Sunday, April 30, 2006

Back down to earth

In an attempt to bring myself back down to earth after yesterday's house-buying hysteria I filed my tax return today and wrote to my solicitor and sorted out some stuff for the estate agent. I thought mundane things would make me calm down a little. Doing all this did stop me running off to Dunelm Mill to look at curtain fabric (a little premature for this, I think), although it didn't stop me checking out where I could get an organic veggie box from at my new house, and contacting Find a Milkman to find out if I can get milk delivered (in returnable glass bottles rather than smeggy plastic ones from the shop). I have also decided to start on this:

Debbie Bliss' spotty cushions from her Home book, as seen as "jellybean" cushions on Yarnstorm. I'm going to use the lovely soft cuddly alpaca yarn Katarina sent me during the SP exchange.

Didn't do any knitting yesterday as I have "Knitter's Wrist", caused by an excess of Magic Loop:

That sock was finished in record time and the yarn looks fab, doesn't it? I used some of my leftover Regia Canadian Color yarn as a contrast for the heel. The small blue sock is an attempt to make a sock for my nephew. I think I measured his foot wrong as it's turned out way too long. Going to have to make some alterations there once I've checked his measurements tomorrow. The stitch pattern is one of the four stitch ones from Sensational Knitted Socks, and the yarn is leftover Cygnet wool rich 4ply on 2mm DPNs.

Finally, more exciting parcels! Nic, who comes to Knit Lincs had told us that her friend Claire was opening a new online yarn shop, Fyberlounge, so we put on a big group needle order. I received them this week and was very impressed! The packaging is lovely, as you can see above. I was going to save the tissue for reuse at a later date, but it was quickly adopted by Sooty:

Inside the packages were loads of lovely needles. My favourites are the Surina wooden ones - I got some DPNs and some 4.5mm straights. Haven't used them yet but they look and feel marvellous!

Don't expect loads of posts this week! The tonsillitis has gone, thanks to the chocolate medicine and lots of knitting so I'm back at work after the bank holiday. How do the people who manage to do blog posts whilst going to work everyday do it?!

Saturday, April 29, 2006


I've just had my offer accepted on the house I viewed yesterday. Phew. Have been sitting by the phone twiddling my thumbs and eating porridge for what feels like half the morning waiting for the estate agent to call back.
Can't quite believe they accepted my offer...

The house is lovely - Victorian terrace, very light and airy with 3 bedrooms (one for me, one for Monkey, one for stash). And a sensible size garden (enough room for eating a meal outside in summer and to grow some veggies, hang the washing out and have a compost bin but not too big to have to spend ages looking after it). I like the local area - there's a wonderful greengrocer just round the corner and a wool shop five minutes walk away! ;-) (it was more "acrylic heaven" than "LYS", but still, it's a start!). The local library has just been refurbished and is re-opening next week just round the corner too! The house is on a bus route andhas got a nice big off-road cycle lane going past, so I *should* only need to use the car to get to work. I even dug out the local church warden and had a look round the church (big, non-scary, potentially somebody my age in the congregation).

So, Balderton, here I come!

And my egg (in the sidebar) is REALLY wobbling and has cracks in now!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Tubey finished!

Finished Tubey last night. I LOVE this pattern. It was a quick (can't remember when I started it, but about a month ago & I've done other things too in the meantime) pattern and FUN!

I haven't really got wonky shoulders, we just had trouble getting a pic taken cos the light was all weird. Tubey is also not good for keeping sore throats warm and covered up so she's gone back to sleep for when I'm better.
Vital Statistics:
Pattern: Tubey, by Cassie Rovitti.
Size: XS.
Needles: 4mm (had to go down 2 sizes to get gauge).
Yarn: Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran - 7 balls black (shade 300), 1 ball each of mauve (601) and rust (007) and 1/2 a ball of green (502) (thanks to Yvonne for helping me choose the green!)
Still undecided about the bra issue with this jumper. Maybe strapless is the way to go? Or braless?!

