Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Holidays are coming

Do you see what I see....?

Ok, ok, before you either section me for an overdose of the Christmas spirit or turn off your computer and vow never to darken the blog again there should be a few words of explanation:

1, I do not yet have a tree. H's office looks a large department store tree straight in the sparkles so he' s been dropping hints for a while but I am standing firm - no tree just yet.

2, these presents are not all knitted (cue sighs of relief from both knitters with unfinished Christmas knitting and my family as their fears that I have knit them all matching three piece suits are allayed (for another year at least)).

3, these presents are for my family who are coming on Friday for the weekend - thus explaining both the wrapping and the fact that a lot of my Christmas shopping and knitting is done.

Am I off the hook yet?

In completely Carie-related knitting I was duly berated by Mandy for not showing you this:


Lorna's Laces in Tuscany - I think it qualifies for "is what it says on the tin" status - the colours are just wonderful.

Of course the reason for not showing you just the ball of yarn was (a) non-existent lighting and (b) so you could see a little bit of it knit up, comme ca:
As you see I have created my own artificial sun (also known as a desk lamp). I might even be able to show you both together:
The pattern is the Diagonal Rib Socks from Interweave's Favourite Socks, adapted by dropping 0.25mm on each needle size.
Which shows you the pattern a little better. (at this point I had the desk lamp on one knee, the sock on the other foot and the camera in one hand with the other wildly grasping at things to try to keep my balance - who says I don't prostrate myself -on the floor- in the name of my art!)

Needless to say - we likes it!

For authenticity I'd love to say something in Italian but the only thing I can remember in Italian is the lyrics to A Mouse Lived in a Windmill which as it happened in vicchio Amsterdam is scarcely appropriate. Meraviglioso Calzino

Monday, November 26, 2007

My DNA is made of yarn

Marriage is ......accidentally turning up at the gym with your husband wearing matching hockey tour shirts (in baby pink no less)!

I feel a little blog may be in order for its restorative powers in being able to write (somewhat creatively) not hampered in any way by the constraints of legal protocol or politeness. There is an urban myth about a long since dissolved firm that used to write letters exactly as they would speak and famously sent a letter back to their opposition which just read " re your letter of xxxx: you what?"

Now then, this being a knitterly blog rather than lawyerly (see Roll on Friday for that) I feel I should show you some knitting:
November 090
Yes, the scarf has got longer by some process of woollen hydraulic pressure.

I have finished off almost all of the other Christmas knitting and the one outstanding project is waiting for a yarn delivery so I am mentally sitting on my fingers rather than cast on for the Tangled Yoke that calls my name until this scarf is finished. I'm onto the second of three balls and it's still only November so it's less of a time issue as a distraction issue to get it finished in time - thank goodness no-one's invented a yarn advent calendar - I'd be sunk.

Actually.... how cool would that be - I might have to make one (or knit one) - a little calendar with a skein for each day - perhaps mini ones that knit into a pair of stripy socks throughout Advent. Note to self - must remember to do this some day!

In a slight concession to the startitis I have wound up some beautiful Lorna's Laces in Tuscany (but forgot to take a picture) which will be the rib socks from Favourite Socks so fear not, there is more to the blog than blue DNA. I excuse this lapse on the basis that I can't take the scarf on the train, therefore there must be socks (tee hee hee to the project monogomy!)

Now then, that scarf

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The other end of the candle

(or how the Lady made it!)

If there are seven ages of man then there are at least three stages of knitting (possibly four if you count wearing). First there is the excitement of a new project; figuring out the pattern and enjoying the feel of a new and different yarn slipping through your fingers (unless of course you are making yet another baby blanket!). Sometimes that stage never really wears off but often although you don't necessarily loose your enthusiasm for a project, you become used to it and knit with familiarity and affection. And then your project reaches its critical mass point....

..(cue middle of the night type music)...this for me is the point at which I know the finish is in sight and I knit on regardless of time and other things I should be doing (like sleeping) to reach the end.

Yesterday evening the Lady reached her critical mass, and my evening started to look like this:
Lady of the Lake
And so it is that last night I found myself still awake at 1.30am having just sewed in the last end and wrapped up in the snuggly depths of a new sweater. Strangely enough H was not particularly interested in the new sweater at 1.30 and I thought it might be a little harsh to have him wake up just to take a picture. He did however, find time to point and shoot the camera this morning as he headed out the door to his match: et voila
Lady of the Lake
This is the light at 10.15 - still worryingly dark but you can see what it looks like. I think it looks better in real life but my attempts to take a shot of myself failed miserably (plus I realised that the bathroom mirror reflects the bit of wall we peeled the wallpaper off to reseal the bath and I'm not showing that to the internets).

