Monday, March 31, 2008

Reptilian Temptation

I swear it's a genuine addiction - there's really no other way to explain why I now have seven Lizard Ridge squares. I only had 5 balls of Noro to start with, for one!

Saturday's square works hard for his living,
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And the square that is born on the Sabbath day
Is bonny and blithe, and good and gay.
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One for each day of the week.
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It is just possible that I may need some more Noro!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Glorious Sunshine

After yesterday's wind and rain today was a bit of a surprise but oh how it is lovely to go out without needing a coat and even feeling warm in just a jumper. I was tempted to break out the flip-flops but perhaps that's over keen.

(although it is just possible that that was summer and it's going to keep raining and snowing until next year!).

I have spent most of the day with the windows and doors wide open and the yarn and needles in my lap. And I have something to show for it - a sock!
March 191
Can you spot what's wrong with it?

No? - Well that would be because the sock itself is just fine. It includes this beautiful slip stitch rib at the top,
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executed according to the pattern but completely failing to take into consideration the intended wearer. I am 6' tall with feet and ankles and legs necessary to keep me standing upright. I also need a bit more give on the cuff than this sock was willing to provide.

I failed to take pictures of this week's yarn surgery - it was just too sad. See, look at the pretty rib again before it goes, to be replaced with a simple 2x2 rib.
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All ends well though - I can do this:
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And the sock is pretty:
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Saturday, March 29, 2008

10 things for Saturday

1. The right team won.

2. If a tree falls down across your friend's driveway the thump will cause a mini power skip.

3. You will not realise this until 40 mins afterwards when friend's brother comes to a screeching halt turning into the drive.

4. It is Murphy's law that if a tree falls down that is of sufficient size to justify you being trapped and thus avoiding work on Monday, that driveway will have two exits and your friend will have a chainsaw.

5. Lizard Ridge squares are addictive. To tell the truth this fact was already widely known. I've knitted five squares in quick succession and cast on another square with the leftovers on Thursday. This is what it looked like this morning:
March 177
I finished it watching the race and cast on for another with more leftovers straight away.

6. I knit faster when watching important races. I know that rationally this will not help the boat move any faster but the right team did just fine because of or regardless of this.

7. The Sunset Socks are not fast knitting. I cast on on Tuesday morning. This is how it looked this morning and I've turned the heel this evening.
March 179
8. They are totally worth it (and a lot faster now that I have turned the heel).

9. Tiny Wee Sock knitting is great fun and very cute.

10. Sticky Toffee Pudding is hereby classified as one of the major food groups.

It's been a good day.

Want to cause trouble?

The Times is doing a survey on commuters - how far, how long etc but also what you do on your commute.

How many people do you think we need to put knitting to utterly confuse them?

The survey is here:

At my signal, unleash pointy sticks!!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Glad Tidings!

Today is my MIL's birthday and therefore the day of delivery of the Raspberry Monkeys socks. She has just phoned to say that she loved them and that they have been much admired - I am so relieved and pleased because as she is an occasional knitter I know that she will take care of them.

H told her he was glad she liked them because he had spent a lot of time knitting them. Whilst he did do the odd stitch I think this is utilising the marital get-out clause under which two-become-one rule I fitted our downstairs bathroom and regularly mow the lawn and he sews all the buttons back on his shirts, re-hems his trousers and regularly goes shopping for groceries!

It seems only appropriate that on one Mummy's birthday I'm knitting for the next one! Mum chose the yarn for her Christmas present and I'm designing and knitting the finished article. It might mean that the blog goes picture free for a while because I want it to be a surprise. It's orange - imagine me doing lots of orange knitting!

If you're interested in whimsy then how about the Wee Tiny Sock Swap - signups close today so hurry if you're interested.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Crafting in purple and pink and ....

Well purple first. For this my friends, this is co-ordinated crafting. This is that moment when two souls are so perfectly aligned that they start to create in the same colour. Should they have realised it at the time they would have fled from the danger of becoming terribly twee but alas, they were both looking at what they were doing.

The co-ordination would be all the more impressive if I could take accurate colour pictures but for now you will have to trust me when I tell you that the sky in this picture....
March 176

(H's little painting project over the Easter weekend which I am trying to convince him is really intended as a present to me so that I can take it to work and put it on my desk)

.... is as purple as this hat:
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Well it's more like this picture of this hat:
March 169
I really must learn how to take more accurate colour pictures - anyone got any tips?