I have also been Magic Looping away with the gorgeous Trekking XXL yarn:

and now ready to turn the heel? Maybe tonight, although I was going to get Cranberry finished?
Via the Knitty board, I've swopped one skein of sock yarn for all this Koolaid! 74 sachets of it so plenty of fun ahead making a big mess dyeing in the kitchen!

I must admit too, that I was much better off being properly poorly in bed last week. This week has been mad as I've been well enough to spend a LOT of time on Ebay. Oops. Really need to get back to work to stop spending money (and to earn some too!)
This is one of my purchases, from this seller:

And house hunting. Oh crikey. Another house (a viewing I had to cancel last weekend) has had its offer accepted so it's off my list. It had only been on the market a couple of days. Grrrr. I have been finding out big long words and hoping that some of them won't happen to me: Gazumping, gazundering and conveyancing (well, Ok, the last one is an essential part of the process, but some solicitors charge a heck of a lot for it!)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Stretchy cast off*

*yes I know that in some parts of the world this is a "bind off" but I say "cast off". So there! :-)

And this is the third time I've attempted this post, Blogger was really playing up all of yesterday. It's not helped by the fact that my laptop seems to be slowing down. It's about two years since I bought it, and it was second-hand then so I'm not entirely sure how old it is. I've just acquired some defragmenting stuff from so hopefully that will solve some of the problem...

Stretchy cast offs have really hit it big at the moment. Monkey and I have been trying to finish off Cranberry.

We've joined one shoulder seam, picked up stitches and done our 2x2 neck ribbing. Then we wanted to make sure it would fit over my head (cue rude comments from Monkey about big-headedness). Hazel recently used the decrease cast off for her Fitzgerald jumper, which looks fab. She'd come across the same thing I had, in Montse Stanley's Handknitter's Handbook - the tubular cast-off is recommended for casting off ribbing but this just looked too involved & I didn't want to take the time to learn it! (and Monkey was more interested in eating his banana). Then Lucia mentioned a stretchy cast off on her blog (this one aimed at the cuff of toe up socks) with some good pictures of how to do it. And then Pixie Purls mentioned the Italian cast off on the latest episode of her podcast. So stretchy cast offs are obviously a hot topic at the moment!

I've also taken the tonsillitis opportunity to really get into the 3x1 ribbing on Tubey:

Will I finish two jumpers off this week? Probably yes. I went to my GP yesterday and I have officially got tonsillitis. So hopefully the Erythromycin will do its job and it'll soon be gone (I was disappointed that the tablets weren't bright red this time though, I'm sure that's what made the difference last time). I am feeling better though, last week I kept falling asleep all over the place and this week I usually fall asleep only at night! I've also been signed off work until next Tuesday which means more knitting time too! ;-) The really big bummer in all of this was that I felt rotten on Saturday so had to cancel my house viewings and I couldn't get to Knit Lincs. I hate missing knitting group and then I had a phone call yesterday from the estate agent and one of the cancelled viewings has now had an offer accepted. It was a house I really liked, but evidently other people did too. I've booked some more viewings for the end of this week though, so fingers crossed...

Meanwhile, instead of going to bed at 10.30 on Saturday night, I had an overwhelming urge to try out Magic Loop on my new Trekking XXL. So I did.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Blogger problems?

Is anyone else having ISSUES with Blogger? I can't get it to post pics or do html links. GRRRRRR. Couldn't find anything about problems in the help files either...

Sunday, April 23, 2006


Well, this was going to be another of those posts with plenty of pics. I've got pics of Monkey knitting the collar of Cranberry, the progress of Tubey and my first attempt at Magic Loop sock knitting. But Blogger is playing up so no pics again I'm afraid!

Instead we're going to have another book review.
I took "The Carlyle's at home" away with me on holiday and have just finished it (mainly because I got engrossed in "The pillars of the earth" and a pile of knitting at the same time). A great book, mainly a description of Thomas and Jane Carlyle's life over several years at their house in Cheyne Row, Chelsea. What is fascinating is the detail. The chapters are divided up thematically eg, "Money", "Neighbours and nuisances" and "Clothes" and plenty about their servant problems - making a fascinating insight into both life then and their marriage. I hadn't expected it to be so amusing. There is even a small amount about knitting - (page 104) Jane refuses to learn to knit, and Carlyle is very keen to have some "wristikins" (which sound to me very like Brenda' Dayne's "Mrs Beeton wristwarmers" pattern!) so has to persuade his sister Jenny to make him some. Like all Persephone books this one is beautifully produced, with endpapers of "a Chelsea interior" and even a matching bookmark!

