Saturday, 15 December 2007

Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?

This morning we were meant to get up early to go Christmas shopping. 

At 11 o'clock I say to C (who is lying in bed reading), "Aren't you going to get up and get ready to go shopping?" 

"Yeah, in a minute", says C, "I'm just reading this article on procrastination". 

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Kiri in action

Well, we're back and Kiri has had it's day in the sun. And a very nice day it was too despite dawning overcast and stiflingly humid and then proceeding to rain torrentially for the best part of the morning. Brisbane has been having an unseasonably damp spell so we were all a bit concerned that the outdoor ceremony might end up taking place in a hastily erected marquee, but fortunately the weather pulled itself together in the afternoon and was beautifully warm and sunny so the wedding was held around the fountain as intended.

O - who definitely won the looks section of the genetic lottery in our family - looked absolutely stunning as is her wont, the groom and his entourage were splendidly bekilted, and the ceremony proceeded without a hitch (apart, obviously, from the one it was celebrating).* There was a slight issue with bagpipes and Amazing Grace, but we won't go into that...

The champagne flowed freely, large quantities of exceedingly good food were consumed, speeches were speeched (it seemed a little unusual that they came before the meal to begin with, but since the first speaker began by detailing the time that D waxed his b*llocks for a bet, we were actually quite thankful not to have eaten!), cake was cut, and generally good time had by all.

Owing to the inevitable preponderance of wedding-related activities we didn't get an awful lot of time for standard sight-seeing and tourist activities during our ten days** - all the more reason to go back - but we did manage to get to the botanical gardens and the Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary in Brisbane where we encountered a variety of antipodean critters, including lots of surprisingly docile and deer-like kangaroos/wallabies which would happily take food from your hand.

We didn't get round to seeing the red kangaroos, but since they will apparently eviscerate you soon as look at you I wasn't too upset by that. We did however see a wombat. A surprisingly solid sort of creature it sat and regarded us from the top of a hollow log with an air of mild exasperation, as if we were the ones in the cage and it was waiting for us to do something amusing.

We also, naturally saw a lot of koalas which were quite unreasonably cute, especially the little ones, though how a species that lives in such tall trees can be quite so bad at climbing and still survive is beyond me. We watched while a baby koala tried to climb onto its mother's back, missed, and with a series of increasingly desperate "eeeps" gradually lost its grip until it was hanging by one claw from her fur while she frantically scrabbled at the branch they had been sitting on. At this point the mother seemed to decide something had to give and shrugged the baby off. It spent the next twenty minutes or so eeping and scampering about the bottom of the cage hopelessly trying to shin up all the trunks and poles it could find. Unfortunately the place closed at 5.30 so we never did find out if it made it.

For the last couple of days we left O and D to recover and decamped up the coast to the seaside resort of Noosa, spending an enjoyable time playing in the sea and the sand and working out too late which bits we'd missed with the factor 50. Swimming was fun since, as there's pretty much nothing between there and South America, the waves are fairly substantial, so the whole experience was a bit like being in the washing machine. Not a very strong swimmer at the best of times it was all I could do to stand up and keep hold of my swimming costume most of the time. Sand everywhere. My brothers and I had a go at recreating James Murray's Sand Grendle, but since we only had about an hour before the tide came in, we didn't have anything to dig with, and the sand was considerably drier and more friable than it probably is in North Wales, it didn't really measure up.

Murray's version:

Our attempt:

So, O is now Mrs Whyte and we are back in blighty with only jetlag, two weeks' worth of dirty washing, and occasional patches of sunburn as reminders that we've ever been away. Not to mention the sudden realisation that it's Christmas in a fortnight and we haven't done anything about it. The trip back was long and dull, but fairly uneventful. Needless to say the last 3.5 hours were the worst. That's the time it took us to get the 40 miles from Heathrow by train having previously covered the c. 4000 miles from Sydney to Singapore in only twice that. Ho hum.

* More photos on flickr for anyone who's interested.
** I finally managed to overcome the bootee curse though, and got a matching pair made the first day we were there in between making wedding favours. Though since the yarn was originally Australian, was posted to me, then taken back to Australia, in order to be posted back here with Christmas presents, they have quite a disproportionate number of airmiles on them now!

