Saturday, December 31, 2005

Bye bye snow

The snow is running away. Maybe it's something I said?

I've been tagged by UKnitty so here goes!

What new knitting techniques did you learn this year?

Well a year ago I could cast on and off and do garter stitch! So I've learnt how to purl, increase, decrease, seam, make garments, make socks (using DPNs and 2 circular needles), use circular needles, make buttonholes...

Which completed project from the last 12 months are you most proud of ?

All my handknitted socks. They are lovely to wear and I thought sock knitting would be really scary, but it isn't!

What was your biggest knitting disaster of the last year?

My Summer Tweed top (see profile pic). It's baggy. And getting baggier. I really don't like knitting with Summer Tweed and I'm not convinced the end result is worth it.

Who or what has been the biggest influence on your knitting in 2005 ?

All the people on UKHK Yahoo group and whose blogs I read. They've provided help, support, encouragement and have taught me how to stash enhance!

What knit craze grabbed you this year ?

For most of the year sock knitting, but then Curly Whirlies arrived in December...

Finally, some New Years resolutions.

In 2006 I will knit - Tubey from Knitty, lots more socks, Debbie Bliss Cathay asymmetic top, Charisma skirt, as much as possible from the Jo Sharp book I got for Christmas...
I will learn to - knit lace, using the laceweight yarn I got from my Secret Pal.
To become a better knitter I will - attend at least one knitting workshop this year.

Name the folks to pass this meme on to:
Hazel, Anne and Amy

(but only if you want to!)

Thursday, December 29, 2005

More snow

We've had even more snow here!

The grass has now totally vanished in the garden!

DB and I walked up to the Cathedral, only it's vanished in the fog! (The snow-covered statue in the foreground is Tennyson).

Tuesday, December 27, 2005


I've told a lie. Oops. I told Beatlewear (who's in Australia) yesterday that the whole British snow at Christmas thing was all a fabrication by the tourist industry and Richard Curtis films. Then I opened the curtains this morning to see this:

Isn't that just typical?! Well it's hardly any snow at all - you can still see the grass. And since I took this pic it's been raining so there's virtually no snow at all left. If you want to see proper snow then have a look at Hundgestrickt (Germany), and Knit Think (US) - that's what real snow looks like. And could somebody please tell the British transport system that this ISN'T proper snow? Otherwise everything will stop working because a whole inch has fallen!

I have also finished my curlie whirlie - this is the cast on about 90 stitches, increase into every stitch, knit, increase into every stitch, knit, increase into every stitch, knit a few rows, spend four hours casting off version. I cast on with GGH Colorado in pink (a lovely chunky woolly yarn) and used up two balls, then did a few rows in black Stylecraft Charleston. Look at its wiggles - I've already had a few comments and I've hardly worn it outside at all yet!

Don't know how many more posts there will be before the New Year. I'm out for the rest of today meeting up with old school friends, then DB is coming over for a few days and I'm spending New Year in Solihull with an old university friend. So I hope everyone has a very happy New Year! See you next year...

Oh, and I did finally get the lights put in the Christmas tree. On Boxing Day...

Monday, December 26, 2005


Warning, this post is full of pictures of yarn... Do not proceed if you are of a droolsome nature (or else have a bucket handy!).

The Advent Calendar woolly people/animals are all in place:

Christmas wasn't actually too bad, I think it helped that we did something totally different to normal.
Monkey raided my sock drawer so he could put a stocking out and was delighted to discover he'd been left a banana in it on Christmas morning. He was also entranced with his new friend, courtesy of Mary Anne. New Friend is as yet un-named, so if you have any ideas please let me know, as I might run a blogpoll on it.

This book was from my godmother and looks totally totally cool, with very funny illustrations. And the sock yarn, from Hazel, is also totally totally cool. It's from Curious Yarns, a shop I've been drooling over a considerable amount recently! Thank you Hazel. The yarn is in the colourway "Candies" and the little pink skein on the side is for cuffs, heels and toes - how cool is that?!

