Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bird flu

Ill. Very ill. Poorly sick. Only knitted 4 rows since Thursday so it must be bad.

The Man has also decided to do some DIY and wants help which unforts won’t be forthcoming. Helping the Man with DIY requires more strength and tact than I can currently summon. Sorry darling. Sorry front door. Sorry cat (if we had one).

He’s currently singing though so perhaps the preliminary stages are going OK.

I made some chocolate chip cookies earlier. Note for future baking sessions: too much cookie dough in one dollop does not spread evenly into a monster cookie but just wrinkles up into something which resembles a cowpat.

Tastes OK though.

Chrimbo tree is up. Presents all bought and waiting to be wrapped. There are ominous sounds of sawing coming from the garage and kung fu ‘Yaahhhh!!’ noises.

Wish me luck, gentle reader, wish me luck.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Snowed In, or How to Get Lots Done

Lots of pictures in this post.

It started snowing on Tuesday, so I've been working from home since then. Not much choice with the amazing train network we have in south east England. We had just the same last year, but I suspect it would cost far too much to install overhead power rails which are more snow-proof. Although for the rest of the year the rail-side power lines seem to have fewer problems. Hmm. Maybe I should just save up for a helicopter. Although they are quite sick making. :)

So here are some pics of the snow, starting on Wednesday. You need to keep an eye on the big plant pot in the garden. It was like a souflee rising over several days.

Thursday morning. It's risen!

The town sold out of sledges (again!) and the kids made the most of the big slope in Calverley Rec.

Someone made a cool snowman in the precinct. He's waiting for the phone box.

Good use of available materials. Carrots from M&S? (Not just any carrots.) Check out the eyes. Maltesers!

My little car turned jeep sized. Bless. I suspect if we try to start it the battery will be flat, poor thing.

Our gutters need replacing but the leaking makes some cool icicles!

Then last night it rained and look! Deflated souflee! You can see steps and plants!

The birds had little else left so went to town on the red berry bush.

Make this pic bigger to see the shredded stalks.

Remember those icicles? They grew some more after I took that picture. Good job the Man didn't park on the drive because this would have gone through his bonnet.

The gutter wasn't so lucky.

Just hoping it's not gone through the top of the bay window though. Because if it did that would be directly below the new hole in the gutter...

So anyway, those are our snow dramaz.

The great thing about having snow days is that I can catch up on some of those craft projects that I've been itching to do for weeks.

There are numbers on this pic but you might have to click on it to see them.

1. Mini Maiden from Handmaiden - two skeins for a Percy shawl that I'm not allowed to start until my knit group decide if it's going to become a knitalong next year.

2. Debbie Bliss Andes (65% baby alpaca 35% mulberry silk) with some clear beads to be a cowl or mini shawl / scarf when I finish the current project.

3. First proper dressmaking project I think - an Amy Butler Domestic Goddess apron. Was good, the instructions are clear even for a newbie like me. Had to dredge up some of the dressmaking hints mum told me aons ago, combined with some hints from the interwebs. Yay mums and interwebs!

4. Christmas cards. Card from Hobbycraft (hiss), stamp from Nooliebird via, inkstamp from Papertole in the Pantiles. Which is now the only shop in T Wells proper which sells cardmaking stuff. Now you understand the hiss for Hobbycraft.

5. Jumper which I knitted twice and it was still too small so is destined by my cousin I think. Just waiting for some poppers which are stuck in the snow somewhere to finish it off. Got the buttons there all ready, see?

So here is the Amy Butler project done. It came to an abrupt halt when I ran out of thread two yards from the end. Unforts that was to topstitch the waistband which goes right across the front, so it had to be matching. Even more unforts, I was using Sylko thread. They don't make Sylko any more. Since when?? Apparently Coats took them over. They are taking over the world, I swear. So I ventured into C&H to try to match the colour. So, it's minus two outside and everyone has elevently hundred layers on and C&H have their aircon on 9000000 degrees. I walked in and said out loud, 'Wow! It's hot in here!' and the man said, 'It's nice, isn't it?' At that point the sweat was already running down my back, under my lotsoflayers and feather-filled snow coat. Um. No?

