Saturday, June 28, 2008


' " .... Oh my lost youth. Here are the ducks coming up for the remains of our sandwiches. Twenty-three years ago I fed these identical ducks with these identical sandwiches."
"Ten years ago, I too fed them to bursting point."

"And ten and twenty years hence the same ducks and the same undergraduates will share the same ritual feast, and the ducks will bite the undergraduates' fingers as they had just bitten mine. How fleeting are all human passions compared with the massive continuity of ducks" '
(Dorothy Sayers, Gaudy Night)

Forty-five and ten years ago Dad and I arrived in our city of dreams, and today we went back to celebrate the retirement of the Master of our college. We had lunch at the Turf Tavern, walked around Christchurch Meadows (where the ducks were still begging for picnics)
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and went to a gently reminiscent garden party on the Fellows Lawn. I would guess that there were 5 -10 old members from each year and a few more from the most recent years so it was a good turn out, the pimms was delicious, and the cake and chocolate jellies were wonderful. There was not a mushroom or a chicken Kiev to be seen (when I was an undergrad all meals contained mushrooms and chicken Kiev was standard fare for all special occasions!).

Oxford (congratulations if you guess correctly) on a long sunny summer's day has an essentially timeless quality - something to do with sunwashed stone and neverending lines of Japanese tourists! I loved my time there, my college is a second home and I've yet to find people from other colleges who have the same deep affection and loyalty for their alma mater - which is reflected in a remarkable statistic from today - 30% of all the former students of the college give money to support it - more than any other college in Oxford or Cambridge and any other UK higher education establishment. And anyway, what's not to like about a place that looks like this:
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Those windows in the tower with the curtains closed were the sitting room part of my set in my Second year - the bedroom was the other side of the tower and looked out north above the Oxford skyline
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Main quad - chapel on the left and hall on the right
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The family resemblance - cheesy smiles and a combined 9 years of academia!

In other news, I had VERY exciting post this morning:
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Socktopus Club installment 4 and another definite hit - I love the yarn (Dream in Colour Smooshy), the pattern is intricate and based on pistachio gelato and courgette flowers and the bag... well what isn't to like about the bag :) - I'm itching to get going on the socks, I might just have to go and see what size needles they need!

I'm still a couple of steps behind on the sock club front and I'm currently working on the third installment from the Rockin Sock Club - Cleopatra's Stockings:
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Which were discovered today growing in our new lavender plant!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Birthday Surprises

The great thing about having a joint birthday is that you have the perfect excuse to keep the party going for a few days afterwards. H has interpreted this literally and is still wearing his Birthday Dragon Socks - so I snapped a photo (I will also wrangle them into the laundry tomorrow!):

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These are the Master Coriolus socks from Cat Bordhi's book, New Pathways for Sock Knitters (and also available for free if you follow the Ravelry link) and it's probably my favourite sockitechture so far - it starts as a toe up sock and then after you have done the foot you start a spiral, increasing two out of three rows until you have the gusset. I'm sure there's something terribly clever to do with this sort of patterning but I haven't figured it out yet- something for a moment when life is a little less hectic.

The yarn is something H picked off the shelf at Web of Wool when he was supposed to be choosing yarn for his brother - somehow we always come out with yarn for him, yarn for me and then yarn for the birthday boy or girl. This green I have christened Dragon Green but it is really Opal Rainforest III colour 2037 - Mum says Pond Weed, I say Dragon - potayto, potato!

The spoiling of course applies to both of us and I was spoilt rotten by the very wonderful Mandy and Mary - see:

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Pretty Noro Kureyon sock yarn from Mandy in a colour that harmonizes beautifully with the ball H gave me and means that I can knit cool stripy socks, and the little aqua box of chocolate buttons that are buttons - I think it's genius - you can get a better look here - see, they're chocolate buttons that are shaped like buttons - how cool is that. It is by this that I know that despite the 28 years I am not grown up (that and I have smudges of green highlighter up my right arm).

Thank you girls for a lovely treat - I am honoured to be your friend :)

Tomorrow I head back to my alma mater (for university) for a farewell party and my Dad (who also went there) is coming too so look out for pretty pictures of us reminiscing!

So here's the challenge - I'll give you three clues and you have to guess where I was at university.

