Monday, 19 October 2009

Is it just me...

... or does anyone else thinks this looks very weird?

Flying objects

There was a moment this evening when the seconds stood still. I'd put away some very slow-going, very important knitting that I've been doing for several months, folding it carefully into a neat pile while I had my supper.

Since I am in decadent holiday-week mode, supper was a piece of (rather crispy) pizza balanced on a plate on my lap on the sofa. Just as I tried to cut into the crust the whole thing skidded off the plate and flew across the room ... straight into the tall paper carrier bag where I'd put the knitting.

It was a few moments before I could bear to look inside.

The relief: it had landed face up and the knitting was safe. Phew.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Prize time...

I saw my first conker of the year on the ground this week. Autumn is setting in again, with a wonderful deep heat and low light. This signals that I have passed one year of having a blog. That must mean I have a bloggiversary. Does that mean I am a 'real' blogger? Who knows...

I feel that now that I might be edging towards being a person-with-a(n occasional)-blog it is time for a competition. Yesterday I went to see Julie & Julia. It had mixed reviews but I don't really care about them as it provided escapism, diversion and self-indulgence, and lots of pictures of food. It also included some knitting.

So, the competition:

Where is the knitting in Julie & Julia?

All correct answers will receive a prize.

Email me or leave a comment here. Not all prizes will be knitting related, just in case there are non-knitting people out there.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009


It's quite lucky that I do not live near Windsor Button in Boston. Their collection of silk organza ribbons takes up an enormous rack. Such beautiful colours. Such temptation.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Buttons from Boston

There are very few advantages to finding myself in A&E and then in bed ill for a fortnight when I was instead supposed to be on a fortnight's holiday from work. One good thing was the opportunity to play with treasures found during my New England visit. Buttons galore.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009


There comes a moment in conversations when I 'confess' to my big secret.

In the last few days I have found myself revealing to two separate people that I knit.

Conversation 1:

Man 1: 'You knit?....' [man physically recoils in his seat, and scrunches up his face]...'Do you have cats?'

Me: 'No... why?'

Man 1: 'Well, it goes with the image, doesn't it?'
[if it's possible for anyone to recoil right out of the room, at this point he would have done.]

Conversation 2:

Man 2: 'That ball of wool... do you knit, or is it a plaything for a mischievous cat?'

Me: 'It's mine... I like knitting.'

Man 2: 'Really? ... Mm. I can imagine you reclining on a chaise longue, with wool running through your toes...'

Now that's more like it.

Monday, 20 July 2009

All the fun of the Fair

A couple of weekends ago, unfortunately on a rather grey day, one of my favourite annual events took place: Barnes Fair. The village green is filled with hundreds of stalls and displays from local craftspeople, charities, schools, artists, businesses and restaurants. It's possible to find anything from fairy cakes made by the Brownies to beautifully glazed pottery, hand-crafted sweaters, bric-a-brac galore and pots of herbs.

The trick is to cast aside lengthy deliberations and guilt at treating oneself: the things seen there tend not to be seen again so are worth grabbing immediately. I once found an early Heal's oak table and four matching chairs just as I was about to move into a new home with no furniture. However, I am still kicking myself for not buying a 1950 three-tiered red cake stand with white polka dots I saw one year. I know, I know, it's a strange thing to hanker after but afternoon tea with treats on a cake stand... one of the best things ever.

There are certain traditions to be upheld, such as watching the procession of decorated school children pass by on floats and assorted animals (always a diversion in the middle of a city) and eating Thai noodles. This year I was particularly taken with the intricately carved vegetables next to the Thai noodle stall. I suddenly wanted to take a class in how to transform a turnip into translucent white lace. There may be a class, the woman told me, but not quite yet. I will be first in the queue. It looks like a very peaceful way to pass a few hours.

Thai vegetable carving. The lacey turnip is top centre, between the carrots and in front of the melons.

The sounds of the fair are always augmented by peculiarly actorly tannoy announcements which usually contain a gem or two. My favourite this year:

"For all those of you who are concerned about Ben, the shire horse that collapsed during the procession, don't worry - it seems there was a horse whisperer in the crowd. He whispered to Ben who was able to get up and is now fine."

