Monday, 24 December 2007

Christmas Eve

Well, it's Christmas Eve and instead of relaxing and looking forward to tomorrow, all I can wonder is whether I will finish the final pair of Christmas socks. I started them on Saturday and finished the first sock yesterday late at night. All I had done was knit. I reduced the number of stitches and rounds to make it quicker and knitted round and round, no fuss, no messing, no special features. I have never managed to knit a whole sock in two days, so I have cast on the second one today and am determined to finish the second one. This pair is for my Great Uncle and I won't see him until Boxing Day, so there is time but it's pretty much all I can think of at the moment.

The only other thing I'm thinking about at the moment is the Strictly Come Dancing final on Saturday night. I love Strictly and I always fall in love with one of the couples and this year it was Matt and Flavia. I did start off loving John Barnes, but he was knocked out a few weeks ago and I always love Anton du Beke, but he also wasn't in the final. In the past I have fallen in love with Darren and Lylia, Mark and Karen so it was inevitable that this would happen again this year. Did you see Matt and Flavia's show dance? It was amazing! They are amazing together. I really can't believe that Flavia actually goes out with Vincent Simone; he's no where near as nice as Matt and I really think Flavia needs to sort it and quick!

That's my Christmas Eve message. Back to the sock.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

I can't sleep

I went to bed about an hour ago and realised very quickly I was having "one of those nights" where despite being tired the last thing I can do is sleep. I've not had one of these for a while but I know the signs early on and usually the best thing to do is get up and do something.

I'm feeling anxious about a couple of things at work and it's this which is keeping me awake. I haven't done anything wrong, but a recent decision at work has benefitted me but is going to upset others. I feel really guilty about it all and I'm expecting some hostility tomorrow. I'm also worried about next year's exchange because I haven't managed to fill the trip and I have to send the Germans the details on Friday and I don't want to run a half full trip. I have two days to generate more interest and get the deposits in. I know the exchange, like anything, ebbs and flows, but I've really promoted it and the interest has been disappointing.

Anyway, to counteract all this negativity and wondering in my head I decided to get up and look at the stash. Last Friday we had Knit Club here and I raided the stash and I was appalled at the state it's in and the number of "forgotten" yarns and projects I have. I have some lovely yarns and I cannot wait to start knitting some gorgeous socks for myself again. Lucy bought me a lovely skein of Natural Dye Studio sock yarn in pinks, blues, greens and purples and I cannot wait to get it on the needles. Thank you Lucy! The rummage didn't last long, because I quickly felt overwhelmed and remember "sorting out the stash" is a New Year's Resolution and cannot officially start until January.

I have finished the Jaywalker socks this evening, so I have only three more pairs of Christmas socks to go. Will I make the deadline? The next three socks are going to be plain old knit, knit and more knit, no pattern, just lots of stocking stitch. As lovely as the Jaywalkers are, I had to knit them on 76 stitches, which is 16 more than I usually knit. I'll post some photos next time and you will be impressed by the small amount of yarn left from these socks. I didn't waste any of the yarn. They do seem to have taken longer and being separated over my long weekend didn't help. Incidentally, I hadn't left them at work, but in the car of a neighbour, so they were only ever 200 metres from my house and not the 14 miles I originally thought.

Friday, 30 November 2007

The Unthinkable

I am not at work today - we all have a day off. I am just so happy. I got up at nine o'clock and thought "I'm not teaching Year 11" which is what I would normally be doing at nine o'clock on a Friday morning. I have been living for today for a few weeks now and I had intended to finish the Jaywalkers I am making for Ezzie's mum. For some reason, which I can't quite understand, I forgot my knitting at work yesterday and I am fuming at myself. I'm cross because those socks are almost finished, I am cross because I have no dpns in the house (the twenty or so I have are all in the bag at school) and I am missing my clicker which tells me how many rounds I have done. I cannot understand how I forgot my knitting. It's unthinkable and unfathomable. I know this gives me a great opportunity to finish Ezzie's pressies on big needles, but I don't want to. I was listening to Jeremy Vine today, but alas he's on holiday so it's not Jeremy presenting it and they were talking about long-distance relationships. I feel that I'm in one until I see my stuff on Monday. I can't wait until we're reunited.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Kaffe Fassett

I know that there are devoted aficionados of Kaffe in the knitting world and as I've only been part of that world for three years I haven't any experience of knitting his complicated and daring colour patterns. To be honest, I don't even know how you say his name. I say 'Café', the rest of you can say what you want. I know people who really don't like his stuff, but I'm strangely intrigued by his work. I don't want to wear any of his daring items, but I would love to put some of the colours together which he does.

With this in mind, I am so pleased to be knitting socks with wool which he designed. I bought the yarn from the Wool Baa at the weekend and cast on Sunday evening. I think the colourway is called 'Landscape Fire' and I just love it. It's not the softest yarn, it's not expensive, but the colours are amazing and I love the use of reds and browns with a dart of blue and green. These socks are for Ezzie's mum and I hope that she loves them the way I do. I've been on Ravelry a lot recently and I was keen to knit a different sock pattern. There are loads of pictures of Jaywalkers on there so I felt inspired to have another go and I cast on substantially more stitches than my previous failed attempt. Stripy yarn works so well with that pattern so I am just loving knitting with these stripes, colours and pattern because I think they work well together. I am definitely going to buy some more of this Kaffe yarn and combine it with Jaywalker and on that occasion the socks will be staying with me.

I'm working on another pair of socks this week. These little socks are for my nephew who was born on Saturday. My sister is going to call him Rohan or Rowan. She hasn't quite decided yet. I think she should opt for Rowan as it's a good knitting name, but I keep reminding myself that choosing a name shouldn't be affected by a wool company.

I mentioned Ravelry a little earlier. I think it is amazing and it is incredible the amount of stuff that is happening in the knitting world. I read recently that women in their late twenties upwards use the internet most these days and it is not geeky boys playing computer games as you might imagine. Having been on this site, I know why women are dominating the internet, it's because they are investigating and posting on Ravelry. It's a monopoly. I really want to start using it effectively and catalogue the stash and stuff, but realistically that won't happen for a while because I have work and Christmas to consider. The Christmas holidays would be a nice time and I will hopefully have new knitting yarn to show off.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Anton du Beke

I know this isn't really knitting related, in fact it's not knitting related at all. But I want to share it with you anyway. I love Anton. He should be the next Bond. I want to dance with Anton. Next year Anton better get a decent partner. It's about time he won that Strictly show! I was trying to get a photo of him on here but it's not happening. According to Wikipedia he is single and I've told Ezzie that I've chosen Anton and he's okay as long as he keeps Granby.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Knitting Update

When I started my blog I wanted to post at least once a week. Sometimes you manage more, but for me once a week is a good and reasonable target. As you know, that hasn't happened recently, so I was determined to get back into my stride again and it is only six days since I put my thoughts out there in Cyberspace, so I'm doing well now.

The good thing about not blogging often is that when you do post, it seems you have been very busy and productive. I may not have been dedicated to my knitting blog, but my knitting has ticked along nicely and surely that's more important than the blog.