The hat is loosely based on Lilith Parker's Greenery Hat (thank you Ravelry). I say loosely because I started off following the pattern less one repeat and on bigger needles to take into consideration the change in yarn. When I realised I was running out of yarn I decreased rapidly to the crown and ended up with an inch or so of yarn to spare (this is becoming a habit isn't it - note to self: buy more yarn!)

I am really pleased that the crown decreases stayed in pattern and spiral in to the top as that was one of the features of the original pattern that attracted me in the first place.

And the yarn. Need I say more. I know for a fact that it exerts a siren call to all lovers of purple as R arrived at Tuesday knitting very shortly after I pulled it out of my bag and she is known to be fond of a good purple. This is the Fyberspates Scrumptious Chunky that I bought from K1 in Edinburgh and this lovely hat is destined for my equally lovely SIL with whom we stayed for a couple of days - I say thank you in knitwear, I can't help it - it's taking a lot of effort to send our thank you note to H's uncle and aunt without popping in a couple of pairs of fetchings after they mentioned having cold hands in their home office; although they may yet get some for Christmas.

The yarn is a soft, fluffy singles and although that makes it a little splitty if you don't watch out I think it is totally worth it. Now I just have to pop it in the post to make Lulla smile!

As for me I am back to my occupation of travelling on trains - what's that? you thought I was a lawyer? Nooooooooo - I'm a train traveller with an occasional side line in law. My current pacifier is Christmas yarn from H (with apologies to Zee who also gave me sock yarn - my husband outranks you my sweet) and a pattern from the winter Knitty called Slippery Socks.
March 170

Mine are sunset socks - and are not very big at the moment.

And now for the pink - and this is the point at which the photography really falls apart. Today I came home to a lovely surprise:
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These were waiting for me, with enough left over to have some in the kitchen too:
March 172
There's been no big achievement (apart from the hat and the painting), no anniversary or special date to celebrate, these are flowers because he loves me - and that makes me smile!

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Easter? Are you sure?

We awoke this morning to this:
Sadly all melted by the time we got back from Church but SNOW! at EASTER - surely this is the wrong way round!
I have compounded the error with a grotty cold which I hope will break tomorrow as we are due to be going to a wedding in the evening (yes, I think it's a funny time to have a wedding too).

All this leads to much time curled up knitting and a little quilting and generally following a strong urge to make blankets. I have two new Lizard Ridge squares

March 153

March 159

Can you tell the second one came from this ball?

March 160

And I finally added some buttons to the Baby Crocus and duly proclaim it finished.

March 166

March 161
One thing might suggest that it really is Easter:

Easter eggs!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

You know what this means

March 144
I've finished Neighbourhood Tunnels! Actually given that they're toe up it could mean that I'm cheating and I've put two socks-on-the-needles on my feet and pulled my jeans down to cover the cuffs.

I refute any such allegation with two, what I consider to be killer, pieces of evidence:

(A) I have the ankles and feet necessary to support a 6' medium build frame. If I didn't have them I'd fall over. This explains not only why I have wide and long feet but also why my ankles, in less flattering company than your good selves, might be described as clunky. I could get a pair of socks on the needles around my heel and onto my ankle but I don't have an over-optimistic-hedgehog-on-the-M25's chance of getting them off again without dropping stitches or breaking needles.


March 150
Being the little colour magpie that I am you know this was always going to appeal, the pattern itself also has a lovely fluidity that is far more apparent in the real sock than in pictures - another hit for the sock drawer.
March 151
To tidy up some loose ends from the last post - The Teletubbies defy serious description (so I've linked to wiki) - in every episode of this toddler's TV one of the teletubbies receives a signal through the antenna on the top of their head and a short film plays on their tummy. When it finishes all four teletubbies jump up and down and shout "Again again! Again again!" at which point the short film plays again - even just typing that has me scratching my head but you'll have to take my word for it that it was essential Saturday morning viewing as a student and for some reason they've stuck with me.

Actually there may be a reason - the yellow teletubby is named Laa-Laa which is what my small sister called me when she was a tiny tot and my full name was a bit too much to handle. I am so glad that they didn't invent teletubbies for many years after her linguistic skills improved.

There was also the time when my bachelor history teacher accidentally bought a teletubby (the year they were hot Christmas presents) because he found a queue in the local shopping centre and joined it. We never did find out which one he got and I don't think he ever lived it down!