Anyway.... the jacket is warm, soft and does up with this little friend:
Lady of the Lake
who could resist!

And with that, NaNoSweMo is complete!

PS - if you're feeling in need of some Christmas spirit - go and see Mandy's hat - I think it's GENIUS!

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A little something

Sadly I must report that it is no longer snowing. We will pause while we take a moment to remember the snow (it was pretty) and recollect that now I live about as far away from the sea as I can get and still be English it is possible that it will snow again.

Kate very kindly told me that they have plenty of snow in Norway - she is knitting beautiful mittens to cope. I wonder whether the Norwegians would lend us any?

Precipitation aside I have been engaged in knitting endeavours - some of which I can share with you.

I'm about half way through the _______ for _____ using the pattern from _____ and a bit of my own inspiration. I think _____ will like the ______ as the colour seems just right.

Ok, ok - enough teasing.

My BIL (another C) is a medical man and so his Christmas present from H and I will be the DNA scarf.

This is the current progress:
November 036

[NB - my table is not sunshine yellow I promise]

Please tell me that this looks like DNA (lie if you have to). It is a satisfying knit although I haven't memorised the pattern yet and as it is not a logical progression I may always need to refer to it. I've done two and a bit repeats in this picture and I'm thinking 12 in all but we won't see C or his wife until after Christmas at the earliest so if it runs behind I've got a little leeway.

I have amended the original pattern from the sea-scarf (with ribbing around the neck to keep out the waves) to a straight cable scarf as I think he's more likely to wear it this way.

And as NaNoEverythingMo draws to a close we have a progress report on the Lady NaNoSweMo of the Lake:
November 025
Bit of a difference from the last picture, no?

I finished the second front last Friday and blocked the body over the weekend. As promised it blocks nicely to 25" from the medium size length which on me falls just below my natural waist and spot on where I want the jacket to be - I don't want it too long because I think that would work against the flow of the fabric. I have also done a sleeve as you see (and sewn it up) and I'm racing away down the second sleeve with just the collar before the finishing line. In a week and a half I think it should be do-able and in the meantime it makes a wonderfully cozy bit of lap knitting!

Speaking of which... there is a sofa waiting for me. H informs me that some men are doing something terribly important with a football which will decide whether or not he spends next summer shouting at the telly. By the current groans eminating from the lounge I think the answer may be no! Wifely solicitude and supper is required.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

A white November?

IT'S SNOWING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

As you may have guessed, this makes me extreemly happy. I am always hopeing for snow and I'm usually bitterly disappointed (and quite cold) but I never expected snow in November - at least not in England anyway.

Whilst I am aware that this just gives the train companies even more excuses for late trains (too cold, too wet, too leafy etc) - it's magical and I hope it lasts.

So do you want to see?

My first photo turned out to be completely black but here we have exhibit A - car in snow.
Exhibit B (Carie in snow) was shivering so violently that she appears to have multiple personalities
Exhibit C - snow on shoes.

My friends, it is real: whooo hoooo!!
(ETA: All gone now - very sad)

Thursday, November 15, 2007

It sounds a little bit like Christmas

Yes, Christmas has decended on Birmingham. It may well be only 15th November but the lights are on and this evening the Frankfurt Christmas Market officially opened for Gluewein and ... well gluewein is what I focus on - I believe sausages and cake may come into it at some point too.

It is a very pretty sight and as I know we have many trips lined up (it being just around the corner from my office), I'll try to give a full report in due course.

(shhh - I snarfled this picture of last year's market from a venerable news institution)

This evening's festivities can only be described as surreal - the market was opened by the mayor (lots of gold chain and ho ho ho type joviality) followed by the Greek winner of Eurovision, singing (flat) O Christmas Tree, in German; to a load of Brummies (she started singing again but I fled for a train at this point). I would have thought it was the gluewein under ordinary circumstances but apparently not.

H was most disappointed that he missed the first gluewein of the year so I scooped him up what for the next six weeks becomes the food of our people:

German Market 002

We have snack sausage (the other one was being eaten at the time of the photo), cinnamon and sugar covered pastry pretzels and, most importantly, chocolate covered gingerbread - what more could you want?

To compound the surreal nature of the whole evening, this is the bag that the snack sausage came in:

German Market 004
H has attempted a translation; the German reads "Sommer zeit! Zeit fur Meer Schweine!" which H informs me means something a bit like - Summertime! Have fun with your sea pig! and Babelfish thinks means - Summertime! time for sea of pigs!