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Sisyphus knits

The problem with knitting on the train (apart from the blue fingers when the train doesn't turn up) is that it is prone to interruption and distraction. This is fine if you're knitting mindless miles of stocking stitch, or something with clear repeats where you can easily figure out where you're up to, but less so with anything remotely fiddly.

For the last month or so (it seems like more), I have been trying to knit a pair of bootees for a friend of my sister's who was expecting a baby. Note the "was" - baby has now arrived. The father is a childhood friend of both of ours though closer to my sister, so the deal was she would buy nice Australian merino and I would knit them. The work of a moment or so I thought. However...

First I tried to find a pattern to work with the fine 3ply yarn but couldn't find anything that wasn't ugly or excessively girly (at this stage we didn't know the sex of the baby so I was trying for something unisex - a slightly tall order given the amount of pink in the yarn). I was also instructed that they should ideally be bootees and not socks. I tried various patterns and versions of patterns but they all produced miserable little curled up things because the yarn wasn't thick enough. I knitted, I crocheted, I frogged and frogged again; it would not cooperate.

Finally baby appears on the scene (still booteeless) and is a girl. Hurrah, think I - Saartje's bootees. I knit one in record time throwing in a little bit of kidsilk spray (vino) to give a nice pink fuzz and am very pleased with it.

I embark on the second and run out of kidsilk spray before I reach the appropriate point. Nuts! I spend my lunch hours scouring every yarn shop in the district (all two of them) to no avail. It is now less than a week before the bootees are expected and I don't have time to order yarn from elsewhere or go further afield to buy any. No one I know has any spare kidsilk in the right colour.

I decide I will just have to start again and make a matching pair without the kidsilk spray. In the remaining two days of the week I frantically knit one bootee each day on the train to and from work because it is the only free time I have. Come to sew them up last night and the bootee curse strikes again; I find I have made two (different) mistakes, one on each bootee so they don't match.

I now have about a third of the ball of yarn left and 4 different bootees, only one of which (the one I can't reproduce) is really presentable, and I have run out of time to make them. Grr.....might as well throw my sticks in the bin, give my stash away to the needy, and give up knitting for good!

Monday, 19 November 2007

Round and round they go

Happy Birthday to me... a very happy birthday indeed since I spent most of it happily playing with my new yarn swift and ball winder (not to mention the generous quantities of new yarn C's mum kindly sent me by way of presentage).

I have been very good because the swift etc. actually arrived early last week (from the Handweavers Studio who were very helpful and got it to me the day after I ordered it) but by dint of will-power and the simple expedient of hardly having any free time at all, I managed not to open it until this morning. C of course couldn't resist the lure of something vaguely technical (either that or he feared my poor little brain would overheat with the excitement) and was soon happily winding away. It was skein number 6 before I even got to have a go!

We started by balling a variety of things I've been saving especially, including the lovely Oxford Kitchen Yarns "Storm" sock yarn (hand-dyed with woad) that I bought at the IKnit Stitch and Bitch day

and the equally lovely Italian mulberry-coloured lace weight that I also bought there.

Then I basically spent the rest of the afternoon working my way through my whole stash, reducing what had been a horrid tangle in a variety of unseemly plastic bags to a stack of gratifyingly neat little cakes.

And they fit in the box and the lid shuts for the first time in months! A Sunday well-spent say I.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Here Kiri, Kiri, Kiri!

Well, after a weekend of concerted knitting, all three are finally done. Still the odd end to sew in, but that doesn't really count.

On the whole I'm very pleased with them, and I hope my sister will be too. She is marrying a New Zealander and will be having New Zealand ferns in her bouquet, hence the original choice of pattern. I haven't got a New Zealand fern, so my asparagus fern will have to do for the purposes of comparison, but it seems fairly ferny to me.

For the third one I used, what I can't help thinking of as "Liz's accidental bind-off" (a method which apparently resulted from a slight misunderstanding, but in fact turned out to be much more successful than the original) and the edge gave me no trouble at all and came out nice and pointy. I am still trying to decide whether I dare try to tink the already-blocked Kiri No. 1 and tweak it to be the same. Not sure that my nerves are strong enough for it really, but I would like them to match. I'll think about it. If I attempt it fairly soon I suppose at a pinch I still have time to make a fourth...

