Thursday, February 28, 2008

Buttons, buttons and more buttons

On Tuesday night I had the perfect time being talked out of small star shaped buttons, little fish, little ladybirds etc for my oh so stylish Tangled Yoke. Clearly my subconscious was yearning for some sort of regression to the halcyon days of star shaped buttons but common sense/the girls stepped in and I choose these:

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Pretty little mother of pearl squares - they don't detract from the yoke and they do shimmer and pick up the flecks of white in the tweedy yarn.
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They are also all sewn on now. I consider this to be a great achievement for a bear of very little brain.
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I know that for this week at least I am a bear of very little brain because it is only now (Thursday lunchtime) that I realise why small square mother of pearl buttons are familiar - I have seven of them on the front of my work cardigan. The cardigan I was wearing on Tuesday while I chose the buttons - D'oh.

And falling neatly in line with the in for a penny in for a pound theory:

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I sewed on my coat button. I would like to you think that this was an entirely voluntary action motivated by the desire not to appear as if my sartorial reference point was a third world refuge but in truth I got an e-mail. Actually I got it twice. Once in each mail box:

"Have you sewn the button back onto your coat? Loved the tangle. Mum"

Monday, February 25, 2008

Early Morning Light

One of the things that really defines the end of winter is that week when suddenly it's properly light in the morning when we get up. Last week we were still on pre-dawn glow; this morning there was sunshine (yes I do have to get up that early!).

The plus of early morning sunshine is of course the prospect of sneaking in a few daylight pictures before the commute calls:
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this disadvantage is that you are far too asleep to notice that the front of your cardigan is curling inelegantly inwards until you load the pictures onto the computer several house later and actually take a look! Less tangled yoke, more like tangled brain!
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Anyway, the long and the short of the story is that my Tangled Yoke is nearly finished - all I need now are nine little buttons and a bit of sewing on time (we will not speculate on how long that might be given that I popped a coat button on 2nd Feb and it's still sat in my stitch marker pot waiting to be sewn back on - sorry Mum)

I think I recovered from overtaxing my brain with the cable pattern, and certainly by Saturday I was in a good mood with the cardigan, I even stayed up late to finish the neckband on Saturday night working on the idea that I could knit the button bands, go to town to choose the buttons and have time to start some new train knitting on Sunday.

Three guesses what I did on Sunday morning? Actually you don't need three - you know the tale is going to involve frogging at some point, this has always been a two steps forward one step back kind of project - I tried the cardigan on on Sunday morning and the front button band pretty much hit me in the chin, even with the short rows in the back.

I ripped back until about an inch above the cable pattern and then did some hefty short rows; over the next ten rows I came in 31 sts on each side and then did the back neck shaping as written in the pattern. I'm really glad I did because it fits so much better now.

I will choose my buttons tomorrow and at some point we can have a little photo shoot and I will post proper FO pictures. For now here's another bit of the cabling:
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This is probably the truest colour - it's Rowan Felted Tweed in Herb
I've spent the evening playing with a little train knitting - any guesses what colour it is?

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Sunglasses advisible

I'm certain various health authorities would recommend that you do not look directly at the photos in this post, please try to find one of those eclipse viewers from the late nineties - it's probably crumpled at the back of the kitchen drawer. Alternatively, you will be safe if you view through your car sunroof. Consider yourself warned.

Mandy advised me to try something soft, colourful and soothing as a remedy for the aptly named tangled yoke - and I always follow advice which implores me to knit more!

The last time I showed you H's sock it was Saturday and I had a little foot, about the size of my hand. It is possible that I have been knitting like a mad thing instead of taking progress pictures for they now (and yes there is a they) look like this:
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Two finished Mardi Gras socks and I can say with some certainty (and a hint of singed retina) that these will see off all winter blues! H loves them.
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After this I have no fear of ever knitting a pair of socks that he will deem "too bright for boys" - he choose the yarn and couldn't be happier with the result. I know this because after the photo shoot when I looked for the socks to pop in his sock drawer I found that they were here:

Keeping someone's feet warm under the end of the quilt and I don't think they are coming out for a while!