One of my knitting buddies described it as menopausally hot, which I think sums it up quite well.

They were also playing Cliff's Christmas Hits on loop.

The things I do for craft projects.

This is a good project, if you're over 6ft tall. This apron comes to my ankles. I may be taking it up. This is the pleat front apron, with pockets. Not that you can see either in that pic!

During some recent sorting out I rediscovered these cool little tags I'd bought in Bath. One of those is now secreted around the apron.

And now it's time to clear up my desk...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Don’t hate me, but I’ve nearly finished my Christmas shopping. I think I’ve learnt the skill of organising complicated events well in advance while still at work. Only problem person left to buy for is, as usual, the Man, so any suggestions gratefully received! Tempted with this:

Are you guys well stuck in yet? Are you knitting (or making) stuff for people?

It’s just as well these things are getting done early because we’ve got the family coming to ours this year so it will be all hands to the pumps to cater for the feeding frenzy. I’m looking forward to it really, it’s lovely to have a house full of people and I can pretend to be Nigella (or more likely Gordon Ramsay).

The Man is doing even more of a Victor Meldrew impression at the moment because not one but two (ie both / all) of our TVs are broken. One just shrivelled up and died three weeks ago, refusing to turn on from standby, and on Friday night I got home to find the Man sitting with a face like thunder in front of the big TV (his pride and joy) which was shooting lines of snow across the bottom of the screen. Apparently I broke it. Even though when I left in the morning it was showing the repeat of Loose Women fine. (I turn over anything that talks about the Royal Wedding and breakfast tv can’t get enough of it at the moment.) The big TV has now gone back to the shop (luckily still in warranty – broken before a year is up!) but not before we spent an evening playing petulant canasta. Not even winning could cheer him up. How sadly reliant we get on tv. I was quite enjoying it, suddenly you get out of the zombie state and think about all the things you could be doing – putting up pictures, sorting out the bookcases, starting that new knitting project I’m itching to get going on. But no, it was like having a toddler in the house who needed entertaining before he threw a strop. Sigh. And I was sure he said he’s over 30…

These things have been happening since the new people next door moved in and started gutting their place. We’ve had not one but two bluetits in the house. The first one was in the kitchen and we could not fathom how it had got there, because that was the week the Man had decided it was cold and went around plugging all gaps under doors and other draught-making holes with all the stuff that was in the charity clothing pile. (The house now looks a little like the laundry basket exploded.) Nonetheless there was a bluetit in the kitchen, hanging out on the windowsill. Then on Sunday morning I was in the bathroom and there was a massive scuffling under the bath. I thought it was a mouse going crazy, but next thing I’m getting divebombed. Since when did bluetits live under baths?

This weekend I also made a batch of christmas cake cupcakes and stollen cupcakes. These are experiments. The mini xmas cakes are getting fed with sherry for a bit and will be iced nearer xmas. Stollens freeze OK apparently. They are so cute! Lovely little bits of soft bread dough rising around balls of marzipan and lots of yummy dried fruit, peel and nuts. Mmmm. Great with a frothy coffee during a fraught moment.

However I am a newbie food blogger and took 0 pics. Apols. I will try harder next time.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Brrr - hat gloves and scarf weather

It's cold dark and dreary and when the alarm goes off it's like the middle of the night. Sounds like we're in that long on stretch of winter. Hey ho. No choice but to just keep plodding on, and think about planning a holiday.

Lots of friends are having babies, so I am knitting. Clare is due any minute, and for her, an Undercover in sagey greens and greys.