Now all I have to do is get the rest of my outfit together. I have the majority of it but am still on the look-out for what I am told is called a "fascinator" (I reckon it'll be too hot for hats and anyway it's got to be packable). While visiting my mum last week I had a quick look in various likely-looking shops, but without much success. Really what I want is something the same sort of iridescent green as my shirt, but since this isn't one of "this season's" colours I couldn't find anything that matched. In fact the whole selection was somewhat uninspiring and surprisingly pricey. In one shop C proudly presented me with something that looked like the result of an unfortunate encounter between a pheasant and a lawnmower and I was rather taken aback to realize the price ticket said £265! Perhaps I'll get myself a bull-dog clip and some ribbon and then go out and mug a pigeon...

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Every cloud?

The last week hasn't been a great one on several fronts. This is one reason for the absence of posts (the other is that my brother is currently colonizing the spare room which is where the computer resides - not that I'm complaining as he's currently cooking me dinner).

Anyway, firstly, I was struck down by the departmental cold and spent all week feeling lousy, though not ill enough to be off work (which is of course how it has established itself as the departmental cold in the first place, since no one feels they can justify being off sick, so we all go in and give it to someone else).

Then I had a series of minor knitting disasters the worst of which was that a combination of violent sneezing and watching Heroes caused me to drop several stitches on Kiri on Thursday night. Much F-ing and blinding ensued. Thank heavens I finally managed to track them all down and pick them up again, but only at the expense of what should have been another repeat.

On top of the cold I've also been suffering from a particularly bad case of trains. Perhaps in response to all the reports on the news about how fat everyone is getting these days, First Great Western seem to have decided it would be a good idea if we all start the day with a brisk run and some step aerobics. To this end they have taken to changing the platform repeatedly at the very last minute. Last Tuesday for instance we all duly trooped across to platform 4 in accordance with the announcement and then watched as our train pulled up to platform 3. About four of us, reasonably sprightly and fleet of foot made it back in time; everyone else got left behind. Since then they have tried the same trick a further four times but we're wise to it now and so everyone clusters at the top of the stairs ready for the last minute "haven't-a-hope-in-hell-if-you're-old-or-need-to-use-the-lift" platform alteration.

However, they did get me on the way back on Wednesday when I left the Bluestockings happily ensconced in the pub and instead spent 45 minutes sitting on the station trying to knit with increasingly blue fingers while the train I was waiting for gradually got later and later until it merged seamlessly into the next one. Meanwhile I listened to a variety of announcements including the old favourite "Please ignore the information screens, they are showing incorrect information" [i.e. we don't know how to work the bloody things and we can't override the automatic announcements which keep contradicting everything we say] and "We apologise for the delay this is due to mmmghf..nmm...rgh... clackety clackety clackety" [i.e. quick here comes a goods train, make the pretend information announcement now].

Nevertheless, as a result of enforced knitting time I did manage to complete the booties I've been making as my "on-train" project (I should probably be grateful to FGW really since their complete inability to run trains to schedule was one of the main motivating forces behind my taking up knitting in the first place). I also made unexpected progress on a Banff sleeve while stuck in traffic on the M6/M42/M40 at the weekend (I feel bound to add that I don't drive and was sitting in the back and not blithely purling along steering with my knees or anything), so all in all my travelling woes haven't been completely without consolation this week. And the cardigan of stripes is also blocked and ready for posting.

Now all I need to do is decide what to make for my sister's best-friend's imminent new baby using the Elizabeth merino 4ply she sent me. All suggestions welcome.

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Who let the dogs out?

Well, apparently no one.

The dogs in question belong to our neighbour. There are two of them and they've been barking incessantly since about 8 o'clock this morning (when, presumably he went out), so so much for the lie-in.

When we first moved here and I heard them barking and howling like this, I used to worry that they were doing it because something had happened, like the house was on fire, or he had been taken ill and was lying unconscious, or was trapped down an old mineshaft perhaps. Now I realise it's just because they're shut in on their own and it's the only think they can think of to do. I wish they'd find a quieter way to pass the time though - it drives me nuts! Perhaps I should try to teach them to knit.

