Friday, December 31, 2010

Another turn of the wheel

The last day of the year 2010. So, I suppose the last year of the decade. Just as I like to celebrate Yule, so I like to mark in some way the end of one year and the beginning of the next. It is a dark and dank and depressing day at the end of a year that has been less than easy in some ways. But it is nearly over and done with, and tonight is the time to see the past in some kind of perspective and move forward into an as yet unknown year, full of the promise of all sorts of good things as well as the mundane or difficult.

It is simply the turning of the wheel.

Before the season is over, photographs of two of my favourite decorations.

The tree, of course. This was a particularly nice one, with spiffy new gold baubles and so on after a few too many bit the dust in previous years to do a decent job.

And then, my favourite gold-and-sparkly twig garland.

This year, we have had extra lights to keep back the dark, which has been lovely, although the DSM will insist on trying out all the settings so sometimes they are flashing frenetically enough to damage hapless passers by.

I have been knitting, the best I could manage during the various socialisings and festivities. As the weather was so cold and snowy, I thought that one new hat might not be sufficient, so whacked out another.

The first is the one I mentioned earlier, the second a simple hat in Noro Kureyon that I had to hand, as one does....

Both need felting, which I have not yet done. But as the weather turned as I finished them to much milder and wetter, there hasn't been quite the urgency.

Sometimes I makes resolutions, sometimes I doesn't. This year I have - kind of - made one.


But actually, that little word "knit" encompasses a few sub-categories. It stands as well, of course, for spin; and has to include write; and then, eyes now functioning better, maybe bead; and who knows, with the newly emancipated DSM to urge me on, possibly even weave. Who knows? There is a whole new year stretching ahead!

So, fingers crossed, and good luck and a merry old time to us all.

I hope you have a head full of Plans, as I do!

Happy New Year.

Friday, December 24, 2010

A blog post

I have been trying to find the time to write a Christmas - or, rather, Yule - post. I have spent a lot of time pondering what I was going to say - words of wisdom about the meaning of the midwinter festival, the delight of the lunar eclipse on the actual Solstice (even if I didn't actually observe it......)

The frozen beauty of the woods and fields around our cottage, still remaining diamond bright even several days after the snow fell. The sparkling jewels in the snow from the ice crystals reflecting the light from the full moon. Occasional soft hoots from the tawny owls.

The enormous pleasure of piling on hand spun, hand knit garments to keep the cold from toes and fingers, wrapping shawls and scarves around our necks, and burrowing under throws on the sofa of an evening. It has been that cold. Never above freezing in daytime, down to around -10C at night. Today was positively balmy - -2C.

But events have conspired against me. Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday we were out and about - teaching, Guild, going to see "The Merry Widow" in Leeds (I do rather prefer the original, somewhat more risque-sounding title of "Die Lustige Witwe"!) and pub-lunching on Monday. And then the countdown to the weekend started, and orgy of cleaning and baking. This was always meant to be a low-key holiday, just us two and my sister. But somehow, the things that I regard as essential traditions take up quite a bit of time. I added to them this year, too, as I have made some things rather than buying others.

So, no-one to blame but myself.

And so, it is done. The veggie sausage rolls, the mince pies, the cashew nut roast and all the sauces and trimmings, the almond macaroons and a luscious lemon sponge are all safely made and suitably stowed. The parcels are all wrapped, and the children have spent the afternoon decorating - both human and feline!

The tree has been tied to the bookcase to prevent disasters, and totally weighed down with lovely new golden globes and stars and "cranberry" bead ropes by my sister. The DSM has festooned the inside and the outside of the house with fairy lights, some of which are flashing hysterically and will have to be turned down after I at least have had a seasonal libation or two. We went through the boxes of decorations all together and selected out the ones we liked best, then distributing them around - one of the nice things about having a beamed ceiling is decorating them for Christmas.