And because they are fans, this Star Wars inspired babygrow:


My old flat mate Ali has just had a little boy which they've called Alfred, so I decided on a Mrs Weasley style sweater. The sweater itself is pretty good, but the letter is wonky - too high. It's OK, Mrs Weasley's aren't perfect either. :)

Now I can get back to my own knitting for a while!

In between times we've been to see Bill Bailey on his Dandelion Mind tour. Go if you want to hear Ace of Spades played on an oud, or Abba played on a car horn xylophone (the act has Gary Numan’s Cars scripted so Abba was an impromptu bonus). I love Bill Bailey’s comedy, he’s funny and ridiculous but hugely intelligent and cultured. I’d love to have several pints in the pub and listen to him pontificate on the state of society. He’d be a great mad uncle to have.

Also Clare and I went to see Harry Potter. Fab. But you know that already. :)

Right, I'm going to go and wind some yarn for the Tea Leaves cardi. These small things make me happy.

Monday, November 01, 2010


God, I have no idea what to do with myself in those spare moments now that I don’t have a wedding to plan and there are no exams upcoming. I suppose in a while I’ll be occupied with redecorating and Christmas. In the meantime, do you think the boss would mind if I knitted a little at work?

I thought I’d do a little round-up review of some of the audiobooks I’ve listened to lately. What a brilliant concept; I can knit and read at the same time! Perhaps in future I’ll do these reviews on the end of my Ravelry project notes – I think it will be quite interesting to look back and see what I was listening to at the time.

True Blood: The Sookie Stackhouse novels – Charlaine Harris
Yes, all eleven of them. Loved them. The Southern accents add so much to it. What you get in the books which you don’t in the TV series is the humour.

Barchester Chronicles – Anthony Trollope
Takes a little while to wind down to the pace but the cast is excellent, the satire scathing and the romance practical.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – Mary Ann Shaffer
Beautiful, gentle and charming.

The Help – Kathryn Stockett
Amazing book, about black ‘help’ in 60s Mississippi. Not at all preachy. A must read.

Vampire Diaries – L J Smith
Tedious. Watch the TV series, they took a concept and made it waaaay better.

One Day – David Nicholls
Book about two friends’ intertwined lives from leaving Uni in the 80s. A little flesh creepy in places because it’s a little too true, and ultimately unsatisfying because a novel is supposed to wrap things up in some way but this drops a bombshell then leaves off. I’m interested to read more about why the author wrote this book, but I didn’t like it.

Skulduggery Pleasant: Book 1 – Derek Landy
A book for teenagers but nothing lacking due to that, apart from it should be longer. Luckily there are more in the series.

Any other book recommendations would be appreciated!

Also, if anyone has any good ideas for xmas presents, please let me know. Especially men presents. And it’s too late to knit things for people, esp as other people keep procreating and I have a huge backlog of baby knits on the go at the moment. Seriously, can’t you all just take it in turns, about six weeks apart?

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I took the wedding nail varnish off my toes the other day. It was the one remaining part of me that wasn’t shedding its top layer naturally. I am peeling from just about every conceivable part of me, it’s quite delightful. But it’s worth it, because it’s the result of too much sun on a totally decadent honeymoon.

I haven’t posted for a while because so much has been happening that I don’t know where to start. About three weeks before the wedding, my grandfather on my Dad’s side passed away, and the funeral was on the Friday eight days before the wedding. I’d not seen Grampy for some time, and he’d been suffering from vascular dementia so hadn’t been himself for the last two years. The memorial service was amazing, the church was packed, people were standing at the back, and he’d been such a big figure and featured in so many people’s lives, it was a great thing to see.

The run up to a wedding is a stressful enough time without having to contend with grief and funeral arrangements, but hey, what can you do but get on with things? And from then on it was all hands to the pumps, foot to the floor flat out busy until the day. I’d taken the week off and had a notebook of things to do, which was basically a closely written A5 sheet a day. And it all had to be done on that day because the next day was just as tight. There’s no way around it but it does mean that come your wedding day, a bride is absolutely knackered. I think the ‘glow’ they talk about is residual adrenaline and the euphoria of exhaustion.

