unpopular amongst my acquaintance - someone said to me this morning that they could "hear me grinning..." because I freely admit to still loving it, despite the inconveniences. What's not to like? The sky is bright, the land gleams and glistens, birds show up excitingly against the icescape, the trees are all frosted, iced, frilled, etched against the snow as well. It is quite beautiful. Yes, it is cold. But what are handspun, handknit garments for if not to warm us up? Yes, I do know that it is hard for some, but we are doing our bit to make sure that those that need assistance are getting it. Yes, that is somewhat cavalier and glib, I'll grovel a bit now. But I can't apologise for my delight in our fantasy landscape, and I dread the return of the dank dark that we mostly suffer from through the winter (summer, too!)

This image has appeared widely in the media and on the internet, from the University of Dundee, so I will make little apology for shamelessly ripping it off, it is so fantastic. This must be unprecedented, I think.

That's snowy!

I haven't taken any more photographs myself recently, maybe I should get out tomorrow after Bear Knitters? I am fortunate in that I can easily get out, the lane is pretty snowy and the road when you reach it far from clear, but my little four wheel drive copes just fine - hence I am able to take a friend shopping and to appointments and so forth.

Because we had to venture out today, and a friend needed a rise too, we decided to treat ourselves to lunch at a favourite pub. Normally I would eschew veggie lasagna and chips (even thought the chips at this particular place are some of the best I know) but today, that seemed just the job. It also means that supper can be light, and so I am attempting a new soup that my sister had at the Bear recently - Thai cauliflower with coconut. I started with onion (of course!), chopped the cauli, added a potato for a bit of thickness, and simmered in veggie stock until tender. Then I shall liquidise, add the amount of Thai curry sauce that seems appropriate, ditto coconut milk, possibly S&P. I'll let you know.

Various fibre pursuits to write up, but none quite done and photographed. This is fabulous weather for sitting knitting and indeed spinning. I'm about to go and do more of it!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

And the first post of the new year......

Wherein I express the extent of my flabberghastness. And I do know that is not and never could be a real word, but it does, I hope, convey something of how I am feeling.

We were warned, and they were right. This is what we woke up to this morning....

Yeah, ok, same old, same old. How many years is it since we could have said that? Many, many. I am reminded, although barely, because it was such a long time ago, I was so much younger then and I am definitely older than that now - of the winter of '63 when Maud and Gwen came for Christmas and couldn't get back to Harrogate until Easter. Or so family legend has it. I do remember that there was a lot of snow.

I was amused to hear on the news last night that one of the local schools had been closed yesterday because the playground was too icy to be safe. Excuse me? When I was a gel, that was one of the great treats of the winter, teetering across the icy wastes, making slides (which I have to admit even then we were not supposed to do), enjoying the strange sensation of losing most feeling from our fingers and then the agonies of regaining it huddled up against the solid fuel stove in our classroom. Ah, those were the days! Liberty bodices (which I never had), chilblains (which I never had), ice on the insides of the windows every morning (which I did), chestnuts roasting on an open fire (sorry about that, but I did) and I will stop with the odious nostalgia now.

We have several inches and it is still snowing. Temperatures are not forecast to rise until at least after the weekend. We will venture out in the Jimny at some point (and yes, the DSM is at home, but for other reasons) but we have some food, soup bubbling on the hob, enough cat food for a siege, I am thankful to say, because I think our ravening lot of beasts would simply eat us if we ran out. I'm just going to relax and enjoy it.

A silly photograph, but it amused me....

The new pots we bought at the Garden Centre sale before we went down to Somerset, from which we returned safely, I should say. Just. A little snow there, a bit more when we got home, and two extremely tired people as we didn't sleep much. The hotel was very good, liked it a lot, and an excellent meal, but we should have remembered to ask for twin beds! Still, I got to enjoy the view of the blue moon shining on the fresh icing of the white stuff.

One of my New Year Thoughts is to stop letting the ironing beat me (have we been here before?) so, after lunch, I take the first step towards that before indulging in other activities. I am approaching FO status with a couple of things, and this is just the weather to hole up in the warm and concentrate on the essentials of life...