Monday, December 31, 2007

The Best of 2007

Well it's New Year's Eve, there's about 6 hours left of 2007 (depending on where you live) and so I'm poaching Knit Lit's review of the year meme

1. your best FO of the year

It really can't be a good sign that I need to cheat on the first question. Actually, it's not cheating, it's qualifying the question. (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!)

Anyway, my best FO of the year that I made for myself was my Kauni Cardigan - I love it, I wear it to death and it fits nicely.

In terms of FOs for other people, the stream of baby blankets deserve a mention - I feel so clever every time I finish one and the recipients seem to like them.

2. best FO of the year made by a blog you link to

Many people have made many beautiful things over the last year but for sheer ingenuity I'd have to say Mandy's Christmas hat - it's WONDERFUL and you need to watch the video.

Having said that, I'm watching Susan's pattern designing with great interest and I can't wait for her Morocco stole to be finished (actually I may have been given some yarn for Christmas that would look just right - hmmm)

3. best yarn you tried

I loved Kauni but the other surprise contender is Rowan Tapestry, very soft and fuzzy and makes great hats.

4. best new book/mag/pattern of 2007

I was given lots of lovely books last Christmas and some of my new books pre-date 2007. The one I knit most from was Debbie Bliss Baby Knits book which I think is fantastic; for inspiration and a slightly later publishing date, how about Victorian Lace today?

5. best new knitting technique or gadget you tried in 2007

Steeking - tee hee hee!

6. top 5 inspirations--what five things inspired you the most over the past year?
  • The imminent arrival of babies (three in total, should they be one inspiration each? Babies E, Buttons and N, all boys and all warm and toasty owners of a blanket)
  • Little Miss Peggy - who doesn't want a little curly-haired blond girl to knit for? Her Mummy sent me a picture of Peggy in her dress in their Christmas card and she looks perfectly sweet.
  • Yarn: colour magpie that I am I just can't resist pretty colours (cue the Kauni cardigan)
  • Blogs and Ravelry - it's not a rabbit hole for no reason and seeing patterns in "real" pictures always stirs the creativity - Rowan have done a couple of features recently putting the magazine patterns in different colours and on real people and I can completely pass a styled pattern only to be tempted by it in real life.
  • H - I love making woolly things to wrap him in, he thinks it's a good idea as long as it isn't a jumper. We're onto a good thing with socks.
7. designer who most amazed & inspired you throughout the year

I've already mentioned the beautiful creations Susan Pandorf is coming up with and they really are stunning. Jane Sowersby's patterns in Victorian Lace today are jaw-dropping (and get my fingers twitching) and I have serious designs on patterns by Norah Gaughan and Fiona Ellis.

8. knitting resolutions for 2008--what's next for you and your blog?
I think I have knitting intentions rather than knitting resolutions for this year! My stash now holds yarn for a couple of really lovely sweaters, there are a few more babies on the horizon to welcome, I have yarn and patterns for some wonderful lace shawls and scarves and I've got two sock clubs to look forward to (and strange temptations towards knitting afghans). I think my knitting resolution if any is to knit for myself this year.

My crafting resolutions (and these are resolutions) are:
  • to finish the embroidery from my SIL. She will be 30 in November and it WILL be her birthday present
  • to practice my quilting and get better at it; and
  • to sew so more clothes for myself.

I have an evening of curling up with H and watching films to look forward to tonight and I shall keep going with my Tangled Yoke to see out 2007. Tomorrow I have a pattern and yarn all lined up for my first 2008 project but that's a story for another day.

My 2007 has been another wonderful (if rapid) year, roll on 2008:


Piccies Galore

Well I did promise!

Today's gentle working hours ended at 2.45 so I was almost home in daylight - it's a very odd experience and I don't really recognise any of the stations from the homeward bound direction in daylight. Sadly it wasn't quite light enough to get daylight photos, and it's been a while since there've been any of those, but with the able assistance of the elastrickery and a daylight bulb I can reveal in all glorious delight, the pretty things that have been occupying my holiday - ta da!! (drum roll please)!