The book "Shepherdess - notes from the field" is from Mary Anne and is about a woman who gives up her job to raise sheep (tempting idea there). Also pictured are a Scarf in a bag kit and a poncho from my Mum. The scarf is three balls of Patons Whisper, a lovely and soft eyelash yarn (it's softer than Sirdar's Funky Fur). The poncho is a lovely soft alpaca mixture (the idea is to where it in the freezing cold at work). The wooden chopping board from my brother and SIL is what I asked for (as I've only got a manky old plastic one at the moment). It's from One Village
a fair trade company who had a stall at the Greenbelt festival.

Then there's some pattern books. Sirdar Chino Knits (beautiful children's knits with a size range from baby to about 8 years, which is really cool!) and Sirdar Nativity Collection (including very groovy sheep) from Mary Anne. Thank you for all your presents Mary Anne, they're all lovely!
There's also Rowan Big Easy and Jo Sharp Village from Debbie, from Knit Lincs. Loads more lovely lovely droolsome patterns. Most of which I want to make (when am I going to find time?!). Thank you Debbie!


Amy, my Secret Pal and I exchanged our last parcels early in December, but both decided to wait until Christmas before opening them! I should explain at this point, that a mistake was made early in SP6 and Amy and I were matched directly with each other - as in I was given Amy as a secret pal, and Amy was given me! We didn't realise until the first packages were on their way and decided to keep going as we were.
The following pics are of my final SP6 package - and they're ace!

An Advent calendar (which I'll use next year), a sheep bookmark, another card from her local bible calligraphy project (there was also one in my first parcel and some groovy wooden knitting needles with glass ends with flowers on. As you can probably just make out in the very bad photo below!

Amy suggested learning some new techniques (in the second parcel is was lace!); this time it's socks. She's sent me the Magic Loop booklet, which I'd been eyeing up on various US websites for a while and some looooooooong Addi Turbos for trying it out on (look how different the US Addi packaging is from the UK/Europe!). The Knit Picks pattern underneath is for two socks at the same time. Which is all cool, new stuff to learn.

Then we have some Cascade yarn. Two balls of Fixation, which is the yarn specified for the Broadripple Socks, so now I can make it "properly" too and compare with the Regia version I'm working on at the moment. And two skeins of Cascade 220 Quattro, a 100% wool aran weight yarn. Amy suggested thick socks with this (very tempting to wear for work!) but it also felts well so I'm going to think about it for a while and then decide. And what a yummy yummy colour. DB has suggested "fluddly" as a new adjective for yarn description - a combination of fluffy and cuddly which I think is a good description of this yarn.

But wait, there was even more yarn in the package! This is a ball of Trekking XXL, a 4ply sock yarn in a sort of variegated blue (the colour hasn't come out so well in this pic). I haven't come across this yarn in the UK, so I'm not sure if it's available over here or not. Also, there is a tiny little cat magnet and some flowery blocking pins. The angel on the right is made from mohair - I nearly put her on my Christmas tree but was worried she'd get spiked on the needles. Maybe she'd be happier on the fibre-optic tree? There is also a little pack of Burt's Bee's toiletries - I hadn't tried these before this SP exchange and the little sizes will be great for all the travelling I've got to do in the next few months. At the bottom of the pic are some book plates and a great little miniature book about knitting.

Thank you Amy for all the lovely surprises over the last few months! I hope you'll keep checking my blog to watch the knitting process for all this yarn!

Saturday, December 24, 2005


After dashing madly round in circles all day I've sat down with a festive banana (?!) and mug of tea to listen to Carols from Kings and update the blog.

Christmas knitting is complete. Phew. It's even been blocked, labelled and wrapped. These are groovy labels to use, with various wording for Christmas/seasonal eventualities.

Two pairs of socks done. One for my brother and one for my SIL. Both were fun to make, as they used different techniques (DPNs for the blue and 2 circs for the stripey). One of each pair has already been seen by the recipients as I was far too scared to trust to measurements alone for the sizing!