Friday, 19 October 2007

Meet the ancestors

Today I finally got my photos from my old yahoo account transferred across to flickr so I've been having fun rediscovering photos I'd forgotten about.

Amongst them are these pictures of (I am reliably informed) two of my great-grandfathers.

You can certainly see where my brother gets his facial hair from!

The remainder of the pictures are mostly from c.2000-2002 when C was living and working just outside Chicago and I went out to stay with him. Most of them were prints which I scanned in so that my parents et al could see them, which accounts for the somewhat grainy quality of some of them.

There are some from our train trip on the California Zephyr which takes two days to go from Chicago to San Francisco through the Rockie mountains. The scenery in the Rockies and the Utah and Nevada deserts was some of the most amazing I've ever seen, partly just because of the sheer scale.

This is the foothills of the Rockies. It doesn't look like much until you realize that the line just below half-way is a huge goods train.

We spent a few days in San Francisco at the end of this trip before flying back to Chicago. San Francisco was great, though it was surprisingly cold, especially down by the sea. Still the fog was very atmospheric, even if it did leave me wishing I'd brought a coat.

This one is of the Gateway Arch in St Louis. C and I drove there for a couple of days from Chicago on Memorial Day weekend (late May).

When we left Chicago it was 42 degrees F; when we got to St Louis it was 86. That day was spring. The temperature never dropped again until the autumn.

Mind you, it is a fair way south of Chicago even though it's only just in the next state. It was a terrifically dull drive as I recall and before my knitting epiphany, so I didn't have anything to do. If there's one thing you can say about Illinois it's that it's flat and there wasn't even any map-reading to keep me occupied. The Mapquest driving directions basically said: Turn left onto N. Joliet road. After 2 miles merge onto I55 south. After 258 miles turn right. You just don't get directions like that in Britain! About half-way we stopped for lunch in a place called Normal. Perhaps appropriately it was perfectly ok but entirely unmemorable. St Louis was nice though (as is Chicago).

Finally there were some pictures from a visit to Greece with my mum and dad in 2002. We went all over the place visiting family and friends that my parents have known since before they were married and mum finally got to go to Delos. She was on her way there (nearly 40 years ago) when she met my dad and got distracted.

I rather like this photo. Spotted on the quay at (I think maybe) Andros, it seems to me like fish-shop with delusions of grandeur!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

One down...

Well, Kiri mark one is finally finished.

I am still not 100% happy with the cast off. In the end I tinked back the whole of the cast off and the row before and did them again on much bigger needles. This was more successful - it produced a sort of open edging which I rather like - but it's still not as stretchy as I wanted and consequently the points aren't as pointy as they might be. However, 'tis done, and blocked I think it looks really quite nice.

So, number 1 is done; Liz is racing through number 2 (having completed the same number of repeats in one week that I did in about one month); number 3 is underway, and the deadline seems a bit more manageable now.

I've also finally managed to get to the end of the stupidly stripy stash-busting cardigan, which now just awaits blocking (and posting).

This is probably just as well as, in spite of having only got a small way into my planned stash-bust, at the Knitting and Stitching show on Sunday I managed to acquire ten balls of Jaeger Matchmaker 4 ply and some Colinette Jitterbug, both of which now await inspiration. C was very restrained (perhaps resigned is more the word) when I returned bearing yet more yarn, only asking in a hopefully voice "Is it to make me something?"

He took it manfully when I said no, poor thing. I've been promising to make him something for ages and still haven't quite managed it. It's not that I'm unwilling but he seems to have ideas above his station. No simple raglan jumpers for him. No, what he wants is the saddle-shouldered Elizabeth Zimmerman cabled aran cardigan, the prospect of which I find mildly terrifying. In a vague gesture towards starting it I bought him some buttons... Sadly I only got six and I now see it needs seven. They're very nice buttons though...

Friday, 12 October 2007


Our new washing-machine finally arrived this week which was a great relief given that it was expected last Sunday and never turned up. Having put off doing any washing for ages in anticipation of its arrival, and having had to cut through one of the pipes of the old one while taking it out, we suddenly found ourselves with no washing machine and virtually no clean clothes. By the end of the week I was wondering which would be the most appropriate to wear to work, the ball gown or the pyjamas.

