Thursday, December 28, 2006


Christmas got off to a fantastic start on Christmas Eve with a drain blocked with dead leaves and rancid porridge. Nice.

But once that was over with things dramatically improved. We went to Midnight Mass in the village church, which was wonderful. It's the first year I've spent Christmas at my own place, instead of returning to Lincoln, and so the first time I've been able to enjoy celebrating Christmas at the church I go to most of the time! The church was stuffed full, it's normally fairly full on a Sunday, but Midnight was people crammed into every possible corner. Bizarrely the congregation was full of people in their 20s and 30s, wonder where they get to the rest of the year?!

As it was just me and Mum for Christmas we went totally veggie (hah!) and had the normal Christmassy vegetables for lunch, along with cheese and parsnip roulade from Delia's Christmas. Nice recipe, if a little fiddly to make. I wasn't so keen on it by the time I'd had my fourth meal of it on Thursday!

On Boxing Day we went for a walk round the lake.

And found a duck feeding place with lots of quackers around.

Presents (yarny related):
Well, Dylan (6 month old nephew sprog) gave me a ball of yarn. Gedifra Filorosa, which is totally insane yarn. It has sections of completely different yarns all wound into one ball.

Mary Anne sent me a pattern book (Sirdar Furry Friends), Not Just for Vegetarians and a new little friend for Monkey. The recipe book is fab, and I bought some measuring cups when I went into Newark yesterday so I can start making things!

And these were from a Secret Santa exchange I took part in. The yarn is 4ply botany wool from 21st Century Yarns in colourway Amethyst. It's gorgeously soft and squishy. The photo seems to have come out more blue than purple, but I assure you it really is purple!

and a ball of Debbie Bliss Cashmerino Aran, which I think I'll use to make Fetching, and a box of my favourite chocolates! The yarn is also purple, not that you can tell in the light in this photo!

So, a good Christmas! Thank you for the prezzies people!

Meanwhile, I've been thinking about things I want to do next year. One is to walk the length of Hadrian's Wall (Carrie Anne gave me this link to a really helpful website). I also discovered that Northern Cross have a pilgrimage to Lindisfarne at Easter, which starts out in Carlisle and walks along the wall. But somehow I doubt I'm fit enough to walk 118 miles at the moment. 60 would be more doable... Ah, back in my younger days I used to be able to trot off and walk 50-60 miles in a weekend without really thinking about it (certainly without anything resembling "training"!) but now I'm getting old (= sit on my bum driving a car all the time) it might be slightly more difficult.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Thank you Secret Pal!

This is really late, so massive apologies for Maylin, who stepped in as my "Angel" in the One Skein Secret Pal exchange after my original spoiler mysteriously vanished! Maylin has been great. Anyway, this parcel was despatched to me yonks ago, but took absolutely ages to get here (thanks, Royal Mail!), and once it had arrived I'd lent my camera to my Mum so couldn't post about it! Finally, I have the camera back, so here we go!

It was all in a box, absolutely PACKED with things - this photo shows:
- soaps - olive oil and hemp (which is just the sort of thing I'd have chosen for myself!)
- two scented candles - a big one in the tin on the top right, and a smaller lavender one.
- a notebook and address book
- fridge magnet
- glow in the dark pebbles (so cool!)
- a place card holder for dinner parties etc (can also be used for holding a knitting pattern!)
- chocolate (well, there has been a considerable delay between the parcel arriving and my camera coming back, which explains why the chocolate doesn't feature in the picture...)
I'm not sure how well they come out in the photo but several of the items are from the M.I.L.K. project, which are really sweet photos. M.I.L.K. stands for Moments of Intimacy, Laughter and Kinship and the photos are quite moving and very cool!

The parcel also contains two skeins of Maylin's own handspun, in a wonderful shade of purple (much more purple than it appears on my screen anyway!)

And, finally, a One Skein Wonder! I'd seen this pattern but never got round to making it - now I have one to wear! I'm not sure what the yarn is she used, but it's great to wear and fits perfectly. Not that you can tell in the picture below where I ran into the usual problems of living on my own and the atrocious daylight at this time of year!

Anyway, this shot came out better! Aren't those colours fab!
Thank you Maylin! You've been a wonderful Angel!

I'm now getting on with Christmas preparations. It's all a bit crazy, the supermarket last night was complete hell, it looked like a famine was about to break out and people were panic-buying like mad (why? We're not about to run out of food!). There were fights breaking out in the car park as people tried to park (I gave up and went and parked at the railway station and walked back!) and the queues at the checkouts were all at least 20 trolleys deep. People are always so arsey at this time of year. At least it's not just here, sounds like it's just the same (only rather warmer!) with Happyspider in Australia. Or I could have small children to take care of, I swear Anne and Nic must be saints. I have enough trouble just organising myself.

And another thing I hate about this time of year:

the weather. Grey. Dingy. Drippy wet. Bloody freezing. Freezing fog when you want to drive anywhere at all, never mind long distances. Although Farli has provided a very useful link to Chris's British Roads database, which I wish I'd known about ages ago as it has little pictures of all (?) the British motorway junctions, so you have some inkling what it's going to look like before you get there. Look, you can even look at pictures of the M1! Maybe now I can stop having nightmares about junction 24/24A of the M1, which I regularly drive round two or three times in the wrong lane.

Right anyway. I returned home to find rather a lot of emails waiting, which I haven't really got time to do anything about now as I have a friend coming round for mince pies. Which don't exist yet. But that's OK as he's currently in the air somewhere between New York and Heathrow, so plenty of time for mince pie making, especially with the current fog/traffic/airport chaos. And I need to make the spare room habitable as Mum is coming tomorrow. So the laptop is being relegated to the study and is being ignored over Christmas!