First in our victory parade we have the Holly Queen:
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Romi described wearing her Ice Queen as feeling like a film star - me, I feel like I still have my head under the duvet and I promise you that is a very good thing on a train first thing in the morning. There is a little blob of yarn left and I probably could have knit another 4 row repeat to make it slightly longer but that would throw out the beading and give me too much fabric under my chin so I'm pleased as is.

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I don't have anything else finished - the other finished ta da is a big big secret and will have to remain so for a little while longer (cue mysterious look) - but I do have an update on the Tangled Yoke:
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I started with the third size and then decreased almost to the second size and then increased to the second size at the waist which is a bit of an experiment to see how that fits as I'm a classic pear shape, and explains why the waist shaping looks so very triangular!

Green is obviously a very hard colour to photograph under artificial light - I tried playing around with the settings on the camera for a while and came up with these unusual variations - neither of which is really anywhere near the true colour:
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It's Herb.

And finally:
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This beauty is the start of my Karenina sock, December's Socktopus sock club sock. The pattern is made by slipping stitches rather than fairisle and the yarn (specially dyed Cashmere Merino blend from The Knittery) is soft and cuddly like a very tiny kitten. The colours and the pattern remind me of a series of tree ornaments on my inlaws' tree which are paper mache spheres with oval pictures of icons on; all purply-red and gold. These cast on to celebrate my return to work after Christmas and helped the commute whizz by both ways.

Being the fiddler I am I've made a couple of amendments - the first being to go up a needle size to accommodate my ginormous hooves and the second being to do a provisional cast on and knit the picot fold to the right side of the sock, rather than sew the flap down later; it's a bit more fiddly my way but it will give me a stretchier sock and I'm a little concerned about size at the moment, only time will tell!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Tired but happy

H and I have just returned from visiting his parents and siblings for the weekend for a second Christmas and I am shattered. I can't believe I have to work tomorrow - it just doesn't seem right somehow but at least we get Tuesday off again and then it'sonly 3 days to the weekend.

Time with the inlaws almost qualifies for my dream of constantly knitting with someone else providing all of the meals so there has been a good deal of knitting over the past two days.

I officially qualified myself as ready to be committed when I found myself completing a cable and bead row on the Holly Queen as we zoomed up the very bumpy motorway. Holly Queen is now finished and was test-driven on the way back down - warm, soft and wonderful! I'm also making good progress with the mystery green project which turned out to be a Tangled Yoke - I think I've finished the waist shaping so i can't be too far from the underarms at which point it all stops and I go off to make some sleeves! No pictures at the moment because of a combination of lethargy and it being dark outside but I'll try to post at some point soon.

Oh, and I got a new cake tin!!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Post Christmas

All is quiet and still!

Christmas itself was wonderful, we had a very relaxed day opening stockings, going to church and then playing with presents and lunch interspersed by lots of phone calls from family all around the country. This year our two immediate families were in 4 different places, not to mention calls to Gran - thank goodness for speakerphone - we left lots of loud, carolly messages on people's voicemails!

H's secret Christmas knitting turned out to be two pairs of socks and Father Christmas brought him a hat which looked remarkably like it may have been made by his wife (H's not Mrs Christmas!). Whilst that hat does technically breach the "I only want socks, please don't knit me a jumper and make me wear it" rule (and accordingly was given by Santa not me), I conclude that it is a hit as it went on on Christmas afternoon when it got a bit chilly and has been worn for comfort of the toothache and general warmth ever since.

It looks like this:
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I was spoiled rotten by my lovely family - knitters of the UK, if you are struggling to find yarn it is possible that my husband bought it all. Sorry. And also tee hee hee! Ditto if you were trying to acquire anything from Hotel Chocolat in Solihull!

I have beautiful laceweight, sock yarn in all of my favourite colours and enough Mission Falls 1824 wool in Mist Green to make a sweater - I'm just considering which one and in the meantime I just pet all the new yarn and smile!