As promised, a photograph of my Secret Pal yarn. It is gorgeous and I cannot wait to knit myself some gorgeous socks in the new year with it. The colours are rich and the yarn soft. My Secret Pal really does have taste.

I've finished Ezzie's Saddo Socks and I think they look great. He hasn't tried them on because he doesn't want to spoil the moment he opens them on Christmas Day. Isn't that sweet? That, or he doesn't actually like them. I'm knitting him a couple of other Christmas presents but I won't mention them here because he does occasionally look at the blog and it would be nice to have some surprises at Christmas.

I'm working on a pair of socks for my Auntie at the moment. The yarn is by Spinning Bunny and it's called Treasure Trove. Such an evocative name! It's 50% Merino and 50% Tencel and the feel is fantastic. I would definitely knit with Tencel again. It's soft and shiny and lovely to knit with. She saw the start of them last week at the Stereophonics and liked them immensely. I've knitted them in the ubiquitous Monkey pattern. It's a classic and I love it.

Now for something a little different, just to make this blog different to any other knitting blog. A picture of the Hermit Crabs. My mum thought one of them (Eddie Large AKA Paul Calfe) had croaked it, but she managed to resuscitate him with some water. They're doing well and have grown lots.
I was going to post photos of my recent purchases but I have to go to the doctor's now. I'm in pain when I eat and that's just not right, is it? As important as the blog is, my health is more so especially when it comes to food. I love my food and I just can't be having this pain business.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Bad Blogger

I've not been into blogging recently. This has been due to fatigue at work, the lack of a working computer and a feeling that I am just out of it at the moment. I have been really busy and the relaxing Half Term I expected just didn't happen. I went to school three days and to France for the day. Shona came for the weekend, we dyed more wool and I feel like I haven't stopped recently.

Last night I saw the Stereophonics with my Auntie and cousin. We had a great time and they were very good. The Kaiserchiefs are coming to town soon so I think I might get tickets to see them as well. It had been a long time since I had been to a concert and I really enjoyed it. I felt like a youthful teenager again. Inevitably, we ended up near some drunken idiots but the music was fantastic and I have a new respect for the 'Phonics. They are very good live. I managed to do a bit of knitting waiting for the band but then the lights went very dark and I couldn't see a thing.

I've been back home today. Shona was on stage at the church bazaar and dressed as a fairy. It was fantastic to see people I've not seen for years. Shona was busy buying her Christmas presents at the stalls and I came back home with a chocolate cake for Ezzie baked by my uncle. I'm sure if I'd asked he would have baked me a cake but the money went to a good cause. I also bought some nice costume jewellery, which I always like. Sienna bought a knitted doll. I really admire that kid's taste. She isn't even three yet but she has an eye for knitting.

This week I received my Secret Pal parcel and I am mightily impressed. My Pal sent me some gorgeous pink and purple sock yarn. She has good taste! I'll post photos in my next blog which should be soon.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Knitting Update

Although it's been quiet on the blog front, I have been busy knitting this week. Last Sunday I went to Lorainne's and witnessed the Eighth Wonder of the World, which is her Stock and Stash. She has some amazing yarns and I felt completely overwhelmed. I just didn't know where to start looking and scratched the surface when I opened a couple of yarn boxes. I bought two skeins of sock yarn, which was actually very restrained. I didn't stay knitting long because I had to go for a Sunday dinner for the German teachers, who are here at the moment.

Work has been hectic because of the return leg of the Exchange, but so far so good. I feel exhausted because there has been a lot of socialising (including a meal for fourteen here), early mornings and organising trips. I enjoyed my trip to the town hall and bowling. Bowling was brilliant because I could knit between turns.

On Wednesday I went to Lucy's and knitted and chatted for the evening with her, t'other Lucy and Mara. It was a nice evening and we had lovely food. At both Lucy's and Lorainne's I had the use of their ball winders and swifts. These are fantastic gadgets and speed up winding wool into balls. They then make your yarn look really pretty. Caroline has offered to lend me one of hers and I cannot wait! All my yarn is going to be wound and ready for action.

Some quick photographs:

These are finished Christmas socks for my Auntie:

You can tell the yarn is my hand-dyed stuff because the socks are different. The right sock is much darker. I think it's a quirk of the yarn.

These are socks I am knitting for my Great Aunt, but as she had a fall this week they are going to be sent as soon as they are finished; she needs cheering up and I think she deserves an early Christmas present. Granby just wouldn't leave me alone this morning. He was being all cute and cuddly whilst I was trying to take photos.

I love the colours in this yarn, and it is beautifully soft, but I don't like the way it has knitted into spirals. The way the yarn is on the heel flap is how I would have preferred it throughout.

Friday, 12 October 2007

Secret Pal

Following Caroline's suggestion I have started a Secret Pal for the local knitting community. It seems other people are really interested in doing something similar and have been really helpful with suggestions. We're set to roll in November and December and I am really excited. The trouble is, I want send be a Secret Pal and send somebody something, but I will automatically know who's my Secret Pal because I'm organising it all and am coordinating it. Is that a problem? Or should I still participate and just not have it secret? Afterall, the excitement will be the parcel. I don't want to do all this and miss another boat.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Missing the boat

I'm in a mood. I feel that I always miss the boat. I found out about Ravelry late so I'm still waiting to be invited. I feel I have more chance of being invited to Buckingham Palace. I've been on other blogs and I want to be involved with 'Secret Pal 11' but I'm so late for that it's untrue. There is so much great stuff going on, yet I always find out about things too late, despite my daily internet trawling.

All day I have been planning my Secret Pal items, even though I'm not even involved. How do I make sure I am involved with Secret Pal 12? When is that going to happen?

If anyone out there knows of something exciting in the pipeline, tell me now! Please.


I didn't feel too well yesterday so I stayed in the house all day, stayed in bed for much of it and generally lazed about. I think I'm just really tired at the moment. I got a lot of knitting done once I'd decided which yarn to cast on. This is one of my original two yarns and I've called it Bilberry because the reds, blues, purples and greens are all the colours you can find on Bilberry bushes in these here parts. I've combined it with some plain Opal sock yarn I have left over because I think it compliments the colours and is a way of getting rid of some of the large leftover pile. I'm hoping that this will make the Bilberry sock yarn go further in a different pair of socks. These socks are for one of my Aunties because I think they are more feminine than masculine despite the green and blue.

It took me a long time to dissuade myself from winding the 'Saddo' (see last Saturday's post for a photo) sock yarn and casting on with it because it is unquestionable my favourite self-dyed sock yarn to date. But I thought I would hurt the feelings of 'Bilberry' by making it wait again to be cast on. As it is, I'm loving knitting with this because the colours are really good and nicely variegated.

