Monday, December 31, 2012

Back home again - and a little puzzle to end the year!

When I loaded the Blogger app to do this post, I noticed for the first time that there was a camera symbol at the bottom of the screen. In the spirit of adventure, I touched it, which loaded a camera (duh!) . So, as I wanted a shot of latest knitting project on the needles, I took that. Which put the image in a tray at the bottom of the screen, and that is as far as my techie abilities will take me! So, it may or may not show up in the published post.....(that is the puzzle!)

Another techie fail, too. When I bought the iPad, I also bought a keyboard. One year + later, I have just got it out of the box. OK, so I worked out how to switch it on, and even thought to go in to settings to activate Bluetooth (aaaargh!) but couldn't get them to actually talk to one another. So, some progress, I guess. Could do better.

OK, Christmas. Nice visit to DMIL, who is doing incredibly well for 97, and coped with five chatty adult offspring and hangers-on without resorting to - well, anything really. She isn't the type for violence....actually, I think she enjoyed herself. I certainly hope so.

Two main downers with this trip. The cottage we were I was lovely, but although it claimed to have wi-fi, and our three separate devices claimed to be connected to the network - they weren't. Extremely frustrating. Hence, I promise you, the lack of blog post.

The other thing? The *#%€¥$*&@!!! weather. It has rainedandrainedandrainedandadinfinitum and is still so doing. Back here, the rivers are running high, but the rain is steady rather than cloudbursty so we do not have a torrent coursing down the lane and threatening the house, although we did put the sandbags in position before going away as a precaution.


I hope I have just inserted a pic of the view from the kitchen window. We shall see.

So we didn't do all that much while we were away. A few short strolls in between rain showers (the torrents were at least overnight). We couldn't get access to our favourite beach as the roads down to it were closed, presumably through flood or land slip. This really is getting beyond a joke.

But as we had been able to visit Get Knitted on the way down, I had been successful in acquiring some Cascade 220 to make a Swirl jacket, so I was able to get that cast on. The fun bit was joining the round. You are instructed (and I would have done anyway) to work three rows and then join, but this would have been shall we say incredibly interesting without help. I had cast on around 560 stitches on a circ that only just held them workably. So I borrowed all the spare cables and tips various that my sister had with her, spread out the stitches as straight as possible, and then prevailed upon my nearest and dearest to straighten them out and to keep them thusly whilst I effected the join!

I think it may be possible that there is an easier way to do it........

So, now we are all safely back home, and despite the filthy weather very glad to be so. We have passed the Solstice, the turn of the year is made, and we can hope for the slow return of the light. Actually, I wouldn't mind some snow first.

No resolutions. No intentions either, at least not as yet. They may come in time. I may not yet have The Project I am searching for, but I have good stuff to be going on with, and some good things to look forward to in the weeks to come. I am about to go prepare a nice warming winter pie for our New Year's Eve meal, and we shall crack open a bottle.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, December 16, 2012


I've had a bit of a moment. I suppose, to be strictly accurate, several, that have just this evening coalesced into coherent thought.

Yes, really. I kid you not.

I have continued to be dilatory on the blog front. This is not because I don't want to blog. And it's not just because of the disaster that is the workroom, not to mention the geriatric condition of our desktop. (I am working on that one. It takes a while.)

A major factor is that, as I have said, there is not all that much fibre activity going on. All of a sudden, I can see that a large part of that is due to being stuck. The projects that I am working on are not working out.

One of them I can do nothing about. The finished object is so cute and irresistible that the great nevvie to be simply must have it. It will be great when finished, but the execution is a royal pain. Remind me never again to knit something with a bazillion teeny tiny body parts from a pattern that is not the easiest to follow, and that is going to have to be so carefully pressed and stitched after the drafted knitting is complete......I am SURE that there must be a better way to design such a thing!

All I can do about that is to keep on reminding myself that it will be worth it in the end.

The other thing is much harder to accept and to take appropriate action on. It is the latest shawl/stole.

Remember how I sampled and switched until my ears bled? Decided on a stitch pattern? It Isn't Working Out. I Don't Like it.

I love the yarn. I spun it well, it has a fabulous hand and appearance. But I still have not found the One True Way to make what I want to make. I need to frog, and rethink. And not only do I have to grasp that particular nettle, but I also need to decide whether or not to still focus on it, or if I should come up with something else to give myself breathing space.

I suppose, at least it helps having made this realisation! Watch this space. There may even be photographs.

In other news, we whisked off to see The Hobbit, in 3-D to boot, in the spiffy new cinema in Halifax. Well, not sorry I saw it. Will probably buy the DVD so as to have the entire opus. And it probably isn't true to say even that I was disappointed, as the book is not as dear to my heart as LoTR. But golly gee, way to much time devoted to hugely overblown battle scenes and far too much of a whiff of Pirates of the Caribbean about it, as in Our Heroes Various falling endlessly down chasms, etc, on or off bits of bridge or whatever and remaining entirely unscathed. H'mm.

