Tuesday, January 30, 2007

foggy lullaby


blue
here is a shell for you
inside you'll hear a sigh
a foggy lullaby
there is your song from me
("blue", joni mitchell)


100% merino, 104 grams & 340 yards - amazing!! i'm really pleased with this - the finest yarn i've ever spun, lighter than a sock weight (although still not quite laceweight). it will be going to k1 yarns as well, hopefully tomorrow!

indulgent weekend

after quite a bad week, we decided some indulgenc was in order to cheer ourselves up. the solution? spending saturday celebrating, with an unbirthday party - lots of bad movies, an unbirthday present for each other (little treats with a spending limit of £5) and some unbirthday cakes...

27jan07


then, i found a great treasure in the local charity shop - i've been wanting something like this for ages, and there was only one thing that i could think of to fill it with...

29jan07


(this is the size of my stash as of the end of january, in case anyone's keeping track of my "knit from your stash" plan - some swapping, but no purchases so far!)
but the weekend must have been going too well, because the universe decided i needed something irritating to balance out all the fun... on sunday, on the way into my not-so-local stich & bitch group (glasgow, about 40 minutes away by train) the trains broke down at a station 10 minutes away, and i gave up & came back home - a two hour round trip to go 10 minutes down the road & back!! sigh. there was only one solution...

28jan07


have my own knitting party, but with better drinks. that's the newly-started katrina rib sweater in the background, in rowanspun dk, colourway "goblin". nothing like some mindless 3x3 rib and a few glasses of baileys to make up for an afternoon of long delays.
how was your weekend?

Friday, January 26, 2007

"c" is for cookie...

26jan07


... & that's good enough for me.
the perfect antidote to a long, bad, dreary january week - home-baked cookies with dark chocolate chunks. the only challenge is to not eat them all before the RSA comes home (it seems a bit unfair otherwise)...
having a bad week too? make your own:

125g unsalted butter (or pretend butter)
100g granulated white sugar
75g light muscovado sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
150g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
a pinch of salt
100g of "extras" (chocolate chunks, dried fruit, crystallised ginger, whatever you like!)
preheat the oven to 190C/375F, and grease baking sheets with some butter.
cream together the butter & sugars, then mix in the egg & vanilla. blend in the dry ingredients & then add the "extras" to the mix.
drop spoonfuls of the mix onto the baking sheets, bake for 8-10 minutes. leave the cookies on the sheets for a couple of minutes to harden slightly then transfer to a cooling rack.
then... eat them all!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

goodbye, mortimer

today i had to say a sad goodbye - my old & faithful little car is beyond repair.
when we got him, he was quite old already, and since i have a serious tendency to anthropomorphise the things i own, he was instantly named mortimer pootle (mortimer, from the robert munsch children's book of the same name (he said "cling, clang, rattle bing bang") & pootle, because i could use him to pootle about). the problem with anthropomorphising things is that it makes it even more depressing when they break down, especially when they've had as much effect on my life as my lovely little car.
i know, i know, bad for the environment, etc... but as someone on the autistic spectrum, i tend to have a hard time in busy, crowded, noisy, bright environments, so public transport & i don't always get along. having a car meant that i could go wherever i wanted without having to decide if i could cope with the bus or train.
alas, even cars with wonderful names can't last forever...

24jan07


...goodbye, mortimer pootle. i'll miss you.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

strawberry wine

HPIM0711

& i fell in
the strawberry vines
into a pool of strawberry wine
(ryan adams, "strawberry wine")

100% blue-faced leicester, 94 grams & 190 yards, colourway "strawberry wine". roughly a heavy fingering weight, which is slightly thicker than i was aiming for, but that's the fun of handspun! again, this will be going to the k1 yarns shop in glasgow probably next week sometime, but if you desperately want it let me know...
it's all about strawberries here at the moment - clearly, i'm longing for summer. or maybe just strawberries.
(oh, & in response to india's question on the last post, i dyed the fibre myself, using a secret recipe that i can never reveal.)*

*ok, it was a combination of grape & black cherry koolaid.

Monday, January 22, 2007

more spinning


100 grams of blue-faced leicester singles, dyed in a slightly variegated purple & red colourway as yet unnamed. again, i'm aiming for a finished yarn of about sock or fingering weight, so we'll see what happens when i ply it tomorrow!