1. It was in England
2. It was founded in 1249
3. I graduated in a camera, but without any photographs

More clues tomorrow!

The continuing

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

All caught up

I have now finished the birthday knitting. At least, the birthday knitting that has deadlines - the last being this Saturday.

I started with the sock-that-knew-not-what-it-was, until it finally became a Monkey - well they do say third time lucky! That sock looked like this:
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And I finished it on Sunday, fully intending to post on Monday but then time slunk away from me. So now, there are two:
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And if anyone knows what that bush is, please let me know. This is the first year it has flowered and we're rather pleased.

The socks are for H's brother's wife which I think makes her my sister-in-law-in-law. She likes pink and pastelly colours so this should do the trick - it's Regia 4-ply colour 5025. The trick with this yarn is to make sure that the pattern has good chunks of either knit or purl, otherwise it looks too broken up and it overwhelms the pattern hence the demise of 1 inch of cross cabled rib socks and two inches of mock cable wave socks!

I'll be popping these in the post tomorrow and hopefully they will arrive safe and sound for Saturday.

I have to admit I was a little peeved on Sunday when I was knitting sock number 1 as neither Belle nor Tophy remembered even H's birthday on Saturday, let alone the joint birthday, until Beth my MIL rang him twice to tell him to call. No card, no nothing. I don't mind for me as I'm only the SIL but I mind for H who (a) adores his little brother and (b) is himself very good at remembering birthdays. Anyway, in protest at spending my birthday weekend knitting time on beautiful things the forgetful ones I had a little bout of casting-on-itis:

I only have picture of this:
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Which is the start of the Hidcote Garden shawl.

But there is also the cast on and half a row of a stole in the Colinette version of KSH (birthday yarn from H) and most of a Lizard Ridge block when I realised that I couldn't knit a lace stole in KSH-alike and watch National Treasure 2.

I've also started the latest luscious socks from the Rockin Sock Club - but as it's 7.48 and we're supposed to be in a pub 5 miles away at 8 - I'm going to have to dash - as they say in Brum, tata for now!

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Happy Birthday to Us

Thank you for all your birthday wishes to both of us. As of about 10.30ish this morning and 1.30 ish this afternoon both I and H are 28. So far we have just about managed not to say Happy Birthday to anyone apart from each other - trust me, it's a challenge when in your home Happy Birthday is a bit like saying Merry Christmas in December!

It has been a WONDERFUL day. We woke up to the postman delivering a parcel from Zee and her husband and then they called to sing to us and demand that we open the presents in 'real time'. Zee gave me a cake tin to add to my collection - garden themed and you can see a picture here, together with a few tubes of icing to decorate. What made it even funnier was that my MIL (whom we shall call Beth) and I were talking about Lakeland cake tins last night as I cooked up a set of cars for our Birthday cake. We could remember the train tin and the beehive but forgot the garden gang until it appeared before me. Beth brings me back a cake tin from Williams-Sonoma for Christmas each year so I'm building a wonderful collection.

Then my parents called and sang and then H's sister called and sang and we covered the floor of our lounge with a sea of wrapping paper. There may also have been a little yarn (from H) and the means to acquire yarn (from both sets of parents and Gran) so I am a very happy (and spoilt girl).

We had breakfast-brunch courtesy of H's wonderful fry-up skills and oven baked French toast.
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Mine (on the left) is Peach French toast from this recipe and it's going to be my birthday breakfast for EVER now - there's a good reason why it gets 4 1/2 stars.

Then we took Beth to Birmingham on the train to pop her on another train home and had a pootle round Birmingham including a trip to Lush for bath bombs and to Selfridges for Krispy Kreme doughnuts (mmm!).

And now this afternoon has been spent in a haze of happy smiles, birthday cake and playing with new toys - oh and a little knitting:
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The swimmer is named Violet and is a present from H to match the swimmer Father Christmas put in his stocking - and also goes with the bath basketball H gave me today! And the yarn has been testing me. It started off trying to be a paid of diagonal cable rib socks. Then it got ripped out and we tried a mock cable wave and then I pulled that out at lunchtime and started my original instinct - the monkey you can see growing in the picture! They are for H's brother's wife next Saturday so I need to get those fingers moving!