OK, ladies and gentlemen, place your bets - will she post again before Christmas?

Wednesday, November 28, 2012


I'm still not blogging as much as I would like. Thinking about it, I realise that there are a few reasons, not just one.

Firstly, the state of our back room/workroom is a total disgrace, and using it is not a pleasure. I have found that there is an app for Blogger for the iPad, but I am still not completely au fait with it - must try harder. (Do so wish there was an app for room-fettling.)

Then, the computer in aforementioned room is elderly, and flaky. Ok, ok, so am I but it still makes a difference! There is an on-going conversation between the DSM and me about getting a new machine, but he still needs working on a bit.......

And more - I am still working mainly with commercial yarns for the forthcoming sproglet. Second blanket nearly finished, cute felted toy needs another machine wash and then stuffing and finishing off. Next up, a pair of delightful crocheted bootees and The Teddy. After that, we shall see. I still have yarn to use.

The only spinning going on - and it is - has been written about here already, so nothing new until finished and off the wheels. I do have a lust for a red shawlette, so am looking through the stash (also not a delightful task on account of the dratted room...)for some suitable fibre. I shall be seduced into a third spinning project if I find anything.

I have some new spindles that I should be giving a work out to, and reporting on, but for whatever reason, I can't find the enthusiasm for that, at the moment. I shall probably take them to Cornwall with me when we go for Christmas. Yes! Christmas with DMIL this year, for a change, and my sister is coming with us, so should be fun. Mind you, I have just read a rather alarmist weather report on t'internet reckoning that we are in for a really hard winter with lots of snow and ice. Now, I normally don't mind that in the slightest, but I do when faced with a few hundred miles of motorway to drive!

So, what has been going on otherwise? A certain amount of gadding to gigs, unusually. The Sunday after we got back from California, Fairport Convention were playing at the Trades Club in town, and we fancied going. They were excellent; and we learned that there was a folk weekend the next one on, so we booked for the Saturday night, and again, really excellent. And I had seen that Bellowhead were at the St George's Hall in Bradford, so we hied ourselves off to that as well. Now, I do know that they are not to everyones taste, but I love them - I find their, shall we say, raucous style exilerating. Plus we got introduced to their supporting act, a young (and rather cute, ahem) would you believe, punk cajun trio from Switzerland, called Mama Rosin. All excellent fun. And, do you get the theme, here.....??

One more - back at the Trades last night, one of the founder members of Fairport with Matthews' Southern Comfort. This was in fact, probably the best gig of the lot. I liked the entire foursome, but two of them - electric guitar and keyboard - were outstanding instrumentalists.

So, having been moaning to the DSM that we never went to music events other than opera - and I was really meaning classical, but definitely not complaining - we have had a sudden rush. We intend to continue, helps keep us young - hah!

OK, I will finish off the trip posts soon, but I just wanted to bring myself up to scratch and up to date.

Just time to stash-dive again before supper.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Death Valley

Just the name.....Death Valley.......has an iconic ring to it. It is deep in our mythology, even if we are not American. Blame it on all those grainy black and white Westerns on the television weekend aftenoons when we were children. Or when I was anyway. And certainly, the walls of the restaurant at Stove Pipe Wells are hung with posters of mostly long forgotten movies called somethingorotherdeathvalley, or that were filmed there.

As I am sure I have said before, I do try very hard not to use the word "awesome" unless I truly mean it. And in this case, I do. Death Valley is awesome. And we didn't even visit at the hottest time of year. Temps between 90 and 100F were quite enough for me, and I was fascinated by the way that any moisture in your skin is just sucked right out as you stand there!

It is huge and beautiful and we barely scratched the surface. Definitely now on my list of places to which I must return.

So a few photos to try to give some flavour of it.






This next was taken at Panamint Springs. (I loved the names - Furnace Creek, Stovepipe Wells, Badwater, Panamint Springs.)


These are Joshua trees. All these years, I had heard of the things and not realised what they were like.



I am going to leave it there, gazing at the looming wall of the Sierra Nevada. I had intended to do a larger post, but the internet is doing its Sunday in Hebden Bridge thing, and I can't bear the snails pace!

I'll try not to leave it too long!

(More photos on Flickr, as usual.)

Friday, November 09, 2012

Las Vegas

Strictly speaking, Manchester first - a 25 hour travelling day to Las Vegas that we survived surprisingly well.

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And that is why we went there in the first place! Taken from the pool - on our first day, we had never intended to do very much but potter around, rest, get our bearings. Las Vegas is - weird. It is like being in a giant bubble of artificiality. We didn't step out of the resort apart from going out to the pool area that first day. Everything we needed - and even more that we didn't - was right there, up to and including a tattoo place.

Right outside the resort entrance was a volcano. So, ok, not a real one. A fake one, that erupted every hour from dusk until (I think) midnight. Unmissable (?)

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However they do it, there was a considerable amount of heat involved. Actually, it was pretty impressive. If you have to have that sort of thing.