Thursday, January 18, 2007

things fall apart

first there was this...

that would be my very expensive, absolutely lovely, most favourite double pointed sock needles in the whole entire world, the holz & stein ebony needles. broken. there are no words.
luckily, the very nice lady that i bought them from has the best customer service in the world, and has vowed that no matter what, i will have five needles again, so at least that's some comfort.
and then, there was this...


remember how i said that my "not buying stuff" policy would exempt a new pair of jeans, because i've needed a new pair for a while now? well, the new jeans situation is now an emergency (creampuff knows what i'm talking about). maybe i could be a backup singer in the chafetains - at least it would take my mind off waiting for my replacement needles.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

do i have to go out??

this may not seem exciting to some, but i have a new chair. it's not just an armchair; it's an enormous armchair. it's probably big enough for two people, but am i going to share it? absolutely not...


16jan07


(observant readers will note that although the chair has only been in the house for five minutes, it has already been commandeered by a cat. territorial disputes will undoubtedly ensue, because this chair is mine.)
this is the first brand new piece of furniture i've ever bought (apart from a couple of small cd shelves from ikea, and i'm pretty sure that doesn't count). everything else in the flat has been gratefully accepted from generous friends; however, my mum recently gave us some money which we're using to fix up the flat a bit (long overdue bathroom repairs & some paint & new carpets, for the most part) so i decided to treat myself. the old chair is small, and has been used so frequently & for so long that it's looking a bit tired. but the new chair - huge, soft, squishy, and so comfortable that i want to live in it. i'm meant to be going to my local stitch & bitch meeting tonight.... but do i really have to go out?

Monday, January 15, 2007

strawberry jam

14jan07

we were making jam
strawberry jam
yeah, if you want the best jam
you gotta make your own
(michelle shocked, "strawberry jam")
the first handspun of 2007; 100% merino, 100 grams/240 yards. i was aiming for a sock-ish weight yarn & this is fairly close, only slightly thicker than standard sock yarn & very consistently spun (especially impressive since i hadn't touched the spinning wheel since about the middle of december!).
i love the colour; it reminds me of summer strawberry picking at the pick-your-own farms that my family went to every summer. there are five kids in my family so we always managed to pick a lot of strawberries, and the baskets would sit in the cool basement for a while afterwards. the ones that didn't get eaten straight away would be turned into strawberry jam, which would be stored back in the basement & would last us through the rest of the year, until the next strawberry season.
this yarn will be heading to k1 yarns in glasgow next week some time (assuming that i manage some more spinning before then & have more than one skein to take in!) - katharine still has a few of the old maiden aunt hat kits for sale but has sold out of all the individual skeins (yay!). but if you really really want it i'm sure i could sell it to you before then if you ask nicely...

Thursday, January 11, 2007

uniform grey

it's perfectly suited, this uniform grey
there are no bearings to the day
(sarah harmer, "uniform grey")


11jan07


grey buildings, grey sky, grey sea; the weather is wild here today. the pup & i barely managed a quick sprint around the nearest park before being pushed back inside by driving, ice-cold rain, & the sky is so dark that it might as well be nighttime already (today's project 365 picture was taken in the ten seconds of weak "sunlight" that managed to sneak through the thick clouds). the rain is pelting the windows so fiercely that i can barely see out, and the wind is whipping off the sea & around the buildings with such force that at times i can feel my flat shaking.
in defiance of all this cold grey, i started spinning again, and managed a bobbin full (50 grams or so) of merino, in a hand-dyed colour that reminds me of summer. this is the colour of cherry popsicles; the colour of the jelly shoes i desperately wanted when i was ten; the colour that worked its way into the skin on my hands the summer i worked at a strawberry farm, leaving stains that lasted until the end of august.


my spinning skills are out of shape; i haven't spun since the middle of december, and my back is aching! (also, i need a better spinning chair, but that's another story...) i still have another 50 grams of the roving to spin - i'm aiming for a 2-ply fingering/sock weight, and apart from the occasional blip, i'm getting something fairly close to that so far. now that the spinning is done for the day, though, it's time to batten down the hatches - soup, hot chocolate, and cozy blankets all round, at least until the grey blows over.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

ingenious...


progress on the elizabeth zimmerman "seamless hybrid" sweater for the RSA, in lovely, tweedy rowanspun DK (currently REALLY cheap here, not that i'm trying to make anyone break their new year's yarn diet resolutions... i bought mine december 30th so it doesn't count!). the gray is the sweater's main colour, and the green is the contrasting bottom hem facing a la brooklyntweed - no sewing, no fuss, and only slightly fiddly to do (although that may have had something to do with my terribly done provisional cast on - a technique i still haven't mastered!). the sweater is already such a simple construcion - stockinette, in the round, no seaming - and his version adds a contrasting hem that's put in with the minimum fuss & again, no seaming. it's ingenious! & like all his knits, his version of the zimmerman sweater is gorgeous - if i wasn't already committed (& not in the mental institution sort of way, although there are days where i'm perilously close!) i'd fancy him just for his knitting skills. think of the amazing wardrobe i'd have.... sigh.