The yarn is Colinette Jitterbug Mardi Gras (with a smigin of STR Dragons Dance to give me enough yarn to complete the bind off!) and the socks were knit toe up starting with 12 sts on each of two needles, increasing to a total of 68. I did 65 rounds of the foot and then a short row heel over 40sts working to a minimum of 10 unwrapped stitches in the middle. The leg has 46 rounds in stst and then 9 rounds of 2x2 rib and a sewn bind off.
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As I said, I have no leftovers, this pair of socks for a UK size 10/11 foot is all you will get out of a skein of Jitterbug.

I hope you all feel considerably more cheerful looking at them - such is the power of these socks that they actually sparked a conversation on the Tube today (we're English, such things do not usually happen). As I zipped round and round the leg of the second sock I completely failed to notice a couple of builders watching me from where they stood nearby until I wrapped it all up just before my stop; "Don't stop", said a voice, "you're making my journey go so much quicker - it's very soothing watching you". I grinned and they asked if I was making a scarf (seriously - it looked pretty much like a sock at this point!) so I explained and we talked about how long it would take to make the pair. One guy remarked that it would be quicker to go to Primark and buy a pair and his mate replied in shock "you can't say that - look at it!".

You can't get colours like this at Primark and I think somewhere in London there is a builder with a burgeoning inner knitter - keep your eyes peeled for balls of yarn dangling off construction sites!

To and fro and for again

This evening I was going to be terribly organised - I was going to blog, with pictures, and show you how the yoke of my tangled yoke was coming along; by the lack of pictures you should correctly ascertain that all has not gone to plan.

I have spent the evening in pretty much the same spot of the knitting:

take 1: re-knit the row I knit wrongly last night and pulled out before I went to bed

take 2: start the next cable row and realise (about 50 sts in) that you missed out one of the increases on the previous row. Tink back, carefully uncabling all those lovely crossed stitches.

take 3: correctly put in the increase and knit to the end of the row. Start the next row and about 50sts in realise that your stitch count is still wrong and you had therefore made equally opposite mistakes on take 2.

take 4: count, count, count again; count every section between every stitch marker. Eventually accept that somehow despite the stitch count being perfect on the previous row, one stitch is missing.

take 5: create an extra stitch to fix the stitch count (shh)

take 6: knit almost to the end of the row. Realise that something went rather wrong shortly after the middle of the row as I now have far too many stitches (and no, nothing to do with that little extra one).

take 7: frown, eat consoling cherry fromage frais, break own personal rule of not leaving work untinked if it needs it and sculk off to the internet to share my woes with the people who (along with my husband) will truly appreciate the pain.

take 8: note to self that attention span whilst well developed is not everlasting - perhaps complicated cable charts that have used every stitch marker I own (including the ones I don't like and a paperclip) might not be the thing to knit after a long day at work.

H's socks are looking good though - I've got to the heel flap and I'll try to post pictures soon!

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mapping your toes?

H's Mardi Gras socks continue to astonish me. I have now knit almost one sock and the toe and a bit of the second and they both have these wonderful pooling stripes. What is particularly impressive is that they swirl in opposite directions. Don't ask me how - the knitter, the stitch count and the needles have all remained the same and I refuse to believe that I knit that differently when it's ridiculously cold and my fingers are all pink and white.

The swirls are starting to look like one of those multicoloured weather maps - pink and bright green for the big rain storms and red and blue for the warm and cool fronts perhaps?

I would share pictures but it's late and dark so for now you'll just have to use your imagination!

I've also started the cabled yoke on my Tangled Yoke - it was going pretty well until I realised that I should have been increasing all the way across the last purl row and I need to tink back - being the woman that I am I'm hiding on the internet instead but I have to go and face the music now!


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Time for a little something different

It is perhaps inevitable that someone who is this much of a colour magpie could stick to just the one discipline; why just knit when there are so many pretty fabrics to play with; more than you would want to hide in a bag lining?

I am a very novice quilter, yet for all that I have a lovely embrio stash and many dreams just waiting for "when I have the time". In order to move some of these projects from pipe dream to something to curl up under I was delighted to find that Quilter's Den (a relatively new addition to Warwick) was offering workshops as although I can see how a quilt fits together in theory, putting the whole thing into practice is a bit more of a challenge.

Today's half day workshop was beginner Log Cabin quilts, held in their little sewing room next to the main shop. For 2.5 hours I learnt a huge amount in terms of cutting and piecing techniques, mainly the fact that a quarter inch foot for my sewing machine would be a really useful aid in my trying to sew quarter inch seams! The project was to make four little log cabins to combine however you liked - what I had never realised was that you could make all 4 at once, rather than each tiny one individually - it's so much quicker the new way!

