Sunday, February 28, 2010


Yesterday I was in Islington for an afternoon of learning to jive. It was modern jive and apart from the basic step was very similar to salsa in all the spins we did. I thought it would be more jumpy up and down! Which dance am I thinking of peeps? Is it actually jitterbug? Or does modern jive get more jumpy as you learn more?

Aaaaanyway, a knitter can't go to Islington without going to Loop. It's much smaller than I thought, or than it seems in the magazine shoots. Cunning. More estate agents should learn that photographic skill. It was also stuffed with people on a Saturday lunch time, some tourists from up north, some students and a couple of young mums with enormous push chairs cluttering the place up. One was wanting to do her first ever knitting project and had chosen a baby cardi, and the other was going to help her, and was adament that she should do the thing in flat pieces and sew them up and not make life easy for herself and use circs to do it all in one piece. Sigh. How about starting with a scarf anyway?

It was yarn p0rn-erama though. I was quite restrained and only spent [cough]£75[cough].

Madelinetosh tosh sock in Jade. MTosh yarn keeps cropping up in some lovely projects online, so I'm looking forward to trying this out. Perhaps Loop will stock the DK soon.

Malabrigo sock in Rayon Vert. The greens are much more emeraldy in real life. Soft as Malabrigo always is.

Sea Silk in Pewter. I've always wanted to try this because it's got seacell in it, made from seaweed. I think this is destined to become a lacey scarf. It's gorgeous and silky and sheeny and I love the colours.

Colinette Jitterbug in Lichen. This looks like it should be sproingy like Koigu.

All of these yarns just could NOT stay in the shop and had to come home with me in a yes-you-are-a-big-spender-haha! fancypants cotton Loop shopping tote bag. You know when you get a free fancy bag they're going to have a huge smile on their faces when you leave the shop. Hey ho. Singlehandedly keeping industry alive...

There are some lovely shops between Angel tube station and Loop though. At the end of Cross Street is an amazing fishmonger, it had everything, including an enormous salmon. Seriously, this thing was about 4 ft long. There is a groovy flea/antique market in Camden Passage on Saturdays, and there are some big name boutiques and a lovely Art Nouveau antique jewellery shop. Also lots of little knicknackery shops which looked good to explore. Trouble is when you commute all week the last thing you want to do is go back up to London at weekends! So, I am recommending it to you guys - let me know how you get on.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Finally, I started work on one of last year's new year's resolutions. Ideally one day I'll be making one of those amigurumi ninja vampire things, but for now I'm starting out with granny squares. Or hexagons. Whatever.

I'm using Aragon Yarns Classic Romney because I have all the colours in plentiful supply. :)

Here is the first hex! Hurrah for patterns that write things out in longhand with notes! Thanks Attic24 for assuming the reader knows nothing, because indeed, I know nothing. Really Obvious Information is gold dust for me.

I also purchased a swift, as previously mentioned. This is a sunflower swift, as opposed to one of those umbrella swifts, as some of the girls at knit group recommended this sort.

It definitely does the job. In fact, it spins so freely you have to wind like crazy to keep up. I may have to work out some kind of dampening mechanism. But it doesn't eat yarn and it keeps an even tension which are both Good Things for me.

So despite the physio prescribing me a Slob Day, which I booked in for Sunday, it seems I am completely rubbish at such things. Instead, I fixed the new front door dead bolt, did some hoovering, then mum called and asked if I wanted her to come over and help me make curtains out of the fabric I bought on Saturday. Reasons against: that is not slobbing, and I had man flu. Reasons for: I hadn't made curtains since I was about 16, couldn't remember how, was terrified of cutting the fabric in the wrong place, was scared about the pattern matching, and have dubious skills at machine stitching a straight line. Also we may have people wishing to use the room next weekend and I'm sure they'd appreciate some window coverage. So, some help, and help now, would be Excellent.

The fabric I'd bought was in the sale at our local haberdashery and fabric sort of place (half price at £11.50/m!) and is sort of silk look with embroidered flowers. Hey, it's for my craft room, I can be as girly as I like! The sales girl also sold me some brushed cotton lining, which is thicker than just normal cotton lining so you can sort of make it look like the curtains are almost interlined. Sort of. It's on the way at least. And these are not big sumptuous curtains for a fancy window so 'on the way' was just fine with me.

Here is mum hard at work hiding behind her hair with one curtain done (bar the bottom hems) hanging up behind her. She got a bit excited and wanted to see what they looked like.

Its soooo much nicer working with two of you! Especially on big things like curtains, so you can pull from opposite ends to make it flat. One can cut and the other sew. Hurrah for teamwork.