So, wherever you are (and I bet the weather's much nicer there!) have a FANTABULOUS CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR

and I'll be back sometime.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Knitting (finally!)

And, yes, finally I'll blog about knitting! I ended up staying in Lincoln with Mum for longer than anticipated (almost 3 weeks after the op.) after both of us caught a tummy bug from my nephews. Which was really pleasant 10 days after a tonsillectomy! Anyway, I'm on the mend now thank goodness and actually felt human yesterday for the first time in weeks. Thank you for all the comments, emails, prayers, fluffy vibes etc etc!

Anyway, someone at least had fun whilst we were at Mum's:
I got most of Noa made whilst waiting in the hospital and finished her off at home, but forgot to take a photo before I lent my camera out!

This is Devan blocking:
This is the 1-2 year size but has come out bigger than the measurements in the pattern! I did do a gauge square too! Weird. The blocking mat is a table-top ironing mat with elephants on that I got from Lakeland Limited to take with me to uni. And before anyone wonders why I took an ironing mat to uni, I was really quite weird (especially during my first degree!) and did do quite a lot of ironing until I realised that there were more fun and interesting things to do.

I chose some buttons from Mum's button collection. These are all recycled and have come from clothing that was too worn to be mended or to go to the charity shop.

This is Devan finished.

And the back view! The yarn is all Opal 4ply - the patterned one is a Rodeo colourway.
It was on 2.5 and 3mm needles. I did the gauge swatch on the 3mm needles (the pattern wasn't very clear) but think it might have been better on the 2.5mm! Still, Dylan will grow into it at some point! It felt like a quick knit as I didn't seem to have it on the needles for very long, but bear in mind that I wasn't really doing anything other than sitting and knitting in front of DVDs at the time!

I'd enjoyed making the Mermaid sock for myself (see earlier post) so decided to make some for my SIL for Christmas. (My pair is now on hold!). One Christmas one is now complete and the other is halfway there. I thought the yarn was quite in-yer-face so did the heel with the plain blue used for Devan!
The yarn is Regia Stretch Colour 4ply in "Fantasie" colourway. Mostly knitted on 2.5mm needles with 2mm ones used for the heel. The pattern is from Lucy Neatby's "Cool Socks Warm Feet"

And, I've been thinking about taking a blog break for a while now. I've actually quite enjoyed having time off when I was in Lincoln and couldn't post regularly. Blogging is starting to feel like a chore, and it's meant to be fun, and I seem to have read quite a few blogs recently from people who are thinking about taking a break or stopping blogging altogether because the same thing has happened. Looking back, it's quite encouraging how much my life has changed since I started blogging about 18 months ago. Then, I was only working 1-2 days a week (from home) and finishing my MA. Now the MA is done and dusted and I'm working full-time and away from home most of the time. I'm finding that my time is more limited (not in a bad way, as I'm doing loads of things now that I enjoy doing, and I love my job, whereas before I was sat around at home all the time), I've got a full-size house to look after (rather than a tiny flat!) and friends I want to spend time with, as well as knitting to do, books to read and things I want to cook. And I use my laptop at work, I don't want to be sitting in front of it in my spare time too!

Soooooooo, I don't want to stop altogether, and I don't want to set a date and say that I'm not going to blog until then. I'm just going to blog when I feel like it, and sometimes it'll be short and sometimes long and woffly. So, I'd suggest, that if you're really that keen to read my wofflings and don't want to keep checking back here, it might be an idea to add this blog to your Bloglines or Blogrolling sub!

Saturday, December 02, 2006


This year I was in the garden centre on 5th November (Guy Fawkes and Bonfire Night!) and they were playing Christmas music and there was an extremely tacky jiving Father Christmas display. ON THE 5TH OF NOVEMBER?!?! Then I drove home to Newark on Thursday evening and discovered that the Christmas lights were on in the main shopping area (NOVEMBER 30TH!). That lunchtime there was an interview on the BBC news with the parents of a young baby, in their home was a large Christmas tree and the baby was playing with baubles and a cracker. It wasn't even December then! This is mad, it starts earlier and earlier every year.

When I was little my great-uncle (who always came to us for Christmas) used to ask if we'd got any parties lined up for the days between Christmas and New Year. We never had as we'd already been to loads. When he was little you spent Advent preparing for Christmas and then celebrated Christmas at Christmas and for the days afterwards. Which seems much more sensible to me. Now everything goes flat immediately after Christmas. I can't help thinking that, even if you're not Christian and don't celebrate Christmas as a religious festival, but a form of winter festival, the whole starting early thing is just more crazy commercialism.

I hate getting to Christmas and not wanting to sing carols because we've already been singing them for four weeks already (what happened to those beautiful Advent hymns?!). We never used to put our tree up at home until the Saturday before Christmas. This Christmas will be my first Christmas in my new house and I've invited my family round to spend it with me, but the decorations ain't going up until 23rd! I was considering boycotting all shops that had Christmas music and Christmas displays up before December, then realised that I'd have to starve for all of December.

One old lady at church told me that she saw Advent as a time of penitence and preparation (much like Lent). And I'm going to work through an Advent book in the hope of being able to think along those lines instead of getting depressed about the too early Christmas stuff (Hope That Transforms - daily readings for Advent and Christmas). Some practical preparations have had to be made. I have bought my Christmas cards, although I haven't written any yet. And I enjoy the early preparations - making the cake, puddings and mincemeat. I tend to buy presents for family over a few months anyway to spread the cost out, and, obviously, knitted presents need starting earlier! ;-) I like Advent as the beginning of a new year and a time of hope (which contrasts nicely with the increasingly dark days and lack of light) and the feeling that things are going to get better.

So, have a good Advent!