Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Playing catch up

Hello! Remember me? Hmm, yes, well I had no real intention of blog-fading but the crazy busy that was the beginning of April turned into the crazy busy that was and still is the whole of April and probably May too!

I was seriously tempted just to post: "I'm back. Alive and well. Tired now. Bye bye sleep" at one point but by popular demand (Mandy and my Mum) I'm back with the mother of all updates.

So ..... where did we leave off - I suspect it may have been Easter. Easter looked like this:

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And shortly afterwards it looked like this:

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Shrink plastic boiled egg wrappers are a wonderful invention - and I still have a strip left for next year!

I also got out the latest in my infamous collection of wonderful cake tins - acquired from Williams Sonoma in Florida before Christmas and nursed home in a suitcase straining at the seams of the weight allowance and stuffed with yarn.

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Two halves of lemon sponge cake, sandwiched together with lemon zest buttercream icing, drenched in melted honey and lemon and then drizzled with lemon icing - it's a good job it isn't quite the season for bees because this was sticky and wonderful and didn't last long - now all I need are little icing bees like the picture on the front of the tin label!

Easter seems a really long time ago now! Most of my time since then has been taken up with either work or looking after H who, with the spirit of timeliness characteristic of my family, was inspired while playing hockey to deflect a teammate's shot on goal that looked to be going wide of the mark, not with his hockey stick, so much as with his right hand ring finger backed up with his stick.

Oddly enough in the battle between carbon fibre stick, solid lump of plastic travelling at around 150mph and H's finger, it was the finger that lost. Cue trip to A&E.

His finger is now well on the mend and the skin graft needed to patch it all up is healing nicely but he has spent a week being able to do absolutely nothing for himself, and the last few days being able to do only a little something - so I have been spending time opening things before dashing off to work and then dashing home again. My parents-in-law came down for part of last week to keep him company which was great - and they cooked us a wonderful roast beef supper for our wedding anniversary!

In all of this crazy there has been a little knitting. The soft grey-blue sock that was a little camera shy the last time I posted has been finished - they (for there are two) are the Over the Garden Wall Socks, the second kit of this year's Socktopus Sock Club. April 090
The pattern has you knit a relatively plain sock (but with a funky heel) and then knit icord vines up the trellis section in the sock, complete with flower buds

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and peas in the pod

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The yarn is Artists Palette Yarns Sweet Feet and it is luscious - soft and bouncy and cool and I love it.
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The second finished knit that got as far as the picture stage is this little man:
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May I introduce you to Ferdy - knit from Ysolda's Elephant pattern in Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino; a Christmas present from my SIL. I don't know why he's called Ferdy, he very nearly got called Walsgrave which is where the hospital is in Coventry, but he put his paw down on that one and told us he was Ferdy.
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I can't rate the pattern highly enough; it was easy to follow, very clear and the finished product looks like the one in the picture without having to be any kind of toy making genius, and there is a definite plus in not having to sew up tiny fiddly little limbs which never end up quite balanced when you sew them onto the body!
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I finished Ferdy as H sat watching a football match and decided that he wasn't quite complete without a football scarf - some scraps of cream baby cashmerino and STR mediumweight and he's a true Celtic Elephant (or possibly Plymouth Argyle, Yeovil Town or North Ferriby United - it's up to him!). H thinks he's very cute and I take a childish joy in setting Ferdy up each morning as if he has been up to something in the night - playing on the playstation, watching telly, playing cards etc - for when H comes down later on after I've gone to work!

I have more tales to tell, mainly about the wonder that is Wonderwool Wales, but for now au revoir but not goodbye! I leave you with more tulip pictures that show how the uncharacteristic classy pale ivory start to the Dutch Appreciation Society has reverted to a more Carie-esque colour palette!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

What day is it again?

Well I know that at one point earlier this week it was Monday and I went to work. And then there was a lot of work and a very tiny bit of sleeping, and some more work and some takeaway dinner, and now I think it is Saturday and I'm very happy that I'm not at work.

I also yawn. A lot.

In the crazy marathon that was last week there have been a few fibre-related activities (mostly on a train). First through the finish line was not a project as such, but the means to a project:
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This is 386 yards of 3-ply Polworth; the first instalment of the Socktopus Fibre Academy (SoFA).

I divided the original 100g of fibre into three equal bumps and spun it worsted-ish style on my Sonata with a decent amount of twist before plying all three together. As is always the way, despite careful division involving the use of digital scales, one bobbin's worth ended up shorter than the others so I navajo-plied the rest which is why there is one big skein and a couple of little ones!
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It turned out about 4ply-weight which is exactly what I was aiming for - yippee. Here's a random thought - is Navajo plied yarn usually thinner than ordinary 3-ply, or is it just that I'm always Navajo plying the bobbin that didn't run out which has always been spun thinner than the other two? I suspect the latter!