To be honest though it's the underwear that caused most consternation. I don't know about everyone else but I have definite grades of underwear and was beginning to worry that I would be thrown back on the "reserves". On the one hand there are the huge, voluminous unmentionables which I've either bought in a vain attempt to subdue bits of me enough to squeeze into something that's clearly much too small, or have picked up by mistake thinking they were a different size/style, but never quite get round to throwing out because after all they're still brand new (and will remain so because they come up to my chin). On the other hand there are the items reserved for "special occasions"; the sort of thing that's fine for a relatively (ahem) brief stint, but no good at all for running for the train or standing about on drafty station platforms. A sort of sub-section of these are those bras, bought in good faith, which one feels trading standard should require to be labelled "for display purposes only". You know the ones - they appear rather flattering whilst standing still in the shop changing room, but it soon becomes apparent that the slightest agitation causes an effect reminiscent of a trifle being driven over cobbles so that you spend the entire time terrified of making any sudden movement.

Anyway, the washing-machine finally came and the house is now festooned in damp washing, so my dignity should be able to remain more-or-less intact (at least as far as it's possible given I've just been discussing my underwear at length in public). It's nice and shiny (the washing-machine that is) and more importantly much quieter than the old one, the spin cycle of which gave the impression that a Chinook had just landed in the kitchen. However, there does seem to be one fly in the ointment: either it's incredibly badly designed or the dial has been put on upside-down. That is to say, when you turn the dial so that the 30 degree silk setting is next to the little blob, what you actually get is the 95 degree cotton wash directly opposite! Fortunately C spotted this before we entrusted it with all my machine-washable woollens which I have been saving especially to try out the new wool-mark approved setting. Can't help feeling this is something of a design flaw though.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Woe is me, for I am undone!

Well, not me so much - Kiri.

And not completely undone, just the damn cast-off for the nth time.

I have made Kiri before (as you can see from the header picture) and I didn't have any trouble with the cast off. That time it was just for fun and it didn't really matter if it went wrong and eventually I gave the shawl away. Now I am making it for something important the wretched thing will NOT co-operate. The yarn is too slippery and every time I k2tog and put it back on the needle the stitch below pulls up tight and then there isn't enough give in the edging.

I thought I'd managed it the day before yesterday after 3 attempts with progressively larger needles. Last night I set about blocking but the points won't point, or at least not evenly, so I am slowly un-casting off again stitch by stitch. Grrr... I was supposed to be on shawl number 2 by now. Thank god the lovely Liz has offered to make number 3 for me or I might be heading for a Kiri-induced breakdown.

Perhaps what I need to help me get them finished is an American Family Knitting Machine for which I found an advert today in the Massillon Independent 29 Dec. 1869 sandwiched between ads for Allen's Lung Balsam, Miss Emma L. Walls Hair Dealer, Henry Bier & Co. Iron Cocks (I'm assuming this is some sort of piece of machinery) and the "Magic Comb" which "will change any colored hair to a permanent black or brown" and - reassuringly I feel - "contains no poison".

The amazing array of knitted items the American knitting machine is capable of producing does include shawls alongside "stockings..drawers, caps, hoods, sacks, comforts [oh for a knitted comfort], purses, muffs, fringe [fringe in general apparently], afghans, nubias [what is a nubia anyway?*], undersleeves [not sure I like the sound of them, they sound itchy, esp. knitted ones], mittens, skating caps, lamp wicks [can you imagine knitting a lamp wick by hand?!]..leggins [sic], suspenders, wristers, tidies, tippets, tuffed work, and in fact an endless variety of articles in every day use, as well as for ornament".

In spite of the name it doesn't, however, enable you to knit American families, which is a shame. I often think how much more interesting life would be if these things really did work that way. I see Sainsbury's is selling Pirate Bedding Sets, should you be thinking of bedding a pirate...

However, I digress. Back to the (un)knitting.

*I've just looked it up and it's a sort of scarf - not as exciting as it sounds.

Monday, 8 October 2007


Got my Ravelry invite!

Unfortunately as I was out until 11pm yesterday I haven't had chance to do anything with it yet. But I will.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

It's all in the jeans

Or not...

This isn't so much a post as a gripe.

Why is it so hard to buy jeans that fit?