Friday, June 20, 2008


Last Sunday afternoon the plug to our wireless modem died a quiet and rather hot death. With increasing internet separation anxiety mounting I popped out to town for a new plug, plugged it in, check the little lights all lit up and went about my chores.

Two hours later the little lights were all out and the new plug was rather hot! And thus began the trauma of restoring our internet connection. H finally managed to hard wire a new modem in last night and today I have 116 Bloglines feeds, umpteen e-mails on all my accounts, and a whole host of things to show you - it's amazing what you get done when you aren't playing with the interwebs.

I would never think of myself as a very tecchie person, nor would I like to admit that I need a little internet fix but in the last week we've both realised how much we take it for granted. For example, when the handle fell off the kettle on Sunday night (it was a good day - the bathroom sink lurched off the wall as well!) dropping a kettle and its boiling contents on the hob I couldn't "just check" whether we needed to do anything special to stop water going down the gas pipe (we used common sense and all was well). Perhaps it's a sign of the modern age - whatever it is, I'm pleased to have you all back :)

And now for something pretty:
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This little pink puppy is named Radley (which despite the pink makes it a he). He is H's sister-in-law's birthday present (along with a pair of socks) as she likes pink and likes Radley bags. I finished him on Sunday and I've been longing to show. The pattern is from McCalls Scrap Quilts and the fabric is three 2.5" charm packs in pink from Cotton Patch.

I need some help choosing a ribbon for his neck - these are the two options:
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I like the pale pink because it looks a little like a studded collar but the stripy pink is cool too. Here are the close ups:
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Leave a comment and I'll take a poll!

I have also finished my Mosaic socks - a Diane Mulholland design from the Socktopus club:
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They are a great pattern to knit, I love the entrelac and they elicited admiring glances from the Tuesday night girls.

And finally, another new baby - Lucas - born 10 June 2008 and the happy owner of a Baby Surprise Jacket:
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It isn't sewn up in that picture but I tidied up the ends last night and gave it to the proud parents this morning. They sent me a text this afternoon to say that it is a labour of love and beautiful so I think that means they liked it. Three babies down, four to go before the end of the year ... unless anyone else has any announcements!

Now, then. I have birthday cakes in the oven ( more cars), peach eggy bread soaking on the worktop and a pair of socks to finish before 28th June. Tomorrow is my and H's joint 28th birthday so I'll be back with cake!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

World Wide Knit in Public Day 2008

Or - why I am so pink and tired that I am eating pork pie for supper (out of the wrapper) because I can't be bothered to cook.

It was WWKIP and the lovely guys at I Knit London decided that this was the perfect opportunity for a treasure hunt. The day started with a little representing on the train from Banbury:
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And a hop across London to Waterloo:
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This is an art installation called Volume - the bars on the pillars change colour and go up and down as does the music as people walk through - nothing to do with knitting but very cool none the less.

At I Knit I joined a team of three Amigos - N, L and J and we set off on our quest- to follow a roughly indicated route answering 61 questions about the things we found on the way, collect treasure, keep a helium balloon intact, find out how to say "I knit" in as many different languages as possibly and take some knitting pictures. Oh, and knit a fifteen stitch scarf on the way. So we have:

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Knitting with a street performer
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Knitting on a stage
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A statue wearing knitting - the other one looks a bit cold though doesn't it -
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Two statues wearing knitting - that's my Swan Lake shawl on the right
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The hyperbolic Crochet Coral Reef - it's massive - this is one of at least three different reefs, the UK reef.
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A knitting related road or street sign - do you see what we did there! Cunning eh!
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Knitting with not one but two of London's finest - we weren't the first to ask these two and they only became more bemused when we rattled on about WWKIP - if you look at the scarf you can see that I'm desperately trying to add length by shoving in a lace section - it does grow more quickly but it's harder to do while you're walking.

And a little alphabet game with some iconic London Landmarks- June 090
P is for Parliament

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U is for Underground
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R is for Railway Station
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L is for Lions

We had a similar game to play with Treasure to bring home but using KNIT - we got K is for Keyring and my personal bit of treasure:

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T is for Thimble - we quite rightly negotiated an extra point for something vaguely knitting related.

It's been a brilliant day and utterly bemused much of London, particularly when a group of several teams were clustered on the South Bank dressing statues and popping each others' balloons (sabotage encouraged, our balloon never made it as far as the photos!).