I should have enough yarn for my planned project - Robin from Kim Hargreaves' Thrown Together but I'm just slightly worried that it might look like a brownie hat - what do you think?

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Finishing yarn clearly results in a bout of casting-on-itis - this time in blue!

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We have socks:

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(Vanilla pattern, knit during Fast and Furious at the cinema last night)

More socks:

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The second Socktopus Club Project - in a yarn that I love and with hidden surprises.

And this:
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4ply hand dyed Shetland lambswool - colour Ben Cruachan (after the mountain), which is trying to be the very beautiful Blue Gentian scarf, and I think probably failing so I suspect this is destined for the frog pond. Does anyone have any good ideas for 94g of 4ply (the 100g label being rather overly optimistic!)

And now, as it is Easter, we have signs of new life everywhere. H assures me that the tulips have been out all week, but I only got to see them for the first time yesterday:


Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 05, 2009

In which there are socks

The wonderful thing about tiggers

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Is tiggers are wonderful things!

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Their tops are made out of rubber

Their bottoms are made out of springs!

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They're bouncy, trouncy, flouncy, pouncy

Fun, fun, fun, fun, fun!

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But the most wonderful thing about tiggers is

I'm the only one

I-I-I'm , the only...

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How do I get down now?

All of which is another way of saying that I finished a pair of socks for H:
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Tigger socks, in Opal Rainforest 1617. I wanted some of this yarn for H when it first came out but missed it when it was discontinued so when they brought it back again I snagged it straight away!

These are 72st socks to my standard pattern (20 rounds of 2x2 rib, 60 rounds for the cuff and a square toe to finish off). The one change to normal was the short row heel. I started out with a heel flap heel but, as you see
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It just didn't look right, it interrupted the stripes and I've yet to see a Tiger whose stripes go at right angles to each other so I pulled back and short rowed down to 14 sts and back.

And speaking of Pooh - this is Piglet

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Our garden hedgehog, newly christened!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Good Evening Ladies and Gentlemen

This is your captain speaking. Unfortunately I am afraid to report that our service today has been hijacked by the Scottish Tourist Board who have taken command of this blog armed with a spring of heather and a very pointy thistle and have removed all of our pointy sticks, leaving us utterly at their mercy.

They assure me that their intentions are peaceable and that if you all just sit still nicely and look at some pretty pictures of Scotland, all will be well; no stitches will be dropped, no needles will be broken and there will be no unnecessary frogging.

They are accompanied by a strange wee beastie with two legs shorter than the other (ideally adapted for standing on the side of hills I should think) so I'm not inclined to mess with them.

The UK is know for many things but ski resorts don't come very high on that list. However, the Nevis Ranges above Fort William is a genuine, real snow, ski resort; so we had to go and have a look:

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You can walk up the mountain; or you can just take the cable car! It's an amazing ride up; it starts off on quite a gentle incline and then suddenly hits a corner and you start to soar upwards (while secretly keeping one eye on the cable connection above you, because really it is only held there by will power and prayer, particularly when you go over a join)
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The cable car takes you about half way up the mountain and the first thing you see is snow! It is entirely possibly that the writer, in her eagerness to touch the snow, headed directly up the hill by means of a concealed puddle of melty mud that may have left a permanent impression on her shoes, but we shall gloss over that.

Given that it was the middle of March at the time, this is pretty much the end of the season and most of the lower ski runs were just grass and slush but you could still see the higher runs up the hill and there were a good few people out with snowboards.
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There are two 'official' viewpoints a short hike away, the first went towards the mountain we'd all been waiting for; Ben Nevis (or rather, the north shoulder of Ben Nevis) - highest mountain in the UK and awe-inspiringly beautiful.
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We could also look down on Loch Linnie and Fort William far far below.

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We had the viewpoint to ourselves and took the opportunity to dabble in a little 'flying'

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Here the cameraman located approximately on my feet records me soaring up the valley behind Ben Nevis;

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While H dives down for a look into the valley below!

The second viewpoint looks out to the the great unexplored (by us) North
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And the creatively named Loch Lochy
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Someday we'll have to go back when there's more snow; the family went up at Christmas and went tobogganing which must have been brilliant.

I have been knitting, when not dreaming of moving to Scotland and becoming a self-sufficient ice-cream and yarn farmer, and our regular schedule of mishaps and miracles will resume soon!