Intriguing. Exactly how many random horse whisperers are there in London?

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Coming soon... American Adventure

So, I went to America, to knit, to talk, to wander, to squidge wool, and to watch a whale. The full account is germinating, while pesky work deadlines pile up.

In the meantime, a glimpse of Squam Lake, and the view from my cabin.


Monday, 1 June 2009

Public Transport

Cheering. Or slightly spooky. Or both.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Saturday Sunshine

close up wool

bookshelves chair wool

Sometimes it's rather wonderful to do very little. Sitting in a shaft of sunshine with a new ball of wool is one of those moments that seem insignificant but which are in fact rather rare.

The wool is Skein Queen's Entice 2-ply laceweight, in Crimson Passion. It came from Emma, who is always an inspiration.

Monday, 18 May 2009

Casting on in Chelsea

I decided recently that it was time to admit that my stubbornness in trying to learn new techniques was not working for cast-on strategies, and off I went for my first knitting class ever.

What a great afternoon I had. Alice of Socktopus was unfailingly patient with my apparent inability to tell my right from my left, or my working yarn from the yarn tail, and soon had me producing loop cast on, long tail, variations to both, Channel Island, crochet provision, tubular (both 2 strand [German] and provisional cast on method), and star cast on (my favourite). Hoping Alice doesn't mind, I've copied here the exact names from the Socktopus site as I'm still playing with my edges and studying my notes, which have slightly less orthodox instructions, including the intriguing annotation 'pick up Australian cousins here'.

My finished edges resemble wobbly worms; Alice's smooth green edge variations are the real thing. I aspire to such neatness.

Adding to the pleasure of the afternoon was of course a fair amount of yarn squidging, especially in the ongoing quest for a particular acidic shade of green. Alice had several suggestions, and also showed me her new Kilcarra Donegal Tweed shade cards. I cannot get the beautiful pinks, greys, blues and greens out of my head. While waiting for the Donegal Tweed shades to hit London, instead I succumbed to some colours from Wales.

Flimstone Bay by Cariad Yarns in Enchanted (above) and Electra (below).

Saturday, 2 May 2009

Indigo Ideas?

I have nearly finished something else, but very sadly I think I'm going to have to undo it and start again. I love the wool and the stitch but the pattern just doesn't sit right on me. This is not exactly surprising as yet again I was trying to adapt an existing pattern and this time it hasn't worked.

I'm putting the pictures here to show how lovely the yarn is. Unfortunately no amount of playing around with different brooches is going to save this item on me.
Any ideas as to what else might suit it? It is DK weight Skein Queen Desire in Indigo Dream, and I have 1350 metres/1700 yards. All suggestions very welcome.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Spring Vest

Well, I'm not sure what happened to most of April. It just flew by in a whirl of daffodils, bluebells, the first of the muscat grapes appearing in the shops, work, knitting, and of course the wonderful return of light evenings.

I have actually finished something. It's a vest, adapted from a sweater pattern with a deep scoop neck. I've had to modify the neckline with some flexible twisted ribbing or deep and scoop would have taken on a new meaning entirely.


Spring Vest
Adapted from Emily by Kim Hargreaves; published in Heartfelt: The Dark House Collection

Body Yarn: Rowanspun DK in Goblin (shade 736) x 3 skeins (654 yards/598 metres)
Neck Yarn: Rowanspun DK in Eau de Nil (shade 735) & Cloud (shade 734) x small amounts
Needles: 4mm
a) er, no sleeves
b) twisted rib rather than lace pattern at hem
c) twisted rib neckline using stitches picked up from neckline rather than attached ribbing

Saturday, 4 April 2009

Adaptability Saturday

Glorious sunshine outdoors, a sunny kitchen indoors and no work. Almost perfection. A day for adapting things.

First there was a cake recipe that ended up as Chocolate and Crystallised Ginger Cake, followed by a sweater pattern adapted to experiment with some Rowanspun DK in Goblin, shade 736. I fear I may not have enough wool to make the hoped-for item so I won't jinx it by naming the garment just yet. What a shame this yarn was discontinued. Maybe I'll stumble across some more as if by magic. It has been known.