I've just carried the ****** Christmas tree into the flat. It was meant to be in the main house, but we've had it sitting at the bottom of the garden for about 10 days now waiting to be brought in. We can't work out how Dad always got it to stay upright in the pot. We always get one with roots so it can be planted outside afterwards and Mum planted this one in its pot about a week ago. But it was quite wobbly. Then I couldn't carry the whole lot up to the house in one go so had to take the tree and pot separately and replant it outside my conservatory! It's still very wobbly though, even with plenty of earth in the tub, which is why it's leaning drunkenly against the wall. I also haven't got the foggiest idea where the lights are for it, and I don't really want to approach it again to put them on as it attacked me on the way up the garden and I'm now covered in pine needle scratches (yes, I know I'm a wimp). Maybe light-less trees are the way to go this year? Mum's put the fibre-optic tree up next door, which is SO much easier, although not quite the same (remind me I said that when I'm moaning about pine needles all over the floor).

Anyway, Christmas this year is going to be WEIRD. Very WEIRD. Dad died in April so it's the first one since then. We (me and Mum) are not going to Midnight Mass this year, although I might listen to it on the radio if I'm still awake. We've also decided not to go to our normal service tomorrow morning cos it's big and impersonal, so I'll think we'll go to the service in the hospital chapel (I know that sounds bizarre but we live next door to it!), as that's small and friendly. (Oh and it only lasts half an hour and they have heating!). Then for the first time ever we're not having lunch at home, as Mum and I have been invited to my SIL's parents for lunch (that's the part I'm looking forward to).

Hopefully there will also be plenty of time for knitting in all this... I've just been and photocopied three patterns to highlight. I want to knit all of them, and have the yarn already, just can't decide which to start!

Things I'll be listening to (and probably knitting to, although I've still got a pile of ironing to get through):
JK Rowling talking to Stephen Fry (who recorded the audio version of the Harry Potters).
The latest from Cast on podcast.
Debbie Bliss interview on Knitcast.
New podcast called Knitting News Cast.
And a whole new world opened up by Fibre Cast...

Hope everyone has a peaceful and knitty Christmas!

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
You are 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing'. You take
Christmas very seriously. For you, it is a
religious festival, celebrating the birth of
the Saviour, and its current secularisation
really irritates you. You enjoy the period of
Advent leading up to Christmas, and attend any
local carol services you can find, as well as
the more contemplative Advent church services
each Sunday. You may be involved in Christmas
food collections or similar charity work. The
midnight service at your church, with candles
and carols, is one you look forward to all
year, and you also look forward to the family
get together on Christmas Day.

What Christmas Carol are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Christmas is coming...

Christmas Elf Name

My Christmas Elf Name is
Get your Christmas Elf Name at

All is crazy here. The countdown to Christmas is on.

Our Advent calendar must be well over 20 years old, as I can't remember not having it. It was made by my great-aunts and each pocket houses a little woolly animal or person which you attach by poppas to the picture. The 25th is a little baby Jesus, but my favourite is no. 20, the camal. I will try and remember to post another pic of this after the 25th when all the animals/people are in place.

Meanwhile, Sooty has taken a bath...

and triffids are taking over Mum's kitchen...

I should probably explain. Sooty's one back leg isn't really functioning because of his arthritis (he's on anti-inflammatories) so he tends to drag his tail and the left leg stump through all the mud/puddles outside. He'd come in absolutely caked in mud and there was no way he was going to be able to lick it off or we could comb it out. There was just too much! So I tried washing it off with a cloth, but that was difficult, so I lifted him into the sink and gently washed his tail. He didn't seem to mind (he purred all the way through!), then curled up and went to sleep by the radiator. Has anyone else ever had a cat that just will not behave like a cat is meant to?! Sooty has always been soppy as anything, following us around asking for cuddles. I got him when I was 8 and used to push him around in my doll's pushchair - which he loved. If he hadn't liked it he'd have run off or started hissing and spitting (like a normal cat would!).

The triffid is an amaryllis, which Mum found at a garden centre and insisted on putting it in the kitchen. I think it looks bizarre, although it'll probably improve when it's got flowers!