Post Christmas is rather a ritual hibernation for us - the last couple of days we have spent curled up watching bad movies, eating the snowman and playing all of H's new board games- it's been wonderful - and in all of that there has been a little crafting:
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First we have three completed (and different) views of the Little Town of Bethlehem. They were sewn onto perforated card and then cut out; and when it's all stuck together it looks something like this:
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On my tree on Boxing Day evening - this year's tree decoration and it's beautiful and twinkly and completely worth the frustration of sewing 24 small snowflakes in very splitty silver thread.

It has however been soothing to return to the knitting - Holly Queen is green and soft and even!
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Monday, December 24, 2007

Just in under the wire

Well everyone else has knitted Christmassy things and it seems only fit that I have Christmas socks too!

Finished: Diagonal Cross Rib Socks from Favourite Socks in Lorna's Laces Tuscany knitted on 3mm and 2.5mm needles rather then the given needles to make them slightly smaller for my large but girl sized feet.

The pattern is fantastic if you have beautiful coloured yarn that you want to show off without just doing a plain sock - smiles all round:

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And now the chicken is stuffed (to Great-Grannie's receipe), the mince pies and cookies are made, the fruit cake is decorated (I abdicated on both the making and icing and left all that to Marks and Spencer); and the main Christmas cake.....? Well it looks a bit like this:
The Good Lord created many wonderful things - I am particularly grateful for Williams-Sonoma!

May the joy of the angels
The eagerness of the shepherds
The perserverance of the magi
The obedience of Mary and Joseph
and the peace of the Christ-child
be yours this Christmas


Not Knitting

Yes, you did read it correctly - try to sit down and have a glass of water, I know it's a shock.

Whenever I'm at work and it's 3pm and I don't like the work I have to do for the rest of the afternoon I fantasise about how when I'm on holiday I'll sit on the sofa and watch bad movies and knit ALL day. Somehow meals will appear, laundry and housework will be done and the groceries will magically arrive in the cupboards (actually I do get them delivered most of the time so I can't complain) - why does that never actually happen?

My jobs for today day were the Christmas spice cookies and the mince pies - the cookies looked like this:
until Carie's little sweat shop got going with the icing:

The boys may be old (27! shh) but give them brightly coloured icing, icing writing pens, hundreds and thousands and silver balls and they're well away- I dread to think what kind of weird and wonderful colours our insides are turning.
I left them to it and moved on to the mince pies - all done now, and they've got my name on them in more ways than one:
All of this left little time for my sofa-driven knitting fantasy life and in fact my craftyness recently has been largely papery. H decided that we needed a pre-Christmas activity and came home with a packet of paper chains and they do add more cheery colour to the room. Mine are beautifully organised in a repeating colour sequence; H's is more eclectic!
And finally, when the icing dried and the carolling died down, I dug out a little kit.

Ages ago (by which I mean a couple of years at least), I went to a show at Olympia and saw the Nutmeg Company bits and bobs and fell in love with a Christmas tree decoration but by that point they were all sold out. One year later I went to the same show and made a beeline for their stand and since then the kit has sat on my desk - but now....
It is a three-sided "snowball" and this is side 1 ( sides 2 and 3 are different views of the Little Town of Bethlehem), cross stitched onto perforated paper. When all three are done I'll cut them out and stick them together with ribbon running through the middle.

I had thought of finishing it before Christmas but that seems unlikely now - I think I'll settle for it going on the tree before the tree comes down.
After knitting it's astonishing how long it takes to sew such a tiny area!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Soctopus - Warning: Spoilers

To anyone who is a member of the club and doesn't want to see - look away now:
Do the rest of you (by which of course I mean my faithful reader- my mum) want to see?

The Socktopus sock club is set up to run for a year with 6 instalments and on Thursday I came home to a shiny silver package. H promises most of Warwickshire would have heard the squeals so if you live near me and just couldn't work out what that noise was - sorry, oops!