It was lovely knitting last night. Grandad came for his tea and I cooked a lamb casserole with lots of vegetables that Ezzie had brought from the garden and it was gorgeous! That put everyone in a good mood. For pudding we ate our only melon from the allotment this year, and it was so sweet and juicy. I didn't want to eat the last piece because I knew it would be a year before we would eat another. We watched 'Strictly Come Dancing' and I decided that I'm going to fall in love with John Barnes this series, though Ezzie's heart still belongs to Lilia. It was dark outside but we had the radiators on and were lovely and warm. Admittedly sitting on the sofa bed all night wasn't great, but in two weeks the new suite is here and I cannot wait. Granby was snuggled up to us and it felt as if we didn't have a care in the world. I felt smug because England had beaten Australia again and I watched France beat the All Blacks and felt relief that we wouldn't have to meet that lot in the semis. I think the day of idling, watching tv and knitting did me a lot of good.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Too much choice

I have finished another pair of Christmas socks. I'm managing a pair a week at the moment and hope that will be enough for Christmas demand this year. By my reckoning I can knit another eleven pairs, which is surely enough. These are the Opal Rainforest Peacock socks you saw at the beginning of the week. I like them; they were no trouble.

The difficulty now is deciding with which yarn to knit next. I am having difficulty choosing from the lovely sock yarns I have. I don't consider this large amount of sock yarn to be a problem ever, (you can never have enough sock yarn) but I do consider it to give me too much choice. I'm indecisive at the best of times and I've been wondering all night and already this morning which yarn to cast on.

The options:

1. Good old fashioned faux fair isle
2. My own dyed sock yarn
3. Some of my posh sock yarn
4. Try mixing some of the leftover yarn
5. Dye some new sock yarn and then cast on with that

All categories have their individual appeal, but even then I would struggle because in option one I would have to choose between the many faux fair isles. In option two I have two of my own sock yarns. No option is clear.

I'm probably giving this too much thought, but I'm going to set a deadline of 8.00am to decide.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Swift Envy

During my daily blog tours of people I know (and people I don't), I'm starting to notice yarn pictured like these on KnotAnotherKnitter's blog. Scroll down a bit and you'll see the lovely skein next to a perfectly wound ball (is that the correct word here?) of wool. Woolforbrains had some sock yarn in the same lovely-woundiness on Sunday and I think they are not done by their own handiwork, but by a swift.

I know that every post these days has me looking on enviously at other knitters but this envy is different because it's not their skills and creativity I crave but could never have. No, this is achievable. I could buy one, just as they have!

In order to curb my jealous streak, anyone local know where I could get one sharpish and how much they cost?

Monday, 1 October 2007

Knitting at Mara's

Yesterday I had a great time 'round at Mara's. The usual knitting suspects met at her house and knitted merrily away. I made good progress with my sock and had a good nosey at what everyone else was knitting.

I am wondering whether other people's obsessions are contagious. Whatever Caroline is up to, I want to do as well. She uses up leftover sock yarn for cuffs, toes and heels and now I have started to do this. Caroline does toe-up socks, so now I do toe-up socks. Caroline weighs her leftover yarn so she can make new socks from odds and ends and because she kindly brought her accurate scales to the meet, I did the same. There's something gone weird with the photo, but these scales are gorgeous and mightily accurate. Guess what I've asked for Christmas? I've been looking on ebay because I want to be able to weigh my own yarn to 0.1g as well. I hope that Caroline's eye for colour is also contagious.

Kate and Caroline were busy spinning for an hour or so but I resisted temptation to get involved with that because if it is contagious, and I fear it may be, I might end up purchasing a spinning wheel and that's not as easy to hide as yarn.

Lorainne brought some of her gorgeous yarn for our perusal. Lorainne has beautiful yarns and everyone went a bit crazy when we opened the boxes.

I am told this is the tip of the iceberg and I did well to resist the many temptations. I chose some Lorna's Laces Shepherd sock yarn in Sweetie. I am pleased with these because I've only ever seen them on American blogs before.

Saddo sock yarn is now dry and everyone admired it. I saw Wheezy's sock yarn and it is pretty. She and Holly did a great job! I think I'm an expert even though I've only dyed three skeins.

Before I finish I'd like to thank Mara for hosting us all. The buns were fantastic and everyone had a good time. I'm glad that she managed to get out of the kitchen and join us.

Saturday, 29 September 2007

McKnitty's guide to dyeing

Before I start with my guide to dyeing sock yarn let me set the scene. I am having a new floor put in and I am living in chaos. There is stuff everywhere and the sofa from the front room is in the hallway on its side. I am doing all I can to stay out of the house because it is too stressful to be here. Only Granby seems happy at the state of affairs because he has bagged a duvet and is nice and warm. Unfortunately Ezzie's mum is in hospital at the moment, so we also have Pippa (her dog) in the mix as well. It's not ideal for yarn dyeing, but if I can dye yarn in these conditions, anyone can!

But, as dutifully promised, here is my guide to dyeing sock yarn.

1. Get your stuff together. You will need a skein of yarn, Kool Aid, water, jug, a bowl, a microwave and rubber gloves. Whatever you do, don't forget to wear those babies!

2. Mix your KoolAid with water until you get the desired colour. I know that some people are really scientific about this and say so much powder to so much water. I don't have any of that. I let my eyes be the judge.

3. Soak the amount of yarn into the dye. Take care to soak all the area and not leave patches of white. Then put the yarn in the microwave for two minutes. Leave it a couple of minutes, then blast it again for another two minutes. When the colour has left the water, you're ready to repeat the process with your next colour.

4. When you have dyed your yarn and you're satisfied with it leave it to cool down. Then rinse it thoroughly in cold water. Your yarn will be quite hot from its time in the microwave so don't rinse it straight away as this could cause it to felt.

5. Then you just leave it to dry and give your one-off skein a name. This yarn is called 'Saddo sock yarn' because it is for Ezzie to cheer him up with his Seasonal Affected Disorder. He suffers terribly in the winter with this. Hopefully these socks will give him something bright during the darkness.

You might have noticed the turkey baster in my photos. You can use this if you want to add splashes of colour here and there. I did that last time and it's nice but the splashes can turn into purple (which I wanted) or brown (which I didn't) I'm quite happy with this lot, so I'm not going to bother today. Believe me it is good fun and doesn't take long.

I hope that answers any questions Wheezy. Let me know how you get on!

Dyeing dedication

This post is dedicated to Wheezy and her dyeing.

I have just started dyeing a skein of yarn and will be posting photos and instructions soon. Give me half an hour girl!

Thursday, 27 September 2007

Knitting update

I've been busy on the knitting front. I bought some blue and white wool for a little boy who's a Wednesday fan and having chemotherapy at the moment. This wool is going to become a hat to keep him warm in the winter. I had wanted to use Rowan Wool Cotton, which is one of my favourite yarns, but the blue wasn't bright enough and the white wasn't dazzling enough, so I've had to settle for these Sirdar yarns.

I went to the Baa and bought some undyed sock yarn and Kool Aid. I am desperate to start dyeing but I have to wait until Shona is here because she missed out last time. I have ideas for the sock yarn and am going for striking colour combinations. The difficulty will be convincing Shona that it's what she wants as well.

I've put the colours together as I think they should go.

