Friday, March 30, 2007

Girl, uninterrupted

(what's the betting the phone rings now I just typed that!)

Well well well we meet again and I am (for the moment) a lady of leisure having taken 3 days holiday to do, well to do pretty much nothing. Today is the third of those glorious days and I really don't want them to end.

On wednesday I used my Christmas treat vouchers from H to have the most wonderful time at the local health club. I had a full massage which was bliss, a rejuvinating facial which included a mask that at the time I thought smelt like Muller yoghurt and turned out to be Strawberry and Kiwi ( see I wasn't far wrong with the fruit corner thing), a file and polish on my toes and a manicure.

Look look look (squee):

Pretty pink fingers. You can tell this is uncharacteristic for me by the fact that despite the manicure I still have paper cuts on my knuckles from picking up a defence in a funny way on Tuesday and slicing across the top of my hand - sometimes I think defendants sharpen the paper especially.

Anyway after all of that I was so wonderfully chilled out it took me twice as long to get round the supermarket but nevermind! It was such a beautiful day on Wednesday as well so I came back home to tidy up and opened all the windows to let the Spring in and for the first time in ages I was able to put the laundry outside to dry - it just makes it smell better!

Since then I have been discovering all sorts of things:

1, Something very exciting happens in our local town at 12.00 on a Thursday. I have no idea what it is or was but it involved lots of coaches, lots of foreign school children and a dearth of parking spaces. I must have circled town 5 or 6 times trying to find a space before I hit lucky.. Anyone who knows what is so special about Thursdays, (or just wants to guess!), drop me a comment.

2, Depending on how big your monitor is I may or may not need to explain this one. Pear cider - seriously. My notes on this one would be that it tastes like pear drops with an overtone of cough syrup. Not entirely unpleasant, although much sweeter, but I'm sticking to the apples in future.

3, Left to my own devices I will knit for a whole day if my consicence lets me. Yesterday morning I did all sorts of chores with a brief break for more kitteny yarn games ...

I'm beading here - bet you couldn't tell!!
Today the chores are done and I have knit all morning curled up on a beanbag in the corner of the office listening to podcasts on the computer - I know when I'm back in work next week I will be sooooo envious of myself for this. The knitting was all for the bookbooksecret so no piccies for the moment. Suffice to say I have finished two of the four socks and I'm about to go and cast on for a third and the one I finished this morning was a magnum opus - when the book comes out I'll let you know which one I mean but for the moment just feel sorry for my tired little brain.

4, My Christmas poinsetta is still alive despite my best efforts!

Now as no-one is going to ring and H isn't home for a couple of hours I'm going to go and curl up with a good film and another sock - ta-ta!

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Yarn ate my brain

I am convinced of this for the following reasons:

1. Tonight while at my knitting group some Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino jumped out of the sky to doink me on the head. It is beautiful and soft and warm and was a lovely cream and said baby blanket to me (I know of two sproglets currently in the hatching process which merit knitted lovelies so these thoughts were not far from my mind, it's OK Mum you can stop panicking/celebrating now). I was also instructed by the lovely H to detour via the chippy for some very very healthful potatoes (oh yes) on my way home. However, due to thoughts of the Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino and the small people who will very probably be wrapped in it, I completely forgot to turn off to the chippy and ended up turning round about 200 yrds from my house and going back - doh!

2. I now have some more beads to do some more work on the Bookbooksecret sock #3. I carefully worked out where I had got to in the pattern and even more carefully counted my 4 pattern lines, I need to add 26, 28, 20 and 20 beads for each pattern line.

I calculated this to total 52 (just don't ask- see title to post).

Having added 52 beads I carefully continued to work the sock until I realised I was a little low on beads and I had a rethink looking carefully at my notes.

Oh you daft girl, 8 and 6 is 14 not 12 - you should have added 54 beads

Carefully continuing with the sock until the point arises to add more beads

I'm still rather short on beads ... oh you daft girl, it's 84 not 52, you're 32 beads short....
H if I have 20 and 20 and 26 and 28 and I added 52 then I'm 32 beads short aren't I?