I took along a bundle of fat quarters that I bought in New England on a summer holiday several years ago - the theme of the bundle is gingerbread men and the fabrics all tie in, or are checks that match. So here are my four blocks (mostly done in the class and then finished off at home):

That is the way that the class project was laid out but they just ask to be played around with - you could have them like this:

Or this:

Or this:

If you look carefully at the cream you can see the gingerbread men and their gingerbread house and even a pot of ginger:
My final version:
A pinwheel - with added borders (the pattern is wonky check - it isn't my cutting by the way) to pick up on the centre square which otherwise gets rather lost in the green gingerbread men. This fabric comes from the same bundle and I'm planning to use it as backing to my square which is going to be - well just a quilted square. I'll call it a table mat if I'm feeling adventurous.

There are two things that I am particularly proud of - one is this:

The centre join with a gingerbread man peeping out to say hello, and the other is this:
For a beginner I think that's pretty much a square.

I feel the signs of another addiction coming on...... if only I could figure out a way to warp time so that I could do more quilting/knitting/embroidery/sewing and H could do more sport/painting and we both could do less work - the lottery it is! It might help if I actually bought a ticket though - hmm that could be why we never win.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

A cure for the winter blues

I should hasten to add that today has been yet another peerless crisp clear blue winter's day - the sun has shone, the laundry has dried, the daffodils outside the front door still threaten to bloom through the frost, I felt sufficiently joyful to wash the kitchen floor etc etc. I have had sufficient sunlight and green things exposure that I cannot claim the blues as a need to hibernate in a corner with my knitting, fiercly waiting for better weather.

However, if you are still surrounded by grey clouds, deep damp chill and, dare I add it, SNOW, well first of all please send some of the snow to me. Please carefully parcelwrap the snow - after all I do live in England and therefore I know what rain looks like - and send it to:

The I-wanted-to-be-a-polar-but-now-I'm-just-grisly Bear
Wannabe-in-an-Igloo House
The least snowy village in Warwickshire

All damp offerings gratefully received.

Getting back to the point - I may just have the thing to brighten up your winter days - imagine yourself a little bit of Jazz, a little bit of dancing, a carnival even; maybe a Jitterbug?

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That is side 1 of the start of H's socks and this is side 2:
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They're toe-up (obviously!) and I'm going to put in a short row heel at the appropriate point so when I get there H will choose which side he wants on the top of his foot. At the moment that's the side with the blue and pink strip but as all the colours are doing a slow spiral around the foot at the moment we'll just have to wait and see.

It's funny that neither of my other pairs of Jitterbug socks have spiralled but I have smaller feet. It seems that a Mardi Gras spiral starts at 68sts with loosish gauge!

Of course had I started making them the Tuesday before last it would all be terribly appropriate but you can't win them all!

Although my deep and unrelenting passion for green knitwear remains - well, deep and unrelenting, it appears that the rainbow is creeping into a few other little bits and bobs.
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This is part of what I can only describe as an interpretive dance of a relatively well known pattern; my version being made out of remains of Rowan cotton glace and 4ply cotton found in the stash. I was aiming for large baby sized as a possibly gift for the early April baby with the idea that it would fit over the summer but I think I'm verging on substantial toddler.

All I know is that:

1, babies grow;
2, one day this will fit a child;
3, that state of affairs will admittedly last only for about 30 mins before he or she grows out of it;
4, the yarn came from the stash and is mostly remainders of my Smoulder cardigan in a different order. This means that by extrapolation Kaffe Fasset chose the colours!
5, I'm enjoying making it - and that's really all that matters

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Cosy Toes

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It seems only appropriate to finish my red Serendipity socks on Valentine's day!
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As I was sat knitting on the train home it struck me that these had been a very fast little knit until I realised just how much time I've spent on the train recently - if you work on the basis that in the last week it has taken me almost 2 hours to get to work on 3 or 4 days, add a trip to London and a little bit of time correcting mistakes over the weekend perhaps it isn't that surprising - I've just had double the usual amount of train sock knitting time this week.
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Pattern: Ninereed's Serendipity from the Rockin Sock Club 2008
Yarn: STR Lightweight in Dragons Dance
Needles : 2.25mm - medium size
Started: 6 Feb 2008
Finished: 14 Feb 2008

Result: smiles all round!
What is certainly true is that I love these socks - I can really see why people rave about Socks that Rock and I'm so glad we have our own UK equivalent in Jitterbug (STR comes in longer lengths though - a note to Colinette!).