Here's hoping they do it next year - anyone else want to come?

Friday, June 13, 2008


I can confirm that the unconfirmed reports are now confirmed - H has found something that distracts me from knitting of an evening - he bought me the Lego Indiana Jones game for our Wii.

Now those in the know realise that I am not a computer gamey type of person; I sit and knit and tease the boys and they play Grand Theft Auto or Grand Tourismo or something else involving smashed up cars. I had a brief dalliance with Mario Kart but Indy seems to have hit the right note (I know this because I've already done the first six levels and H only gave it to me a week ago - he pre-ordered it as a surprise so I had it the day of the release). I'm claiming the moral high ground of course by saying that it appeals to my logic as a puzzle but it's really less highbrow and more like the squirrel working out how to get to the bird feeder. Whatever it is I love the tricks and H has given me the strategy guide as a present for the weekend - it's the thin end of a slippery slope!

There may be another factor of course - these last two weeks I have been stealthily knitting up H's birthday socks (they look great but you don't get to see them for another week). I've knit on the train, at Tuesday knit night and finished them off this evening as H has gone to a hockey festival for tomorrow. As he knows that (a) I knit socks on the train and (b) I finished the first sock almost a week ago he will not be convinced that my entire week's progress is 13 rounds of ribbing - even if it is 72 sts! If I'm playing on the Wii he won't see the knitting and the surprise will be safe. Actually, he's unlikely to be surprised that it's socks but I do have more than one skein in the stash with his name on it so it's a surprise as to which one he gets!

So, some knitting .... but not by me -

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this is my tiny wee sock in the latest round of the tiny wee sock- the theme was summer so this is beautiful dark shady trees under a hot blue sky - can you smell the pine resin yet? It came all the way from Long Beach California from Becka - I love it and it's going to look great on the Christmas tree!

The photo actually has a very summer theme going on - H's hockey team decided that their team shirts this year would be straight up Hawaiian shirts (which in case you were wondering are decidedly out of fashion this year). Having scoured Brum for this one (which I found in BHS) - I thought it could at the very least double up as a background for...
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Well you know what this is - another BSJ for a baby due in the middle of June - as far as I know he is still unborn so I've got a little time to finish - and a great knitting adventure to knit it on.

Tomorrow (by which I of course mean today) is World Wide Knit in Public Day so I'm going to London on a knitting treasure hunt - watch out for breaking news and far too many pictures later on but for now I've leave you with the scent of an English Country Garden:

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Sunday, June 08, 2008

Sunday is a day of rest

Apparently in this house that means work hard on things that you don't get paid for and when asked why you are doing something that makes you stressed, respond "But this is FUN!"

I spent this morning with my sewing machine and with the benefit of patchwork perspective, sewing a skirt seemed remarkably easy. I'm working my way through Sew Easy Skirts because I'm far too lanky for the ones in the shop.


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Is an A-line drawstring skirt - I drafted the pattern from the maths in the book - it has a drawstring casing at the front and a turned hem at the bottom, and then I stitched pale blue ric-rac to the hem so that it has a bumpy edge - I'm really pleased with it because it's a good length and really light for the summer - and if I eat too much ice-cream I can just let the waist out a little bit!!

And no, and please try not to be too shocked by this - you may have to sit down, we have actual pictures of actual genuine knitting actually knitted by me, actually.

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I have finished the first Mosaic sock. It could have a moss stitch diamond pattern along the top of the foot but I tried a bit and then decided that it just took away from the yarn - I don't think I've seen anyone in the Socktopus club do the pattern so maybe I'm not the only one that thought that. Anyway, seeing as it wasn't raining the sock came to pose with some flowers:
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One down, one to go - so I've cast on a Baby Surprise Jacket instead - oops

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Take Two

Patchwork is a discipline of the three Ps - Precision, Patience and Prozac. I'm working on the first, developing the second pretty quickly and desperately in need of the third.

However, I have had a very successful day at the sewing machine and cutting board, tackling the latest Stars and I have completed the Week 5 star which was giving me so much hassle last week. I still had to sew every seam at least four times and you can probably see the remains of the other threads that I haven't quite picked up.
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I think the change in fabric has helped too as the very pale blue in the original is quite flimsy and the points of the triangles kept getting pulled round while I was sewing them. This one is the right size and although I may loose a few of the outside points when I sew it up, I'm happy with it.