Oh ....yes, you needed to add 84

Small pause for thought

No no no nonononono .... hang on a minute, 20 and 20 and 26 and 28; that's 94 not 84

Are you sure it isn't 84?

Now between the pair of us we have 4 maths A-levels, a masters in Engineering and a degree in Jurisprudence. We can usually do maths. Accordingly on the evidence before me I judge that yarn ate my brain.

PS - the beaded bit of the sock is finished
PPS - with the correct number of beads
PPPS - 94 was the correct number - we got there eventually!

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Her hat is a creation that will never go out of style; it will just look ridiculous year after year.

(Fred Allen)

Hurrah the hat is finished - do you want to see?

Now I should probably add in a little disclaimer before I let you see the picture. Point number 1 is that nobody, but nobody looks good in a photo designed to show off the hat and not the person wearing it. If you don't believe me then google some of the blogs and you'll find that people in their hats look very different to their normal photos.

The other thing is that this was the travelling hat of a girl who that morning had got up at 5.45 to travel from Norwich to London to Court, then from London to the office and from the office to home. Also said girl only went to bed at 12.30 the night before because she was out entertaining clients (it's a hard life I know!). Needless to say - this is the picture of a very tired person.

Et voila!

I asked H to model it rather than me so he did:

Ok so do you want to see it properly?

The inside is very pretty too - in the picture above you can just see the green peeking through at the bottom and here it is in all its glory:Details (such as they are):

The yarn is all Alpaca Select DK weight alpaca in various colour - the dark blue is left over from my refined raglan and the rest is part of a scarf kit which best friend gave me from Christmas which has been split up to make mittens and now a hat. The green is Debbie Bliss Pure Silk which was left over from a tie front cardi that was also a Christmas present.

I cast on 120st with a provisional cast on with the green and knit in the round on 3.25 mm needles until I ran out of yarn then I knit 1 row in cream, purled for the turning row and started on the front. The fairisle pattern is pilfered from the Shetland Hat pattern in Rowan's RYC Classic Alpaca book and I added an extra row of little diamonds on the top to add a bit of length.

When the length of the outside of the hat matched the green lining I unpicked the crochet cast on, knit a round to match the last round on the outside of the hat and then knit the two together for the next round.

Whilst it doesn't match my mittens it does tone rather nicely and I love it - it got a good test this morning helping to tidy up a friend's garden in a cold northerly breeze.

So as project spectrum's grey, white and blue months come to a close I think I have knit all of my intended projects - although there are many non-knitting things that I meant to do but haven't quite got round to.

I now have two pairs of blue socks (ones for me to keep rather than for the BookbookSecret), a finished lace scarf, my refined raglan and blue and white hat and mittens - what more could a girl want and all from stash (some of it older than others!).

Now for more bookbooksecret knitting - hurrah and happy weekend

Monday, March 19, 2007

Did I mention Spring?

I may have been slightly optimistic on that one - yesterday afternoon the weather started to look a bit like this:
(That hazy bit in the picture - that's not entirely my photography, that's hail).
Then it all looked a bit like this:

That gentle carpet of white is I assure you dear reader entirely made up of hail. Hail which remained on my car windscreen until this morning and which is still blown up in a little icy heap outside our front door.

Now I appreciate Mother Nature's effort to make a final contribution towards the grey (sky), white (hail) and blue (my hands) of Project Spectrum but seriously if we're going to do the winter thing I want 10ft snow drifts and weather that makes it impossible for me to get to work and leaves me only the option of staying curled up on my sofa knitting.

It is entirely possible that this is how I spent yesterday but we will dance sketchily over that little point!

Now for some yarny tales:

First - what do you get when you put the beads on the wrong end of you yarn (or rather in the wrong order on the available end)? Answer: an excellent game for kittens involving two people, a lot of beads and the stairs!

It's a little hard to see in this picture but the squiggly line is yarn and the green and red vertical line is the beads on the yarn hanging off the bannister (and those are my stripy socks). If you are very lucky you end up with this: Which has now turned into part of a sock which is hiding because it is secret.