I've still got a good chunk of yarn left over as well as the emergency keyring so I think we'll be seeing these stripes again some day!
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I am off to enjoy a delicious steak and chips lovingly prepared by my husband - who also has cosy feet!
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Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Knitting an Amoeba

One of my friends is very clever. Actually I think most of them are very clever but this friend has shown particular skill and organisation at a difficult time. What is it that she has achieved that is so marvellous to my travel-worn and weary little self? She has arranged things so that she will not be commuting to Birmingham during the train disruption (all hail!).

Many people might consider that she merely chose this as the appropriate moment in her life to produce her first child but I know, I have shared squashed and squeezed train journies with her, sat on the floor of the Virgin train vestibule knitting away and happily discussing a pair of socks named Bob and Sebastian and which was being naughtier at the time (we got some great looks that morning) and so I know that it was with a deep desire to thwart the train companies that she decided that a baby due next week would be the perfect thing!
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Of course all such efforts of ingenuity must be rewarded with knitwear for the infant-to-be and so last week my stress relieving knitting was the garter stitch joy of a baby surprise jacket:
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It starts off looking rather like a mitered corner rectangle and then it just gets crazy!
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This is the finished amoeba (sorry), knitwear; pre-folding! I asked H to make it into a jacket shape for me and after several fruitless minutes he declared that it was not a jacket, it was swaddling. He's just been reading over my shoulder and says that it now looks like a taco!

Happily for the baby he was wrong!
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Sunday afternoon I had a little raid of my button box - my button box has a huge variety of wonderful shapes of buttons but rarely a set of anything so I was very pleased to find these fish buttons in a variety of colours and just enough to pick out the yellow and the turquoise in the jacket.
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My model thought he looked rather smart but I'm sure the baby will look much cuter.
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And my friend's response? "It's a Baby Surprise Jacket with the shoulder seams sewn!" - Praise indeed.

Actually the seams were rather fun because there's no shaping on baby shoulders - you start off like this:
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Give it a little tug and it all looks like this:
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A very satisfying sort of magic!

For enquiring minds who might want to know, the yarn is Regia 6ply square in colour 1125 which I have a funny feeling might be called circus - it's certainly cheerful for a winter's day!something

Monday, February 11, 2008

Red Swirls

Red is

the colour of all the traffic lights on the way to the station this morning
the colour of half the seats on the train
the colour of the passengers fingers and cheeks as we waited in the biting cold for a heavily delayed train.
the colour of my lunchtime soup.
the colour of the files I keep the court orders in
the colour of my eyes on a bleary early start
the colour of a court seal and the judge's robes
the colour of Icarus and my Jaywalkers
the colour of a Port marker beacon out by the rocks at the entrance to the harbour down south
the colour of the peppers and tomatoes in our curry


the colour of Serendipity!

I am turning the heel on the first sock and the spiral stripe continues to be slow and steady and vibrant. When not being totally mucked around by the train company (whose clever idea it was to close a track for 2 weeks so we can only travel by the 2 unreliable trains every hour rather than having 5 or 6 to choose from) I'm making great progress and the colours are deep enough to fall into. No pictures tonight but we'll see how much further I get on a few more train trips tomorrow!

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Empty Sock Needles?

Come on! You know me better than that - no sooner were Dad's socks finished than I cast on for the next pair, and these are a real treat all the way from across the pond.

Yes indeedy, my name is Cariemay, my Dragon is Ninereeds and he's started to dance to the tune of the Rockin Sock Club :)
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This yarn is beautifully dyed - this isn't the best picture ever as I took it on a whim as I had the yarn out to wind but it has that wonderful progression from mushed strawberries and clotted cream right though blood red and out to the colour of an Oxford hood. Being somewhat infatuated with saturated colours and this being one of my favourite reds I'm very happy sitting oooing this yarn.

I can't find out very much about my dragon through - rumour has it he is something to do with Terry Pratchett novels but I've not got further than that - anyone else know?