Anyway the silvery lining turned out to contain:
A Christmas card from Alice and a pink package.

And in the pink package there was a dark dark room, and in the dark dark room - no, sorry oops, wrong time of year.

In the pink pink package there was:
Actually there was also a little bar of chocolate that got hidden in the photo.

The bag is canvas and has a little velcro front pocket to put things in - it also has a drawstring and a strap so that I can dangle it from my wrist if I need to on the train - and I love the red.

Then we have the kit itself - I've never done mosaic stitch before which makes up the pattern, the yarn is soft and has cashmere in it and beautiful colours, like nothing in my existing and extensive sock collection and the CD has a recording of Anna Karenina to listen to while I knit. It couldn't be more perfect for this little train commuter and I love it. I just have to finish off the second Tuscan sock before I start - or maybe I'll save it to start on the first commute after Christmas - we'll have to see how strong my will power is!

Holidays have come

It's official - no more work until after Christmas - yippeee! I can't believe that I haven't posted since Monday, I kept meaning to and even took the photos but somehow life, shopping, present wrapping and everything else ate up my time. The last week has been a bit of a whirlwind trying to get the urgent jobs done and trying to remember to do all of my other jobs at the same time.
In all of this there has been some knitting - I'm now turning the heel on the second Tuscan sock and I've made a little more progress on my Holly Queen but the evenings have been full of all sorts of very Christmassy things - including of course a trip to Tescos on Thursday night for the Christmas shop - we were not the only ones that thought this was a good idea but I bet it was a million times busier today.

Shopping today merely involved going to the farm shop to pick up the turkey and veg and other bits and pieces - calm, relaxed and they'd only run out of eggs because the hens hadn't being laying. How can you not love a farm that has a sign on the door to say they are a bit short of eggs and so they will put some outside the door on 25th and 26th - please put money in the honesty box!

Yesterday our office team (of 7) went out for our Christmas lunch which was fantastic. Two of my colleagues decided we needed party hats and at the last minute popped out for 7 santa hats which we all wore walking through Birmingham to lunch, during the meal and even on to the bar next door afterwards. The restaurant gave us a circular table which really made it as a lunch party because we could all talk together.

And then of course we had our secret santa. I don't know who my santa was and I'm trying not to find out but he or she did a wonderful job and gave me a set of four little dishes shaped as Christmas trees - perfect for Father Christmas' mince pie!

My victim, sorry, child-who-had-been-nice-not-naughty was one of our secretaries and among other things Santa brought her were "spare" computer keys; marked "panic", "panic over", and "eject seat" - she thought they were a hoot!

So now I'm at home having spent the day running around doing chores - the downstairs of the house is now Christmas-tidy which is just as well as friends are coming to visit tomorrow. The upstairs will have to wait for now because I'm going to go and curl up on the sofa and watch cheesy christmas films with H.

I do have to show one early Christmas present:

This is the biscuit that the train company gave the commuters. It has now been consumed and was discovered to be shortbread with a marshmallow top and a lump of jam in the middle. Thank you and merry Christmas to the train company!

Monday, December 17, 2007

How do you follow up on a reindeer?

I'm still very impressed that I met a real reindeer - can you tell?

Well if you have the reindeer and the outside landing lights ready for Father Christmas you really do need somewhere to put your stocking. We don't have a fireplace or a chimney of any kind so our stockings go under the tree - ergo we need a tree.

Last year was the first year that we were together for Christmas and H's friends recommended a farm shop near Stoneleigh - the tree was wonderful so we trotted back again this year for another blue spruce:
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size - anything that fits in the car!!
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H is a firm believer in traditional Christmas roles for the modern family. This means that it's my job to hug the rather prickly tree and hold it upright while he (a) screws it into the base and (b) takes a whole load of pictures for the blog (I'm getting him well trained but even I was surprised by how many Carie+tree pictures were on the camera this evening!)
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Then we add a few lights:
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And the odd ornament or two:
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All of our main ornaments are souvenirs of places we have been or special occasions - we have a star from our honeymoon, a bauble from Germany that Zee brought for us, one from Rome, one to mark our first Christmas together, and this year:
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The Eiffel Tower from Paris

This year's ornament is still waiting to be made - pictures in due course!