And have you seen the egg in my sidebar? It's starting to wobble!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

I'm back!

Having wrestled control of my laptop and chocolate back from Monkey (who fortunately doesn't seem to have changed any passwords in my absence)... normal service should now resume.

Thank you for all the good wishes, thoughts etc. I'm out of bed now and have stopped slobbing around in my pjs, still feeling a bit fragile though. I don't think it was/is tonsillitis, maybe just a stonker of a cold. Who knows? At least it didn't stop me knitting and doing various other related activities! Monkey did this (with Holly's help) - which is very cool, so thank you to them both!

As Monkey informed you, I've been reading knitting magazines! I got three cheap from Calana Crafts on Ebay, all US ones from last year and none of which I'd seen before, so I thought I'd do some review type comments:

Creative Knitting - (July 2005 issue). I got the impression this was at the more basic end of the spectrum. The patterns were graded, but were mainly easy or the next stage up and the yarn adverts seemed to be for the cheaper brands like Red Heart. There were loads of patterns, and a good variety of garments/things in a range of sizes. I also liked the way that the yarn requirements were worded - just giving you the length/weight of yarn eg worsted or DK and the gauge. They do indicate what was used for the sample in the picture but there almost seems to be an expectation that you're going to sub! There were three shortish articles (about the same length as the ones in Knitting) but nothing particularly overwhelming in terms of subject matter - knitting for preemies, something about ripple stitches and some gauge basics. There are also seven pages of basic knitting and crochet instructions at the end (like Simply Knitting has with EVERY issue!). Seems to have 6 issues a year.

Family Circle Easy Knitting - (Holiday 2004, I image this is the Christmas issue, or maybe Thanksgiving?). Has all the patterns at the end (like Rowan mags) so the magazine part is at the front. Again, some nice patterns and a wider range of yarns advertised (going more expensive this time). Has a feel a bit like Simply Knitting with similar news style bits at the beginning and some product reviews. The patterns here are themed into groups (again, a bit like Rowan) and there are more easy ones than hard ones. There were a few shortish articles, much like Creative Knitting and none of them particularly lengthy. There are four pages of knitting/crochet instructions in this one. Plus a useful page with pictures of strands of all the yarns used in the patterns - in conjunction with the gauge and skein information this is good! I'm not sure how often this mag comes out, perhaps quarterly?

Cast On (The Knitting Guild of America) - (May-July 2005). This has a more "serious" feel, there are more advanced patterns (although still plenty of easier ones) and not as many adverts. I really enjoyed the articles in this one - they were lengthier, and well illustrated. One was the second part of an article about decreasing - only two pages of it but it packed in a lot of detail and the illustrations were clear. I'd love to see something like this in UK knitting magazines! The book reviews section has much more detail than you'd get in Knitting or Simply Knitting. This comes out quarterly as part of membership of TKGA. As you'd expect there's also a lot of info about them in here (shops that are members and info about local guilds for instance).

All in all, I'd gladly swop the UK knitting mags for one of these, although I don't think any of them are as good as Interweave Knits. I was interested to find out that it's not only Simply Knitting that includes basic instructions in it (although neither of the mags that include this go in for quite the length SK does!). Also none of them come out monthly as the mags do over here.
I'll try and remember to take these three along to Knit Lincs on Saturday to see what the others think. Have GOT to be better by then cos I've also got 3 house viewings booked in the morning!