I'm baffled - Any ideas?


Yesterday was stressful. In that way in which nothing in isolation sounds like a particularly big deal but all the little things add up and bite you. Mainly the biting comes from the train companies who seem hell-bent on vexing me this week - not a single train has run to time and I travelled most of the way back from London standing in the corridor- grrr.

However, increased train travel (thank you trip to London) means increased knitting time and another Christmas surprise has flown off the needles into the nice little pile of knitwear gathering in the study.

Now we all know that comfort eating is a bad thing (however effective it may be) but I think cooking might be allowed as therapy so I set about a little soul restoration in the form of a roast chicken and in the way of the world when sometimes things just come together like they were meant, it turned out wonderfully (and we have lots of leftovers for tonight - yum yum).

The piece de resistance is in fact courtesy of Lolly who posted her recipe for Butternut Squash yesterday morning/night depending on your time zone. It is here and it is GOOD!

Just look:
Whitby 006
Admire the impressive restraint that allowed me to take a picture before diving straight in!!

I love butternut squash and this is a firm favourite from now on. It does go very nicely with the roast chicken as well!

My conclusion for today: inner peace can be restored by a chicken, a butternut squash, some time with the Lady NaNoSweMo of the Lake and some quality time with H. Note to self - remember that in future.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Nothing to see

Move along please family, nothing to see here, move along now.

The needles may be busy but as the product of said rapidly moving needles is rather shy at the moment I'd only be able to show you a picture of some needles poking out of a paper bag or, carefully covered by a blanket, rushing from the car to the safe anonymity of the knitting basket, so I can do no more than refer you to the Black Hole, where, safely surrounded by wooly friends, they are a little less modest.

In other news today was the first day of two new franchises on the railway who each run the two train lines that I can take to work. We were late on the way in and late on the way home - que sera sera - more knitting time.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

A brownie guide does a good deed

It's perhaps almost 20 years since I was a brownie but somehow in my household, doing a favour to someone still counts as your brownie guide good deed for the day.

Today's brownie deed has left me shattered and if this post tails off into a sort of fkd;fihgdkjs.vfndjk.f zzzzzzzzz - you know I fell asleep with my face on the keyboard. For today was the infamous day of the church working party and I as am known to all as a compulsive volunteer (how do you think we ended up with the church youth group!!) I was fully in attendance.

Our intrepid gang gathered at the church armed with gloves, spades, garden bags and other useful implements. The observant among you may notice my lack of familiarity with garden terminology. My role in our garden is to weed; choose the plants and plant them - H does all the things he considers to be manly which fortunately for me includes removing moss from conservatories and power-washing the patio ( I think he likes playing with the toys).

My weeding at our house has been largely successful when actually carried out (I'm very carefully framing photographs around a giant thistle in the middle of the flower bed) but I've never quite lived down weeding out my Father-in-Law's primulas one summer.

Anyway I don't think the churchyard has had a working party for many years and with all the trees we have big gutter and gully problems. Vee and I spent today on our hands and knees in the gullies around the bottom of the walls bailing out leaves and then shovelling out 4" of mud/leaf mould and a whole load of worms - nice! I can proudly announce that as of 12.15 today the gullies were clear of leaves for at least 30 seconds before the wind blew again!!

All this plus a swim has left me curled up in a tired little heap, and what do tired little heaps do? they knit!

And now for our fashion parade tonight (cue lights and music - boom-de-de-doom etc). (in voice appropriate to 1930s newsreel narrator) Item one on our catwalk of finishing:

C's Christmas scarf:
November 008
This delightful alpaca scarf is pink and sparkly and very snuggly. It has not yet been blocked (bad knitter) but has found time in its busy schedule of waiting-to-be-blocked to take time to cuddle the Cosmos. Lets hope she likes it!

Ladies and Gentleman we are also please to present a work in progress - the back and a front of the Lady NaNoSweMo:
November 011
Progress continues apace on this cardigan-to-be which at present resembles an asymettric tunic top. Our sources reveal that it will block out a lot longer than it looks, and just look at that lovely stitching:
November 015
And finally, what you've all been waiting for..... a pair of Monkeys:
November 022
With a natty picot edge;
November 023
November 024
an eye of partridge heel and in pink, peach and slate blue how could any well dressed Carie leave home without them!

Other Christmassy things are on the needles and are in Ravelry but will remain anonymous for the moment so this is the little heap signing out!


They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old

Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun, and in the morning
We will remember them.