Before you despair of my ever having done anything crafty to tell you about, I am still on H's last Christmas present and knitting furiously whenever the opportunity presents itself. In the meantime I have a diagonal cross rib sock sorely in need of a mate - soon my little Tuscan sock, soon!

And, well you didn't seriously think I was going to hold out against Kid Silk Haze for that long did you:
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My other crafty for the weekend is a non-knitting project - a present for my friend E - cookies in a jar. The recipe is from here - basically you layer up the ingredients in a glass jar and add a tag to give the quantities of butter and egg to mix it with - yummy!

Here you can see the different layers
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And with the finishing touches:
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The fabric is covered with red gingerbread men - part of a bundle of fat quarters I bought in the US when we were in New England a few years ago and just perfect as a jar topper - plus E and her mum make quilts so I expect I will see it again some day!
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I have wrapped it in all the bubble wrap we could find in the house and entrusted it to the post office with all my fingers and toes crossed - send it good thoughts for me.

And finally (assuming anyone made it this far) - a little bit of quiet reflection for Advent. Mary and Joseph from our church crib travel round the village in the run up to Christmas and tonight they are with us:
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so I'm going to go and sit with them for a bit

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Progress, no pictures and a first

I'm half way through the very last Christmas knitting. It has to be hidden from H so it may not get finished until next week's commute but I have made some serious inroads. This means that everything else is done and boy do I need to start wrapping!

I also cast on for my green Ice Queen with little snow coloured beads - it's very pretty but it's just been too dark today for a decent picture and I haven't done that much anyway, it's more of a green smudge today.

So - the first.....

I met a reindeer. A real live one. I also met two santas and five elves but I have my suspicions about them. Also I was not prevously aware that Land Rover sponsered Santa's sleigh!

For anyone not currently based in Warwickshire, we recently had a very bad fire locally and two firefighters died. Warwickshire Fire Service has been running a charity collection since then and as part of that they had two reindeer in the town centre today and you could feed them and pet them and they had a photographer to take pictures of the children and the reindeer.

So I petted a beautiful soft white reindeer with caramel and grey spots and proper antlers. I always thought reindeer were quite as big as horses but they only came up to my waist and were so patient and tranquil and soft to stroke.

While I was there two little ones were posing for their photos and the little boy aged about two was cosied up the the reindeer whispering in her ear - I think he was asking her to tell Father Christmas what he's hoping for in his stocking!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

You know you're a Knitter when...

.... you misread the leaflet next to car insurance in the grubby post office display unit as yarn insurance and don't think twice about it until you get round to the other side of the queue and realise; van insurance.

In other news H is away for the evening and I have finished his second Christmas present. Excuse me while I go and cast on again!


Monday, December 10, 2007

Light Shining in the Darkness

This past weekend has been a celebration of light in one way or another and in that light has been the very best of the true essence of Christmas - a light coming to the world to shine out into the darkness in the depths of our winter.

Our little lights may not have made it for the street "turning on ceremony" on Saturday night (it poured with rain and it was dark - we weren't that keen on going up a stepladder) but on Sunday our little string of icicles joined all the others. The road does look lovely and very festive all decked out in matching (ish) icicle lights, it's just a shame we don't have any snow to go with the icicles.

On Sunday the village turned on the Christmas tree lights on the green (less wet, more wind) and afterwards we piled into the church for hot soup and to celebrate our Christingle. And as we waited for the soup to heat, we stood in a circle around the darkened church and passed the light from our advent candle from christingle to christingle until every candle was lit, and very softly we sang Silent Night and Away in a Manger. Christmas is coming - it's time to get ready!