Meanwhile, the two younger felines have found an awful lot to play with in the form of strings and tinsel and int'restin' cardboard boxes (Neelix has simply been sleeping and eating as usual, having seen it all before.) Although Ruby did bring in a contribution to the feast, which we unkindly rejected on account of it being a very dead small rodent. No clue where she found that poor thing in this harsh weather.

And now all I have left to do is the Christmas Eve meal, now traditionally of a side of salmon. It is easy, seems sumptuous and gives us leftovers - what more could we ask? Well, the odd drink, of course. I am torn, tonight, between mulled wine and my favourite advocaat, another tradition.

Do you think I could have both?

Now I am aiming for two days with lots of spinning and knitting, not much of either having taken place over the last week. I have been working on a rather nice hat kit that a SOAR friend gave me, that has taught me to knit ridges, and last night I spent a happy couple of hours on the alpaca and silk lace shawl. (We three had gone over to Magrat's taking a moussaka with us, instead of having a regular Coven meeting.)

All further meal preparation will be shared, as will the clearing up. More family and maybe neighbours may drop by. There is the Christmas Doctor Who.......

Sounds totally ace to me!

However we celebrate, no matter what we believe, the midwinter festival is, I am certain, of enormous significance. I hope that your personal celebration be rich and satisfying, or at the very least a pause in any madness.

Merry, Merry.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Well, we are back from Cornwall.

But before we left, and on the way home, we managed a few treats.

Firstly, HP&TDHpt1. (Harry Potter, if that is a bit abstract.) I thought it was good. Can't quite use the word "enjoyed" and I certainly wouldn't really call it a "children's" film. Although I suppose the aspects of it that I found most harrowing were those that would pass over the heads of many of the very young children in the audience, by which I mean the hopelessness that the three young lead characters had to portray - rather well, too. But I did, along with everyone else flinch and squeak when the snake reared back up........

And then, "Macbeth", the film version with Patrick Stewart on television the next night. Cor. Riveting. As it started, and DMIL saw that it was a modern dress (ish) production, she bagan muttering pretty loudly, but by the end she was either as glued to it as we were, or comatose. By golly, the good Captain can act.

Next, a visit to Mevagissey, in the quiet and extreme chill of the winter, with the wind howling around the harbour gnawing at our finger tips. But I had to take photos, there was such a richness of shape and colour all around.

We had previously made a quick visit to Charlestown, and I had found a few good images there as well.

I am sure that the few dog walkers who saw me furiously photographing a little broken backed fibreglass dinghy though I was barking, but I though that the shapes were really interesting and I liked the old blue so reminiscent of indigo against the stained white.

I love going to Cornwall in winter.

On the way home, we finally made it to "Get Knitted"

We were quite good, although I did buy a teeny skein of "Jitterbug" and some "Cascade" yarn to make a felted bag. I had never seen it before, and was very taken with the range of colours. I was also very taken with this:

Just inside the door in the loo. Sit down, and look to your right at floor level.

Too cute!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Expect the unexpected

Fortunately not in terms of difficulties with the roads or weather. But it was cold, so very cold. I have never seen a hoar frost like the one that seemed to be blanketting the entire western half of the country!

Trees and grass were quite amazing, but the bits I loved best were the strings of ice crystals on what I assume were spiders' webs.

So, safely arrived, we took advantage of a brilliantly clear if bitterly cold day to visit our favourite beach, of course.

And we lingered to watch the sun go down.

Next day, we were taking DMIL to a hosptial appointment to have a possible skin cancer looked at (she has had them before). It was decided on investigation that it likely was and that as she had family around to keep an eye on her it would be removed immediately. It was all really quick and efficient - two hours from arrival to departure. And the staff were all delightful as well as efficient.

We came home armed with all kinds of stuff and lots of instructions, and started tucking in to a bowl of hearty veg and pearl barley soup that I had brought down with me - and that had, by the way, remained completely frozen from Monday to Thursday morning! Said it was cold!

Too soon to relax - part way through, the wound site began bleeding, and despite following instructions, we couldn't calm it down. So, the DSM had to make the trip to the local cottage hospital with DMIL, and they spent another couple of hours there whilst the staff got the bleeding under control.