In the last week a couple of pairs of my oldest and most faithful trousers have given up the ghost. As I don't really have the time to start sewing just at the moment I decided I'd just have to bite the bullet and buy myself some. But straight away I came up against the same problem I've been having for what seems like years - all of them are the same, and they're all hipsters, and none of them fit me.

Now, I freely admit to being a fraction on the short and dumpy side and no matter what the fashion world says, personally I don't think that having six inches of pallid white buttock extruding from the top of your trousers is a good look. In my opinion, the point of new trousers is not to have your arse hanging out. But the size that ought to fit me had a zip barely 2-inches long, and left me feeling like a baboon with exhibitionist tendencies. So I ended up opting for the next size up, which is much less revealing except that there's enough fabric in the back to get someone else in behind me if only the legs were a bit wider, and the minute I bend over or worse still, sit down, I end up unintentionally mooning people. I've had to rope them in with a belt which gathers the material into lumps across the back in a way which is distinctly uncomfortable.

Does anyone else have this problem, or am I really a freak as all the high street stores would have me believe?

Sunday, 30 September 2007

Chocolate Fudge Cake and Gentleman's Relish

Given that it was my mum's birthday on Friday and that she and my dad were calling in for tea on Sunday on the way back from London, it seemed like a good idea to plan on making a cake this weekend.

"What sort of cake shall I make?" say I to C on Saturday morning. "Chocolate fudge cake" says C. So I flick through my random collection of recipes, duly note down the ingredients, and off we go to the shops.

The following morning, food-mixer in hand, two things strike me about this cake:
1) It requires a whole block of butter, the best part of a bag of dark brown sugar, and very nearly all of a pot of cocoa powder.
2) Given the erratic spelling and instructions along the lines of "add flour and other things", this is almost certainly a recipe I have acquired at some point from my youngest brother, whose recipes are notoriously "experimental". Mercifully this one doesn't have any mystery ingredients that I can see (the chicken dessert of two Christmases ago has passed into family legend); neither am I instructed to "put it out in the sun to cook", or to grind the flour myself using a saddle quern made of stones recovered from the garden. Nevertheless, it was with a degree of trepidation that I embarked on the project.

However, in the end, the instructions seemed fairly sensible, the mixture very nearly fitted into my biggest, deepest cake tin, and it came out looking not all that bad. Unfortunately while trying to get it onto the cooling rack a slight miscalculation with an oven glove (i.e. it wasn't on my hand when I picked up the still-hot cake tin) resulted in a nasty fissure across the top but I struck on the idea of disguising this with icing sugar, first cutting out the letters of "Happy Birthday" in paper so as to leave a message on the top when the letters were removed. This (very nearly) worked well. The B of Birthday got a bit smudged trying to get the paper letter off and the a moved a bit so the over all effect was rather as though the message had been written by a small, semi-literate child, but it wasn't too bad. My mum seemed to like it anyway.

Only as the last notes of Happy Birthday died away and my mum took a deep breath did the drawback of this plan strike me. My mum blew out the candle and the three of us at that end of the table, most of the tablecloth, and a fair amount of the rest of the room turn white (and slightly sticky).

Still the cake was nice... If somewhat rich... There's a fair bit left...

Also in a spirit of culinary experiment this week C and I bought a pot of Gentleman's Relish (est. 1824). This is something I had often heard of but never before tried. The lid of the pot was emblazoned with a health warning along the lines of "to appreciate the fine flavour of this product to the full use VERY SPARINGLY". Accordingly we spread it thinly on hot buttered toast.

I can well imagine that to a Victorian gentleman, his palate hardened by quantities of mutton, port, and cigars this might have an interestingly piquant flavour, but to me it tastes like a mixture of crab paste, marmite and Vicks VapoRub. Pthah! C claims to like it and says that this demonstrates that he is in fact a true gentleman (in spite of all evidence to the contrary). I reckon this might have more to do with the fact that he burnt off all his tastebuds at an early age by consuming industrial quantities of kebab-van chilli sauce while an undergraduate, and now belongs to that category of people who believe that if something doesn't make your nose run (or better still bleed) it's not worth eating. I shan't be eating any more of it at any rate.

Sunday, 23 September 2007

Happiness is fridge-shaped

Hooray! Our new fridge finally arrived and it fits (just)!

