Sunday, February 25, 2007

Centenary

I can't believe how the time has flown since I last blogged - nearly two weeks! But, in my defence, I have been working (too late into the night for the past couple of weeks), and building work has started on our bathroom. Our bathroom was two rooms:

and we are having it knocked into one, with the wall extended out to incorporate the bit of landing in front of the old loo to give us one room. It involves a lot of work (and dust!) and I have been preoccupied with clearing out the old rooms, moving everything off the landing and generally trying to deal with the house in even more of a mess than usual. I shall be so glad not to have those navy blue tiles any more - they show every splash and mark!

To compound things, it was half-term last week (the builders started on the first day of half-term!) and so I have been trying to keep the children out of their way too. As part of my 'getting them out of the house' scheme we went on a trip to Fishbourne Roman Palace last week. Ellen is doing the Romans at school and I thought we could go and see some Roman artefacts first hand. We went with some friends and I have to say how impressed I was with the activities that were laid on for the children. Fishbourne is the most intact Roman villa in Britain and there are beautiful mosaics to see, which were discovered only comparatively recently, in 1963:

The floor undulates as the mosaics were found in a field, and they have subsided over the centuries. The children were able to dress up as Romans and Lily got stuck in to most activities, building a coiled clay pot and baking bread. It really was a fantastic day out, and the children really enjoyed it as well as (hopefully) learning a bit about the Romans.

I had a surprise package from Kris, who was my Secret Pal in SP8 - she sent me this gorgeous yarn in greens and purples which she found in a German store she has just discovered - thank you so much Kris!

I have managed a bit of knitting over the past couple of weeks - another baby kimono for Edward's teacher who went on maternity leave recently, knitted up in the gorgeous Lorna's Laces sent to me by Mindy!

And this is my hundredth post! To celebrate, some sock yarn is on offer for the 10th commenter from this post! Please leave me your email address so I can get it touch!

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Birthday boy

I haven't posted for a few days because I have been knitting obsessively (even more obsessively than usual) since my last post and very late last night/early this morning finally finished Paul's sweater, just in time for his birthday! And here is the birthday boy wearing it:

I am really pleased with how this came out. It is a lovely pattern - well thought out like all Kim Hargreaves' patterns, and the shaping and details make the jumper special. The sleeves sit well in the armholes and the detail on the yoke is simple but effective. Paul was very pleased - I had abandoned trying to knit it in secret but he never asked what I was knitting so was very surprised when he unwrapped it!

I got quite a bit of knitting on it done on Saturday because Mary and I headed off to Bristol to check out the new Get Knitted shop. Mary very kindly drove (in her very groovy Mini - it really was a Mini adventure!) and I managed to get quite a bit of the jumper done in the car. Once we got to Bristol, we took a wrong turn but once we had established that the shop was on the A4, it was easy to find (they really do have a huge sign!):

Inside the shop, everywhere we looked there was yarn. Here is the Lorna's Laces:

and some Debbie Bliss, with tables piled high with sock yarn:

There was a good selection of Patons, including some lovely cottons and the Sublime yarns, which were very tempting:

I loved this stole and was lucky enough to find some reduced Cherry Tree Hill laceweight which I might knit it in:

We must have spent about four hours in the shop - it took that long to look at everything properly and decide finally what we wanted. There were supplies of tea and coffee (and chocolate chip cookies) and sofas to sit on and decide what to buy. Here is Mary surrounded by our bags of wool:

We had a great time and I would highly recommend a visit to the shop - a perfect way to spend a wet Saturday!

Friday, February 09, 2007

SP10 questionnaire

I have been steadily knitting away on Paul's jumper. Will I make the deadline? - I don't know - I think it is still touch and go and may involve some sleepless nights over the weekend if I am to get it done.

In the meantime I have been working hard on various publications for work, and have just finished compiling my answers to the SP10 questionnaire - I am looking forward to another round!

So, here goes,

1 What is/are your favorite yarn/s to knit with? What fibers do you absolutely *not* like? I love wool, silk, cashmere and alpaca and also like cotton, especially mercerised cotton. I do not like any synthetic yarn or anything that feels scratchy or itchy when you wear it (mohair, for example).

2. What do you use to store your needles/hooks in? I have a couple of lovely old knitting needle boxes and also store needles upright in tins.

3. How long have you been knitting & how did you learn? Would you consider your skill level to be beginner, intermediate or advanced? I have been knitting for about 30 years, but only obsessively since I was at university. My mum taught me to knit but I couldn't get the hang of tension when I was younger and just found it very frustrating. I retaught myself at university. I am probably an intermediate to advanced knitter.