All seems to be well now, thank goodness. But it seems prudent to us to extend our visit by a couple of days to get past the first dressing change by the district nurse tomorrow. So the morning was spent making volleys of phone calls to rearrange things - succesfully - and in my case making a risotto for lunch.

I did bring Christmas cards down with me to write - I think that is going to turn out to have been very far-sighted of me! Apart from that, I have put several inches on the alpaca and silk lace stole, and have finished the first Wollmeise sock and cast on the second.

So, fingers crossed..........

Sunday, December 05, 2010


The shawl is finished - kind of. It needs a good steam press before photographing, hence........

I'm now sort of floundering around doing a bit of sock, a bit of lacy stole, seeing if I can get a hat out of the yarn left over from the shawl, looking at piles of yarn wondering what I could do with them, contemplating casting on for a large, long rectangle that would fold in to a rather cool shrug.

We went over to see my sister yesterday, just because, and also to help her finish off her knitted thing. Which looks lovely - and before it had the front bit attached, she tried it on with just the ends folded, and it looked fabulous. Hence my thought. But do I really want to knit for hours and hours on a massive rectangle in K1P1 rib?? Could it work with cables? Could I ever metamorphose in to an organised, purposeful person who has some clue what she wants to do?

I drove the new to us vehicle over yesterday, which was much easier than I had anticipated (Now, there's a surprise!) A lot of the snow was in the process of melting and the roads were clear anyway. Among all the other fancy bells and whistles that we had not set out to have are heated front seats. Such decadence. Although apparently they come with dire warnings not to leave them on too long for fear of actually scorching delicate parts of the anatomy. I had been slightly concerned that I might have felt a bit odd with the wider car, but apparently not. I guess that is a good thing, as we have every intention of keeping it for a long time!

Anyway, we are off to Cornwall for a few days tomorrow. Quite difficult to know what to pack. Apart from my red Croc wellies for beach-walking, I suppose.

And one, one knitting project to concentrate my mind........

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

More snow

This was the view from the bedroom window mid-morning.

Can it get much better than this? Snow and sheep!

Although it does mean that we have considered it more prudent not to drive off over the moor to collect the new car. We don't think that the road is actually blocked, it just seems sensible not to venture out in these extremely adverse-for-driving road conditions. Even with 4WD. We have even abandoned our usual routine of going to fetch the paper.

The Snowshoes decided that that given their name, if not heritage, they would go out. But not for long. A brief foray to check the boundaries and see just what that pheasant up the back was doing, and then it was back indoors. But they are bored. And therefore either playing (together! amicably!) or being bad. So, a couple of cat - Ruby - photographs.

Me? Scratching the bottom of the chair? Of course not!

And this is my camera peering at Madam through the long purple tunnel. I hadn't realised that it had danglies inside it.

And I have been playing, too. Not just striving to finish the shawl (I'm knitting as fast as I can....) or to press on with the Shetland/Zwartbles cross (and gawd knows what I am going to do with the yarn when it is all spun up. Of which more later, no doubt.) No, playing with my new....well, toy doesn't seem the right word. Little beauty? My Preciousssss?

(Apologies for wobbly photos, it's the excitement.)

My beautiful, beautiful new Golding. I had stalked it for probably months on their web site, expecting every time I went to drool that it would have gone. But no. And one day, I just snapped, snapped, I tell you. The only fly in the proverbial is the ENORMOUS Customs charge. I've practically repaid the National Debt. Sheesh, it's a rip off! But there we go, one has to suffer for one's pleasures........

I need more tea. It is too early for a hot toddy as yet. Although I suppose I could follow in the footsteps of my dear old granny - I do in so many ways - and add a slug of scotch to it. Or, maybe not!

Back to the shawl. But before I go, can anyone tell me what has happened to the Blogger spell check, if anything? Is is hiding, discontinued, or am I just being dense?