It's very hard to find something to say about Remembrance without sounding either twee or melodramatic or, given current situations in Afghanistan and/or Iraq, very political.

So today is to appreciate what has gone before, and the people who lost their lives to protect what we now hold and to remember the people known personally to me who died in military service.

This year we have seen the 90th anniversary of the battle of Paschendale in WW1, and next year will be the 90th anniversary of the end of WW1. In the UK we have five surviving veterans of that war, the youngest of whom is a sprightly106. What they survived and the experiences they had are unimaginable - in the literal sense of the word. Recently I have been reading the blog of Harry Lamin, posted by his grandson and consisting of his letters from France to his family; posted on the 90th anniversary of the day on which they were written together with extracts from his Battalion Diary. Reading what was happening to Harry's company and comparing it with his letters home is spine chilling and paints a picture of grim survival combined with the very human desire to reassure family back home.

Remembrance is to honour those whose lives were given to protect what they held dear and to acknowledge appreciation of those who have survived, but as well as that I am thankful for the peace existing in much of the world and pray for the safety of all those caught in conflict, and for peaceful resolution.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Cryptic messages for Tuesday night knitters

We have a cunning plan .....

Tuesday 11 December we are planning to pop two doors along for supper. If you were there when we discussed this last then please note the change of date; if not, pop it in your diary and we'll tell you all about it soon.

Very cryptic and very boring for everyone else so here is some knitting talk - I have finished C's Christmas scarf. It is very pretty, I am very pleased with it and I will share piccies as soon as I get a chance to do some blocking. As the waiting-to-be-blocked pile is building up I may have to wait until the weekend - time will tell.

Anyway the scarf takes two balls of Inca Mist and I eeked out every last drop, testing the garter stitch end and then ripping back to see if I could get just one more row out of the remaining yarn. All went well until I ran out of yarn with about 10 sts still to cast off. Cue a rescue mission. I snipped off the long tail off my long tail cast on and cast off with the two held together for a bit and then with the cast on end by itself and you really can't see where the two are held together - magic.

I've also finished H's first pair of Christmas socks so that is Christmas 1, 2 and 3 taken care of - roll on Christmas 4-8!!

(Actually I'm going to spend a bit of time with the Lady NaNoSweMo - tee hee)

Monday, November 05, 2007

Bang! Bang! ooooh! aaaaah!

Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The Gunpowder Treason and Plot,
I know of no reason
Why Gunpowder Treason
Should ever be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t'was his intent
To blow up King and Parliament.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England's overthrow;
By God's providence he was catch'd
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, let the bells ring.
Holloa boys, holloa boys, God save the King!

Warwickshire has not forgotten and the sky is full of little twinkly coloured stars even now (9.30pm). On Saturday most of the fireworks came from behind the hill but tonight we can look over the town and see them popping up in the distance. Looking out of the study window every now and again you catch a glimpse of another star through the trees. I love Bonfire Night.

Recent press reports have suggested that bonfire night is being passed over in favour of Halloween because it is (and I quote) "less likely to offend". I'm really not sure why anyone would be offended in our celebrating the fact that Parliament didn't get blown up, lots of people didn't get killed and a large area of London didn't get flattened so I think they must be desperate for news! Actually, thinking about it I can understand why people might be disappointed bits of London didn't get flattened, but that's another story. Bonfire night is quintessentially British (what with us being the only nation whose king nearly got blown up on 5 November 1605) and I for one hope it stays.

If nothing else, the fireworks are very pretty and hold many memories of various school masters trying to blow themselves up on the school paddock trying to set off the fireworks!! So to anyone who isn't having a fireworks party or hasn't seen any this year I send you a little handful of sparkle from us.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

A Foxglove in November?

First of all - a progress report on the Lady NaNoSweMo of the Lake:
Lady of the Lake 013
This photo taken in the available light at 12 noon today (ie minimal) shows the back, the underarm and the cast on for the right front. I LOVE knitting this sweater and although I have my doubts that it actually contains 50,000 stitches I don't care - I'm just trying to ration myself to knitting it because I like it so much - it is soft and cozy and light and will be just a perfect jacket (I may have said this before but nevermind!)

Last night with fireworks going off just about everywhere around us I had my own mini fireworks as the blues and green suddenly popped out of the brown. Yes it isn't as much of a rainbow feast as Kauni, but it's enough for this colour fanatic and that's what matters right now.