The Christmas knitting situation is now well under control, thanks to the tonsillitis! I'm beginning to feel better and am on my second round of antibiotics (!) but have been told not to go to work until after New Year (damn ;-) ).
So Mum's hot water bottle cover is finished. This is it blocking on my ironing board:

then sewn together and with the bottle inside:

This pattern followed the basic outline from the RYC Classic Home book and I used one ball of cream RYC Cashsoft 4ply and one of lilac. If you were making it in one colour, it would take about a ball and a half. Unlike the seven balls suggested in the original (intarsia) pattern!
The buttons and ribbon were both from Boyes (I love that shop, the buttons were 4p each and the ribbon was 30p a metre!)

Just the Christmas socks to finish now...

Monday, December 19, 2005

What's in my knitting bag?

I've been tagged by Hundgestrickt!
So here is: What's in my knitting bag?! That's not an easy question to answer.

I have lots of stuff. The sun has come out so this picture isn't particularly clear, but my "real" knitting bags are on the sofa and all the carrier bags stuffed down the side have projects in, or books! My half-finished curly whirlie is in the foreground!

This is my small knitting bag, a free gift from Simply Knitting magazine. I usually use this for taking sock knitting on the train. At the moment it's housing my half done Broadripple socks, which will be finished after all the Christmas knitting.

This is my big knitting bag - made with 3 balls of Sirdar Bigga yarn. I mainly use this bag for storing things in and taking to Knit Lincs meetings (makes it easy for other knitters to spot me!). Although the woolly hat and Clapotis at this time of year are also a bit of a give away.

Inside the big bag at the moment are my Christmas socks! On the left the ones for my brother, in Cygnet wool rich 4ply (using 5 DPNs) and on the right the Regia Canadian color ones on 2 circs.

Finally I have a furry pencil case which gets stuffed into whichever bag I'm using at the moment. It contains all my essential equipment type stuff.

  • Small scissors
  • Two tape measures (one in sheep form from Amy, my SP6!)
  • 4 long stitch holders
  • 2 crochet hooks in different sizes
  • 2 pencils (one blunt)
  • 2 safety pins
  • 1 blocking pin (escaped from elsewhere)
  • 1 needle gauge
  • Fake grafting instructions for sock toes
  • 1" of velcro
  • Small tub of stitch markers (also from Amy!)
  • Ring type stitch markers
  • 4 small point protectors
  • reel of knitting elastic
  • 2 sewing needles
I'm not going to tag anyone, as I know a lot of people are a bit overwhelmed with Christmas knitting at the moment! But if you would like to have a go at this meme then please feel free!

Actually, now I've looked properly at the contents of my furry pencil case, I've realised that these represent some of the variety of places I've visited and some of the friends I've made! So:

Needle n' Craft in Lincoln: 2 stitch holders, needle gauge, velcro.
Loop in London: point protectors
John Lewis in Nottingham: knitting elastic
Shades of Wool in Penrith: stitch markers
Secret Pal exchange: stitch markers and tape measure
Belonged to my ancestors: 2 stitch holders, crochet hooks
Angel yarns: toe grafting instructions
Yarn shop in York: sewing needles
In my sewing kit from the year dot: scissors, tape measure
Stolen from Mum's sewing kit: safety pins

and the furry pencil case was a present from my friend Helen!

Friday, December 16, 2005

Noah's 1st birthday

went with a swing. He was very excited and thought his presents were all great, especially the wrapping paper. I couldn't get the flash to work on my camera so all the pictures are dark orange, this is one of the best:

Noah and his granny (my Mum) eating shortbread. They all went off to the Christingle service at a local church, but I stayed behind to have a snooze on the sofa (as I've still got tonsillitis). Actually this was a good excuse to play with Noah's toys without him grabbing them off me. This one is cool:

You bonk the end on the ground and it makes all sorts of noises! I could have played with it for hours (how old am I?!)

On the subject of tonsillitis - the antibiotics haven't done anything this time (they always have before) but it seems to be going gradually. I listened to Check up on Radio 4 yesterday, which totally put me off having a tonsillectomy (and also the waiting list is probably about 12 years so it's not like I'd get rid of the tonsils that quickly). Have done only half a day's work so far this month, which means I'll have to give the January sales a miss. Although that's a good thing as I could do with using up some of my stash before I run out of space...