I've also been catching up on some podcasts and listening to new ones. I've really enjoyed a new one called "At the yarn store" which is done by the woman who runs Holly Spring Homespun in the US. This had me hyperventilating with envy at all the yarn descriptions. She also talks about the goats on her farm and interviews various people (two starting up a new LYS and a rep from a yarn company). It's interesting listening, but they're quite lenthy podcasts, about the same as Cast On, which is more of a listening commitment than some of the others. Two of my other favourites (apart from Knitcast and Cast On obviously) are Pixie Purls Podcast and Irie Knits (although I don't get the phrase on Irie Knits - "the podcast for knitters who like to knit". What would be the point in being a knitter who didn't like to knit?!). I've also listened to one episode of Stitch-Cast, partly because it was about dyeing, which is something I want to try. This one is fun too, and I recommend a listen.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Monkey here

Daisy's STILL lounging around in bed with a pile of knitting magazines. My bed too. Humph. Usually I let her sleep in it at night, but she's still in it today so I've got up to do important things like guarding her Easter chocolate, sending text messages, writing her blog and taking in parcels from the postman. It's hard work being a monkey.

Here I am hard at work looking after the chocolate. Actually I've decided that my diet isn't very healthy and I should vary it a bit more (the key to a healthy diet is a varied one, right?). So I'm now going to eat bananas AND chocolate.

I also had to take in a couple of parcels:

Anne sent Daisy some Trekking XXL sock yarn in very tasty pinks as a thank you for something secret. I haven't been informed of this secret, anybody would think I've got a big mouth...

There is also some of this Maya stuff that D has been going on about. She said it was from Kangaroo Yarns and it's shade 01. I hope this house she wants to buy has room for all this yarn as well as my banana stash.

Well I suppose I'd better go and get on with some of this knitting (I bet she told you she did it all, didn't she?).

Lots of love,
Monkey xxxxx

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Tonsillitis - the sequel

I appear to have tonsillitis again (AGAIN?!?!?!?!). Not definite yet, but the stonking sore throat, shivery feeling, headache is a bit of a give away. Maybe it'll just turn out to be a common-or-garden cold. I blame the nephew though, I think he gave me it. Fortunately Monkey has yet to succumb (think how much whinging he'd do with tonsillitis).

So I have been sleeping, picking up knitting magazines posted through my front door by the postman (!) and browsing property websites for that perfect house. I did look round one on Saturday, just to start me off. It could have been very nice, but needed about £15000 spending to make it like that. It also had it's own parking space (very nice) but no other outside space at all (not so nice). Oh and it was on a busy road. But it was quirky, Georgian, Grade II listed (hmm, that means not being able to alter anything though!) with big beams and decent sized rooms. I'm veering much more towards older terraced houses (pre-war, Victorian or earlier) as the rooms are just so much bigger and they also have much better storage spaces. Why don't modern houses have built-in cupboards/wardrobes/interesting spaces over and under the stairs... Where am I meant to store my yarn in a modern house?!

Also, Newark-on-Trent, where I'm moving to (hopefully), was once a centre for the wool and cloth trade (according to Wikipedia). How about that then?!

Sunday, April 16, 2006

I've had a bit of a tidy up

of my sidebar. The egg from the previous post now also appears there so I can watch what it's up to over the next few days. I also joined Library Thing last week and there is a link to random books from my library in the sidebar too. Library Thing is at least as addictive as sock knitting! Although the pedantic part of me would say that it isn't actually "cataloguing" you're doing with Library Thing (despite what they're saying on the website!) or else my daytime job would be really really really easy! ;-)

Thanks to Hazel, I've tracked down some Maya at Kangaroo Yarns! Thank you Hazel! (Isn't blogging great?!)

Sooty is in raptures over his catnip mouse:

When he isn't playing with it, purring over it or dribbling on it he sleeps with it inbetween his front paws!
Meanwhile the shrug part of Tubey is finished and I've picked up all the stitches for the body, it's here on down in 3x1 ribbing!,

Hope everyone's had a great Easter weekend!

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Happy Easter!

Watch my egg turn into something!

The Site Fights Egg

Meanwhile I've nearly constructed a catnip mouse for Sooty. It just needs stuffing with catnip and the bottom sewing on. Some of Sooty's friends have also requested one so a catnip mouse production line will soon be in operation. The yarn is the remains of the Fyberspates DK in Wild Foxglove which I used for my fingerless gloves a few months ago.