And from toddler TV to baby surprise jackets - I'm knitting them just as the pattern states with no extra length or anything although obviously gauge etc will make every knitter's different.

Have a very happy Easter, I'm really enjoying my break, instead of carbon offsetting we're chocolate offsetting, with regular trips to the gym!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Again again! Again again!*

*Own up if you misspent your youth/university education and you know where that one comes from.

I am on holiday. Again. It's that time of year where everyone remembers that (a) they still have holiday to take and (b) holiday is far too valuable to waste - and so I skipped out of the office at 12.25 today and dashed for the 12.33 train home. It's amazing - did you know that during the week it gets light, and there's this really big shiny yellow ball in the sky that's pretty, and the sky is pale blue rather than black and twinkly - me, I was quite taken aback by it all.

It was only a week ago that I went back to work and now I'm off for almost a week and I'm adding to the again again feeling with the knitting. I'm turning the heel on my second Neighbourhood Tunnels sock and I've been having a little bit of garter stitch therapy:
March 127
A Blue Jay Baby Surprise.
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I haven't sewn it up yet and I would like you all to pause for a moment and consider the amount of yarn I have left to sew up with:
March 137
In fact the last five stitches of the cast off is ever so slightly fudged because of a yarn shortage. Smaller needles and I would have got away with it but I think the sock yarn leftovers stash has come to the rescue:
March 142

The yarn is Colinette Cadenza in Blue Jay and it took2 skeins. This yarn is a dream to have running through your fingers (I said it was therapy) and it works really well in garter stitch - fluffy and squooshy and superwash, perfect for a baby.

The baby to be is due at the beginning of April and its parents are waiting to find out whether it's a boy or a girl so the buttons will stay off until we find out - I realised I was safe with the blue when we saw them recently and discovered that all of their baby equipment (car seat, buggy etc) is blue!

What I love about this pattern is that it doesn't take too much yarn so you can quite happily buy some really nice special yarn without breaking the bank (and wanting to rip and re-knit it when they grow out of it in a week!)

So.... 5 days holiday and a forecast of rain, lots of rain and sleet - time to crack out the cheesy films (White Christmas anyone?) and clear a sofa space.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Putting the sock blockers to good use

Yesterday we had daylight but no finished sock, today there is a finished sock (finished last night) but no daylight.

Yesterday the sock looked a little like this
March 110
And you can see the flow of the pattern on the foot here.
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My socks have never seemed to lack blocking - it's usually provided by my feet so I've not regreted not having sock blockers before but they are great for showing off socks without having to do a convoluted handstand to take a picture of my own feet (and I can't touch my toes, I'm too lanky). So here is the first sock.
March 117

The yarn quantities are very generous so the cuff on my sock is at least 8", and that's with a good bit left over and long feet. It's a very easily memorised pattern, part of the Socktopus sock club and great for the commute.

It's a toe up sock and rather then going for an afterthought toe or a magic figure of eight cast on it starts in a rather ingenious way (you know me, I'm all for new ways to do things).

In this cast on you start with a little crochet chain in waste yarn:
Then you pick up stitches from the crochet chain

And knit a little square patch

Unravel the provisional cast on and put the stitches back on another needle

And then pick up down one side, work across the bottom and pick up along the other side and you end up with a little nose warmer for a bunny or an embrio sock depending on how advanced your SSS is!
It looks a little bit clunky in this picture but by the time the sock is finished it's all evened out - clever or what!?

Saturday, March 15, 2008

More Scotland - but with snow!!

We left Arran last Sunday and prepared to head even further north to finish the trip off with a visit to H's aunt and uncle who live near Oban. It's a good trek from Arran but a whole lot nearer to Arran than Warwickshire. After you get past Glasgow the route takes you past some of the most spectacular scenery you could find - along the side of Loch Lomond and then up into the Scottish Highlands for real.
I'd love to report on the feeling of driving up past mountains soaring up into a peerless sky but ... well it is Scotland .... it started raining. Then the rain started to get a little clumpy and within 5 minutes it looked like this:

From inside the car it's like being in at 3D film with those funny red and green glasses - lots of little things coming towards you but nothing actually hits you. That's a mountain in the snow in case it isn't clear - photography from a moving car (even a car moving slowly in the snow) isn't easy.