Now I know September is supposed to be about Stash-busting and all I've shown so far are purchases, but I have managed to use up existing yarn. The first toe-up is now finished and was scrutinised by Caroline at a meeting last night. She seemed pleased. I cast off as I normally do but loosely but I really missed grafting the toe. It didn't feel as satisfying this time. Nevertheless I think the sock is lovely and I liked having only a small amount of yarn left at the end. The trouble has been the lace pattern. It has slowed me down so I am not going to do the second one until the October holidays when I have more time to concentrate. Ezzie keeps teasing me that I have 'Second Sock Syndrome' but I don't. It will get knit and promptly in October.

I have started a Christmas sock from the sock stash for my Uncle John. It's Opal Rainforest in Pfau (peacock). I'm a big fan of the German language, but Pfau is such an ugly name for such a stunning creature. Despite the name, I really love the colours and disagree with the saying that "blue and green should never be seen without something in between". Utter rubbish. They work a treat.

I went out on the town last night - knitting. I had a great night and enjoyed myself loads. Rather inevitably I didn't come home empty-handed, but I didn't buy anything. Caroline taught (ha!) me to spin. I had a go but I don't think I got the hang of it so she has sent me home with a drop spindle and wool. I am going to have a go because I love the idea of spinning yarn and making my own sock yarn one day. I strongly suspect this will be another October Half Term project because I am busy at work at the moment and I can only cope with easy projects. It's amazing to think that a piece of wool and a drop spindle can be turned into usable yarn and then into usable garments.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Answers on a blog please

I need help from the knitting community. Caroline has written in the comments that if the heel turns the sock by 90 degrees, then it is a heel. Look at this picture. Does it look like I have turned the sock by 90 degrees? In my opinion, I have. But I need reassurance. It's a long time since I used a protactor and haven't got one in the house. Please leave a comment because I can't knit further until I know.

Progress on the toe-ups

Well, the jury's out about these toe-ups. In my last post I was wondering whether to start again with them. Seconds after putting my thoughts "out there" in cyberspace, I ripped them back and started again, thereby not having Caroline's wisdom in the comments for how to proceed without ripping back. But, actually I'm glad because the second attempt is a lot neater and it gave me a chance to practise wrapping stitches. Once you get crack them, they're actually no bother.

The trouble for me is that I never feel I know where the pattern is going. With my regular cuff-down socks and heel flap I "get" what's going on. With these socks I've felt bemused throughout. I have completed the first foot and have down the short row heel and so am now on the leg. But it's weird because I don't feel like I've "turned the heel" and I thought that was compulsory with socks. It seems you just make a heel and join it all together again. I think there's less knitting but I miss the heel flap and gusset.

I did add a lace pattern. I'm not sure anyone else will like it, but I do. In white the pattern would look like those school socks I used to wear as a lass. Trouble is, I don't think you can see the X pattern so well from my photo. If you squint a bit you might be able to make out something, but don't bank on it.

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Who's afraid of the Big Bad Toe-Ups?

Not me!

I have finally managed to overcome my demons and start a toe-up sock. I can't say it was easy because it was jolly well difficult. It started with crocheting a provisional cast-on and didn't get any easier from there. But, about an hour and half later and a lot of neck ache from studying so intensely, we have the start of a sock. The trouble is that it's too small. I originally cast on 30 stitches but they seemed to big, so I started again with 24 and now I'm tempted to rip it back and start with 30 again. These socks are for my Auntie Paula because she will love the colour and feel of these socks and at the moment they are only good enough for a child and Shona can't have two pairs of socks when everyone else has only one.

Thanks to Caroline for persuading me to bite the bullet. Both she and Lucy had sent me personal messages via the forum with patterns to egg me on. The instructions from Caroline are really detailed, which is exactly what I needed because wrapping stitches meant nothing to me until a few hours ago. I know I've seen Caroline do it before but until the needles and yarn are in your hands, you don't actually know how to do it.

The more I think about it, the more I think I am going to rip it back because I think it wouldn't take as long a second time and it would be good to get it right. Also, I'm interested in adding more challenge by putting a lace design in. The one I'm interested in is on the left and is called the 'Lozenge Lace Panel'. I think it would add interest to what is otherwise going to be a plain sock. Or am I just running before I can walk?

Saturday, 15 September 2007

What to knit next?

A very short post.

I have almost finished Shona's Christmas socks and don't know what to knit next. I have to knit more Christmas socks but can't decide what. I braved the stash today and came across some lovely RYC Cashsoft yarn which would be ideal for socks. I bought it ages ago for a Sheffield Forum Knitalong, but the pattern was so difficult that I decided not to bother. I really would like to knit toe-up socks and raced to the Wool Baa to buy circular needles. When I got home and had a look at the pattern on the web, it looked so complicated that I couldn't face it alone. I think I will need to start that at the Wool Baa's group meeting for help.

That still means I don't know what to knit. I could opt for some faux fair isle as I have plenty of the stuff. But I want more of a challenge. I think I will hit my Stitch Reference Book and consider something original from there. It's not a good feeling not knowing what to do next.

Friday, 14 September 2007


Stash-busting September seems to be having a greater impact upon me than I expected. With my frugal knitting ways I need discipline and the ability to resist temptation to buy yarn. This I am managing, but I am also managing to resist other temptations. This week I have been to bed before ten o'clock each and every night. This is previously unheard of; I love watching the 10 o'clock news and then Newsnight and always think that the tiredness in a morning justifies the knowledge from the night before. But this week I have got out of bed feeling so refreshed and with a spring in my step. It's like I've just discovered a miracle health cure and I am keen to continue.

The downside to "early to bed" is that I'm not getting as much knitting done because I like to knit and watch tv and 10.00 - 11.20pm is key knitting time. So, whilst I am being disciplined in so many areas of my life, knitting progress is decidedly slower. The progress with Shona's sock is not too great when you consider I finished the first sock on Monday. I'm determined to finish the second this weekend.
In other news, work is going well at the moment. I have been working hard and staying late most evenings. There is a lot to do and I just laughed when I discovered my budget. Clearly school is employing my stash-busting techniques to resources. But, I'll carry on regardless and make the best of the situation.
Ezzie enjoyed his birthday yesterday. We went to the cinema and watched 'Two days in Paris'. We just turned up and asked for recommendations from the guys at the box office. It was quite funny, but they should have warned us it would be quite rude in parts. We had a nice meal out as well, and best of all we were back before nine so I could get my beauty sleep.

Saturday, 8 September 2007

Stash-busting September

Having spent four out of the last seven weeks abroad, my finances are not too great at the moment. I am having to show restraint in so many areas of my life. I went to town yesterday and the shops are full of beautiful winter clothes and I had to show unprecedented resolve not to nip quickly to the changing rooms to try on some of the many lovely things I saw. Anyone who knows me well can vouch for my love of winter and winter clothes. There are many positive things about summer, and having an allotment it's vital for vegetables, fruit and flowers. But to be perfectly honest, I just tolerate summer. I don't enjoy it and I'm glad when it's all over. I am counting down to pay day because on that day I will be buying my winter coat and my winter wardrobe will begin.

In light of this month's belt tightening I am also having to restrain my yarn purchases. The sensible part of me knows that I really don't need any more of the stuff but I love buying it and having lots of it around me, and I'm sure my love for yarn and knitting is linked to me being a winter person. I went to John Lewis and saw some gorgeous new yarns but walked away empty-handed. I went to the Wool Baa and could have bought so much lovely stuff, but again had to resist. (I did buy something, but it's not for me, so it doesn't count, right?)