For the purposes of the yarny tale we will also gloss over the fact that due to a counting error I had to cut the yarn and rethread a whole load of beads to complete the pattern - my kitten game certainly kept H amused and in typical kittenish mood he kept holding the yarn at the bottom of the stairs where I couldn't see it so I'd come all the way down to work out what was going on before I realise I'd been pranked again!

I also cast on this:

This is a blue hat - honestly I know I stretch the powers of imagination a bit but really it will be.

The green is the inner lining and is the remainder of the Debbie Bliss Pure Silk from the tie front cropped cardi I made in early Jan - wonderfully soft and warm with alpaca for the outside - perfect!

H is away this week and with perfect timing I had a treat waiting for me at home comme ca:

It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

Having acquired said man it is further acknowledged that his wife can never have too many hand-made socks ... and as socks are my travelling knitting (well the hat is at the moment but we may gloss over that too) it is adittionally acknowledged that the wife can never have too many sock pattern books (trust me on this one, there's another one on order!).

I loved Nancy Bush's Folk Socks so I can't wait to dive into these two treasures so that's where I'm off to now.

Finally I leave you with a treat - well I would if I'd worked out how to show you tube clips but instead please pop over to Agnes' blog and check out this - I promise it will make you laugh outloud

[Note to parents. To make this clip play, press play. It will take a couple of seconds to load and then it will play from the web page - you don't need to save anything or do anything. Oh except do turn your speakers on otherwise while funny you may miss the full impact - now go, what are you waiting for?!]

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


That kind of sums up my reaction to today - much much pressure and no less than five phone calls with people ranting at me - gaaaaa - quite!

Now, time for something pretty

My finished Spring socks of doomy brightness. The yarn is Opal DK weight and I have no idea what the colour is as it is something which H bought me for Christmas - wonderfully snuggly and loads of the ball left - we may yet see me (a) work out how to knit toe-up socks and (b) make a pair of footsies with the leftovers - anyone know any good pattens or guides?

In the meantime I have another yarn adventure to look forward to - another pair of test socks for Anna's new book this time in the project spectrum colour of grey. Cunningly in threading the beads (shh - yes it has beads) onto the yarn we threaded them onto the wrong end of the yarn so I am about to see whether I can pull them through to where I need them by standing at the top of the stairs and letting gravity assist while I re-wind - may all your thoughts be with me!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Stop the world - I want a break!

Gosh life is busy at the moment - I seem to run around and barely stop. Happily though I got to work from home today yippeee!

I also got to really scare the living daylights out of the window cleaner who was rather surprised to find me in the study when he climbed up to to clean the window. The funniest thing was that rather than knock at the door to tell me he was finished, he climbed up to the study window again to talk to me!!

Working from home is great - the phone doesn't ring and you get a chance to really concentrate. And - if you're really lucky- you get to concentrate in pretty places. This afternoon Clara the Clio had to have her MOT and while the garage were doing it I got to sit in the park and read my latest new instruction.
Things I should probably not admit:
1. After the MOT I did go and book myself a spa day with some vouchers H gave me for Christmas which isn't really working (promise not to tell the boss)
2. I think it's really cool that someone wants me to work on their file enough to courier it to me yesterday so that I could read it today and advise on it tomorrow
3. The claimants on this file are going to be a real pain in the neck - unnecesarily beligerent and aggressive.
4. They are likely to get less help from my client than if they were nice and tried to sort things out sensibly. Plus now they get me on the other end of the phone - big mistake on their part!
5. Hee hee
The sock came to the park too:

No-one will ever believe me when I say that I did not knit one stitch of that sock while sat in the park this afternoon (or 2, 3, 4 etc I know the devious minds of knitters!), it merely came for the scenery and because its mate got to play in a bush on Saturday.

The sock is now significantly longer and despite all it's best efforts I am forcing it to be an identical sock rather then a sibling sock (knots are causing there to be significant bids for independence by the second sock). On that point why are the knots always in the second sock so you are short a stripe rather than being able to take a stripe out of the second sock to match the first? - Answers on a postcard.