Today was time for something a little different.... all the while I have been enjoying the Lady NaNoSweMo a little coral coloured pile has been glowering at me from the foot of the sofa armed with a shiny red crochet hook. It is true that I abandonned Foxglove last weekend having valiantly sewn seams, tidied up ends and added a huge number of crochet flowers and leaves as an edging. We last saw our intrepid reporter at the left hand side of the neck having run out of flowers and deliberating over a belt.

Now look:
Today I wielded the crochet hook again and came to appreciate that althought I quite like making crochet flowers I do not like edgings that have to be put together piecemeal as you go round without there being any real kind of a plan on how to do this. [Note to Rowan: "using picture as guide" is not a valid instruction when you can't see the picture clearly enough to work out the flower placing - grr].

As you see, this finished Foxglove (for yes, she is finished) has no belt. I finished another 4 flowers, added 5 flowers to the left front and, following some playing around with pins-as-buttons recieved the crucial ruling from H that it looked pretty good as it is and a belt was a bit unnecessary.

The magic that now holds it all together is a series of buttons:

First, on the inside right hand seam we have a button
Foxglove 002
I didn't make a buttonhole in the left front, I just chose a likely spot and stiched and opening - the yarn is stretchy enough to allow you to do that quite easily.

Then on the bottom of the left front we have a leaf:
Foxglove 003
Which fits through a leaf on the right front.
Foxglove 004
And now for my piece de resistance - the front. Now being a very curvy girl I have a hatred of tops that flap open so I have a little button sewn to the inside of the right front.
Foxglove 005
It is a blue button - but can you see it now:
Foxglove 006
I can adjust how tightly the top fits (depending on how many sweaters I'm wearing underneath) by changing which bit of the flowers on the left front I use as a buttonhole.

All in all I'm quite please with Foxglove and hopefully when it has had a little bath and block the flowers won't curl so much (I can but hope). It isn't my most favourite sweater ever and part of the reason for that is that it is too big for me across the shoulders - it's only really playing around with the crochet flowers that means that it stays on. There's a simple solution... I should have chosen a smaller size. The Calmer yarn is soft and elastic and nice to wear but it is quite splitty when you knit with it and the elasticity takes some getting used to, particularly on bamboo needles. Still this particular monkey is now off the needles/ the crochet hook and for that I am thankful - no more drated flowers!!

In yet more knitting news I have finished the first of the Monkey socks and C's Christmas scarf is a little longer, neither of which merit photos just yet.

Aaaaargh - my internet connection keeps coming and going all by its sweet self and it's driving me nuts - grrr

Friday, November 02, 2007

It's November

It's also a good job I didn't line myself up for NaNoBloMo because as we see I have already let one day in November go by without a blog post. Nevermind, I'm looking forward to seeing everyone else's posts.

I could perhaps argue that this is really last night's post - I just got too distracted by the knitting to actually come and post. The eternal question (particularly now that daylight photography is not an option) - do I take a picture and come and post now, or, if I just do one more row, the knitting will be a little bit bigger....

So what had me so captivated?:
Lady of the Lake 002
Fleece Artist's Lady of the Lake jacket kit. The kit comes will the pattern and three large hanks of yarn which are wonderfully soft and squooshy to wind into balls comme ca:
Lady of the Lake 007
The jacket is knit from side to side, starting at the underarm and involves knitting a row with one yarn and then knitting the same row in the same direction with the different yarn. Sadly the pattern doesn't say which one is yarn 1 and which yarn 2 but I've gone for the Curlylocks being the one I just knit with and the aran the one for the 1x1 rib. Only time will tell whether this is right.

This is the progress so far:
Lady of the Lake 009
The fabric is fluid and has more drape than I was expecting and is just so soft and cuddly it was very hard to put down and I did tentatively pick it up this morning when I was supposed to be heading out the door to work!

Given I'm on 7mm needles I think it should be a relatively quick knit and my little ram is the perfect copper to match the woodland colour of this jacket. Me like!

In other news (beep-de-de-beep-de-de-beep) the latest baby knitwear victim, sorry, cousin sent me a postcard of the sea and I am reliably informed that he likes the blanket and the booties and is doing very well. The meaning of his real name has connections to vision so I was tempted to give him a blog nickname of Sauron but I thought that it was a bit mean for a very sweet little baby and also "the all seeing eye" is my nickname for my boss (because of the way his desk faces) so I'm still thinking of a bloggy name. His cousin is Peggy and the other baby arrival this year is blogged as Buttons (a soft toy connection rather than name meaning) - any ideas?

And finally: BMFA's Rockin Sock Club 2008 signups are open - guess who joined already - tee hee hee yippee!