Monday, January 08, 2007

rrrrrrrip.....

so far, i've spent my morning doing this:



on the left, the endpaper mitts (a free pattern from eunny's blog) and on the right, a spiral rib sock in hipknits cashmere that had been intended for my mum's christmas present (obviously, she didn't get them, as i never made it past the cuff of the first sock, & it's now january. sorry mum!).
one of the things i love about knitting is that it allows me to fully express the nit-picking perfectionist side of my personality that i normally keep to myself. if i'm not 100% happy with something, i can rip it out & start again, as many times as i want to until the finished object is exactly how i want it to be - not something that can be done in any other aspect of my life.
this is not to say that my knitting is error-free; far from it! i'm often happy to leave small mistakes (or "design features", as knitters tend to call them) if the item is overall something i'm happy with. but if i'm not happy, i don't hesitate to rip.
the socks were never going to make it - not only is it far too late for a christmas present, but i wasn't happy with the pattern or the colour of the yarn. also, spiral rib on 2mm needles is REALLY BORING....
& the endpaper mitts were disappointing me. although the pattern & the yarn were both beautiful, i picked entirely the wrong colours for this project - not enough contrast, and a muddy result. i do really want to knit them though, which presented a little bit of a challenge, as i'm sticking to my knit-from-your-stash plan, so i can't buy another colour for better contrast. my solution? the newly-ripped orangey cashmere sock yarn & the chocolate brown 4 ply i used as one of the colours in the first attempt... what do you think?


might work, eh? the colours seem to go together, but with enough contrast to bring out the delicate pattern. this time, though, i'll swatch in pattern before i start - i don't mind ripping things out, but even i have a limit of how many times i'll do it in one day.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

this post has been brought to you by the letter "L"

the Lovely cara has Let me Loose on the Letter "L" for this meme. the way it works is you are given a letter by another blogger who has already done the meme, and you then have to write a post listing ten things/themes/etc in your life that begin with that letter.

Lesley the resident sock appreciator's secret identity! there's no way i could write a post about important things in my life that start with "L" & not include her (not only is she Very Important, but i'm pretty sure i'd get in serious trouble if she wasn't included). we've been together for about six & a half years now (yikes!) which is an impressively long time for me - we're even Legally partnered now. she has made my life immeasurably better - i could go on & on but she reads my blog from time to time & she'd just be embarassed.

Lutherie a Luthier is someone who makes stringed instruments (violins, guitars, mandolins) & Lutherie is the practice of that craft. i trained for two years to make & repair violins, and made a grand total of two violins as well as doing a full restoration on a cello (including revarnishing) plus many many smaller repair jobs, before deciding this year to close down my business. it was a momentous & extremely painful decision to make - i'm not someone who copes well with "failure", and it was difficult not to think of this as failing. although logically i know it's ok to try something & decide it's not for you, it still feels like i'm "giving up".

Lachrymose according to my dictionary, this means "given to weeping". that's something that, alas, is true of me on most days, and especially given the stressful decisions & situations of the past few years. even on good days i can be moved to tears quite easily, given the right circumstances. this is often embarassing. it is, however, a very good word.

Laughter on the other hand, there's also a lot of this. i enjoy silliness; bad puns, terrible jokes, and making up ridiculous songs (all of these things are inherited from my dad). often my jokes are only funny to me, but that's ok.

Lepidoptera that is to say, butterflies. i love them; my next tattoo will be a butterfly. this has been in the planning stages for several years because i can't quite find the right design (i don't want it to be too girly or naff). my absolute favourite is the blue morpho butterfly, which i first saw at the butterfly gardens in niagara falls, ontario. the undersides of its wings are dull brown, but the inside faces of its wings are an amazing shimmering blue. when it's in flight it almost looks as though it's appearing & disappearing, as the blue surfaces glitter in the light & the brown surfaces blend in with the background.

Literature i'm an obsessive reader. i learned to read when i was about four (i think - it's something i don't actually remember so i'm kind of guessing). my family had a fairly strict set of television rules - mainly, that we weren't allowed to watch anything on it - so i read a lot. by the time i was ten i had finished all the books in the children's library & was given special permission to get a card for the adult library. i was reading "a tale of two cities" & "les miserables" (not in the original french, might i add - i was a pretentious litle bookworm, it's true, but i wasn't that bad!). i switched to an english lit degree at university after an unsuccessful first year in social sciences & social work, when i decided that i didn't really like people & didn't want to help them. i wish every day that i could somehow get paid to sit in a dim study lined with books & do nothing but read - i agree with virginia woolf's thought that "heaven is one long read without getting tired".