When it comes to my knitting, I am looking on the positive side and seeing this month as an opportunity to reduce the stash and become reacquainted with some old friends I haven't seen for a while. I have so many balls of yarn that are beautiful in their own right, but they have been neglected and shoved to the bottom of my yarn bag. In many ways, I'm actually being more creative and experimental. I have now finished my Mum's Monkey Christmas socks. I used the remaining hand-dyed yarn for the cuff, heel flap and toes, which was a really good way of using up the tidbits because I really wanted to make some use of this unique yarn. I now have lots of the plain green yarn left, but I am going to employ the same technique when I knit the other hand-dyed sock yarn. I think coordinated cuffs, heel flaps and toes are actually really effective and add a little variety to your knitting.

I decided to use remaining sock yarn for my next pair of socks. They were supposed to be for my youngest sister, but they are not going to fit her. I've cast on too few stitches and thought it would be okay because I am using 3mm needles. Instead, they are now for Shona, who will love their vibrancy. The main sock is the remaining Colinette Popsicle yarn and the 'interest' comes from the remaining Colinette Florentina yarn. I actually think they work really well together but purple and green are one of my favourite combinations. My Grandma has always loved these two colours together and I love them because it reminds me of the Sufragette jewellery in Green, White and Violet (Give Women Votes).
Stash-busting isn't so bad after all.

Monday, 3 September 2007

Back to work...

... and it really wasn't that bad!

I started my new job today and I felt a bit out of my depth, but I'm not going to know everything straight away and having met with various people and had various meetings, I actually feel quite excited about it all. There's a lot of work to do, no doubt about it, but I'm looking forward to getting my teeth stuck in.

No further news on the knitting front, except the new Magknits is out and I love the Kaibashira socks. I felt sure I would knit them, but they are knitted on two circular needles. I love my dpns far too much and don't want to knit on circulars. It just sounds too difficult. I like the socks because they are a Feather and Fan pattern. I'm wondering whether I would be able to work out a pattern of my own for dpns. Surely by now I can? I have worked out that I am on sock 28 at the moment, which I consider to make me quite accomplished at regular socks. I think I enjoy knitting Monkey socks so much because they challenge me a little more. Maybe making my own pattern (albeit from someone else's inspiration) would be a good thing for my Knitting Development.

Sunday, 2 September 2007

Home Sweet Home!

I got back from Madrid earlier today and I cannot express my happiness at being at home. I may have to go to work tomorrow, I may have to get back into the old routine, I may have to do boring chores like washing and shopping, but I don't care because I am home. Don't get me wrong, Madrid was great in so many ways, but I could not have stood another moment in that crazy house and I am so pleased to have my own space, freedom and stuff.

I'm tempted to rant and rave about the accommodation and the proprietor but I am going to heed the advice of 'Destiny's Child' (always a good source of wisdom) and say "I'm not going to diss you on the internet", but believe me I am sorely tempted. Some of the other people there had been there six months; how they stood it, I'll never know. There are just too many anecdotes to mention.

Anyway, this is just a quick catch-up post. Here are Ezzie's Madrid socks. He has tried them on and they are a perfect fit. I have also tried them on and they are too big and baggy for me, so there can be no getting round it, he is indeed the recipient.

Yesterday I finished this sock, which I think is female and will then be going to my Mum for Christmas. I have taken Caroline's advice and used up my own hand-dyed spare wool for the cuff, heel flap and toes and used a plain Opal sock yarn for the bulk of the sock. Jill helped me choose the colour for the plain bits and I think the green works particularly well. The pattern is Monkey again and I like it because it is not difficult but gives a lovely effect. I think it works better with the plain sock yarn. Have any of you guessed where this photo was taken?

I went to the Bernabeu stadium yesterday, home of Real Madrid and just had to take this photo. There can't be many people who have taken photos of their handknitting in the stadium.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

The long and winding road

This is probably going to be rambling because that´s the state of my mind and thoughts at the moment. Bear with me. I´ve spoken no English so far today so my thoughts don´t feel very clear.

I´m still having a good time Madrid and enjoying the city immensely. It´s a truly great place and I definitely want to return. Yesterday I had my best day so far. I had a great class in the morning, met up with Patricia (madrileña, but my friend in Sheffield), ate loads of cakes and drank posh slush puppies around Madrid´s posh parts, boughts some great Spanish books, went home and then went out with other students on the course. I didn´t get in until 2am, so today I am exhausted. It is years since I went to bed so late and had to get up the next day. I spoke ten minutes of English to Ezzie yesterday and Patricia says she can tell the progress with my Spanish already.

I am improving in Spanish, no doubt about it, but I am accutely aware just how much more studying I have to do and I am wondering whether I will ever manage it. German remains my true love and I´m obviously better at it because I´ve lived and worked in Germany and Switzerland and it´s because I can compare my abilities in the two languages that I feel depressed about my Spanish. I´m not going to have the opportunity to spend extended periods of time in Spain so my level of fluency will always be lacking.

Now I´ve done the A Level, I don´t know where to go with regards courses. There´s nothing appropriate in Sheffield and it seems once you get to a certain level, that´s your lot. I want to do an Open University degree eventually, but it´s not going to be this year. I start the new job on Monday and that is going to be taxing. I´m going to continue with my private speaking lessons every week but I´m going to have to work independently to maintain this and learning solitarily is not motivating with a language because you want to use it in speech with others. Learning a language is not easy and at the moment I feel I am at the beginning of a long and winding road called "Spanish Street".

On the knitting front I have started another pair of Monkey socks with a twist. The cuff, heel and toes are all to be the remains of my first dyed yarn and the pattern is in a plain dark green. They are my second pair of Christmas socks. I´m almost at the heel now and I like them. Photos next week when I return. There´s a debate at the moment are they male or female. (El o la?) When I post the photos please help me decide.

Before I forget, congratulations to Ezzie for getting an A in his German GCSE. He went to every class, revised hard and has done himself proud. It is so lovely to have a boyfriend who also loves German. Just can´t get him to knit, though.

Friday, 24 August 2007

Soy madrileña (I´m from Madrid)

Well, I have now had half my lessons and the time has gone by really quickly. I feel that I am getting to grips with Madrid. It´s a strange place. As it´s the month of August lots of shops, cafés and other such places close for the holidays. People up and leave the city and go to the beach for an extended period. I just cannot imagine that happening in a city, let alone the capital, in the UK. There´s a very relaxed attitude to everything and the siesta is still very much alive. The afternoons can be quite sedate, it´s the night when everything comes to life.

Mari Paz is as formidable as ever, but she´s actually a laugh and she is keen to talk to me. It´s a good opportunity to practise my Spanish. I´ve been to two art galleries this week. I went to El Museo de Prado where they have Las Meninas by Valazquez amongst many other famous pictures, and the Thyssen-Bornemizsza where I saw some Picassos and lots of Impressionist paintings. I have a ticket for the third significant museum, La Reina Sofia, where the jewel in the crown is Picasso´s Guernica. I think I need a breather from galleries for a few days. I felt overwhelmed in the other two because there are just so many pictures to see. I spent four hours in each gallery and only scratched the surface. The picture I liked most is by Gino Severini and has some ridiculously long title. I think it would be possible to do a copy in pastels. I like the idea of doing that. Obviously it will be in no way the original but i think it would be a fun thing to do.