A jockey wearing green won the Grand National this afternoon so my knitting adaptation is at least topical.

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Farmer Breeds Tartan Sheep

If only...

This is my favourite April Fool, as seen in The Times.

In a similar article, a farmer is quoted as saying, “I’ve been telling all the kids that come to the farm that I have connections with the Clan McHaver and I’ve managed to get a few of these rare sheep sent down from the Highlands. I tell them the lambs are actually born a light shade of blue and don’t become fully tartan until they are around one year old.”

Wouldn't the wool be wonderful? No pooling.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Women in Science BlogDay

Apparently, according to that bastion of the free press, the Metro, it is today that bloggers are writing about famous women scientists. Now that I have done a meme and am on the way to being a bloggette, I thought I too would do my bit for women scientists. I have even found one who knitted.

I hope that Mr John Beaver of Lake Afton Public Observatory won't mind me taking inspiration from his piece on Carolyn Herschel (1750-1848), German Comet Discoverer Extraordinaire and singer, where he mentions that she knitted 'two years worth of stockings' so as to be free to come to England in the wake of her brother, composer and conductor:

"Meanwhile, her favorite brother William, who had moved to Bath, England, quickly established himself as a composer and conductor. But in his success he had not forgotten his unhappy sister left behind in Germany, and he proposed to have Carolyn come to England to train as a soprano. The mother and eldest brother had grown used to Carolyn's housework, and they would not, at first, let her go. ". . . and I was left in the harrassing uncertainty whether I was to go or not!" In order to cover both possibilities she knitted two years worth of stockings, while at every opportunity "when all were from home" she practiced voice "with a gag between my teeth."

So the first woman in history to discover a comet began her career as a singer. And she achieved no little success; she performed regularly with her brother's orchestra and even began to receive invitations to perform with other orchestras in other cities."

So, thanks to Mr Beaver for the stockings, but another author describes the scientific successes of Carolyn H, and quotes her various medals and honours from across Europe.

Either way, she sounds a suitably feisty character who today would no doubt be promoting knitting with all the vigour it deserves.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Hug a Plant Day

Sometimes it's very important to embrace the things one really likes.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

A Harmless Snark?

I saw this on MetaBlog and couldn't resist showing it here too. It made me laugh, but in fact it is also a good representation of so many things about knitting. I'd like to wear it for the journey to work. It might be very useful for long meetings, too. I could pretend I was invisible.

With thanks to

Monday, 2 March 2009

Rhubarb, rhubarb, rhubarb

Ah, Oskar Werner... (and not forgetting Julie Christie of course)

My first meme: 6 quirky but boring things about me. Thanks to Quelle Erqsome for the tag. I feel like a real blog person now. I have also been tagged elsewhere in a 25 Random Things listing by Katinkaknits and by the person formerly known as The Pie Man so thanks to them too. I'm going to combine the two tags and split the difference, mainly because I couldn't choose 6 things, and because what is random, quirky and boring is subjective so I'll let everyone else choose if these fit the bill.

• I am very fond of raw rhubarb. No doubt I would still be eating it straight out of the rhubarb patch if the grown-ups hadn't found me there one day when I was little, munching on a dark pink stem or two and risking oxalic acid and anthraquinone poisoning. Now I stick to the cooked version - it's less toxic that way.

• I speak three languages and have a smattering of another. Maybe one day I'll learn another.

• I can't pronounce anemone first go. Or spell it. Anenome. Anemone. Anenome.

• One of my favourite films is "Fahrenheit 451". Nothing to do with "Fahrenheit 911".

• When I was three years old, I packed my little red cardboard case with some precious belongings and left home. I think it might have had something to do with the arrival of my younger sister. I walked up the long road but eventually turned round and came back again. Two years after that another sister arrived, but I don't think I left home that time.

• I remember things visually, by re-running the image in my head like a still photo, the shape of text on a page, or as if in a video clip. I assume everyone else does it this way. Maybe they do.

• I am a huge Tintin fan. I was once standing in the check-out queue in an Italian supermarket when a man's hand reached round me from behind and grabbed my wrist to look at my Tintin watch. I'm not sure why asking me who was on the watch face wasn't an option. Maybe he just felt like holding my wrist. Italian supermarkets can be very different from British ones. As can Italian men.