Library see above; alas, i can't afford the dim study lined with books quite yet so in the meantime i'm a very good patron of the local library.

Lace i've decided this is my "new thing" as far as knitting goes. after completing the casino shawl from anne at knitspot, i'm hooked - not only do i want to knit more, but i'm wearing the shawl nearly nine days out of ten (even if it is only over my old pjs - truly, cashmere lace goes with everything).

Late this is one of those things that i hate in other people, but can't seem to get a handle on myself. i'm almost always late for everything; either that or i'm far too early (this is because i'm trying so hard not to be late that i end up being wherever i'm supposed to be about an hour ahead of time).

Lexicon
according to mine, "a word-book or dictionary". not only did i use one to look up a couple of words for this, but i love them as much as (or even more than) any book. when i was growing up the dinner conversations would often be interrupted by trips out to the front room to look up things in the "big dictionary" (a huge tome inherited from one of the library book sales) - the response from my parents whenever we didn't understand something was simply "look it up". to this day, i love looking things up, i love weird & wonderful words, and i love my lexicon.

whew - that post took ages to plan, and was much more challenging than i thought it would be! (in fact, i've just had to edit it as i somehow ended up with thirteen words instead of ten, so maybe it's not as hard as i thought). if you'd like a letter of your very own to blog about, leave me a comment & i'll send you one...

too much stuff

i have a lot of stuff. some of it is important stuff; stuff that i use all the time, or stuff waiting for a specific project (most of the latter is yarn-related stuff). but i also have a lot of stuff that never gets used, and some stuff that i don't even want (some of this is also yarn-related stuff!). i'd like to have a less stuff-filled year; in that spirit i'll be doing several things:

  1. making an effort not to buy anything at all for the next three months, with a few notable exceptions. food & necessities are obviously exempt; there are also a couple of items that i've needed for a while (a pair of jeans, some pjs, and a good pair of walking boots) so if i happen to see these things in the january sales then i won't pass them up. but i will not be talked into buying more stuff i don't actually need just because it's on sale!
  2. organising the yarn-related stuff into projects, and actually knitting the things that i've been planning to knit (particularly the larger projects) instead of constantly getting distracted by newer, flashier yarn.
  3. making a huge effort to knit from my stash, to curb the excess yarn-related stuff. i'm re-jigging the rules to suit my needs as suggested, so my rules will be as follows (& to paraphrase pirates of the caribbean, "they're really more like guidelines anyways").
    a. swaps are ok; if i can trade yarn or other knitting ephemera that i won't use for something i will use, that's great. any swaps, however, will aim to decrease the stash rather than increase it (for example, swapping several skeins of a less expensive wool for a nice skein of sock yarn).
    b. fibre is exempt, mainly because i'm trying to start a (tiny) business selling handspun, and my fibre stores aren't vast enough to supply handspun for sale on demand unless i keep restocking. likewise, dyeing supplies are exempt.
    c. sock yarn will also be exempt, but only on a two-skeins-out, one-skein-in basis (that is to say, i have to use up two skeins from my sock yarn stash before i can buy one skein).
    d. i am allowed to receive gifts of yarn.
    e. & i am allowed to fall off the wagon once (but only if i spot something that is just too incredible to pass up, like a big bag o' cashmere for a fiver - wishful thinking, eh? it could happen, you never know...)
    f. i will knit from my stash from 1st january 2007 until the end of june 2007, or until my stash becomes so depleted that i can fit it into one plastic tub, whichever comes first (this may depend on how much knitting time i have & how fast i can knit - i don't want to run out of yarn completely, do i?). as a reference, my yarn stash currently occupies one small & two large plastic tubs, plus two vintage train/vanity cases full of sock yarn - i think six months is a good estimate for how long it will take to get through all that!
and with fortuitous timing, my last yarn purchase of 2006 arrived today (i know it's january already, but technically i ordered it on 30th december 2006, so i didn't break any rules!):


rowanspun dk, in "goblin" and "thor"; eleven skeins of each, for a katrina rib sweater for me (modified to have long sleeves) and a seamless hybrid sweater for the RSA (a la brooklyntweed's gorgeous version). time to start clearing out some of the other stuff!

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

two down

it's official - i've started out the year taking pictures, and hopefully this will be a resolution i can stick to. i really like the idea of project 365 - it should be really challenging & interesting. i'll be uploading all the pics to flickr for the truly interested (i don't want to post them all here & risk boring you!). but here's the first two:

01jan07

1st january 2007 - little ash feet (we're all sleeping off new year's eve).

02jan07

2nd january 2007 - a garden on caledonia road (i just liked the colour on this gray day).