4. Do you have an Amazon or other online wish list? I have an Amazon UK wishlist.

5. What's your favorite scent? Lavender and pretty much anything by Space NK.

6. Do you have a sweet tooth? Favorite candy? I love chocolate and fruity sweets. I hate coffee-flavoured sweets (although I love a good cup of coffee!).

7. What other crafts or Do-It-Yourself things do you like to do? Do you spin? I do some patchwork and have done embroidery and tapestry. I used to have a spinning wheel, but no longer have it (maybe when I have more free time I'll take it up again!). I like making small fabric gifts for people, such as lavender bags.

8. What kind of music do you like? Can your computer/stereo play MP3s? (if your buddy wants to make you a CD) I like some classical (particularly Bach and Mozart) and some pop, although I listen mostly to the radio (BBC Radio 2 and 4). I also like some jazz, particularly Miles Davis.

9. What's your favorite color(s)? Any colors you just can't stand? I loves purples and reds and some dark greens. I don't really like blues or yellows - yellow makes me look ill! I prefer vivid, rich colours to pastels.

10. What is your family situation? Do you have any pets? I am married, with three children - Ellen, aged 8 and twins Edward and Lily, aged 5. I have one cat, a ginger tom called Max Jaffa, and a goldfish.

11. Do you wear scarves, hats, mittens or ponchos? I wear scarves, hats and mittens and I have one poncho I knitted myself - but I think one is enough!

12. What is/are your favorite item/s to knit? I love knitting presents for people and knit a lot of ponchos for the girls' friends as birthday gifts. I also knit a lot for friends' babies. I also like knitting scarves and am getting into shawl knitting. I knit socks occasionally and usually have at least one cardigan or jumper on the go for someone!

13. What are you knitting right now? My two main projects on the needles are a cardigan for myself and a jumper for my husband - which I am knitting to a tight deadline - it needs to be done by 13 February! I also want to cast on a lace project for a friend’s birthday.

14. Do you like to receive handmade gifts? I love it!

15. Do you prefer straight or circular needles? Bamboo, aluminum, plastic? I get a more even tension on straight needles, although I like Addi turbo circulars when they are needed and I love bamboo needles. I also collect vintage coloured metal needles - they are so lovely to knit with (very pointy!) and so pretty on display and they are probably my favourites. I really like old Boye needles and vintage English ones too.

16. Do you own a yarn winder and/or swift? I own a swift but not a yarn winder.

17. How old is your oldest UFO? Er, about 15 years.

18. What is your favorite holiday? The summer holidays - seaside and sunshine!

19. Is there anything that you collect? Other than vintage coloured needles and yarn, I have a thing for vintage buttons too - I like using them on my knitting, as they make it really special.

20. Any books, yarns, needles or patterns out there you are dying to get your hands on? What knitting magazine subscriptions do you have? Socks that Rock, Sock Hop yarn, anything slightly out of the ordinary. I would also like to find some z-plied yarn for twined knitting. Other than that I would love to try Knit Picks Options needles and love Knit Picks yarn (they don’t send to the UK - boo hoo!). I have a subscription to Knitting magazine and to Interweave Knits. Interweave is probably my favourite magazine. I usually buy Vogue Knitting too, but can get this in the local newsagent.

21. Are there any new techniques you'd like to learn? I would like to learn twined knitting.

22. Are you a sock knitter? What are your foot measurements? I do knit socks, but have very strange feet - high insteps and quite wide. I am an adult size 7. Let me know if you need more details!

23. When is your birthday? 26 July.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Tagged for the first time - and more snow!

The weather forecast was right and we woke up to more snow this morning. It is still snowing as I write this but this time it seems wetter and is quite sludgy. Still, everything looks so pretty (although Max is running for the door and the warmth in this shot):

The camellias on the way to school have had a bit of a shock:


Nic has tagged me - my first time! - and the challenge is to use all the letters of the alphabet (except x, y and z - although I am going to have a go at those too!) to describe myself.
So, here goes (this could be a bit revealing):
A - anxious (sorry, Nic, stole this one from you). If there is something to worry about, I’ll worry about it and if there isn’t I’ll find something to worry about! I have spent many sleepless nights worrying about anything and everything and often have to get up at 4am if the worrying is out of hand.
B - bloody-minded. I can be very determined and pig-headed sometimes (and when I see this trait in the children I feel I cannot really criticise!). It can be a mixed blessing as it can help you achieve great things but can also prevent you from achieving other things.
C - cyclist. I love cycling and try to get on my bike at least a couple of times a week - even if it is just to go to work.
D - dog-loving. Well, I love all animals but I would love to have a dog. Paul is more reluctant but I am hoping he will agree in the end - he did say I could have one for my 45th birthday!
E - editrix. I earn my living by copy-editing or sub-editing. I work a lot at home and also work for a magazine in an office two days a week. When Paul went off to register the births of the twins I jokingly described my profession as editrix - he took me at my word, and that’s what is on their birth certificates!
F - fearful. This ties in with A - I am fearful for my children’s future, the future of the world, polar bears, tigers - you name it, I fear for it. Oh, and I still don’t like the dark!
G - generous. I like giving people presents and sometimes go a bit over the top - but I love giving people things! That is why I like Secret Pal so much!
H - I have a high pain threshold, which is not always a good thing - I did the school run for three days with a ruptured appendix two years ago, knowing that I felt really ill but stupidly believing the doctor’s diagnosis of a urinary tract infection. (I also had all the children with no pain relief, but that was probably something to do with B!)
I - impatient. I can be very impatient when waiting in queues, on the phone, for the bus, but conversely have loads of patience when it comes to handiwork.
J - jumpy. Loud noises make me leap out of my skin (a side effect of my being in an IRA bomb-blast 11 years ago this week).
K - knitting mad (well, what else?!)
L - loving - I love my children, my husband, my family, my friends, my pets - it makes the world go round.
M - maternal - I like nurturing things, although am better with animals and people than with plants - green fingers I have none!
N - needlewoman - I like sewing as well as knitting, and prefer hand-sewing to machining.
O - over-sensitive. Sometimes I take things to heart or take things the wrong way and fret about them for ages. Sometimes I feel it would be good to have a thicker skin.
P - perfectionistic - I like things to turn out the way I plan, which while leading to a lovely result can be painful when I am getting there!
Q - quixotic - I can be somewhat fanciful and rather a dreamer, but I try to keep my wilder notions under control!
R - risk-taker - I can be a bit reckless sometimes (I have been on a hang-gliding course, after all!).
S - single-minded. Once I decide to do something, I am usually quite determined to pursue it until it is done.
T - tearful. I cry easily and often, and since having children this has got worse! The news regularly sets me off!
U - easily upset - see above!
V - vehement - when I decide on something I can be very intense about expressing what I feel!
W - workaholic - I do push myself to work very hard sometimes and it seems that no matter what I do I find it hard to give myself permission to ease up, even when I need to.
X - exuberant (if that counts as an X!). When I get enthusiastic about something I want the whole world to see how great it is!
Y - yarn-hoarding. Yup, I have a monster stash!
Z - zealous - particularly when it comes to knitting!

I now need to tag five people, so I am tagging Kris, Caroline, Hila, Julie and Mindy!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Surprise!

The postman brought me some lovely goodies today. First, my Rowan 41 magazine finally arrived. I haven't had much chance to look through it yet owing to work commitments but am looking forward to leafing through it tonight:


And not only did my Rowan magazine arrive, I got my final parcel from my Secret Pal. Mindy has been a great pal and this parcel was full of lovely things - a lace book, some gorgeous Lorna's Laces, some lace mohair and a Chibi! Aren't I lucky? Thank you so much Mindy!

Edward has been having a good week at school - he got a Headmaster's Award yesterday for writing some of the Gruffalo:



What a proud mum I am!

I am thrilled with all my goodies but am still feeling overwhelmed by all things domestic and the volumes of work I seem to have. I finished one journal today and am about to start on another, but have so much else to do. Flylady is helping but I still feel overwhelmed by everything and suffering from a serious time famine! Max does his best to help with the never-ending laundry, and at least makes me smile!

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Got your goat

Another beautifully sunny Sunday, another trip to a farm - this time Odds Farm Park near Beaconsfield. Lily liked the rabbits, who were obliging enough to sit still while she stroked them:



As always, I liked the goats, especially these three, who I thought were great - such wonderful beards and fringes, and horns!



Ellen agreed with me and enjoyed feeding the goats too

Odds Farm has a small collection of rare breeds and this beautiful British White cow was enjoying the February sun:

On the knitting front I have been trying to make progress on Beau and am hoping to finish the sleeves in the next couple of days. No pictures I'm afraid as it is just more blue knitting! The back is done and so I want to get going on the front this week. It needs to be done for the 13th - I hope I can do it! As always, when I am knitting a garment this time-consuming I am thinking about what I want to do next. I have another baby thing to knit - probably another bolero and then I think I want to carry on with my Debbie Bliss cashmerino cardigan that is languishing in a bag! No sign yet of my Rowan 41 magazine, which I understand is out already - something to look forward to next week!