Yesterday I visited the Botanical gardens and their fine collection of cacti. They put mine to shame and had fantastic Agaves Americanas, but that´s hardly surprising considering the climate here. Tomorrow I´m off to Toledo and on Sunday I´m going to the monastery El Escorial. I´m busy but still managing to find time to knit socks and a number of Spaniards have asked me about them. A lady saw me knitting in the queue for the train tickets and came over to ask if I was knitting socks. She said she´s not seen knitted socks for years, but I assured her that knitted socks are big in the UK (I exaggerated a little) and that delighted her. Who knows, she may call in at her local Wool Baa to get her needles and yarn. The revolution has started...

Monday, 20 August 2007

International blogger

Hola. I´m in Madrid and I´m blogging. Aren´t I clever? Not really, I know, but I´m pleased with myself. All the computer jargon is in Spanish and this keyboard is slightly different, so I am up against it here!

There´s not really much to report. I managed to get here safe and sound. Madrid is big but easy to navigate with the Metro (underground). I´m counting my lucky stars that I got here okay because a girl in the same flat as me was robbed in the airport and had her bag stolen with all her money, passport, credit cards. Suffice to say, she´s feeling rather disorientated and is not having the best of times. I´ve since vowed to leave the house with only a little money in my pocket and my keys. I am, after all, in a capital city and these things do happen when you are strange to a place.

I´m staying in a nice flat with a Spanish lady, Mari Paz, and other students of Spanish. It´s nice, but Mari Paz is a force to be reckoned with. She has many rules and regulations (I strongly suspect she has OCD) and at first I was wondering what I was doing here. Some of the rules include brushing your hair only in the bathroom and not being allowed to drink (even water) in your bedroom. Anyone who knows me will know that I´m not naturally tidy so I feel I am walking on eggshells all the time. I´m only here for a fortnight but I am scared stiff of doing something wrong with the formidable Mari Paz.

Today I had my first Spanish lesson. I enjoyed it and the teacher, Emilio, was good. I feel that I have already learned lots and it is great to be using Spanish so much. I have so much more confidence in my German so it´s nice to think I am heading towards that with my Spanish now.

I´ve been into the centre of Madrid today. It´s a very cosmopolitan place and I´ve seen a few characters already. I´ve been knitting on benches in the streets and have been asked about it. They find knitting socks very peculiar but I remind them of British winters (and this summer, for that matter) and then they understand. It is really hot here and I am always seeking out the shade.

Later today I am going back to the flat to plan my excursions for the week. The first two days have been about familiarising myself with the place, but tomorrow I want to go exploring. I must visit the art galleries and museums because they are allegedly fantastic and they have Picasso´s Guernica here somewhere. This afternoon will be spent researching where to go.

A message for Ezzie and Granby - I´m missing you both. Hasta luego.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Introducing McKnitty

This is me:

Don't you think I'm something? This isn't the greatest picture (you can see my pyjamas) but there was only me in this morning and Granby is no good with the camera. I would like to say thank you for Gail for knitting this for me. There can't be many people who own one of these bad boys:

The balaclava is really warm and when I was climbing mountains last week in the Austrian Alps I actually wished I'd had it with me because it was cold up there. The balaclava does strange things to people. When people try it on they suddenly go wild like a werewolf. I think I might take it for the kids to wear at school. It might have the opposite effect on them and calm them down. (Sorry kids, only joking!)

Onto more ordinary things. Ezzie and I had a great time in Austria. We spoke lots of German because we were the only Brits in the hotel. We managed to get our silver and gold mountain badges and we certainly deserve them. One day it took four hours just to descend the mountain and it rained heavily for two of those hours. I could hardly walk, could hardly speak and just had to get into the "zone" and focus on getting home. When we got to the bus stop we had just missed the last bus so we got a taxi. Even Ezzie said it was the best 15 Euros we had ever spent, though I don't think the taxi driver thought we were his best clients ever as his taxi was drenched when we left. The next day I could hardly walk. The weather was glorious, so Ezzie went walking on his own and I chilled out and knitted these:

These are not for me; they are my first Christmas presents and are for Ezzie's sister, Emma. I am modelling them. These are the Monkey socks in my yarn. I loved knitting them and will definitely do this pattern again. The photo isn't too great, but up close they look lovely and I am really pleased with them. On holiday my knitting received lots of attention. I am doing my best to educate the masses.
On Thursday I went to see my family and took my Mum's fiftieth birthday presents. I bought her four hermit crabs, a tank and all the gear to go with them. I know this would not be most people's ideal birthday present but, believe me, my Mum is smitten. Unfortunately I have no photographs but I will in time. They are great fun and received lots of visits from Shona and her cronies. One of them, Paul, has already left his original shell and my Mum was panicking yesterday. He cannot have got out. She thinks she has worked out where he is. There is some disturbed gravel and hermit crabs do burrow in preparation for molting and finding a new shell. I'll keep you all posted.
Last night was Knit Club. We met at Mary's. There were only four of us (Mary, Lucy, Barbara and myself) but we had a great time. I did some more knitting on a pair of socks for Ezzie. They are Opal Neon in shade 1931. Ezzie fears these will end up for someone else again, but they won't because I've cast on 68 stitches and that's just right for him and they are for his birthday in September.
Tomorrow I go to Madrid. I have yet to pack and am still unsure as to which knitting projects to take. It'll probably end up being socks. I'm not sure if I will be able to blog out there. If not, hasta luego. (Forgot to mention - I got my A level Spanish result on Thursday and I got an A. I'm very pleased!)

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Billy Flynn: "You're the top of my list"

Since Di has left for Australia she has left me with her Chicago DVD. I am not a great fan of musicals and there are some I could never watch all the way through. However, being a woman of extremes, when I do like a musical, I tend to love it. There can be no doubt about it, I love Chicago and I've watched it at least ten times.

Remember the Anne Schaefer posh sock yarn, which I started knitting the Jaywalker socks with? I feel like the lawyer Billy Flynn when it comes to that yarn. I'm engrossed, we're about to go to trial (start knitting) but suddenly another client pops up (another yarn) and the Anne Schaefer yarn goes on the back burner and stews in jail a little longer (the knitting bag). I was going to knit some toe up socks with that yarn, and I printed off the pattern and was ready to go. But then my own dyeing cropped up, and it was inevitable that I would be swung by that and start knitting something else.
I've wound one of my skeins into a ball and started knitting Monkey socks with it. I have called this yarn 'Rainbow Drops' because the colours remind me of those sweets I used to eat as a child; there's lots of yellow mixed with some other colours. So far I have enjoyed knitting this pattern. It's sufficiently intricate and very pretty and unlike the Jaywalkers, it is possible to get your foot into it and is not inelastic. The lass who designed them, Cookie A, is a genius. The other advantage is that the pattern makes sense. After a pattern repeat you know where you are going and they are not taking much longer than a usual sock.