I finished the Maya bag last night. Here it is in all it's glory:

It was a fun pattern to knit, on 8mm needles with two strands of yarn held together. It grew very quickly and the colours were lovely to watch unfolding! I lined it (below) with some cotton fabric from the Cloth House. The handles are made from 30cm lengths of plastic tubing from Focus with moss stitch strips (one strand on 5.5mm needles) sewn over the top.

This is my SIL's birthday present (in about a fortnight) but now I want one for me too! Anyone any idea where I can get my paws on two more skeins of Maya? Getknitted only seem to have the plain colours left (apart from a slightly scary variegated orange) and I'd love some of the variegated. Do you think it would work with one strand of pink and one strand of purple held together?

Friday, April 14, 2006

Reith lectures and house buying

Has anybody else been listening to Daniel Barenboim's 2006 Reith lectures? I've tended to overhear sections but haven't listened all the way through yet (there's listen again and transcripts on the website). What I have heard has been fun and interesting.

I've finished one of my holiday reads: Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth. Basically, someone at church recommended this to Mum, I bought her a copy for her birthday last year. She hasn't read it yet so I "borrowed" it.
I find the thriller style a little annoying, although compulsive reading. At least there was ample time (1000+ pages!) to get to know the characters in this, although some were a bit flat. However, what I did enjoy was the description of what is was like to build a cathedral. The action takes place between the years 1123 and 1174, during which the cathedral of Kingsbridge is constructed, and what really comes across is the difficulty in constructing such an enormous building and the simplicity of the tools available. It was such a contrast with today; imagine spending the whole of your working life making something and knowing that, even then, that might not be enough time to finish it. I like the idea of that, leaving something your descendants will be able to appreciate rather than living totally in the "now".
I also liked the mixing of fact with fiction. Kingsbridge and its inhabitants are fictional, but the description of the cathedral has clearly been inspired by such places as Lincoln. The background to the book is the death of King Henry I's son in a shipwreck, the ensuing years of civil war between Stephen and Matilda and then the early years of the reign of Henry II, culminating in the murder of Archbishop Thomas Becket in Canterbury Cathedral. All of this made the story much more "real", as did the details. For example, at one point in the book some of the characters travel to Lincoln, where it is obvious Ken Follett visited and researched. Some of the areas then that were outside the city and castle walls (some of which still exist) are reflected in modern street names.
So, a good read, perfect for taking on holiday!

Meanwhile, on a more prosaic level, I'm attempting to buy a house. I want to live in Newark (ideally) and have just started looking so if anyone either knows anything about Newark or wants to recommend nice estate agents or warn me about evil ones please leave a comment!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Finally, those holiday pics

Finally Blogger has kindly allowed me to post some photos. I thought I'd have forgotten about the holiday before that happened!
Sensibly the Bassenthwaite ospreys hadn't yet returned to the lake to start building their nest. They were staying where it was warmer and dryer (they eventually flew back to Bassenthwaite two days ago). We did go up to the Whinlatter Visitor Centre though and had tea and cake whilst looking out over these birdfeeders, mainly being used by siskins.

We did make a visit to the Alpaca Centre - unfortunately on a very dull day so no photos were taken and the fields were too muddy for us to go and visit the alpacas. I was a bit disappointed that there wasn't more yarn available there, it's mainly a clothing shop with some DK and 4ply alpaca (all Alpaca Select). I did get a lovely pima cotton top in the sale though! I've HAD to buy some new clothes as I've finally managed to put on weight! I've been trying for the last 10 years and finally managed it, which means that I also could no longer get into my walking trousers and had some trouble with my swimsuit too! Fortunately Keswick has some nice clothing and outdoorsy type shops. I also picked up some New Balance trainers at their factory shop. These trainers are great, I discovered them a couple of years ago. Not only are the trainers made in this country (rather than in an overseas sweatshop) but they come in WIDTH fittings, including NARROW width fittings. It was the first time I've had trainers that fit me! WOOOOHOOOO!

Then off to Caldbeck, the wonderful village which has the Woolclip in it! The pic above is the tiny little Fairtrade shop in a converted bus shelter (I'm always amazed how much they manage to cram into this shop!)

This is Priest's Mill, the old mill building which has been converted into several shops. The Woolclip is on the bottom right of the building and you can see Mum emerging from the gift shop on the left. The bottom middle is a goldsmiths and above is the fantastic Watermill Cafe.