I'll post some better pics when they're both up. Unforts the people who sold us the house left a curtain pole with nine rings on it. Genius. So some kind soul is going to buy a bag of 24 so we can actually hang two curtains. It will probably be mum as The Man only knows his way around the fabric shop as far as to extract me from the yarn section. Bless.

Funny how, looking through those craft room pictures, I don't mind showing you all the clutter. It will get tidied up eventually, but it's currently functional clutter, so that feels kinda OK.

And as well as all that on Sunday I baked some cupcakes. Just in case I got bored at all. I am raising money at work for this charity walk and therefore hoping that they don't poison people. I did cheat, it's all cake mix and frosting from a pot. Someone's already asked for the recipe. Damn you, Betty Crocker!

The Man helped me frost and decorate some. I'm sure there's some domestic goddess in him somewhere.

That is all so far. Progress continues on the hex blanket and the whisper cardigan - I cast off the second sleeve this morning so now I have a shrug. I think I should try it on, it looks of indeterminate size (ie huge) at the moment. Next step is to pick up eleventy hundred dozen stitches all around the neck/waist/armhole. Evenly. This could be a Home Task - doing things like that on the train (especially with man flu) is just asking for trouble.

Monday, February 08, 2010

Around the kitchen table

The Man and I sat down to a very calm, civilised breakfast of fresh baked pastries and coffee yesterday morning, around the kitchen table that the previous night had had eight members of both our families crammed around it in raucous enjoyment of each others’ company. We’d all been watching the rugby (I pity the neighbours, apparently in numbers we can make quite a racket cheering and shouting) and at the same time I’d been cooking and helping my brother put up shelves, which involved power drills, dust and hoovers. Everyone took turns entertaining my nephew. He’s quite insistent – ‘Aunty Katie, Peeeeeeease (he doesn’t do Ls yet, which makes talking about clocks quite entertaining) can you come with me and hewp me do XYZ?? [tugs hand] Peeease pease pease?’ ‘Nephew, I’m simultaneously trying to cook everyone supper and help your daddy put up this wall bracket, can we do it later?’ ‘No Aunty Katie, need to do it now!’ Ah what it is to be in favour.

He also takes great delight in sliding the wardrobe doors in one of the bedrooms, because behind one of them is a bathroom – the Magic Bathroom – in which the lights come on all by themselves. Ooooo. Unfortunately he managed to get behind the wrong door and close it, where there were no lights, and we all (just, over the shouting) heard this little shout of, ‘Mummy! Mummy! Help!!’, to much hilarity, poor little chap.

Later, when we were all sitting around the table, Nephew boosted up by a cushion so he could just see over and so his mouth was about at plate level, we realised that it was indeed Nephew’s first dinner party. And as a very good budding guest, he even insisted on helping with the washing up. He loves making a mess with water and suds. Aw.

I am so lucky to have such a lovely family and have such a lovely house for them all to come to.

Recently, I treated myself to a swift. This was a long winded decision but Such A Good Thing. I think, despite initial raised eyebrows at my overexcitement, The Man will think so too as I won’t have to interrupt his telly viewing pleasure any more getting him to hold the skein and also my yarn cakes will be of totally even tension instead of getting a bit tighter at the points where he got distracted by an attempt on goal or a particularly good smackdown. The swift is freshly made and still smells of new wood and linseed oil or some such that’s been rubbed into it to make it gleam. There are brass fittings. My white and red plastic wool winder, usually kooky and retro, looks a bit sheepish next to it. Why is it that some knitting items get upgraded to brass fittings status and others remain solely produced in cheap plastic? Like using Lantern Moon circulars with one of those plastic rotally counter things. Not a good look. Who makes a pretty row counter, please raise your hand?

Work are sending me to work in Paris for a month. This sounds terribly glamorous, doesn’t it? Well, not really. I have laid the law down and taken the budget and booked a decent apartment for myself (I hope) in the Marais (yes I know that’s the gay quarter but it’s also supposed to be very nice and there are loads of restaurants and shops which are open on Sundays), although it’s on the fourth floor, which might make up for lack of gym while there. Last time I was in a sort of Travelodge with a kitchenette for a week, right by the red light district of Clichy, which was just plain nasty. The office, despite the fa├žade and atrium (and executive floor) being beautiful, is pretty uninspiring, and the French like to have their own office each so it’s not very sociable. In fact, surprisingly for a Latin race, they are quite private people. When you’re at work, you don’t talk about home with your work mates. You don’t go out for drinks after work, or even out for lunch, although some have started going down to the cafeteria as a department these days. OK, so there are exceptions to this rule, but you can’t make assumptions! Luckily because of this sort of company university thingy I’m part of, I know a few people there quite well, which is a saving grace indeed. Gosh, can you imagine being away for a month and only talking about work??