Yesterday I finished the Popsicle socks. These are for my mum. As I had to use two skeins, they are not quite identical. The original sock has more red in it and I prefer it. However, this is the nature of hand-dyed yarn and being a hand-dyer myself now, it's a quirk that makes the yarn even more unique.
I'm sure I mentioned these were supposed to be for Ezzie, but unfortunately they didn't fit him so my mum claimed them. Ezzie is now staking his claim to the Monkey socks. Somehow I think they'll be too small for him. For my foot I need 42 rounds and I have a sneeking suspicion that's the exact number I'll knit on the foot.

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Ta - dah!

Well, what do you think?

These may look rather dishevelled, but these are unique, one-off, inimitable skeins that I dyed yesterday. The dyeing isn't great throughout; I missed patches and so there are bits of the camel colour coming through. However, I think they are a good first attempt and I am looking forward to knitting socks with them.
I learned a lot from doing this yesterday:
i. Always use rubber gloves. On the second skein I didn't bother and I now have lovely ruby red hands.
ii. Buy colours in bulk. One sachet isn't enough for the vibrancy I wanted.
iii. Have a plan. I just shoved dye here, there and everywhere and have ended up with rather random skeins. Next time (and yes, there will be a next time...) I will give it greater prior thought.
Just changing the subject, but today I went to a pet shop and saw some hermit crabs for sale. I 'phoned my mum and she (unsurprisingly) would love some. I am going to buy her some when I come back from my holidays. We are going to get her four. Two already have names - Morecambe and Wise. She is busy thinking up names for the next two. They are fantastic. I've only ever seen them on David Attenborough programmes previously, I didn't realise you could keep them as pets. They are really comical. I wouldn't mind some myself, but Ezzie wouldn't even entertain the idea. I'm tempted to go and get them for her tomorrow and drive over to Bradford, but I'm supposed to be going to work tomorrow and I don't want to leave all my jobs too late. I think we will both have to have patience.

Saturday, 4 August 2007

"Let the wild rumpus start"

The title is actually a quote from one of my favourite children's books, 'Where the wild things are' by Maurice Sendak. When Shona was here I read it a lot and now the wool has finally arrived it seemed like an apt title because the wild dyeing rumpus is about to start. I've just accosted the postman and grabbed the parcel out of his hands. That's the joy of postal strikes, they make you value the postman so much more and turn you into a madwoman foaming at the mouth whenever your coveted parcel doesn't arrive. He must be used to it by now. I've already taken a before photo, with a bit of look there'll be an after photo on here later. So excited.

Friday, 3 August 2007

And still we wait...

My wool for dyeing still hasn't arrived and it's unlikely to for a while because it is clearly caught up in the postal strike. I am so frustrated because I have time to dye and I can't get on with it. Shona has now gone home and she was a little disappointed because she had some whacky ideas for what her sock yarn would look like.

I was supposed to be in Whitby yesterday and today but my car failed its MOT. I assumed, quite wrongly, that it would pass as it had all that work done in June, but unfortunately it didn't. It is at the garage today getting a re-test so I am waiting for that to be successful. It's had the repair work done, and thankfully it wasn't too costly.
On Tuesday I went to Heathrow to see off Di. She has gone to Australia for at least a year. It was sad to see her go but I know she will have a great time. I am already wondering when I will be able to get out there and starting to save. Already I can't wait for that.

Whilst I do all this waiting I have managed to knit and have made good progress with the Colinette Jitterbug in Popsicle. These socks were to be for Ezzie but he tried one on at my Mum's on Wednesday and they are just too small, so my Mum has claimed them. I normally knit Jitterbug with 3mm dpns, but these are with 2.5mm and it has clearly made a difference. They do look a lot neater. I hope to finish the second sock today. I'm going away on my holidays next week and then I'm off to Madrid so I won't see the Bradford gang until September. Should I trust the socks in the post for my Mum? Surely they will make it before September... famous last words.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Jam and Jaywalkers

This weekend has been very busy and also very productive. Saturday we all went to the allotment and were joined by Di to pick berries ready for jam making. The red currants are the most abundant again this year and also tricky to de-stalk. The black currants have done well this year but I am most pleased with the white currants. We only planted them two years ago, but the bushes have established themselves well and have produced a significant amount of fruit. Di then came and spent some time with us. We had intended to make the jam then, but two local supermarkets did not have preserving jam. What is the country coming to? I feel like writing to the Women's Institute about this. I thought jam making was a national pastime. Last year I bought my sugar at Coop, but the guy told me they had stopped selling it. Instead of making jam Ezzie, Shona and myself went to Pizza Hut. Judging from the queues there, going to this restaurant is a national pastime. I stress this was not our first choice, but unfortunately our favourite restaurant, Ceres, was closed and this was the nearest child-friendly place we could think of.

Today Ezzie went to the allotment while Shona and I went to get food for Di's leaving picnic in Hillsborough Park. There was quite a gathering, though I'm not surprised because Di is a popular gal. I am really sad that she is moving to Australia but it's the right decision for her and we wish her well. Kin joined us as well and afterwards we went to Nonna's for a coffee.

When we returned it was time to make jam in earnest. I don't actually like jam, but I love making the stuff and giving it away. For those of you also worried about the preserving sugar crisis, Waitrose came to my rescue and had a selection of two. There is hope for the nation afterall. Here is Shona and the fruits of her labour. She has been very helpful and has cut goodness knows how many cucumbers and gherkins ready for tomorrow's pickling.

From the photograph the jams look the same colour, but from left to right they are black, red and white. I am amazed by the white currants; they have turned a rosé colour.

Anyway, back to the knitting. I continued to knit the Jaywalker sock for a while and had even completed the heel, when I decided enough was enough and it had to go. Even my mother's thin pins wouldn't have got into it. It would seem I am not the only one having problems with this particular pattern. Read here for more details. I have asked people on the Sheffield Forum for an alternative sock pattern. Caroline has suggested Toe Up Socks and I think this is the best idea because I can use all this beautiful yarn. I will have to learn some new techniques, but that's no bad thing.

The throw is only two rows from completion and I have started knitting with the Popsicle yarn. Ezzie likes the colours and so they are for him. He is due another pair of socks. Shona and I are waiting eagerly for the Opal Uni yarn in Camel ready for dyeing. Shona tells me she will be dyeing her sock yarn purple, green and orange. I'm still not sure what I'm going to have but I want bright!

Thursday, 26 July 2007

School holidays are great!

For two weeks in July and four weeks in August I know why I am a teacher. School holidays are fantastic, and even though I love my job loads, I love the holidays more. I am so lucky to have these regular gaps to please myself and pursue my hobbies. Ezzie keeps joking that this is my busy period, and in terms of my hobbies it is. There are berries to pick at the allotment, which then need turning into jam. Shona's with us and after Playscheme we are busy (at the moment we're waiting for two cakes to bake). I am catching up on my reading and have been to the gym three times this week. Tomorrow I have a Spanish lesson and of course there is lots of knitting to do.