Aside from that the pattern is largely a figment of my imagination - I just do what looks right at the appropriate moment and I love the colours of the striping, all the way through project spectrum - very colours of spring and summer - the red is raspberries and strawberries mushed with cream, the yellow is sunshine and the colour of the sunshade we had when I was small, the green is the new growth on our box hedge-in-progress, the blue is the colour of the sky or how I imagine the colour of rain, purple is the colour of blackcurrant stains on your hands (and/or t-shirt) the red and black is more berries and the white is vanilla ice-cream (from Salcombe Dairy of course) and clouds. Instant summer thoughts!

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Spring is Sprung

Farewell to winter (not that it ever really happenned but farewell anyway).

Reasons I know it is spring:

1. It is March. Although I am convinced mentally that it really is only about 20th January I am reliably informed that it is in fact 11th March. Whilst I am concerned that my efforts to warp the space time continuum in my favour appear to have backfired rather alarmingly I must accept that it is now the third month of the year and expecting 10ft snow drifts is slightly unrealistic. To be honest expecting 10ft snow drifts purely because I spent the winter in the middle of England and not perched on the edge of a cliff in the Westcountry was a little unreaslistc too but hey, a girl's got to dream.

2. On Thursday when it rained you could smell it in the air - this never happens in winter and it is a lovely clean smell (although I rather suspect it to be the product of water on warm tarmac) remeniscent of thunderstorms (another weather favourite - you have no idea how much I would love to see Thundersnow) and late afternoon showers.

3. Things are coming into bloom:

Ok, so that last one didn't exactly grow in my garden but it did appear - does that count?

4. The latest sock went to meet the outside world:
It is DK weight wool which doesn't exactly fit the spring theme but it smells wonderfully woolly and the colours turn into beautiful project Spectrum-esque stripes - another wonderful Christmas present ball of yarn from H who (if he happens to be reading this) should be encouraged in these things!

Because it's so lovely and stripy I stuck to a fairly simply stitch pattern - I'm just using the Socks of Doom pattern from Sock Wars slightly adapted to lenghten both the ribbing and the leg length as I don't need to complete these in a weekend.

5. I only needed my Refined Raglan to go to the farm today the coat and mittens stayed at home. Whilst this may be due to the superlative warming powers of the alpaca I'm calling it Spring - that's my story and I'm sticking to it!

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

And the rest of the week report

I did originally plan to blog most days this last week given the theory that as H was away I would have so much more time - suffice to say it didn't happen. We are currently running up to year end at the moment at work and it basically means lots of work as we try to meet our targets before judgment day, or April 1 as the rest of the world knows it!

Incidentally that's why Achilles hasn't moved in a while - I just cant get running when I don't get home until 9 or 10pm and the weekends are spent catching up on everything I should have done during the week ... anyway ...

The results of my conflict situation were surprising:

Knitting: 1 pair of socks completed
Work: lots
House: tidied and cleaned apart from the conservatory (lost cause), my study (apparently to be found somewhere underneath the ironing mountain) and H's study.
Sleep: not a lot at all

Or, pictorally:

This is the knitting I finished (the blue socks hiding underneath my port and starboard socks) - they are hiding because they are a test knit for Anna's book and are currently too shy to be revealed (that and they're a secret - you'll just have to buy the book when it comes out - it's going to be great)

and this:

Is what I found when I got home on Friday, or in close up

Accompanied by this - hmmmmm yummy!

What more could a girl want?!

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Day 1 Report - Monday

I went to a pub quiz with some colleagues - house is still messy, knitting is being done on the train as usual!

On the plus side I did discover that to some people their is a well known pop artist Andy Worrell (rather than Warhol), Homer wrote the Ill-leed (rather than the Iliad), and Tolstoy wrote a book called Anna Karraneena! The crowning glory was when the quiz master asked us the following question:

When Roger Bannister broke the 40 minute mile what was the time to the nearest second?

Hmm - let me think about that one for a minute - even I can do a 40 minute mile - perhaps as a baby he crawled a mile.

The funniest bit about the pronunciations was that she repeated them twice giving the questions, and a further time giving the answers each time to a chorus of the correct pronunciation from everyone at the quiz.

Suffice to say we came 7th out of 21 teams and I won a voucher for a shirt in the raffle - no knitting but good fun!