These two pics are of the yarn section of the shop (they also have rugs, garments, some spinning stuff). Top are some hand-dyed skeins in beautiful colours. Bottom are the yarns in pigeon-holes. They had some local sheep's wool, local alpaca in natural colours, Herdwick wool for rug making and more hand-dyed yarn. Plus some kits hanging on the wall.

My purchases were - 2 balls of North Ronaldsay Aran wool from a farm at Raisbeck and 3 skeins of hand-dyed/hand-spun DK yarn in sock kit form put together by the Spinning Gallery.

A pair of hand-dyed mohair walking socks also from Raisbeck and the Twisted Sisters Sock Workbook. This is a totally fab book, read the review here. It covers spinning and dyeing your sock yarn and then turning it into socks and has made me feel all inspired. The photos are gorgeous.

I did, of course, also take knitting on holiday with me (as well as some books to read). This is the beginnings of Tubey, a very exciting picture:

And I got the Smith Socks finished:

Some adaptations to the pattern mean that I got them done using only one ball of DB Cashmerino Aran and two balls of Noro Silk Garden (just). They're lovely and snuggly socks:

(as there's a swimming pool at the holiday place I also had to defluff the legs. Anybody else tried "Sugaring" from the Body Shop? It works very well, although feels very strange to be smearing golden syrup all over your legs before inflicting vast amounts of pain on yourself)

Typically both of the books I took on holiday are still on the go (as with knitting I usually have more than one book on the go at a time!) so I'll have to review those in another post. Keswick also has a great independent bookshop, called Bookends. Here I acquired copies of Bleak House (having really enjoyed the BBC adaptation last year) and A walk along the wall about a man's journey along the Hadrian's Wall path (which I'm going to do someday).

Phew, think that's it for this post! Thank you Blogger!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Monkey on holiday

Well I was trying to do a post about my holiday, with plenty of pics of yarn and nice things like that. But the only photo that would work was this one:

I suspect Monkey has been fiddling with my Blogger settings...
As you can see he had an EXCELLENT holiday...

Saturday, April 08, 2006

SP Goodies

Well it only seemed fair to blog about my SP parcel first so I could thank my wonderful Secret Pal! I've been spoiled by Katarina, whose blog is "Knitting with Katarina". She has a lovely blog with beautiful pictures - go on, go and have a look!

And here is my final parcel from her:

Some beautifully wrapped and tantalising little parcels inside!

Isn't this egg cozy cute? Also some Easter cards and a card from Katarina which tells me where I can find her blog!

Some truly groovy chocolate bars (aren't they COOL?!), some sweets and a horse-shaped cookie cutter.

And 200g of hand-dyed ecological cotton from Sweden. It's a lovely colour, a little warmer red than it appears on my monitor. This is the manufacturer's website (I think). It's lovely yarn, very soft and knits up on 2.5-3mm needles. I keep stroking it!

Thank you Katarina - you've been a totally fab Secret Pal & I hope we'll stay in touch!

Oh, and I was spoiling Becky, who blogs here.

Still plenty of photos and blog posts to go, folks! In fact I'll probably finish my current knitting before I get the photos I've just taken of it up on here! We've just had another excellent Knit Lincs meeting and plotted a little visit to Yarn. Tee hee hee. Not until May, which gives me a chance to knit through some of my stash in the meantime...

Have your own LYS?!

Anybody ever dreamed of running their own LYS?

Well here you go then.

Here's your chance to provide all the knitters of Lincoln and surrounding areas with lots of yummy yarn etc! I so hope somebody nice and fluffy and knitterly does buy it, it could be SO good.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Where to start?!

Just back from London and the Lake District. I don't know where to start blogging. I had a lovely parcel from my SP, Katarina, with GORGEOUS contents and I also had a good holiday with a visit to a couple of woolly places! I have also been knitting away busily. This is FAR too much for one blog post, so which would you like to hear about first?!

Thank you for all the thoughts, prayers, vibes, fluff etc for this week. As with Christmas, it seems to have gone better than I imagined...