Then there was the Atrium. With a mini tropical rain forest.

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And crysanthemums. See what I mean by weird?

Something we saw very little of, though, was gamblers. There may have been serious heavy duty stuff going on behind the doors of the high stakes rooms, but at the tables and slots in the main areas, there were very, very few people. Those that there were looked bored out of their skulls, and many of them were smoking. Amazing how quickly that has become such an unusual sight.

Day two, back to the pool in the morning, and then a trip out to Red Rock Canyon in the afternoon. In a pink Hummer. Bizarre, no?

But stunningly beautiful and really interesting. The contrast between the natural raw beauty of the canyon and the rather down at heel artificiality of the city was marked.

A few photos - there are more on Flickr, just click on through if interested.

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An agave plant. Look closely and you should be able to see the fibres.

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Then as a complete contrast, that evening we went to see "Love". It was amazing. It was, actually, well worth going to Vegas for.

I didn't dislike Vagas as much as I had thought that I would. At one and the same time, my brain was telling me that this was awful, this place should not exist in the middle of the desert and that it represented the worst kind of excesses; and that in fact, it was not so bad to suspend ones' disbelief and principles for a couple of days to enjoy relaxing by the pool with the biggest mojito conceivable (I never did finish it) and to watch a show stuffed full of extremely talented people that was beautiful and exciting and reminded one of one's youth! So, yeah, glad we went.

And glad to leave, to get on the road. And more fabulousness.


Wednesday, October 31, 2012


From where I sit in Berkeley CA (nearly). We have one more day before we fly home.

At least, I do so hope that is the case and that the terrible storm that has been battering the East Coast will have passed, and likewise all the knock-on effects that can ensue. I haven't actually seen any TV news, but I have been reading on line, and it all looks to have been pretty bad.

And in other news of fresh disasters.......those of you who know of Judith Mckenzie, US fibre crafts teacher and author extraordinaire, may not have heard that yesterday her studio burned down, destroying all her equipment and supplies, not to mention work space. She had not even made it back from SOAR.

OK, hiatus for an evening of wine and pizza with visitors from SOAR. So, I won't write more now after all. Hopefully, the trip will go well, and allowing for jet lag recovery I will upload the photos and get cracking on the posts! Thanks for your patience, and a bientot.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Carpe diem

By which I mean, seizing the opportunity to do a quick post to say - I am not lost forever!

Despite my good intentions, I couldn't find the time to do a post before leaving. And since then, Internet access has existed but can be decidedly eccentric!

For instance, after wonderful, potable* travels, we have arrived at Point Reyes Station, and the lovely yurt-type lodging that we have visited before. It has wi-fi. Which seems to let us take turn and turn about to use. Yesterday, The DSM had a connection on the netbook, although by the time I got there, it had diminished to a trickle. Today, I have quite a good signal on the iPad. Quite unfathomable.

I have not taken many photos with the iPad camera, and actually, am not sure just how that works for uploading (learning curve!) to Blogger. So, I am going to post a bit, when I can, and if neccesary do mega illustrated posts when I either have a good signal on the netbook, or - get home!

Let's just say that the trip has been wonderful so far. Las Vegas was much more enjoyable than I had expected, and the drive from there to here, over four days was beautiful in the extreme.

And now, here we are at Point Reyes Station, a little town that I love, and indeed, could live in. It was the weekly Farmers Narket today, so we delayed doing much shopping on the way in yesterday until we had seen what there was on offer. We bought the most luscious ripe tomatoes, sweet onions, baby yellow courgettes, garlic and a huge bunch of purple basil to make a fantastic pasta sauce for supper tonight, also potatoes, a lovely big bunch of rainbow chard that would not look out of place in a vase, and an ORANGE cauliflower. Also local cheese.

And, almost best of all, LOCAL FIBRE. Could not believe my eyes - a stall selling hand spun yarn, and Akers full of roving. Of course, we bought some - a pound of Corriedale, and a pound of a blend of that, alpaca, and, I think, whatever else she had to throw in the mix.

I also passed by the local weaving shop (did I say, U love this place?) which had some great looking batts in the window.......

*I have absolutely no idea what 'potable' is supposed to be - sometime the iPad's predictive thingummy is so bizarre that I am totally defeated. But potable is rather sweet, so it can stay.

The DSM is convinced that he saw a golden eagle today. I did gently point out that the last time we stayed here we convinced ourselves that we were looking at one, only to see it transform in to a turkey vulture at the last minute. But what do I know? It may have been, or there may be one in our future. I will report back!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Don't faint.........

I'm alive.

There have been concerns expressed. And nagging. Thank you for caring!

Basically, I am fine and there has been plenty of stuff going on. (Not necessarily blog-worthy.) It is true that in quite a short space of time, I had two cats, one aunt-by-marriage and one mother disappear from my life, which did leave me a tiny bit shell-shocked and lacking in concentration. It is also true that the ongoing state of horrible chaos in what is supposed to be a work room (and where the desk top is located) is not conducive to creating anything other than a nervous breakdown, and I do not find my beloved iPad a good tool for writing.