I hope to see Rachael on Monday and give her the finished socks. They are the traditional Opal pattern, but I never tire of faux fair isle and I've done a good job at making them identical. They're especially not bad when you consider they were knitted predominantly on the German Autobahn and finished on the M1.

The Brioche throw is coming on nicely and is modelled beautifully by Shona. A repetition more and I think it will be done apart from weaving in the ends and adding some tassles. Last night there was another get-together of the Sheffield Forum at the Wool Baa and Jill has finished her first Brioche throw and it is beautiful. She has now started a second one, but only in three colours and this is even more beautiful, a combination of pinks and browns. I bought the remainder of the Giotto in Gaugin which will be my next throw.

I ordered some KoolAid which came swiftly through the post. I then bought some from Jill last night, which was a lot cheaper and she had all the colours I had bought over the internet. I think I have sufficiently covered the spectrum. I now need to purchase some plain Opal sock yarn and get experimenting. This is surely a slippery slope because dyeing your own wool is then only a step away from spinning your own yarn. They look so adorable put out like this and I have a perverse desire to make some drinks and taste the stuff, even though I know it is full of rubbish and that anything which can permanently dye yarn is surely no good thing to have in your body. It must be the devil in me.

Yesterday at the Sheffield Forum meeting I started my first Jaywalker sock with the posh Anne Schaeffer yarn. This yarn is superior sock yarn and you notice the difference when you are knitting with it. The trouble is, the Jaywalker pattern has a tighter tension than plain sock knitting. I have kept to my traditional 60 stitches, but put next to another sock with the same number of stitches, it is noticeably thinner. I am worried about this because I want to be the recipient of these socks and I'm not sure I'll be able to wear them. I could rip them back, but this is something I am loathed to do, especially as it is particularly neat. I have a feeling these socks may end up with my mother who has exceptionally thin legs and ankles (she claims to have Royal blood!) She had a special birthday on Monday, so I could perhaps part with them on those grounds. The colours are beautiful because although there is a variety of colour, they compliment one another nicely.

The Anne Schaeffer yarn's subtlety and sophistication is the exact opposite of another recent yarn purchase. I love the vibrancy and luridness of this Jitterbug yarn in Popsicle.

I think that just about makes the blog up to date. Before I finish, good luck to Ezzie in the allotment competition. The judge came around today and I think he was pleased with our allotment. Judging continues tomorrow. Whichever way, Ezzie is a winner because he has made the allotment fantastic in a very short time. Also, Shona would like to post this message to her mum:
Goodness! Is that the time? The cakes should be ready now.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Back in the land of blogging

I got back from Germany today and I am glad to report that all 27 children returned safe and well and had a great time. I had a great time and ate very well, but it's nice to be back home. The school trip to Germany is actually an exchange and Ezzie and I stayed with Klaus-Peter and Ursula, who are lovely, but it is so strange because for a week we don't have a key, don't drive, don't cook, don't watch tv and are busy every waking hour. We have travelled miles and walked miles and it has been nice doing nothing but knitting this evening.

I managed to complete Rachael's second sock on the coach back from Heathrow, but I didn't get as much knitting done as I anticipated. I just haven't had the time. I managed all my knitting on coaches and trains; there was no time in the evening because we were dining out here, there and everywhere.

I had a look in a couple of yarn shops for goodies, but they were rather dull and there was nothing there that I couldn't have got in the UK. On the knitting and yarn front, it wasn't great, but apart from that Germany was fantastic.

This evening we have been to see Grandad in the hospital and pick up Granby from Ezzie's Mum. Grandad seems a lot better, which was a relief, and Granby seemed pleased to see us. He's been fine at Lynn's and has coped admirably with Pippa (her dog), but he seems glad to be back home and is already the Top Cat again. I've spent a couple of hours knitting Brioche and I'm back into the swing of that. That has to be finished these holidays.

I have had word from Jill at the Wool Baa that the Giotto Gaugin yarn I ordered has arrived, which is great news as I want to make the Camomile throw. I am also informed that her Jitterbug sock yarn has also arrived, so it's really no bad thing that I didn't get anything in Germany. There is a Sheffield Forum meeting on Wednesday, which I will be attending and I'm going to buy some plain sock yarn because I want to dye it with Shona, who is coming tomorrow. Martina, one of my friends in Germany, has a daughter, Sophie, the same age and I thought I would knit them the same socks and it would be nice if Shona were involved in choosing (and dyeing) the socks. It's a brave thing to do, and I know there are plenty of beautiful yarns out there, but I like to faff in the school holidays and this is a perfect excuse! It seems last week was not too great with knitting, but this coming week is going to be awash (no pun intended for the floods) with yarn, knitting and faffing.

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

This is a quick update on what's been going on because I haven't had time to blog for ages.

Firstly, car is back with me and I didn't have to pay a penny! The garage said the work was free because of my inconvenience. So happy about that.

Secondly, had an internal interview at work on Monday and got the position. Now responsible for Citizenship amongst other things. A lot of work to do, as the Head has warned me, but I think it's a good role and I'm looking forward to getting my teeth into it.

Thirdly, it was Knit Club on Friday at my house. We had a great time. We were Lucy, Esther, Barbara, Jeanette, Mary, Di and Joanna, and of course myself. Ezzie and Grandad were there for a little while, as Grandad had come around for tea, but then all the women overwhelmed them and they left.

Fourthly, Brioche has made great progress and is really quite big. It is lovely, though I've not touched it this week because I have been too busy,

Fifthly, we go to Germany with the 27 kids on Saturday. Really cannot wait, and hoping to do a bit of sock knitting. Unlikely I'll be posting for a while, but my next post should have some photos of my adventures. German knitters are aficionados of sock knitting, so I'm on the lookout for sock yarn that I can't get here.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Brioche is breeding!

Yesterday was another Sheffield Forum Knitting Meeting and I had a great time. The hassle of the floods, having no car and then no electricity meant I was desperate to get out and do some knitting with others. There was quite a bunch last night. There weren't as many socks last night, instead it was Brioche in the limelight.

My Brioche is now at this length:

My Brioche was glad to meet up with Jill's Brioche cousin and Esther's Brioche cousin.

This is Jill's Brioche. Unfortunately I have managed to delete accidentally Esther's young Brioche, but believe me it's gorgeous.

Jill kindly gave me a lift last night and I saw her beautiful Camomile throw and it would then only be a matter of time (a couple of hours in reality) before I would be purchasing the yarn for this. Here is that beautiful yarn:

Left is Colinette Mohair in Sunrise.
Right is Colinette Giotto in Gaugin.

Neither my photos or the internet photos show the true loveliness of these yarns and colours. There is more lilac in both yarns than you can tell here. I have had a long love affair with lilac and this throw is for the bedroom.

I'm now going to do a bit of knitting. Last night we were without electricity, so I was knitting by candlelight and winding up a clockwork radio for contact with the world. My car is now fixed and I will be picking it up tomorrow, so I feel I will be back in the civilised world soon. With the floods, the Sheffield Forum has been inundated with threads and posts and the Knitting section has been taken off to create space, so I'm feeling a little lost without that also.