But we had an amazing day. The weather running up to the day had been pretty grey but when we got to it the sun shone and it was warm and glorious. We had the service in the village church and the reception was at the farm, in a marquee in the field. Reception drinks and canapĂ©s in the garden. Children roister doistering everywhere. Funny speeches, great food, plenty of wine and local beer, dancing and cake and rose petal confetti. I loved my dress. It got taken down the field, across lots of sheepshit, unscathed. I loved The Man in his suit. I loved wearing a veil for the service. I loved knowing he loves me enough to want to go through all that for me (he’s really not one for being the centre of attention) and wear a ring to say to the world that he’s married. To me. Yay! I love that he wanted matching rings. He’s a big sop at heart. :)

He only told me where we were going on honeymoon the morning after the wedding, and he couldn’t have chosen better. He could have chosen cheaper, but you only go on honeymoon once, right? We went to one of the poshest hotels in the Maldives, flew Club Class on BA (oh yes, flat beds), took a little sea plane once we got to Male and pitched up in paradise.

It was perfect, because all we needed after the madness that is wedding planning was to do absolutely nothing for as long as possible. And pretty much all there is on a desert island is to sit around reading and sunbathing until it’s time to eat. Maybe go shell-hunting, or play with the hermit crabs, or dunk in the sea and check out the fish. Oooh, the food was so gooood too. I was so spoilt! We went to the Spa (amazingly beautiful) for one of those massages for couples. Two and a half hours of coordinated pampering, including having to go out into the secluded garden together to use the outdoor shower to sloosh off the body scrub. In paper pants. If we weren’t so chilled out at that point it would have been hilarious!

We got back in time for the Ryder Cup (of course) and finally I was allowed to open all the lovely presents. We were given a lot of really beautiful stuff, which I’ve had a lot of fun using. Sad that I have a lot of fun with kitchen stuff these days, but hey! And for all the new china, we’ve had to get a new sideboard. How terribly grown up.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Stunning organisation

I read on someone's blog recently (it may have been the Yarn Harlot, I kind of lose track who I'm reading on Google Reader sometimes) that they have decided that they waste far too much time prevaricating over which stashed yarn to match with which pattern and thence end up being late for appointments or nearly having to travel with No Projects! Shock! So what they did was print out their queued patterns, put them in freezerbags with the appropriate yarn and fill a storage bin with them all. Then, when you need a new project, just put your hand in and see what you get, like a lucky dip. What a genius idea, I thought!

So here are my selections which are now parcelled up and some ideas for the next bucketload.

or the very similar

Using Lorna's Laces Shepherd's Sock in Vera (70) - a mix of blocks of magenta, khaki and stone. (Actually have just wound this and it's going to be quite bold colour blocks so glad I'm doing a sock without complicated stitches on it).

Frootloop using Sparkleduck merino/nylon in a hot pink semi-solid.

Nutkin using Colinette Jitterbug in Lichen (75) - sort of dark yellow. Although I am quite tempted also to use that yarn for Goldengrove.

Galder using Nimu Yarns' 'Tussmorker' (with two dots over the o) in a purple / blue colour from a 2009 sock club.

Hedgerow using Posh Yarn Esme in Keep Smiling Through, which is a muted sandy tropical sunset sort of a colour.

Love Bugs in Wollmeise Merino Superwash 'Walk the 'red' line' from same sock club.

I have a big skein of laceweight Touch Yarn which I'll probably use for an Aeolian,

(although it will probably end up this big...)

But the Vernal Equinox Shawl is also rather tempting.

I like the Torreyana too, but I think it looks best in some shiny worsted as below:

Tea Leaves Cardigan in Manos del Uruguay Silk blend in that rosey blend with flecks of green and gold.

Urban necessity gloves in Misti alpaca sock in a russety grey.