Knitting is proceeding apace. I went to London yesterday to spread some tonsillitis germs around as many places as possible and got on well with my SIL's second sock on the train. I've just turned the heel on that, and also on my brother's second sock - 9 days to go, will I make it?! The hot water bottle cover is on the final section, although I need to find it some buttons and ribbon. (possible trip to Boyes tomorrow after Knit Lincs?)

And here's Misty Garden - finished, blocked and hanging up in proper light so the colour comes out much as it's meant to!

Has anyone been listening to David Copperfield on Radio 4? I've been enjoying the story parts, but I'm getting really irritated by the beginning/ending/background music - which is really just a woman wailing. Or am I being really picky?!

Oh and you don't get as many funny looks knitting socks on two circs on the train as you do using DPNs!

Monday, December 12, 2005

Misty Garden

is finished! I cheated slightly and didn't use up all of the second ball of Jaeger Mohair Art, as the length was the same as the one in Scarf Style (150cm). I'm quite pleased with the result. Here is a very bad photo of Misty Garden blocking, hidden on the floor on the far side of my bed.

Elaborate security precautions are in place, in order to prevent Mum seeing MG before Christmas. Monkey is on guard outside my bedroom door:

And Sooty is the first line of defence in the living room. Don't be fooled by his sleepy look. He's very good at tripping people up.

Also notice how the living room (on the south side of the flat) has light and therefore warmth, whilst the bedroom (on the north) is freezing and gloomy. Humph, must knit some bedsocks I think.

Frantic knitting has been going on on bits of socks and a hot water bottle case. Pics when we have some light (April time?). I STILL have tonsillitis but antibiotics, chocolate and ice cream seem to be helping. Also means I've got plenty of time to knit, and do other things...

like make muffins for Noah's first birthday party!

Yum. :-)

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Secret Pal Revealed!

Now is the time to reveal who my Secret Pal is. Amy, of Knit Think blog, has been spoiling me rotten since September (it was September we started this wasn't it?!). Amy's been a FAB pal, you've seen the contents of parcel one and parcel two. Parcel three is sitting here waiting for Christmas so I can upwrap it. I've really enjoyed all the items sent as it's all been stuff I wouldn't have been able to get over here (Amy's in the US). I've also really enjoyed the email chats that have been going on and the things I've found out (like why Thanksgiving is Thanksgiving!). Amy obviously put LOADS of time and effort into thinking of things I'd like and then finding them!

Anyway, thank you Amy, you're a great Secret Pal!!

On a completely different topic, I still have tonsillitis (nearly three weeks now!) and have finally been to the doctor to acquire some antibiotics. He did mention that, as I seem to be getting this with some regularity, I could be eligible for a tonsillectomy. My first thought was - I wonder how much time I'd have off work for a tonsillectomy (= how much knitting time would I gain?). Perhaps this is a little obsessive of me?...

You Have a Phlegmatic Temperament

Mild mannered and laid back, you take life at a slow pace.
You are very consistent - both in emotions and actions.
You tend to absorb set backs easily. You are cool and collected.

It is difficult to offend you. You can remain composed and unemotional.
You are a great friend and lover. You don't demand much of others.
While you are quiet, you have a subtle wit that your friends know well.

At your worst, you are lazy and unwilling to work at anything.
You often get stuck in a rut, without aspirations or dreams.
You can get too dependent on others, setting yourself up for abandonment.

You Are Not Scary

Everyone loves you. Isn't that sweet?

Monday, December 05, 2005

Second Sock Syndrome

has struck. I have bits of Christmas presents everywhere and the possibility of getting everything (in fact anything?) finished in time is receding fast, particularly as I've just found out I'm being sent to work near Bury St Edmunds (ie a long way away) for the week before Christmas!

Misty Garden is STILL on the needles. STILL. AAARRRGGGHHH. Actually, she is nearly there now, over 3/4 done. I got loads done at Knit Lincs on Sat as Debbie had forgotten her new ball of wool so worked on my other knitting for me! I am not not not taking a photo of Misty Garden until she's done...