This is the long-awaited replacement for the secondhand one we bought when we first moved out of a furnished flat. It was supposed to be reconditioned and frost-free, but the frost-free function never really worked properly, so instead of letting the moisture condense and drain away, it formed a sort of glacier at the back of the freezer. Every two months or so you'd go to get something from the freezer and the front of the drawer would come off in your hand because the rest of it was frozen to the back wall.

The new one is big, shiny, economically efficient (as far as these things ever are) and has three (yes three!) vegetable drawers. It's a sorry indication of just how old and sad I am these days that ownership of a double egg-rack should produce such paroxysms of joy, but there we are. It's a very very good new fridge.

When we finally get the new washing-machine and I no longer have to open the door with a screwdriver my joy will be complete.

Saturday, 22 September 2007


Last night I blocked Kiri mark 1 to the size O requested. As predicted I think it is too small (more like an antimacassar than a shawl); even on a short-arse like me it barely covers the tops of my arms. But otherwise I'm quite pleased with it.

Provided I can get it back on the needles I reckon another 3 repeats or so (plus the edging) should do the trick. The silk is so fine it gives a very pleasing result when blocked.

I finally got round to photographing the socks I finished a while back which I've decided should be called Opal Fruit Socks. The colour of the Opal "Feelings 1705" yarn reminded me so powerfully of Opal Fruits (Starburst to all the youngsters out there) that I could practically taste them while knitting (particularly the orange bits for some reason). These were the ones I ripped about 20 times in a fruitless (pun intended) search for something wouldn't just give me great big stripes. In the end I divided the yarn and used two balls at once to give me lots and lots of stripes and I'm fairly pleased with the end result though equally glad to see the back of them after so many false starts.

Also today I managed to tidy up the garden a bit, including having a hack at the lunatic yellow clematis which is taking over the whole of one side of the garden. The problem is it's so tangled you can't really see where it comes from so you just have to chop things and hope for the best. I can only reach the low bits so I just cut them and wait for the bits further up to die.

The whole garden is looking rather fed-up and end-of-summer and quite a lot of things are suffering from blight/mildew/some other sort of lurgy as a result of the lousy weather we've had and the fact that, consequently, I've not been outside as much as I might. But at least the Virginia Creeper's looking nice.

Thursday, 20 September 2007

If you can't beat 'em

OK, I've finally caved. Everyone else seems to have a blog, and I was beginning to feel left out. So here I am. This blog is almost inevitably going to be mostly about knitting, since the only people I know who are likely to read it are other knitters and anyway, it's what I spend quite a lot of my time doing.


Attack of the fifty-foot stash

I have turned over a new leaf. I have decided that from now on I am only going to buy good quality yarn and then only when I have a specific pattern in mind (honest guv). However, the first step is to get rid of the vast quantity of stuff I already have which is spilling from the not-inconsiderable hamper in the living room - and the other box under the table which we don't talk about (that's crochet thread so it doesn't count - well most of it is...). Consequently I'm in the middle of a major stash-busting exercise.

The first thing is to get rid of the two MASSIVE balls of
not-very-nice aran I acquired when I first started out, and have singularly failed to make anything from since. To this end I am making Banff from Knitty (this is going to be a gardening jumper I suspect). However the balls really are quite big. There were two when I started; I've knit the front, the back, and the cuff of one sleeve, and I only have one and a bit balls now... :os

I also started a madly-striped baby cardigan (the cardigan is striped not the baby) for the daughter of a friend in order to use up lots of merino/baby cashmerino leftovers. Kind of fell at the first hurdle there as I had to go and buy more yarn to eke out the oddments and get the colours to work. Hmm.

Finally, I'm knitting the first of three silk lace-weight Kiris for my sister's wedding (seen here languishing on top of the ever expanding pile of yarn and half-finished projects). Quite excited that I am now at the stage to do a test-block and see if it's big enough, though I suspect the answer will be no. That's my project for the weekend.

However, my cunning plan is being somewhat undermined by the fact that people keep giving me yarn, which is very nice of them, but it's not helping with the tottering pile which is threatening to engulf my end of the sofa. My latest acquisition is this rather lovely skein of 100% Jacob aran(ish) that my brother brought me back from Orkney. Now what shall I do with it I wonder...