Knitty's Annis is on the next list:

And the Pea Vine shawl which is not yet released but on the way from Knitspot.

Other socks (if I can ever face socks again) are Rivendell, Ellington and Kalajoki. And the Vinterblomster mittens. Love.
What do you think? Any patterns you hate? Any suggestions for better ones?
I think I need to give up work and just knit!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Way too much lycra

We got up at 3.45am on Sunday to get The Man to the London Triathlon for a 7am start time. All the comments from recent parents have been a knowing, ‘ah yes, good preparation for having babies’. Holy sweet jesus, enough with the baby comments people! The other day three people in three hours asked me what the baby plans are after the wedding. Well let me say here and now, currently there are no plans. Let’s just get the wedding over with first, I have enough to think about with that and work at the moment without considering pain and nausea and hemorrhoids (which I can't even spell).

The tri was great though, The Man did really well and was in the same group as Jensen Button so we managed to get lots of pics of both of them. Almost made up for getting up so ridiculously early on a Sunday! Anyone who wants to swim 1.5km in the London Docks though has my utmost incredulity respect. Seriously, why would you??

JB out of the water with a bag of soggy wetsuit

2hrs 46mins 14secs - well done my Man!

We went to see the vicar for the final time a few weeks ago for our last ‘pre-wedding counselling’. In this session he discussed managing finances, sharing the housework and (recurring theme) having babies. (And slightly unsettlingly coming from the vicar, not letting your partner pressure you into doing things in the bedroom you’d rather not.) I think these sessions, tangential as they often end up being, are a good thing for a couple getting married. Too often you get caught up in the madness of organising the day, what colour will the bridesmaids be wearing, what to have for the starter, how much the florist is charging you, but very rarely do people actually ask you how you feel about getting married, or do you actually think properly about what you are doing.

My friend Clare lent me a book called The Conscious Bride which has some interesting things to say, and some interesting quotes from other brides. One bride was saying that she organised her wedding in three months, but actually in the end wished she’s taken the usual year or so, just to allow herself time to get her head around the big change happening in her life.

I can’t speak for the chaps but presume this happens to some extent as well, but it’s a weird change of identity getting married. For girls, if they decide to change their surnames, it’s a huge deal. I can see myself in some of the descriptions in the book – initial excitement, then resistance and kick-back against my fiancĂ© for the changes he’s inflicting on me, then a gradual come-around to accepting the different identity I’ll be taking on as a wife. I don’t know if this simile was due to corporate brainwashing, but I felt like a piechart being stabbed by a new piece of pie.

1. Me, whole and happy being me, finally (after 30-ahem years).
2. Man comes along and wants to be permanent part my life. Thin end of the wedge. Pointy and a little ouchy. Requiring rearranging of my nice complete pie.
3. Gradual acceptance of man in my life.
4. Full integration.

Now this makes it seem that having The Man in my life was a bit unwelcome, which is not at all the case, it’s always been fantastic being with him. The final pie is much shinier and bouncier. In fact, I’m sure if he thought about it he went through pretty much the same thing. The first part of the transition stage was a bit odd though; even though you're having lots of fun together it takes time to let that new piece of pie settle in. Now he’s a fantastic part of my pie. Life. You know what I mean. It just takes a little while for change to happen. I find the idea of spending the rest of my life with him hugely exciting. Do-a-little-dance-and-say-yay! exciting in fact. We shall see what the future brings but I know whatever happens we’ll both be there supporting each other and being proud of each other. You can put the bucket down now I've finished.

In other news, one of the dogs at home had a litter of five puppies. Here’s some when they’re just waking up and looking a bit grumpy. They are complete timewasters and brilliant fun and they grow so fast!

And a cardigan was knitted all the way up to the neck but then was frogged completely because it was too small. Amazing how many hours’ work can be destroyed with the aid of a wool-winder in five minutes flat. Sigh.