But - the biggest obstacle to blog or other writing or making of any sort - or anything very much at all - has been the endless pursuit of kitten watching.



We haven't been entirely idle or boring. We have had a couple of trips up to Gibson Mill, one for demonstrating cotton spinning, one for stewarding at the Bradford Guild exhibition.

We have had a weekend way down south, visiting family and going to a lovely birthday party.



They took ages to getting round to actually cutting that cake........

What I am working on at the moment is not particulalrly blogworthy, certainly. Nice, but slow-growing. In knitting, a commercial cotton yarn baby blanket. (What?? Yes!! I am going to be a Great Aunt! Love it!) My Wensleydale and silk stole, which took me ages and ages to decide on a stitch pattern for. Unfortunately, the one that looked by far the best is also the most boring to knit, so this is going to be a very slow labour of love. Good job I have all those blankets and teddies and Baby Surprises to conjure up.

And as for spinning, well I am still working on the lush pale grey alpaca and silk. The reason being that a certain two felines rush, positively rush to help me if I sit at my spinning wheel. (And just don't even think about spindling!) But I have managed to spin half the fibre and I have very nearly finished plying that - should be on to the second bag very soon now.

I am spindling - I decided to rerun the which sort of spindle can you get more fibre on experiment, but began with the bottom whorls as I like those less - I knew I would never finish if I did the top whorl part first, light-weight that I am.

Then yesterday, we went over to Liverpool. There is an exhibition at the Tate of later works by Turner, Monet and Twombly, and I had really wanted to see it. So glad we went - most interesting. I had never seen any work by Cy Twombly before, but I liked most of what was there. The juxtapositions worked really well, and I found the whole thing very stimulating.

No photographs, of course. But I did take this on Albert Dock.


Love it.

Then, coming home, the sunset was extraordinary, and we stopped up on the moor.



Good day, that.

Now, I will try very hard to produce another post in the next couple of weeks, but in just under, we are off to the States. Mega trip planned, and I will no doubt be inspired to blog more then. Anyway - it is nice to be back.

Monday, July 16, 2012

(Many) shades of (nondescript) colour.........

In rummaging through the brain for a title for a blog post, I did for a brief moment think about calling it something a little more precise than that above. Fortunately, I did see sense, otherwise I think that there might have been some Comments with a capital K.

So, ok, I shall just whinge on a bit bout the weather. Grey, grey, grey &etc. With added rain. Actually, I think that the Met Office lot have reclassified the nomenclature so that what was "rain" is now called "showers"; if they say "rain" they really mean "cloudburst"; and that is now more likely to be catastrophic, torrential and leading to flooding.

I am not entirely joking.

So, where was I? Well, the weekend before last was the annual AH gathering. And actually, it did not rain all the time. Indeed, we managed to sit outside for tea/coffee breaks on I think three occasions. Certainly helped to make everyone feel more light-hearted than they had been doing.

I thoroughly enjoyed teaching my class - nearly everyone who had said that they were going to do it did, and really worked hard. We had a lovely time. Such a pity then to get home to no telephone and hence no broadband - a tree had come down, we subsequently discovered, some way away from the house, but in falling on to a line had put sufficient stress on it to yank our line off the wall. There were a few trials and tribulations before it was fixed, not the least being totally unable to talk to an actual human being. Interestingly, when the repair man came, he said more or less the same thing. We were not on his job list, and apparently in the good old days he would have phoned the office and had us added in, but now he coudn't talk to a human being either. However he was a lovely gent and fixed it anyway. Phew.

This Sunday, the sun shone again after a week's further rain. I sat outside and read the Sunday paper, and later knitted. But now it is back to the same old, same old.

So, motivation has been hard to come by. I am, however, keeping going! The Ashton shawlette - very nice to knit. I have risked putting in an extra "body" repeat, and am not quite convinced that I have sufficient yarn. But I was sensible enough to put in a lifeline before doing it, so I can rip back easily enough. I found the first pattern row of the border a nightmare to get right, so I ended up putting in a stitch marker for each repeat. I felt a bit of a wuss, but it is making things so much easier that I shall do the same again with another pattern.

In something of a fit of boredom, I cast on a simple lace shawl with some oh so pretty mohair yarn that I bought last year somewhere on or near Cape Cod. Urk. So fine that I can barely see it, and all too easy to knit a stitch and a yarn over together as the threads stick like glue. Ah, well, good for the soul.

I finally finished plying the Wensleydale and silk. Totally yummy.


I'm sure that it is terribly disrespectful to HMQ to put a coin upside down like that, so sorry Ma'am.

I had to ply this before that, though. V nice, but I can't for the life of me remember what it is!