As we came down from the mountains the snow turned back into rain, in front of a beautiful sky:

And that set the tone for our two day visit - it was grey mostly, rained occasionally but it was calm, relaxed and chilled out with only a hint of the storms hitting the rest of the country in messages from my mother along the lines of "house still on cliff. Not so sure about the garden" as they faced the teeth of a force 9 gale.

The uncle and aunt live pretty much on the shores of Loch Etive which is inland from Oban and the whole area is very like the Westcountry plus mountains so I felt right at home - we went for walks along the loch shore with Rosie the every springing springer spaniel, visited Oban which I thought was just like Dartmouth (a town near where I grew up) only to discover that Uncle's reaction to Dartmouth had been exactly the same!

And then after two lovely days we had to turn around and head south. We took a different route out of the Highlands and drove through a place that is quite genuinely called Rest and be Thankful. I don't have any pictures because we weren't able to stop but Rest is at the top of a steep valley running down to Loch Fyne and it's stunning. You can also immediately see why you needed a rest!

So now we are back into the usual routine, commuting, work and more commuting and trying to resist the temptation to sell up, move to Oban and sell ice-creams and knitted jumpers (seasonally of course!).

All of this driving and relaxing with family means knitting and so without further ado we have the Argyll square:

March 102

Mountains, heather and seaside all in one.

I also did a little sock knitting and now for the first time get to show off my new sock blockers - these are my MILs monkey birthday socks for the end of March.

March 105

They really aren't as retina searing in person I promise

I've been making good progress on the Neigbourhood Tunnels socks from the Socktopus club as well but as I'm near the end of the sock and it's nightime, I'll save that for another day!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Scotland Part 2 - in which it rains. A lot.

Arran. Not to be confused with Aran which is Irish, is the Gaelic for bread (according to the signs in the Brodick Co-op) and is where the jumpers come from.

Arran is a medium sized island tucked between the Scottish west coast and Kintyre and is the home of the bride of one of H's former work mates, formerly both resident in Warwickshire, now living somewhere north of Aberdeen. Apparently north of Aberdeen is just too accessible for a wedding so they decided to get married on Arran (I can't really comment, I had all of H's Scottish relatives travelling to Devon for our wedding!). So off we set.

The journey involves one of these:
With a very nifty opening mechanism for getting the cars out without them having to reverse.And although I may be married into a Scottish clan now, the little seafaring Devonian stays true to her roots- I spent as much time as possible on deck in horizontal rain and interesting sea:
The funniest moment was when I was sat waiting for H and the man opposite me, turning a gentle shade of chartreuse, told someone on the other end of his mobile phone that "it wasn't choppy at all - just a little breezy".

The journey across is a game of island hide-and-seek; now you see the mountains, now you don't. But when you do see them:
Totally worth it - this is Holy Island, just off the east coast of Arran. And this:

Is a banana impersonator who let go of her hat only to allow the photo to be taken and is clinging firmly to the railing behind, and Brodick on the shoreline behind. Don't worry if you can't see Brodick - settlements on Arran tend to be in the style of one row of houses along the shoreline, particularly on the eastern side.

We arrived in Arran on Friday lunchtime and decided to spend the afternoon circumnavigating the Island. There are only really two main roads in Arran - one goes around the coast and the other goes across the middle; we went around.

And this is the point at which we mastered the art of the 11 minute walk. It goes a bit like this: It stops raining, we plonk the car at the nearest suitable parking space and set off for the mountain/sea, we get 6 minutes away from the car, enjoying our walk in the fresh air and by the seaside; the clouds open and we make a sprint for the car before we get swept away in the nearest torrent. When not raining the north of the island is spectacular - mountains with snowy peaks are always going to be a hit with me:

Circumnavigation at last brought us to Blackwaterfoot and our hotel on the seafront - how about this for a room with a view:

It would of course help if it wasn't raining (see 11 minute walk rule above!) but I can highly recommend the sound of waves against the shore as a restorative cure.

The wedding was wonderful, the bride and groom nipped in and out of church between rain showers and the storms even abated for the fireworks. There was shortbread, tablet, Ceilidh dances and a good amount of whisky and I even managed to avoid being publically called out as English by the bride's three brothers once the rugby score came through.

So having been a walking advert for the Arran tourist board it's time for my little bit of yarn from Arran:
March 101
Blue for the rain, the sea, the mini lakes and puddles all over the island and a bit of bright green grass.