Hot water bottle cover - is proceeding quite well. It's a pattern from the RYC Home book, although I got all scared by the intarsia (it's supposed to have a pic of a rose on it) and how much it would cost (7 balls of Cashsoft 4ply = £27.65. Hmm. For a hot water bottle cover that's extreme). So instead I'm following the basic pattern, ignoring the intarsia and doing stripes in cream and lilac (which will match Mum's bedroom). Cashsoft is lovely. It's the first time I've knitted with an RYC yarn and it's so soft and yummy. Makes my stitches look all neat and the same size too.

Two single socks. The BIG blue one is my brother's done on the teeny tiny 2mm needles. He was here at the weekend so I got him to try it on and it fits! Now all I need to do is make the second! The other is my Broadripple sock, which is also still awaiting a mate. I'm afraid it will have to carry on waiting until after all the presents are finished. For those who asked it's made with Regia cotton surf 4ply on 2.5mm DPNs.

I then hit a problem as I can't knit Misty Garden or the hot water bottle cover when Mum might see them. I couldn't knit any more of brother's socks until he'd tried them on and I couldn't start my SIL's socks as I was waiting for some needles from Getknitted to be delivered.

So I started a curly whirlie scarf. Using some GGH Colorado and Stylecraft Charleston from my stash. Curly Whirlie is lots of fun to knit, and I've been enjoying seeing everyone else's on the Curly Whirlie blog.

But then of course the needles came in the post (2 x Addi curculars 2.5mm in different lengths) and the Curly Whirlie had to be put down in favour of this:

SIL's socks, in the Regia 4ply Canadian Color which I got at Harrogate from the Web of Wool stall. Thanks to the comments from my previous post about this yarn, it seems that the different colours are named after different Canadian cities. Mine is shade 4737 which is Manitoba! This is also my first attempt at the one sock on 2 circs method - great fun, easy and quick to do. I'm still having a few issues with ladders at the joins, although pulling them really tight (as with the joins on DPNs) seems to be doing the trick. The instructions and photos on the Socknitters website are really really helpful for this method.

Anyone got any idea how I'm going to block Mum's presents (assuming they're finished before Christmas). I usually lay things out to block on my spare mattress in the conservatory, but she walks past that and will see them. She tends to wander into the flat often too... I did think about putting them on the floor on the far side of my bed in the hope she doesn't wander round there.

Also, anybody know of a knitting group near Bury St Edmunds with a meeting in the last week before Christmas?!

The new issue of Knitty is up! Some lovely lovely patterns. I particularly like Kate the kitten, the Creatures (which are very cool), Tempting II (the original Tempting is still on my things to make list!) and Tubey.

Sunday, December 04, 2005


Seven Things...

I’ve been tagged by Anne!
1. Seven things to do before I die
2. Seven things I cannot do
3. Seven things that attract me to my spouse
4. Seven things I say most often
5. Seven books (or series) I love
6. Seven movies I watch over and over again (or would watch over and over if I had the time)
7. Seven people I want to join in, too

1. Seven things to do before I die
Travel overseas more (ie beyond Europe!)
Have a family.
Get my own place.
Improve my knitting
Have an enjoyable and fulfilling career
Walk the Hadrian's Wall path.
Read all the books that are waiting to be read...

2. Seven things I cannot do
Be in the appropriate lane when approaching a roundabout.
Speak another language properly/fluently.
Drink beer (yuck)
Eat meat (yuck)
Feel comfortable in a crowded room/train/space.
Sing in tune.

3. Seven things that attract me to my spouse
Ain't got one so I don't need to answer this part!

4. Seven things I say most often
"It's really weird but..."
"oh no, I've dropped a stitch"
"I hate cataloguing bloody Punch..."
"aaarrrrggghhh" (when in the wrong lane approaching a roundabout)
"brrrrrrrrr, it's cold" (when at work)

5. Seven books (or series) I love
Pride and Prejudice
Bridget Jones books
Jane Eyre
Iris Murdoch books
Harry Potter (even though they're really scary)
Margaret Atwood books.

6. Seven movies I watch over and over again (or would watch over and over if I had the time)

Pride and Prejudice (!)
The importance of being Earnest
Bridget Jones
Bridget Jones - the Edge of Reason

7. Seven people I want to join in, too
It's up to you folks! If you want to join in please feel free!

Oh, and this blog has had more than 10,000 hits - isn't that amazing?!