Wednesday, 8 April 2009

So long for now


I've not blogged for ages and have really got out of the habit. I'm not even sure anyone reads this blog any more, but I'll type this little message anyway.

I'm not going to be blogging for a while. Other things are going on at the moment. Some people already know why, some will find out shortly. Having a change of scenary for a while and going to do lots of thinking. Blogging won't be part of that.



Saturday, 21 March 2009

Long time, no blog

March has been crazy for me. The start of the month was hectic. I was busy with work, lots of things to organise, I went to a family party, Ezzie's mum went into hospital. Not much knitting has been done.

Last Friday things went into overdrive when Ofsted announced they would be coming to school. I have worked like a demon for a week. I was in school at 8am Saturday and Sunday making sure everything was ship shape. I've been staying at work until 8pm and getting up in a morning at 4.30am. I feel exhausted. They were with us Wednesday and Thursday and everyone was nervous and stressed. I put everything I had into the inspection and was interviewed by them twice.

Yet, did they come and see one of my excellent lessons? No! I feel completely dejected and flat. Other members of staff are saying it's better not to be observed, but I really don't feel like that. I feel like I wanted to make a contribution. I feel all the hours were pointless. The kids were brilliant, I wanted to show them off.

Yesterday at work I couldn't be bothered. I just feel so drained. Also, we were told by the doctor looking after Ezzie's mum to meet him on Friday at 5pm. Basically, he thinks she has cancer of the pancreas. He can't be sure because there is no reliable test, apart from operating which he doesn't think is a good idea. If she has, then she has two years to live. I just cannot believe we have all the hospital stuff to expect again. Ezzie feels that his small family is shrinking at a terrible rate. We both really hoped 2009 was going to be a better year, yet it's already not turning out that way.

Sunday, 1 March 2009

Anything but marking

I managed to survive the first week back at school. It wasn't without incident. A child seriously provoked me and I was fuming with her, but I'm calmer now. The week flew by and now the weekend is doing the same. I need to do a whole load of marking, but I can't face it so blogging is a form of procrastination.

Only one project to show today. These are some basic socks. The yarn is something I spied at The Wool Baa and just had to buy it. My days of stashbusting are long gone. It's Fortissima Socka Mexiko in colourway 8076. To keep more of the yarn for a later project I made the cuffs, heels and toes in black yarn. I think the black is perhaps a little harsh, but overall I'm pleased with these socks. The yarn is lovely to work with. It has a lovely softness.

Yesterday I had a nice surprise. I ordered some knitting books on the net and was told they would not arrive until May. The website said they were in stock so the possibility of them arriving in May was disappointing. Yesterday there was a knock at the door and two of my books had arrived! It was most exciting.

Mara had shown me her copy of the sock book and I'd wanted it ever since. There are some gorgeous socks in there. I'm on the second Nutkin sock at the moment, but after that I'll be knitting something from the book. Every single pattern is gorgeous and it suggest suitable yarns for the patterns, which is a great help as well. This book is probably going to contribute to my lack of marking this weekend.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Half term review

It has been half term this week and I promised myself that I would not go into work this week. I'm pleased to report that I kept this promise. Instead I had a few days in Whitby with Ezzie and we had a great time. We stayed in an amazing Georgian B&B. Here I am knitting and watching tv there.

Unfortunately the owner told us that with the economic downturn, business has been really slow. This is such a shame because this house is stunning and the breakfast was lovely. (If anyone wants to go and stay somewhere nice in Whitby, I can pass on the details.)

We did a lot of walking and we were lucky that it didn't rain. After the snow the paths were incredibly muddy and that got on my nerves a lot of the time, but we still had a great time. I got to wear my finished houndstooth gloves, which I am still really pleased with and proud of.

During the time away I started a new sock. This is Nutkin and is my new pattern for February. The yarn is from the Knitting Godess - 4 ply superwash merino in Same Difference, colourway Raspberry. I like the yarn but I reduced the number of stitches to 60 and the socks are now really tight. These will be for my mum as she has really skinny ankles, feet and legs.

Last weekend I went home to visit my family. I'd made my cousin some Bradford City socks from King Cole, Merino blend superwash wool, Double Knit. Shade 32, dye lot 33603 is the claret and Shade 10, dye lot 34483 is the amber. My cousin loved them.

I loved knitting these socks. The yarn is gorgeous, it is just so soft on your fingers. As its double knit it also knits up quickly and on fewer stitches. I've bought a lot of this yarn because I have some uncles who also want Bradford City socks now.

So, that's half term almost over. In two mornings' time I'll be getting up for work. It doesn't appeal, but never mind. I've had a lovely half term.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Snow allows knitting

This week I only worked two full days; the snow interfered with work and we had two half days and one whole day off. You'd think this would make you feel energised but I just feel more tired than usual this week. I think the snow just caused hassle. My car was parked ages away because my road was impassable and my journeys to work were stressful because I had to concentrate so hard on what was going on. The kids were also livelier than usual. "Are we going home today?", " do you think we should go home?" They were unrelenting.

I'm glad they got some days off. All the kids told me they had never seen snow like it and it reminded me that when I was a kid we always got a couple of days off a year because of the snow. In fact, one of my happiest days ever was playing in the snow with my cousin and sister. We'd gone to school that morning and it was shut, came home and stayed out as long as we coiuld physically manage the cold. We have some fantastic photos from that day. I had a great sledge and we took it in turns to push and pull one another.