I am having to really sit on my hands - or, I suppose, more accurately, keep on knitting other things - to stop myself from casting on the W/S, I so badly want to see what it knits up like. The other yarn is rather nice, but I have yet to think what I might do with it. So no rush there.

Now, if you remember these:


They have become these:


Haven't they grown? We can go and collect them in a couple of weeks - scarily exciting. They have names, too, although until we meet them again, we don't know which is which. Sam(wise) and Ferdi(brand). Yes, back to hobbit names.

That'll put the kibosh on much knitting and spinning - particularly spindle spinning - for a while!

Monday, July 02, 2012

Oh dear oh dear

Seems as though if you take a hiatus from blogging, it is quite hard to get back to it regularly. Hence the silence again. Nothing wrong.

If you don't count the incessant rain and nearly getting flooded out of our holiday let while in Cockermouth for Woolfest!


We were packed and ready to evacuate, but fortunately the rain eased and the water subsided, albeit rather slowly.

Woolfest was as usual lovely. We saw more friends old and new than ever, and considering the state of the economy and that the show had enlarged considerably, we didn't do too badly saleswise. So, we shall sign up for next year.

Despite the weather, which after our first couple of days turned.......miserable, we had a lovely time. We even saw the Olympic torch by accident, just happened to be in Appleby shortly before it was due, so thought we might as well wait and see it.



Damp. Squib. Sorry. Ruined by the horrible sponsors' trucks, and also the total lack of razmatazz. To be fair, the torch bearers seemed to have had a wonderful time, and kudos to them for taking part. But what came across for me was that it was all about the money. I was highly amused as we were walking away, and a woman said to me in a puzzled kind of way "Is it over?" "Yup." "Is that it, then?" "Yup". Priceless expression that I really wish I had caught on camera! So, it wasn't just me, then......

Other pretty pictures:



But I didn't take many as we didn't go all that far and when we did it was grey, raining or both. The few that I took at Woolfest I did on my iPad. although Woolfest is not easy to photograph as it gets so crowded.

At least though, with the weather as it was, I did quite a bit of knitting and spinning. finished a sock that has been on the go for literally years (the other has yet to be cast on); made good progress on the Ashton Shawlette; and spun a new merino/silk blend (jury is out as yet).

Next weekend is the AH annual Retreat, and I am leading a class on improving your spinning. I had best go and do some more prep, although it is nearly all done. Should be fun.

And I will endeavour to be a better blogger.....

Friday, June 08, 2012


Well, it has been a while. I very much doubt that anyone out there, not to mention me, wants a full-blown recap of the last few weeks. Let us just say, it was not fun, things are improving and I feel like coming back.

So, let us give it a go.

There have been good things - a theatre visit, to see Tom Stoppard's "The Real Thing". Wonderful play, less than totally sure about the production....but worth seing, though. Afterwards, knowing that I will need to read the thing if not see it again, I went on to Amazon and found that yes, indeed, there is a collected works of series, yeay! Unfortunately, over several volumes, all at quite a high price for what is I suppose a relatively minority interest. So, those go on the wish list for pressies!

Another cultural outing was to see Andrew Motion at the Square Chapel in Halifax. Another extremely good evening - seems a nice, unassuming sort of chap (I need an emoticon for gentle irony....) Seriously. Read from "Silver" and some poems, talked about his life. So, another visit to Amazon, a collected verse volume and the autobigraphy/memoir bought. We decided to get "Treasure Island" to read first, as neither of us had done so since childhood - free on the Kindle, can't be bad. We will get "Silver" later.

Knitting, well not so much. Couldn't concentrate on even the idiot scarf. But I have been spinning.



This is the 60/40 Wensleydale and silk. I wanted it fine, so it has taken ages to spin. Originally, I was going to chain ply it, but I decided that this was probably not such a good idea as the singles is perhaps a little - well not wire-like, but not over-soft and flexible. So having spun half by dividing the roving into four, I did the second half straight from the roving, so I have one bobbin with shorter, one with longer repeats.

I'm plying it now - it too is going to take ages - and it is coming out, I think, quite nicely. Going to be a stole when it grows up. I need to decide on a lace stitch pattern, and to ponder on whether I want a twisted fringe or a lace edging. I like dilemmas like that.

And then, spindles have been bought.


(Just by way of a change.....)

These are made by someone in France, and they are really rather nice. I have ordered a set of the smaller size for workshops, having wanted to find a suitable lighter-weight spindle for ages rather than to always use our own personal ones. So that is very satisfactory, too.

One more week and then Woolfest! We have had a shipment of Greensleeves spindles, and there is some Bonkers fibre that is just going to arrive in time, phew. I am really looking forward to it, both the relaxing in Cockermouth, and Woolfest itself, always one of the highlights of the year. Even if it does continue raining as in the last week or so......

So, yeah. Glimmers, eh?

Monday, May 14, 2012

No seaside trip for us

We are still in HB. Not going to Cornwall after all. The DSM knew that he had a cold, but it seemed just an insignificant one that wouldn't trouble him. Then I got it. And his started getting much worse by the hour. So we very reluctantly made the sensible decision not to risk passing it on to DMIL, nor knackering ourselves more than we need. We shall go to the funeral - should be improving by then.