When you start to knit, the colours spiral, red vs strawberry/brick stripes and that's where the fun comes in - choosing the right needles and size to get striping that you like and a pair that fits.

I started doing the large on 2.25mm needles but although I liked the striping it was very clear that with my tension (or lack thereof) the sock would be far too large and I like a good chunk of negative ease.
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The current incarnation is the medium, still on 2.25mm and the fit looks good. The stripes have been giving me cause for concern, although the side in the picture above has a nice leisurely spiral the other side looks like this:
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and I was a bit worried that it would break up into stripy chunks. This afternoon I finished off a pattern repeat and I think I've got back into that nice spiral again. Fingers crossed because the next option is to break out the 2.0mms and go back to a large - eeek!

If you've been reading for a while you'll know that my oldest UFO is not knitting but a cross stitch destined for my SIL. It's a central picture surrounded by a border with plenty of beads, metalic thread and backstitch and I am determined to have it finished for her 30th birthday next November. The centre stitching is done as well as the top border and the top left corner; when all the stitching is done I'll need to go back over the whole piece to do the beads, metallics and backstitch and at that point I'll also put it on a big tapestry frame - a moving hoop will squash the beads and the metalics unless I'm really careful hence they get left until then end.

In the interests of finishing in time to have it framed before November I fished out the stitching bag this afternoon and made a little house with a garden and a bit of blue dream sky; a bit like this:
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Maybe when it's finished you can see the whole picture - for now it's just teasers.

All in all it has been a rejuvinating weekend - it was wonderfully sunny which always helps, I didn't feel like I was about to die after my gym class and this afternoon I discovered that Sky Arts was showing the Barber of Seville - oh and things are begining to grow in my garden - I feel spring in the air!
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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Birthday Surprises

And only 7 days late!! Yes, my long suffering father finally has his birthday present!

I finished knitting on Wednesday night, posted on Thursday and last night had a lovely telephone conversation with a set of toastie toes! I have been bursting to share this knitting with you all because it is one of those rare examples of knitting kismet when you find the perfect yarn and the perfect pattern and it all fits together wonderfully.

So that, with much ta da!
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Dad's Start Point socks.

The pattern is the Lighthouse Gansey socks from the Winter Knitty and they do look a bit like a lighthouse - it isn't so clear in the top picture but if you shift them round like this:
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You can see the ribbed roof, the lantern chamber with the angled crystal to maximise the light, the rail walk below and then more ribbing for the tower itself. If you've ever been in a lighthouse lantern chamber you will recognise the way the shards are angled:
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The yarn is Arucania Ranco - I don't know what colourway as I sent the label to Dad as a "I-am-knitting-your-present-you-can-have-it-as-soon-as-I've-finished" voucher. When I saw the pattern in Knitty I could see a smokey blue yarn with a little haziness - the colour of early morning sky on the sea and as soon as I walked into the Purveyor of Pretty Things there it was hanging over the window.

I was telling this story to the happy recipient last night and he knew it was his colour as soon as he opened the parcel.

Start Point is the name of the nearest lighthouse (to the parents; I live about as far from the sea as you can get in England) and I did contemplate incorporating some sort of lighting system so that it would flash 3 every 10 but I think it would have been rather uncomfortable.

I have requested a modelled picture to share as they look much better on. Note to father - if you can get a shot with the lighthouse in the background so that we can compare similarities go for it!

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Icarus takes flight

Fortunately the weather on Satruday was suitable to allow Icarus outside without fear of melting:
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Look, snow (well sort of - you have to work with what you can get!).

What I got was a beautiful blue sky and gorgeous sunshine for a photo shoot at home:
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And look at the wing!
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The wedding was beautiful if chilly so I was glad to have the extra warmth:

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Hope you all had a good weekend!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Catching up (spoiler warning)

Every time life steps up a gear and blogging takes a back seat for a while I look at the dashboard and wonder how on earth it's been that long since I last posted. It's been so long I don't really know where to start to catch up; do I tell you that the potted palm trees outside a certain Warwickshire railway station have had their trunks decorated with apples and bananas so that they appear to be fruit bearing? that in the window of a recruitment agency on Chancery Lane are seven knitted owl-barristers and two owl-judges? that last weekend we opened our last box of Christmas chocolates
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and that this is not so much a sign of our restraint as H's impresssive ability to purchase most of Hotel Chocolat? or tell you of the blizzard that swept through Birmingham this afternoon two and a half minutes after a colleague e-mailed the team to announce that as it was February and as it wasn't raining we should all go for a drink after work!