Because the sky was so light due to the snow I managed to knit with black for long periods. At night I had to stop because black is so difficult. I've never knitted with it before. I thought navy blue was bad, but this black is up another level. I'm really pleased with the first glove.

It is definitely no longer a sock. Fair Isle socks are just not going to happen but at least I've learnt that through the process. What I especially like is the fact that I've designed it. I've written the pattern down as I go along so I can make its twin identical. It feels very satisfying. I definitely need some gloves in this weather.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

February Fair Isle

In case you haven't noticed, it has snowed a lot recently. This snow has meant two days off work for me and I have used the time wisely to do some knitting. I still want to knit a different sock a month so decided yesterday would be a great day to begin my first ever Fair Isle.

One of the most frustrating things I have to deal with as a teacher is explaining the same things over and over again, only for my students to repeat the same mistakes. Whenever I'm teaching a grammar point we work on it in class, students seem to get it, they get homework and without fail a significant group will forget what they learned and the success they were having and revert to making the same old mistakes. I often wonder, why is that?

I really should remember that this same thing happens to me with knitting. I have spoken to a lot of people about Fair Isle socks and each and every time I have been warned that it isn't stretchy, you need a lot more stitches than usual and that it isn't always suitable for socks. Armed with this information and advice I still spent a lot of yesterday getting frustrated with tension, ripping things out, increasing the number of stitches and changing needle size. By the afternoon I had had enough and decided to phone the knitting equivalent of A & E, Caroline. Caroline advised me to turn the sock into a mitten. The sock isn't quite a mitten, it's going to be a glove and I'm happy with its metamorphosis. I think it was good advice.

The yarns are: Regia Nation in colourway 5399. The black is Regia 4 ply in colourway 2066. I think the hounddog tooth check looks great and it has been fun to do something different. (I do know it's not officially hounddog tooth, but that's what I've always called it; I think it's a homage to Elivs.)

There are some finished items to show today as well. Ezzie's pixie socks are finished. They are not quite identical as I ran out of the green. I think this is the first time I have ever used up a whole ball of yarn and it feels very satisfying. The second sock isn't as neat as the first as a lot of it was knit at the Arena whilst watching Strictly Come Dancing. (Incidentally, Strictly was fantastic but I did miss shouting at Darren Gough!)

I have also completed the blue socks for my friend Carlos. They will be sent to Switzerland at the weekend and will come in very useful in the Alps.

I was given a lovely present recently from Knitbird, which will come in really handy for my future self-designed socks. The stitches are really easy to use as they have big photos and have one stitch pattern per card. Very transportable. Thank you Knitbird.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Older and wiser?

I'm so much older than since I last blogged. I've entered a new decade and my age now has a zero at the end. A lot of my friends are turning the same age as well, but it doesn't seem so bad to me as I think all the great things in life are yet to happen. I went out for two lovely meals for my birthday and am going to the Ritz for afternoon tea later in the year. I got lots of lovely cards, some money and some lovely presents.

Amongst other things I received a felting set with some wool to felt and a lovely book with instructions. Some of it looks hard! I think that will be a long term project. I also received some gorgeous sock yarn and some wool to spin. The sock yarn is Colinette Jitterbug in Raspberry and has beautiful pink and purple colours. The wool for spinning is also pink and purple. Half is Merino tops and the other half is a merino and silk mix. Pink is clearly a theme! They are both going to turn into gorgeous socks for me!

I've not been blogging much as last week was manic at school. We've had a health drive and all sorts of activities were organised. It went really well, though it did affect my health as I was not sleeping for all the worry. As far as I am aware, there were no glitches, so this weekend I took it easy and caught up on some sleep.

My friend Di has been in the UK for a few weeks. Her holidays in Australia are during our winter as it is their summer. It was really nice to spend time with her and such a shame that she has now gone back. She still wants me to go out there as it'll be another year before she can visit here again. I want to see her, but I have no appetite for Australia or the inevitable long journey. I need to think about what to do.

This weekend a group of us went with Di to see Slumdog Millionaire. What a film! It was brilliant, from start to finish. I haven't been able to stop thinking about this film. There are some awful moments in it and I couldn't watch parts of it because it was too grusome, but if you can go and see it, I strongly recommend it. The child actors at the beginning are amazing. It has every human emotion and a great story as well.

Tonight I'm missing my Mandarin class. I'm off to the theatre. I have been working hard on my Chinese recently and am learning more of the characters. It's hard going, but it's bound to be. I just have to accept that progress is slow but that with perseverence I will manage it.

On the knitting front, it won't surprise you to see more socks. I may be older, but a leopard doesn't change its spots, especially an old leopard. These socks are Opal Acapulco 1306 and are for a friend at school's wife. The yarn has been in my stash for over a year and I can't even remember buying it, but I think it looks great and I'm sure the recipient will like them. I've still got quite a bit of yarn left so I am going to make some stashbusters using black yarn.

At the moment I am knitting a pair of socks for an old friend I met many years ago in Switzerland. We've not seen one another for nine years, but we still have contact from time to time. I'm sure he will love these socks, but he'll be surprised that I made them because I knew him in my non-knitting days. They are Regia 4 ply Line Steps Color in 05368. They initially look plain but there are odd stripes and dashes of colour, which I think gives them depth.

When these are finished I'm going to finish Ezzie's pixie socks as I have Second Sock Syndrome at the moment and he keeps reminding me about it. I'm then going to start some socks for me. If I don't blog before next week, Happy Chinese New Year!