It also has the benefit that we shall only be away for a couple of days in the unlikely event that Ruby should come back.

Alvar Lidell

News of fresh disasters? From "Beyond the Fringe". Although interestingly, if you google it, apparently the majority believe that AL really did say it. I have tried to find it online, but can't, but it prompts me to look for a notorious BBC wireless commentary where an extremely drunken commentator describes the Fleet as "all lit up". Nearly as funny as Aggers and Jonners.....I had better stop before I lose my entire audience.

But at least it has given me a giggle. Which has then made me coff.

Bad language.........

(Oh, and paragraphs - I have clicked something. We shall see.)
ETA - yesssss!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

And here is.....

Alvar Lidell with news of fresh disasters. (Hands up those who understand that, then.) I'm afraid that it really is. I had so hoped that my next blog post would be everything more or less back to normal, spinning and knitting progressing satisfactorily, the sun shining, life in general looking good. Well,it is kinda sorta. I'm working a little bit, today at least the sun has shone (although it remains unseasonably cold.) And there is a lot that is good. But - and I hate, hate, hate having to type this. My little Ruby-girl is missing, and we fear the worst. We fell in to the habit of letting cats out in the early hours of the morning - being crepuscular, they have all loved this, and we always felt that this was a safe time of day. And until now - no problems. But last Wednesday, the DSM let Barni and Ruby out at 5am, went to feed them at 7am - and only Barni appeared, no Madam R. And we haven't seen her since, nor has anyone else. I have had this happen before, losing two cats within a few days of one another, I mean, and until it happens to you, you can't imagine the crushing effect of the double whammy. Yes, only animals, but part of the fabric of our lives. Yes, she might come back, we hear all sorts of encouraging stories from people. But I can't believe it. We set off for Cornwall/Somerset tomorrow. We shall leave the cat flap open (poor old B will be in prison) and water and dried food down just in case. And if she is not back by the time that we get back, I shall pick myself up, dust myself off and start all over again. Sorry about further moans. And thanks so much to those various of you who have sent me good thoughts. So appreciated. That's all, folks - back in a week with sea pictures. (If this is still appearing without paragraphs - not my fault! I have put them in, Blogger has ignored all that. Or maybe it will be sorted, and you will think what the blue blazes is she on about now....)

Tuesday, May 01, 2012


.....a series of events, ideas or things that are connected. Actually, I am not sure that this is quite the right word for what has been going on, but it is such a lovely one, making a fine title for a blog post that I shall use it anyway. My name is Carol and I write a blog. Yes, I really do. You might be forgiven for thinking that I had faded away, but it has not been all due to my accidie. (Another fine word - I'm that way about today. Meaning, of course, sloth, apathy or indifference.) It had been my intention to do lots of lovely posts with lots of lovely photographs while we were in Norfolk. Turned out that we were in a wireless black spot, and could not get any signal with either 3Connect or T Mobile. Apart from the occasional enforced visit to a pub with free wifi to download any urgent email - there wasn't any - I could do nothing. I may do a post sometime with photographs, I don't know. I'll just say for now that we had a lovely time, the Guild that we were doing two workshops for were super and made us very welcome, the cottage in Blakeney was one of the best we have ever rented (can't wait to go back) and I came home feeling better than I have done for ages. Which was just as well. The cattery told us that Neelix had had no problems whilst we had been away, and I totally believe them. Other than the usual one of the babies pinching his food, so he was thinner than ever. We were not happy about how he seemed, and took him to the vet the day after we got home, actually expecting that this would be the final journey. The vet felt that there were things that we could do still that might help, and that as in most respects he seemed comfortable, we agreed. Unfortunately, he deteriorated overnight. Again, no blame. But this time, we were quite sure what had to be done. So it was goodbye to my lovely elegant boy. Neelix Here he is two years ago; we were so lucky to have him for over fifteen years, quite a long time for a siamese. He is greatly missed, but we do have the hellacious snowshoes, and just maybe they will be joined by more later on in the year. I had been really worried that when my mother died, Neelix would also, as happened with my father and Fred. Yes, totally daft, I know, but there you are. That's me. What actually happened was obviously not that, and I do realise that the events are not connected at all, but....five days later, the DSM's aunt died. I should not have been stunned, she was not in the best of health, over ninety and well ready to go. But we had thought she had stabilised, got through the winter and would be around for a while longer. We had seen her in February, and had hoped to visit again soon. But thus is the way of the world. In the forty plus years of my knowing her, I had got very fond of her indeed, and so there is now someone else to miss. Not sure yet when the funeral will be, but as it will be in Somerset where she lived, we will go on down to Cornwall for a couple of days to see DMIL as well. So we shall be on our travels again. I'm reeling a bit from all of this. In these sort of circumstances, I tend to feel like one of those little round-bottomed figures that you give a push to and they rock away without falling over (stop tittering at the back, there.) My presence here may be a bit patchy still for a while, or perhaps not, I really don't know. I like writing a blog, and I ain't giving up fibre for a while, that's for sure, so it may soon be service as normal. Tonight, though, is the great SOAR sign-up moment, and we shall be poised, poised I tell you, for the moment the button appears on our screens. It is a good job that there are quite a few workshops that we would like to do this year, as (and yes, I have said this before, but this time it looks really likely) we shall probably not go next year. We have been offered a really exciting workshop opportunity and there may well be a date clash. Now, there's an incentive to keep me blogging! Of that. more much later. Other stuff soon. Bear with me, and send the odd virtual hug my way, eh?