More news tomorrow, in the meantime think pretty thoughts

Monday, March 05, 2007

A conflict of interest

In my chosen profession it's not uncommon to come across a conflict of interest - I'm a solicitor (or as I am reliably informed "a shark" in American). Conflicts between what the client ought to do and what the client wants to do or conflicts between two clients who have decided that now would be the perfect time to pick a fight with each other and what's more they both want us to deal with it. As a professional body we have very clear guidelines about what to do in those particular situations (sadly put the lot of them in a room, lock the door and give them PowerPoint presentations until they sort it out is not one of them).

As a yarn-obsessed knitter by night/train/any time I'm not working I also encounter a number of "knitting conflicts" - should I do the washing up or a bit more on my sweater? should I go to the farm for food or just work out an extremely cunning method of finishing the neckband of my sweater?

So my query is - what are the protocol rules for such conflicts of interest?

By way of exhibit A I give you the finished Refined Raglan:

(NB the odd splotches are the camera not the jumper)

Finished on Saturday morning when I should have been going to the farm for some food but it kept raining and I wanted to wear the sweater. More details below.

My current conflict is between my house and my yarn. Somewhere under my yarn and H's sports equipment we have a house. It is a very nice house and we love it very much. H is away this week on a training course and I therefore have the opportunity to make the house very tidy (and possibly in the process convince H that the mess is from the sporty things and not the yarn - yeah right who am I kidding).

Alternatively I have four evenings of uninterrupted knitting.

I think (and I can scarcely believe I am saying this) that parts of the house may win but only because, as I told myself yesterday, I have nothing on the needles. In fact 'nothing' consists of a pair of socks I am test knitting for a friend and my pink Aimee which I am hiding ostensibly until Project Spectrum comes round to pink (April/May) and really because I had finally found the perfect pattern for the blue alpaca and really really wanted the sweater!

So, turning to the Law Society for guidance on what to do:

"You must not act if there is a conflict of interests"

Fair enough - don't act - the least action I can possibly take it to curl up on the sofa so that sounds like knitting to me.

You may act for two or more clients in relation to a matter in situations of conflict or possible conflict if: the different clients have a substantially common interest in relation to that matter or a particular aspect of it"

Now the common interests of the knitting and the house are:
- keeping the knitter warm (hmm that jumper)
- keeping H warm (with woolly socks)
- keeping the knitter sane (anything with pointy sticks)
- keeping H sane (a sane wife)
I've left out the requirement for consent in writing because the knitting (to date) cannot write. The house can write - it makes patterns with dust bunnies and cobwebs - mostly saying "clean me".

Conclusion would seem to be that I should do both and so I shall try but if all else fails I shall fall back to the position that if there is a conflict the basic rule is the person who instructs you first gets to retain you. My grandmother taught me to knit very badly as a small child (not sure exactly when but I was still sharing a room with my sister so pretty tiny) and I didn't get a real house that I owned until I was 25 so the knitting wins hands down on that one.

I'll let you know how I get on but I submit to you ("m'lud") that give a lawyer a blog page and the possibility of knitting she can justify anything!

Now on to the jumper ... It is gorgeous DK weight Alpaca, it took 2 weeks to knit and it smells like my grandmother's house probably because of the cedar balls I had in the yarn while it was in storage.

I made very few refinements to the pattern (Refined Raglan from IK Winter 2006), I dropped a needle size (by 0.5mm) to get a better fabric and a smaller gauge. I think I would get perfect gauge if 4.25 mm needles existed but I used 4mm and got the fitted look I was going for. It has yet to be blocked so there is a possibility of massive growth/shrinkage although the swatch turned out fine.

I added a few inches to the body and the sleeves because they were a bit short and finally I did cunning things to the neck - the pattern says to bind off and then whip stitch the bound off edge to the inside of the neckband. I tried that but my bind off edge was too tight so I undid it and replaced it with a sort of Kitchener attempt - sewing the live stitches to the neckband edge with a bit of inspiration and guidance from Agnes' blog post on her husband's sweater - thank you Agnes.
The photo is very bad but the jumper is very good - I finished it Saturday lunchtime and wore it for the rest of the weekend - testament indeed to the power of knitting over housework!