My fingers having now recovered from the wounds inflicted by pushing cocktail sticks into dolly mixture (surprisingly solid) and raisins (surprisingly small and fiddly) as part of the christingle production line on Sunday morning, I have also managed a little knitting of the Christmas variety. As of a few minutes ago I have two more socks than I had on Friday. They do not match. I believe this is the flaw in my otherwise excellent plan but H has a training course for which he will be away overnight this week so I'll have to rectify that.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

All about the green

Yes, it's my current colour of obsession from the green, blue and chocolate of my Lady of the Lake jacket to the green KSH waiting for me in the knitting bag. So what's in the middle?

Having finished (sort-of) stage one of the Christmas knitting I have cast on a little something for myself. In green.
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As Rolf Harris would say: "can you tell what it is yet?"

Guesses in the comments (or peek on Ravelry), all I will say is that it is now a little longer than in the picture (where it somewhat resembles an Elizabethan ruff)
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And I get to use my prettiest stitch markers like these:
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And this little one.
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The yarn is Rowan Felted Tweed in Herb and it's a perfect grass green with little flecks of white and blue - totally captivating!

I have also finished a sock:

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last seen precariously perched over my toe and now just waiting for a mate - I would have cast on again on the train last week but I started re-reading the Friday Night Knitting Club and couldn't put it down - my passion for reading creeping into the knitting time - surely that can't be allowed. Well that and I was ooogling the latest Martha Stewart Living and developing all sorts of grand designs to make my house just so before I came home and realised that I live with a heap of books, a lot of yarn, paint, canvases and brushes in unusual places (H's stash) and an insane amount of sports equipment - Martha- style living will just have to wait.

Now I'm going to be virtuous and head to the gym in the hope that this will appease the internet gremlins. They appear to be feeling more helpful this morning but only time will tell!

Friday, December 07, 2007

A bit more catching up

Phew - what a week. The big question of the day will be whether the internet stays alive long enough to allow me to post this. Answer - probably not, it just took ages to get the grocery order to work - grr to the gremlins.

Now then back to the giant update of Christmas treats - Monday night we had our work Christmas quiz and H came up to Brum to add strength to our team. We came 10th out of 16 so I think he did pretty well - we had some unlucky rounds - at least that's my story and I'm sticking to it but it was a lovely evening spent with colleagues and friends.

And having had one late night what better way to follow it than with another - this time a trip to London to see Aida at the Coliseum. WOW, just WOW - if you ever get a chance to see this production it is amazing - lovely singing and just beautifully staged.

Zandra Rhodes designed the costumes so we got our full fill of gold lame Egyptians/daleks, a mechanical elephant/butterfly and acrobats and on-stage trumpeters for the Grand March. The clients we took are not on the whole into opera and they were hooked for the whole 3 hour performance. We also did our bit of celeb-spotting, catching sight of the Marquis of Bath and companion decked out in Harry Potter-esque crushed velvet complete with little round hat - the Marquis would not have looked out of place on the stage, which is perhaps the look he was going for!

Today I took the day off work, ostensibly to recover from this week's late nights and also to make some Christmas preparations. I have made phone calls, spent a wonderfully long time at the gym and then made major inroads into the Christmas list. The Elf has earned her pointy ears today and there's only a little bit more knitting to do now that I have the last Christmas yarn.

Have you seen the new Knitty? It is possible that I have been led astray by the cover pattern and that a ball of KSH in british racing green and some snow-coloured beads came home with me - it's all about the green at the moment, I have a total green obsession - upon considering my work wardrobe (grey, blue, black, dark red) I may be subconsciously seeking balance - thank goodness my subconscious wasn't into sunshine yellow.

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I have finished the DNA cable scarf and have the photos to proove it:
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The model is David who was once my father's bear and is now mine. He is much loved as you see and generally sits on my dressing table wearing my wedding circlet unless called upon to be a scarf model!

I am really pleased with the finished scarf, the Rowan Pure Wool DK has bloomed and grown a little during blocking and is now wonderfully soft and snuggly. I didn't block particularly heavily, just let it soak for a while and then patted it out into shape on some old towels.
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In terms of pattern amendments, the only change was to omit the ribbing section around the neck - I just kept going in the pattern and knit pretty much until I ran out of yarn - I think about 14 repeats although I haven't counted.