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Time passes

Time passes - and nothing very much happens. Nothing much bloggable, anyway. But I felt that I should just put in a brief appearance as much to reassure myself that I hadn't faded out of existance as anything else.

Oh, stuff has happened. Stuff that is pretty routine for the most part, sometimes more fun than that. Friends, yarn shops, fibre suppliers, you know the sort of thing. But very little spinning or knitting activity has taken place. (Weaving, now - that is a different story, but not mine. Let us just say that the DSM, in contrast to my apathy, is going like gangbusters at the moment, and apart from everything else that he has been doing has wheeled forth the Baby Wolf and has Been Doing Things. I will report in due course.)

I have put a few more inches on the never-ending scarf. Let us just say - it will be done by next winter! But it is an odd thing. For all that I find it a deadly dull project, I love the way the stitch looks, and am going to have to fight very hard with myself not to attempt to survive knitting a waistcoat using the same one. I have bought some grey/brown BFL, and some gorgeous silver grey (dyed) merino/silk with either that in mind, or if I can manage it, a cabled afghan. We shall have to see. All in the future....

And in the present, there has been a long, dedicated search for Just The Right Shawl Pattern. Remember, I finished spinning a spinach green merino/silk, destined for a shawl? I looked at the ball of yarn, and panicked. There would not be enough for the sort of shawl I had in mind. So hours and hours and hours were spent hunting through the Ravelry pattern library, not to mention all the books that I have, and nothing, absolutely nothing leapt off the page at me. So, I thought it would be sensible to make another Pimpelleise - a great pattern, nice and simple to knit and very useful when completed.

After several inches, I realised that the ball of yarn had barely diminished at all. I was being a total pessimist about what I could accomplish with it (I think there may be a moral there, somewhere.....). The hunt was up again. And this time, I found a neat little number on Ravelry, called, I believe, the Ashton shawlette. I'll check and post the link when I post first pics. I have cast on (twice, not bad, eh?) and I think it will be good.

Perhaps the grey fog of time passing is....passing.

Tomorrow, off to Norfolk, with two workshops to teach. In the town where I went to school, although not of course actually there! Although I might just phone them up and ask if it is possible to do a quick walk-through. A few favourite spots to visit, and ah ha! a new yarn shop in Holt. But I cannot deny that this is going to be a bit of an odd trip - the first return visit since my mother died and all. I have always counted myself as a Norfolk woman, my family on my mother's side was through and through, so I preferred to claim that heritage rather than my father's more southerly one. I think I should maybe reconsider that, for what it is worth.

Anyhow, I want to finish a bit of spinning before we go, so, off to my wheel. Next post from foreign parts again.......

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Somewhat bumpy landing

Not in actual fact. Our flights home were smooth and effortless and several days ago. No, what I mean is me landing home with an excess of jetlag. Absolutely no idea why it should be so, but there we go, we take the punches!

Worth it, though. I loved my first experience of Canada.

So, a quick recap. Which will mainly be public art. Without wishing in any way to be insulting, I mostly didn't find Ottawa or Montreal as photogenic as Quebec City. But in our wanderings around, we did see some interesting, or downright stunning art of various kinds.

We had read that the National Gallery in Ottawa was closed on Mondays - still not sure, but we hadn't really got time to do it justice. But we did see these...

But this was what I had really come for.

This may seem a strange piece of sculpture for an arachnophobe to want to see, but I am very glad that I did. Awesome in the proper sense of the word

We walked back to our hotel via a well-known market whose name I have completely forgotten, shame to say. I think Bywater, but I might be getting confused with a Montreal Metro station called Atwater.

Or vice versa - see, jetlag still not completely gone.

A curious thing, but quite fun.

After a nice evening out with god-daughter and my friend, we got the train back to Montreal the next day WITHOUT PROBLEMS.

Now, I've thought about this quite a bit since. But at first appearances, I did not so much like Montreal. On reflection, I think it grew on me after the first couple of days. The only way to be sure, of course, is to go back. I have warned the DSM........

This restaurant sign was appealing. As was this jolly chap on a fountain.

I liked these hearts outside the Musee des Fine Arts.