• I am a stationery-a-holic. I dream of stumbling on an untouched stationery store suspended in time filled with slightly dusty but otherwise entirely preserved stocks of beautiful papers, tissue-lined envelopes, watermarked linen-weave or laid sheets, engraved emblems and onion-skin airmail sets.

• I am also a yarn-a-holic, but you probably guessed that already.

• When I was five I wanted to be a postman. John, our local postman, took me on his rounds with him and let me post the letters through everyone's front doors, before delivering me back home. The poor man probably had a lot of time to make up on those mornings.

• I grew up playing in the shade of a giant mulberry tree. It grew (and still grows) sideways, having been struck by lightning into a 90-degree angle when my mother was herself little and lived in the house with the tree. Every summer we would become covered from top to barefoot toe in blood-red mulberry juice as we scavenged amongst the branches for the fruit.

• I have a serious book habit. My bookshelves are stacked two deep, but disguised.

• I lived for a year in a 17th-century Italian palazzo, with its original interiors more or less intact. In my bedroom hung a Venetian chandelier made of glass daffodils.

• I would like to have more sleep.

• One day I will have a garden, and it will be full of flowers. I will also have an orchard, a giant swing hanging from an old oak tree, and a treehouse. Not that I daydream or anything.

• I have twice been serenaded by an anonymous lutenist wearing full medieval costume, on entirely separate occasions, in different places, several years apart. One lute player would have been strange enough, but two?

Ah, Caravaggio...

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Post-prandial Doubt

So there I was at the cinema this afternoon. I should have been soaking up the Pulitzer Prize history and the Academy Award Nominations oozing out of Meryl Streep and Amy Adams in 'Doubt'.

Instead, right in the middle of the key speeches, I had this going on in my head:

'Hm, nice moss stitch shawls... I wonder what that yarn is...

Rowan Kid Classic? Hm... no, I think it looks thicker than that; maybe it's on small needles, but then it would look different...

[Meryl Streep gives performance with gusto; there are tears, accusations, dramatic denouments galore]

... Maybe it's Noro Cash Iroha... no, I don't think they make it in solid black...

It looks like... well, ... hm...

[High drama, more tears, priests, nuns, and The Bronx crash past on the screen...]

... it looks as if it could be Debbie Bliss Cashmerino, perhaps in aran or chunky weight, but then with the chunky the stitches might look bulkier... I wonder what needle size they were making it in...'

Note to self: do not attempt to go to a matinee at the cinema after eating a generous helping of stir-fried ho fun in Soho the day after Unraveled.

One word...

Your Word is "Think"

You see life as an amazing mix of possibilities, ideas, and fascinations.

And sometimes you feel like you don't have enough time to take it all in.

You love learning. Whether you're in school or not, you're probably immersed in several subjects right now.

When you're not learning, you're busy reflecting. You think a lot about the people you know and the things you've experienced.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

Love is in the hair

I went to get my hair cut this morning (a very rare event for me). As I was leaving, my hairdresser went into a side room and emerged with daffodils and a large box of coloured sewing thread, and said they were for me*. What a lucky person I am.

The poor man had recently been fished out of the Thames after falling off a walkway and becoming trapped between a boat and the Thames wall. He broke a rib, bashed his ankle and briefly knocked himself out. Scary stuff. I am very glad he has fully recovered, not least because he is clearly a man of generous spirit but also because for a few hours only I look as I have grown-up hair. Tomorrow will be another story, but then I will have daffodils to admire and threads to gaze upon.

* Well, OK, the threads are actually for my sister, but I can pretend, can't I?

All sensible and completely non-sensible offers considered...

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Primavera Mitts: performance update

I am very impressed with Sundara's sock yarn. My sister came to visit today, wearing her Christmas present Primavera mitts. I pounced on the mittens as soon as she came through the door to see how they'd been doing since December. Not a bobble or pile or over-stretch or merest sign of wear and tear. They've been well tested: worn nearly every day since Christmas, and in particular during our recent wonderful snow days. They were even lent to a large-handed but absent-minded boyfriend who went to Amsterdam in the freezing cold without any winter clothes.