Now if we keep all our fingers and toes tightly crossed I might just try hitting publish!

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Catching up with many treats

Happy Advent - I know I'm a bit late on that one but it's been busy Chez Ours. In fact I may have to break this update up a little or Blogger will have a little panic/freeze attack.

Now then, where did we leave off? Last weekend was the first of many Christmassy treats as my Mum and Daddy came up to stay for the weekend bringing appropriate gifts of the season
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(it's my Christmas pudding). (note to self: microwave is still deceased - how do you think you are going to cook this? Ans: place near candle and wait)

Mum's present this year is a knitted jacket/cardigan similar to one that a friend has. But what's that I hear you cry? I said I had finished the Christmas knitting (almost)? Ah ha! This is where the ingenious ingenuity comes in. For Christmas Mum has chosen the yarn and decreed the pattern. For her birthday (in May) she gets the cardigan. 7.5 months and counting (ish). She has chosen a beautiful colour and I'm going to have a lot of fun figuring out a pattern for her - watch this space.

Taking my parents to the source of all wonder and yarn certainly explained why I go cross-eyed and happy and can be found crooning "all the pretty colours" at walls of yarn - I think we might have been making Joseph's coat if we'd put in a little bit of everything she fancied!

I also led my mother astray in the ways of yarn......

Our first evidence remains unrecorded for posterity and you will have to imagine the picture of Mum only just restraining herself from bouncing up and down with glee while clutching her "new toy" as we finished our errands in town.

Of the formal exhibits I give you Exhibit A:
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a cold, half finished cup of tea (I think), found looking rather lonely.

Exhibit B:
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time: Saturday afternoon

Exhibit C:
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time: Sunday lunchtime

Unfortunately our undercover detective was unable to snap a shot of this fledgling in action but I submit to you (M'Lud) that my mother is now an active sock knitter. Judgment is adjourned to the comments.

All this from a woman who says she has "enough socks" - she has three pairs - no I don't understand it either.

Dearest Daddy - oops. v sorry. would you like a pair of socks to make up for it?

For our special Christmas (non-knitting) treat we headed into Birmingham to the Frankfurt German Market. The market comes every year and every year it is even bigger - this year it spreads all around Victoria Square, up to the Library and most of the way down New Street.

If you're looking for picturesque Christmas then you found it - all of the stalls are little chalets like this
and thisAll sorts of shapes and sizes including a Polar Bear (selling Gluebier - mulled beer) and a clove of garlic - selling garlic bread. It is a real mixture of food (yummy) and what I guess you would describe as curios - blue and white pottery, glass and wooden Christmas ornaments, little pottery German houses and jewellery.

In the day it is pretty and at night:it's MAGICAL!!
It was bitterly cold on Saturday with a stiff breeze to boot so we quickly found the Gluewein stand! German mulled wine has a serious kick to hit and you can literally feel it warming all the way down to your toes! H and I went for the sausage for our nibble - the sausages are cooked on a huge suspended gril over a flame pit - I could never get close enough to take a picture which probably tells you how good the sausages are - and the parents had roast ham and we all sang along to silly Christmas songs and were terribly British when it started to pour with rain (we stood, turned out backs to the rain and continued to drink our gluewein. A bit like penguins. This is afterall a family who spent days on the beach huddled under a towel suspended over a few bits of driftwood just in case the rain stopped, but that's a whole nother story).

Our final treat was to hear the Dutch Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra play - a wonderful concert in Birmingham Symphony hall which has two major points in its favour:

(a) the acoustics are great - they have flaps and things to move to change the sound depending on who plays there; and

(b) lots and lots of legroom and very comfortable seats.

And the final, and slightly surreal moment of the weekend? Looking up on the train to find three cameras pointed at me (all family members). The occasion?
it seems proof was needed!