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Is version one of the Week 6 block. It was only when I took this photo that I notice how totally out the alignment is. I've taken it apart and rebuilt it so that all the lines are where they should be. It turned out that this time my technique was correct but my copying of the measurements from AmandaJean was total rubbish!

I'm not far off halfway now - there are 7 more stars and another 6 setting blocks to do before I can start to put it all together so here's some halfway-ish pictures:
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It's going to be a fantastic size for curling up on the sofa - H came to see it all laid out and his first response was "ooooh, I want one - hang on, I've got one", so I think any idea I may have had that it would be me curled up on the sofa are sadly delusional.

So here are my final Saturday thoughts on quilting (or patchwork really):

1 - I have to concentrate a lot harder than when I'm knitting.
2- Triangles = grrrrrrr
3- I love playing with all the fabrics from my stash
4 -It gets big very quickly
5 - this could get addictive

Watch out for more quilts coming soon! Actually I bought a copy of McCall's Scrap Quilts magazine the other day and I love just about all of the patterns in there - clearly geometric scrap quilts are my thing!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

The Animals went in two by two - hurrah

A tale of moos and roos!

I am now Very up to date in my Noah's Ark block of the month!

I finished the cows last night:
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And I love them, I don't know whether it's the rainbow or the flower in the mouth but it was this block that sealed the deal for me and I was helpless in its power, tied down by a tangle of coloured threads.

To cap it all, Lynette published month four today - two kangas to match my cows and bunnies and the solitary dove.

I'm embroidering these on 28 hpi evenweave because that's what was in the cupboard and picking colours that look right, rather than going for precisely what Lynette used - but it's no worse off for it.

The best thing that I have is my water soluble marking pen:
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Here are the kangas with the marking still in, it's that turquoise shadow you can see. And then 10 seconds under the tap:
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All gone - this marking was only on the fabric for a couple of hours so it isn't really a challenge but the cows were marked up for over a week with no ill effect.

I've now got another month until the next block comes out but in the meantime I have some quilting, some summer skirts to sew (and a new toy to play with), oh, and some knitting!

Monday, June 02, 2008

Trickling Sands

Over the last few weeks I have become convinced that in fact it is 2007. I write in on office forms, I scribble it on the top of my notes before they go on the file (in date order and become irretrievably lost). My totally unscientific conclusion is that my subconscious (my conscious isn't bothered at all) is resisting the aging process ; if it's only 2007 then I'm only going to be 27 in a couple of weeks, rather than the more matronly 28. But today I realised that some things will never change, and in my heart of hearts I will always secretly be 6.

The proof:
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(please notice also the stripe on one knee)
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This is how I came home today - there's also a small smut on one cheek and a blue blob up by my hair but some things just don't need to be seen!

However, blue fingered I am, I have also been knitting:
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I've not only started a fire, I've finished it too (I bet Prodigy never did that!)
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These are knitted exactly to the pattern (a rarity for me) and the fit is perfect.
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The photographs are not, due to rain, gloom, rain and more rain interspersed with very humid weather so that I haven't worn socks in weeks - although I do like this one:
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Pink socks - from Orange yarn - and they say the camera never lies!

The latest sock is addictive:
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This the product of today's commute, extended by a trip to London on the train and I'm finding it rather hard to put down (I keep knitting a little bit and then blogging and then knitting a bit more!). It's the latest Socktopus Sock Club sock - called Mosaic for obvious reasons.
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The pattern suggests that a circular needle would work well but as I'm a DPNs king of girl (and on a train for most of today's knitting time) I've put all the live stitches on a bit of waste yarn and left the sewing needle on one end - as I move round between the blocks I pick the just knitted stitches off the needle with the sewing needle and pick the new ones up with a spare DPN - so far it's working pretty well.

And finally, I leave you with a picture of brotherly harmony from the weekend:
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Tophy on the left (a perfect fit I might add) and H on the right. We took Tophy on a trip to Mecca on Saturday and he's picked out yarn for his second pair in a colour that will give H a run for his money! I'd better get knitting