But actually there's only really one place to start and that's with the yarn, and surefire evidence that it is not just me that falls down in yarn shops!

Last weekend I popped into Web of Wool to collect a little something for a certain someone's birthday and another little something for a certain someone's birthday. I was going to be good, restrained and aware of the lovely Christmas yarn waiting at home. This would have worked but my lovely H twisted his ankle playing football a week ago and was off sport for the weekend ("playing football" I take to mean that he and the opposition viciously tackled each other at the same time!) so I took him with me...

"What colour would [xxxxx] like?" I asked; "ooh I like this one"
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came the response. "What does this knit up like?". I dutifully removed my shoe and showed him the Azure Blue Parrot; "I'd like these please!".

We chose the certain someone's yarn, collected the other certain someone's yarn and then the little voice popped up again; "now, where's the black sock yarn? I need some socks I can wear to work!"

A recent laundry crisis relating to too much time at work and insufficient proximity to the washing machine suggested to H that he should wear his handknit socks to work (where they were duly admired). Now he wants some slightly tamer ones for formal days, hence the black - who needs Marks & Spencer when you've got a wife that knits?!

Work has, as I said, been a tad on the crazy side this week; to the extent that yesterday and today I wasn't entirely sure what day of the week it was any more, just that it involved trains. Yesterday was the final outburst of energy, burning up pure adreneline to get the job finished (for the moment, cue hollow laughter).

I arrived home last night to a cryptic note from ParcelForce - they had left a package in the summerhouse. We don't have a summer house, or at least, we didn't when I went to work. It had been VERY windy during the day so I casually peered out into the darkened garden, wondering if perhaps one had landed, Wizard-of-Oz style, complete with package.

Fortunately it hadn't so I investigated the shed. I give great credit to the man from ParcelForce for describing our shed with a glass panelled door as a summerhouse, I feel he may have a promising career as an estate agent! In the shed I could make out a square brown box and when I brought it inside it looked like this:
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When you open it a little bit further it looks like this:
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OK enough teasing for now:
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This is shipment No 1 from the 2008 Rockin Sock Club from Blue Moon Fiber Arts. I contemplated joining last year, didn't and then rather wished I had so this year I wasn't holding back and I'm not disappointed:
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Beautifully soft yarn called Dragons Dance to celebrate Chinese New Year and the Serendipity sock pattern - I can't wait to cast on and the emergency sock key ring works out pretty well as a comfort/stress toy. The folder has lots of useful sock information, size conversion charts etc and places to note down sizes for your family and friends - I can't wait to cast on!

This is my first touch of STR and the fans have not underestimated it; it is almost indistinguishable from Jitterbug which is a favourite sock yarn. The advantage of STR is the skein is 128g, plenty for the giant feet of this 6' amazon.

The other problem with manic working is that it cuts into the time for manic knitting - bit of a problem when you desperately want to finish a shawl to wear to a wedding on Saturday. Icarus has now been knit at home, at Tuesday night knitting, on a variety of different brand trains (but not the tube) and most impressivly in the Masters waiting chamber at the Royal Courts of Justice (I had half an hour to wait for a judge to come back from his lunch).

Yesterday as I got home I was at the end of the final chart and it looked a little bit like this:
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If I said the rows had got long by that point it was nothing on the final four edging rows and the cast off; simple rows but with close to 600 stitches it was a time consuming job. Unblocked it looked like this
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and after staying up far later than I should have done to block it, it looked like ... actually, I'm not going to reveal all just now, the wedding is tomorrow when I will try to get some daylight photos and at the moment it's still on the blocking wires on the spare bedroom floor.

Well ok, you can have a peek:
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And finally, an apology. All the manic working and manic knitting mean that my Christmas hubris (and early finishing) has come back to bite me. Today is my father's birthday and his present is not yet finished. So instead, and as a stop gap until I finish and post it ( Royal Mail not blog), I can do no better than to give a Birthday blog toast:

To my darling Dad, clifftop walk companion, sandcastle builder extraordinaire, and the man whose infectious smile I inherited: HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!