I also very much enjoyed the Exhibition inside, on the work of an artist that I had never heard of before, Lyonel Feininger. An extremely well set out show, lots of information. Need to do some more investigation.

We had a lot of time on Sunday, with transatlantic flights being evening ones. We saved a little local museum for then. Very interesting and enjoyable, too - devoted to the artisans of the locality, so lots of ironwork, tinsmithing, glass-blowing, joinery and even some textile. Very, very little. And with a small - puzzle? Although, I think not.

Some few things related to weaving, a pair of hand carders as well, all in a glass case. Along with an object maybe two feet long, a fairly slender shafted thing with the shaft split in to four at one end, these four sections curved into a more or less egg-shaped "cage". A few wisps of fleece put within.

Labelled "spindle". For producing yarn.

Ahem. Probably - not. Try "distaff"?

I did go and talk to the nice young man at the desk. I was very pleasant. After all, I could have been wrong (I wonder if I will ever find out? I did leave my email address.)

Before finishing this post and leaving Canada, back one day to the Saturday in Montreal, which was St Patrick's Day. I have never been anywhere other than the UK on this occasion before, at least to the best of my knowledge. Who would have thunk? The streets of Montreal were teeming, positively teeming with people of all genders, sizes, shapes, ages dressed pretty much entirely in green. Often with sparkles. And face paint.

I risked a quick photo of one of the bars. There was to me at least a certain irony in the name of this one! Still, it was nice to see so many people having a good and relatively unrowdy party. The weather was lovely, warm and sunny - maybe that's it. An excuse for a knees up as the spring starts up.. That's an idea I could live with.

Well, let's hope that my head sorts itself out smartish, things to do and places to go. I managed to get to AH yesterday, had a lovely day, and it was nice to be back.

I have several nice yarns I have spun with shawls in mind, and I want to get going on one of those.

Oh - and note to self.....the clocks change tonight!!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Let the train take the strain......

A brief picture-less post about travelling. I'm on a slow internet connection at the moment and don't want to try up and down loading photographs. I'll wander around the house at some later point and see if I can find a better position than my present one.

We have left Quebec, visited Ottawa and now arrived back in Montreal. Sounds simple? Maybe not so.

I bravely telephoned to order a taxi to get us to the station in Quebec, seemingly succesfully, slightly to my amazement. Only, the next morning, having got everything down to the street to wait for it - nada. Buggrit. Mobile phone didn't want to work, so I had to go back upstairs with the competer and use Skype. Spoke to taxi company, they said they would dispatch a taxi immediately. Which they did. Hurrah!!

Loads of time at the station - an hour before our train for Montreal left. (We both like to allow lots of time in case anything should go wrong.....) So, we sat and had a leisurely cup of coffee, then moseyed on over to the barrier to have our tickets checked.

"Oh dear" says nice man -, if you see what I mean fortunately an Anglo - "you've missed your train." Er - no. We yessed and noed back and forth a bit until he thinks to ask us if we actually knew that the clocks had changed the night before......

Silence, quickly followed by huge embarrasment Not to mention panic, visions of having to rearrange all our plans. Horrors.

Anyway, our ticket person was brilliant, and told us to get the bus to Montreal, a taxi to the railway station and we might make our connection. It didn't seem as if we would, but the buses run to time as well, and we got in early, if you see what I mean. We gave a taxi driver a bit of fun by explaining the situation and asking him to drive fast, and we made the train by the skin of our teeth.

We caused much amusement to various people - seeing us rushing along, one guy told us we had loads of time, go back and do more shopping. The chap with the refreshment cart, when we asked him if he had wine (we deserved it!) said yes, he had six, was that enough??

But we got there, and Ottawa was brilliant. Perhaps more later. But for now, we are safely in our last lodging, very luxurious, in Montreal. Quite tired, and glad for a bit of peace!!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Still in Quebec

We are having such a good time just simply wandering around the neighbourhood and the Old City.

Brightly painted houses just down the street that we are staying on.

And on the main drag a little way up the hill (there's a lot of hills!)

In between the two...

Which has been providing us with regular lovely carillons - if that is the word - several times a day.

And how could I resist this!

Yesterday, we went back in to the Old City, and down the vertiginous funicular to the lower city. I'm just going to include a few photos, you can always click through to Flickr if you want to see more.

It is very picturesque, helped by the trend to seemingly keep Christmas decorations up all through the winter, charming buildings, and interesting murals.

We have just pottered locally today. I am enormously proud of myself, having negotiated attempting to shop for boots (a fail, though, as they didn't fit) and other odds and ends, all in French. What is more - and this was the really difficult bit - I made the phone call to order a taxi to get us to the station tomorrow lunchtime. So much harder when you can't get visual clues, but I think I did it ok!

So tomorrow we are of to Ottawa to visit my god-daughter and her mum who just happens to visiting at the same time. And then on Tuesday to Montreal, where amongst other delights, there are yarn shops.

Speaking of which - the boring scarf is growing, but it is a good job that the weather has not been as cold as it might have been!